Drivers, buckle up for holidayA pact he made several years...

MARYLAND NEWSWATCH

May 21, 1992

BALTIMORE CITY: — Drivers, buckle up for holiday

A pact he made several years ago with his teen-age daughter persuaded Oriole Manager Johnny Oates never to drive without wearing a seat belt.

"She said, 'I'll make a deal with you. You wear one and I'll wear one," recalled Mr. Oates, 46. "I made a commitment at that time. It doesn't matter if we're going to the shopping mall down the road or going from Virginia to California, we buckle our seat belts."

Mr. Oates, a Virginia resident in the off-season, is serving as the celebrity spokesman for Operation Buckle Up in Maryland, which is part of a national effort directed at getting more people to use the safety devices in their car.

Memorial Day weekend is traditionally a dangerous time on the road, and Maryland law enforcement officials this week began urging motorists and their passengers to use safety belts and child-restraint seats.

Over the last three years, 14 people have died in Memorial Day weekend collisions.

Bonnie Smelkinson and Andy Wald, two Oriole fans whose bikes were impounded by Maryland Stadium Authority guards for being illegally parked, are being treated to a night at the ballpark courtesy of the Birds.

Tom Daffron, senior vice president of the team, offered the Charles Village couple two free tickets yesterday, adding that the team wanted to do all it could to encourage bicyclists to attend the games, Ms. Smelkinson said.

"I think that's very fair," Ms. Smelkinson said of the Oriole offer.

When the couple arrived for a May 3 game, they asked police and ushers at the stadium if there was a bike rack nearby. When no one seemed to know, the couple secured their bikes to a wrought-iron fence near the Russell Street entrance. Stadium security guards later cut the bike lock and hauled the bikes away.

After retrieving their bikes, the couple learned the location of the bike rack -- on the south side of Camden Station to the east side of the warehouse.

Anne Arundel County:

County police have approved on a three-year contract that would allow officers with 20 years of service to retire without financial penalty.

The agreement was reached last week and was approved by the 407-member union Tuesday. The retirement package puts the department in line with others in the Baltimore-Washington area.

"An overwhelming majority of officers voted for it," said Dennis Howell, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents the officers.

Mr. Howell said the contract was heavily endorsed by Chief Robert Russell, who helped push the deal through during 11th-hour discussions with County Executive Robert R. Neall and other administrators who had opposed removing the early-retirement penalty.

The contract goes into effect July 1.

Under earlier contracts, officers with 20 years of experience who retired before age 50 would be penalized 2.5 percent of their pension annually.

The new contract eliminates the penalty but increases officers' contributions to the pension fund from 5 percent to 6 percent of their salary, county Personnel Director Mike Milanowski said. Police officers do not pay Social Security tax.

Baltimore County:

Two people were killed yesterday in traffic accidents that occurred about the same time in Baltimore and Prince George's counties, authorities said.

Baltimore County police said a motorcyclist was killed when his cycle ran off the road about 4:20 p.m. and struck a utility pole at Millers Island and North Point roads in Edgemere. Police last night were withholding the victim's name pending notification of his family.

State police in Forestville said William Rothe, 46, of Severn, also was killed about 4:20 p.m. when his car and a tractor-trailer collided on the Capital Beltway in Largo.

That accident caused a traffic backup of several miles during the evening rush hour, police said.

Harford County:

Historic buildings and other structures owned by Harford County government cannot be razed without approval from the County Council and the Harford Historic Preservation Commission under a measure unanimously approved Tuesday by the council.

Council President Jeffrey D. Wilson said he introduced the measure because he believes the county should have a policy of "leadership by example." The measure passed 7-0.

Mr. Wilson said the bill was prompted in part by the destruction last year of the old county maternity hospital at Md. 22 and Md. 543. The hospital building, used as an office in recent years, was sold by its private owner to make way for a service station.

"Everybody was wringing their hands and saying, 'There ought to be a law,'" he said.

Mr. Wilson said the other factor was his concern over the historic Cherry Hill Road Bridge, which is in poor repair and has been put on the list of county bridges to be replaced.

Howard County:

A federal grand jury in Baltimore has indicted a Columbia couple on charges that they stole over $186,000 from an Elkridge business and wired the money to bank accounts in Florida.

The indictment charges Antonio and Silvana Severino, of the 11900 block of Gold Needle Way, with two counts of interstate transportation of stolen property to Florida.

The money was stolen from United States Electrofuse Minerals, where Antonio Severino was employed as comptroller, according to Richard D. Bennett, the U.S. attorney for Maryland.

The Severinos are charged with making unauthorized wire transfers of over $440,000 from United States Electrofuse to an account opened by Silvana Severino. The couple then wrote two checks totaling $186,250 on the account, wired the money to Florida and opened two separate bank accounts, according to the indictment.

The Severinos were arrested by Florida FBI agents May 11.

Silvana Severino is free on $50,000 bail. Antonio Severino is in jail in Fort Pierce, Fla.

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