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For Immediate Release
March 25, 2014
Contact: Kristen McCormick, 443-285-3835
volunteers@gentlegiantsdrafthorserescue.com

Two Horse Rescue Organizations to Join Forces 
As Part of ASPCA's 'Help a Horse Day' on April 26 

MOUNT AIRY, Md. – Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue of Mount Airy, Md., and Little Longears Miniature Donkey Rescue of Westminster, Md., will work together to support “Help a Horse Day” on April 26.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is sponsoring the national event, which offers a chance to win one of five $10,000 grants to help protect horses. To take part in the day's events, Gentle Giants and Little Longears will host a chance for community members to see draft horses and tiny donkeys on the Southern States, Mount Airy, Md., parking lot. The hosts will have popcorn, cotton candy and face painting at no charge to those who attend the event. The organizations also will provide information on how the community can help the draft horse rescue and donkey rescue.

“Help a Horse Day is an event that brings our community closer to understanding the work we do in equine rescue, and the overwhelming need for it within our local area,” said Christine Hajek, founder and executive director of Gentle Giants Draft Horse Rescue. “It’s a great way for whole family to get engaged and involved. Gentle Giants is excited to be working with other groups in our area who share our compassion.”

When: April 26 from 10a.m.-2 p.m.
Where: Southern States parking lot in Mount Airy, MD
Address: 1312 S Main St. Mount Airy, MD 

This nationwide competition is for equine rescues and sanctuaries to raise awareness about the lifesaving work they do year-round to care for at-risk horses in their community who have been abused or neglected. Horses have been central to the ASPCA’s work since its founding 148 years ago, when Henry Bergh stopped a cart driver from beating his horse, resulting in the first successful arrest for the mistreatment of a horse on April 26, 1866, Hajek said. 

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Maryland Bozzuto Residents to Dine Green on St. Patrick's Day

by

Louise Harris

St. Patrick's Day is the traditional day when people celebrate the Irish in them by dressing in green clothes and drinking green beer. This year, Bozzuto residents can take that green one step further by getting their parties catered by restaurants that ARE green. In other words, they are certified to protect the environment. And, they don't take too much of your hard-earned green either.

The Green Restaurant Association certifies eating establishments for their sustainability, energy use and products they choose. In Maryland, eight restaurants have been certified as environmentally friendly. They are all over the state, and four have a two-star rating while four have a three-star rating. For example, Chef Expressions in Timonium has a two-star rating, meaning it has reduced energy, water and chemical use. It doesn't use as many disposable products, but it didn't get any points for using environmentally friendly building products. Get the menu from http://www.chefsexpressions.com/. Chef Expressions is located at 9526 Deereco Road in Timonium, about 40 minutes from Bozzuto homes in Ellicott City. Phone number is 410-561-2433.

La Prima Catering has received a three-star rating by Green Restaurant Association. The restaurant has gone further than Chef Expressions in reducing its energy and water use, waste production and use of disposable products. Although La Prima Catering in Columbia, Md., also has not gotten any points for use of environmentally friendly building materials, it has worked hard in reducing its carbon footprint and being a good steward for the planet. Its address is 10983 Guilford Road, Columbia, about 15 minutes from Ellicott City. Visit http://www.laprimafoodgroup.com/ or call 301-953-2484 for more information. 

For those party-goers near the Chesapeake Bay, Herrington On The Bay is the place to be this St. Patrick's Day for a green restaurant. It is located in Rose Haven, Md., about three hours from Ellicott City. The restaurant also received a two-star rating for its sustainability actions and reduced energy and water use. This is important to protect the bay. The address is 7151 Lake Shore Drive in Rose Haven, MD, http://www.herringtononthebay.com/. Phone number is 301-855-8435.

For a complete list of restaurants, visit http://www.dinegreen.com.  


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Schools Drive Teen Parents Insane

This week, what has driven me insane with raising my teenagers is the schools. They are so bureaucratic and follow rules to the letter. I have three different children with three different challenges. 

My oldest son is a low achiever. He does not like school at all. He is quite capable to get Bs and Cs if he did the minimum amount of work, but he doesn't get the point in sitting in class and doing the work. Thus, he often refuses to attend school or if he does go, he doesn't do anything in class. Sometimes, he falls asleep. I get calls daily from his administrators and teachers looking for ways of addressing his lack of motivation to get a high school diploma. Even though I tell him he needs a diploma to get a job, he doesn't listen. I have tried rewards and setting goals, which psychologists recommend, but it doesn't help. Lately, I think he has created a plan for himself, but he refuses to tell me what it is, and as far as I can tell, he isn't following it. 

The middle child has been to 10 schools because of his attention-deficit hyperactive disorder and overall behavior. His disease has been a contention with me and the schools throughout the years. Bureaucrats have to follow individual education rules and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Sometimes, I think administrators are robots and don't listen to the parents who know their children best. Over the years, administrators have placed my son in the wrong program, and short of filing a lawsuit, I have failed to get him removed from those programs. 

My daughter is gifted and talented. She often isn't challenged enough or comes home from school feeling overwhelmed because she has too much homework that she doesn't think she'll finish. She almost always got her homework done within an hour after I spent a good hour trying to get her to be calm and not to worry so much. Once she has the confidence to do the work, she breezes through the workload. This is a challenge for me who constantly reminds her to enjoy what she is doing and do her best. 

My advice is on days that are especially bothersome, drink a glass of wine to relax and not think about school. That's what I do.



Bike Enthusiasts Hope to Ride New Trail

by Louise Harris

Elkridge residents will have their chance to hear the advantages and disadvantages to having a mountain bike course at Rockburn Branch Park during a meeting at the park on April 7.

Mountain bike riders have petitioned Howard County Department of Parks and Recreation to allow a course at Rockburn Branch Park. The course would be funded through grants and private donations and involve dirt and rocks. Volunteers will be needed to maintain and design the course, said Jon Posner, a spokesman from Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts, who presented the county with the proposal. 

The hearing on the proposal was tabled March 16 due to concerns of the public attending the meeting and will be heard April 7, said Jennie DeArmey, park operations superintendent for Parks and Recreation.

“We hope, by having the on-site meeting to show those who come where the course will be in relation to the neighborhoods will help to alleviate residents' concerns,” DeArmey said.

The majority of concerns relate to increased traffic and activity at the course that they believe will be undesirable, she said. Other concerns involve lack of notice about the project, Posner said.

MORE chose Rockburn because its close to Patapsco Valley State Park and has a reputation for mountain biking. Rockburn already has plenty of parking, water and bathrooms. In addition, county parks in general house soccer and baseball fields, tennis and basketball courts and disc golf courses, so they also should have bike trails, Posner said. Having a facility where mountain biking can occur is necessary to provide a safe and controlled environment for teaching basic skills.

“Dozens of riders have expressed that they wish they'd had such a facility when they were learning to ride. It accelerates the learning curve and provides a safer environment,” Posner said.

If the course is approved, MORE would promote camps and classes to teach basic bike handling skills and trail etiquette. The course would become a tool to integrate mountain bike user groups with other park user groups.

The benefits to the course would include offering another activity for children to get exercise, being a family-oriented activity and allowing all users to improve their mountain bike skills, DeArmey said. She encouraged all residents to come to the meeting held at the Rockburn Branch Park Pavillion on the Montgomery Road side of the park on April 7 at 6:30 p.m. MORE and staff members will be at the meeting to show interested individuals the proposed site and discuss any concerns.

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Lawsuit Claims Company Sells Timeshares Using Illegal Practices

by Louise Harris

Berkley Group Inc. of Florida allegedly violates federal and Florida consumer laws when it tries to get people to purchase timeshares, according to a lawsuit filed recently.

According to the complaint, Berkley Group violated the Telephone Communications Protection Act and Florida's Unfair Debt Collections Practices Act during the periods 2011 through 2013. Specifically, the complaint alleges unfair debt collection practices, use of recorded voices multiple times to entice plaintiffs to buy the timeshares and invasion of privacy. Plaintiffs obtained the Finn Law Group to represent their interests in the lawsuit. Proper notification was given to the Berkley Group

After being advised that the Finn Law Group represented the timeshare owners, Tatyana Yeremenko, Yuriv Yeremenko and Karen Davis, and to direct all correspondence through the law firm, the company ignored the repeated requests and continued to contact clients directly to try to , an invasion of privacy.

“Our main goal is to get the clients released from what we see as an unfair lifelong contract obtained via deceptive business and sales practices,” said Michael Finn, senior partner of Finn Law Group P.A. of Largo, Fla.

The Yeremenkos purchased a timeshare unit in Grandview Resort in Las Vegas. Davis bought a timeshare unit at Vacation Village at Parkway resort in Kissimmee, Fla. After purchase, timeshare owners were called using an automated dialing system to collect debts and harassed the plaintiffs into either paying the debt or continue to receive the debt collection calls.

The lawsuit, Yermenko, et al. vs. The Berkley Group Inc., et al., case No. CACE-13-028175, was filed Dec. 31, 2013, in the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in Broward County, Fla. The Berkley Group has not filed its response, said Finn, but he expects a motion to dismiss to be filed soon. If the court denies the motion to dismiss, Berkley Group would have to file an official response to the allegations.

Pattern of Consumer Complaints

Because of a pattern of allegedly fraudulent business practices, the Better Business Bureau has revoked its accreditation of Berkley Group in November 2013. It cited a pattern of complaints from consumers alleging high pressure and misleading sales tactics from Vacation Village Resorts, which is owned by Berkley Group Inc. 

Consumers said they were not free to leave timeshare presentation after several hours and the sales representative created a false sense of urgency to buy timeshares. More than 200 complaints have been filed with the BBB against the company.

However, the company said it does not show any evidence of misrepresentation or wrong doing and will not release timeshare owners from obligations. Berkley Group said representatives share a meal with families invited to resorts. They provide all details of ownership programs, but they are not pressured to sign.

Consumer Groups, FTC Recommend Caution

Both consumer groups, such as Public Interest Research Group, and the Federal Trade Commission, urge consumers to beware of companies like Berkley Group. FTC has a pamphlet on its Web site that gives basic information regarding timeshares and vacation plans. The tip sheet offers what consumers need to know before buying timeshares and when they want to sell them.

The agency has sued at least 10 companies for illegal robocalling, said Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at PIRG.

“Some timeshares are good products, but most aren't. That's why they are often sold with a lot of high pressure, deceptive tactics,” he said. Consumers should not buy during the sales presentation and think through the purchase.

Visit www.ftc.gov, www.finnlawgroup.com, www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/business-reviews/resort-accommodations/vacation-village-resorts-in-fort-lauderdale-fl-4003645#sthas.TndJuR4B.dpuf.

The plaintiffs seek monetary damages and attorney fees, Finn said. 

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