Region briefs

September 08, 2004

Md. elections chief returns to work

ANNAPOLIS (AP) - Maryland's chief elections administrator returned to work Tuesday minutes after a circuit judge signed an order temporarily overturning her suspension by the State Board of Elections.

Linda Lamone walked from the Anne Arundel County Courthouse to the nearby elections board office, where she was greeted with hugs and tears by some of her staff.

A hearing was scheduled for Friday on a request from Lamone's lawyers that she remain in office while the election board pursues its attempt to fire her.

The election board voted Thursday to suspend Lamone and appointed Robin Downs Colbert of Prince George's County as acting administrator.

Board members would not discuss reasons for their attempt to fire her, including whether it was related to her handling of the Diebold AccuVote-TS touchscreen electronic voting machines that will be used in the November election.


W.Va. school officials uphold ban on skirt

BECKLEY, W.Va. (AP) - Raleigh County school officials affirmed their decision Tuesday to ban a 10th-grader's skirt with the slogan "It's all about Juicy" along its backside as not being fitting attire for Woodrow Wilson High School.

The student will be allowed to wear other clothing made by the clothing manufacturer Juicy Couture, said Dave Severt, the county's assistant superintendent of schools.

Nichoel Hawks, 15, was forced to spend a day in the principal's office after she wore the skirt to class. The skirt wasn't too short, but the location of the slogan gave school officials pause.

The school has a dress code that says students cannot wear clothes that are too revealing, display violence, weapons, gang membership or blood.

Hawks' parents have been told of the school's decision. Severt said.

Study recommends parks link for Bay

ANNAPOLIS (AP) - A two-year federal study recommends that the Chesapeake Bay become part of the National Park Service - a move that wouldn't convert the estuary into a park but could establish visitor centers and strengthen an existing network of tourist sites.

Any move to include the bay in the park service would require action by Congress, which will receive the National Park Service report and its recommendations this fall, said Jonathan Doherty, director of the study and director of the park service's Chesapeake Bay office in Annapolis.

The study, released last week by the park service, found a way to recognize North America's largest estuary without roping off a traditional national park.

The report calls for two new visitor centers to be established, one at the northwest corner of the bay - possibly in the Baltimore-Annapolis area - and one at the southern point of the bay - possibly near Norfolk-Hampton Roads area. Both regions are popular with tourists and already have a lot of visitor traffic, Doherty said.

The park service could contribute as much as $2.5 million to each center, according to the study, which calls for grants from other agencies that would match those amounts and possibly contribute more.

The move wouldn't necessarily free federal money for restoration of the bay, Doherty said.

W.Va. police chief fired over money flap

HURRICANE, W.Va. (AP) - Police Chief L.D. Foster has been fired in a flap over money allegedly diverted to purchase guns, Mayor Raymond Peak said Tuesday.

Foster and two Hurricane police officers were put on administrative leave Aug. 9. Since then, Cpl. Scott Adams was terminated for violating department policy. A hearing for Capt. Ron Smith is scheduled for Thursday.

Foster was the police chief for 21 years.

"It was a very hard decision because he's done a lot of good things for the department," Peak said. "But there are certain rules and standards of conduct in the police department that we need to look at. That's why we want him to request a hearing so we can hear his side of things."

Foster, who could not immediately be reached for comment, had said the issue was about $1,000 he spent on guns.

Man sentenced for stealing from church

BALTIMORE (AP) - An accountant who forged copies of Cardinal William Keeler's stamp as part of a scheme to steal $443,000 from the Archdiocese of Baltimore was sentenced to four years in prison on Tuesday.

Victor Puotinen, a former archdiocese employee, pleaded guilty to theft in June.

Isaiah Dixon, Puotinen's attorney, argued for home detention, saying his client suffers from alcoholism and an anti-social personality disorder. He said Puotinen had found employment and would be able to get help through an insurance plan.

Puotinen, for his part, told Glynn he recognizes his "betrayal of trust" with the archdiocese and hoped to "change my life around" by seeking help.

Dixon said his client knew what he did was wrong. He said Puotinen's illness made him believe he was entitled to a better life.

Puotinen initially faced up to 15 years in prison on the charges. By pleading guilty, he faced up to five years.

NAACP officials to speak in Frederick

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