County & State to Address Back River Midge Problem


County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced a joint effort with the Maryland Department of Agriculture to reduce the nuisance midge population on Back River. From early April through the fall of 2022, the Baltimore County Department of Environmental Protection and Sustainability (DEPS) will conduct aerial midge suppression treatments on a 1200-acre section of upper Back River.

“We are committed to ensuring those who visit, live and work along Baltimore County’s waterways are able to enjoy our amazing outdoor activities,” said Olszewski. “We are grateful for our partnership with Secretary Bartenfelder and the Department of Agriculture, in which we are establishing a long-term solution for suppressing this challenge in a safe and efficient manner.”

The County and state will split the $825,000 annual cost to apply a non-toxic Bti-based larvacide from a helicopter five to six times this spring and summer with the goal of reducing the midge population to tolerable levels.

“Midges have been a consistent nuisance to the many communities along the Back River,” said Joe Bartenfelder. “I am glad to see the county’s program move forward and provide some much-needed relief to local residents and businesses.”

Safe and Effective Non-Toxic Treatment Targets Midge Larvae

Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) is a naturally occurring bacteria that is found in soil, and is only harmful to certain organisms, specifically midge, black fly and mosquito larvae and a few other aquatic flies. Research shows that it does not harm people, fish, crabs or other aquatic invertebrates. It specifically targets midge larvae at particular times in their life cycles.

Trained, certified technicians from the County’s contractor, Helicopter Applicators Inc., following all applicable regulations and industry best practices, will spray a Bti-based naturally-occurring bacterial larvacide from a low-flying helicopter, during daylight hours, actively avoiding boaters and human activity in and around the water. is available on the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) website.

Midges are small non-biting aquatic flies that often swarm near water or marshy areas where they breed. In recent years, people have observed an increased prevalence of these swarming insects, which create a significant nuisance for homeowners, boaters, businesses and recreational activities.

“I am pleased that the county and state were able to partner on this serious quality of life and economic issue. I think the partnership is an example of how differences can be set aside for the betterment of our constituents. After years of advocacy from me, citizen leaders like Sam Weaver and Karen Wynn, and scientific research and testing by Baltimore County the helicopter treatments have been a long time coming. I thank all those involved in making it happen.”

Multiple Helicopter Applications of Upper Back River this Spring and Summer

Treatment began on April 11, and will continue every four to five weeks until fall. These timeframes are estimates and will be scheduled depending on need, as indicated by DEPS’ biological monitoring of the midge larvae abundance. Each application is expected to take one to two days, with the timing dependent on wind and weather conditions and tidal movement.

DEPS will treat a 1200-acre open water area of upper Back River from Walnut Point northwest to Powell’s Point and the I-695 crossing, including portions of Deep Creek, Duck Creek, and Bread and Cheese Creek.

Taco Bell to Bring Back Mexican Pizza


Taco Bell made an announcement on Monday that they were bringing back its popular item the Mexican Pizza to their menu. There are Taco Bell locations in Dundalk, Carney, Essex, Fullerton, Middle River, Parkville and White Marsh.

Here is a statement from their website.

While rumors of the Mexican Pizza’s return have been swirling for months, it hasn’t been publicly confirmed, until now. From petitions, to memorials, to merch, the Taco Bell cult has (rightfully) been all but silent about its menu hiatus. Doja Cat, the voice of the Taco Bell people, was one of the first to confirm the news this past weekend, when she literally dropped the mic with the HOT news of the Mexican Pizza’s return this May.

But, Doja wasn’t the only fan who played a role in bringing back the Mexican Pizza. Equally vocal with their pleas for the menu items return were 200K+ signers of a Change.Org petition, spearheaded by superfan Krish Jagirdar. Leading up to the May 19 return, fans can expect even more ways to get involved with its historical return.

“Like many Indian-Americans who grew up vegetarian, we had limited access to the ‘fun’ fast food, so Taco Bell became a bridge to belonging in American culture for many kids like me who grew up in immigrant households,” said Krish Jagirdar, super fan and organizer of the Change.Org petition. “That’s what made it especially devastating when the Mexican Pizza was pulled from menus in 2020, but fast forward two years later and I found myself on a conference call with the Taco Bell team as they shared news of the return of the Mexican Pizza, showing that listening to their fans is clearly embedded in their DNA. It’s one of the many reasons Taco Bell is more than just another fast-food restaurant.”

Saucy fan pleas alone aren’t all it took to get the Mexican Pizza back to menus, as the masterminds in the Taco Bell test kitchen worked to streamline operations and ingredient sourcing, and leave a lighter footprint at the same time. To expedite its return, Taco Bell has been dedicated to improving its sustainability practices, including a sauce packet recycling program pilot in the US with TerraCycle as the brand tracks towards its 2025 commitment for all recyclable, compostable or reusable consumer facing packaging.

As an IOU, Taco Bell Rewards Members who received a mystery reward back during the Big Game will score a free Mexican Pizza when it’s back May 19*, and loyalty members will get first dibs with early access to the menu item beginning May 17**.

For fans wishing to snag a Mexican Pizza without leaving their home, customers can enjoy the convenience of delivery exclusively through DoorDash for the first week the iconic menu item is back (May 19 – May 26), rolling out to other delivery platforms beginning on May 27. DoorDash members can exclusively enjoy $2 off one Mexican Pizza with a minimum subtotal of $12 using promo code MEXPIZZA at checkout***.

“Our menu is full of fan-favorites, but the Mexican Pizza is at the top of that list,” said Mark King, CEO of Taco Bell. “From its flashy introduction to menus in 1985 as ‘Pizzazz Pizza’ to its inspiration behind the creation of infamous jingles, Mexican Pizza has a long history with the brand and I’m glad we could give fans what they crave and bring our classic Mexican Pizza back home where it belongs.”

Vegetarian lovers have been among the most vocal and hopeful for the Mexican Pizzas return, as Taco Bell has been a haven for vegetarians**** thanks to the ability to customize. The Mexican Pizza is made up of two crispy flour shells, layered with beans, pizza sauce, seasoned beef, tomatoes and a melted three cheese blend all for $4.49****, and is available vegetarian without the seasoned beef. Fans can make it a combo with a Mexican Pizza, 2 Crunchy Tacos and a Large Fountain Drink for $8.99****.

 

County to Change Solid Waste Regulations


The Baltimore County Department of Public Works and Transportation announced several changes to the Bureau of Solid Waste Management’s regulations, including:

Beginning April 1, 2022, the County will require all separate yard material collection to be placed in paper bags and will no longer accept plastic bags for yard waste. This new rule will allow the County to turn more of the yard waste collected into compost, and will allow for a higher quality of compost material, which is available for free to County residents to use in their landscaping or gardens. This update fulfils a recommendation of the County’s Solid Waste Work Group.

To assist with this transition, the County will provide residents with paper yard material bags at no cost. Paper bags will be available for pick-up at all County trash and recycling drop-off centers, all Baltimore County Public Library branches, all County senior centers. Paper bags will be limited to five per person and will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The County will accept larger weight and capacity limits for trash and recycling containers (up to 45 pounds and 45 gallon cans) as well as the ability to use containers compatible with mechanical cart tippers.

The County will introduce a new “sliding” schedule for collection holidays. Starting January 1, 2022, scheduled collection days which falls on or after a holiday will generally “slide” to one day later that week. This “slide” will apply to all types of collections (trash, recycling and yard material), meaning that residents will no longer have to hold recyclables for an extra week after a holiday.

The County will introduce a bulk collection program starting in early 2022. More details will be released in the coming months.

The County will update language to better reflect current programing at the County’s three drop-off centers, including accepted recyclables and the location of the household hazardous waste collection area at the Central Acceptance Facility.

Further details about these changes will be available in December, when the County mails new 2022 program guides to residents.

Specific collection calendars will also be included in this mailing, which will clearly outline the new holiday “slide” collection days.

For more information about Bureau of Solid Waste Management regulations, visit baltimorecountymd.gov/solidwaste.

Gunpowder Elementary Dedicates Playground to Amy Caprio


photo courtesy of Councilman David Marks-

Fallen Officer Amy Caprio was honored with on a playground at Gunpowder Elementary School on Saturday, Oct. 23 in Perry Hall.

The event was attended by Baltimore County Executive John Olszewski, state Senate Kathy Klausmeier, Delegates Harry Bhandari Joe Boteler and Carl Jackson and Councilman David Marks.

“Today, our Perry Hall community celebrated the opening of the new Unity Playground at Gunpowder Elementary School, dedicated to Officer Amy Caprio

“In my remarks, I spoke of the twin values of courage and community – the bravery of Officer Caprio when she was murdered on May 21, 2018, and the generosity of spirit shown by our community in the time afterward. We came together to support one another,” Marks said.

“In all my years as a Councilman, this was one of finest projects and among the best dedication ceremonies I have attended. There are so many to thank, but it begins with Kirsten Roller, Matt Clifford and their families from Linwen Way who sparked this project. Children will play, laugh, and learn here for years to come.

“The rain held off, like someone was watching over us.”

Baltimore County to Resume “to-go” Cocktails Carryout


The Baltimore County Board of Liquor License Commissioners today voted unanimously to resume “to-go” cocktails for carryout or delivery, effective immediately.

Baltimore County’s temporary allowance of to-go cocktails ended on July 1 following the expiration of Governor Hogan’s State of Emergency. Under legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly earlier this year, local liquor licensing boards could adopt regulations to authorize the allowance of restaurants, bars, and taverns to sell and deliver to-go cocktails for two years.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski issued the following statement following today’s vote:

“As we continue our recovery, we must do all we can to help our small businesses innovate and diversify their operations,” Olszewski said. “This is another commonsense step to support the continued recovery of this hard-hit industry and we applaud the board’s decision today.”

Hogan Announces VaxU Scholarship Promotion


Governor Larry Hogan announced the launch of the $1 million VaxU Scholarship Promotion, an incentive program to encourage 12- to 17-year-olds to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Winners will receive a $50,000 scholarship, which covers the equivalent of full tuition and fees at a public, in-state institution of higher education. The Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC) and the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) will jointly administer this initiative, which will select 20 winners through random drawings between now and Labor Day.

The governor made today’s announcement at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he was joined by University System of Maryland Chancellor Jay A. Perman and UMD President Darryll J. Pines.

“Promotions like this are just one more way that we are reinforcing the importance of getting every single Marylander that we can vaccinated against COVID-19, especially our young people,” said Governor Hogan. “If any of our 12- to 17-year-olds or their parents needed another good reason, then now they can get vaccinated for a chance to win a $50,000 college scholarship.”

Beginning July 12, the VaxU Scholarship Promotion will randomly select two winners per week for eight weeks. On Monday, September 6—Labor Day—four winners will be selected. To qualify for the scholarship, students must both live and be vaccinated in Maryland.
“This is an outstanding and innovative approach to incentivize our youth to learn more about the countless higher education opportunities that are available to them here in Maryland,” said MHEC Secretary Dr. James D. Fielder. “We are proud to continue paving the way for access and success of their higher education goals.”

The award will be distributed in the form of a Prepaid College Trust or College Investment Plan from Maryland529, and can be utilized in accordance with the guidelines for those programs:

• A 4-Year Maryland Prepaid College Trust Account will be funded for a winner who is between the ages of 12-14 at the time of the drawing.
• A Maryland College Investment Plan contribution will be awarded to individuals between the ages of 15-17 at the time of the drawing.

“When a Marylander who is 12-17 years old is vaccinated, they, their family, friends, and countless others are protected from COVID-19, and those young community members become role models to their peers who are still unvaccinated,” said MDH Secretary Dennis R. Schrader. “To date, more than half of our 12- to 17-year-olds have been vaccinated, and VaxU is just one more tool we’re using to reach this critical audience.”
Winners will be selected utilizing the same random number generator used for the $2 Million VaxCash Promotion. Similar to that promotion, the winners of the VaxU promotion will be permitted to remain anonymous. However, the city or county of the winner will be published.

“For me, the governor’s announcement represents a perfect marriage: We’re helping secure the health of our young people while giving them a low- or no-cost college education,” said Chancellor Perman. “I’m so grateful that our state has made COVID vaccination a public health priority and that we’re embracing creative ways to protect the safety of all Marylanders.”

“Higher education provides opportunities for the next generation of Marylanders to tackle the grand challenges of our time and thrive in an ever-evolving world,” said President Pines.

“The promise of higher education opportunities as an incentive to get vaccinated against COVID-19 is an outstanding effort from Governor Hogan. We applaud his ongoing commitment to research-based, data-driven decisions throughout this public health crisis, and the University of Maryland is a proud partner in working to end the pandemic.”
Federal COVID-19 relief funds will be used to cover the cost of the program. For more information, visit the MHEC VaxU Scholarship Promotion website.

County to Turn Perry Hall Farm Into Park


-photo courtesy of County Councilman David Marks-

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks announced that the county is purchasing the Bierman farm property in Perry Hall and will turn it into a park.

The 22-acre property is located east of Gerst Road. Members of the White Marsh Rec. Council cleaned out the old barns last month and the old farming equipment is heading to public auction.

“Earlier this year, Baltimore County purchased the 22-acre Bierman farm for a new park. Preparations are underway for settlement,” Marks said.

“The property is closed to the public – I had permission to view the land with the White Marsh Recreation Council, which is helping to remove fencing.”

County Postpones Inspector General Legislation


Baltimore County officials announced that the Olszewski Administration will be postponing plans to introduce legislation to create an oversight board for the Office of the Inspector General and will engage in a robust stakeholder engagement process to review proposed updates to rules governing the newly created office.

County spokesperson Sean Naron on Monday issued the following statement:

“Our administration is proud to be the most open, accessible and transparent in Baltimore County’s history. In just a few years we have taken unprecedented steps forward, including creating and expanding the County’s first-ever Inspector General.

We remain committed to filling gaps in the current law to provide appropriate accountability measures, but we want to ensure all concerns are thoughtfully considered.

In the coming weeks, we will engage a diverse group of expert stakeholders to review and strengthen proposed policies so that we can help ensure the success of this important office.”

Fifth District Councilman David Marks released a statement supporting Olszewski decision to postpone the legislation.

“I have supported the creation of a Baltimore County Inspector General since 2018,” Marks said.

“Many of you have contacted me about proposed legislation that would have modified this office. I purposely used the Fourth of July holiday to listen to many of your comments. I am pleased the County Executive will postpone the introduction of this bill and create a workgroup instead, a concept I recommended.

“Our government is based on a system of checks and balances. I look forward to legislation that improves accountability throughout county government.”

Olszewski Wants Oversight for Inspector General


This story has been updated.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski introduced legislation to create an oversight board for the Office of the Inspector General and update rules governing the office to align with statutes governing Inspectors General in other jurisdictions. The administration worked in collaboration with the Inspector General to gather feedback on the proposed legislation.

“Local government should be held to the highest standards of ethics and accountability, and I’m proud of our work to create and support the County’s first Office of the Inspector General,” Olszewski said. “Creating an oversight board for this important, independent office builds on our ongoing work to foster open and accountable government. I look forward to continuing to work cooperatively with the Inspector General to improve transparency and accountability at all levels of government.”

Similar to the oversight structure Inspectors General in other jurisdictions, the proposed seven-member board would be composed of:
The County Attorney, who will chair the board and may assign staff from the Office of Law to the board;
The County Administrative Officer or their designee;
The Director of Budget and Finance, or the Director’s designee;
The County Council Chair, or the Chair’s designee;
The Secretary to the County Council; and
Two County residents jointly approved by the County Executive and the County Council Chair who are on faculty at a law school, public policy school or public administration school.
The oversight board would be responsible for reviewing the Inspector General’s performance, policies, and procedures, in addition to reviewing complaints against the inspector general. An affirmative vote of four members is required for the board to take any action. The board will meet at least once annually and must have a quorum of four members.

Under this new legislation, the Inspector General will be required to submit an annual report to the board within the first 60 days of each year, detailing the accomplishments of the office, including any monetary savings directly attributable to the office’s work.

In addition, the proposed bill clarifies that the IG may request access to records and information that is not protected, confidential or privileged under federal or state law, and that suspected criminal activity should be referred to the appropriate law enforcement entity.

Since taking office, the Olszewski administration has taken unprecedented steps to make local government more accountable to the people it serves. Olszewski’s first major legislative priority was a package of ethics and accountability reforms, which included legislation to create the County’s first Office of Ethics and Accountability, now re-named the Office of the Inspector General.

The legislation will be introduced to the County Council during the legislative session on Tuesday, July 6 and is expected to be voted on during the August 2, 2021 legislative session.

SHA to Repave Broening Hwy & Belclare in Dundalk


The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) will begin milling and resurfacing MD 695A (Broening Highway) at Belclare Road in the Dundalk area of Baltimore County starting on Thursday, June 24. Crews will work overnight weeknights through the morning of Friday, July 2.

Each night, Belclare Road at Broening Highway will be closed and detoured between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. the next morning. Crews will use temporary digital message boards, traffic signs, barrels and cones to direct traffic using a detour route via Dundalk Avenue and Dunhill Road.

Broening Highway will remain open to traffic at night with a temporary single lane closure. All other side-street access along Broening Highway will be open during the overnight work hours.

In case of inclement weather, the overnight daytime intersection work and detour will take place the next possible day. MDOT SHA’s contractor, P. Flanigan and Sons, Inc. of Baltimore, is performing the work.

The pavement milling and resurfacing work is part of an ongoing $3 million MDOT SHA project to improve 1.3 miles of Broening Highway, in coordination with MDOT Maryland Port Administration (MDOT MPA). The project began fall 2020 and will be complete late summer 2021, weather permitting.
MDOT SHA works hard to maintain safe traffic mobility in work zones for our crews as well as our customers. Drivers need to stay alert, focus on driving and, look for reduced speed limits, as well as other driving pattern changes. Drive like you work here and slow down in construction zones.