Around The Region

November 25, 2009

Cockeysville soldier is killed in Afghanistan

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Thirty-four-year-old Staff Sgt. Matthew A. Pucino, 34, of Cockeysville died Monday in Pashay Kala, Afghanistan, when his mounted patrol unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device, the Pentagon said. Sergeant Pucino was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 20th Special Forces Group of the Maryland Army National Guard in Glen Arm. He is the 11th Maryland Army National Guardsman to die in the war on terror. Sergeant Pucino was deployed to Afghanistan in July 2009. He had also served in Iraq. A native of Boston, he enlisted in the Army in 2002. Survivors include his wife, Crystal Pucino, of Clarksville, Tenn.; parents Albert and Kathryn Pucino of Orlando, Fla.; and a sister, Lisa Haglof of Sagamore, Mass.

- Associated Press

Smith won't OK raises for Balto. Co. officials

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Baltimore County Executive James T. Smith Jr. said he will not approve pay raises for his successor or for County Council members, despite recommendations by an advisory board that he do so. "I do not believe this is the time to raise the salary of elected officials," Smith said in a news release Tuesday. "We are in the midst of a difficult economy and individuals and families are working hard to make ends meet." The advisory panel had recommended that the county executive's salary be raised 8 percent and the council members' salaries 2 percent. His decision, which has the support of Council Chairman Joseph Bartenfelder, means officials' salaries will remain unchanged for eight years. The last raise was in 2006. The council must enact pay increases for those who serve in the next term, which begins in December 2010. The annual salary for council members will remain at $54,000, with an additional $6,000 for the chairman. The executive is paid $150,000 a year. "The advisory board is mandated by state law to make recommendations every four years," said Don Mohler, county spokesman. "The board justified its recommendations. Now it is up to the council and the executive to act on those recommendations."

FOR THE RECORD - An Associated Press article in Wednesday's editions about a Maryland National Guard soldier from Cockeysville who was killed in Afghanistan had incorrect information about his hometown and survivors. Army Staff Sgt. Matthew A. Pucino grew up in Plymouth, Mass., and is survived by a second sister, Melissa Pucino of Plymouth. In addition, Crystal Pucino is his former wife.
The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

-Mary Gail Hare

Body found on Mayo shore identifed as missing kayaker

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Maryland Natural Resources Police say a body that washed ashore from the Chesapeake Bay has been identified as a missing kayaker. Authorities used fingerprint analysis to determine the body found Friday at Beverly-Tirton Beach Park in Mayo was Jerard Welsh. He was last seen Nov. 3 kayaking in Oyster Creek by another boater. The boater returned a few hours later and found an empty kayak and life jacket. A preliminary autopsy indicates that Welsh drowned.

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