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HOWARD WEEK

School construction funding panel might face a tough road

If Howard County's new school construction funding committee decides that the best way to pay for new schools is by raising the transfer tax - or any other state-authorized tax increase - its recommendation may be a tough sell with the county's three state senators.

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Republican Sens. Robert H. Kittleman and Sandra B. Schrader and Columbia Democrat Edward J. Kasemeyer can veto any local issue requiring General Assembly approval - and they have.

Last winter, the senators signed a resolution effectively killing County Executive James N. Robey's plan to raise the real estate transfer tax and use the revenue to borrow $215 million over eight years for a dedicated school construction fund.

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And as the new 15-member committee that Robey named July 8 begins organizing for a two-month effort, none of the senators had anything encouraging to say.

Rain brings trouble to North Laurel area

Cissell Avenue in North Laurel is pockmarked by the ravages of rain. The water has swept so much soil from Ron Giddings' front yard that his cable lines are exposed. It has knocked the foundation out from under a neighbor's mailbox. It has eaten away at the ditches beside the road, rushed underneath the old pavement and triggered collapses.

New development in older communities is adding to the runoff problem, said James M. Irvin, director of Howard County's Department of Public Works.

Dance teacher convicted of sexual abuse

An Ellicott City dance instructor was convicted Wednesday of sexually abusing one of his young students during more than two years of private ballet lessons at his dance studio.

A Howard County jury of six men and six women deliberated for slightly less than five hours before returning guilty verdicts against Jose Anibal Macedo, 42, on charges of attempted rape, child abuse and related sexual offenses. Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 3.

Macedo, of the 1100 block of Taylor Ave. in Halethorpe, also faces two trials this fall on charges that he sexually assaulted two other students.

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Federal housing funds increasing in Howard

Howard County is getting nearly $800,000 more in federal housing funds to help residents get job training and to pay for fixing up and acquiring affordable homes, county officials said Wednesday.

Leonard S. Vaughan, county housing director, said Howard's population growth to roughly a quarter-million people and a federal funding formula change mean that the county will get $2 million in federal housing money this year.

It is an increase of $225,000 in Community Development Block Grants over last year and $567,523 in Home Investment Partnerships funding - the first time Howard has qualified for the program.

All-day kindergarten to be added at some schools

After considering several alternatives, the Howard County Board of Education voted, 3-1, Thursday to add pre-kindergarten and all-day kindergarten classes in some county schools, starting in August next year.

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Board members also gave preliminary approval to continue the gradual implementation of these classes for three years, despite the uncertainty of Maryland funding for the state-required project. A state law requires school districts to lengthen their half-day kindergarten programs to full-day by August 2007 and offer pre-kindergarten to 4-year-olds deemed "at risk."

Drug clinic president ends battle for site

After facing fierce community opposition, the president of a methadone clinic proposed for Columbia's Oakland Mills village notified the state Friday that he will not open the facility there.

Nelson J. Sabatini, secretary of the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said Friday he did not know whether Aktam Zahalka, the clinic's president, intended to apply to operate the business elsewhere.

Oakland Mills residents and local elected officials had been battling the clinic, which was proposed for a site near four schools and three preschools or day care centers.


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