- The Washington Times - Monday, July 3, 2006


Storms knock out power, down trees

Fast-moving thunderstorms knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers last night.

The winds knocked over many large trees, including one in Falls Church that injured two persons inside a house.

Some spots recorded wind gusts as high as 60 mph.

One Annandale resident told WTTG-TV (Channel 5) that “the rain was going sideways.” But the storm was so swift that it didn’t dump the soaking rains as did the storms that hit the area a week ago.

Dominion Virginia Power reported more than 59,000 outages in Northern Virginia. Potomac Electric Power Co. reported more than 29,000 outages, with 17,000 in Montgomery County and 9,000 in Prince George’s County.

Bay ferry study in final phase

A consulting firm will release the findings of a study this month about the economic effect of a ferry crossing between Crisfield, Md., and Reedville, Va.

The $70,000 study will be submitted to a two-state ferry review committee, which could decide whether the proposed vehicular water transport becomes reality.

The committee of officials from Somerset County, Md., and Northumberland County, Va., are expected to release the study results after a meeting Thursday with the Pennsylvania firm John C. Martin Associates LLC, said member Daniel Thompson, who also heads the Somerset County Office of Economic Development.

Until then, Mr. Thompson and others close to the process are keeping quiet about the draft report released in early June to members of the seven-member committee.

“The only thing I can say at this point is that we’re meeting to go over the draft document,” Mr. Thompson told the Salisbury, Md., Daily Times. “We are doing due diligence in gathering as much information as we can.”

The study is the latest perusal of a vehicular water transport across the southern tip of the Chesapeake Bay.

An estimated $800,000 in federal transportation money was approved last year to help implement a sizable portion of the project.



Pothole causes Bay Bridge backup

A big pothole on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge caused a nine-mile backup yesterday.

Teri Moss, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Transportation Authority Police, said the right eastbound lane of the bridge had to be closed because of a 1-by-3-foot pothole yesterday morning.

Miss Moss said the lane reopened about noon after a steel plate was put in place for a temporary fix. Concrete repairs were scheduled for last night and were expected to be completed before 5 a.m. today.


Boy, 17, drowns in reservoir

A 17-year-old boy drowned in shallow water last night while swimming illegally in Loch Raven Reservoir, Baltimore County fire officials said.

The teen, who was five days short of his 18th birthday, was pulled from about 7 feet of water about 8:40 p.m., a fire department spokeswoman said.

The boy and a female companion had waded out to an island about 200 feet from shore using a rocky ledge under the water to get there, spokeswoman Elise Armacost said.

They were trying to wade back using a different path when the ledge disappeared and the boy went under. He told his friend that he couldn’t swim, and she tried to help him, but was unable to do so without being pulled under. Two witnesses also tried to help.

Swimming is barred in all three county reservoirs, and warning signs are clearly posted, Miss Armacost said.

The teen’s body was found about 45 minutes after rescue workers were called, she said.


Two counties declared disaster areas

President Bush yesterday declared parts of Caroline and Dorchester counties major disaster areas.

The declaration clears the way for federal aid for areas hit hard by flooding during last week’s deluge.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said funding will be available in those counties to state and local governments and certain nonprofit organizations for repair of damage.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s initial request also covered Cecil, Harford and Montgomery counties. If the damage in those areas is found to be extensive enough, additional disaster designations can be made.

Mr. Ehrlich has estimated that the state will spend more than $10 million on recovery from the storm.

Six deaths in Maryland were attributed to the flooding.


New schools boss begins work today

The interim chief executive officer of Baltimore public schools, Charlene Cooper Boston, starts work today.

The struggling school system has been a hot political issue in the Maryland race for governor.

The state prosecutor’s office is investigating charges of financial misconduct by some former senior staff members. And the school system faces a long-running special-education lawsuit. The system also faces low performance in middle schools and state demands that it close school buildings to operate more efficiently.

Mrs. Boston is replacing Bonnie S. Copeland, who is leaving after nearly three years as chief executive officer. Mrs. Boston is returning to Baltimore after four years running Wicomico County public schools on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.


City makes a move on foundation’s land

The city is moving forward with taking control of property owned by a major foundation.

The city contends that the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation Inc. has stalled the key redevelopment project.

M.J. Brodie, president of the Baltimore Development Corp., says the city has alerted the foundation that it will have a month to respond to a formal offer to buy the land.

Mr. Brodie says that if the foundation declines, the city will apply for “quick-take” condemnation.

The Owings Mills-based nonprofit organization, a large landowner and one of the nation’s biggest foundations, holds about 60 percent of the six-block area.

It wants to develop the properties itself with the Cordish Co. of Baltimore.

But the city selected a New York developer early last year to redevelop the bulk of the area, including 12 of the Weinberg buildings.



Justice’s son sentenced for theft from employer

The son of Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leroy Hassell Sr. was jailed for more than 12 hours for stealing from his employer.

Henrico County Circuit Court Judge L.A. Harris Jr. on Friday gave Leroy Hassell Jr., 19, suspended sentences of 12 months in jail, $100 fines and 100 hours of community service on each of two misdemeanor charges of petit larceny and unlawful entry. Judge Harris also ordered a suspended term of two years in prison and supervised probation for a felony embezzlement charge.

Judge Harris then remanded the teenager to the custody of the sheriff for 12 hours.

Hassell Jr., who pleaded guilty April 5, originally was charged with burglary and grand larceny after the September burglary of a friend’s house. He later was charged with embezzlement in thefts from a Target store where he was working in December.

He had faced up to 20 years in prison on the embezzlement charge. Each misdemeanor charge carried a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail.

Defense attorney Steven Benjamin said his client will pay restitution for his crimes from construction work he is doing this summer.

Lawyer George Martin, a friend of the Hassell family, said the teenager has had to answer to a higher court — his parents. They took away his driving privileges and placed him on what amounts to house arrest.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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