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Food bank larder restockedMaryland Food Bank officials...


Food bank larder restocked

Maryland Food Bank officials say an outpouring of food and cash donations has replenished its cupboards, after reports that a surge in the demand for emergency food had depleted the supply of canned goods at area pantries and food banks.

In the past week, thousands of donors came through with more than 20 tons of food for the Food Bank, which serves 800 food distribution centers in the state. About 400 of them are located in Baltimore.

"The reaction that we received to the plight of church pantries was truly amazing," said Bill Ewing, Food Bank director, in a statement issued this week.

Those contributors included a group of eight- and nine-year-old children who responded to news of the shortage by collecting 20 bags of groceries from their neighborhoods.

The food bank also received cash donations ranging from 53 cents in pennies to a pair of $1,000 contributions.

Helping in the food collection effort were volunteers from Harvest for the Hungry, four Allstate Insurance offices in the area, Steelworkers Union #2609, WBAL-TV and radio, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Ryder Truck Rental.

Food collections are planned through tomorrow at Allstate Insurance claim offices in White Marsh, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Hunt Valley.

And tomorrow through Sept. 7, WJZ-TV will collect food at the Maryland State Fair in Timonium, in cooperation with Preston Trucking.

Food center volunteers said the shortage resulted because a high number of unemployed people have run out of benefits. Another reason is that donations are typically low during the summer vacation season.

Tonya Renee Lucas, the 29-year-old East Baltimore woman arrested last month and charged with setting a rowhouse fire that killed six of her children, was indicted yesterday on six counts of first-degree murder.

A Baltimore grand jury also indicted the woman on six counts of attempted murder and for arson in the July 7 fire that destroyed her home in the 2400 block of E. Eager St, prosecutors said.

Under the indictments, she is charged with murder in the deaths of children ranging in ages from 2 months to 12 years and with the attempted murder of six other occupants of the house, including a seventh child.

She is also charged with abusing her 2-year-old son, who weighed 10 pounds when he died in the fire. Arraignment was set for Oct. 1 for Ms. Lucas, who was being held without bond at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

Maryland State

Several serious accidents have prompted state officials to stop allowing two-way traffic on the westbound span of the Bay Bridge.

One lane of eastbound traffic has sometimes been routed onto the westbound span when maintenance was being performed or to ease heavy traffic.

"We are concerned about the number of serious accidents," said Tom Freburger, a spokesman for the Maryland Transportation Authority.

A four-car accident Monday that injured seven people was the third serious wreck on the bridge this summer.

Traffic was flowing both ways on the westbound span durineach of the crashes.

In June, three people died in a multiple-car crash on the bridge caused by a driver heading west who accidentally pulled into eastbound traffic.

On Friday, a tractor-trailer rig crushed and killed a 40-year-old Frederick County woman who was a passenger on a motorcycle, but two-way traffic was not a factor in that accident, officials said.

Baltimore County

A gunman wearing a red ski mask robbed the American Cafe restaurant in Towson yesterday morning, escaping with an unknown amount of money after locking the manager and a stock clerk in a freezer, Baltimore County police said.

Police said that shortly after 10 a.m., the robber rang the bell on a side door often used by delivery people to enter the restaurant in the first block of W. Pennsylvania Ave.

A stock clerk admitted the robber, thinking he was making a delivery. The robber pulled a .38-caliber revolver and forced the manager to empty the cafe's safe before locking the employees in the freezer. The robber then fled.

Another employee freed the others after hearing the delivery bell ring again a short time after the robbery, police said.

Police described the robber as a 6-foot-tall black man, weighing between 170 and 180 pounds. He was wearing tan, baggy clothes, white sneakers and carrying a blue jacket.

Carroll County

At this week's session, four Westminster City Council members blocked an ordinance limiting them to two terms in office.

A few months ago, Council President William F. Haifley circulated his term-limit proposal. The measure also included a resignation requirement from any municipal officeholder who decided to run for a higher office.

Not one member responded to my request, so I assumed reaction was favorable," he said.

Mr. Haifley also denied rumors that the measure was aimed at Mayor W. Benjamin Brown, who has been mentioned as a possible County Commissioner candidate.

The councilman and mayor have disagreed frequently.

Had the measure passed, Mr. Haifley, the only current member serving a second four-year term, would be barred from seeking re-election.

Harford County

Community groups interested in developing or expanding drug and alcohol prevention programs have until Sept. 8 to request grants from the Harford County Drug/Alcohol Impact Program.

The program has $35,000 for projects that will increase the role and leadership of community groups in substance-abuse prevention; educate community leaders; encourage the empowerment of racial, cultural and language minority groups; assess and respond to social policy issues; and increase peer-counseling programs and outreach educational services.

Assistance is available to community groups in developing their grant request, says J. Sue Henry, coordinator of the drug and alcohol impact program.

Volunteers also are needed to serve on a grant selection committee. For more information, call 638-3333.

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