- The Washington Times - Friday, June 26, 2009

DISTRICT

Ceiling debris hurts Capitol policeman

Officials said part of a ceiling collapsed at a congressional office building, injuring a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

D.C. fire department spokesman Alan Etter said an approximately 15-foot piece of plaster fell from the ceiling at about 10 a.m. Thursday in the Cannon House Office Building.

A Capitol Police officer was hit and suffered a minor injury to his shoulder. No other injuries have been reported, and Mr. Etter said the building is sound.

Metro warns of robbery rise

Metro is urging riders to guard their belongings following a recent jump in the number of robberies in the transit system.

Metro officials said transit police have arrested 27 robbery suspects in less than two months. Although crime has stayed low, they say there were more than 580 robberies last year. That’s up from 445 robberies reported in 2007.

As of last month, there have been 313 robberies this year.

City hospitals, rescuers to run drill

D.C. hospitals, clinics and nursing homes are planning an emergency drill with the fire department and city agencies to test their preparedness to handle a major crisis.

The drill is set for Friday at RFK Stadium and other sites. Emergency responders will test their communication, evacuation and transportation plans for a simulated large-crowd event at the stadium.

More than 100 drill “victims” will be taken to hospitals for care. Another group of patients will be evacuated from a nursing home.

Washington Hospital Center is expecting to receive nearly 100 drill “victims” to test their capabilities.

MARYLAND

ROSEDALE

New ramps open Friday

Motorists on Interstate 95 north of Baltimore can look out for new ramps connecting the highway with the Beltway.

State highway officials said two new ramps connecting southbound I-95 to eastbound and westbound Interstate 695 will open at 5 a.m. Friday.

The interchange is part of a massive ongoing project to add express toll lanes to I-95. The project is expected to be completed in 2016, although some toll lanes could open before that.

The express toll lanes are expected to give drivers the option of paying more to travel in a less congested area.

HAGERSTOWN

Welcome center on I-70 delayed

The State Highway Administration said an $18 million makeover of a Maryland welcome center along Interstate 70 near Myersville is taking longer than expected.

The Hagerstown Herald-Mail reported Thursday that the project originally slated for completion in early fall won’t be done until next April.

Meanwhile, state tourism chief Margot Amelia said her agency closed a temporary welcome center at the Prime Outlets shopping center in Hagerstown after a one-year lease expired at the end of May.

Miss Amelia said the temporary center had 40,000 visitors. That’s far short of the 200,000 people who visited the I-70 rest stop annually.

BALTIMORE

Institute to archive space data

Baltimore’s Space Telescope Science Institute said it will archive data from a NASA probe launched earlier this year to search the cosmos for Earth-like planets.

The Kepler spacecraft will spend the next 3 1/2 years staring nonstop at 100,000 stars in a remote patch of the Milky Way for potentially habitable planets. The institute’s role is to convert raw data from the probe into files that can be analyzed by Kepler researchers and store those files.

The Baltimore institute, which coordinates the use of the Hubble Space Telescope, said its track record of processing and archiving Hubble data led to its selection for the Kepler mission and could lead to roles in other missions.

VIRGINIA

LYNCHBURG

Ex-professor sex charge advances

A judge has ruled there is enough evidence against a former Liberty University professor accused of a sex crime to send the charge to a grand jury for consideration.

The ruling came Wednesday after a preliminary hearing in Lynchburg General District Court for Joshua Young Moon on a charge of object sexual penetration by force.

The conservative Christian school fired Mr. Moon after he was charged in April with the crime involving one of his students.

The student, a senior, said she took a statistics class from Mr. Moon.

The grand jury meets July 6.

DUBLIN

Mack Trucks move to Pennsylvania

Mack Trucks Inc. will move production of its highway truck line from Pulaski County, Va., to Macungie, Pa.

Company officials on Thursday announced the transfer to consolidate its operations. It will begin in September.

Officials said the move will result in job losses at the Dublin plant, but that it’s too early to say how many.

The plant will continue to produce Volvo Trucks North America’s entire product line.

Plant officials said earlier this year that 1,200 were working at the plant. Last year, a Mack Trucks spokesman had estimated a transfer of its line would eliminate 200 jobs from a work force that then stood at 1,400.

ABINGDON

Wolf statues return; caterpillars missing

Two wolf statues stolen in Abingdon have reappeared, but three bronze caterpillars taken in nearby Bristol remain missing.

Bristol police Sgt. Steven Crawford said Wednesday that authorities will look into whether the heists are related, because the statues disappeared at about the same time this week.

The fiberglass wolf statues were among 27 painted by local artists and placed around Abingdon to be auctioned in October to benefit the town’s Main Street organization.

Abingdon officials promised that the thieves wouldn’t be charged if the statues were returned, but Sgt. Crawford said the caterpillar snatchers could face felony grand larceny charges.

The missing figures are part of the city’s Caterpillar Crawl, a scavenger hunt inspired by popular children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” in downtown Bristol.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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