ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Ball today announced that the County’s Department of Public Work’s (DPW) Bureau of Facilities’ Harriet Tubman Cultural Center (HTCC) project has been selected by the American Public Works Association (APWA) Mid-Atlantic Chapter as a winner of its 2024’s Project of the Year Award for Historical Restoration/Preservation – $5 to $25 million. With this honor, HTCC is now eligible for a APWA National award.

This award is a reflection of our steadfast investment and commitment to preserving and restoring this important piece of our county’s history, ensuring that we are able to continue to learn from our past, while creating an even brighter future for all. I’m grateful to our Bureau of Facilities team for the care, effort and consideration they took throughout this significant restoration project.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

The Harriet Tubman School opened in 1949, in a neighborhood founded by recently freed slaves, as Howard County’s only all-black high school until it was closed in 1965 when segregation ended in the county. The Howard County Public School System used the school for 50 years before transferring ownership of the building and surrounding property to Howard County Government to be preserved as a historic, educational and cultural center. 

Under his leadership, County Executive Ball and his team oversaw the renovation to ensure the historic school could become a regional destination of history and a reminder of cultural progress made. Ball allocated more than $7.5 million from FY19-FY24 in capital funding for renovations. Prior to Ball becoming County Executive, $270,000 in FY17-FY18 was allocated to this project. State funding of nearly $2 million for this historic project, in true partnership, helped ensure that sufficient resources were allocated. Howard County Department of Public Works (DPW) managed the full building rehabilitation of the former Harriet Tubman High School, working closely with Howard County’s Department of Recreation & Parks and the Harriet Tubman Foundation.

We’re extremely proud of DPW’s role in the transformation of the former Harriet Tubman school into a new cultural landmark and vibrant community center. Receiving a regional award provides an opportunity for those outside the County to learn about this important project.

Sharon Walsh
Chief, Bureau of Facilities, Department of Public Works

Today, the HTCC celebrates the life of Harriet Tubman and commemorates the history and significance of the Harriet Tubman High School legacy and the impact of African Americans in Howard County and beyond. The renovated building, managed by the Department of Recreation and Parks, includes, a recreated classroom and principal’s office, artwork and photographic displays and historical exhibits, as well as rentable spaces, including a 1,700-square-foot multipurpose room, an auditorium and a recording studio, and office space for the Harriet Tubman Foundation.  
“DPW is committed to continual improvement and the awards received, both individual and project-based, demonstrate our team’s leadership in public service. We are grateful to APWA Mid-Atlantic Chapter for the recognitions,” Yosef Kebede, Director, DPW.
In addition to HTCC, DPW Bureau of Utilities employees Roy Hooe and Kenneth Kelly were also recognized by the APWA Mid-Atlantic Chapter with Individual Honorable Mention awards. Hooe has been named a Donald S. Frady Award Honorable Mention winner and Kelly a Judith M. Mueller Local Government Service Award Honorable mention winner.

Earning this prestigious award builds upon HTCC’s accolades, since it has gotten County investment. The National Association of Counties most recently recognized HTCC with two 2023 Achievement Awards, in the Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation category. To learn more about the HTCC and its programming, visit www.howardcountymd.gov/htcc.

The APWA serves professionals in all aspects of public works and includes not only members from local, county, state/province and federal agencies, but also private sector personnel who supply products and services to those professionals. The APWA Mid-Atlantic Chapter will recognize its 2024 award winners during its annual conference and equipment show on May 2nd in Roanoke, Virginia.

Media Contacts
Safa Hira, Director of Communications

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