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.


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.

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.



Kamenetz Publicizes Code Violations from Jared Kusher’s Company

Politics is a game that most elected officials play. It comes with the territory, but Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz does not try to disguise it.

On the Baltimore County Government website, there is a big headline “Jared Kushner-Owned Company Fined as Negligent Property Owner in Baltimore County.”

The article (written by Baltimore County) explains that there are more than 200 code violations in apartments owned by the Kushner Cos. Of course, Kamenetz mentioned that the company is owned by President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. Some of the allegations include more than 200 code violations that were observed by County inspectors within the past year.

Fontana Village and Commons at White Marsh are among the 13 apartments that Kushner Cos. Owns in Baltimore County. The article did not mention that which apartments were in violation of Baltimore County Code Enforcement.

I am sure the county’s allegations of Kushner Cos. are true , but I’m confident that Kushner Cos. is no better or no worse than any of the other apartment complexes in the county. I’m sure the county has investigated and found issues with other apartments (at least I hope they are not singling out Kushner Cos.) so why is there only an article written about Kushner Cos? We know why because it is Jared Kushner’s company.

I’m sure there are some community leaders that are hopefully that Baltimore County Code Enforcement is spending the same amount of time investigating all the property owners of vacant or rundown properties throughout Baltimore County as they are spending on Jared Kushner’s company.

Glad to Hear About the Return of Parkville Bowling Lanes

Great news. Parkville Bowling Lanes are scheduled to reopen on Saturday, Sept. 9. It is ironic how I found out about the re-grand opening.

As the kids and myself were leaving Bible School, a lady asked what I was going to do with the kids for the rest of the day. I told her that I bought the summer bowling pass at a local bowling alley and we got on the subject of dying duckpin lanes. The Parkville lanes came up in the conservation and I told her how it was a shame that they had to close.
Then I was wondering whatever happened to the Parkville Lanes building?After I heard the lanes closed, I figured that the building was going to become another Dollar store or something.
So the kids and I decided to take a drive by the old lanes to find out what took over that spot. We were not only happy to see the bowling alley was still there but a sign on the door that stated the grand opening on Sept. 9.
Of course later that night, someone shared a Baltimore Business Journal article ( on their social media page and now their return is all over social media.
It’s funny how a conservation about Parkville Lanes resulted in the discovery of their reopening. Glad to see them returning.

Kudos to Weis for Helping Heritage Fair

According to the Dundalk Eagle, Weis Markets is stepping up to help the Dundalk Heritage Fair with a $20,000 donation. For years, Mars Supermarkets was one of (if not the biggest) sponsors of the Heritage Fair. When it was announced that Mars was closing last summer and being bought out by Weis, there was a big void in the community as Mars sponsored many of these community events.

Whether it was fair or not, many residents were privately expecting Weis to take over Mars’ role as community sponsor since they were taking over the stores. That was a little unfair to Weis since the company is based out of Pennsylvania and usually corporate has to sign off on a large donation such as $20,000, but it happened.

The Eagle reported that Weis managers Bill Volz; Dundalk, Bill Siegmund; Essex, and Rob Santoni Jr. of Perry Hall joined together to present the check and these gentlemen should be commended. Weis did step up to the plate and the community should be thankful for their donation.

Happy 4th everyone.

Miele to Challenge Klausmeier in 2018

After much speculation, Delegate Christian Miele officially announced that he is running for State Senate at a campaign event last week, highlighted by an appearance from Gov. Larry Hogan. Miele is one of three Republican delegates in the 8th District and he is seeking the senate seat which is currently held by Democratic Senator Kathy Klausmeier in 2018. Miele has a tough road ahead as Klausmeier has held the senate seat for the past 15 years and has been in the General Assembly since 1995, but many feel that this seat can flip to Republican and Miele is the perfect candidate to defeat Klausmeier. This is a pivotal seat for the Republicans because even with a Republican governor, Democrats still have the ability in both the House and Senate to override Hogan’s vetoes. The GOP needs to pick up five seats in the Senate to stop the Democrats of those veto overrides and they feel that Miele can take care of one of those five seats. Now they need to find four more candidates to take care of the rest.


What Will be the Name of New Northeast Elementary School?

As someone who works for a government official, I want to stay away from praising (and criticizing) other offices, but as a parent, I am happy that our elected officials (and volunteers of the community) secured our area a new elementary school and now a new middle school in the northeast.

Now that the hard work is done, what will be the name of the new northeast elementary school?
I could call up the local officials to get a heads up but I rather have fun and try to speculate as a parent who might have his kids in the school.
Names It Wont Get
With the school located on Joppa Road and near Chapel Road, Chapel Hill ES and Joppaview ES would be perfect names if those other schools didn’t already exist. Snyder Park is close by the new school, but I doubt it would be called Snyder ES. Too common of a name. I would hope the new school would not be called Northeast Elementary because this is a neighborhood school in Perry Hall and not a regional school in Northeast Baltimore County. (Although, Northeast Middle School could be a name considered for the regional middle school in Northeast Baltimore County. More on that in a later blog)
Honeygo ES

If I had to make an early pick, I would say Honeygo Elementary School. The word “Honeygo” is growing in the area along with Honeygo Blvd. Most kids that would go to the new school will probably live near the Honeygo Blvd. corridor.

Plus, we could have that irony of having Joppaview ES on Honeygo Blvd. and Honeygo ES on Joppa Road.

Gough ES
Gough is a strong name too after Perry Hall’s founder Harry Dorsey Gough. With Gough Park being down the street, Gough ES could go hand and hand with the new school
Soupka ES

The Soupka Arena is named after Jerry Soupka, the longtime rec. council volunteer. I don’t think the school would actually be named after Mr. Soupka, but there is a possibility that the school could be named after Soupka Arena since it will be across the street from the school.

Nottingham ES

For years, I have teased the community for using the names White Marsh Mall and Police Precinct and Perry Hall middle and high schools while they all reside in the Nottingham zip code of 21236. Could this finally be the time the word Nottingham is used to name a school? Probably not. The new school is in the actual Perry Hall zipcode of 21128. Again, we could have Perry ES in a Nottingham zip code and the new Nottingham ES in a Perry Hall zip code. Nevermind. Let’s save that Nottingham name for the middle school. Again, I’ll explain later. I’m having too much fun.

Love BCPL but Not New Logo

First of all, I love the Baltimore County Public Library. My wife and I take the kids to their programs and I often use their resources for work, school and personal business.

I think new BCPL Director Paula Miller is picking up where former director Jim Fish left off and is running a great agency.
With that being said, I don’t like the new logo. Yes I do hate change, but this new logo does not market BCPL well.
I have no problem with going from a Blue to a Green color for the logo. I don’t mind them taking away those six upward blue lines above BCPL, but why is the logo just a “B” not BCPL? It would be like Baltimore County Public Schools changing their BCPS logo to “B”. Where is the “CPL”?
The sad part is that this logo looks like my green favicon B that I use for Benstorming, but I’m low budget. BCPL (or should I now call them B) should have a better logo than me.
Either way, I will continue to visit and support Baltimore County Public Library.