Thank you for joining us on Sunday April 22th for the 15th annual Highlandtown Wine Festival. We had a great time a look forward to next year.


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General Assembly of Maryland 2019

The General Assembly of Maryland is officially in session between 1/21/2019 through 3/21/2019. If you have any concerns or want to learn more, please observe the agenda and contact our District 46 representatives.

http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?pid=cmtepage&stab=03&id=app&tab=subject7&ys=2019RS


Cadet-Apprenticeship Program

The Maryland Apprenticeship and Training Council has approved for accreditation the newly-instituted Cadet-Apprentice Program, effective immediately. Qualified individuals can enter the Cadet program at age 18 and continue until 20.5 years, when they are then eligible to enter the Police Academy. Cadets will be involved with structured on-the-job learning, paired with rigorous educational programming and coordinated mentoring. Cadets’ starting salary is $30,000 and they will receive full employment benefits. There are currently 11 cadets in the program and we hope to expand it to up to 20 Cadets by year-end. 

https://www.baltimorepolice.org/careers/cadets 

https://mayor.baltimorecity.gov/news/press-releases/2018-07-11-mayor-pugh-launches-new-cadet-apprenticeship-program 

Mobile WorkForce Center 

Ensuring that every Baltimore City resident who wishes to work is able to find suitable employment, it was my pleasure to christen our new Mobile Workforce Center. Operated by the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development, the Mobile Workforce Center will bring job resources to citizens and provide services such as job readiness assessments, résumé review and customization, job referral assistance, recruitment and resource information event information. This roving employment resource is equipped with 16 computer workstations, laptops to increase service capacity to up to 24 customers at a time, satellite internet access, exterior audio visual and broadcasting capabilities, as well as tables and chairs for outdoor presentations. For more information about where the Mobile Workforce Center will be in the community, check regularly at: https://moed.baltimorecity.gov/mobile-workforce-center 

Violence Reduction Initiative

Each and every day of the work week, leaders from every City agency join me in meeting with Police District Commanders as part of our Violence Reduction Initiative (VRI) to identify and develop solutions to neighborhood issues that have the potential to lead to violence and crime.  This Violence Once a week, we walk throughout a specific neighborhood to meet with community leaders and residents and see first-hand the problems that threaten the safety of citizens and their quality of life. This initiative – along with our bi-monthly “Call to Action” meetings is leading to clear and positive results. Crime continues to decline in every category: homicides are down 20%; non-fatal shootings are down 10%, overall violent crime is down 16%, burglaries are down 28%, and aggravated assaults are down 13%.  Overall, total crime in the city is down 18% compared to the same period last year.  We will continue to be relentless in our efforts to reduce crime and create a City worthy of all our citizens. 

https://www.baltimorecity.gov/mayor-pughs-violence-reduction-plan 

https://www.baltimorecity.gov/sites/default/files/Violence%20Reduction%20Update%2008-11-17.pdf 

Affordable Housing Trust Fund 

This week we announced a historic agreement to fund  the Affordable Housing Trust Fund which will increase affordable housing options for Baltimore's low-income residents. Joined by Council President Jack Young, Council Members and community advocates, I announced my Administration's commitment to allocate at least $20 million annually over a 4-year period to the Trust Fund.Without question, this is the surest path to uplifting our most vulnerable City residents and creating more promising pathways for them and their families. 

https://mayor.baltimorecity.gov/news/press-releases/2018-08-13-mayor-pugh-reaches-agreement-increase-citys-affordable-housing-trust 

Baltimore Healthy Start Fatherhood Symposium - For more than two decades, Baltimore Healthy Start Inc. has been investing in the health and well-being of Baltimore’s families. Head Start pushes to reduce perinatal health disparities, including infant mortality, by providing direct services to pregnant and postpartum women, their infants and fathers living in socially, economically, and medically disadvantaged communities. 

https://human-services.baltimorecity.gov/head-start 

http://www.cfuf.org/Baltimore-Responsible-Fatherhood-Project/ 

Catholic Church-issued ID Cards for Immigrants

Mayor Catherine E. Pugh joins Archbishop William E. Lori and other Church and community leaders to introduce the new Parish ID card system for undocumented immigrants and other vulnerable citizens to support their identification with law enforcement. The initiative, adopted in leadership development. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/crime/bs-md-ci-parish-id-cards-20181010-story.html


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In Annapolis

This term, I will continue to serve on the Appropriations Committee and have been named the Vice Chair of the Transportation & Environment Subcommittee and Pensions Subcommittee.  I’m excited to continue my work on transportation and environmental issues in a leadership role!

The Appropriations Committee and/or Subcommittees meet every day of the week - our schedule can be found HERE. If you’d ever like to come visit and see a budget hearing, please let me know - we’d love to have you! Every single Maryland resident has the right to come down and share their thoughts at our budget briefings. 

Brooke's Bills

I am going to have a robust plate of legislation this session - from #RankedChoiceVoting to the Styrofoam ban to community development and Opportunity Zones to ensuring civil representation for victims of violence. Every week I will highlight just a couple bills I am working on. The first two bills I have filed this session are my two local initiatives (meaning they only affect Baltimore City) -

Ranked Choice Voting/Open Primaries: The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board declared last week that they “love love love” my bill to allow Baltimore City to change how elections are held by allowing either Ranked Choice Voting or an Open Primary (in which the top-two people advance from one primary election to the general). Our system of voting in America is largely broken, but many cities and even two states - California and Maine - now use different ways of voting that allow for citizens to express their true preferences and for our elected officials to be more representative of the people they serve. Learn more about Ranked Choice Voting here.

Stopping Dangerous Truck Traffic: With the completion of the Panama Canal upgrade in 2016, Baltimore City’s containerized truck traffic increased nearly 10%. Although the work at our Port is vital to our area and economy, there is not need for this truck traffic to impede quality of life and safety on neighborhood streets. The deployment of the City’s height monitoring cameras is useful, but for those truck drivers who insist on flouting the law and drive from out of state, state law makes it difficult to enforce the penalty they receive. My bill allows for additional enforcement when truck drivers get tickets, which would ensure that rogue drivers are not endangering residents, pedestrians, bikers, and more.

http://www.brookelierman.com/


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Jess Gartner, CEO of Allovue, and I published an op-ed in The Baltimore Sun today about taking a common sense, nonpartisan, and immediate approach to solving facilities challenges in Baltimore City. This problem is solvable, so long as we demonstrate the political will to act. I hope you will take the time to read and share our op-ed to keep up the pressure for swift action. 

"While cooler temperatures are, we hope, on the horizon, making AC deficiencies in schools less urgent, a failure to offer new solutions for the city's facilities challenges right now will result in a fresh round of outrage when our first freeze hits. As deficient boilers break and failing windows leak, city schools will face predictable accusations of mismanagement. A problem decades in the making will not be resolved by political infighting, it will only be fixed with action. Instead of shuffling from one crisis to the next, let's do the hard work of collaboratively solving problems. 

We can all agree that the state of Baltimore schools is unacceptable for students, educators, families and communities. Let's also agree that present officials deserve a clean slate that assumes the best of their abilities as they work to undo decades of disinvestment and injustice. We have the expertise, resources, and ability to right historical wrongs. The only remaining question is whether we have the political will to get the job done." Keep reading by clicking here... 

Click here to share with friends

As always, thank you for your continued engagement and support. 

Best, 

State Senator Bill Ferguson 
http://www.billforbaltimore.com/

Other sites of Interest: 

https://educationalequity.org/blog/podcast-bill-ferguson-why-winning-elections-different-winning-policy

In the News

Check out the beginning of the Ground Up Podcast to hear their coverage of my recent speech at the Greater Baltimore Committee legislative forum.

Underscoring the importance of the Kirwan Commission’s work, Ed Week reports that Maryland Public Schools, formerly ranked #1 in the nation, has continued its slide from the top and now ranks #8.

It’s an honor to serve in the Senate alongside Senator Will Smith, who continues to also serve to our country as he will report to duty in Afghanistan this spring, as reported in Maryland Matters.

new report from the Urban Institute is worth the read as it shows how African American neighborhoods in Baltimore are continuing to face issues of disinvestment compared to their predominantly white counterparts.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has chosen Baltimore as one of the sites in their initiative to eradicate HIV/AIDS in the United States. The program aims to increase educational efforts, testing, and better serve those who have already contracted HIV/AIDS.


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Dear Friend,

Throughout my time in Congress, one consistent theme I've heard from Marylanders is that our democratic institutions have lost their footing and are increasingly unresponsive to the needs of most Americans. People are rightly fed up with Washington, which has been captured by special interests and where lawmaking has become an insider's game.

People are desperate to reclaim their democracy. That's why it was so gratifying to lead the new House Democratic majority in unveiling and introducing H.R. 1, the For the People Act - a bold and transformative reform bill that will return power to the people by making it easier, not harder, to vote; breaking the grip of big money on our politics; and strengthening ethics laws so that the public officials serve the public, not themselves.

Here's a quick overview of the bill, which makes reforms across three key areas.

1.    Voting Rights

·      Improve Access - H.R. 1 expands access to the ballot box by taking aim at institutional barriers to voting, such as cumbersome registration systems, limited voting hours and many other roadblocks. H.R. 1 creates automatic voter registration across the country, ensures that individuals who have completed felony sentences have their full rights restored, expands voting by mail and early voting and modernizes the U.S. voting system.

·      Promote Integrity - H.R. 1 fights back against the conservative assault on voting rights by committing Congress to build the record necessary to restore the Voting Rights Act, prohibiting voter roll purges like those seen in Ohio, Georgia and elsewhere and ensuring that discriminatory voter ID laws do not prevent Americans citizens from exercising their rights. H.R. 1 also ends partisan gerrymandering to prevent politicians from picking their voters and making Americans feel like their voices do not count.

·      Ensure Security - H.R. 1 ensures that American elections are decided by American voters without interference by foreign adversaries. The bill enhances federal support for voting system security, particularly paper ballots, and increases oversight over election vendors.

2.    Campaign Finance

·      Guarantee Disclosure - H.R. 1 shines a light on dark money in politics by requiring any organization involved in political activity to disclose its large donors, which will break the nesting-doll system that allows big-money contributors and special interests to hide their spending in networks of so-called "social welfare" organizations.

·      Empower Citizens - H.R. 1 levels the political playing field for everyday Americans, creating a multiple matching system for small donations and allowing the American people to exercise their due influence in a post-Citizens United world, while reaffirming that Congress should have the authority to regulate money in politics. The new system of citizen-owned elections will break special interests' stranglehold on Congress and lay the groundwork for an agenda that serves the American people.

·      Strengthen Oversight - H.R. 1 ensures that there are cops on the campaign finance beat that will enforce the laws already on the books. H.R. 1 tightens rules on super PACs and restructures the Federal Election Commission to break the gridlock and enhance its enforcement mechanisms. It also repeals Mitch McConnell's riders that prevent government agencies from requiring disclosure of political spending.

3.    Ethics and Accountability

·      Fortify Ethics Law - H.R. 1 breaks the influence economy in Washington and increases accountability by expanding conflict of interest law and divestment requirements, slowing the revolving door, preventing Members of Congress from serving on corporate boards and requiring presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns.

·      Impose Greater Ethics Enforcement - H.R. 1 gives teeth to federal ethics oversight by overhauling the Office of Government Ethics, closing registration loopholes for lobbyists and foreign agents, ensuring watchdogs have sufficient resources to enforce the law and creating a code of ethics for the Supreme Court.

These are not reforms for reform's sake. They are carefully designed to unrig the system so everyday citizens can set the agenda in Washington and make progress on the issues that matter most, whether it's lowering prescription drugs prices, building a fairer economy, reducing gun violence or combating climate change.

H.R. 1, the For the People Act, will clean up the culture of corruption in Washington and return us to a government of, by and for the people.

Sincerely,
John P. Sarbanes
Maryland's Third Congressional District


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Hogan Administration Announces New Maryland Workforce Expressway Website 

 Multi-agency Collaboration Offers Education, Training, and Employment Resources to Connect Businesses with Skilled Workers 

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Governor Larry Hogan, in collaboration with the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Maryland Department of Commerce, Maryland State Department of Education, Maryland Higher Education Commission, Maryland Department of Human Services, and the State Department of Assessments and Taxation, unveiled the Maryland Workforce Expressway, a new website that connects businesses to the full array of state workforce development resources in Maryland. 

“Our administration is committed to using every resource possible to provide excellent customer service to our citizens,” said Governor Hogan. “This innovative website will modernize the way our businesses connect with Maryland’s incredible array of workforce resources, helping our businesses identify and grow their talent.” 

The new website, www.maryland.gov/workforce, hosts nearly 50 workforce resources in one, easy-to-navigate location. Previously spread across many state agencies, the Expressway is a single source for links to talent engagement services, workforce education, hiring incentives, workforce training grants, labor and industry standards, and reemployment services. By streamlining access to state workforce resources, Maryland employers can more easily access the tools and services they need to secure and develop their talent pipelines. 

Read More Here


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From Baltimore City Department of Planning

https://planning.baltimorecity.gov/

Dockless Scooters - Share your opinion!

Baltimore's Department of Transportation (DOT) has released a survey about mobility and the impact of dockless vehicles (scooters and bikes).  The survey is NOW OPEN and will inform the evaluation of the dockless pilot program.  

Neighborhood associations can request paper copies and send group recommendations to dot-community@baltimorecity.gov . Take the survey and have your voice heard! 

Link to survey: https://goo.gl/forms/PvQg7AgXxgzVgPWn2 

Less Waste, Better Baltimore

Get involved in the Less Waste, Better Baltimore Plan. DPW needs your help as it conducts a master planning effort to identify options for improving solid waste diversion, recycling, and disposal in the City.

Planning Commission 

The Planning Commission meets regularly each month. All meetings are held in the Phoebe B. Stanton Boardroom of the Department of Planning, located on the 8th floor of 417 East Fayette Street and are open to the public. Live streaming is available. 

The agenda and staff reports are available on this website.


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State Department of Assessments & Taxation

SDAT Offers Tax Relief, Mails More Than 75,000 Postcards for  

Tax Credit Awareness Campaign  

Encourages Low-income Homeowners and Renters to Apply for Property  

Tax Credits

The Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation (SDAT) is urging Marylanders to consider whether they may be eligible to receive a homeowners’ or renters’ property tax credit and to submit an application before the September 1 deadline. As part of this awareness campaign, this week SDAT mailed 77,544 postcards to low-income Maryland homeowners who may be eligible to receive a credit, but have not yet submitted an application. SDAT representatives have consistently participated in various community outreach events throughout the year hosted by senior centers, neighborhood alliances, and non-profit organizations to educate Marylanders about tax relief that may be available to them. 

The Homeowners’ Property Tax Credit Program provides tax relief for eligible homeowners by setting a limit on the amount of property taxes owed based on their income. If a resident has already paid their property taxes and applies before September 1, any tax credit that the homeowner may be eligible for will be refunded by their county finance office. The Renters’ Property Tax Credit Program similarly provides tax relief for eligible renters who pay high monthly rent relative to their total income. This credit is issued in the form of a direct check payment of up to $1,000 a year.  
 
To determine whether you are eligible to receive a tax credit, you may visit the links above or call 410-767-4433 or 1-800-944-7403 (toll free within Maryland). To receive an application, please email sdat.taxcreditapp@maryland.gov or call 410-767-4238.  
 
These credits must be applied for annually by September 1. In 2017, approximately 47,000 homeowners received an average of $1,339 in tax relief, while more than 8,800 renters received an average of $402 in tax relief. Combined, these two tax credit programs saved Maryland taxpayers more than $65 million last year. After the 2017 Tax Credit Awareness Campaign, an additional 10,000 Maryland homeowners and renters applied for a tax credit. Many counties and municipalities also provide supplemental credits, which provide additional tax relief. If a resident is approved to receive the state credit, they will automatically receive any local supplemental credit for which they are eligible. 

In order to educate Maryland homeowners and renters about the availability of these tax credits, SDAT has been proactively sharing this information with the public through direct mail, email campaigns, social media, and other forms of community outreach. 

Postcard 


Guest Speaker at HCA Meeting on 16 April 2018

We want to thank Baltimore City's 25th State Attorney Marilyn Mosby for attending our community meeting and answering our questions. Though we have a long road ahead in fixing issues surrounding criminal justice, we are thankful that you attended our meeting and shared your vision.


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Education   

Going to College Next Year or know someone that is? 

FASFA is the first and most important step to receiving Financial Aid. The FAFSA is a form you have to fill out in order to get financial aid, and colleges and universities use the FAFSA to award state and college aid. If you need financial aid, please go to Fasfa.com and proceed as prompted to do. The process is free. 


CollegeBound Foundation 2019-2020 Last Dollar Grants & Competitive Scholarships  

CollegeBound’s 2019-2020 scholarship and grant award season is now open.  Apply Now! 

Now accepting applications for its Last-Dollar Grant award (up to $3,000). To qualify, a student must be a 2019 graduate from a Baltimore City Public High School and demonstrate an economic need. Also available are over 60 scholarships based on academic merit or service learning, ranging from a one-time $400 award to a four-year full tuition award. Applications are due by March 1 and are available online at mycbf.awardspring.com

If you have any questions or concerns regarding the Educational Assistance Grant Program specifically you may visit our website at www.mhec.maryland.gov or contact atosfamail.mhec@maryland.gov

In addition to school related matters, the Kirwan Commission's excellent preliminary report has provided a guidepost and vision for major policy and funding reform to genuinely improve the long-term prospects of our State's economic future. Want to help change the world? Check out Strong Schools Maryland today to see how you can be a part of making this vision for a world class education a reality in our State. You can access the full report here and the PDF version here.  

Last but not least, Strong Schools Maryland consists of hundreds of grassroots activists across Maryland speaking up and saying that the current education system is failing many of our students and crippling our economy. They know that the best way to ensure lasting change is to create the public will necessary to force our leaders to implement solutions we know work. Join the organization in building the public will to create a world-class education system for every student.   

The objective for Strong Schools Maryland is to create a system in which the following three ideas are true: 

 (1) All Maryland students graduate with the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in post-secondary education without the need for remediation. 

 (2) All Maryland students graduate with the knowledge and skills to succeed in a career in which they find satisfaction and earn a living wage. 

 (3) All Maryland students graduate with the knowledge and skills to be an effective citizen

https://www.strongschoolsmaryland.org/ 

South Baltimore Adult High School - The website for the adult high school coming to South Baltimore is live and can be found here! The adult high school is slated to open in the Fall 2019 as a degree-issuing institution for adults over 21 who want to earn their high diploma.

https://www.elev8baltimore.org/opportunities/adult-learning/


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Maryland Emergency Management Agency Launches "Know Your Zone" Hurricane Preparedness Campaign

 With the record-setting 2017 hurricane season still fresh in most American’s minds, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), in conjunction with local emergency managers, is rolling out a new hurricane and severe weather evacuation system as a result of the Maryland hurricane evacuation study which concluded earlier this year.  The study identified 3 large areas in Maryland subject to tidal flooding. Know Your Zone aims to bring awareness of the evacuation zones to the forefront of Marylanders’ summer plans and make evacuation notices easier to disseminate.  

Read More Here 


**Featured Contracting Opportunities**

All-Terrain Vehicle
(Baltimore City Department of General Services)

 Solicitation Due Date: Wednesday, February 20,  2019 at 11:00 a.m.
For more information, click here


Pneumatic Tire Forklift
(Baltimore City Department of General Services)

 Solicitation Due Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. For more information, click here

Regular Cab Truck w/Enclosed Utility Body
(Baltimore City Department of General Services)

 Solicitation Due Date: Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 11:00 a.m.
For more information, click here


For a list of more contracting opportunities, click 
here

For additional City contracting opportunities, go to:

To subscribe, click here


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AN UNOFFICIAL STRATEGY TO DEAL WITH ILLEGAL DUMPING

Baltimore has a major problem with dumping in our streets and alleys. The city asks residents to make use of the 311 system, but does not seem to be willing to invest in enforcement. Many believe that the cost of enforcement would be offset by the reduced costs associated with clean up. The cost of cleanup is not the only expense. Filth and trash are unsightly and attract rats which carry disease. Property values, and the related tax revenue to the city, are reduced.

Here is a list of possible strategies:

  • Use 311 whenever there is dumping – please be vigilant, this will not be resolved quickly

    • There is a free 311 phone app that automatically records 311 report numbers which allow you to track every 311 report you have ever made

      • It can be found at Google Play and the Apple Store

      • You can easily attach pictures to your report

      • It uses your phones GPS to record the location, although it often is not accurate enough to pin point the exact address – you can adjust the location or record the address in the body of the comment area

    • City employees may call you with questions or to follow up, so we know that the reports are seen

  • Contact your city council representatives and provide them with the 311 report numbers

    • East of Conkling Street contact Brandon Scott’s office at 410-396-4808 or at Brandon.Scott@baltimorecity.gov

    • West of Conkling Street contact Zeke Cohen’s Director of Civic Engagement, Joshua Thomson at 410-396-4821 or at Joshua.Thomson@baltimorecity.gov

    • copy the Highlandtown Community Asso. at highlandtown21224@gmail.com

    • Please include:

      • Your 311 report numbers

      • Any relevant pictures, including pictures that may show the dumping in progress and license plate numbers

      • Pictures of any incriminating evidence, such as mail with an address, found in the debris

  • Always ask your city councilman for stepped up enforcement, not just clean up

The Highlandtown Community Association has a portable motion activated camera with night vision (aka a wildlife/deer camera) that can be used to capture pictures at chronic dump sites. This camera requires a location where it is unlikely to be noticed or tampered with. If you have a chronic dump site you may request use of the camera at highlandtown21224@gmail.com . Please include your phone number and be prepared to help locate a good spot to place the camera.


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From the office of Senator Bill Ferguson 

Members of Team 46 (Senator Bill Ferguson and Delegates Luke Clippinger, Brooke Lierman, and Robbyn Lewis) offer a framework and concrete ideas for moving forward to combat the crime plaguing our streets and to create safe and healthy neighborhoods. This is not the beginning of the conversation, and it’s certainly not the end: these are our thoughts after talking with many individuals engaged every day in this work - and we look forward to hearing your thoughts as well. We propose these ideas for the purpose of starting a discussion that government, civic, and business leaders must have now so that we can address violence and crime head-on...  

To comprehensively address this crisis, each of these recommendations requires leaders in the Baltimore region to consistently meet, plan, and implement an identified game plan. We need ongoing programming, innovation, and experimentation to create opportunity, reduce violence, and restore the level of trust in relationships between our communities and law enforcement. This collaborative and data-driven work should include participation of electeds, emergency responders, police (leadership and patrol officers), teachers, counselors, juvenile justice workers, judges, community leaders, and state/federal partners.  

Finally, our approach must recognize that we only resolve this crisis sustainably when we create real opportunities for Baltimoreans: jobs, training, education, reliable transit, addiction counseling/ treatment, and affordable housing. We cannot ignore the deeper, structural problems that lead to crime — lack of economic opportunity, lack of education, addiction, structural racism, youth unemployment, segregated housing — each of which contributes to the broader landscape that causes crime spikes. Unfortunately, though, when crime reaches levels we are experiencing today, tackling these larger challenges becomes nearly impossible. We must triage the emergency, establish a path to a violence-free future, and work every day and every session toward reaching that vision of a safer, more equitable Baltimore. 

Read our policy paper, Baltimore PROSPERS by clicking here.  


Highlandtown's very own Agnes Arnold has been awarded the annual "Citizen of the Year" award by the Exchange Club of Highlandtown/Canton for outstanding dedication to the citizens and the community. Here she accepts her award along with Pastor Mark Parker (left), the incoming President of the Exchange Club. Residents of Highlandtown thank Agnes & Mark for their continued efforts to improve our neighborhood!


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