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THE BALTIMORE SUN

Gasoline additives found at two sites

The Harford County Health Department has sent letters to more than 220 property owners, informing them that elevated concentrations of gasoline additives had been detected on sites in Churchville and Havre de Grace, the department said in a news release.

At a State Highway Administration shop in Churchville, methyl tertiary-butyl ether, or MTBE, was found in a ground well set up to monitor underground storage tanks.

On the Stark Farm property in Havre de Grace, four of nine groundwater monitoring wells detected at least one compound in amounts that exceed state regulatory levels. The compounds detected included benzene, ethylbenzene, xylenes and MTBE.

Health Department officials do not believe there is an immediate health risk to people in these communities, according to the news release. In October 2005, a state law required local health departments to notify property owners within a half mile of sites where MTBE or other gasoline additives are detected.

Craig vice chairman of regional council

County Executive David R. Craig was elected last week vice chairman of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, an organization of elected officials from Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties.

According to council's Web site, the council identifies regional interests and develops collaborative programs to improve quality of life and boost the economic vitality of the region.

Craig replaces Carroll County Commissioner Julia Walsh Gouge, who becomes chairwoman.

The changes were announced Wednesday at a meeting in Baltimore. Earlier in the day at the Higher Education and Applied Technology Center in Aberdeen, Craig joined Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. and Cecil County Commissioner Nelson K. Bolender to announce a joint marketing effort to promote the region to new military employees and contractors.

Community service awards presented

Harford County Executive David R. Craig and the Harford County Human Relations Commission presented four awards at the Joseph Bond/Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Awards Breakfast on Thursday.

The awards are presented to people who have worked to make Harford County a better place for persons of all races.

Recipients were:

The 2006 Community Award: Christine Tolbert, co-author of A Journey through Berkley, Maryland, a book about her home village. A retired schoolteacher, Tolbert has worked for many years to preserve Hosanna School, Harford's first public school for African-Americans.

Faith Award: Bishop Roger L. and the Rev. Miriam L. Tatuem, founders and leaders of Helping Hands Ministries, whose worship services are broadcast in more than 1,300 cities across the U.S.

Business Award: Sephora Central Distribution Center in Belcamp. Sephora, the world's largest online beauty store, employs several associates from The Arc of Harford County and is a supporter of many local causes.

Government Award: Harford County Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas, who worked with severely handicapped children before taking on administrative roles in the Harford public school system. She has been superintendent since 1998.

Tips on preventing sewer backups

Harford County government is offering suggestions for homeowners and others on preventing sewer backups.

Harford County homeowners are responsible for sewer line stoppages, and any resulting damage from their house to the connection at the main sewer line under the street.

Things to look for in a possible sewer line backup include: water moving too slowly down the drain; the toilet refusing to flush; or sewage backing up into a home. A plumber should be contacted in these instances.

If the plumber says the problem is in the county's line, homeowners should contact the Water and Sewer Division's Emergency Maintenance Section at 410-612-1612.

To avoid a backup, officials said, do not allow grease, coffee grounds, rinds or any other solid material to enter the sewer lines through the kitchen sink's garbage disposal system. Tree roots also can cause sewer problems, and might need to be removed.

A representative of the Harford County Water and Sewer Division's Emergency Maintenance Section can help homeowners locate sewer and water lines on their property.

Back-flow valves can help prevent problems by allowing sewage and household water to flow out only, with a flapper restricting the flow of sewage back into the home. Since 1986, the back-flow valve has been required in new construction.

Craig honors Kimmie Meissner

Harford County Executive David R. Craig has presented a Certificate of Congratulations to ice skater Kimmie Meissner of Fallston in recognition of her winning the silver medal at the 2006 U.S. Figure Skating Championships held recently in St. Louis.

By finishing in second place, Meissner earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team, with national gold medalist Sasha Cohen and past champion Michelle Kwan.

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