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Early-morning blaze empties senior housing


An early morning two-alarm fire at a senior citizens' complex in Dundalk damaged several apartments Wednesday and sent hundreds of residents fleeing from the building, according to Baltimore County Fire Department officials. The blaze started about 6 a.m. in an apartment on the eighth floor of the Center Place Apartments, in the 100 block of Center Place, a spokesman for the Fire Department said. A preliminary investigation found that the fire began in a trash can, likely by a lit cigarette, fire officials said. Two people were taken to an area hospital with minor injuries. Fire officials say the blaze did not spread beyond the apartment, but that other dwellings sustained water damage.

-Brent Jones

Enrollment jumps 5.2% at state's colleges, universities

Enrollment at Maryland colleges and universities increased by a record 5.2 percent this fall, wiping away concerns that the recession might keep students from pursuing higher education, according to a report released Wednesday by the Maryland Higher Education Commission. Though all sectors, public and private, saw increases, a 9.3 percent surge in enrollment at community colleges drove the record haul of students. "What it means is that people are beginning to see a lot of opportunities out there for those with less than a baccalaureate degree," said state Secretary of Higher Education James E. Lyons. "Two-year schools are looking like a good option for people who have been laid off or are retooling their skills." Enrollment at the state university system increased by about 3 percent and enrollment at private institutions increased by about 2 percent. Lyons said the report was an overall demonstration that Maryland remains an attractive place to attend college.

-Childs Walker

Man gets life in rape, robbery at Arundel laundromat


A Baltimore man with a history of psychiatric problems rambled about himself for nearly an hour Wednesday before Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge William C. Mulford II told him he was self-absorbed and sentenced him to life in prison for raping and robbing a 62-year-old woman as she was about to close the laundromat where she worked. Christopher Parr, 31, said nothing about the July 19, 2006, attack on the woman at the Village Laundromat in Brooklyn Park or about wanting mental health treatment, though his lawyer unsuccessfully sought a recommendation for an evaluation for services at Patuxent Institution. His trial had been delayed because in 2007 he was considered mentally unfit for trial. "I think that you showed no remorse. ... I think you are entirely self-centered," Mulford told him.

- Andrea F. Siegel

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