- The Washington Times - Friday, June 5, 2009



99-cent votes for Miss Virginia

The public can cast an unlimited number of votes online to choose a semifinalist for Miss Virginia but there’s a catch. Each vote will cost 99 cents.

Organizers of the Miss Virginia pageant say the fee is being charged because sponsorship for scholarships is down because of the economy. They also say the voting will engage more television viewers.

Twenty-nine contestants will vie for the Miss Virginia title at the pageant, which will be held here June 25-27.

The top vote-getter in the online voting will become the 11th semifinalist. She also will receive a people’s-choice scholarship at the end of the pageant.

The online voting began Monday. Votes can be cast at www.missva.com.


State court rules on lottery access

The Virginia Supreme Court says the state lottery must ensure that its games are accessible to people with disabilities.

But the justices said Thursday that there’s no law specifying how to do that, so they sent the case back to Richmond Circuit Court for a hearing on that issue.

Four handicapped Virginians claimed in their lawsuit that only a fraction of lottery outlets are accessible to people who use wheelchairs or have other physical challenges.

The Virginia Lottery argued that it was not its legal responsibility to make sure that retailers are accessible to the handicapped.

A Richmond judge had ruled in favor of the lottery


Appalachian Power wants rate increase

The State Corporation Commission is seeking additional public comment on a request by Appalachian Power to increase its electricity rates.

The regulatory agency previously planned a hearing June 30 in Richmond and has added a July 1 hearing in Wytheville for public comments.

Appalachian Power is seeking to increase the portion of the electric bill that pays for the fuel used to generate electricity.

Under the proposal, the monthly bill of a typical residential customer would increase by about 13 percent. An alternative proposal would result in a 9.6 percent increase through August 2010. The remainder would be recovered after that.



Commissioners act on wind-farm rules

Allegany County commissioners have adopted limits on wind farms that could derail a 25-turbine project proposed for Dan’s Mountain in Western Maryland.

The zoning restrictions approved Thursday prohibit wind turbines within 2,000 feet of homes.

The three commissioners also added provisions to prevent environmental damage during construction and require developers to post bonds for eventually dismantling the giant machines.

Developer US Wind Force of Wexford, Pa., said in a statement that the unanimous vote was “a huge disappointment.” The company said it would pursue every legal, regulatory and policy option in seeking reconsideration of the decision.


5 swine flu cases at rabbinical college

Maryland health officials said Thursday that the number of confirmed swine flu cases has risen to 83, including five new cases at a Baltimore County rabbinical college.

Baltimore County health officials said the five students at the Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Mount Wilson have mild cases and none was hospitalized.

Health Department spokesman David Paulson said 22 new cases have been confirmed since Monday and none of the new cases has required hospitalization. He said all of those infected are recovering or have recovered.


Driver charged in jogger’s death

The Frederick County Sheriff’s Office has charged Joshua Cool, 29, of Emmitsburg, and his parents in the death of a Mount St. Mary’s University student who was struck while jogging near Emmitsburg in April.

The charges announced Thursday reversed the initial finding that 22-year-old Elizabeth DiNunzio of Zelienople, Pa., was at fault for running in the traffic lane. Police now say she was running as near as practicable to the edge of the road, and that Mr. Cool failed to notice her.

Mr. Cool was charged with negligent driving, failure to exercise due care and driving an uninsured vehicle. His parents, Ann and Joseph Cool, were each charged with knowingly permitting their son to drive the uninsured truck.


University president will resign

David Ramsay said Thursday that he is resigning after 15 years as president of the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Mr. Ramsay helped revitalize the city’s west side by developing the university’s BioPark, a bioscience innovation and research building that opened in 2005.

In 2002, Mr. Ramsay was named one of Baltimore’s most influential leaders; he has served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations.

Before becoming president in 1994, he had been vice chancellor at the University of California at San Francisco and a lecturer and fellow at Oxford University. He was born in London.

In his announcement to staff, Mr. Ramsay said he would step down as president once his replacement is appointed.


Witherspoon film to shoot in city

Columbia Pictures plans to shoot a film in Washington starring Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd. City officials expect the project will generate $8.5 million in local spending.

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty announced the movie plans Thursday, and said the film crew will provide training to some D.C. students.

The romantic comedy, under the working title “How Do You Know?” is slated to spend 14 weeks in the city this summer. Producers will hire more than 100 local crew members and several hundred extras.

Fenty spokeswoman Erica Stanley said the city didn’t spend any incentive money to lure the film project.

The film, written and directed by James L. Brooks, is expected to feature landmarks including Nationals Park and the city’s neighborhoods.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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