Green Stormwater Infrastructure Pilot Program Provides Training to Baltimore City Job-Seekers

 

 

 

In a recent press release (2017-05-18) the Center for Watershed Protection announced the start of a new Clean Water Training Certificate Program that will provide qualifying job-seeking individuals with green stormwater infrastructure installation, maintenance, and inspection skills. The initial pilot for the Certificate Program, which runs from May 19 through June 16, will provide the training to ten Baltimore City residents who have been struggling to find a job. The program was funded by the Campbell Foundation, France-Merrick Foundation and Prince Charitable Trusts. From the press release:

“Not only will this program benefit the environment and the Baltimore City economy, it also will change the futures of these 10 individuals,” said Neely Law, Director of Education and Training, Center for Watershed Protection. “What’s more, they are satisfying a critical need in this industry: stormwater employers have significant hiring needs for skilled individuals, which they expect to be met by this training program.” …

The new training certificate program, developed by the Center for Watershed Protection, includes classroom learning, hands-on activities and field-based assessments to allow program participants to acquire core skills and knowledge in the construction, maintenance and inspection of green stormwater infrastructure. …

“This curriculum is equivalent to a few years of job training,” said Michael Peny, a stormwater industry professional of Angler Environmental, a Resource Environmental Solutions (RES) company. “The training provides the basic skills and knowledge an entry-level employee needs to have on the job site, and covers additional areas that will provide opportunities for advancement.”

Participants were selected through a rigorous application process. They were unemployed or underemployed at the time of enrollment and were selected for their drive, motivation and commitment to pursuing a career in stormwater management. Participants will acquire core skills and learn about construction, maintenance and inspection of green infrastructure stormwater best management practices that are relevant on any site, not just Maryland.

The three-week technical stormwater training is part of a comprehensive three-month workforce development program provided by Civic Works, which began May 2, to include essential skills training, workplace safety and on-the-job training. …

“Our goal is to expand the program across the U.S. and build a network of workforce development and training programs,” added Law. “The Clean Water Certificate training model has great potential to translate to other areas of stormwater management.”

Useful Links

Center for Watershed Protection Website

County and School System Partner on School Construction 10-Year Plan

At yesterday’s meeting of the Association of School Business Officers in Ocean City, Anne Arundel County’s Education Officer Amalie Brandenberg and Schools COO Alex Szachnowicz presented “Transparent, Data Driven and Inclusive,” about the county’s Facilities Utilization Master Plan.

Screenshot 2017-05-23 13.34.08
Anne Arundel’s school construction schedule follows a data-driven process identified through a partnership between the county and the school system.

Screenshot 2017-05-23 13.34.23

Maryland’s counties regularly share the importance of transparency in the area of school construction. Since school boards do not have the ability to tax and raise revenue in Maryland, county governments provide funding for school construction along with the state. Funding decisions can be informed by additional input from school systems regarding the state of their schools and future plans.

As school construction costs have risen sharply over the past fifteen years, partnership between school boards and the counties is helpful in making sure that priority projects are completed to meet student needs.

In Anne Arundel County, the county and school system partnered to provide prioritized 10-year recommendations for facilities capital improvements and building utilization. The plan is the result of a data-driven process that defined a decision making tool and then assessed existing facility needs.

For more information, view the Presentation from Anne Arundel County.

Get the Latest on Federal Tax Reform and What It Means for Counties

 

naco logoThe National Association of Counties’ Northeast Regional Conference Call this month will include an update on the federal budget, healthcare, and tax reform debates and how they could affect county governments. 

All representatives of Maryland counties are welcome to join the call.

NACo Northeast Regional Conference Call

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

8:00AM EST

Dial-In:1-719-359-9722

Dial-In(toll free): 1-888-757-2790

Guest Passcode: 299194

 

AGENDA

Welcome and Introductions

  • Hon. Christian Leinbach – Chairman, Berks County Commissioners (PA) / NACo NE US Representative
  • Roll Call by State – Each state will be called and Elected County Officials will be given the opportunity to state their name and county.
    • DC
    • DE
    • ME
    • MA
    • MD
    • NH
    • NJ
    • NY
    • PA
    • WV

 General Legislative/NACo Update

  • Deborah Cox – NACo Legislative Director
    • FY 2017 omnibus and what it means for counties
    • Health care reform efforts: all eyes on the Senate
    • The latest on Tax Reform

Upcoming NACo Webinars:

NACo Conferences:

Contact Robin Clark Eilenberg at MACo for more information about the monthly NACo calls.

Pharmacies Prepare for Naloxone Standing Order

On June 1st a law will go into effect easing access to naloxone, a drug that reverses opioid overdoses, at local pharmacies through a statewide standing order.

The Baltimore Business Journal reports on how the Baltimore City Health Department and pharmacies across the city are working to prepare for the change:

The move is another step in the effort to reduce opioid deaths in the state and city. Gov. Larry Hogan has declared Maryland’s opioid epidemic a state of emergency, after fatal heroin overdoses nearly doubled between January and September 2016 compared to the previous year, and fentanyl deaths quadrupled. In total, deaths from these two opioid drugs spiked to 1,656. In March, Hogan signed an executive order for $50 million in new funding to go toward addressing the crisis.

The new order will allow Baltimore pharmacies to freely distribute naloxone, a drug previously reserved only for those with a doctor’s prescription or a certification from the Maryland Overdose Response Program. The response program — the result of another standing order that was passed in 2015 — offers hands-on training and certification in recognizing and responding to opioid overdose with the drug. Once someone completed the training, they were free to purchase the overdose drug. But now, anyone and everyone will be able to purchase it.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen said the problem with the training program is that it can be a “cumbersome” process to become certified. Other states have already eliminated such requirements, Wen said, and with Maryland’s current state of emergency, it makes sense to make the life-saving drug as accessible as possible.

“We have to eliminate every barrier that exists to saving lives. And in this case, it was mostly an administrative barrier anyway,” she said. “Now that we have eliminated that training requirement, it means naloxone can be given nearly over-the-counter.”

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Business Journal

MACo Highlights County Needs to Climate Change Adaptation Working Group

MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp and Maryland Municipal League (MML) Government Relations Director Candace Donoho outlined local government needs on climate change adaptation before the Maryland Commission on Climate Change’s Adaptation and Response Working Group on May 22. Knapp stressed that local governments had three key needs: (1) information; (2) resources; and (3) no new planning or land use mandates.

“Adaptation” is the term used to cover how governments, businesses, and citizens should respond to the effects of climate change, such as extreme weather, severe heat, flooding, and sea level rise. The Working Group is formulating recommendations to the Commission on what the State should provide to local governments for climate change adaption. Knapp and Donoho were asked to address the Working Group, which is chaired by Maryland Secretary of Natural Resources Mark Belton.

In his presentation, Knapp stated that State information on climate change adaptation should be accurate, practical, and avoid linkage with political agendas. He stressed that while the State, federal government, and other participating stakeholders maintained useful information for counties, the State could offer a “one step” webpage with links to all of these resources gathered into one place. Knapp also stressed the importance of local government adaptation case studies, with lessons learned from both good and bad outcomes. Knapp cited previous planning projections by the Coast Smart Council regarding sea level rise and Town of Crisfield in Somerset County.

Regarding resources, Knapp stated that State funding support for counties is critical. While acknowledging that State monies were limited, Knapp argued that county funding needs for adaptation planning were variable and funding could be targeted to assist those jurisdictions with the most need. Additionally, Knapp noted that State adaptation funding could also be targeted where rebuilding is already taking place if the additional funding could further strengthen adaptation. Knapp noted that the rebuilding of downtown Ellicott City in Howard County after massive flooding might have benefited from such funding.

Finally, Knapp said that MACo would oppose any new planning mandates regarding adaptation. Knapp stressed that counties were addressing climate change through a wide variety of policies and documents and not just their comprehensive plans.

Donoho’s comments were similar to Knapp’s, highlighting the need for flexibility given the vast size and capability differences among Maryland’s municipalities. Donoho also discussed the need for technical information and money. Donoho noted MML’s firm opposition to new or additional planning mandates, noting that local governments are still working to integrate planning mandates from previous years and that many adaptation policies are being carried out through other means than the comprehensive plan.

Both Knapp and Donoho stressed the need for ongoing communication by the State with MACo, MML, counties, and municipalities. Such communication could be done directly or through regional meetings and should include both elected and non-elected local officials.

After a question and answer period Belton thanked Knapp and Donoho for their information and pledged that the Working Group would work to actively communicate with local governments as it finalizes its recommendations to the Commission. The Working Group expressed interest in participating in MML’s fall conference and MACo’s winter conference to host forums on climate change adaptation.

Useful Links

Maryland Commission on Climate Change Webpage

 

Cargo Pours Into Port At Record Levels

Thanks to the widening of the Panama Canal, the Port of Baltimore once again sets a new record this quarter, with overall cargo intake increasing 4.8 percent. The port processed 2.56 million tons of cargo this last quarter, up from 2.4 million tons in the first quarter last year. Vehicle cargo increased 6 percent and container cargo increased 8 percent.

The Baltimore Business Journal reports:

The Port of Baltimore has handled more cars than any other U.S. port for six consecutive years while container growth was driven by the larger ships coming into the port through the widened Panama Canal.

The Port of Baltimore is one of only four U.S. East Coast ports with the necessary infrastructure — like a 50-foot deep berth and “super cranes” — to handle the larger container ships. Last year, a record 538,567 containers crossed the port’s public piers and brought in more than 10 million tons of general cargo for the first time.

The Port of Baltimore has also been recognized for efficiency by the Journal of Commerce. The port averages about 71 container moves per hour per berth, a rate faster than any other major American port.

Dorchester County Schools Names Mitchell New Superintendent

The Dorchester County Board of Education announced Monday the appointment of Dr. Diana Mitchell to a four year term as Superintendent of Dorchester County Public Schools. The retirement of current Superintendent Dr. Henry V. Wagner will be effective Saturday, July 1, a decision he announced Dec. 15, 2016.

According to a DCPS press release,

Dr. Mitchell was appointed by a unanimous roll call vote on Monday, May 22, 2017. In commenting on the appointment, President Glenn Bramble said:

The Board of Education adhered to all of the processes recommended by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education throughout this four-month search. Additionally, the Board considered community input from a wide variety of sources as part of their deliberations. We are delighted to welcome a professional of Dr. Mitchell’s caliber and look forward to her leadership of DCPS. We are confident that she will build on our progress of the last ten years.

Current Superintendent Dr. Henry Wagner was called upon for comment and made the following statement:

First, I would like to repeat a statement I made in this month’s staff bulletin, published on May 1st, in the section entitled Superintendent Selection Process Updates. “In keeping with MABE’s model and our own protocols, I have had no involvement in the processes that have taken place since my retirement announcement on December 15. However, I am very much looking forward to working with my successor in order to effect a smooth transition.”

Now that Dr. Mitchell has been appointed, she has my full support, and I look forward to assisting her with this transition in any way that I can. And I urge everyone to do the same, as a matter of principle, and for the benefit of the children of Dorchester County Public Schools.

Thank you!

Dr. Mitchell’s four-year term begins on July 1, 2017.

Useful Links

Previous Conduit Street Coverage: Dorchester BOE Announces Superintendent Finalists

DCPS Press Release

Queen Anne’s County Commissioners Approve Land Preservation Funds

Using state grants and matching funds, Queen Anne’s County Commissioners voted May 9, to allocate about $500,000 of county earmarked funds for preservation assistance — which will result in a total of $2.5 million to preserve farmland in the county.

The Kent Island Bay Times reports,

The Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation will match each county dollar with two state dollars to prevent, forever, farmland from being converted to residential or commercial use. Created by the General Assembly in 1977, the MALPF purchases agricultural preservation easements that forever restrict development on prime farmland and woodland and has permanently preserved land in Maryland.

Donna Landis-Smith of the Queen Anne’s County Soil Conservation District told the commissioners that the maximum they could invest was $1.3 million; however, the funds budgeted for MALPF were just shy of half of a million dollars. That half a million dollars of county funds currently earmarked for MALPF coverts to about $2.5 million. Smith said that there are eight properties in the county in the current easement cycle that was submitted to the state to participate in MALPF.

Commissioner Jim Moran said by using the budgeted amount — much of which comes from agricultural transfer taxes — the county could probably fund four or five of the applicants.

According to the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation FY16 Annual Report, more than 300,000 acres statewide have permanently been preserved. Queen Anne’s County has 166 easements totaling 28,464 acres of preserved farmland and ranks third in the state for total acres preserved.

Read the full article for more information.

Names of Candidates for Washington County Board of Education Vacancy Released

The field of candidates seeking a vacant seat on the Washington County Board of Education includes several names that previously have appeared on ballots for local office.

The Herald-Mail reports,

The Washington County School Board Nominating Commission met for the second time Monday afternoon, opening the eight applications received by Friday’s deadline.

Of the eight received, seven candidates will be considered by the commission moving forward because one application wasn’t received before the deadline at the required location, according to a statement released after Monday’s meeting.

The seven candidates, in alphabetical order, are as follows:

  • Denise D. Fry, a former head of the Washington County Teachers Association
  • Edwin M. Hayes, a former school board member
  • Alfred E. Martin, a former school board candidate
  • Linda Murray, a former school board candidate
  • Peter Perini, a former school board candidate
  • Carlos Reyes, a former candidate for Hagerstown City Council
  • David R. Shuster, director of operations and compliance at Horizon-Goodwill Industries

The successful appointee will fulfill the term of former board member Karen Harshman, who was removed from office April 25.

Her term was set to expire in late 2018.

Read the full article for more information.

Purple Line Takes Yet Another Blow

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon issued an opinion on Monday, May 22 further delaying activity on the Purple Line until the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) completes another environmental review of the project. Reports Bethesda Magazine

The ruling in the long-running court case seems likely to result in further construction delays—and possible cancellation of the project—and could jeopardize federal funding slated for the project. The state had planned to start construction on the line that would connect Bethesda with New Carrollton in Prince George’s County late last year. The ruling comes more than a month after Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh had requested a decision in the case, warning that continued construction delays would cost the state about $13 million per month.

Last August, Leon postponed the project and ordered updated projections to account for WMATA’s “deterioration and declining ridership.” The delay has stopped the project in its tracks, preventing the FTA and Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) from executing the project’s Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA), through which the U.S. grants Maryland $900 million toward the project. FTA filed almost immediately for the judge to reconsider his ruling. Further exacerbating the gravity of the delay, President Trump’s proposed fiscal 2018 budget eliminates all funding for transit projects which do not have executed FFGAs.

From Leon’s opinion:

On November 22, 2016, I issued an opinion and order instructing the FTA to critically evaluate the significance of Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (“WMATA”) Metrorail’s recent safety issues and ridership decline to determine whether a supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (“SEIS”) was required for the Purple Line Project. …

…. I find that defendants have failed to take the requisite “hard look” at the potential impact that WMATA’s ridership and safety issues could have on the Purple Line Project and conclude for the following reasons that an SEIS that addresses these issues is in fact required. …

On August 3, 2016, I … found that the FTA’s conclusion that MetroRail’s ridership and safety issues would have no effect on the Purple Line was arbitrary and capricious. As a result, I vacated the [Record of Decision (“ROD”)] and instructed the defendants to prepare an SEIS as expeditiously as possible addressing these issues. …

Here, plaintiff’s expert declarations, at a minimum, raise serious questions about the defendant’s assumptions about WMATA Metrorail and its future impact on the Purple Line. By failing, yet again, to grapple with plaintiffs’ submissions, the FTA failed to take a hard look at all of the information in the administrative record that could inform the agency about the impact that WMATA Metrorail’s ridership issues could have on the Purple Line Project. As such, the FTA’s resulting refusal to prepare an SEIS was arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, it is hereby ordered that, consistent with NEPA’s procedural requirements, the defendants shall prepare an SEIS addressing them as expeditiously as possible.

FTA submitted an analysis to the court last December which examined five vastly different ridership forecasts, and concluded that in any of of those cases, the Purple Line would meet its intended goal to establish an improved east-west transit connection in the service area – to justify its case that an SEIS was not, in fact, warranted. “Surprisingly, neither FTA nor MTA attempted to critically assess or discern which of these five wildly disparate scenarios is actually most likely to occur,” Leon wrote in his opinion.

Governor Hogan has issued the following statement:

Bethesda Magazine coverage and the opinion are available here.