- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 23, 2007



Students miss school without vaccinations

About 5,000 public school students in the city were counted as absent yesterday morning for failing to get vaccinated against chicken pox and hepatitis B, despite months of warnings to students and parents that the immunizations would be required this school year.

About 6,100 city students were sent home Friday with letters saying they would not be allowed to return to classes without proof of immunization. That number dropped to about 5,000 thanks to students who got their required shots over the weekend, said Vanessa Pyatt, a city schools spokeswoman.

Noncompliant students who showed up for school yesterday were turned away, she said.

Statewide, about 12,000 students were not compliant on Friday, said Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for the State Department of Education.

Mr. Reinhard said late yesterday that more than 2,600 students were sent home from school in 12 of the state’s 24 jurisdictions. However, several systems did not have classes yesterday because it was the end of the semester. That number does not count noncompliant students who didn’t show up at school.


BWI offers wireless Internet

Travelers at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport now can use a pay-as-you go wireless Internet service.

It is being offered now on Concourses A and B. The service is expected to expand to Concourse D within two weeks. Concourses C and E are expected to have the service within two months.

The service will cost $7.95 for one day of unlimited access or $21.95 for a month.

The wireless signal will reach only travelers who have passed through security, but plans call for the signals eventually to reach the entire airport.

Washington Dulles Inter-national and Ronald Reagan Washington National still are installing wireless systems.


State ponders reason for Medicaid drop

Medicaid enrollment numbers are down in Maryland, but state health officials are not sure whether that is the result of a new rule denying benefits to people who lack proof of identity or citizenship.

The change took effect in September and was designed to prevent illegal aliens from fraudulently receiving Medi-caid. Enrollment was down about 6,000 in the final five months of the year compared with a similar period in 2005.

That number is about 1 percent of the roughly 650,000 Medicaid recipients in the state.

Some health advocates and county health agencies said the change in the rules was unnecessary and puts an unfair burden on people who should be qualified for benefits but don’t have proof. Those advocates want the state to disclose statistics showing exactly how many people are being dropped from Medicaid for lack of identity papers.


Missing boater found at convenience store

A boater who disappeared Sunday on the Choptank River was found alive late that night.

Antonio J. McCoy, 33, of Vienna, Md., was disoriented when he was found at the convenience store in Trappe about 11:45 p.m. Sunday. He was taken to Easton Memorial Hospital, where he was admitted with injuries described as not life-threatening, police said.

Police were told that Mr. McCoy and another man were aboard a 20-foot boat that ran aground. Mr. McCoy went into the water to push the vessel, and as it began to move, he disappeared into the water, his friend said.

Investigators were trying to determine exactly what happened, Natural Resources Police Sgt. Ken Turner said.

“There’s quite a few holes in this incident, to say the least,” Sgt. Turner said.

Rescuers from several agencies, including the Coast Guard, searched for Mr. McCoy until nightfall Sunday and planned to resume the search yesterday morning before learning that a man matching his description had been picked up at the convenience store. Police went to the hospital and confirmed Mr. McCoy’s identity.


MTA may hire Bay Bridge helpers

The Maryland Transportation Authority has heard from four companies interested in taking nervous drivers across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

The agency has been using its own employees to take drivers — in their cars — across the 4.3-mile bridge that rises to almost 200 feet above the water, but the number of drivers needing assistance has climbed to 4,000 a year and is still growing.

If the work is given to a contractor, the drivers will have to pay for what has been a free service. Agency staff members are recommending that the fee be capped at $35. The MTA would cover $20 of the cost for the first year.



Supervisors approve addition to Tysons

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors last night approved a rezoning request for a massive addition to Tysons Corner Center.

The board approved the request 8-2.

Macerich Co., the Santa Monica, Calif., company that owns Tysons, asked for a zoning change to implement a 10- to 12-year project that includes adding office and residential buildings, a hotel, additional retail and multiple plazas to the shopping center. It is tied to the expansion of Metrorail to the site.

Last month, the county’s Planning Commission voted to approve only the first two phases of the four-phase project for now. If Macerich decides to do phases three and four, the company must reapply for approval.

Macerich said it won’t start construction until funding for Metrorail’s expansion to Tysons is approved. Officials expect to start construction in 2008.


Scores arrested in cockfighting raid

More than 130 police officers raided a cockfighting pit in southern Virginia, confiscating 126 birds and charging more than 120 people.

Police cited the raid as proof that Virginia’s weak laws against cockfighting have made it a magnet for the sport.

Sunday’s raid was one of the largest ever in Mecklenburg County, Sheriff Danny Fox said. At least 75 percent were people who traveled from North Carolina, where cockfighting has been a felony since 2005.

People paid $20 to attend Sunday’s cockfighting derby on a farm near Boydton.

Attending or promoting a cockfight is illegal in Virginia if gambling is involved or if admission is charged. Even then, it’s a Class 3 misdemeanor that brings just a small fine.

In August, the Humane Society of the United States named Virginia one of “five states with laughable cock-fighting laws.” Only Alabama’s $50 maximum fine is more lax.

Deputies issued summons to 122 persons and Homeland Security officers arrested 22, including suspected gang members who are facing deportation, he said.


Repairs to close southbound I-95

Road crews are scheduled to close southbound Interstate 95 temporarily at Ashland tonight for bridge repairs.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said contractors are supposed to begin single lane closures at 7 p.m. so crews can cut out and replace a damaged steel section of the Route 54 bridge. By 11 p.m., all southbound traffic will be detoured around the work zone. Drivers can expect delays of up to 30 minutes.

Traffic is expected to be restored by 5 a.m. tomorrow.


Building evacuated due to manhole fires

A downtown D.C. office building was evacuated yesterday because of several manhole fires.

Fire department officials said the fires were in two or three manholes in the area of 910 Connecticut Ave. near 17th and I streets Northwest.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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