Local Leads: 3/14/2010

News you need to know

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

More than 20 guns seized by a state-run firearms task force in Prince George's County are unaccounted for, and investigators believe that one of the weapons was used in the shooting of an off-duty police officer late last year, according to law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.   All the missing guns apparently had been seized by the Prince George's narcotics detective who was assigned to the task force, the sources said. The detective, Juan Carter, was suspended late last year during the investigation but has not been charged with any crimes, sources said.

Capitals fans are being asked to stop a tradition: honking their car horns after a home win at the Verizon Center.  Fans have traditionally honked their horns beginning in the center's parking garage and continuing onto D.C. streets. But the garage has gotten noise complaints from neighbors and is now posting signs asking fans to stop the beeping.  The signs read, “FANS: As you leave the arena, please be considerate of our neighbors and use your horn only as a necessity. Thank You.”

A bill establishing an abortion-rights license plate is headed to Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has said he doesn't support the organization that would receive money from the plates.   The Senate voted 22-15 and the House 64-30 for a bill that would create a "Trust Women/Respect Choice" license plate. After the first 1,000 plates are sold, $15 from each $25 plate would go to Planned Parenthood, which provides medical and reproductive care to more than 30,000 Virginians.   Supporters had threatened to sue if legislators rejected the plate because last year they passed a "Choose Life" plate with proceeds going to anti-abortion pregnancy centers. Federal courts have said states can't favor one viewpoint over another.

Funding cuts and employee shortages mean area taxpayers will have to wait longer for their refund checks.   Cash-strapped tax departments in Maryland, Virginia and the District are cutting back on the number of workers hired to process paper tax returns, and that means earners will have to wait longer for their refunds.   "In a normal year we hire about 140 temporary workers that come in during the tax season. This year we've hired about 80," said Lisa Lester, a spokeswoman with the state of Maryland.   Virginia and D.C. agencies face similar difficulties. "This is the second year in a row we've had to cut back," said Joel Davison, a spokesman with Virginia's tax department.

At least three people say they've spotted a mountain lion on the southern end of the Eastern Shore.  And no, they weren't drunk.
Which leads to the next question: How could a mountain lion - a species long considered extinct in Virginia - wind up in a place as hard to reach as the Eastern Shore?  To the north, development in Maryland and Delaware form an urban barrier. Miles of ocean and bay do the same on the Shore's other sides.  "None of it makes any sense," said Glen Askins, a regional wildlife manager with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. "There hasn't been a mountain lion in that part of the world in well over 100 years."  Not officially, anyway.

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