We round up some of the schedule changes in effect on this New Year’s Eve… and look at the celebrations Maryland cities are holding to welcome 2014. Plus, while drones won’t be tested in MD, our state will be involved in research. Also: MD’s online health exchange, MD’s growing population, and more.
New Year’s Eve Schedule Changes: State government offices are closed on this final day of the year. And it’s not a regular day for MARC trains, either. A “S” schedule is in effect for the Penn and Brunswick Lines. And there’s no MARC train service on the Camden Line. The MTA reminds you that Camden Line tickets are always honored to equal zones on the Penn Line. The Light Rail, Metro Subway and local MTA buses are operating as usual today… and both the Metro Subway and the Light Rail will operate until one hour after tonight’s fireworks display at the Inner Harbor… which gets underway at midnight. But while state government offices are closed on this last day of the year, the federal government is open, as are most local government offices around the state. Most public libraries are also open, although some will close early. Courts are closed today as well. More on schedule changes is here from the Baltimore Sun.
New Year’s Eve Celebrations: Baltimore’s New Year’s Eve Spectacular gets underway downtown tonight at 9 with free music, followed by that midnight laser and fireworks show at the Inner Harbor. Some 50-thousand people are expected to attend the festivities. And as WJZ reports, they’ll be joined by lots of Baltimore City Police officers. There will also be police helicopters watching from above, and the police will use Citywatch cameras to monitor the crowds. The Baltimore Sun has more on Baltimore’s festivities here. Many other celebrations are also going on: Annapolis, Columbia and Ocean City will have fireworks. In Frederick, it's the second annual "key drop" and Havre de Grace holds its annual "duck drop" and fireworks display. Information about those festivities, and others, is available here.
Maryland Won’t Test Drones, Will Be Involved: Maryland will not become a testing site for unmanned aircraft, or drones. As you heard from NPR, the Federal Aviation Administration announced yesterday that Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia will host testing sites for the unmanned aircraft. Maryland was among 24 states that submitted proposals to begin testing how drones can be safely used in civilian airspace. But while we won’t host an official test site, Maryland will be involved… due to a collaboration agreement our state made with Virginia and New Jersey. The Baltimore Sun reports that it’s unclear exactly how large of a role Maryland’s facilities and personnel will play in the research, but says work will be done at locations in the Baltimore Area, the Eastern Shore, and Southern Maryland. There’s more here from the Baltimore Business Journal.
Maryland’s Population Grows: Maryland's population is growing, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. As of July 1st, there were about 5.93-million people living in the state – that’s about 44-thousand more than were here in July of last year. The growth rate was less than one percent; the Baltimore Sun reports that’s the same growth rate that the nation saw during the same period.
Enrollments Increase At MD’s Online Health Insurance Exchange: Maryland’s online health insurance exchange saw a marked increase in enrollments in the week that ended on December 21st. As of that date, more than 11-thousand people had signed up for private health coverage. The Baltimore Business Journal notes that people have until the end of today to enroll in plans that take effect tomorrow – from insurers Evergreen Health Co-op and Kaiser Permanente; two other insurers saw their deadlines pass last week. The online exchange got off to a rocky start in October, when the website suffered from major technical difficulties. But Maryland has put significant resources into repairing the site over the last few weeks.
Howard County To Provide Wastewater To The NSA: Howard County has entered into an agreement with the National Security Agency that will see the county supply treated wastewater to cool a massive computer center at Fort Meade. The NSA will pay Howard County up to $2-million a year to use the water, and the Agency is spending an estimated $40-million to build a pump station to access it. When the computer center opens in the year 2016, it’ll use up to 5 million gallons of wastewater a day. The Baltimore Sun reports that if the water didn’t go to the NSA, it would be dumped into the Little Patuxent River. In using the wastewater, the NSA opted against using water from wells which would have added stress to the local aquifer; the chief of Howard County’s utilities bureau says that makes it a “big green project.”
Complaint Filed Over Dance’s Part-Time Work: A complaint has been filed with the Baltimore County School Board’s ethics panel over part-time work County Schools Superintendent Dallas Dance did for a company that trains school principals in Chicago. Dance resigned from that job earlier this month – saying the work had become an unwelcome distraction from his work in the County. Dance maintains nothing he did was wrong. Now, Delegate Pat McDonough wants the school system’s ethics panel to rule over whether the work violated policy. The panel declined to comment about the matter to the Baltimore Sun when asked yesterday.
Bald Eagle Deaths Investigated: Maryland Natural Resources Police are investigating the deaths of two bald eagles in Montgomery County. As the Baltimore Sun reports, the first eagle was shot with a rifle on Christmas Day while feeding on a deer carcass in Brookville. On Saturday, another eagle that had been shot was found in Darnestown. So far, investigators think the shootings were unrelated. Bald eagles are no longer on the nationally protected endangered species list, but a federal permit is needed to shoot them. Shooting an eagle without a permit carries a fine of up to $5-thousand and a year in prison.