News from around the Baltimore region

April 06, 2005

Police officer charged with insurance fraud


A city police officer was charged with felony insurance fraud and attempted theft yesterday after he allegedly tried to collect insurance proceeds from an accident that occurred while his uninsured wife was driving, according to the state attorney general's office.

Officer Eric Spilman, 26, is accused in Baltimore County Circuit Court of attempting to steal about $4,000 from Progressive Insurance Company after a Feb. 19 crash involving his wife, Lori, officials said. She does not have a driver's license and is excluded from the insurance policy, officials said.

If convicted, Eric Spilman could receive 30 years in prison. He joined the city force in 2001 and has been suspended with pay pending a hearing to determine if that pay will continue, city police officials said.


City to seek developers for Barclay housing renewal

Moving quickly on a new initiative to revive the blighted Barclay area of North Baltimore, city officials said yesterday that they would issue by the end of next week a request for qualifications from developers for a plan for 56 rowhouses being bought from the federal government and another 167 mostly-vacant properties owned by the city and its public housing agency.

The request will insist that any redevelopment include about 100 units of low-income rental housing, said Christopher Shea, the city's associate deputy director of housing. That provision will allow residents of the properties being bought, known as the Barclay Townhouses, as well as tenants of about 30 scattered housing authority properties, to remain in the neighborhood, officials said.

Mayor Martin O'Malley reinforced the point that residents would not be displaced from the neighborhood at a public event to formally announce the city's purchase of the rowhouses, which were part of a failed revitalization effort in the 1980s and are being foreclosed because of the owner's default on a federally backed mortgage.

"We are going to make sure that those who call Barclay their home will have an opportunity to rent these new units," the mayor said. "We are not into urban removal, we are into urban renewal."

- Eric Siegel


Downtown street closings set for Miss USA Pageant

Several downtown streets will be closed today and Monday for the Miss USA Pageant, the city Transportation Department announced.

Eutaw Street will be closed to through-traffic between Baltimore and Fayette streets from noon to midnight today, in preparation for the pageant. During that time, traffic also will be prohibited along Baltimore Street from Paca to Eutaw streets.

The same streets will be closed from noon to midnight the day of the pageant.

Northbound Eutaw Street traffic will be detoured right onto Baltimore Street, left onto Park Avenue, left onto Fayette and back to Eutaw. Southbound Eutaw traffic will be detoured right onto Fayette, left onto Greene Street, left onto Pratt Street and back to Eutaw. Eastbound Baltimore Street traffic will be detoured left onto Paca, right onto Mulberry Street, right onto Cathedral Street and back to Baltimore.


Rising Susquehanna causes flooding in several homes

Heavy rains and snow melt in New York swelled the Susquehanna River, resulting in minor flooding in about a half-dozen homes, Port Deposit Mayor Robert Flayhart said yesterday.

"Originally, the National Weather Service predicted that the operators of the Conowingo Dam would have to open 31 [of its 50] gates," Flayhart said. When the rains and the melt proved less heavy, he said, the dam opened 23 gates Monday.

"That produced very minor flooding in the north end of the town," Flayheart said. "A maximum of eight homes had between 3 inches and 6 inches of water in their basements."

Yesterday the hydroelectric dam, which is owned and operated by Exelon Corp., had 17 gates open, enough to flood a low-lying section of Route 222 between Port Deposit and the dam. The road has been closed since Monday morning.

The river crested about 1 p.m. Monday and remained high for about 16 hours before receding.

"Any threat of flooding has now passed," Flayhart said.


School's annual fund-raiser to benefit Hopkins center

Hernwood Elementary School will hold its 13th annual Hop for Hopkins from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. today. The event, coordinated by Hernwood music teacher Anita Rozenel and benefiting the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, will feature pupil performances, a silent auction, door prizes and children dancing to music from the 1960s through today.

The Hop for Hopkins began in memory of a Hernwood kindergartner, Amanda Bradel, who died of cancer. Admission is $2.50; children must be accompanied by an adult. The school is at 9919 Marriottsville Road.


Officials identify illness that killed three horses

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