Judge says Purple Line needs more study of Metro’s ridership and safety issues

A federal judge on Monday ordered Maryland officials to further scrutinize the potential impact of Metro’s declining ridership on the future Purple Line, further delaying construction of the light-rail project in the Washington suburbs and jeopardizing its chances to secure critical federal funding. The ruling means major construction on the 16-mile line connecting Montgomery and Prince George’s counties remains on hold until a federal lawsuit filed by Purple Line opponents is resolved. Construction already has been delayed seven months because of the lawsuit. The decision by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon also greatly jeopardizes the project’s chances at $900 million in federal con struction grants and threatens a $5.6 billion public-private partnership. (Wash. Post)

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Tougher laws, more services for human trafficking victims sought in Howard County

A 21-year-old human trafficking victim sat unnoticed in a waiting room in Howard County General Hospital nearly three years ago with her trafficker, Rowland Duffey, to get insulin. Court records show Duffey lured the 21-year-old with promises of a romantic relationship. He would traffick her up and down the East Coast and to an Extended Stay in Columbia, Howard County Circuit Court records show. The case was a turning point for the Howard County State's Attorney's office, prosecutors said, where human trafficking was akin to a much lesser offense — pandering — and victims were once seen as willing participants in the sex trade. The $150 billion global sex industry has wound its way into the suburbs of Howard County, from downtrodden motels on Route 1 to a hotel in Columbia. (Ho. Co. Times)

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Baltimore pharmacies ready for over-the-counter sales of heroin overdose drug

A new state standing order goes into effect June 1 in Baltimore that will expand access to naloxone, a medication that reverses the effects of opioid overdose. And city pharmacists are preparing for the shift. The move is another step in the effort to reduce opioid deaths in the state and city. Gov. Larry Hogan has declared Maryland's opioid epidemic a state of emergency, after fatal heroin overdoses nearly doubled between January and September 2016 compared to the previous year, and fentanyl deaths quadrupled. In total, deaths from these two opioid drugs spiked to 1,656. In March, Hogan signed an executive order for $50 million in new funding to go toward addressing the crisis. (Balt. Bus. Journal)

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SHA makes adjustments to ease Aberdeen's Route 22 congestion

Motorists may begin to see some relief in the traffic congestion along Route 22 in Aberdeen between Beards Hill and Paradise Road, where construction has been going on for more than three years. Representatives from Maryland State Highway Administration, who attended the most recent Aberdeen City Council meeting, heard from a handful of Aberdeen business owners and residents about lost business and travel problems because of the continued construction and incredibly long waits to go short distances around the construction zone. (Aegis)

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Five Baltimore officers from Freddie Gray case face internal discipline; three could be fired

Five Baltimore police officers involved in the 2015 arrest and death of Freddie Gray have been charged with violating department rules, with three of them facing termination, The Baltimore Sun has learned. The three who face firing are Officer Caesar Goodson, who was driving the van where an autopsy determined Gray suffered fatal injuries; and supervisors Lt. Brian Rice and Sgt. Alicia White, according to sources with knowledge of the case. (Balt. Sun)

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At this Maryland vinyl fest, the wax will never wane

Half the used albums on Greg Greenstein’s table at the Arbutus Record & CD Show are marked with little price-tag stickers that say “Meat” and the other half are marked with little stickers that say “Produce.” Greg, a dealer from Moneta, Va., southwest of Lynchburg, gets the price tags free from a friend in the grocery business. Who is he to look a price-tag gift horse in the mouth? The Arbutus Record & CD Show happens monthly in the volunteer fire department hall in Arbutus, Md. On the third Sunday of the month — usually; this month’s show is the fourth Sunday, May 28 — dozens of dealers haul in LPs, singles, box sets, CDs, posters and other music-related ephemera. (Wash. Post)

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Baltimore 4-H expo brings an urban vibe to a rural pillar

Not an oink or a moo could be heard as Baltimore's 4-H program gathered Saturday for its annual expo just blocks from Mondawmin Mall. About the closest to a rural feel at the event at Baltimore City Community College was a booth selling products by Weber's Cider Mill Farm. But the adults and children shaking it as Desiree George led a Zumba dance class outside the Life Sciences Building didn't seem to mind the urban vibe. To the tune of Fifth Harmony's "I'm Worth It," they worked it. "It's a wonderful event. It's a community event," George said. (Balt. Sun)

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May 22 // Baltimore City Council members say budget must include Safe Streets funding

Several Baltimore City Council members said Friday they will not support a budget for next year that does not include funding for the Safe Streets violence prevention program. Safe Streets, credited with curbing violence through mediation at offices in four city neighborhoods, could close if the city does come up with $1.5 million, said Councilman Brandon Scott, chairman of the Public Safety Committee. (Balt. Sun)

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