Digest

May 08, 2008

Students sent home after explosion

Students from West Baltimore Middle School were sent home yesterday afternoon after a bottle was thrown into a classroom, causing a small explosion, a city Fire Department spokesman said.

Chief Kevin Cartwright said that no injuries were reported and that members of the department's hazardous materials unit were trying to determine what kind of liquid was in the plastic soda bottle. He said it was thrown about 1 p.m. through an open first-floor window of the school in the 200 block of N. Bend Road in Southwest Baltimore.

Cartwright said the bottle exploded but did not start a fire.

Anne Arundel

Mental health

Program to help returning soldiers

Anne Arundel County health officials are launching a program to help returning military personnel who are grappling with mental health and drug abuse issues.

More than 360 military personnel have returned to Anne Arundel County in the past six months, a number thought to be the highest of any Maryland county.

Anne Arundel Health Officer Frances B. Phillips said her department will carve out funding from a drug abuse assistance program that operates on a $2.3 million budget and is funded in part by local and state governments.

The program will make use of a hot line and will also be available to soldiers' families. Although a similar initiative is in the works at the state level, the county assistance plan could launch as early as July 1.

A report last month by the Rand Corp. found that one in five war veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffers from major depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Of the Anne Arundel veterans, 356 served in Iraq, 51 in Afghanistan and 33 in both. Prince George's County had the second- highest number of veterans with 350, followed by Montgomery County, which had 224 soldiers return from battle zones since last October. The numbers are based on discharge papers provided by the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs, health officials said.

The Anne Arundel treatment referral hot line is 410-222-0117.

Steven Stanek

Naval Academy

Obelisk climb won't be changed

After a months-long review prompted by safety concerns, the Naval Academy has decided against making any major changes in a tradition in which hundreds of students mark the end of their first year by attempting to scale a grease-slicked, 21-foot-high obelisk, an academy spokeswoman said yesterday.

The Herndon Monument Climb, scheduled for 9 a.m. May 15, is believed to date to 1907. Vice Adm. Jeffrey Fowler, in his first year as superintendent, ordered a review of the tradition because of concerns about falls leading to serious injuries.

One possible change included limiting the number of participants. Instead, the academy will select 30 midshipmen to monitor the ritual and spot hazards, said Deborah Goode, the spokeswoman.

Josh Mitchell

Baltimore

Public health

Dixon attends New York forum

Mayor Sheila Dixon attended a public health forum in New York yesterday, where she and other elected officials discussed ways to reduce teen pregnancies and protect residents from sexually transmitted infections.

The event, sponsored by the National Institute for Reproductive Health, was also organized to provide elected officials and public health leaders with a forum for sharing knowledge, expertise and experiences.

According to the event's Web site, organizers hoped to support a "new generation" of leaders who would push for a progressive reproductive health agenda in their communities.

Although Baltimore's teen pregnancy rate has decreased, the city's public health officials are struggling to fight the spread of sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis.

Lynn Anderson

Howard County

Jury allowed to hear of identification

A Howard County judge yesterday denied a motion to prevent a jury from hearing that the victim of a 2006 shooting identified his attacker from a photograph that now is missing.

Joe Murtha, defense attorney for convicted murderer Monti Mantrice Fleming, argued in Circuit Court that Mark Golston, who was shot in Columbia, identified Fleming from a single photo that a detective showed him, rather than from a photo array.

Murtha, who also said that the photo is missing and is unable to be presented as evidence, said the identification should not be allowed at trial because it was too suggestive.

Judge Louis A. Becker, however, concluded that Golston was familiar with Fleming and that the identification was reliable. The judge acknowledged that he has reservations about the credibility of Golston, whose versions of events conflicted several times.

Fleming, 17, has been charged with attempted first-degree murder in the shooting of Golston. His trial is scheduled for July.

Earlier this year, Fleming was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of another teen in August 2006 and is scheduled to be sentenced in that case May 16.

Tyeesha Dixon

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