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To a historic beginning for the Maryland General Assembly as it started its new session Wednesday under new leadership in both houses of the state legislature. Adrienne Jones, D-Baltimore County, became the state’s first African-American and first woman to preside over the House of Delegates. And Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore, was elected to Senate President. Jones, who served as speaker pro tempore for 16 years, filled the leadership role left vacant by the death of former House Speaker Michael E. Busch, who passed away in April 2019. Ferguson became Senate President after his predecessor, former Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, stepped down as leadership to serve as a senator on the floor amidst a battle with cancer. Jones memorialized Busch as “a giant in Maryland government, an ultimate public servant and an honorable man.” At the conclusion of her address, Jones signaled a desire for delegates to work together across the aisle for the best interest of their constituents. “This is a new day but our goals remain the same, whether the democrats or republicans we do the best work on behalf of the people we serve,” she said.

To the results of the Maryland Report Card five-star rating system for Cecil County Public Schools. In the second year of the new report card, the majority of CCPS schools earned the same overall rating that they received last year, with a handful increasing or decreasing their score by one point. All schools received three or four stars, consistent with statewide results which saw more Maryland schools trending toward the middle of the field rather than earning ratings at the highest and lowest ends of the spectrum. Superintendent Jeff Lawson said this year’s results for CCPS didn’t have very many surprises. However, Lawson said the addition of science test scores and school surveys of students and educators, as well as the return of the ever-changing MCAP test scores, make it difficult to compare this year’s and last year’s results. Lawson and Associate Superintendent of Education Services Carolyn Teigland told the Whig that they hope future report cards will bring greater consistency and easier readability for the everyday citizen. In the meantime, Lawson said the best way for community members to evaluate public schools in Cecil County is to call, set up a time to stop by one of the schools and be the judge themselves.

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To the loss of local firefighter Otis Isaacs Jr. Isaacs, a longtime member of the North East Fire Company, was laid to rest Saturday after passing away Dec. 29. Isaacs’ death is considered to have occurred in the line of duty because he had responded to a service call less than 24 hours prior to passing away at home. Due to that designation, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered all state and U.S. flags be flown at half staff until the interment Saturday. Isaacs held several titles within the fire company, including president, chief, chief engineer and a member of the board of directors. He was also a delegate to the Maryland State Firemen’s Association and was inducted in 2003 into the Harford-Cecil Hall of Fame. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of this Cecil County firefighter, who helped keep his community safe for so many years.

To unpredictable winter weather. Tuesday night brought rain and snow; Wednesday morning saw a snow squall that complicated the morning commute for students on their way to school after the school day had already been delayed two hours; and weekend temperatures are forecasted to approach the mid-60s. At best, the weather can make planning difficult. At worst, it can be downright dangerous. But as the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather now, just wait a few minutes.

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