Keeping local news important [Old Town

Laurel Leader

The shooting that left five staff members of The Capital in Annapolis dead on June 28 was a tragedy. I did not know Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith or Wendi Winters, but their loss is devastating both to their loved ones and to the local community which they so admirably served. Like many of you, I heard and saw the helicopters that flew over Laurel that night and mourned the reason why.

My first full-time journalism job out of college was at The Maryland Gazette, a sister publication to The Capital in northern Anne Arundel County. My editor there was the excellent Rick Hutzell, now the editor of The Capital. Moreover, I often worked with reporters from The Capital during my time doing communications for a nonprofit in Annapolis. Fischman and McNamara were fellow alumni of the Philip Merrill College Journalism at the University of Maryland and Hiaasen was an adjunct lecturer there. Winters’ work at The Capital included coverage ofmany of the same types of news included in this neighborhood column.

The work that big media companies – broadcast, online, print – do to shine light on national and international issues is vital. But just as necessary is the work of smaller outlets that cover local communities. From budget hearings, city council meetings and local crime, to neighborhood schools, community groups and local personalities, the fabric of our lives as a community is strengthened and preserved through the work of a free press. We are fortunate here to have The Leader, which has served Laurel since 1897. It will only continue its vital function – and thereby honor the lives of those lost at The Capital – if we recognize it for the community good it is and work to keep it that way. Thank you to all readers for helping make this column and this newspaper what it is.

Old Town’s Scouting organizations wrapped up their program years recently.

Boy Scout Troop 1250, chartered at St. Mary of the Mills Church and led by Scoutmaster Brian Switalski, had a full year that included camping, kayaking and community service. Stephanie Hammond, the troop’s outdoor chair, said the troop recently welcomed eight new scouts bridging over from Cub Scout Packs 1250, 606 and 617.

This spring, Troop 1250 also launched its newest Eagle Scout, Nicholas Horsman of West Laurel, a 2017 graduate of Eleanor Roosevelt High School. Troop 1250 has had 65 Eagle Scouts since being chartered in 1963. Nick, the son of Lisa Horsman, built benches and bird houses at Church of the Holy Spirit in Forestville for his Eagle Scout project. He’s now an electrical apprentice in IBEW Local 26 Workers Union. Congratulations to Nick and Troop 1250. For more information, email

The members of American Heritage Girls Troop 1208 earned more than 450 badges and completed a combined 1,710 hours of service this year, said Mary Goldfarb, troop coordinator. Look for them in the Laurel Independence Day Parade this Saturday, July 7. Families interested in AHG can contact Goldfarb at

The city of Laurel is offering new property tax credits for certain qualifying residents this year. The Elderly and Veteran Real Property Tax Credit is open to those at least 65 years old who have lived in the same dwelling for at least 40 years, or to those at least 65 years old who are also retired members of the U.S. armed services, reserves, or National Guard. The Public Safety Officer Real Property Tax Credit is open to professional or volunteer public safety officers who serve an agency within city limits. The deadline to apply for both tax credits is Aug.31. Applications are available online at or at the Laurel Municipal Center, 8103 Sandy Spring Road at the Budget and Personnel Services office. Tax credits will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis depending on available funding. For more information, contact Andrea Pickett, revenue coordinator, at 301-725-5300 ext. 2248.

And, on a personal note, a very happy 10th wedding anniversary to my husband, Matt. When we married on this day a decade ago in Covington, Louisiana, a future in Laurel was not on either of our minds, but we’re so happy to be raising our family in this great community.

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