- The Washington Times - Friday, June 30, 2006


Transplant recipient to open ballgame

A two-time organ-transplant recipient from Springfield will throw out the first pitch tonight at a Washington Nationals game at RFK Stadium in recognition of Organ Donor Awareness Day.

Antonio Benedi, 50, who received a liver and later a kidney, said he will do anything to help raise awareness for organ donation.

“I am very blessed to have had [an organ donation] not once, but twice,” Mr. Benedi said. “That is why I am throwing a baseball.”

Mr. Benedi serves as board chairman of the Washington Regional Transplant Consortium, which works with the 40 hospitals and seven transplant centers in the District, Maryland and Northern Virginia to obtain donated organs for patients desperately in need of them.

Representatives of the group will staff a booth at the stadium and talk to fans about becoming organ donors.

There are more than 2,200 people in the District, Maryland and Northern Virginia awaiting an organ transplant, according to the consortium. Most of them are waiting for a kidney transplant — one of the only organs that can be donated by a living person.

Zoo moves birds for fear of flu

The National Zoo’s petting farm is now poultry-free to guard against possible bird flu.

The zoo said none of the chickens or ducks is infected with avian flu, and no potentially deadly H5N1 flu cases have been reported in North America.

But the zoo is still moving the barnyard birds to a facility in Front Royal, Va., as a precaution.

Zoo Director John Berry said zookeepers want to be “extra cautious” because the Kids’ Farm is one of the only Smithsonian exhibits where children are actively encouraged to touch.

None of the other National Zoo bird exhibits is affected.



Deck collapse injures five persons

Five persons are being treated for injuries after a deck collapsed from the side of a house in Prince George’s County.

Mark Brady, a spokesman for the county fire department, said as many as 10 people might have been on the two-story deck when it collapsed in the 12600 block of Thrush Place.

One person was trapped under the debris of the deck and was treated for injuries not thought to be life-threatening.


Court reverses ruling upholding police firing

Maryland’s second-highest court has reversed a lower court decision that upheld the firing of former Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Clark.

Yesterday’s ruling by the Court of Special Appeals sends the case back to Baltimore City Circuit Court.

Mayor Martin O’Malley fired Mr. Clark in November 2004, saying domestic abuse claims against the commissioner had become a distraction to fighting crime.

Mr. Clark filed a lawsuit seeking $120 million in damages and reinstatement to his job.

The suit contends that state law prohibited Mr. O’Malley from firing him without cause.

The appeals court agreed, noting that the city police department is a state agency and the mayor’s power over it has been limited by the General Assembly.



Kaine signs budget after lengthy session

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine signed the most-belated state budget in Virginia history yesterday.

“We still have 111/2 hours till the end of the fiscal year. Why do we need to rush this thing?” Mr. Kaine joked.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly ended its historic budget impasse by passing the two-year, $72 billion spending plan on June 20 — a mere 10 days before expiration of the old budget.

Legislators ended their regular 60-day session without a budget on March 11 after the Senate and the House of Delegates were unable to agree on funding for transportation improvements. Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, called them back into session later in the month.

He said that for a while in early April, he was worried that the legislature would fail to enact a budget before the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

But after that “momentary blip,” he said, he became confident a compromise would be reached.

The final product was worth waiting for, he said, praising its additional funding for health care, education, mental health restructuring and environmental protection.


Judge denies request for shorter sentence

A man sentenced to 10 years in prison in the death of a 3-year-old boy who was in his care will not get reduced time, a judge ruled yesterday.

Spotsylvania Circuit Judge Ann Hunter Simpson denied a request by Herman Black to have his sentence reduced in the death of Tyreek Davis.

Attorneys for Black, 47, had requested the reduction because Black eventually led police to the toddler’s body.

Black, who was the boyfriend of Tyreek’s mother, pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and felony child neglect in January but at the time refused to tell authorities where to find the body.

In February, with Black’s help, Tyreek’s body was found in a metal drum in 17 to 20 feet of water in a creek that feeds into Lake Anna.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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