County Council Opposes 'Techway' Bridge
The Montgomery County Council yesterday reaffirmed its unanimous opposition to a Potomac River crossing that would link to Northern Virginia. The council members said they were compelled to pass a resolution because Virginia officials recently revived the idea after studying traffic on the American Legion Bridge, which crosses the Potomac as part of the Capital Beltway.
This was the first time that the current Montgomery council, elected in 2002, took a position on a "techway" bridge, but its stance mirrors that of its predecessors.
Arguments to Be Heard on Slots Initiative
A D.C. Superior Court judge will hear arguments tomorrow regarding a petition drive to put the legalization of slot machines on the November ballot, according to attorneys involved in the case.
Judge James E. Boasberg scheduled the hearing yesterday after a lawyer for the petition drive filed a motion seeking to intervene in a lawsuit against the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics. The suit, filed by three D.C. residents, accuses the elections board of improperly granting slots backers permission to pursue an initiative that would authorize the operation of 3,500 slot machines on New York Avenue NE.
The plaintiffs hope to block the initiative from making the Nov. 2 ballot. City law bars the elections board from issuing petitions to slots backers until the lawsuit is resolved.
To get the initiative on the ballot, backers must collect 17,500 signatures of registered D.C. voters by July 6.
D.C. Group Wants Stronger Water Rules
A group of D.C. mothers has submitted a letter to a U.S. Senate committee set to mark up a federal water bill today, urging members to adopt provisions that would strengthen rules monitoring lead contamination in drinking water.
The Senate's Committee on the Environment and Public Works is scheduled to discuss and revise wide-ranging legislation that deals with several major water-related issues.
Sen. James M. Jeffords (I-Vt.) will offer four amendments related to lead: increasing public education for residents, increasing federal funding to replace lead service pipes, conducting more mandatory tests in schools and day-care centers and reducing lead content in "lead-free" brass, which currently is allowed to have 8 percent lead.
"It is our hope that other mothers in this country will not have to experience the frustration, anger, and fear that we have," the women wrote in their letter.
Security Increased on U-Md. Campus
State, county and university police officers stepped up security at and around the College Park campus of the University of Maryland yesterday in response to what officials said was information from the Department of Homeland Security. The nature of the information was not disclosed.
As part of the response, officers stopped cars entering the campus and also were posted in buildings. No one was reported detained or turned back.
Campus activity has declined in College Park with the end of the school year, but summer school is underway and many athletic facilities were in use. No buildings were evacuated and no disruption was reported.
A spokeswoman for the campus police declined to give a specific reason for the stepped-up police presence other than to say that it appeared prudent based on information received by the campus police chief.
Maryland Gets Charter School Funds
Maryland received $3.8 million yesterday from the federal government to support charter schools, money that state officials hope will help increase alternatives to the public schools.
Charter schools will be eligible to compete for up to $200,000 over three years under the plan, announced by State Schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick as she and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) received the payment from federal officials. The state hopes the money will help pay for as many as 30 new charter schools by the 2006-07 school year.
Man Dies After Being Shot in Pr. George's
A 46-year-old man was fatally shot Monday night in Bladensburg, Prince George's County police said.
Officers found Mark Stephen Smith, of no fixed address, suffering from gunshot wounds about 10 p.m. in the 3400 block of 52nd Avenue. He was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Greenway Toll Increase Recommended
An examiner for the State Corporation Commission recommended yesterday that owners of the Dulles Greenway be allowed to raise tolls to a maximum of $3, phased in over a three-year period.
The current maximum charge for cars traveling on the 14-mile highway between Dulles International Airport and Leesburg is $1.90.
Toll Road Investors Partnership II, the private firm that owns the Greenway, asked for the toll increase in May 2003, saying it needed more revenue to cover debt obligations and to ensure the financial stability of the company.
The recommendation will be forwarded to commissioners, who have final say over whether the tolls can be raised. No timetable for a decision has been set, a commission spokesman said.
Skate Park Named After Slaying Victim
The Alexandria City Council voted last night to name the city's skateboard park at Luckett Field off Duke Street after slaying victim Schuyler H. Jones.
Jones, 16, a student at T.C. Williams High School, was beaten to death Sept. 13 by three youths in Market Square in front of Alexandria's City Hall. He was an avid skateboarder.
The council voted 6 to 1 in favor of naming the skate park after Jones. Council member Joyce Woodson (D) cast the dissenting vote. She said she felt that naming the park after Jones was "inadequate" and did not address the real problem of teen violence.
"We've got two types of families here now -- we have rich and we have poor. We're losing our middle-class kids."
-- Tommy Golding, a coach in Martinsville, Va., on the community's struggles, including the loss of a minor league baseball team. -- Page A1
Compiled from reports by staff writers Annie Gowen, Steven Ginsberg, Lori Montgomery, David Nakamura, Martin Weil and Clarence Williams and the Associated Press.