Sen. Van Hollen and AG Frosh on Consumer Protection at MaCCRA’s Annual Meeting

Submitted by Lorrie Rogers and Lois Brown

Don’t get hooked by scams was the message U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen and Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh brought to Collington on June 17, 2019.

After the short business meeting, the US Senator and Md Attorney General spoke to a packed auditorium about the wide variety of scams arriving daily on our phones and in our in-boxes.   Most importantly they discussed measures we can take to avoid being hooked by them.  We’ve all heard the advice of “Just hang up”, and “Don’t click on links,” but the one that took most people by surprise was that we should not only freeze our own credit, but advise our children to freeze theirs and that of our grandchildren.  Scammers are ruining the credit of minor children, which often is not discovered until they become adults.
Delegate Erek Barron was also in the audience and got a shout-out from the Senator and AG.

Following the Q&A period, the staff from the Maryland Consumer Protection Division, Federal Trade Commission, Prince George’s County Area Agency on Aging, and Maryland Relay had tables of brochures and other information and were available to answer questions.

You can view most of the discussion below.

Champion Trees, Champion Residents

By Alice Nicolson

Last spring many of us were thrilled to find that Collington almost had a county Champion tree in our woods – almost, because although the tree is about 200’ behind unit 5004, it is just outside our property line in the adjoining county Regent Forest Park. The tree came to our attention in 2016 because neighbors asked Davey Tree Company to clear the woodland behind their homes. The Davey arborist noticed the big tree, misidentified it as an ash, and recommended that it be treated against Emerald Ash Borer infestation (a recently arrived pest which is killing ash trees all over the country). Jane Engle contacted her friend Mike Ellis, a Prince George’s park ranger, and asked him to come over and check out this large ash since it might be a county record holder. Mike came, determined that the tree was a mockernut hickory, not an ash (so definitely not needing protection against the EAB!), took its measurements, found its location was just outside Collington property (alas!), and determined that it was indeed a Champion tree for the county. Jane was credited with nominating it (and she and Mike co-nominated two other county champions in other parks). Jane and Mike did some other tree hunting in the neighboring woodland and found one other likely candidate, but had not measured it at the time. 

tree1Pfund, Nicolson and Engle with Mockernut

This week Mike Ellis and his supervisor, Chris Garrett, came over to meet with Ken Burton, Jane’s husband, to have another look at the Mockernut and to relocate and measure the other large tree. (Kyle Olsen and I came along as well). The tree is located several hundred feet downstream from where the trail behind 5110 goes into the swampy woods and meets the stream (Bald Hill Branch) at the white bucket marker. It also is not on Collington’s property, being across the stream where the beaver was very active earlier this winter, in Enterprise Park. However, it is easily seen from our side. Chris and Mike waded across the stream (I clambered across on fallen tree trunks) determined that the tree was a bitternut hickory, measured it and checked the current record listing for that species – and we have yet another county Champion  tree not quite on Collington land!

tree2Bitternut with sign

Chris and Mike placed plaques designating both champion trees on stakes at the foot of the trees, facing Collington viewers. Both trees remind us of Jane Engle, whose love for trees inspires all who worked with her.  If you walk the woodland trail behind the 5000’s, look for the new sign there and, if you are nimble, ramble down our side of the stream and see if you can spot the big tree just across the water!

Volunteer Opportunities

Dave Montgomery has put together a rather comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities both at Collington and in greater Prince George’s County. You can find this list under the Getting Around tab –> Volunteer Opportunities. Or click here to see the page now!

Thanks Dave!

Politics in Action at Collington — Good News, Bad News

On Saturday, November 4th, the League of Women Voters of Prince George’s County graced Collington with its presence and that of newly elected junior U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen.  He is a member of the powerful Appropriations and Budget Committees.  Many of us found his presentation very impressive.

After an open meeting of the League, Senator Van Hollen addressed a crowded auditorium.  The Senator first shared the good news.

A bipartisan Congress authorized the formation of a commission to commemorate the life and work of Maryland born Frederick Douglass on the bicentennial anniversary of his birth.  Douglass was a runaway slave who became an orator, abolitionist, author and advisor to President Lincoln.   You can go to to learn more about Douglass and the commission.

Another good news story for many there, was, of course, the prevention of the complete demolition of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This would have included 1 trillion dollars in cuts to medicaid (2/3 of which would have affected seniors and people with disabilities).  The Senator praised the effectiveness of the two single-spaced pages of advocacy and provider groups who opposed repeal of the ACA.  National organizations like AARP also played a very significant role.

However, the Senator reported that our biggest challenge ahead is now the proposed tax bill which he vehemently opposes.  The bill offers big, big tax breaks to big corporations, to the tune of 2 trillion dollars.

The means to pay is to increase the taxes on many middle-class families.  One proposed change is to eliminate deductions for state and local taxes.  This is basically double taxation.  Corporations, of course, will continue to deduct these taxes.  This bill also authorizes increasing the national debt to $1.5 trillion, something Republicans talk about being against.  Therefore Senator Van Hollen believes that if this bill passes, the Republicans will implement severe cuts to important programs in health, education, housing, etc.

(Perhaps of even greater concern to Collingtonians —and indeed Collington and all life care communities — is the proposal to eliminate the medical expense deduction.  Given the importance of that deduction in our personal budgets, and those of future residents of all lifecare communities, this is going to have a big impact — if it goes through.  The Washington Post reported on this issue here.

Van Hollen reported that Republicans will try to strong arm this bill through this week without hearings or amendments.   What can we do since our Senators are already against this tactic?   Well, Senator Van Hollen suggests we contact organizations with national chapters who can represent us and also reach out to people in other states and encourage them to contact their own legislators.

Not bad ideas at all, considering what is at stake.