- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 5, 2009



Blast evacuates day care center

A research company is under investigation after a small explosion at its facility forced the evacuation of a nearby day care center, Alexandria city officials said.

About 70 children were evacuated from Happy Home Child Learning Center on Monday after 11 a.m., authorities said. No one was injured.

City officials said the incident was caused by a test cannon that became overpressurized during tests at BAE Systems, a research company located in the same building as the day care. They said the city is investigating the company’s compliance with city code.

The fire marshal’s office is looking into what prompted the cannon to malfunction.

Authorities said the blast caused the building to shake and ceiling tiles to fall.


Expelled chairman will not try again

Ousted Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jeffrey M. Frederick has ruled out running to get his job back at the state Republican convention at the end of the month.

His announcement came after the party’s governing central committee on Saturday elected longtime activist Pat Mullins as the interim chairman. He will run at the convention to complete the three years left on Mr. Frederick’s term as chairman.

In a bitter 1,300-word e-mail to supporters and reporters Monday, Mr. Frederick attacked the state party’s leadership and said he believed he could have won at the May 29-30 convention.

“Many of you from every corner of Virginia have urged that I seek the chairmanship again, and I strongly believe that if I were to seek it at the state convention later this month, my prospects for victory are strong,” he wrote.

He dismissed the 57-18 vote to oust him last month as “the latest in a long succession of efforts” by the Republican establishment to ensure that it, not the Republican base, guides the party.


State honors 3 fallen officers

Three police officers who were killed last year are being honored Tuesday by state officials at an annual memorial service.

State police said the service will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Library of Virginia in Richmond. Gov. Tim Kaine and Secretary of Public Safety John Marshall are scheduled to speak.

The service will honor Virginia Beach Police Detective Michael S. Phillips, Fredericksburg police Officer Todd A. Bahr and Fairfax police Lt. Frank Stecco.

Detective Phillips was fatally shot Aug. 7 during an undercover drug operation. Officer Bahr was fatally shot June 6 while answering a call about a domestic dispute. Lt. Stecco died in October during a helicopter water rescue training operation.


Paintball vandals go ‘on a rampage’

Vandals wielding paintball guns left their mark on more than 125 homes and businesses in Henry County, police said.

Authorities said the vandals shot green paintballs at buildings in Martinsville and in southern Henry County.

Henry County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jay Whitlow said the vandals “went on a rampage.”

Police noticed the vandalism about 12:30 a.m. Sunday.

Martinsville spokesman Scott Coleman said damage estimates are not yet available but paintballs generally don’t leave permanent marks.


Landowner fined for harming wetlands

An Augusta County landowner has been fined $145,000 for destroying rare wetlands during construction of a house.

The fine against Arthur J. Fisher that the state Water Control Board approved April 27 in a consent order is the largest wetlands penalty that it has ever imposed.

The Department of Environmental Quality said Monday that Mr. Fisher was told in 2003 that he would need a permit for any building activity that would disturb the wetlands at Quarles Pond in Stuarts Draft.

State officials say Quarles Pond dates back 15,000 years and is the largest sinkhole pond in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. It supported rare plants and insects.

The consent order requires Mr. Fisher to restore the wetlands at the pond and to monitor their progress for 10 years.



County may allow Constitution statue

A man who lost his fight against a Ten Commandments display on government property in Cumberland is gaining ground in his push to have a U.S. Constitution monument installed nearby.

The Cumberland Times-News reported Sunday that Allegany County officials are forming a committee to study Jeffrey Davis’ request.

The development marks a reversal of the county commissioners’ stance that a George Washington statue unveiled last fall would be the last monument on the courthouse lawn.

Mr. Davis, an emergency-room physician from Swanton, sought to have the Ten Commandments removed from the courthouse in 2004. The county complied, but then restored the stone tablets three days later in a move later validated by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling involving a similar monument in Texas.


University to offer doctorate locally

The University System of Maryland said it will offer a doctorate in education at its downtown Hagerstown campus.

The program aimed at people seeking careers in school administration will be the first doctoral degree offered at the campus since it opened in 2004.

Campus spokeswoman Erin Harman told the Hagerstown Herald-Mail that at least 30 people have expressed interest in applying for the three-year program.

She said the number of students who will be in the first class hasn’t been determined.


Man gets prison for stealing laptops

A former technology contractor was sentenced Monday to 18 months in prison for stealing at least 83 government laptops from the federal office where he worked and selling them on Craigslist.

Darryl Lyles, a 37-year-old from Capitol Heights, also has to pay back more than $180,000 to compensate for the lost laptops, but prosecutors said the loss was even greater.

Because of Mr. Lyles’ crime, the small contractor that he worked for - RGB Technology Inc. of Herndon - said it lost its contract with the Government Accountability Office and had to lay off 12 employees that worked on the account.

NYPD commissioner to speak at Catholic

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly will give this month’s commencement address to students graduating from Catholic University.

A native New Yorker, attorney and former Marine, Mr. Kelly has served as the city’s police commissioner since 2001. He also led the nation’s largest police force in the early 1990s.

Mr. Kelly has spent 31 years with the New York Police Department, serving in 25 different commands.

He will give the commencement address at Catholic University on May 16.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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