- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2009


National Zoo seeks new bamboo source

The National Zoo is running critically low on bamboo to feed its animals and is asking local farmers for help.

The zoo harvests about 75,000 pounds of bamboo each year for its giant pandas, red pandas, Asian elephants, gorillas and other animals.

The bamboo is grown at the zoo and several other locations in the region. But this year, officials say the bamboo stands are having trouble regrowing. The reasons remain unclear.

The National Zoo is seeking help from local farmers and landowners who have bamboo and are willing to allow the zoo to harvest and manage their crop.

The bamboo stands must be a minimum of 1 acre and be within 30 miles of the zoo. The bamboo can’t be treated with herbicides or pesticides.

Cop sentenced for tax evasion

A D.C. police detective has received a 14-month prison sentence for not paying taxes, court officials said.

Michael Irving was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court, officials said. He was convicted of two counts of tax evasion last year.

Irving fraudulently arranged for the police department to stop withholding taxes from his paychecks between 2003 and 2005, prosecutors said. He did not file tax returns, and paid no federal or city income taxes.

The government lost more than $130,000 in taxes.

During that time, Irving spent money on suits, jewelry, sports tickets and home renovations, among other things.

Irving, as a homicide detective, was an 18-year veteran of the D.C. police force.

More inauguration tickets given out

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, said she received an additional 600 tickets for residents to attend the inauguration.

Mrs. Norton held a drawing Wednesday to select the winners from a list of about 10,000 people who called her office seeking tickets before the Nov. 7 cutoff.

She also held a drawing last week from the same list to give out 198 tickets initially allotted to each member of the House for the swearing-in ceremony.

In a statement Wednesday, Mrs. Norton said she could not reveal the source of the extra tickets.



Fewer oysters die from parasites

Fewer oysters in the Chesapeake Bay are dying from parasitic diseases.

It’s a hopeful sign, but the oyster population hasn’t increased, Maryland biologists said.

Tests by the Department of Natural Resources last fall showed most oysters in Maryland’s portion of the Bay are infected, but seem to be more resilient.

The Bay’s oysters have been infected for more than two decades by Dermo and MSX. The parasites have killed up to 90 percent of the oysters in some parts of the Bay.

The state survey showed only about 17 percent of the oysters sampled last fall had died recently. The low percentage is even more remarkable because the Bay has been saltier than normal, allowing the diseases to spread more easily.


State weighs options for Route 50 bridge

The state Highway Administration is looking at two options for replacing the aging U.S. Route 50 bridge in Ocean City.

During a meeting Tuesday with Town Council members, highway planners suggested replacing the 15-foot-high drawbridge with either a 30-foot-high drawbridge or a 45-foot-high fixed-span bridge that could cost $400 million.

The planners say an overhaul of the existing bridge would add only 25 years to its life.

The new bridge might not be built for another 15 or 20 years, depending on state funding, planning team member Nicole Washington said.

There is no plan to dismantle the existing bridge once the new bridge opens. Planners say the old bridge might have historical value.


Fire academy found in safety compliance

A recent state inspection found the Baltimore City Fire Department’s academy to be in compliance with safety standards for live fire training exercises, the department said.

The determination was made last week after the inspection by the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to a department statement.

A previous inspection, conducted soon after the February 2007 death of a recruit in a “live burn” exercise, found several safety problems. Fire instructors lacked proper credentials, training equipment was not properly maintained, the building chosen for the exercises was deemed unsafe and a safety officer had not been present for the exercises.

Live burns are now conducted at the Maryland Fire Rescue Institute training facility in Aberdeen.


Teenager pleads guilty in slaying

A reputed gang member has pleaded guilty in the fatal stabbing of a student outside a Prince George’s County high school.

Rony Izaguirre-Henriquez, 18, pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder and participating in a gang crime that resulted in death. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The case marks the first conviction in the county under an anti-gang law adopted last year, State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey said.

The victim, Guillermo Enrique Medina, 15, was killed April 2 as he walked home from Parkdale High School in Riverdale.

Izaguirre-Henriquez is a member of the MS-13 street gang and could face deportation, prosecutors said.



Republicans refuse to seat Herring

House of Delegates majority Republicans refused Wednesday to seat a Democrat who had narrowly won a special House election hours earlier in Alexandria.

The State Board of Elections certified Charniele L. Herring as the winner of Tuesday’s 46th House District race by 16 votes out of 2,679 cast.

Republicans, however, voted 54-41 against seating Ms. Herring pending a recount sought by defeated Republican Joe Murray.

Former Democratic Caucus Chairman Brian J. Moran resigned Dec. 12 to run full time for governor, leaving Jan. 13 as the only date available for Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, to set the special election.

Two other House members who won Jan. 6 special elections to fill seats of other resigned delegates were sworn in and seated.

House Republican Leader H. Morgan Griffith of Salem argued that results so close -nearly 0.6 of a percentage point - could be overturned in the recount, and it would be improper for a delegate whose victory could be reversed to vote on legislation.

“There has not yet been a concession, a ‘Yes, I lost,’ ” said Mr. Griffith. “There are questions about whether every vote has been counted.”


Neglect charged in girl’s death

Prince William County police have arrested a Manassas woman on a child neglect charge following the death of her daughter, 13.

Alfreedia Gregg-Glover, 44, also is charged with filing a false police report. She is the mother of Alexis “Lexie” Glover, a developmentally disabled girl found dead Friday.

The girl’s body was found in a Prince William County creek, about eight miles from the library parking lot where she disappeared Wednesday.

Mrs. Gregg-Glover is being held without bond. She knew her daughter was dead and where the body was located long before it was discovered, police said Wednesday.


Suspended priest given 13 years

A suspended Roman Catholic priest who embezzled $432,000 from two rural parishes while living a double life was sentenced Wednesday to 13 years in prison.

Rodney L. Rodis, 52, will serve the state prison term after he has completed a five-year federal sentence.

At a sentencing hearing, Louisa Circuit Judge Timothy K. Sanner sentenced Rodis to the maximum term of 200 years and suspended all but 13 years. A jury convicted him on the 10 embezzlement counts in October.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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