- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 3, 2007



Investigators probe fire at school center

Fairfax County fire investigators yesterday were trying to determine what caused a three-alarm fire at a school administrative building in Annandale.

County fire department spokesman Dan Schmidt said the fire was reported about 4:40 a.m. at the Donald Lacey Instructional Center. About 150 Fairfax County school system employees normally work at the building on curriculum development.

Damage was estimated at about $1 million. No injuries were reported.

Mr. Schmidt said fire officials would have to make sure the building was safe before investigators could get inside to determine the cause of the fire.



5 children, 1 adult rescued from fire

Six persons were pulled from a burning home in Kensington, including five children.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer says firefighters rescued a woman and five children who were trapped in the home. They have all been taken to the hospital.

Mr. Piringer said several of the victims were found unconscious. The extent of their injuries was not known.

The fire was reported at about 1 p.m. yesterday in the 9800 block of Connecticut Avenue. The busy thoroughfare was closed in both directions as about 60 firefighters worked to put out the blaze.

The children included 15-month-old twin girls, a 3-year-old girl, a 7-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl.


Two inmates stabbed at state penitentiary

Two inmates were stabbed yesterday at the House of Correction in Jessup, a spokesman for the Division of Correction said.

The stabbings happened during a fight that broke out about 3:45 a.m. in the facility’s “H” dormitory, Division of Correction spokesman George Gregory said. He said the two men were assaulted by three other inmates.

“Weapons were recovered from the scene, and it’s under investigation,” Mr. Gregory said.

One of the injured inmates was taken by helicopter to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center, and the other was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, Mr. Gregory said.

Both men were later treated and released back to the House of Correction.

Both injured inmates were 23 years old. One was serving a 15-year sentence for assault and robbery with a deadly weapon. The other was serving a five-year sentence for assault and possession of drugs.

In July, correctional officer David McGuinn was fatally stabbed at the facility.


Quirky museum shutting its doors

After a seven-year run, Baltimore’s American Dime Museum is closing — for real this time, according to Dick Horne, the museum’s owner and curator.

Mr. Horne said all items were going up for auction in a few weeks because he just couldn’t afford to keep the museum open.

The American Dime Museum opened in 1999. It features Mr. Horne’s obsession with turn-of-the-century curiosity venues and circus freak shows.

Filmmaker John Waters said Baltimore was losing another great piece of its personality with the loss of the museum.

“Maybe it was just too good to be accepted by enough people,” he said.

It’s not the first time Mr. Horne has said he was closing. He announced plans to close it a year ago, but decided to keep trying.

This time, Mr. Horne said, it’s really over.


ACLU files suit over campaign signs

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Baltimore County over a new restriction on when campaign signs can be displayed, contending it violates free-speech rights.

An amendment to the county’s zoning laws that went into effect yesterday prohibits residents from putting up campaign signs on private property earlier than 45 days before a primary election. Unsuccessful candidates in primary elections also most remove their campaign signs within seven days after the polls close, and all candidates have to remove their signs seven days after the general election, under the new regulations.

The measure includes a potential $500 fine for violations, and it was passed by the County Council in December.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court on behalf of three former local candidates and four county residents who want to put political signs in their yards.

Similar attempts by local governments to restrict the display of political signs have been struck down in federal court.

But Baltimore County isn’t the only jurisdiction with such restrictions on political yard signs. The city of Baltimore and Anne Arundel, Harford and Howard counties have similar regulations. State law applies only to signs along roads, according to state elections officials.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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