- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 18, 2008



Lawsuit settled over ICC

Maryland has settled a lawsuit with an environmental group that challenged construction of the Intercounty Connector.

The Environmental Defense Fund said the state has agreed to invest $2 million to help offset air pollution generated by the 18-mile highway through the Washington suburbs.

The Maryland State Highway Administration will use the money to reduce air pollution from school buses in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. Equipment also will be installed to monitor how soot from traffic affects the health of those who live or work near the region’s highways.

In exchange, the environmental group has agreed to withdraw its appeal of a federal court ruling that allowed construction of the highway to proceed.


Five arrested; cocaine recovered

A weekend drug raid resulted in the seizing of 2 1/4 pounds of cocaine and the arrest of five men on drug charges, according to the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

Deputies made the arrest Friday night after getting a tip about a cocaine-distribution ring.

The tip led them to a pickup truck and a sport utility vehicle at a McDonald’s parking lot near New Market.

Cpl. Jennifer Bailey says the deputies stopped the vehicles on Interstate 70 for traffic violations and found the drugs in three packages inside the pickup.

Four of the subjects are from the Manassas, Va., area and the fifth is from Glen Burnie.

Cpl. Bailey says two of the men are illegal immigrants from Mexico, who will face deportation proceedings after the criminal cases are resolved.


2nd suspect charged in slaying

A second man has been arrested and charged in a homicide in the Woodlawn area, according to the Baltimore County Police Department.

Xavier Antonio Hall, 21, of Baltimore, was arrested last week while walking near Rolling and Rolling Bend roads. He’s charged in the Nov. 3 slaying of Cletus Gittens, 25, in the 7100 block of Security Boulevard.

Timothy Bean of Baltimore was charged with first-degree murder Nov. 5.

Police are looking for one more person in connection with the shooting. Police don’t know of a motive.


State reports first seasonal flu case

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has confirmed the state’s first case of seasonal influenza.

The patient is a child living in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

Health officials said that it is not too late to get a flu shot and that there is no shortage of the vaccine. The vaccine protects against three flu strains that have recently been in wide circulation.

This year, the state is using a first-in-the-country Internet-based tracking survey. Volunteers can register online for the weekly survey to report any flulike symptoms from the previous week.

Last year, the first seasonal flu case in Maryland was reported Dec. 6.


Queen Anne’s looking for Kratovil successor

Queen Anne’s County is looking for a replacement for State’s Attorney Frank M. Kratovil Jr. now that he has been elected to Congress.

Mr. Kratovil, Democrat, will formally leave the office in early January to represent Maryland’s 1st Congressional District. Two years remain in his term as state’s attorney. Under the state constitution, resident Judge Thomas Ross must appoint Mr. Kratovil’s successor.

Judge Ross says he has sent a notice to the county’s bar association to announce that he’s accepting letters of interest from qualified applicants.

He also plans to interview applicants during the first two weeks of December and aims to make a decision by Dec. 15



Online database tracks lobbying

Lobbyists’ activities and spending in Virginia are now available online in a database based on annual disclosure documents.

The database was created by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project and can be accessed on the group’s campaign-finance Web site.

Information in the database is based on the most recent annual lobbyist disclosures covering May 2007 through April 2008. It includes the top lobbying spenders, who lobbied to pass or defeat a specific bill and events hosted by lobbyists.

According to the database, the Community Financial Services Association of America was the top spender with almost $2.2 million in spending.


Ex-curator given 1st emeritus title

The Virginia Museum of Natural History on Monday named retired curator Lauck “Buck” Ward as its first curator emeritus.

Mr. Ward had served as curator of invertebrate paleontology at the museum for 19 years before he recently retired.

Executive Director Timothy J. Gette hopes the museum can attract other retired scientists from other museums and universities to continue their work at the Martinsville facility as curator emeritus.

Mr. Ward joined the museum in 1989 and previously held positions with the U.S. Geological Survey, the Maryland Academy of Science and the Virginia Department of Agriculture.


State wants add-ons to light-rail safety

Virginia transportation officials want roughly $7 million in safety improvements added to Norfolk’s light rail.

The state Department of Rail and Public Transportation says the system now under construction is safe and meets federal standards. But a draft agency report recommends changes to improve how well the system will operate and respond to emergencies.

It has not been decided how the improvements would be funded, if agreed upon by Hampton Roads Transit and the city.

Norfolk is contractually obligated to cover cost overruns in the project.

Mayor Paul D. Fraim said he wants the state’s recommendations to be included in the project but wants the state to share in the costs.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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