Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Douglass Bridge closed for repair

The northbound side of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge will be closed for repair this weekend, transportation officials said.

The northbound lanes will be closed from 10 a.m. tomorrow until Monday morning before rush hour. It is the first of about nine weekend closures through early June.

In July and August, the entire bridge is scheduled to be closed, allowing for completion of major construction that would take more than a year to finish with temporary closures.

“The weekend closures and an uninterrupted two-month work period in the summer are expected to improve safety for residents, commuters and workers alike,” said John Deatrick, the District Department of Transportation’s deputy director and chief engineer.

The Douglass Bridge connects South Capitol Street with the Suitland Parkway across the Anacostia River.

Williams takes job in investment firm

Former D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams has a new job as chief executive of a real estate investment firm set up to do business with municipal governments and nonprofit organizations.

Mr. Williams announced his position with Public Properties Realty Investment Trust on Tuesday.

The newly formed company is a subsidiary of the Arlington investment firm Friedman Billings Ramsey Group Inc. It plans to buy land from governments and nonprofits, which can then use the money for capital-improvement projects or other community-based investments. The organizations would then be allowed to lease or buy back the property over an extended period.

The firm officially started business yesterday, with Mr. Williams as the only executive on board. He is in the process of hiring a team of six persons.



Inmate in leg irons, chains eludes deputies

An inmate with a history of escaping from police custody freed himself from leg irons, handcuffs and a belly chain early yesterday and fled from Harford County sheriff’s deputies, who were taking him to Upper Chesapeake Medical Center for treatment.

Police were looking for Terrence K. Washington, 31, who escaped from custody at about 3 a.m. After freeing himself, Washington leapt from a sheriff’s department vehicle and fled when deputies opened the door in front of the emergency room.

Washington has an extensive criminal record and was wanted in six states for vehicle theft, armed bank robbery, escape and burglary, police said. He was being held in Maryland on three counts of second-degree assault, motor vehicle theft, theft, malicious destruction and four counts of eluding police.

Washington has a medium build and a tattoo of a gun on his abdomen.


Bridge measurement will create delays

Maintenance work on the Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge will temporarily halt traffic from Maryland today.

Crews have to take precise measurements on portions of the drawbridge spans to ensure the bridge is properly aligned.

The closure about 11 a.m. could last for about 20 minutes.

Project analysts said there could be backups of up to three miles while the bridge access is restricted.


Dixon retains Goodwin as city fire chief

William Goodwin will stay on as the city’s fire chief under new Mayor Sheila Dixon.

An announcement from Miss Dixon’s office said Chief Goodwin will continue to oversee 1,700 firefighters and homeland security efforts.

Chief Goodwin was named to his post nearly five years ago under Mayor Martin O’Malley, who is now the governor.

Police Commissioner Leonard Hamm, who also served under Mr. O’Malley, also will remain in his position.


Father sentenced in assault on coach

A man was sentenced to 90 days in jail for assaulting the coach of his son’s peewee football team when the coach tried to stop the boy from fighting.

John Gray, 41, of Edgemere, was sentenced Monday after a Baltimore County jury convicted him of second-degree assault.

According to court documents, the scuffle occurred in August 2005 during a practice at Sparrows Point High School. The coach, Charles Gerben, broke up the fight once, then grabbed Mr. Gray’s son when the fight resumed. That is when, witnesses say, Mr. Gray either tackled or body-checked Mr. Gerben.


Infant’s death in 2006 likely year’s only killing

The death of a baby in the fall in Carroll County likely will be classified as a homicide, making the case the county’s sole homicide last year, state police said.

According to court documents, 3-month-old Rylee Emge died from shaken-baby syndrome in October, two days after sustaining severe injuries.

His father, Ryan Emge, 19, was indicted last month on six counts of child abuse and assault.

Mr. Emge is accused of assaulting the boy at the family’s apartment in the 500 block of Lacosta Circle. His trial is scheduled for Feb. 26.


Student, 17, dies during struggle at school

A Baltimore teenager died in a struggle with staff members two weeks after arriving at a private Carroll County school under contract with the state to educate juveniles in trouble with the law, the student’s mother said yesterday.

Felicia Wilson said she last saw her 17-year-old son, Isaiah Simmons III, during a visit Saturday to Bowling Brook Preparatory School. Police came to her house early yesterday and told her to call school officials.

“The school told me Isaiah was dead,” Miss Wilson said. “They said they put him in a restraint, and he stopped breathing.”

Gov. Martin O’Malley described the death as a tragedy that highlighted the need for reform of services regulated by the state Department of Juvenile Services, which contracts with institutions such as Bowling Brook.

School officials told investigators that Isaiah became enraged Tuesday for no apparent reason and was restrained after threatening to harm other students and staff. He lost consciousness as he struggled with staff members, the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office said.

A preliminary examination by the state medical examiner’s office did not reveal any apparent trauma that may have led to Isaiah’s death. Blood and drug tests ordered by investigators are expected to take several weeks to complete, the sheriff’s office said.

Miss Wilson said her son was healthy and did not have any medical conditions.

The Department of Juvenile Services placed Isaiah at the residential school after a 2006 conviction for robbery with a deadly weapon, the sheriff’s office said.



ACLU helps teacher who sits on his art

A high school art teacher has hired the ACLU to challenge his firing after a video of him moonlighting as a “butt-printing artist” was widely circulated among his high school students.

The executive director of the Virginia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said a public employee such as Stephen Murmer has a right to free expression outside the workplace as long as it does not interfere with his job.

“Once he became fired, then it became a potential legal issue,” Kent Willis said yesterday. “First Amendment issues always have a high-priority ranking for us.”

Mr. Murmer can either appeal the school board’s firing to a state court or go to federal court on constitutional grounds, Mr. Willis said.

Mr. Murmer, who taught at Monacan High School, declined to comment.

County schools spokeswoman Debra Marlow said, “If there is a legal case, we’ll prepare for it.”

Mr. Murmer was suspended last month and fired Jan. 9 after a video turned up on showing him with a fake nose and glasses, a towel on his head and a black thong.

It showed him practicing his private abstract artwork, much of which is produced when he smears his posterior with paint and presses it against canvas.


Attack on teenage girl may be part of series

Fairfax County police are investigating whether an assault on a 17-year-old girl is linked to a series of sexual assaults starting in the summer near the Vienna Metrorail station.

The girl was grabbed by a young man at about 7:25 a.m. Tuesday as she walked along Sweet Mint Drive near Sugar Lane. The man attempted to pull down the girl’s pants, but she ran to Oakton High School. She was not injured.

The case is similar to a series of attacks from August to October. Police are continuing to investigate seven cases in which a man came up behind women walking nearby and groped them or pulled their pants down.


State commits millions to oyster restoration

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission approved $2.1 million for oyster restoration, banking most of the money on a new, promising approach to restoring the Chesapeake Bay oyster.

The funding approved Tuesday will help continue “spat-on-shell” oyster replenishment. Using this technique, about a dozen hatchery-raised or wild oyster larvae, called spat, are attached to single shells, which are then placed in Bay tributaries.

The private Chesapeake Bay Foundation worked on an experiment with an oyster-shucking house on the Northern Neck over the past year and a half. It yielded what some have called extraordinary results.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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