Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department President William Broadus. Several months after the trial ended, the nature of the crimes alleged to have been committed by Steven King have been revealed. King pled guilty in September to charges of embezzlement from the Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department, where formerly served as president of the volunteer squad. The new details were disclosed in an interview with Denise Roberts, spokesperson for the Prince George’s County’s Office of the State’s Attorney. “Basically, he was living at the Fire Department, he was president of the Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department and he used company credit cards for personal expenses,” said Roberts.
Local government officials from several Route 1 corridor towns met with a representative of CSX Corp. this past week to try to find remedies for complaints familiar to anyone who’s ever lived within earshot of a railroad. The complaints included concerns about speeding trains, idling locomotives next to residential neighborhoods, fears of structurally-damaging vibrations and late-night train horns from passing freight liners, risks posed by the transportation of hazardous materials by rail, and the nuisance of late-night track maintenance work. After the meeting, it remains unclear what local or state government leaders can do to remedy these issues. Broadly speaking, local governments have little to no regulatory power over interstate railroads.
A lawsuit challenging the consolidation of the volunteer fire departments operating out of the Bunker Hill Fire Station continues to move ahead. This week, lawyers for both sides will be in court for a hearing on pending pre-trail disputes and motions, set for Nov. 20, 2018, in Upper Marlboro. According to a scheduling order issued by presiding judge John Davey, the pre-trial phase of the suit is expected to end by Jan. 30, 2019.
For the first time since the program began, Cottage City has been certified as a Sustainable Maryland town. It joins more than 35 cities across Maryland recognized for environmental stewardship policy leadership by the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland. Additionally, Mount Rainier and Laurel’s environmental policy efforts saw those Prince George’s County municipalities re-certified as Sustainable Maryland communities. To achieve certification, municipalities must form a Green Team comprised of local residents, community leaders, municipal staff and officials and complete a variety sustainability-related projects. Points are given depending on the type of the project undertaken Cities must earn at least 150 such points and submit the appropriate documentation as evidence that the Sustainable Maryland Certified requirements have been satisfied.
Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department’s quest to replace two of its aging fire trucks is being hampered by a lack of funding from many municipalities served by the department. At its August 15, 2018, meeting, Brentwood Town Council had harsh words for surrounding municipalities, alleging their failure to fund the Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department puts their communities at risk. During that meeting, Council considered and approved a funding request submitted by William Broadus, chief and president of the Brentwood Volunteer Fire Department. “I don’t feel fair that we are the only ones that put money in there and you have to service all of them,” said Brentwood Mayor Rocio Treminio-Lopez during discussion of the funding request. In all, it was a small measure.
As it appeals a lower court decision over the fate of the Bladensburg Peace Cross, the Maryland-National Capital Parks and Planning Commission is asking for help from Bladensburg-area cities. Specifically, M-NCPPC officials have been approaching Prince George’s County’s “Port Towns” – the municipalities of Bladensburg, Colmar Manor, Cottage City and Edmonston whose history is linked to the old port of Bladensburg – to ask if they would like to co-sign on an amicus brief to be filed with the Supreme Court supporting the appeal at no cost to the municipalities. Amicus briefs – also called “friend of the court” brief,” are filed with Supreme Court cases by third parties to argue on side of an issue or another – At its meeting this past week, Edmonston Town Council considered the offer without taking action. The consensus was to see what the MNCPPC brief says before taking final action. In 2017, a federal appeals court ruled the Bladensburg Peace Cross, by virtue of its shape, unnecessarily entangled the government in religion.