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    Amigo Beltran Navarro (1945-May 21, 2003) was a regular communicator with this newspaper, including providing a column on Hispanic affairs for several years. Beltran was always alert to helping citizens improve and inform themselves. In his memory, and in his spirit, we publish this news item he submitted for our readers:
           “The Baltimore County Public Library Community Information Directory has detailed information about more than 2,800 organizations with a wide range of interests and services. If you need special info, you can find it by visiting a BCPL branch or by visiting their web site and selecting the “Community Information Directory” link. If you want to add your organization to this list, so others can find you, follow the above link and click “Submit your organization” or e-mail or call 410-887-6124 during office hours (Mon—Fri, 8:30 am—5:00 pm).”

    US Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin has co-sponsored legislation that would provide low-income families with the same child tax credit that was extended to wealthier families in the recently enacted Republican tax bill. The Democratic-supported measure would extend the additional $400 child tax credit to 6.5 million families, affecting some 12 million children. The proposal, according to Cardin, would be fully paid for by closing loopholes in corporate taxes.
          In the recently enacted Republican tax cut, the current child tax credit of $600 was increased to $1,000. However, during last-minute negotiations, Republican leaders purposely excluded families who earned between $10,500 and $26,625 a year from receiving the child tax credit.
          The Democratic measure also would expand the refundable child care tax credit for families of military personnel serving in Iraq and other combat zones. It also would accelerate ‘marriage penalty relief’ for working couples who qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit, affecting some four million families. This Democratic bill would broaden eligibility to 19 million children, including 323,000 in Maryland.
          Cardin, who supported welfare reform, stressed that “lower-income Americans often need the most help for child care and other child-related expenses. To shortchange working lower-income Americans on child-related expenses makes no sense and undermines what we are trying to achieve in welfare reform.”

    (Annapolis, MD)—The Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT) and the FishAmerica Foundation (FAF), the conservation and research arm of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), invite Maryland nonprofit and not-for-profit organizations to submit proposals for projects that restore and enhance water quality and the fisheries resource in the Chesapeake Bay and its Maryland tributaries. The funding range for this Request for Proposal (RFP) grant program is up to $25,000.
          The organizations seek hands-on, grassroots projects that involve community groups, students, or other volunteers. Projects should also have “a clear and identifiable benefit to fish populations and the sport of fishing, and will include projects that create wetlands, restore riparian areas and aquatic vegetation, stabilize streambanks, and enhance oyster and artificial reefs.” Total funding available for this RFP is $100,000.
          Interested applicants are requested to submit an application by 5:00 pm on Friday, September 5. For a copy of the RFP and grant application or for more information about this grant, visit or, or call CBT at 410-974-2941.
          Since 1985, the Chesapeake Bay Trust—a private, nonprofit, non-advocacy grant-making organization—has funded more than $13 million towards projects that restore and protect the Bay. These projects are made possible by proceeds from private donations, the Line 37 Maryland Income Tax Check-off, and the “Treasure the Chesapeake” Blue Heron commemorative license plates.

    Coppin State College made national news recently—and the publicity wasn’t favorable. Megan Rooney, reporting in the Chronicle of Higher Education on May 15, reported that the college “is poised to let at least eight students in its criminal justice graduate program receive master’s degrees on Sunday even though they did not pass their comprehensive exams or write final papers considered acceptable by the faculty.” The students protested to the college’s new president, Stanley F. Battle. that the college had ill-prepared them for the test. Mr. Battle told department officials to allow the students to take a makeup exam on April 19. Again, all 10 students failed the test; several left together in the middle of the exam. Then the students sued the college, at which point Battle announced that he was considering allowing them to graduate despite failing.
           The lawsuit, filed in Baltimore City District Court on April 11, alleged that the college “had violated its contract with its students.” The students sought punitive damages of $2,500 and demanded that the college change its requirements to allow them to graduate without having passed the exam or submitted a satisfactory seminar paper. They argued that the course work they had already completed in the program should be sufficient for graduation, and that they were given insufficient notice of the comprehensive exam.
          According to Coppin criminal justice professor Richard Monk, Ph.D., members of his department were angry at the president’s willingness to overlook departmental graduation requirements. The
    Chronicle quotes Monk as saying, “He [Battle] told us that we were in a capital campaign, that we couldn’t afford any bad publicity. I said, ‘But they didn’t pass the exam. They walked out of the makeup. They plagiarized papers.’ He said, ‘I know, but I have to let them graduate.’”
          The lawsuit was later dismissed.
          Joycelyn Evans, the only student who did successfully complete the college’s graduation requirements for graduation—the first student in Coppin State’s criminal justice to write a graduate thesis during the past six years—is upset because she believes her master’s degree is devalued by the fact that others in her class did not meet departmental graduation requirements.
          To see the complete Chronicle of Higher Education story, click here!

    Alfred Sommer, Dean of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has won the 15th annual Warren Alpert Foundation Prize for his pioneering work that showed 4% vitamin A capsules can save lives as well as prevent blindness in the developing world. The ceremony to bestow the $150,000 prize was held at Boston’s Four Seasons Hotel.
          Sommer, an ophthalmologist and epidemiologist, was searching in the 1980s for ways to prevent xerophthalmia, or childhood blindness, in Indonesian children. While treating children with capsules of vitamin A, he noticed that children in the trial who received Vitamin A not only retained their vision, but were dying at much lower rates than children who receiving a placebo. He replicated this work in Nepal and Africa, with comparabler results. Even mild vitamin A deficiency, he found, dramatically increases childhood mortality rates because of reduced resistance to infectious diseases such as measles and diarrhea.
          He showed that vitamin A deficiency could be effectively, quickly, and cheaply treated with oral high-dose vitamin A supplementation. In 1995, a United Nations Children’s Fund report estimated that 1 million to 3 million lives could be saved annually if young children in the Third World took a vitamin A pill two or three times a year. The annual cost per child: 4 to 6 cents.
          More recent research by Dr. Sommer and his colleagues shows that supplementing women of childbearing age with vitamin A or beta-carotene can lower maternal mortality by an average of 45 percent. A new, large, randomized, controlled, field trial in Bangladesh is now being conducted.

    Four Baltimore City high school seniors have won $1,500 Ray Kroc Youth Achievement Scholarship Awards. They were selected based on their achievement in academics, sportsmanship, leadership and community involvement. Honored were Jason Cook, Mount St. Joseph High School; Rudolf Dinglas, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute; Monica Nanda, Catholic High School; and Tina Paglia, Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Ray Kroc founded McDonalds restaurants.

    On May 31, over 100 employees of the Municipal Employees Credit Union of Baltimore (MECU), along with over 100 MECU members from Baltimore City agencies,volunteered with nine different non-profit agencies for a Day of Caring. This outreach included landscaping a group home for The Chimes, which serves persons with disabilities; manning a booth at the Charles Village Festival for MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) to educate the public of the dangers of drunk and drugged driving; planting a garden and refurbishing a second housing unit for Martha’s Place, a transitional housing facility for women recovering from drug and alcohol abuse; preparing meals for later delivery by Meals-On-Wheels; holding a birthday party for all the patients at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, a rehabilitative and specialty care hospital serving medically fragile and chronically ill children; preparing and serving a meal at Our Daily Bread, a soup kitchen for the homeless; doing home repairs for Sandtown Habitat For Humanity, which rehabilitates and builds houses in partnership with homeowners, using mostly volunteer labor and private funding; organizing a field day for children at Villa Maria, which provides a variety of programs to help children with emotional disabilities and their families, including a residential treatment center for children; and assisting with children’s activities at the Charles Village Festival in behalf of Village Learning Place, a former Pratt Library in Charles Village that serves as a community-based library and learning center run by neighborhood volunteers.
          The Municipal Employees Credit Union of Baltimore, Inc. (MECU) is a member-owned not-for-profit financial cooperative. It is the third largest credit union in Maryland, representing over 75,000 members, with assets over $725 million.

    Maryland Public Interest Research Group (MaryPIRG) held a press conference on June 5 atop Federal Hill, calling attention to the group’s annual report documenting waterways in Maryland and across the country where high levels of mercury contamination have made the fish unsafe to eat. Called “Fishing for Trouble,” the report shows that nationally more rivers and lakes are now under advisory for mercury contamination than ever before. The news conference featured a 12-foot high inflatable power plant to remind those present of the source of much of the pollution.
          Also present at the event were Dr. Peter Beilenson, Public Health Commissioner, Baltimore City; Joe Stewart, who swims in behalf of charities; Lee Oxenham, executive director of Patapsco Riverkeeper; and Andy Fellows, of Clean Water Action.
          For more information, call 410-467-0720 or visit MaryPIRG’s main office is at 3121 Saint Paul St., Suite 26, Baltimore, MD 21218.

    The Baltimore County Historical Trust, Inc. presented its annual grants and awards for preservation at its annual reception and meeting on May 15 at the Gramercy Carriage House.
          Recipients of this year’s grants were: Oblate Sisters of Providence, for materials to preserve early 19th century documents; Lutheran Community Cemetery, for repair and restoration to gravestones and markers; Society of the War of 1812 in Maryland for the Revitalization of Battle Acre, Gate Repair; Bare Hills Historic District, for completion of its historic district application; Todd’s Inheritance Historic Site, for front porch repair; Corbett Road, Monkton, Historic Private Residence, porch repair.
          David Goldsmith, chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, received the distinguished Preservationist of the Year Award for his “dedication to the process of maintaining historical integrity in the Baltimore County area by reviewing, advising and guiding the County Council and its constituents on local structures.”
          Lucy and Paul McKean received a Special Preservation Award for their commitment to preservation by serving for many years on the Board of the BCHT as well as the Catonsville Historical Society and the Landmark’s Preservation Commission.
          Anne Bruder, Architectural Historian, gave a presentation on Historical Bridges of Baltimore County, which stimulated much discussion on many bridges past and present.
          Representatives from Preservation Maryland, Historic Towson, Catonsville Historical Society, 1000 Friends of Maryland and other local organizations were present—but no county politicians were able to attend.
          If interested in membership in the Baltimore County Historical Trust call 410-832-1812 or visit their website.

    “Yard-Man” Brad Hauter rode his lawn mower into Baltimore’s Federal Hill Park on May 30, on his way to racking up more than 5,600 miles on the road—all the while raising awareness and funds for Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Cleanup. (No mention was made of the fact that riding lawnmowers are serious air polluters.)
          On his last junket, in 1999, Hauter raised over $200,000 for the cause. This time around, he is teaming up with volunteer clean-up crews to beautify parks, beaches, and playgrounds.
          “Yard-Man Mow Across America II” began March 19, kicking off in San Francisco’s Presidio Park.

    BioPort Corporation of Lansing, MI, supplier of anthrax vaccine to the US Department of Defense, has executed a discretionary loan agreement and a non-binding letter of intent with Antex Biologics, Inc. (AMEX: ANX), with the intention of acquiring substantially all of the assets of the Maryland-based company. BioPort’s president and COO Bob Kramer called the transaction “an important marriage between two companies with compatible capabilities.”
           BioPort, founded in 1998 after purchasing a vaccine lab operated by the State of Michigan, employs 290 staff in Lansing. Antex, a research and development company, employs 38 staff. It has working relationships with GlaxoSmithKline, Aventis Pasteur, and the Department of Defense.
          Kramer said said Antex is being courted by Bioport because “it has a strong research team, as well as technologies and products in the pipeline that have the potential to reach licensure.” If the acquisition occurs, Antex would receive in exchange for its assets either a cash payment of approximately $3 million or a combination of cash and notes equal to approximately $3.6 million.
          V.M. Esposito, Antex chairman, president and CEO, said, “As a result of the prolonged downturn of the capital markets beginning in 2001, maintaining Antex as a stand-alone public company is no longer an option.”
          For more information on either company, visit or

    On May 31, students from Yorkwood Elementary School in the Loch Raven community, along with parents, teachers and community residents took part in a schoolyard revitalization project on the school’s grounds, creating a “green space” that will serve as wildlife habitat, a haven for exploring nature and a source of pride for the school and the surrounding community.
          Irvine Nature Center’s Natural Connections urban outreach program, which has reached over 13,000 students in nearly 100 Baltimore schools and recreation centers since its inception in 1997, received a four-year grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in 2001. This has allowed Natural Connections to expand its core program to include new elements such as Natural Connections Challenge (high teacher workshops) and Community T.I.E.S. (Teaching by Improving the Environment on Schoolgrounds). It is through the Community T.I.E.S. program that schoolyard revitalization projects, such as the one at Yorkwood Elementary, are taking place. Yorkwood and Thomas Jefferson Elementary Schools are pilot programs. Six more schools will be added to the program in the 2003-2004 school year, followed by two more in 2004-2005.
          Additional support for Yorkwood’s effort has been provided by the Neighborhood Design Center and the Science Is For Everyone program. There was no cost to the school.

    Johns Hopkins University is holding meetings to begin steps to reactivate the Baltimore Free University, which operated from the early 1970s through 1981. Hopkins, under the leadership of its Center for Social Concern, is holding discussions with community activists, residents, and academics to assess interest in once again offering free courses to the public (which pays a nominal registration fee only). Bill Tiefenworth, Center director, said courses will focus on “community strengthening.” 410-516-4777.

    On June 8, “60 Minutes” aired a segment showing editor Lesley Stahl interviewing students from Walbrook High School who participate in The Baltimore Urban Debate League and then showed them preparing for and competing in debates with other League participants. In all, 17 high schools are taking part in the program. The Baltimore League is part of a national network of debaters that began with funding from the Open Society Institute. Participants hone skills in research, critical thinking, and advocacy, according to Diana Morris, director of the Open Society Institute-Baltimore. Other funding for the local program comes from Baltimore City Public Schools, Towson University, the Fund for Educational Excellence, andthe Barkley Forum at Emory University. The executive director of Baltimore’s League is Pam Spiliadis. Info: 410-979-2710.

    Money Place, a first-of-its-kind community financial services institution, opened June 9 in the West Side Shopping Center. It will serve the estimated 50-75% of SW families who currently have no bank. 410-366-0922.

Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on June 4, 2003.
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