- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 15, 2007



Elderly man killed in morning fire

A fire at a motel early yesterday killed an elderly man and displaced four others.

Fire officials said the blaze broke out at about 12:40 a.m. at the Town and Country Motel, which has been used as apartments.

Firefighters responding to the scene found the man dead on arrival. His name and age were not released.

Lt. Opie Clunie said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.


Segway to be used for Antietam tours

Visitors to Antietam National Battlefield soon will be able to ride around on motorized scooters.

Jeff Hutman is organizing the tours, which are expected to start in May.

Tours also will be offered in Fort Frederick State Park, Hagerstown, and Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

Antietam has 8 miles of paved roads with speed limits of 25 mph or less. Park Superintendent John Howard said Mr. Hutman’s Segways can use the park roads.

For $85, tourists get a two-hour guided tour of the park plus a half-hour lesson on how to use the Segways. But Mr. Hutman said it takes only a few minutes to learn how to ride them.


Boy critically burned by drain cleaner

Baltimore County fire officials say a 2-year-old boy was critically burned yesterday after someone splashed industrial-strength drain cleaner all over an elementary-school playground.

Division Chief Michael Robinson said the boy was burned mostly on his legs. He was taken to the Johns Hopkins pediatric burn unit.

Baltimore County police are investigating. Sgt. Vickie Warehime, a police spokeswoman, said someone broke into a storage facility at Victory Villa Elementary School and stole the drain cleaner, then poured it all over the playground equipment.

The boy was the only person injured. He went to the playground with his parents yesterday afternoon, and they took him to Franklin Square Hospital. Officials said the boy and his parents tracked in some of the drain cleaner with them, and that led hospital officials to evacuate the emergency room.

Sgt. Warehime said whoever was responsible for the crime probably suffered some minor burns as the drain cleaner was splashed around. Anyone who might have information was asked to call police.


Residents not told about contamination

State officials have known since 2004 about water contamination around a gas station, but residents who live nearby didn’t find out until this week.

The Maryland Department of the Environment said contamination has spread to the water supply of at least one owner.

The Frederick News Post reported that the resident is one of 11 property owners whose groundwater was tested for contamination in March.

Officials at the environmental department’s oil-control program found out about the problems in late 2004 at the Green Valley Citgo and think the contamination is a result of escaping vapors in the soil — not a physical leak.

The Frederick County Health Department learned of the contamination April 6 and sent letters to residents early this week.



School officials say tuition will increase

Virginia Tech’s president says annual tuition increases of 10 percent and a greater reliance on private gifts are in the school’s future.

Charles Steger addressed the Virginia Tech Faculty Senate last week.

He said Virginia’s universities “dodged a bullet” when legislators settled on taking $69 million out of the general fund to use for transportation rather than the $250 million originally discussed.

The state’s general fund supports health care, education and public-safety programs.

Mr. Steger said he has discussed with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine the possibility of a higher-education bond issue next year. The bond would provide $2 billion in aid to the state’s public universities.

At the Blacksburg school, there will be more construction and higher operating costs.

With increasing enrollment, Mr. Steger said, that all adds up over five years to a tuition that will likely be about 50 percent higher than it is today.


Police pressured to fold poker games

The Virginia Fraternal Order of Police is folding its Texas Hold ‘em poker tournaments because of continuing questions about the legality of the games.

Since last summer, the group has raised nearly $90,000 for private education and other causes with the tournament held in a bingo hall in Portsmouth.

Its demise follows months of debate among officials in the city and elsewhere because of what some say is Virginia’s vague law on gambling.

The key factor is whether the games are primarily of skill or if they largely involve chance. The law defines illegal gambling as making a bet on a game that is a matter of chance.

But another part of the law says nothing will prevent any contest of skill where participants may receive prizes or a percentage of the money.


Settlement anniversary celebrated statewide

While 2007 marks the 400th anniversary of Jamestown, other places throughout the state also are getting in on the act.

More than 170 cities, towns and counties are opening exhibitions and holding other events as part of the Virginia 2007 Community Program.

No other area, though, may be as connected to the anniversary as Virginia Beach.

Before the Colonists arrived at Jamestown, they first landed at Cape Henry in what is now the coastal resort city.

Virginia Beach is aiming to emphasize this often-overlooked bit of historical significance with events including a re-enactment of that landing.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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