Week in review

December 04, 2005

Some residents may get better jobs

With thousands of defense-related jobs coming to Maryland in the next few years, local social services officials see a golden opportunity for poor people to get better jobs, especially in high-priced suburbs in Howard, Anne Arundel and Harford counties near the targeted bases.

The Aberdeen Proving Ground area is expected to get 27,000 new jobs in the next decade, said Rick Walker, Harford County's assistant director of social services. Officials in Howard and Anne Arundel counties expect the first 5,300 jobs coming directly to Fort Meade will be followed in five or six years by two or three times more private defense and support jobs. Those are the positions social services officials hope their clients can get access to.

Walker said he is enthusiastic about the possibilities for people looking for a new chance.

"It's clearly going to change the local economy. We're really excited about it. We're looking at it as a wonderful opportunity for our [welfare recipients] to use that as a launching pad for their families," Walker said.

Welfare clients who stop receiving cash assistance typically work as day care providers, salesclerks, cashiers, bank tellers, receptionists or nursing assistants, said Charlene Gallion, Howard County's social services director. The new jobs could offer better income and benefits, she said.

"We want people to be employed, but we also want them to be offered jobs that have career potential. Not all of our customers are low-skilled," she said.

Andy Moser, president and chief executive of the Anne Arundel County Workforce Development Corp., said he is thinking along the same lines.

"The state Department of Labor has a $1.2 million planning grant from the federal government" to prepare for the coming jobs, he said.

Maryland section, Nov. 28

No leads in death of kidnapped man

A week after a Harford County man was kidnapped, only to be found dead even though his relatives paid thousands of dollars in ransom, investigators have no solid leads in the case, police said last week.

Jeryl Anthony Singleterry, 29, of Edgewood was unemployed and had no criminal record, police said. Police have no evidence that Singleterry was involved in drugs or anything else illegal, said Bill Toohey, a county police spokesman.

"He's a victim," Toohey said, "not a suspect."

Police said that kidnapping for ransom is a rare crime and that killing after a kidnapping is even more unusual.

"I can't remember anything like this happening," Toohey said. "It's a particularly horrible crime."

Singleterry was last seen driving away from his grandmother's home in Baltimore on Nov. 21. About an hour later, he called relatives, saying he had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom, police said.

From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Singleterry and a man who might have been his kidnapper called several times, police said. His family dropped off more than $10,000 at locations in southeastern Baltimore county, according to police, who have not disclosed the locations.

When Singleterry did not return home, relatives called police Tuesday afternoon.

Police began searching for Singleterry that afternoon and asked media outlets to broadcast a description of him and his green Chrysler Town & Country minivan. A Rosedale resident saw one of the news reports, remembered seeing a minivan that fit the description in his Holland Hills neighborhood and called police early Wednesday.

Officers opened the van and found a body, later identified as that of Singleterry. He had been shot several times, police said.

Police said they don't know of a motive for the crime.

Toohey said police advise anyone who receives a demand for a ransom to immediately call authorities.

Although statistics were not immediately available, city and county police said kidnapping of adults and kidnapping for ransom are uncommon.

In Baltimore, police are investigating the fatal shooting of Jermaine Fleming, 23, whose body was found Nov. 2 in a wooded area near Leakin Park, three days after his father paid a ransom for his son's return. Police suspect the case is drug-related, said Matt Jablow, a city police spokesman.

Jablow and Toohey said police have not found a connection between Fleming's and Singleterry's abductions.

Maryland section, Nov. 28

Some defend use of word `Christmas'

Bob Chance cultivates 7 sweet-smelling acres of trees - Douglas fir, Norway spruce, Colorado blue - and he can rattle off their names with precision. He doesn't care what his customers call them.

"I plant them in the spring, I dig them in the fall, and in the winter I sell them as a symbol," says Chance, owner of a Harford County tree farm. "But I don't micromanage the terminology."

This year, there are plenty of others to do that for him.

In a campaign led by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, Christian conservatives have come to the defense of the term "Christmas tree" this, um, holiday season.

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