Congratulations to Marriotts Ridge High School freshman Ben Skopic on his notable showing at the 2013 Maryland State Swimming Championships March 7-10 at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Ben swims for the Eagles Swim Team, at McDonogh School in Owings Mills, in the 13-14 age group. He placed first in the 200-yard individual medley, with a time of 1:58.97, and first in the 200-yard breaststroke, with a time of 2:12:20.

Most poignantly, Ben earned the Louis Lowenthal Memorial Award for his latter win. The award is named in memory of last year's state champion in that event, a Towson High School student who died in October at the age of 14.

Ben also earned second place in the 100-yard breaststroke, the 400-yard individual medley, the 400-yard medley relay, and the 400-yard freestyle relay, and he took third place in the one-mile freestyle.


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April heralds the arrival of the annual month-long garage sale at Frisky's Wildlife & Primate Sanctuary, at 10790 Old Frederick Road (Route 99), in Woodstock. All proceeds from this event go toward caring for the animals at Frisky's.

You can help in two ways. First, make a tax-deductible donation of items for the garage sale. Second, come shop the sale between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, April 6-28. Remember that sale items will change continuously throughout the month, and a large bag of clothing costs just $5.

For more information, go to http://www.friskys.org.

The West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary will also hold its annual yard sale on Saturday, April 27, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the corner of Routes 99 and 32.

To reserve space, go to http://www.wfvfd.org. Prior to Saturday, April 20, indoor spaces cost $30, and outdoor spaces cost $20. Participants may also bring the registration form with them on the day of the event; after April 20, indoor spaces will cost $35, and outdoor spaces will cost $25. Fees must be paid in cash. Questions? Call Sandi Hawkins at 410-442-1471.

Did you know that Howard County residents are eligible to receive one free 55-gallon plastic rain barrel per address? To qualify, simply fill out a pledge form and attend one of the ongoing Master Gardener rain barrel workshops at Alpha Ridge Landfill, 2350 Marriottsville Road.

These workshops take place the first and third Saturdays of the month, April 20-Oct. 19, at the gazebo just inside the entrance to the landfill. Advance registration is not required. Go to http://www.howardcountymd.gov/recycling.htm to learn more.

Western Howard County Relay for Life will hold its next planning meeting on Tuesday, April 9, at 7 p.m., at the Gary J. Arthur Community Center in Cookesville. All community members are invited to participate in this large annual fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. For more information, go to http://www.relayforlife.org/westernhoward, or contact the relay committee at 410-781-4316 or jenny.hogg@cancer.org.

Want to gain control of your finances and learn to make smart financial decisions? The seventh annual Money Matters Fair is scheduled for Saturday, April 6, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., at the East Columbia Branch of the Howard County Library, 6600 Cradlerock Way.

Attendees can visit with a variety of financial vendors and take advantage of free credit reports, credit counseling, financial planning sessions, and tax preparation for income-qualified individuals. To learn more, go to cc.howardcountymd.gov/displayprimary.aspx?id=6442460646.