Md. Lifts Water Restrictions
Voluntary Conservation Is Urged
Go ahead--water your lawn. Wash your car. Heck, you can even top off your swimming pool. But do it judiciously.
After a couple of much-needed storms, Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) lifted the state's first-ever mandatory water restrictions, ending the limits less than a month after he imposed them. He said, however, that Maryland still is in a drought emergency, and he urged residents to voluntarily stick to the conservation standards that reduced water use by 16 percent statewide.
Many Marylanders griped about the limits because the District and most of Virginia had no such restrictions. Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey did crack down on water consumption, though, as did Loudoun County.
"Thank God for the rain," said Baltimore County Executive C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger III (D). "This whole drought situation was a wake-up call. We should never let ourselves get in this position again."
Others said Glendening's water restrictions were motivated by politics. "There's no water supply crisis, and there never was one," said James Warfield, executive officer of the Fairfax County Water Authority.
Maryland Is in the Money
Officials Have Ideas for Windfall
It's the kind of "problem" we'd all like to have. Maryland has a $320 million windfall, and it just doesn't know what to do with it.
The cash cache came mostly from a torrent of tax revenue that was bigger than anyone had expected. But fear not. We know you're shocked, but state officials have plenty of ideas for the surprise stash.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) would like to use the money to build schools and pay for improvements at community colleges and state universities. But some legislators say the cash should go toward the state's long list of transportation projects, including the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
Republicans, for their part, are banging the tax-cut drum, although they acknowledge that the governor isn't likely to go along.
Across the Region
Sheinbein Plea; Testing for 2000
* Two years after fleeing to Israel, Samuel Sheinbein admitted in a Tel Aviv court that he strangled Montgomery County teenager Alfredo Enrique Tello Jr. and then sawed off his arms and legs. Israeli prosecutors recommended a 24-year prison sentence, but the judges who will sentence Sheinbein, now 19, will have wide discretion in deciding his term.
* The mayhem was made-to-order as hundreds of Washington area government officials tested their readiness for any problems that might ring in 2000. During a day-long drill, there was a fake helicopter crash, a faux prison riot and an ersatz attack on an ATM. No problem, the planners pronounced. Still, they emphasized, they're going to keep their emergency skills, just in case.
* Lonnie Weeks Jr. was scheduled to die for killing a Virginia state trooper who had stopped him and his uncle for speeding in Prince William County. But two hours before the planned lethal injection, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the execution. Weeks's attorney had questioned instructions that the judge gave jurors during the sentencing phase of the trial. The court could order a new sentencing hearing for Weeks, 27, convicted of killing Trooper Jose M. Cavazos.
* Should schools pay educators for performance? The Alexandria School Board has decided not to, backing away from a plan to offer cash bonuses to principals who boost student achievement. Principals in the school system had objected to the idea.
* The man whose truck hit an American University student could be sentenced to as many as 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to the hit-and-run accident. Shane DeLeon, 46, of the District, accepted a plea agreement that reduced the charge from second-degree murder in the death of Matthew O'Dell.
* Police are looking into the possibility that a Michigan woman shot her 84-year-old father, and then herself, to put them both out of their misery over his mental deterioration. Beth L. Katz, 54, shot Robert O. Shaw in the back of his head while they were in a parked car outside the Washington Hilton Hotel.
* James Elrod Ogle, of Sterling, insists that he never intended to put his "wife's life in danger." But the former high school math teacher-turned-minister was sentenced to eight years in prison for trying to lure a parishioner into a scheme in which each man would kill the other's wife. Ogle's attorney maintained that Ogle, 46, was relying on God to intervene by having the other man talk him out of the murder plot, which was never carried out.
Dennis Lingers off the Coast
Would-Be Beach Revelers 'a Little Storm-Weary'
Some guests just don't know when to leave.
Dennis, an ornery and indecisive sort, holed up near the coast for six days, harassing would-be revelers in Virginia, Delaware and North Carolina and stranding more than 5,000 people for days in two areas of the Outer Banks.
First, it was a tropical storm. Then it got bumped up to hurricane status. Then it was demoted. Whereupon it threatened once again to huff and puff and blow some of North Carolina's notoriously precarious beachfront houses down.
"People are starting to get a little storm-weary," said Robert Carver, a spokesman for the North Carolina emergency response team. "We're ready for it to go away."
The storm exacerbated what is always an ever-changing line in the sand. The beach is always shifting, but Dennis eroded some prime sunning spots so badly that you'll have to find another place for your beach towel. At Rehoboth, much of the beach was under water from late morning to early afternoon all week, as high tides lapped up against the wooden planks of the boardwalk.
The sand isn't gone, of course; it just moved--underwater, in many cases. And some beaches downwind got extra helpings.
Ocean City, Md., no stranger to beach erosion, regularly gets large doses of supplementary sand. As a result, "it still looks good," said Lt. Warren Williams, a 37-year veteran of the Ocean City Beach Patrol. "When the tide recedes, there's not much of a change."
Not that mortal man can stop the whims of nature.
"The beach is going to erode no matter what we do," said Nancy Howard, of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Anti-erosion programs, she said, give "Mother Nature something to play with."
In War on Gridlock, Money Is Issue
N.Va. Planners, Gilmore Have Different Ideas About Funding
They say that if you build it, they will come.
But in Northern Virginia, they've already come--booming businesses and new residents by the hundreds of thousands. Now, Gov. James S. Gilmore III is trying to build a transportation network that will get everyone where they're going, with minimal gridlock.
Gilmore (R) wants to widen Interstate 66 on both sides of the Capital Beltway, extend rail lines to Tysons Corner, the Dulles area and Centreville, and complete several road projects. He proposes to pay for the pavement with general state revenue, rather than relying primarily on gasoline taxes. The governor also wants to use 40 percent, or $750 million, of the settlement Virginia expects to get from the national lawsuit against cigarette manufacturers.
But Gilmore didn't mention how much of his six-year plan to add $2 billion to state transportation projects would be spent in Northern Virginia. Even if the region gets half of that amount, planners say, that would provide 20 percent, at most, of the amount needed just to keep traffic from worsening. Mike Carlin, chairman of Region, which represents 15,000 businesses in Northern Virginia, said his group will continue to back a 1 percentage point increase in the sales tax to provide an ongoing source of cash for transportation projects.