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News from around the Baltimore region

June 16, 2005

BALTIMORE

Foster children's lawyers to get state settlement

The state Department of Human Resources has agreed to pay a $367,534 settlement to attorneys who represent foster children served by the Baltimore City Department of Social Services.

Attorneys Mitchell Y. Mirviss and Gary S. Posner said yesterday that they will use the money to hire Rhonda Lipkin, deputy director of the Maryland Legal Aid Bureau, as a full-time monitor to make sure social services officials abide by a long-standing consent decree. DSS has a history of failing to comply with the decree, which sets standards for care.

Lipkin said she will begin her new job Aug. 1. She will work under the umbrella of the Public Justice Center in Baltimore, which provides legal aid to low-income and underrepresented groups.

The settlement, which was approved by the state Board of Public Works yesterday, covers a billing period of June 2002 to November 2004.

OWINGS MILLS

State gives final approval for town center project

The state Board of Public Works gave final approval yesterday for a $220 million town center at the Owings Mills Metro parking lot, a much-delayed project that boosters hope will create a town center in a part of Baltimore County that has been transformed by growth in the past two decades.

Praising the project for concentrating development around a mass transit hub, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Treasurer Nancy K. Kopp approved a lease and a settlement agreement from a lawsuit that has held up the project for two years.

The center will consist of a main street surrounded by offices, parking garages, stores, apartments or condos, a hotel, the county's largest public library and a community college branch.

"It's a great example of smart growth," Kopp said. "There's already been a tremendous investment in the area, and it really does focus living, focus transit and focus housing."

County Executive James T. Smith Jr. said the development is one of the most important economic development projects in the county and will generate 5,300 jobs and provide $6 million a year in tax revenue.

"It's a long time coming," said Smith, who as a county councilman helped designate Owings Mills as a growth center in the early 1980s. "I think this is going to create a jewel in the Baltimore area."

Baltimore County Economic Development Director David S. Iannucci said he expects a groundbreaking for one of the garages before the end of the year, with the library, community college and main street taking shape within three to five years. The project will take 10 to 15 years to complete, he said.

- Andrew A. Green

BALTIMORE

$2.75 million state grant for maritime park OK'd

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved yesterday a $2.75 million grant to help develop a Fells Point maritime park honoring Frederick Douglass and other African-American shipbuilders.

Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park, at Caroline and Thames streets, is scheduled to open in January, officials with the Maryland Department of General Services said.

The park, being developed by the Living Classrooms Foundation, will include a museum and classroom building adjacent to a restored century-old sugar warehouse.

HANOVER

2 state troopers injured in accident on Route 100

Two Maryland state troopers were injured yesterday after a driver lost control of an SUV and it struck their patrol car on the shoulder of Route 100 in Hanover.

Troopers Amy Coleman, 33, and Michael Sauer, 23, had pulled over a Honda in a routine traffic stop about 2 p.m. when their cruiser was struck by a 1997 Ford Explorer driven by Dustin Lee Gaisiorowski, 23, of Glen Burnie, police said.

The impact caused the police car to slam into the rear of the Honda, which in turn hit Sauer, who was standing by the driver's-side window.

Sauer, who graduated from the Maryland State Police Academy several weeks ago, and Gaisiorowski were taken by helicopter to Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Sauer was treated and released. Gaisiorowski was reported in noncritical condition yesterday evening.

Coleman, an eight-year veteran of the state police, was in the passenger seat of the patrol car at the time of the accident. She was taken to North Arundel Hospital. Passengers in the Honda were not reported injured.

The accident is under investigation.

- Annie Linskey

HOWARD COUNTY

Teen who shot girl by accident is convicted of endangerment

A Woodbine man who injured a teenage girl when he accidentally shot her with a handgun he grabbed out of his father's safe has been convicted of reckless endangerment.

Benjamin M. Allen, 18, of the 800 block of Iron Rail Court was convicted Tuesday after a one-day bench trial before visiting Judge Daniel Moylan in Howard County Circuit Court. Sentencing is scheduled June 23, when Allen could receive a maximum of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

On July 6, Allen took out the gun to show 16-year-old Katie Lea Weyer of Dayton and three 18-year-old friends at his home after they swam in a pool on the property, according to police.

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