Regional Briefing

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Area Drivers Warned to Slow for Students

With 800,000 students returning to schools across the region in the next few weeks, AAA Mid-Atlantic issued its traditional plea Tuesday for safe driving in school zones, with a particular caution for Montgomery County drivers.

"This year, Maryland will expand the use of speed cameras in school zones, as many jurisdictions across the state implement automated enforcement programs to nab speeders and motorists with lead feet," said AAA Mid-Atlantic spokesman John B. Townsend II. "A national survey of speeding in school zones found that two-thirds of drivers exceed the posted speed limit during the 30-minute period before and after school."

A law to allow statewide use of speed cameras goes into effect Oct. 1 in Maryland. Montgomery County is the only area jurisdiction with speed cameras in school zones.

-- Ashley Halsey III

Water Taxis Available to Nationals Games

Water taxi service is now available to fans attending Washington Nationals game through a pier at the new $8 million Diamond Teague Park on the Anacostia River, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) announced Wednesday.

Six local charter companies will operate about a dozen vessels to the pier from locations including National Harbor in Prince George's County and Old Town Alexandria.

City officials say taxi service will be available for home games at the park and other special events. The boat operators will use a new 250-foot commercial pier that was built for boats carrying up to 149 passengers.

-- Hamil R. Harris


Funnel Clouds Seen as Storm Batters St. Mary's

A powerful storm swept through St. Mary's County late Wednesday afternoon, producing rain, reports of funnel-cloud sightings and baseball-size hail, authorities said.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado warning shortly after 4 p.m., and forecasters received reports of funnel clouds near the Redgate and Valley Lee areas. Maryland State Police reported a steady volume of minor accidents on the roads as the storm swept south but received no reports of injuries or serious damage.

-- Clarence Williams


Man Charged in Blaze That Injured Firefighter

Investigators have charged an Upper Marlboro man with setting a house fire that critically injured a Prince George's County firefighter in April.

John A. Daniels Jr., 58, was charged Tuesday with first- and second-degree arson, malicious burning and reckless endangerment in the April 8 fire in the unit block of Herrington Drive in the Largo area. The blaze critically burned firefighter Daniel McGown after he went inside to douse the flames. McGown returned to full-duty last month.

According to charging documents, Daniels set the fire because a woman who lived in the home had recently ended an extramarital affair with him.

-- Matt Zapotosky

Man Accused of Threats to Blow Up Train Stations

A Washington area man was arrested Tuesday and charged with threatening to blow up multiple Metro stations in the District and Maryland, authorities said.

Metro Transit Police said they think Raymond A. Gray Jr., 38, who has no fixed address, made calls claiming that he had explosives, from several train stations in the District and Prince George's and Montgomery counties from January to July.

-- Yamiche Alcindor

Clinic Worker Charged With Assaults on Patients

A 49-year-old man who worked as a physician's assistant at Chantilly Specialists has been accused of improperly touching two patients, Fairfax County police said.

Jorge Sanchez of the 18000 block of Rockland Drive in Hagerstown, Md., was charged Wednesday with two counts of sexual battery.

Police said Sanchez assaulted two women in their 20s at the Chantilly Specialists office on Parke Long Court. The incidents occurred between July 20 and Aug. 6, police said.

Police asked anyone with information to contact Crime Solvers at 866-411-8477.

-- Maria Glod


Renovated Marvin Gaye Park to Reopen in D.C.

The National Recreation and Park Association, District officials and a number of businesses and community organizations will celebrate the unveiling of a new playground at Marvin Gaye Park on Thursday, marking the first time since 1978 that the historic Northeast Washington park has had a major capital improvement.

A ribbon-cutting will take place from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Division Avenue and Marvin Gaye Way NE to commemorate the playground.

Once dubbed "Needles Park" because of its reputation for being a haven for drug users, the park has been undergoing a revitalization by the District, with help from private and public organizations, for several years.

Along with the playground, the park will boast a revitalized amphitheater, a restored stream and 1.6 miles of new hiking and bicycling trails.

-- Martin Ricard

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