Local Leads: 2/12/2009

News you need to know

The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

Veteran workers at General Motors have been offered an incentive package worth $45,000 to retire by April 1.  Hourly employees with more than 30 years of service at GM are eligible for the early-retirement deal, as are employees older than 50 with at least 10 years of service at GM.  Younger employees can qualify through a combination of age and service or by agreeing to go without most benefits after they sever ties with the company.  (Free Lance-Star)

A Parkside Middle School special education teacher was placed on administrative leave last month after he was charged with theft, fraud and forgery. Anthony Girrard Ward, 34, was arrested on reckless driving and driving without a license by Virginia State Police in Fairfax County on Jan. 15, and then it was discovered he was wanted by Prince George’s County, Md., police on 11 separate charges. (Insidenova.com)

Fairfax County Public Schools will be doing more with less this year. In an unusual move, the school board adopted Superintendent Jack Dale's advertised budget with no changes, despite the pleas of dozens of speakers over two days of public hearings who asked school board members to preserve funding for girls gymnastics, certain special education programs, Project Excel and other areas affected by the $157.5 million in cuts to the $2.2 billion operating budget. (Fairfax Times)

Metro General Manager John Catoe says he’s considering ending the free parking on weekends and holidays at Metro’s lots and garages. He says the move may help close the projected $154 million deficit in the next budget, but he hasn’t decided whether to recommend the idea to the Metro board. He says charging for parking on the weekends was suggested by a rider in a recent online chat. (Richmond Times Dispatch)

Visitors to any of Frederick County Public Schools' 66 buildings must put their name on a sign-up sheet to enter. But at Kemptown Elementary School in Monrovia, visitors now must hand over a driver's license. A newly installed small electronic device — similar to a credit card reader — allows staff to scan a license and within seconds find out if a visitor is a registered sex offender who has no permission to be on school grounds. (Gazette)

Due to the economic downturn, Pleasants Development is planning several "tweaks" to Brunswick Crossing's original plans.  Pleasants, of Clarksburg, will likely reduce the size of some of the planned development's homes by about 10 percent, and is shifting its focus to commercial development earlier than originally expected, according to the company's senior vice president, Jerry Connelly. (Gazette)

Homes sales across Fairfax County in January continued the frenetic paces of recent months, even accelerating a bit. But the average sales prices remain well down. Add it all up, and the county's real estate market in the first month of the year produced $284.97 million in transactions, up 12.2 percent from a year before, according to figures reported by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., the area's multiple-listing service. (Sun Gazette)

Here's a story that will make you feel a little better about humanity. While most people just pass by D.C.'s homeless, recently Capitals owner Ted Leonsis didn't. And, what he did at Union Station was a true act of generosity. Leonsis stopped to talk to an old, disabled homeless man who mumbled something in his direction.  The man had no shoes on. When Leonsis asked him what happened to them, the man said they had been stolen. (Washington Post / WTOP.com)

Bowie now offers a free prescription discount drug card to anyone who doesn't have drug coverage.  "There are people who are out of work, that means they may be out of prescription coverage," says Bowie Personnel Officer John Clinton.  Bowie is offering the Caremark cards through its membership with the National League of Cities.  (WTOP.com

We've all heard about the "special interest" groups representing big oil and tobacco companies. But the beer-pong lobby? Yesterday, a veteran state senator abandoned his effort to ban drinking games such as beer pong and flip cup in Baltimore bars after facing an impassioned online campaign by leagues of beer-pong players. Sen. George W. Della Jr. a Baltimore Democrat, contends that the games encourage excessive drinking and lead to raucous behavior in city neighborhoods. A bill he introduced late last month would have outlawed any games that award drinks as prizes in city taverns. (Baltimore Sun

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