ESSEX—A parade of cars decorated with balloons, car paint and seniors in their caps and gowns made its way through Essex Monday afternoon as a novel graduation ceremony for the Kenwood High School class of 2020.
Unable to have a traditional graduation ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenwood staff and parents decided to organize the parade so that students could still have a way to commemorate their four years at Kenwood—a decision that many students were happy about.
“[The parade] felt fun and different because no other class is going to have this experience,” Krystian Czubernat said.
Czubernat said his fondest memories of Kenwood was being the mascot for the past four years.
“I would have to help him with the [mascot suit] and he would always say, ‘I’m dying bring me some drink!’” Christine Lowis laughed.
“My best memories are being with these two (Czubernat and Lowis) in class and always making the weirdest jokes,” Alyssa Thompson added.
Tyjei Beney, another 2020 Kenwood grad, said she also enjoyed the graduation parade.
“This was nice and I felt really good. I feel like this is better than a real graduation,” Beney said smiling in her cap and gown.
Beney said she was upset to not have a senior prom but said she had a lot of fun at homecoming this past school year and that the inauguration ceremony held earlier in the year is her fondest memory of high school.
Post graduation, Beney said she will be joining the U.S. Navy.
The parade completed in Renaissance Park where the graduates were able to listen to principal Brian Powell congratulate them and wish them good luck as they embark on their next chapter in life.
“This [parade] has just been awesome and it shows just was a terrific community we have surrounding our school,” Powell said.
“Seniors, don’t let the last few months take over the last four years you’ve had in high school. You guys are extra special to me because you are the class that came in when I first entered the building-we entered the building together. On behalf of our entire school, we can not tell you just how proud we are of you all. You continue to go through challenges, you are graduating in some challenging situations but you all continue to persevere and overcome.”
Suddenly, while Powell was speaking, a women took the microphone and said, “Everyone, give it up for Baltimore County Public Schools Principal of the year!”
The crowd erupted with applause to congratulate Powell on the award. Powell then told the crowd that in his eyes, the award is for all the students and the staff at Kenwood.
“To me Kenwood is the school of the year,” Powell said.
“Congratulations to you all and we can’t wait to hear about all your many successes. What’s our motto? Expect more, strive more and rise above!”
BALTIMORE COUNTY—The fifth annual Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week is June 6 to the 14, and local organizations are raising awareness about this valuable economic and environmental resource—a national treasure that directly connects over 18 million residents.
Typically, Chesapeake Bay Awareness Week is marked by a wide variety of events spanning the Bay’s 64,000 square-mile watershed. This year’s celebration will look a bit different, as watershed residents continue to socially distance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local organizations work to protect the Bay all year round
This year’s theme highlights the many creeks, rivers and streams that thread through the Chesapeake Bay region. These tributaries send fresh water into the Bay, offer vital habitat to aquatic plants and animals and provide people with public access points where they can fish, boat and swim.
Despite not being able to gather together, the Back river Restoration Committee and the Gunpowder Valley Conservation (GVC) are still helping people enjoy and celebrate the Chesapeake Bay every day.
“Awareness about the Chesapeake Bay begins at home! In the Avenue News circulation area, we are connected to the Chesapeake by local rivers including Big Gunpowder Falls, Bird River, and Middle River,” Amy Young, GVC Communications Manager said via email.
“Homeowners can reduce water pollution to these local waterways by installing rain barrels and adding native plants to their landscapes. The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy is always seeking volunteers to help plant trees and participate in stream clean-ups in eastern Baltimore County. Our volunteer work will begin again later this summer in small groups adhering to current Covid-19 protocols.”
Established in 2009, the Back River Restoration Committee (BRRC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the health of tidal the portion of the Back River watershed.
“The Back River has been known for years as one of the most polluted rivers in Maryland, but we are out to change that reputation,” it says on the organizations website.
“The river is naturally rebounding with a little help from Mother Nature and the continual upgrades of the Waste Water Treatment facility. In 2011, Back River was one of only two areas marked as “improved” by the Chesapeake Bay Program’s report card.
We believe the time for recovery is now. Our organization is built on a hands-on approach to tackling issues facing our river, and we follow that up with a strong volunteer base ready to join in this fight. We had over 800 volunteers participate in our first year of operation and the number continues to grow.”
BRRC is hosting it’s annual Golf Tournament on Wednesday September 2 from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Rocky Point Golf Course.
“Hosting these types of events are critical in supporting our efforts to cleanup Back River and ultimately the Chesapeake Bay,” it says on the organizations website.
Record amount of freshwater impacts Bay water quality
Extreme weather conditions in 2018 affected Bay health in 2019. Record rainfall led to the highest amount of freshwater flows entering the Bay since monitoring began in 1937, leading to lower salinity levels in parts of the Bay and contributing to the largest observed dead zone in the past five years.
“Extreme weather events, including record high freshwater flows, usually have a negative impact on the Bay’s living resources,” said Scott Phillips, Chesapeake Bay coordinator, U.S. Geological Survey and co-chair, Chesapeake Bay Program Scientific, Technical Assessment and Reporting Team.
“However, while the record river flow, and associated nutrients, contributed to worsening dissolved-oxygen conditions, underwater grasses held steady and blue crab populations increased. The collective restoration efforts being carried out by the Chesapeake Bay Program are improving the ecosystem and making it more resilient to extreme weather events.”
This spring, the Chesapeake Bay Program released the 2018-19 Bay Barometer: Health and Restoration in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, which further explains how the entire Chesapeake Bay ecosystem and its watershed are responding to the partnership’s collective protection and restoration efforts.
Striving to meet clean water standards
The Chesapeake Bay Program estimates that 38% of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries met clean water standards for clarity (measured by underwater grass abundance), dissolved oxygen and chlorophyll a (a measure of algae growth) between 2016 and 2018.
This score is lower than the record high 42% from the previous reporting period but is still the fifth highest estimate of water quality standards attainment since 1985.
This 4% decrease from the previous assessment period is due in large part to a decline in dissolved oxygen in the open waters of the Bay, those areas beyond the shoreline and shallows. Dissolved oxygen is necessary for the survival of the Bay’s aquatic species, and is a factor in the annual dead zone.
However, dissolved oxygen conditions in deep water habitat (depths greater than six feet) and measures of chlorophyll a along the Bay’s surface shows improvement from the 2015-2017 assessment period, which may indicate increasing resilience. However, water quality must improve in 62% of the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries if the estuary is to function as a healthy ecosystem.
Maryland Board of Public works approves funding for clean water and the Bay
The Maryland Board of Public Works approved more than $16 million in grants last week to reduce pollution and improve water quality. The board is composed of Governor Larry Hogan, Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot. Lt. Governor Boyd K. Rutherford chaired today’s meeting.
“These are smart investments to protect public health and prevent water pollution in Maryland communities while saving money and energy,” said Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles.
“Energy efficiency saves money and, along with the use of renewable energy, helps the Chesapeake Bay by reducing nitrogen pollution. Upgrading septic systems will also help us to green and grow the state’s economy and lead in the race to protect and restore Chesapeake Bay watersheds.”
The following projects were approved:
Upgrade Septic Systems – Statewide
Grants from the Bay Restoration Fund totaling $15 million will provide funding for counties to upgrade on-site sewage disposal (septic) systems and to connect septic systems to public wastewater treatment plants to significantly reduce the discharge of nitrogen, one of the most serious pollutants in the Chesapeake Bay. Counties will focus on upgrading septic systems located within the critical area. All 23 Maryland counties will benefit from the grants.
LED Lights for Montebello Filtration Plant project – Baltimore City
A $685,597 Energy Water Infrastructure Program grant to the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore will fund the replacement of lighting fixtures at the Montebello Filtration Plant with energy efficient LED fixtures. The project will reduce plant operating costs through lower energy use. The project is consistent with the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act’s statewide goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030.
Carroll County Stormwater Management Restoration – Carroll County
A $347,340 Bay Restoration Fund grant to Carroll County will help fund projects to reduce the impact of stormwater runoff in urban areas of Carroll County as part of the county’s efforts to improve water quality in local streams and the Chesapeake Bay and to comply with its municipal stormwater permit. The work consists of the retrofit of existing stormwater management facilities, the creation of new stormwater management facilities and stream restoration. This board action is for the Greens of Westminster subproject. This project is consistent with Maryland’s climate change adaptation and resiliency objectives through the reduction of runoff that is exacerbated by increased precipitation or flooding events.
Valued for its commercial and recreational value, the Chesapeake Bay is the nation’s largest estuary, whose 64,000 square mile watershed includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia and West Virginia.
Follow #OneChesapeake on social media during June 6-14 as we celebrate the rivers of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
BALTIMORE COUNTY—As of Monday night State Sen. Johnny Ray Salling (6th District) held a narrow lead in the race for the Republican nomination to the 2nd Congressional District.
Salling had 5,848 votes, for 19.3 percent of the total votes cast.
Behind Salling were three people trailing by a handful of percentage points: Tim Fazenbaker (4,954, 16.4 percent); Genevieve Morris (4,942, 16.3 percent); and Rick Impallaria (4,880, 16.1 percent);
Jim Simpson (4,624, 15.3) is a close fifth, followed by Scott Collier (3,478, 11.5).
(Figures taken from the Maryland Board of Elections web site.)
The totals include mail-in ballots and in-person voting. Provisional votes have yet to be counted. All precincts have not finished being counted.
Incumbent Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger easily won the Democratic nomination by a margin of 79,520 to 18,997 over challenger Michael Feldman.
(All precincts have not yet been tallied, but this seems a safe assumption.)
Jake Pretot has 9234 votes as of Monday night.
Ruppersberger has held the 2nd District seat since 2002.
Salling built his lead by receiving 4,698 votes in Baltimore County. He had a total of 1,150 votes in the other four jurisdictions of the 2nd District (Baltimore City and Harford, Howard and Anne Arundel counties).
Fazenbaker has 3,355 votes in Baltimore County and 1,599 in the other jurisdictions; Simpson’s totals were 3,141 and 1,483; Impallaria has 3.084 and ,614 and 1,796; and Morris tallied 2,938 in Baltimore County and 1,959 in the other jurisdictions.
Collier, with 2,219 votes in Baltimore County, added 1,259 in the other jurisdictions.
There were no surprises in the Presidential primaries. Incumbent President Donald Trump leads the Republican primary 268,365 to 38,078 over Bill Weld, while presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden towered over a field of 11 candidates on the ballot with 726,983 votes.
The closest contender to Biden was Bernie Sanders, with 62,140 votes as of Monday night. Only one other candidate received greater than one percent of the vote: Elizabeth Warren with 20,071 (2.3 percent).
Trump is leading Weld in Baltimore County 44,627 to 5,705. Biden has 118,118 votes in Baltimore County, to Sanders’ 10.435 and Warren’s 2,918.
All eight delegates to the Democratic National Convention from the 2nd District (four male, four female) are pledged to Biden; all three delegates to the Republican National Convention from the 2nd District are pledged to President Trump.
Kimberly Klacik, a Middle River resident, leads the Republican race for the District 7 Congressional race with 16,027 votes as of Monday night. The closest contender, Liz Matory, has 3,279.
Incumbent Democrat Kweisi Mfume, who won a special election earlier this year to replace the late Elijah Cummings, has 110,656 votes to lead a field of 20 candidates.
Closest to Mfume is Maya Rockeymoore Cummings with 14,634.