Wasted food

Frederick News Post
06/21/2013
Recycling has become a cornerstone of our lives here in Frederick County. The blue bins that line the streets once every two weeks in front of our homes have become a familiar sight. We’ve come a long way from the 1991 pilot program for 4,000 households that launched recycling in the county. But an article in The New York Times recently made us wonder if we couldn’t go a little bit beyond the plastic bottles, aluminum foil, paper and cardboard that make up most of what we throw in our recycling carts. The Times article reported that following a highly successful pilot program, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will roll out a plan to allow all city residents to recycle food scraps. Residents will be issued containers into which they dump their food waste, and the program, while initially voluntary, is expected to become mandatory. According to the Times, food waste and organic materials account for about a third of the city’s trash. If diverted from the three landfills to which waste is trucked at the cost of $80 a ton, the city could save $100 million a year. Initially, the program will handle 100,000 tons of food scraps that will be sent to a hired composting plant. The program is expected to be so successful, the administration will seek proposals to build its own processing plant to transform the waste into biogas, which would be burned to generate electricity, according to the Times. If you’re thinking New York is a long way from Frederick County, you’re correct. But a similar program is in place closer to home in Howard County, which is set to expand a food-waste recycling pilot program initiated more than a year ago.

Stream study yields important information

Frederick News Post
06/20/2013
rederick County recently released the findings of an important study on the health and vitality of its many streams. The survey provides detailed information on the water quality, physical condition and biological activity in the county’s smaller waterways. Two hundred specific sites were sampled for the study. While the news is somewhat mixed, there is plenty of cause for concern. More than half of the county’s stream miles had banks that were either moderately or severely eroded. Nearly 20 percent had badly degraded habitats where aquatic creatures should be found in abundance; 11 of 20 watershed areas in the study received a poor rating for insect life, an important indicator of stream health. As could have been predicted, streams in agricultural areas or in proximity to development fared worse than those more removed from human activity. It’s no secret that runoff from farming and development contribute to stream pollution, sediment buildup and bank erosion.

‘Coalitions’ an ineffective way to spend taxpayer money

Frederick News Post
06/17/2013
t's hard not to see the $25,000 the Frederick County Commissioners have allocated to a coalition of rural counties to resist the so-called, state imposed "rain tax" as a waste of money. It's understandable the county board is agog at the total cost to Frederick County for its part in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay -- a staggering $1.88 billion by 2025. But in light of how tight the commissioners have repeatedly protested the budget is -- the maintenance of effort allocation to schools, the cuts and gradual attrition to zero of grants to emergency need nonprofits, the aggressive push to sell Citizens and Montevue because of the money it will free up -- the $25,000 to pursue a purely political lobbying effort is a questionable investment.

'Coalitions' an ineffective way to spend taxpayer money

Frederick News Post
06/17/2013
t's hard not to see the $25,000 the Frederick County Commissioners have allocated to a coalition of rural counties to resist the so-called, state imposed "rain tax" as a waste of money. It's understandable the county board is agog at the total cost to Frederick County for its part in cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay -- a staggering $1.88 billion by 2025. But in light of how tight the commissioners have repeatedly protested the budget is -- the maintenance of effort allocation to schools, the cuts and gradual attrition to zero of grants to emergency need nonprofits, the aggressive push to sell Citizens and Montevue because of the money it will free up -- the $25,000 to pursue a purely political lobbying effort is a questionable investment.

Ban or behave?

Frederick News Post
06/13/2013
Baltimore City Councilman James B. Kraft has introduced a bill that would ban polystyrene foam products such as Styrofoam for carryout food and drink orders. According to a Tuesday (Baltimore) Sun story, the measure would impose fines up to $1,000 on establishments that used Styrofoam for food or drinks that are taken from the premises. It also bans city agencies from buying, acquiring or using these foam products. Styrofoam litter in the form of cups, takeout containers, etc., is widespread in Baltimore, including the harbor, where it is highly visible because it floats. Supporters of this measure claim these foam products are more harmful to the environment than their biodegradable paper counterparts, and that forbidding their use as takeout containers would be a valuable step in reducing Baltimore litter.

Monocacy River foul

Frederick News Post
06/12/2013
The Monocacy Scenic River Citizens Advisory Board is taking new steps in an attempt to stop the dumping of old tires into the Monocacy River. Tire dumping into the Monocacy has become a worrisome issue for the river board in recent years, so along with county officials they’re going to ensure that all county bridges that span the Monocacy are marked as such, along with prominent signs that warn of the fine for illegal dumping. Many of these bridges have heretofore been unmarked and missing signs indicating that dumping is prohibited

Environmental literacy starts in kindergarten

Frederick News Post
06/11/2013
When it comes to the basics, learning about the environment belongs right up there with reading, writing and arithmetic. To that end, the Maryland State Department of Education now mandates that public school students in every district earn an environmental literacy credit as a requirement for graduating from high school. A recent Medill News Service story took a look at efforts here and elsewhere to bring environmental studies into public education. In Maryland, each county devises its own environmental literacy program. Frederick County has chosen — wisely, we believe — to embed its environmental program in social studies and science education

Citizens-Montevue: Questions still to be answered

Frederick News Post
06/09/2013
The renewed aggression with which the Board of County Commissioners is moving ahead on the sale of Frederick County’s publically-owned assisted living home and nursing centers has once again raised the question: What’s the rush? No one from the county has yet satisfactorily answered, we presume because there’s not a satisfactory answer other than to get this done ahead of the 2014 election and tick another to-do item off the tea-party-driven list of government institutions to dismantle.

County needs ‘rain tax’ Plan B

Frederick News Post
06/07/2013
In any case, this is not the end of the debate. Lawmakers failed at the end of this year’s session to modify the tax and said it’ll be back in 2014. But don’t expect it to be friendlier to taxpayers on the whole — delegates and senators don’t seem as worried about individual constituents as they do about large businesses and nonprofits (e.g., churches). While the state has largely left it up to each jurisdiction to craft the fee structure as they see fit, there’s nothing to prevent state lawmakers from imposing this tax on the county, especially if egged on by the environmental lobby, which has the state’s Democratic majority by the, ahem, ear.The commissioners have set us up for a David vs. Goliath showdown, only it’s less likely we’ll get off that one, lucky shot. Trusting the Maryland General Assembly for a solution is a bad gamble.

County needs 'rain tax' Plan B

Frederick News Post
06/07/2013
In any case, this is not the end of the debate. Lawmakers failed at the end of this year’s session to modify the tax and said it’ll be back in 2014. But don’t expect it to be friendlier to taxpayers on the whole — delegates and senators don’t seem as worried about individual constituents as they do about large businesses and nonprofits (e.g., churches). While the state has largely left it up to each jurisdiction to craft the fee structure as they see fit, there’s nothing to prevent state lawmakers from imposing this tax on the county, especially if egged on by the environmental lobby, which has the state’s Democratic majority by the, ahem, ear.The commissioners have set us up for a David vs. Goliath showdown, only it’s less likely we’ll get off that one, lucky shot. Trusting the Maryland General Assembly for a solution is a bad gamble.

Eating local

Frederick News Post
06/04/2013
The subject of The Frederick News-Post’s lead Monday story — “More pick their own” — warrants further comment. The story examined the local trend of residents procuring their fruits, vegetables and other selected food products directly from area farmers. This trend is one that is on the move all around the nation. People everywhere are discovering how much sense it makes to buy local.

Big stick for blight

Frederick News Post
05/31/2013
Frederick’s lawmakers are moving forward conservatively with legislation that would allow the city to go to court and appoint receivers to handle properties that are a hazard to public health, welfare and safety. The receivership program, which the mayor and aldermen began discussing Wednesday, will perhaps be the biggest stick among a suite of proposals under consideration to encourage or force property owners to rehabilitate ramshackle buildings.

A farewell to Frederick and Mount Airy Gazettes

Gazette to close Frederick and Mount Airy editions
Gazette
05/15/2013
After a careful review of these ever-shifting market conditions, The Gazette has decided to close its Frederick County editions. This is the last edition.
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Delay the sale of Citizens & Montevue

Frederick News Post
05/02/2013
Next year, Frederick County’s publicly owned assisted-living homes could post a $1.5 million profit. When we heard that piece of budget information, delivered by four members of the Board of Trustees for Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living during an editorial board on Tuesday, we were swayed. It’s true that the facilities have historically been heavily subsidized by county taxpayers, but that was before the two assisted-living facilities were completely rebuilt and reopened in June 2012. Let’s set aside the legal debate about the meaning of the original deed, for a moment, which may end up tested in court, the four trustees said. And also put out of your mind the moral argument -- the trauma privatization could cause to residents, the job fears of the staff, or that the destitute population of seniors for whom Montevue is the last stop in life will have nowhere else to go. The compelling argument is this: the potential for these recently rebuilt, state-of-the-art facilities is only beginning to be realized. For that reason, we support a delay in the county’s move to sell this facility to a private company.

Delay the sale of Citizens & Montevue

Frederick News Post
05/02/2013
Next year, Frederick County’s publicly owned assisted-living homes could post a $1.5 million profit. When we heard that piece of budget information, delivered by four members of the Board of Trustees for Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living during an editorial board on Tuesday, we were swayed. It’s true that the facilities have historically been heavily subsidized by county taxpayers, but that was before the two assisted-living facilities were completely rebuilt and reopened in June 2012. Let’s set aside the legal debate about the meaning of the original deed, for a moment, which may end up tested in court, the four trustees said. And also put out of your mind the moral argument -- the trauma privatization could cause to residents, the job fears of the staff, or that the destitute population of seniors for whom Montevue is the last stop in life will have nowhere else to go. The compelling argument is this: the potential for these recently rebuilt, state-of-the-art facilities is only beginning to be realized. For that reason, we support a delay in the county’s move to sell this facility to a private company.

Mainstream Green

(Environmentally and economically, it just makes sense to use energy wisely.)
Frederick News Post
07/17/2012
The Maryland Clean Energy Center reports that the state's clean energy industry is hiring. According to the center's executive director Kathy Magruder, "People are starting to adopt these practices and implement these measures in their lives, which creates demand for the employment."

Answering a burning question

Gazette
04/04/2013
Like a slow-burning fire that won’t go out, the continuous spontaneous combustion of questions surrounding the construction of a waste-to-energy incinerator in Frederick County has taken on a life of its own. Since first being proposed eight years ago as a way to mitigate the high cost of hauling away trash from the county’s full landfill on Reichs Ford Road, the $527 million project has been vetted, debated, twisted, turned, politicized and eviscerated over time. Yet we still don’t know for sure that, once built, whether the facility will be an economic savior or a nightmare, with the county already slated to put up $316 million just for construction costs alone.

Pay now, or pay later for Frederick County development

Gazette
01/24/2013
The legal costs of the battles that could take place in the future over inadequate roads and schools, public safety and irresponsible decision-making make current litigation look like a minor inconvenience. So, let the debate run its course. Let the courts get involved; that’s why we have them. If we don’t, we could end up losing the very place everyone is trying to save in their own way — without having asked all the tough questions in the first place.

Been down this road before

Gazette
11/29/2012
With the 2013 General Assembly session lurking on the horizon, it is imperative that state lawmakers give more than the usual lip service to Maryland’s transportation needs. Budget analysts have warned that the state transportation funding situation looks bleak — once again. Voicing the concerns of their beleaguered members, the Maryland Municipal League and the Maryland Association of Counties have made restoring highway user revenues, which have been slashed to the tune of almost $1 billion in recent years, a top legislative priority. Yet, it seems highly unlikely that the city of Frederick will see a marked increase in the highway user fees it needs to repair deteriorating local roadways or Frederick County will get the $169 million it wants next year to help relieve congestion and improve safety on the area’s busy highways — at least according to pessimistic state transportation officials.

Here we go again

Frederick News Post
07/02/2012
We find it ironic that the controversy over the $100 tax rebate checks the Frederick County Commissioners want to give back to taxpayers just won't go away quietly. Ironic, we say, because had the commissioners simply picked a better option, such as reducing the tax rate in the spring to cover the $6.7 million refund to taxpayers, then the issue would be over and the savings would be reflected in the tax bills being mailed out after July 1