- The Washington Times - Friday, May 15, 2009



Jamboree move would cost millions

The Boy Scouts of America’s plan to move its national jamboree to Rockbridge County would require an initial capital investment of $100 million to $250 million.

The figure is included in a consultant’s plans for moving the jamboree from Fort A.P. Hill to Goshen that the Roanoke Times obtained under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

Plans for a 20,000-square-foot conference center, 10,000-square-foot museum and 6,000-square-foot visitors center are on hold for now.

Four dining halls and 45 small cabins are proposed, as well as an island on the site’s Lake Merriweather with a harbor, ferry service and bridge.

Consultant Isaac Manning said a proposal for a 100,000-seat amphitheater has been scrapped.


Hundreds of animals found in 2 homes

Officials have found 192 live cats and seven dead ones in a Frederick County mobile home.

Sheriff’s Office Maj. Robert Eckman said the animals showed the effects of neglect and inhumane conditions and owner Linda McLaughlin could face charges.

Officials said Wednesday that the home will probably be demolished.

Miss McLaughlin, 58, has been hospitalized in Prince William County since Friday and wasn’t present when her cats were confiscated.

Meanwhile, Chesterfield County officers found as many as 60 cats and four dogs at a home Thursday. Animal Control manager Alice Berry described the living conditions as cruel and neglectful.

The animals will be taken to an animal shelter for assessment, and the case remains under investigation.


Visitor center draws crowds to Capitol

The Capitol Visitor Center has welcomed 1 million visitors since opening in December as the first stop for tourists at the U.S. Capitol, officials say.

Center Chief Executive Officer Terrie Rouse announced the 1 millionth visitor Thursday.

During the same five-month period a year ago, the Capitol saw about 467,800 visitors. The boost in visitors translates into a 114 percent increase, and officials expect to continue seeing large crowds.

Since the center opened, the peak day for visitors was April 20, when 19,500 people visited the Capitol. Officials say that would have resulted in a four-hour wait in years past. Now the average wait is six to 10 minutes.

Metro wants to buy power wholesale

Metro says it wants to start buying electricity on the wholesale market as it looks for more places to pinch pennies.

The agency’s general manager, John B. Catoe, said Metro would be the first transit system in the country to buy power at wholesale prices.

Officials say doing so will help guard against steep spikes in the cost of electricity, such as those experienced last year, and could save up to $9 million a year.

On Thursday, Metro’s finance committee approved the request to lock in prices in the regional wholesale market. The plan still needs final approval from the entire board.

CFO: unemployment to top 11 percent

The District’s chief financial officer predicts the city’s unemployment rate will increase to 11.5 percent next year.

In prepared testimony Thursday for a House subcommittee hearing, Natwar M. Gandhi said he expects the city’s economic conditions will continue to deteriorate as employment and wages decrease and office vacancies rise.

Still, he says that while the District’s job base has been weakened by the nation’s economic slump, it is faring better than most places.

The number of jobs in the District grew by 6,700 in the 15 months ending in March thanks in part to gains in the federal government.

But during the same period, Mr. Gandhi said 15,000 jobs held by D.C. residents were lost, and the unemployment rate grew from 5.8 percent to 9.8 percent.



Ex-radicals speak at library event

Former radicals Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn spoke out against “the stain of white supremacy” in a Baltimore appearance to promote a book.

Miss Dohrn said Wednesday that the country has two justice systems: one that keeps white youths from entering prison and another that repeatedly imprisons youths of color. Mr. Ayers said Barack Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president was a “blow against white supremacy.”

Mr. Ayers co-founded the Weather Underground, which was known for a series of 1960s bombings. He eventually surrendered and charges were dropped, but his past was an issue during Mr. Obama’s campaign.

Mr. Ayers served with Mr. Obama on a charity board and hosted an Obama event in the 1990s. That led vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin to accuse Mr. Obama of “palling around with terrorists.”


State creates board to help immigrants

Gov. Martin O’Malley has created a new commission to help business and community development interests of African immigrants who have come to Maryland.

Mr. O’Malley signed an executive order creating the African Affairs Commission on Thursday. The governor also swore in 21 members of the commission.

One of the commission’s main goals will be to expand state government outreach efforts to help Maryland citizens who have immigrated from African nations. The state also has commissions that oversee efforts to help Asian, Hispanic and Middle Eastern immigrants.

Valentina Ukwuoma, who heads the Bureau of Solid Waste for the Baltimore City Department of Public Works, was named to chair the commission.


Another guilty plea in mortgage scheme

A former real estate agent is the ninth person to plead guilty in a multimillion-dollar scheme to cheat homeowners facing foreclosure.

Wilbur Ballesteros, 33, of Lanham, entered a plea Thursday in federal court for his role in the scheme involving a company known as the Metropolitan Money Store.

Prosecutors say homeowners facing foreclosure were promised help by the company but instead ended up losing whatever equity they had in their homes.

Prosecutors say Ballesteros was a licensed real estate agent who accepted kickbacks from the company in return for his help in closing fraudulent mortgage loans.

He faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine when sentenced in December.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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