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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Kratovil sworn in as district court judge

Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler, left, congratulates Frank M. Kratovil Jr. following Kratovil’s swearing-in as Queen Anne’s County District Court judge. The ceremony took place Monday afternoon before a standing room-only crowd at the Queen Anne’s County Circuit Courthouse. In addition to Gansler, representatives of the governor’s office, other dignitaries, judges of the Third District, and family and friends attended, with Administrative Judge Stephen J. Baker presiding. Kratovil said he was “humbled and honored” to have been chosen as only the second District Court judge in Queen Anne’s County, and paid tribute to his predecessor, retired Judge John T. Clark III, calling him “humble, patient, respectful, and fair.” Kratovil said he hopes to continue Judge Clark’s legacy

Wicomico County's War On Drugs

WICOMICO Co.,- The state of Maryland is cracking down on all repeat drug offenders. State's Attorney Matt Maciarello holds nothing back when it comes to drug offenders, especially repeat offenders. Last week, two convicted drug dealers were each sentenced to a decade in prison in unrelated cases. These are the one of the many steps the Wicomico County State's Attorney office is taking against Drug Dealers in the area.
State's Attorney Matt Maciarello states, "We're trying to deter this conduct in our community, because we're seeing such a great deal of narcotics violations and drug dealing."
Furthermore, with drug dealing comes guns and violence which the state's attorney is trying to rid the area of as well.
Maciarello continues by saying, "We're keeping people that are also associated with gun violence and street violence off of our streets and incarcerated."
And this is no slap on the wrist. First and repeat offenders may start to experience more time behind bars. So drug dealers beware, because not only is the county offering stiffer laws, but the state of Maryland is as well. Where you can receive up to 10 years for your 2nd offense and 25 for your third.

OCPD Using New Equipment To Fight Crime

OCEAN CITY, Md., - Police officers across the shore are about to get new tasers. In Ocean City, they'll start training soon. And the Police Department wants to keep residents informed about the new equipment. They're holding a public meeting next month to give people a chance to voice any concerns. It goes from noon until 2 PM on February 9th at the Northside Park Recreation Center meeting room.

Farm Bureau Seeks Summary Judgment in Bay Suit

The American Farm Bureau Federation is seeking summary judgment in its suit challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's Chesapeake Bay restoration strategy.
The federation filed the motion Friday in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania, where it is challenging the new federally led strategy. The motion, which seeks judgment before the case goes to trial, says the EPA is overstepping its authority by mandating the states develop and stick to tougher pollution limits. The motion says the strategy encroaches on the states' authority and is not authorized under the federal Clean Water Act.
The motion also argues the model used to develop the strategy is flawed.
Farmers and agriculture interests are concerned about the strategy because agriculture is the single largest source of bay pollutants, according to the EPA's Chesapeake Bay model.
"We all want a clean and healthy Chesapeake Bay," said AFBF President Bob Stallman. "This lawsuit is about how we reach that common goal. Farm Bureau believes EPA's new regulation is unlawful and costly without providing the environmental benefit promised. Farmers in the watershed have clearly delivered a documented track record of continuous improvement, through conservation and sound stewardship and will continue their dedicated efforts."
Joining AFBF as plaintiffs in the case are the Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, The Fertilizer Institute, National Pork Producers Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Chicken Council, U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, National Turkey Federation, and the National Association of Home Builders

Roller coaster sold; ride will be rehabbed and installed in Florida

Delaware's eye-catching 1,700-foot steel roller coaster, a defining feature of the sprawling former Blue Diamond Park near New Castle for the past several years, is being dismantled this week, packed up and hauled off to Florida.
The amusement ride is expected to rise again by summer at the Daytona Beach Boardwalk at Daytona Lagoon.
Park owner Nick Ferrara Jr. of Greggo & Ferrara construction sold the roller coaster a month ago.

The negotiated price was not disclosed, although it is believed to be between $150,000 and $160,000, according to Alan DeCarlo, son of the park's general manager.

Eighteen months ago, when Ferrara put the used roller coaster up for sale on eBay, the asking price was $225,000.

Joe Cadmus, president of Ride Werks Amusement Ride Services of Palmetto, Fla., said a crew of seven should have the ride dismantled and off the property in 10 days. They started the dismantling process a week and a half ago, but some inclement weather slowed them down, he said.

"It's going to my shop in Palmetto, and I'm going to make it new again," Cadmus said. "Then it's headed to Daytona Lagoon. We're aiming for Memorial Day, although it may be a tight push."

The coaster, which has a 55-foot drop, was sold by a dealer in New Jersey. The Florida company hired Ride Werks to take it apart and deliver it to Daytona Beach, DeCarlo said.

Two amusement rides remain on the property and will be sold. Cadmus said he has expressed interest in them, but a price has not been worked out.

Ferrara could not be reached for comment.

The amusement park ceased operation in 2008, after four years in business on 400 acres at U.S. 13 and Del. 1, near the Tybouts Corner intersection.

The motocross and radio- control racing areas continue to operate.

Cadmus said he still has his eye on the park's Mack Matterhorn, a Himalayas-type ride that was at the original Miracle Strip amusement park in Panama City Beach, Fla., in the early 1960s.

"That's especially attractive to me," he said.

Delmar development Amphitheater, restaurant included in 110-acre Heron Pond proposal

DELMAR -- After two failed attempts to develop a large parcel of property off Route 54 on the Maryland side of town, a new proposed plan is in the works.
Doug Marshall, a local foreclosure auctioneer and the owner of Marshall Home and Land Co., wants to build an amphitheater, restaurant and development on 110 acres of land known as Heron Pond. The acreage equates to 15 percent of the town of Delmar, Md.
"We're hoping to bring something here that will benefit the town," Marshall said. "It's a really cool project and I think it's a thing that will keep people busy."
According to the proposal, the pavilion and amphitheater would be 58,000 square feet and would have a 1-megawatt solar array, making it one of the few in Maryland to have one. There would also be 125 homes for both single families and age-targeted clients in addition to the restaurant.
Previous attempts to develop the property were unsuccessfu, causing both the developer and the bank that had purchased the land to lose significant amounts of money. Marshall, who purchased the property in late December for 10 cents on the dollar of the $10 million price tag, said the parcel been referred to as the "Afghanistan of Delmar" by some.
"They've given it that name because everybody who has bought it has failed and it's taken down both a bank and a developer," he said. "What took down so many developers was that they were from out of town and did not know the market."
With the creation of the development, Marshall said more than 110 part-time and 20 full-time jobs would be added to help with the restaurant, performing arts center and other associated businesses.
In order to move along with the next steps in developing the large property, Marshall will seek to have the land rezoned from its current R2 designation to a Planned Unit Development. In a PUD, the town would have to approve any construction that would take place.
Marshall previously went before the Delmar Planning and Zoning Commission last week to receive a favorable recommendation for the concept, which brought him before the Delmar, Md., Commissioners on Monday night.
Thomas "Bunky" Luffman, a town commissioner who also sits on Planning and Zoning, said while there are several positives to the project, everyone must remember that it is still in the very early stages.
"This project would replace an area that is already approved for 108 single-family homes during a time when our current density has filled our schools to the limit," Luffman said. "Most importantly, this project would bring jobs at a time when our region is in desperate need of them and it could also spark more commercial development along Route 13, which would lead to an even greater number of jobs. While there is a lot of potential in this project, I'd love to hear more input from residents."
Marshall, who said his hope is to have dirt moving as early as December or as late as February 2013, said the project is something that he has wanted to do to make a positive impact.
"With my experience working as an auctioneer, the thing I hate most is foreclosures and the foreclosure system," he said. "This is one thing I like biting into because this is something that is a feel-good, something foreclosure auctions are not." More on this story wednesday including drawingand comments from commission

Stabbing suspect turns himself in

LAUREL -- The suspect in the stabbing of a 28-year-old man turned himself into police on Saturday.
The Laurel Police Department's Criminal Investigations Unit was contacted in reference to an assault victim who arrived at Peninsula Regional Medical Center at about 1 a.m. Friday.
Officers responded to PRMC and made contact with the victim and witnesses. Officers learned the victim had allegedly gotten into an altercation with several subjects at an apartment complex in Laurel.
During the altercation, the victim was stabbed several times.
The victim was transported to PRMC by a private vehicle, where he underwent surgery for his injuries.
Through additional interviews, officers were able to identify Trammell Richards as the alleged suspect in the stabbing.
Richards turned himself into police at about 10 a.m. the next day and was charged with attempted first degree murder

MARYLAND: Sheriff wants to link tax refunds to warrants

ANNAPOLIS — Anne Arundel County residents who have outstanding arrest warrants would see their state tax refunds withheld if the county's sheriff gets his wish.
Sheriff Ronald S. Bateman has asked the county's legislative delegation to support his proposal. The Capital of Annapolis newspaper reports that the legislation would make Anne Arundel the first Maryland jurisdiction where people with an outstanding arrest warrant could not receive a state tax refund until it's cleared up.
Bateman said withholding the refunds would encourage people facing warrants for minor crimes to clear them up.

The county has about 8,000 outstanding arrest warrants. About half are for people who live outside the county. They would not be covered.

The county delegation has not voted on whether to work for the bill's passage.

Man pours bleach on meat in grocery store

STEVENSVILLE, Md. (AP) - The Queen Anne's County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man they say poured bleach on a grocery store case full of meat.
57-year-old John Allen Waskey of Chester has been charged with malicious destruction of property of more than $500, theft of less than $1,000 and contaminating or poisoning food or drink.
The Capital of Annapolis reports that deputies say managers at the Food Lion in Stevensville reported Friday that 96 packages of chicken and pork had been ruined by bleach. (
Authorities say security video from the night before showed a man pouring bleach over the meat. Workers identified the man as a former employee.

Salisbury City Council To Interview Rick Hoppes For Fire Chief

SALISBURY, Md. - The city of Salisbury is one step closer to appointing a permanent fire chief. Monday afternoon, the city council voted to move forward with the current acting chief, Rick Hoppes. The council wanted to make sure they were going about it legally, before going with the mayor's recommendation. The city attorney told the council that Hoppes did not have to go through the national search process again.
"I'm completely appreciative that they did the due diligence necessary to reach this decision and I understand their position, and hopeful that if given the opportunity I will prove my worthiness to be fire chief of the city of Salisbury," said acting fire chief, Rick Hoppes.
The council will hold a closed session on Thursday at 4 p.m. where they will conduct an interview. The council makes the ultimate decision for the new fire chief.

Asbestos Found at South Dorchester High School

CAMBRIDGE, Md. - While repairing the stage lighting at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School, workers made the discovery of asbestos.
The wires connected to old light fixtures contained the cancer-causing material.
"It scared me for a while but we met with representatives from the board and they have promised to do it fast so that it won't bother the play," said Donna James. James is the theater teacher at South Dorchester and is in the middle of preparing for a play that will open in March.
The discovery of asbestos came at a crucial time for those practicing for the school play.
"We can't move them, so if it's not done then we will have a major lighting problem," James said.
The lights can be turned on, but they are not supposed to be moved. The school board said the lights only become hazardous if the wire insulation is disturbed.
"One solution is to simply remove the wiring. Another solution is to replace the wiring and the accompanied fixtures," said Dorchester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henry Wagner.
Wagner made sure all parents were made aware of the asbestos. Each student was sent home with a letter stating that there was asbestos but there is no reason to worry.
The school board is hoping to remove the asbestos as soon as possible.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Delmar Pet Rules For Rover....

Delmar. Over the past few years I have had confronted a few people for allowing thier dogs to relieve its self in my yard, seems this is a bigger problem than I thought, after talking to a friend last week who has also had this problem,  I ask this question, are Delmar pet laws protecting us. My dog has a area in "MY" back yard where she relieves herself, we dont permit her do go antwhere else,  but it seems the front yard is open season to all others. Just this morning I  had to yell from my front door to a idiot letting his dog deposit in my driveway and give a alternative if he didn't clean it up! This is not the first time I have had this problem with this guy and I see myself having this problem again. Seems the rules for rover put in place by the town are a little slim in this area, I haven't looked at Wicomico County laws yet but  that next. How many of you are having this problem? Below is the "Rules for Rover" from the Town of Delmar website.

Rules for Rover

There has been an increase recently in the number of

dogs at large within Town limits. The Town would like to

issue a reminder of the ordinance referring to animal care

and control. The basic guidelines are listed below.


Cruelty to animals is prohibited. Owners are required to supply food, water, shelter

with sufficient air and ventilation, and veterinary care as needed.


It is unlawful to permit your pet to run at large (not under control by leash, chain or



Confinement of a female pet in heat is required.


Dog licenses are required. Delaware residents can purchase a dog license at the

Delmar Town Hall. Maryland residents can purchase a dog license at the Wicomico

County Humane Society.


All pets must be vaccinated for Rabies and proof of vaccination readily available.


Frequent and disturbing noises by dogs are prohibited within town limits.

Pets can be loving and loyal friends that many consider to be like a family member. Show

your pet how much you care by providing them with all that they need for comfort and

health and by protecting them from disease and other dangers. To receive additional

information regarding the ordinance, please contact the Code Enforcement Officer at

Town Hall by calling (410) 896-2777 or (302) 846-2664

Teen NY girls' mystery illness draws Brockovich

In a small upstate New York town, a group of local high school girls are making national headlines for what many are calling a medical mystery.

Thera Sanchez and Lydia Parker are only two of more than a dozen girls who have been experiencing symptoms of uncontrollable tics and verbal outbursts.

Thera's mom told CNN she brought her daughter to the hospital after she started involuntarily ticking when she woke up from an afternoon nap. The nurse let her know she wasn't alone.

"She had said, 'not to alarm you, but someone has to contact someone because you are the fourth girl to come in with this,'" her mother told CNN.

Since then, the numbers have grown to 15 - and all of them, except one, are girls. Naturally, concerned parents are looking for answers.

"These kids are just totally normal and then next thing you know they go blah, their arms are swinging and they can't control themselves," says James Dupont, whose daughter Brook has also been affected.

Over the weekend the media craze surrounding the mystery grew when famous environmental activist Erin Brockovich sent her investigators to look for possible environmental causes.

The team tested local ground water samples for chemicals that they believe may be left over from a 1970 train derailment that spilled thousands of gallons of industrial solvent just north of the school.

"So far we haven't seen anything that is obvious or just stands out," Brockovich's investigator Bob Bowcock tells CBS News. "It doesn't mean something won't come before us."

But both school and state health officials have already concluded a three month investigation that determined "no environmental or infectious agents" could have caused the students' tics.

Instead, local doctors who have examined 11 of the teens have determined the girls have a stress-induced "conversion disorder," which "starts as a mental or emotional crisis - a scary or stressful incident of some kind - and converts to a physical problem."

But some parents refuse to accept that the causes are purely psychological.

"Even if it was Conversion Disorder, and that was the symptoms of it, we don't know what caused it," says James Dupont, whose daughter Brook has suffered from a tic.

In the minds of parents like Dupont, the small town medical mystery remains very much unsolved.

However, Dr. Jennifer McVige, a pediatric neurologist who treated many of the girls after they were referred to her by their normal physicians, doubts the train wreck has anything to do with the symptoms displayed by the girls in upstate New York now.

McVige has also said some form of Conversion Disorder is most likely to blame - and she says anything from a divorce in the family, to the normal stresses of teenage life can cause the condition.

Unseasonable Warmth Continues!

After we have had a few days reprieve from the unseasonable warmth with temperatures in the 40s, it looks like we will return to it. There will only be one more day between now and Wednesday with temperatures in the 40s before an uptick into the 60s Tuesday and Wednesday. All three days should remain sunny. After this the weather gets interesting. More on this in a later post.

AFC Wins Pro Bowl 59-41

HONOLULU -- While everyone was playing at half-speed and ready to extend their Hawaiian vacation, Brandon Marshall played as if it was his last game.

The Miami Dolphins wide receiver caught six passes for 176 yards and a Pro Bowl-record four touchdowns, and the AFC used a second-half surge to beat the NFC 59-41 on Sunday.

"You never know when you're going to be back," Marshall said, "and I wanted to go all out today because it could be my last Pro Bowl."

Marshall had a touchdown catch in each quarter, including an early 74-yarder and a 3-yarder in the fourth, in a game filled with highlight-reel grabs.

He was selected the game's MVP, and his name now will join the likes of Walter Payton and Jerry Rice on the MVP banners at Aloha Stadium.

"You know what? I wanted it," he said. "It's a Pro Bowl. Some guys are playing 100 (percent), some guys are playing 90, some guys aren't playing at all, but it means a lot to be up in the rafters with some of these guys."

The 59 points by the AFC set a Pro Bowl mark, and the 100 points scored by the teams combined was the second highest, a touchdown shy of the 107 scored in 2004.

But it was clear from the start it was Marshall's day. He hauled in a deflected, go-ahead 47-yard TD pass from Andy Dalton, while on his back, to give the AFC a 38-35 lead late in the third quarter. It was Marshall's third TD catch of the game, tying Jimmy Smith's Pro Bowl record set in 2004.

"It was the most unathletic highlight I ever had," he said. "Andy put it up there for me to make a play. I saw the ball, got nervous, fell, saw the ball, kicked it up and it just fell in my hands."

Marshall, making his third Pro Bowl appearance, then nabbed a 3-yard TD pass from Dalton that gave the AFC a 52-35 lead with 8:25 left and put the game away.

"People were saying throw to him. I saw the matchup I had and he's a great receiver, so I knew he could make the play," Dalton said.

Hawaii has been kind to Marshall, who also won MVP honors at Aloha Stadium in his final game at Central Florida in the 2005 Hawaii Bowl, where he caught 11 passes for 210 yards and three touchdowns.

Marshall noted he had six TDs this season, but four this game.

"It says a lot when you're playing with these type of quarterbacks," Marshall said. "They just put it in the right place and I just made the play. Hats off to those guys throwing me the ball."

The game featured 36 first-timers, including rookie quarterbacks Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals, who replaced Super Bowl quarterbacks Eli Manning and Tom Brady. Their selection made this Pro Bowl the first to feature two rookie signal callers.

Dalton and Newton played the entire second half.

While Dalton looked composed, Newton played horribly -- struggling to move the ball, stay in the pocket and find his targets, which drew some boos from the sun-splashed, sellout crowd of 48,423.

"No excuses," Newton said. "When you hang the ball up there, against these kinds of players, that's what you get," Newton said. "It's the good and the bad of playing in a Pro Bowl. I learned a lot."

Newton finished 9 of 27 for 186 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Dalton, meanwhile, was 7 of 9 for 99 yards and two TDs.

On his first series, Newton overthrew a wide-open Tony Gonzalez over the middle, with the ball sailing into Eric Weddle's hands. The San Diego Chargers safety popped up to his feet and returned it 63 yards to the NFC 23, leading to a 37-yard FG by Sebastian Janikowski, which gave the AFC its first lead of the game at 31-28.

Newton recovered on the next series, airing out a 55-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Panthers teammate Steve Smith, making it 34-31. But he was intercepted again on the next series.

Weddle also intercepted another pass by Newton late in the game. After picking off the deep pass, he pitched it to teammate Derrick Johnson, who rumbled 60 yards for the AFC's final score.

"None of us want to go out and lose, so we picked it up and went out and made some plays," Weddle said. "Got the 'W,' that's the main thing."

With the Pro Bowlers unable to get out of third gear -- particularly on the offensive and defensive lines -- and hitting each other as though they were having a pillow fight, the Pro Bowl featured some good, bad and real ugly -- sometimes on the same play. For example, Aaron Rodgers caught a pass from himself. His throw was deflected at the line and he leaped to catch the ball and backpedaled for a 15-yard loss.

Rodgers was 13 of 17 for 141 yards and two TDs, giving him a quarterback rating of 139.6, higher than his NFL record 122.5 rating during the season. But he was watching late in the game as Newton struggled.

Rodgers said it's easier to play in the first quarter when the game isn't as intense.

"It's tough to be the last guy in, when it's the fourth quarter and money becomes an issue," he said. "Guys are playing a little bit harder. They come at you."

The NFC had three players with 100-yard eceiving: Gonzalez (7 catches for 114 yards), Larry Fitzgerald (6 for 111) and Smith (5 for 118).

The AFC and NFC traded score after score, and turnover after turnover in the first half.

Rodgers and Fitzgerald connected for a pair of scores on back-to-back plays to put the NFC up 14-0 early in the game.

After stopping the AFC on fourth down at midfield, Rodgers drove the NFC down the field and threw a 10-yard TD toss to Fitzgerald. Six seconds later, Rodgers aired a 44-yard rainbow in the end zone to Fitzgerald for another score after the NFC got the ball back with a surprise onside kick.

The reception was Fitzgerald's sixth career TD catch in the Pro Bowl, tying Gonzalez's record. He would break the record with the game's last touchdown, on a 36-yard pass from Newton.

The AFC came right back and tied it up on two deep TD passes on the right side by Ben Roethlisberger. He threw a 34-yarder to rookie A.J. Green, and then connected with Marshall on a 74-yarder.

But Drew Brees and the NFC kept the scoring going. Just like in the regular season, Brees and Saints teammate Jimmy Graham hooked up to give the NFC a 21-14 lead in the second quarter. On fourth-and-goal, Brees zipped a pass to Graham for a 6-yard score and would later find Greg Jennings for an 11-yard TD. Brees finished 10 of 14 for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

Antonio Gates pulled in a 27-yard TD from Chargers teammate Rivers as time expired in the half to tie it at 28.

Each AFC player earned a record $50,000 for the win, while the NFC players received $25,000

Septics legislation prompts criticism, confusion

A reworked bill to control septic systems in Maryland hasn't calmed concerns about state control of local land use, officials with two key stakeholder groups said.
Les Knapp Jr., associate director of the Maryland Association of Counties, said it is better than a bill introduced last year but still poses concerns for the state's counties. The largest concern is the expansion of state authority to approve residential subdivisions, he said.
Val Connelly, government relations director for the Maryland Farm Bureau, said Friday that the complexity of the bill is an issue, and her group wants to make sure it receives enough study.

States in the Chesapeake watershed are working to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's tougher, federally led bay restoration plan that requires additional pollution cuts in all areas. Gov. Martin O'Malley surprised many last year with a proposal to ban septic systems, which are a source of nitrogen pollution, for major new developments.

Last year's bill died after lawmakers from both parties objected, complaining about the proposed restrictions on septic systems as well as on how farmers and other property owners could divide and sell their land for development. The governor eventually appointed a task force to study the issue over the summer.

MACO and the farm group have been looking over the re-worked measure since it was introduced this week as part of the governor's legislative agenda. The bill incorporates the task force's recommendations, including establishment of a four-tiered scale for guiding development. The scale ranges from properties in areas served by sewer systems to environmentally sensitive areas.

"This gives the state significant oversight into what has been a locally controlled process," Knapp said.

For example, some of the criteria used to determine the four tiers are dependent on state designations, Knapp said. That means it's not clear how much flexibility local governments will have to set tiers, he said

Angry shouting match erupts when DNR chief defends tracking devices

ANNAPOLIS The face of Maryland's Natural Resources chief turned red Friday morning, while he banged his fist against a table during an explosive exchange with state lawmakers over the placement of tracking devices on watermen's boats.
John Griffin, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources, got into a shouting match with state Sen. Richard Colburn, R-37-Mid-Shore, at a meeting with Maryland's Eastern Shore General Assembly delegation over the release of warrant information related to the devices.
Colburn and other delegation members requested copies of the warrants and other pertinent information after the tracking devices were discovered more than a year ago on the work boats of some Dorchester County watermen. DNR officials continue to refuse the request, saying the matter is an ongoing investigation.
After being briefed on DNR's budget, Del. Michael Smigiel, R-36-Cecil, again raised the question of the warrant information Friday, saying the documents should be public by now. Smigiel also cited a recent Supreme Court decision requiring law enforcement agencies to obtain a warrant prior to placing any sort of tracking device.
"I would like to get a copy ... of the application for the warrants and the warrants that were issued. And so I would greatly appreciate that. I've waited patiently for a year. Can I get those?" Smigiel said.
Griffin said the cases associated with the devices remain open, and Deputy DNR Secretary Joseph P. Gill cited statutes allowing law enforcement agencies, such as the state Natural Resources Police, to keep such documents confidential during the course of an investigation.
"It is public information. I'm going to take you to court to get them," Smigiel told Griffin.
When Smigiel asked specifically what agency was handling the investigation, Gill told Griffin not to answer and said the information is confidential. Smigiel said as a public official, he has a right to review agency actions and the manner in which it investigates citizens, and asked again which agency is heading up the investigation.
"The matters are confidential," Gill said.
Due to the amount of time passed since the devices were quickly discovered on the boats more than a year ago, Colburn likened the investigation to one of such scope as the Watergate break-in that brought down former U.S. President Richard Nixon. He said even Dorchester watermen have constitutional rights.
Colburn requested DNR officials support a state Senate bill requiring a court order to put tracking devices on boats, but Gill said the proposal puts restrictions on law enforcement agents not in place anywhere else. Gill said Natural Resources Police have been following current laws and getting warrants.
"There's no reason to hinder the work of the Natural Resources Police who have been following the law by putting in place these additional, unnecessary requirements," Gill said.
Colburn said he did not want to hinder the NRP because with the investigation having taken more than a year, it already seems the agency is hindered enough. He said he did not know how complicated such a case could be.
Colburn continued to press for information on the warrants, asking specifically for the name of the judge who signed off on them. He said he did not see how disclosing such information would create problems for the investigation.
"I almost feel like I'm in 'The Twilight Zone' when we have these discussions. This is outrageous," Griffin said.
Griffin said DNR obtained the warrants for the tracking devices last year, and the Supreme Court's latest decision has nothing to do with the matter. Starting to raise his voice, he said he could not reveal the judge's name because the case remains under investigation.
Colburn began shouting, too, continuing to press the issue, and Griffin, pounding his fists on the table, responded the information will not be released because the case involves federal agents and the justice department and "because there's a whole bunch of criminal activity going on." (It later was learned that Griffin had pounded the table so hard, he broke his wristwatch.)
When Colburn loudly asked why the department has not filed any charges, Griffin shouted: "We will. We will, sir."
The fracas was broken up by other members of the delegation including Del. Adelaide Eckardt, R-37B-Dorchester, who told everyone to take a deep breath. Eckardt called for the delegation to move on to another subject.
"It is helpful when we have these discussions, and I know these are loaded. They're emotional. Folks are passionate about this. We can see that," she said.
Eckardt said it is helpful, though, to get information on the process involved in such matters. She said it gives the delegation members a better understanding of what is going on and better information to take back to their constituents.
Both Griffin and Colburn later apologized to the other delegation members for their outburst.

Lets See How This Works Out ! camel predicts Giants will win the Super Bowl

LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) - People use all sorts of ways to try to predict the winner of the Super Bowl: comparing regular season records, judging who looked stronger in the post-season run-up to the big game, or watching the betting lines from Las Vegas oddsmakers.
But the closest thing to a sure thing may come from a camel in New Jersey.
Princess, the star of New Jersey's Popcorn Park Zoo, has correctly picked the winner of five of the last six Super Bowls. She went 14 and 6 predicting regular season and playoff games this year, and has a lifetime record of 88-51.
Her pick this year: The New York Giants.
The Bactrian camel's prognostication skills flow from her love of graham crackers. Zoo general manager John Bergmann places a cracker and writes the name of the competing teams on each hand. Whichever hand Princess nibbles from is her pick. On Wednesday, she made her pick with no hesitation at all, predicting bad news for Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, even though the Las Vegas oddsmakers have New England favored by about 3 points.
Her only miscue in the big game was picking the Indianapolis Colts over the New Orleans Saints two years ago, indicating that even camels know it's generally risky to go against Peyton Manning.
"It started out when a local radio station was looking to have some fun, so they asked Princess who was going to win a particular game each week, and it just took off from there," Bergmann said. "Now we have guys calling up on Sunday morning wanting to know who Princess has picked that week. One guy even asked if she does lottery numbers."
Her best season was 2008, when she got 17 out of 22 games right, including correctly picking the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the Super Bowl.
Princess doesn't do point spreads. But she has nearly mastered the art of picking straight-up winners.
The cunning camel was once the personal pet of heiress Doris Duke, the only child of tobacco and electric energy tycoon James Buchanan Duke.
Doris Duke raised Princess and her sister Babe from youngsters, Bergmann said.
The pair of camels had their own barn, and spent summers at Duke's Rhode Island estate. During bad weather, they were put up in the solarium.
After Duke's death in 1993, the camels stayed on her estate in Hillsborough. Babe died several years ago, leaving just Princess.
When Princess' caretaker was about to retire, the estate offered Princess to Popcorn Park Zoo, which took her in. The zoo cares for abandoned and abused animals.

Md. Bay Plan Available for Public Comment

Maryland's plan for restoring the Chesapeake Bay is now available for public comment.
The state presented the plan to the Environmental Protection Agency last month as part of a new federally led effort to restore the bay. The EPA asked all six states in the bay watershed to present their plans for complying with its so-called "pollution diet" for restoring the nation's largest estuary.
The Maryland Department of the Environment is also holding public meetings statewide during the public comment period, which ends March 9.
Public meetings will be held in Chestertown, College Park, Hagerstown, Baltimore County and Baltimore.

State law says drivers must make a lane change while passing a stopped emergency vehicle.

State Police said at about 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, a trooper pulled over a gold 2000 Toyota Avalon on eastbound Route 50 west of Racetrack Road in Berlin.
The driver, Vaughan Sumter, 31, of Chesapeake, Va., was pulled over because he did not move over to the left lane while passing the trooper's marked vehicle. State law says drivers must make a lane change while passing a stopped emergency vehicle.
The trooper smelled marijuana in the car and did a search. He found suspected marijuana located in the driver's side door panel.
Sumter was placed under arrest and transported to the Maryland State Police Berlin Barrack for processing. He was then transported to the Worcester County District Court Commissioner's Office, where he was released on personal recognizance.

Council to meet with new city attorney today

SALISBURY -- The City Council will hold its first open meeting with newly appointed City Attorney Mark Tilghman at today's work session.
Tilghman's firm -- Seidel Baker & Tilghman -- was hired as city solicitor on Jan. 23, replacing longtime City Attorney Paul Wilber and his firm, Webb, Burnett, Cornbrooks, Wilber, Vorhis, Douse & Mason LLP.
The council has called a meeting with Tilghman and the administration regarding several pending items, including appointment of a new fire chief following the Jan. 20 resignation of Jeff Simpson. Mayor Jim Ireton has nominated acting Chief Rick Hoppes to permanently replace Simpson, but the council has been reluctant to move forward pending a legal opinion on whether the mayor is able to forgo a competitive search process.
Ireton said he does not need to conduct a competitive search because Hoppes has submitted his name in two prior searches, including one that occurred a little more than a year ago, yielding Simpson as chief.
An initial opinion from Wilber stated that although the prior practice has been to engage in a competitive selection process, the city's employee handbook does not require the mayor to do so and "as a result, the council can act to provide advice and consent to the mayor on the current nomination."
However, some council members were unsatisfied with the opinion. Council President Terry Cohen said Wilber's interpretation of the handbook "differs from several decades' worth of practice."
Cohen also expressed concern regarding disparate treatment of other employees who went through the selection process, as well as possible conflicts with local, state and federal employment laws.
Councilwoman Laura Mitchell said she's satisfied with Wilber's opinion and Ireton's recommendation, as Hoppes is "one of those people who has worked his way up in the department for the past 25 years and fits the criteria of what we should be observing."
Cohen has contacted the Local Government Insurance Trust -- an organization that specializes in Maryland government risks -- regarding the employment law/risk management issue associated with the council majority's concerns. She is expected to reveal her findings and solicit an opinion from Tilghman on the matter, at today's meeting.
The council is also expected to discuss with Tilghman the appointment of an acting city clerk, since Brenda Colegrove's retirement will go into effect March 1.
Assistant City Clerk Kim Nichols is expected to receive the appointment, and she has said she will also throw her name into the hat for consideration for the permanent position.
Also on the agenda is discussion about the appointment of additional legal counsel for several ethics complaints filed against council members, as well as the pending legal transition, which Wilber said his firm is willing to assist with for 60 days, at its normal hourly rate.

Worcester could be hit hard by teachers pension plan

SNOW HILL -- A plan by Gov. Martin O'Malley and state legislators to pass along teacher pension costs to counties could cost Worcester County about $1 million, but state grants will cushion the blow of that expense for Wicomico and Somerset counties.
For the new fiscal year that starts July 1, Maryland's 23 counties and Baltimore City could end up having to foot half the cost of teacher pensions, which until now have been paid by the state. The proposed 50/50 split is part of O'Malley's proposed budget.
Most counties would have to pay millions of dollars toward pension costs. Wicomico's share is $3.8 million, Worcester's is $2.22 million and Somerset's is $836,000, according to a Senate bill that addresses state spending for fiscal 2013.
And, as a way to offset that burden, the state is offering financial aid in the form of new proposed revenues. That funding is called "disparity grant relief," and it aims to help poorer jurisdictions pay for public services.
Counties can qualify for a disparity grant based on how much revenue they raise from local income taxes, and how that amount measures up against a statewide average.
If a jurisdiction's per capita income tax revenues total more than 75 percent of the statewide average, they are considered well-off in budget terms -- and don't get the money.
Worcester County's income tax figure is $436.55 per capita, which falls above the $415 cut-off and makes the county ineligible to receive a disparity grant for fiscal year 2013. The figures comes from fiscal year 2010, which is the most recently available data, according to state budget and policy analysts.
Some other state grants are still routed to Worcester. But in the end, Worcester could be stuck paying as much as $1.08 million more to handle its share of teacher pension funding, according to the fiscal 2013 budget proposal.
Somerset and Wicomico do qualify for the special grant funding, and that lessens the impact of the pension cost-shifting for them. Taking the disparity grants into account, Somerset would be asked to find an extra $278,000 and Wicomico to budget $788,000. Other areas that qualify for disparity grant funding include Allegany, Caroline, Dorchester, Garrett and Prince George's counties, as well as Baltimore City.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pro Bowl Spotlight

Ray Lewis, Elvis Dumervil, James Harrison
HONOLULU - Tony Gonzalez, Ray Lewis and Champ Bailey know what to expect. The new faces at the Pro Bowl aren't so sure, and are curious how intense they should play in Sunday's all-star game.
"I've never been in a Pro Bowl before, so I don't know what the tempo is going to be like," San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews said. "So it's going to be fun to get out there and see how it goes."
Six rookies are among the 36 first-timers, including quarterbacks Cam Newton of the Carolina Panthers and Andy Dalton of the Cincinnati Bengals, who are replacing Super Bowl quarterbacks Eli Manning and Tom Brady.
Their selection makes this Pro Bowl the first that will feature two rookie quarterbacks.
"This is like the height of being an NFL player — being an all-star and having the opportunity to wear the red, white and blue — just having that jersey," said Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in last year's draft. "Only a few people can say, 'I've made it to the NFL,' but fewer number can say they've made it here."
In a game known to highlight offense, the NFC will feature two of the game's most prolific quarterbacks.
Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers will start for the NFC and will be backed up by New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees. Rodgers passed for 4,463 yards with 45 touchdowns and just six interceptions. His quarterback rating of 122.5 set an NFL record. Brees, meanwhile, threw for 5,476 yards, breaking Dan Marino's single-season record.
The NFC also features Philadelphia running back LeSean McCoy and receivers Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona), Steve Smith (Carolina) and Greg Jennings (Green Bay).
Houston defensive end Antonio Smith acknowledges the NFC has a lot of great players on offense, but isn't too worried.
"We got so many weapons. We got so many Super Bowls. We got Hall of Fame players on our team. So I think we'll be all right," Smith said.
Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will start for the AFC, with San Diego's Philip Rivers and Dalton backing him up.
"I think any quarterback will tell you that we wish we were getting ready to play in a game a week from now, but it's always an honor to come," said Rivers, who this season joined Brees and Peyton Manning as the only quarterbacks to pass for 4,000 yards in four consecutive seasons.
The players wrapped up a week of "workouts" on Saturday.
"The practices have been great," Cardinals rookie cornerback Patrick Peterson said. "It's definitely the most laid-back practices I've ever been involved in."
The brief practices have been as grueling and intense as a poolside, Hawaiian lomilomi massage. The players, some wearing sunglasses, often sweat more after practice — signing autographs for the fans.
"If you break a sweat during practice in Hawaii, there's a rule you've got to be sent home by the NFL," said Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, who is making his eighth Pro Bowl in his 14th season.
After practice, the players usually spend their days golfing, fishing, shopping or lounging on the beach with their families. In a season that began with a bitter labor dispute is ending in paradise for these players.
"It's more than what I thought it would be. It's amazing. It's truly amazing," said Smith, making his first trip.
The players are hoping this won't be the final game in Hawaii. NFL and state officials are negotiating a deal to keep the game in the islands. Many said they wouldn't play if it were elsewhere.
Bengals rookie receiver A.J. Green said he spent time learning from the players he grew up admiring. He doesn't know what to expect Sunday.
"A lot of guys aren't trying to get hurt. I think it's going to be up tempo, but not too crazy," he said.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who is leading the NFC, said his game plan was simple with such a loaded team. "Our goal is to have 11 on the field," he said.
McCarthy said the game is all about the players, who earned this trip with their work during the season.
"I don't think anybody's too worried about how many touches they get or where the ball is going to go," he said.
Maybe with the exception of Jennings, who believes he has the inside track on the throws with his coaches calling plays and Rodgers as the signal caller.
"The other (receivers) already know, when I'm in the game, 85 is going to get the ball," Jennings said.
This year's winners will receive a record $50,000 each, up $5,000 from last year, with the losing players earning $25,000.
"When that fourth quarter rolls around and there's a little bit of money on the line, I think you'll see the tempo step up. We'll all be ready for it," Packers linebacker Clay Matthews said.
Chargers tight end Antonio Gates said he expects to play hard.
"I only know one way to prepare for a game. I don't know how to go half-speed," he said. "This is still a game. Guys still got on pads and coming out to compete."
Besides the money, conference bragging rights are on the line.
"It's still a pride thing — AFC vs. NFC," Gates said. "We feel like we are the tougher division and they feel the same."
Rivers said the money is important, but isn't the main motivator for these competitors.
"Even if we were playing for nothing, when it comes down to it, they're still keeping score," he said

SUV Hits Light-Rail Train in Sacramento, Killing 3

An SUV ignored flashing warning lights and veered around a rail crossing arm moments before it collided with a light-rail train, killing two adults and an 18-month-old boy in the vehicle, authorities said.
The only other person in the Nissan Pathfinder, a woman in her 30s, was hospitalized with serious injuries after Saturday's crash, said Niko King, assistant chief with the Sacramento Fire Department.
Six of the roughly 50 passengers on the light rail train suffered minor injuries and were taken to a hospital, he said.
King and a spokeswoman for the transit line said video from a camera at the crossing clearly shows the SUV driving around the crossing arm.
The collision, in a working class neighborhood south of downtown, occurred shortly after 4 p.m. and pushed the Pathfinder about 30 yards from the point of impact.
"All I heard was a big bang, and I saw a light-rail train heading south with a big truck smashed on it," said Ravin Pratab, 42, of Davis, whose car was among those waiting for the train at the rail crossing, on the opposite side of the tracks from the Pathfinder.
The train was going about 55 mph at the time, a typical speed for that location.
The light rail followed two Union Pacific freight trains, which use separate tracks, and the arms had remained down during the interval, said Alane Masui, spokeswoman for the Sacramento Regional Transit District.
"They were down after the UP trains and before the (light rail) train approached, so the crossing arms were properly working," she said.
She said the length of time between the freight trains clearing the intersection and the light rail train crossing it had not yet been determined and would be part of the investigation. Investigators also were reviewing video from a camera mounted on the light rail train.
Authorities did not release the identities of those in the Pathfinder or their relationship. A man and woman in the vehicle, both in their 40s, died at the scene while the toddler was pronounced dead at a hospital. Firefighters said one had been ejected.
The University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento would say only that the woman remained in serious condition late Saturday.
The light rail system carries an average of 50,000 passengers a day, with lines stretching from the state capital to its suburbs in the north, south and east.
Masui said there are four sets of tracks at the crossing — two for freight and two for light rail so trains from both systems can run in either direction.

Cargo Ship Plows Through Kentucky Bridge

ap bridge collapse 2 dm 120127 wblog Cargo Ship Plows Through Kentucky Bridge
(Image credit: Tina Carroll/AP Photo)
A cargo ship plowed through a Kentucky bridge, leaving a 300-foot gap in the middle of the structure and carrying off a load of asphalt and metal on the ship’s bow.
The 312-foot-long ship, the Delta Mariner, struck the Eggner Ferry Bridge in Benton, Ky., about 9 p.m. on Thursday. The ship was too tall to pass under the structure, and destroyed two sections of the bridge.

ap bridge collapse 1 dm 120127 wblog Cargo Ship Plows Through Kentucky Bridge
(Image credit: Tina Carroll/AP Photo)
Four cars were on the bridge and 20 workers were on the ship that was carrying rocket parts, but no one was injured.
“We are grateful that this wreck caused no injuries or loss of life. Since that bridge carries 2,800 cars every day, we were very fortunate that no one was on the span at that time,” Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement. “We’ll turn our attention to a full inspection of the bridge and determine what steps we can take next to speed up the replacement of that important artery.”
Inspectors and emergency responders from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet rushed to the scene to assess the damage.
The bridge was in the process of being replaced

Pentagon Looking at Bigger Bomb, Navy SEALs Mothership for Persian Gulf

Two high profile weapons systems are getting critical attention as the United States trades verbal barbs with Iran over Tehran's nuclear weapons program and its threat to close the Strait of Hormuz.
The Navy SEALs are scheduled to receive a "special operations mothership" in the Persian Gulf that will search for mines and adversaries. Set to be retired just weeks ago, the 40-year-old USS Ponce is now on a fast-track rebuild to act as a floating U.S. base in the Persian Gulf.
"In the long term, what it's going to be is mothership for special operations forces that will allow the U.S. to covertly deploy our special operations warriors to really difficulty parts of the world where you don't want people on shore like Yemen and Somalia," military analyst Steve Ganyard told ABC News.
Ganyard said that in the short term, the United States is trying to "create a platform where we can put mine-hunting helicopters and keep them permanently based in the Strait of Hormuz so that if the Iranians do something stupid like try to put sea mines in and try to close off the Strait of Hormuz, thereby closing off 20 percent of the world's global oil supplies, we can quickly get in there and reopen the straits."
The Ponce is being enhanced with cranes to pull mines and the ability to dock 12 small boats. The renovated ship will have space for four helicopters, four video teleconference rooms, and an on board operations center.
Meanwhile, the defense department is being forced to rework a 30,000-pound bomb called the massive ordinance penetrator, or, in military terms, the MOP. The MOP is the military's largest conventional bomb, a super "bunker-buster" capable of destroying hardened targets deep underground.
The MOP is a massive bomb -- 20 feet long and encased in 3.5-inch thick high-performance steel. It is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground before exploding.
But initial tests indicated that the bunker-buster may not be able to destroy some of Iran's facilities, according to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and so the Pentagon submitted a request to Congress this month for funding to work on the bomb's capabilities.
Ganyard told ABC News that a UN report saying some of these hulls deep inside mountains that the Iranians are using to enrich uranium are deeper than the U.S. previously thought.
"We were building a bomb to one level of depth deep inside a granite mountain and now we need to go even deeper. We have to have that conventional capability to deter them from doing anything that might precipitate a war," Ganyard said.
The Defense Department has already spent about $330 million to develop about 20 of the bunker-buster bombs, and the Pentagon is requesting about $82 million more to make the bomb more effective, according to government officials briefed on the plan, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the newspaper the bomb might not penetrate far enough to destroy Iran's underground nuclear facilities.
"We're developing it," he told the Wall Street Journal. "I think we're pretty close, let's put it that way. But we're still working at it because these things are not easy to be able to make sure that they will do what we want them to. But I'm confident, frankly, that we're going to have that capability and have it soon."
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed the accuracy of Panetta's quotations to ABC News.
In an interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer, President Obama said he hopes economic sanctions are the weapon that changes Iran's course, but he wants these military weapons as well.
"Listen, Iran, you have a right to peaceful nuclear energy like every other country. But you cannot pursue a nuclear weapon," Obama said. "We've imposed the toughest sanctions ever. But we're not taking any options off the table

North Korea Reportedly Outlaws Cell Phones

For everyone who protests the new internet restrictions that could have come with SOPA and might still come with ACTA, this one comes from the perspective department: North Korea has threatened to punish anyone using a cell phone as a war criminal.
Reports from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea indicate that the threat of famine is forcing more and more people to flee the country into South Korea, where an estimated 23,000 defectors have already located.
North Korea has long relied on a total restriction of information to maintain control over its isolated citizenry, and in this crucial time of transition between Kim Jong Il and his successor, Kim Jong Un, it appears that the state is clamping down even tighter than usual for fear that information about uprisings like the Arab Spring could trigger unrest, or that outside communication could assist anybody attempting to flee the country.
The North recently accepted private food aid from the South Korean "Korea Peace Foundation" even as they maintain military exercises and standing threats against their neighbor. South Korea has made it clear that they won't provide substantial, government-led food aid until the North makes steps to stop their nuclear program.
The free an open internet are good things to fight for, but it's important to remember when throwing around phrases like "police state" that there are actually countries out there where information is a closely guarded weapon used against the people.

3 injured when fire truck hits car in Anne Arundel

ANNAPOLIS — Three people sustained minor injuries when a fire truck racing to a reported fire collided with another vehicle in Maryland.
The Capital of Annapolis reports the accident happened Friday in Anne Arundel County at the intersection of Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard and Belle Grove Road ( County fire division chief Michael Cox says the truck from the Linthicum station was driving to a reported dwelling fire in Brooklyn Park when it hit another vehicle at about 5:30 p.m. The fire truck then hit a utility pole.
Two firefighters and one person from the other vehicle involved in the crash were transported to the hospital.

Other officials who responded to the call found no fire when they arrived on scene in Brooklyn Park.

Veteran took on large responsibility in U.S. Navy

DELMAR -- When Tom Longo was a little boy growing up in Boston, his father would drive past Harvard University and tell him, "Tommy, that's the greatest school in the world and you're going to go there someday."
The former Ocean Pines resident was accepted into Harvard's ROTC program in 1959. His father would have been brokenhearted if he hadn't been accepted, he said, smiling.
"I wanted to go into the Navy. When I was growing up, I knew I wanted to serve. I wanted to go into the Air Force, but my eyes weren't good enough, so my second choice was to drive ships," he said.
"It was a different time back then. The Cold War was going on. And we had a president named Kennedy who had a formula that said to ask not what your country could do for you, but to ask what you could do for your country, and that meant something in those days," Longo said, sitting at the kitchen table in his Delmar home across from Linda Lee Eberling, whom he calls his significant other, looking through photographs of the U.S.S. Capricornus, the ship he was aboard for nearly two years and whose association he now chairs.
He was never in battle in Vietnam or injured, but the Capricornus shadowed Soviet subs.
When he spoke at a memorial plaque dedication for the ship, he explained its mission was to "support amphibious landings with the numerous assault boats she carried to land cargo and people from both herself and other ships onto hostile shores."
During his remarks at the plaque dedication, he explained the ship carried eight 30-ton Landing Craft Mechanized boats "and up to 14 smaller Landing Craft Vehicle-Personnel LCVP Higgins boats."
"The LCMs were so heavy that when they were swung out for lowering into the water, the entire ship would heel several degrees. During loading and unloading operations alongside the ship's cliff-like side, LCMs and the smaller LCVPs would lurch up and down on the waves many feet, complicating efforts of troops trying to board them and operations of their crews handling heavy cargo.
"Everyone had to look out for life, limb and safety to display near-acrobatic ability to avoid being crushed or maimed. When the boats backed off a beach to return for more troops and cargo, incoming waves would erupt and explode against their square sterns like fireworks, as with engines roaring they powered aft over sandbars and into more incoming surf. They and their crews were tough."
Originally launched as the S.S. Spitfire in 1943, the ship was commissioned as the U.S.S. Capricornus in 1944. She is known as a lucky ship.
"Despite begin strafed and bombed, she brought all her WWII crew members home safely," Longo's history states. The ship was in service from 1944-1948 and again from 1950-1970.
Once, in 1965, when Longo was aboard, general quarters -- battle stations -- was called, but it wasn't a drill like it had been previously. There were ships in San Domingo, part of the Dominican Navy.
"God bless them, all three of the ships they had went out and when they saw us they turned and went back, but it was electric when we went to general quarters in earnest," Longo said.
His assigned work was deep in the ship, well below the water line, where it smelled of fuel and oil and was hot near the boilers, up to 130 degrees.
"Even in peacetime, it was not a picnic being watch officer in charge of the engine room crew. I made sure the crew was on the job," he said.
He was also officer of the deck on a watch rotation, in charge of the whole ship and as many as 400 men because Marines also sometimes sailed with them.
"It was an awesome responsibility. All those mothers' sons were depending on me to keep their sons out of trouble," he said.
Longo attended graduate school in Italy for a while and graduated in June 1969 from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. He was employed by U.S. Foreign Services as a diplomat for 25 years, retiring in 1990.
His military experience, he said, was positive.
"Oh, yes. I'd do it all over again. It grew me up, matured me considerably. I was a classically arrogant boy and it made me humble," he said. "It was a big responsibility. I'm very happy I had naval service."

Teacher's union told money went missing

OCEAN CITY -- In a routine tax filing to the IRS last spring, the Worcester County Teachers Association made a startling disclosure: Its leaders believed more than $100,000 in funds had gone missing.
Now, local authorities -- who say they never heard about the reported loss -- are investigating.
The WCTA's tax-exempt status was revoked by the Internal Revenue Service in October for failure to file a Form 990 for three consecutive years, according to the Guidestar website, which makes available public tax filings from nonprofit organizations.
Before that, in March, the union had told the IRS its finances were in crisis. According to a WCTA tax filing dated March 13 of last year, the union documented $111,589 in what it called "misappropriated funds" and noted the amount was pending an audit by a bonding company.
Prior to this, records show, the union's last tax filing was sent in August 2008 and accounted for the 2005-2006 tax year. It was signed by former WCTA Treasurer Denise Tull.
Included in the March paperwork was a typed letter, undated and unsigned.
"Due to circumstances beyond the control of the present officers," the letter reads, "on behalf of the organization, I respectfully request any proposed penalties be waived."
The letter says Tull resigned as WCTA treasurer on March 31, 2009, and prior to that time, she had represented that all tax filings were current.
"However, the officers learned not only had the returns not been filed, but a substantial amount of money was embezzled (over $100,000). An investigation has begun and the bonding company took all the records. The current treasurer only recently obtained some of the bank statements in order to prepare this return," the letter reads.
The hole in the union's finances was large, equal to nearly half of the organization's reported revenue of $227,200 in 2008.
According to the names and signatures on the paperwork, the treasurer who replaced Tull was Sylvia Barrios. Tax forms show she assumed that role April 1, 2009. The tax form also was signed by Lester A. Simpson of the Salisbury accounting firm Twilley, Rommel & Stephens.
Denise Tull is now a teacher at Stephen Decatur Middle School, where she has worked since 1988, according to the Worcester County Board of Education.
Several phone calls placed in the last two weeks to Denise Tull and Sylvia Barrios, seeking comment for this story, were not returned.
In an interview, current WCTA President Helen Schoffstall said the union has accounted for all its funds. Schoffstall is a U.S. history teacher at Snow Hill High School.
"All of our accounts have full restitution, and there are no claims pending against any of our association officers," she said. "But beyond that, I can give you no more information about personnel.
"WCTA did not lose any money," she added. "WCTA finances were not out any money to my knowledge. But then again, I can't discuss it, because I don't know anything about it; it occurred before I became president."
She added: "Not privy to the information. Not going to discuss it with you. Not going to do hearsay, and I think some of the information you have is just that."

Flawed paperwork

Schoffstall also said the union's loss of its nonprofit status was the result of a "clerical faux pas."
"Apparently, when we found out we had not filed the three consecutive years, there had been some kind of a clerical error," Schoffstall said. "We secured a firm to help us file those. When the firm faxed those forms to the IRS, the third year -- the third page -- didn't go through. By the time the IRS notified us that they had not received that one, of course, they dropped our tax-exempt status."
The WCTA has since made current its back tax paperwork, Schoffstall said; the union is in the process of reapplying for tax-exempt status.
Schoffstall declined to comment further, and deferred to "the MSTA lawyers who would deal with that kind of thing."
Susan W. Russell, an attorney who works as the full-time legal counsel to the Maryland State Education Association, did not return multiple phone calls for comment during a 10-day period for this story.
Terry W. Springle was the president of the WCTA at the time of Tull's departure as union treasurer. A longtime math teacher at Pocomoke High School, he retired in 2010.
When reached by telephone for comment, Springle said Tull was not charged with any criminal offenses.
"It was the decision of the people who suffered the loss," Springle said, "and I don't know any more than that ... . She was never charged with anything. I have no proof that she ever did anything." When asked if the "misappropriated" money had been repaid, Springle replied: "Yes. Maybe I wasn't supposed to tell you that."

Prosecutor investigating

Worcester County State's Attorney Beau Oglesby said his office is looking into the embezzlement allegations included in the IRS paperwork. He said no area law enforcement agencies had reported hearing about any criminal activity related to the tax filings.
"We have a potential crime that has gone unreported, at least to law enforcement," he said. "There's going to be a complete and thorough investigation.
"If there's been a breach of a very important fiduciary duty, there's going to be charges filed and someone's going to be held accountable for their actions," he said.
Oglesby also said there may be jurisdictional issues in any investigation. That's because the WCTA's listed business address is 1302 Old Ocean City Road in Salisbury -- a residential address that online property records show belongs to the Wicomico County Education Association. Springle said the WCTA rents the office space from its Wicomico counterpart.
Oglesby said he's brought Wicomico County State's Attorney Matt Maciarello up to speed on the situation. When reached for comment, Maciarello said there are no charges pending in Wicomico County related to the matter

Two People Die After Car Hits Pedestrian in Queen Anne's County

CRUMPTON, Md. - Police say a two-part crash claimed two lives early Saturday morning.
Police say around 6:51 a.m., troopers responded to an accident on Route 544, just west of Route 290.
Police say Megan Pulleyn, 26, of Milington, was going westbound on Route 544 when she struck Thomas Gustafson, 57, of Chestertown, who was either standing or walking across the roadway. Police say Pulleyn immediately stopped and went back to Gustafson while calling 911. According to police, then another car traveling eastbound struck both Gustafson and Pulleyn.
Police say Margaret Blankenship, 54, of Crumpton, was driving the second car. The road was closed for hours during the investigation.
Police say Pulleyn was pronounced dead on the scene and Gustafson succumbed to his injuries later at University of Maryland Shock Trauma.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Blast From The Past

Embarrassing 'SHCOOL' sign replaced in NYC

An embarrassing misspelling of "school" is gone from the street outside a New York City school building.
Utility workers used heavy machinery to grind up the wrongly placed "H'' and "C'' in the "SHCOOL X-NG" sign on Tuesday.
The correction was made a day after the New York Post reported the spelling error.
The words were created with industrial textured tape that permanently sticks to the asphalt.
The Consolidated Edison utility told the Post ( ) the blunder occurred when a contractor ripped up the street for utility work and replaced the existing markings. It says the mistake outside the Manhattan building that houses three schools had been there since July 2010

DE Lawmakers Want To Target Teacher Sex Abuse

A state lawmaker is calling for bipartisan effort to address the problem of school teachers being charged with sex crimes.
Republican House Minority Leader Greg Lavelle's call for a crackdown on teacher sex abuse comes after the arrest this week of a 38-year-old Sussex Tech teacher on charges of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old student. Lavelle noted Friday that more than a dozen Delaware teachers have been charged with alleged sexual misconduct over the past five years, a number he find disturbing.
Lavelle said he wants to work with fellow lawmakers and Democratic Attorney General Beau Biden to help craft a strategy to reduce teacher sex abuse. He said officials need to consider not just tougher penalties, but strategies to prevent such abuse in the first place.

Giant Announces Aunt Jemima Pancake Recall

Giant Food, LLC, following a recall by Pinnacle Foods Group, announced that it removed from sale several varieties of Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancakes. The products may have been cross-contaminated with soy products, an undeclared allergen.
The affected products all have a recommended use by date from November 1, 2011 through October 16, 2012. The following frozen pancake products are included in this recall:
• Aunt Jemima Buttermilk Pancakes, 14.8 oz., UPC 019600058205
• Aunt Jemima Low Fat Buttermilk Pancakes, 14.5 oz., UPC 019600051008
• Aunt Jemima Oatmeal Pancakes, 14.8 oz., UPC 019600054900
• Aunt Jemima Homestyle Pancakes, 14.8 oz., UPC 019600059103
• Aunt Jemima Confetti Pancakes, 14.8 oz., UPC 019600059554
• Aunt Jemima Whole Grain Pancakes, 14.5 oz., UPC 019600060406
To date, Giant has received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of these products. The products are safe to consume for individuals who do not suffer from a soy allergy. Customers who have purchased these products may discard any unused portions or bring their purchase receipt to Giant for a full refund.
Symptoms of food allergies typically appear from within a few minutes to two hours after a person has eaten the food to which he or she is allergic. Allergic reactions can include: hives; flushed skin or rash; tingling or itchy sensation in the mouth; face, tongue, or lip swelling; vomiting; diarrhea; abdominal cramps; coughing or wheezing; dizziness or lightheadedness; swelling of the throat and vocal cords; difficulty breathing; and loss of consciousness.
Consumers looking for additional information on the recall may call Pinnacle Foods Group information line at 1-888-299-7646. In addition customers may call Giant Customer Service at (800) 767-7772 for more information or visit the Giant website at

Harrington Police Looking For Applicants

HARRINGTON, Del. - The Harrington Police Department are looking to hire.
They are now accepting applications for the 2012 Citizens Police Academy. This year they will explore the topics of Traffic Crimes, Violent Crimes, Domestic Violence, Property Crimes, and more. The classes will be held on Tuesdays beginning February 87h from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. and will continue until Graduation on March 20th 2012. You can obtain an application from our website at
You can turn your completed application into the Harrington Police Department no later than February 2nd, 2012 by walking them in, mailing them to 10 Mechanic Street, Harrington, De 19952, or faxing them to (302) 398- 8947. If you have any questions regarding the 2012 Citizens Police academy you can contact PFC Jessica Jacobs at 302-398-4494 Ext. 32

Measles confirmed in Del. child

DOVER — Public health officials say a case of measles has been confirmed in a 6-year-old Clayton girl.
The Division of Public Health says the illness was diagnosed by the child’s doctor on Jan. 13 and lab tests confirmed it on Jan. 23. The girl was not hospitalized and she has not suffered any complications.
Officials say the child’s school, Caravel Academy, has been notified.

DPH has only confirmed five cases of measles in Delaware since 1995.

Solar energy users switch on the savings

MARDELA SPRINGS -- Business owner Dave Kenney used to pay about $400 per month to Choptank Electric Cooperative, and nearly double that in the summer when he was running air conditioning. Now, 168 solar panels that were installed last year are making a noticeable difference in his bottom line.
Kenney is producing enough electricity to power The Hardware Store on Route 50 and is also selling some back to the grid.
"I've not had a bill from Choptank since June, and that was the plan," he said.
Kenney first looked into installing solar last year and was able to get a combination of federal and state grants that covered about 64 percent of the cost.
After four or five years, the system -- which is designed to last 25 years -- will have paid for itself.
"If we can get 20 years of free power, that's great," he said.
In addition to eliminating his utility bill, the new solar energy system allows Kenney to accumulate solar energy credits, which he can sell.
Kenney also can write off the costs on his taxes.
Eventually, Kenney said he plans to double the size of the store. When he does, he plans to change his heating system from propane to electric so the heat it produces will be free, too.
"We're an old line hardware store, but we try to keep up with the times," he said.

The numbers

The cost of solar energy equipment has dropped significantly -- as much as 50 percent -- from a few years ago, said Marty Clemmer of Paradise Energy Solutions, the company that installed Kenney's system.
Even in the last four months, prices of solar panels have dropped even further, Clemmer said.
For an average ranch house with a monthly electric bill of $100, a new solar system with 42 panels on the roof would cost about $43,000, but it would pay for itself in about seven years if the homeowner takes advantage of available grants and tax credits, Clemmer said.
The Maryland Energy Administration has $1,000 grants for homeowners installing solar panels, and the federal government offers 30 percent tax credits.
For solar energy systems that overproduce electricity, the power can be sold back to the grid, resulting in another financial benefit to the owner.
The systems can also earn one solar renewable energy credit -- or SREC -- for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours they produce, which can be sold back to utility companies, Clemmer said.
In Maryland, electric companies must have 2 percent of their power generated by solar, but it's too costly to build the systems themselves. Instead, they buy the credits, now at about $210 each, from other sources, Clemmer said.
The credits are bought and sold through SRECTrade, which offers them at a monthly auction.
Clemmer said he and other installers crunch the numbers for their customers to show how the numerous government incentives can help reduce the overall cost.
"This is a significant way to help them pay off their solar systems," he said.
Pennsylvania-based Paradise Energy Solutions now has a Snow Hill Road office that has been busy installing solar electric and hot water systems on farms and at commercial and residential properties across the Eastern Shore and Delaware.
"It's an emerging business," Clemmer said.

Advancing tech

At the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where SunEdison installed a 2.2-megawatt solar farm a year ago, the campus is realizing savings, said Ron Forsythe, vice president of Technology and Commercialization.
Officials looked into solar after the campus electric bill increased by 50 percent almost overnight, Forsythe said.
SunEdison financed and built the solar farm at no cost to UMES or the state of Maryland. In return, UMES purchases the power at long-term predictable rates.
The campus also is in discussions with other companies producing solar and wind energy systems, he said.
By promoting technology and research in renewable energy, UMES is fulfilling its role as a land grant institution, Forsythe said.
"We put the technology out there and let people kick the tires," he said.
Universities and other big consumers of energy have led the way with solar, which has resulted in increased demand and lower prices.
But while solar is catching on in the United States, it still lags far behind other countries, Forsythe said.
"The rest of the world is eating our lunch in terms of renewable technology," he said.

Indian River schools get new administrator

SELBYVILLE --For the first time since they became principals, Laura Schneider and Neil Beahan have some help.
Using money through the Race to the Top initiative, the Indian River School District hired Barkley Heck as school administrative manager, essentially an assistant principal for two different schools: Schneider's Phillip C. Showell Elementary School and Beahan's Southern Delaware School of the Arts.
Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, Heck starts at SDSA and moves to Showell in the afternoons, and vice versa for Tuesdays and Thursdays. She's not responsible for the instruction of each school -- that's left to Schneider and Beahan -- but she has taken over parts of the disciplinary and managerial responsibilities of the principals.
"I've never had that help before, so it's very welcome," Schneider said. "It has enabled me to help focus on the impact on where student learning is the highest. I'm able to be in classrooms more. We have a whole new evaluation system that I can focus efforts on."
Principals having more time in the classroom means less goofing around for the class clowns, more accountability for the teachers and increased transparency from top to bottom at the schools.
Heck has been surprised at how close she has gotten with students and parents at Showell and SDSA, despite spending just half her time at each school.
"Even with split time, it's amazing how close I've become with many families," Heck said. "You almost wouldn't think that since I'm back and forth."
In addition, with the new evaluation system has come more paperwork. Beahan said when he heard he'd have what's essentially half of an assistant principal, he was relieved that he didn't have to take it all on himself.
"I was absolutely thrilled because I knew I would have even more paperwork than in the past," he said. "The role of the principal nowadays has changed from management to much more instructional focus. With (Heck's addition), I've been able to do more walk-throughs (of classes)."
The SAM position, as Heck calls it, would only be possible with today's technology. Though the schools are very close to each other, Heck keeps in contact with Schneider, Beahan, parents and guidance counselors all day and into the evenings by texting and emailing back and forth, no matter where she is.
Transitioning from being the lone administrators to the new system wasn't a breeze for Schneider, Beahan or the staffs at each school.
"My greatest fear going into it was being so used to not having any help and not knowing how long it was going to be around," Schneider said. "Finally relinquishing some of those things to her, I've had to kind of live in the moment."
The position is only funded for two years through Race to the Top, after which the district will have to reassess the schools' need for Heck or someone else. Next year, according to District Superintendent Susan Bunting, a different teacher in the administrative development program will take over Heck's role to have two potential candidates in case the position becomes permanent.
Beahan said he hopes the schools will improve enough to force the board to retain a SAM. Heck said she's already seen it.
"Absolutely, because the data tells the story," she said, reflecting the district's emphasis on statistical analysis in education. "It's being tracked by data, that's how I know, other than the principals just saying they've had more time to spend (on instruction), the data supports an improvement."