Harford sheriff takes paid leave after personnel complaint

Harford County Sheriff Joseph P. Meadows is on paid leave while authorities investigate an employee's complaint against him, officials said last week.

Meadows, in his third term as the county's top law enforcement officer, elected to take leave during the investigation, said Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Ginger Rigney.

Col. Thomas Golding, the chief deputy, has assumed day-to-day operations, she said. Rigney added that by law she could not discuss the nature of the complaint, which was filed last month.

Golding turned over the investigation of the complaint to Howard County police Feb. 10 to avoid any conflict of interest, Rigney said.

Report on sinking of tug still pending a year later

A year after the tugboat Swift sank in the icy waters of the Elk River, the Coast Guard's report of the incident has not been released, and lawyers for the three companies involved are still collecting evidence for civil trials set to start early next year.

It was one year ago last week that the tug and a 520-foot freighter collided in heavy fog 40 miles northeast of Baltimore, about two miles south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

The boat's captain and three crew members were killed after the 60-foot tug rolled and sank about 20 seconds after the crash.

Churchville man, 75, dies of injuries from car crash

A 75-year-old Churchville man died Feb. 22 of injuries from a weather-related car crash in the 400 block of Priestford Road, according to state police.

Frederick Theodore Huna was driving north on Priestford Road, near East Medical Hall Road, about 5:20 p.m. Feb. 21 when his 1993 Buick Century was hit by a southbound 1997 Lincoln Town Car that hydroplaned and crossed the center line, police said.

Huna died shortly after midnight at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. The driver of the Lincoln, Garrett Paige Tollenger, 49, also of Churchville, was released after treatment at Harford Memorial Hospital, police said.

Kennel Club donates puppy as service dog

The Northeastern Maryland Kennel Club has donated a puppy to United Disabilities Services New Life Assistance Dogs Program.

Genesis Nor'easter, better known as Nora, is a 3-month-old golden retriever and will be raised and trained as a service dog.

New Life Assistance Dogs is a program with headquarters in Lancaster, Pa., that trains service dogs to assist people with mobility disabilities.

Nora will visit the Northeastern Maryland Kennel Club at the Bel Air Senior Center on April 1.

300,000 gallons of sewage spill into Bush River

Harford County's Public Works Department was hampered by ice last week in its efforts to deal with the aftermath of a 300,000-gallon sewage spill at a Bush River pumping station over the weekend, a spokeswoman said.

Signs were posted in the area of the Bill Bass Sewage Pump Station in the first block of Kennard Ave. in Edgewood after the overflow, said Merrie Street, county spokeswoman. The area, inaccessible to the public this time of year, has a boat ramp nearby, she said, adding that ice in the river prevented public works crews from sampling the water yesterday.

Richard McIntire, spokesman for the Maryland Department of the Environment. said that while any spill over 10,000 gallons is considered major, the weekend's snowmelt and rains had caused a rash of overflows, and Harford's was "midlevel" among weekend reports.

Harford delegates table special taxing districts

Harford County representatives to the House of Delegates have placed a plan by County Executive James M. Harkins to create special taxing districts on its summer-study agenda, effectively killing the bill for this General Assembly session, officials said last week.

Del. Barry Glassman, a Republican who is delegation chairman, said that he sent a letter to Harkins notifying him of the delegates' decision.

"There were just so many unanswered questions," Glassman said. "It's something that needs to be thought through for more than a couple of weeks."

Noise from blast heard from Aberdeen to Bel Air

A test Thursday at Aberdeen Proving Ground sent dozens of Harford County residents scrambling to call 911 after noise from the sizable explosion rumbled across neighborhoods from Aberdeen to Bel Air.

People have a heightened sensitivity because of terrorist activities, said APG spokesman George Mercer. "They heard this and said, 'Oh, my God, something bad is happening.'"

Emergency dispatchers in Hickory, Bel Air, Aberdeen, Edgewood, Havre de Grace and on the proving ground were flooded with calls, they said. Some callers thought it was an earthquake, snow, thunder or an invasion, dispatchers said. The test occurred at 1:10 p.m., Mercer said.

The test, using a 200-pound explosive device, was designed to see if the device would detonate in a combat situation, Mercer said, and declined to elaborate further. It is an item being tested for use in future operations, Mercer said.

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