Adam DeRose

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Ban on plastic bags in Baltimore takes effect Friday Oct. 1

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A ban on plastic bags in Baltimore takes effect Oct. 1 , 2021

Baltimore’s plastic bag ban is set to take effect on Friday Oct. 1, and after months of postponements, residents and businesses are bracing for the change.

The ordinance bans plastic bags at checkout. Alternative single-use options, such as paper bags, will be subject to a 5-cent fee, and a penny of that fee goes to the city.

Baltimore mail delivery remains among worst in nation, and officials scramble to respond

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Some customers are avoiding the Hampden post office, saying it is continually out of supplies and stamps.

Audrey Bergin was shocked when she saw a yellow postcard in her mailbox informing her that if she did not respond to a jury summons questionnaire, she faced a $1,000 fine or even jail.

The warning was the first she heard about a summons.

“That was kind of concerning,” said the Hampden resident, “and led me to think, ‘what else are we not getting in the mail?'”

Bergin is among a legion of Baltimore-area residents who continue to report lost or delayed mail more than a year after a controversial Trump-era official began major changes at the United States Postal Service. Mail delivery in the Baltimore region continues to lag the nation and is so poor that the USPS inspector general has launched a targeted investigation. Federal and local political leaders are grappling to address the concerns of their constituents and point to staffing as a major contributor.

Getting edgy to promote vaccines: The city health department’s social media campaign takes off.

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The Baltimore City Health Department’s series of memes promoting vaccinations have swept the internet.

Ginger ale can’t cure COVID-19.

That message went viral this month thanks in large part to the Baltimore City Health Department’s social media strategy, which has included a series of attention-grabbing memes designed to promote vaccinations.

“We really touched on something that a lot of people, either seriously or not seriously, really do think will prevent COVID, because they do make you feel better,” said department communications director Adam Abadir about the “Ginger ale can’t cure COVID, Derrick” meme.

All or nothing: Two-thirds of Baltimore restaurants get zilch from federal relief fund

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Faidley’s restaurant in Lexington Market was shut out of federal restaurant relief funds, while Phillip’s Seafood received $5 million.

After a shutdown in the spring of 2020, the Golden West Café in Hampden muscled through the pandemic by adding outdoor seating, increasing wages and buying protective equipment for staff.

Composting expands in Baltimore with new drop-off pilot program

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Baltimore residents can drop food scraps at bins at a city collection facility on Sisson Street and four other locations.

Baltimore residents can now bring their food scraps to compost bins at each of the city’s five Department of Public Works citizen drop-off sites as part of a new pilot program expanding composting options across the city.

Fruit and vegetable scraps, eggshells, grains and bread, coffee grounds and tea bags will be accepted at the bins, officials said.

Walking, biking and riding to Druid Park: “Complete Streets” planning gets underway

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Baltimore transportation officials are working on a series of Complete Streets projects around Druid Hill Park.

Baltimore is reimagining what the busy thoroughfares running along Druid Hill Park could look like in the future and asking for residents’ input to make the park friendlier for bicycles, scooters and pedestrians.

The Druid Park Lake Drive Complete Streets planning and concept design project is mapping out neighborhood priorities as the city transportation department works to improve the roadway for all types of transportation.

With underground water storage tanks installed, planning for Druid Hill Park shoreline amenities gets underway

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The construction of new underground reservoir tanks at Druid Hill Park is near completion, so planning of shoreline amenities can begin.

As a massive reconstruction of a Baltimore reservoir at Druid Hill Park nears completion, the project is set to move to a new phase: reimagining a destination shoreline with artwork, swimming, biking and other amenities for city residents.

In the meantime, Baltimoreans and commuters can expect a reprieve from construction and roadwork before the next stage gets underway.

In Waverly, hopes are high that Red Emma’s will boost a tired commercial strip

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One of two Waverly buildings that will be home to a relocated Red Emma’s.

The impending move of a beloved Baltimore bookstore and restaurant to the Waverly neighborhood is raising hopes of revival along the tired Greenmount Avenue commercial corridor and nearby blocks.

Red Emma’s, the anarchist-inspired cooperative, is purchasing a pair of vacant buildings to create what members and founders hope will be a “permanent home” as it leaves the Mount Vernon location it has occupied since 2018.

In preparation, Red Emma’s staff have been reaching out to their new community, learning what their neighbors want and how the cooperative can contribute to a sense of place. Co-founder Kate Khatib said the pandemic’s effects on the restaurant and bookshop’s operations gave member-owners an opportunity to re-evaluate its mission and future.

“We were working hard to really make this business successful, but we were not leaving ourselves enough time to do the deep community-focused work that Red Emma’s is known for and what was really important to us,” Khatib said.

You have cicada questions (like ‘How many should my dog eat?’). We have cicada answers.

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A handful of freshly emerged cicada nymphs. They must emerge in enormous numbers to overcome predators. (credit: M.J. Raupp)

Billions of cicadas are ready to emerge from underground to take part in a noisy mating ritual 17 years in the making.

Experts are busy helping Maryland residents prepare for this rare phenomenon. Here are answers to some of the most common questions:

Porch Concerts filling the gap for live music in Baltimore during pandemic

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Brandon Woody plays trumpet at a Charles Village porch concert. Photo credit: Philip Muriel.

Bassist Ed Hrybyk had been playing in two weekly shows before the pandemic hit, but with restaurant and venue closures and social distancing, he had to get creative to keep performing and earning a living.

After experimenting, he launched the Charles Village Porch Concerts last April, playing shows with other local musicians from his North Calvert Street front porch for tips.

Early in the pandemic, “I started doing live streams, [but] it rubbed me the wrong way,” Hrybyk said. “It’s a totally different ballgame when you’re playing for different people.”

Neighbors found the concerts a welcomed respite from the pandemic and Hrybyk says it built community on his block in a way that respected government restrictions and health precautions.

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