Howard Week

July 21, 2002

County drawing provides a chance at 9 half-price homes

Forget the Maryland Lottery. Howard County's got a better one: a chance to buy a new, $240,000 garage townhouse in the state's wealthiest county for half price. It's a working family's dream, and the odds are a lot better than the state offers, even though only nine houses will be involved in the first drawing.

So far, 105 people are on a list of applicants, but dozens more are expected. The drawing is open to people who live or work in Howard and are first-time homebuyers. Buyers must have incomes between $38,400 and about $50,000, and can get up to $6,000 in help with closing costs from a county program.

Courthouse workers get `environmental update'

County officials began circulating an "environmental update" to employees in the Howard Circuit Courthouse on Monday in the midst of a top-to-bottom review of the historic building by state occupational health inspectors.

Maryland Occupational Safety and Health has been studying possible environmental problems in the cramped, 19th-century building for two months.

Prompted by questions raised by MOSH and employee health complaints, Howard County recently tested the building for asbestos, lead paint and other contaminants. The tests found contaminants in the building, but in limited quantities or in little-used spaces and had not been dispersed into the air.

Accident kills woman, 18, injures judge, her husband

A Baltimore woman died and a Howard County judge and her husband, a television reporter, were hospitalized after a three-car accident Sunday night on Route 108, Howard County police said Monday.

Howard Circuit Judge Lenore R. Gelfman and her husband, Richard David "Dick" Gelfman, a consumer affairs reporter for WJZ-TV, were traveling west on Route 108 near Ten Mills Road in their 1999 Ford Explorer about 10:10 p.m. when an eastbound 1989 Ford Tempo crossed into their lane and struck them head-on, police said.

The Tempo, driven by Tiffani Rose Wiberg, 18, of the 3900 block of Labyrinth Road in Baltimore, then collided with a Honda Accord. The driver of the Accord was not hurt in the crash, police said. He was not identified. Wiberg was pronounced dead at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Howard High principal sues officials, unions

The principal of Howard High School is suing officials with the county and state teachers unions, as well as the unions themselves, claiming that they conducted a "smear" campaign against her.

Mary J. Day, who has served as principal of Howard High School since 1995, names the Howard County Education Association and its president, Joseph R. Staub Jr., and the Maryland State Teachers Association and its union business agent assigned to Howard County, Marius Ambrose in her lawsuit.

The lawsuit seeks $1 million in compensatory damages and $500,000 in punitive damages for each of several counts alleging breach of contract, negligence and civil conspiracy.

The lawsuit alleges that Staub took a "malice-inspired" "confidence/no confidence survey" in May 2001, asking Howard High teachers to assess Day's performance as a result of concerns that had been raised by union members.

Desire to help kids achieve taking teacher to Baltimore

For weeks, Stephen O. Gibson grappled with the decision to apply for the fellowship program. He loved Lime Kiln Middle School, which he affectionately dubbed "my baby," but he knew Baltimore schools have been struggling. He said he faced the nagging question, "Can I give back more than I'm actually giving right now?" He decided he could.

When Gibson, 47, leaves the southern Howard County school, where 71 percent of the pupils scored at a satisfactory level in 2001 statewide testing, he will be heading to Hamilton Middle School in Northeast Baltimore, where 11 percent scored at that level.

Heroin, diseased heart said to kill man in police custody

An Annapolis man who died in the custody of Howard County police in April was killed by a dose of heroin that stopped his diseased heart, a medical examiner's report shows.

Howard County police officials and family members of 32-year-old Michael Keliher Donahue, who died April 6 after being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, disagreed over the significance of the report.

Police said the results proved that they acted correctly because Donahue, of the 200 block of Providence Road, showed no signs of physical abuse. Police also said that they are continuing an internal investigation into the incident but that they are unlikely to make any policy changes because of Donahue's death. Donahue's family and lawyers say police should have known that he was in physical danger and should have given him medical attention.

Columbia Democrats group endorses Schaefer rival

William Donald Schaefer might be considered a strong favorite to repeat as Maryland's comptroller, but the Columbia Democratic Club has a message for him: It's time to retire.

By a wide margin, the club endorsed rival candidate John T. Willis, Maryland's secretary of state, who Schaefer has said is on a mission from Gov. Parris N. Glendening to unseat him.

Willis strongly denies that, but he said the 54-23 vote Wednesday night is important for his campaign.

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