- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2008

REGION

More delays foreseen on Wilson Bridge

Transportation officials are urging motorists to avoid the area around the Woodrow Wilson Bridge this weekend as they shift traffic onto the new second span.

Traffic will be limited to one lane along southbound Interstate 95, which is also the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway, from 9 p.m. tomorrow until noon on Sunday. Several ramps in Maryland and Virginia will close as crews pave and stripe connections toward the bridge. The bridge links Alexandria and Prince George’s County.

During a similar operation in 2006, motorists heeded officials’ warnings to avoid the area, but there were still delays of up to 90 minutes.

The $2.5 billion project is designed to relieve a major bottleneck on the I-95 corridor. By the end of the year, authorities plan to have five lanes open in each direction, including three local lanes and two express lanes. The old bridge was three lanes in each direction.

MARYLAND

BALTIMORE

Music director pleads guilty

The former music director of an influential city church pleaded guilty yesterday to raping a 12-year-old girl.

The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office said 31-year-old Timothy Price of Owings Mills pleaded guilty to second-degree rape.

Prosecutors said Price admitted to having sex with the girl, who was a member of the Bethel AME Zion Church, in his car in December and January while serving as music director.

Price, who is scheduled to be sentenced in August following a psychiatric evaluation, is being held on $1 million bail.

The church has a congregation of more than 17,000 - including Baltimore Mayor Sheila A. Dixon, a Democrat.

BALTIMORE

Mayor: Snuff out cheap cigars

Baltimore Mayor Sheila A. Dixon, a Democrat, wants to ban the sale of cheap, individual cigars, saying the flavored tobacco products are getting young people hooked on smoking.

A proposed city regulation would require such cigars to be sold in packs of at least five that include warnings about the health risks. It would not apply to cigars that cost $2 or more apiece at wholesale or cigars sold in tobacco shops. The regulation targets cigars sold at gas stations and corner stores.

City health officials say individual cigars can cost as little as 69 cents apiece, making them an easy option for young people who shy away from buying packs of cigarettes.

Officials cited research by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that found nearly 24 percent of respondents ages 18 to 24 reported smoking Black and Milds, a brand of cheap cigars.

ANNAPOLIS

State charges auction operator

The Maryland Department of Agriculture charged a livestock auction operator with inhumane treatment of a downed cow at auction last month.

James Horak, operator of the Westminster Livestock Auction Market, faces four counts of violating state animal health regulations, the department said in a statement yesterday.

State agriculture officials began investigating the market after the Humane Society of the United States released video footage last month of sick and injured livestock the group said were mistreated at auction sites and stockyards where cattle are sold for slaughter.

ELLICOTT CITY

Illegal alien guilty in fatal crash

A suspected illegal immigrant pleaded guilty in the drunken-driving deaths of a Marine and his date in a Thanksgiving 2006 car crash near Columbia.

Eduardo Morales-Soriano, 27, pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of negligent manslaughter, said Wayne Kirwan, a spokesman for Howard County prosecutors. Morales-Soriano was ordered to serve 10 years in prison as part of a 20-year suspended sentence, and he will be turned over to federal immigration authorities after completing the prison time.

Authorities say Morales- Soriano had a blood alcohol level at the time of the crash that was four times the legal limit. The collision at the intersection of Routes 175 and 108 killed Marine Cpl. Brian Mathews, 21, and Jennifer Bower, 24.

VIRGINIA

LYNCHBURG

Painting sells for $7.2 million

The first of four paintings being auctioned by Randolph College to raise funds was sold last night for $7.2 million.

Rufino Tamayo’s “Troubadour” was purchased for $7,209,000 by an anonymous phone bidder in “very active” bidding, said Sung-Hee Park, spokeswoman for Christie’s Latin American art auction.

Miss Park said the sale price established a record for Mr. Tamayo, a Mexican painter who died in 1999.

“The college made a strategic decision for what we needed to do to bring the institution back to financial stability,” Randolph spokeswoman Brenda Edson said of the college’s decision to sell the four artworks.

The college estimated the painting would sell for between $2 million and $3 million.

Randolph officials have estimated that sales of “Troubadour” and the other three works could bring $50 million to add to the school’s $152 million endowment.

“We still have work to do,” Miss Edson said.

LOUISA

Coach denies soliciting sex

Suspended Howard University soccer coach Joseph Okoh pleaded not guilty to a charge of using the Internet to solicit sex with a teenage girl.

Mr. Okoh entered his plea yesterday in Louisa County Circuit Court. Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Garrett said Mr. Okoh was returned to Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange without bail.

Police arrested Mr. Okoh on Jan. 25 at a Louisa County hotel, where police said he showed up to meet a 13-year-old girl he had talked with online for several hours.

His conversations were actually with a police investigator who was posing as a girl.

Mr. Okoh is scheduled for trial Nov. 12. A conviction calls for a mandatory minimum prison term of five years.

STAFFORD

Minister admits molesting boy

A 71-year-old Stafford County minister pleaded guilty to molesting a teenage boy in the mid-1980s.

The Rev. George O. Lowe pleaded guilt Tuesday in Circuit Court here to two counts of taking indecent liberties with a child. Seven other charges were dropped.

Lowe was removed as pastor of Mount Hope Baptist Church in Stafford earlier this year after he was indicted. He had served as the church’s pastor for 43 years.

Prosecutor Eric Olsen says Lowe molested the teen at the church in 1984 and 1985. The boy reported the abuse but police determined at the time that there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Olsen.

Police reopened the case last year.

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