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Howard County Executive Calvin Ball joined with three other former county executives in a ceremony Monday marking 50 years of charter government in the county. Voters adopted the charter and elected Omar Jones as the first county executive in November 1968.

In a press release, Ball said, “It is important to remember our beginnings and ensure that we honor and enhance the values of our democracy for all.”

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Former executives Ken Ulman, James Robey and Ed Cochran joined in a ceremonial cake cutting at the George Howard Building.

Howard County commemorated the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Sunday with a celebration featuring student essays and performances at Howard High School.

“We have come a long way from my time on the school board and desegregation,” said Cochran, the second county executive, from 1974 to 1978, in the release. “It’s been a great experience to grow up and live in the county because everything has changed. I don’t know where else you could live where you could experience the kind of civic change that occurs with the institution of charter government.”

“This office is still where the rubber meets the road,” said Robey, who served from 1998 to 2006, “where you deal with the majority of people’s issues and making life better for citizens of Howard County.”

Former executives Liz Bobo and Allan Kittleman did not attend, but each sent statements marking the occasion.

County officials noted that prior to 1968, Howard County was governed by three elected commissioners with four-year terms. The late Senator James Clark first proposed the charter form of government in 1965. The initial referendum to change to charter government did not pass and was later revisited.

—Staff reports

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