Public hearings set on wind turbine plan

STATE DIGEST

December 12, 2007

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources will hold public hearings next month on whether the state should allow developers to build wind turbines in state forests, a proposal being advanced by a Pennsylvania company.

U.S. Wind Force is asking the state for leases in Potomac State Forest and Savage River State Forest in Western Maryland so it can clear about 400 mountaintop acres and raise about 100 wind turbines.

The machines would be about 40 stories tall and would be visible from some of the region's most popular recreation areas, including Deep Creek Lake and the Savage River Reservoir.

The state is considering whether to put these leases up for public bidding. But first state officials must decide on a broader policy about whether to allow wind turbines owned by private companies on public lands.

"Maryland is committed to developing clean, renewable energy sources that support a healthy environment," said Natural Resources Secretary John R. Griffin. "However, our public lands belong to Maryland's citizens and it is critical they have a voice in a decision-making process that could forever change our rural landscape."

The first meeting will be 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 23 at Grantsville Elementary School, 120 Grant St. in Grantsville, Garrett County.

The second meeting will be 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 24 at the Arundel Center, 44 Calvert St. in Annapolis.

Tom Pelton

Frostburg

Student accused of threats

Frostburg State University has put a student on interim suspension for making vague threats against the campus that were determined not to be credible yesterday afternoon.

The Allegany County state's attorney's office is determining whether criminal charges should be filed against the student, who was not arrested. The student might face administrative penalties from the university after a hearing, according to a news release.

The student, who was not identified, is accused of making a "vague threat" of violence against the university while playing a multiplayer video game online with another person, said university spokeswoman Liz Medcalf.

The other player, also a student, notified Frostburg police, who contacted university police. University officials notified students about the threat early yesterday morning and increased police presence on campus, where exams were under way. Local schools also took security precautions.

After investigators identified the student, police searched him and his home but did not find weapons, according to the release.

Liz F. Kay

Montgomery

School reacts to staph death

A public school has taken steps to protect students and staff against a drug-resistant form of staph infection after a teacher died Sunday of complications from the bacteria.

Teacher Merry King's classroom at Herbert Hoover Middle School in Potomac was sanitized Monday after she died Sunday night, said Kate Harrison, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County school system. Other communal areas at the school also will be sanitized with a bleach solution.

King, 48, had been absent from school since Nov. 30 and had been hospitalized since early last week. Her family said she died of complications from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. She was a special-education teacher at Hoover for two of the past three years.

The school learned of the infection Saturday from King's family when Hoover Principal Billie-Jean Bensen visited her in the hospital. King was in a coma at the time.

School officials said they do not know where King contracted the infection and said there was no reason to believe students at the school had a greater-than-normal risk of infection.

Associated Press

Allegany County

Slain hunter not wearing orange

Maryland Natural Resources Police say a man who was fatally shot by another deer hunter wasn't wearing bright-orange clothing.

Sgt. Ken Turner said that 46-year-old James Dawson Junior of Rawlings was walking into the woods on private land with his 11-year-old son shortly before 6:30 a.m. Saturday when he was shot by 32-year-old Eric Riggs of Mount Savage.

The police said that Riggs mistook Dawson for a deer.

Turner said the shooter and the boy were wearing hunter orange. He said that the color isn't readily visible in pre-dawn darkness.

Turner said no charges have been filed.

Associated Press

Wicomico County

Church incurs zoning fine

A church in this Eastern Shore town has been fined for using its own building for Bible study.

Salisbury fined the Bethany Lutheran Church $1,000 for allowing a house owned by the church to be used by a group for Bible study and other organized gatherings, which the city said was a zoning violation.

The Rev. Kevin Wackett of Bethany Lutheran said his church should be able to use the house for more than what it's zoned for, single-family housing.

An appeal is possible under a federal law protecting churches from zoning ordinances.

Associated Press

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