July: School board expands to 9 members; bats infest Aberdeen apartments

Harford County government began an $8 million project in the beginning of the month to upgrade a computer network that will make improved services available to businesses in the community and other non-government entities. The Harford County Metro Area Network, which is budgeted for the 2012 fiscal year, will consolidate communication networks into one high-speed IP (Internet protocol) network, which will provide Internet, Ethernet and voice-over IP.

History was made as the Harford County Board of Education completed its expansion to nine members when a mass swearing in ceremony was held July 11 for five new members, Cassandra Beverley, Joseph Hau, James Thornton, Ronald Browning and Nancy Reynolds. The expansion was made possible through a 2009 law calling for six elected and three appointed board members.

Four of Harford's elementary schools were recognized with high scores on the Maryland State Assessments. Forest Hill, Fountain Green, Ring Factory and Youth's Benefit elementary schools had more than 95 percent of their students proficient in reading and math on the test, the 2011 Maryland Report Card stated. The test is administered in third through eighth grades, and determines what percentage of students are considered proficient or better in reading and math.

Bel Air resident Joseph Garcia, 29, won $50,000 July 12 from a Money Mania scratch-off. Garcia stopped at the Fallston Shell station for gas and to cash in other scratch-offs he had. While he was there, he bought another ticket, this time revealing a big win.

Residents of two Aberdeen area apartment communities had to deal with a bat infestation at the end of the month. Those who lived at Cranberry Run Apartments near the Route 22 and I-95 interchange in Aberdeen, and Perrywood Garden Apartments, off Mayberry Drive, complained to the health department about bat sightings.

Lead was also detected in the water for several Fallston homes. Residents of the Grafton Ridge development met with County Health Officer Susan Kelly, who shared test results. In the first draw, Kelly said, water from the wells of 10 out of 45 homes was tested and water from nine had lead levels above the action level set by the Environmental Protection Agency, which is 15 parts of lead per billion. Also, 14 out of 16 samples from well pressure tanks tested above the action level, as did three out of 11 samples from the well head.

Anti-abortion protesters demonstrated in Bel Air July 29. Members of Defend Life, a Catholic organization based in Baltimore, had recently won a federal case after being arrested three years ago and returned to the county to show violent images of dead fetuses at the intersection of Route 24 and MacPhail Road. The display was part of the group's 11th annual Face the Truth Tour, which included stops in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

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