Baltimore County Digest

Baltimore County Digest

August 03, 2006

Body found in chimney at Lansdowne school

A badly decomposed body was found yesterday afternoon wedged inside an elementary school chimney in Lansdowne, and Baltimore County police were attempting to identify the remains.

Relatives of Zachary Scott Miller, a 19-year-old Halethorpe man who was reported missing last week, were at the school for a few hours, hoping to learn whether the body was his, said county police spokesman Bill Toohey. The school on Kessler Road is several blocks from Miller's home, he said.

A maintenance crew had noticed flies around the chimney for two days, and called police at 4:34 p.m. yesterday after opening a door at the bottom of the chimney and seeing the body wedged inside, Toohey said.

The body was removed about 9 p.m. and taken to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy and to be identified, Toohey said.

Miller disappeared after disregarding a warning not to tell police about being robbed July 20 of $30 and a pocket knife. One suspect was arrested as a juvenile shortly after the robbery, and this week three men and a woman also have been arrested, Toohey said.

Nick Shields and Richard Irwin


Gas station cleanup to begin

The owner of the former site of a Shell gas station in Towson is set to begin the cleanup of an old underground spill this summer, and a spokeswoman said this week the company has never tried to pass on cleanup responsibilities to future owners.

The spokeswoman's remarks came after Baltimore County government officials announced Monday that they want to condemn the property and build a public park on the site, a third of an acre on York Road near the downtown traffic circle. The plans require approval from the County Council.

County Executive James T Smith Jr. said his administration has offered to buy the property, but that the government and the owner have disagreed on who should assume responsibility for cleanup of the site.

Karyn Leonardi-Cattolica, a spokeswoman for property owner Motiva Enterprises LLC, wrote in an e-mail this week that the company has never tried to "excuse itself" of cleanup obligations.

"Since 2000, Motiva has been conducting remediation activities at the site and will continue to do so until the site" meets state environmental standards, she wrote.

Herb Meade of the Maryland Department of the Environment said Motiva officials have spent five years working with the department on a plan to clean up an underground gasoline spill, which he characterized as relatively minor. He said he expects the cleanup to begin by the end of the summer and take about two years.

The county government plans to condemn the property and pay Motiva market value, which Smith estimated to be about $500,000.

Todd Huff, president of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, said yesterday that the chamber offered Motiva the same amount for the property in February, but that company officials never responded to the offer. The Motiva spokeswoman declined to comment on any negotations on the sale of the property.

Josh Mitchell

Owings Mills

Funding for JCC playground

Baltimore County government has given the Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore a check for $81,300 for a "universal" playground with components modified for children with disabilities, along with equipment for other children.

The David and Barbara B. Hirschhorn Foundation also provided money for the $156,000 playground, which is scheduled to open in the fall at the JCC's Owings Mills campus.


Grants for tobacco education

The American Lung Association of Maryland plans to distribute grants to Baltimore County organizations for education programs on the risks of tobacco use and secondhand smoke.

With an overall grant of $160,000, provided by the Baltimore County Department of Health's Cigarette Restitution Fund, and pending approval by the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the association is accepting proposals until Aug. 15 for grants up to $20,000, spokeswoman Claire Mullins said.

Applications can be delivered or mailed to the association at 11350 McCormick Road, Executive Plaza 1, Suite 600, Hunt Valley.

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