Haines bill to get hearing tomorrow

A state Senate bill that would lower the homestead tax credit by two points is up for a hearing tomorrow in the Budget and Taxation Committee.

Senate Bill 519 is sponsored by Sen. Larry E. Haines, leader of the Carroll County delegation. The homestead credit protects property taxpayers from spiraling assessments by limiting annual increases in their tax bill. The homestead tax credit is 7 percent in Carroll County.

The three county commissioners plan to attend the hearing. Steven D. Powell, county chief of staff, will make a presentation on the impact the proposed reduction will have on the county budget.

The hearing begins at 4 p.m. on the third floor of the Miller Office Building in Annapolis.

County schools are awarded grant

A Carroll County public schools after-school program has been awarded a $318,750 grant, state education officials announced last week.

The grant is earmarked for programs offered through the 21st Century Community Learning Center's Westminster Region, which includes Robert Moton Elementary, William Winchester Elementary, East Middle and West Middle schools, state officials said.

Of 36 organizations - including nonprofit agencies, city and county government agencies, faith-based groups, institutions of higher education and for-profit corporations - that made grant applications, Carroll County's was among 20 accepted.

Throughout Carroll, more than 800 students are enrolled in Community Learning Center programs, which offer services for children who attend high-poverty schools or schools identified for improvement.

Prescription cards provide discounts

Carroll County's discount prescription card program saved more than 1,000 residents around $12,500 collectively - or 20.5 percent - in their drug costs in January, said Jolene Sullivan, the county's director of citizen services.

The county received the drug discount cards, available at no cost to all residents, through a program Caremark administers for the National Association of Counties.

Carroll County's program began in November and should save citizens between 15 and 35 percent on commonly prescribed drugs, Sullivan said. The county's discount prescription card program is separate from the Medicaid drug plan for low-income seniors.

County Democrats plan annual dinner

The Carroll County Democratic Central Committee will hold its 2006 Jefferson-Jackson Dinner at 7 p.m. Saturday at Martin's Westminster, 140 Village Shopping Center, Westminster.

The keynote speaker will be Del. Anthony G. Brown of Prince Georges County, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor as Mayor Martin O'Malley's running mate.

Other invited guests include: Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, Kweisi Mfume, Josh Rales and Lise Van Susteren, who are all Democrats running for U.S. Senate, as well as Andrew Duck and Barry Kissin, candidates for the 6th District.

The cost is $50 per person.

Information: 410-876-1323.

Ridgely gets key post in county planning

Carroll County Planning Director Steve Horn has appointed Neil Ridgely as planning and development policy coordinator to manage the design and appearance of future development.

Ridgely's appointment was effective Tuesday after recent conferences highlighted the benefits of having someone to handle daily planning activities of development plan review and long-term comprehensive planning.

His duties will include preparing a development negotiation work plan, creating a rural village program, researching and compiling transferable development rights proposals, and preparing guidelines for determining architectural features.

Ridgely, 56, has been county zoning administrator for three years.

Economic outlook seminar March 16

The Carroll County Department of Economic Development will hold its fifth annual economic outlook seminar March 16 at the Best Western Catering & Conference Center in Westminster.

The seminar will include a buffet breakfast at 8 a.m. The presentation, with time for questions, will begin at 8:45 a.m.

Anirban Basu, chairman and chief executive officer of Sage Policy Group Inc., and a noted regional economist and lecturer, will provide an outlook and predictions for local, regional and national economic growth for the remainder of 2006 and beyond.

The cost is $15 per person. Registration deadline is March 10.

Information: 410-386-2070.

Bureau of Aging seeks ombudsmen

The Carroll County Bureau of Aging's Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is seeking volunteers to monitor nursing homes and assisted living facilities and to uphold the rights of residents in those facilities.

Volunteers make weekly visits to facilities to tell residents about their rights, investigate complaints and seek to resolve problems. Ombudsmen monitor conditions to ensure regulatory compliance.

Program training will be held from 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays March 21 to April 6 at the Bureau of Aging offices, 125 Stoner Ave., Westminster. Volunteers must attend all classes.

Registration is required.

Information: 410-386-3800.

County aims to join Civil War program

Carroll County and its municipalities, in partnership with Frederick and Washington counties, are applying for certification as a Civil War heritage area through Maryland's Heritage Preservation and Tourism Areas Program.

Certification will enable Carroll County businesses and organizations to use state grants, loans and tax incentives to undertake projects that support the heritage area's goals and capitalize on the area's significant Civil War-related history.

A public information meeting about the management plan will be held at 6:30 p.m. March 29 in Room 003 of the Carroll County Office Building.

Public hearings to take official comment on the plan as an amendment to the comprehensive and master plans will be held by municipalities and the county in April.

Information: 410-386-2145.

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