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Clean Energy Economy Discussed at 2017 #MACoCon

From Left to Right: Michael Richard, Dereck Davis, Mary Beth Tung, and Kelly Shulz

County officials received an overview on the jobs generated by the clean energy economy on August 17 at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference. The panel was called “The Clean Energy Economy – Generating Jobs, Producing Power” and moderated by House Economic Matters Committee Chair Dereck Davis.

Maryland Energy Administration Director Dr. Mary Beth Tung summarized the impact of renewable energy on Maryland’s economy.

Maryland Secretary of Labor, Licensing and Regulation Kelly Schulz provided an overview of apprecticeship and training programs available for renewable energies.

Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) Commissioner Michael Richard discussed the role of the PSC and need for in-state renewable energy sources to meet Maryland’s Renewable Portfolio Standard requirements. Richard also discussed MACo’s 2017 solar energy legislation (HB 1350).

Maryland Clean Energy Center Kathy Magruder provided further statistics on energy sector jobs and career paths, noting that the solar and wind industries are creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than other industries and is now 7% of the state’s total workforce.

Maryland DC Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association Executive Director David Murray noted that solar installation jobs cannot be exported and that their average wage is $18 per hour. Murray also discussed the different types of solar projects, including residential, commercial and industrial, and utility scale solar.


Phase III WIP & Bay TMDL Update at 2017 #MACoCon

From Left to Right: Adam Ortiz, Benjamin Grumbles, Bruce Williams, and Carin Bisland.

Attendees to the 2017 MACo Summer Conference heard an update on the status of the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Phase III Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP) on August 18. The facilitated discussion panel, “What Will We See in Phase III? A Bay TMDL Update”, was moderated by Local Government Advisory Committee Chair Bruce Williams. 

United States Environmental Protection Agency Chesapeake Bay Program Associate Director Carin Bisland provided a history of the Bay TMDL and gave an overview of entire TMDL and WIP process.

Maryland Secretary of the Environment Benjamin Grumbles stated that the “final targets for Bay TMDL are within reach” for Maryland, subject to sustained federal funding and proper use of enforcement backstops.  Grumbles cited the State’s targeted approach to the use of best available technology for nitrogen removal (BAT) for septic systems, the recent passage of the Clean Water Commerce Act, a the pending implementation of a nutrient credit trading system. Grumbles also stated that Maryland does not intend to have counties develop individual Phase III WIPs. Instead, the State will incorporate county actions into a statewide Phase III WIP.

Prince George’s County Environmental Resources Director Adam Ortiz stressed that counties are in the “delivery business” and faced various challenges in meeting the Bay TMDL goals, including funding and lack of project contractors. However, Ortiz was overall optimistic on restoration efforts and believed “We are entering a ‘golden age’ for the Chesapeake Bay.”

Panelists also dealt with audience questions concerning the Conowingo Dam, cross sector trading, sector specific accounting, and the use of oyster farming for nutrient credits.

Public Safety Hiring Best Practices at 2017 #MACoCon

A panel of county public safety experts discussed the hiring and retention challenges faced by public safety services on August 18 at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference. The panel was titled “The Key to Public Safety: Locking Down Your Hiring Process” and was moderated by Maryland Senator Cheryl Kagan.

From Left to Right: Anna Sierra, Cheryl Kagan, Lisa Myers, and Timothy Cameron

Captain Lisa Myers, Howard County Police Department Human Resources Bureau, focused on the broad challenges facing law enforcement personnel, including: (1) social media expectations; (2) cell phone and body camera video prevalence; and (3) proper training. Myers noted that millennials have different workplace expectations than previous generations, including a better work/life balance.

St. Mary’s County Sheriff Timothy Cameron expanded on the millennial issue for both law enforcement and corrections officers, noting that millennials like to be in charge/have independent authority, and offer and receive immediate feedback. Cameron noted that his department has worked to revise interview practices and forms . Cameron stated that while the number of employment applications for the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department have increased, the number of high quality candidates has actually decreased to about 1 in 100.

Dorchester Emergency Services Director Anna Sierra discussed the issue from a 9-1-1 center perspective, noting the significant skill set differential between call taking and dispatching. Sierra noted that even with a computerized aptitude test, the required background check and polygraph test can create a long application process.

The speakers also discussed retention strategies, including: (1) access to upgraded technology; (2) new training and career growth opportunities; (3) government support, such as through tax credits; (4) assignment rotation; and (5) recognition for performing well.

Anirban Basu Delivers Economic Forecast at #MACoCon

In the 2017 MACo Summer Conference session, “Markets, He Wrote: Looking for Clues into the Economy’s Direction“, economist, and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group, Inc., Anirban Basu, provided audience members with a local, state, national, and global economic forecast.

Senator Middleton Introduces Economist Anirban Basu.
Senator Middleton Introduces Economist Anirban Basu.

Basu discussed positives such as the state’s overall job growth and economic standing. But tempered that news with recognition that there is regional disparity between Washington and Baltimore metro counties which are experiencing growth, while rural areas in the east and west are experiencing stagnation or decline. Overall, Basu had ominous predictions for the future with threats of a downturn as soon as 2019.

The session was moderated by Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton and held on Friday, August 18, 2017.

The MACo summer conference was  held August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City Maryland. This year’s theme was “You’re Hired!”.

Tackling Complex Public Works Projects at #MACoCon

During the 2017 MACo Summer Conference panel “Flushing Your Troubles Down the Drain, the South Kent Island Solution” attendees learned how Queen Anne’s County and the Maryland Departments of Planning and the Environment were able to address public health and environmental concerns by connecting 1,518 existing homes and eight commercial properties to a safe and effective public sewer system.

Todd Mohn, Director, Department of Public Works, Queen Anne’s County, began the session by providing an overview of the South Kent Island sewer project. Mr. Mohn discussed why the project is necessary and identified the numerous stakeholders involved with the planning and implementation of the project.

Steve Cohoon, Public Facilities Planner, Queen Anne’s County, discussed the areas impacted by the project. Mr. Mohn also described how the county was faced with an alarming septic system failure rate on South Kent Island (70-90%), and how environmental and health concerns made the project a top priority for Queen Anne’s County.

Julie Barown, P.E., Northeast Regional Municipal Systems, Orenco Systems, Inc. talked about the technical specifications of the South Kent Island sewer system, including why the STEP (Septic Tank Effluent Pumping) system is far superior to OSDS (On-Site Sewage Disposal Systems) systems. According to Mrs. Barown, in addition to reducing costs, the STEP system will greatly reduce the amount of nitrogen being discharged into the Chesapeake Bay from the South Kent Island service area.

Queen Anne’s County Commissioner At-Large Jim Moran concluded the panel by discussing how limited funding, Smart Growth requirements, and anti-growth concerns—among many other concerns and challenges—made it necessary to create a unique solution. Commissioner Moran also talked about the potential political consequences that can result from controversial public works projects, and how the county sought to mitigate concerns by seeking citizen input throughout the planning process.

The session was moderated by Delegate Shane Robinson and was held on Friday, August 18. The MACo Summer Conference was August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD. This year the conference’s theme was “You’re Hired!”.

FBI “Chasing the Dragon” Documentary Screened at #MACoCon

2017 MACo Summer Conference attendees has the opportunity to watch a screening of the FBI and DEA’s documentary “Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict“. 

Following the screening audience members were able to talk with representatives from the FBI who fielded questions and listened to members share their experiences.
Following the screening audience members were able to talk with representatives from the FBI who fielded questions and listened to members share their experiences.

The documentary is intended to educate students and young adults on the dangers of drug abuse through startling first-person accounts of those who have suffered the consequences. Audience members were given a free copy of the documentary which included educational materials to help spread awareness and start discussions.

The screening of Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opiate Addict was held on Saturday, August 19, 2017. The MACo Summer Conference was August 16-19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City, MD. This year the conference’s theme was “You’re Hired!”.

Business Leaders Rock the Pitch at #MACoCon Competition

Five successful entrepreneurs who bring jobs, development, tech, and innovations that make the world a better place came to the Maryland Association of Counties conference this year.

Each business leader was joined by a representative of their sector to make their pitch as the bet next thing for the ‘old line state’ to an audience of county government officials.


An expert panel of judges, including Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, economic development guru Julie Lenzer of the University of Maryland, and investor and entreprenuer Bruce McIndoe of iJet grilled the pitchers on their business concepts and ultimately decided a winner.

Mike Geppi, CEO of Timbre Tech, Inc was selected as the best bet for Maryland, with a business that advances modern medicine – a technology that can enhance the precision of and improve the safety of CAT scans, while taking advantage of Maryland’s anchor institutions in health – The University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins.

Pitch Scorecard1Timbre Tech’s radiation detection with direct gamma detection reduces time in tunnels for protons therapy patients and creates sharper images for doctors.

As winner of the competition, the Health/Life Sciences business sector will be the subject of a dedicated educational session at an upcoming Maryland Association of Counties Conference.


Every business leader and sector representative came ready to impress and represented the strengthen of Maryland’s entrepreneurial spirit. Pitches included:

smithGregg Smith, CEO, Silent Circle

Silent Circle is a secure communications firm offering enterprise communications solutions including software, devices, and services.



Pitch ScorecardSaundra Lamb, President, Semforex

Semforex designs, manufactures, and markets innovative performance apparel and protective equipment for first responders.


Pitch ScorecardScott Ackerson, CEO, Quidient

Scene Reconstruction Engines (SREs) are the “digital brains” of 3D imaging devices such as mobile phones and augmented reality (AR) glasses



Pitch ScorecardPaulo Gregory Harris, Cohado

Cohado’s board game seeks to teach that all have a responsibility to utilize resources, connections, energy, voices and power to usher in an age of relationship, understanding and connectedness.



#MACoCon Panelists Discuss a Collaborative Approach for Batting the Opioid Epidemic

During the 2017 MACo Summer Conference panel “Attacking the Opioid Epidemic: A Collaborative Approach” attendees learned about the ways counties are utilizing a collaborative approach in the fight against the opioid crisis in Maryland. A collaborative approach inspires all stakeholders—across the boundaries of criminal justice, public health, and human services—to act as a single, integrated community and point the way toward powerful new solutions.

Attacking the Opioid Epidemic panel from left to right: Clay Stamp, Kevin Aftung, Delegate Barron, Nancy Schrum, Jeff Amoros.
Attacking the Opioid Epidemic panel from left to right: Clay Stamp, Kevin Aftung, Delegate Barron, Nancy Schrum, Jeff Amoros.
Audience members raise hands as Clay Stamp gauges the impact of the opioid crisis.
Audience members raise hands as Clay Stamp gauges the impact of the opioid crisis.

Clay Stamp, Executive Director – Opioid Operational Command Center, Maryland Emergency Management Agency provided an overview of the opioid epidemic in Maryland and discussed how his team has been working with local governments to provide resources critical for combatting the crisis on a local level.

Kevin Aftung and Nancy Schrum
Kevin Aftung and Nancy Schrum


Kevin Aftung, President, MACo Emergency Managers Affiliate, discussed how Anne Arundel County has mobilized opioid intervention teams at the county level and in the City of Annapolis. These teams are providing essential resources for fighting the opioid epidemic on a local level. Mr. Aftung also gave an overview of the county’s “safe station” initiative. The initiative allows any individual suffering from a heroin/opioid addiction to go to the Annapolis Police Department, any Annapolis or Anne Arundel County Fire Station, or any Anne Arundel County Police Station to seek help. Individuals seeking assistance are required to drop any needles and paraphernalia into a sharps collection container available at each location. If the individual is in possession of any illegal drugs, the appropriate police agency will be notified for disposal purposes only. Mr. Aftung also shared that the county is working on developing a “beds available” software app that would help people find available treatment beds in the county.

Jeff Amorose
Jeff Amorose

Nancy Schrum, Director, Office of Constituent Services, Anne Arundel County, talked about the resources Anne Arundel County has made available to their citizens, including education, prevention, and treatment for opioid use and abuse. Of note, Ms. Schrum discussed the Not My Child” program, a multi-agency, collaborative initiative to promote awareness of opioid and addiction issues to parents, educators, and the community.

Jeff Amoros, Legislative Director, Baltimore City Health Department, gave a presentation that included Baltimore City’s plan of action for addressing the opioid epidemic. Jeff discussed both legislative and community initiatives being implemented across the City.

The session was moderated by Delegate Erek Barron and was held on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Augmented Reality Comes to County Governments at #MACoCon

This year’s Maryland Association of Counties Conference featured a panel discussion of augmented and virtual reality and its applications for county governments.

A 3D mock-up of a proposed development in Port Covington is one of the projects Balti Virtual has undertaken that reveals the potential for county government uses of augmented reality technology.

Jason Michael Perry, VP of Engineering at Mindgrub, described augmented reality training programs for nurses and firefighters.

Will Gee of Balti Virtual demonstrated his augmented reality applications, including a 3D map of a planned for development at Port Covington in Baltimore.

John M. Wasilisin, President and Chief Operating Officer of TedCo shared what they are doing to connect Maryland’s most successful businesses with start-ups that can help resolve their tech needs.

Brian Darmody, Associate Vice President for Corporate and Foundation Relations of the University of Maryland, College Park moderated the panel. Darmody provided several examples of the intersection of local governments and augmented and virtual reality, including public safety issues associated with last year’s Pokemon Go craze and resulting legal action. At College Park, Darmody has been instrumental in launching area technology commercialization efforts.


A Conversation with Senator Cardin at #MACoCon

Maryland Association of Counties conference attendees had the opportunity to speak with Maryland’s senior Senator, Ben Cardin, at a town hall style session last week in Ocean City.

Senator Ben Cardin responds to questions from an attendee of the MACo Summer Conference in Ocean City, Maryland. The Senator regularly attends MACo for this opportunity to speak directly with Maryland county government representatives.

The topics of the discussion ranged from the Senator’s updates from Washington DC on infrastructure investment and Chesapeake Bay program funding, to answering questions about the C&O Canal Headquarters location, the Conowingo Dam, and partnership from other watershed states to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

Brian Bowden, Association Legislative Director of the National Association of Counties moderated the town hall.