Howard

THE BALTIMORE SUN
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SUNDAY, JULY 17, 2011

Is ban on smoking the future?
Other Maryland counties have partial restrictions on smoking in parks, eyeing Howard
By Jessica Anderson
The Baltimore Sun

Howard has become the first county in Maryland to completely ban smoking at its parks, but it will likely not be the last. “We will see counties all over the state doing this,” County Executive Ken Ulman said following a news conference Wednesday at Centennial Park, where he signed the executive order that prohibits smoking at the county’s 57 parks. Many other jurisdictions have already placed some restrictions on smokers outdoors, prohibiting smoking on playgrounds or athletic fields or during major events.

Howard was one of the first counties to introduce an indoor smoking ban for every public place, excluding bars, in 1993; in 2007, it was one of the first to expand the ban to bars. The county had already prohibited smoking near playgrounds, athletic fields and other gathering places. “I applaud Ken Ulman,” said Barry F. Williams, the Baltimore County parks director. He said Baltimore County could explore similar options in hopes of promoting better health. Williams said smoking is not a major concern at Baltimore County parks: “For the most part, people are considerate.” But Williams added that using parks to

promote better health while at the same time permitting smoking “sounds like an oxymoron.” In Anne Arundel County, where smoking is partially prohibited at ball fields and concerts, County Executive John R. Leopold said the county would consider a stricter outdoor ban, similar to Howard’s: “If there is a need, I would be interested in expanding.” Ulman acknowledged that Howard isn’t the first to take on the issue, noting restrictions in other counties, but he said a partial ban wouldn’t be as effective in promoting exercise and fitness activities at parks.

“We’re trying to change the culture of the parks,” said Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, the health officer for Howard County and the former Baltimore City health commissioner. He said people complied when indoor smoking bans were introduced and that in the three years since the smoking bans began at bars, the health department has received no complaints. After Wednesday’s news conference, he said response to the ban has been mostly positive. But not everyone would like to see outdoor smoking bans expand. “I’m hoping other counties do not follow See SMOKING, page 8

New lives

New tool to locate people who stray
County police are first in state to use new cellphone tracking technology
By Don Markus
The Baltimore Sun

JOE SORIERO/BALTIMORE SUN PHOTOS

Andres, 9, rushes down the tube slide, his favorite playground feature at Howard County’s Centennial Park.

Summer Miracles program seeks to find permanent homes for Colombian children
By Janene Holzberg |
Special to The Baltimore Sun

ita Allan is a biology teacher in the Howard County school system and was a biologist for 20 years before that, so when she learned that the Colombian boy who would be visiting her family likes science and nature, she took special note of their shared interest. Still, she and her husband, Steve, chose to keep their expectations low when they signed on with Kidsave International to host Duvan, an 11-year-old orphan, in their Columbia home for just over four weeks this summer. The couple, who have no children and have been awaiting the call to care for a child since becoming licensed foster parents in December 2009, didn’t want to set themselves up for disappointment. But it turned out that such emotional safeguards weren’t necessary. “It’s been such a joy,” she said after Duvan had spent just four days with the couple. “He’s always helpful and very appreciative. His presence here is enriching our lives.” Duvan is one of 36 kids age 8 to 14 to arrive in the United States on July 3 from Bogota. The orphans, all older and therefore harder to find adoptive families for, are on what might be deemed the ultimate summer vacation, leaving behind lives spent in institutions or foster homes. In America, the children spend time with families that either adopt them or work to find them permanent homes. See ADOPTION, page 6

R

Corinne Young’s son was diagnosed with autism when he was 18 months old. But even after his years of consistent therapy and in-home support, she fears he might one day wander away and not return. “I think that’s every parent’s nightmare whose child is autistic,” Young said. “They’re vulnerable, they’re very easy prey.” Her son, Garret Young, now 18, has wandered off before, once finding his way into the creek on a vacant 27-acre farm when the family lived in New Jersey. Recently, he wandered away and was found hiding behind patio furniture at a local department store when he was out shopping with his mother. Though neighbors will call Young to tell her if Garret is walking Corinne Young down the street or has found his way into their kitchen, she now has another tool to reassure her — the Rapid Return program run by the Howard County Police Department. The program, which was officially launched July 1, is a way to track missing people by outfitting them with watchlike monitors that can be traced using cellphone signals. The Howard County Police Department is the first agency in the state to use the new technology, according to police spokeswoman Elizabeth Schroen. Rapid Return is an offshoot of the department’s Project Lifesaver, which started in 2007 as a way to track autistic children See RAPID RETURN, page 4

“I feel somebody is watching over him.”

Duvan, 11, likes to play soccer but says he also enjoys “futbol Americano.” He has learned to ride a bicycle and is taking swimming lessons during his stay with a Columbia family.

JOE SORIERO/BALTIMORE SUN PHOTO

The Howard County Rapid Return program uses bracelets to locate lost people.

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