Downtown Columbia Partnership

The Downtown Columbia Partnership has named Gregory A. Fitchitt president and chair of the board and Barbara A. Nicklas executive director. (File and Submitted Photos / July 2, 2014)

The Downtown Columbia Partnership has named Gregory A. Fitchitt as president and chair of the board and appointed Barbara A. Nicklas executive director.

Established in 2013, the Downtown Columbia Partnership is an independent nonprofit dedicated to marketing and promoting downtown Columbia.

The partnership's seven-member board elected Fitchitt and confirmed Nicklas in June.

Fitchitt, who also serves as vice president of development for The Howard Hughes Corp., said, "This is an exciting time for Downtown Columbia as it evolves with the welcome addition of new retailers and restaurant options, and later this year, some new places to live."

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Since joining Howard Hughes in March 2013, Fitchitt has led planning and development efforts for a number of properties across the country. He recently relocated to Howard County to focus on development in downtown Columbia for the company.

As executive director, Nicklas will direct the business and resources of the Downtown Columbia Partnership. Nicklas now serves as a senior associate for Maier & Warner Public Relations/Marketing in Rockville, where she focuses on marketing and promotional activities for a number of clients in commercial real estate and community development, including The Downtown Columbia Partnership.

Earlier this spring, the Downtown Columbia Partnership launched a new brand and unveiled media campaigns that highlight downtown Columbia. The campaigns focus on the downtown area's lifestyle amenities, and on community efforts to increase connectedness and walkability.

Howard leads state in percentage of students enrolling in college

Howard County Public Schools leads all state systems in percentage of high school graduates that go on to enroll in college, according to Maryland Department of Education data.

Officials said that 85.6 percent of Howard County's high school graduates in 2012 enrolled in college within 16 months of earning a high school diploma. The figure was 16 percentage points higher than the state average, officials said.

Howard County also tops all state school districts in the percentage of African American graduates (78 percent) and Hispanic graduates (75.7 percent) that enroll in a two-or-four year institution, officials said.

In a press release, Superintendent Renee A. Foose said the report "is proof in the power of building a vibrant learning community that engages and inspires students to thrive."

Joe Burris, Baltimore Sun

New route names, expanded service with RTA launch

With this past week's launch of the Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland — an intercounty bus service linking Howard, Anne Arundel and Prince George's counties and the city of Laurel that has replaced Central Maryland Regional Transit — Howard bus riders will see some changes and improvements to their routes, officials said.

The RTA is renaming all bus routes in Howard, including Connect-A-Ride and Howard Transit, as well as in other participating counties to make the service easier to use, officials said. The new routes will be identified by three-digit numbers.

Howard County's new routes are as follows: Green becomes 401, Orange is 404, Yellow is 405, Red is 406, Brown is 407, Gold is 408 and Purple is 409.

In the city of Laurel, the Silver line becomes the 501, B becomes 502 and E becomes 503.

Annapolis bus routes will be labeled with numbers in the 100s, 200s will be Anne Arundel County and 300s will be Prince George's.

Buses will display both the new and old route names for a transitional period to avoid confusing customers, officials said.