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AS ROAD DEATHS SOAR, STATE AIMS TO GET TOUGHER ON DRIVERS: Maryland is on pace to reach 600 fatalities on state roads this year, a number not seen in nearly two decades, according to state transportation officials. A state work group appointed by Gov. Wes Moore (D) is expected to make recommendations to the General Assembly later this year to improve highway safety, especially in work zones. This year the state has reported 804 vehicle crashes in work zones. Bryan P. Sears/Maryland Matters.

FOOD INSECURITY IN MO CO EXCEEDS PANDEMIC LEVELS: Even as the pandemic has waned, the number of people who are food insecure in Montgomery County hasn’t abated, county officials and local food bank operators say. While some residents were able to recover a sense of stability as employment picked up, they soon found that the rising costs of food and other expenses resulting from a turbulent economy meant their paychecks didn’t stretch as far as they used to. Julie Rasicot/MoCo360.

BMORE’S ACTING POLICE COMMISH IS CLOSER TO GETTING THE JOB: After a three-hour hearing Thursday evening, a Baltimore City Council committee unanimously approved Mayor Brandon Scott’s pick to lead the Baltimore Police Department, longtime veteran Rich Worley. The City Council is expected to take a full vote on Oct. 2. Ben Conarck/The Baltimore Banner.

BMORE’S FIRE CHIEF NOMINEE MOVES TO FULL COUNCIL VOTE: A Baltimore City Council committee advanced Mayor Brandon Scott’s nomination for fire chief Wednesday in an expeditious hearing that touched on staffing shortages, equipment delays and strained emergency responses. The committee unanimously approved acting Fire Chief James Wallace’s nomination with one member absent. The full 15-member council is expected to take confirmation votes for him and the acting police commissioner at its Oct. 2 meeting. Adam Willis/The Baltimore Banner

BLUEPRINT BOARD DIRECTOR IS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT STAFFING: The Blueprint for Maryland’s Future Accountability and Implementation Board could have most of its staff filled this year, according to an update Thursday from the board’s executive director. Rachel Hise said, during an online session, that staff received at least 175 applications for five education policy analyst positions. William J. Ford/Maryland Matters

LAWMAKERS PUSH FOR BAY TO JOIN NATIONAL PARK SERVICE: The Chesapeake Bay could see a boost in status under legislation introduced this summer to designate the region as a National Recreation Area. Sponsored by Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Rep. John Sarbanes, the Chesapeake National Recreation Area Act would allow the National Park Service to oversee the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which covers over 60,000 square miles across six states and Washington, D.C. Shifra Dayak of Capital News Service/Maryland Reporter.

MoCo IG TO INVESTIGATE HARASSMENT CHARGES AGAINST PRINCIPAL: Montgomery County’s inspector general will investigate the school system’s handling of misconduct complaints related to a middle school principal, according to a letter sent to the school board president Wednesday. County Inspector General Megan Davey Limarzi said her office will open two inquiries: The first will scrutinize the school district’s handling of misconduct complaints against school system employees. The second will look into all allegations of misconduct by former Farquhar Middle School principal Joel Beidleman received by July 2023 and any previous allegations that were not investigated. Nicole Asbury and Alexandra Robbins/The Washington Post

EDUCATION SECRETARY SAYS SCHOOLS NEED MORE COLLEGE COUNSELORS: U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona highlighted a national shortage of college counselors in schools in an appearance with Gov. Wes Moore (D) on Thursday in Baltimore. A former Montgomery County Public Schools teacher and counselor at the National Association of College Admission Counseling’s annual meeting said she typically had a caseload of 250 students. Dillan Mullan/The Baltimore Sun

MO CO TEACHER VACANCIES ARE HIGHEST IN SPECIAL ED: Montgomery County Public Schools continues to struggle with staffing special education positions across the district. Some parents say the teacher shortages and related breakdowns in communication are cause for serious concern. Em Espey/MoCo360.

ANNE ARUNDEL LAUNCHES PROGRAM TO TARGET INVASIVE VINE THREATENING TREES: Since Earl “Bud” Reaves began working for Anne Arundel County government in 2008,  the aptly nicknamed county forester has been raising concerns to his peers about an overwhelming quantity of invasive vines strangling and killing the tree population. With a push from a concerned resident, Reaves finally has been given the go-ahead to enlist county employees in tackling the problem. Dana Muno/Capital Gazette

11-YEAR ZONING DISPUTE OVER ROYAL FARMS LIVES ON: Residents say a 24-hour gas station and convenience store near a library and an elementary school is still wrong for their corner of northeast Baltimore the site stands vacant, while the lawsuit that several area community associations eventually filed is still alive. Fern Shen/Baltimore Brew.

COMMENTARY: STUDENT DATA AND PRIVACY NEED MORE PROTECTION: Student information is some of the most valuable data in the world. This is one reason cybercriminals target public schools. James D. Cornelius/The Baltimore Banner

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