Bus Route Hearings

The Maryland Transit Administration wants to eliminate or reduce service on three bus routes serving Howard as part of its overhaul in service throughout the Baltimore region. The changes, which will be the subject of two public hearings next week, have drawn criticism from County Executive James N. Robey (D).

"We've spent the last seven years working to expand and strengthen bus service in Howard County," Robey said in a statement this week. "We need to improve the opportunities for transit connections between jurisdictions in Central Maryland, not diminish a service that directly benefits the public."

The routes include MTA 320, which serves the Route 1 corridor and links to several Howard Transit and Connect-A-Ride routes that offer connections to Columbia, Laurel, the BWI business district and the NSA/Fort Meade area. In addition, changes are being proposed for the MTA 150 route, which connects Howard to Baltimore County and Baltimore City, and to the MTA 311 route, which serves some heavily populated residential and employment areas of Columbia.

Public hearings are scheduled from 7 to 8 p.m. Monday at Kahler Hall Community Room, 5440 Old Tucker Row, Columbia, and 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Holiday Inn Columbia, 7900 Washington Blvd., Jessup.

For more information about the changes, call the MTA at 410-539-5000 or toll free at 866-RIDE-MTA. Details on the changes are also available at the MTA Web site, www.mtamaryland.com.

Columbia's Birthday Party

Columbia celebrates its 38th birthday tomorrow with an event spotlighting teenagers. Musical entertainment will be provided by Columbia teen idol Nureya Anthony and rapper Emmanuel Jackson. Also performing are teen bands Alibi and Dingus. The celebration, which runs from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Columbia Lakefront, will feature a cake-cutting ceremony at 5:30 p.m. led by Maggie Brown, Columbia Association president, and members of the Columbia Council. For more information about the free program, call 410-715-3161.

Vehicle ID Etching

Free vehicle identification etching will be available from the Maryland/DC Anti-Car Theft Committee and Howard County police from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the police department's North Laurel Community Office in the Whisky Bottom Shopping Center, 9105 G All Saints Rd., Laurel. Car owners can have vehicle identification numbers etched into glass on their automobiles. Police officials say that etching is an effective deterrent to theft and that it helps in recovering stolen vehicles. For more information, call Janet Stabile, vehicle theft prevention specialist, at 410-313-3337.

Social Security Forum

A public forum about Social Security will be held at 7:30 p.m. next Thursday at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center, 7246 Cradlerock Way, Columbia. The nonpartisan event is for people of all ages and is sponsored by Democracy for Howard County. It will include presentations by Cindy Hounsell, executive director of the Women's Institute for a Secure Retirement, and Bob Rosenblatt, a representative from the National Academy for Insurance Security. For more information, call 410-465-9119.

Hopewell Pool Opens

The Hopewell community pool opened yesterday, and many of its renovations have been completed. All other pools in Columbia opened May 28. Located at 9200 Rustling Leaf in Columbia, the Hopewell pool has new furniture and landscaping and a new 15-foot high waterslide. A 1,600-square-foot SplashPad play area and an expanded parking lot are scheduled to be finished at Hopewell by Aug. 1. For more information, call the Columbia Association at 410-715-3000.

Book Signing

Linda Armstrong Kelly, mother of cycling champion and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, will sign copies of her new book from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday at Princeton Sports, 10730 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. Armstrong has credited his mother with helping him win his Tour de France races and triumph over cancer. Kelly's book is titled "No Mountain High Enough: Raising Lance, Raising Me."