Howard Week

August 18, 2002

Hospital has grand plans for expansion

Howard County General Hospital, buoyed by its Johns Hopkins affiliation, is in the middle of a $34 million expansion spree, but it's nothing compared with what's on the way.

It opened a high-tech intensive care unit last year and stocked it with massaging beds. Last month, it unveiled a emergency care department triple the size of the old one. A maternal child facility arrives next month. And next year, expect the diagnostic imaging department to appear between April and June.

That's phase one of the strategic master plan, which envisions the hospital as a major player in health care. Ahead is phase two, which will cost more than $50 million. It includes such projects as building comprehensive women- and senior-focused health centers on the 10 acres the hospital bought from the Rouse Co. The $4.25 million acquisition, finalized in June, brings the campus to 29 acres.

Satisfaction rate at 52% for Columbia lienholders

A telephone survey shows that the Columbia Association may have rebounded from a period of tumultuous leadership, with slightly more than half of the town's residents responding that they're getting their money's worth from the liens they pay.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research interviewed 807 adults and found that 52 percent of Columbia residents are satisfied with the quality of the homeowners association's services that are partially funded by assessment fees.

That number is 9 percentage points higher than in April 2000, bringing the satisfaction rate roughly back to the June 1997 level.

Minorities out-earn whites in certain areas

The richest people in Howard County's richest corner are minorities. Median household income for blacks and Asians in the census tract that includes most of Clarksville outstripped what whites in that area earned in 1999, according to 2000 census data released Tuesday.

In a surprising show of economic power, African-American and Asian households each out-earned whites in 30 percent of the census tracts in the county - the 10th wealthiest in the nation. Hispanic households earned more than whites in about 45 percent of Howard's tracts.

"This debunks the whole theory of `there goes the neighborhood,'" said Charles M. Christian, a University of Maryland professor of social and population geography. "The cost of diversity has been an absolute plus."

Sudden closing puzzles Ameritrain students

Ameritrain Inc., a Pennsylvania-based computer network training company with offices around the country, has closed its Columbia office abruptly, stranding students who paid for courses.

Information on the company's Web site said it is moving its Atlanta, Columbia and Tysons Corner, Va., offices, but students in Columbia said they arrived last week at class to find the doors locked.

The company repeated tactics it used last month when it closed an office in Charlotte, N.C., and one in Pennsylvania. Students there said they attempted to contact Steven H. Gouveia, the company's vice president and general manager, but received no response.

Students whose classes were canceled should contact Judy Hendrickson at 410-260-4531. Students also have a Web site called Ameritrain Students Fight Back at

O'Rourke appoints elementary schools chief

A former Prince George's County high school principal will be the next Howard County director of elementary schools, a position that has taken on greater importance since the district launched an improvement program, focusing attention and resources on struggling schools.

Superintendent John R. O'Rourke announced the appointment of Michael Martirano, who has been principal of Laurel High School since last year, to the position Tuesday.

Martirano has two master's degrees from the University of Maryland in education-related areas and a doctoral degree from Nova Southeastern University in school management and instructional leadership.

15 applicants seek district judgeship

A Howard County judicial vacancy created by the recent death of District Judge C. James Sfekas has drawn 15 applicants - including a pool of four lawyers recommended to the governor earlier this year.

The list, which was released late Wednesday afternoon, includes many lawyers who applied for an earlier vacancy filled this spring by Pamila J. Brown - and three new names. But 10 lawyers opted not to reapply.

Robert W. Guth, the immediate past president of the Howard County Bar Association, speculated Wednesday that some attorneys who did not make the list of finalists for Brown's job might have worried that they did not have time to improve their applications. They also might have decided that the pool of four - whose names are automatically forwarded to the governor - will hurt their chances for an appointment, he said.

Ellicott City man, Ravens coach settle case

The criminal and civil cases filed by an Ellicott City man who alleged that Ravens defensive line coach Rex Ryan beat him up will go away as part of a settlement between the two sides, lawyers said Thursday.

Lawyers for Ryan and Robert Wheatley confirmed that a misdemeanor assault charge filed against Ryan has been dismissed in Howard District Court. A civil lawsuit alleging assault, battery and emotional distress - and seeking $3.6 million - will also be dismissed in Howard Circuit Court, the lawyers said.

Carey Deeley, who represents Ryan, and Clarke F. Ahlers, who represents Wheatley, would not elaborate on the terms of the settlement.

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