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Equine Arena and Learning Center Offers Programs for Veterans and Others

Baltimore County officials celebrated the grand opening of an equestrian and learning center at the Baltimore County Center for Maryland Agriculture and Farm Park in Cockeysville, announcing that it is named in honor of Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who passed away suddenly on May 10. Baltimore County Council Chair Julian E. Jones, Jr. led the ceremony, which featured the unveiling of a banner depicting the name, Kevin Kamenetz Arena.

The Kevin Kamenetz Arena is a multi-use facility that primarily serves as an equine arena and learning center hosting ground-based equine experiences for veterans and others, including programs operated by the New York based non-profit, Saratoga WarHorse. The overall equine operation occupies 12.7 acres including two barns, pasture and paddock space and a 9,600 square-foot arena with classrooms. The arena features a sandy surface, and it is available for equine programs as well as other events.

“Opening the Kevin Kamenetz Arena is a natural expansion of the educational mission of our agriculture center and it will provide powerful therapeutic and mental health resources to help veterans and others overcome obstacles in their lives,” said County Council Chair Jones. “Naming it the Kevin Kamenetz Arena is a fitting tribute to a man who dedicated his life to serving the public and making sure that government fulfills its role of helping those most in need,” he said.

The grand opening event, held in May, which is Military Appreciation Month, comes one day after the 143rd running of the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore.

Saratoga WarHorse Foundation Program at Kevin Kamenetz Arena

Baltimore County executed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Saratoga WarHorse Foundation for them to assist veterans who are suffering from psychological wounds by providing a confidential, personalized equine-assisted experience that has proven to be effective for those struggling to adjust to life after military service.

The equine-assisted experience is an immersive program where a handful of veterans participate as a cohort group for a three-day program of classroom and one-on-one ground-based sessions with a horse. The equine programs do not involve horse-riding.

This life-changing program is available free of charge to participants. Saratoga WarHorse Foundation is privately funded through donations and assumes the cost of operating the equine programs, including off-site room and board for participants. Per the terms of the MOU, Baltimore County pays no operating costs for the equine programs, but the County funded the $2.96 million construction of the equine facility and pays for maintenance and the care and feeding of the rotating herd of horses.

“Saratoga WarHorse is so thrilled and honored to have this collaboration with Baltimore County,” said Bob Nevins, founder of Saratoga WarHorse Foundation. “This will ensure that the program will be open to assist more veterans in need.

The Kevin Kamenetz Arena adds a third location for Saratoga Warhorse to operate, in addition to their current locations in Saratoga Springs, New York and Aiken, South Carolina. Saratoga WarHorse plans to begin with two sessions per month at Kevin Kamenetz Arena, with the first session beginning on Monday, May 21.

Some Enthusiastic Program Testimonials

Former Saratoga Warhorse program participant, Gail Watts, spoke during this afternoon’s event. Watts is Baltimore County’s Director of Corrections and a retired U.S. Army Master Sergeant who served overseas in multiple deployments. “When you come home from deployment, it’s a very hard transition and soldiers who have experienced trauma often feel that they can’t really talk about it with civilian family and friends, and there can be a stigma about talking to doctors,” Watts said. “I was skeptical when I went through the program, especially having had no previous experience with horses, but I can’t even put into words the unexplainable connection I had with my horse and the amazing breakthrough I experienced. It was almost like the horse could relate to what I had been through.”

Baltimore County Fire Lieutenant Steve Mooney, who serves as a Chief Master Sergeant with the Air National Guard, and has been deployed five times, also participated in the Saratoga WarHorse equine experience. He said, “When you get in that ring with a 1,300 pound animal, it’s intimidating, but the next thing you know your horse is following you around like a puppy and it’s an amazing feeling. I never thought it would be such a game-changer, but I recommend it to any veteran. I think that anyone who has been deployed experiences some level of anxiety and this type of program offers a different perspective on how you look at things and it’s a great tool for dealing with stress.”

About the County’s Herd of Horses

The County’s rotating herd of thoroughbred horses at the Kevin Kamenetz Arena will range from 10 to 18 retired racehorses. The horses are provided by:

- The Foxie G Foundation, a local non-profit that provides rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of thoroughbreds through a permanent retirement and adoption program, and

- Sagamore Racing, a thoroughbred horse breeding farm on Belmont Avenue in Reisterstown owned by Kevin Plank.

Other Equine Programs Planned for Kevin Kamenetz Arena

In addition to the MOU with Saratoga Warhorse, the County is talking with representatives of EquiTeam Support Services, a southern Pennsylvania program that practices programs of the Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association.  Discussions are underway about the possibility of their providing equine-assisted therapy for veterans that incorporates professional psychotherapy and offers a continuum of care for participants.

The County is also in discussions with the Connected Horse Project about the option of their expanding their operations to add programming at the Kamenetz Arena, where they would work with individuals with early stage dementia and their caregivers.


Lowe’s will Join Redevelopment of the Former Owings Mills Town Center Site

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced today that Lowe’s has signed a lease with Kimco Realty for space at Mill Station in Owings Mills.

Construction will begin this June on a 132,825 square-foot building for the home improvement retailer, with an expected opening in January 2019. The new Lowe’s will include a 21,587 square-foot garden center.

“We are pleased to have attracted Lowe’s as the newest addition to Mill Station, which will provide a thriving retail center for County residents,” said Baltimore County Executive Kamenetz. “The $108 million investment in the project adds to the more than $1 billion of recent private investment in Owings Mills.”

Kimco began construction in early 2018 on Mill Station, a 640,000 square foot Signature Series development on the site of the former Owings Mills Town Center, which will bring 250 jobs to the area during the construction phase.  

“Lowe’s will be a great addition to the area, along with several other popular shopping and eating destinations that Owings Mills and Randallstown residents can look forward to having right in their own backyard,” said County Council Chair Julian E. Jones, Jr.

A 148,000 square-foot Costco was the first tenant announced for the new project. The Costco store is projected to open in August 2018 and will include a deli, bakery, food court, garden center, optical department, photo center and gas station. Existing tenants of Mill Station include AMC Theatres, Chido’s Tex-Mex Grill, Greene Turtle, Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Red Robin.


Funds More than $8 Million Increase to Add School Counselors, Social Workers, Psychologists, and 19 Police School Resource Officers

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz will propose 109.5 additional positions for school counselors, social workers, psychologists and Police School Resource Officers in his annual budget to be presented to the County Council on Thursday, April 12. Also included are additional health assistants and bus attendants. This investment is geared to addressing the ever growing mental health needs of County school students. The personnel additions further the significant $13.6 million of investments in school safety and security accelerated by Kamenetz after a 2012 County high school shooting.

“In Baltimore County, our budgets continually reflect a commitment to ensure that our schools are healthy learning environments,” said Kamenetz. “Since 2011, we invested $13.6 million to reinforce all school doors and windows, adding security cameras and controlled entry. With this budget, we add necessary personnel to ensure that we are reaching the mental health needs of every child to avoid incidents of disruption."

Increase in Student Services Personnel

The County Executive’s budget that he will present to the County Council next week includes an increase of more than $8 million to fund an additional 109.5 positions in the area of student support personnel and to expand Baltimore County’s Police School Resource Officer program.

Kamenetz is proposing two School Climate Support Teams to address students with complex needs and to assist schools with conflict management strategies — one for elementary schools and one for high schools. 

If adopted, the budget would add more than 22 social workers, 23 counselors, and 18 school psychologists to the Baltimore County Public Schools, while also funding additional pupil personnel workers, health assistants, and bus attendants.

“I am very appreciative that County Executive Kamenetz recognizes the important role that student service personnel play in creating a positive school climate, and that his budget proposal will fund these initiatives,” stated Interim School Superintendent Verletta White.  “The best way to prevent disciplinary and disruptive issues in our schools is to recognize and address the important role that mental health plays in student safety.”

“I believe in being proactive,” said Council Chair Julian Jones. “Doing everything that we can to ensure our school system has the resources it needs to help our children before they are in trouble is the appropriate thing to do.”

19 Additional Police School Resource Officers Added to Budget

The County Executive’s budget proposal will also include 19 additional Police School Resource Officers, increasing the County’s total from 65 officers to 84. With this proposal, one officer will be added to each of the County’s 10 police precincts and be assigned to work with the elementary schools in that area on school security issues. The additional 9 officers will be added to the current school allocation based upon review by Police Chief Sheridan and Superintendent White.

“School Resource Officers have proven to be a critical component in not only responding to incidents, but more importantly, to preventing incidents before they occur,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Terrence B. Sheridan. “If approved by the County Council, we will have these additional officers in place before the beginning of school in the fall.”

 Baltimore County Has Invested $13.6 Million in School Security Since 2011

Since 2011, the Kamenetz administration has invested $13.6 million to safeguard schools by installing security cameras and card reader door locks in all Baltimore County elementary schools and enhancing these security measures in middle and high schools. This funding initiative increased the number of school cameras by 400%, from 1,150 to 4,600; newly installing them in all elementary schools, and enhancing existing cameras and adding them as needed in middle and high schools. In the same timeframe, the number of card reader door locks in schools more than doubled from 261 to 583, providing an important measure of security for routine schooldays as well as in emergencies.

The County is now completing the installation of video dashboard technology that provides public safety officials with instant access to video feeds from security cameras at schools, libraries and other public facilities; as well giving them direct access to live traffic cameras on state highways. GPS systems are now installed in County school buses through a partnership between County government and Baltimore County Public Schools.

“The events of the past few months have moved us all.  No community, no school, and no family is immune from the fear that takes place after every school shooting incident,” concluded Kamenetz. “As government officials we have no more important responsibility than to make sure we do all that we can to protect our students and our teachers each and every day.”


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017