- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 2, 2008



State to purchase 3 police helicopters

Gov. Martin O’Malley yesterday announced plans to spend $33.6 million to buy three new Maryland State Police helicopters.

Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat who has been highlighting improvements in public safety during his second year in office, said the new helicopters are needed to upgrade an aging fleet of helicopters at the state police.

The plan calls for spending the money over several years to boost the Maryland State Police Aviation Command, which includes law enforcement, homeland security, search and rescue, and medical evacuation.

Since 1970, it has flown over 100,000 medevac missions, which comprise 75 percent of Maryland State Police flights.


Council member dies after heart surgery

Marilyn J. Praisner, the longest-serving woman on the Montgomery County Council, died yesterday morning following heart-valve replacement surgery earlier this week. She was 66.

Mrs. Praisner, a Democrat, was first elected to the County Council in 1990 and served as president three times during her tenure.

“For me — and for the many thousands of people all over this county, this state and this country whose lives Marilyn touched — there is a hole in our lives today where Marilyn used to be,” said County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett.

Mrs. Praisner previously had been a member of the county school board and worked at the Central Intelligence Agency for 16 years. Mrs. Praisner lived in Montgomery County for 38 years.

Mrs. Praisner had worked on council matters the day before her surgery Wednesday to replace two heart valves. A statement from the County Council said she died at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda after complications from the surgery.


Manure spill kills 2,500 trout

State officials said 2,500 brown trout being raised for the spring trout fishing season died because of last week’s manure leak into Glade Creek.

The fish likely died from high nitrogen levels released when manure from a local farm leaked into the creek, said Marshall Brown, manager of the Albert Powell Fish Hatchery near Hagerstown.

The trout lived in ponds just inside the gates to Fountain Rock Park, miles downstream from the farm where the manure leaked into the creek last week.

“We weren’t aware of it until Monday,” when it was too late to remove the fish, Mr. Brown said. All the fish were dead by Tuesday morning.

The loss is about $5,000, Mr. Brown said.

A truck filled with manure spilled last week, and officials later learned that the farmer responsible was pumping the manure into Glade Creek.


Hunting ban mulled for those under 13

A Prince George’s County lawmaker is proposing a ban on hunting licenses for those under 13 years old.

There is currently no age minimum for a hunting license in Maryland.

Delegate Barbara A. Frush, Prince George’s Democrat, said children under 13 have no business handling high-powered guns in the woods. Mrs. Frush was also sponsoring a bill that would end the state’s black bear hunt.

The delegate said her proposals were common-sense measures. Mrs. Frush has proposed changes in hunting laws many times before without success.



Charges reduced in Hokie theft

A judge reduced felony charges against nine University of Virginia students who removed a statue depicting Virginia Tech’s Hokie Bird.

Montgomery County Circuit Judge Ray Grubbs reduced the destruction of property charges to misdemeanors yesterday. He continued the cases and placed the men on unsupervised probation for one year. If they stay out of trouble and maintain good grades, the charges could be dismissed.

The students have all done community service to make up for the damage to “Farmer Hokie,” which was ripped from its base in front of the Blacksburg Municipal Building in March. It returned about a week later.

The identities of the thieves were e-mailed to a nonprofit group that owned the statue.


House approves bill legalizing sangria

The House of Delegates has approved legislation to make sangria legal in Virginia.

The House voted 89-10 Friday to pass the bill, which wipes out an obscure state law that prohibits restaurants from serving drinks that mix wine or beer with hard liquor.

Sangria is a staple of Spanish tapas restaurants. It usually includes red wine, fruits, brandy and triple sec.

The ban on sangria dates to 1934. It came to light after an Alexandria restaurant, La Tasca, was cited for violating the law and was fined $2,000. The company that owns the restaurant lobbied for the change. The company also is appealing its case to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board.


Tourism up at attraction

For the third straight year, Colonial Williamsburg recorded an increase in ticket sales.

Ticket sales in 2007 rose by 5 percent to 780,000, the historic attraction reported. It is the same percentage gain posted in 2006.

Last year also saw strong gains in donations and Williamsburg’s endowment, which rose 5 percent to $816 million. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation had 118,000 donors nationwide contribute a total of $14.8 million, a 5 percent increase from 2006.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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