Vandalized houses sold at loss
Three vandalized houses that cost the city $219,600 to renovate more than two years ago have been turned over to the People's Homesteading Group for $30,000.
Yesterday, the Board of Estimates approved the agreement with People's Homesteading, which will renovate the houses for homeownership.
The houses, at 508, 510 and 512 E. North Ave., were vandalized and used by drug addicts after the city failed to sell the newly renovated houses because of their proximity to a high drug and crime area, said city officials.
People's Homesteading is an organization that uses sweat equity from its members to renovate houses for homeownership.
Yesterday, the organization's president, Mary Harvin, said her group would begin repairing the damaged houses sometime this summer.
Bail system review urged
The indictment of a Baltimore man in a shooting case while he was free on bail following a murder charge has prompted calls for a review of the state's bail system.
This month's indictment of 26-year-old Dwight Gilmore marks another instance in which a district judge's decision to grand bail in a drug-related murder case has frustrated prosecutors and police.
"We didn't know that [Gilmore] was out on bail," said Ilene Nathan, a veteran prosecutor in the violent crimes unit of the Baltimore state's attorney's office. "We only found that out when the second shooting occurred."
In addition to the charge of attempting to murder a man in a street dispute October 1990, Gilmore also is a suspect in a September 1990 double-shooting in which one victim died and another was wounded. Both shootings occurred while Gilmore was out on bail pending trial in a 1989 murder case.
Gilmore returned to jail last November after prosecutors asked that his bail be revoked on a violation of probation charge. Gilmore was convicted of the 1989 murder and is to be sentenced June 4.
Request for mental test denied
District Judge Frank Kratovil has denied a defense request for a more thorough psychiatric evaluation for a Bowie woman accused of deliberately running down a 10-year-old boy on a bicycle.
Kathlynn Ann Najera, 33, was found mentally fit to stand trial after an initial evaluation. Her attorney had asked for an in-depth, in-hospital evaluation, but the judge denied the request yesterday in Prince George's County District Court in Upper Marlboro.
Najera was charged with first-degree murder after she allegedly plowed her car into the youngster May 12 in Upper Marlboro.
The boy, Dewayne Hawkins, a fourth-grader, died of a head injury last Friday and was buried Tuesday in Lincoln Memorial Cemetery in Suitland.
The case now is scheduled to go before a grand jury.
Arts festival starts tomorrow
Marylanders will finally have an opportunity to find out the meaning of the mysterious "Celebrate May 24-25-26" signs that have been spotted throughout Anne Arundel County.
Hundreds of artists and craftspeople are to display their works throughout this weekend at the Spring Celebration of the Arts Festival at the county fairgrounds on Md. 178 in Crownsville. Oil paintings, sculptures and photographs will be displayed.
Food vendors will be displaying their creations as well -- everything from Cajun to Chinese to vegetarian dishes. There will be live music from calypso, country and rock bands, and mimes.
Festival hours are tomorrow from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults and free to children under age 12.
Robberies rise, murders fall
Robberies were up by 30 percent in Baltimore County over the first three months of 1991 compared with the first quarter of last year, while vehicle theft rose 17 percent, according to statistics from the county police.
The string of so-called "shotgun robberies" of groceries and convenience stores last winter fueled the robbery rate, which jumped from 442 from January through March 1990 to 576 cases during the same period this year.
Car thefts increased from 1,195 to 1,394 in the comparable three-month periods.
But murders were down more than 50 percent, from 11 last year to four in the 1st quarter of 1991.
Overall, serious crime was up 5.6 percent, while total crime was up 1.6 percent over last year.
The Woodlawn precinct continues to be the car-theft capital of the county. Out of nine county police precincts, the three west side ones combined for 52 percent of county robberies and 54 percent of vehicle thefts.
Firefighters push movie
Firefighters push movie: Baltimore County's fire chief and firefighters from the county's Texas Station No. 17 on York Road in Cockeysville last night helped to promote the opening of a new movie about firefighters called "Backdraft."
Chief Elwood H. Banister said he and his firefighters were invited to take two fire trucks to a Timonium theater for an invitation-only preview of the much publicized film, which is set in Chicago. The movie opens for public viewing tomorrow.
Banister said firefighters from other stations covered for their movie-going colleagues during the show. The film has been much discussed among professional firefighters, the chief said. "It's been a hot item," he said.
Girl accused of hate graffiti
State Police have arrested a 15-year-old girl accused of scrawling hate group graffiti on vehicles, fences, driveways and the road in the 2600 block of Coon Club Road in eastern Carroll County. The girl, whose name was being withheld because of her age, was arrested Monday at her home in the Westminster area, said State Trooper Douglas Wehland, who handled the investigation.
She has been charged with eight counts of malicious destruction of property and one count of giving a false statement to police, he said.
The investigation began when troopers responded on May 5 and 7 to instances of Ku Klux Klan, Nazi and Skin Head slogans rendered in spray paint, lipstick, glue and toothpaste in the same area of Coon Club Road.
Wehland said the girl had no known connection to any of the groups portrayed in the slogans. The police were led to her by an anonymous source who suggested she had spread the graffiti )) "for kicks or for fun," Wehland said, adding that she knew the owners of the defaced property "quite well."
He speculated that the girl chose hate slogans, rather than something tamer, "because that gets so much attention."
Wehland said the girl was charged as a juvenile and released to her family. Her case has been referred to the county Department of Juvenile Services.
Crash kills Aberdeen man
A Harford County man was killed early today when he tried to pass another vehicle and crashed into a telephone pole, State Police at Bel Air reported.
Trooper Stephen Bocek said about 1:30 a.m., Dennis Thomas Houck, 25, of the 100 block of Hanover St. in Aberdeen, was driving a 1975 Ford Granada north on Md. 136 near Deer Creek Road in Churchville when he tried to pass a 1990 Ford van in a no-passing zone.
Houck's car sideswiped the van before it crossed the center lane, traveled along the shoulder and crashed into a telephone pole, Bocek said.
Houck died of massive head injuries at 2:17 a.m. at the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore, Bocek said.
Bocek said the driver of the van, Mark Brian Holecheck 35, of the 1200 block of Ridge Road in Pylesville, was not injured.
Farm fair volunteers sought
Organizers of the Harford County Farm Fair are again calling for volunteers to help with the popular event that has attracted as many as 50,000 visitors in past years.
Volunteers are needed for two-hour blocks. They can help with children's events, concession stands and information desks. Volunteers also are needed to man phones in advance of the fair, which is scheduled for Aug. 1-Aug. 4.
The fair is to be held at the Harford County Equestrian Center on North Tollgate Road near the Harford Mall.
For more information, call Mary Chance, the fair's volunteer coordinator, at 836-9321.
Sex-education vote is tonight
The Howard County Board of Education is to vote tonight on a sex-education curriculum for ninth-graders that would place more emphasis on abstinence than the original plan that drew controversy earlier this year.
School officials said they will not distribute the final version of their proposed family life and human sexuality curriculum until the board's meeting tonight, but that it contains minor changes from the original draft to give more attention to abstinence.
Some members of the community complained in February that the original curriculum placed too much emphasis on birth control and not enough on abstinence. Patti Vierkant, a schools spokeswoman, said the revised version gives equal attention to the two concepts.
Vierkant said officials are including instruction on birth control because they wanted to take a realistic approach. She noted that some teen-agers already are sexually active.
Howard County had the highest rate of teen-age abortions among Maryland jurisdictions in 1988, the last year for which figures are available, according to the Governor's Council on Adolescent Pregnancy.
The new sex education curriculum, if approved, is scheduled to be taught in the academic year that begins in September. It consists of eight lesson themes: relationships, communication about sexual behavior, resistance skill behavior, family planning, pregnancy, parenthood and date rape.
Vierkant said abstinence is a prevailing theme throughout the course.