Home Sales, Prices

Rose Last Month

Home sales in Howard County rose 14.5 percent in December, compared with December 2001, according to Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., a Rockville real estate listing service.

Houses were on the market an average of 33 days, compared with 39 days the previous December. The average price rose 13.3 percent to $291,461, up from $257,234 the same period in 2001.

Paying Meal Tabs

By Cell Phone

Micros Systems Inc., a Columbia firm that sells software and hardware to hotels, restaurants and other hospitality firms, has joined Wirca Inc., an Overland Park, Kan., technology company, to offer customers a cell phone payment option for use with Micros's technology products.

Using Wirca's software, the companies' technology allows restaurant diners to use their cell phones to pay bills. Diners can call the Wirca system and pay their bills by giving an authorization code to restaurant servers.

Greater Media to Use iBiquity's Format

iBiquity Digital Corp., a Columbia company that provides digital radio services, said that Greater Media, an East Brunswick, N.J.-based firm, will convert its 19 stations to iBiquity's format early this year. Greater Media owns radio stations in Boston, Detroit, Philadelphia and New Jersey. iBiquity said its digital format features CD-like sound quality, static-free reception and wireless data services.

Chief Operating Officer Named at Magellan

Magellan Health Services Inc., a Columbia-based behavioral health care firm, named Rene{acute} Lerer as its chief operating officer. Lerer most recently was president of Internet Healthcare Group, a health care venture fund he founded with Steven Shulman, Magellan's new chief executive officer.

Lerer succeeds Jay J. Levin, who will continue as Magellan's president during a transitional period, the company said.

Rainmaker Executive Named to Golf Board

The Rainmaker Group, a Columbia golf course and residential development company, has announced that its founding principal, Scott E. Arterburn, was elected to a two-year term on the board of directors of the Lincoln, Neb.-based Golf Course Builders Association of America. The group is a nonprofit trade association of golf course builders and suppliers to the golf course construction industry.

Rainmaker also announced that it was hired to provide project management services for the $13 million renovation of the Van Ness North Cooperative building in Washington. Van Ness North is a 16-story, 466-unit apartment building.

King Pharmaceuticals

Buys Meridian Medical

Meridian Medical Technologies Inc., a Columbia medical products and pharmaceutical systems company, was bought by King Pharmaceuticals Inc. of Bristol, Tenn., for $44.50 a share of Meridian stock, or $247.8 million.

Library Hosting

Business Seminar

The Elkridge branch of the Howard County library system will host a seminar, "Starting a Business," at 7 p.m. Wednesday at 6540 Washington Blvd., Elkridge. The speaker will be Matt Steinberg of American Express Financial Advisors. For more information, call 410-313-5077.

Networking Mixer

Today at Hilton

The Howard County Chamber of Commerce will hold a business networking mixer with the Baltimore/Washington Corridor Chamber of Commerce from 5 to 7 p.m. today at the Hilton Columbia, 5485 Twin Knolls Rd., Columbia. The cost is $10 for members and $20 for nonmembers. For more information, call 410-730-4111.

Women's Group to Host Business Tax Program

Women Entrepreneurs of Baltimore Inc., a networking group for women who have started or are starting businesses, will hold a program on the tax liabilities of home-based businesses from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at 1118 Light St., Suite 102, Baltimore. The cost is $20 for the public and $10 for WEB program graduates.

For more information, call 410-727-4921 or visit www.webinc.org.

Send items for Thursday's Business Notes to Sabrina Jones by fax at 410-772-2330; by mail to Business Notes, The Washington Post, 10490 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Suite 650, Columbia, Md. 21044; or by e-mail to jonessl@washpost.com.