January: From babies to snow, Harford welcomes 2011

Samantha May Putnam, the first baby of 2011 born in Harford County, came into the world at 12:26 a.m. on Jan. 2 at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air. This was the first child for mother Stephanie Stottlemyer and David Putnam of Havre de Grace. Putnam said everything went smoothly, and the baby was born healthy and happy.

The county's "Black Box" office building at 212 S. Bond St. in Bel Air was deemed structurally unsafe. More than 70 Harford County government employees had to be relocated to because of a preliminary report that said the building's floor joists might be separating from its steel beams.

More than $10,000 cash was reported missing from Patterson Mill High School. The theft occurred over a 10-month period starting in December 2009. The money was taken from the cash box at various sporting events.

Coach Jim Smith, former Aberdeen High School football coach and later director of parks and recreation, died New Year's Day at Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center in Havre de Grace at age 85.

Public hearings on the new school redistricting plan that needed to be in place by March 1 were scheduled to begin. The redistricting plan aimed to redraw the county's school districts for the purposes of balancing enrollment across all elementary schools and creating an attendance area for the new Red Pump Elementary School.

Michael Oher visited The Sports Store in the Harford Mall. Hundreds of Ravens fans stood in line for hours to get autographs and to take pictures with the Baltimore Ravens left tackle. This was just days before the Ravens took on the Chiefs in Kansas City in the Wild Card round of the playoffs.

Thomas Bernard Burdsall Jr., 16, was stabbed to death outside of his home in the 200 block of Edmund Street in Aberdeen. A 20-year-old man was arrested and charged with first-degree and second-degree murder and first-degree and second-degree assault. The stabbing started as some sort of dispute, but a motive was still unknown at the newspaper's deadline.

Harford's weather for the second week in January caused a few minor school bus crashes. Complaints about the decision to open Harford County Public Schools on time came from parents and teachers. A light dusting of snow made the roads treacherous in some areas of the county and contributed to numerous accidents.

The first significant snowfall of the year started around 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, and didn't end until the next morning. There was an accumulation of four to six inches, enough to close schools Wednesday and delay Thursday morning's opening.

Brian Feist was named the new Harford County Emergency Operations Center Director. "I was overwhelmed by the welcome and look forward to working with the staff and government in Harford County." Feist said.

The main county office building and part of Main Street in Bel Air were evacuated and blocked off after a suspicious burning electrical smell was reported. The source of the smell was identified as a relay to the heater motor that burned in the building's ceiling area. There was no damage to the building and the employees were allowed to return to the building.

Six adults and one juvenile were arrested and charged in an alleged illegal marijuana dealing operation from a house in Bel Air. Police seized 100 grams of marijuana from the house as well as $190 cash and two scales. The house on East MacPhail Road had a lot of foot traffic, causing suspicion of illegal drug activity, police said.

New housing construction hit a new low in Harford County. Real estate agents and home builders continued to mention BRAC as the driving force behind what little home building was happening. The biggest drivers of the 2010 housing permits were Monmouth Meadows in Abingdon and Hollywoods and Beechtree Estates, both located west of Aberdeen.

Travis Nelson Gray, of Darlington, pleaded guilty to three charges of negligent homicide while under the influence in connection with a 2009 traffic accident that killed three people. Gray was driving a 2002 Ford F250 pickup north on Route 543 near Prospect Road in Street when his truck crossed into the oncoming lane and collided head-on with a 1998 Ford F150. The driver of the 1998 pickup, James Bielanski, his wife, Pamela, both of Street, were pronounced dead at the scene. A third passenger, William Arbogast, died the next day at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. Prosecutors said they would recommend the maximum 15-year prison sentence with five years suspended and 10 years to actually serve. The three people killed were on their way to hunt deer when they were killed by the drunk driver.

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