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Bel Air honors Community Foundation leaders at Monday town meeting

Town's mayor also recognized for statewide emergency preparedness work

BY DAVID ANDERSON, daanderson@baltsun.com

2:18 PM EDT, March 19, 2013

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The Bel Air Board of Town Commissioners honored two local men Monday for their work with the Greater Bel Air Community Foundation, a nearly 15-year-old nonprofit which has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for community projects in Bel Air and the surrounding area.

"They're very reluctant to get the praise heaped on them that they're about to get," Commissioner David Carey said as Bill Cox, the chairman of the foundation, and Don Young, the founding chairman, made their way to the podium to receive town proclamations.

Carey listed a number of projects the foundation has raised money for since it was founded in April 1998. Those projects include nearly $300,000 raised for construction of bleachers at Bel Air High School, $50,000 for improvements to the William A. Humbert Amphitheater in Shamrock Park, $30,000 for restrooms at the Lyn Stacie Getz Creative Playground off Route 24, $10,000 toward construction of Annie's Playground and a climbing wall in Fallston, among others.

Carey said the foundation leaders work "year round" to put on fundraising events and all money raised "goes right back into our community."

Cox, the chairman and a founding member of the foundation, said "it's been a labor of love, really; we have a great group here." Cox is a former state delegate and a real estate broker in town.

"The bottom line is, it's a team effort," he continued. "[If] you don't have a team, you don't get anything accomplished."

Young, the founding chairman and a retired banker, spoke briefly and, along with Cox, acknowledged his fellow foundation members who attended Monday's town meeting.

"We appreciate the community's support, and obviously your support has been tremendous," Young said. "It isn't the two of us, it's the whole team and we have one heck of a team sitting back there."

Mayor honored

Bel Air Mayor Eddie Hopkins also received a proclamation Monday.

Hopkins served on the Maryland Municipal League's Hometown Emergency Preparedness Advisory Committee from 2008 to 2012 and was co-chairman in 2010 and 2011.

The HEPAC brings together elected officials, law enforcement officials, emergency managers and other representatives of the state's more than 150 cities and towns to "educate and raise awareness, and help municipalities be prepared for any emergency or catastrophic event," Hopkins said.

Marty Flemion, emergency manager for the City of Laurel and Hopkins' co-chairman of HEPAC, and Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Trabert, who is a law enforcement representative on the committee, presented the proclamation to Hopkins.

"We miss him dearly," Flemion said.

Hopkins told the audience: "When you're recognized by your colleagues and friends in an industry you have a passion for, it really touches home."

In addition to serving as a town elected official, Hopkins is chief of the Bel Air Volunteer Company and a longtime fire and ambulance service member in the county. He is also a former top administrator with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, or MEMA.

Mid-year budget approved

The town commissioners unanimously approved an amendment Monday to increase the town's budget for the 2013 fiscal year by more than $44,000 after hearing a presentation by Finance Director Lisa Moody on the mid-year status of the budget.

The change was needed because of a variety of increases and decreases in expenses and revenues during the first half of the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

A decrease of about $50,000 in health insurance costs was highlighted during the meeting. Moody attributed it to some new employees not electing health coverage for dependents, plus efforts by town officials to promote employee wellness and reduce the number of on-the-job accidents.

"All of the work that the risk management committee is doing – and the employees themselves – is really paying off," Moody told the commissioners.

Carey said "the town has made it a focus to try and eliminate injuries."

The budget amendment was presented for a public hearing during Monday's meeting, but no one from the public spoke about it.

New business

The commissioners unanimously approved a fee schedule amendment to increase the fee charged to owners of property sold at a county tax sale auction by $10.

Harford County handles tax sale auctions for Bel Air and the county's other two municipalities, and has begun charging them $10 to sell properties within their corporate limits. The county's fee would be passed on to the owners of property which has been seized for nonpayment of property taxes or other fees owed to the town.

The town already charges those property owners a $20 fee.

Michael Krantz, director of human resources and administration, presented the fee change to the commissioners.

He said the fee would be split evenly between the town and county, if the owner owes the county and the town.

The commissioners also approved a $15,770 purchase order to buy new furniture and storage receptacles for the town's police dispatch center.

Police Chief Leo Matrangola said Evans Consoles, which the town had hired to build and install a new dispatch console last spring, would build and install the storage units.

The chief said Evans "has delivered a very sturdy, ergonomic, dispatch center which serves the police department very well."

Boulton traffic signal

Philip Einhorn, who lives in the English Country Manor Condos, inquired about the status of a traffic light at the intersection of Boulton Street and Gateway Drive near the condo complex, which residents had petitioned town officials for.

The commissioners approved an $85,031 contract for the signal last month. Public Works Director Randy Robertson said Monday the signal is being fabricated and officials "hope by mid-April we'll have the signal operational."

Einhorn is a member the English Country Manor Phase II Homeowners Association. He came with Patricia Rebbert, a fellow board member and recording secretary.

"Getting out on Boulton Street, especially in you want to make a left turn, it's not easy, and especially during busy shopping times, it's near impossible," Rebbert said after the meeting.

Easter egg hunt

Robert Reier, vice chair of the board of commissioners, announced Rockfield Manor's annual Easter egg hunt will be held Saturday.

Reier stressed the hunt begins "promptly" at 1 p.m.

The town commissioners also thanked Sgt. Robert Pfarr and his fellow police officials for working with downtown businesses to ensure St. Patrick's Day revelers could safely patronize downtown bars Saturday and Sunday.

"My hat's off to the businesses for being a partner with us," Hopkins said.