Open for Business: Maryland Bakes Co-Op Opens Shared Kitchen Space

April 24, 2017 / / News

By Allen Etzler, Frederick News Post
Monday, April 24, 2017

Terri Rowe founded Maryland Bakes, a shared kitchen and co-op space in downtown Frederick. The space opened in February. Rowe spoke to The News-Post about the new business.

58fd0b4db3276.imageCan you explain what Maryland Bakes is and who will or can operate out of the shared space?

Maryland Bakes is a Health Department-approved kitchen for food artists to produce their products. We offer dry and cold storage, as well as the use of our consultation and tasting room, with retail opportunities that will include a physical location to meet with clients and pick up orders.

The starting members of Maryland Bakes are

  • Aunt B’s Angel Cookies
  • Palmtree Catering
  • Diane’s Cupcakery
  • Perfect Little Bites

We are looking for other food artists, such as bread makers, cake bakers, food truck vendors, farmer’s market vendors and anyone who would like to grow their food business.

Why did you see this as a need in Frederick, and how did you come up with the idea?

I have known that there was a need for a co-op/shared kitchen for many years and in speaking with other independent food artists.

In the past, I have rented space at other facilities. There were limitations for availability and then came the grueling process of schlepping supplies in, time to set up and losing precious production time. And then after a few short hours of baking and cleaning, came the exhausting effort to pack up — that was 10 years ago.

Sure, I could produce my product at home due to “cottage food” laws, but it would take over my entire home and using just my home oven, I was limited to the number of cookies I was able to produce. I knew there had to be a better way.

What do you hope Maryland Bakes brings to the community?

The food scene in Frederick is exploding, with some amazing and creative food artists and the ability to source fresh, local ingredients.

I hope that Maryland Bakes will be an integral part of this diverse local food industry. We plan to source fresh ingredients from local farms, dairies, distilleries and breweries, providing high-quality ingredients in the products produced by our members.

We also hope to create a sense of community for our members by showcasing products though social media outlets such as Facebook and on our website. We want to encourage growth and support our members though shared ideas and cross-promoting each other’s products.

Being part of the Fredrick Community means caring about your neighbor and giving back, and we plan to do just that. At each of our monthly “Holiday Shops,” a member will be able to showcase a local nonprofit charity, provide information and donate a portion of sales to that charity.

In honor of Mother’s Day, Aunt B’s Angel Cookies will showcase Heartly House and Faith House. Both are local nonprofits that support women and children in Frederick County.

How would an interested party sign up to use the co-op kitchen?

Contact me for an application to get the ball rolling. You will need to provide a sample of your product and submit a copy of your license from the State of Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, along with a proof of product liability insurance. For those who do not have a license yet, the process is not as daunting as you may think. I’m here to walk you through the process, if needed.

What does your facility offer that someone wouldn’t get by using their own kitchen?

Legality, space and the ability to produce in larger quantities, a place to meet with clients for consultations and tastings, presentations and retail opportunities.

Continued …

Golden Mile Alliance’s Easter Celebration Puts Hop in Children’s Step

April 10, 2017 / / News

By Allen Etzler, Frederick News Post
Monday, April 10, 2017

Lisa Howard’s search for an Easter egg hunt led her to Hillcrest Elementary School.

Howard, her husband, Anthony, and her children — Jody, Riley, Lily and Aslan — joined more than 40 kids gathered on Sunday in the cafeteria at Hillcrest Elementary School in Frederick to take part in an early Easter celebration put on by the Golden Mile Alliance.

Youths participated in egg races, an egg toss, face painting, coloring and hula-hoop contests. Last year’s event featured an Easter egg hunt, but the Golden Mile Alliance decided to focus this year’s event on other Easter-based activities, said Deb Reynolds, president of the organization.

The Howards attended the event last year, and the children had such a good time that they chose to go again, she said.

“They have such a blast,” Lisa Howard said. “It’s such a great time for the kids, and they all get along well, so that’s why we came back.”

The event allowed children to take part in a community celebration a week before the family celebration takes place on Easter Sunday.

“Next week is going to be really busy for everyone, so it would have been hard to have it next Sunday, or even next Saturday,” Reynolds said.

Alderman Josh Bokee dressed as the Easter bunny for the event — posing for photos with youths and taking part in a dance competition and the egg race.

“He did such a great job,” Reynolds said. “Last year he said he wanted to do it for us, but we had already hired someone. So we had him do it this year, and it has gone really well.”

Riley Howard said his favorite part of the event was getting his face painted. He had the artist paint half of his face as a rabbit and the other half as a fox.

His brother Jody said he most enjoyed the lollipop tree. Children could choose a lollipop from a plastic tree and find a prize along with each.

Jody’s selection won him an Easter basket that included a flying disc, a yo-yo, a paddle ball and more activities for him to play at home.

“It was my favorite because I got to win all of this stuff,” Jody said. “Plus you get a lollipop.”

Continued …

Ball Starting to Roll for Planned Park at Hargett Farm in Frederick

April 10, 2017 / / News

By Mallory Panuska, Frederick News Post
Saturday, April 1, 2017

City officials’ vision for the Westside Regional Park at Hargett Farm seems to finally be coming together.

The proposed park is slated for a large piece of vacant, city-owned property along Butterfly Lane known as Hargett Farm. City leaders in 2009 paid $18 million for the land, which has since accrued roughly $1.5 million in annual debt service with little to no progress toward development.

Until now.

It may not seem like much, but the mayor has included $2 million toward infrastructure, design and construction funds in his fiscal 2018 budget. And a group of community members are appointed and ready to tackle fundraising and other efforts to move the project forward.

Mayor Randy McClement said Wednesday the investment would be the biggest one the city has proposed for development costs since the city bought the land.

The first meeting of the Westside Regional Park Task Force has also been set for 7 p.m. April 19 at the city’s Municipal Annex. Officials said the public is encouraged to attend and offer comment.

The task force will be made up of 14 people representing education, regional recreation, economic development, user groups, and neighborhood/other groups.

Members appointed thus far are:

  • Paul Lebo — Frederick County Public Schools
  • Chuck Mann — higher education
  • Bob Hicks — Frederick County Parks & Recreation
  • Joe Baldi — City Parks & Recreation Commission member
  • Deb Reynolds — Golden Mile Alliance
  • TBD — Chamber of Commerce
  • Melissa Muntz — tourism
  • Rob Fox — aquatics
  • Bo Eskay — soccer
  • Shauna Tunder — Neighborhood Advisory Council 5
  • Lance English — Neighborhood Advisory Council 8
  • Frank Strakonsky — resident
  • Ed Hinde — resident
  • Alderman Michael O’Connor — aldermanic liaison

City-hired consultants prepared a $98.5 million plan for the park and presented the intricate details to aldermen in August. The aldermen balked at the price and scope, which specifically called for a sports complex with multi-use fields and a stadium, a water park, an indoor swimming center, festival grounds and associated park facilities, among other developments. The plan was sent back to city staff members for tweaking and a new “bubble plan,” was presented and approved in January. The new plan identifies sections, or bubbles, and lists facilities, amenities and infrastructure that could go in each one.

Members of the task force are tasked with guiding development of the park as funding becomes available and soliciting private donors to help pay the cost. The project is slated to be funded through a public-private partnership.

Details about the plan are available on the city’s website at:

City snow app receives statewide award

Frederick may have only had one major snow storm this winter, but that did not stop the city from getting statewide recognition for a newly initiated app designed to track snow removal efforts.

The City of Frederick Snow Removal Application won first place in the professional category at the Towson University GIS Conference on March 20. Application designer Bill Adkins demonstrated the app during the conference and accepted the first-place award.

Mayor Randy McClement recognized staff members from the Geographic Information Systems and Public Works departments, who were responsible for developing the app, Wednesday during a workshop with the Board of Aldermen.

The application, which city officials launched March 13 and 14 during a storm that dumped between 6 and 8 inches of snow across the city, provides citizens and staff the ability to track snow removal progress after a winter weather event.

The app displays a map of all the streets in the city and updates which ones are cleared as crews plow them. Similar to an online utility map, it shows information such as road conditions, road classifications and snow removal regions. The road conditions have colors designating they are unplowed, treated, started or cleared and the colors change as crews tend to them.

Staff members spent about six months creating the application in-house to use this winter.

The app had about 1,100 hits during the storm.

A banner initiative

The Golden Mile Alliance is — presumably — just a few months away from putting up banners around the Golden Mile.

Economic Development Manager Bobby Baumler told alliance members at their regular monthly meeting on March 21 that only a few loose ends are left to tie up before 50 30-foot, by 60-foot banners are on display.

The banners, which are similar to ones set up around Everedy Square and Shab Row in downtown, are part of a new beautification and branding initiative.

Baumler said he has pretty much finalized a memorandum of understanding with Potomac Edison to put up the banners and is nearly ready to give the go-ahed to begin the work. He was leery about giving a set timeline, but said it would be soon.

Group members plan to give plenty of notice before putting them up so business owners and the public are aware when it happens.

Baumler said he is trying to work it out so all of the banners are put up around the same time.

Continued …

Proposed Boundaries for New Butterfly Ridge Elementary Won’t Fix All Overcrowding Problems

March 23, 2017 / / News

By Jeremy Bauer-Wolf, Frederick News Post
Thursday, March 23, 2017

A new elementary school in west Frederick, meant to ease overcrowding at area schools, won’t completely erase the problem.

The proposed attendance boundaries for Butterfly Ridge Elementary School, as endorsed by the superintendent, were presented to the Frederick County Board of Education Wednesday.

Superintendent Terry Alban’s recommendation comes after months of extensive meetings in which district officials sought public comment.

The district will pull students from Hillcrest, Waverley and Orchard Grove elementary schools to fill Butterfly Ridge, and shift students at other elementary schools around to balance enrollments. A little more than 1,200 elementary students will move from one school to another.

The new attendance area border starts with U.S. 40, separating it from the Waverley Elementary district. Some previous Hillcrest neighborhoods were pulled into Butterfly Ridge, as well as some rural, open areas down to Mount Zion Road.

Butterfly Ridge, along with a second new elementary school, Sugarloaf in Urbana, is planned to open in the fall of 2018.

Even with the new school, district staff members believe that in 2018-19, at least five elementary schools will be over capacity, which is determined by the state: Orchard Grove, Tuscarora, Valley, Waverley, and Whittier elementary schools.

Waverley in particular is estimated to be quite crowded after Butterfly Ridge opens, at 157 percent of its state-rated capacity. The district plans to renovate Waverley, possibly building an addition within five years.

Board member Colleen Cusimano said during the meeting she was surprised that Butterfly Ridge would open far below capacity — about 82 percent.

Several county-approved developments are underway in the attendance area for Butterfly Ridge, Beth Pasierb, the district’s supervisor of facilities planning, said. The district wanted to leave wiggle room for future students, she said.

Staff members could have shifted more neighborhoods from Waverley to Butterfly Ridge to help bring down overcrowding at Waverley, said Chief Operating Officer Paul Lebo. But that would have sharply bumped up the percentage of impoverished students who would attend Waverley.

A temporary move from some Waverley students to Butterfly Ridge was suggested until a Waverley addition is constructed.

Parents were adamant that the district, in redrawing, attendance lines not exclude low-income students or create pockets of poverty, a point with which district officials agreed.

“I think it’s a disadvantage to continue to run a school that’s at 157 percent capacity in the hopes of watering down the poverty impact,” Cusimano said. “It’s not even a struggle for me, if there’s some way to relieve the numbers. I think it creates some safety issues. I think it creates educational challenges to pack that many students into a building that isn’t made for that many people.”

The district anticipates that about 58 percent of students attending Butterfly Ridge will use free or reduced-price meals at school, a mark of poverty.

Butterfly Ridge will likely join the county’s Title I schools, which enroll a high percentage of students on free and reduced-price meals and are entitled to additional federal dollars for initiatives like after-school activities or more teachers.

This redistricting will reduce or remove portable classrooms at some schools, a peeve of parents who say outdoor classes pose safety concerns for students.

Hillcrest Elementary will no longer need any of its current 20 portable classrooms.

Lebo said fencing is being constructed at Waverley around the existing portables, a response to community feedback.

The school district is trying to cope with soaring populations in some areas, like Frederick and Urbana, while schools remain underused in others. There was an unexpected influx of more than 650 students this year. The district has accounted for nearly 500 more in the next school year.

Vice President Liz Barrett has called for a more comprehensive countywide study, including a look at vastly underused schools.

The idea hasn’t gained traction with board members before, but some seemed to warm to it Wednesday night. Board member Mike Bunitsky wholeheartedly agreed with many of Barrett’s points. Others, including the student member, went along Bunitsky, but with caveats.

“I certainly will not make the mistake I made my first year on the board and talk about closing schools, but I will talk about how we can use the space that we have,” Barrett said.

Cusimano said in a later interview that she supports a countywide redistricting. However, she said the process is complicated by new regulations on students who want to attend schools other than where they’re assigned. She said students should be allowed to attend other schools, so wiping the map clean and redrawing all of the lines is almost a “suggestion.”

In the Butterfly Ridge redistricting, contractor Cropper GIS Consulting assisted the district, specifically in developing and analyzing maps. Cropper was paid about $30,000, Pasierb has said.

Representatives from Cropper will appear at a school board meeting in May — the same month the board is due to decide on new attendance areas.

The district will hold three more public hearings on the redistricting proposal in March and April.