2016 Howard Chinese School Graduation

Today I attended 2016 Howard County Chinese School graduation at Marriotts Ridge high school. It took 320 weekends to sit in the classroom and learn something new for these young kids.  It is more than ten years dedication from our kids, while others may play football, or watch movies.

I am so proud of them. I find their Chinese is better than last year’s graduates.  I wish these thirty kids will remember today’s moment, their friends around, and their HoCo Chinese school time. I believe their perseverance learned during the years will be part of their life for future success.

image

 

I also helped to count the ballot for the board of director election. I am so excited that we have so many candidates who are willing to serve our community.

My daughter graduated from the kindergarten and will go into first year soon. I took a semester’s Yoga class which really helped me to reduce my back pain.

My first 2016 5K run

After I joined the Howard County Runner group, I have always been motivated to keep my self fit and healthy. This Saturday’s Maryland Half Marathon at Maple Lawn was both a fundraiser event and my first major run. My time is 31 minutes 21 seconds.

By running with a group of people, we build a small dedicated community. We are running for fun, for healthy body and for energetic mind. It is not how fast we run. It is how much we enjoy overcoming difficulty and moving forward.

image

image

2016 CAPA first voter registration drive

In my one-hour time slot, we registered five new voters.

We are hoping we will have a stronger voice in our local elections. CAPA will provide a platform for our parents to voice their opinions in this Board of Education election.

If we want change, let’s start with ourselves. If we believe in something, let’s act on it. Don’t rely on others’ good will or wait for your turn. As our logo says “Informed, involved and empowered”, we just need push ourselves to the negotiation table of election.

Votes and get out to vote. That really matters. To vote in a group can amplify our voice greatly.

We are going to expand our efforts to four Chinese language schools, grocery stores, and other facilities for the coming months before the primary election.

How do you like our poster?

image

2016 Voter Registration Training

I attended the Howard County Voter Registration Training this weekend. We have around 25 volunteers attending the training. We are hoping to improve the Asian American voter registration rate.

  1. It is very simple to register as a voter online if you have Maryland Driver License.
  2. Otherwise, it takes less than three minutes to finish the register form.

 

image

Online registration:

https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/OnlineVoterRegistration/InstructionsStep1

It takes less than three minutes.

2016 Registration deadline:

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

New for 2016: Same Day Voter Registration ( advise you should register earlier)

Maryland will be implementing “Same Day Voter Registration” during early voting for the 2016 Presidential Primary and General elections. More information will be posted when it becomes available.

You may register to vote any time voter registration is open. Registration closes beginning at 9:00 pm on the 21st day preceding an election and remains closed until the 11th day after the election.

Generally, any voter registration application received when registration is closed will be held by the election office and processed when registration re-opens. Your registration will not become effective and you will not be eligible to vote until registration re-opens and you have received your Voter Notification Card (VNC).

Once registered,  good for all

As long as you remain a resident of the county and keep your address current with the election office, your voter registration in Maryland is permanent.

From web:

http://www.howardcountymd.gov/DisplayPrimary.aspx?id=4294968461

 

Clarksville Post Office Reopen Update

Talking points tonight are:
1: USPS will build a new post office in Clarksville. The project is approved already. There will be 30 days appealing time and move forward for a solution, i.e, look for a location.

2: a place with 5000 square feet, 40 parking lots, full operation , not just a small counter.

3: the old post office location,3000 square feet, is too small.

4: site review committee to make recommendation.

5: luck stone site was discussed.

6: probably the new post office will be operational in one year.

Please share your thoughts with Richard Hancok, Real Estate Specialist for USPS at: United States Postal Service, Facilities Service Office, P.O. Box 27497, Greensboro, NC 27498-1103; orrichard.a.hancock2@usps.gov. Written testimony will be accepted until Tuesday, March 1.
image

CA by Numbers ( Part I) (The Villager 2015-8)

CA by the Numbers (Part I)

By Chao Wu

The village and CA are quiet and people are on vacation. After I came back from my vacation in late July, I found that the uneven sidewalks in front of my house were fixed. That is really nice. And I received a large handbook and a bill from the Columbia Association (CA), as many of our residents did. Yes, CA is collecting money from us in the name of “Annual Charge”. In this issue, I would like to share some general information with you.

Columbia Association’s Board of Directors (CABOD) will hold a pre-budget public input forum on Thursday, Sept. 3, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Slayton House, 10400 Cross Fox Lane in the Wilde Lake Village Center. The forum will be hosted by the Board’s Planning and Strategy Committee and is open to the public.

Representatives of CA’s BOD will join our River Hill Board of Director’s meeting on Oct. 5 in order to reach out to our residents. Please come and share your thoughts.

1.     CA Responsibility

Some people in our neighborhood are confused about what CA does versus what the county does. On the CA website, we can view the following table and find CA actually is doing many things for our residents. CA contributes to funding for River Hill Community Association staff and the operations of Claret Hall, River Hill’s community center, and the Meeting Room too. The following table is extracted from CA website http://www.columbiaassociation.com/about-us/who-handles-what:

River Hill Community Association

Columbia Association

Howard County

Enforcing covenants Maintaining fitness facilities,
golf clubs, tennis and basketball
courts and swimming pools
Schools and library
management
Advocating for residents
at the village, Columbia
and county level
Operating the Columbia Ice Rink,
Columbia Horse Center
(via lease), Columbia
SportsPark/SkatePark
Water and sewer
management
Facilitating information sessions
and community meetings
Operating the Columbia Art
Center, Youth and Teen Center
at the The Barn, Columbia
Archives and Volunteer Center
Serving Howard County
Road maintenance
and snow removal
Hosting individual village
events and partnering with
all villages for Columbia-wide
Providing Before and After
School Care to Howard County
students
Waste and recycling
collection
Creating village master plans Developing plans to protect
and restore Columbia’s
watershed
County parks and
recreation facilities
Communicating to residents
via newsletters, websites
and social media
Organizing free summer
concerts and films at the
Downtown Columbia Lakefront
Watershed management/
restoration
Providing resources and
referral services for residents
Providing summer camps Inspections, licenses
and permits
Fostering partnerships between
villages, Columbia Association,
Howard County, local businesses, and non-profits
 Maintaining approximately
3,600 acres of open space
Planning and zoning
management
 Managing, maintaining and
renting out CA’s village buildings
and neighborhood centers
 Developing plans to improve
the connectivity of the
pathway system in Columbia
Historic preservation
Offering programming, including classes, camps
and lectures
Police, fire and rescue
services
Encouraging neighbor-to-neighbor
connectivity via
block parties, beautification
grants and block captains

2.     CA Income and Expenditures

Let’s look at CA’s income and spending. These numbers are important as a reference since CA’s board of directors is working on a new two-year budget (2017-2018). In FY2015, CA’s revenue totaled $70.576 M. CA’s Sport and Fitness programs, which includes the income from Package Plan memberships and fees for fitness classes, generated the greatest amount of income ($28.103M). The following data was extracted from “CA at a Glance, Columbia Association Annual Report 2015”:

2015 CA Incomes by Percentage

2015 CA Income by percentage

2015 CA Spending by Percentage

2015 CA Spending by percentage

  1. Large CA Vendor Expenditures in FY 2015 (quarter ended on April 30, 2015)

CA’s Annual Report itemizes all vendor spending greater than $25,000. In order for you to have a sense of CA’s large expenditures, I have listed those greater than $300,000:

Vendor Paid Description
Autlex Electric 354,971 Electrical work-various facilities
BGE 1,388,306 Utility
Brinton Building Services, Inc. 1,112,752 Construction services multiple locations
Crawford Advisors, LLC 2,907,225 Benefit advisors
DLA Piper US LLP 312,379 Legal services
Fidelity Engineering Corp 344,749 HVAC maintenance and repair Ssrvices
Fidelity Investments 2,604,275 Employer/employee 401kpension service fees
JP Morgan Chase Bank NA 1,416,928 Procurement card payments
Marsh USA, Inc. 628,544 Insurance broker and insurance Premiums
Paetec 306,632 Telephone and Internet services
Redhead Companies, Inc. 376,937 Creative advertising services
Scott-Long Construction, Inc. 4,690,871 Hobbits Glen Golf Club construction services
Shapiro &Duncan, Inc. 399,208 HVAC repair and maintenance
The Baltimore Sun 338,895 Advertising and recruiting
Two Center East Business Trust 624,158 Rent-headquarters building
Whiting-Turner Contracting 4,134,136 Haven on the Lake construction services

I am concerned about keeping CA’s expenditures reasonable and that new programs and facilities provide a good return on investment. Although the Annual Charge and membership fees increase yearly, even when there is no new construction project underway the costs of maintaining and running the facilities also rise annually. As more facilities are built, even more money is required to operate and maintain them.  The CABOD has to make difficult decisions during the budget process and cannot fund all budget requests. ………….

Thanks for reading this. Hopefully the data are . Let me know what you think and where you’d like CA to focus its efforts inFY17/18 and beyond.

Chao Wu, Ph.D.

River Hill Representative to Columbia Council

Columbia Association Board of Directors

Email: superbwu@gmail.com  Tel: 240-481-9637  Website: http://chaowu2016.com

Disclaimer: This letter only represents Dr. Chao Wu’s personal opinion. It does not represent River Hill Board of Directors nor Columbia Association’s Board.

A study result for building 100 apartments on the Columbia Gym’s parking lot (updated)

Updated: CA owns the land and has not aproved anything on this land yet. So we should be a little at ease.

I was shocked to hear that a study result for building 100 apartments on the Columbia Gym’s parking lot. This is 200 meters away from my home and I walk by there everyday. The parking lot is overflown with cars in the rush hour. Columbia Gym is really popular for our neighborhood because CA offers the service our residents want and there are no other substitute in this area.

The Clarksville Pike (108) Corridor plan is posted on the county website http://www.howardcountymd.gov/Departments.aspx?id=163. On page 14, it is showing intended development on the Columbia Gym parking lot in 2035.
Land Use Forecast in River Hill

CA seems not aware of this yet. I am wondering how DPZ can work out such a controversial proposal. CA, local residents and churches nearby will fight for sure.