- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Mayor kicks off countdown to march

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty is officially starting the countdown to the D.C. Voting Rights March with the unveiling of a new banner over the main entrance of the John A. Wilson Building.

The red-and-white banner announces the march scheduled for Monday, which starts at Freedom Plaza.

At a press conference yesterday Mr. Fenty urged people to stand up for the District’s rights. He said the nation needs to know that D.C. residents are Americans, too.

Mr. Fenty expects thousands to come out, especially since it is an official day off for D.C. schools and city government offices. Monday marks D.C. Emancipation Day.

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, said when it comes to the need for equal voting representation, D.C. residents “get it,” but the rest of the nation does not. Mr. Mendelson said the struggle for national visibility is as important as the fight for the vote itself.

Symposium analyzes Mall expansion plans

The Mall is running out of space, but that could spur new ideas for how to develop the nation’s capital for the future.

A symposium today at the National Building Museum will explore ways to rethink memorials and museums and where they should go. City planners are looking for ways to broaden the image of Washington beyond the Mall.

Some fairly radical ideas are being tossed around for the next 100 years. They include tearing down the elevated highways that cut off the southern part of the city, building a museum where RFK Stadium now stands, and moving the Supreme Court from the shadows of Congress to near the Jefferson Memorial.

Judy Scott Feldman, chairwoman of the National Coalition to Save Our Mall, argues that the Mall needs to be expanded like it was 100 years ago when the Lincoln Memorial was built at its west end.

But other planners are looking beyond the Mall to integrate memorials and museums with the rest of the city.

Burning cigar started house fire

Fire investigators have determined that a woman who fell asleep while smoking a cigar caused a two-alarm blaze yesterday morning in Northeast.

No one was injured in the fire. Fire department spokesman Alan Etter said the woman tried to put out the flames, but the fire got out of control.

Three row house apartments are uninhabitable, and eight persons are looking for temporary housing.

Damage to the building is estimated at $150,000.



Groom saves mother, tuxedo from fire

Lisa Nelson calls her husband the bravest man she has ever seen.

As her house went up in flames hours before their wedding, Rocky Nelson rescued his mother from the blaze, then rescued his tuxedo.

The couple married 12 hours later on Saturday at a church in Ridgeway.

Several relatives, including Mr. Nelson’s parents, were staying at the house Friday night when it caught fire. He helped his mother escape from the house, grabbed his tuxedo and unhooked the home’s propane tanks, throwing them away from the flames.

Martinsville fire officials were still trying to determine the cause of the fire, which destroyed the house.

The blaze derailed the couple’s plans to spend their first days as a married couple in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. They are honeymooning instead in Martinsville.

The newlyweds aren’t sure where they are going to live, but Mrs. Nelson says what is important is that they still have their family.


Victim of shooting near church identified

Richmond police have identified the man killed in a drive-by shooting near a church Sunday as Rufus Tolbert Jr., 58, of Richmond.

Police also say they arrested Philip Bagby, 19, of Richmond.

Witnesses told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that five teenage boys were standing on a sidewalk where Mr. Tolbert was walking when the gunfire erupted. Only Mr. Tolbert was struck.

Police spokeswoman Mary-Hope Gangwer said investigators have only said that Mr. Tolbert was walking down the street and was the victim in a drive-by shooting.

The newspaper reported that police said the shooting stemmed from an argument the night before involving the suspects and Mr. Tolbert. The shooting happened near First Baptist Church of South Richmond, after Easter services had let out. Some churchgoers, including the teens, were still in the area when the shooting happened.



Young boys charged for open field fire

State fire investigators have charged four boys with setting a fire in an open field.

It happened about 11 a.m. Monday at the intersection of Chestnut Lane and Tuscany Drive.

Frederick County fire marshals identified two 11-year-olds, a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old. They were charged with possession of an incendiary device and reckless endangerment.

The boys used common household products to make incendiary devices that damaged about a quarter of an acre of grassland.

State fire marshals responded and released the boys to their parents pending future action by the Department of Juvenile Services.


Water taxi viewed as bridge alternative

Visitors to two of the region’s top tourist destinations will be able to cruise the Potomac to take in the sights.

The Potomac Riverboat Co. announced plans to add water-taxi service between the Alexandria City Marina and National Harbor beginning next April. The new service will run 50 trips each day between National Harbor in Prince George’s County and Old Town Alexandria.

Plans call for the service to be available from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day. The 20-minute boat trip will be an alternative to driving across the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge for tourists and commuters.

The Potomac Riverboat Co. already operates five vessels providing excursions and water-taxi service between the District, Alexandria, Georgetown and Mount Vernon.

The company is adding two 99-seat water taxis to its fleet for the new route.


Counselor helped teen flee center

The Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office said a Morning Star Youth Academy counselor helped a 17-year-old boy escape from the facility, driving him to West Virginia and Kentucky before dropping him off in Ohio.

Amanda Mae Beavers, 25, of Mardela Springs, is charged with second-degree child abuse by a custodian. She turned herself in Friday and was released on bail.

Investigators said the boy escaped early March 30. Miss Beavers reported to work that night, but left an hour later, saying her father was ill.

On Friday, police said Miss Beavers’ mother called 911 and said the teen had been at her house in Bradshaw, W.Va., for three days. She told police said she was suspicious because of the boy’s age and how he would kiss and hug her daughter.

Miss Beavers and the boy left West Virginia, but she returned a call from a detective and said she had dropped him off in Ohio after an argument. She agreed to drive back from Kentucky and turned herself in.


Car crashes into restaurant

A woman drove her car into a Chili’s restaurant, hitting three persons sitting at a table in the restaurant, an Anne Arundel County fire official said.

It happened about 12:30 p.m. in the 2300 block of Riva Road.

Battalion Chief Michael Cox said the 48-year-old woman drove the Chrysler Sebring completely into the Florida room area at the Chili’s and hit a table injuring three patrons.

The injured were taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis with injuries not considered life threatening. The driver was not injured.

Chief Cox said it was not clear why the car left the road and hit the building.


Man gets 36 years for hitting bicyclist

A Baltimore man was sentenced to three decades in prison for running over a bicyclist in a stolen car.

Keon Stokes, 29, was sentenced yesterday to 36 years in prison, state prosecutors said. He was convicted last month of second-degree murder, use of a handgun in a crime of a violence, car theft and arson.

In the summer of 2005, prosecutors said Stokes stole a car and hit and killed Kurt Fulp, 20, who was riding his bike. Stokes fled and later set the car on fire. When police responded to the car fire, they were able to match it up to the vehicle that hit Mr. Fulp.


Shelter reopened because of cold

Freezing temperatures have prompted officials to reopen an emergency shelter that closed for the season last month.

The Rev. Brian Scott, executive director of the Religious Coalition for Emergency Human Needs, said the agency put a call out to its 300 volunteers and reopened the Alan P. Linton Jr. Emergency Shelter over the weekend.

The shelter opens each November at the first frost, and Mr. Scott said it usually closes in March when spring weather arrives. He said this is the first year the shelter has had to reopen in the same season.

By Sunday night, 26 persons went to the shelter to escape the cold.

The agency plans to close the shelter again this morning, and doesn’t expect to reopen this season.


Auto thieves sentenced in vandalism spree

A Washington County judge sentenced two men who stole several vehicles from a dealership and went on a romp around the county destroying lawns, crops and vehicles to 18 months in jail.

Anthony Allen McChesney, 19, and Marc Anore Given, 20, pleaded guilty to the theft and destruction of vehicles.

Prosecutors said they stole several new and used vehicles from the Sharrett dealership on Auto Place Road in July.

McChesney and Given were sentenced to six years in prison with all but 18 months suspended and were given some credit for time served.

Clarence Eugene Huffman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary and felony theft scheme. The judge ordered a presentence investigation for Huffman, who was taken into custody after his hearing.


Dangerous chemicals found in groundwater

High levels of two dangerous chemicals have been found in the groundwater beneath a Citgo gas station in Monrovia.

The chemicals — benzene and MTBE — are gasoline additives.

The Frederick County Health Department said there is no indication the contamination has moved beyond the gas station site, but all property owners within a half-mile of Green Valley Citgo will be notified of the sampling results.

Benzene was detected at a level about 13 times the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum contamin-ant level. And methyl tertiary butyl ether was found to be thousands of times more concentrated than the EPA limit.

State environmental officials have ordered the gas station owner to conduct extensive testing and sampling.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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