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Anita Smith of the Youth and Family services came to last week’s NCPCA meeting and gave a presentation on the department.
Also attended a family summit at the end of last year at the YFS and had the opportunity to get to know more of the activities in the center.
It’s a great resource for the north College Park residents; especially for those having difficulties with everyday living.
The center is conveniently located in the north College Park (4912 Nantucket Road, please see the map below). Thus it’s a great resource for the District 1 residents.
The YFS provides services in English and Spanish in the areas of family counseling, parenting classes and support groups, youth life kill groups and referral programs. Their advocacy activities include coordination to ESOL programs, advocacy with schools and social services.
They also have a recreation center which is open between 3pm to 7pm. The drop-in center is operated by the M-NCPPC.
To know more about the YFS, please check its website here.
I attended the monthly Neighborhood Watch block captain meetings at the City Hall on last Wednesday (Mar 10). The meeting started at around 7:30pm and lasted until 8:45. There was a neighborhood Watch coordinator meeting after the block captain meeting. Around 10 block captains / coordinators attended the meeting.
The PG Police COPS officer Melanie Sarita and Taylor Nashwan briefed the crowed with the recent crime activities in the area. They said crime has been generally down during this compared, as compared to that we saw during the past few months. There have been a few B&E (Break-ins / Entering) - notably in the 5000 blocks of Indian lane and 9400 block of the Rhode Island Avenue. There also have been a few auto thefts reported in the Seven Spring Village complex area. Officer Taylor reported that there have been 3 break-ins in the southern part of the city. A 6+ ft black male has been identified as the suspect. There also has been 1 carjacking reported in the area.
Residents are asked to be more watchful during the summer days, there is a tendency of crime to go up during this time. Neighbors can have collective barbecue / block party together. Criminals typically stay way from the neighborhoods where they see neighbors stay together.
Members were asked to spend extra 30 seconds at night watching in the neighborhood before we go to bed. Residents should know who and what are normal and not suspicious. They were also asked to report empty / vacant houses to the police.
Residents are also asked to consider outside audible alarms, which are found more effective.
COPS officers also gave us hints on calling police. If you see a criminal activity going on in front of your eyes then call 911. With all other suspicous activities, call PG non-emergency number (301-333-4000)
The school board voted 7-1 to approve the $1.66 billion budget for fiscal 2011, a $45 million cut from this year’s budget. The budget plan would eliminate 178 teachers and 120 parent liaisons – according to this report.
PTA members say removing teachers and other personnel out of schools should be the last thing trimmed from the budget.
“We’re terribly upset that any teachers are going to be laid off in this coming year,” – said one PTA president of the county school
The other victims of this cut will be the immigrant parents – who heavily depend on the parent – teacher liaison officers to meet their children’s needs. 120 of the liaison officers will have to leave the school system under the decision.
“I’m a father like everybody here,”said Jose Trujillo, speaking through an interpreter, “and I see they are going to cut off the only way of communication between parents and teachers.”
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission is planning a town hall meeting on March 20th, as part of its Envision Prince George’s program. This program is part of a massive effort to obtain community input on issues as diverse as public safety, protecting our natural resources, jobs, and schools.
PG COPS police officer Sarita could not come, however, she sent a crime report for the member. I also attended another safety meeting at the city hall on the night before. Ofc Sarita and Ofc. Taylor made presentations there too. I hope to make a post on these reports soon.
Celeste Bryant of the EnvisionPrinceGeorges came to make a presentation on the program and took question. She invited members to join the March 20 community meeting. More to follow in another post.
Alex E. Compagent, Partnership Specialist, Philadelphia Regional Census Center came over to make a presentation on the upcoming Census 2010. Residents will start receiving census forms by mail from March 15 and will have 3 weeks to respond. If they fail to do so, census volunteers will come and visit to residents’ houses to collect census data. There are only 10 questions in the short form (25 in the long form).
Members continued the discussion on the priorities in the upcoming FY2011 city budget. The suggestions presented were, turn lanes on the Edgewood – Rhode Island intersection, recreation board activities, more street lights and internet connection at the Youth and Family Services facilities.
A By-Laws amendment was introduced and in a separate move, a By-Laws committee was formed.
Anita Smith of the Youth and Family services gave a presentation on the facility’s activities, such as after school programs, family support program etc.
Thnak you everyone for attending the meeting. The next meeting will be on April 8.
Tonight we’ll be having a fairly busy schedule at the NCPCA.
Lynette Washington of the US Census Bureau will be making a presentation on the Census 2010. Please check my earlier post to find more on the Census 2010.
Celeste Bryant of the Envision Prince Georges will be coming to talk about the program. There is a public hearing scheduled on March 20.
Peggy Higgins, the director of the City’s Youth and Family Services will be coming to make a presentation on the services it provides for the city residents. The YFS is located in our district (on 4912 Nantucket Road)
City’s budget discussion will continue from where we stopped at last month.
We expect to have one or more By-Laws amendments introduced by members.
We also hope to form a committee to take care of various suggestions on improvements / changes in NCPCA By-Laws
See you all at the meeting. (The meeting will start at 7:30pm).
A reminder for tonight’s meeting at the City Hall at 7:00 pm upstairs in the Council chambers. There should be parking passes at the front window. The meeting will start as a general meeting for all residents; the coordinators meeting will follow.
Please invite your neighborhood to attend. The PG County police will be there it update the community in our general on the recent crime activities. For any questions, please call Kim Lugo (firstname.lastname@example.org) 301-345-2553.
[The following article was contributed by The University of Maryland's UMD for Clean Energy Media Director Lisa Piccinini]
In just a few weeks Maryland legislators will hold hearings for House Bill 1014 and Senate Bill 720 – the Clean Energy Loan Programs. Introduced by Delegate Sue Hecht and Senator Thomas Middleton, the bills hold tremendous potential for Maryland’s business owners, residents, and for our environment. If passed, the bill will go into effect June 1 of this year.
The bill calls for a program providing loans to residential property owners for the financing of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Basically, its aim is to help residents save money by providing means to obtain a loan for the upfront costs of increasing home energy efficiency. The bill also applies to commercial property owners.
The cost-effective upgrades or retrofits that these loans would provide for include things such as insulation, water heating, and appliance efficiency. Potential upgrades would be identified by an energy audit performed for every property prior to loan approval. The audit identifies energy-efficient and cost-effective projects for the property that would generate yearly energy cost savings. Through this program the loans will be repaid by the property owner via a surcharge on the owner’s property tax bill, over a period not to exceed 15 years. The loans could be provided by banks, non-profits, or through the Maryland Clean Energy Center. This innovative way to finance loans encourages home owners to consider becoming more energy efficient.
The bill is a perfect opportunity for the state to encourage jobs, economic spending, and show national leadership. Because each potential loan begins with an energy audit, the bill encourages energy auditing companies operating within the state. Once a loan has been approved and retrofitting begins, the installation requires manpower; again, a source for jobs. The state would show strong support of auditing and retrofitting companies, as well as of renewable energy businesses, by allowing loans for residents to obtain their services.
Jobs, of course, spur spending in the economy. But so do increased savings. A resident who saves money on heating and cooling in their home, for example, can spend that money elsewhere in the economy. In fact, the average U.S. resident spends $1900 per year on utility bills, with 43% of that money going to heating and cooling systems. Just having ducts thoroughly sealed can save a home as much as 20% in heating and cooling costs. Leaking ducts are just one example of what an energy audit would locate as a source for an increase in energy-efficiency. Residents can easily calculate estimated energy savings through the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy savings calculator.
It is important to note this bill is a call for leadership on the state’s behalf. Maryland has already proved a commitment to the environment through passing the Greenhouse Gas Reductions Act, but that is only a step in the right direction. Passing this bill would continue Maryland’s positive trend of leadership and avoid falling to the wayside as other states move forward. Gunnison, Eagle, and Pitkin Counties – all in western Colorado – have shown such leadership, introducing clean energy and energy efficiency investments through loans covering the upfront costs of the investments. In Boulder County almost 400 energy projects began the first summer the program was implemented, allowing small businesses to add critical new jobs. Maryland’s loan program could show similar results.
Finally, this is a chance to foster environmental stewardship of this great state. Although our focus is often on the bay, we need to care for all elements of Maryland; this means decreasing the emissions we release to the air. One substantial way of doing so is by becoming energy efficient in our homes and exploring renewable energy options. Proper home maintenance and upgrades can reduce environmental emissions by up to 50%. These loans would allow Maryland residents to do just this.
So check out your energy bill. This program could be your next step to you saving – both money and the environment. Call your state representatives and express your support for this bill.
Soon after Metro has raised its fare by 10 cents, it has announced fresh 6 new public hearings to get citizen input for proposed fare hikes and service cuts.
Metro will hold a series of six public hearings in March and April to get public input on a variety of options for how the transit agency should close a $189 million budget gap in fiscal year 2011. The projected deficit is largely due to increased expenses and losses in revenue from lower than expected ridership – says Metro’s website.
Possible fare increases being considered for FY2011 include increasing the Metrorail peak period boarding charge from $1.65 to up to $2, maximum peak period fare from $4.50 to up to $5:45 and increasing the bicycle locker yearly rental fee from $70 to up to $200.
Service reductions being considered for FY2011 include increasing intervals between trains and buses, beginning rail service later in the mornings and eliminating some low-ridership bus routes or portions of routes.
Changes to MetroAccess service being considered for FY2011 include reducing the service area and charging a premium for service provided to location and restricting the use of the Free Ride Program.
(The following was submitted by the City of College Park District 3 council member Mark Cook)
It has been sad to see how our community has been subjected to the events the past week. The debate about how best to address both the spontaneous celebration and the public safety response will continue for a while, however, I would like to point everyone’s attention to something that is good and positive that is taking place this weekend between UMd students and the City of College Park.
Desta Anyiwo, a senior at the University of Maryland College Park who is a mechanical engineering major is going south for spring break; south to Haiti to introduce a new method of building called “earthbag construction” that can be used for temporary or permanent housing.
With the rainy season about to begin and tens of thousands of displaced Haitians living under tarps, it is critical that housing be established to shelter the survivors of the tragic earthquake. This earthbag construction technique is both earthquake and hurricane resisted, can be built quickly with local materials and has been used in numerous countries around the world (www.earthbagbuilding.com).
Working with Rebuild Haiti Today (www.rebuildhaititoday.org) a Hyattsville organization, Desta Anyiwo will be leading dozens of students from the University of Maryland College Park who are bypassing the usual spring break destinations to dedicate their time to making a difference.
Before the students leave for Haiti on March 13th, Desta and his friends need to construct a prototype home, which they will be doing this Sunday afternoon, March 7th at 3pm on the grounds of the former Friends School at 4601Calvert Road, College Park (one block east of Baltimore Avenue on Calvert Road).
I am proud to have helped arrange for the City of College Park to provide the much needed space for construction of the prototype home that is critical for the success of this project and I am very proud of what these UMd students are doing to make a positive change.
Please drop by Sunday afternoon and give support to these industrious students.
If you are inspired to give, you can contribute to www.rebuildhaititoday.org to help defray the costs of this relief and education effort.
The people of Haiti are also in great need of crutches and walkers for the numerous amputations that have taken place in the effort to save the people who were injured or trapped in collapsed structures on the island.
Please either email me at Mark@MarkCook.com or call me at (240) 554-2231 to arrange a pickup of your materials.
The riot at the UMD after the Terrapin’s win against Duke has stirred a debate among the City residents – does this hurt the image of the City – a City that portrays itself as the home of the University of Maryland.
“To start, This was not a riot, this was a street celebration, the police treated it as riot because of our uproarious past, they prepared for the worst, and carried out their plans to stop a riot, but what actually happend was they made the situation worst.” - says one student.
Since I blogged earlier on the possibility of speed cameras in the area, more movements are happening.
The council will host a public hearing on the issue at 7:30 p.m. March 23 at City Hall, and will vote whether to approve the cameras later that night.
There have been some concerns on the use of speed cameras, as can be seen by the rendering of a speed camera signs (on the left) by some. Many think they are used to generate revenue for local municipalities, rather than ensuring safety.
Things seem to be different in the proposed cameras – they will primarily be installed near our local schools.
During a Feb. 16 council work session, Lanham-based speed camera firm Optotraffic, which has not entered into any agreement with the city, outlined areas surrounding Hollywood, Paint Branch, Al-Huda, Holy Redeemer and Friends Community schools as potential camera sites.
In recent weeks, speed cameras in our neighboring county MoCo have also raised some concerns. According to this article, officials think Cops fighting speed camera tickets hurts county’s image.
Lon Anderson of AAA Mid-Atlantic separates camera programs into two categories: The ones that are concerned with safety and the ones that are concerned with raising money. He supports the former and condemns the latter.
Back in last October, I attended a family summit at the YFS (Youth and Family Services) - a great one day event organised by the City.
In the summit, we talked about having an annual multiculturalism event in College Park. I know other cities, including our neighboring Greenbelt city does that every year. Such an event, I hope, would showcase the heritage of different cultures and thus will bring many ethnic groups in the neighborhood together.
If we organize such an event, what do you want to see? Here are my thoughts..
(1) Ethnic foods – Hmm, think about dishes from different parts of the world – Latinos, South Asian, Chinese, Middle Eastern and off course American.
(2) Dresses / Jewelries - Booths selling / showcasing dresses and jewelries from different parts of the world
(3) Poster: Our community is rich with many generations of residents. Many of these residents have old pictures of our neighborhood dating back 50 years or even earlier. How about having a display of posters with these pictures? This should show the evolution of our neighborhood and also will preserve its historical heritage. We can also include culture – related pictures from the recent immigrants / newer generation of residents.
(4) Book Sales / Display: The books in different languages from different countries – for sale and display.
(5) Essay Competition: Get local students involved in this. Challenge them with topics related to improving cultural bridges. Award them with prizes.
(6) Open Forum on multi-ethnic issues: Our neighborhood is changing. New generation of people are moving in and so is widening the gaps between the residents. Let’s have residents talk in an open forum on ideas on how to improve inter-ethnic relationships.
2010 is the census year. Every 10 year, the nation counts the number of its citizens and their demographics.
For many reasons, being counted is very important. The funding that our local governments get from the state depends much on the head counts in each municipality. Also the information the census collects helps to determine how more than $400 billion dollars of federal funding each year is spent on infrastructure and services like hospitals, job training centers, schools, senior center, bridges, tunnels and other-public works projects and emergency services.
Census workers will canvass door-to-door to collect census data from households who have not returned a census form beginning in late April. you will be asked only 10 questions. For more information about the census, please visit http://2010census.gov