October 02, 2007

Carroll County : Westminster

House fire causes $550,000 damage

A house fire caused more than $500,000 in damage yesterday in a Westminster neighborhood near the Wakefield Valley Golf Course, fire officials said.

The fire, which began on the rear deck of a two-story frame house in the first block of Golden Eagle Court, was discovered shortly after noon, the state fire marshal's office said. The fire also damaged three nearby houses and a van, authorities said.

Deputy Chief Fire Marshal Allen Gosnell said the fire, which took 30 minutes to control, caused about $550,000 in damage. The Red Cross is assisting the two adults and one teenager displaced by the blaze.

Laura McCandlish

Baltimore County

: Education

McDonogh School gets $10 million gift

McDonogh School has received a $10 million pledge from a Baltimore real estate developer for the construction of a new student life center, school officials said yesterday.

The gift from Edward A. St. John of St. John Properties Inc. is the largest made to the school by a nonalumnus and former parent, officials said.

"The Edward A. St. John Student Center will be a central location that will complement and enhance many aspects of learning for all of our students, from kindergarten through grade 12," said Charles W. Britton, McDonogh's headmaster.

The school, in Owings Mills, also announced the conclusion of its $50 million capital campaign, believed to be the largest ever completed by a Baltimore-area independent school. The effort supported an endowment for financial aid, faculty compensation and the construction of a 50-meter pool.

Howard County

: Ellicott City

County to purchase, convert post office

A 1940-vintage stone post office on historic Ellicott City's Main Street is to be purchased by Howard County government and converted for use as a tourism center, County Executive Ken Ulman said yesterday.

With a larger, modern postal facility about a mile away near U.S. 40, Maryland's congressional leaders persuaded the U.S. Postal Service to offer the building to the county as surplus, Ulman said.

The structure, replete with original painted murals, wood and metal clerk's windows and postal boxes, is on a list of the 10 most endangered historic buildings in the county, said Mary Catherine Cochran, president of Preservation Howard County.

Ulman said the $640,000 purchase should close April 1 if engineering inspections show no major faults in the building, which currently houses a branch post office.

If the purchase is made, the county would move its tiny tourism office from basement quarters in the rear of the building to the main floor facing Main Street.

Larry Carson


: School system

Fourth official leaves position

Gary Thrift, human resource officer for the city school system, resigned yesterday and is being replaced by JoAnne V. Koehler, city school officials said.

Thrift became the fourth notable official to leave the city school system since Chief Executive Officer Andres Alonso's arrival in July. Thrift follows Chief Academic Officer Linda Chinnia, Area Academic Officer Marilyn Perez and Director of Secondary School Instruction Jennifer Green. School system officials declined to comment on Thrift's departure.

Koehler previously served as a member of a team that oversaw special education in Baltimore for the State Department of Education. She also has worked in in the Baltimore County school system.

Brent Jones

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