VIRGINIA

Hurricane Victims to Receive Housing Aid

About $1.9 million in disaster housing assistance has been approved for Virginia victims of last month's double whammy of hurricanes Dennis and Floyd, emergency management officials said yesterday.

The amount of aid is expected to increase as more southeastern Virginians whose homes were damaged by flooding from Floyd's heavy rains or a tornado spawned by Dennis apply for help, officials said.

"We're still in response mode," said Michael M. Cline, director of the Virginia Department of Emergency Services. "We have people who are still digging out from the water, which has just gone down."

So far, $1,719,296 in disaster housing assistance for victims of Floyd had been approved, and $1,682,552 has been mailed to more than 1,300 applicants, officials said. In addition, $160,264 in disaster housing aid for victims of Dennis was approved for 159 applicants.

Violent Crime Falls in Richmond

Violent crime in Richmond has declined significantly since 1994, when Virginia's capital posted the nation's second-highest per capita murder rate.

In the first eight months of this year, 47 people have been slain in Richmond. That's down 59 percent from the 116 killed during the same period five years ago. By the end of 1994, the city had registered 160 homicides.

Other violent crimes also have decreased--rape by 37 percent, robbery by 39 percent and aggravated assault by 44 percent--in the first eight months of 1999, compared with the same period five years ago, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday.

Law enforcement officials attributed the decrease to a variety of factors, including a national decline in the crime rate, a strong economy, help from the U.S. Justice Department and better cooperation among police agencies.

Bow Hunter Dies in Fall

A bow hunter was killed in a fall from a tree in the Jefferson National Forest near Roanoke.

Brian Carter Keith, 28, of Botetourt County, who had gone out alone to hunt deer, was climbing the tree Saturday to place a portable hunting stand, said state Game Warden Greg Funkhouser. His family went searching for him when he failed to return in time for a softball game that afternoon.

"Something had to break in the tree for an accident to happen because he was so safe," said the dead man's father, Martin Keith.

Funkhouser said Brian Keith had a safety harness in his hunting pouch, which was in the tree. Hunters normally put on the harness after perching themselves on the tree stand.

Funkhouser said Keith's stand was still strapped on his back, and the bow was in his hand.

MARYLAND

Fewer Children Go Into Foster Care

The number of Maryland children entering foster care has declined for the first time in seven years and more foster children are being adopted, state officials said.

But the number of children remaining in some kind of out-of-home placement, including relatives not licensed as foster parents, rose from 12,788 in 1998 to 13,119 in June.

State officials attributed the increase to the length of stay in foster care: a median two years and two months when last measured in 1998, slightly longer than the rest of the country.

"It's clearly a situation where, while the number of children coming in has gone down, the number of children on the caseload continues to grow," said Lynda G. Fox, Maryland secretary of human resources. "We are required in most cases and we want in most cases to make a good-faith effort to reunify the family, and that takes time."

Driver Loses Control in Fatal Crash

An Upper Marlboro man was killed when the car he was driving apparently went out of control and slammed into a tree early yesterday, Prince George's County police said.

Curly Edward Jones, 20, of the 9500 block of Tiberius Drive, was driving south in the 7600 block of South Osborne Road about 3:20 a.m. when the car went off the road at high speed, hit a cluster of trees, then another, large tree, police said. Jones died at the scene.

The accident was under investigation, police said.

Family Gives Medical School $10 Million

A Baltimore area family has donated $10 million to the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions to create high-level positions in cancer and genetics at the medical school.

Johns Hopkins officials announced the gift from Marion I. Knott.

The head of the Department of Oncology will be known as the Marion I. Knott director and professor of oncology. The recently established McKusick-Nathans Medical Genetics Institute will be led by the Henry J. Knott director and professor of medical genetics.

The genetics post honors Knott's late husband, a prominent developer in the Baltimore region. The Knott family has given more than $300 million to the region's educational, health and cultural institutions.

Anne Arundel Ozone Pollution Ranks High

Anne Arundel County has the worst ozone pollution on the East Coast, according to a study by an environmental group.

Readings for this summer are not yet available, but ozone levels in Davidsonville and the area around Fort George G. Meade have historically been among the state's highest, according to the study by the Maryland Public Interest Research Group.

Last year, Davidsonville reported 42 days when ozone levels exceeded normal standards in an eight-hour period, according to Dan Shawhan, a MaryPIRG spokesman. Fort Meade recorded 25 such days in 1998.

Statewide, ozone pollution sent about 3,900 people to Maryland emergency rooms this summer, the study found. In Anne Arundel County, 305 sought emergency medical treatment.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"You know it's spring because you have shad roe to eat and shad plankings to attend. It's tragic that a generation of kids is growing up not even knowing what a shad is."

-- Mike Hirshfield, an official of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, on the prospect that shad, a game fish long in decline here, will recover. A new fishway for shad will be built in a Potomac River dam.

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