Robo Calls, Spoof Calls and Phone Scams on the Rise By: Dan Cryan & Dan Woomer

We are all experiencing the rise of Robo Calls, Spoof Calls and Phone Scams.

Efforts are being made by our representatives, and legislation is in Congress, to strengthen the laws to stop these irritating and harassing calls. Attached at the bottom of this posting are text copies of recent responses from Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Ruppersberger, outlining Congress’ efforts to stop Robo Calls, Spoof Calls and Phone Scams

What Can You Do Now?

There are a few actions you can take to cut into the number of these unwanted calls.

FIRST –

The first thing to do is to register or verify your phone number(s) are registered at the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry. You can verify up to three (3) phone numbers are registered at one time. Go to the Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry website at: https://www.donotcall.gov/. Here’s the three (3) step process:

Type in up to three (3) phone numbers you want to verify are in the registry, enter your email address, and click “Submit.”

You will be asked to check that the information you entered is correct. If correct, click “Verify,” if you have typed in something incorrect, click on “Change.”

Once you click “Verify”, within a few minutes you should receive an email for each phone number registered in the email address you entered from Verify@donotcall.gov. If your phone number is registered, each email will tell you the date of registration. If your phone number is not registered and you want it to be, you will be directed to the National Do Not Registry to register you phone number(s).

Repeat this process for all of your phone numbers.

SECOND –

Many of current and immediate prior wireless phone systems we have in our homes have a “Block Number” feature. If you receive an unwanted called from one of these telemarketers or scammers, and you have taken the call, don’t be polite, press the “Block This Number” button and hang up. If you haven’t taken the call, and there is no voicemail, it is likely a telemarketer or scammer. Use your phone system’s CID capability, and see the phone number that just called you. Write this down, and use your system’s call blocker to block this number.

Earlier systems, have the capability to see the number that just called. With these systems, if you answer an unwanted call, hang up. Use your phone system’s CID capability, and see the phone number that just called you. Write this down.

Contact your phone service provider. Many providers include call blocking as part of your services. Ask them the process to provide them with the phone numbers you want blocked, and provide them the phone numbers you have collected.

Here are some links to the phone service providers:

Verizon –

www.verizon.com/support/residential/homephone/calling-features/stop-unwanted-calls

Xinity/Comcast

www.xfinity.com/mobile/support/article/360000902823/

AT&T

www.att.com/help/robocalling.html

T-Mobile

support.t-mobile.com/docs/DOC-23906

Metro PCS

www.quora.com/How-do-you-block-phone-numbers-on-Metro-PCS

Cricket

www.cricketwireless.com/support/fraud-protection/fraud-overview.html

If your phone service provider is not listed above, Google them to get info on blocking calls.

THIRD –

You can report the call and phone number to Federal Trade Commission’s National Do Not Call Registry website at: https://www.donotcall.gov/. Click on “Report Unwanted Calls.”

Once your phone number has been on the Do Not Call Registry for 31 days, you can report unwanted sales calls.

Robocalls: Report calls that use a recorded message instead of a live person (whether or not your number is on the Registry).

You will be asked to describe what the call was about. Check the category that best describes what the call was about, for example debt reduction, home security or vacations.

Reminder: Even if your phone number is registered, some organizations may still call you, such as charities, political organizations, and telephone surveyors. For a full description of who may still call you, please consult the website’s Consumer FAQs.

Debt collectors may continue to call you whether your number is on the Registry or not. Know your rights regarding debt collection. If a debt collector is not respecting your rights, there is a link on the website to report them.

FOURTH -

You can purchase a phone number blocker, also known as a Call Blocker. Various devices from various manufacturers are available online. These are pretty effective. If you chose to purchase a call blocker, do some homework and pick the one you believe meets your needs. Also shop around, like most items available for purchase online, prices vary. Be sure to make your purchase from a source that has a good to excellent rating.

You want to place your call blocker in front of your phone system’s base unit, so it intercepts blocked numbers and none of your system’s phones, the one on the base unit or any of the remotes, will ring if a blocked phone number tries to call into your home. If you have older wired phones, place the unit before your answering machine. While your phones will ring, a blank or unwanted voicemail will not be recorded.

IMPORTANT –

If you pick up and answer a robo telemarketing or spam call, NEVER SAY YES. Your response will be recorded and used to charge you as you will be subscribed to some service that you had no intention of purchasing. Once this occurs, getting these services and their charges cancelled can be very challenging.

The telemarketer may ask questions, such as: “Am I Speaking to (your name)?” “Can you hear me okay?” “May I have a few minutes of your time?” Again, NEVER SAY YES. If available on your phone system, or if you have installed a Call Blocker, press the “Block This Number Button.”

We were all taught to be polite. Telemarketers and Phone Scammers, count on you being polite. This is one-time when politeness WILL hurt you. If you suspect the caller is a telemarketer or phone scammer – HUNG UP. There is no need to be polite to someone who is trying to scam and/or steal you.

If you want to check out a phone number, the Whitepages Directory Services offers a free online service. Go to: www.whitepages.com/phone/. Enter the phone number in the format of NPA-NXX-XXXX.

NPA = Area code assigned to a Numbering Plan Area

NXX = Prefix or \"exchange\" assigned to a central office

XXXX = Local number or "subscriber number"

If known, the service’s response will provide some information on the owner’s identification. Don’t be surprised if the service’s response says “Suspect Telemarketer,” “Telemarketer,” “Suspected Scammer,” “Scammer,” or other similar identifying descriptions.

Bottomline –

Use your answering machine to screen your calls. Once you can identify who is calling as someone you want to talk with, pick up and answer the call.

If you answer the call, be careful on what you say until you have identified the caller as someone you know and feel comfortable with.

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Responses from Senator Van Hollen & Congressman Ruppersberger

From: Office of Senator Chris Van Hollen [mailto:SenatorVanHollen@vanhollen.senate.gov]

Sent: Monday, March 25, 2019 11:26 AM

To: dan cryan

Subject: Reply from Senator Van Hollen

Dear Mr. Cryan:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the unwanted marketing, robocalls and "spoofed" calls that you are receiving. I regret that you are having this disturbing experience. I am very concerned by the increased number of callers and phone scammers who use "spoofing" technology to misrepresent the number from which they are calling.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are working to combat call-spoofing, robocalls and phone scams. The FCC is responsible for regulating interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in the U.S., whereas the FTC is responsible for taking action against practices that are unfair or deceptive. They also rely on assistance from consumers like you to help alert them to new scams when they arise.

Some of the efforts the FTC and FCC have undertaken include the following:

The FTC held a contest to identify possible solutions to robocalls and spoof calls. One of the winners, Nomorobo, intercepts robocalls for certain types of phone service. Nomorobo offers services for both landline and mobile phones. You can find more information on Nomorobo at www.nomorobo.com.On August 19, 2016, the FCC hosted the first meeting of the “Robocall Strike Force,” an industry-led group that is committed to developing comprehensive solutions to prevent, detect, and filter unwanted robocalls. You can watch a recording of this meeting on the FCC website at:https://www.fcc.gov/news-events/events/2016/08/first-meeting-industry-led-robocall-strike-force.

On April 28, 2017, the industry-led Robocall Strike Force released an updated report detailing its efforts, which can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/file/12311/download.

In October 2017, the Senate Committee on Aging held a hearing entitled, “Still Ringing Off the Hook: An Update on Efforts to Combat Robocalls,” during which law enforcement and representatives from the telecommunications industry discussed how they are working together to crack down on unwanted phone calls. The Senate also passed Seniors Fraud Prevention Act of 2017 This bill is now awaiting action in the House of Representatives. By improving monitoring and information on these frauds, the FTC may build best practices that can help on other robocall issues as well.

In April 2018, I joined 14 of my Senate colleagues in sending a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai urging him to use existing legal authority to ensure that key robocall and robotext protections are in effect after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down portions of a 2015 FCC order limiting the definition of “auto dialers” and discouraging callers from making more than one unwanted call to a reassigned number. The Court’s ruling could also be interpreted to suggest that callers could limit consumers’ rights to revoke consent to receive robocalls and robotexts through provisions buried in contracts or service agreements.

Also in April 2018, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a hearing entitled, “Abusive Robocalls and How We Can Stop Them.” During the hearing, Senators questioned Adrian Abramovich, the so-called, “King of Robocalls,” who testified under subpoena and faces $120 million in FCC penalties for allegedly making nearly 100 million robocalls nationwide.

In June 2018, the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act was introduced in both the Senate and the House. This bill ensures that the FCC has the authority and the tools to take strong, quick action when it tracks down robocallers, allows consumers to revoke consent they had previously given to receive calls, creates a database to put robocallers on notice when a telephone number they may have previously been authorized to call has been given to a new customer who hasn’t authorized their call, limits the number of robocalls exempted under current law and FCC rules, and requires calls to have verified caller identification information. This legislation is supported by the National Consumer Law Center and Consumers Union.

I will continue to engage with the FTC and FCC to identify when they may need additional legal authority to do their work.

I hope that you find this information helpful. If you have any questions or think that I can be of further assistance, please contact Nina Ganti of my staff at (301) 545-1500 or nina_ganti@vanhollen.senate.gov

Sincerely,

Chris Van Hollen

United States Senator

P.S. Please visit my website. While there, you can view press releases and statements, see what legislation I have sponsored or co-sponsored and receive information on the various constituent services provided by my office.

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From: Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger <imamd02@mail.house.gov>

Sent: Friday, March 22, 2019 1:50:37 PM

To: dan cryan

Subject: Reply from Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger

March 22, 2019

Mr. Daniel Cryan

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Linthicum Heights, Maryland 21090

Dear Mr. Cryan:

One of the best parts of my job is hearing from constituents. I appreciate that you have taken the time to share with me your thoughts on robo-calls, and I welcome this opportunity to respond.

I have received a number of robo-calls myself, and I agree with you how frustrating the frequency of these calls can be. These calls are unsolicited and are, in some cases, illegal. In fact, at a recent Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing, a representative from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) outlined the increase in robo call consumer complaints the FTC has received; 3.5 million through August in 2017 – up from 3.4 million in the entire calendar year of 2016.

Congress has continued to put pressure on the FTC and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to find solutions to this problem and I support these efforts. The FTC and telecommunication industry created a strike force and has had some success in blocking illegal scam phone calls, including fake IRS debt collector calls. Currently, the strike force, along with the FCC, is finalizing recommendations to give telecommunications carriers more power to block these types of phone calls. I will continue to support Congress’ efforts to ensure the FTC and FCC are giving industry the proper regulatory guidance they need to protect consumers from unwanted solicitations and illegal scammers.

Feel free to contact my telecommunications staff member, Elliott Phaup, in my Washington, DC, office should you have any questions and please continue to share your thoughts with me. To stay current on issues that are facing Congress and your community, please visit my website at www.dutch.house.gov and sign up for my periodic e-mail newsletter. I also encourage you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Sincerely,

C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger

Member of Congress

Note: Please do not reply directly to this e-mail. I ask that you use the e-mail form on my website.

Master Gardener Workshop – April 13th

The University of Maryland Extension, Anne Arundel County, will present a Master Gardener workshop April 13 at 10:00am to 12:00pm at the Linthicum Community Library, 400 Shipley Road.

The presentation will include details about planning the shape and size of your garden, as well as information about how native bees are attracted to the native plants of the mid-Atlantic. A list of recommended plants will be distributed.

For more information, call 410.222.6265 or visit www.aacpl.net/events/ask-master-gardener-112614.

Source: Vecchioni, Heather. “Master Gardener Workshop” Capital Gazette. March 28, 2019. www.capitalgazette.com/neighborhoods/ac-cn-north-county-0330-story.html.

LSIA Speaks at AA County Exec’s 2019 Budget Town Hall By: Dan Woomer

On the evening of March 20th, approximately 90 of our neighbors attended Anne Arundel County Executive’s Host 2019 Budget Town Hall meeting at Lindale Middle School, here in Linthicum.

Besides County Executive Steuart Pittman, several of his administration’s staff, including Jenese Jones our District’s Constituent Services Officer, Sarah Lacey, our District’s County Council member, and several other officials were present, including AA County District 1 School Board Member Candace C.W. Antwine, Scott Spore, President of North Linthicum Improvement Association, Don Bender, Co-President of the National Active and Retired Federal Employee Association (NARFE) local Chapter 1519, and LSIA Board members Sandy Hartzell and Shawn Murphy,

Following brief opening remarks by County Councilwoman Lacey, County Exec Pittman walked through a short five-page PowerPoint presentation on the funding sources and key cost items the 2019 AA County Government budget need to address. Mr. Pittman made it clear that he and his administration is looking for our County’s citizen input on needs and priorities before completing his draft budget submission, which is due to the AA County Council on May 1st. Once provided to the County Council, the Council members will review, hold meeting where they will listen to resident comments and suggestions, and then render their decisions and recommendations on the AA County 2019 Budget.

The floor was then opened to the audience, each allowed 3-minutes to make their statement.

The speaker session was led off by Dan Woomer, LSIA’s Vice President, who was followed by Suzzie Schuyler, LSIA’s President. The following is the opening statement and a summary of the list of challenges facing our, and our neighboring communities presented by Dan and Suzzie:

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Dan Woomer –

The Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association (LSIA) with over 500 active member household, representing over 2,700 households, is pleased to speak at this 2019 Anne Arundel County Executive’s Budget Town Hall Meeting.

Linthicum, and our neighboring communities are facing many challenges with which your administration could help address.

These challenges include, but are not limited to: BWI Airport Noise pollution, SCMagLev, Roads, Over Development, Property Tax Cap, Light Rail, and Senior Income Tax Break.

I, as well as other members of the LSIA, would be pleased to meet and discuss any or all of these challenges with you, and provide additional information. 

Good Evening, my name is Dan Woomer and I have lived in Linthicum Heights for over 39 years. We are seeking your administration’s help with the following challenges, not presented in any priority order:

(1) BWI Airport Noise

With the implementation of Next-Gen the jet engine noise is bombarding our communities. MAA and the BWI Roundtable are working to have FAA reinstate the prior flight routes, and requirements to quickly reach flight altitude all to reduce the noise our communities are suffering with each and every day.

(2) SCMagLev

The building of the SCMagLev will have little to no benefit for Marylanders, yet disrupt and destroy sections of AA and PG Counties, contaminating our communities’ environment, and take millions of dollars away from needed infrastructure improvements.

(3) Property Tax Cap

Every household and business must live within its means, our County government should be no different. The Property Tax Cap was passed by a large majority of voters to force the County government to live within its means.

Our household incomes seldom increase more than the cost-of-living, and many have not seen a cost-of-living increase for years. We prioritize our expenses; the County government must do the same. The State of Maryland is one of the highest taxed States in the union.

Do not circumvent the Property Tax Cap, it is one of the few remaining reasons more seniors and retirees have not left Maryland for more tax friendly States.

(4) Light Rail

We are asking that your administration continues the increased security around our communities’ light rail stations started a few years ago. Linthicum and Ferndale residents have witnessed individuals use the light rail to come into our communities and engage in aggressive panhandling, theft and other more serious offences. One request for your administration is to modify the AA County Police incident tracking and reporting system to capture the information if the person or persons being detained did use the light rail to enter our communities.

The current system does not capture this information, and thus the generated criminal activity reports and statistics do not reflect an incident’s association with the light rail. Adding this capability would help capture such data, criminal activity reports would more accurately reflect such occurrences, and provide a means to bring the communities together in a more common and constructive manner.

Again, we ask you and your administration’s for help and support so we can address the many challenges facing our communities. Thank you for this opportunity to speak at this town hall. We have provided a combined copy of our testimony for your review and records.

It is now my pleasure to introduce the President of LSIA – Suzzie Schuyler.

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Suzzie Schuyler –

Thanks Dan.

To continue, Linthicum, and our neighboring communities, are facing many challenges with which your administration could help address.

I repeat the offer made by Dan, I, as well as other members of the LSIA, would be pleased to meet and discuss any or all of these challenges with you, and provide additional information.

Good Evening, my name is Suzzie Schuyler, and I have lived in Linthicum Heights for over 28 years. I’m here to complete the list our Vice President started.

The following are also some of the significant challenges facing our and our neighboring communities.

And as with the prior presentation, we are seeking your administration’s help with the following list, not presented in any priority order: 

(1) Roads

Andover Road and Maple Road are primary entry and exit routes in and out of our community. They have deteriorated for years and promises since January 2014 have been made to rebuild these arteries. We ask you and your administration to work with the State to prioritize these projects so they start this year.

(2) Over Development

School crowding, road and utility overloading, increased congestion and increasing danger of accidents for our community residents. Linthicum is a small town being constantly encroached upon by developers and witnessing our green spaces disappear forever. Enough. Until the roads, utilities and schools have the capacity, additional development needs to end.

(3) Senior Income Tax Break

We are asking your administration to encourage the State government to pass legislation to exempt retirees’ income for state income tax.

Many States already do this, and Maryland is seeing an increase of retirees moving to these tax friendly States. We have a demographic that includes a large number of highly educated residents. As retirees, many volunteer in schools, hospitals and communities all helping to make Maryland and Anne Arundel County a great place to live and raise a family at no cost to the County or State.

We are losing this valuable resource to other States for a few dollars-worth of income taxes, that would overwhelming be made up in their spending, sales tax, and healthcare.

In conclusion, with your administration’s help, we can address the many challenges facing our communities.

Again, thank you for this opportunity to speak for our community at this town hall meeting.

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Several others in attendance also signed up to speak, and for the next two-hours, we all listened to statements discussing the following challenges our County Government are asked to address.

Watershed Stewardship Funding – Sandy Hartzell and Suzanne Etgen, Executive Director of WSA, spoke about the Watershed Stewardship program, and how starting with a few volunteers have trained many stewards who are actively engaged in AA County to work with communities to reduce the actions and activities contributing to pollution of our local steams and bodies of water. Sandy also highlighted the success this program has made on improving our County’s fresh water streams, ponds and other bodies of water. While their funding has remained level for several years past, they are requesting a small increase in the funding provided by the County to be included in the 2019 AA County Budget.

Teacher Pay Parity – Several AA County teachers and other school staff, spoke on the need to (1) correct the pay parity problem within the AA County school system, and (2) to address the lower salaries AA County teachers are paid, as compared to the surrounding counties. On the first, since 2008, when our teachers step increases were suspended due to the economic downturn that hit us all, many of the loyal senior teachers have not received their earned step increases as promised. Some of these teachers, have not received are as many a seven step increases, so for the last decade, they have been increasingly underpaid, seeing their peer’s pay advancing, even by AA County standards. On the parity with the surrounding counties, one specialist spoke about her leaving the AA County school system, to take a job with PG County. Without considering the step increases, she stated she is earning $28,000 more than she would if she stayed in AA County. If the step increases were appropriately applied (which as noted above they have not been), she is still earning $11,000 more travelling from her home in AA County, to working in the PG County school system.

Police Recruitment – Several AA County police officers, and AA County Fraternal Order of Police members, spoke to the need to hire additional police officers to fully staff the AA County’s Police force. Currently, as we have also heard at the LSIA General Membership meetings, the AA County police force is approximately 180 officers understaffed. This is placing increasing stress on the on-duty officers to cover our County and provide the police presence and protection needed.

Fire Department Recruitment – As with the AA County Police, the professional firefighters needed to provide the minimum staff for our County’s Fire Stations is seriously lacking. As stated by many firefighters who spoke at last night’s town hall, the national standard is four firefighters per truck and four firefighters per engine. Currently, only one station in AA County meets this minimum number. The rest of the stations, including Ferndale and Linthicum, have three or less. Several of the firefighters that spoke noted the Ferndale station’s ambulance services have one crew, which means the ambulance and the emergency aid services are not available to our communities for 16 hours each day. If an emergency happens outside the hours this ambulance and crew are in service, help must be called in from other stations, which significantly increases the time before help will arrive, in a situation when seconds may count.

Library Funding – Several of AA County Liberians spoke tonight on the need to increase funding for our County libraries. Our County libraries are de facto community centers where they service hundreds of thousands of visitors each year with books, information access, training, career development, educational programs, and host community engagement and organization meetings, and many other events for children, adults and our senior citizens.

Drug-Opiate Crisis, Homeless & Trash – Drugs, especially opiates and fentanyl, have poured into our County, with often deadly consequences. The speaker asked the County Executive how his administration will address the illegal drug problem in our County. Also noted is the trash the homeless camps are creating in and around our communities. As noted by other speakers, this trash is brought into our communities from illegal dumping by others especially in and around Linthicum, Ferndale, and North Linthicum and needs to be cleaned up, and the “dumpers” caught and seriously fined.

With all who wished given the opportunity to speak, the floor was closed. Both County Executive Pittman and County Councilwoman Lacey thanked everyone for coming to the Town Hall and sharing their concerns and opinions, and called out LSIA for our engagement and activism in representing the Linthicum-Shipley community. At approximately 8:30 p.m., the town hall was called closed.

County Executive Pittman and County Councilwoman Lacey stayed in the auditorium for an additional half-hour engaging in short conversations with the attendees.

Linthicum Hosts Candidate Night at September General Membership Meeting

On Wednesday, September 12, 2018, LSIA hosted the first of two “Meet the Candidates” meeting at Saint John Lutheran Church.  Attendance was excellent, as many Linthicum residents and business owners came to hear to candidates’ position on an array of issues, including taxes, business, legal versus illegal immigration, border security, and more.

We were very pleased many candidates for Maryland elected offices attended, included:

Susan Turnbull (D) running for Lieutenant Governor with Ben Jealous, Tony Campbell (R), Ben Cardin (D), Arvin Vohra (L), Neal Simon (U), and Michael Puskar (U) all running for Maryland Senate, David Lashar (L) running for US Congress, and John Grasso (R) and Pam Beidle (D) running for State Senator.

[Key: (D) – Democrat, (R) – Republican, (L) – Libertarian, (U) – Unaffiliated]

Each candidate was given to opportunity to make an opening statement, and once these statements were completed, the floor was opened for questions from the audience.  It was a pleasure to witness the interaction and exchanges between the candidates and our community members. Most of the attendees treated the candidates respectfully and asked good, helpful and probing questions.

Following the meeting, many of candidates personally thanked the LSIA Board for holding the event and promised to attend our future events.

Two key elements made this, and will make our future meetings with the candidates a success:

  1. An excellent number of our community took the time to come out, attend the meeting, and

  2. Most attendees respectfully and maturely listened to the candidates, without interruption or rude jesters, and asked good, thoughtful, probing, and on point questions, without “rambling around the barn.”

Next month, LSIA will host candidates running for the following positions: State Delegate, County Executive, County Council, Comptroller, Sheriff and Board of Education.  Our next meeting will be 7:00pm, on October 10th, at the Lindale Middle Schools’ Media Center.

Mark your calendars – Come meet and hear what our candidates have to say, so you can make a more informed decision come election day.

Thanks to all who took time to meet the candidates.  I challenge all to attend. The more people that attend, the more attention Linthicum will receive once these candidates are elected.  Let’s be sure we show all of the candidates, Linthicum is paying attention.

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If you are interested in keeping up on the developments, LSIA’s efforts in response to plans and actions occurring in and to the Linthicum-Shipley community, and having your voice heard on other important issues affecting our community, such as roads repairs, police protection, light rail, SCMagLev, sidewalks, etc., and have a chance to meet and talk with our elected officials, join LSIA today – still only $20 a year.  To join or renew your membership, see: http://www.lsia.net/store/.


Save the date: LSIA Festival

By Suzzie Schuyler – President LSIA

Title: Save the Date – LSIA Festival

Linthicum/Shipley Improvement Association Festival

When: Sunday November 11, 2018

Where: Andover Equestrian Center at the Barn on Andover Road

Time: 12:00pm - 4:00pm

Activities: Food, Flea Market, Local Organizations, Fun for kids of all ages!

More information to follow so keep watching on LSIA.org, LSIA Facebook, and Nextdoor Linthicum, and come to the LSIA meetings at 7:00pm on the second Wednesday of each month at Lindale Middle School Media Center starting September 2018.