Saturday, July 2, 2011

Fire Destroys Barn On Eastern Shore

ACCOMACK CO. – Fire destroyed a barn and damaged an adjacent building in rural Bloxom on the Eastern Shore.

Crews from four towns responded to the fire on Mappsville Road around 9:00 a.m. and smoke could be seen for miles.

They arrived to find flames engulfing the two-story building.

Crews even pulled water from a nearby lake to help the firefight.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.
Stations alerted - Bloxom, Parksley, Atlantic and Saxis
Additional tankers were requested from Tasley and New Church

Photos by Hailey Berry & Cathy Johnson

The Flag That Inspired 'The Star Spangled Banner'

Flags and beer: A Baltimore tradition

Our view: The kindness of a Baltimore brewer plays a small part in the story of America's national anthem

Written by Rob Kasper

During the Fourth of July weekend in Baltimore, there will be plenty of flags flying and beers sipped. This connection between the American flag and Baltimore beer goes back almost 200 years and played a small but interesting role in history.

During the War of 1812, seamstress Mary Pickersgill was hard at work on the large American flag that would eventually fly over Fort McHenry and inspire Francis Scott Key to write the poem that would become The Star Spangled Banner. In the summer of 1814, Washington had just been burned, and the British were turning their attention to Baltimore, then the third largest port in America and home to privateers, a nemesis of the British Navy.

The story goes that Colonel George Armistead, who was preparing the defense of the fort, felt that the only thing still needed was "a flag so large that the British should have no difficulty seeing it from a distance." Mrs. Pickersgill got the job because she was an accomplished seamstress, having learned the flag making trade in Philadelphia from her mother, Rebecca Young. She also had family connections. She was related by marriage to Commodore Joshua Barney and General John Stricker, two of the men in charge of the defense of Baltimore.

She fashioned two flags, a massive 30 foot by 42 foot flag with stars that measured two feet point to point, and a smaller 17 foot by 25 foot flag called a storm flag. In bad weather the larger flag, soaked with moisture, could be too difficult to hoist, so the smaller storm flag could be substituted.

Assembling these large flags required a lot of room, which Pickersgill's house on Queen Street, now called Pratt Street, did not have. She, however, was on good terms with a neighbor, George I. Brown, who has just bought a brewery at Lombard Street and the Jones Falls. Brown had purchased the brewery from the mayor of Baltimore, Dr. Edward Johnson. The mayor, in partnership with his son in law, Thomas Peters, had brewed an ale that pleased the populace. But eventually the mayor found the demands of simultaneously brewing and governing too heavy a load and eventually sold the brew house at auction in 1813.

Brown owned the brewery for only five years, selling it in 1818 to Eli Claggett. But in that short span he earned a small place in American history by allowing Pickersgill to stretch her material on the floor of the brewery's malt house and sew the pieces into the flag that gave us our national anthem.

Pickersgill's massive flag now hangs at the Smithsonian American History Museum in Washington. The East Baltimore corner that once housed Brown's brewery, and for a time was known as Brewer's Park, is now a Marriott hotel. A painting by R. McGill Mackall hangs in Baltimore's Flag House and Star Spangled Banner Museum at the corner of East Pratt and Albemarle streets showing the seamstress working on the flag in the brewery's malt house.

While the Fourth of July in a national holiday, Baltimore has some distinctive ways to acknowledge its link to American history. Fort McHenry has recently opened a new $15 million visitors center where the stories the defense of the fort and Key's inspirational poem are dramatically told. Recordings play many different renditions of the national anthem including "To Anacreon in Heaven," the drinking song that provided the melody for Key's lyrics. Monday afternoon in the Inner Harbor, staff members of the Flag House, following the tradition of Pickersgill, will help the public assemble a flag. And in backyards around the city, adult citizens can open a cold one and toast our forbearers, brewers and patriots both.


In Some States Fast Food Chains To Serve Alcohol

(NewsCore) - A number of fast food chains are adding alcoholic drinks to their menus in an attempt to boost business, USA Today reported Friday.

Burger King recently opened "Whopper Bars" that sell beer in Miami, Las Vegas, and Kansas City. Sonic plans to introduce beer and wine at two of its restaurants in South Florida, the report said.

Starbucks also recently began selling beer and wine at four of its Seattle coffee shops.

According to Ron Paul, president of restaurant consulting firm Technomic, selling alcohol is a great way for fast food chains to compete with casual dining.

"For consumers, it's basically about having it your way -- even if it's having a beer with your burger," he said.
However, critics believe that alcohol sales will send the wrong message to the restaurants' patrons, who are often young people.

"Fast food plus fast alcohol equals fast drunks," said Michele Simon, research and policy director at the Marin Institute, an alcohol-industry watchdog group.

Dean of Boston University's School of Hospitality Administration, Christopher Muller, agreed. "You don't want someone downing a quick beer, then getting into their cars and driving off. It's a delicate balance of risk and reward," he told USA Today.

The Burger King "Whopper Bars" sell beer for $4.25. Sonic's Miami location will offer three types of draft beer, 25 kinds of bottled beer, and 10 kinds of wine in the restaurant, but not to patrons in their cars.


Friday, July 1, 2011

KKK Fliers Circulating In Somerset County

Written by
Earl Holland
WESTOVER -- Police are encouraging Somerset County residents to be on the lookout after flyers promoting a Ku Klux Klan event in Virginia were found on the Lower Shore.

The Maryland State Police received a call this week from a passer-by who discovered multiple flyers in driveways and mailboxes in southern Somerset. On the pieces of paper were the date and time for an event scheduled to take place in Martinsville, Va., along the southern edge of the mainland of the state.

Lt. Krah Plunkert, the commander of the MSP Princess Anne Barrack, said following the call troopers were immediately dispatched to the scene where they found additional flyers. An information incident report was filed.

"We are very sensitive about what these flyers have been stating," Plunkert said. "We have increased patrols within the area and are asking people to report any kind of suspicious activity similar to this."

This has not been the first time Somerset County has dealt with an issue like this. Earlier this year, several traffic signs were vandalized in Marion Station with racial slurs and "KKK" spray painted on many of them. Following a police investigation, two adults and a teenager were convicted of malicious destruction of property.

Plunkert said he contacted local authorities in Martinsville about the event and was told it has been held annually by the group but is "poorly organized and poorly attended."

Kirkland Hall, the president of the Somerset County branch of the NAACP, said he was informed of the incident by Plunkert and said he was surprised but not shocked.

"I'm 60 years old, so I've seen everything, but I am concerned because we're trying to improve race relations in Somerset County," Hall said. "To see that these groups are trying to recruit people here is kind of sad. After what has happened in Somerset County and other places, I guess they feel it is a recruiting ground, but we hope it's not."

Hall said while he has not received any complaints so far about the flyers, he is asking for members of the community to band together to reject the message the flyers represent.

"It's not just an individual project," he said. "Everybody has to step forward in this county and let people know we will not tolerate something like this."

Plunkert said that MSP will have their "ears to the ground" regarding the flyers.

"As very sensitive as it is, it's hard to believe that we have this going on in this day," he said. "We will not tolerate any kind of message promoting religious or ethnic prejudice in Somerset County."


Murder Trial Ends In Mistrial

Written by
Jennifer Shutt
SNOW HILL -- The trial of a 19-year-old on charges he committed murder with an assault rifle ended in a mistrial, with jurors unable to agree on a verdict.

Prosecutors said they planned to re-file felony charges against Skylor Dupree Harmon, 19, of Pocomoke City after jurors in his trial told a judge they could not deliver a unanimous verdict. Harmon had been charged with first- and second-degree murder in the death of Reginald Handy Jr. After hearing from the jury, which had been discussing the evidence for four hours, Circuit Court Judge Thomas C. Groton III declared a mistrial.

Harmon will continue to be detained at the Somerset County Detention Center until another trial date can be set, according to Deputy State's Attorney Paul Haskell.

The jurors had heard hours of testimony and a lengthy closing statement from the defense on Thursday before beginning to deliberate on a verdict.

Jurors were tasked with weighing the testimony of Rasheema Schoolfield, who testified she saw Harmon within yards of where the presumed murder weapon was found, and a few feet away from where a casing from the .223-caliber Bushmaster assault rifle was later discovered. She never told police, or testified, she saw Harmon touch any gun.

Police officers testified they reviewed text messages sent to Torrance Davis, Handy's cousin, in which Schoolfield admitted to seeing Harmon with a gun. That was something Schoolfield adamantly denied on the stand during the trial.

Jurors also had to decide whether or not they believed the military-style weapon found about 65 yards away from where Handy was shot in the back was, in fact, the gun that killed him.

A ballistics expert, Jaimie Smith, told jurors he could not conclusively say the bullet that killed Handy had been fired from the weapon found by police. Smith is the expert who told police bullets from a .380-caliber or a .45-caliber handgun were not linked to the fatal shot.

Harmon's uncle, Alexander Crippen, was originally charged with the May 2010 murder, but his charges in the Handy case were dropped before Crippen's trial. When Crippen was originally charged within weeks of the murder, police and witness testimony placed him within feet of Handy, shooting a handgun.

Police originally believed bullets from a .380- or a .45-caliber weapon caused Handy's death. Then Smith told authorities his analysis of the crime scene suggested those weapons were ruled out.



July 1st, 2nd, 3rd -
Route 13- South of Pocomoke City
Menu includes:
Half BBQ Chicken & Baked Beans & Potato Salad &Roll
$7.00 Adults / $8.00 at the door.
Sunday sales while supply lasts

Tickets can be purchased from any Pocomoke Firefighter OR at First Shore Federal- Market St. in Pocomoke.
Take some home tonight!

VA To Enforce Fishing Registration Requirements

Associated Press

The Virginia Marine Police will soon begin cracking down on fishermen who haven't registered with the Virginia Fisherman Identification Program.

Authorities will begin issuing citations after the Fourth of July weekend. Any adult who fishes in Virginia's saltwaters or for saltwater species in tidal waters is required to register.
Anyone who buys a Virginia saltwater fishing license is automatically registered. Anglers who fail to register could face a fine of up to $500.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission says fewer than 28,000 people have registered this year. The National Marine Fisheries Service estimates 750,000 people a year fish in the state's saltwaters.

Registration is free at



This year's Chincoteague Fireman's Carnival has a new look!

Police Step Up Holiday Patrols

RICHMOND – Those traveling Virginia's highways this Fourth of July holiday weekend can expect to see more State Police troopers on the highways. As part of the annual Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort, known as Operation C.A.R.E., the Virginia State Police will have 75 percent of its uniformed workforce on patrol Friday, July 1, through Monday, July 4, 2011.

"Having extra troopers on our interstates and other highways helps ensure a safer holiday weekend for all motorists," said Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent. "But we also ask for the motoring public's help in preventing traffic crashes and deaths, as it is up to ever driver to comply with posted speed limits, avoid distractions and require everyone in his or her vehicle to be safely buckled up. Working together we can continue Virginia's significant decline in traffic fatalities."

As of Thursday, June 30, 2011, preliminary numbers report 318 traffic deaths on Virginia's highways; compared to 360 this date in 2010. In all of 2010, a total of 740 men, women and children were killed in traffic crashes statewide.

During the 2010 July 4th holiday, Virginia State Police's Operation C.A.R.E. enforcement efforts resulted in the following: 152 DUI arrests; 10,880 speeders and another 2,755 reckless drivers being cited; and 977 individuals being charged for failing to buckle up. There were also 383 child safety violations cited by state troopers.

State police investigated 744 traffic crashes during last year's Independence Day weekend. There were a total of six traffic deaths during the holiday weekend in 2010. In 2009, nine people were killed and 10 people were killed during the July 4th weekend in 2008.

Operation C.A.R.E. is a state-sponsored, national program emphasizing safe driving through the reduction of traffic injuries and fatalities, occupant restraint safety and impaired driving prevention. The 2011 statistical counting period for the holiday weekend begins at 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 1, 2011, and concludes at midnight Monday, July 4, 2011.

With the increased presence of troopers on the interstates, motorists are reminded to comply with Virginia's "Move Over" law. The state law requires drivers to change to another travel lane or, when not able to, to cautiously pass emergency personnel stopped on the side of the road. The law also applies to emergency response vehicles, highway maintenance vehicles and tow trucks equipped with flashing amber lights.

KUNG FU PANDA 2 At The MarVa This Weekend

Po joins forces with a group of new kung-fu masters to take on an old enemy with a deadly new weapon.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

East Coast Pullers, LLC- At Pocomoke Fairgrounds Last Saturday

Even in 2011 racing is still a male- dominated sport. But there are those ladies out there that just seem to have that need for speed. Professional racing along with  nonprofessional racing sports seem to have more women each year signing up to compete.

Ms. Nancy Weller  is  one of them.  Racing  a powerful vehicle and being the 2009 East Coast Pullers Champion doesn't surprise me.  She competed this past Saturday night at the Pocomoke fairgrounds against some pretty mean motors........and men.

However, it is the other half of the double-life she leads that is quite interesting.

Nancy Weller of Taneytown, Maryland is the 2009 East Coast Pullers Champion and has been pulling for 13 years.

Nancy leads somewhat of a double-life, as she pulls on the weekends and is a Public Defender for Baltimore City during the weekdays.

"When I show up to court in my suit and heels and I tell them what I do on the weekends, it's always a big surprise," says Weller.

Weller drives "Hot Damn" in the Modified Tractors class along with her teammate and father, Earl Howard.

"When I started in 1996, there was a ton of pressure on me for being a woman in a male-dominated sport," she says. "It made my push to win even stronger."  (East Coast Pullers LLC)

Any takers from Worcester County  (currently in any type of law) up  for building a racing vehicle and facing her, or anyone, on the race track?

No Recent Developments In Search For Teen

UPDATE (June 28, 1 p.m.)—Nineteen days since 16-year-old Kirsten Ratliff was reported missing, police are continuing their search for the Perry Hall teenager.

For instant updates, follow Perry Hall Patch onFacebook and Twitter.

"There is no indication that she's in any danger," said Det. Cathy Batton, a Baltimore County police spokeswoman. "But we still need to find her."

Ratliff ran away from her Perry Hall home shortly before 8 p.m., on June 9 after a disagreement with her father about "inappropriate text messages," police spokesman Lt. Robert McCullough said.

She was reportedly seen the following weekend at a party in Ocean City, although local police were unable to find her, McCullough said.

When Patch first reported her disappearance June 23, police believed she may be in the Dundalk area, where her mother lives.

"That is no longer the case," Batton said, adding that there have been no recent developments in the search for Ratliff.

The Baltimore chapter of the Guardian Angels has distributed missing person fliers in Perry Hall, Dundalk and Ocean City. A Facebook page, with 183 followers as of Tuesday afternoon, has also been set up to collect tips on her whereabouts.

Anyone with information about Ratliff is encouraged to call Baltimore County police at 410-307-2020.


Pocomoke Mayor and Council Meeting

Written by
Bill Kerbin
POCOMOKE CITY -- A new city-constructed restaurant space between the Delmarva Discovery Center and the Pocomoke River moved one step closer to completion Monday night when the mayor and Council accepted a bid from Gillis Gilkerson.

The final construction bid, after taking out certain items, came to $599,940. This included reducing the size of the restaurant by two of the proposed four sections, leaving 100 seats inside the building. There would also be 20 seats outside along the river.

Councilwoman Tracey Cottman said that she was concerned about the deletions, believing they would reduce the quality of the facility. In response Jack E. Mumford III, representing Becker Morgan, the architects, said that there would be little change in the quality of the building, as most of the reduction is in taking off whole sections.

Mumford said that one section and a patio could be added back into the plans, increasing the cost by $37,000. He added that this would give the restaurant an additional 30 seats. The council also wanted to add a cupola to the front of the building. It had been in the original plans but was deleted. With these additions, the final cost of the building would be just under $650,000.

City Manager Russell W. Blake said that he had talked to the USDA about funding for the kitchen equipment and the furnishings. He is not sure, he said, but he thinks that the town could get funding for a portion of the expenses.

The council voted to pass an $8.5 million budget for the coming fiscal year with little or no change from the figures presented at the previous meeting in June. The new budget calls for a tax rate of 75 cents per $100 on owner-occupied property, the same as last year. The rate on real property that is not owner-occupied will be 80 cents per $100.

Del. Michael A. McDermott attended the meeting to voice his opposition to the planned toll increase for the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Plans are to increase the tolls from the present $2.50 to $5 in October and to $8 in January 2013.

When he asked for justification for the increases from the Maryland Transit Authority, he said, he was told there had been no study. He then called the increase a "revenue grab." He said that the Bay Bridge made a $10 million profit last year with the present tolls, adding that a large amount of the increase on its tolls will go to fund the Inter-County Connector on the Western Shore. There is no planned increase in the toll for the ICC, which opened in the past five years.

McDermott said a scheduled public hearing on July 14 would be held at Stephen Decatur High School, and he suggested the mayor or a council member attend and testify.

Following the delegate's comments the council voted to support his views, by writing a letter to the state officials. Mayor Bruce Morrison said that he would attend the public hearing.

Under other business, the council voted to waive the real property taxes and the water and sewer fees for the Mar-Va Theater; to give the Great Fair Committee a contribution of $10,000 toward horse racing; to abate taxes for properties in town that do not receive services; and to approve the Eastern Shore Gas Company's plans to change 5,000 feet of steel lines to plastic lines.

Source;|newswell|text|Worcester County Times|s

Harmon Trial Continues.....

Written by:  Jennifer Shutt
SNOW HILL -- Jurors saw autopsy photos and passed among each other a clear plastic bag filled with bullet fragments during the first day of the murder trial of Skylor Dupree Harmon.

Harmon is charged with first- and second-degree murder in the death of Reginald Handy Jr. Harmon's uncle, Alexander Crippen, was originally charged in the May 2010 murder, but charges were dropped before Crippen's trial. Crippen was later convicted of attempting to kill a different man, based on testimony about his actions at the same scene where Handy died.

Harmon, of Pocomoke City, turned 19 this month; he was 17 when Handy was killed. Harmon is also charged with first- and second-degree attempted murder, first- and second-degree assault and reckless endangerment for alleged crimes against Torrance Davis. He has pleaded not guilty.

During the first day of testimony, police told jurors how they located a .223-caliber Bushmaster assault rifle prosecutors believe Harmon used to kill Handy.

"The day after (Handy) was struck, the Pocomoke City Police Department received an anonymous tip," said Deputy State's Attorney Paul Haskell during his opening statement. Police were directed to 500 Young St. where they found the gun, described as a "Ferrari of a weapon" -- not a cheap firearm.

Shell casings from a .45-caliber weapon and a .380-caliber weapon were also found near Handy's body.
"The actual bullet that murdered Mr. Handy was so damaged that no determination can be made" about which gun fired it, Harmon's defense lawyer, Sandra Fried, said during her opening statement.

Fried went on to say that because the bullet hit Handy's spine, then fractured into several pieces, ballistics experts cannot determine if it was fired from the weapon police found on Young Street. Fried also told jurors no DNA evidence or fingerprints linked Harmon to the assault rifle.

Several witnesses who had also testified during the Crippen trial told jurors what they saw and heard the night Handy was killed.

Testimony from Torrance Davis, Handy's cousin, came out of an agreement with the State's Attorney's Office. In exchange for testimony, the state agreed to dismiss a pending assault case against Davis in addition to getting rid of a bench warrant in a separate case.

During his testimony, jurors saw the all-black assault rifle, topped with a scope, that police say killed Handy. Davis testified he received the weapon about two weeks before Handy's death, in exchange for crack cocaine, but later gave the weapon to someone else. Davis was unable to testify how the weapon would have ended up in Harmon's hands, because of an objection sustained by the judge.

Davis said that during the time he had the gun, he was able to fire it and knew what it sounded like. He said he could tell the difference between its sound and other gunshots.

"That gun makes a unique noise," Davis said. "It's like a cannon."

Testimony from Deputy Dale Trotter of the Worcester County Bureau of Investigation clarified for jurors how Harmon could have used the .223-caliber semiautomatic rifle to make a shot from about 65 yards away at 10 p.m.

"It was not an infrared scope but it was a hunting scope," Trotter said. "The ambient light from the street lighting would be enough that you could look through the scope and pick up your target."

Trotter testified that when police found the "military-grade weapon" it had a 10-round magazine. Eight bullets remained in the magazine, with one in the chamber. That indicated, Trotter said, one bullet had been fired from the weapon.

Assistant State Medical Examiner Russell Alexander testified that after the fatal bullet hit Handy's spine, a fragment continued through his body and hit his aorta, the largest artery in the body, causing massive bleeding.

"He died of a gunshot wound to the back," Alexander said.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Worcester County- Skylor Harmon Trial

SNOW HILL, Md. - It's day one in the trial of 20 year old Skylor Harmon. Police say he allegedly shot and killed another young man, Reginald Handy Junior, just over a year ago in Pocomoke City. Attorney's started the day choosing a 14 member jury.

But after that, they didn't waste any time getting to witness testimony. And witnesses painted a disturbing picture for the jury. One of alcohol, drugs, guns, and how old grudges came to a head on Laurel Street.

Evangela Handy is just one of the witnesses who took the stand today in the trial of her son's alleged killer. In a surprising revelation, the mother tells WMDT Skylor Harmon and her slain son are actually distant cousins.

Harmon sat stone faced, as witness after witness presented evidence to the jury at the Worcester County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon. Friends and cousins of the victim explained how the shooting went down on May 26th, 2010. "He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong people. " says the victim's sister Renasha Handy, "He wasn't bothering nobody. But things just happened."

Many say they saw Alexander Crippen, Skylor Harmon's Uncle, pull out a gun that night and attempt to shoot Handy's cousin, Torrance Davis. Crippen is now serving 25 years on attempted murder charges. We caught up with Skylor Harmon's mother, Crippen's sister, outside the courthouse. "I'm hurt, you know," says Antrea Crippen, "because first, it was my brother, which we were really close. And now my son, we're taking one day at a time."

But forensic evidence cleared Crippen of Handy's murder charges. The assistant medical examiner's autopsy revealed Handy died from a gunshot wound to the back. When they presented photos of the autopsy as evidence, Skylor Harmon sat unmoved.

And although no one who testifying today admitted to seeing Harmon with a gun, many witnesses say they remember hearing the sound of two different guns going off that night.

In a shocking move, the prosecution submitted an AR-15 Assault Rifle with a hunting scope into evidence, not saying whether or not it was the murder weapon.

Day 2 in Skylor Harmon's 3 Day trial starts up again tomorrow at 9:30am at the Worcester County Circuit Courthouse.

County Hires Cowger To Run Liquor Sales

SNOW HILL — The Worcester County Commissioners have hired Bobby Cowger, a former commissioner and a onetime head of the about-to-dissolve Worcester Liquor Control Board, to be the county's first director of the Department of Liquor Control.

Cowger, of Pocomoke City, has been in charge of managing the county's transition from a liquor board whose members are chosen by the governor to a system in which a county-controlled department manages retail and wholesale distribution of spirits.

Cowger has experience both as the former director of the LCB from 2001 through 2005. He is also a former Worcester County Commissioner who declined to run for re-election in 2010. He has also been an active member of the Pocomoke Volunteer Fire Company for more than 25 years, serving two terms as president.

As director of the Department of Liquor Control, Cowger's annual salary will be $85,000, a county spokeswoman said.

A campaign to disband the Worcester LCB, mounted by Ocean City business leaders who said the board gave some bars and restaurants better prices on liquor than others, led to a Maryland comptroller's investigation in 2010 that found problems in how the LCB managed and sold its inventory. A bill to end the LCB and give control over liquor sales to the county passed the legislature this spring and was signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley. It takes effect July 1.

Source;|newswell|text|Worcester County Times|s

Hundreds Of Virginia Laws Will Take Effect On Friday

By Wesley P. Hester

On Friday, some Virginia restaurants will have the option of going BYOW — bring your own wine.

It’s just one of nearly 900 bills — out of 2,968 proposed — that passed during this year’s winter General Assembly session. Most of the new laws take effect July 1.

The wide array of new laws ranges from an expansion of the availability of protection orders to new measurement standards for selling shelled oysters. Here are some of the highlights.


Drinking and driving: Teens who drink and drive will face harsher penalties, including loss of their license for a year and either a $500 minimum fine or 50 hours of community service. Currently, the punishment is loss of license for six months and a maximum fine of $500.

Booze towns: Residents of towns with a population of more than 1,000 will now be able to vote on whether their county should allow the sale of mixed drinks. Previously, town residents could not vote in such county referendums. The law is meant to address situations where a “dry” town is located in a “wet” county, or vice-versa.

Bring your own wine: A new law will allow restaurants to permit patrons to bring their own wine. The catch? The restaurants will be allowed to charge a “corkage” fee for the privilege.

Underage drinking: Anyone who purchases alcoholic beverages for or otherwise helps someone who they know or have reason to believe is younger than 21 obtain or consume alcohol is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Current law does not address consumption or “reason to believe” that the person is underage.


State workers’ retirement: As part of adjustments to the state’s two-year, $32 billion general fund budget, state workers will be required to pay 5 percent of their salary toward their retirement, but the full 5 percent will be reimbursed in a pay raise.

Chinese drywall disclosure: Real estate licensees and landlords who know of defective Chinese drywall in a dwelling unit must disclose the information to a prospective tenant or buyer. A tenant can terminate the lease if the disclosure is not made within 60 days of the discovery.

Homestead exemptions: A new law adds one family firearm, not exceeding $3,000 in value, to the list of items exempt from creditors. It also increases the maximum exemption for a motor vehicle from $2,000 to $6,000.

Civil law
Protective orders: A law expands the availability of protective orders to any violent, forceful or threatening behavior that results in injury or places one at reasonable risk of death, sexual assault or injury. The orders will now be available regardless of the relationship of the parties involved, removing barriers for non-family members, such as people in dating relationships.

Foreign adoptions: In some cases, adoption of a child in a foreign country will be recognized in Virginia and the parents will not be required to readopt the child. The law also streamlines the process to obtain a certificate of birth for a child adopted in another country and brought into the U.S.

Sexual abuse: Minors who are victims of sexual abuse will now have 20 years from the time of the incident to file a civil lawsuit. The previous statute of limitations was two years.

Criminal justice
Correctional facilities: The Department of Corrections must offer to test an inmate, who does not have a record of a positive test result, for infection with HIV within 60 days of his scheduled discharge. An inmate may decline being tested.

Reckless handling of firearms: For a first offense of reckless handling of firearms, a person’s hunting or trapping license can be revoked for up to five years and for one year to life for a second offense. Currently, a first offense results in a revocation for one year to life and a second offense results in a revocation for an additional period not to exceed five years.

Bond: Use of GPS technology will be allowed for tracking people on secured bond or as a condition of probation or suspended sentence.

Search warrants: Makes the affidavit for a search warrant publicly available only after the warrant has been executed, or 15 days after issuance of the warrant, whichever is earlier.

School year: A school district may begin classes before Labor Day if it is surrounded by other districts that already have a waiver from the state to begin school early. The law was proposed on behalf of the city of Roanoke.

Environment and natural resources
Oysters: The law provides that oysters in the shell may be bought or sold by half bushel or one bushel metallic containers or a container of not less than 2,800 cubic inches and not more than 3,000 cubic inches, the make and model of which has been approved by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission. Current law prohibits buying or selling oysters in the shell by any measure other than metallic circular tubs with specific dimensions established by law.

Hunting/fishing licenses: Hunters, fishers and trappers will be able to obtain multiple year licenses from the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries. The cost for each year cannot exceed the cost of a single-year license.

Produce: Agricultural produce or eggs will be exempt from the sales and use tax when sold in farmers markets and at roadside stands if the seller’s annual income from sales does not exceed $1,000.

Funding: The new Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank will make loans to private or public entities and grants to localities for transportation projects.

Traffic lights: Motorcycles, mo-peds and bicycles will be allowed to proceed through red lights so long as the rider comes to a complete stop for 120 seconds, treats the light as a stop sign and determines that it is safe to proceed.

Jury duty: Firefighters, which include emergency medical technicians, lifesaving and rescue squad members and arson investigators, will be exempt from jury service if they request.

Deceased voters: Even if an absentee voter dies before Election Day, the vote still will count so long as the voter was entitled to vote when he cast the ballot.

License plates: Several series of special license plates were authorized by this year’s General Assembly, including the tea-party-themed “Don’t Tread On Me” and “In God We Trust” plates. Others approved include Blue Ridge Parkway, James River Park System and War of 1812 bicentennial plates.

Powerball Price Will Double To Play - Odds To Win Improve

Associated Press
The price of a Powerball ticket will double next year, but the chances of winning will be easier and the starting jackpot will be going up, too.

The changes will coincide with the 20th anniversary of Powerball in 2012.

Lottery officials say starting Jan.15, the price of a Powerball ticket will go from $1 to $2.

The first five numbers will still be chosen from 1 to 59, but the Powerball number will shrink from 39 to 35 available numbers, giving players better odds.

The starting top prize will double to $40 million. The prize for matching the first five numbers but not the Powerball also will increase to $1 million, up from $200,000.

Powerball is played in 42 states, including Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia, and in Washington, D.C.


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Launch From NASA Cancelled Until Wednesday

The ORS-1 launch scheduled from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility was postponed for today due to lightening in the surrounding areas. Hoping that there will be a launch tomorrow evening.
Some of the areas we were pelted with rain blown by heavy winds. Then came the sharp lightening and lots of loud rolling thunder!
Then a rainbow...............or two.

18-Year-Old Arrested For Rape In Pocomoke

POCOMOKE CITYPolice say an investigation into a reported sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl led to the arrest of an 18-year-old man.

Charles D. Reynolds, 18, of the 700 block of Second Street in Pocomoke City has been charged with second-degree rape and third-degree sex offense, according to court records and police. He allegedly committed the offenses on June 10; a police news release said he confessed to the crimes in a June 21 interview. A week earlier, police said, they interviewed the victim of the assault.

Reynolds was initially held on $75,000 bond. Court records show bond was lowered to $25,000 after a bond review hearing on June 23, and that Reynolds was subsequently released on bond.

A preliminary hearing in District Court is set for July 19.

Source;|newswell|text|Worcester County Times|s

One-Armed National Guard Vet Catches Foul Ball

At Friday night's Yankee game, an injured war veteran made the catch of the game when snagging a foul ball with his hat in his hand.

Retired Staff Sgt. Michael Kacer received a standing ovation for the grab, having done it all with one arm! Kacer was attending the game with the Achilles Freedom Team, on organization that sets up races for wounded warriors to get back on their feet after returning home.

Kacer, who lost his arm in a rocket attack in Afghanistan, gave the foul ball to his nephew, Isaiah.


Senator Ralph S. Northam Recognized by the Virginia Sheriffs' Association

Senator Ralph S. Northam will receive the Outstanding Legislative Service Award by the Virginia Sheriffs' Association. He was elected by the Association to receive this prestigious award because of his support for sheriffs and deputy sheriffs across the Commonwealth.

"Because of Senator Northam's insistence on supporting law enforcement and his relationships with other members of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates, the Association has chosen to recognize him this year with the Outstanding Legislative Service Award. Senator Northam has the respect of the other members of the General Assembly and was a spokesman supporting public safety on numerous occasions in the 2011 General Assembly," said John W. Jones, executive director, Virginia Sheriffs Association.

The Virginia Sheriffs' Association represents more than 8,600 sheriffs and deputies across Virginia, and each year recognizes certain legislators who have demonstrated their willingness to support law enforcement legislative initiatives in the Virginia General Assembly.

The award will be presented to Senator Northam by the sheriffs in his district, at the Virginia Sheriffs Association annual banquet on September 13, 2011, at the Norfolk Waterside Marriott.


August Execution Set For Virginia Inmate

Associated Press
by Dena Potter

A Virginia inmate who was sentenced to death for raping and killing an elderly woman in 2001 is facing an August execution.

Jerry Terrell Jackson, 29, is scheduled to be executed Aug. 18 for the murder of 88-year-old Ruth Phillips of Williamsburg.

If Jackson chooses lethal injection over electrocution, he would be the first Virginia inmate executed under a new drug protocol that replaces the sedative sodium thiopental in the three-drug cocktail with pentobarbital.

A nationwide shortage of sodium thiopental forced many states to substitute pentobarbital, but some have questioned its use. Defense attorneys called for an investigation after a Georgia inmate executed last week using the new drug appeared to struggle during the lethal injection.

Courts have ruled that the change in drugs is not significant enough to postpone executions.

Virginia is one of few states that allow inmates a choice of execution methods. Jackson will not be asked to decide until 15 days before his scheduled execution, Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor said.

Attorneys for Jackson did not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment. They are likely to appeal Jackson's case to the U.S. Supreme Court and ask Gov. Bob McDonnell to commute his sentence to life in prison.

"Justice will finally be carried out for the commonwealth and the family of Mrs. Ruth Phillips," Attorney General's Office spokesman Brian Gottstein said.

Jackson's attorneys have argued that his trial attorneys failed to present evidence of his extreme abuse as a child, which could have convinced jurors to spare his life. A federal judge agreed and ordered a new sentencing hearing for Jackson last year, but the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals blocked that hearing on a technicality in April.

"I think it's about time. I think it's really overdue," said Richard Phillips, Ruth Phillips' son, who found his mother dead after she failed to show up for church. "The law is the law, and if we don't respect the law and stand by the law, what have we got? Nothing?"

Phillips said he does not plan to witness the execution.

"There have been times where you want to have vengeance, but that's not my thing," he said.

Ruth Phillips, a widow for 30 years, followed her son to Virginia from New Hampshire in the late '90s. She worked as a seamstress making slip covers and draperies until her death, Richard Phillips said.

Jackson admitted to police that he broke into Ruth Phillips' apartment on Aug. 26, 2001, and that he put a pillow over her face to try to make her pass out once she awoke and caught him rummaging through her purse. He told police he left in Phillips' car and used the $60 to buy marijuana. He said he had not intended to kill Phillips.

At trial, Jackson said he lied to police and that an accomplice smothered Phillips. He denied raping Phillips, but prosecutors presented pubic hairs matching Jackson's DNA that were found around her body. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 2003.

Phillips said Jackson's attorneys should not try to fight the execution. Once it has been determined that Jackson was guilty and that the conviction was appropriate, "that's the time to hang it up," he said. He encouraged them to be concerned not only with their client, but with the victims.

"If they were really thinking about compassion and justice, they would let it go," he said.