Man Arrested in Arson Case
A Westernport man is accused of setting his own car on fire. Anthony Serpone set several fires inside the car last Friday morning on Front Street in Westernport. Damage to his 2007 Pontiac G6 was estimated at $5,000. He was arrested yesterday and admitted setting the fire. He is being held on $5,000 bond on several charges. Serpone was employed as a driver for the Tri-Towns Emergency Medical Services, and was placed on suspension, pending the results of the investigation.
School System Extending Marking Period
The Allegany Country Public School system will extend the end of the third marking period of the current school year, as the result of additional lost instructional days due to inclement weather. The end of the third marking period will be Friday, April 4, 2014, with a three-hour early dismissal on Monday, April 7th. Report card distribution has been delayed until Monday, April 21, 2014.
City Begins Budget Discussions
Discussions have begun on the city of Cumberland's Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which has been estimated at $36.3 million. The city could save $400,000 annually by switching the health care provider to CIGNA insurance, from the present coverage provided by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. The Mayor and City Council are currently involved in a dispute with the International Association of Firefighters Local 1715, as the firefighters want workforce and safety issues addressed in conjunction with switching the providers.
Three Hurt In Accident
Three people were injured in two accidents Monday night on Interstate 68 near Flintstone. In the first accident, a truck driver was injured, when his rig traveled out of control at the 57-mile marker. One half-hour later, another tractor-trailer crashed into five stopped vehicles, whose drivers were waiting for the lanes to be cleared. Two people were taken to the hospital. There are no details on the identities of the drivers involved in either of the accidents.
Garrett Struggles With School Calendar
Garrett County has issued a statement, noting the school system has been closed 19 days due to bad weather, with the possibility of further closures during March. The statement notes that any consideration of waiver days would be made after March, and that it is talking with the Maryland State Department of Education to determine the alternatives, when adjusting the 2013-2014 calendar.
Ridgeley Streamlining Code Enforcement
The town of Ridgeley has established a uniform process and series of fines for code enforcement. The penalty for violating a town ordinance is $25 for the first offense, with a progressive structure to $100. If a violation is not corrected fines, up to $100 can be written every five days. Unpaid fines of over $1,000 will be turned over to collections or a lien placed on the property. Before being adopted, a second reading on the ordinance will be held during the March 11th meeting.
Man Charged for October Incident
A Rockwood man faces felony charges as the result of a fiery, high speed crash in which he and a female passenger were injured. Twenty-three year old Mason Ansell is being charged with aggravated assault by motor vehicle while under the influence, driving at safe speeds, careless and reckless driving and driving on the right side of the road. The incident happened on October 6th.
Somerset Driver Hit By Train
Somerset resident Brian Ronald Trent was seriously injured when he drove his vehicle onto a railroad crossing, even though the warning lights had been activated. His vehicle was struck in the front passenger side; it then spun around, and was hit, and pushed along the tracks, before coming to rest. Trent was flown to the hospital for treatment of serious injuries.
FSU Football Joins NJ Conference
Frostburg State University, along with Christopher Newport University, Salisbury University and Wesley College have agreed to become associate football members of the New Jersey Athletic conference, beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year. In addition, Southern Virginia will be an affiliate member of the NJAC, starting in the fall of 2014, and will elevate to associate member in 2015-2016.
Possible "Jumper" Taken Into Custody
A Hagerstown man was treated at Meritus Hospital after he attempted to jump from the southbound side of the Interstate 81 bridge spanning the Potomac River yesterday morning. The man had first driven to the northbound side of the bridge, and returned to the southbound side. The 43-year old man climbed onto the wall in an apparent suicide attempt. Washington County deputies and Maryland State Police troopers made contact with him, and were able to physically take him into custody, to keep him from falling. Southbound Interstate 81 was closed for about 25 minutes. No names are being released by authorities, because of the sensitive nature of the call.
Gas Prices on the Rise
Gas prices have risen fifteen cents higher per gallon, on average, than they were a month ago locally and 17 cents higher nationwide, according to the Triple-A Daily Fuel Gauge report. The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Maryland is now $3.46; In West Virginia, the price is $3.50, and in Pennsylvania, the price is $3.63. The national average is $3.45, which is up from the $3.41 average last week.
Hagerstown Man Arrested in Altoona
Hagerstown resident Darrell Brown and James Harris have been arrested in Altoona, after being accused of bringing drugs into that area. During a traffic stop, Brown was found to have several grams of crack and a small amount of marijuana on him. Found in the car were digital scales, two cell phones, and a box of plastic bags. Bail for Harris was set at $7500; Brown's bail was set at $25,000 cash.
Minimum Wage Debate Continues
The Maryland General Assembly has yet to agree on a minimum wage bill. Governor Martin O'Malley wants to increase the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016, with future increases tied to the inflation rate. Lawmakers on Monday night proposed a statewide increase to $10.10 an hour over the next three years, rather than allow smaller counties with a lower cost of living to have less of a wage hike. Matt Hanson, campaign director for "Raise Maryland," says the Governor's minimum wage plan for "tipped" workers would be 70 per cent of the minimum wage. He says tipped workers are more likely to fall below federal poverty levels. Hanson acknowledges there are objections from both Republicans and Democrats on the minimum wage issue. Hanson says if the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would now be over $10.74 per hour.
Maryland Case Could Set National Precedent
State lawmakers are considering an overhaul of how poor, non-violent offenders are handled in the court system. The outcome of a Maryland case could provide a blueprint on how to litigate for change in other states where legal counsel is not guaranteed during bail hearings. Each year, thousands of defendants appear before court commissioners, not judges in the early stages of their case, where bail is set without an attorney present. One suggestion has been to move toward a one-hearing process before a judge and eliminate the court commissioners' current role.
Standardized Testing Underway
The annual round of standardized tests are underway in Maryland this week, despite legislator's efforts to cancel or replace them this year. At least two Maryland legislators say the tests are a waste of time, because they no longer reflect what students are learning. Common Core Standards have led to curriculum changes, and they say Maryland tests haven't kept pace. Canceling and replacing the tests could have taken weeks.
Lottery Revenues Drop in January
Lottery revenues continued to drop in January, falling 12 per cent when compared to January of 2013. Competition from Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland has contributed to the drop. Year-to-date lottery revenue of just over $612 million is down 8 per cent from the same point in the 2012-2013 budget year.
Gee Named WVU President
The West Virginia University Board of Governors has unanimously selected E. Gordon Gee as the next permanent president of the university. Gee has been the temporary president since January of this year, and was also president of the university from 1981-1985. The Higher Education Policy Commission is expected to hold an emergency meeting to approve an offer to Gee.