DID YOU SEE County Executive Charles I. Ecker planting irises in the rain at the county government complex last Monday?
His symbolic act was a memorial to artist Vincent Van Gogh, who was affected by a neurobiological disorder, also known as mental illness.
Mr. Ecker planted the irises with Elkridge resident and Alliance for Mental Illness President Peg Bridge.
Tom Grimes, Jackie Yacher, John Amer and Louis Backer, all of the alliance, got their hands dirty, too.
Howard County's Sun Nursery donated two dozen iris bulbs for the occasion.
The planting was also to draw attention to Mental Health Awareness Week, this week.
For information on mental health or local alliance activities, call (800) 467-0075.
Band takes top honor
Congratulations to Mount Hebron High School's Band director Bob Johnston, a 22-year teaching veteran, on the band's success at the recent Miss America Pageant.
The band won first prize in the 1995 competition for "Honor Unit," the band that marches directly in front of Miss America. This year, 27 bands competed.
Drum major Aaron Rader, a senior, led the band with junior drum major Amy Straw.
Simmons in pope ceremony
Ashley Simmons, a student at Patapsco Middle School, is one of 200 Maryland students who will participate in the ceremonies to honor Pope John Paul III on Sunday.
Her group will present a multimedia program on the history of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Northfield Elementary School PTA President Sandra Zettersten opened this year's Back-To-School night with thank-you's to her volunteers.
She thanked the parents who painted the halls and doors, then she thanked the third-grade team: Helene Epstein, Margery Mayock, Ken Epstein, Debbie Frassica, Frank Frassica, Maggie Jehn, Karen Greene, Ira Frankil and Garry Zettersten.
Past PTA President Jan King won a lifetime membership in the PTA and, on her behalf, Northfield School made a contribution to Maryland's PTA scholarship fund.
The award was made because of her tireless involvement in Northfield, including a two-year stint as PTA president and such community organizations as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Red Cross and Howard County Youth Program.
Show house opens
Historic Ellicott City opened the 11th annual Decorators' Show House at Mount Ida on Saturday.
The house is near the Courthouse in Ellicott City's Historic District.
Built in 1828 for William Ellicott, Andrew Ellicott's grandson, the yellow stucco building was designed in Greek Revival/Italianate style by renowned architect Nathan Starkweather. The building has most recently served as Visitors Center and headquarters for the Friends of the Patapsco Female Institute Inc.
Sixteen designers, under the direction of design chairman Michele Drury, have furnished the Show House in styles reminiscent of the period, yet serving contemporary needs.
Catering will be provided by Tersiguel's of Ellicott City. Lunch is available every day, and dinners will be served Tuesday and Thursday evenings.
Tickets are $10 at the door; students and senior citizens pay $9 per ticket. Buy an advance ticket for $8 by sending a check made out to Historic Ellicott City Inc., enclosing a stamped, self-addressed envelope to Margaret Filbert, 4614 New Cut Road, Ellicott City 21043.
One last note: Mount Ida is not handicapped accessible. Wear low-heeled shoes in this historic property. Children must be 12 or older for admission.
A welcome to new staff
Burleigh Manor Middle School welcomes new staff for the 1995-1996 school year: Joe Dymik in guidance, Toni Ireland in the English department, Nancy Stepney and Barb Collins as new custodial staff and Gabriela Yoshimitsu in the cafeteria.
Burleigh Manor also congratulates Principal Jim deGeorge on the birth of his first granddaughter, Alexandra.
Auditions for children's choir
If your children sing the day through, audition them for Peabody Children's Chorus, Howard County Branch.
Director Doreen Falby will ask the children to sing the "Happy Birthday Song" and one other song of their choice.
The chorus meets once a week to practice at Patapsco Middle School. The group performs in two concerts each year.
To set up an appointment, call (410) 659-8125.
Crime prevention discussed
St. John's Community Association will hold its annual meeting today at 8 p.m. at Miller Branch Library. Howard County police Officer Steve Black will make a presentation on crime prevention, followed by a discussion of neighborhood safety issues.
Elkridge Ladies Auxiliary of Elkridge Volunteer Fire Department will hold its "Christmas at the Station" craft bazaar from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 11.
Craft spaces are available for $25, with an additional $5 charge to use the auxiliary's tables.
The bazaar will be held in the hall at the Fire Department, 6275 Old Washington Road in Elkridge.
Contact Tami Scovitch at (410) 796-7557 for information.