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2014-2015 Washington County Teacher of the Year Finalists Named

by Admin 27. March 2014 04:59
Finalists for the 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year have been announced by Washington County Public Schools (WCPS). Each of the five finalists will be reviewed by a judging committee, including interviews and classroom observations. The Teacher of the Year will be announced and honored at the annual dinner and recognition on April 23, 2014, at Fountain Head Country Club in Hagerstown. The program is sponsored by the Hagerstown/Washington County Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Here are the finalists:
  • Carolyn Holcomb – Western Heights Middle School – 7th and 8th grade merit science teacher – Carolyn has taught for twelve years, two of those for WCPS. She has been a guest speaker at professional development seminars and workshops and a Honeywell scholarship recipient for NASA Space Camp. Outside of school, Carolyn has limited her community activities to a church bereavement group so she can focus more time on her students’ needs. Before arriving in Washington County, she had been involved in the Red Cross, crisis pregnancy counseling, church and youth activities. Carolyn says, “I have to convince my students from day one that I offer them something that will allow them to accomplish their goals, and my planning focuses all year on keeping them engaged and learning.”
  • Sally Irwin – Washington County Technical High School – Project Lead the Way Biomedical Science teacher – Sally has taught for ten years in Washington County. She has been a Teacher of the Year finalist for three consecutive years and has received nominations the past five years. Sally’s program was nominated for the 2014 American School Board Journal Magna Award and received honors from the Maryland State Department of Education for Outstanding Career and Technology Program in 2011. She is a frequent guest speaker at elementary and middle school STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) nights and has been part of biomedical science presentations at the state and university level. Aside from activities in her field, Sally was a member of the North Hagerstown High School athletic boosters from 2009 – 2013. Sally says, “The project-based learning approach in my classroom allows students to make real-world connections to the biomedical field. I love to see their spark for biomedical science grow.”
  • Courtney Leard – Fountaindale Elementary School – 2nd grade teacher – Courtney has taught for twelve years, five of those for WCPS. She was a 2013 recipient of Governor O’Malley’s Explore and Restore Your Schoolshed Rehabilitation grant, received honorable mention for the Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators in 2013 and has been a recipient of the Boeing Educator in Space, Space Camp grant. Courtney’s community involvement includes volunteer work for her church and the Antietam Watershed Alliance, along with contributions to her undergraduate alma mater, Mary Baldwin College, in the areas of admissions and student recruitment. Courtney says, “I maintain a vibrant, respectful, student-centered learning environment in which much is expected of my students, and where success continues to build every day.”
  • Gretchen Smith – North High Hagerstown High School – Social studies teacher – Gretchen has worked for WCPS for 16 years. She is a past finalist for Teacher of the Year and is active in Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, which promotes professional and personal  growth in women educators and excellence in education. Her community activity has been focused on various roles at the Hancock Methodist Church. Gretchen says, “I want all my students to enter a warm environment of respect where they feel safe to take risks and learn the craft of the historian through reading, writing, role-playing, cooperative learning and technology.”
  • Ashley Wisner – Boonsboro High School – Social studies teacher – Ashley has taught five years for WCPS and received her National Board Certification in Social Studies in 2013. She has served as coach of Boonsboro High’s We the People team for the past four years, leading them to district championships each year and state runner-up finishes three of those years.  Ashley’s activities outside of school include ongoing work on behalf of the Frostburg University Alumni Association, contributions to homecoming and other school/community events in Boonsboro, and the coordination of efforts and resources to raise awareness and support a student critically injured in a car accident in 2011. Ashley says, “I provide a learning environment that is rich in student-to-student interaction, lively class discussion and debate, and filled with passion for learning and content knowledge.”

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General | Events | Education

Manager's Corner™: How Organized is Your Leadership?

by Admin 20. March 2014 09:47


by Liz Weber, CMC, CSP

How often have you walked into a bricks and mortar business and been completely disappointed? The products were not displayed logically or conveniently. The physical building, parking lot, and retail space were not well-lit and were noticably dirty. The staff didn't interact seamlessly - if at all - to help you. The entire experience made you want to leave as soon as possible - never to return.

On the flip side, how often have you been noticeably impressed with a business' product displays, physical cleanliness, and obvious customer and team focus? I'm hoping you've experienced more of the latter than the former. But more importantly, I'm hoping your business didn't pop into another reader's mind as s/he was visualizing examples of less-than-impressive businesses.

How people view your business is a reflection of your leadership

Whether we're talking bricks-and-mortar businesses, retail operations, service firms, or pure web-based businesses, your company's organization is a reflection of your leadership - or lack of it.

  • When your team members lack basic customer service skills, it's a reflection of your leadership.
  • When your team members are not prepared for client meetings, it's a reflection of your leadership.
  • When your team members don't present a positive image of you or your business to your customers, it's a reflection of your leadership.
  • When your physical business structure is disorganized and ill-kept, it's a reflection of your leadership.
  • When your on-line presence is disorganized and not up-to-date, it's a reflection of your leadership.
  • When your team members are frustrated, unmotivated, and underperforming, it's a reflection of your leadership.
  • When your business has a limited repeat customer ratio, it's a reflection of your leadership.

 

Do your job and clean-up your business.

When your time is spent correcting mistakes and apologizing to customers, your success is limited. So, do what you need to do: clean-up your business by cleaning up your leadership.

1.    Identify opportunities to improve - Pick just one item that is causing customers frustration, and fix it. Once this one item starts to get traction with the team, identify another problem and fix it.

2.    Communicate the new expectations of your team AND yourself - Don't expect the team to change if you don't.

3.    Focus on your customer instead of doing tasks - Don't allow yourself to become so busy being busy you forget your customers. Monitor what your customers are experiencing.  Are your team's interactions with them reflecting your business (and your leadership) positively or negatively? Are the customers' experiences easy or are they painful?

 

As the saying goes, "Disorder is disadvantage." If you want an advantage in business, organize your leadership.

Copyright MMXIV - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP* - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com

* Liz is one of only 12 people in the U.S. to hold both the Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) and Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designations; the highest earned designations in two different professions.

 

 

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Let’s Move Washington County Business Forward

by Admin 29. January 2014 07:35

 

It’s a New Year and we want to help your business reach for new opportunities. Washington County Department of Business Development and our partners provide a number of services to assist in the retention and expansion of Washington County’s business community.  No question or request is too big or small --we want our local business leaders to know staff is ready to support your needs. Need help navigating incentives, infrastructure or permitting? Give us a call and let DBD staff guide you through County services.

 

If it’s media coverage you’re looking for, contact our Department of Public Relations and Community affairs. From press release drafting through distribution and outreach, our staff are committed to helping you share the good news. Have a new product launch, current promotion or a local team sponsorship? Let us help you get the word out.  Through our membership with PRWeb, you can amplify the reach of your announcements. PRWeb gets your news distributed to every major news site and search engine on the web and in front of consumers and journalists.

 

For businesses interested in Washington County Department of Business Development information and resources, contact us on Facebook at Washington County, Maryland Department of Business Development and Twitter at @WashCoBizDev, email at edcinfo@hagerstownedc.org or call: 240-313-2280

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General | Business

Update on Retirement Plans and Same-Sex Marriages

by Admin 14. October 2013 11:53

In our July blog post, Retirement Plans and Same-Sex Marriages, we discussed the Supreme Court’s ruling that made the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional.  At that time, we indicated that we were waiting for future guidance with respect to many issues.  We have received guidance on the important issue of whether a same-sex marriage is defined by the location of the marriage celebration, current domicile of the couple or the location of the employer.

 

As we indicated in July, DOMA stated that the word “marriage” means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.  As DOMA has been determined to be unconstitutional, tax-qualified retirement plans must now treat the relationship of same-sex married couples as a marriage and each party to that marriage as a spouse in order to maintain the plans’ tax-qualified status.

 

In Revenue Ruling 2013-17, we received guidance with respect to whether the definition of a marriage is based on the place of the marriage celebration, place of the couple’s domicile or their place of employment.  Each department within the federal government has developed their own definition with respect to this issue.  Luckily, the Internal Revenue Service, Department of Treasury and Department of Labor which are the agencies regulating tax-qualified retirement plans have adopted the same definition of marriage.  These agencies have determined that a marriage is based on the location of the marriage celebration.  Therefore, if the state or country where a marriage occurs issues same-sex marriage licenses, the status of that marriage for retirement plan purposes will not change if the couple relocates to a location that does not issue same-sex marriage licenses.

 

We still await future guidance from regulatory agencies:

 

-          The effective date of the new ruling with respect to tax-qualified retirement plans.  In other words, will the Supreme Court ruling have a retroactive impact?

-          Plan amendment requirements that will address the definition of a participant’s spouse.

 

As a reminder, there are several retirement plan operational issues that impact a participant’s spouse.  Processes must be developed to address the following issues that may be applicable to your plan.

 

-          Survivor benefits for plans that provide a qualified joint and survivor form of payment.

-          Waiver of death benefits that are automatically provided to a participant’s spouse.

-          Rollover of death benefits by a participant’s spouse.

-          Hardship distributions used to pay for a spouse’s medical, tuition or funeral expenses.

-          The ability of a participant’s spouse to defer the payment of death benefits.

-          Entitlement to benefits as the result of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

-          Spousal consents for loans and distributions.

 

We will keep you informed as we receive future guidance with respect to the impact of same-sex marriages on tax-qualified retirement plans. 

For more solutions and insights to help better manage your employees and business, check out our Human Capitalizing blog at http://blog.cbiz.com or follow CBIZ Retirement Plans on Twitter --@CBIZ_Retirement.

 

Article written by Bill Karbon, Director of Compliance for CBIZ Retirement Plan Services. He can be reached via wkarbon@cbiz.com.

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Washington County Emergency Management to Host Community Emergency Response Training

by Admin 18. September 2013 05:26

Hagerstown, Md. (September 17, 2013) – Washington County Emergency Management invites the surrounding community to register for the free Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) program being held September 27-28, 2013, at the Washington County Division of Emergency Services Building, 16232 Elliott Parkway, Williamsport, Md.

 

The lecture portion of training held September 27 from 6-9 p.m. will cover eight modules including: 

·         Disaster Preparedness 

·         Fire Suppression

·         Medical Operations I and II

·         Light Search and Rescue

·         Psychology 

·         Animals in Disaster

·         Terrorism Awareness

 

 

The September 28 class held 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. will incorporate hands-on activities that bring to life each of the lecture modules. Class attendees will practice light search and rescue techniques, execute treatment strategies for victims and properly extinguish a live fire.  

Both lecture and hands-on classes are required to complete the course and a certificate will be issued upon completion. Trained citizens can often supplement response capability in the event of a disaster.

Following completion of the course, individuals will be better prepared to respond to the aftermath of a disaster

To register, contact Verna Brown at 240-313-4364 or vbrown@washco-md.net.

 

For additional information, contact Public Relations and Community Affairs Manager James Jenkins at 240-313-2384 

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Do You Need a Business Coach?

by Admin 5. September 2013 11:17


According to an American Management Association survey, there are several key services that speak to the business community about surviving a slow economy better than others. One of those services is business coaching.  A business coach is a person who wants to help business leaders and businesses succeed. A business coach knows this passion and desire to help is essential in building a sense of trust and partnership with a business leader.

A business coach oftentimes takes on the role of a mentor and helps a business leader or owner formulate a Vision and Strategic Plan to set the expectations for the business to profitably succeed. A business coach can assist with developing employee incentive and benefit programs that can minimize employee turnover and reduce operating costs. A business coach can work with the individual business owner to develop a set of Income, Lifestyle, Wealth and Equity (ILWE) goals to achieve through his business or potential business. The most important job of the business coach is then holding the business owner or leader accountable for attaining those goals mentioned above. This will require having an honest conversation with the business owner or leader in a caring, thoughtful manner –these conversations are called "carefrontations;" but if the trust is built, it becomes less difficult.

Business leaders and owners today are looking for leadership, relationship and opportunity. Business coaches follow well-established discovery processes that will help you, the business owner or leader, have increased confidence in a business coach’s ability to relate to their situation and help them make progress.

Over the next several months, you will be presented with a series of articles in which I discuss “8 Reasons Why You Need a Business Coach”; “The Role of the Business Coach”; and lastly, “Why You Should Get a Business Coach”!

Remember, if running a business were easy, then everybody would be doing it! Creating the right game plan for success and profitability is challenging, requires hard work, and requires putting the right team together - a business coach can help you create and develop that winning team!

Submitted by Jeff Rock

jeffrock60@yahoo.com

Jeff Rock Consulting, LLC

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Retirement Plans and Same-Sex Marriages

by Admin 16. July 2013 04:41

 

As has been widely addressed in the news, on June 26, 2013 the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional.  The Court’s decision is far reaching and has a significant impact on the operation of tax-qualified retirement plans. We are writing to alert you of the issues resulting from the decision.

DOMA stated that the word “marriage” means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word “spouse” refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife.  As DOMA has been determined to be unconstitutional , tax-qualified retirement plans must now treat the relationship of same-sex married couples as a marriage and each party to that marriage as a spouse  in order to maintain the plans’ tax-qualified status.

As the states do not have uniform rules regarding same-sex marriages, the Internal Revenue Service and Department of Labor will look to applicable state law to determine the marital status of individuals.  Currently, 12 states and the District of Columbia issue same-sex marriage licenses.

The following are issues requiring future guidance from regulatory agencies:

 

-          The status of same-sex marriages where the couple moves to a state that does not issue same-sex marriage licenses

-          The treatment of plan sponsors with employees in more than one state

-          The effective date of the new ruling with respect to tax-qualified retirement plans.

-          Plan amendment requirements that will address the definition of a participant’s spouse.

 

There are several operational issues that impact a participant’s spouse.  Among the issues that are impacted by this ruling are:

 

-          Survivor benefits for plans that provide a qualified joint and survivor form of payment.

-          Waiver of death benefits that are automatically provided to a participant’s spouse.

-          Rollover of death benefits by a participant’s spouse.

-          Hardship distributions used to pay for a spouse’s medical, tuition, or funeral expenses.

-          The ability of a participant’s spouse to defer the payment of death benefits.

-          Entitlement to benefits as the result of a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).

-          Spousal consents for loans and distributions.

 

In order to prepare for the new requirements brought about by the Supreme Court decision, we suggest that plan sponsors develop a process to gather same-sex marriage information (if not currently done).

Stay tuned for updates as future guidance is provided with this far reaching Supreme Court decision. 

For more solutions and insights to help better manage your employees and business, check out Human Capitalizing at http://blog.cbiz.com or follow CBIZ Retirement Plans on Twitter-@CBIZ_Retirement.

 

Article submitted by Bill Karbon, Director of Compliance for CBIZ Retirement Plan Services.

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Summer Heat Preparedness for the 4th of July Holiday

by Admin 3. July 2013 10:13

 

Hagerstown, Md. (July 3, 2013) – Washington County Emergency Management Department, in partnership with the Washington County Severe Weather Task Force and the National Weather Service, would like to urge citizens to take extra precautions as the temperature rises. 

Summer weather conditions can cause health related concerns for the very young and elderly.  Here are a few helpful tips that can prevent a heat-related emergency:

·         Eat a variety of fruits with higher water content such as watermelon, pineapple, grapes, strawberries, peaches, and apples as they will help to supply needed body fluids to prevent dehydration.

·         Dress in light-weight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

·         Try to avoid the mid-day heat and do not engage in vigorous activity during the hottest time of the day between noon and 4 p.m.

·         If possible, use air conditioners or try to visit air-conditioned places such as senior centers, shopping malls, libraries, and theatres.

·         Drink plenty of liquids, eight or more 8 ounce glasses per day and avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.

For more information on this topic and other emergency preparedness tips visit:

American Red Cross:  http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Can-You-Recognize-a-Heat-Emergency

National Weather Service: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/heat/index.shtml

Federal Emergency Management Agency: http://www.ready.gov/heat

Washington County Emergency Services: http://www.washco-md.net/EmergencyServices/index.shtm

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Leadership Made E.A.S.Y. eZine: It Doesn't Take Much to Say Thanks

by Admin 19. June 2013 07:48

I again heard a group of managers raise a common problem during a training program this past week, "How are we supposed to keep our employees motivated? We don't have any money for bonuses, raises, or gifts, and we can't afford to buy them stuff out of our own pockets. Why should we have to do that anyway? How can we blame them for not wanting to work any harder than necessary when they're not going to get paid for it?"

Yikes!  In addition to showing very little imagination, there are so many things wrong with their thinking it's frightening. If that's the way they're thinking (and probably behaving), no wonder their employees don't want to "give" anymore than the bare minimum.  

Ok, let me start at the beginning of their comment and break it down piece-by-piece so you learn what I shared with them:

First - "How are we supposed to keep our employees motivated?"  This is a great question and one that every supervisor and manager should be asking him/herself on a regular basis. However, there is no one answer. The answer to what will motivate your employees is unique to your team. What do they really want, need, expect in order to do their jobs?  What would make them feel appreciated, respected, part of the team, etc? You'd be amazed that often, even though your employees complain and claim they need more money, they don't. They simply want to be appreciated. A few years ago I was training several groups of mid-level managers, as well as the senior leadership team. I asked each of the mid-level groups, "If the senior leadership team could do anything for you - other than giving your raises or bonuses - what would you like them to do to help keep you motivated?" Without exception, every group said, "Say 'Thank you' once in awhile."   When I asked the senior management team, "What do you think your mid-level managers want from you - other than raises or bonuses?" The senior team said things such as: new equipment, additional vending machines in the cafeteria, longer break times, more flexible work schedules, etc.  When I popped up the slide that said, "Say 'Thank you' once in awhile" they were stunned into silence. It doesn't take much.

Second - "We don't have any money for bonuses, raises, or gifts, and we can't afford to buy them stuff out of our own pockets. Why should we have to do that anyway?" Every thinking adult should realize the economy is still unsettled and budgets are tight. So first, have a serious conversation with your team on the realities of your organization's budget situation. If there is NO money for raises, bonuses, etc, there is NO money for these things - period. Don't hide it. However, if they want to stick around and be a part of your team when things DO turnaround - great! You'd love to have them be a part of your team. The choice is theirs. In the meantime, they need to stop grumbling about their financial situation. If they don't like it - leave. However, it also doesn't take much if ANY money to show your employees you care and you appreciate what they do for you and the organization. Buying pizza for the team once a month won't break the budget for most managers.  Creating a team "kitty jar" that everyone contributes to when someone does something cool is another way to recognize the good work of other team members.  You and any team member can toss in coins or dollars whenever you or they see someone do something special for a customer or team member. Then when the kitty is "plump,"  buy subs, pizza, or ice cream for the team.  Or, do what I've done before and just did recently, draw stupid little stars on sticky notes and give them out to team members after they've helped you meet a critical deadline or WOW a client.  These darn little stars are a testament to my poor art skills, but they make every single team member smile, laugh, and know I've noticed their extra effort. And, my team keeps them posted on their computer monitors. Are they silly? Absolutely. Are they cheap? Yep. Do they make the team smile and know I appreciate their efforts. Yep.  It doesn't take much.

and,

Third - "How can we blame them for not wanting to work any harder than necessary when they're not going to get paid for it?"  This statement is so close to my pet peeve statement of "That's not my job" it makes my skin itch!  If you believe that any time you ask an employee to do something "extra" you need to pay them for it, you're teaching them to expect extra payment for anything they do they perceive as over and above their core duties.  That's stupid and is counterproductive to any plans you may have in creating a flexible, motivated workforce. If your organization's position descriptions don't include the line, "And any other duties as assigned to meet the vision, fulfill the mission, and abide by the values of this organization."  Add it. Then explain it and your organization's vision, mission and values to every current and new employee to your organization. If they don't want to be an active contributing member of your team in driving to your vision, fulfilling your mission, and abiding by your organization's values, fine. They need to find someplace else to work. If they do, great!  Then they need to not expect to get paid for everything they determine is "extra."  Flexible, motivated employees look for and do the "extras" to get the job done. That's how they succeed. That's how your organization succeeds. You need to let your employees know what's expected, what you appreciate, and what you will and won't tolerate. It doesn't take much. 

It doesn't take much to say thanks: It just takes you doing your job in helping them realize you appreciate it when they do theirs.

Copyright MMXIII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com

Reposted with permission.

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Why Lock In Now?

by Admin 11. June 2013 05:39

May 2013Electricity and natural gas prices are trending upward, and are expected to continue to increase throughout 2013 and 2014. Now is an exceptional time to consider a fixed-price supplier contract that locks in today’s price for one to five years. Even if your current contract hasn’t expired, you can lock in today’s prices to begin when your current contract ends.

Electricity

· According to the Edison Electric Institute, necessary upgrades to the United States’ electricity transmission infrastructure will cost $54 billion from 2011 to 2014.

· The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that increased use of natural gas for electricity
generation will drive electricity prices higher as gas prices increase.

· Temperatures in late Spring and Summer 2013 are forecast to be above normal in most regions of the United States, which will increase demand for electricity.

Natural Gas

· Gas producers are reacting to low prices by curtailing drilling. Natural gas rig counts are down 38% in one year. Decreased production = higher prices.

· Shale gas is plentiful, but is becoming more costly to extract and deliver because of regulatory and transportation costs.

· Natural gas in storage recently reached capacity. As the supply surplus is reduced, prices will increase.

 

Price “bottoms” were hit in 2012. Future prices for 2013—2017 are slightly increasing. Contact 800-520-6685 to take advantage of today’s energy market opportunities.

 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce selected APPI Energy as the preferred energy consultant to help our members reduce electricity

and natural gas costs. APPI Energy’s consulting and procurement program is offered to Chamber members at no risk, obligation, or upfront cost. Contact our trusted team of energy

experts at 800-520-6685 or info@appienergy.com, and mention that you’re a valued member of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

 

 

 

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