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Pet cobra bites, kills manA 25-year-old Emmitsburg...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Pet cobra bites, kills man

A 25-year-old Emmitsburg man died early today after he was bitten by a pet cobra at his home, officials said.

Brian Leslie West was pronounced dead at Frederick Memorial Hospital about 2:30 a.m. today, State Police said.

Mr. West, who had state permits to keep more than two dozen snakes, was tending a Black Indian Cobra in his basement when the snake bit him on the foot, said trooper Dennis Delp. Mr. West died within minutes.

The West family said it would get rid of the snakes.

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Virginia's plan to see if a Japanese oyster can resist a disease devastating Chesapeake Bay's native species has aroused the objections of Maryland officials, who insist the experiment is fraught with environmental risks.

A spokesman for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said yesterday the agency will decide in a few days whether to bring legal action to block the experiment, which Virginia scientists hope to begin in the next 10 days.

Laboratory experiments have shown that the Japanese oyster resists dermo, one of two infections crippling Chesapeake mollusks. Virginia's harvest fell to a record low of 40,000 bushels this past season -- compared with an annual harvest in the range of 4 million bushels three decades ago.

Scientists with the Virginia Institute of Marine Scientists say that an experiment to see if Japanese oysters can also resist MSX can be done only in the bay because the disease simply doesn't thrive under laboratory conditions. The infection is not harmful to humans.

City

Supporters of a "visionary arts" museum are hoping to receive $3 million from the British owners of a cosmetics chain to begin work on a $7.5 million Federal Hill building.

Visionary art is produced by self-taught artists outside the influence of mainstream art. The mentally ill, the elderly and the disabled are among the more prominent visionary artists.

Their works often include found objects such as soda cans or other refuse.

Rebecca Alban Hoffberger, president of the American Visionary Art Museum, told members of the city's Planning Commission yesterday the founders of the Body Shop cosmetics chain, Gordon and Anita Roddick, are looking for a tax write-off. She expects to know whether the donation will be made by June 30.

Anne Arundel

The judge who barred Annapolis from enforcing a law that strips discriminatory clubs of their liquor licenses has cleared the way for an appeal of his decision.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge James Cawood Jr. said Wednesday the supporters of law could take their case to the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

Judge Cawood's decision was a setback for the 1,400-member Annapolis Elks Lodge 622, which was the target of the ordinance because national Elks bylaws require the exclusion of women.

The City Council passed the law in 1990 at the behest of civil rights activists. However, Judge Cawood ruled April 16 that state law exempts private clubs from anti-discrimination laws and the council subsequently voted 5-4 against an appeal.

Baltimore County

Concerned about possible local adverse reaction from the riots in Los Angeles, the county police chief more than doubled the number of officers assigned to the recent Towson Town Festival, at an overtime cost of about $16,000.

No problems were reported at the weekend festival, which drew an estimated 300,000 people.

"It was our first large gathering after the riots, and we wanted to make sure ... we would be adequately covered," said Chief Cornelius J. Behan.

E. Jay Miller, police spokesman, said 38 additional officers worked eight-hour shifts May 2 and 3 on overtime to augment 23 other officers who had already been assigned to the fair.

Carroll

A Colombian national, whose deal with county prosecutors kept him out of jail but could get him deported, has had his deportation hearing postponed to search for a new attorney.

His mother and a lawyer familiar with the case said Henry Hernandez is seeking to replace the Baltimore firm of Kroop, Kurland and Rosenburg as his representative in the federal proceedings.

Hernandez was indicted in January 1991 on drug kingpin charges. Those charges were dropped in February 1992 when he entered into a plea agreement that resulted in a suspended 10-year prison sentence.

He provided authorities with information about the cocaine trade in Carroll and in Maryland.

Hernandez is being held at the Wicomico County Detention Center in Salisbury on $25,000 bond.

Harford

Former first lady Betty Ford will give the keynote address Sunday during dedication ceremonies for a new building at Father Martin's Ashley, an addiction treatment center near Havre de Grace.

The new $6 million buildinghas rooms for 20 patients, a dining hall, a medical facility and administrative offices.

Entertainment for the 1 p.m. event will be provided by Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers. For more information, call 273-6600 or 679-8922.

Howard

A 34-year-old pharmacist accused of setting a string of fires in Baltimore and Howard counties might enter a plea of not criminally responsible in the cases, according to defense attorney Clarke F. Ahlers.

The Baltimore County trial of James F. McManus was postponed yesterday at the defense's request so a psychiatrist can evaluate him to determine whether an insanity plea can be entered.

Mr. Ahlers said there are "legitimate mental health issues" in the case the psychiatrist will address. He would not elaborate on Mr. McManus' mental state.

Mr. McManus, of the first block of N. Prospect Ave. in Catonsville, was charged in March with two counts of arson at the Sears store in the Columbia Mall and the Antique Depot in the Main St. area of Ellicott City.

In Baltimore County, he was charged with arson and burglary in a March 12 Frederick Road fire and with two counts of statutory burning in vacant house fires Feb. 29 and March 12.

Oyster test draws objections

Virginia's plan to see if a Japanese oyster can resist a disease devastating Chesapeake Bay's native species has aroused the objections of Maryland officials, who insist the experiment is fraught with environmental risks.

But a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said yesterday that the agency had not yet decided whether to bring legal action to block the experiment, which Virginia scientists hope to begin in the next 10 days.

A decision is expected in a few days, said spokesman Ray Gould.

In the past, laboratory experiments have shown that the Japanese oyster resists dermo, one of two infections crippling Chesapeake mollusks. Virginia's catch, hurt even worse than Maryland's, fell to a record low of 40,000 bushels this past season -- compared with an annual harvest in the range of 4 million bushels three decades ago.

Scientists with the Virginia Institute of Marine Scientists say that an experiment to see if Japanese oysters can also resist the other infection, MSX, can be done only in the bay because the disease simply doesn't thrive under laboratory conditions. The infection, not harmful to humans, kills oysters before they grow fat enough to be harvested.

The experiment was approved Tuesday by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission.

W. Peter Jensen, Maryland's fisheries director, said he fears that the foreign breed could grow out of control and displace native species or spread parasites that could have untold consequences.

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