Remembering George Wilbanks

East County Times Publisher George Wilbanks passed away on March 1.

It has been a few weeks, but I would like to remember East County Times publisher George Wilbanks. My blog “Benstorming” actually started as a column in the East County Times.

I got my start at the East County Times when their editor Allison McAlister and publisher George Wilbanks called me in for an interview. As I entered the front of the building, George was sitting outside on the bench. I figured he was a causal reader or an employee of the paper that was hanging outside. I gave him a causal “high” when I saw. If I knew he was the publisher, I would have struck up a more detailed conversation with him. And I think George knew that and that is why he took a low-key approach.

Allison made the recommendation for him to hire me and he did. I will always be grateful for my time at the East County Times and that is how I got started in journalism and in the public eye.

It was true that George was a hands off owner. He let the sales people sell, the editorial staff write and the art department design.

Yes, George did attend newspaper conferences to keep up on the latest trends of the newspaper business, but he left the quality of the paper to his staff.

George had a big presence in Essex Day and Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger told me that George was a strong advocate for getting White Marsh Boulevard (MD 43) extended from Pulaski Highway to Eastern Boulevard.

George was a pioneer for the community and my thoughts and prayers go out to the Wilbanks family and the East County Times staff.

I hope the East County Times remains a strong independent paper for the community.


East County Times Reports Disturbing Crimes in Rosedale

When I read the East County Times crime section this week, I was shocked to see three separate crime articles about Rosedale.

One article was about an incident on Dec. 20 when a 14-year old boy was attacked and hit by a baseball hat. Police said the suspect was wearing all black clothing and was described around 5’10” and 175 lbs. This took place on Stellabrooke Lane, which is close to the I-95 underpass on Rossville Blvd.

Then there was an article about a carjacking on Lyndale Road, which is near Linover Park and not too far from the Jan. 3  carjacking that took place on Cardwell Avenue in Overlea.

The Lyndale Road incident took place on Feb. 20 at 4 p.m. when a 66-year-old man was approached by two teenagers with a gun. Fortunately, Baltimore County Police arrested five suspects within three hours after the carjacking.

The sad part is the teens’ ages ranged from 13, 14 ,16 and two 18 year olds. What is going on with our kids today?

The third story was about a string of robberies in the area and one of them took place at the Royal Farms on Philadelphia Road in Rosedale on Feb. 17.

While I don’t condone an armed robbery of a store, that has taken place in the Baltimore area for decades. Carjackings and teenagers getting hit with a baseball hat is a new occurrence that needs to stop.

The Rosedale/Overlea area is a great community. My kids play soccer at Linover Park and go to Storyville at the Rosedale Library. This crime needs to stop and I would like to see the community to come together to fight crime in the area.

Boehl to Run for House of Delegates

A family photo with my wife Mary and our three kids (L to R) Emily, Andrew and Adam.

Benstorming has been a community blog that has also reported about local politicians running for office. Well who would have thought that I would being writing a blog post about myself.

If you have not heard,  I am a Republican candidate running for the Maryland House of Delegates in District 8.

I have thought about it long and hard, and I think this is the best decision for myself, my family and the great communities in Nottingham, Overlea, Parkville, Perry Hall and Rosedale.
For those that don’t know my full background, I am a local guy that has been a life long resident of Baltimore County. I am a product of Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) and a graduate of CCBC and Towson University. I am married with three kids who also attend BCPS.
After working eight years at a warehouse on the night shift, I joined the local media at the East County Times and the Dundalk Eagle for close to a decade. That experience gave me the opportunity to see the strengths and also the needs of our communities.
I had the honor of working as a Legislative Aide in Annapolis with Delegate Bob Long’s office for two years. It was a great experience that I hope to use for the next adventure of my life.
I have tried to keep my blog about non-partisan politics and always about the community. I will continue to do that, but most of my blog post will be political at my campaign site

We Might Have to Thank BGE

I never thought the day would come that we would praise BGE for lowering their rates, but it is about to happen.
BGE explained that as a result of President Donald Trump’s new tax plan (that lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent) they have the ability to lower rates up to five percent for customers.
Much like a rate hike, BGE still has to meet with the Maryland Public Service Commission before rates can be lowered. Although I don’t think anyone is going to oppose this request.
We always fairly criticize BGE for increases but we should give them kudos if our BGE bill does decrease.
This also shows that maybe corporations are not so evil and they can actually give back to their employees/the public if their taxes are reduced.

Avenue News Profiles Local Train Gardens

Wise Avenue Train Garden -courtesy of Wise Avenue Volunteer Fire Company.

In this week’s Avenue News, Lisa Harlow wrote an article On Track for Christmas about the local train gardens in the area. As someone who loves trains, I  enjoy learning about all the local train gardens in the area. There are actually five in the region.

The granddaddy of train gardens in Baltimore County is the Wise Ave Volunteer Fire Company Train Garden in Dundalk. It is now in its 37th year and it is located at the fire house on 214 Wise Ave. I remember writing an article about that train garden when I was in college in the early 2000s. It was amazing that the garden was around 20 years old at that time. It is still going strong on its way to 40 years.

The Dundalk Patapsco Neck Historical Society and Museum Train Garden, located at 4 Center Place in Old Dundalk, always gets overlooked with the Wise Avenue garden, but it is still worth a trip inside the museum. It is not as big as the other trains but the garden has more historical landmarks.

I knew about the two trains in Dundalk, but I was not aware of the Martinville  Train Garden at Martin State Airport, the Highlandtown Train Garden in eastern Baltimore City or the Fire Museum of Maryland Holiday Train Garden in Lutherville. I enjoyed learning about those spots in Lisa’s article.

I do remember that a Perry Hall resident had a train garden in his basement and he opened it up to the public. It was a nice in home train garden, but it has been over five years since he has publicized the event.

It is always fun to find train gardens for the kids. One great website that I love for finding train gardens is Grandpa’s Holiday Train Garden.

St. Joseph School Named Top Workplace by Sun

The East County Times reported that St. Joseph School in Fullerton was named by the Baltimore Sun as one of the 2017 Top Workplaces in the area. This was a pleasant surprise because I do not think a local private school would be considered for a list such by the Baltimore Sun.

According the release, employees at the school filled out a survey that was conducted by Energage LLD., a research firm. Apparently, St. Joseph’s employees must enjoy their school and gave high remarks.

There was no quote from school officials or employees (just a geneatic quote from Energage’s CEO) but I’m sure the St. Joes administration is happy with this news. I’m sure even parents of St. Joes students are pleased too. If you have happy teachers it usually results in happier students too.



BCPS Profiles Perry Hall High Senior

I know this is a week late, but I just noticed that BCPS wrote a feature article about a Perry Hall High School student on their website.

Perry Hall High School senior Hailey Fink was part of the school system’s “Face of the Week” on Nov. 27.

Hailey Fink -photo courtesy of BCPS –

BCPS likes to profile a student with an unique talent or someone that has had a major accomplishment in their young life.

Hailey was profiled because of her interest in engineering.

The article talks about how Hailey was the only female on a team that designed an electric car and explains how Hailey later started her own electric car club that was only for females at the school.

BCPS has tried over the last decade to get more females into the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and Hailey’s interest in engineering makes her the perfect student to profile.

Go to the BCPS website to read more about Hailey Fink.

Honeygo Run or Honeygo Elementary?

Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) announced back in October, that the public can submit name ideas for the new northeast elementary school in Perry Hall.

The new northeast elementary school will have the word “Honeygo” in its name.

After 1,871 name submissions were sent in from the public, the name nominating contest has been closed and now BCPS is down to two names: Honeygo Elementary and Honeygo Run Elementary.

The public is invited to vote online  from Monday, Dec. 4 through Friday, Dec. 22 at 4:45 p.m. between the two names. All BCPS stakeholders, including BCPS staff, students, parents and community members, are permitted to vote, but only one ballot can be casted per person.

I really don’t have a preference. I am just glad that the name Honeygo is being used for both final entries.

With the completion of Honeygo Boulevard from Ebenezer Road to Belair Road in the mid to late 2000s, the name “Honeygo” has been used for Honeygo Run Regional Park, Honeygo Village Center and  a few small businesses. It is only appropriate to have “Honeygo” in the new school’s name.

BCPS stated that the results will be reported to the Board of Education during its meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 20 for a first reading, on Tuesday, March 6, for a second reading with public comment, and on April 17 for a third reading and vote.

Loch Raven HS Principal (and my first journalism teacher) to Retire

Loch Raven High School principal Bonnie Lambert is retiring on Friday, Dec. 1 after 15 years at the school. It is always a big story when a long-term high school principal announces his/her retirement since there are only 24 high schools in Baltimore County.

Ms. Lambert’s retirement is significant to me because she was my first journalism teacher at Patapsco High School. (Yes, it was just Patapsco High School and not Center for the Arts in 1993).

Bonnie Lambert, pictured here at Loch Raven High School’s graduation in the spring, is retiring on Dec. 1.
-photo courtesy of Twitter-

Her class was my first taste of journalism in my junior year. She must have done something right as I went on to work for The East County Times and Dundalk Eagle newspapers.

I was disappointed that Ms. Lambert did not return to teach journalism at Patapsco in my senior year. Little did I know that she was preparing for a successful career as an administrator.

As a reporter for ECT and DE, I had to follow all the principals in eastern Baltimore County and I saw that she became principal at Loch Raven HS.

I was hoping that our paths would have crossed one day as I interviewed many teachers and principals throughout eastern Baltimore County but Loch Raven was just out of our coverage area with ECT.

Apparently, I was not the only student that Ms. Lambert inspired as reports on social media about her retirement resulted in high praises from parents and former students at Loch Raven.

I want to wish Ms. Lambert the best of luck in her retirement.

BCPS Breaks Ground for New Northeast Elementary School

Baltimore County Public Schools broke ground to their new northeast elementary school on Monday, Nov. 20. The new school is being built to relieve overcrowding at Perry Hall, Joppaview, Chapel Hill and many other elementary schools in the area.

While most groundbreakings are ceremonial, this groundbreaking was extremely ceremonial as both structures of the new school are near completion and it appears workers are close to focusing on the exterior and interior of the two buildings. The new school is scheduled to open on Sept. 4, 2018.

As a parent of students in Perry Hall Elementary, I can tell the public firsthand that this new school is necessary. Overcrowding at our elementary schools (middle and high schools too) is a huge problem and this school is much needed.