Donation boxes could be regulated in Gaithersburg

Big metal donation boxes — where people can leave books or clothes for charity — may get items to the needy, but the boxes are drawing scrutiny in Gaithersburg. The boxes, which number about 30 in the city, are not regulated, but city officials believe they can attract trash. Some, they say, aren’t clearly marked that drop offs are going to for-profit corporations. (Gazette)

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Baltimore area jurisdictions tapping reserve funds for snow removal

Many jurisdictions across the Baltimore region have exhausted their snow removal budgets for the fiscal year, even as the metro braces for yet another storm. While local governments are still tabulating costs of the most recent snowfall, many counties around the state are turning to reserve funds to cover the impact. (Balt. Sun)

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State's largest tire dump to be cleaned up in Crownsville

State officials have reached an agreement with an Anne Arundel County family to clean up Maryland's largest known tire dump, a decades-old stockpile of hundreds of thousands of tires rotting in ravines in Crownsville and threatening a waterway leading to the South River. The $2.5 million cleanup will be the latest in a two-decades-old effort by the Maryland Department of the Environment that has resulted in the removal of 10.6 million tires from more than 900 sites around the state. (Balt. Sun)

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Court rules in favor of residents' challenge to rezoning of south county

When Mike Lofton learned the County Council was approving zoning to allow more commercial and residential development in rural south county, he thought “enough.” In 2011 Lofton, then the president of the Harwood Civic Association, helped bring a lawsuit on behalf of seven community groups and more than a dozen residents. Lofton and other south county residents involved in that lawsuit are pleased that the Court of Special Appeals recently ruled in their favor, overturning the rezonings. (Capital)

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Four Fire Deaths in 2014 Share a Common Theme

Seven deaths in Maryland have occurred in fire related incidents during the first two months of 2014. Four of these incidents revealed smoke alarms were present, but were rendered inoperable as result of dead or missing batteries. A new state law aimed at reducing home fire deaths went into effect on July 1, 2013. It requires replacement of any battery-only operated smoke alarm that is more than 10 years old with a unit powered by a 10-year sealed-in battery – ultimately affecting more than 800,000 Maryland homes with battery - only operated smoke alarms. (Bay Net)

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Feb. 14 // Storm dumps biggest snowfall since 2010 on a day possibly among area's top 10 snowiest on record

The biggest snowfall in four years blanketed the Baltimore area Thursday with up to a foot and a half of snow, giving many schoolchildren two more days off and stranding residents and travelers. Most activities around the state — besides shoveling and sledding — came to a halt, with schools and government offices closed amid a boom of teleworking. Meanwhile, some businesses tried to take advantage of cabin fever. One restaurateur gave customers rides to his diner; a brew pub offered free beer. The storm could become one of the region's biggest single-day snowfalls on record once Thursday night's accumulation is measured. (Balt. Sun)

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License plate recognition prompts privacy concerns

Each day across the state, hundreds of thousands of motorists’ license plates are recorded, stamped with location and time, and disseminated to various local, state and federal law enforcement agencies — sometimes to be retained indefinitely. While local police departments throughout Maryland have developed agency-specific policies for the retention of this data, state and federal data “fusion centers” are collecting this same information, oftentimes imposing retention policies that conflict with those of the local agencies, raising concerns regarding the privacy of citizens. (Gazette)

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Holy Cross becomes part-owner of Medicaid group

Silver Spring's Holy Cross Health announced Thursday it will become a co-owner of a local Medicaid administrator in Montgomery County. Maryland Physicians Care, a managed care group that administers health care plans to 176,000 Medicaid HealthChoice enrollees, will add Holy Cross to its four hospital owners. MPC is already partly owned by Meritus Health, Western Maryland Health System, St. Agnes HealthCare and University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus. (Wash. Bus. Journal)

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