Ulman Vows Troubled July 4th 'Show Will Go On'

By Susan DeFord
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Kiwanis Club of Columbia said this week that it's unable to sponsor the Independence Day Festival at Lake Kittamaqundi. But Howard County Executive Ken Ulman (D) promised the county's help and said "the show will go on."

The July 4 festival and fireworks display has drawn up to 20,000 people to the lakefront for nearly 20 years, but the Columbia service organization no longer has the manpower to stage the event, said Henry Stern, chairman of public relations for the group. The Kiwanis Club has 15 members, he said, and several are in poor health.

The club is responsible for organizing the event, arranging for vendors, hiring security and funding the $20,000 fireworks display. "There's just so much involved in this," Stern said. "Since we're down to these few members, we just can't do it anymore."

Stern said the Kiwanis Club contacted the Columbia Association staff and the county Department of Recreation and Parks in recent weeks to help find an organization to sponsor the event with assistance from the Kiwanis.

"We didn't want to abandon it completely if it was at all possible," Stern said.

Steven Sattler, the association's director of communications and marketing, said: "It's obviously unfortunate for the community, but CA can't tackle this on its own. If somebody can step forward, we'll do whatever we've done in the past."

Howard government spokesman Kevin Enright said Ulman, learning of the matter while he was out of town, said the county would look for sponsors.

"It will happen," Enright said.

No Board, Not Bored

Oakland Mills resident Barbara Russell intends to do all the warm and fuzzy things that retirement brings: spend more time with her six grandchildren, take long walks, socialize with friends. But until her last day as chairman of the Columbia Association Board of Directors on April 30, she'll continue as she has for the past eight years, as an outspoken, sometimes controversial advocate for Columbia residents.

She makes no apology for occasionally butting heads with Columbia Association staff or fellow elected representatives to the board of directors. Over the years, board members have squabbled about the annual lien assessments for Columbia property owners and the process for choosing a successor to association President Maggie Brown.

"There's no reason to have a board if you're just going to be a rubber stamp," she said this week.

"It's been a very difficult eight years," said Russell, who has served consecutive one-year terms. "The board really does have two factions."

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