Violent crime increases 9.1 percent from previous year...

March 12, 2000

Violent crime increases 9.1 percent from previous year

Violent crime -- murders, rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults -- jumped 9.1 percent in Howard County last year, with robberies showing the largest increase, the latest crime statistics show.

The report of 1999 crime also shows that, despite the addition of an aggressive, new robbery unit in the Police Department, holdups continued to increase: from 184 in 1998 to 233 in 1999. Most of the robberies were committed against people on the street rather than commercial establishments, said Sgt. John Superson, a police spokesman.

As the number of robberies has increased, so has the number of arrests. There were 64 robbery arrests last year, compared with 47 the year before, the report shows.

School board election narrowed to 4 candidates

Howard County voters have chosen four candidates to compete for two school board seats in the November election.

Winners in last week's primary were Stephen C. Bounds, Virginia Charles, Jerry D. Johnston and Patricia S. Gordon.

Seventeen people campaigned for the school board. The top four vote-getters proposed changes to the school system, but their proposals were not as far-reaching as some of the other board hopefuls.

Merriweather Post Pavilion to get $750,000 renovation

Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia's prime concert arena, is about to get its first major renovation.

The 33-year-old, open-air theater will undergo a $750,000 face lift that includes covered box seats with wait staff, expanded parking and seating for the disabled and more concession stands.

A main plaza area inside the pavilion will be enlarged, making room for the additional concession stands and a customer service kiosk. Parking lot lighting will be improved, additional stage spotlights will be added and there will be extra picnic tables.

The renovations are to expected be completed in time for the summer concert season, according to Jean Parker, the amphitheater's general manager.

Satisfaction levels vary at county public schools

A report on Howard County schools finds that parents, pupils and teachers at the elementary school level are very satisfied with the school district in many areas -- including school safety, diversity and the quality of instruction.

But by the time students get to middle and high school, that level of satisfaction drops significantly in many areas to well below the level that district officials deem acceptable.

Those were the results announced last week of a 1997-1998 survey of about 48,000 parents, students and district staff members. Students in secondary schools are not satisfied with how much individual help they receive, how students behave in class or their access to computers.

Va. man convicted in 1989 murder A 23-year-old Virginia man was convicted of murder in Howard County Circuit Court on Thursday in the shooting death of a Columbia man more than a year ago.

Jurors deliberated about seven hours before finding Randall Bagley guilty in the Dec. 10, 1998, shooting death of Donald R. Mitchell, 43, during a drug robbery in a North Laurel apartment.

Bagley faces life in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for June.

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