- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2009


Six governors, mayor ask Hill for Bay help

Six governors and D.C.’s mayor are asking Congress to help stop highway pollution from entering the Chesapeake Bay.

The elected officials and the chairman of the Chesapeake Bay Commission sent a letter last month to transportation committee members asking that the Federal Surface Transportation Act include a policy to reduce highway pollution.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said highway stormwater runoff is a major pollution source and is especially harmful to the Bay. The letter said pollution-control measures can be implemented during construction and retrofit projects.

The governors of Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York also signed the letter.


Fire kills woman, displaces 2 residents

Authorities are trying to determine what caused a fire that killed a woman in a duplex in Northeast on Wednesday morning.

Firefighters arrived shortly before 6 a.m. They found an unidentified woman in a front room of the house.

She was pronounced dead at a hospital.

The fire also damaged the adjoining home, displacing two residents.



4 charged in arson tied to teen’s death

Four people charged with setting fire to an Odenton home thought the youth living inside had something to do with a Crofton teen’s death, authorities said.

Jonathan Myers, 22, of Crofton; 15- and 16-year-old boys from Crofton; and a 16-year-old Gambrills boy were charged Tuesday night and Wednesday morning with arson.

Last week, they reportedly threw a Molotov cocktail at the Odenton home of a boy they thought was involved in Christopher Jones’ May 30 death. But police said the boy has no connection to the death of Christopher, who was punched by several boys before falling off his bike and hitting his head.

Two teens have been charged with manslaughter in his death.


School board chief takes new job

The chairman of Baltimore’s school board has resigned to take a job as a top deputy to the school system’s chief executive officer.

Brian Morris was hired Tuesday night as deputy CEO for operations. He will report directly to CEO Andres Alonso, whose hiring he pushed for as board chairman.

Mr. Morris said his job would be to make sure that the systems of the district work more smoothly. The position of deputy CEO does not exist under the school system’s administrative structure.

Mr. Morris is a real estate developer who has little professional background in education. His six-year tenure on the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners was set to end July 1.

Gov. Martin O’Malley said he is pleased that Mr. Morris’ “talents and skills will remain in Baltimore city.”


Army Corps urges native-only oysters

The Army Corps of Engineers said its final environmental-impact statement recommends native-only oyster restoration efforts for the Chesapeake Bay.

The decision had been announced earlier this year, but the statement begins the final public comment period before the formal publication of the decision.

The statement said agencies, including the Army Corps and the states of Maryland and Virginia, concluded that introducing non-native oysters posed unacceptable ecological risks. However, the Army Corps acknowledged uncertainty over whether restoration efforts would bring back the native oyster population and the possibility they would continue to decline.

The Asian oyster had been touted as a fast-growing and disease-resistant alternative.


Man held without bail in wife’s slaying

A man accused of killing his wife on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and making up a story about being carjacked will continue to be held without bond.

A bail review hearing was held Tuesday for Ryan Holness, 28, who is charged with first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Serika Holness, 26. She was found Friday beside a rural Kent County road, and the state medical examiner has ruled her death a homicide.

Mr. Holness, a member of the U.S. Navy assigned to Patuxent River Naval Air Station, told police they were carjacked on the New Jersey Turnpike on the way home from Brooklyn, N.Y. He was charged in his wife’s death after police found inconsistencies in his story.

State police said evidence was recovered from Mr. Holness’ car, which was found in Washington.


Former publisher dies at age 76

The Hagerstown Herald-Mail reported that former publisher James M. Schurz died at his home in Williamsport. He was 76.

Family members told the newspaper that Mr. Schurz died Wednesday.

Publisher John League said Mr. Schurz had cancer.

Mr. Schurz was senior vice president of South Bend, Ind.-based Schurz Communications Inc., which bought the Herald-Mail in 1960.

He worked for the San Francisco Examiner before coming to Hagerstown in 1968. He spent nearly 20 years at the Herald-Mail, including 12 years as editor and 11 years as editor and publisher.

Mr. Schurz served as a staff assistant and speechwriter to President Nixon in 1972.


Proposed stun gun ban meets resistance

A proposed ban on stun guns in Ocean City is meeting opposition from Town Council members who say the devices could serve as a less-lethal alternative to handguns.

The Town Council discussed an ordinance that would ban stun guns at Tuesday night’s meeting.

Council member Joe Hall said businesses making bank runs with large amounts of cash could carry stun guns as a form of protection, instead of handguns.

If approved, the ordinance would ban instruments capable of temporarily incapacitating with the discharge of an electrical current.

Violators would face six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.



Swine flu confirmed in elementary student

An elementary school student has a confirmed case of swine flu, Prince William County officials said.

School officials said they received confirmation Tuesday evening that a student at West Gate Elementary School had the virus. They said the student was recovering at home and would not go back to school until getting approval from a doctor.

The school system said it’s closely monitoring the situation. Based on guidance from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, officials do not plan to close the school at this time.


Couple plead guilty to Ponzi scheme

A couple who defrauded fellow church members and others in a Ponzi scheme have pleaded guilty in federal court in Richmond.

Sentencing is set for Sept. 17 for Darrell Underwood, 42, and Cynthia Underwood, 41. He faces up to 10 years in prison, and she faces a maximum of five years after pleading guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Darrell Underwood also pleaded guilty to engaging in unlawful transactions.

The couple also agreed to reimburse victims more than $9.7 million. The plea avoided a trial on 36 counts.

The Underwoods owned Walkwood Properties, a foreclosure-rescue business based in Midlothian. Authorities said the operation was a Ponzi scheme in which money from new investors was used to pay earlier ones.


Heroin dealer gets 19 years in prison

A major Richmond heroin dealer has been sentenced to 19 years in federal prison.

U.S. District Judge James Spencer on Wednesday entered a $5 million forfeiture order, which represents the proceeds of Carl D. Carrington’s drug-trafficking activities.

Authorities said Carrington, 29, often carried a semiautomatic weapon as he distributed 22 pounds of heroin over three years. They also found in his home a 20-ton hydraulic press sometimes used by dealers to repackage their narcotics and make the drugs appear more pure.

Carrington pleaded guilty in March to a heroin-distribution conspiracy and possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking.


SOL testing exclusions probed

Virginia officials are investigating possible irregularities in Standards of Learning testing at a Roanoke high school.

Virginia Department of Education spokesman Charles Pyle said state officials received an anonymous tip May 8 that some William Fleming High School students were being excluded from Algebra I testing.

City school officials said the reported exclusion may have involved students with disabilities.

Mr. Pyle said the state is also investigating another anonymous tip reporting that some William Fleming students were excluded from geometry testing last year.

He said the state receives dozens of reports of irregularities during the testing cycle, but few involve attempts to compromise the tests’ security.

Roanoke schools Superintendent Rita Bishop declined to comment.


Colonial foundation reports revenue drop

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation attributes a $15 million drop in revenue to the economy, gasoline prices that discouraged travel and the stock market.

An annual report released Tuesday showed that the foundation’s revenue totaled $210 million in 2008, compared with $225 million in 2007.

According to the report, general-admission ticket sales fell by 9 percent and retail sales declined by 15 percent. However, ticket sales revenue rose by $250,000 to $18.5 million because visitors chose more expensive multiday and annual passes.

The foundation’s endowment declined by $209 million to $611 million, which included withdrawals to meet operating and routine capital needs.

Donations to the foundation increased by 2 percent to more than $42 million.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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