Saying Farewell Family and friends console Stephanie Younger at Victory Chapel in Accokeek during a viewing and memorial service for her daughter, Ashley, 17, who was killed in last week's medevac helicopter crash.
Saying Farewell Family and friends console Stephanie Younger at Victory Chapel in Accokeek during a viewing and memorial service for her daughter, Ashley, 17, who was killed in last week's medevac helicopter crash. (By Ricky Carioti -- The Washington Post)
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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Md. Rescue Helicopters GroundedInvestigators Seeking Cause of Fatal Crash

The Maryland State Police grounded their rescue helicopter fleet until air safety investigators make a preliminary finding on the cause of a Sept. 28 crash in Prince George's County that killed four people.

The helicopter went down in dense woods three miles north of Andrews Air Force Base, where the aircraft was rerouted because of the weather after picking up two car crash victims in Southern Maryland. Three of the rescuers and a teen-age girl involved in the car crash died.

The helicopter vanished from radar in rain and fog moments after the pilot reported problems in acquiring a radio signal needed to guide him.

Two Girls May Have Been Dead a YearBodies Found in Adoptive Mother's Freezer

Two children whose frozen bodies were found in Calvert County might have been dead for a year or more, hidden in a large freezer and moved from house to house since last fall by the adoptive mother suspected of killing them, authorities said.

Renee D. Bowman, 43, who arrived in Calvert in February, "indicated" in an interview that the bodies were in the freezer when she moved out of her residence in the Rockville area, investigators said.

The case raised further questions about the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency, which recommended Bowman as a suitable adoptive parent, even though she filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001, the year she adopted one foster child, and had just emerged from it in 2004, when she adopted two others. In between, she lost her Landover house to foreclosure. Bowman is being held without bond on child abuse charges relating to her youngest daughter, 7.

Lawyers Will Monitor D.C. ElectionsAction Comes After Debacle of September Primary

Lawyers working pro bono for the District will monitor the polls and will be at elections headquarters Nov. 4 after the debacle that caused thousands of phantom votes to be added to initial tallies in last month's primary.

Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), chairman of a special committee investigating the Sept. 9 blunder, said she wants "independent evaluators" present to observe any problems that might occur.

Rhee Moves Ahead With Teacher FiringsChancellor Plans Evaluations, 90-Day Reviews

D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee, stymied in her attempts to negotiate a labor contract that would give her more power to fire ineffective teachers, announced steps that she said would allow her to achieve that objective on her own.

Among the measures Rhee plans to impose are a new teacher evaluation system based primarily on student test scores and other achievement benchmarks. She also promised more aggressive implementation of legal provisions already in place, including the ability to eliminate teacher jobs -- because of declining enrollment or school closures -- using seniority as only one of several factors taken into consideration.

McLean Wonders How It Should LookViews Sought on Direction Remake Should Take

The bid to remake McLean has raised questions that go beyond the typical tussles that come with change.

Among them: What's better for the community -- a new "Main Street" developed by a McLean resident who heads a multibillion-dollar construction company that built the Reston Town Center and Nationals Park, or the creaky, weathered stores that have built loyal followings over decades? Is McLean, where the Little League field remains a prime gathering spot, ready to become more like Bethesda? And how do you please everyone in a place where so many people are used to getting what they want?

A series of community meetings this spring sought to tap into what people want. "Not another cookie-cutter 'downtown' with all the usual chain stores," one resident said. "Many more casual, family-friendly restaurants," another said.

One thing the county knows it wants is something that's integral to McLean, not something you'd find elsewhere. Whether that means architecture that fits McLean or something else is unclear. But the bar is high.

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