- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 9, 2007


Capitol Hill bar, shop damaged by fire

A bar and a gift shop on Capitol Hill have been damaged by a fire.

Officials said the fire was reported shortly before 5 a.m. yesterday in the 200 block of Pennsylvania Avenue.

A tarp covering some furniture behind the Capitol Lounge caught fire, although investigators are not sure how.

The lounge and the neighboring Trover Gift shop were damaged and both are closed for now.

The Capitol Lounge was the scene of a serious fire two years ago.



English declared official language

The Culpeper County Board of Supervisors has unanimously approved a resolution declaring English the county’s official language.

The board also voted Tuesday to join other localities in seeking the General Assembly’s help dealing with issues stemming from illegal aliens, including the costs of providing services.

It marked the first action taken by the county’s governing board on the issue.

Loudoun and Prince William counties have passed similar resolutions in the past several months.

Steve Walker, the rules committee’s chairman, said counties have limited authority to make significant changes regarding illegal immigration. But he said the counties might be able to suggest legislation to the General Assembly that would authorize specific actions once the localities determine what they need to do.


Tech shooting probe update tomorrow

Virginia State Police and Virginia Tech officials tomorrow will provide an update on the investigation into the April 16 shootings at the Blacksburg school that left 33 persons dead, officials said yesterday.

Virginia State Police Superintendent W. Steven Flaherty and Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum will address the press tomorrow morning in Roanoke, said Corinne Geller, a spokeswoman for the Virginia State Police.

“We just felt it was time to do an investigative update,” Miss Geller said. “We’re at a stage now, about four months into the investigation, and we have some new information that we’d like to release.”

Miss Geller said officials also plan to correct or confirm other information that has circulated in the press since the shootings. She also said the updates are “detail-related” and stressed the investigation is still “very active” and ongoing.

On April 16, Seung-hui Cho killed two students in a dormitory and then two hours later stormed four classrooms in Norris Hall, killing 30 students and faculty and injuring dozens more before committing suicide.


Old ship’s cannon now upright

A massive cannon recovered from the wreck of the USS Monitor in 2000 is now upright thanks to two 20-ton hoists and an ingenious doughnut-shaped turning cradle.

Conservators in Newport News yesterday used the techniques to right one of the upside-down cannons that weighs about 17,000 pounds.

The 13-foot-long Dahlgren gun helped the Civil War ironclad make naval history when it squared off with the armored CSS Virginia in the 1862 Battle of Hampton Roads.

Neither of the ship’s guns have been upright since it sank and landed upside down off Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Now upright, onlookers at the Mariners’ Museum can inspect the commemorative post-battle engraving on the top of the barrel.



Candy wrappers lead police to burglars

A police dog had an easy time tracking people who broke into a gasoline station by following a trail of candy wrappers the burglars left, Anne Arundel police said.

Four teenagers broke into a gasoline station early yesterday and left a trail of candy bar wrappers along the road as they left, said Cpl. Mark Shawkey, a spokesman for the Anne Arundel County Police Department.

The police dog located the teens a quarter-mile away.

“Never heard of a K-9 having that extra help in completing a track,” Cpl. Shawkey said.

Three boys and a girl, ages 15 and 16, were charged with burglary and theft. They were not named because of their ages.

Cpl. Shawkey said the teens stole candy, chips and cigars from the BP station. Most of the junk food was found scattered around the road where they were apprehended.


Suspect in abuse case returns to prison

A Liberian man whose sexual abuse case was dismissed last month because of problems finding an interpreter for his native language is back in police custody for failing to appear at a court hearing on prosecution efforts to reinstate the charges, authorities said.

Mahamu Kanneh of Gaithersburg was taken into custody in Philadelphia by city police Monday night after he did not appear at a hearing last Friday. Prosecutors hoped to impose conditions on his release while they appeal the July decision by a Montgomery Circuit Court judge to dismiss the charges.

Mr. Kanneh tried to escape through a back door when Philadelphia police arrived at the residence where he was staying, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Darren Popkin said.

Mr. Kanneh could be returned to the county as early as today.

In July, charges that Mr. Kanneh sexually abused two young girls were dismissed by a judge who concluded his right to a speedy trial had been violated. That came after several years during which the court struggled to find a qualified interpreter who spoke Vai, a relatively rare West African language.

Montgomery prosecutors filed a motion last week asking a judge to impose release conditions on Mr. Kanneh. Those included no contact with the children, electronic monitoring, surrender of his passport and limits on travel outside of the state.

Mr. Kanneh’s attorney, Theresa Chernosky, objected to the request, saying her client had never before tried to violate the terms of his pretrial supervision. She said at the Friday hearing that she could not locate Mr. Kanneh and that he had not been notified of the hearing.


Officials to improve dental services

The death of a boy from a tooth infection that spread to his brain has prompted the University of Maryland Dental School and a health care company to sign an agreement in an effort to improve pediatric dental services for low-income families in the state.

The agreement was signed yesterday by Dr. Norman Tinanoff, the dental school chairman, and Dr. Allen Finkelstein, chief dental officer of AmeriChoice, a UnitedHealth Group company.

Deamonte Driver, a 12-year-old Prince George’s County boy, died Feb. 25 after two operations and six weeks of hospital care, long after he first had trouble with his tooth.

Under the agreement, AmeriChoice will provide the dental school with more than $170,000 each year for new services and programs designed to make it easier for children to receive dental care.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Maryland Democrat, has introduced a measure called Deamonte’s Law, which would increase dental services in community health centers and train more people in pediatric dentistry.


Witnesses sought in fatal shooting

Howard County police are searching for two witnesses to a fatal Ellicott City shooting earlier this summer.

Police found Moeen Raja, 21, dead about midnight June 22 at an apartment building parking lot on West Spring Drive. Police said he was shot and rammed his car into other vehicles while trying to escape his attackers.

A police spokeswoman said officers only want to talk to the witnesses. She said police think two men got into a silver sport utility vehicle at the scene, but police don’t think they were the shooters.

Police want an anonymous caller who had information about the car Mr. Raja was in to call them again.


Police to test scanning gear

Maryland State Police are starting a pilot program to speed up traffic stops by using computer equipment in troopers’ cars to scan the bar codes on driver’s licenses.

The computer fills in the driver’s name and address for a traffic ticket and speeds the process of checking records for any outstanding warrants. The program also is designed to cut down on mistakes created when a trooper writes a ticket by hand.

Twenty troopers assigned to the Bel Air, Golden Ring and Westminster barracks are testing the technology until the end of the year.

“This is an exciting leap forward in the technological capabilities available to our troopers on patrol,” Superintendent Col. Terrence Sheridan said.

Greg Shipley, a spokesman for the state police, said officers in the pilot program are currently issuing warnings. After testing, troopers plan to issue citations through the system by October.

State police will offer the software developed in this program to other police departments free of charge.

State police are also working with the District Court of Maryland to develop an electronic transfer of citation information. The traffic violation data collected by troopers during the pilot program is being electronically transferred to the court as part of the testing process.


Man killed while helping motorist

A truck hit and killed a Caroline County man who was helping a stranded motorist, Maryland State Police said.

The incident happened Monday evening in Easton when Cory Ball, 31, was loading a disabled sport utility vehicle onto another truck. Police said Mr. Ball was struck by a pickup driven by Felix Sanchez, 49.

Mr. Ball was pronounced dead at Memorial Hospital.

Mr. Ball worked for Grant’s Automotive in Easton and was an eight-year veteran with the Denton Volunteer Fire Company. He was named Fire Officer of the Year in 2006.

State police are investigating the crash.


Man leaves estate to Frederick society

A Frederick native who traveled the world collecting art and antiques has left his entire estate, worth more than $1 million, to the Historical Society of Frederick County, the organization has announced.

David Reed’s gift is the largest bequest that the organization has received, Executive Director Mark Hudson said Monday.

“For the first time in five or six years, we’re debt free,” Mr. Hudson said.

He said Mr. Reed left Frederick as a young man and lived abroad for many years before returning to settle in Washington, where he died in June 2005 at age 75. Mr. Reed had no children and apparently never married, Mr. Hudson said.

Mr. Hudson said he knew Mr. Reed planned to leave something to the society, but the size of the gift was a surprise.

“Dave indicated he would leave some furniture from his estate,” Mr. Hudson said.

The society might use the money for a new research center, Mr. Hudson said.


Woman gets year for ‘negligent parenting’

A Cecil County woman who authorities said left her daughter in an unsafe home has been sentenced to a year in prison.

Beth Jackson, 36, was charged under the state’s negligent parenting law, called “rendering a child in need of assistance.”

Court records show Jackson allowed her 6-year-old daughter to spend weekends with her estranged husband, Robert Jackson Jr., whose dirty home included dog feces and a faulty furnace that leaked carbon monoxide.

Beth Jackson told police that she knew about the condition of the home, but lacked the willpower to stand up to her estranged husband.

She pleaded guilty and was sentenced last week.

Robert Jackson died in February, a death investigators ruled accidental due to carbon-monoxide poisoning.

The girl, who was in the home that day, was treated for carbon-monoxide poisoning.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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