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In Brief

Thursday, February 3, 2005; Page B03


Intercounty Connector Up for Vote

The staff of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission has recommended that commission members vote today to build an intercounty connector highway along a route outlined in Montgomery County's master plan.

Today's decision by commission members will be the first time a government body will vote in the latest debate over whether to build an 18-mile east-west highway connecting Interstate 270 in Montgomery with Interstate 95 in Prince George's County. The commission's decision will be a recommendation to the Montgomery County Council and County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D).

The council is scheduled to vote on a route March 1. Duncan has endorsed the master plan alignment.

The Maryland State Highway Administration is scheduled to choose one of two routes this spring after completing its final environmental impact study. The route recommended by the planning commission staff has been designated in Montgomery's master plan since the 1960s. The other route, farther north, would have part of the highway run along the Route 28-Route 198 corridor.

The state also could decide against building the road, but Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) has said he wants to break ground on a highway next year.

Panel Endorses Arundel Charter Schools

An advisory committee to the Anne Arundel school board recommended yesterday that the county's first two charter schools be allowed to open this year, one in Annapolis and one in Glen Burnie.

Representatives of the Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP, and the Chesapeake Science Point charter schools answered questions from board members, who remained concerned about such details as classroom space and student transportation. They will vote on the two applications next month.

KIPP Harbor Academy would open in July in Annapolis to serve about 80 fifth-graders. Chesapeake would open in fall in Glen Burnie for 120 students in grades 6 and 7. They are among more than a dozen groups applying to open charter schools in the state; Maryland has one charter school operating now, in Frederick County.

The committee's approval was conditional: Both charter schools must complete charter agreements satisfactory to the school board before they can open.

Charter schools, begun in Minnesota 15 years ago, receive public funding but operate largely outside the school district bureaucracy.

Ex-Commissioner Due Back in Baltimore

Edward Norris, Baltimore's former police commissioner who was imprisoned for misusing police funds, owes a "moral debt" to city residents and must perform 500 hours of community service in the city, a federal judge ordered yesterday.

"That debt can only be repaid by community service in the City of Baltimore," U.S. District Court Judge Richard Bennett wrote in his order.

Norris, who was released from prison last month after serving a six-month term, had requested that he perform his 500 hours of community service in Florida, where he lives with his wife and son. Norris, 44, is serving six months of home detention in Tampa.

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