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The Baltimore Sun

State won't deactivate crabbers permits

After a flurry of protests, the state has dropped plans to deactivate the licenses of about 1,000 commercial crabbers who had not been crabbing much lately. The Department of Natural Resources had proposed "freezing" the licenses of those holding a "limited crab catcher" permit who had not reported any catch from 2004 through 2007. That license allows fishing for crabs with up to 50 wire-mesh "pots" or with a trotline. State officials had said they were trying to protect the Chesapeake Bay's beleaguered crab population by preventing an upsurge in crabbing by some of the 4,000 or so crab license holders who are not active in any given year. But the proposed regulation sparked an outcry, with many at a hearing in Annapolis this month complaining that they were being deprived of the hope of making a little money crabbing part time or in retirement. Others questioned how banning inactive crabbers would ease fishing pressure on the bay's crabs. State officials pulled back the proposal and said they would continue to look for other ideas for protecting the bay's crabs. "We decided that maybe we could find a better way to get at the problem," Eric Schwaab, deputy natural resources secretary, said yesterday.

Timothy B. Wheeler

MARC due funds for station work

The MARC commuter rail system will get more than $10 million from the federal economic stimulus package to pay for station improvements, officials said yesterday. The projects, to be announced today by 2nd District Democratic Rep. C A. Dutch Ruppersberger, include $3 million to improve elevators and the heating and cooling system at the station at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. The congressman also is expected to outline plans to spend $4 million for new canopies and windows at Penn Station and $400,000 for work at the MARC storage facility at Martin State Airport. The spending comes on top of a previously announced plan to renovate the MARC station in Laurel at a cost of $2.9 million. The MARC improvements are "shovel-ready" projects that will begin this spring and create more than 240 jobs, aides to Ruppersberger said. According to the Greater Baltimore Committee, the Maryland Transit Administration also plans to move ahead with a $9 million project to add 400 parking spaces at MARC's West Baltimore station using stimulus funds.

Michael Dresser

Arundel police Identify body

Police have identified a body found in the woods in Arnold late Tuesday as that of a Brooklyn woman who had been reported missing last week. The body of Michelle Marie Cornwell-Clary, 36, was found by friends and family who searched the woods after her car was found nearby, Anne Arundel County police said yesterday. Investigators did not find any signs of assault or trauma on the body, which was found about 11 p.m. near Jones Station Road and College Parkway, police said. Cornwell-Clary, a resident of the 900 block of Annabel St. in Baltimore, had been reported as a missing person to city police last week, police said. The state medical examiner's office is performing an autopsy, police said.

Julie Scharper

Foundation gives state $4.5 million for homes

The state is receiving $4.5 million from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to help preserve 9,000 units of rental housing, says Gov. Martin O'Malley. Officials say the money will be used to renovate properties that could be occupied by some of the nearly 25,000 households expected to enter Maryland as part of BRAC.

Brent Jones

Killer of boy, 9, dies in Hagerstown prison

A man serving two life terms plus 20 years at the Maryland Correctional Training Center in Hagerstown for the 2000 murder and sexual assault of a 9-year-old Frederick boy, whose battered body was found in the dugout of a Frederick baseball diamond, died Wednesday, said a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Rick Binetti, the spokesman, declined to be specific but acknowledged that Elmer Spencer Jr., 54, died of natural causes. Spencer had served less than four years of a 10-year sentence for assaulting a woman when he was freed in Nov. 14, 2000, on good-time credits. Five days later, he met Christopher Ausherman, 9, near the boy's home and accompanied him to a 7-Eleven store, where Spencer bought the boy several Pokemon cards. From the store, Spencer lured the boy to a baseball dugout, sexually assaulted the boy and killed him. The boy's body was found the next day. Frederick City Police said that a 7-Eleven surveillance camera captured the two on film and that Spencer was arrested a short time later at a homeless shelter.

Richard Irwin

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