Issuu on Google+

On the MARCH & The Gazette Clarice Smith Center reveals the past, future of civil rights. B-1 SERVING NORTHERN AND CENTRAL PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY COMMUNITIES DAILY UPDATES ONLINE Thursday, September 5, 2013 25 cents Voter fraud a problem in county, group says New start for Brentwood police force n Interim chief hired to rebuild department BY ERIC GOLDWEIN STAFF WRITER The Brentwood Police Department is starting over, from scratch. The town let go of the department’s only remaining full-time employee — Chief Jason Copeland — and hired interim chief Samuel Prue of Fort Washington on Aug. 20 to rebuild the force, which was disbanded in 1972 and reinstated in 2009. “The force never got established properly when they reformed it a few years ago, so we’re hoping to do it the right way this time,” Councilman Jason Barnett said. The town also hired John O’Connor on Aug. 26 as a full-time officer. O’Connor worked under Prue in Seat Pleasant’s 14-member police department, where Prue was the chief from 2010 to 2012. According to O’Connor, the Brentwood force has been mismanaged since its reinstatement, with slow response times and inefficient budgeting. Brentwood Mayor Betty-Jean Schmiedigen said Copeland, who became chief in March, was relieved of his duties Aug. 2 “for personal reasons which cannot be disclosed.” Copeland could not be reached for comment. Schmiedigen and the Town Council, all newly elected May 6, approved funds in June to add two additional part-time officers to the force and a full-time officer this fiscal year. The town had one full-time officer and one police chief position before the fiscal 2014 budget was passed. By the end November, O’Connor said the department will include a chief; two full-time officers; two part-time officers; and five volunteer reserve officers, which are unpaid positions. One of the reserve positions will be converted into a fulltime officer if officials are able to find additional revenue in the budget. “We have the benefit of having a more pro-police department council,” said Jeff Clark, a former Brentwood councilman. See POLICE, Page A-7 Nonprofit says thousands used false information in last election n BY SOPHIE PETIT STAFF WRITER soil and blocking the trees’ access to sunlight, Knox said. The students were members of the CIVICUS and College Park Scholars programs. Both are living and learning two-year programs geared toward providing academically talented university students with an experience similar to a small liberal arts college through communal on-campus housing and providing program-specific courses with an emphasis on civic responsibility. Students from both groups turned out for the living and learning programs’ “Service Day,” working to cut back the spread of kudzu Dead Prince George’s County residents apparently still care about who is president and came out in droves to vote in last year’s election, according to the findings of a Maryland nonprofit group that tracks state voting registrations. The volunteer-driven Election Integrity Maryland, which has 169 members, found 2,400 out of 3,500 voter records had “irregularities” — mainly dead people voting and people voting under invalid addresses, said Cathy Kelleher, president of the statewide-based nonprofit. State and county officials said they looked into the findings and could not confirm all the irregularities. She said not keeping voter lists “clean” is a violation of the National Voter Registration Act that requires states to maintain timely and accurate voter registration lists for federal elections. Dead people registering to vote or casting votes is considered voter fraud and cases are sent to the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor. Violators can face jail time, state election officials said. Since the watchdog group’s creation in 2011, it has filed challenges with the Maryland Board of Elections regarding Prince George’s voter list in May and July of 2012, Kelleher said. “The [state] board did what they always do, and they did nothing,” she said, referring to the group’s first two filings. “We do not feel they have adequately demonstrated they’ve been looking into these matters ... If we do get a response, it’s a partial response.” Mary Cramer Wagner, director of the Maryland Board of Elections’ voter registration and petition division, said she received the group’s reports and, following protocol, turned them over to the county, which constantly audits county lists. “List maintenance is an ongoing daily process,” Wagner said. See KUDZU, Page A-7 See FRAUD, Page A-8 DAN GROSS/THE GAZETTE (From left) University of Maryland, College Park, students Mary Liddi, 19; Paola Palacios, 20; Hannah Werblin, 20; and Alex Kirshner, 19, spent part of Aug. 29 working to remove invasive kudzu vines at Scott Cove along the Patuxent River as part of the university’s service day activities. Battling kudzu TO PROTECT n Approximately 120 students clear invasive plant from WSSC land in Laurel BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU STAFF WRITER Approximately 120 University of Maryland, College Park, students turned out along a narrow stretch of road in north Laurel to do battle against an invasive species of vine threatening trees along the Patuxent River. “The kudzu is really prevalent here, so we’re trying to get rid of it,” said sophomore Lindsey Ganey as she stood on a steep embankment THE PATUXENT pulling kudzu off a tree. “It’s pretty hard work,” said Ganey, 19, of College Park. “There’s so much of it, but it’s not good for the trees.” The students, dubbed “kudzu crusaders” by Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission community outreach manager Kimberly Knox, spent the morning and part of the afternoon Aug. 29 pulling kudzu vines on a stretch of WSSC property running along the Patuxent’s north bank. Kudzu is an ornamental vine native to Japan that has gotten out of control in parts of the United States, covering trees and shrubs in ropy vines, leeching nutrients from the Greenbelt blogger named city’s outstanding citizen Computer engineer posted more than 8,000 photos during city’s anniversary n BY JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU STAFF WRITER Greenbelt’s newest Outstanding Citizen of the Year is more accustomed to being the man behind the camera rather than in front of it. In fact, Eric Zhang, 40, continued to take pictures even after he was announced as Greenbelt’s 41st Outstanding Citizen of the Year at the start of Greenbelt’s Labor Day NEWS A LOT OF CONTENTION Thomas G. Pullen Creative and Performing Arts School parents frustrated with parking lot delay, upkeep. A-4 festivities Friday for his photo documentary blog. “I was greatly surprised,” Zhang said. “They asked me to come take photos at the Labor Day Festival, so I brought my camera.” Bob Zugby, chairman of the Greenbelt Outstanding Citizen Selection Committee, said most of Zhang’s predecessors have been long-time residents of the city, well-known for their volunteer accomplishments. Zhang, who moved to Greenbelt in 2010, has become well-known throughout the city for documenting Greenbelt’s 75th anniversary, from Jan. 1 to Dec, 31, 2012. “We felt that his dedication over the last year was so intense and continuing that we were not able to ignore that, even though there were a number of highly qualified people for the honor,” Zugby said. Zhang, a married computer engineer and father of two, with a third child on the way, found time in his busy schedule to document people and events in Greenbelt throughout the year, posting them on his blog, Greenbelt in 2012 (greenbelt2012. Zhang not only captured images of Greenbelt with his Nikon D700, but also See CITIZEN, Page A-8 SPORTS LET’S GET IT STARTED County’s top football teams in 4A and 3A/2A/1A leagues square off this weekend. A-11 Automotive JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU/THE GAZETTE Eric Zhang, Greenbelt’s 2013 Outstanding Citizen of the Year, is welcomed on stage by Greenbelt Rotary President-Elect Mark Fuerst. The Greenbelt Rotary is a sponsor of the award. B-10 Calendar A-2 Classified B-8 Community News A-4 Entertainment B-1 Opinion A-9 Sports B-1 Please RECYCLE Check out our Services Directory ADVERTISING INSIDE B SECTION 1906615

Laurel 090513

Related publications