www.baltimoresun.com/explore/harford/news/ph-ag-review-march-1230-20111230,0,4611561.story

baltimoresun.com

March: Redistricting protested; $60 million cancer center planned

BY ERIKA BUTLER, ebutler@theaegis.com

9:42 AM EST, December 30, 2011

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Bowing to pressure from angry parents, the school board approved 10 major changes to the redistricting plan it was scheduled to approve, then pushed a vote on the plan back by a week. Except for the students moving to Red Pump Elementary School, the changes would essentially keep students at their current schools.

A drunk driver who killed three people in 2009 was sentenced to serve 10 years in jail. The day his trial was scheduled to start in circuit court, the Darlington man pleaded guilty to three charges of negligent homicide under the influence in the deaths of Pamela and James Bielanski and Robert William Arbogast.

Two cousins were charged with the 2007 murder of 29-year-old Robert Donte Hemphill, who was living in a motel and was shot multiple times in what police said was a botched robbery. The two men charged worked with Mr. Hemphill, police said.

Upper Chesapeake Health announced plans to build a new $60 million comprehensive cancer center at its Bel Air hospital. It would be a multi-disciplinary facility that provides a high level of personal service, hospital officials said.

Harford's three state senators voted against a bill that would grant same sex couples in Maryland full marriage rights. Seven of Harford's eight delegates also said they planned to vote against the bill.

Joppatowne native Wendy Davis was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for her work on the television show "Army Wives." The awards were being presented two nights before the premiere of the show's fifth season.

Two Fallston High basketball players were suspended from play because of their parts in a fight, involving as many as 50 to 60 people, in their regional playoff game against Elkton.

A new group called Harford Hammers held a pancake breakfast, trying to raise money for its mission, to repair homes of senior citizens and others in need.

Shayduan Velez, of Aberdeen, and Zach Cullison, of Patterson Mill, won Maryland state wrestling titles.

The new Walmart in Fallston was set to open, bringing with it 450 jobs and more traffic to the Route 1 corridor.

A dog named Shamus was credited with saving the life of his owner by alerting him to a fire in their home in Street. The fire was started by an electrical malfunction and caused about $200,000 damage. The 79-year-old homeowner heard his dog, Shamus, barking inside and walked barefoot to a neighbor's house to call 911. The man called to his dog, but he didn't answer; Shamus died of smoke inhalation.

Five inches of rain was expected on top of 2 to 3 inches that fell earlier in the week, leaving Harford flooded and a handful of roads closed.

The elementary school redistricting plan was approved, calling for 1,897 students to move to new schools to start the 2011-12 school year. The initial proposal had 2,979 students switching schools.

An Abingdon woman told police three people forced her, at gunpoint, to drive from her home to a nearby bank and withdraw cash. Because of the significant amount of cash requested, police believed the woman was targeted.

A Creswell man allegedly shot at his neighbor, who yelled at him for driving too fast in the area. The man was facing charges of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault.

Harford Del. Mary-Dulany James killed her hotel room tax bill that also granted tax breaks for Presbyterian Home of Maryland's planned retirement community in Aberdeen, and Presbyterian Home quickly announced it would withdraw its plans to build the project.

Gas prices were on the rise, with drivers paying as much as $3.59 a gallon and some finding themselves deciding between gas or food. Prices had risen by 5.1 cents a gallon over the previous week.

Police raided an underage drinking party on Fox Bow Drive near Bel Air, the result of an investigation into complaints of frequent drinking parties involving teenagers. Charges were pending against a 51-year-old and 21-year-old who lived in the house for providing alcohol to the underage drinkers, as well as against several teens who police said had been drinking.

An Edgewood man, who prosecutors said was homeless, unemployed and a drug abuser, allegedly made more than $1,000 worth of fraudulent charges to credit cards he stole from the law offices of Gessner, Snee, Mahoney and Lutche on Main Street in Bel Air. He was facing multiple charges.

Harford students performed about 20 points better than the state on the two AP exams devoted to English and literature, fared well on AP exams in calculus and statistics, but fell below the state's average in biology and environmental science.

The number of foreclosures fell fairly steadily throughout the start of 2011, and was showing signs of decreasing from previous years. A national database showed Harford was ninth in the state for the number of homes foreclosed in February, when 41 properties were foreclosed on, two fewer than the 43 foreclosed on in January.

After a nuclear meltdown at a power plant in Japan following a destructive tsunami, attention turned to Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station just over the state line in Pennsylvania. Officials at the plant's owner, Exelon Nuclear, said its plants were prepared to handle the types of earthquakes and weather phenomena likely in the region.

A Baltimore City police officer, who lived in Harford, was charged with sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl he knew between September 2010 and the time of his arrest.

State prosecutors were seeking a life sentence for a man who was convicted of killing a 71-year-old man in his Edgewood home in June 2010.

Five Harford schools – Bel Air Middle and High, Fallston High, Southampton Middle and Patterson Mill Middle-High – were evacuated and/or placed on lockdown after suspicious calls made to the schools indicated bomb threats. No bombs were found and, once the schools returned to normal, police began investigating into who made the threats.

Keep growth within the existing development envelope and out of rural areas was the message being sent to the county's department of planning and zoning as the update to the master plan continued.

New jobs were coming to Harford County with the opening of Wegmans Food Market in Abingdon and Kohl's distribution center in Edgewood. Wegmans would be hiring about 150 full-time employees, and 550 of the 600 to be hired would be new to the food chain. The distribution center would employ 1,200 employees when operating at full capacity, but was expected to start with 200 full- and part-time positions by July.

J. Thomas Barranger, a former county executive who served in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, died of a massive heart attack. Mr. Barranger was the second person who served as the county's top elected official since home rule government was adopted in 1972.