Bias suit tentatively settledRising Sun's fire department...

MARYLAND NEWSWATCH

April 01, 1992

BALTIMORE CITY: — Bias suit tentatively settled

Rising Sun's fire department has reached a tentative settlement with a woman who filed suit when she was suspended after reporting that another member of the company sexually assaulted her.

Paula Haavistola sued the Community Fire Company of Rising Sun for unlawful sexual discrimination and suspension. She and Kenneth Truitt, who she accused of sexually assaulting her in March 1990, were suspended by fire officials during the investigation and litigation of the case.

Mr. Truitt was cleared of the charges in Cecil County Circuit Court last March. Lawyers representing Ms. Haavistola and the fire department reached a tentative agreement Monday, ending the two-year dispute.

The settlement calls for the fire department to lift Ms. Haavistola's suspension and adopt a discrimination and sexual harassment policy. The two parties would also issue a joint statement to the press, which will include no accusations or admissions by either side.

A Baltimore sanitation crew picked up more than it bargained for yesterday.

A city trash truck, fresh from picking up household garbage in South Baltimore, set off a radiation alarm when it pulled into the refuse-to-energy incinerator in the 1800 block of Russell St. shortly after 11 a.m.

City fire and police units and state radiation control officials were summoned to the Baltimore Refuse Energy Systems Co. plant, and a Laurel-based specialist was hired to root out the source at an isolated area on the lot.

Last night, with the help of Radiation Services Organization of Laurel, the source was found: A plastic trash bag holding radioactive human feces.

John Goheen, a spokesman for the state Department of the Environment, said the radioactive element was Iodine 131, "typically used to treat thyroid conditions" and administered to a patient orally.

He said the biggest danger was that the bag could have broken and the Iodine 131 vaporized. "Chances are," he added, "it wouldn't have been any problem."

The radiation apparently presented little danger to the public or the sanitation crew. No radiation was detected inside the cab of the truck, and the highest reading obtained was 10 millirems per hour from the metal side of the vehicle itself -- equivalent to the dose a person would get from a single chest X-ray, Mr. Goheen said.

"It was a small amount, so small that had the material been any other place in the truck, it probably would not have been detected. It was on the side of the truck close to where the sensor was," the spokesman said.

Anne Arundel County:

A 10-year-old Edgewater boy was in stable condition today at the Anne Arundel Medical Center recovering from injuries he suffered when he struck a taut nylon rope while riding his bicycle on Old Town Road.

Daniel S. Sousa, of the 500 block of Londontown Road, was riding his bike in the 1600 block of Old Town Road shortly before 5 p.m. yesterday, police said. He circled a 1988 Ford van that was in his path but failed to see an inch-thick rope that was tied to the back of the van and to a tree that was being removed, police said.

Police said Daniel struck the rope and was thrown from his bike onto the pavement, and suffered serious facial injuries.

No charges were filed against the man who was removing the tree, said police, who did not release the man's name.

Baltimore County:

One Baltimore County school was bitten by the sickout bug today, as 22 teachers at Pikesville Middle School failed to show up for class.

This is the third time in as many weeks that teachers have used a sickout to express their unhappiness over furloughs, budget cuts and what they consider to be a general lack of support from politicians and administrators.

On March 17, 300 teachers from several high schools and middle schools called in sick. Last Friday, the first half-furlough day for teachers, Catonsville High School reported a higher-than-usual number of teachers absent.

Classes continued as usual at Pikesville Middle today, said Principal Carol Batoff. Supervisors, substitute teachers, administrators and a parent volunteer filled in for the absent teachers.

"If teachers want a reaction from the public, they're certainly getting it," said school spokesman Richard E. Bavaria. "I have seen a change in [parental] reaction, from one of support at the beginning to one of increasing anger."

Carroll County:

Some water and sewer customers of Carroll County's two--

treatment plants are likely to see a hefty increase in their bills effective July 1.

The increase in water and sewer rates, which is expected to be substantial, won't be officially adopted by the county commissioners until after two public hearings next month, said Eugene Curfman, county comptroller.

Sewer and water hook-up charges are insufficient to run the water system, which has been operating at a deficit for years, Mr. Curfman said. If there is no increase, the system will be bankrupt in five years, he said.

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