Digest

CITY / COUNTY DIGEST

August 07, 2007

2nd Anne Arundel teen dies of July 29 auto crash injuries

A second Anne Arundel County teenager has died of injuries received in a July 29 crash that also injured two friends, police said yesterday.

Ronald Jacob Houck, 19, of Orchard Beach, was pronounced dead Saturday morning at Maryland Shock-Trauma Center in Baltimore.

A 2005 graduate of Northeast High School in Pasadena, he was engaged to be married and planned to begin classes this fall at Anne Arundel Community College, his father said.

"He worked with me in my business, installing kitchen cabinets," said Ronald F. Houck.

He described his son as a "super, generous kid," who helped take care of his grandmother, enjoyed PlayStation games and was a "huge Chargers fan."

Houck was a rear-seat passenger in a 2007 Toyota Yaris driven by Nicholas Vakoutis III, 18, of Orchard Beach. Police said Vakoutis lost control of the car and hit two trees on Marley Neck Boulevard in Glen Burnie.

A second passenger in the back seat, Justin Wesley Grahe, 15, of Pasadena, was declared dead at the scene. Vakoutis and Grahe's older brother, Joshua Austin Grahe, 17, were injured.

No charges have been filed against the driver.

"It's still under investigation, and then will be under review by our state's attorney," said Cpl. Mark Shawkey, a spokesman for Anne Arundel County police.

Police said speed appears to have been a factor in the crash, but alcohol was not involved. All four teenagers were wearing seat belts.

Andrea F. Siegel

Baltimore

: Transportation

Panel to identify needs and funding

Mayor Sheila Dixon announced yesterday the appointment of a task force aimed at identifying Baltimore's future transportation needs and trying to find sources of funding to pay for those projects.

The task force will be led by Kenneth R. Banks, president of Banks Contracting Co., and Donald C. Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, according to a statement from the mayor's office. More than two dozen others - from neighborhood organizations, engineering companies and contractors, and city agencies - are on the task force.

The mayor's office said the task force will try to help Baltimore maximize funding from the state and federal governments while determining whether other sources of revenues are available to the city.

"The next several months mark a critical moment in time for improving and expanding the transportation system in Baltimore City and our region," Dixon said in a statement. "We must be prepared to make our case in Annapolis and Washington, D.C., for continued and strategic transportation investments."

The task force met yesterday afternoon for the first time. Dixon and state Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari are scheduled to meet with the panel at its next meeting Aug. 21.

Parks Heights Ave.

Music in the Parks to host Big Band

The next performance of Baltimore's 147th Music in the Parks Concert is set from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. tomorrow at 6900 Parks Heights Ave. Baltimore's Big Band is set to perform at the concert, which is organized by the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Park's Bureau of Music and Magic 95.9 FM. Information: 410-396-7900.

Baltimore County

: Dundalk

Portside complex to be dedicated

Baltimore County officials are scheduled today to dedicate the new Portside Community Center, built as part the renovation of the former Cummins Apartments in Dundalk.

The complex, off Dundalk Avenue, is now called the Portside Apartments. One hundred forty-nine apartments were remodeled as part of the 18-month, $5 million project, county officials said.

The state Department of Housing and Community Development provided $1.5 million toward the rehabilitation. Baltimore County gave $1.16 million to Portside's development partner, the Dundalk Renaissance Corp., which then lent the funds to the developer.

Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, Councilman John Olszewski and members of the Dundalk Renaissance Corp. are expected to attend the 11 a.m. ceremony.

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