Comcast Service Complaints Swell

Company Blames Verizon Work for Disruptions

Some Comcast customers in Montgomery County said the company is pushing the limits with service interruptions and difficulties in getting quick repairs. But Comcast says a rival, Verizon, has cut hundreds of Comcast lines in Montgomery and caused thousands of service disruptions in its haste to create infrastructure to compete in providing service.

Telecommunications company Verizon rolled out its fiber-optic, "to the premises" service in Montgomery this year. Verizon spokeswoman Christy Reap conceded that "it's been impossible . . . to pursue a construction project of this magnitude without hitting lines and causing accidental damage to other people's utilities."

Making Tobacco a Cash Crop Again

U-Md. Tests Seek Alternative Uses to Revive Farms

The federally funded Alternative Uses of Tobacco Project at the University of Maryland is seen by farmers and scientists as one of the only remaining opportunities to revive the tobacco industry that was once the economic and cultural backbone of Southern Maryland. Researchers hope the project will transform tobacco into a plant with beneficial uses that could enhance shampoos, treat kidney dialysis patients and even fight certain types of cancer.

Montgomery Growth Brings Backlash

Anger at Officials May Reflect on Election Day

The outcry over the Montgomery County government's approach to growth promises to be a major factor in next year's elections, presenting challenges for County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) and the council majority he helped elect in 2002. With Montgomery officials' acknowledgment that they were ill-equipped to oversee growth in the northern part of the county, some civic activists see the perfect environment for a voter rebellion.

Beltway Drivers Spared Expected Jams

Wilson Bridge Work Completed a Day Early

Crews paving a new section of the Capital Beltway as part of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project finished their work early -- nearly a full day ahead of schedule -- and anticipated weekend traffic jams in the area never materialized.

Symphony Picks First Female Conductor

Baltimore Musicians Had Opposed Choice

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, which also performs at Montgomery County's Music Center at Strathmore, made history by naming a woman as its musical director. Marin Alsop is the first female conductor ever to assume the artistic leadership of a full-time, full-size, world-quality orchestra. The symphony's board confirmed her appointment despite opposition from the orchestra's musicians.

State Heralds $1 Billion Surplus

Tax Revenue, Economy Wipe Out Shortfall

Maryland finished the fiscal year in June with a $1 billion surplus as a strong economy and rising tax revenue helped erase a gaping shortfall the state faced as recently as two years ago, state officials announced.

Pr. George's Residents Flock to Charles

Moves Driven by Crime and Housing Prices

Driven by a desire to escape high crime rates and to find lower housing prices, Prince George's residents are moving to Charles County in record numbers. Their arrival is transforming the once-rural area into Southern Maryland's most diverse suburb. State planning figures show that 81 percent of Charles's net newcomers moved there from Prince George's.

Across the Region

Boy Drowned; Drivers Charged in Bus Crash

* Donmiguel Nathaniel Wilson Jr., 6, was found dead in a water-filled bathtub in his family's apartment in Southeast Washington, his hands and ankles bound and a gag stuffed in his mouth.

* Both drivers involved in an April school bus crash in Arlington County that killed two children were indicted on misdemeanor reckless driving charges.

Beetle Mania: Japanese beetles, brought on by a steamy summer, are ravaging flowers, trees, shrubs and lawns.