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."
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.
The new system brings other visible changes: New RTA buses will be decorated with a black, red and yellow swoosh design and bus drivers will now have RTA insignia on their uniforms. New bus signs will be labeled with a number so that riders can call or text the NextBus system to learn when their bus will arrive.
And beginning this week, service on Route 406, which runs from The Mall in Columbia to the Snowden Square Shopping Center and is one of the busiest bus lines in the county, will expand its service to provide buses every 30 minutes rather than every hour.
The agency plans to launch a website, transitRTA.com, later this month.
—Amanda Yeager, Baltimore Sun Media Group
Plans would bring 150 single-family homes to Clarksville
A developer has unveiled a concept plan that would bring 150 single-family detached homes to Clarksville off Route 108. The project, known as Enclaves at Tierney Farm, is located south of Route 32, off Route 108 and Guilford Road.
Joe Rutter, a principal at Land Design and Development and a representative for the development group, presented the details of the concept plan at a pre-submission community meeting held at the Robinson Nature Center on June 26.
Rutter said the project isn't expected to be through the approval process until 2015, and the earliest the construction could begin would be late in 2015. He said the build-out is expected to be between three and five years — meaning residents wouldn't move in until 2018.
Among the concerns raised by residents at the meeting were the possibility of increasing traffic on Guilford Road and overcrowding schools, and the density of the property.
Rutter said the developer is required to study the impact on the roads and the schools, and will have to accommodate any changes mandated by the county in that regard.
He added that the density is allowed under the zoning, and that any changes would have to come from comments from the county's Department of Planning and Zoning.
—Luke Lavoie, Baltimore Sun Media Group
County, CA and Wegmans partner to promote trails
Wegmans of Columbia has partnered with the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks and the Columbia Association on a program incentivizing the use of the county's trail system.
The initiative, called Howard County's Nature Quest, was developed using Wegmans Passport to Family Wellness program, which the grocer developed in 2005.
The Wegmans program gives participants a pocket-sized booklet guiding them through 16 county trails — eight managed by the Columbia Association and eight by the county.
Participants can record their progress by stamping their passports with a marker located at a designated point on each trail. Those who walk all eight of the county's or CA's trails will receive giveaways from that organization, and those who walk all 16 are entered into a raffle for a $100 Wegmans Gift Card.
The passports are available at the following locations: Howard County Recreation and Parks Headquarters, 7120 Oakland Mills Road, Columbia; Roger Carter Community Center, 3000 Milltowne Drive, Ellicott City; Gary J. Arthur Community Center, 2400 Route 97, Cooksville; North Laurel Community Center, 9411 Whiskey Bottom Road, Laurel; Robinson Nature Center, 6692 Cedar Lane, Columbia; Meadowbrook Athletic Complex, 5001 Meadowbrook Lane, Ellicott City; Columbia Association Headquarters, 10221 Wincopin Circle, No. 100, Columbia; and Wegmans, 8855 McGaw Road, Columbia.