In Baltimore City

Housing finance agency's leader leaves his post


City officials confirmed this week that Mayor Martin O'Malley's hand-picked leader of an agency that invests city money in low- and moderate-income housing developments has departed.

Gary M. Brooks left his position as chief executive of the Baltimore Community Development Finance Corp. on Dec. 30. O'Malley's office would not discuss reasons for the departure.


O'Malley appointed Brooks in June 2000 to lead the nonprofit corporation that had been criticized for making a number of questionable loans to politically connected borrowers under a prior director appointed by former Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke. Schmoke created the CDFC in 1989.

Migs Balciunas, the CDFC's chief financial officer, has been named interim chief executive.

Arts office seeks singers for Billie Holiday contest

The Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts is accepting applications for the 15th annual Mayor's Billie Holiday Vocal Competition.

The competition is open to Marylanders age 18 and older. The deadline for applications - which should include a resume and recording of three jazz favorites, including a rendition of at least one that was performed by Holiday - is Feb. 20.

Fifteen finalists will compete April 24 at Center Stage for a grand prize of $1,500 and a chance to perform at Artscape in July. Information: 410-752-8632 or

Chairman of Joint Chiefs to discuss security issues

Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will address national security challenges in the 21st century before the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel.


Information and reservations: 410-727-2150, or e-mail

In Baltimore County

Museum is planning Great Baltimore Fire tour

LUTHERVILLE - The Fire Museum of Maryland will sponsor a Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 tour from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

The tour begins at the museum, 1301 York Road, with an introduction by historian Wayne Schaumburg. Guests will then travel by bus to the area that was the center of the blaze and learn about the cause and magnitude of the fire, which burned for two days and destroyed 140 acres of downtown Baltimore. The tour also includes a visit to the Baltimore City Fire Museum.

Cost is $35 per person; $30 for museum members. Information: 410-321-7500.


Pot Spring Elementary to hold family reading night

TIMONIUM - Family Reading Night, a celebration of storytelling and reading, will be held from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Pot Spring Elementary School, 2410 Spring Lake Drive.

Organized by teacher Paul Balsamo, the program will feature six learning stations where representatives of the school, the Baltimore County Public Library, Maryland Public Television and Barnes & Noble will conduct games and reading pods to promote interest in stories and reading.

Parents, children and teachers are invited to the free event. Information: 410-887-7648.

Crime prevention, youth grants available

TOWSON - The Baltimore County Police Department is accepting applications for community crime prevention and youth activity grants for the fiscal year beginning July 1.


Nonprofit groups, individuals and improvement associations interested in crime prevention programs are encouraged to apply. Youth programs that target youngsters living in communities in need are also eligible for funds.

Applications are available from the Police Department's Grants Management Team. The filing deadline is Feb. 23. Information: David Henderson, 410- 887-5637.