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October 2013: Federal shutdown, new judges picked, holdup suspect nabbed

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Two new state traffic laws went into effect Oct. 1. The new laws make using a hand-held cell phone or electronic device while driving a primary traffic offense and also requires all occupants of a vehicle to wear a seat belt. Prior to Oct. 1, drivers could only be cited for using a hand-held device if they were seen violating another traffic law.

The federal government shut down on Oct. 1 because of a political fight in Washington, D.C. Aberdeen Proving Ground, Harford County's largest employment agency, as well as other federal offices and agencies were affected. Many were concerned about what long term impact this would have on the local economy. Also, some of the Harford County public school trips had to be canceled, especially those to Washington, D.C. and national landmarks. The shutdown lasted a little over a week before civilian employees were called back to work.

St. Margaret School in Bel Air earned the distinction of being a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence. The Blue Ribbon designation is given by the U. S. Department of Education officials around the country "where students perform at very high levels or where significant improvements are being made in student's' academic achievement."

Harford County Council President Billy Boniface announced he won't run for re-election. He plans to spend more time with his family and tending to his family's farm.

Harford County is working on creating a countywide Water and Sewer Authority to oversee all water and sewer operations in the county. Water and sewer systems in Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace are owned and operated by those communities or by a private company. County Executive David R. Craig expected that the consolidation would prevent rates from increasing in the future.

Ray Rice, Baltimore Ravens running back, made an unexpected appearance at Bel Air High School to talk about his experiences with bullying. Rice was invited to the school after a grandfather of one of the students won a raffle to have a Ravens player visit the school. Bel Air High School has been involved in the Rachel's Challenge for the last three years. It is a campaign named after a Columbine High School student who was killed during in a school shooting.

A Dundalk man was arrested in connection with more than a dozen robberies in Baltimore and Harford Counties. The man is believed to be responsible for nine robberies in Fallston and Bel Air, including three robberies of the Benson post office and numerous local banks.

A contract was awarded for a right turn lane from Schucks Road onto Route 22 east to alleviate traffic expected from the new Towson University building expansion on the Harford Community College campus.

The old Main Street jailhouse, which had been empty since the 1970s and was more than 150 years old, was going to be torn down. The demolition would include the removal of the old jail and additions behind the sheriff's office.

The Upper Chesapeake Health System announced it was postponing the planning and construction of a proposed medical campus and hospital next to the Bulle Rock development in Havre de Grace. The organization wanted to "wait and see" how the new federal and state health care policies, including the Affordable Care Act, affected patient insurance reimbursements, a revenue source for the health care system.

Two new judges were appointed to the Harford County bench by Gov. Martin O'Malley, David E. Carey and Yolanda L. Curtin. Carey, a Bel Air Town Commissioner, has served as the town's mayor and longtime lawyer with the firm Brown, Brown and Young. Curtin is an administrative law judge for Maryland's Office of Administrative Hearings and spent 10 years as an assistant state's attorney for Harford County.

Participation in fall athletics in Harford County Public Schools declined by 3.1 percent from last year. One possible factor is the "pay to play" fee that went into effect this school year.

Aberdeen High School dedicated its new artificial turf field before the Eagles football team's homecoming game against Perryville. This marks the seventh turf field project at a Harford County public school. There will be only three Harford County public schools left playing on grass - Fallston, Patterson Mill and Joppatowne. Joppatowne is the next school scheduled to get a turf field in a project that will start some time in the summer of 2014.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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    Ravens running back Ray Rice visits Bel Air High School in October to deliver an anti-bullying message to students. Bullying in schools became a growing concern in Harford County in 2013.

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    St. Margaret School in Bel Air was named a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education in October.

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