- The Washington Times - Monday, March 19, 2007



Academy makes superintendent pick

A career submarine commander who has been praised for his handling of sexual misconduct incidents and commitment to diversity in the Navy has been nominated to be the next U.S. Naval Academy superintendent.

Rear Adm. Jeffrey L. Fowler would replace Vice Adm. Rodney Rempt, whose four-year term ends this year. Adm. Fowler’s appointment by the president must be confirmed by the Senate.

Since July, Adm. Fowler has been stationed in Naples as deputy director of the U.S. 6th Fleet and commander of allied submarine forces in the Mediterranean.

The academy has struggled with charges of sexual abuse and harassment since it first admitted women in 1976. Women now make up about 19 percent of the academy’s 4,000 students. Beginning this summer, midshipmen will have to take classes meant to raise awareness about sexual harassment.

Alumni criticized Adm. Rempt for bringing charges against former Navy quarterback Lamar S. Owens, who was accused of raping a female midshipman, and then recommending that Midshipman Owens be dismissed despite his acquittal on the rape charge. Another former football player, Kenny Ray Morrison, faces a general court-martial April 2 on charges of indecent assault against two female midshipmen.



Shooting range fire collapses roof

A fire at a shooting range in a strip mall that collapsed the building’s roof yesterday proved hard to contain.

Prince William County fire department spokesman Capt. Tim Taylor said the fire started about 12:30 p.m. at Shooter’s Paradise in the Marumsco Plaza in the 13000 block of Jefferson Davis Highway.

Four hours later, firefighters were still trying to put it out because a thick rubber coating on a wall was still burning.

Shooter’s Paradise also sells weapons, and firefighters had to take precautions because bullets were exploding in the fire.

No injuries were reported. Capt. Taylor said stores on either side of the shooting range had some smoke damage.


Without staff, debris keeps parkway closed

About 50 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Bedford, Amherst and Nelson counties remain closed since a mid-February ice storm scattered broken tree limbs and brush debris along the route.

But the cleanup of broken tree limbs and brush remains an uphill task because of a lack of park employees — just three district workers.

“Sometimes, we are making headway because the brush is so sporadic,” said Larry Pierceall, a parkway staff worker. “But we don’t have enough staff to do what we need to do.”

The staff for the 469-mile parkway is taking a hit with 58 permanent jobs left vacant.

“There are vacancies in 30 percent of the maintenance staff,” parkway superintendent Phil Francis said. “We don’t have the funds to fill those jobs. It’s been a pretty tough year.”

About 15 members of the Natural Bridge Appalachian Trail Club will use their chain saws and other equipment to help parkway workers with cleanup efforts over the next few weekends.

“They just don’t have any help or money to contract help,” said Lynchburg resident Sam Ripley, supervisor of trails for the club.

The club wants to make sure people can reach a number of trails that are only accessible via the parkway.

The parkway has an annual federal budget of $14 million.

Mr. Francis said a $1.5 million increase was set for the parkway in President Bush’s proposed 2008-09 budget and that would help fill some of the needed jobs.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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