From new Severna Park and Arnold businesses to the academic and athletic accomplishments of local youth, 2019 had plenty of great moments. This is some of the news that stood out during the last year.
While the federal government was in the midst of the longest partial shutdown in U.S. history, the newly elected Anne Arundel County leadership was hard at work on another issue: immigration. County Executive Steuart Pittman held two town hall meetings in January to solicit input from citizens after he suspended the 287(g) immigration screening program.
Bill Martin, acting superintendent for the Department of Detention Facilities, was happy to see the program end.
“We have now returned to what has been successful for 14 years, the criminal alien program, and the work is again being done by the right people: federal ICE agents,” Martin said.
For the first time, Anne Arundel County welcomed elected members to the Board of Education. Dana Schallheim was the first elected representative for District 5.
“Class size, wages and equity were all huge topics during the campaign trail,” Schallheim said in January when asked by the Voice about her goals. “We need to get back to meeting school need at the school level.”
Severna Park’s championship reign over indoor track and field continued on January 22 when the Falcon girls totaled 123 points to win the Anne Arundel County championship for a third consecutive year. At the elementary school level, 9-year-old Benfield Elementary student Regan Graves was one of 12 kids selected to film a Chick-fil-A kids correspondent public service announcement that aired on Fox45.
The winter was also a time of recognition. The Department of Recreation and Parks named the Friends of Kinder Farm Park as an Organization of the Year, along with Pasadena Soccer Club, on January 23. Erik Michelsen, the Anne Arundel County Watershed Protection and Restoration Program (WPRP) administrator, earned the inaugural Ron Bowen Environmental Legacy Award on February 23.
To show students they are valued, a grassroots group of parents organized an event they dubbed “One Severna Park” in early March, when hundreds of parents lined Benfield Road and Robinson Road with signs bearing messages of affirmation.
For Rock ‘N’ Roll Revival XXX in early March, Severna Park High School opted to choose artists inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame. Among the musical giants were Bon Jovi, Elton John, Cream, Blondie, The Supremes, Queen and more.
The Bruins boys basketball team came up one win shy of the ultimate prize on March 16, falling to Eleanor Roosevelt High School in the 4A state championship game at the Xfinity Center on the University of Maryland campus, 77-48.
A new business, Vintage Vinyl, was welcomed to Arnold near the end of winter.
Severna Park lost a beloved icon in March with the passing of Kenny Elgert, commonly known around town as the No. 1 fan of the Severna Park High School Falcons. An alumnus of SPHS, an employee of Giant Food, and a Special Olympics bowler and softball player, Elgert was often seen around Severna Park High, where he was an ardent supporter of the sports teams and drama department, and at Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company, where he loved to be part of the annual carnival and Santa runs.
On March 27, the Association for Severna Park Improvement, Renewal and Enhancement (ASPIRE) honored seven community members and organizations: Ann Brennan of Burgers & Bands for Suicide Prevention, Randy Bruns of the Magothy River Association, Linda Curry of the Greater Severna Park Council, Alden Gross of Severna Park Kiwanis, Diana Pechous of Partners In Care, Bob Royer of Berrywood Community Association, Celine Wachter of Severna Park Elks Lodge 2482, Asbury Church Assistance Network (ACAN), The Cisco Center, and Lieutenant Wilbur Wells (awarded posthumously).
For their lifetime of philanthropy, Lee and Sylvia Marston were honored at the annual Severna Park Community Center fundraising gala on April 13 at Chartwell Golf & Country Club.
Elsewhere in the area, two new businesses opened: Lisa’s Cakepops and Vital Fitness Holistic Center. While those entrepreneurs celebrated their new ventures, Severna Park High School alumnus Teddy Giard, Broadneck High School alumnus Austin Maxwell and their Clemson University (CU) classmate Logan LeMance spread the word about their appearance on an April 7 “Shark Tank” episode. Their product was Kase Mate, an iceless cooler designed to fit around an entire case of beverages. The show ended with the trio scoring a $100,000 deal from Shark investor Mark Cuban.
Just as ferocious were the Falcon girls lacrosse players who dominated gameplay from the outset in defeating Dulaney 10-5 to become 4A state champions on May 22 at Paint Branch High School Burtonsville. The Severna Park boys lacrosse team captured its fourth consecutive state title on the same day, defeating Howard High School for a 9-6 win at the same venue. One week later, Severna Park’s Emily Knight and Sarah Adams, Broadneck’s Mollie Fenn and the Falcon 4x800 relay teams won track and field state championships.
On June 6, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recognized Artie Hendricks and Rob Calhan of Landmark Roofing for Maryland Entrepreneurial Success of the Year; Lonnie and Dianna Lancione of The Voice Media Inc., publisher of the Severna Park Voice, were named the Maryland Family-Owned Business of the Year. Severna Park High graduate Erica Szymanski was acknowledged with the Rising Star Student Entrepreneur Award.
As the school year came to a close, students said goodbye to retiring principals Debi Short (Benfield Elementary), Pat Keffer (Jones Elementary) and Sharon Hansen (Severna Park Middle).
The Fiscal Year 2020 budget passed 4-3 along party lines on June 14, with Democrats approving a $1.7 billion spending plan almost identical to the one County Executive Steuart Pittman proposed on May 1. The budget pushed the property tax rate from 90.2 cents per $100 of assessed value to 93.5 cents per $100 of assessed value. County residents now pay 2.81% in income taxes instead of 2.5%.
“My colleagues have mentioned this budget is transforming the county, and yes, it’s transforming the county, a county that has spent two decades underfunding itself, and we can no longer wait for someone else to rescue us,” said Councilwoman Allison Pickard from District 2. “It’s time. It’s time we take care of ourselves and invest in our children, in our public safety, in our communities.”
For many families, summer was made official with the Greater Severna Park and Arnold Chamber of Commerce’s Fourth of July parade. Waypoint Wellness and The Blended Essentials welcomed summer by opening businesses.
Longtime Annapolis resident Steve Kaii-Ziegler started his new position as the county’s director of the Office of Planning and Zoning on July 31.
“A major goal of mine is to determine what we protect versus what we allow and be respectful of the laws to achieve the best balanced position for county land use,” he said.
The Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) announced three potential options for a new Bay Bridge crossing in late August. All three would run through Anne Arundel County, and there is also a no-build option.
Arnold Elementary School students and staff were joined by AACPS officials and politicians during a ribbon cutting for the new school on August 29.
Student members of Our Minds Matter from Severna Park High School were awarded the inaugural Governor’s Youth Service Award for their work advocating for mental health awareness and reform in schools. Lauren Carlson, Parker Cross, Sabina Khan, Megan Moulsdale and Katrina Schultz formed Our Minds Matter as juniors.
As the leaves changed colors, several schools changed principals. Sue Myers became the principal at Benfield Elementary, Jim Whisman joined Jones Elementary and Dennis Kelly took over as principal at Severna Park Middle School.
“My short-term goal is to continue the success that’s occurred in this middle school long before I got here. Everybody in this community knows that this is a great school,” Kelly said.
The Earleigh Heights Volunteer Fire Company was not granted approval for its rezoning request on September 11. The issue is a complicated one, but basically, volunteers want to lease part of the current property as commercial space to raise $6 million for the replacement building.
Two Severna Park residents were honored in September when the YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County hosted its 2019 Tribute to Women and Industry Awards ceremony at Hotel Annapolis. Severna Park resident and Urban Walls Brazil founder Roberta Pardo was honored, as was Severn School senior Mackenzie Boughey.
Former baseball player Matt Griswold earned another type of distinction when he was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame. A few months later, another former Green Hornet, Mark Teixeira, was inducted into the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame.
Current students from Griswold’s former school, Severna Park High, ran in wet conditions at South River High School on October 22. The Falcon boys totaled 26 points to defeat Broadneck (78), South River (83) and the rest of the field in winning the county championship for the 12th time in the last 13 years.
The Broadneck marching band became Group 3A MMBA Maryland state champions in late October.
Anne Arundel Dermatology and Your Daily Finances opened new businesses in the area.
The Falcons girls softball team finished 15-3-2 with 12 shutouts in 2019 and the program's first appearance in the state final since 2011. The Broadneck volleyball squad advanced to the 4A state championship at Ritchie Coliseum on the University of Maryland campus before falling to Arundel on November 15.
Katherine Esposito’s first-half stroke was the winning score in a 1-0 Severna Park field hockey victory over Dulaney in the 4A state final at Washington College, where the Falcons claimed the program’s 24th title and first since 2015.
The Severna Park High School cross country program dominated in the state championship at Hereford High School on November 9. The boys team claimed their third consecutive state championship with a score of 43 points, and the girls took second with 110 points.