Councils consider waste planCouncil members from four area...

Maryland Newswatch

December 21, 1990

BALTIMORE CITY — Councils consider waste plan

Council members from four area coUnties converged on City Hall to be briefed on a regional waste management plan that envisions levying fees on trash collection and disposal to encourage recycling and reduce property taxes.

"If we can do something and do it together, and directly relate the fee to a service, the whole region would understand it easier," said Councilman Charles A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger III, D-Balto. Co. "We need to make it simple so our taxpayers will understand what we're doing."

The group yesterday discussed the findings of a joint waste management task force made up of council members from the city and Baltimore County. The task force invited officials from Carroll, Harford, Anne Arundel and Howard counties seeking their support in a regional approach to waste management.

Among the ideas:

* A resolution urging the General Assembly to adopt a statewide litter tax that would raise revenues for local subdivisions, provide financial incentives for commercial recycling and promote the use of recyclable products.

* Imposing a tax on the distributors of bulky consumer items, including major appliances, car batteries, and automobiles.

* Imposing a surcharge on the tipping fees commercial haulers pay at trash disposal sites.

City Council President Mary Pat Clarke said the fees are a good idea, "because you can't do much about taxes, but you sure can do something about a tax on your tipping fee."

Clarke said the fees, envisioned as being coupled with reductions in the property tax, would encourage recycling. Representatives said they would put together a working group to further investigate the idea.

Jeweler acquitted in slayings


A Bethesda jeweler has been acquitted of charges he murdered two robbers who were fleeing his store.

After two days of deliberations, a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury late yesterday found Varhag Babayan, 28, not guilty of one count of second-degree murder, two counts of voluntary manslaughter and one count of reckless endangerment in the June 16 deaths of Donald Shelton, 33, and Steve Powell, 37, an amputee.

Prosecutors had asked jurors to consider convicting Babayan of voluntary manslaughter in Powell's death if they rejected the second-degree murder charge.

Both men were shot several times and each was shot at least once in the back outside Prestige Jewelers, according to the testimony of Ann Dixon, a state medical examiner.

During closing arguments this week before Judge L. Leonard Ruben, prosecutor Robert Dean told jurors Babayan had used excessive force, saying the suspect were shot in the back and died in a hail of bullets.

Defense attorney Edward Genn said although the killings were regrettable, Babayan was defending himself and his livelihood.

Babayan testified he believed his actions were justified. He said he reacted instinctively when he chased one man and shot him and an accomplice sitting in a car in the middle of a busy street.

Thanos suicide try reported


A former Harford County man who is accused of killing three teen-agers, including two in Baltimore County, in a crime spree at the end of the summer has been hospitalized in an apparent second suicide attempt.

John Frederick Thanos was taken to Peninsula General Hospital in Salisbury yesterday to have his his stomach pumped after guards were unable to wake him in the morning, said Worcester County Jail Warden Ira Shockley.

Shockley wouldn't confirm that Thanos attempted suicide, but sources told WBOC-TV in Salisbury that Thanos had tried to kill himself.

Thanos was listed in stable condition today and was under police guard at the hospital.

He was to have appeared yesterday in Circuit Court in Salisbury.

Thanos, who earlier had been imprisoned for a Harford County rape, lived in the Joppa area at his family's home from April when he was released from the Eastern Correctional Institution, where he served a term on a 1986 armed robbery conviction, until he moved to Salisbury in July. He worked for an Aberdeen masonry contractor.

The murders of the three teen-agers occurred less than two months later. An 18-year-old man was killed Sept. 1 on the Eastern Shore and the teen-aged boy and girl killed Labor Day in eastern Baltimore County gas station.

In October, Thanos attempted suicide after a failed escape attempt from the jail.

So spell it rite next tyme

Anne Arundel

The U.S. Naval Academy has received the 1990 Dunce Cap Award for misspelling its own name on diplomas this spring.

The Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature, or SPELL, recognized the academy with dubious distinction for handing out 990 sheepskins at last spring's graduation ceremony with Naval spelled Navel.

"The Navel-Naval confusion was an embarrassment to an institution that is supposed to see to it that everything is shipshape," the California-based organization said in announcing its annual awards.

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