Baltimore County Digest

BALTIMORE COUNTY DIGEST

May 16, 2007

Compromise sought on benefits changes

Two Baltimore County Council members said yesterday they hope to reach a deal with the Smith administration that would call for less drastic changes to employees' retirement plans than have been proposed.

The council is scheduled to vote May 24 on a change that would require county employees with less than 30 years' service to work until age 65, instead of 60, to receive full retirement benefits. The change has been criticized by union leaders, but county officials say it is necessary to head off a financial crisis as more and more employees retire.

Councilmen Stephen G. Samuel Moxley of Catonsville and Vincent J. Gardina of the Towson-Perry Hall area, both Democrats, said members of the panel are working with representatives of County Executive James T. Smith Jr. on a compromise.

"It looks like there's going to be some kind of a compromise reached, but I can't go into the details at this point," Gardina said.

Donald I. Mohler, a spokesman for Smith, said the administration is considering various ideas but has not guaranteed that a compromise will be reached.

"We think we have a really good plan on the table, but if the council comes up with an idea that we think is good for employees and protects the fiscal health of the county, we're always willing to listen," he said.

Josh Mitchell

Pikesville

Street renamed for Brooks Robinson

Radio Tower Drive in the Pikesville area will become Brooks Robinson Drive today, in honor of the Hall of Fame baseball player's 70th birthday this week.

Baltimore County officials plan to hold a ceremony today for the former Oriole, who retired in 1977.

The road, between Stevenson Lane and Park Heights Avenue, will be closed from about 10:15 a.m. until 11:45 a.m. for the ceremony, which is expected to be attended by Robinson, a county government spokeswoman said.

"All of the signs will be changed permanently," said the spokeswoman, Marjorie Hampson. "This isn't just a little commemorative thing."

Hampson said officials decided to rededicate the road at the suggestion of Robinson's wife and a friend.

Towson

Lamp sparks townhouse fire

A malfunctioning lamp caused a fire at a townhouse in Towson that sent one woman to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, Baltimore County fire officials said yesterday.

Shortly before 11:45 p.m. Monday, a halogen lamp started the fire, which damaged the basement and first floor of a townhouse in the 900 block of Fairmount Ave., spokeswoman Elise Armacost said.

Two people were evacuated from the home, including the woman who was taken to Shock Trauma, where she was treated for injuries that were not considered life-threatening, Armacost said.

Investigators ruled the fire accidental and estimated damage at $55,000, Armacost said.

Nick Shields

County council

Bill targets roadside solicitors

Those who fail to get a license before soliciting donations on Baltimore County roads would be subject to $100 criminal fines, under legislation proposed by a County Council member.

The bill is designed to allow police officers to crack down on violators of a law passed last summer that requires solicitors to obtain permission from the government, Councilman Vincent J. Gardina said at a council work session yesterday.

The violation already carries a $100 civil penalty. But because the county has a shortage of code enforcement officers, who work limited hours, few citations are handed out, Gardina said.

"By making it a criminal offense, it allows for the Police Department to enforce" the law at all hours, Gardina said after the work session.

The council is scheduled to vote on the bill Monday.

Josh Mitchell

Dundalk

Officials mark housing expansion

Baltimore County officials and developers marked yesterday the $6.5 million expansion of the Cove Point senior housing complex on Peninsula Expressway in Dundalk.

The 47 new apartments that make up Cove Point II are designed for people age 62 and older with lower incomes, officials said.

The developers, Enterprise Homes Inc. and J.J. Clarke Enterprises, also built the fully occupied, 100-unit Cove Point, which opened in 2005. The project was considered by county officials to be key to revitalization efforts in the area.

Residents started moving into the new building in January, according to a spokeswoman for Enterprise Homes. As of yesterday, about 92 percent of the new apartments were rented, she said.

Laura Barnhardt

Fire stations

EMS Week to feature open houses

Four Baltimore County fire stations are scheduled to hold open houses next week, featuring free blood pressure screenings and department officials answering questions about emergency medical care.

The open houses, which coincide with EMS Week, a national campaign designed to raise the public's awareness of emergency medical services, will be held Monday at Westview Station No. 13, 6300 Johnnycake Road; Tuesday at Dundalk Station No. 6, 2815 Sollers Point Road, May 23 at Parkville Station No. 10, 2325 Putty Hill Ave.; and May 24 at Randallstown Station No. 18, 3610 Brenbrook Road.

All of the open houses are scheduled from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Citizens will have the opportunity to discuss with emergency officials topics including: when one calls 911, what citizens can do to help emergency medical personnel in a 911 situation, and the training required for emergency medical personnel.

Nick Shields

Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to baltco.news@baltsun.com. Information should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the event.

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