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.

Panelists Discuss the TechHire Initiative at #MACoCon

During the 2017 MACo Summer Conference panel “Round Up the (Un) Usual Suspects – There’s a Broader Pool of People for Your Tech Hiring Needs ” panelists discussed TechHire, an initiative powered by Opportunity@Work in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education. TechHire is a nationwide, community-based movement that helps underrepresented and overlooked job seekers start technology careers.

Keyon Smith, Community Engagement Manager, Opportunity@Work began the session by providing an overview of the TechHire initiative, explaining that three Maryland Counties have already implemented TechHire in their communities – Carroll County, Howard County, and Baltimore City. Mr. Smith also provided information on what local officials can do to bring TechHire to their counties.

Kati Townsley, Executive Director, Carroll Technology Council, Inc. and Denise Beaver, Deputy Director, Carroll County Economic Development discussed the TechHire program in Carroll County. Specifically, Mrs. Townsley and Mrs. Beaver described what Carroll County has done to develop a TechHire “ecosystem” and highlighted best practices.

Tracey Turner, Executive Director, Howard Tech Council talked about the TechHire program in Howard County. Mrs. Turner gave insight on how Howard County has partnered with Howard County Community College to focus on internships and training.

Evan Dornbush, CEO, Point3 Security, Inc. discussed what his company is doing to expand technology training, especially for veterans. Mr. Dornbush explained how counties can and should recruit veterans, especially because they often have technology experience and valuable insight into the technology industry.

The session was moderated Washington County Commissioner and MACo Immediate Past President John Barr and took place on Thursday, August 17. 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!”.

New Tools to Battle Blight and Abandonment at #MACoCon

During the 2017 MACo Summer Conference panel “No Vacancy: Revitalizing Vacant and Blighted Properties” attendees learned about recently passed legislation that will help counties reduce blight and turn problem properties into productive properties.

Odette Ramos, Executive Director of the Community Development Network (CDN), began the session by providing an overview of bills that were passed and signed into law during the 2017 general assembly session. This included: SB957/HB1168 – Land Bank Reform; HB1048/SB875 – Foreclosed Property Registry; HB702/SB1033 – Definition of vacant and abandoned property related to expedited foreclosure; HB659/SB823 – Tax Sale Reform. Ramos also mentioned HB 954 – Foreclosed Property Registry updates which did not make it through both committees before time ran out on Sine Die.

Dorchester County Grants Administrator, Cindy Smith, gave attendees the boots on the ground perspective of the the difficulties counties face with problem properties and how local jurisdictions can use the new tools at their disposal to remedy the problems. Smith shared some striking before and after pictures of properties within Dorchester County.

The Director  of Foreclosure Outreach at the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation (DLLR) Meredith Mishaga, presented on the state’s foreclosed property registry.

Ramos concluded the panel with an update on the tax sale workgroup and expedited foreclosure work.

The session was moderated by Delegate Marvin Holmes and was held on Thursday, August 17, 2017.

Enter the New Role of Environmental Health Officer

In Walking the Tightrope: Protecting the Public, Energizing the Economy, MACo Conference attendees learned about law and regulations protecting public health while allowing for residential and economic growth. These laws and regulations make up some of the assortment of duties that a county environmental health officers encounters.

Donald Wilson, Environmental Health Director, Caroline County shared how the role of county environmental health officials has evolved over the years, and more about specific new areas such as enhanced residential septic regulations and food trucks.

carolineFrom an environmental health perspective, food trucks are relatively easy to deal with, and they avoid the need to issue temporary licenses at event spaces.




Willy Dely, Founder, Au Jus Solutions shared a business perspective on food trucks, describing how the law allowing reciprocity of food truck licenses between counties has helped regional growth of the food truck industry.

delyFood trucks fit a business model where you can be very flexible. They are creating jobs and are making many forgotten downtown spaces cool again.




William Castelli, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs, Maryland Realtors Association described the septics regulations, most of which he though struck the right balance between protecting the public’s health and preserving the ability of Marylanders to become homeowners.

castelliIncreased regulation of septics has largely balanced health and economic concerns, with the exception of the push for BAT [best available technology] systems out of the priority funding area. BAT systems can cost between $12k and $20k for a new home, which can be a large percentage of a starter-home cost.


Sharon Green Middleton of the Baltimore City Council moderated the panel. Council Member Middleton shared insight into the positive potential for food trucks, stating,

middletonFood trucks have helped bring healthy options to food deserts in the City of Baltimore.

Mastering the Millennial Workforce at #MACoCon

During the 2017 MACo Summer Conference panel “Dude, What’s My Job?”- Understanding, Attracting, and Retaining Your Millenial Workforce” panelists offered insight into the impact millennials are having in the workplace today. Attendees learned strategies to understand, attract, and retain millennials.

Elliot D. Lasson, Ph.D., Director, Masters of Industrial/Organizational Psychology Program, University of Maryland, began the session by providing an overview of the millennial workforce and how employers may need to adjust tactics to understand, attract, and retain this new generation of potential employees.

Ryan McShane, Vice President & Corporate Operations Officer, Marc3Solutions, discussed how the challenges of generations and megatrends are being met with principles of conscious capitalism to reconcile and make business more effective and efficient

Jennifer Marson, Executive Director, Arizona Association of Counties, concluded the panel by talking about how the Arizona Association of Counties has implemented policies that speak to millennials and how those policies have been successful.

The session was moderated by Delegate Angela Angel and took place 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!”.

Q&A with Opioid Operational Command Center Team at #MACoCon

Earlier this year, Governor Hogan declared a state of emergency in response to the intensification of Maryland’s heroin and opioid crisis – a move that helps provide state and county response agencies greater flexibility to collaborate on and launch prevention, treatment, and enforcement efforts. As part of those efforts the governor appointed Clay Stamp to serve as the Executive Director of the Opioid Operational Command Center (OOCC).

Opioid Forum Panel from left to right: Katie Kuehn, Clay Stamp, Barron Birch.
Opioid Forum Panel from left to right: Katie Kuehn, Clay Stamp, Barron Birch.

At the 2017 MACo Summer Conference, Mr. Stamp along with his colleagues, Birch Barron, Deputy Director of the OOCC, and Katie Kuehn, Communications Director for the OOCC, provided updates to attendees on the work that has been put into motion over the past few months and what is left to come. Following their brief presentation the team opened the floor to questions and comments from audience members.

The forum was held on Saturday, August 19, 2017 at the Roland Powell Convention Center in Ocean City.

Honoring Veterans’ and Showcasing Support Services at #MACoCon

2017 MACo Summer Conference attendees learned about the best practices and current programs for providing support services and assistance to Maryland’s over 400,000 military veterans and families during the “Serving Those Who Served Our Country ” panel. The panel consisted of four military veterans and one civilian who have dedicate themselves to servicing veterans.

Serving Those Who Served Our Country panel from left to right: Senator Waugh, Delegate Young, Councilman McMahan, Robert Brown, Dana Hendrickson
Serving Those Who Served Our Country panel from left to right: Senator Waugh, Delegate Young, Councilman McMahan, Robert Brown, Dana Hendrickson

Senator Stephen Waugh, Vice Chair of the Senate’s Veterans’ Caucus, discussed the on-going work through a veterans summit to help set a cohesive and comprehensive legislative agenda for addressing veterans needs. While many well-meaning bills are introduced, they are not always the most helpful for veterans. The summit is working to address that.

Senator Waugh and Delegate Young
Senator Waugh and Delegate Young

Delegate Pat Young, Vice Chair of the House Veterans’ Caucus, discussed the importance of targeting those transitioning from military services to college. From his former experience of working as Towson University’s Director of Veterans Services, Young noted that those transitioning can sometimes have difficulties separating from the bonds built over time in service and overcoming distrust of others outside that core. They also face struggles in knowing where to turn for assistance or that resources are even available.

Robert Brown
Robert Brown

Incoming Chair of the Harford County Commission on Veterans’ Affairs, Robert Brown, discussed how the county transformed its veterans’ commission to better serve its veterans. Brown noted that county would like to establish a veterans’ court and do more work inside schools. He stressed that veterans want to live in a place they feel respected and supported and the county is making sure exceed that expectation.

Dana Hendrickson
Dana Hendrickson

Dana S. Hendrickson, Director of Outreach and Advocacy for the Maryland Department of Veterans’ Affairs, presented on how the state’s initiatives to partner with counties to expand their offerings of veteran’s services. Hendrickson shared how her experience as the wife of a combat veteran helped to understand the difficulties faced by those transitioning. She presented on the diversity of experiences and needs veterans have and the importance of coordinating with other stakeholders (state, local, nonprofit) to have a collective impact of providing necessary services.

The session was moderated by Harford County Council Vice President James V. “Capt’n Jim” McMahan and held on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Panelists Discuss the Healthcare Reform Roller Coaster at #MACoCon

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has dodged its end…for now. But where does that leave us? What happens next? Panelists on “The ABCs of ACA, AHCA, BCRA, and Health Care in Maryland” panel at the 2017 MACo Summer Conference sought to answer those questions and more.

ABCs of ACA, AHCA, BCRA, and Health Care in Maryland Panel from left to right: Dr. Georges Benjamin, Brian Bowden, Delegate Bromwell, Uma Ahluwalia, Kelly Knight
ABCs of ACA, AHCA, BCRA, and Health Care in Maryland Panel from left to right: Dr. Georges Benjamin, Brian Bowden, Delegate Bromwell, Uma Ahluwalia, Kelly Knight

The panel began with an update by Brian Bowden, Associate Legislative Director of Health at the National Association of Counties (NACo), on congressional action over the past few months attempting to reform the country’s health care system.

Brian Bowden
Brian Bowden

Georges C. Benjamin, MD., Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, presented on the public health impacts the nation faces with changes to or repeal of the ACA.

Dr. Georges Benjamin
Dr. Georges Benjamin

Acting Health Officer for Montgomery County, Uma S. Ahluwalia, brought the conversation down to a local level by discussing what the potential impacts any federal changes would have on health care delivery in Maryland.

Uma Ahluwalia
Uma Ahluwalia

Last, but not least, Vice President of Compliance Services for Benecon, Kelly Knight, Esq., presented on what counties as employers must keep on eye on under the ACA as it stands and any proposed reforms in their roles as employers in the health market place.

Kelly Knight
Kelly Knight

The panel was moderated by Delegate Eric Bromwell and was held on Thursday, August 17, 2017.


Second Chance for Workplace Success at #MACoCon

During the 2017 MACo Summer Conference session, “Second Chance for Workplace Success: A Good Program is Good for your County,” attendees learned about innovative practices local governments and nonprofits are using to incentivize, train, and support many of Maryland’s jobless and challenged residents. By preparing these individuals to succeed in the workforce, public and private programs are working together to develop a community built on self-reliant individuals.

Second Chance panel from left to right: Melissa Jones-Harris, Michael Piercy, Delegate McCray, Carnitra White, Ernestine Chambers, Caryn York
Second Chance panel from Left to Right: Melissa Jones-Harris, Michael Piercy, Delegate McCray, Carnitra White, Ernestine Chambers, Caryn York

Melissa Jones-Harris, Child Support Lead Supervisor for the Caroline County Department of Social Services presented on Mid-Shore Rise, a joint effort between the mid-shore counties to help people obtain and retain well-paying jobs. She also discussed Caroline County’s Ready for Work program which operates within the county detention center and helps inmates obtain job certifications behind bars.

Melissa Jones-Harris
Melissa Jones-Harris

Washington County Department of Social Services Director, Michael Piercy, Jr., discussed Washington County’s DADs program and CAPE program. The programs target young fathers and non-custodial parents and provides them with assistance in obtaining jobs. Participants are also provided job coaching, clothes, haircuts, and hygiene products. The goals of the programs are two-fold – help participants find good jobs and help them meet familial obligations.

Carnitra White and Ernestine Chambers
Carnitra White and Ernestine Chambers
Caryn York
Caryn York

Carnitra D. White, the director of Anne Arundel Department of Social Services, and Ernestine Chambers, the director of Anne Arundel Workforce Development’s JWA/SNAP programs jointly presented on a county program that combines workforce development and social services to assist those on SNAP and TANF.

Last, but certainly not least, Executive Director of the Job Opportunities Task Force (JOTF) Caryn York tied together the previous presentations with a discussion on JOTF and their statewide legislative advocacy efforts to eliminate the barriers, such as expungements, ban the box, occupational licensing, faced by the individuals the programs seek to help.

The session was moderated by Delegate Cory McCray and held on Thursday, August 17, 2017.