Top Montgomery Planner Resigns

Departure Comes as New Flaws Are Uncovered

The director of Montgomery County's Department of Park and Planning abruptly announced his retirement, citing the controversy over mismanaged development in Clarksburg and the need for a "fresh view" about how to effectively oversee the county's growth.

Charles Loehr, 54, who ran the daily operations at the agency, which reviews all plans for new construction in the county, is the most senior official to leave since revelations this summer that hundreds of new townhouses and other homes in the northern Montgomery community were built in violation of height and setback restrictions.

New Entries Packing U.S. Senate Race

Democrats Are Lured by Rare Open Seat

Nearly six months after U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D) announced that he would not seek another term, a second wave of Democratic candidates could reshape Maryland's first open Senate race in two decades. Lise Van Susteren, a Bethesda forensic psychiatrist, announced her candidacy last week. Also expected to enter the race are Allan J. Lichtman, an American University history professor from Bethesda, Potomac businessman Joshua Rales and Dennis F. Rasmussen, a former county executive of Baltimore County.

Since April, the Democratic field had featured only Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, community activist A. Robert Kaufman and Kweisi Mfume, the former congressman and NAACP leader. All are from Baltimore.

Marshall to Be Added to BWI's Name

Late Justice Honored Over Schaefer's Objection

The state Board of Public Works made it official: Baltimore-Washington International Airport will be renamed in honor of the late Thurgood Marshall, the nation's first black Supreme Court justice and a Baltimore native. But comptroller William Donald Schaefer, a former governor and a member of the board, abstained from the 2 to 0 vote, arguing that Marshall didn't like Baltimore. The change, which is expected to cost the state $2.1 million, largely in signage, won broad support in the legislature this year.

Montgomery's SAT Scores Dip

Math Results Bring One-Point Drop in Average

The average SAT score of Montgomery County public students was down by one point from last year, to 1101, because of a single-point drop on the math section of the college entrance exam, but the school system remained above state and national averages.

The average combined score among test-takers was well above the state average of 1026 and the national average of 1028. Students posted an average math score of 560, and the verbal average remained 541. National and state scores on the SAT, which is taken by college-bound seniors, were released last week although several school systems in the area could not release them because of a delay.

The average SAT score of Fairfax County students was up nine points to 1114, while high school students in the District showed a four-point improvement over last year but trailed the national average by more than 200 points.

Mistrial Declared in Baltimore Slayings

Three Children Nearly Decapitated Last Year

A judge declared a mistrial in the case of two Mexican immigrants charged with killing three of their young relatives in Baltimore after the jurors said on the 10th day of deliberations that they were deadlocked. The decision means that no one has been found responsible for nearly decapitating the children, ages 8, 9 and 10, inside a cramped northwest Baltimore apartment in May 2004.

Schools Ramp Up Safety Efforts

Gang Attack in Montgomery Prompts Outreach

After a gang-related attack on a Montgomery County campus last month, school administrators have ratcheted up efforts to ensure school safety, using PowerPoint presentations, back-to-school nights and workshops to reach out to teachers, parents and students.

Fair Maiden Alexander Stevenson, 8, and Elyssa Atkins, 8, take part in a play at the Maryland Renaissance Festival.