County, PATH launch green jobs program for youth

A new summer jobs program being launched by Howard County and People Acting Together in Howard, in conjunction with local nonprofits, will tackle two issues central to PATH's mission: creating green jobs and youth employment.

County Executive Ken Ulman this week announced the program, which will provide full-time jobs this summer for 40 young people, ages 16 to 22, and six adult crew leaders building rain gardens on private property in the county. PATH, a coalition of faith groups, will work with its members to help identify sites for the rain gardens.

"This is really a pilot to see that this project will accomplish its goals and then we'll evaluate it moving forward," Ulman said.

The county has dedicated millions of dollars over the past few years to implement storm water controls, such as rain gardens and storm water ponds, on county-owned property to meet state and federal mandates for reducing runoff in the Chesapeake Bay. But to meet the mandates, Ulman said, storm water controls also have to be built on private property, and the jobs program will help.

"This seemed like a great way to get started with the building of many on-site storm water facilities that are going to be needed," said Jim Caldwell, the county's storm water manager.

The county is providing a $432,000 grant for the program, which will be administered by three local nonprofits: Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay will manage the program and employee the youth; Parks and People Foundation will train the youth on how to build rain gardens; and Maryland Sea Grant will assist in planning the designs for each site.

Caldwell said the grant requires the program to produce enough rain gardens to control storm water runoff on 120,000 square feet of impervious area, such as parking lots and driveways.

"Hopefully we will be educating kids along the way to have extra sensitivity to the environment," he said.

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