Around The Region

July 11, 2009

Gansler urges expansion of animal cruelty laws

Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler said efforts to combat animal cruelty must include "aggressive prosecution" and some clarification or expansion of existing law. He laid out proposals in a letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley, who had requested a review to determine whether state laws are sufficient to deter incidents such as the pit bull burning in Baltimore in May that raised public attention. Gansler suggested clarifying the law on "cruelty kills" after a 2002 case in which a Frederick County circuit judge acquitted a man accused of killing two of his neighbor's cats with a shotgun. Gansler also suggested that the General Assembly revisit a bill that would allow protective orders barring or limiting contact with a pet or service animal.

- Laura Smitherman

I-95, I-895 traffic pattern change delayed for weather

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Because of the likelihood of bad weather this weekend, the Maryland Transportation Authority has pushed back the planned change in traffic patterns at the junction of Interstate 95 and Interstate 895 on Baltimore's east side. Originally planned for Sunday, the lane shift is now scheduled for July 19. The change will eliminate the need to merge right and exit for southbound travelers on I-95 who are heading toward the Fort McHenry Tunnel.

Conference tackles autism treatment and services

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Expressing concern about the growing number of children with autism, politicians, medical experts and educators gathered in Baltimore on Friday for a daylong conference to discuss treatment and services for people with the neurobiological disorder. The Maryland Autism Summit is the result of legislation passed by the General Assembly this year that created a statewide commission on autism with the aim of improving services and developing new strategies to meet the needs of people with autism. A decade ago, the state's schools enrolled 1,600 Marylanders with autism. Today that number has grown to 7,500. Nationwide, 1 in 150 children is diagnosed with the wide range of disabilities known as autism spectrum disorders.

- Kelly Brewington

Md. special-ed teacher wins presidential award, $10,000

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A special-education teacher in Baltimore County has won a 2008 Presidential Award for excellence in mathematics and science teaching, school officials said Friday. Sharon K. Brown, who works at Oliver Beach Elementary School in the Chase area, was recognized for her math teaching, according to a Baltimore County schools news release. Principal Mary Ann Rigopoulos nominated Brown, noting the roles she takes on beyond her classroom: teaching in an after-school math program, supervising student teachers and helping write county curriculum. Brown has taught in Baltimore County for nearly 15 years. As part of the award - an honor given to the nation's top K-12 math and science teachers - Brown will receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation and attend a White House ceremony.

- Arin Gencer

O'Malley appoints 3 to judgeships in Md.

Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Wednesday the appointment of three judges to benches around the state, including the first female judge in Washington County, Dana Moylan Wright, for the District Court. The other appointments were Paul M. Bowman to the Kent County Circuit Court and Michael Pearson to the Prince George's County Circuit Court. Wright is a partner at a Hagerstown law firm, and Bowman has been a sole practitioner in Kent County for three decades. Pearson is an assistant state's attorney.

-Laura Smitherman

Md. to get stimulus funds for special-ed program

Maryland will be the first state to receive funding - $14.4 million - from a special-education grant program bolstered by federal stimulus dollars, state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said Friday. The funding will be used by the Maryland State Department of Education to extend services for children with disabilities and their families. Under the current system, children between age 3 and kindergarten are not eligible for services, including clinician home visits, through the so-called Individualized Family Service Plan. Grasmick said the extension will help to ensure that children with disabilities such as autism are ready for school.

- Laura Smitherman

Fire destroys Carroll Co. auto company, 12 cars

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A fire destroyed a Manchester automotive company and 12 cars inside on Friday, state fire marshals said. No injuries were reported. The fire began about 11:20 a.m. Friday at Ron's Automotive in the 4000 block of Hanover Pike in Carroll County, fire marshals said. About 100 firefighters from Maryland and Pennsylvania were called to help fight the fire, and it took them about two hours to get the blaze under control. The fire caused about $300,000 in damage, according to fire marshals. About 12 cars, including models dating to 1938, were inside the building and were destroyed. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

- Associated Press

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