Howard schools chief to unveil 2011 budget
Howard County schools Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin plans to unveil a $664.781 million operating budget for the 2011 fiscal year - an increase of $8 million over the previous year's - during Thursday's school board meeting, despite a troubled economic climate. "We're all in this together," Cousin said. "We want to be fiscally responsible, and we are." Cousin attributes the 1.2 percent increase to $9.6 million in additional health insurance costs, anticipated changes in the cost of bus contracts and route changes, and $3.6 million in technology user charges. The school system has attempted to combat the increases by cutting nine central office service positions and trimming overtime of custodians and maintenance workers by $121,800. The school system has also deferred purchasing new vehicles for the second consecutive year and put off cosmetic maintenance to a number of schools, according to Cousin. "Overall the philosophy is to have the least impact on the classroom," Cousin said.
- John-John Williams IV
Bengies owner going to court over store lights
The owner of the Bengies Drive-In will be in Baltimore County Circuit Court on Thursday, arguing that lights from a nearby Royal Farms Store interfere with his business and asking that county officials enforce what he believes is an earlier ruling designed to prevent that from happening. D. Edward Vogel, the owner of Maryland's last remaining outdoor theater, says lights from the Eastern Boulevard convenience store affect the view from his property. He says the county should order the store owners to erect a barrier that would keep the lights out, a requirement he says is mandated by a 2003 ruling allowing for construction of the store. "All the Bengies is hoping to do is force the county to cite them for being in violation of the order that gave them the right to put up the [store] in the first place," said T. Wray McCurdy, an attorney representing Vogel. "Every person that has come to the drive-in to talk to Vogel, or in my presence, acknowledges that it's a problem." County officials say the store's lights conform to code. "The county maintains there is no violation," said spokeswoman Ellen Kobler. Officials have made between five and 10 visits to the Bengies, she said, most recently on Tuesday.
- Chris Kaltenbach
2-alarm fire damages Columbia apartments
Four units in a Columbia apartment complex were badly damaged during a two-alarm fire that broke out Tuesday night. Firefighters were called to the apartments in the 8900 block of Tamar Drive shortly after 10:30 p.m. There was also water damage to two of the bottom-floor units. The residents were able to get out safely, a county fire official said.
- Don Markus
Man, 18, shot twice in back near city's Penn Station
An 18-year-old man was shot twice in the back early Wednesday near Baltimore's Penn Station but was reported to be alert and talking to detectives, according to a police spokesman. The victim flagged down a police officer stopped at a red light in the 1600 block of St. Paul St. a few minutes after 1 a.m., said the spokesman, Anthony Guglielmi. He said the man told the officer he had been shot two blocks west of that location. The victim was taken to an area hospital and treated for two gunshot wounds to his lower right back, according to Guglielmi. Police said they have been unable to locate the crime scene. Two blocks west would put the shooting on Maryland Avenue, on the west side of the train station in the upper part of the Mid-Town Belvedere or the lower part of Charles North, near the University of Baltimore campus. Guglielmi said detectives had no suspects.