News from around the Baltimore region

April 28, 2005


City drug abuse agency hires new director

Denver's top drug policy official has been selected to lead Baltimore Substance Abuse Systems, the quasi-governmental agency that oversees drug treatment in the city, Health Commissioner Dr. Peter L. Beilenson said yesterday.

The new director, Adam Brickner, has led Denver's office of drug strategy since 2000 and previously served as coordinator of Denver's drug court.

His office has dealt with a drug problem that, while not on the scale of Baltimore's, has grown in size and complexity in recent years. Colorado has the highest rate of marijuana use in the country, and methamphetamines have joined cocaine as a major problem in Denver, Brickner said yesterday.

Brickner has had to make do with fewer resources than he will have in Baltimore. He said he has relied on about $2 million a year from six grants to pay for his office's efforts, which have included an initiative for drug-addicted prostitutes and another for homeless addicts between ages 18 and 24.

In Baltimore, he will be in charge of an agency that has a budget of almost $60 million and oversees about 80 treatment providers with about 25,000 clients a year.

Brickner, 43, will replace Bonnie L. Cypull, who has led the agency for four years and will remain as its policy director.

- Alec MacGillis


Girl, 14, is seriously injured when van, dump truck collide

A 14-year-old softball player was injured yesterday afternoon when the school minivan in which she was riding and a dump truck collided at Interstate 70 and Marriottsville Road, Howard County police said.

Courtney Dill, who attends St. Timothy's School in Stevenson, was flown to Johns Hopkins Children's Center in serious condition, police said.

The four other students in the 2001 Ford Windstar and its driver, Robert J. Ventura, were transported to Howard County General Hospital with minor cuts and bruises.

Police said Ventura told investigators that his brakes failed as he drove off westbound I-70 toward Marriottsville Road about 2:50 p.m. Ventura swerved around two cars stopped at a stop sign at the end of the ramp, and as he passed through the intersection the minivan and dump truck collided.

The dump truck, driven by Daniel Zafrif, owner of the Baltimore-based MLC Foundation Coating Co., was carrying gravel and stone. Upon impact, some of the truck's load landed on the minivan.

The 14- and 15-year-old girls were traveling to Chapelgate Christian Academy in Marriottsville for a softball game, police said. No charges have been filed. Police are continuing to investigate.

- Melissa Harris


School official passed over for job in Washington state

Christine M. Johns, a deputy superintendent for Baltimore County public schools who was a finalist for a superintendent's position in Washington state, said yesterday that she plans to stay in her Baltimore County job for at least the next school year.

Johns, Baltimore County's deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction, was a finalist to be superintendent of Evergreen public schools, a 25,000-student district in Vancouver, Wash. However, the Evergreen board voted this week to offer the job to another candidate, Robert L. Corley, superintendent of the 9,400-student Flagler County school district in Bunnell, Fla.

Evergreen school board President Joan Skelton called Johns a "very high-quality candidate."

Johns, 39, became one of the youngest deputy superintendents in Baltimore County history when she followed her mentor, Superintendent Joe A. Hairston, to the 108,000-student system five years ago.

- Sara Neufeld


Car crash leads police to scene of 2 homicides

A man who crashed his car early yesterday in Baltimore County told police that he was uninjured, but that they should check his house because he had just killed his wife and sister-in-law, city police said yesterday.

State police called city police, who responded to the man's apartment in Medfield and found two women dead at the scene. Shirley Crabson, 47, and Robin Blankenship, 50, had been stabbed several times inside the apartment in the 4400 block of Laplata Ave., said Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman.

The man, who had crashed his white Subaru into a parked car at Interstate 83 and Interstate 695, was taken to Sinai Hospital shortly after the 12:40 a.m. wreck. He was treated for several self-inflicted stab wounds, Moses said.

The man remained yesterday in the hospital's intensive care unit, Moses said. The spokesman did not release the man's name because he had not been charged with a crime.

The killings of the two women were the 75th and 76th homicides this year in Baltimore. At the corresponding point last year, there had been 83 homicides, police said.

- Ryan Davis


Officers find man fatally shot on North Poppleton Street

A man was shot and killed late Tuesday in West Baltimore, shortly after he left his girlfriend's house, police said yesterday.

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