- The Washington Times - Friday, September 26, 2008

DISTRICT

‘Suspicious’ letter determined harmless

D.C. firefighters responded to a report of a suspicious letter found and opened in a mailroom at the Department of Veterans Affairs in downtown Washington.

A hazardous materials team conducted environmental testing of the area, but nothing harmful was found, D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said. No one reported feeling sick.

More than a dozen emergency vehicles responded to the building, which is located near the White House.

Firefighters were called to the scene at about 11 a.m. after law enforcement officials determined the letter was a “credible threat.”

Fenty, lawmakers open Obama office

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, and other city leaders helped open Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama’s D.C. campaign headquarters Thursday.

Mr. Fenty was joined by Council members Kwame R. Brown, at-large Democrat, and Muriel Bowser, Ward 4 Democrat, at a row house on Florida Avenue in Northwest Washington.

The Illinois senator is expected to win the District overwhelmingly in November’s general election. His supporters said they plan to spend time canvassing in Virginia in an attempt to carry the state for a Democratic presidential contender for the first time since 1964.

Mr. Fenty has been a longtime supporter of Mr. Obama and plans to campaign for him across the country.

VIRGINIA

MANASSAS

West Nile found in local mosquitoes

Mosquitoes collected in August and September have tested positive for the West Nile Virus, Prince William County health officials said.

Mosquitoes carrying the virus were collected from areas in northern Woodbridge, Quantico, Valley View Drive, Nokesville, Manassas, Haymarket and Waterfall, official said. However, no human cases of the disease have been reported in the county, they said.

Last week, the Fairfax County Health Department reported that a resident, 71, had contracted West Nile Virus. It was that county’s first confirmed case this year.

RICHMOND

Five schools again denied accreditation

Five public schools in Petersburg have again been denied accreditation because of low test scores, Virginia education officials said Thursday.

Four schools were denied accreditation for a third consecutive year, and one for the second year in a row, the state Department of Education said. The results prompted the state Board of Education to direct Petersburg to provide an independently managed middle school program starting next year for all students who wish to attend.

Overall, 95 percent of Virginia’s public schools are fully accredited. That’s the highest percentage since statewide testing in English, math, history and science began 10 years ago, officials said.

RICHMOND

Special-education guidelines revised

The state Board of Education has revised special-education regulations that no longer include two contentious proposals opposed by parents of students with disabilities.

The board approved the changes Thursday. The regulations, which must be signed by the governor, will be in effect for seven years.

The Department of Education withdrew a proposal that would allow schools to stop providing special-education services to students without their parents’ consent. It also withdrew a proposal to move educational appeals hearings from the Virginia Supreme Court to the Department of Education.

Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, also opposed the parental consent issue, which drew thousands of comments from the public, mostly from those who thought it took away parents’ rights.

ABINDGON

Thousands of bees escape after crash

Thousands of bees escaped after a tractor-trailer hauling them to the Gulf Coast was struck on Interstate 81.

The rig driven by George Smiling of Manning, S.C., was struck from behind by another tractor-trailer driven by Tracy Hoffman of Glade Spring Wednesday evening near exit 14, Virginia State Police senior trooper Pat Lower said.

The accident ripped a basketball-sized hole in a tarp covering some of the bee hives, allowing thousands to escape, Trooper Lower said. A local beekeeper was called to repair the hole in the tarp, keeping the majority of the bee cargo from escaping.

Mr. Smiling was stung four times before retreating to his truck. No one else was injured.

RICHMOND

Kaine backs rules on chaplain prayers

The superintendent of the Virginia State Police must follow the law regarding prayers at public, government-sponsored events, Gov. Tim Kaine said Thursday.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, defended Col. W. Steven Flaherty during his monthly radio call-in show on WRVA and the Virginia News Network.

Legislative Republicans criticized Col. Flaherty Wednesday over his directive that the department’s volunteer chaplains lead only nondenominational prayers at public, agency-sponsored events. Several troopers quit their chaplain duties over the issue.

Mr. Kaine said it’s important for those in leadership positions to follow the laws, whether they like them or not.

MARYLAND

Floods, high wind expected on coast

State emergency officials are expecting high winds, flooding and power outages in parts of Maryland because of a nor’easter that’s heading into the state.

Residents should be prepared for 1 to 4 inches of rain, and central and southern Maryland could be the hardest-hit areas, Maryland Emergency Management Agency chief of staff Edward Hopkins said.

Ocean City and parts of the Eastern Shore are under a coastal flood watch and high wind advisories. The resort town expects some minor flooding in low-lying areas, Ocean City Mayor Richard Meehan said. The wind is already blowing at 20 to 25 miles per hour, and he expects the storm to linger until Friday afternoon.

The town has closed the seawalls along the boardwalk and secured loose items on the beach.

CAMBRIDGE

Police charge two in copper wire theft

State police have charged a Cambridge couple with stealing copper wire from Lowe’s in Easton and selling it to a metals recycler.

Justin Bonneville, 26, and Crystal Bonneville, 31, are charged with theft and conspiracy related to a scheme to steal and sell copper wire dating back to November last year.

Police began investigating after Mrs. Bonneville was seen last week hauling a large amount of copper wire to Delmarva Recycling.

When police followed her to a nearby bakery, she said she was meeting her husband, but he was in jail.

An electrical company told police she didn’t buy the wire there, as she claimed. A Lowe’s employee showed police video of the woman stealing wire.

BEL AIR

Officer in crash was under the influence

Court records show an off-duty Anne Arundel County police officer said he had been at a party before he was involved in a fatal hit-and-run crash on Interstate 95.

In a state police recording played in court Monday, Officer Dane Hall said he went to the home of another officer after work.

Court records also show that five hours after the crash in Harford County, detectives determined Officer Hall still had a blood-alcohol level slightly over the legal limit.

Antonio Martinez, 28, was killed in the January accident.

A jury trial was scheduled to begin Monday, but the defense has asked the judge to suppress evidence in the case and prosecutors now expect it to be postponed until next year.

HAGERSTOWN

Man gets probation after dam plunge

A Clear Spring man who survived a 20-foot ride over a Potomac River dam in June got probation for operating a motorized personal watercraft in a restricted area.

Ryan Myers, 22, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Washington County District Court and was also fined $300.

Two related charges were dropped.

Mr. Myers, the son of Republican state Delegate LeRoy Myers, tumbled over Dam Number 5 one night in June after he and a friend ignored warning signs, Natural Resources police said. Mr. Myers said he rode the machine to shore and walked two miles back to the launch point while rescuers searched for him.

Mr. Myers said his nine months of probation includes repeating a boater safety course.

From staff reports and wire dispatches

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