Council incumbent loses to challenger by seven votes A...

April 23, 2000

Council incumbent loses to challenger by seven votes

A third Columbia Council incumbent has been defeated in his re-election bid, losing by seven votes to a challenger who had called the city's governing body "asleep at the wheel."

Oakland Mills representative Earl Jones captured 290 votes to challenger Barbara Russell's 297 votes, the election committee said Monday.

The outcome of Saturday's race -- which attracted unusually high interest -- had been unclear because of uncertainty over the validity of mail-in ballots still outstanding. Any such ballots will not be counted.

Budget would give schools smaller increase than sought

Despite a 10 percent rise in spending with most new money going to schools, Howard County education officials are displeased with County Executive James N. Robey's proposed $754.4 million operating budget.

Unless the County Council replaces some money, school officials will receive $8.5 million less than the $35 million in new money they requested -- or a total of $247.4 million in county funding. That translates into 12 percent more for schools.

Robey's second proposed operating budget calls for no tax increases except for water and sewer fees, and provides record amounts of money for everything from more sediment inspectors to -- starting in January -- 16 new police officers and 15 more firefighters.

Woman sentenced for role in murder-for-hire scheme

A 64-year-old Baltimore County grandmother was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without parole for her role in a murder-for-hire scheme that ended in the death of her daughter-in-law in late 1998.

At the hearing in Howard County Circuit Court, Emilia D. Raras spoke publicly for the first time, saying she never wanted to kill her daughter-in-law, Sara J. Williamson Raras of Elkridge.

"I would like to say to the honorable court that I had no intention at all to kill Sara," Raras said between sobs. "I'm very, very sorry that it happened."

But her emotional appeal did not convince the judge. "Mrs. Raras is an evil person who has committed the most evil of deeds," said Judge Dennis M. Sweeney before delivering his sentence. "I see no real remorse in this case."

Representative-elect likely to be voted council chairman

The Columbia Council representative-elect in Harper's Choice -- who has said that his first order of business will be to ask for the resignation of Columbia Association President Deborah O. McCarty -- seems to have all but locked up the job of council chairman for the session that begins next month. Lanny Morrison, who upset incumbent Tom Forno in the village election April 15, reportedly has the backing of five members, including himself; and a sixth member of the incoming board said she is "leaning toward" voting for him.

The 10-member council will elect a new chairman by majority vote at its organizational meeting May 4.

Alleviating jams on U.S. 29 could cost $10 million

Less than two years after opening the $289 million Route 100, Howard County is faced with major traffic jams on U.S. 29 -- and officials say that alleviating the congestion might cost $10 million or more. The daily morning and evening backups that began after the long-awaited opening in November 1998 surprised officials. The euphoria over being able to drive unimpeded on the new freeway from Ellicott City to Glen Burnie and beyond had barely begun when the congestion started.

County officials thought last year that the widening could be done in three or four years at minimal expense -- $2 million -- but plans are growing more complicated and expensive than anticipated.

Boy dies after being shot in head at a friend's home

Tanun Wichainaraphong, a sixth-grader at Burleigh Manor Middle School, died Friday at Johns Hopkins Hospital after being shot in the head while playing video games at a 15-year-old friend's home in Ellicott City on Wednesday.

The 15-year-old faces juvenile firearms charges, police said, and is being held at the Charles H. Hickey Jr. School in Baltimore County until a detention hearing Tuesday.

Wichainaraphong and two other friends were visiting the home of the 15-year-old in the Orchard Park Apartments when the shooting occurred about 3 p.m. Wednesday. Police said the friends had been there for several hours when the 15-year-old pulled out a .22-caliber rifle. Police said he "began waving the rifle around" and it went off.

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