$2 million in U.S. funds to map broadband needs

A coalition of rural Maryland counties will receive $2 million in federal stimulus money to begin mapping broadband needs and existing fiber-optic cable in western, southern and Eastern Shore counties, but it won't pay for building new connections. The Salisbury-based Maryland Broadband Coalition will use $1.5 million from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration over two years to collect information about the need for broadband, as well as what already exists in those areas, and the other $500,000 will go toward planning costs over the next five years. The United States is considered far behind countries in Europe and the Far East in developing this new communications network. "Forty years ago, interstate highways were crucial for economic growth in our rural areas. Now it's the information highway," Maryland U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski said in a statement.

- Larry Carson

O'Malley order lets first responders give flu vaccine

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley signed an executive order Friday allowing state and local officials to tap emergency and other medical personnel, such as paramedics and cardiac rescue technicians, if there is a need for more administrators of the swine flu vaccine. Such workers are not currently allowed to vaccinate the general public. With shortages of the vaccine nationwide, the extra workers are not needed so far, but O'Malley said the state should be prepared to immediately use a large number of doses if they arrive. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that 38 million doses were available for ordering by states. Maryland has ordered its allotment of 707,000 doses, far below the 2.9 million doses needed to vaccinate target groups.

- Meredith Cohn

4 Md. Borders stores among 200 set to close


Borders Group Inc. announced Thursday plans to close 200 mall-based stores nationwide, including four in Maryland. The company expects to shutter Borders Express stores at Marley Station mall in Glen Burnie, Owings Mills Mall and Wheaton Plaza, as well as a Waldenbooks store in Gaithersburg's Lakeforest Mall, according to a preliminary list it released. Nationwide, 1,500 mostly part-time positions will be eliminated, although some employees may be hired for jobs at other stores. The chain bookseller has closed 112 stores in the past fiscal year and an average of 66 stores every fiscal year since 2001. No superstores will be closed.

- Liz F. Kay

Cordish Co. gets OK to build Las Vegas sports venue

Baltimore developer The Cordish Co. was selected this week to develop a 20-acre sports venue and entertainment district in downtown Las Vegas. The master development agreement with the city gives the firm two years to conduct a feasibility study, create planning documents and develop a public-private financing plan. The proposed Las Vegas Live! calls for a 20,000-seat sports arena for an NBA or NHL franchise, a mixed-use entertainment district, hotel and casino. The vote by the Las Vegas City Council was unanimous.

-Hanah Cho

Man hit by state police car after stepping into road dies

A 70-year-old man who stepped into traffic on U.S. 50 in Queen Anne's County was fatally struck by a state trooper's departmental vehicle Friday morning, Maryland State Police said. About 9:15 a.m., James H. White Jr., who had been living at a Queenstown hotel, tried to cross the busy road in a prohibited area, causing several vehicles to veer and slow abruptly, police said. Sgt. Livingston Banks could not avoid hitting White, who had stepped off a traffic island at Hissey Road and directly into traffic, police said. Banks, a 25-year veteran, administered emergency aid to White until paramedics arrived, police said. White was taken to Easton Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. A preliminary investigation of the crash cites pedestrian error as the cause. Police will continue to investigate and ask that any witnesses call state police at 410-758-1101.

- Baltimore Sun staff

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