- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2007



Delaware university to use text alerts

Delaware State University plans to implement a text-messaging system to notify students and staff about emergencies. The effort comes about two weeks after a campus shooting in which two students from the District were injured.

The school is negotiating with a company that would provide a service to send text messages. The company also offers a cell-phone system that allows students to call for help and send identification and location information to campus police.

A school spokesman said only one company offers both services. He declined to name the company or discuss the price because negotiations are continuing.


Streets closed for 10-mile race

District streets will be closed today for the annual Army 10-Miler foot race. The race begins at 7:50 a.m. at the Pentagon and will close streets for several hours. Runners will cross the Arlington Memorial Bridge, run along Rock Creek Parkway and Independence Avenue Northwest toward Capitol Hill before returning on the 14th Street Bridge. For a complete list of street closings go to armytenmiler.com.



Homicide ends period of peace

A slaying Friday in Northwest Baltimore was the city’s first homicide in a week. The period was the longest in Baltimore since at least the start of 2006.

The city has 232 reported homicides this year, up from 214 at the same time last year. Baltimore remains on pace to top 300 slayings for the first time since 1999. However, the pace has slowed since Frederick Bealefeld was named interim police commissioner in July. Mayor Sheila Dixon on Thursday said he was her choice to become permanent police commissioner.


Somerset teacher best in state

A sixth-grade language arts teacher from Somerset County has been named Maryland’s Teacher of the Year for 2008.

April Todd, who teaches at Somerset Intermediate School in Westover, is the first Somerset educator to win the title. She received the honor Friday night at a gala at the Martins West banquet hall, outside Baltimore.

Maryland public schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said Miss Todd stood out because of her ability to understand social interactions and cultures within the material she reads and among the students she teaches. She also said Miss Todd works tirelessly with reluctant readers and writers.

Miss Todd will now compete for national teacher of the year.


Convention hotel on budget, schedule

Baltimore’s new, $320 million convention center hotel is only half finished, but city officials say it is on schedule, on budget and already attracting new business. Tourism and hotel officials say the Hilton Baltimore Convention Center Hotel will make the city more competitive in attracting major conventions.

The hotel is owned and financed by the city. Officials have justified the decision to build it by saying convention business suffered from not having a headquarters hotel.

Critics say similar hotels around the country have underperformed.

District officials are pursing plans for a similar hotel. The city could face stiff competition from the National Harbor development in Prince George’s County.


Man charged in rare murder

Charles County detective have arrested a suspect in the murder of a 71-year-old man fatally shot last week on a porch in Waldorf.

The county sheriff’s office says James Francis Swann, 32, of Reisterstown, was arrested Friday on charges of first-degree murder and second-degree assault, as well as gun charges.

Authorities say they linked Mr. Swann to the crime from fingerprints found on a partial box of ammunition found in the woods nearby.

Lumberyard owner Joseph Hickman was fatally shot in the chest Wednesday while standing on the porch of a townhouse. It was the third slaying in the county this year.



Police face staffing woes

The Manassas Police Department has a staff shortage that is creating problems for officials trying to balance proactive policing and regular calls for service.

Chief John Skinner says the department has had a larger-than-normal staffing shortfalls for more than two years, and the problem is expected to continue. Recruiting and retaining officers has become more difficult because of increasing competition from the federal government and better-paying police departments nearby. Officials say high housing costs add to the problem.

Capt. Steve Bamford says declining real-estate values and lower tax revenue are now causing a “double cut” to the department. Statistics show burglaries have increased 46 percent during the first six months of the year, compared with 2006. However, overall crime has dropped 7 percent.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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