Local Leads: 2/9/2009

News you need to know

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

A proposal to push back high school start times in Fairfax County is making some parents, students and teachers nervous that extra sleep isn't worth the headaches of a scheduling change. Most Fairfax high schools start at 7:20 a.m. Middle and elementary schools start later. (Washington Post / wtop.com)

Do you want to know why your utility bill is soaring this season? Then join the club. WTOP has been hearing for days now from customers who've been shocked by how high their bills have been this month. Customers are complaining that their bills have jumped 100 percent compared to a year ago.  (wtop.com)

Citing continuous layoffs, steep competition in a market rife with foreclosures and profitless land sales, regional developers and homebuilders asked the Prince George's County Council for help this week. They suggested several steps to stimulate the local market, including reducing impact and permit fees, accelerating the permit process and lowering the minimum house sizes within subdivisions. (Gazette)

About 100 Iraqis came to Fredericksburg this past year expecting to find "heaven." They fled tumultuous situations in the Middle East. Among the new refugees: A doctor whose husband was killed as the couple took their children to their Baghdad schools; she, too, was shot during the attack. A building contractor forced to negotiate a ransom after insurgents kidnapped his teenage son on the streets of the Iraqi capital. And a businessman who was waiting--a sword pressed against his neck--for his executioner to arrive when American troops found his makeshift prison. (Free Lance-Star)

More motorists are fixing their old cars instead of buying new ones, in hopes their jalopies will survive a long recession. Auto dealers and garage owners say they are seeing drivers pay more attention to regular maintenance and be more willing to spring for costly major repairs now that they are reluctant to trade in their junkers.  (USAToday)

The General Heiser Branch of the Boys & Girls Club in Dumfries is not closed, despite rumors to that affect. Its future, however, is in jeopardy, and a decision will be made in a month to close it if ways are not found to increase attendance and decrease costs. The Prince William Regional Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Club met last week with M.J. Morrow, chief operating officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington, to discuss the current financial situation with all the region’s clubs, and the possible closing of the Dumfries club. (InsideNova.com)

More than half a dozen watermen have been snared in what is shaping up to be the largest fish-poaching case ever seen in the Chesapeake Bay region. (The Capital)

The birds at the Wilson Parrot Foundation live in the lap of luxury with clean cages and the freedom to roam safely around the house.  Not all pet birds are so lucky.  Last weekend, the foundation rescued 81 birds from a Montgomery County breeder's home. The birds, which included conures (parakeets), macaws and cockatiels, had been living in unsanitary conditions "I wish we had masks when we went in there," said Brian Wilson, who founded the Wilson Parrot Foundation in 1999. "It smelled so bad."  (Frederick News Post

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