City Approves Site Plan for New WalMart on Route 40

October 14, 2014 / / News

By Jen Fifield; Frederick News Post
Tuesday, October 14, 2014

If all goes as planned, residents can expect to see Frederick Towne Mall on U.S. 40 bulldozed as soon as the spring to make way for a new Wal-Mart.

The city of Frederick’s Planning Commission approved Monday a developer’s site plan for Frederick Towne Center, which includes a 155,000-square foot building, to be occupied by Wal-Mart, and three other smaller commercial buildings on the 40-acre site near McCain Drive. Home Depot, Boscov’s and Ollie’s will stay.

The commission voted unanimously for Rockwood Capital’s plan, finding that the plan met the city’s requirements for the land, which includes 20 conditions set by the mayor and Board of Aldermen in July 2013 when they rezoned the land from mixed use to general commercial.

The officials set the conditions after hearing concerns from residents. They required certain roads and sidewalks to be connected, landscaping buffers, bicycle and walking paths, sheltered bus stops and certain building design elements.

In a perfect world, the plan for the space may be different, but that wasn’t for the commission to decide, said Meta Nash, commission chairwoman.

Nash said the developer had brought forward a very good plan, considering the restrictions on the site.

The developer will now work on construction and engineering plans and begin to obtain permits and approvals before bulldozing the site, said David Severn, an attorney representing Rockwood Capital.

Residents were concerned that the city did not need another Wal-Mart, as it has two already, one at 7400 Guilford Drive and one at 1811 Monocacy Blvd., and some said the plan did not meet the long-term vision for the neighborhood.

While the plan is not perfect, it’s the best plan for the area, Justin Kiska, president of the Golden Mile Alliance and owner of Way Off Broadway, told commission members Monday.

“I don’t think we will ever have the perfect plan,” he said. “It’s impossible. But this is the beginning. It’s the first step. It’s what we build on going forward.”

Residents, including two former alderwomen, Carol Krimm and Karen Young, told the commission Monday they were disappointed that the plan did not include a community center for nonprofit use.

Krimm and Young were on the Board of Aldermen when it approved the plan last year, and the board had discussed hopes for the community center on the land although they could not legally require it in the conditions.

“Please reconsider this,” Young said, speaking to the developer. “It’s the right thing to do. It’s very much needed.”

Commission member Barbara Nicklas said she was impressed with the plan.

“I think we are getting a lot,” she said.

The Wal-Mart will be built set back on the northern edge of the property. The plan includes a new road that cuts horizontally through the property for pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle use, added landscaping and trees, a walking path along the back of the Home Depot, another mixed-use path near Rock Creek, and a bridge leading to the neighborhood behind the development.

While the city had proposed a butterfly garden, the applicant said it would instead include a wildflower garden that would have educational placards to note the purpose of the facility and identify flora and fauna. There will also be opportunities for public art on the site.

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Modern Asia Opens on the Golden Mile

August 28, 2014 / / News

Modern Asia to focus on healthful Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese menu

By Ed Waters, Jr.; Frederick News Post
Wednesday, August 20, 2014

For those looking for healthful Asian food, Modern Asia offers many choices. Owner Roy Zou and partner Jian Ye have opened Modern Asia at 1306 W. Patrick St., in the Golden Mile Marketplace.

“We have healthy, quality food, fresh ingredients,” Zou said. “It is totally different Asian.” (more…)

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Frederick County Medical Society Honors Two Physicians

May 24, 2014 / / News

The Frederick News-Post, Thursday, May 22nd by Ike Wilson, News-Post staff.

The Frederick County Medical Society recognized two local physicians Wednesday for their service to the community and announced two proposals to help close health care gaps.

At the annual Laughlin Foundation Dinner at the Red Horse Restaurant in Frederick, Dr. John Vitarello, president of the medical society, lauded Dr. James E. Bowes and Dr. Julio Menocal as special colleagues who have provided medical care to the poor as well as the general public.

Menocal received a certificate for being an innovative medical practitioner in providing care to people who receive medical assistance, or Medicaid.

Menocal not only created an office that is open and available to all local Latinos, but his efforts are also moving into the area of education as he works to make Wi-Fi available to Latino children who need laptops or Internet access to do their homework, Vitarello said.

Bowes, 94, a former Frederick County health director, was described as someone who has been an outstanding leader in providing public health programs for the poor during his 13-year tenure, including expanding access to obstetrics and gynecology medical services across the county.

“Dr. Bowes is retired, but his interest in the medical community has continued even in his later years, and he remains active with our local society,” Vitarello said.

When he began working in Frederick, Bowes said the school system had only one health care officer.

“When I left, there were nurses in all schools,” Bowes said, adding that he helped make it happen.

Receiving the accolade was exciting, said Menocal, a Cuban native who has a 29-year family practice in Frederick.

“And it’s humbling that my colleagues would think so much of me that they would recognize me,” Menocal said. “My core business is vaccinating children, and we do that well.”

Seventy-five percent of his business involves Medicaid clients, Dr. Menocal said.

The honorees received $1,000 checks each to be donated to a charity of their choice.

The health care system is working, but there are gaps, Menocal said.

Proposals to close health care gap

The medical society will initiate an outreach to Frederick County physicians to provide a poor patient without insurance one medical service per month, Vitarello said.

In the past, patients without insurance have had poor outcomes since they did not have the economic resources to undergo lifesaving medical procedures or receive therapy for their underlying disorders, Vitarello said.

“These patients fall between the cracks in our current Medicare/Medicaid and Affordable Care programs; these are individuals that earn a little too much money to qualify for either of these programs,” Vitarello said.

The medical society president also proposed a Poor Tax Incentive Program that would provide a tax write-off for health care specialists.

“If an individual is seen by a specialist who performs a particular procedure, that practitioner can submit a waiver to the state and receive a tax credit for the payment that is standard by Medicare payment schedule in our region,” Vitarello said.

An example would be a cardiac catheterization, which costs $250, to be written off by the medical provider, he said.

Maryland hospitals received just over $1 billion for uncompensated care, and doctors who treat the uninsured receive no such compensation, Vitarello said.

“It is very expensive to give bad medical care to poor people in a rich country,” Vitarello said.

The proposal is endorsed by Gene Ranson, CEO of MedChi, Vitarello said, and several others at the society’s annual dinner, including Bud Otis, candidate for Frederick County Council.

The medical society’s proposal is not about giving out money, Otis said, rather, the tax write-off is subtracting money from what the physicians earn.

“I think the County Council should take a good look at it, and this is not just a one-time deal, it’s continuous care,” Otis said.

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Hillcrest’s Doolittle wins county Teacher of the Year award

May 7, 2014 / / News

By Rachel S. Karas News-Post Staff

Hillcrest Elementary School pre-kindergarten teacher Erin Doolittle says she falls asleep each night with one question on her mind: What have I done to be a champion for a child or a family today?

That devotion has earned Doolittle the title of Frederick County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, announced Monday at Hillcrest amid a flurry of smiles, applause and hugs from students.

It is a “phenomenal” privilege to be named the top educator in Frederick County, Doolittle said. But while Teacher of the Year is a great accolade for herself, she said, it’s even bigger for Hillcrest.

“I’m Teacher of the Year because of all of you,” she said. “Everybody here is a champion for children.”

The 33-year-old Ijamsville resident traces her love of the classroom back to age 5, playing “school” at home with her siblings. They were always the students; she was always the teacher.

Hired at Hillcrest 11 years ago, Doolittle sees early childhood education as the first chance to get students hooked on learning. Acting as the “welcome wagon” to the school is also a chance to win over new parents, she said.

“Kids are so excited to be here … to be part of a class,” she said. “It’s an opportunity to show them how fabulous school is.”

The future of our nation lies in early education, Doolittle wrote in her application essay, adding that young students deserve an adult who never gives up on them and demands their best.

Sixty teachers were nominated for the award; four finalists were chosen in April. Outgoing Teacher of the Year Karl Kidd, who served on this year’s selection committee, said Doolittle stood out from the other finalists for her enthusiasm and personality that screams, “I work with kids, and I love every minute of it.”

He added that her work with the school and community in numerous capacities shows commitment to Hillcrest and Frederick as a whole. Doolittle’s extracurricular activities include the Parent Teacher Association, Judy Center literacy nights, Leadership Frederick County and Hillcrest’s leadership team.

Former Hillcrest Principal Kathy Swire said meeting with families outside the classroom is common for Doolittle, as is giving a little extra TLC to students with difficult home lives. And as she nurtures, she pushes, seeking ways to move even the neediest children forward.

“She has fun when she teaches, and that’s what the 4-year-olds are attracted to,” Swire said. ”I’ve never heard her say, ‘My 4-year-olds can’t do this.’”

Co-workers said that since Doolittle began her career at Hillcrest, she has increased her rapport with parents and learned to juggle the daily tasks required of an educator.

“She’s such a great match for early childhood because she’s always willing … to make them feel special,” current Hillcrest Principal Kim Seiss added.

Sheyla Romero, a fifth-grade student whom Doolittle taught in kindergarten, credited her for making learning fun and fostering a love of knowledge.

“Two weeks ago, I told you if you didn’t win the award, you were our winner,” Hillcrest parent Raquel Rubio Tavera told Doolittle on Monday through a Spanish translator.

Setting high standards doesn’t stop at the classroom doorway.

“Whenever there’s a frustrating day for me as an administrator … I’m picked up and inspired by how she interacts with the children and how much she loves, loves her job,” Seiss said.

The big blue ”Home of the FCPS Teacher of the Year” banner now hanging at Hillcrest is a welcome recognition that hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.

“I just have such pride for my staff overall, and I do feel like sometimes they aren’t appreciated as much as they should be,” Seiss said. “To have Erin accept this award … certainly heightens the awareness of the magic that happens at Hillcrest every day.”