Week In Review

May 14, 2006

Gambrills

Horse park plan finally released

Establishing a horse park in western Anne Arundel County would cost $114.2 million, according to a long-awaited study released Thursday that state officials hope will boost support for the stalled project.

The report by the Maryland Stadium Authority found that the horse park on 857 acres of rolling farmland in Gambrills, owned by the Navy, will draw nearly 800,000 visitors each year, generating an annual economic benefit to the county of more than $104 million.

The facilities would include a visitors center, an equestrian/agriculture museum, an indoor climate-controlled equestrian show ring with 2,500 fixed seats, and stables for 840 horses. The state would build a three-plus-mile cross-country course, a one-mile turf steeplechase course with a 1,500-seat grandstand, and a recreational-vehicle park for overnight guests.

Recently added features include several stormwater ponds and four "polocrosse" (lacrosse on horseback) fields, which would be available for community soccer.

In an interview, Alison L. Asti, the authority's executive director, emphasized keeping the pristine dairy farm free from encroachment. The farm was used to produce milk for Naval Academy midshipmen for nearly a century until the late 1990s.

County Executive Janet S. Owens has said the county can't afford to contribute, given the costs of military expansion at Fort Meade. Based on the $114 million price tag, the county's burden could be as high as $35 million. She also has expressed worries about the horse park's impact on Route 3 traffic and on two environmentally sensitive watersheds that run through the Navy property. One of them, the Jabez Branch, is the last native brook-trout stream in Maryland.

In a meeting with Owens on Wednesday, state officials did not press her for a commitment.

Maryland section, Thursday

Glen Burnie

Police officer, father guilty in poker sting

A Howard County police officer and his father were found guilty Wednesday of running an illegal poker hall in Glen Burnie, complete with chips featuring the officer's nickname.

After a day of testimony in which a witness said he didn't "want to lie anymore," Anne Arundel County District Judge Thomas J. Pryal sentenced Officer Michael "Tykie" Thorn, 40, and Gary Allen Thorn Sr., 64, to a year of unsupervised probation. Their attorneys had contended that the hall - a warehouse on Airport Park Road - was a place for people to learn how to play Texas hold 'em, a popular poker game, and no money changed hands.

Maryland section, Thursday

Millersville

Woman sentenced in abuse of patients

The owner of a former Millersville assisted-living facility was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest after an investigation into what a state regulator called "one of the worst" cases of patient neglect she had ever seen.

Erlinda Sarabia, 69, of Pasadena pleaded guilty May 5 in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to felony neglect and Medicaid fraud, making her the first assisted-living home operator in Maryland to be convicted of neglect, prosecutors said.

Millersville Home Care came under scrutiny after Ava Harrison, 84, was taken to Baltimore Washington Medical Center with severe bedsores on 40 percent of her body, gangrene in one foot and maggots in the other. Harrison was hospitalized Oct. 15, 2003, and died two days later. The facility was shut down in October 2003, and Sarabia was indicted on eight counts for three residents in her care. She pleaded guilty to neglecting Thelma Wooden, 94.

Maryland section, Wednesday

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