- The Washington Times - Friday, October 5, 2007


Missing 9-year-olds found safe in PG

Two 9-year-old girls reported missing Wednesday afternoon were found in Prince George’s County yesterday.

Police, neighbors and family had been looking for Brittany Bennett and Deasia Wooten since the girls failed to show up at an after-school care facility.

The two girls had not been seen since leaving Rudolph Elementary School in Northwest when the school day ended about 3:15 p.m.

D.C. police said they were notified about 8 a.m. by Prince George’s officials that the girls had been found. Although authorities thought the girls had run away, concern grew after they could not be found overnight.

City moves to close hotel in Northeast

D.C. officials are moving to close down the President Inn in the 1600 block of New York Avenue Northeast because of unsanitary conditions.

The investigation began after a guest at the hotel reported that her daughter was infected with scabies, the office of D.C. Attorney General Linda Singer said.

Investigators later inspected the hotel; they found both living and dead bugs in the linens and mattresses among other unhealthy conditions, including dried blood.

Officials said said the hotel did not have a valid business license.



Families sue sod farm after wells run dry

More than two dozen families whose wells went dry this summer are suing a sod farm, blaming the business for draining water from an aquifer on which the families relied on to supply their homes.

Collins Wharf Sod Farm in Eden, which raises fescue and other grasses for lawns and golf courses, is being sued by 29 neighbors in Somerset and Wicomico counties. The plaintiffs say the sod farm’s water use helped cause a spate of well failures over the summer.

The lawsuit seeks to force Collins Wharf to shut down wells on the Manokin aquifer, said John Coppock, the attorney for the plaintiffs. The lawsuit also seeks attorney’s fees and reimbursement for drilling new wells and hiring a hydrogeologist to examine the problem.

Wicomico Circuit Court Judge Donald Davis declined to designate the case an emergency and set a hearing for 30 to 60 days.

More than 200 private wells have failed this year in the two counties.

The failures caused the state Department of the Environment to step in and order the state’s largest prison, located in nearby Westover, to reduce its water usage from the Manokin aquifer. The state also offered loan assistance for people who needed to borrow money to install new wells.

The state is still investigating the sod farm’s water use, along with other possible causes for the well failures, the Salisbury Daily Times reported.

John Seipp, attorney for sod farm owner Fred Moore, said the four wells at the farm have valid state permits.


Explosives found on the beach

Authorities are warning beachgoers of dangers in the sand after two small explosive devices were found along the resort town’s 10-mile beach.

The Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office said two nonelectric blasting caps were found on the beach, one on Tuesday and another on Wednesday.

Blasting caps are small tubelike devices used to detonate larger explosives.

The two blasting caps were attached to orange tubes about 20 feet long with an aluminum end.

Beachgoers were warned to stay 300 feet away because the caps could detonate without warning.

There was no word on where the blasting caps may have orginiated.


Man, 71, fatally shot on his front porch

Charles County detectives are trying to figure out whether a 71-year-old man who was fatally shot on his porch in Waldorf was the intended target.

Maj. Joseph Montminy, the county’s assistant sheriff of operations, said police don’t have a lot of leads.

Police were called to the 3300 block of Ryon Court just before 8 p.m. Wednesday. They found Joseph Gilford Hickman with a gunshot wound to the chest.

It is Charles County’s third homicide of the year.

Detectives think two men fired shots and fled on foot. Officers searched the area with a police dog but did not find any suspects.


Cat hoarder must pay restitution

An 80-year-old woman who hoarded more than 75 cats in her Columbia town house must pay Howard County Animal Control more than $10,000 in restitution and is barred from owning pets ever again.

Court documents show that authorities found 58 live cats and 17 dead ones, some infested with maggots, inside Ayten Icgoren’s town home. Fifty of the live cats were euthanized.

In March, Miss Icgoren entered an Alford plea to animal-cruelty charges, meaning she acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict her.

A Howard County judge ordered three years of probation for Miss Icgoren with routine house checks and gave her a suspended 360-day sentence.

Neighbors testified that the house still reeks of urine. In her plea, Miss Icgoren said her neighbors were liars who never saw the inside of her home.



GE endows three memorial fellowships

General Electric Co. has given Virginia Tech $300,000 to create endowed fellowships in memory of three engineering professors slain in the mass shootings on campus April 16, the university announced yesterday.

“Our intention is to honor the memory of three outstanding faculty who are now lost to us,” said Charles Blankenship Jr., general manager of the GE Aero Energy Group and a Tech alumnus. “We sincerely hope that this gesture will help foster the healing process — and allow the spirit and the work of these dedicated faculty to continue at Virginia Tech.”

The fellowships will honor Kevin Granata, Liviu Librescu and G.V. Loganathan, who were among five faculty members and 25 students killed in a classroom building used primarily by an engineering department. Student gunman Seung-hui Cho also killed two students in a dormitory as well as himself.

In addition, James Berlin of GE chose Virginia Tech as the recipient of a $25,000 research grant.


Freight train kills man lying on tracks

A man lying on railroad tracks was struck and killed by a CSX train just after midnight yesterday.

The victim’s identity was not released.

Police spokesman Lou Thurston said the CSX engine was pulling two cars on its way to make a delivery to Anheuser-Busch in Williamsburg. The train was traveling north at about 45 mph.

The engineer told police that he thought he saw a bag of leaves or trash on the track. By the time he realized it was a man, he was unable to stop.


No prison for ex-cop guilty of abusing boys

A former Newport News police officer who pleaded guilty yesterday to six counts of taking indecent liberties with children will spend no time in prison after a judge suspended all 45 years of the man’s sentence.

Randolph Drew Smith, 60, was spared time in prison under terms of a plea agreement with prosecutors that was endorsed by Circuit Judge Timothy S. Fisher.

Smith admitted to six counts of fondling a teenage boy while a police officer — three from 1982 and three more with a different boy in 1994 and 1995.

The plea agreement also requires that Smith receive supervised probation for two years, maintain good behavior for 15 years, have no direct contact with either victim or any boys aside from relatives, and then only when supervised by an adult.

He also was ordered to register on Virginia’s sex-offender list and enroll in a sex-offender treatment program.


Trucks banned on river crossing

Further inspection of the 50-year-old Norris Bridge over the Rappahannock River has resulted in a ban on all trucks.

The Virginia Department of Transportation put a 3-ton weight limit on the two-mile-long bridge, which carries Route 3 from the Northern Neck to the Middle Peninsula.

The weight limit bans vehicles heavier than passenger vehicles while crews repair the span. Repairs are expected to last about a month. Trucks will have to use an 85-mile detour through Tappahannock. VDOT granted a special exemption for ambulances.

The Norris Bridge is similar in design to the bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed in August.

VDOT said ultrasound tests showed possible flaws in a pin that supports part of the bridge deck. Engineers will test the pin daily while the bridge it being fixed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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