Local Leads: 06/09/2009

News you need to know

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

Rain Likely to Dampen Virginia Voter Turnout

With a low turnout likely already, the last thing Democratic governor candidates need is bad weather. But in Virginia, that's just what the three candidates are getting on what could end up as a wet Election Day. Thunderstorms pounded Northern Virginia as polls opened Tuesday morning, and rain is possible through much of the day. More storms are likely toward the evening in and around Arlington, including some that could produce significant hail. (The Hill)

DC Graduation Rates

The on-time graduation rate for D.C. public schools has fallen below 50 percent, according to a new study, while the rates for Maryland and Virginia have not improved since the mid-1990s. The study, released today by researchers affiliated with the trade publication Education Week, examined data from 1996 to 2006, the latest available federal figures, to calculate the percentage of students who graduate from high school within four years of starting ninth grade. In 2006, the study found, the D.C. graduation rate fell to 48.8 percent, down 8.8 percentage points from the previous year. The figure did not include public charter schools. The study also found that in 2006, Maryland's rate was 73.5 percent, virtually the same as the year before and unchanged since 1996; and that Virginia's rate was 69.2 percent, down 3.7 percentage points since 2005 and 4.2 points since 1996. (Washington Post)

Not Much Room Left

How close are your neighbors? Across the street? Right on top of you? In Montgomery County, planners are trying to figure out where to put the anticipated 195,000 people who will move in by 2030. The county's planning commission will deliver a report to the planning board this week which recommends future development take place near transit centers and on surface parking lots. So-called "smart growth" should be the focus say officials, with dense clusters of residential, retail and commercial space packed together. A draft report by the planning commission also reveals some sobering statistics. The biggest finding -- there is only 4 percent of the county left to develop. (wtop.com)

Parent Thieves

At least five parents were arrested in Central Park over the weekend on charges of stealing while accompanied by their children, police said. One incident occurred about 6:15 p.m. Sunday after an 8-year-old boy was found unattended in a vehicle outside Target that was still running, Fredericksburg police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe said. The mother, 27-year-old Christy Merkert of Stafford, was charged with felony child neglect when she returned to the vehicle with a 7-year-old girl. During a search of her purse after the arrest, Bledsoe said, police found clothing believed to have been taken from the store. Merkert was also charged with shoplifting and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. (Free Lance Star)

Waving at Traffic

Blaring horns usually mean frustrated drivers. But at the corner of South Market Street and Clarke Place from 7:30 to 8 a.m. each weekday, they just mean hello. Orville K. Johnson, 79, has stood at this intersection almost every morning for more than 20 years, smiling and waving at traffic. "I don't know their names, but I know their faces, and they remember me," Johnson said. "Sometimes I walk down Market Street in the summer, and people come up to me and say, 'Man, let me shake your hand!'" (Frederick News Post)

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