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Howard County Times
Howard Magazine

Best of Howard County 2022: Residents’ favorite people, places and things to do

Need a roofer or dentist? Looking to join a gym? What about a recommendation for kids’ activities?

The Best of Howard County can help. More than 34,500 votes were cast in this year’s readers’ poll, culling a list of the 74 top people to know, places to go and things to do.

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Personalities

Blog: Scott E’s Blog

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Honorable mentions:

Village Green/Town Square

Howard County Progress Report

Clergyperson: The Rev. Paige Getty, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbia

Honorable mentions:

Fr. Michael DeAscanis St. Louis Parish

The Rev. Mitchell Lee, Grace Community Church

Elected official: Calvin Ball, County Executive

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Honorable mentions:

David Yungmann, Howard County Council, District 5

Liz Walsh, Howard County Council, District 1

Deb Jung, Howard County Council, District 4

Personal trainer: Bonnie Pace, Columbia Association

Honorable mention:

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Tahis Blue, Columbia Association

Police officer: Joseph Barbato, Howard County Police Dept.

Ryan Hellem, principal at Resurrection-St. Paul School, is in his second year at the pre-k through grade 8 Catholic school.

Principal: Ryan Hellem, Resurrection St. Paul School

3155 Paulskirk Drive, Ellicott City. 410-461-9111. resstpaul.org

In his second year as principal at Resurrection St. Paul, Ryan Hellem uplifts his educational environment by spreading positivity, leading by example and putting his students, faculty and staff first.

“I wouldn’t argue that I’m better or different from other leaders in the school system, or in general, but working to build relationships, listen first, and treat all people with respect and dignity has helped me become a leader that is more of a servant leader.”

Resurrection St. Paul boasts a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) certified, Catholic-based education, and Hellem implemented a new system this year that has added some fun to the preparatory school.

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“Every student is sorted into a House based on saints,” he said. “I like to say we’re eight houses but one family, and that is the epitome of what Resurrection St. Paul is.

“We have all these different backgrounds, beliefs and we come from different areas, but we all are here to help prepare students whether that’s in high school, college and beyond.”

Hellem said the system creates camaraderie between students from Kindergarten to 8th grade.

“There’s competitions throughout the year, they earn House points, and those House points leads to a House Cup Champion at the end of the year.”

Having taught high school and coached before working as an administrator, Hellem, 37, credits his staff for “everything that happens at Resurrection St. Paul.”

“The support staff, the teachers, are really the true ones that put in the work,” the principal said. “They’re really the superstars of the show here and the ones who really deserve all the credit.”

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Honorable mentions:

Edward Cosentino, Clemens Crossing Elementary School

Nick Novak, Howard High School

Rick Robb, Patuxent Valley Middle School

Out & About

Annual festival/event: Columbia Festival of the Arts

Honorable mentions:

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Wine in the Woods

Savage Mill’s Music Festivals

Fall Festival Ellicott City

Art gallery: HorseSpirit Arts Gallery

Honorable mentions:

Howard County Center for the Arts

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Artcraft Collection

Columbia Art Center

Kids’ activity: Clark’s Elioak Farm

Honorable mentions:

Terrapin Adventures

Miller Branch, Howard County Library System

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Central Branch, Howard County Library System

Mark Minnick, associate producer and artistic director, left, and Toby Orenstein, owner and artistic director of Toby’s Dinner Theatre, have worked together for decades. Orenstein, now 85, was invited by James Rouse to open a theater in Columbia in 1979.

Performing arts group: Toby’s Dinner Theatre

5900 Symphony Woods Road. tobysdinnertheatre.com

Since 1979, Toby’s Dinner Theatre has entertained Columbia crowds and garnered local theater nominations and awards with productions, such as the current show “Ghost the Musical,” which runs until Nov. 6. Mark Minnick, Toby’s associate producer, said it’s the organization’s founder Toby Orenstein 85, that keeps the theater thriving.

“It comes from dedication and heart and Toby has never been afraid to take a risk,” Minnick said. “With risk comes reward.

Having worked alongside her for a decade, Minnick said Orenstein, who recently celebrated 50 years of her school Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts, has always prioritized quality arts education and entertainment.

“She, and the entire staff at Toby’s, puts their best foot forward to provide an outstanding experience where families can come together and share a meal and performance,” he said. “Where you can put your phones down.”

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From the moment they’re seated, audiences become part of the on-and-off stage action.

“Patrons get to interact a little bit with our actors — before the show and during intermission — where it becomes a mutual admiration society. We get to thank them for supporting the arts,” he said. “They get to learn about our performers and they get to show their appreciation. There’s a personal touch that comes with an evening at Toby’s.”

Toby’s “is in an intimate, in-the-round setting, where no table is more than 30 feet from the stage. The intimacy just makes everything 100 times better,” he said. “You’re right there with the actors as they’re laughing as they’re crying. It draws you in.”

Honorable mentions:

Candlelight Concert Society

Columbia Pro Cantare

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Arabesque Dance Studio

Special event venue: Merriweather Post Pavilion

Honorable mentions:

The Great Room at Historic Savage Mill

Jailbreak Brewing Co.

Horowitz Visual & Performing Arts Building

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Volunteer organization: Columbia Community Care

Honorable mentions:

Howard County Food Bank

Grassroots Crisis Intervention

Ellicott City Volunteer Fire Department

Shopping

Antiques: The Antique Center at Historic Savage Mill

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Honorable mentions:

Antique Depot

Foxrun Antiques

Bike shop: Trek Bicycle Ellicott City

Honorable mentions:

Patapsco Bicycles

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Race Road Watertower

Bookstore: Barnes & Noble

Honorable mentions:

Second Edition Books

Books With a Past

The Last Word

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Jeannette Kendall, founder of Cherie Sustainable Bridal, in her shop at Savage Mill, which has been named best bridal shop in Howard County.

Bridal shop: Cherie Sustainable Bridal

8600 Foundry St., Savage, 301-741-7451, info@cheriesb.com

Everybody likes a bargain, coupled with business practices focused on sustainability and for a good cause — that’s what makes Cherie Sustainable Bridal a hit with customers.

The resale bridal shop’s inventory is donated and 100% of the profit benefits its nonprofit organization, Success in Style, which supports in-crisis individuals pursuing employment.

“Reselling keeps so many more wedding dresses out of the landfill,” said owner Jeannette Kendall. “I think that’s the appeal. They’re helping the environment. And they’re also getting a great deal.”

Weddings have ramped up post pandemic, and among the customers at Cherie Sustainable Bridal are people in their 20s to 30s who are concerned about the environment, Kendall said.

The customer service and the selection — there are no two dresses alike — is what keeps people coming explains Kendall. The boutique has about 500 different dresses to choose from.

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“For brides who didn’t buy a dress with us, they can still donate a dress because it’ll just waste away in the closet and go out of style, just like every other dress would,” Kendall said. “And then you’re stuck with this out-of-style dress 10 years down the road and nobody wants it. So we recommend to all brides donate it and that way you’re helping a cause, somebody else gets to dance in that beautiful dress again, and make somebody else happy. So it’s a nice circle.”

Car dealership: Apple Ford

Honorable mentions:

O’Donnell Honda

CarMax

Jim Coleman Honda

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Clothing boutique: Sweet Elizabeth Jane

Honorable mentions:

Charity’s Closet/First Picks

Urbanstory

Consignment shop: Success In Style Inc.

Honorable mention:

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Charity’s Closet/First Picks

Furniture store: Su Casa Furniture

Honorable mentions:

Sofas Etc.

Artcraft Collection

Jeweler: St John’s Jewelers

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Honorable mentions:

HorseSpirit Arts Gallery

Sergio’s Fine Jewelers

Edward Arthur Jewelers

Pet supplies: PetSmart

Honorable mentions:

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Clipper’s Canine Cafe Inc.

Countryside Veterinary Clinic

My Pet Store & More

Personal services

Accountant: Kauffman | Kim LLP

Auto repair: BA Auto Care

Honorable mention:

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LMT Auto Repair

Bank/credit union: APL Federal Credit Union

Honorable mentions:

Sandy Spring Bank

PNC Bank

Truist

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Child care: Bet Yeladim Preschool

Honorable mentions:

Little Lighthouse Child Care

Terrapin Adventures

Young School - King’s Contrivance

Computer repair: Computer Installations Etc.

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Doggie day care: Wagging Lounge Dog Resort

Honorable mentions:

Countryside Veterinary Clinic

Camp Bow Wow

The Coventry School Inc.

Family lawyer: Abramson & Rand LLC.

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Honorable mention:

McCabe Russell, PA

Financial advisor: Baltimore-Washington Financial Advisors

Honorable mentions:

Michael Havlik, Tide Creek Financial Group

Dae Young Yoon, Northwestern Mutual

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Florist: The Flower Basket Ltd.

Honorable mentions:

Clarksville Flower Station

Xanadu Botanicals & Design

Interior decorator/designer: Marilyn Greene Interiors

Honorable mentions:

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Cornerstone Remodeling

Columbia Paint

Windo VanGo

Pet groomer: Wagging Lounge Dog Resort

Honorable mentions:

Countryside Veterinary Clinic

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Maureen, Pet Smart

Salon: Mason & Friends Salon & Spa

Honorable mentions:

Thirty Hair

Enchanted Studios

Looks Salon and Spa

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Danielle Peterson, selected as the best travel agent for 2022's Howard Magazine.

Travel agent: Cruise Planners, Cruise Happy Travel

cruisehappytravel.com. 443-351-4115. danielle.peterson@cruiseplanners.com

Danielle Peterson started working as a travel agent in 2016. Today, her booking numbers are higher than ever before.

Peterson, 45, said the pandemic showed that having someone else handle vacation logistics is the best path forward, especially with the recent rise in airline delays and cancellations.

“I think that people are seeing that value and are open to having someone take all the guesswork out of planning a vacation,” Peterson said.

Peterson is a full-time travel agent on top of her job as the director of marketing and communications at Glenelg Country School in Ellicott City. Peterson said while the balancing act is hard and involves long days, she gets to use her communication skills in her travel planning, which she loves.

“I just love to travel and I’m fascinated with new destinations and being able to help other people figure out their own bucket list,” Peterson said. “If I can’t plan my own vacations, I’m happy to plan someone else’s.”

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But Peterson is well-traveled, too. She’s been to places like Australia and New Zealand and has a trip planned to the Galápagos Islands in December. Japan is at the top of her bucket list.

Peterson said clients like her “personal touch” — if they call or email her, she’s going to respond herself.

“I’m not just a website. I’m not just a voice recording. I think that’s what people appreciate,” Peterson said. “Travel is about connection and so it’s important to me to understand why my clients want to travel.”

Honorable mention:

Destinations Inc.

Recreation

Dance lessons: Arabesque Dance Studio

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Honorable mentions:

B Funk Dance Co

Backstage Dance Studio

JMD Studios

Golf course: Hobbit’s Glen Golf Club

Honorable mention:

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Fairway Hills

Gym: The Dancel Y in Ellicott City

Honorable mentions:

Savage Fencing Club

My Gym Children’s Fitness Center

Columbia Association Fitness Clubs

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Jeremy Robbins, the chief operating officer and lead instructor of Krav Maga Maryland, voted best martial arts facility.

Martial arts: Krav Maga Maryland

8895 McGaw Road, Suite G, Columbia. 410-872-9194. kravmd.com

The martial arts school Krav Maga Maryland, named after a self-defense style it teaches, hasn’t missed a day of training since 2005 — even when the gym exploded in August 2019 from a natural gas leak. After three months of bouncing around gyms, followed by the coronavirus pandemic that shifted classes to virtual screens, Krav Maga Maryland is again teaching nearly 300 students at its new 10,000-square-foot facility in Columbia. Combined with its sister studio Krava Maga Capital Hill in Washington, D.C., the self-defense school centers its classes on helping each student become a better, more skilled fighter.

“Our students come first. We want our students to learn. It is a great community, but the primary focus has been on learning and not giving them a false sense of being able to defend themselves,” said Jeremy Robbins, 33, chief operating officer and lead instructor of Krav Maga Maryland.

The skills people learn in class have had real-life impacts. At least two students fought off attackers during attempted robberies using skills they learned in virtual classes. Robbins, who took over the company a year and a half ago, said he changed the gym’s mission to focus on educating people about protection techniques and being frank about realistic scenarios, such as when to fight or run. Instructors also ensure people are comfortable in class and work with them as they progress to different levels.

“Everybody’s journey looks a little bit different,” Robbins said. “My focus was on how can you get students to be the best that they can be?”

Honorable mentions:

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Ground Control Columbia

Maryland Jeet Kune Do

Music lessons: Mike’s Music

Honorable mentions:

Roberson School of Music

Red Bridge Studios USA

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Soundcheck Rock Academy

Pools for kids: North St. John’s Swim & Tennis Club

Honorable mentions:

Roger Carter Community Center

Stevens Forest Pool

Howard County Family YMCA

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Yoga studio: SHIFT Yoga

Honorable mentions:

The Yoga Center of Columbia

YogaRoots

Ashtanga Yoga Howard County

Home

Floor and carpeting: The Vertical Connection Carpet One Floor & Home

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Honorable mentions:

Bode Floors

CB Flooring

DJ Floors & Remodeling

Garden center/nursery: Frank’s Produce & Greenhouse

Honorable mention:

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Sun Nurseries

Homebuilder: Allan Homes

Honorable mention:

Lane Building Services

Housecleaners: Teresa’s Cleaning Service

Honorable mentions:

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Good Life Custom Cleaning

The Cleaning Authority

HVAC: Environmental Systems Associates

Honorable mentions:

Clarksville Heating and Air

No-Frost A/C & Heating

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Supreme Service Today

Landscapers: Rhine Landscaping

Honorable mentions:

Oaklawn Landscaping

21st Century Lawn & Landscaping

Goldscape Landscaping LLC

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Plumber: Ken Griffin Plumbing Services

Honorable mentions:

Ehrhardt Brothers Quality Plumbing Inc.

Mark Brew Plumbing & Heating

Real estate agent: Bob Lucido Team of Keller Williams Lucido Agency

Honorable mentions:

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Lisa Kittleman, The Kittleman Group, Keller Williams Integrity

The Wendy Slaughter Team of Elevate Real Estate Brokerage

Allan Waschak, Le Reve Real Estate

Remodeler: Clarksville Construction Services

Honorable mentions:

Allan Homes

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Zenith Kitchen & Bath

Cornerstone Remodeling

The Lutheran Village at MillerÕs Grant is voted Best Senior Housing Community for Best of Howard magazine.

Senior housing community: Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant

9000 Fathers Legacy, Ellicott City. 410-465-2005. millersgrant.org

When retirees consider moving into senior living, some see it as a last resort.

“We do the opposite. The sooner you move in the better,” said Michelle Rosenheim, executive director of Lutheran Village at Miller’s Grant. She tries to flip conventional thinking on its head, encouraging prospective residents to embrace the community’s amenities early in their golden years.

That approach gives older adults more time to meet new friends, said Donna Synder, director of sales, as well as enjoy farm-to-table dining, the multifaceted Flourish wellness program and nearby attractions like the Miller Branch of the Howard County Library.

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“It’s similar to being an all-inclusive resort,” Rosenheim said.

Managed by Lutheran Social Ministries of Maryland, which operates another not-for-profit continuing care retirement community in Westminster, Miller’s Grant opened in 2016 and has close to 350 residents.

The strong relationships between residents and staff set the Ellicott City senior living facility apart, Synder and Rosenheim said. “It’s like having a family that’s 400 people,” Rosenheim said.

Many in that the tight-knit community value giving back through service. Past volunteer projects included packing bags of food for Howard County elementary school students, donating baby items to a church and gathering materials for refugees.

Rosenheim said there are exciting changes on the horizon, with Miller’s Grant planning an expansion that will add a performing arts center, chapel and a dedicated memory care unit.

Honorable mentions:

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Residences at Vantage Point

Brighton Gardens of Columbia

HeartLands Senior Living Village at Ellicott City

Food & drink

Beer, wine and/or liquor store: Wine Bin

Honorable mentions:

Pine Orchard Liquors

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The Perfect Pour

Petite Cellars

Caterer: Putting On the Ritz Catering

Honorable mentions:

Mikey & Mel’s Deli

The Great Room At Historic Savage Mill

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Althea’s in Ellicott City

Farmers market/stand: Clark’s Elioak Farm

Honorable mentions:

Jenny’s Market

Baugher’s Fruits & Vegetables

Oakland Mills Village

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David London, owner of David’s Natural Market, holds a basket of apples in the Gambrills location of his store.

Health food/supplement store: David’s Natural Market

5410 Lynx Lane, Columbia. 410-730-2304. davidsnaturalmarket@gmail.com

Thirty-six years ago a small store called David’s Natural Market opened in Columbia.

“When we started off in 1986, the store was like 1,000 square feet,” owner David London, 63, said. “We just kind of grew with the community.”

Now, David’s Natural Market has two locations: its original, and another in Gambrills. Both stores are 15,000 square feet, London said.

The goal of the market is to help keep customers’ bodies healthy “without always using prescription medicine,” London said. The store carries vitamins, herbs and supplements as well as organic produce.

London said his employees are what makes his store stand out, including experts such as an in-store nutritionist.

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“We have a lot of employees that have been with me a long time,” London said. “Knowledge basis is pretty high, I’d say.”

The store is also customer-oriented, London added. If someone has a product in mind David’s doesn’t offer, London will order it to the store.

David’s has grab-and-go meals that are “fresh made every day,” including sushi, sandwiches and hot meals. London said his store is dedicated to offering fresh, good-for-you food that includes options from local vendors while keeping prices reasonable.

“Pricing is tough right now for a lot of people,” London said. “We try to buy correctly so we can put a lot of things on sale and then a lot of things on everyday low price.”

Honorable mentions:

Roots Market

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MOM’s Organic Market

Places to buy seafood: Today’s Catch

Honorable mentions:

Whole Foods Market

Wild Seafood

H Mart

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Health & wellness

Alternative wellness center: Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine of Maryland

Honorable mentions:

Brightwater | The Spa at Skin Care Institute

The Face Place

Nourishing Journey LLC

Audiologist: ENTAA Care

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Honorable mention:

Clarity Audiology

Chiropractor: Muneses Chiropractic Center

Honorable mentions:

Elite Chiropractic & Sport

Morrison Chiropractic

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Eric L. Lindsell

Day spa: Brightwater | The Spa at Skin Care Institute

Honorable mentions:

Massage Associates

Mason & Friends Salon Spa

Turf Valley Resort

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Dental practice: Roschella & Zinger Dental Group

Honorable mentions:

Dobbin Dental

Columbia Smiles Family Dentistry

Howard County Smiles: Ray M. Becker

Eye care: The Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Honorable mentions:

Physicians Eye Care Center

Medical Eye Center

Professional Vision

Medispa: Between the Lines Medispa

Honorable mentions:

Brightwater | The Spa at Skin Care Institute

Rejuvenate at Capital Women’s Care

Dr. G Laser & Med Spa

OB/GYN: Capital Women’s Care

Honorable mentions:

Signature OB/GYN

Dr. Jeri Shuster

Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, Howard County OBGYN

Orthodontist: OX Orthodontix

Honorable mention:

NuClear Smiles

Pediatric practice: Howard County Pediatrics

Honorable mentions:

Ellicott City Pediatric Associates

Physical therapist: Performance Physical Therapy & Sports Rehabilitation

Honorable mentions:

Revive Physical Therapy

Dr. Joshua Bross, Elite Chiropractic and Sport

Rehab 2 Perform

Plastic surgeon: Dr. William Kanter, Kanter Plastic Surgery

Honorable mentions:

Dr. Sarah Mess

Dr. Gary Vela

Therapist/counselor: Columbia Counseling Center

Honorable mentions:

Focused Solutions

Ann Pemberton

Mark Donovan, Congruent Counseling Services

Urgent care: Patient First Primary and Urgent Care

Honorable mentions:

University of Maryland Faculty Physicians Inc.

First Call Urgent Care

Ouch! Urgent Care

Veterinary assistant Courtney Spahr, left, holds Kiwi, an Australian Shepherd, as Dr. Mary Beth Soverns, right, gets a kiss in one of the exam rooms.  Norwich Terrier Finn is also on the exam table.

Veterinary practice: Countryside Veterinary Clinic

4866 Montgomery Road, Ellicott City. 410-657-8024. countrysideveterinaryclinic.org

Dr. Mary Beth Soverns knew she wanted to be a veterinarian even at 2 years old. Another career path was never an option.

“You can save an animal’s life,” Soverns said, and bring a family joy. “You kind of grow more empathy than you even start with.”

Soverns and her husband Dr. Carroll Thumel opened Countryside Veterinary Clinic in Ellicott City in 1988, two years after the couple graduated from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Their practice grew quickly, and in 2008, they built their own free-standing clinic. Now, two of their three children, Dr. Heath Thumel and Dr. Julie Thumel, are among their veterinarians.

Longtime clients know that the owners and their children have a special fondness for Australian shepherds and Norwich terriers. Soverns and Thumel have a 14-year-old Norwich terrier named Forrest and when the entire animal-loving family gathers, so do all six of their dogs.

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The clinic serves a variety of animals, including unusual pets like chinchillas and rats. “You can’t ignore those. That belongs to some 8-year-old girl,” Soverns said adding that flexibility and friendly staff makes the clinic special When more people adopted pets at the beginning of the pandemic, Countryside added extra hours to accommodate clients.

“We have a great culture of yes, and people that love people and animals,” Soverns said.

Honorable mentions:

Triadelphia Veterinary Clinic

VCA Columbia Animal Hospital at Hickory Ridge

Dunloggin Veterinary Hospital


Editor’s note: Winners and honorable mentions were determined by popular vote. Readers were invited to nominate and vote online in June and July.


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