Week In Review

August 06, 2006

Anne Arundel

School board ends job firm's contract

The Anne Arundel County Board of Education voted Wednesday against renewing a $1.4 million contract with a Crofton employment firm after some school board members balked at using the company to rehire retired administrators.

Board members, some of whom said they were unaware of the 13-year-old arrangement with Human Recources Inc., criticized it - even without the inclusion of the administrators - as too expensive and possibly unnecessary.

Eugene Peterson, board vice president, said he did not understand why permanent employees could not be hired through the traditional method of advertising the jobs.

"How specialized could these positions be?" he asked school system staff members.

Kevin M. Maxwell, who took the helm of county schools July 1, told the board yesterday that he still intends to hire former Interim Superintendent Nancy Mann, former Deputy Superintendent Ken Nichols and former director of student services Leslie Mobray on a short-term basis. He is researching other ways to do it without a third-party contractor.

Since 1993, Human Resources Inc. has hired people for specialized positions in the school system, while charging a commission equal to 26.5 percent of the salary for administrative jobs and 30.5 percent for skilled workers, according to the company's proposal.

Maryland section, Thursday

Annapolis

Journalist joins academy faculty

In another step to build the reputation of its growing foreign affairs and language programs, the Naval Academy has named Robert Kaplan - an author and Atlantic Monthly correspondent - a visiting political science professor.

The choice reflects the academy's recent overtures to language and cultural experts to develop a humanities curriculum than can rival the renown of its undergraduate engineering programs.

Academy officials recently unveiled plans to vastly increase instruction in the languages and cultures of regional hot spots where graduating midshipmen are most likely to serve.

Although others hired for visiting professorships at the Annapolis military college have come from outside of the academic world, Kaplan - known for his prescient writings about Iraq and, well before the war, the threat stateless organizations and unstable societies pose to the United States - is a first as a prominent journalist.

Maryland section, Wednesday

Anne Arundel

Merrill search cost agency $76,000

The Maryland Natural Resources Police spent $76,000 on employee pay, overtime and fuel costs during its nine-day search for the body of Annapolis-area publisher Philip Merrill, according to documents released Tuesday.

That amount includes the cost of more than 6,200 gallons of fuel and 1,632 hours of employee time spent searching for Merrill's body, according to the documents. The total does not include costs incurred by other agencies, including the Coast Guard and the Anne Arundel County and Baltimore fire departments.

"We didn't treat this case any differently, with the exception of the press conferences, than any other search-and-rescue effort," said Col. Mark S. Chaney, head of the Natural Resources Police. "We're doing a recovery. We're trying to provide closure for a family."

Costs for the Merrill search included 48 man-hours doing aerial searches, $750 for boat storage and $500 for a new boat transmission.

Merrill, 72, a former diplomat whose company publishes the Annapolis-based Capital newspaper and Washingtonian magazine, disappeared from his 41-foot boat, Merrilly, during a solo sailing trip June 10.

The discovery of his unmanned boat triggered an intensive rescue mission that two days later became a body-recovery effort led by the Natural Resources Police with support from other agencies.

Maryland section, Wednesday

Annapolis

Market House partly reopens

But for the free doughnuts, no one might have known that the long-shuttered Annapolis Market House reopened Monday.

With neither fanfare nor public notice, the first few stalls in the historic dockside marketplace, which had been closed for a problem-beset 19 months, quietly opened to customers. Those who went in found the owner of the Fresh Stop blending fruit smoothies and workers at the Fractured Prune franchise urging passers-by to try a hand-dipped doughnut.

Several other stands were ready to open last week but could not because the city, which owns the building, was struggling to fix the air-conditioning system.

Maryland section, Tuesday

Anne Arundel

Owens prohibits outdoor watering

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens ordered an outdoor-watering ban for the northern third of the county, pointing to an extreme loss of water pressure that she called "alarming."

The round-the-clock outdoor ban affects an estimated 200,000 residents on the public water system in the county's most populated section, from Laurel and Brooklyn Park to Glen Burnie and Pasadena.

It was the second time Owens had instituted an outdoor ban on water use this year to combat shortages.

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