Digest

May 06, 2008

Gas-main break forces evacuation at building site

More than 600 construction workers were evacuated yesterday morning near Annapolis after a contractor struck a natural gas line at a building site where a worker died in a crane accident last week.

Anne Arundel County Fire spokesman Lt. Frank Fennell said emergency crews were called to the Parole construction site at 9:17 a.m. after a 2 1/2 -inch gas line was ruptured inside one of two large residential towers. In addition to evacuating the site, a large section of busy Forest Drive was closed to traffic for about two hours.

Fire officials said there were no reports of any injuries. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. shut off the gas main at about 11 a.m., and County Executive John R. Leopold visited the scene.

Last week, a construction worker on the 12-story Mariner Bay residential tower project at Annapolis Towne Centre - a $400 million residential, office and shopping complex under construction - was killed when he was crushed by a crane 200 feet in the air.

Yesterday's leak happened at the same building and involved the same contractor - concrete company Miller, Long & Arnold - according to fire officials.

After disassembling the crane, workers were removing a concrete base that had been created to support the crane, when someone punctured the gas main.

Calls to Miller, Long & Arnold, a Halethorpe branch of Bethesda-based Miller and Long Concrete Construction, were not returned.

Justin Fenton

Baltimore

Education

Hopkins engineer receives award

Johns Hopkins University Provost Kristina M. Johnson was scheduled to receive at a Washington banquet last night the John Fritz Medal, considered the top engineering prize in the country.

Named for an iron and steel manufacturer from Bethlehem, Pa., the medal is presented annually by the American Association of Engineering Societies, which represents more than 1 million U.S. engineers. Previous recipients of the award, which was established in 1902, include inventors Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, George Westinghouse and Orville Wright.

The engineering association said it was honoring Johnson, Hopkins' first female provost and the former engineering dean at Duke University, for "her internationally acknowledged expertise in optics, optoelectronic switching and display technology."

Johnson is known for her work in the field of "smart pixel arrays," which are used in high-resolution displays and sensors such as cameras. The Stanford University-educated scholar holds 129 current and pending patents and has co-founded several companies.

"This is really special because it recognizes inventors, and I am happiest when inventing," said Johnson in a statement. "It is made even more special by the fact that the 1906 recipient was George Westinghouse, who my grandfather, Charles Johnson, worked directly for as an engineer in the 1920s."

Gadi Dechter

Police

Homicide unit head to retire

The commander of the city's homicide unit, Major Frederick Herman Taber Jr., will retire from the force this month, leaving a key opening in the department's highest profile section.

Taber is a 35 year veteran of the force and has commanded the homicide unit for the last two years.

Paul Blair, the president of the police union, called Taber's most recent command a high pressure job and said that Taber handled his position with grace.

"He's a class man with high integrity, a gentleman, a class police," Blair said. "The type of leader that everybody enjoyed working for."

Police spokesman Sterling Clifford said that no decision has been made on Taber's replacement.

Annie Linskey

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