How we got those highway signs with mileage of distant cities

I-70 west, at I-695 in Woodlawn

“Go West, Young Man”
June 04, 2007|By Rob Hiaasen (Baltimore Sun)

. . . . Tom Hicks, a state highway administrator in Maryland, decided to immortalize Cove Fort [the western terminus of I-70, in Utah] in the minds of Marylanders heading west out of Baltimore toward Frederick, Hagerstown and across nine other states connected by I-70. He and another highway man, Paul Farragut of the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, got to thinking about a different kind of mileage sign, one with a bit of geographical whimsy and one that, for more practical reasons, would test a new type style. It’s not often an act of traffic engineering captures the imagination of, well, anyone.

“I was just excited that we have an interstate that ends and begins in our region,” says Farragut. He had never been to Cove Fort but was always amused by a sign on U.S. 50 on the Harry W. Kelly Memorial Bridge leading west out of Ocean City that reads: “Sacramento Ca. 3073.” Back on the Western Shore, mileage-sign envy apparently reared its head. “Why don’t we give people some sense of geography?” Farragut wondered.

So, in July 2004, a highway sign was erected in a median of I-70 a mile outside Baltimore’s Beltway . . . .

Columbus 420 miles
St. Louis 845 miles
Denver 1700 miles
Cove Fort 2200 miles

Cove Fort, built by Mormons in 1867 as a safe stop for travelers. (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints)

US-50 west, in Ocean City, Maryland

US-50 eastern terminus with Sacramento CA distance. (The Dispatch)

US-50 east, in Sacramento, California

“Two Coasts, Two Cities, Two Signs: The Story Behind The ‘Ocean City MD 3073’ Sign,” Friday, May 6, 2016|by Melody Stone (Capital Public Radio)

US-50 western terminus, with Ocean City MD distance

In the 1980s John R. Cropper, Jr. worked as the head of statewide highway maintenance for Caltrans [California Department of Transportation]. Cropper, now 92, was the man who instigated the sign listing Ocean City, MD as 3073 down the road. “Years ago, I was back in Ocean City, and they had a sign that said, ‘Sacramento California so many thousand miles’ so I thought, ‘well, that’s a pretty good idea, we should reciprocate,’ so we did,” Cropper says.

And that was that. Cropper says he didn’t have to get approval from anyone; he had the clout to make it happen, but he was met with some resistance. “I can remember I got a lot of static from Caltrans people because I had been conducting a campaign to get rid of unnecessary signs — and this really was an unnecessary sign,” says Cropper with a wink. . . .

Where did the “Sacramento, California” sign in Ocean City, Maryland come from? On the other side of the continent, we found David Buck, a spokesperson for the Maryland State Highway Administration. Buck’s father, Ed Buck, was a Maryland highway engineer in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. It was his idea to mark the eastern end of Highway 50 in Ocean City.,-two-cities,-two-signs-the-story-behind-the-ocean-city-md-3073-sign/#.WLtkivaXsvA.facebook

Which version of the Hickory Ridge Village Center is likely to survive?

The Howard County Design Advisory Committee (DAP) is reviewing Kimco’s revised plan for the Hickory Ridge Village Center on Wednesday, February 8th.  Their decision may very well determine whether the Village Center survives. Moreover, it’s a decision that will affect all of Columbia and whether our city will take the steps to become truly sustainable.

There is considerable community opposition to adding apartments to the Village Center.  Many residents of Hickory Ridge feel just as strongly that the higher density is essential to the Center’s future viability.  It is a struggle that has occurred in Columbia before and is likely to continue. I support the following perspective, and it applies to other Village Centers as well.

Dear members of the Design Advisory Panel,

I represent a citizens’ action group of Hickory Ridge residents recently formed to help ensure a viable Hickory Ridge village center, one that would be designed for the 21st century.  Our group, Citizens in favor of a Vibrant Village Center (CIVVC), believes that Kimco’s revised plan for the village center offers the best hope of creating a flourishing village center 10 years from now.

We also think Kimco’s revised plan responds appropriately to the DAP’s suggestions at its last meeting. Here’s why:

The DAP’s purpose is “to improve design compatibility with surrounding development, to promote revitalization, and to enhance property values.”  Several of us attended the DAP public meeting on Kimco’s original plan. It seemed to us that the panel in its response to Kimco’s previous plan neglected to consider two of the three factors set out in its mission statement:  promoting revitalization and enhancing property values.

Put simply, we believe that that the future of the Hickory Ridge village center requires having a large enough population base nearby to support a solid grocery-story anchor in the highly competitive Columbia grocery market. Our concern as a group is less about the height of a building than about whether in 10 years our village center will look more like the derelict Long Reach village center (now county-owned) or the thriving River Hill village center, another Kimco village center that offers apartments near the center. We believe a reasonably sized apartment building of 230 units, a number scaled down from Kimco’s original proposal, will help provide that customer base for the grocery store and the rest of the village center.

Proposed apartments at Hickory Ridge Village Center – Giant is on the left, shops are on the ground floor of the apartments and on the right, (Kimco)

In Kimco’s revised plan the apartment building has been sited further from the roads than in the previous plan. This step, and the design of the building with its setbacks and variegated fronts, makes the building appear less massive than in the original plan and far less massive than the much criticized apartment building at Wilde Lake that is often cited by Kimco’s critics.

Hickory Ridge Village Center – Cedar Lane and Freetown Road (Kimco)

Kimco’s slide titled “Building Separation and Height”  in the company’s latest presentation illustrates a fallacy that we’ve often heard stated by some Hickory Ridge residents – that the new apartment building would be plopped into a quiet neighborhood of single-family houses. There are single-family houses on only one side of the village center – the Clemens West neighborhood, which is tucked around a bend and out of sight of the village center. Opposite the village center across Cedar Lane are medical complexes of comparable height to the proposed apartment building.

Distances from the 4-story proposed apartment building to other nearby buildings and their heights (Kimco)

We’d point out as well that according to the CA-commissioned Market Study of Village Centers, Nov. 2014, Hickory Ridge contains 4,965 housing units, 39 percent of which are single-family. Owner-occupied housing units in Hickory Ride are 59 percent of the total housing units. In our view an apartment building at the village center would not be a disruptive force on the neighborhood we have now.

On the panel’s concerns about design compatibility with the neighborhood – we can’t help but feel that the present buildings around the village center make for a mish-mash of styles. There’s the Sunrise facility, the Goddard daycare building, the standard Sunoco gas station on one side with the low-slung Hickory Crest senior housing units located across Freetown Road, in addition to the Harmony Hall and Gilchrest Center medical buildings across Cedar Lane. It would seem an extraordinarily difficult task for any architect to coordinate the village center design with the current architectural polyglot of the neighborhood.

There’s one final point the DAP should be aware of in its deliberations: those in opposition to Kimco’s plan are fond of using some variation of the phrase “most residents do not want any apartments.” This statement is not based on facts.  The village board’s recent survey of Hickory Ridge residents showed 86.3% of Hickory Ridge Village residents did not have enough knowledge, passion, or concern about the village center redevelopment to respond to the survey. Of those that did respond, 54.2% said they were opposed to all apartments at the village center; 45.8% said they were fine with some apartments.  Approximately 10 percent of village residents, then, are on record as opposed to the concept of apartments at Hickory Ridge.

Existing Hickory Ridge Village Center (Kimco)
Proposed Hickory Ridge Village Center (Kimco)

In sum, we CIVVC members see the latest Kimco plan as the best way forward to a successful village center for the future. James Rouse’s vision of village centers was right for its time – the 1960s and ‘70s – and we still want the convenience of a good village center five minutes from our houses, but we live in a different Columbia and a different world of retail than in Rouse’s day. Much experience elsewhere in the USA has shown that maintaining the human scale of a small-village retail center nowadays requires mixed-use development.

George Clack, Coordinator, CIVVC

CIVCC Steering Committee:  Shirin Bozorg, Susan Clack, Shahriar Etemadi, Alison Hickman, Niklaas Hickman, Harry Schwarz, Brent Showalter, Steve Sternheimer, Eric Stein, Jerry Weinstein, Matt Young, Suzi Young

What you can do

You can learn more about the upcoming DAP meeting and submit your comments at this link:

For more information about the Redevelopment of the Hickory Ridge Village Center and sustainability, see my previous blogs by clicking on the topic in the Category Index on the left.

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The composite is by The left image is from the Hickory Ridge Community Association; the right is from Kimco.


Contact your Local Senator and Delegates to Ban Rolling Coal in Maryland

For the second year in a row, Delegate Clarence Lam (Democrat District 12, Howard/Baltimore County) has introduced a bill (HB-11) to make rolling coal illegal in Maryland. And what is rolling coal?   

“Rollin’ Coal” Is Pollution Porn For Dudes With Pickup Trucks

Rolling Coal on the Corner

‘Rolling Coal’ in Diesel Trucks, to Rebel and Provoke

By HIROKO TABUCHI, New York Times (SEPT. 4, 2016)

MONTROSE, Colo. — There is a new menace on America’s roads: diesel truck drivers who soup up their engines and remove their emissions controls to “roll coal,” or belch black smoke, at pedestrians, cyclists, and unsuspecting Prius drivers.

State legislatures, as well as local law enforcement agencies, are starting to take action. Last year, New Jersey became the first state to explicitly ban rolling coal, going beyond the federal laws that already prohibit drivers from tinkering with emissions controls. A similar bill is on the table in Illinois, while Colorado and Maryland have defeated proposed bans.

But to diesel owners like Corey Blue of Roanoke, Ill., the very efforts to ban coal rolling represent the worst of government overreach and environmental activism. “Your bill will not stop us!” Mr. Blue wrote to Will Guzzardi, a state representative who has proposed a $5,000 fine on anyone who removes or alters emissions equipment.

“Why don’t you go live in Sweden and get the heck out of our country,” Mr. Blue wrote.” I will continue to roll coal anytime I feel like and fog your stupid eco-cars.”

Please contact your representatives in Annapolis to put a stop to this odious practice. Click on the link below for an easy webform to communicate with all your legislators at once. Be sure to reference “HB11, Vehicle Laws – Causing Diesel Emissions to Discharge Onto Another – Prohibition”.  A hearing is scheduled for Thursday, January 26, at 2:00 pm, before the House Environment and Transportation Committee.

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January 13 is Korean-American Day in Maryland

On Friday, January 13, Maryland is one of several states and the federal government to celebrate Korean American Day. It honors the Korean American community’s contributions in the United States and commemorates the arrival of the first Korean immigrants on January 13, 1903.  In 2005, the United Sates Congress passed resolutions supporting the goals and aspirations of Korean American Day.

republic-of-korea-war-service-medalI feel real kinship with Korean Americans. My father fought in the Korean War 1951-1952 and came to love Korean people and culture. He was thanked by conferral of the Republic of Korea War Service Medal. As the son of my father, I have felt a partnership with Korea. I appreciate Korean-American’s contributions to our community.

Maryland road to be named ‘Korean Way’

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) — A section of a Maryland road will be named “Korean Way” in recognition of Koreans’ contribution to economic development and cultural diversity in the U.S. state, the office of Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday.

The section of Maryland’s U.S. Route 40 stretches about 1 kilometer and passes through the Ellicot City, one of the most densely Korean populated towns in the state with a lot of Korean-run shops and restaurants. About 7 percent of the town’s 66,000 population are Korean.


Two “Korean Way” road signs will be set up on Dec. 20, the office said.

The designation was made possible thanks to strong support from the governor. Hogan, who is married to Korean-American artist Yumi Hogan and calls himself a “hanguk sawi,” which means a “son-in-law of South Korea,” has been very supportive of Korean Americans in his state.

Over 1.7 Million Korean Americans Live in the United States, Up 41% Since 2000

Koreans make up 9% of the Asian American population. Nearly 62% of Korean Americans are foreign born. Koreans are the fifth largest Asian American community after Chinese, Indians, Filipinos, and Vietnamese. Many Koreans attain US citizenship, ranking twelfth in share of all US naturalizations in 2012 and fifth among Asians.

East West Center, Washington DC
East West Center, Washington DC

Some Notable Maryland Korean-Americans

Yumi Hogan, First Lady of Maryland

Yumi Hogan
Yumi Hogan

Maryland’s First Lady Yumi Hogan is the first Korean-American First Lady in the United States. Mrs. Hogan is a first-generation Korean-American, an accomplished artist, and an adjunct professor at Maryland Institute College of Art.

Mrs. Hogan grew up on a farm in the South Korean countryside and immigrated to the United States over 20 years ago. Her artwork, created on traditional Hanji paper with Sumi ink and mixed media, has been featured in art shows and museums around Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Seoul, Korea. As First Lady, Mrs. Hogan has made it a priority to instill a love of art in Marylanders.

Spring Symphony I, by Yumi Hogan (2012, Asian Pigment and Acrylic on Hanji Paper, 11x12
Spring Symphony I, by Yumi Hogan (2012, Asian Pigment and Acrylic on Hanji Paper, 11×12)

David Kim, Founder & Vice Chairman, C2 Education


While studying Economics at Harvard University, David became interested in the relationship between economics and education, a passion which inspired him to begin a tutoring service for local students. What began as a small tutoring service run out of a Harvard dorm room has grown into the C2 Education of today, with more than 180 centers nationwide.

In the years since C2 Education was founded, David has continued to contribute to his community by serving on the board of the Washington Youth Foundation and as a commissioner on the Montgomery County Commission on Children and Youth. His works have earned him recognition in such publications as Forbes Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Inc Magazine. Most recently, David has been touring the country talking to major media outlets about the new SAT.

Dr. Eun-Suk Seo, Professor of Physics, University of Maryland, College Park

Dr. Eun-Suk Seo
Dr. Eun-Suk Seo

Dr. Eun-Suk Seo received her Ph.D. in 1991 from Louisiana State University, including two years as a visiting graduate student at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

She has been leading cosmic ray investigations, especially as Principal Investigator of the Cosmic Ray Energetics And Mass (CREAM) balloon-borne experiment, and CREAM for the International Space Station (ISS-CREAM), the highest energy frontier of cosmic ray direct measurements. Her research includes searches for exotic matter, such as antimatter and dark matter, and direct measurements of galactic cosmic rays to investigate their origin, acceleration, and propagation (more).

Dr. Seo is a 2017 Korean American Day Honoree by the Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI) in Washington, DC.

HCC and Howard County agree to educational, cultural exchange with Naju City, Republic of Korea

by Howard Community College, July 12, 2016

South Korea, with the city of Naju marked (Google Maps)
South Korea, with Naju City marked (Google Maps)

Howard County Government, Howard Community College and Naju City of the Republic of Korea agreed to a cultural and educational exchange during a ceremony held July 12 at the college.

County Executive Allan H. Kittleman, Howard Community College President Kate Hetherington and officials from the Korean city government pledged to build relationships through “mutually beneficial activity, including educational exchanges, cultural exchanges, governmental collaboration and other related activities of mutual interest,” according to one of the  memorandums of understanding signed, which is for a two-year period.

“Howard County is home to a large and vibrant Korean-American population,” Kittleman said. “I value this opportunity to create an exchange program with Naju City not only because it makes sense from an educational and economic standpoint, but also because it is consistent with our commitment to celebrating diversity.”

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We waste a lot of food; In sink garbage disposals make the waste worse!

In the season just past of great foods and feasts, I’m mindful of the amount of food waste we generate. Obviously, there are huge amounts of wasted food in restaurants, and there are always leftover scraps from family dinner.  What we do with that waste has environmental consequences.

It is estimated that 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten, and perhaps 25% of household food.  Uneaten food is reportedly the single largest component of U.S. municipal solid waste landfills.  And 93% of us in Howard county have Insinkerators that flush scraps down the drain, requiring that it be processed by Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Plant or Patapsco Wastewater Treatment Plant in Baltimore City.

The Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Plant in Howard County, Maryland (photo by Atkins Global)
The Little Patuxent Water Reclamation Plant in Savage, Maryland (photo by Atkins Global)

There’s a better way.  Howard County has now made composting food scraps even easier! Residents in the collection areas can now “Feed The Green Bin” with all of their food scraps, including meat, fat, and dairy; other residents can drop off food scraps at the Alpha Ridge Landfill.  And there are efforts to divert still edible food to people and places that can use it.

What’s Going Down Your Drain
by HoCo Office of Community Sustainability — 12/21/16

Wow! We had a great response to our garbage disposal survey. Here’s what we learned…

By © S.J. de Waard / CC-BY-SA-3.0 (via Wikimedia Commons), CC BY-SA 3.0,
By © S.J. de Waard / CC-BY-SA-3.0 (via Wikimedia Commons), CC BY-SA 3.0,

93% surveyed have a garbage disposal and 3/4 use it daily or at least 2-3 times per week, primarily for plate scrapings at the end of a meal.

Why did we ask? What does this mean?

Food that is sent down the drain is very costly to process (removing excess nutrients) at the wastewater treatment facility. Also, the oils and grease from your food builds up and may cause blockages in your home.

There’s a better way to handle those food scraps – through composting! We encourage folks to sign up and participate in our curbside Feed The Green Bin food scrap program. It’s a user-friendly program, but there are still many residents who can participate, but haven’t signed up yet. We’re wondering why. Check out our how-to videos to see how EASY IT IS!

We’ve made Feeding The Green Bin even easier! Residents in the collection areas can now set out all of their food scraps for collection; including meat, fat and dairy.

Help us grow our program! Visit to sign-up.

Not in the collection area? You can still participate by dropping off food scraps at The Alpha Ridge Landfill or by composting in your backyard.

Benefits of collecting food scraps for composting
by Bureau of Environmental Services, HoCo Dept. of Public Works

    1. uk-studyReduces household trash. Food scraps are a large part of what people throw away.
    2. Reduces greenhouse gases – food scraps in the landfill create methane (a powerful greenhouse gas) as they decompose.
    3. Reduces the need for garbage disposals. By using garbage disposals to get rid of unwanted food, excess nutrients are sent to treatment plants. They are costly to process and remove (about 10 times more expensive than curbside collection and processing).
    4. Creates a useful product – compost is a great soil amendment that returns nutrients to gardens and produces healthy plants.
    5. Saves money. Removing food scraps from trash reduces trash tonnages and therefore money spent on disposal.
    6. Keeps the food scraps local. Food scraps are processed locally at Alpha Ridge Landfill into a soil amendment.
    7. Provides public awareness. Food scraps are a significant part of household waste that shouldn’t be wasted in the landfill.
    8. Promotes opportunities for local business growth which may enable food scrap collection to be expanded throughout the region.

Composting Facility at The Alpha Ridge Landfill

This state of the art pilot project is located on a ¾ acre site at the Alpha Ridge Landfill and is designed to compost yard trim and food scraps in aerated, covered piles [windrows]. The compostable material is from residents that are participating in Feed The Green Bin. This is supplemented by material directly hauled by residents and contractors to Alpha Ridge. The facility started accepting material from the pilot curbside program in March 2013.

Does the composting facility produce odors or attract pests?

No. The windrows are covered, aerated, regularly mixed and properly managed and monitored. An adjacent biofilter is used to treat collected moist air. At similar facilities, pests and odors are not a problem because the collected food scrap is ground, mixed with yard trim, and immediately covered.

Bill Nye: Fighting Food Waste

Bill Nye promotes an “eco-friendly kitchen” in this short video. He addresses the improper disposal of food waste using an Insinkerator, and discusses the problems associated with purchasing more food than is consumed.

Food Recovery Hierarchy

food-recovery-hierarchyThe Food Recovery Hierarchy prioritizes actions organizations can take to prevent and divert wasted food. Each tier of the Food Recovery Hierarchy focuses on different management strategies for your wasted food.

The top levels of the hierarchy are the best ways to prevent and divert wasted food because they create the most benefits for the environment, society and the economy.

Maryland Food Bank Farm to Food Bank Program


The Farm To Food Bank Program engages a network of farms across the state in a partnership to provide hungry Marylanders with fresh, local produce. Through a combination of field gleanings, donations, and contract growing, these farms help us supply good, nutritious food to food-insecure communities across the state.

“We’ve always had excess produce, but didn’t have a convenient way to get it to needy people. This program helped by being very easy to work with and responding quickly to our requests for pick-up.” (Participating Farm to Food Bank farmer)

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By Ms Jones from California, USA – Our (Almost Traditional) Thanksgiving Dinner, CC BY 2.0,

Guess what country this coin is from!

I am an occasional collector of a lot of different collections. I blame my antique-collecting grandparents for the gene ( One of my collections is foreign coins and currencies. I have money from 72 different countries, some just a single coin or currency, and others a real moneybag. I love the coins for the artistry, sometimes the politics, always the history and values represented. These are some of my favorites. (Click on any coin for a slideshow.)

 Captions describe the coin in my collection. Images are from World Coin Gallery: