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News from around the Baltimore region

July 27, 2005

BALTIMORE

3 hurt in bus accident improve to fair condition

Three of the people most seriously injured in Monday's early-morning Greyhound bus accident on Interstate 95 were upgraded to fair condition yesterday afternoon at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, a hospital spokeswoman said. Two others who were admitted there were discharged.

Maryland Transportation Authority Police said they were continuing to investigate the cause of the single-vehicle accident, which occurred shortly after 6 a.m. on the rain-slick highway in East Baltimore.

Thirty-three passengers and the driver, Cotina Lane, 31, were treated for injuries and taken to hospitals after the bus skidded off the road and tipped over, snarling the Monday morning commute for several hours. Most of the people suffered minor injuries and were treated and released the day of the accident.

Police said that although they had not reached any conclusions, weather was one of the factors being examined.

WESTMINSTER

Businessman pleads guilty to possessing child porn

A Westminster businessman has pleaded guilty to a single count of felony possession of child pornography and is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9.

Scott Wade Markle, 43, has waived his right to a jury trial and could receive a maximum five-year prison sentence and a fine of as much as $250,000.

He was charged with possession of "visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct," according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

In a statement of facts filed with the court, Westminster police responded to a report of child pornography in March 2002 and discovered graphic images on a laptop owned by a Main Street advertising business and used by Markle, an employee. When Markle returned to the office, he admitted to police that the photos were his.

The Westminster police turned the computer over to the FBI, whose agents discovered at least 10 more child pornography photos, according to officials. The statement of facts said Markle obtained the photos over the Internet.

"From the moment that the police were first notified about this incident, Mr. Markle cooperated fully with the government and acknowledged the conduct in the [charges]," said Gregg L. Bernstein, Markle's attorney.

"I think it should be noted that even before the discovery of the photograph, Mr. Markle had already been in treatment -- counseling he continues to this day," Bernstein said.

SYKESVILLE

Drug treatment facility slated at Springfield Hospital Center

Carroll County will spend nearly $3 million to build a 24-bed, long-term drug treatment facility on the grounds of Springfield Hospital Center in Sykesville, officials said yesterday.

The County Commissioners awarded the contract yesterday to Brechbill & Helman of Chambersburg, Pa., whose bid was the lowest of six for the project. The company will design and build a 15,000-square-foot building on 7 acres near the Central Laundry Facility, a minimum-security prison.

The facility would provide housing and counseling to residents, primarily 18 to 24 years old, who would reside there for as long as two years.

"Work will start almost immediately," said Tom Rio, chief of the Carroll Bureau of Building Construction. "The facility will open in approximately 18 months, depending on the weather."

-- Mary Gail Hare

BALTIMORE COUNTY

$81,400 given out in grants to boost commercial areas

Baltimore County government has awarded $81,400 in grants to business organizations for projects in downtown areas in the county, officials announced this week.

The grants are for such uses as landscaping, trash pickup, Web site development, banners and holiday lights in commercial areas. One grant is for a mural in Catonsville.

The grants, announced by County Executive James T. Smith Jr., include: $7,500 to the Arbutus Business & Professional Association; $11,517 to the Greater Catonsville Chamber of Commerce; $7,500 to the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation; and $2,150 to the Essex-Middle River-White Marsh Chamber of Commerce.

Also: $7,500 to the Liberty Road Business Association; $2,071 to Overlea Fullerton Business & Professional Association; $2,150 to the Parkville-Carney Business and Professional Association; $14,048 to the Pikesville Chamber of Commerce; $20,820 to the Towson Business Association; and $6,144 to the Security/Woodlawn Village Business Association.

CARROLL COUNTY

Commissioners OK ordinance controlling noise levels

A law that will provide for control of all types of noise levels, including those from recreational all-terrain vehicles, was unanimously approved yesterday by the Carroll County commissioners.

"Our ordinance largely mirrors the state law" on noise, said County Attorney Kimberly A. Millender. "We can be more restrictive than the state, but not less." The ordinance allows the county to set decibel levels even lower in sensitive areas, such as near hospitals and funeral homes.

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