- The Washington Times - Monday, January 15, 2007



Fire leaves some homeless

Some residents of an apartment complex were left temporarily homeless by an early morning fire yesterday.

The blaze broke out just after 1 a.m. in a three-story garden-style apartment building in the unit block of Cindy Lane.

Prince George’s fire department spokesman Mark Brady said firefighters rescued seven persons from the upper floors of the building. Six of those residents were rescued from their balconies.

Residents of three apartments temporarily will be displaced by damage to the building. Investigators said the fire was caused by a child playing with matches or a lighter. Damage is estimated at $30,000.


Police arrest man after assault

Anne Arundel County Police charged a man with attempted murder after an assault in Glen Burnie.

David Wesley, 42, of Hanover, and Walter Bair, 39, of Middletown, Pa., broke into Michael Dabrasky’s home through a window and assaulted him, police said. Mr. Dabrasky, 43, of Forest Road, is Mr. Wesley’s brother-in-law.

Police said the men were charged with arson for starting a fire in the front yard of the home.

Mr. Wesley was charged with attempted first-degree murder, first-degree arson, burglary and assault. Police were searching for Mr. Bair who is charged with arson, burglary and assault.


Ex-jail guard sentenced for sexual conduct

A former corrections officer was fined $1,500 and sentenced to two years’ probation after admitting he had sex with a female inmate.

Leon Alexander, 21, a former Cecil County Detention Center guard, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty in November.

Cecil County Circuit Judge O. Robert Lidums said he considered Mr. Alexander’s age, clean record and favorable statements by his parents.

Mr. Alexander told the judge he has maintained a relationship with the woman who is no longer an inmate.

Last month, Bruce Bradwell, 53, of Newark, Del., was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to kissing and hugging a female inmate while on duty at the same detention center. A third county corrections officer charged in a recent investigation into similar conduct has a trial scheduled in March.


Rehab program used to curb school fights

Students in grades six through 12 who fight more than once in Somerset County schools will go to a state rehabilitation program under a new school policy taking effect Feb. 1.

First-time fighters face up to a five-day suspension, and they may not participate in extracurricular activities for five times the length of their suspension, Superintendent Karen-Lee N. Brofee said.

Drug screening with parental consent, anger management and counseling sessions with a parent present are required for students with one- to three-day suspensions before they can return to school. Repeat offenders can be sent to a state rehabilitation program and could also face criminal charges.


Police identify man killed in car crash

A 38-year-old Smithsburg man was killed Sunday when his vehicle veered off Route 77 and crashed into several trees, state police said.

Police said Mitchell Rose was driving westbound in a Hyundai Santa Fe when he swerved off the road. Police were investigating how the crash occurred. They said two unidentified witnesses left the scene before police arrived.



County seeks funds for pet evacuation

Fairfax County officials will ask for $200,000 in grant money from the Department of Homeland Security to develop a better pet evacuation and care plan during major disasters.

Emergency planners said they can evacuate and shelter only a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of domestic animals in the Washington area if an act of terrorism or natural catastrophe takes place.

Last year, Congress passed the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act to ensure state and local governments address the needs of pets during emergencies. President Bush signed the measure into law in October.

If the grant is approved, the county police department’s Animal Services Division will use the funds to hire a consultant to help develop a plan.

Fairfax officials said their plans recognize the strong link between pets and their owners, which was evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

“People drowned because they didn’t want to leave their animals,” said Michael Lucas, Fairfax’s chief animal-control officer.

Thousands of pets died or were separated from their owners after Katrina. The Humane Society of the United States, which supported the federal legislation, has said that 10,000 animals in Louisiana and Mississippi were rescued. But the animal-protection organization said many more were left behind.


Religion professor picked for cross debate

College of William & Mary religion professor David Holmes will debate conservative pundit Dinesh D’Souza about the controversy over the Wren Chapel cross.

School President Gene Nichol made the decision to remove a brass cross from permanent display in the chapel, saying he wanted to make the space more welcoming to all religions. Last month, he compromised by returning the cross to the altar on Sundays.

But that has not appeased those who say the cross should return permanently.

Earlier this month, Mr. D’Souza challenged Mr. Nichol to a debate over his decision.

Mr. Holmes, who specializes in American religious history, will debate instead.


Two planes make emergency landings

Two planes with equipment problems landed safely yesterday at Washington Dulles International Airport.

United Express Flight 5663 from Portland, Maine, to Dulles landed about 5:30 p.m. after reporting a problem with its nose landing gear, officials with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said. The plane landed without incident, and none of the more than 60 people on board was injured.

Delta Air Lines Flight 1833 from New York’s LaGuardia Airport to West Palm Beach, Fla., was diverted to Dulles because a landing-gear door did not close properly, Delta spokesman Anthony Black said. The plane with 97 passengers and five crew landed about 6:10 p.m. No one was hurt. Passengers were put on another plane and continued their trip.


Siblings survive crash of car into their room

A young brother and sister were OK last night after a car crashed into their bedroom early yesterday morning.

Police said Leodegario Rodriguez, 22, was driving home from Harrisonburg on U.S. 250 when he fell asleep about 2 a.m. His 2000 Ford Focus drifted off the road and landed in Garrett and Kylie Smith’s bedroom.

Garrett, 5, was taken to University of Virginia Medical Center. His sister Kylie, 3, was sleeping in another bed and escaped injury.

Mr. Rodriguez had minor scratches and bruises. No charges have been filed.

Speed and alcohol were not thought to be factors, state police said.


Hearings scheduled on schools takeover

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray has announced a series of hearings to garner feedback on Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s proposed takeover of the District’s public school system.

The council’s Committee of the Whole will hold hearings on six days, beginning Thursday when Mr. Fenty will publicly present legislation detailing his plans to council members.

Local and national education specialists will testify before the committee Jan. 30, while the general public can testify in hearings Feb. 7 and Feb. 10. The latter hearing will be devoted entirely to testimony from D.C. youths.

On Feb. 13, the council will hear testimony from D.C. education officials and representatives of other cities. Mr. Fenty will return to testify Feb. 27.

Witness slots for the public hearings will be first-come, first-served. Those wishing to testify should call 202/724-8196 on Jan. 31.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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