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In Baltimore CityGroups announce plan to renovate...


In Baltimore City

Groups announce plan to renovate abandoned houses

With Mayor Martin O'Malley's promise to reclaim 5,000 abandoned houses serving as a backdrop, a consortium of nonprofit groups and government lenders announced yesterday an initiative to find owners for at least 50 such properties.

Under the Keys to Success Homeownership Initiative, the nonprofit Greater Baltimore Opportunities Industrialization Center will acquire foreclosed properties at little cost from federal, city and state housing agencies. It will renovate the properties and sell them with low down payments with the help of Freddie Mac and National City Mortgage. Community groups will help recruit and counsel first-time homebuyers.

"It's really about building neighborhood confidence," said Craig Nickerson, vice president for community development lending at Freddie Mac, a congressionally chartered private company that buys billions of dollars in home loans.

O'Malley characterized the program as a small step toward his goal, outlined in his State of the City address this year, to take title to 5,000 vacant houses in Baltimore: "We know that just as decay can be contagious, success can be contagious."

Stabbing victim identified as Poppleton man, 39

A man found fatally stabbed Saturday morning outside a West Baltimore warehouse was identified yesterday by city police as a 39-year-old from the city's Poppleton neighborhood, but investigators do not know of a motive or suspect in the homicide.

Homicide Detective Dennis Raftery said a passer-by walking in the 1000 block of Booth St. about 11 a.m. Saturday discovered the body of Robert Clayton of the 800 block of W. Fayette St.

Raftery said that Clayton, whose clothing appeared undisturbed, had been stabbed several times and that the condition of his body indicated he was killed late Friday night. Anyone with information about the death is asked to call Raftery at 410-396-2100.

Flag House to hold 75th anniversary event

The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House and Museum will hold a ceremony tomorrow morning to celebrate the museum's 75th anniversary.

The 11 a.m. program will feature a presentation by the Baltimore City Color Guard, and include rededication of the flagpole of the museum at 844 W. Pratt St. -- the home of Mary Pickersgill, who made the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the British bombardment of 1814 and inspired Francis Scott Key to write what became the national anthem.

The museum also will unveil a yearlong program including a scholarly symposium, a walk from the Flag House to Fort McHenry, and events for Veterans Day, Flag Day and the Fourth of July. The museum is continuing work on a major expansion that includes a 12,600-square-foot building, War of 1812 Museum, exhibit galleries and a gift shop.

In Baltimore County

Death warrant hearing set in Baltimore County killing

BEL AIR -- A Harford County Circuit Court judge has scheduled a hearing March 19 to consider arguments over whether he should sign a death warrant for Wesley Baker, who might be the next Maryland inmate scheduled to die by lethal injection.

Judge Cypert O. Whitfill has notified Baltimore County prosecutors and defense lawyers that he wants to hear arguments before he signs a warrant. Prosecutors say that Baker has exhausted his appeals, but Baker's lawyers say additional appeals are pending.

Whitfill sentenced Baker to death in 1992 after Baker requested his trial be transferred from Baltimore County. A Harford jury convicted him of fatally shooting Jane Tyson during a robbery attempt. Maryland's last execution was in 1998.

Bail is denied man accused in death of police sergeant

TOWSON -- A Baltimore County Circuit Court judge denied bail yesterday to a Middle River man charged with vehicular manslaughter in the death of a county police officer.

Cesar Humberto Meza, 41, of the 9900 block of Tailspin Lane appeared at a bail hearing before Judge J. Norris Byrnes.

Meza is accused of steering his sport utility vehicle into Sgt. Mark F. Parry's unmarked patrol car Dec. 27 on East Joppa Road, near Pleasant Plains Road, and leaving the scene. Parry, a 16-year veteran and father of three, died of his injuries Jan. 21.

Hernwood pupils to show works at multicultural fair

RANDALLSTOWN --Hernwood Elementary School pupils will participate in the school's annual Multicultural Art Fair at 7 p.m. Thursday in the cafeteria. The event is open to the public.

Demonstrations and artwork will reflect the cultures of Europe, Africa, South America and North America. Items created by pupils include stained-glass snowflakes, European crowns, Egyptian scratch art, Aztec calendar mosaics, Iroquois shields, cornhusk dolls and wire sculptures. Note cards produced by students will be for sale.

Hernwood Elementary is at 9919 Marriottsville Road.

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