- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 30, 2006

VIRGINIA

Students continue immigration walkouts

Students in Arlington and Prince William County were among those who walked out of schools yesterday for a third time this week in protest of a U.S. House-passed immigration enforcement bill that cracks down on illegal aliens.

About 175 students from Yorktown High School in Arlington staged an hourlong protest at the Harrison Street Shopping Center, then returned to school at about 11 a.m., school officials said.

About 60 students walked out of Stonewall Jackson High School in Manassas, officials said. Forty left Woodbridge, Lakeridge and possibly other high schools. The protests were not held on school grounds.

Prince William County school officials said students involved in any further walkouts would be kept out of school without the opportunity to make up assignments and not allowed back pending a conference with their parents.

“It’s very clear that they’ve made their point to lawmakers and to the media that they have serious issues with the legislation,” spokesman Phil Kavitz said. “We understand that the students can be very passionate, but there are other channels they can use to voice their concerns.”

ROANOKE

JMU student admits making racist threats

A James Madison University student admitted that he harassed and made racist threats to a Virginia Tech student.

Karl Harris, a JMU freshman from Dumfries, Va., signed an agreement saying he wrote a message on the residence hall door of a female Virginia Tech student that included the phrase “you deserve to be lynched.” The woman’s parents are from Bangladesh.

By signing a pretrial diversion agreement Tuesday, a charge that he violated the student’s civil rights will be dismissed if he follows certain requirements for the next 18 months. That includes undergoing anger management, diversity training and an alcohol treatment program.

He is barred from contacting the student or going onto the Blacksburg campus.

Mr. Harris and three other students harassed the woman for more than a half-hour, barring her way when she tried to use the bathroom and knocking on her door.

Mr. Harris wrote the message on a dry erase board on her door and signed it “Love, Karl.”

Federal prosecutors referred the case to the FBI as a civil rights violation.

A JMU spokeswoman says the university is reviewing the matter and hasn’t taken disciplinary action against Mr. Harris.

SPOTSYLVANIA

Group to preserve Civil War-era farm

The Civil War Preservation Trust has started a $12 million fundraising campaign to purchase the 205-acre Slaughter Pen Farm.

About 5,000 soldiers were killed or wounded on the site, part of the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862.

Trust spokesman Jim Campi said the land is virtually unchanged from what it looked like during the war.

Group members hope to raise the money through federal, state and local grants as well as private contributions. It is his group’s biggest fundraising effort to date, Mr. Campi said.

MARYLAND

ANNAPOLIS

Ehrlich will sign stem-cell bill

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. said yesterday that he will sign into law a bill setting aside $15 million for stem-cell research, after a final vote sent the bill his way.

The new law calls for Maryland to join a handful of states that fund stem-cell research on human embryos.

“It’s a major step in the right direction,” Mr. Ehrlich, a Republican, said after the House voted 90-48 to give it final approval.

Supporters cheered in the House gallery after the bill was approved, but its passage earlier this year was anything but assured.

Some lawmakers opposed the research because it requires the destruction of embryos, which is why the federal government gives money for research on adult stem cells alone.

Others said the governor should not be told how much to spend on the research.

CUMBERLAND

Animals killed in fire at family-run zoo

Scores of exotic reptiles, birds and monkeys perished yesterday in a fire at the Tri-State Zoological Park near Cumberland.

About 75 firefighters spent four hours battling the blaze and carrying squirming creatures from the building where the fire broke out shortly after 6:30 a.m., said Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Allen Gosnell.

“You can imagine the chaos,” he said.

The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.

Zoo owner Robert Candy said 70 to 100 animals died and the fire heavily damaged the building, a 50-year-old converted house with numerous additions that served as a winter home for warm-weather creatures and contained the zoo office. An additional 50 to 60 animals, including lions and tigers, were kept outside and survived the fire, Mr. Candy said.

He said he hoped to rebuild: “It’s hard to just take a dream and say forget it. You’ve got to move forward.”

Mr. Candy said he and his wife, Donna, established the 16-acre zoo three years ago. They were preparing to open for their fourth season when the fire struck.

“Our goal is to give all the animals a good home,” he said.

Many of the lizards, turtles, parrots, macaws and monkeys that died had been abandoned, abused or used for research, Mr. Candy said.

DISTRICT

City seeks plan for Walter Reed land

When Walter Reed Army Medical Center closes in 2011, the District wants to have a plan in place for redevelopment.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams has set up a Local Redevelop-ment Authority Committee to help come up with ideas for the sprawling campus in Ward 4.

The 17-member panel includes several city officials, as well as five community members.

Both the State Department and the General Services Administration have requested portions of the Walter Reed site.

Mr. Williams said he hopes federal officials will work with the city to help redevelop Walter Reed as a mixed-use project that includes retail and office space as well as homes and apartments that generate taxes.

But federal officials want to use the land for future embassy and office space.

IRS evacuated after electrical fire

An electrical fire at the Internal Revenue Service headquarters yesterday resulted in a short work day for about 3,000 employees.

The fire started in the basement of 1111 Constitution Ave., and the building was evacuated at about 9:30 a.m., an IRS spokesman said. There were no injuries.

The D.C. fire department responded to the alarms.

Because of smoke and a lack of electrical power, the building remained closed yesterday and will be closed today, the spokesman said.

Williams proposes $94 million for libraries

Mayor Anthony A. Williams proposed $94.5 million in new spending over the next five years to revitalize the city’s public libraries.

In recent years, the library’s operating budget has increased from $74 million to $170 million. The Bush administration also has proposed $30 million in federal grants to modernize library branches.

The centerpiece of the system could be a new $150 million central library, Mr. Williams said, but branches in many neighborhoods also would be rebuilt.

Cost estimates for the central library have run as high as $280 million.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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