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Week in review – 8/17/12

Mechanic’s time almost up

The ultra-modern Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, once part of Baltimore’s urban renaissance, could be removed from the city’s Special List for historic preservation next month following a public hearing, clearing the way for its demolition by year’s end. The 45-year-old theater, formerly home to traveling Broadway hits like “Annie” and “South Pacific,” was itself the subject of great drama this week during a two-hour hearing before the city’s Commission for Historical & Architectural Preservation near City Hall.

O’Malley signs gambling bill

Abouit 10 hours after the General Assembly adjourned its second special session in a marathon legislative season, Gov. Martin O’Malley praised, then signed, a gambling expansion bill that he hopes will put an end to persistent legislative gridlock caused by the divisive issue. The bill’s fate in the Senate was never in doubt after the House of Delegates amended it heavily, then passed it in a 71-58 vote, collecting the minimum number of votes needed for passage.

Harford Sheriff’s Dept. sued over halted CPR

A sheriff deputy’s decision to stop a Good Samaritan from performing CPR on a man suffering from a heart attack ultimately caused his death, according to a $4 million wrongful death lawsuit filed in Harford County Circuit Court. The lawsuit was filed by the family of Rev. Bob Tompkins, 57, of Belcamp, who suffered a heart attack at home in November. Named in the lawsuit are the Harford County Sheriff’s Department and Deputy First Class Ronnell Webb, who was first on the scene after a 911 call was placed.

Dry weather reduces bay’s ‘dead zone’

The size of the Chesapeake Bay’s low-oxygen “dead zone” is down, and this year’s dry weather is getting the credit. Samples taken last week found 11.8 percent of the bay had oxygen levels in the water too low to support life, nearly half of the long-term average for this time of year. And that’s down from about 30 percent in July, which typically is when the zone peaks each year, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said. Dry weather this year is being credited for keeping pollution from washing into the bay.

Back from Belize, Pappas denied bail

Over protestations that he had been illegally “kidnapped” from his beachfront condo in the Central American country of Belize, Creative Pipe CEO Mark T. Pappas was denied bail and will remain jailed, pending a civil contempt hearing on Friday. Pappas, 45, owes more than $3 million in outstanding damages and sanctions stemming from what started as a routine spat over the design of site furnishings, such as park benches and waste containers, for state and municipal use. An arrest warrant for Pappas was issued on Dec. 28, 2011, after he missed court dates and failed to make required payments to Dunkirk, Md.-based Victor Stanley Inc., whose designs the Southern California-based businessman was determined to have stolen.

Light Street repairs to be done by Monday

Nearly a month after a 20-inch water main burst downtown, buckling pavement on Light Street near Redwood Street, city officials say repairs are expected to be completed by Monday. Department of Public Works’ workers working to repair the damage caused by the July 16 break near the city’s waterfront say that the work will wrap up by Aug. 20. Originally, city officials had estimated that the repairs on the two-block stretch of Light Street from Baltimore to Lombard streets would take about three weeks.

Baltimore Co. workers’ cost for benefits to rise

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced an agreement with several county employee bargaining units that will see many employees’ health care contributions rise 5 percent over a three-year period, beginning in 2015. Employees’ prescription drug costs also will rise, according to the announcement. The bargaining units that negotiated with county officials represent general government employees; public health nurses; police; firefighters; supervisors, managers and some clerical workers; and deputy sheriffs. Public school teachers, librarians, community college staff and revenue authority workers are not covered by the agreement.

Movie to film in O.C.

“Ping Pong Summer,” an independent film, will begin six weeks of shooting in Ocean City in September. Described as a coming-of-age comedy set in Ocean City during the 1980s, it is based on screenwriter and director (and Maryland native) Michael Tully’s annual vacations at the beach. The cast includes Academy Award winner Susan Sarandon, Amy Sedaris and John Hannah. The Maryland Film Office estimates the production could result in the hiring of 90 local crew, actors and extras, and the purchase or renting of goods and services from more than 140 Maryland businesses.