- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 23, 2007

MARYLAND

ANNAPOLIS

O’Malley returns campaign funds

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown have returned nearly $100,000 in campaign contributions from a Hollywood movie producer.

James G. Robinson gave at least $125,000 to Mr. O’Malley and Mr. Brown before last year’s election.

At least some of his contributions appear to have violated Maryland campaign finance law. A single donor or business may not give more than $4,000 to a candidate during a four-year election cycle and may not donate more than $10,000 to all candidates during that period.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat, said he’s “very sorry” his campaign did not catch the questionable contributions. The governor and lieutenant governor have given back $96,000.

GAITHERSBURG

Teen killed by train

A Gaithersburg teenager was struck and killed by a train yesterday afternoon.

It happened shortly after 1 p.m. near the Montgomery County fairgrounds.

Police said three teenagers were crossing the tracks as a CSX freight train approached. Police said the 17-year-old victim’s two friends already had crossed the tracks and were calling to him to get out of the way of the train.

The engineer saw the teen and blew the train’s whistle several times, but couldn’t stop in time. Police were investigating the incident.

BALTIMORE

Homeless person dies in fire

Baltimore fire officials say a homeless person was killed in a blaze early yesterday morning in a vacant row house.

City fire department spokesman Kevin Cartwright said three homeless persons had been staying in the boarded-up home on North Chester Street in East Baltimore. Two others managed to escape after fire broke out around 1:45 a.m.

Firefighters found the victim’s body after they extinguished the flames. The victim was thought to be male but had not been identified.

One of the other occupants suffered an arm injury and was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview.

ANNAPOLIS

Blue crab population seen in trouble

State natural resources officials say the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population is in trouble.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says that Maryland’s signature crustacean is in serious danger of being overfished this year and that the crabs aren’t reproducing quickly enough to recover from the pressure they’re under.

So far, the DNR is not imposing restrictions on the crab harvest. Instead, it’s working with watermen to try to figure out how the fishery can remain sustainable.

The crabbing industry is one of Maryland’s last viable fisheries, and DNR officials say they want to keep it in business.

VIRGINIA

WILLIAMSBURG

Dry weather leads to better wines

This season’s hot, dry weather may have resulted in fewer, smaller grapes across Virginia — but those grapes are expected to produce superb quality wines.

Virginia Wineries Association President Ann Heidig said the hot, dry weather makes the wine sweet. She says this looks like a year vintners would “like to make thousands and thousands of gallons.”

This spring, Virginia’s grape crops appeared to be in jeopardy after a late, unexpected freeze on Easter weekend killed many of the buds.

But once the vines recuperated, the summer’s hot, dry weather provided the perfect environment for growth. In dry weather, grapes simply sink their roots deeper into the soil to drink up moisture. Other crops withered in the fields this season, but grapes thrived.

And grapes that haven’t yet been harvested are only getting sweeter on the vine. The state’s commercial wine industry adds about $160 million annually to the economy. Miss Heidig said there now are about 130 wineries and more than 300 vineyards in Virginia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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