Spending board OKs funds for 'Pocket Cops'
Baltimore police will soon carry a new weapon in the fight against crime - Blackberries equipped with applications that will allow them to pull up court records, vehicle registrations, warrant information and mug shots. The city's spending board approved Wednesday a $1.5 million, one-year contract with Bio-Key International to purchase and maintain the devices for all officers on the force. Western District officers have been testing the devices, known as "Pocket Cops," for several months, and found them very useful, Mayor Sheila Dixon said at the Board of Estimates on Wednesday. The officers were able to obtain "hands-on, real-time" information with the devices and found them a "great tool," she said.
- Julie Scharper
Middle River man killed trying to cross Pulaski Highway
A Middle River man was killed Wednesday night after he stepped into the path of a large pickup truck while attempting to cross Pulaski Highway near Middle River Road, Baltimore County police said. The man's identity was withheld pending notification of his family. Shortly before 6:30 p.m., the man ran across the eastbound lanes in the 9500 block of Pulaski Highway near the Colonial Motel just east of Middle River, then climbed over a nearly 4-foot tall concrete barrier separating the east- and westbound lanes. Police said the man then entered the fast lane and was struck by a late-model Ford F-350 pickup truck. Police said the man suffered multiple injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the pickup truck, whose name was not released, remained at the scene and was not injured. The victim was taken to the state medical examiner's office. The county police crash team is investigating the accident.
- Richard Irwin
$1.2 billion budget proposed for Baltimore County schools
Baltimore County schools Superintendent Joe A. Hairston has proposed a $1.2 billion operating budget for schools next year, a 4.4 percent increase over last year's spending, which would come from county revenues. Under the spending plan, the teachers would get their automatic step increases but no cost-of-living increase. Included in the budget is money to pay for air conditioning in several schools, an item that parents had lobbied for. About 54 percent of school funding comes from the county and 38 percent from the state; the rest is from federal sources. The budget proposal will be discussed at a public hearing Tuesday at Loch Raven High School and at a school board work session Jan. 26. The school board will vote on the budget Feb. 9 before the proposal is sent to County Executive James T. Smith Jr. The County Council must approve a budget in May.
- Liz Bowie
$1.6 million settlement reached in drowning case
A $1.6 million settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against a Baltimore County apartment complex and its pool management company by the family of a drowning victim, the plaintiffs' attorney, Mark Epstein, announced Tuesday. Cassandra Blake and her 4-year-old son were visiting a friend who lived at the Cedar Towers Apartments in Windsor Mill when she drowned in the community pool in August 2005. Her family filed a $100 million civil suit in 2008 alleging that the lifeguards on duty were unqualified and that the pool conditions were unsafe. Liability was not admitted under the agreement. The case had been scheduled for trial Monday.
- Tricia Bishop
St. Paul's School for Girls reports record $1 million gift
St. Paul's School for Girls announced this week that it has received $1 million from an anonymous donor, which is the largest gift in the Brooklandville private school's 50-year history. The funds will become part of the school's endowment and be used for financial aid. The school is about to start a multimillion-dollar endowment fund campaign. "This family's generosity strengthens the SPSG community by providing the resources needed to continue to support girls from throughout the Baltimore area who otherwise would not have access to the SPSG experience," head of school Monica Gillespie said in a news release.
- Baltimore Sun staff
Hopkins education dean, Ralph Fessler, retiring
Ralph Fessler, the founding dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, is retiring after 27 years on the faculty. In announcing the retirement, Hopkins President Ronald Daniels praised Fessler for his "significant impact on the theory and practice of K-12 teacher preparation, in Maryland and nationwide." Fessler had postponed his retirement for a year to help the school devise a strategic plan for its future. He will be succeeded on an interim basis Feb. 1 by Mariale Hardiman, the school's assistant dean for urban school partnerships.
- Childs Walker