Local Leads: 6/4/09

News you need to know

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

One boy was killed and another injured when they were struck by lightning yesterday evening while playing baseball in Spotsylvania County. Chelal Matos, 12, a Chancellor Middle School student, was pronounced dead shortly after he was taken to Mary Washington Hospital, said 1st Sgt. Liz Scott of the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Office. Scott said the second boy, who is 11, was taken to Mary Washington Hospital and was then airlifted to VCU Medical Center in Richmond. Scott said the youngster was in "very grave, critical condition." (Free Lance-Star)

An estimated 400 to 600 Prince George's County Public Schools employees are expected to be laid off this month as a result of substantial budget cuts - leaving nervous employees with questions about who will be affected and when they will learn of their fates. At an employee meeting May 28, Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. and other school officials spent more than an hour explaining the county school system's dire budget situation caused by the recession and encouraged employees to consult their union agreements for procedures on how layoffs would be handled. (Gazette)

A rise in interest rates has put a damper on a mortgage refinancing boom, according to industry data released yesterday, and created another potential stumbling block to a housing recovery. Mortgage interest rates, at historic lows for weeks, rose to 5.25 percent for a 30-year fixed rate loan last week, a level last seen in January. That led to a 16.2 percent seasonally adjusted drop in mortgage applications, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's weekly market composite index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume.  (Washington Post)

Consumer and commercial bankruptcy filings are on pace to reach a stunning 1.5 million this year, according to a report from Automated Access to Court Electronic Records. While well below the record 2 million filings in 2005, the number of filings is up sharply from last year's 1.1 million, says Robert Lawless, professor of law at the University of Illinois. Bankruptcy filings took a dramatic nose dive after a 2005 bankruptcy reform measure was signed into law to curb bankruptcy abuse and make it harder to erase debts. (USAToday)

The parent company of Rosecroft Raceway has filed for bankruptcy. Cloverleaf Enterprises Inc., of Fort Washington, filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in Maryland on Wednesday, a move stockholders authorized in April. Magna Entertainment Corp., owner of Pimlico Race Course, Laurel Park and the rights to the Preakness Stakes, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March. (AP/ wtop.com)

When Rob Kauffman applied a coat of mint-colored pale green paint to his building at the southeast corner of Prince and South Alfred streets two years ago, he felt that the color was a vast improvement. Since 900 Prince Street was constructed in 1915 as the Mount Vernon Dairy, its exterior has sported a black-brown tint Kauffman calls "fireplace brick." But there was a problem: Kauffman did not have approval from the Board of Architectural Review. "I made a mistake," said Kauffman, a native of Toronto who founded PMA Properties in 1982. "I've painted many buildings in the course of my years, and somehow I was unaware that I needed permission to paint this particular building." That mistake has now set up a confrontation with city officials that could culminate in a lawsuit. Next week, City Council members will consider a recommendation from City Manager Jim Hartmann to move forward with an injunction compelling Kauffman to remove the paint that was applied two years ago. The question of how the council should proceed threatens to be an emotional confrontation that pits historic preservation against property rights and legal obligations against subjective judgments. (Alexandria Gazette Packet)

Aubrey Sparks is like any other 14-year-old girl. She enjoys giggling with her friends and listening to silly music. But Aubrey also sneaks copies of her dad's Scientific American Mind, wakes up early to watch CNN, and, in August, the Springfield Middle School eighth-grader will enroll in college. Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said she is not aware of any other local students who have made the leap from middle school to college. Aubrey will attend Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Va., and participate in the college's Program for the Exceptionally Gifted, which offers special assistance and supervision for young college students. (Herald Mail / wtop.com)

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