3 more die of opiate overdoseMedical tests have revealed...

MARYLAND NEWSWATCH

April 14, 1992

BALTIMORE CITY: — 3 more die of opiate overdose

Medical tests have revealed that three more people have died in Maryland from overdoses of a variation of fentanyl citrate, a powerful synthetic opiate, says the state medical examiner's office.

Since Jan. 25, fentanyl has been responsible for 25 overdose deaths statewide. The latest deaths include two in Baltimore and one in Baltimore County. Law enforcement officials think the drug is being produced in an underground laboratory in New York and brought into the state by heroin traffickers.

Nineteen of the deaths occurred in Baltimore, three in Baltimore County and one each in Carroll, Montgomery and Prince George's counties, says Dr. John E. Smialek, the chief medical examiner.

Federal drug officials have been tracking the drug since 1988, when 23 deaths were reported, 18 of them in Pittsburgh.

There are at least 10 variations of the drug, including fentanyl citrate, a legally manufactured surgical anesthesia, which is more than 100 times more potent than pure heroin.

Two people were forced out of their North Avenue home early today when a fire, believed to be arson, was started in a vacant house next door.

William R. Collins, 71, of the 400 block of E. North Ave., said he was sleeping on the second floor of his three-story brick rowhouse about 6:15 a.m. when he heard someone outside shouting "Pop, get up. Fire."

Mr. Collins awoke and also awakened his female companion. He saw flames coming from the third-floor window of the house next door.

Mr. Collins, whose roof was damaged by the fire, said, "I've been asking the city to board up that house for some time, but they never do it. The druggies use that house all the time. I try to keep the front and back of my house clean, but look at this." He pointed toward old cans, bottles and other debris in front of the house that caught fire.

The vacant house had $20,000 damage.

No injuries were reported.

Anne Arundel County:

Protesting outside the Anne Arundel County landfill in Millersville yesterday, Michael Maszczenski carried a picket sign that translated to "I told you so."

Mr. Maszczenski, who owns one of two residential wells found contaminated over the weekend, opposed the landfill's construction. During a 1974 zoning hearing, he said he was afraid the 567-acre facility would pollute his well and surrounding ground water.

"All this time, I've been drinking this crummy water," he said, wearing a placard around his neck declaring "Maszczenski was right in '74."

About 60 residents who live near the landfill picketed outside its main gate for two hours early yesterday morning as garbage trucks roared in and out. They want County Executive Robert R. Neall to close the landfill immediately, test more residential wells, provide free access to public water for citizens with tainted wells and fire several top Public Works and Health Department officials.

Mr. Neall, who began examining the landfill's management two weeks ago, is expected to respond tomorrow, said Louise Hayman, his press secretary.

Baltimore County:

County Executive Roger B. Hayden will present his budget to the County Council April 23, nine days after originally scheduled.

The delay was caused by the General Assembly's failure to reach a budget agreement by the end of the regular 90-day session. Without a state budget and tax package, Mr. Hayden could not accurately plan county spending next year.

Mr. Hayden says his fiscal 1993 budget probably will rest on Council approval of an increase in the piggyback income tax rate from 50 percent to 60 percent to partly compensate for state cuts.

Mr. Hayden has said that even with the income tax increase, the county will not have enough money for employee pay raises or to hire teachers for the 3,700 new students expected in September.

If the council chooses not to raise the piggyback tax, it will be forced to cut $40 million from the executive's budget.

The council has until June 1 to adopt a budget and tax rate. The council's public budget hearing will be held April 28 at Loch Raven High School.

Carroll County:

Twenty Carroll kindergarten teachers will be trained in a new science curriculum this summer, thanks to a $250,000 grant from the National Science Foundation.

The three-year grant, written by elementary education supervisors Bo Ann Bowman and Michal Perich, will be used to train Carroll's 40 kindergarten teachers.

Ms. Bowman says the foundation -- which normally awards grants to colleges and universities -- gave Carroll the grant because of the universal need for and lack of science instruction.

Half of Carroll's kindergarten teachers will receive three weeks of training this summer at $60 a day, the maximum allowed by the grant.

Harford County:

Harford County's new commuter transportation coordinator wants to cut down on auto traffic and get residents to ride-share and use mass transit.

"I'm trying to get people off the road," says Neil Leary, who joined the county planning and zoning staff this month.

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