Council passes spending plan
Weeks of acrimonious debate over Anne Arundel County' $1.44 billion budget ended with little fanfare Thursday as the County Council unanimously passed the fiscal 2008 spending plan that leaves lawmakers resigned, nonprofit organizations reeling and education leaders riled.
The budget keeps virtually every priority laid out early last month by County Executive John R. Leopold. It includes funding for a negotiated 6 percent raise for teachers; $6 million to buy 30 acres in Lothian from a developer; and $2 million in repairs for the ice rink at Quiet Waters Park.
It still, however, cuts $2.5 million in grants to nonprofits and leaves the school system $70 million short of what the board of education had requested.
The $1.22 billion operating and the $219 million capital spending plans take effect July 1. The budget cuts the property tax rate from 91.8 cents to 89.1 cents per $100 of assessed value to counter rising property assessments.
"The budget falls within the framework of fiscal and political reality," Leopold said. "It's a sound, fiscally responsible budget that meets a good number of my priorities."
Anne Arundel section, Friday
Job growth outpaces average
The Baltimore metropolitan area created more than 40,000 jobs in the first half of the decade, propelled largely by Anne Arundel County, new census numbers show.
Anne Arundel employers added 25,700 jobs from 2000 to 2005, well more than half the 41,700-job gain across the region. The county, home to Fort Meade and the National Security Agency, is a prime government-contracting beneficiary. But it also showed growth in a variety of other sectors, including and tourism.
The Census Bureau, which released the numbers Thursday, draws its data from reports employers make to the Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration. The numbers do not include self-employment or most government jobs, but contractors, an important part of the region, are counted.
All told, Anne Arundel's growth rate outpaced the national average sevenfold.
"The whole BWI corridor is booming," said Richard P. Clinch, director of economic research at the University of Baltimore's Jacob France Institute.
Business section, Friday
Former boyfriend admits to killing
A year and a half after her then-boyfriend shot her in the face, Maranda Callender was preparing for a fresh start.
At 17, she was days from receiving her diploma from North County High School. She arranged to study nursing at a technical program. She was engaged to marry after she turned 18 late last year.
But those plans eluded her. On June 1, 2006, the Brooklyn Park teenager was hospitalized with a severe headache. The next night, she was dead from meningitis linked to the bullet fragments in her brain.
On Wednesday, her former boyfriend, who initially created a panic in Brooklyn Park by blaming an unknown assailant, admitted that he killed Callender by accident in the juvenile court equivalent of a guilty plea to manslaughter. Under the plea agreement, he walked out of the Anne Arundel County courtroom with a suspended commitment and probation that includes 480 hours of community service, plus required participation in a domestic violence program.
Maryland section, Thursday
Man plans third attempt at peak
While other Marylanders kick back this summer and relax at the beach or the swimming pool, Chris Warner will be grappling with a mountain that chews up and spits out most adventurers.
Twice, K2 has flicked away Warner's advances with a powerful display of biting cold, brutal winds and treacherous avalanches that earned the world's second-highest peak the nickname "the Savage Mountain."
For a third time, the Maryland mountaineer is taking up temporary residence at its base, hoping to tag the top of Pakistan's 28,251-foot peak somewhere around July 4, using a route no one has conquered.
But things have changed since the Annapolis resident's previous attempts, in 2002 and 2005. He has added a third Earth Treks climbing center to his business portfolio and a wife and daughter to his life.
Warner, believed to be the first Marylander to summit 29,035-foot Mount Everest, can't imagine not giving K2 another go.
"It's just hard-wired into my system at this point where all the things that have given me satisfaction in mountaineering, none of them has disappeared," he said one recent afternoon at his gym. "It's four guys out in the middle of nowhere on a route three teams have looked at and one team has been on. Every single foot we go will essentially be new terrain."
Sports section, Thursday
Trophy case shows off school's past
For years, the trophy case outside the Annapolis High School gymnasium sat empty, unnoticed by the students who gathered there, sitting on the banister to wait for practice.
That changed last week, when a group of alumni and school officials unveiled a new case full of dusted-off trophies that attest to the achievements of athletes past.
"This is a chance to start over and to make sure that the athletes know that when they wear that 'A,' it is not only pride that goes along with it, but it's an expectation from the athletes that came before them," said Janice Hayes-Williams, a local historian who organized the effort. "We were feared in Anne Arundel County, and we do not want that legacy to be lost."
The legacy of championship trophies dating to the pre-1950s was previously stashed in cardboard boxes and on shelves in two storage areas. Four months ago, Hayes-Willams, a 1975 Annapolis High School graduate, decided to gather a group of alumni and start a fundraising effort for a proper display case.
It raised $25,000 at a time when the school struggles with low academic marks, brawls among students and a possible overhaul of the school staff for next year.
Anne Arundel section, Wednesday