Howard week

April 15, 2001

School system preparing pupils for new policies

Six months into the Howard County school system's strict promotion and retention policy, middle schools are still focusing on preparing parents and pupils for the new rules.

A tour through the county schools shows that the past six months have been filled with parent education -- introductory assemblies, teacher conferences and warning letters sent home.

It's also been six months of preparations for pupils -- making 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds ready for academic realities possibly harsher than any they have known.

As pupils embark on spring break, signaling the downhill slide to summer vacation, the county's middle schools want to ensure that as many as possible of the 10,671 middle-graders will have those months off.

Old cabins jeopardized by development plan

The two cabins squat in the shadow of the big manor house at Mount Joy Farm like shy children hanging back in their mother's skirts.

In truth, the cabins face a threat: Plans for a 477-unit development on 76 acres of the Ellicott City farm squeezed between U.S. 29, Route 100 and Route 108 call for the possible demolition of both buildings, at least one of which is believed to be a former slave quarters.

Winchester Homes, which bought the property from farmer M. L. Dawson Lee last fall, proposes to keep the main farmhouse but isn't sure it can spare the room taken up by the two cabins -- estimated to be at least 170 years old. But Preservation Howard County hopes to persuade the developer and county officials to incorporate the cabins into its plans.

Pressure increases for Glenelg High work

After more than a year without apparent progress, frustrated Howard County officials are joining angry Glenelg High School parents in pressing school officials to more quickly build a 400-seat addition at the school.

Originally due to open in August, the addition has a cloudy future at best as the county scrambles to supply enough new seats to meet an expected wave of high school students predicted to jam classrooms in a few years.

County Executive James N. Robey announced plans two weeks ago to build a new, 12th high school by 2005, but the Glenelg addition is critical for helping to cope with an influx expected to produce 2,000 more students than seats by decade's end.

State high court hears case involving judge's comments

Howard County Circuit Judge James B. Dudley's use of "racial cliches" while sentencing a black defendant in August 1999 introduced judicial "bias" into the sentencing process, a public defender argued Tuesday before Maryland's highest court.

Assistant Public Defender Nancy Forster, the chief of the appellate division, said "code words" -- animal, ghetto and jungle -- in Dudley's speech should be enough for the Maryland Court of Appeals to send Valentino Maurice Jackson's case back before a different Howard County judge for a new sentencing hearing.

But Assistant Attorney General Steven L. Holcomb said the words can't be looked at by themselves and argued that the judge was making a broader statement.

Elkridge man charged in secret videotaping

An Elkridge man accused of videotaping his female tenants in their rooms with pinhole cameras was charged Wednesday under a relatively new state law that makes most secret surveillance illegal.

Howard County police arrested 58-year-old Edward George Campion on four misdemeanor counts Wednesday, three weeks after one of the two tenants, a 22-year-old woman, found video monitoring equipment set up in a basement storage room. She saw images of the other woman's bathroom when she pushed play. The storage room was normally locked, police said.

Officers who searched the house, in the 6100 block of Fairbourne Court, found tiny cameras in two bathrooms and a third camera in a room that contained a tanning bed Campion allowed the women to use, according to police and charging documents. The documents said a fourth camera was found in a bathroom in another part of the residence. They also found videotapes that showed the women bathing and dressing, according to charging documents.

Foes of YMCA land sale say traffic will worsen

Several weeks after introducing expansion plans that include selling some of its Ellicott City land for a Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, the Howard County YMCA is seeing red -- literally.

At community forums Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the YMCA and its allies in the expansion project were confronted by hundreds of opponents, many of them clad in red to signal their objections. Residents have attacked the proposal, saying a Lowe's store will exacerbate traffic congestion on Montgomery Road (Route 103) and overwhelm an area dominated by the Long Gate Shopping Center.

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