- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 17, 2009

MARYLAND

ANNAPOLIS

O’Malley bracing for budget cuts

Gov. Martin O’Malley said Wednesday he’s bracing for another $100 million to $300 million in budget reductions after the state’s Board of Revenue Estimates releases its projections.

The board is scheduled to release updated estimates for fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2011 on Thursday.

“The cuts become more and more painful each time,” said Mr. O’Malley, a Democrat. “The limbo dance becomes harder and harder, and yet we do look forward with some optimism to the end of this recession and a return to some moderate level of growth.”

Mr. O’Malley said Maryland gained more jobs than it lost in two of the last four months, but the state’s 7.2 percent unemployment rate continues to take a toll.

GREENBELT

12 residents face trafficking charges

A federal grand jury has indicted 12 people in southern Maryland in a purported cocaine trafficking ring.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland said Wednesday a one-count indictment was returned on Sept. 2 and unsealed last Thursday. Prosecutors said the ring distributed cocaine and crack cocaine between November 2006 and September 2009.

Authorities said they carried out 20 search warrants last week, seizing various items, including luxury cars and jewelry. The indictment requests forfeiture of the proceeds of the trafficking, $1.5 million in cash and property.

If convicted, the 12 face up to life in prison.

FREDERICK

Firm gets tax break on power plant

Frederick County has given a tax break to a privately owned power plant that supplies electricity to biodefense research laboratories at Fort Detrick.

The county commissioners narrowly approved the deal Tuesday.

Rather than paying property taxes that would have amounted to nearly $58,000 this year alone, plant owner Keenan Fort Detrick will pay the county $25,000 annually for the next 20 years.

Until recently, Frederick County didn’t collect property taxes at the Army installation since the land is federally owned.

But a state law enacted last year enables local governments to collect property taxes on privately owned buildings on federal land.

Keenan Fort Detrick is a joint venture of Keenan Development Associates, of Columbia, S.C., and Chevron Corp., of San Ramon, Calif.

HAGERSTOWN

Signed balls raise $3,400 for fund

A memorial fund established by the parents of late Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart is raising thousands of dollars for struggling Little League teams nationwide.

The minor-league Hagerstown Suns said Wednesday that a drawing for hundreds of baseballs autographed by major-league players raised more than $3,400 for the Nick Adenhart Memorial Fund.

Adenhart grew up in the Hagerstown area and played on a Little League team in nearby Halfway.

The 22-year-old pitcher and two others were killed in April when their car was hit by a driver who was allegedly drunk when his minivan ran a red light in Fullerton, Calif.

The minivan driver, Andrew Gallo, has been charged with three counts of second-degree murder.

VIRGINIA

PETERSBURG

Concerns about military hotel raised

Virginia congressional leaders are raising some concerns about a proposed 15-story military hotel at Fort Lee.

Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner joined Rep. J. Randy Forbes in a letter to Secretary of the Army Peter Geren conveying concerns raised by local business and community leaders.

The legislators asked that the Army conduct a cost-benefit analysis and feasibility assessment to evaluate other options for on-post accommodations.

They also expressed support for the Army to consider extending the public comment period to 120 days. Area business leaders had asked that the comment period be extended.

Lodging capacity at Fort Lee is limited and the base is expected to expand in the coming years as part of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission recommendations.

NORFOLK

Battleship’s interior to open soon

Norfolk will soon give visitors access to the interior of the battleship Wisconsin, city officials said.

The Navy agreed to donate the battleship to the city in late 2007 for use as a floating museum but tours were limited to the ship’s deck. The plan is to open the ship’s interior in phases over the next several years.

Delays have stemmed from hazardous materials that might be on board. City officials are awaiting the go-ahead from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for testing the air inside the ship.

The Wisconsin is one of the largest and last battleships built by the Navy. Officials said it attracted about 212,000 people last year.

DISTRICT

Activists arrested at Canadian Embassy

Three animal-rights activists protesting seal hunting have been arrested in front of the Canadian Embassy in Northwest.

U.S. Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said officers arrested three members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals on Wednesday morning on charges of disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly and failure to obey. The women taken into custody wore white seal costumes streaked in red paint to represent blood.

The protesters crawled onto Pennsylvania Avenue and blocked traffic. When they refused to move, officers removed their masks, handcuffed them and carried them to the sidewalk.

About 15 other activists stood nearby holding signs asking Prime Minister Stephen Harper to “stop the seal slaughter.” The group said harp seals are targeted in Canada and wants to send Mr. Harper a message as he visits President Obama.

Mother, daughter admit embezzling

A mother and daughter pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling $214,000 from a government program that pays blind vendors to operate snack bars, gift shops and cafeterias at federal facilities.

Barbara A. Stevenson-Jones, 70, and Pamela R. Stevenson, 51, of Bowie, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds.

Sentencing guidelines call for a prison term ranging from three years and five months to four years and three months, according to the plea agreement. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 30. From wire dispatches and staff reports

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