The Baltimore Sun

Community gardening plots available in spring

The Howard County Economic Development Authority's Agricultural Marketing Program has announced that the Howard County Conservancy will break ground for a community garden this spring.

The conservancy's 63 garden plots are available to rent for $40. The plots are 20 feet by 25 feet.

A pollinator garden will attract beneficial insects and wildlife. Deer fencing, water and compost bins will be provided. Gardens are to be pesticide-free, and Bay Wise gardening techniques will be encouraged. Workshops and lectures will be held.

The community garden program is part of the conservancy's effort to preserve the county's agricultural resources. Community gardens can empower individuals, create a stronger community, beautify the area and produce clean, nutritious food.

To participate, call 410-465-8877 or e-mail garden manager Rita Hamlet,

The Howard County Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental education center and land trust, has its headquarters at Mount Pleasant Farm in Woodstock. It was founded by residents in 1990 to help preserve the natural environment, agricultural farmland and historic sites.

The conservancy offers dozens of year-round educational programs for adults and children.

Rising Star finalists named

Nine finalists have been chosen to compete for a cash prize in the Howard County Arts Council's Rising Star Emerging Performing Artist Awards on April 25 at the 12th Celebration of the Arts in Howard County.

Performing artists ages 18 to 35, currently or recently living, working, performing regularly or receiving training in Howard County, auditioned last month before a panel of professionals.

The finalists are Curtis Bannister (musical theater); Heather Marie Beck (musical theater); Lauren Dutterer (musical theater); Steven Eddy (opera); Jillian Finnamore (opera); Kassi Mattera (modern dance); Cameron McNary (monologue); Michael Watts (cello); and DeWanda Wise (monologue).

The audience will select a winner by popular vote. The winner will receive $5,000.

The celebration, which raises money for the arts in Howard County, will be held at the Jim Rouse Theater at Wilde Lake High School, 5460 Trumpeter Road, Columbia.

Information: 410-313-ARTS or

Howard to get bay grant

Gov. Martin O'Malley has announced the first recipients of the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays 2010 Trust Fund grants. The fund, created in 2007, is dedicated to accelerating bay restoration by focusing on projects that will deliver the greatest benefits to the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.

Howard County is one of eight Maryland counties and Baltimore City that have been identified to receive funding. Howard has earmarked its funding for work in the Little Patuxent River watershed.

Final draft of transit plan

The Howard County government has released the final draft of a Transit Development Plan that recommends future service expansions and capital improvements for Howard Transit.

The assessment, required by the state every five years, is based on hearings and work sessions at which the public was asked to comment and make recommendations. The assessment was prepared by county consultant KFH Group.

The final draft of the plan is available online at (click on "What's New"). A copy of the full draft report is also available at the Department of Planning and Zoning. For an appointment, call Roberta Jackson, 410-313-4311.

The Public Transportation Board will take final public comment on the draft plan at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Tyson Room II, 8930 Stanford Blvd., Columbia.

Comments on the plan should be e-mailed by Tuesday to

Teen role-model contest

The second annual Teen Role Model Competition will be held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. March 22 at Kahler Hall in the Harper's Choice Village Center, Columbia.

Howard County students, ages 12 to 18 are invited to participate. Teens will compete in evening wear and high-fashion modeling and answer questions about issues of concern to teens. Contestants will be judged on their ability to be role models for children.

The winning teens will be crowned Mr. and Miss Howard County, and each winner will be awarded $250. They will be asked to speak at schools and at community events during the year. Second- and third-place winners also will receive prizes.

The deadline to apply is March 6; there is no entry fee To request an application: 410-715-5523 or

Tickets for the competition are $10 in advance; $15 at the door. Kahler Hall is at 5440 Old Tucker Row, Columbia.

The event is sponsored by the Columbia Association Teen Advisory Committee and Rose Walk.

Tax assistance offered

Community Action Council in partnership with AARP, the IRS, and the Howard County Department of Citizen Services' Office on Aging has begun providing free tax assistance services to qualified Howard County residents.

Service, available at the Community Action Council (6751 Columbia Gateway Drive, Columbia) and at other locations, will be available through April 15. There is no age limit for clients; those younger than 60 must earn $50,000 or less.

To make an appointment: 410-313-6440.

Service is also available at the Ellicott City Senior Center (410-313-1400); Glenwood 50+ Center (410-313-5440); East Columbia 50+ Center (410-313-7680); The Bain Center (410-313-7387); Savage Senior Center (410-313-7387); Elkridge Senior Center (410-313-7387).

Summer camp for girls

The Women's Giving Circle of Howard County is accepting applications for its residential summer camp, Journey 2009. Forty girls entering eighth through 12th grades can participate. Maryland Leadership Workshops will operate the camp, as it has for the past three years.

Journey will run June 21-27 at Washington College in Chestertown. Student "delegates" will live in college dorms, eat in the cafeteria and experience a collegiate atmosphere during the weeklong retreat.

Workshops will focus on empowerment and motivation, communication skills, group dynamics, self-awareness, goal-setting and conflict resolution. There will be group projects and opportunities for one-on-one learning between staff members and delegates designed to focus on leadership and interpersonal skills and identify an action plan for the future. Swimming, athletics and team-building games, including a confidence course, are planned.

Applicants should live in Howard County, have experience in leading their peers, be willing to try new experiences in a safe environment and want to serve their communities.

The cost is $595; financial assistance is available. Applications, due March 14, are available at guidance offices at county middle and high schools, and at

Information: Colleen Taggart-D'Agrosa at 301-854-1107 or

Spanish speakers wanted

The Foreign Born Information and Referral Network, 5999 Harpers Farm Road, Suite 200-E, Columbia, needs Spanish-speaking volunteers to assist with client intake. Intake associates are responsible for greeting clients and answering telephone calls. They answer basic questions, make appointments and support the staff.

Hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., but other times may be considered.

Information: 410-992-1923, ext. 14.

Kiwanis meet Mondays

The Kiwanis Club of Ellicott City meets Monday evenings at 6:45 at the Kiwanis Wallis Hall, 3300 Norbet's Way, Ellicott City. All are welcome.

Information: Harry Slade at 410-418-8218 or

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