Fears of violence strain a blood-stained block in Baltimore

Fear is as fresh as the stubborn blood stains on the street in the 900 block of Bennett Place. Three men have been killed this year on this short stretch of three-story row homes, two within seven days of each other last month. Parents lock their children inside and few residents will talk about the violence, worried they could be next if they say the wrong thing. (Balt. Sun)

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Chesapeake Bay gets 'C' health grade

The Chesapeake Bay's health improved last year, University of Maryland scientists reported, and the leader of the troubled estuary's annual checkup said he sees signs the cleanup effort is making progress. The bay's overall health earned a 'C' grade for 2012, up from a D-plus the year before, according to the analysis by UM's Center for Environmental Science. (Balt. Sun)

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Montgomery special education program under investigation

The idea was to teach students at Rock Terrace School about money management in a real-life setting. Special education students would take a bus about two miles to a now-defunct teachers’ credit union during the school day. They withdrew cash from personal accounts that school employees helped them open. And when they finished, students handed envelopes full of money to adults. But it is unclear where exactly the money went after it left the bank. (Wash. Post)

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HUD, city reach $150,000 settlement for public housing residents with disabilities

Baltimore's housing agency must pay a public housing resident $150,000 because the city failed to accommodate the woman's request to be moved, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced. It also must pay the resident's attorneys $10,000, increase exposure of its reasonable accommodation policies and procedures, train staff about those policies and "submit regular reports to HUD on its efforts to promptly respond to reasonable accommodation requests," HUD said in a statement. (Balt. Sun)

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Heiser's departure from North County High seen as blow to Arundel schools

At a recent Anne Arundel County school board meeting, members bemoaned losing one of the district's most prominent and influential leaders to a neighboring county. They weren't talking about Superintendent Kevin Maxwell's departure to take a similar post in Prince George's County. Instead, they were lamenting the loss of Bill Heiser, the principal of North County High School and recent Principal of the Year honoree, who departed to become principal of Catonsville High in Baltimore County. (Balt. Sun)

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City employees using Zipcar to get around town

When Baltimore crossing guard supervisors make their rounds, they're apt to be driving cars emblazoned not with the familiar city seal but with a "Z" — for Zipcar, the vehicle-sharing service that allows members to rent cars by the hour for short trips. The supervisors are among two dozen Transportation Department employees who use the nationwide service that launched in Baltimore in 2010. To date, the agency says it has spent $63,000 on Zipcar use. (Balt. Sun)

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Biologists look for ways to make the bay a better home for ducks

These are tough times for the ducks that winter on the Chesapeake Bay. Threatened food sources and an imperiled habitat are forcing migrating waterfowl to look for other winter digs. Alicia Berlin hopes to unlock the formula to win them back. (Balt. Sun)

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Montgomery cultivates a new crop of farmers

By night, Mark Mills is apastry chef at Washington’s Blue Duck Tavern. But being a fine hand with the icing spatula didn’t completely prepare him for his new day job: spreading compost with a shovel on his very own farm near Poolesville. Mills’s sudden shift backward in the food chain — from the strawberry tart to the strawberry seeds — came through a new Montgomery County effort to match wannabe farmers with unused farmland in the county’s vast Agricultural Reserve. (Wash. Post)

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