Wanted to get them all out. I'm just fed up with all of them." CHARLES SMITH, at the polls


December 30, 1990

More than in many years, the story of 1990 in Maryland was intertwined with events on a much larger stage. Tearful goodbyes were the order of the day for many Marylanders: As early as August, the Navy hospital ship Comfort left its Baltimore berth for the Persian Gulf, and by year's end, guardsmen, reservists and regulars from Somerset to Garrett counties were answering the call to duty.

Joyful anticipation fell victim to frustration in April when the $1.5 billion Hubble Space Telescope -- 30 years in the planning and construction -- failed to live up to expectations when officials discovered a mirror flaw so serious as to hamper the opportunities for discovery about the universe. But a second scientific venture, the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope, was a success, and a Hopkins astronomer, Sam Durrance, was aboard the space shuttle in December when the telescope was deployed.

In February, four people were killed and 10 others injured when a gas leak ignited and exploded at the Super 8 Motel in Hagerstown. Investigators determined that a cracked valve caused the leak. The leak may have been ignited when a motel clerk entered the laundry-room area, where the cracked valve was on a gas-powered clothes dryer, fire officials said. The motel has since been rebuilt and reopened.

Over the summer in Ocean City, party time was muffled when hundreds of people were jailed in a six-week crackdown on noise under the city's noise ordinance. The policy was instituted after officials said they received complaints from vacationers and residents alike about the rising noise levels.

On the political scene, tax protests and election upsets dominated the news when election season rolled around. But before that, for eight days in March, the state Senate was crippled by a filibuster over a debate on abortion rights and restrictions. The filibuster ended when a compromise was reached to leave the questions up to voters in November. However, the House let the compromise die in committee, leaving the volatile issue unresolved for another year.

As always, crime left its mark. Baltimore saw a return to the high homicide rates of earlier years, notching its 300th murder yesterday. And the Dec. 4 death of James Stanley "Jay" Bias III, the younger brother of University of Maryland Basketball star Len Bias, produced widespread shock. Mr. Bias was shot at Prince George's Plaza in an unprovoked attack and died in the same emergency room at Memorial Hospital in Riverdale where his brother was pronounced dead in 1986.

Hope for the future, however, was also part of the story of the year.

Earth Day 1990 revived interest in the environment and renewed efforts toward recycling. Curbside pickup of recyclable trash began in several communities, and volunteer drop-off recycling centers reported a surge in materials brought in.

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