- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 3, 2009



State lagging on roads cash use

A letter to Gov. Tim Kaine from the head of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee blasts Virginia for being the last in the nation to put to use federal stimulus highway money.

The letter sent Thursday to Mr. Kaine was stark in its criticism, even though it was sent by a fellow Democrat, Rep. James L. Oberstar of Minnesota.

As of August, Virginia had begun construction on projects totaling just 17 percent of the stimulus money the state received for transportation.

Mr. Oberstar said that’s the lowest rate of any state.

Mr. Kaine’s office was working on a response to the Oberstar letter Friday evening.


Student charged in Tech threats

Virginia Tech police have filed charges against a student in connection with racial slurs, swastikas and other threats found on walls in university buildings.

Maj. Gene Deisinger said Friday that four misdemeanor counts of vandalism were filed against Samuel Adams Purtell, 19, of Blacksburg.

Police have banned Mr. Purtell from campus, and Maj. Deisinger said he was out of the community and did not pose a threat.

Police said they began receiving reports of threatening postings on bathroom walls across campus in mid-August.

The graffiti in six buildings included references to Adolf Hitler and Seung-hui Cho, who killed 32 people on the campus as well as himself in 2007.

Police say more charges may be filed.


$1.8 billion sought for rail projects

Virginia is seeking $1.8 billion in federal stimulus money for 19 high-speed rail projects between Petersburg and the District of Columbia.

It’s the commonwealth’s second application for stimulus funding to develop the I-95 Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. The state applied in August for funding to build 11.4 miles of third track in Stafford and Prince William counties.

Gov. Tim Kaine said Friday that the latest application includes construction of 112 track miles, four major bridges, 97 crossovers and the realignment of 82 track miles of curves.



More hearings set on utility merger

The state’s Public Service Commission has set aside two more days for hearings into a proposed merger between Constellation Energy Group and France’s EdF.

A hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 14, with the next day set aside if needed.

Maryland’s attorney general asked for more hearings last month after criticizing Constellation for waiting until the close of evidentiary hearings before disclosing final terms of the transaction.

Now, attorneys have questions about changes that could affect Constellation’s corporate structure, as well as financial implications of the proposal.

Constellation officials say there have been no substantive changes.

The commission is reviewing how the merger would affect Constellation subsidiary Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., which is regulated, and whether the deal would serve the public interest.


Decomposed body found in manhole

Baltimore police said Friday a woman’s body found in a manhole was seriously decomposed and is being investigated as a suspicious death.

Baltimore fire officials said Verizon technicians found the decomposed body of a woman in a manhole about 10:15 a.m. Fire crews went to the 500 block of Benninghaus Road to remove the body of the unidentified woman.

Fire Department spokesman Chief Kevin Cartwright said technicians entered the manhole to do repairs and found the body.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy.


Dealer gets 20 years after cocaine bust

A Baltimore drug dealer caught with 91 pounds of cocaine in the back of his pickup truck has been sentenced to 20 years in federal prison.

Trenell Murphy pleaded guilty in July and was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Chief Judge Benson Everett Legg.

Judge Legg noted he was giving Murphy a shorter sentence than what was recommended by federal guidelines. He said he hoped the 34-year-old would “move on to a better place” after his release.

Murphy asked the judge for mercy and apologized to the court for his actions.

The drug bust was the largest Baltimore police have ever made without federal help. But it came after the department sat for more than a year on a tip about Murphy being a major drug dealer.


Man charged with soliciting minors

Cumberland and Allegany County authorities say a man has been charged with sexual solicitation of minors.

Jimmie Dailey Beatty Jr., 29, of Cumberland was arrested and charged with numerous offenses, including sexual solicitation of a minor, possession of child pornography and indecent exposure.

Cumberland police said Mr. Beatty, pretending to be a teenager from Phoenix, chatted with teenage girls online. Authorities said Mr. Beatty used a Web cam to film himself engaging in sexual acts and solicited the victims to engage in sexual activity.

Investigators say after getting a complaint from a parent of one of the teenage girls, they obtained Mr. Beatty’s IP address. Police said a search of Mr. Beatty’s home turned up items of child pornography.

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