- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 30, 2009


City closes 33 car dealers

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty said 33 car dealers have lost their licenses as part of a crackdown on neighborhood blight.

In addition, 54 businesses have been cited for illegal conditions.

Monday’s announcement came about six months after the city created new regulations targeting businesses that have drawn frequent complaints from residents.

Many of the businesses appeared to be little more than junkyards.

The District’s new rules limit the number of vehicles that can be stored outside and establish new business license requirements for salespeople and dealers.

AAA expects dip in holiday travel

Fewer residents in the Washington area are expected to leave home for the Independence Day holiday amid ongoing concerns about the economy.

AAA Mid-Atlantic predicts that about 859,000 residents from the area will travel at least 50 miles from home over the three-day weekend, a drop of more than 2 percent from last year.

The auto club said about 709,000 Maryland residents are expected to travel at least 50 miles, which is about the same as last year.

AAA spokesman John Townsend said the high price of gasoline, which is averaging about $2.60 a gallon, is persuading some drivers to stay home. But he says AAA expects a modest increase in air travel because of more attractive fares.


Man fatally struck by Metro train

A man was struck and killed by a train at the Forest Glen station on the Red Line on Monday.

The transit agency said the man was struck by an eight-car train shortly after 4 p.m. The circumstances of the incident were unclear, but Metro spokeswoman Angela Gates said early reports pointed to a suicide.

“Preliminary reports indicate the person was on the track intentionally,” she said.

Other than confirming that the person was male, Ms. Gates could give no description of the victim, who had not been identified.

“He died at the scene,” Ms. Gates said.

Metro said that trains were sharing a single track between Forest Glen and Silver Spring, and that passengers should expect delays throughout rush hour.

Ms. Gates said the last person to be killed after intentionally stepping in front of a train was Kurtland Johnson, 42, of the District, who was fatally struck March 13 at the McPherson Square station.

Metro also will close the Takoma station, also on the Red Line, two hours early at least through Wednesday as investigators work to determine the cause of last week’s deadly train crash.

The transit agency said Monday that Red Line trains will continue to limit speeds to 35 miles per hour through Wednesday. Passengers are advised to add at least 30 minutes to their trip estimates.

Red Line trains traveling toward Takoma between 10 p.m. and midnight will be turned around at the Silver Spring and Fort Totten stations. Buses will be available in the area when there is no service.

Nine people were killed June 22 when two trains crashed in the area. The crash was the deadliest in the rail system’s 33-year history.


Chalk Point plant sued over emissions

An environmental group and four Maryland residents have filed a lawsuit against the Mirant Chalk Point power plant in Prince George’s County.

The lawsuit filed Friday in federal court accuses the power plant and its parent company, Mirant Mid-Atlantic LLC, of violating the Clean Air Act.

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network and residents of Accokeek and Mechanicsville accuse the power plant operators of repeatedly burning residual fuel oil without the required pollution controls to reduce harmful emissions.

Mirant did not immediately respond to a call requesting comment. The company has also faced criticism from environmentalists over its Virginia power plant in Alexandria.


Audit cites purchases by ex-college worker

A legislative audit released last week has found that a former University of Maryland University College employee improperly used a corporate credit card to purchase $8,800 in electronic equipment and had it shipped to her home.

The audit says the employee, who resigned in 2005, bought laptops, music players, cameras and other items in 2005. Auditors found four other purchases worth $2,800 that could not be accounted for on campus.

In 17 months at the university, the employee, whose job included purchasing equipment, charged $523,900 to the card, but it’s not clear whether she made other improper purchases. The matter was referred to the attorney general’s office.

University officials told auditors that the employee’s supervisor, who also has resigned, didn’t review and approve purchases as required.


Professor, daughter killed by falling tree

A woman killed when a tree struck her van in Montgomery County has been identified as a professor at Loyola College in Baltimore.

Police said Kelly M. Murray, 40, of Chevy Chase, and her daughter were killed Friday on Connecticut Avenue near East-West Highway when a tree branch struck their vehicle. Mrs. Murray and her daughter, Sloane, 7, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Four other daughters, ranging in age from 10 months to 11 years old, and two of the girls’ friends also were in the minivan as they returned from swim practice.

Mrs. Murray was an associate professor of pastoral counseling at Loyola, where she had taught since 2001.



Museum shows rare Madison portrait

The James Madison Museum is displaying one of only five portraits of the fourth president painted from life.

Previously not shown publicly, the painting was owned by Marion duPont Scott, who lived at Montpelier, Madison’s Orange County estate, during the 20th century.

A noted horsebreeder, Mrs. Scott died in 1983. Her nephew, John duPont, inherited the original 19th-century portrait by William Dunlap. The painting was subsequently purchased by Madison descendant Helen Marie Taylor, president and founding donor of the James Madison Museum.

The portrait was unveiled recently by Miss Taylor and Frederick Madison Smith, president of the National Society of the Madison Family Descendents.


Soldier gets medal for rescue in Iraq

Spc. Ricardo Farrell of Annandale, stationed at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, has been awarded the Soldier’s Medal for rescuing a comrade trapped in a Stryker vehicle that rolled into an Iraqi canal.

Spc. Farrell dove into what soldiers call the “hell hole,” a small opening between the compartment and driver’s seat, to rescue his driver. He was on combat patrol in a Stryker vehicle Dec. 22 when the driver swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle.

The vehicle rolled into a canal, leaving a foot of breathable air in the rear of the vehicle.

Spc. Farrell said he heard the driver shouting for help and then go silent. He dove in, moved gear out of the way and pulled the driver out by his arm and body armor.


Countrywide deal aids debt counseling

Virginia families facing home foreclosure will be eligible for debt counseling funded in part by a legal settlement with Countrywide Financial Corp.

Attorney General Bill Mims’ office said $50,000 is being set aside to supplement funds allocated by the Virginia Housing Development Authority and the Department of Housing and Community Development. The grant program is expected to help about 200 families.

The $50,000 is part of the January settlement with Countrywide, which addressed purported deceptive acts and practices related to the company’s mortgage activities in Virginia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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