What a difference a decade makes.
From January 2000 to December 2009, Harford County enjoyed an historic housing boom, then suffered through historic economic downturn.
Harford was the big winner in the U.S. Army’s Base Realignment and Closure decision, but has yet to experience any meaningful impact from BRAC other than the headaches and problems associated with preparing for the anticipated growth.
Harford lost many familiar faces who passed away doing what they loved most in the last decade, but also saw several who left the scene for more nefarious reasons.
Havre de Grace saw a major international golf tournament arrive and depart, and watched as its Promenade was destroyed and rebuilt.
Harford hero Cal Ripken, Jr. retired from baseball, built a stadium in his hometown, and was elected to the Hall of Fame, while ice skater Kimmie Meissner propelled herself toward Harford hero status with her Olympic performance.
Far too much transpired in the previous ten years for us to fairly rate, rank, or sort out, but let’s give it a shot anyway.
During the last decade, what stories, events, or happenings were of the most importance to you?
To get things started, here are some of our top stories of the decade 2000-2009:
– Those we lost. The list of prominent obituaries during the decade would certainly include State Sen. Bob Hooper, School Superintendent Jacqueline Haas, former Del. Joanne Parrott, Harford County Councilman Veronica Chenowith, and former County Council President and Judge John Hardwicke – who died on Christmas Eve.
– The tone for the entire decade was set on Sept. 11, 2001. The already-close relationship between Harford and its military presence at Aberdeen Proving Ground and its emergency responders was redoubled and remains as strong as ever at the close of the decade. Much like many communities across the nation, Harford had its share of residents who lost loved ones and were personally impacted by the terrorist attacks of that day.
– It was announced mid-decade, 2005 to be exact, that Harford and APG were the big winners in the federal BRAC process. With the decade over and just one year remaining before the mandated 2011 transfer, Harford seems as far as ever from realizing what BRAC could/would/should actually bring – much less tapping into its potential.
– It was a big decade for Cal Ripken, Jr. The Aberdeen native turned 40 in 2000, retired from baseball in 2001, built a stadium in his hometown in 2002 (which could be its own entry in this list for potentially setting the city on the path to bankruptcy), and was elected into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
– In 2003, Havre de Grace saw its crown jewel, the Promenade boardwalk, tossed around like a rag doll before ultimately being torn asunder and scattered along the upper Chesapeake Bay/lower Susquehanna River shoreline. A year later, with the help of Americorps and a legion of volunteers, the boardwalk was rebuilt.
– At the height of the real estate and economic boom in 2005, Harford was flying high when it was announced the LPGA Championship would be moving from its longtime home in Delaware to Bulle Rock Golf Course in Havre de Grace. This would be a final feather in the county’s cap – drawing tourism dollars from across the nation and around the world. By the end of the decade, the economy was in free-fall, attendance at the tournament waned, and the LPGA announced it would be moving to Rochester, New York beginning in 2010.
– In 2006, Fallston High School student and ice skater Kimmie Meissner was the youngest American athlete competing in the Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy. She came in sixth place, leading to a string of impressive victories and international recognition. By the end of the decade, Meissner had moved to Florida and withdrawn from several skating competitions due to injury. There may still be a road in downtown Bel Air named in her honor.
– Those who left the scene. County executive Jim Harkins miraculously survived an embarrassing 911-call debacle, but jumped ship from his second term a year early when buddy Gov. Robert Ehrlich named him Director of Maryland Environmental Services in 2005. Curiously and similarly, Del. Chuck Boutin left his term early when Ehrlich tapped him to join the Public Service Commission, also in 2005. Boutin only held that job until 2007, when he resigned after allegations of exchanged e-mails with a suspected prostitute surfaced. Inexplicably, Boutin was almost immediately offered a position as Administrative Law Judge in the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings, which he took.
– Fall 2007: The Dagger is born.
What else happened between January 2000 and December 2009 that you think is worth mentioning?
Don’t know how much is worth mentioning, but you asked for it, so here’s my take……
2000: Harford County, like the rest of country braces for Y2K and the end of life as we know it with massive computer malfunctions, traffic snarls, electrical grid shut downs, fire and brimstone, dogs and cats living together……yep, we all know how that one ended, Anyone still have any C-rats left over in their basement Y2K shelters?
2001: Harford County, like the rest of the country is changed forever on September 11. God Bless them all. There will never be a smart ass comment from this party regarding that event.
2001-2002: The leadership in Aberdeen agrees to one of the worst real estate deals in the history of time and in 2002 Ripken Stadium is born and becomes a void that Aberdeen just dumps money in to and doesn’t get any bang for the buck…..you can bet Cal is making a buck and then some while the taxpayers in his “hometown” suffer the financial burden. I wonder if Wilson/Dacy would have bought that ocean front property in Arizona.
2003: Sheriff Joseph P. Meadows sexual harassment scandal that leads to his resignation which has an effect on the deputies and the crime fighting strategies. The birth of the “Hug-a-Thug” style policing would be born a short time later….gee thanks Joe.
2004: My granddaughter was born…..okay, may not have been earth shattering for Harford County but it was for me.
2005: Aside from Kimmie and KimmieFest (which changed a street name in Bel Air), nothing came to mind except the 2005 deaths of Richard Pryor (who changed comedy), Eugene J. McCarthy (who changed the country with the Red Scare), Pat Morita (who changed Arnold’s and karate for at least one kid), Rosa Parks (who changed civil rights, well, she helped), Don Adams (who changed the perception of spies), and Bob Denver (who smoked a lot of pot).
2006: The Havre De Grace black eye known as the 4th of July Riot….can we finally admit that there are gangs in Harford County and it’s a problem for all of us?
2007: The Aberdeen election that was Fred Simmons’ to lose and Fred lost it…..here in 2010 there are several that agree that we all lost when Fred lost.
2008: A last minute B/S amendment pretty much tanked the Hotel Tax…again (not good). The DNR confirmed that nasty little zebra mussels had set up shop in the lower Susquehanna (not good). The Orioles went 68 and 93 and finished in last place 28½ games out (not good). On the morning of December 26 North Harford felt a measurable earthquake (not good for plaster or 2 dishes at my sister in-law’s house).
2009: President Obama rolled through Harford County on the Inauguration Tour and hasn’t done anything else positive (in my opinion) sticking to his agenda of blaming Bush, ObamaCare health, blaming Bush, did I mention blaming Bush…….I see that Jiffy Lube is giving a free Nobel Prize when you get a Full Signature Service oil change.
2010: It’s the second day of the new decade and I really don’t have a whole lot of complaining or snide remarks…..yet!
Thanks for the memories, Dagger and R Winger. Also worth noting, not quite sure of the year, 2008 maybe–the birth of The Dagger.
2006- Bel Air sees it’s first homicide since 1983, when Patrick Walker is stabbed and killed in a senseless road rage incident.
Michael Hiob says
Nice article, but please allow me to clarify one thing. You mentioned that Cal “….built a stadium in his hometown”. That’s inaccurate my friend. As you are well aware, the citizens of Aberdeen built the thing (with assistance from Harford County, the State of Maryland, Cal, etc). The City of Aberdeen owns the stadium, the parking lot, AND the real estate under the same. Hence, our annual loss in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Happy New Year!
Great article! I will definitely come back and visit your site again when I have more time.