August 15, 2007

$1.3 million offered to restore stream

The state will provide $1.3 million to restore the natural channel and make other improvements to Cowhide Branch in Annapolis, Gov. Martin O'Malley announced yesterday.

The project, which will cost $2.3 million, also calls for removing a fish barrier along U.S. 50, replacing an outfall from a storm-water management pond, improving Weems Creek and the Severn River and reintroducing native wetland plants. The goal is to upgrade the water quality and create a native, scenic habitat.

"Sometimes the best thing we can do as stewards of the land is simply restore it to its natural state," O'Malley said in a prepared statement. " ... We are following a course that makes sense not only historically, but for future generations as well."

Annapolis makes list of top waterfront towns

The September issue of National Geographic Adventure magazine names Annapolis as one of the top waterfront towns in the country.

In its first guide to the best mountain, urban, waterfront, wilderness and small towns in the 50 states, the magazine put Annapolis in the company of Waimea, Hawaii; Fond du Lac, Wis.; Newport, R.I.; Rockland, Maine; Mystic, Conn.; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Beaufort, S.C.; and Lewiston, Idaho.

Meeting set Aug. 28 on dairy farm's fate

County Executive John R. Leopold has scheduled a public forum from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 28 at Arundel High School to share the county's vision for the former Naval Academy Dairy Farm.

Attendees will learn about the progress of the lease negotiations with the Navy, which owns the 857-acre site in Gambrills, and the conceptual design for how the county intends to protect its agricultural heritage.

In June, the Navy granted exclusive negotiating rights to the county for a long-term lease of the farm, which produced milk for Naval Academy midshipmen from 1917 to 1998. It is currently being rented by an organic farming operation, Maryland Sunrise Farms LLC, whose lease expires Feb. 1.

Leopold has said he would like to create both a community garden and botanical garden there.

Audit of wills office finds records flawed

An audit of the county Office of the Register of Wills found that internal controls over money received in the mail were inadequate, according to a report released this week.

The office oversees the administration of estates and collects inheritance taxes and other fees, which mostly go to the state's general fund. In fiscal 2006, the office took in $4.8 million.

The audit, which covered the period from Feb. 18, 2004, to April 18, 2007, noted that the office didn't have adequate procedures to verify that collections received through the mail were deposited.

It recommended that an employee independent of the collection and deposit functions verify that all mail collections initially recorded on the check log are deposited.

Register of Wills Lauren Parker responded in a July 31 letter to the state's Office of Legislative Audits that she would assign an employee to that duty.

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