- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 19, 2006


Electrical malfunction cited in blaze

An electrical malfunction is to blame for a fire in a Georgetown apartment building, D.C. fire officials said yesterday.

The blaze broke out Saturday night in the 1300 block of Wisconsin Avenue. No one was hurt.

Heavy smoke and flames were seen coming from the building when firefighters arrived.

Traffic in and around Georgetown was snarled for hours because of the fire activity.

Paolo’s restaurant, which is located in the building, is expected to reopen within a few days.

Damage to the building is estimated at $250,000.



Foundations question school-closing plan

Three of Baltimore’s largest education foundations are questioning whether the city schools would be able to handle a school-closing plan.

The plan was proposed last week. It noted concerns about classroom space and bus routes.

The plan involves moving more than 5,300 students from five school buildings to 19 other schools in August.

Representatives of the Abell Foundation, the Fund for Educational Excellence and the Open Society Institute met with schools Chief Executive Officer Bonnie S. Copeland late last week and urged her to delay some of the closings.

The foundations say they are especially worried about the logistics of closing the Southwestern High School complex by summer.

School officials acknowledge that they might be rushing things a bit, saying they need to determine whether they’ve taken on more than they can handle before the school board votes on the plan March 28.


Boyfriend sought in woman’s slaying

Prince George’s County police are searching for a man wanted on suspicion of killing his girlfriend early yesterday.

Police said Sheila Morgan, 48, was inside her home in the 7200 block of Temple Hills Road at about 1 a.m. when a fight began with her boyfriend, John Walter Wynn, 59.

According to police, Mr. Wynn pulled a gun and began firing, killing the woman.

Police describe Mr. Wynn as a black man standing about 5 feet 6 inches tall and weighing about 160 pounds.

He was last seen wearing dark pants, a blue sweatshirt and a black skull cap.

Police say anyone with information should call 301/772-4925.


Miner killed in truck accident

A miner was killed in an accident at the Mettiki Coal Corp. mine in Garrett County on Friday, investigators say.

The death of Willard Junior Miller, 35, was the first mining fatality in Maryland in 10 years, according to the Maryland Coal Association.

Mr. Miller was killed after his locomotive truck ran into another locomotive truck about 10 p.m. Friday.

Rescue teams had Mr. Miller above ground within 30 minutes after the incident. He was transported to Garrett County Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Adrienne Ottaviani of the Maryland Coal Association said Mr. Miller’s death had nothing to do with any safety violation. She said it was like an automobile accident.


Faulty wiring ignites fire in building

Faulty wiring led to a fire that caused $1 million worth of damage in downtown Westminster yesterday, the state fire marshal’s office said.

The blaze damaged the three-story building that housed the Fat Cat Cafe and three apartments. The building is about 100 years old, making it one of the oldest in Westminster.

Investigators found that the fire started above the ceiling in the third-floor apartment, when electrical wiring failed.

The woman who lives there told investigators that the electrical breakers kept tripping, so she left and stayed with friends for the rest of the night.

More than 100 firefighters responded to the blaze, which was reported about 5:15 a.m. It took them more than two hours to bring the fire under control.

An occupant of the second apartment received a cut to the forehead.



Man killed in morning crash

A Fairfax City man died yesterday morning after his sport utility vehicle veered off the road, authorities said.

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said David Andrew Stevens, 24, was traveling east on Route 50 about 4 a.m. when his Lexus went into a ditch and then struck a culvert at the entrance to the Pleasant Valley United Methodist Church.

Kraig Troxell, a spokesman for the county sheriff’s office, said the SUV overturned and Mr. Stevens was ejected. He was airlifted to Washington Hospital Center, where he died.

Mr. Troxell said that the SUV’s air bags deployed and that an initial investigation indicates Mr. Stevens was not wearing a seat belt.


Trooper killed in gun accident

A Virginia State Police trooper was killed Saturday when a gun inside a vehicle being moved after a wreck discharged, striking him in the chest, police said.

The trooper has not been identified pending family notification.

Police said two troopers responded to a single-vehicle crash just after noon on Route 649 in Clarke County.

Two occupants in the Ford Ranger pickup truck were arrested at the scene on alcohol-related charges, state police said.

As the damaged truck was being moved shortly before 2 p.m., a gun inside it went off, striking one of the troopers.

The other trooper was not injured.

The injured trooper was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he died about 2:45 p.m., police said.

Investigators from the VSP Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Culpeper office retrieved the gun.


Fines possible for scallop violations

Several Virginia commercial fishermen could be fined nearly $1 million or face permit restrictions for violating federal harvesting rules, authorities said.

The violations are a reflection of a growing scallop fishery.

Federal statistics show the industry has grown from $41 million worth in 2000 to $92 million in 2004 in Virginia.

The state’s richest fishery is concentrated on the Eastern Shore and in Virginia Beach. Some vessels go far offshore for weeks at a time.

All the accused violators go on day trips off the coast and are supposed to stay under a 400-pound-per-trip quota. The federal accusations involved the 2004 harvest.

Some of the fishermen violated that quota on numerous occasions, authorities said.

A Maryland company that bought the shellfish also faces penalties, authorities said.


Researchers push raising hay

It’s an area better known for its peanuts, but researchers are in Suffolk trying to make more hay for the horse population.

Agricultural officials from Virginia Tech are trying to bring hay back into southeastern Virginia. Part of the motivation is the big money in the equine industry.

Researchers brought their first “hay school” to the Tidewater Agricultural Research and Extension Center last week as part of a statewide tour promoting raising hay for the growing horse population.

Chris Teutsch, a forage extension specialist at Virginia Tech, said hay has not been a profitable crop for years because of the area’s high humidity.

Now, new technology, modern harvesting equipment and better and safer chemicals to control weeds and disease have opened a new market.

Hay has not been emphasized in Virginia for decades, especially in the Hampton Roads area, where row crops such as peanuts did well.

But amid the decline in peanuts locally and the decline in tobacco in other areas of the state, farmers are looking for alternatives.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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