Wednesday, March 04, 2015
State Highway Administration Rescheduled Public Workshop for March 12
Charles County Government

Due to inclement weather forecasts, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA), has rescheduled the public workshop to Thursday, March 12, for the US 301 (Crain Highway) at MD 228 (Berry Road)/MD 5 Business (Leonardtown Road) Project Planning Study.

John Hanson Middle School - Cafeteria
Thursday, March 12 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
3165 John Hanson Drive, Waldorf

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Sammy 03:34 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
La Plata police provide safe space for online transaction meetings
Rebecca J. Barnabi ― Maryland Independent

The La Plata Police Department wants you to feel safe when shopping online.

“Safe Transactions,” a program launched Monday, encourages residents to conduct online transactions in the department’s lobby or parking lot with an officer present.

Police Chief Carl Schinner said similar programs have been created at police departments across the country after the death of an elderly couple in Georgia a month ago. Schinner said the couple went to the home of a person who posted a Craigslist ad to sell a car and were allegedly killed by the person who placed the ad.

Sammy 03:33 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Reactor applicant requests review suspension
Marty Madden ― TheBayNet.com

The energy consortium hoping to build a third reactor at a Southern Maryland nuclear power plant is requesting the federal government suspend review activities for its license application.

In a letter dated Feb. 27, Mark T. Finley, president and CEO of UniStar Nuclear Energy, requested that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) “suspend review activities for the Calvert Cliffs Unit 3 combined license application [COLA].”
Finley cited the recent suspension of NRC review activities for the U.S. European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) Design Certification Application as the reason for the request.

“The Calvert Cliffs Unit 3 COLA cannot be approved and issued by NRC until after the EPR design certification is approved and issued,” Finley stated. “Therefore, we have decided to suspend activities supporting the Calvert Cliffs Unit 3 COLA until further notice.”

Sammy 03:29 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Md. lawmakers consider housing for youth charged as adults
Janet Linderman ― Daily Record

After 10 years as chief of the St. Mary’s County Detention Center, Capt. Michael Merican is in a situation he says isn’t just difficult, it’s impossible.

Merican pays close attention to the needs and well-being of 200 inmates, but one causes him constant worry: a terrified 17-year-old boy.

“I have him in a medical holding cell all by himself because he’s too frightened to even put him in protective custody unit with other adults,” Merican said of the teen, who arrived at the facility Jan. 6 after being charged as an adult with assault and kidnapping. “He can’t watch TV or play board games. I put him out to recreation all by himself. He’s scared to death.”

Sammy 03:28 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
House lawmakers weigh transparency act’s effectiveness ahead of reform bill debate
Sarah Westwood ― Washington Examiner

Lawmakers in the House weighed whether a bill that would “modernize” the Freedom of Information Act does enough to eliminate some of the procedural hurdles that journalists, citizens and advocacy groups face when requesting government records under the law.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sought to understand why less than a third of the roughly 700,000 FOIA requests filed each year are answered in full despite orders by President Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder that agencies should respond to such requests with a “presumption of disclosure.”

“It may not be headline-grabbing,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., said of the reform effort during the hearing Friday. “But it’s important.”

Sammy 03:26 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
PNC opts to scale back financing for mountaintop coal removal
Patricia Sabatini ― Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

NC Financial Services Group has decided to scale back financing of companies that mine coal by shearing off the tops of mountains, saying it was the right thing to do in the face of environmental and health concerns.

The decision, contained in the Pittsburgh-based bank’s latest Corporate Responsibility Report, was cheered by anti-coal activists who have been pressuring PNC and other big banks to stop financing the controversial practice.

Under its new policy, PNC will not extend credit to coal producers with 25 percent or more of their production coming from mountaintop mining, according to the report. Previously, the company had excluded producers with a majority of their business tied to the practice.

Sammy 03:24 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
US running out of room to store oil; price collapse next?
JONATHAN FAHEY ― Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The U.S. has so much crude that it is running out of places to put it, and that could drive oil and gasoline prices even lower in the coming months.

For the past eight weeks, the United States has been producing and importing an average of 1.1 million more barrels of oil every day than it is consuming. That extra crude is flowing into storage tanks, especially at the country’s main trading hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, pushing U.S. supplies to their highest point in at least 80 years, according to the Energy Department.

If this keeps up, storage tanks could approach their operational limits, known in the industry as “tank tops,” by mid-April and send the price of crude - and probably gasoline, too - plummeting.

Sammy 03:21 PM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Guilford project will strain infrastructure
Maryland Independent - LTE

Looking at the numbers, how could anyone conclude that the Guilford project in Bryans Road does not create an adequate public facilities problem for Charles County? The intent of adequate public facilities analysis is to “assure that proposed development will not adversely affect the public health, safety and welfare.”

Guilford proposes 280 apartments, 171 townhouses and 126 single-family units that are projected in planning staff reports to add an additional 3,149 car trips per day on Billingsley Road. This amounts to over 30 percent of the 10,110 trips per day on the relevant section of Route 227 — between Route 210 and its departure from Route 224. Since most trips from Guilford would likely head toward Route 227, an enormous increase in traffic on 227 would occur from just this one subdivision. Planning staff proposes “mitigation,” but is silent on the level of service that would result.

Sammy 08:18 AM | (11) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Fewer forums strike at commissioners’ transparency
Maryland Independent - Editorial

The Charles County commissioners took a step backward last week in their goal to improve transparency in government when they decided to replace the board’s monthly public forums with quarterly town hall meetings each year that will cycle through the four commissioner districts.

The previous board had touted its installation of a monthly public forum, held in the evening at the county government building in La Plata, as its commitment to bringing more transparency to the work of government. Cutting the frequency of the meetings does not maintain that commitment.
[...]
Well, maybe so. But let’s say you live in District 4. Does that mean that you should wait until December to attend the meeting closest to your home? If residents have issues they want addressed, they aren’t likely to wait months before they bring it up at their district’s town hall meeting. If the answer is that a resident from Bryans Road should drive to Newburg to attend the forum, then why not keep the meetings centrally located in La Plata as they were?

Sammy 08:16 AM | (2) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Charles commissioners put off approving allocations
Jeff Newman ― Maryland Independent

The Charles County commissioners deferred approval of this year’s school allocations Tuesday after board members requested further information on which school zones actually are eligible for new residential development.

The county currently calculates the number of allocations, which developers need in order to build homes, based on the open seats at each of the county’s 36 public schools. Under the formula, every two homes built in the county produce roughly one student.

This school year, 14 of the county’s 21 elementary schools are overcrowded, while two of eight middle schools and two of seven high schools are beyond their state-rated student capacity.

Sammy 08:14 AM | (1) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Charles light rail project needs $20M for planning stage
Jeff Newman ― Maryland Independent

With Maryland facing yet another fiscal crunch and Gov. Larry Hogan weighing whether to fund the Purple Line and Red Line projects, Charles County’s light rail initiative represents a cheaper option for funding mass transit, project officials told the county commissioners last week.

The light rail project is midway through a $5 million transit study, which the state funded following passage of the 2013 gas tax increase, and next requires $20 million in order to begin project planning, said the county’s Chief of Resource and Infrastructure Management Jason Groth and Gary V. Hodge, a former county commissioner.

But Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) questioned whether the project was even viable under Hogan (R) given that his predecessor, former Gov. Martin O’Malley, led “a very mass transit-friendly administration, and even under those circumstances we were way down on the list [of transit projects].”

Sammy 08:12 AM | (3) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
DBED’s Brief Economic Facts on Maryland’s 23 Counties

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) has recently published the 2015 reports of Brief Economic Facts for Maryland’s 23 counties, Baltimore City and the state.

According to MD BIZ News,

   

Data includes major employers, wages, population, climate and more.

  At no costs to jurisdictions, the reports supplement marketing materials and publicize each area’s economic strengths. Brief Economic Facts reports often play a central role on county economic development websites and are widely utilized by site selectors.

  “Our office uses the Brief Economic Facts report as a valuable marketing tool to prospective businesses, start-ups, and those evaluating relocation. This detailed county snapshot highlights the economic benefits of working and living here,” said Keasha     Haythe, Director of the Dorchester County Economic Development Office.

Sammy 08:03 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Hogan budget chief justifies action to control spending growth
Len Lazarick ― MarylandReporter.com

Delegates grilled Budget Secretary David Brinkley on Tuesday, asking him to justify Gov. Larry Hogan’s plans to limit growth in school funding and curtail employee pay raises as they took up legislation that implements those decisions.

Brinkley, a former senator, said the governor wants to “structurally balance the budget permanently.”

Why do it all in the first year? asked Del. Terri Hill, D-Howard, rather than over two or three years.

Sammy 08:01 AM | (1) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Rain tax repeal gets hearing
Rebecca Lessner ― MarylandReporter.com

Republican Gov. Larry Hogan’s office joined senators in presenting three identical bills at a Senate committee hearing Tuesday to repeal the “rain tax,” the pejorative nickname for stormwater remediation fee.

“Repealing this tax mandate is a top priority for the governor, it is a top priority for him because it is a top priority for the vast majority of Maryland,” said Patrick Hogan, deputy legislative officer of the governor’s office, about the proposed SB 588.

However, the Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs committee still has one more rain tax proposal to consider. Senate President Mike Miller will present his own stormwater bill to the committee next week.

Sammy 07:59 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
Fifth monkey has signs of deadly bacteria in lab mishap
Alison Young ― USA TODAY

Tests indicate a fifth monkey had been exposed to deadly bacteria that was somehow released from a high-security lab at the Tulane National Primate Research Center near New Orleans, according to an e-mail circulated among federal and state investigators. The monkey, like the others before it, was not part of an experiment. How the dangerous pathogen got out of its lab remains a mystery.

Preliminary tests on a sample taken from the monkey, a rhesus macaque known as IL88, indicates a possible infection with Burkholderia pseudomallei, the potential bioterror bacteria that was being used in vaccine development research elsewhere on the primate center’s 500-acre campus in Covington, La.

Sammy 07:55 AM | (0) Comments | Email this post | Permalink
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