- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2009


Zoo’s baby gorilla is a girl

National Zoo officials say a baby gorilla born there last month is a girl.

The mother has been keeping the western lowland gorilla baby close to her. But staffers got a good glimpse just after the Jan. 10 birth, and pictures by a zoo photographer confirmed the sex, a zoo spokeswoman said.

The unnamed baby is the first gorilla born at the zoo since 2001 and belongs to a critically endangered species. Officials say most gorillas born in captivity are males.

Officials want probe into lead in water

Two D.C. Council members want an investigation into the validity of research that concluded that city residents were not harmed by lead in their water.

Council members Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, and Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, want the city’s inspector general to investigate.

The research by professor Tee Guidotti, of George Washington University, was cited nationally as evidence that the District’s lead problem from 2001 to 2004 has not harmed residents.

Editors at a National Institutes of Health journal are investigating the 2007 paper’s finding. They said Mr. Guidotti didn’t disclose a contract that appears to give the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority final approval of published material. A water utility spokesman said the agency did not interpret the contract in that manner. D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickels supports an independent probe.



Body found near Metro station

A body was found over the weekend near the West Hyattsville Metro station, authorities said Sunday.

They said a jogger discovered the body Saturday afternoon in a wooded area behind the station.

Metro Transit Police and Prince George’s County police said an autopsy being performed Sunday should determine whether the death will be investigated as a homicide.


No charges for driver in fatal crash

The driver of a car that hit and killed a teen trying to cross Ritchie Highway on a bike won’t face charges, Anne Arundel County police said.

The accident Friday evening that killed Ashley Nicole Meyers, 14, was the result of her error, police said. The teen was crossing the highway between cars in the closest lane that had stopped for a red light about a quarter-mile ahead. But police said she was hit by a northbound car in the second lane.

Police said that stretch of highway is not “designed, marked or engineered as a pedestrian crossing” and that the teen was wearing dark clothing and her bicycle was not equipped with lights.


Sex offender resigns from school

A registered sex offender hired by a church that operates a nursery school has resigned.

Bethesda Cooperative Nursery School leaders said Travis Buffington, 33, has left his job as a maintenance man and is no longer living in a house provided by the church. The nursery school is housed in the church building.

Records show Buffington is registered as a sex offender after a conviction for possessing child pornography.

Pastor Todd Thomas defended his 2008 hiring of Buffington, saying he didn’t think the man was a threat.

School officials said Sunday that Buffington will remain a member of the church’s congregation but will not be allowed on church grounds during school days or school-sponsored activities.

Officials said the church also plans to strengthen oversight of its hiring practices.


County official shot in ATM robbery

Wicomico County Director of Administration Theodore Shea II was listed in critical condition after being shot over the weekend during a robbery at an automated teller machine, Salisbury police said.

Mr. Shea was shot several times at the State Employees Credit Union at about 7 p.m. Saturday.

Police said a man jumped out from behind a bush and robbed Mr. Shea, 69, while he used the ATM, then shot him three to five times.

Mr. Shea was in the intensive care unit at Peninsula Regional Medical Center. County Executive Rick Pollitt said the injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.



Obama bust arrives at Presidents Park

A 4-ton bust of President Obama will be positioned to the right of his predecessor, George W. Bush, at Presidents Park in Williamsburg.

A model of the sculpture has arrived at the 10-acre attraction, which includes the towering busts of all the U.S. presidents.

Everette H. Newman III, president of the park, said the concrete-and-steel sculpture will be 16 feet to 18 feet tall and weigh roughly 7,400 pounds.

The final work will be crafted by David Adickes, the artist who created the other presidents at the park. Park officials said they need to raise $60,000 to build the sculpture by July 4.


Montpelier restoration fund exceeds goal

The fundraising campaign for restoration of James Madison’s Montpelier has exceeded its goal of $60 million.

The American Legacy Campaign said it has raised $64.5 million since 2003. The campaign was established to restore Madison’s lifelong home and develop Montpelier as a place to learn about Madison’s legacy.

Private donors raised 84 percent of the money. The remainder was from public funds.

Attendance at Montpelier increased 39 percent in 2008, topping the previous year’s 25 percent increase.


Burning law now in effect

The state’s burning law went into effect Sunday and runs through April 30. The law prohibits burning before 4 p.m. if a fire is in, or within 300 feet of, woodland, brushland or fields containing dry grass or other flammable materials.

Violation of the law is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine. Those who allow a fire to escape are liable for the cost of suppressing the fire as well as for any damage caused to other property.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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