Local Leads: 8/3/09

News you need to know

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

State Police have identified the body of a man killed in a skydiving accident Saturday. Command Sgt. Major Harry Parrish, 53, of Fort Meade, Md., was found Sunday morning near Middle Peninsula Regional Airport, not far from the town of West Point, about 40 miles east of Richmond. State Police Sgt. Thomas Molnar says Parrish was on a civilian training exercise Saturday night. Parrish went missing after jumping from the plane around 7 p.m.  (wtop.com) 

The D.C. Council lifted the $19 cap on taxicab rides that start and end in the District, a limit installed to protect city residents east of the Anacostia River who live far from their jobs and many basic services. D.C. cab drivers despise the cap and have called for its end since June 2008, when the zone fare system was replaced with time and distance meters. The council unanimously removed it as part of the fiscal 2010 budget plan, which takes effect Oct. 1.  The $19 cap was a remnant of the zone fare system. It was retained to protect the poorest D.C. residents, many of those from east of the river, where they must commute to downtown and beyond for their jobs or for basic needs like a hospital or supermarket. (wtop.com)  

The third wave of the Smooth Operator campaign will begin on Sunday, August 2, 2009, and run through Saturday, August 8, 2009. Smooth Operator is a regional anti-aggressive driving campaign that involves nearly 30 law enforcement agencies throughout the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. (Gainesville Times)

The Virginia Railway Express is asking that riders be a bit kinder to their trains. The transportation agency said they have had several of their cup holders broken, seat covers ripped, and clogged toilets in recent weeks. The agency said each broken cup holder costs $125 each, a cost that is passed onto the taxpayer. Taxpayers also have to foot the cost for each toilet tank that has to be pumped or removed because a passenger put too many paper towels in it-at a cost of $1,300. A ripped seat cover also costs about $225 dollars to fix. "So please, do not use the cup holders to pull yourself out of a seat. Do not place heavy luggage on seats where the can rip or poke holes into the seat covers. And please, never ever put a paper towel into the toilet," a VRE spokesman said in an e-mail. (insidenova.com)


City crew chances upon long-forgotten burial under downtown Fredericksburg street. City workers installing a water line beneath Princess Anne Street in Fredericksburg on Friday came across the unexpected: bones. Human bones. They halted their work on the line and someone summoned Ben Hicks, parish administrator at nearby St. George's Episcopal Church. The line will provide water for the fire-suppression system for the recently renovated sanctuary. John Pearce, a Fredericksburg historian and member of St. George's, was called, and he urged alerting the police. Two officers came, followed by a detective, and they carefully whisked the human remains off to a safe place. The work site was back to normal this weekend. "I'm guessing these bones go back to the 1700s," Hicks said. "1752 is the earliest church burial that I know of. We're hoping to determine the age of this person, and to allow their reburial in our graveyard." The remains--which include leg bones and part of a skull--were found about a foot from the curb in front of St. George's left front door, he said. (Free Lance-Star)

Huge backups getting in and out of FedEx Field for the Paul McCartney concert and conditions inside the stadium have some people swearing they'll never return to another event there. The fiasco has the folks at the stadium apologizing. "We certainly apologize to the fans for any inconvenience," said Zack Bolno, spokesman for the Redskins. First, it took concertgoers hours to get into the stadium, forcing the concert to start more than an hour late. Bolno blames the backup on a "new audience unfamiliar with the stadium." He says most people used only one entrance to FedEx Field while four others were under-utilized. More than 50,000 turned out for Saturday's concert. Once McCartney fans found their way in, they found the water had been turned off. The toilets, sinks and water fountains didn't work in parts of the stadium. The toilets overflowed. Bolno said a blocked pipe caused the backup. He says it was fixed within 25 minutes and the water was re-routed.  (wtop.com)  

Fairfax County officials plan to rehabilitate an important dam in the Pohick Creek watershed using federal stimulus money. Officials plan to sign a rehabilitation plan for the Lake Barton dam on Monday morning. The Lake Barton dam is one of six dams in the watershed built between 1970 and 1985 to protect neighborhoods from flooding. The dam needs to be upgraded to comply with current standards and to extend its life for another 50 years. The county is getting $1.8 million in stimulus funds to help pay for the $2.6 million project. Construction is slated to begin in 2010. The county says the upgraded dam will protect 192 homes and businesses, four highways, two railroads and five utilities. (wtop.com)

With nearly 130,000 students and more than 200 buildings, Prince George's County Public Schools has a lot of inventory — some of which is no longer used. So school officials have decided to turn their trash into someone's treasure by selling it on the online auction site eBay. "Each year, there's tons and tons of stuff that we're throwing away … in some cases nobody's going to ever use them again, or so we thought," said Keith Miles, director of purchasing and supply services for county schools. (Gazette

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