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The Top 10 Stories in Howard County



Wednesday, December 25, 1996; Page M01

1. Developer James Rouse Dies

James W. Rouse, the visionary developer whose projects included the new town of Columbia and Harborplace in Baltimore, died in April of Lou Gehrig's disease at his home in Wilde Lake. The 81-year-old Rouse was mourned by hundreds of Howard County residents. His papers were turned over to the Columbia Association for archiving.

2. Judge Upset in Nasty, Expensive Election

District Court Judge Lenore Gelfman unseated Circuit Court Judge Donna Hill Staton, the county's first African American judge, in November, after an election campaign that made Howard County history for its nastiness and costliness.

3. Girl Raped Outside Central Library

Police arrested Timothy Bryan Chase, of Columbia, and charged him with raping a 15-year-old girl in front of her 7-year-old sister outside the county's Central Library in March. The girls were waiting for their mother to pick them up after the library had closed. The rape ignited an intense community discussion about safety and parenting issues. Chase remains in jail awaiting trial.

4. Police Investigation of Massage Parlors

Prosecutors dropped charges in April against women accused of giving illicit massages to undercover police officers. The case threatened to put the Howard County Police Department on trial after court documents showed that officers had allowed themselves to be masturbated.

5. Smoking Ban Monitored

Anti-smoking advocates went undercover to monitor compliance with strict new smoking regulations and filed complaints in September against many county restaurants and bars.

6. 'For Sale' Ban Challenged

Ellicott City resident Philip Marcus won a battle with constitutional implications in District Court in November after he challenged the county's ban on placing "for sale" signs on cars parked on public streets.

7. Police Say County Has Gangs

Police acknowledged in November that five "gangs" and 30 to 40 "unauthorized social groups" are operating in the county. The gangs are territorial, with two in east Columbia, two in west Columbia and one in the Whiskey Bottom-Laurel area.

8. Columbia City Effort Defeated

Efforts to make Columbia a city ended in November when the Columbia Municipal League disbanded and conceded defeat. The effort was opposed by Howard County politicians and businesses and most community activists.

9. Cameras Catch Red-Light Runners

County drivers who run red lights began receiving tickets this month after being photographed by high-technology cameras.

10. School Calendar Deemed Insensitive

County school officials ordered the cover of the new calendar to be redone in August after students and parents complained that the cover photo was racist because it showed three white children in the foreground and three minority children in the background. In another school controversy, a parent committee accused Howard middle schools in October of focusing too much on self-esteem at the expense of academics.

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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