Howard Week

September 02, 2001

Columbia Council hopes to devise new plan for city

The new town of Columbia was planned down to the most minute detail before construction began 34 years ago. The way the roads were drawn, the mailboxes arranged, the shopping centers laid out - all of it was supposed to make for a better community.

Now, Columbia Council members say, it's time for a new plan. That's because despite all the thought put into Columbia's design, the community is facing challenges that no one anticipated.

Some of its shopping centers are struggling. Ditto for some schools.

The town's reputation for racial diversity and environmental sensitivity isn't what it used to be. And the Columbia Association's revenues are tapering off at the same time that its older facilities cry out for reinvestment.

The council is trying to address those problems and others by crafting a list of "strategic issues," which is intended to establish long-term goals and priorities for the homeowners association that governs the town of 88,000.

Preservationists seek endangered sites list

Pleased with the results from their first "Top Ten Endangered Sites" list, Howard County preservationists are putting out a second call for the names of historic properties threatened by decay or development.

Whether it was the publicity or just coincidence, many of the sites on the first list - which Preservation Howard County released in May - now have brighter futures.

Activists involved with the nonprofit group intend to compile a new list by May of next year and want residents to nominate additional buildings and places by the end of November.

"The most important thing the list did is create a good dialogue in the county about historic sites," said Mary Catherine Cochran, president of Preservation Howard County.

Students improve scores on SAT by 13 points

After two years of declining scores, Howard County's college-bound students improved their performance on the SAT last school year by 13 points.

The increase brings the average composite score for Howard students up to 1,084 of a possible 1,600 points, and it alleviates school officials' fears that a downward trend might have been surfacing.

The SAT score equals the county's all-time high - from the class of 1998 - but the increase is the biggest in recent history.

"This is the largest one I can remember in the 15 years I've been here," school system spokeswoman Patti Caplan said Tuesday.

Violent crime reported affecting few in county

Howard County police statistics show that the majority of residents have little to fear when it comes to crime.

Arrests have been made in each of the three homicides in the county this year, and data released Tuesday show 20 cases of rape and fewer than 100 cases of robbery in Howard during the first half of 2001.

Just 0.10 percent of Howard County's 251,000 residents were affected by violent crime during the first six months, compared with 0.09 percent during the same period last year, according to the Police Department's uniform crime report.

Carroll family members buy tract near manor

As about 100 people watched, prime Ellicott City land owned by descendants of a Declaration of Independence signer was auctioned Wednesday on the steps of the Howard County Circuit Courthouse - bought for $12.5 million by four of the family members, who plan to build houses there.

The 270-acre parcel sits to the south of the Carroll family's Doughoregan Manor, the stately home where Charles Carroll once lived. Two branches of the family jointly owned the tract and were on the verge of battling over the fate of the land in court this year when each side agreed to the auction.

The auction turned into a face-off between relatives rather than builders. Only about a dozen people handed over a $150,000 certified check necessary to register for the auction. Half didn't even bid. Soon, only the two Carroll factions were left, each bidding through a developer, as auctioneer Robert Kline acknowledged the escalating offers.

Escapee located, caught at West Virginia motel

His hair had been dyed and he was no longer wearing shackles and handcuffs, but Howard County police found escapee J.C. Porter in a West Virginia motel Tuesday night, authorities said Wednesday.

Porter ran barefoot from security guards on the evening of Aug. 20 while he was at Howard County District Court in Ellicott City to see a bail commissioner. He fled into a wooded area north of the court building, police said.

A tip a few days ago led Howard detectives to Petersburg, W.Va., where they found Porter at a motel and took him into custody shortly after 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said.

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