Old Town organizations continue to work in support of our community, even as their usual efforts have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Knights of Columbus Patuxent Council #2203 once again sponsored its Community Awards, which recognize the efforts of community members to serve neighbors and educate young people. The fraternal organization had to scrap the usual ceremony, but awardees still received a certificate and gift card.
Amanda Brown of the Laurel Volunteer Rescue Squad was recognized as Emergency Medical Technician of the Year. Lt. Erik Lynn of the Laurel Police Department was recognized as Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Teaching recognition went to catechist Christie Dunne of St. Mary of the Mills Church and teacher Paula Lattanzi of St. Mary of the Mills School.
Two of the awardees were acknowledged by the Maryland State Council of the Knights of Columbus. Brown won the state award for EMT of the Year, while Lynn won the state award for Police Officer of the Year. Congratulations to the winners and thank you.
The environmental group Laurel for the Patuxent has likewise been busy. The group, co-chaired by Old Town residents Mike McLaughlin and Brian Coyle, in the last year has launched several initiatives to enhance the sustainability of our community.
One major effort by the group has been to work with Mayor Craig Moe and the city to create a sustainability office within the municipal center. Plans were in the works to add a new dedicated staff position in the next city budget cycle, but the economic impact from the pandemic has temporarily halted that effort.
The group secured a grant from the city and the 150th anniversary committee to plant 150 native trees around Laurel. Old Town residents Cheryl Dyer and Holly Hoglund dedicated many hours to the project, which included knocking on doors across the city to invite residents to have a tree planted on their property. Planting was supposed to take place this spring but was delayed because of the pandemic. The group hopes it will be able to happen next spring.
Laurel for the Patuxent has also made great strides in reaching out to local schools. Coyle and fellow Old Towner Jhanna Levin have worked with Laurel Elementary School, Laurel High School, Dwight D. Eisenhower Middle School and Chesapeake Math and IT Academy in several ways.
Coyle and Levin have given presentations at Laurel Elementary and Laurel High students about food waste management, trained students in waste audits and helped those schools participate in the city’s organics composting program. Coyle has given several presentations at CMIT and also assisted students there with sustainability research projects. Students from Eisenhower Middle School participated in one of the group’s river clean up events.
Laurel for the Patuxent hopes to start a youth committee in the future, Coyle said. The group continues to hold monthly virtual meetings. For more information, go to laurelforthepatuxent.org.