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Saturday, January 28, 2017

Columbia vs. the rest of Howard County returns

    When I moved to Columbia in the 1970's the political split in the County was very noticeable.  There were two Democratic Clubs- one liberal in Columbia and one conservative in Ellicott City.  The liberal population that bought into Rouse's planned city was a cultural shock to Howard County residents who were mostly conservative.  Columbia's population controlled Howard County politics starting in the 1980's.  As with the rest of conservatives nationally, the conservative Howard County Democrat voters began switching to the Republican party.  This story is told very well with the series that Len Lazarick has been telling to celebrate Columbia's 50th birthday.
     So it is somewhat surprising to see the same political dichotomy show up with the recently introduced Council bill on becoming a sanctuary county.  The supporters were largely represented by the liberal Columbia community and the opponents were heavily represented by residents from Elkridge and Western Howard County.  Maybe things haven't changed as much as we would like to think.


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Moderate Homeowners in Howard County

From the Howard County Housing Department:

" The Howard County Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is now accepting applications for its Moderate Income Housing Unit (MIHU) program during its first open enrollment period for 2017. Applications for the MIHU homeownership program will be accepted from Jan. 3 through Jan. 31.

To purchase an MIHU home, individuals must apply to DHCD during an open enrollment period to be placed in the database. To qualify, an applicant’s household income may not exceed 80% of Howard County’s median income which, as of Jan. 1, 2017, is $110,893 for a four-person household. Household income limits are based on family size. Applicants must meet minimum credit score requirements and their household income must be sufficient to qualify for a home mortgage based on industry standards. Sale prices for MIHUs can range from $228,000 for a condominium to $322,000 for a townhouse. Actual sale prices vary depending on the size and amenities of the unit.

Homeownership opportunities are currently offered at below-market sales prices in several communities, including: Dorset Gardens at Blue Stream, Elkridge Crossing and Morris Place in Elkridge and Oxford Square in Hanover. With competitive low interest rates, estimated mortgage payments for homes priced at $228,000 would start at approximately $1,600, and require an annual household income of approximately $54,000 to qualify. Most of the townhomes feature three finished levels with 1,600 to 2,100 square feet of living space, three or four-bedrooms, as many as three full and two half baths, one and two-car garages, and much more.

To rent an MIHU unit, a qualified applicant’s household income may not exceed 60% of the Howard County median income. MIHUs are rented on a first-come, first-served basis, with rents ranging from $1,068 to $1,620. MIHUs are interspersed throughout each community and residents enjoy all the amenities of community life. Alta at Regency Crest, Ashbury Courts, Belmont Station, Miller’s Grant, Mission Place, Orchard Meadows, Orchard Park, Penniman Park and Woodfield Oxford Square currently offer MIHU apartments. The minimum annual household income needed to qualify for a 1-bedroom apartment through the MIHU program is approximately $36,000. Prospective renters may apply directly to a participating rental community at any time during the year. Community addresses and phone numbers can be found online at
Open enrollment periods for the MIHU purchase program are held quarterly. Those interested in enrolling should call DHCD’s Housing Opportunities Programs Division at 410-313-6343, or visit the MIHU website at"

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A repost on the Sanctuary Bill

  I have never reposted a blog post from another blogger but today I wanted to share a post on the Sanctuary legislation before the County Council . Tonight the Council on this legislation on the agenda.


Applying for Rebuilding Together

     Rebuilding Together is now taking applications for home repairs for low income Howard County residents.  Here is a description of the program:
      "Low-income homeowners, particularly elderly, physically challenged and families with children who are not able to do or afford the work themselves are eligible for rebuilding services, as are the non-profit facilities that serve them. If you are, or know someone who may be eligible, please let us know so that we may help. "
     If you know of a group that would like to volunteer for this program here is the link.


Friday, January 20, 2017

What you need to know about being a sanctuary community

     With the introduction of the sanctuary community bill in the County Council it is often hard to know what this bill really represents in policy.  Each side in the debate have their arguments pro and con.  I have found the explanation in Wikipedia to be the best explanation of the concept.


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Question of the day

If you love trivia ( or more accurately called useless facts!) as much as I do check out this site for the question of the day.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Council hearing tomorrow night on the "Sanctuary Bill"

After some routine Council business the Council will have public testimony on the Sanctuary legislation before the Council.  Here is information:

"CB-9 has a hearing TUESDAY, JAN 17 AT 6PM at the George Howard Building, 3430 Courthouse Drive, Ellicott City 21043.

The hearing starts at 6 and may go to 1 or 2 am, AND MAY BE CONTINUED TO WEDNESDAY, JAN 18. If you can show up for any of that time it would be helpful.

Supporter colors: White and Green
Opposition colors: Red

You can still sign up to speak at this link.

It may help to bring a sign to the hearing, but it must be small enough to hold in front of your seat."

And you thought all the action was going to be in DC!


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Time for Howard Transit to clean up its act

     Mass transit is supposed to be a more environmentally friendly transit choice.  I am not sure of this reality with some of the Howard Transit buses.  The other day I followed this Howard Transit bus for 2 miles while it picked up riders along streets in Owen Brown and Oakland Mills.  When it accelerated a plume of exhaust came out of the back that created a fog so thick you could barely see the back of the bus.   This isn't the first time I have seen a Howard Transit bus do this.  I am not sure of the cause but it seems that some maintenance isn't being done on these buses.


Friday, January 6, 2017

New use for all those Amazon boxes


      I don't know about you but I have accumulated a number of boxes of different sizes from Amazon since I signed up for Amazon Prime.  I have been keeping many of them thinking I would eventually use them to ship packages but they just seem to continue to accumulate.  Now I have heard of a great way to use them for a good purpose.  The Give Back Box program is a partnership between Goodwill and UPS to have the boxes to packed with clothes and household items to be picked up by UPS and sent to a local Goodwill store.  Learn how this works at this link.   If you would like to use your boxes this way here is the link to print out the shipping label with paid postage.  The boxes don't have to be limited to Amazon boxes.  A number of other retailers are also participating in this program.

     When I entered information to have a label printed the Goodwill store that it was for was in Frederick and not the Columbia store.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The rest of the story


     Today's blog post probably won't resonate with anyone under 60.   Growing up in the 1950's I would have lunch with my parents.  I would walk home from school for lunch (can't imagine kids doing this today) and joining my parents who worked across the street so they could also come home for lunch.  What I remember about those family lunches was listening to the Paul Harvey radio broadcast.  They always started out from Chicago with Paul Harvey saying "Hello America."   This was still a time when we received much of our news from newspapers and the radio.  The nightly news was just 15 minutes long and there was no 24 hour news cycle.
    Paul would always end his 30 minute show with a segment called "The Rest of the Story" about some little known background story to something more well known.  The stories typified America of the 1950's, middle America, conservative and religious.  His folksy manner fit perfectly for the times.  With You Tube you can still listen to many of his broadcasts.
      What reminded me of the old Paul Harvey broadcasts was the podcasts from Mike Rowe called "The Way I Heard It."   You probably know Mike Rowe from the commercials he makes or the show "Dirty Jobs."  Like the Paul Harvey broadcast these short 5 minute podcasts give us the background stories that are very entertaining.  I learned about his podcasts from his Facebook post where he reads an email from his Mom that went viral.   It is laugh out loud funny.

      A little trivia about Mike Rowe was that he was born and raised in Baltimore and got his start in TV commercials here.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Check out the Columbia Archives online memorabilia site

Development of Lake Kittamaqundi

    The Columbia Archives has accumulated a wide variety of memorabilia from Columbia's almost 50 years of history.  You should stop by and discover some of items from Columbia's past.

    Interesting how many ashtrays are in the collection.  Who knew there was ever a People Tree ashtray?


Sunday, January 1, 2017

A New Year message from my grandfather

      It is important to know a little about my grandfather before I tell you his New Year's message.  In addition to being the kindest person I have ever known, my grandfather was the most curious person I have ever known.  He lived life to the fullest.  If he sat down for any period of time he was looking for something to read.  It didn't matter what it was he wanted to learn something he didn't already know.  As a child when we traveled with my grandparents he always wanted to explore the locations where we stopped along the way.  While my parents and my grandmother settled into the place where we were staying my grandfather and I would start walking to "see what was around the corner."  The sense of adventure, no matter how limited, was always exciting to me as a child.  I guess you could sum up my grandfather's philosophy of life with the well repeated refrain of "take the road less traveled."
     So that gets me to the message I wanted to tell about my grandfather.   We usually spent the New Year holiday with my grandparents.  At midnight when we would be wishing everyone a "Happy New Year" my grandfather would always say "one year closer to the grave."   That sounds like a very morbid thing to say at this happy moment but that was the key to understanding my grandfather's look at life.  He lived his life knowing that we only have a finite time on Earth and you have to make the most of every moment.  Explore everything you come across.  Never waste a time to learn a new lesson or meet someone for the first time.
      So every New Year I remember my grandfather's unusual message about how to live life.  A valuable lesson indeed.  Happy New Year with many new opportunities and experiences yet to be explored.

      My grandfather was born in 1900, the last year of the 19th Century.  His wish was to live in three different centuries, the 19th, the 20th and the 21st.  Unfortunately he only lived to 1977 and fell short of that goal but his spirit still resonates in me.