County news in the daily Washington Post Oct. 28-Nov. 3

Thursday28

Money Sought for Bay Cleanup

Current plans to clean up the Chesapeake Bay could carry a price tag greater than $28 billion -- more than the budgets for NASA and the Commerce Department combined -- and most of that money still hasn't been found, according to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Blue Ribbon Finance Panel.

Nonprofit leaders and government representatives on the panel, which is studying the bay's financial support, said they weren't sure how much more money is needed. But they concluded in a report that $15 billion would be a good start. The panel also suggested creating a financing authority with $12 billion from the federal government and $3 billion from states in the bay's watershed, money that would be contributed over a six-year period.

Saturday30

Ports Named Deputy Secretary

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) appointed James Ports Jr. as the new deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Transportation.

Ports, who most recently served as the department's assistant secretary for administration, fills a position previously held by Trent Kittleman, who was appointed executive secretary of the Maryland Transportation Authority. Both appointments come after the resignation of Thomas L. Osborne, the authority's previous executive secretary, over problems with the resurfacing of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Ports now will oversee the department of 9,300 employees that operates Baltimore-Washington International Airport, the Port of Baltimore, an extensive mass transit and highway network and the Motor Vehicle Administration.

Monday1

A Twist in Landfill Proposal

For 14 years, a developer has been trying to open a landfill in Anne Arundel -- and for 14 years, the county has fought it.

But instead of giving up, Silver Spring-based Halle Cos. has become creative, agreeing to pay an Oklahoma-based Indian tribe as much as $1.4 million a year to take over the land and to apply to make it tribal property. If the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs grants the request, the 480-acre parcel near Odenton would be exempt from county and state regulation, meaning that neither entity would have any say, or regulatory authority, over the landfill.

If that proposal isn't approved, the firm has lined up community support for the landfill by agreeing to build athletic fields for the surrounding neighborhoods, provide as much as $750,000 a year for recreation and libraries, and even build the fast-growing community a high school.

County Executive Janet S. Owens (D) has fought both plans, saying she fears that if the landfill site fell under tribal jurisdiction, the county would have no way of ensuring that it doesn't become an environmental hazard. Owens also fears that the proposal is a "guise to bring in gaming."

A heron rests on debris in the Susquehanna River near Havre de Grace. JAMES PORTS JR.