Howard Week

July 14, 2002

County homes roomiest in state, census figures show

Years of fast-paced development in Howard County have left residents with less room to roam - but more rooms. Breakfast rooms. Game rooms. In-law rooms. Computer rooms.

Lumping together the mansions and the studio apartments, the 2000 Census calculated that the median residence in the county has seven rooms - more than the median anywhere else in Maryland.

It's simply the logical extreme of a nationwide drive for more interior space, even as lots shrink. From 1987 to 2000, according to the National Association of Home Builders, the average house jumped from 1,900 square feet to more than 2,200 square feet.

Recruiters think creatively to attract teachers

The summertime flurry to fill Maryland classrooms with qualified teachers grows more frenzied every year, as the gap between teacher vacancies and the number of newly trained graduates grows.

From traveling billboards to prime-time television commercials to free move-in money and discounts at the local Bagel Bin, school systems across the region have been forced to become more creative in the ways they recruit candidates.

Over the summer, the 24 Maryland school districts will need to hire about 8,000 teachers. So school officials have become adept at thinking outside the box, to send job candidates a solid message: You will be supported here.

Ellicott City's Main Street seeks distinctive tenants

Some of the largest floor space available on Ellicott City's Main Street is going to an antiques dealer and an interior designer, two businesses that observers say will distinguish Main Street and further establish it as a location for offices as well as retail stores.

Creative Access, an interior design business, will relocate its headquarters from Catonsville to 3,500 square feet in what had been the Farmers & Mechanics Bank building. Regency Antiques, an antiques and reproductions shop on Howard Street in Baltimore, will expand in a new direction with art, home furnishings and lighting at Regency Galleries on the first floor of the firehouse.

Lisa DeVries of Waverly Real Estate, who leased both spaces, said she believes those stores reflect a change in the image of Main Street.

Courthouse inspection finds 3 fire code violations

Howard County fire officials issued three citations - each carrying a $100 fine - against the county's historic Circuit Court building Tuesday, citing continued problems with blocked hallways and the sprinkler system.

The violations, the only three not to be remedied after an initial April inspection turned up multiple code problems, were all in one area - the Howard clerk of the Circuit Court's space, a historically cramped office with multiple public files and paperwork.

There, fire officials noted a hallway blocked by storage boxes, a file room with court files piled too close to sprinkler heads and a stairwell sprinkler control valve blocked by a filing cabinet.

Clerk of the Circuit Court Margaret D. Rappaport said one of the violations should be easy to fix, but the other two require space she said she does not have.

Coalition formed to lobby for old Tubman School

Propelled to action by a proposal to turn the former Harriet Tubman high school into a crisis center, Howard County African-American leaders and residents are taking the first steps down a path that they hope will end with them managing the segregation-era campus as a community center.

Thirteen people - four of them alumni - have formed a coalition to lobby for the campus in southern Columbia. Tubman opened in 1948 as the county's first black high school with a 12th grade.

Residents said they had long wanted, and asked, to transform the buildings into a museum and place for neighborhood activities. But it took a proposal for a potentially long-term use of another sort to rally leaders around an organized effort.

Elementary, middle school redistricting process begins

A redrawing of boundary lines has quietly begun for 38 elementary schools and 18 middle schools, and it is likely to affect where thousands of Howard County pupils will go to school in fall 2003.

The Howard County School Boundary Line Committee, which is expected to recommend district boundary changes to the school board in the fall, is hard at work determining how best to reapportion elementary pupils once Bellows Spring, a new elementary school, opens in Ellicott City next year.

Relatively little community interest has been shown in the process thus far - few residents have made it to the committee's Tuesday night meetings. But the task appears likely to become a contentious one, potentially rivaling last year's angry struggle over redistricting the county's high schools.

At the Howard County Board of Education meeting Thursday evening, Ellen Giles, the committee's interim chairwoman, said the committee should have a first-draft redistricting map ready by early next month.

Hearing delayed for father charged in killings

A preliminary hearing for a 44-year-old Columbia banker charged with killing his two preschool-age daughters last month was delayed Thursday to give mental health professionals more time to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

During a brief appearance in Howard District Court, an attorney for Robert Emmett Filippi said that officials at Clifton T. Perkins Hospital were evaluating his client and would need more time to assess whether he will be able to assist in his defense.

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