Aberdeen Heritage Trust leader dies, Habitat for Humanity head steps down

Aberdeen is losing two major community leaders, as Aberdeen Heritage Trust chairwoman Ruth Hendrickson has died and Habitat for Humanity Susquehanna head Joann Blewett is stepping down.

Mrs. Hendrickson passed away Aug. 25 age of 68 and had led the nonprofit, which has focused on historic preservation in the city, since 1998.

Mayor Mike Bennett, whose mother ran the Heritage Trust before Mrs. Hendrickson, said Monday night that her loss will definitely be felt in the city.

"If anyone has ever met Ruth, you won't forget her. She is a really great lady and the city will be diminished by her passing," Bennett said, adding he developed a "really good" relationship with her.

After Bennett's mother left the committee, "Ruth stepped right in and did a wonderful job," he said.

He said visitors are welcome Thursday at Tarring-Cargo Funeral Home on South Parke Street, from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m.

Joann Blewett, executive director of Habitat for Humanity, is also leaving to pursue a master's degree in spiritual formation, Bennett said.

The organization has built numerous homes in Aberdeen over the years.

"She's been with the organization for 10 years and has made a great impact on Habitat," Bennett said. "We're very grateful for her leadership and we wish her all the best as she moves on."

Charles L. "Chuck" Slusher will serve as interim director while Habitat conducts a nationwide search for a new leader, Bennett said.

According to a recent press release, Blewett oversaw the building of 56 new homes and initiated a home repair program in 2008 that served more than 140 families. She also developed a partnership with Harford Technical High School in which students help build Habitat homes and learn LEED-certified construction techniques.

City council actions Monday include:

• Announced the State Highway Administration plans to conduct a traffic study at West Bel Air Avenue and Moyer Drive. Councilman Bruce Garner said speed has definitely been a problem there. He said a resident has gotten SHA to do a study when school starts, to be completed at the end of September;

• Approved six vehicles, ranging in age from 1998 to 2001, to be marked surplus and ultimately sold.

• Approved bills supporting a community development grant for the Highlands School and a grant to help raise $1.5 million toward a new Humane Society of Harford County shelter.

• Postponed a vote on a resolution regarding unsafe buildings. City Manager Doug Miller explained the city attorney wants to put more due process into the condemnation and razing process.

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