Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Montgomery Voices Concerns

Montgomery County Council members grilled Maryland highway officials yesterday about environmental safeguards in place for the future intercounty connector, saying they wanted assurances that wetlands, water quality and the public's health would be protected during its construction and use.

The highway's 18-mile path between Gaithersburg and Laurel will cross some of Montgomery's most environmentally sensitive areas, including the headwaters for several major streams, said council President Marilyn Praisner (D-Eastern County). She said she wanted council members informed quickly of any unexpected environmental damage during construction.

State Highway Administrator Neil J. Pedersen said the Maryland "went considerably beyond" federal and state environmental requirements for the highway. That includes $370 million for environmental mitigation projects such as building longer bridges across streams.

But opponents of the highway seemed unimpressed. "If environmental stewardship were the priority, this would never be built," said council member Phil Andrews (D-Gaithersburg-Rockville). "It's simply not a highway that can be built in an environmentally sound way."

Major construction on the highway, which is estimated to cost $2.4 billion, is to begin this fall. The schedule could be affected by two lawsuits pending in federal court that seek to stop construction on environmental grounds.

-- Katherine Shaver


Coppin State Picks New Leader

Reginald S. Avery, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of South Carolina Upstate, will be the next president of Coppin State University.

Clifford M. Kendall, the chairman of the board of regents of the University System of Maryland, praised Avery for his success in improving graduation rates, bringing in funding, and building partnerships with business and the community.

Avery has a more than 30-year academic career, including time as provost at Alma College in Michigan, vice president for academic affairs at Kentucky State University, and founder and dean of the School of Professional Programs at Benedict College in South Carolina. He was on the faculty at schools that included the University of Tennessee and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

He earned his doctorate from Brandeis University and his undergraduate degree from North Carolina A&T State University.

The previous president of Coppin State, Stanley F. Battle, left in June to become president of North Carolina A&T. Avery will take over at Coppin State in early January.

-- Susan Kinzie

School of Public Health Opens

The University of Maryland will launch its School of Public Health, the College Park campus's first new school since 1981, with a ceremony, activities and free screenings today.

The school will concentrate on turning public health research into public policy and programs that improve communities. It also will focus on narrowing health disparities for such chronic diseases as obesity, diabetes and cancer.

Graduate students in the school will work toward degrees in public health, health services administration, epidemiology and biostatistics, and maternal and child health.

-- Susan Levine

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