Two Howard County residents scored big last week in the biennial Senior Olympics, held in Pittsburgh.
Lloyd Knowles was shortstop for one of Maryland's two over-70 softball teams and had several teammates from Bowie. They came in eighth in their division. Knowles, 71, who is a former chairman of the Howard County Council as well as the Zoning and Planning boards, is married to Del. Elizabeth Bobo, a Columbia Democrat and former county executive. Knowles said he has played softball for more than 50 years.
"I was never really an awfully good player. I was an adequate player. But other people, as they have aged, they have sort of fallen off. I have made it through," he said.
Frank Kitzmiller, 73, of Dayton, in western Howard County, played third base on an over-70 team from Maryland that came in first in its division. A former catcher for LaSalle High School in Cumberland, in Western Maryland, Kitzmiller said the Olympic gold was a sweet reward.
"We have been playing together and have been to four national Senior Olympics," he said. "We have been in the running each time, but this is the first time we got the gold."
Kitzmiller is retired from his electrical engineering job with the U.S. Navy at White Oak in Silver Spring. He also played the previous week in the Senior Olympics basketball contest, but that team didn't fare as well as his softball team. He said his athletic endeavors have gone on "forever."
"Or at least my wife thinks so," he said.
The petition was a cinch to win enough support to force a referendum on the County Council's rezoning of property in March, said Angela Beltram, an organizer of the effort.
"I know we had more than 8,000 [petition signatures]. I know we did," said Beltram, a former council member who insists that the rezoning process this year diluted residents' input.
She said volunteers are still trying to turn in petition sheets with signatures. But elections officials stopped verifying signatures this month when they reached 6,027, said Betty L. Nordaas, director of the county's Board of Elections. That's 20 percent more than organizers needed to ensure that the council's rezoning changes will be placed on the November 2006 ballot.
Paul Johnson, deputy county solicitor, said voters approved a change in 1994 in the county's charter that shifted the responsibility for comprehensive zoning from the Zoning Board to the County Council and provided that voters could challenge council decisions in a referendum. The recent petition drive represents the first time residents have chosen to do so.
The council does have a small part in the referendum. Nordaas said the panel must approve the wording of the ballot question.
High Marks for Cousin
More than 75 percent of Howard educators surveyed have confidence in the school system's superintendent, a big increase from two years ago, according to a report released this month.
The third annual survey of teachers and education support personnel also revealed continuing complaints about heavy workloads. Sixty-six percent said they spend too much time on paperwork, though that number is down from 89 percent in 2003. Seventy-one percent of teachers said too much time is spent giving tests, a decline from the high of 80 percent in 2003.
Still, a record-high 90 percent of teachers said they feel personally successful at work.
The Howard teachers union sent the questionnaire to all educators in the county last month. It received 2,173 responses.
Union President Joseph Staub said he feels the results are generally positive.
"We are first in the state . . . most importantly because we have dedicated staff," he told school board members at a meeting this month.
Board Chairman Courtney Watson pointed to educators' increased confidence in the superintendent as a sign that the school system is on the right track. Former superintendent John O'Rourke was at the helm when the survey was first given in 2003. He was ousted by the board the next year, and Sydney L. Cousin took his place.
"We want to see where we can improve," Watson said. "We are very grateful to see those positive changes."
New Delegation Leader
Del. Neil F. Quinter has stepped aside as chairman of the county's House delegation in Annapolis as he seeks the 3rd District congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.). Del. Shane E. Pendergrass, a Columbia Democrat, will take over as chairman July 1. It's not a new job for Pendergrass, who served several times as chairman in the late 1990s.
Quinter is the only announced candidate from Howard running for Cardin's seat. Cardin is seeking the Senate seat held by Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.), who is retiring after nearly 40 years in public life.
Staff writer Susan DeFord contributed to this report.
In a survey, 75 percent of county educators say they have confidence in Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin.Del. Shane E. Pendergrass (D) will lead Howard's House delegation.