- The Washington Times - Monday, March 27, 2006


Services set for slain officer

A memorial service will be held tomorrow for the Metropolitan Police Department officer who died last week in Northwest.

The service for Sgt. Gerard W. Burke Jr. will be held with full police honors at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church on 10th Street in Northwest. A funeral will be held next week in New York.

Police say Sgt. Burke, 39, died after calling in to check on a possible stolen vehicle while he was driving his sport utility vehicle. Authorities said his aorta ruptured and he lost control of the vehicle, which crossed the center line, hit a parked car, then spun around and hit a moving car. Police say the death occurred in the line of duty.



More gridlock in metro area

A new report shows that rush-hour congestion in the Baltimore area has worsened significantly in the past six years.

The report, commissioned by the Baltimore Metropolitan Council, also found that more roadways were having problems.

In 1999, 75 percent of the region’s highway-lane miles were rated as congestion-free during the evening rush hour. Last year, only 59 percent had that rating. According to the report, most of the areas of increasing congestion are outside the Baltimore Beltway, where people move to to avoid traffic snarls.

State highway engineers sometimes have unclogged one stretch of highway only to have the congestion move further up the road, according to the report.


First black graduate honored at academy

Wesley Brown, the first black graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, was honored Saturday on a stage next to what will become the Wesley Brown Field House.

The $45 million complex is to be completed in about two years. Academy officials say the building will be one of the premier sports facilities in the country.

Mr. Brown, 78, entered the academy in 1945 after five other black midshipmen failed to finish their first year. He said white midshipmen tried to force him out on demerits.

Adm. Michael Mullen, chief of naval operations, said Mr. Brown represents service to the country “as well as anybody that has ever put on a uniform.”


Man arrested in bank holdup

A Cumberland man has been arrested in connection with the robbery of a bank.

The Cumberland Police Department said Steven Russell, 37, robbed the Susquehanna Bank on Baltimore Street on Thursday.

Mr. Russell has been charged with robbery, second-degree assault and theft. Police executed a warrant at his Wallace Street home Friday and found evidence linking him to the crime.

Mr. Russell was arrested a short time later.


Man rescued from burning car

A Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service crew responding to a car fire Saturday night pulled a severely burned elderly man from the vehicle.

The incident occurred about 8 p.m. in the 3200 block of Magellan Avenue.

The victim, who has not been identified, remains in the hospital with life-threatening burns to his chest, head and face. Police are investigating the incident.


Washington Gas protests plant

Washington Gas is protesting another utility’s plans to expand the Cove Point liquefied natural-gas plant in Calvert County.

The project would almost double the amount of liquefied gas unloaded at the plant’s offshore terminal each year.

The plant’s owner, Virginia-based Dominion Power, is pursuing permits to begin construction by next year. Opponents accuse federal, state and local officials of not giving the expansion enough scrutiny.

Now, the protesters have an ally in Washington Gas. The company has filed with federal authorities a protest against the expansion.

Washington Gas claims that Dominion’s imported gas is responsible for numerous gas leaks in Prince George’s County over the past couple winters.

Washington Gas says the liquefied product can damage pipe fittings when it’s converted back to gas.



Doctors invited to join law students in class

The University of Richmond School of Law is offering a course in malpractice law. The course is thought to be one of the only ones in the country open to practicing doctors.

Sean Byrne, who teaches the course, says the goal is to address a wide gap in perceptions between the legal and medical professions. Mr. Byrne — who, as a lawyer has represented health care providers — says today’s lawyers frequently know little about the realities confronting doctors and that physicians often fail to understand the law.


‘Ghost Fleet’ shrinks by one more vessel

The fiftieth ship to leave the James River “Ghost Fleet” likely will depart this week, leaving 47 vessels still rusting in the water.

The USS Howard W. Gilmore, a decommissioned submarine tender from the World War II era, will be towed to a scrap yard in Chesapeake.

Its departure will leave just three ships labeled as high priorities for disposal because of their decrepit condition.

Most of them contain waste fuels, heavy oils, asbestos, lead, toxin and other chemicals that pose a threat to the James River.

Congress approved $21 million for the ship-disposal program this year.


Underside of bridge lit for night fishing

Lights are being installed under a Buggs Island Lake bridge in Clarksville to promote night fishing.

The lights are intended to attract millions of tiny feeder fish, which in turn will attract larger game fish, and, eventually, fishermen.

Carol Brown, president of the Clarksville Economic Development Association, said the 76 iridescent lights under the U.S. Business 58 bridge will create a one-of-a kind fishing experience.

The lights will be turned on for the first time at a Wednesday night ceremony.


Black Masonic lodge to be restored

Steps are being taken to restore the home of the oldest black Masonic lodge west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Records show that members of Mount Zion Lodge No. 18 began meeting in 1866 — one year after the Civil War ended — and continue to meet at the same location today.

The lodge may be the nation’s oldest black Masonic lodge that is still in its original location, said Sergei Troubetzkoy, author of a recent book chronicling the history of downtown Staunton.

It is not clear whether the Masons’ building was the original meeting place.

The facade likely dates to the 1880s, Mr. Troubetzkoy said, though it could be an addition to a much older structure.

The Masons originally owned only the third floor, while a family lived on the second floor and operated a store below.

Lodge members are working with city officials and architects to restore the building to its 19th century appearance.

“It’s an extraordinary building,” Mr. Troubetzkoy said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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