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Baltimore County News

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Filled Positions That Will Play Important Roles in County Government

County Executive Johnny Olszewski today made several important personnel announcements, filling key positions that will help carry out his vision for a more livable, thriving Baltimore County. Delegate Steve Lafferty will serve as Chief Sustainability Officer, Delegate Eric Bromwell will serve as Opioid Strategy Coordinator, and Troy Williams will serve as Chief Diversity Officer. All three positions were recommended by Olszewski’s transition team. Romaine Williams, who previously served as an Assistant County Attorney, has taken on a new role as Chief of Employee and Labor Relations, a newly created position that will serve as the primary liaison to county employee unions.

“The key to building a government that effectively serves all residents is building a great team, and I’m thrilled that these talented individuals will bring their experience and expertise to work on behalf of our constituents,” Olszewski said. “Baltimore County is moving forward in big ways, and these individuals will play key roles in helping to carry out our vision.”

In addition, Olszewski announced several additions to his Office of Community Engagement, which works closely with communities and constituents to directly address concerns residents have and help them access county services. The new community engagement representatives are Sonia Almonte for Council District 1, Kristin King for Council District 5, and Gabrielle Slocum for Council District 6. Mary Clay, who previously served as the engagement representative for District 1, will now be the representative for Council District 4, and Carmen Christiana will be the representative for District 3. Michelle Bernstein will continue as the representative for District 2, and Pete Kriscumas will continue as the representative for District 7.

“Our new model of community engagement ensures that constituents have direct access to the executive office, and these new additions to the team will help us ensure every constituent has a voice in the county seat,” Olszewski said.

Meet the Team Members

Steve Lafferty has served in the House of Delegates since 2007, where he has been a leader on issues related to the environment and land use. He has served as Chair of the Baltimore County House Delegation, and Chair of the Subcommittee on Land Use and Ethics and the Subcommittee on the Environment. During his years in the General Assembly, he has been recognized for his commitment to environmental sustainability by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the League of Conservation Voters and Preservation Maryland. A longtime resident of the Towson area, he has previously served as the Howard County Deputy Director of Planning and Zoning and as Director of Special Projects for the Howard County Executive. Lafferty earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Maryland, a Master of Arts from Bowling Green State University, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Eric Bromwell has served in the House of Delegates since 2003, when he was one of the youngest delegates ever elected to the General Assembly. He has served as Vice Chair of the Health and Government Operations Committee, Chair of the Health Facilities and Occupations Subcommittee, and Chair of the Baltimore County House Delegation. He was chairman of the bipartisan House of Delegates Opioid Policy Committee in 2017 and 2018 and he was appointed as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Behavioral Health and Opioid Use Disorders in 2018. He has championed legislation to address the opioid crisis and worked to increase funding for treatment, and in 2018 he represented Maryland among 22 states chosen to participate in the inaugural National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) Opioid Policy Fellowship. Bromwell earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Salisbury University.

Bromwell and Lafferty will vacate their seats in the House of Delegates as they take on these new assignments.

“Eric and Steve have been valuable members of the House of Delegates,” said Speaker Adrienne A. Jones. “While I’m sad to lose them in the House, as a Baltimore County resident and 38 year retiree of County government, I know that they both bring an expertise that will be important additions to County Executive Olszewski’s team.”

Troy Williams has served since 2017 as a consultant on diversity and inclusion to American University’s executive leadership programs, and since 2018 as a Financial Advisor with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. He has held roles with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of Community Oriented Policing and the DOJ Community Relations Service, as well as with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Howard University, a Master of Adult Education from Coppin State University, a Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law, and a Master of Public Administration from American University.

Romaine Williams has served in the Baltimore County Office of Law since 2018, and previously served as an Assistant Attorney General and Counsel to various state agencies through the Office of the Maryland Attorney General. She has also served as an Assistant Public Defender in the Office of the Maryland Public Defender, and Executive Director of the Baltimore City Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Goucher College, a Master of Theology from the Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary’s Seminary and University, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Law.

Sonia Almonte has worked with Johns Hopkins Healthcare since 2013, first as a Community Health Worker and more recently as a Supervisor of Community Outreach. She also works with the BSO Orchkids program, where she works to engage minority youth in music and the arts. She earned a Bachelor of Public Administration from the University of Baltimore.

Kristin King worked in various roles for Baltimore Gas and Electric from 2011 to 2018, most recently as a Senior Business Analyst in Corporate Relations where she directed company-wide volunteer programs. She is completing a Bachelor of Arts to Master of Arts program at Stevenson University.

From 2016 to 2019, Gabrielle Slocum served in the Peace Corps in Panama, first as a Leadership Trainer and English Specialist and more recently as a National Teaching English Coordinator. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Towson University.

Thistle Road to Reopen After Being Closed for More Than a Year

Baltimore County will reopen Thistle Road (located between Frederick Road and the Patapsco River) on Wednesday, August 21. The route, which has been partially closed for more than a year, was severely damaged by floods in May of 2018. Those same floods caused significant damage in Ellicott City and in southwestern Baltimore County. During the storm, nearly a half-mile of Thistle Road’s embankment was intermittently washed away or damaged.

The reopening this month marks the completion of major repairs, say Baltimore County engineers. Planning began almost immediately after the 2018 storm and construction commenced in March of this year with slope stabilization. Perforated, hollow tubes were inserted into the soil and filled with injections of grout. The inserts were then followed by the construction of concrete retaining walls which were backfilled with stone.

Once the road’s foundation was stabilized, the County’s contractors brought in Jersey walls to arrest erosion on the slope above the road. Once the roadway was rendered safe, Thistle Road was paved and guard rails and fencing were installed. Repairs to Thistle Road cost just under $2 million, according to engineers, who note that 75 percent of the cost will be borne by The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

While the restored road is the most dramatic repair on Thistle Road, it’s not the only post-storm improvement in the area. Immediately after the May 2018 floods, the Baltimore County Department of Public Works repaired a small bridge just north of the stabilization project completed this month. Additionally, engineers will soon repair a culvert on Thistle Road about a half-mile south of Frederick Road. The County is currently rebuilding the River Road Bridge, south of Thistle, which was completely destroyed by flood waters. Reconstruction of the 40-foot long bridge began in July and is expected to be finished before the end of the year.

Several Locations in Baltimore County Provide an Oasis During These "Dog Days of Summer"

The Labor Day weekend is just two weeks away, but the dog days of summer are hanging on tightly. Temperatures above 90 degrees with a heat index of 100 and higher, are projected through early next week, but there are many places in Baltimore County to go to stay cool and safe from the intense temperatures.

Nineteen convenient branches of the Baltimore County Public Library are open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Residents can cool off while reading a book or enjoying scheduled events at a branch in their community. Visit the Baltimore County Public Library website or call 410-887-6100 to get more information on the library branch nearest you.

Baltimore County Senior Centers are also open to everyone, regardless of age. Most locations are open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents who visit these locations to get relief from the heat can watch TV, read a book or sit and relax. Visit the Department of Aging website for information on the 20 Senior Centers throughout the County or call the Senior Center Information and Assistance Line at 410-887-2594.

Other Cool Locations

These public cooling centers, with plenty of water and available restrooms, offer an oasis during these hot days. Other places you can go to seek relief from the heat in Baltimore County include:

  • Community Centers
  • Churches
  • Malls
  • Movie Theaters
  • Museums
  • Restaurants
  • Or, the home of a neighbor, relative, or friend with air conditioning

"From libraries and senior centers to churches, movie theaters and malls, there is a place in every community where our residents can get relief from the heat, and everyone without air conditioning is urged to use them," said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of Health and Human Services.

Hot Weather Tips

Keep yourself and your family healthy and safe in the summer heat by adhering to the following hot weather tips:

  • Never leave a child or pet in an unattended car!
  • Check on elderly or chronically ill family members, friends and neighbors.
  • Stay hydrated with water or fruit juices. Also, provide your pet with plenty of water and proper shelter.
  • Limit outdoor activity when the temperatures and humidity are extremely high.
  • Use sunscreen and reapply often when spending time outdoors.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing, a hat and sunglasses when outdoors.
  • Visit a cooling center in Baltimore County or consider visiting family, friends or an air-conditioned public building.

Revised September 11, 2017