MARYLAND

Pr. George's Tennis Center Moves Ahead

A Prince George's County Council committee approved plans yesterday for a $5.5 million tennis training center in College Park on nearly 12 acres owned by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

The planning and economic development committee voted 4 to 0, with one member absent, to approve a lease that would allow Kenneth D. Brody, the former chairman of the U.S. Export-Import Bank, to construct one of the largest tennis complexes in the Washington area.

The 20-year lease comes with two 10-year renewal options that Brody could exercise as long as he complied with the conditions of the agreement. After 40 years, the 27-court complex would be turned over to the commission. The lease also requires the center to pay $25,000 a year in rent for a recreation program to promote tennis in Prince George's. The center also would have to turn over 50 percent of any profit made at the complex.

The lease, which faces a public hearing, still needs the approval of the full nine-member council.

Home-Detention Firm Won't Be Shut Down

Maryland regulators have decided to allow a private home-detention firm in Prince George's County to remain in business after threatening last month to shut down the company because it was out of compliance with new state rules.

Home Tracking Inc., of Upper Marlboro, will be granted a license today, said Leonard A. Sipes Jr., spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Home Tracking is among seven companies in Maryland that monitor the whereabouts of criminal defendants ordered by judges to be confined to home detention, a form of house arrest. On July 1, the state began regulating the companies for the first time.

Sipes said state officials sent Home Tracking a written warning on Sept. 1 that it would be forced to close because it had not complied with a new rule that requires all home-detention companies to track their clients with electronic devices such as ankle bracelets equipped with radio transmitters.

Home Tracking appealed the decision, however, and state officials determined that the company had fixed the problems after inspecting and auditing the firm's books Friday, Sipes said.

Residents Can Seek U.S. Flood Aid

Anne Arundel County residents who suffered losses from Hurricane Floyd can apply for federal assistance today, tomorrow and Saturday at the county's Heritage Office Center, 2662 Riva Rd. in Annapolis.

The Disaster Recovery Center will be staffed by representatives of the Small Business Administration and other state, federal and voluntary agencies that make loans and grants to people in federal disaster areas. Residents of 11 Maryland counties are eligible.

A Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman said that the government also has a flood insurance program for people who want protection that is not available from private insurers. Interested residents should call 800-720-1090.

FEMA also encourages any Maryland resident seeking assistance to register by telephone before visiting a Disaster Recovery Center. The number for telephone registration is 800-462-9029.

The center will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Montgomery to Study Juvenile Justice

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan announced yesterday the creation of a task force to study problems in the state juvenile justice system, less than a month after a teenage rapist was released from detention because he did not get enough counseling.

Duncan (D) has asked the 10-member task force, comprising education, law enforcement and community activists, to recommend changes the county should seek in the next General Assembly session. Those could include increased staff, pay and resources.

One task force member is Dennis McHugh, the state District Court judge who last month released a convicted juvenile rapist from a Baltimore County detention home because he was not receiving adequate counseling. The youth was convicted for his role in a March 1998 gang rape of a teenage girl in Wheaton.

Duncan also plans to convene a meeting with Western Maryland officials to find ways to relieve crowding in Montgomery's Noyes Detention Center, more than half of whose juvenile inmates come from western counties. Duncan has made construction of a new juvenile detention center in Western Maryland one of the county's legislative priorities for the next General Assembly session.

THE DISTRICT

Williams Announces New Appointments

Mayor Anthony A. Williams announced three appointments to his administration yesterday, including a replacement for Deputy Mayor Doug Patton, who is overseeing Williams's efforts to rejuvenate long-neglected areas east of the Anacostia River.

Patton, who had planned to serve as deputy mayor for planning and economic development for a limited time, will be succeeded by Eric Price, who for the past five years has been an official with the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust.

Williams also appointed a Ward 8 resident, Lafayette Barnes, as a senior policy adviser to help develop community programs aimed at revitalizing low-income neighborhoods.

The mayor tabbed Milou Carolan, a deputy personnel director for the Philadelphia city government, as personnel director for the D.C. government.

VIRGINIA

Suits Withdrawn in Death at U-Va.

Several relatives of the woman killed when a balcony collapsed at the University of Virginia graduation in 1997 have withdrawn their lawsuits to pursue settlement talks with state officials.

The collapse killed Mary Jo Brashear, 73, who was attending her granddaughter's graduation, and injured 18 others, including several of her relatives. State officials have settled 13 lawsuits arising from the accident for a total of $601,500. The average settlement has been $46,000 per claim.

The Virginia attorney general's office said yesterday that Brashear's estate, her husband, Thomas Brashear, and her daughter Barbara Gerard, of Springfield, have withdrawn their lawsuits while settlement talks go forward.

Suits by two of Brashear's relatives remain in litigation.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"You need to be careful of everybody with power--police, too. It's when you stop being careful and decide to relax that somebody gets you and deports you."

-- Walter Gonzalez, 24, an undocumented worker from Central America, on some of the fears people like him encounter in this country.