Howard Week

October 28, 2001

Private school seeks to build campus on surplus county land

A private school that angered Glenwood residents with a proposal to build a new campus in their midst is trying to buy surplus Howard County land elsewhere for its campus - a move that could resolve problems for the school, the county and local residents.

The Woodmont Academy, now in Woodstock in Baltimore County, has bid $1.3 million for county land in Cooksville, on Route 144, county officials said. If successful, the purchase would end the controversy over another site on Dorsey Mill Road in Glenwood, give the school the room it needs and provide the county with money that would be used for a new government office complex.

If the county land deal goes through, Woodmont would sell its land in Glenwood, said David Carney, Woodmont's zoning attorney.

Police urge community to downplay Halloween

Howard County police believe Halloween could be a real nightmare this year. Because of the terrorist and anthrax attacks nationally, Howard police issued a news release last week urging parents to allow trick-or-treaters to accept candy only from close friends and family .

At the request of the police, the Ellicott City Business Association and The Mall in Columbia are suspending their traditions of distributing candy. Instead, they will offer alternatives such as pumpkin painting, storytelling and passing out trinkets.

Racial slur on student art stirs concern in River Hill

Velesha Burke said she dreamed about how she was going to turn her English project into an "A" that other students would envy. "The project really meant a lot to me," the River Hill High School senior said.

When her group's collage depicting native Africans and their customs was given an "A" and mounted on a hallway bulletin board, Burke's pride swelled.

But pain has replaced her pride. Someone scrawled a racial epithet on the artwork, and the school is struggling with the consequences. River Hill Principal Scott Pfiefer took down the poster and questioned students about who is responsible. He urged students and teachers to think about the incident in the context of a previously planned "school climate activity" discussion about respect.

Columbia rabbi contributes to Torah commentary

Many Conservative Jewish congregations are celebrating the arrival this month of an updated Conservative Movement Torah and commentary, Etz Hayim. But members of Beth Shalom in Columbia are particularly eager to get a copy - their rabbi was an influential editor of the 1,500-plus- page tome.

At a dedication at the synagogue Oct. 21, Rabbi Susan Grossman, 46, discussed the significance of the updated edition and her involvement in the project. She was the lone female rabbi on the editorial board and the only editor with a congregation.

Until now, most Conservative Jews have referred to commentaries, which enhance their understanding of five books of Moses, in the Hertz Pentateuch, written by Joseph H. Hertz in the 1930s. Although the book, commonly referred to as "The Hertz," is considered a classic, "it reflects the concerns and values of the early 20th century," said Grossman, who lives near Hickory Ridge village.

Animal-hospital plan falls from favor of council

A proposal to build a large animal hospital in western Howard County appears all but dead after a two-hour County Council work session Tuesday night, but the veterinarian who wants to build it says he has not given up.

Councilman Allan H. Kittleman, the western county Republican who represents Glenwood, where the facility would be built, said he does not approve of building the hospital on land preserved as open space by clustering houses on one part of a parcel. With Kittleman against it, east Columbia Democrat C. Vernon Gray said he, too, would withhold support, though he was initially friendly to the idea. "There's nothing there to support," he said.

Veterinarian Stuart Scheinberg and his lawyer, Fred Lauer, are not giving up, they said after Tuesday night's session.

Brill convicted in slaying of Columbia girl, 14

Scott Jory Brill, one of two men accused of fatally stabbing and strangling 14-year-old Ashley Nicole Mason and stashing her body in woods behind a Columbia Pizza Hut, was convicted Thursday of first-degree murder.

Howard County Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney, who tried the case instead of a jury, said that while he believes the second man, Frederick James Moore, initiated the stabbing, Brill joined in while the girl was still alive and after he heard what he said were her final words: "Don't stab me no more. I'm already dead."

"It may have been that Mr. Brill joined in a murder he did not initially plan out as to its consequences, but he did join with Mr. Moore willfully, deliberately and with premeditation to bring it to its grisly and tragic conclusion," Sweeney said.

The guilty verdict exposes Brill, 19, to a potential sentence of life in prison without possibility of parole at his sentencing Jan. 11.

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