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Odenton Town Center may see improvements

Anne Arundel officials have asked to be included in a new state tax rebate program to help pay for at least $26 million in roads and other infrastructure improvements at the long-delayed Odenton Town Center.

The town center project has languished for years, but is crucial to the county's ability to absorb 22,000 employees and their families who are headed for the Fort Meade area just west of Odenton as part of the military's base realignment process known as BRAC.

County Executive John R. Leopold said yesterday that if Anne Arundel is designated as a "BRAC Zone," it would give the county a boost as the first new residents begin moving here over the next five years.

"Odenton Town Center is critically needed to address the demands for housing, business services, office space and retail," said Leopold. "Clearly, our biggest challenge is to secure the resources we need for the infrastructure. The whole idea of this is to expedite the process as much as possible."

BRAC Revitalization and Incentive Zone benefits come from state rebates of incremental tax revenue. The program, created by the General Assembly this year, includes $5 million for use statewide, according to Robert Hannon, the county's economic development chief.

"We're hoping that being accepted as a BRAC Zone would mean we would have priority status with the state," Hannon said.

Artificial turf to be added at three high schools

The state Board of Public Works has approved funding to add artificial turf to athletic fields at three county high schools.

The three-member board approved about $2 million to install the turf at Meade, Glen Burnie and Severna Park high schools, which will cost a total of $2.8 million.

County Executive John R. Leopold praised the state panel for providing the money through the state's Project Open Space program. The board, which includes the governor, comptroller and state treasurer, also approved nearly $1.1 million for the second phase of the Broadneck Trail, a $1.4 million project.

"I think this is an example of a unique partnership between the county and the school board," Leopold said. "Ultimately, with this kind of support from the state, all 12 of our high schools will have turf fields. We're able to expand athletic opportunities for our students, as well as for the surrounding communities."

The board of public works approval came two months after an auditor ruled that Anne Arundel County officials did not err in awarding a $10.8 million artificial turf contract to a politically-connected landscaping firm.

The county's contract bidding procedures came under question because the primary contractor responsible for installing turf fields had no experience working with the material.

An audit, requested by the County Council and released in August, criticized the county for signing contracts with a second company to oversee the bidding process and the construction, saying the deals were made outside county guidelines.

Leopold said: "There was an audit requested by the County Council, and an audit was completed with only one minor finding."

Veterans' Appreciation Brunch to be held

The Fort Meade Retired Officers' Wives Club will hold its annual Veterans' Appreciation Brunch for all ranks of military personnel, veterans, family and friends, and the civilian community, at 11 a.m. Nov. 1 at Club Meade, 6600 Mapes Road.

The keynote speaker will be National Security Agency Director Lt. Gen. Keith B. Alexander. A patriotic music program will be performed by the Arundel High School Jazz Band. Dress is military or civilian. Tickets are $25 and must be reserved by Oct. 17. Information: 410-740-8024 or 410-674-2550.

Grants Showcase Reception slated

Anne Arundel Women Giving Together will hold a Grants Showcase Reception with the 2007 recipient organizations from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Chartwell Country Club, 1 Chartwell Drive, Severna Park.

AAWGT awarded nearly $40,000 to four Anne Arundel County nonprofits in July 2007, an additional $60,000 this past July to six nonprofits.

Funds are aimed at county women, families and children in education, health and welfare or violence and abuse prevention.

The event is open to the public and interested organizations. Reservations for the reception are requested by Friday at 410-647-6690.

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