Board of Estimates approves water rate hike

The Baltimore City Board of Estimates approved a rate hike for city water bills Wednesday.

Earlier this month the Baltimore City Council approved the move to monthly billing. All these changes take effect on October 11, 2016.

Officials said the increase will benefit city infrastructure.

“The BaltiMeter Billing system provides a number of technological and economic advantages to our customers,” said Baltimore City Department of Public Works Director Rudy S. Chow, P.E. “It is just one of the changes we’ve been putting in place to make Baltimore’s water and sewer system strong and secure for generations to come.”

Over a three-year period rates will increase approximately 33 percent. The first incremental increase goes into effect on October 11, 2016.

City customers age 65 and older, whose annual household income does not exceed $30,000 will be eligible for a 43 percent discount on water and sewer consumption charges. And the credit for low-income assistance will be increased to $197, from $179, for eligible City customers.

Wholesale water charges to Howard and Anne Arundel Counties will be increased, as well as raw water charges to Carroll County. Baltimore County sets its own water rates.

The last quarterly bills will go out to all City customers in September; inserts in the September bill will have additional information about the switch to the new bill. The first monthly bills will begin going out in October, and continue into November.

Government House goes pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

— This weekend, the Government House was lit pink to raise awareness for breast cancer.

Earlier in the month, Governor Hogan issued a proclamation announcing October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In a statement on Facebook Governor Larry Hogan noted that in 2015, “almost 5,000 Marylanders will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and it’s crucial that we raise awareness and help educate people on the steps they can take to prevent and fight this type of cancer. Through awareness and education we can save lives, spread hope, and defeat cancer.”

Frank M. Conaway Sr., dead at 81

— Maryland politicians are remembering Frank M. Conaway, Sr., longtime clerk of the Baltimore City Circuit Court who died this weekend at the age of 81.

Conaway was elected to a fifth term as circuit court clerk last year. He made waves when he switched to the Republican party after being sworn in,

He was born in Baltimore on March 16, 1933 and attended Baltimore City public schools graduating from Frederick Douglass High School. Conaway served in the U.S. Army and earned a bachelors degree from Morgan State College in 1960. The former insurance executive was elected Clerk of the Baltimore City Circuit Court in 1998 and served in that position until his death. Conaway also represented Baltimore City in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1971-1975 and 1979-1983.

Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake said Conaway was a dedicated public servant who redefined what was possible for generations of African Americans in Baltimore.”

“Maryland has lost a tremendous public servant,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Nobody had the presence and personality of Frank Conaway, a businessman and fixture in city politics. Frank loved people, and the people loved him, too.”

Congressman Elijah Cummings said Conaway was a friend and mentor for over 35 years. “Baltimore has lost a true leader and unbridled voice of the people in Frank Conaway.” He continued, “As a tireless advocate for the Baltimore community, he dedicated his life to public service and loved every moment of it. His desire to help those around him and lift others up was present in all of his work. He worked hard each and every day to bring life to life, and he succeeded.”

Baltimore Times writer finalist in playwright competition

A 10-minute stage play comedy written by Baltimore Times writer Ursula V. Battle is a finalist in WCS Productions’ “I See Bunnies” 10-Minute Playwright Competition. Battle’s play, “Bunny Hunnies” is one of the four featured stage plays.


Ursula V. Battle

The competition takes place on Saturday, February 22 from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. at the Chesapeake Arts Center, Studio 194, 194 Hammond Lane in Brooklyn Park, Maryland. The four plays will be judged by the audience and esteemed theater adjudicators.

“Bunny Hunnies,” is directed by Dr. Gregory Branch. The stage play features David Bell, Charles Carter, Kim Chase, Robert Dashielle, Terrell “Maleek” Elliott, Donna Freso, Dr. Tammi Rogers, Aaron Rowell, George Roycroft, and Terry Sapp. It is a comedy set within the fictional St. Claire Nursing Home where some elderly residents have set their eyes on some interesting “sights.”

The competition is being presented by WCS Productions. Entrants had to submit scripts with the line “I see bunnies” included. The competition is designed to expose new playwrights, original scripts and to promote innovative works.

Battle is a native of Baltimore and an award-winning journalist and public relations professional. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Coppin State University and also graduated from the University of Baltimore. She is also a graduate of the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland and Walbrook High School. She writes and presents original stage play productions through her company, Battle Stage Plays.

Past productions include: “The Teachers’ Lounge,” “DisChord in The Choir,” “FOR BETTER or WOR$E,” “Widows in The Hood,” “Jacob, Rachel & Leah,” “Noah’s Ark,” “Never Give Up,” “Abraham & Sarah,” “The Christmas Gift,” and “Mary and Martha.” Her hit stage play comedy “The ‘New’ Teachers’ Lounge” will be performed at the Randallstown Community Center March 22-23, 2014. It is also scheduled to be performed in New Orleans in June 2014.

Gregory William Branch, M.D., MBA, CPE is the director of Health and Human Services of Baltimore County. In addition to his academic and professional achievements, Dr. Branch has directed multiple stage productions including” “A Raisin in the Sun,” “Dreamgirls,” “Spelling Bee,” “The Wiz,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Applause,” “Steel Magnolias,” and “Ain’t Misbehavin.’”

Tickets to see “Bunny Hunnies” and the other three productions are $30. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit

Volunteers needed to join fight against hunger

— Proper nutrition is one of the major necessities for the human body. In order to effectively function and accomplish our daily tasks, we must be adequately nourished. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that there are an estimated 842 million malnourished or undernourished individuals worldwide and over 50 million U.S citizens unable to consume the right diet needed to lead a healthy lifestyle. Statistics show that hunger kills more people every year than AIDs, Malaria and Tuberculosis combined. We must work together to end hunger; starting with a focus at the micro level, within our communities.

Through a recent partnership with the Maryland Food Bank and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), sponsored by Baltimore County Department of Aging, new volunteer opportunities have sprouted for interested Baltimore County citizens to donate their time to sustaining food distribution operations at the Maryland Food Bank. Because the Maryland Food Bank relies solely on its’ volunteers to sort and package the goods at their warehouse, volunteer assistance is continuously needed. Without the selflessness of their volunteers, the Maryland Food Bank would not be able to effectively distribute food to the approximate 600,000 Marylanders that it serves on a weekly basis.

Currently, there is an urgent need for volunteers to provide assistance at their facility located at 2200 Halethorpe Farms Rd., Baltimore, MD 21227. Up to 2,400 fresh meals are prepared each day at this location; help is needed to sort food products and package the prepared meals prior to freezing and distribution. Daytime shifts are available Monday-Saturday, and evening shifts Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Become a part of a great team today and help the Maryland Food Bank as they continue their mission to “lead the movement and nurture the belief that together we can improve the lives of Marylanders by ending hunger.”

If you are interested in pursuing a promising volunteer position to end local hunger and join the Maryland Food Bank/RSVP team, contact the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) at 410-887-3101 or email  

Poet, activist, Amiri Baraka dead at 79

Legendary poet and activist Amiri Baraka died Thursday, January 9, 2014. He was 79.

Baraka attended Howard University as an undergraduate in the early 1950s. He is credited for bringing new energy to American Theatre through plays such as the “Dutchman” and “Slave Ship.” He is credited with leading a revitalization of African American literature through poems, novels, essays, short stories, jazz operas, and music criticism.

Interim President Wayne A.I. Frederick said in a statement, “Howard University community is deeply saddened by the death of artist and activist Amiri Baraka. As a luminary poet and playwright, his groundbreaking work transformed African-American literature. He touched the lives of our students, faculty and alumni as well as millions across the United States and the world. He will truly be missed.”

GM Baltimore Operations hosts Breakfast with Santa for area children

— The General Motors Operations facility in White Marsh hosted a Breakfast with Santa and Mrs. Claus on Saturday, December 7 for children from the Harford Family House, a United Way Agency.

The children from the Harford Family House, which provides transitional housing for homeless families in Harford County, were treated to breakfast with Santa, goodie bags and holiday activities. They also received a free picture with Santa.

Woodlawn High School celebrates 10 year anniversary of Kevin Liles Stadium

— Woodlawn High School recently honored alumnus and entertainment and media entrepreneur Kevin Liles for consistently giving back to the Baltimore County school where he got his start. On October 25, 2013 Woodlawn hosted a recognition ceremony at Kevin W. Liles Stadium during halftime at the 2013 Homecoming game.

“It’s always good to come home to my alma mater, and I’m honored to be a part of the schools growth over the years. I look forward to celebrating 10 years with the Woodlawn community,” said Kevin Liles, Founder/CEO of KWL Enterprises.

In addition to being presented a key to the school from students, Liles was given a citation from Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz for his outstanding contributions to Woodlawn High School on the 10 year anniversary of Kevin Liles Stadium. Additionally, October 25, 2013 was officially declared Kevin W. Liles Day.

St. Vincent de Paul Head Start opens new facility in Oliver

— St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore, along with special guest Baltimore City Council President, Jack Young, celebrated the ribbon cutting for a new Head Start Center on Caroline Street on October, 15 in the Oliver section of Baltimore City.

The project also involved upgrades to 12 existing classrooms located in an adjacent building. As a result of this project, 289 children began their school year in bright, fresh new classrooms, thanks to support from Head Start, the State of Maryland, and the City of Baltimore.

Olutunde Clark, senior director of Child & Family Services St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore

Olutunde Clark, senior director of Child & Family Services St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore

Head Start parent and volunteer Keisha McKenzie said her 5-year-old son is benefiting from the program, “I have seen a big change with my son regarding engaging with others, their social skills, its such a blessing to see. I volunteer, and sit in class with them. Now my son who is 5 reads to his sister who just turned 3 in August, and my son is teaching his sister to read. They are encouraged, and want to get up in the morning, to get to school and learn.”

Head Start is a comprehensive pre-school education program designed to prepare low-income children for academic success, and promote age-appropriate social skills. The program works in partnership with parents, extended family, and members of the community to offer developmentally appropriate education, health, case management and family support services to children and their families.

St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore’s Head Start program is the largest in Baltimore City serving 860 three and four-year-old children and their families at six sites throughout the city.

Olutunde Clark, senior director of Child & Family Services at St. Vincent de Paul, said having a bright, beautiful space to learn in encourages children. “This project means that we can honor who they are right now in these two buildings that are safe, friendly, inviting and beautiful to the eye,” she said.

Howard University president steps down

In a move that took faculty and students by surprise, Howard University President Sidney A. Ribeau announced his immediate resignation Tuesday.

He said in a statement he will officially leave “our beloved institution” at the end of the year.


Courtesy Howard University

Howard University President Sidney Ribeau announced his resignation on Oct. 1

The Board of Trustees credits Ribeau with launching a renewal strategy including an extensive curriculum review and overseeing two new residence halls and a state-of-the art interdisciplinary research building.

Board Chair A. Barry Rand said during Ribeau’s tenure, “Howard has remained academically, financially and operationally strong and one of the most respected institutions in higher education.”

Ribeau’s announcement comes after a series of setbacks for the 150 year old institution including a downgrade in the school’s credit rating and a drop in admissions and fundraising.

The Board of Trustees has appointed alumnus Wayne A.I. Frederick, M.D., MBA, as interim president. Dr. Frederick, a scholar, surgeon, researcher and respected administrator, previously served as the University’s provost and chief academic officer. He had oversight of Howard’s 13 schools and colleges as well as the health sciences enterprise. Kurt Schmoke, general counsel and former dean of the Howard University School of Law, and Artis Hampshire-Cowan, senior vice president and secretary, will complete the senior executive team.

A special committee of the Board will oversee the transition and a national search for a permanent successor.