This week, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball delivered his 2021 State of the County address, outlining the County’s incredible progress throughout the past year despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
County Executive Ball touted some of the highest vaccination rates in the state, with 96% of residents 12+ receiving at least one dose, contributing to low case rates and a sense of normalcy for many residents. During his speech, Ball emphasized education funding and support services and announced $2 million in funding for enhanced mental health services in schools.
“During the last three years, I’ve been proud of what our community has accomplished together. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, our resilience has never wavered. Though we are not immune to challenging times, the state of Howard County remains strong,” said County Executive Ball. “We have made progress together, through adversity. We have invested in our schools, advanced the health and well-being of our residents of all ages and abilities, become a regional leader in protecting our environment, built inclusive and accessible infrastructure, and grown more innovative.”
According to a Howard County press release:
Ball emphasized the progress made in Howard County, including:
- $2 million in new funding to provide enhanced mental health services in schools. In partnership with the Horizon Foundation, the Kahlert Foundation, and the Howard County Public School System, all 78 public schools will have direct access to a social worker.
- The Fiscal Year 2022 Capital Budget includes nearly $60 million to support the construction of the school system’s top three priority projects: Hammond High School, Talbot Springs Elementary, and the new High School #13 in Jessup, the first new high school in Howard County since 2005.
- A $5.75 million investment to secure 10 acres of land to bring a new school to Turf Valley. The need for this investment was identified by HCPSS in 2016, but progress was only made in 2019, once Ball took office.
- Increased investment to assist the Mobile Crisis Teams to ensure 24/7 coverage for anyone who finds themselves in an emergency mental health situation. This program is a joint effort with Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center and the Howard County Police Department.
- A record $1.5 million invested to Howard County’s residential treatment facilities – Sheppard Pratt, Hilda’s Place, and Howard House – to hire case managers and peer support specialists and implement reliable transportation so clients can maintain appointments more easily.
- Howard County is the only jurisdiction in the state of Maryland to offer a Communications Initiated Referral to Crisis (CIRC) program, which connects those who dial 911 for a mental health crisis to a trained professional at Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center.
- Breaking ground on critical projects as part of the Ellicott City Safe and Sound flood mitigation plan to reduce flooding in historic Ellicott City. Projects include the H7 flood mitigation pond and the upcoming Quaker Mill Pond project. Additionally, Howard County received approval from the Historic Preservation Commission for the partial demolition of six buildings on lower Main Street.
- Ball secured over $5 million in funding to design an Alternate Bike Route for MD32; a Patapsco Greenway connection in Elkridge; and to construct four pedestrian safety improvement projects along Route 1.
- Under Ball, Howard County now has the strongest Forest Conservation Law in Maryland, which ensures 75% of trees replaced must be within a development project. This law hasn’t been updated since the 1990s and is now in compliance with State law.
- Howard County was one of only four communities in our nation to win the prestigious Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ‘Culture of Health Prize’ for its commitment to the well-being and improved life outcomes of its residents. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation works with communities across the nation to build a Culture of Health that is rooted in equity and advancing the common cause of better health for all.
- Howard County Government received a record-breaking 27 National Association of Counties (NACo) awards across 16 departments, bringing a grand total to 38 awards over the last three years.