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Arthur Heads Up East Coast, A Wednesday Heat Advisory, Budget Cuts, & Baltimore Homicides

National Weather Service

What’s now Tropical Storm Arthur is likely to become a hurricane today; the storm’s traveling up the East Coast and its effects could be felt in Ocean City.

A Heat Advisory is in effect today, with highs in the mid to upper 90s; Baltimore City has declared a Code Red Heat Alert. Governor O’Malley will ask the Board of Public Works to approve $77-million in budget cuts. Baltimore homicides are down in the first 6 months of 2014. Plus: summer meals for children, crabbing restrictions, Induction Day at the US Naval Academy, and more.Arthur Heads Up The East Coast: The first hurricane of the Atlantic Storm Season might affect Maryland beachgoers on the Fourth of July. Right now, that system is Tropical Storm Arthur, but it’s likely to become a Category One hurricane today. The latest tracking map has Arthur passing well east of the Maryland coast on Friday, but that would likely mean rain, high winds and some rough surf at Ocean City tomorrow and on Independence Day Friday. The Daily Times has more.

Head Advisory, Code Red Heat Alert: It’s going to be a hot one, with highs in the mid to upper 90s likely this afternoon, and heat index values expected to be in the triple digits. The National Weather Service has issued a Heat Advisory from noon through 7pm. And Baltimore City has declared a Code Red Heat Alert today – the city’s cooling centers will open up at 9, to provide air conditioning and cold water to those that need it. You can call 311 to find the location of the cooling center nearest you (or check out this list of their locations). Health officials urge you to avoid strenuous outdoors activities today, to stay hydrated, and to check in on people in your community who may need help responding to the heat.

O’Malley To Ask For Budget Cuts: Governor Martin O’Malley will ask the state’s Board of Public Works to approve about $77-million in budget cuts today. About $56-million of those cuts will come from state agencies’ operating budgets, with another $10-million coming from public universities. The Washington Post reports that O’Malley’s cuts include the elimination of 61 vacant government jobs. The cuts will amount to about half of a percent of the state’s $16.1-billion spending plan, approved earlier this year by the General Assembly. O’Malley says the cuts are needed to keep the budget in balance, because tax revenues don’t appear to be on pace to meet the original projections. The Baltimore Sun reports that O’Malley is also planning to save another $7-million in budget actions that don’t require approval from the Board of Public Works.

Homicides Down In Baltimore: Homicides are down in Baltimore for the first half of the year. The Baltimore Sun reports that 97 people were murdered in the city during the first 6 months of 2014… last year, 115 murders took place during the same period. A police spokesman credits commanders and police officers for the reduction… but notes that the year’s only halfway over, and says “we still have a long way to go.” By nearly all metrics, Baltimore is one of the most violent major cities in the United States. But this year, it appears that crime rates are down significantly in most categories – including nonfatal shootings, robberies, and aggravated assaults. In all, total violent crime is down about 17 percent this year.

Summer Meals For Underprivileged Children: Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has announced an expansion of the city's program to feed underprivileged kids during the summer months. The mayor says their goal is to provide one-and-a-half-million meals to kids this summer in Baltimore. That's about a 20-percent increase from last year's program. The city’s also looking to ramp up its Mobile Meals program, which delivers meals to kids in city neighborhoods. This summer, that program is expected to provide more than five times the number of meals it did last year. Baltimore County is also expanding its programs to feed low-income children, and is offering free lunches at four public libraries this summer. There’s more here from the Baltimore Sun and here from WJZ.

Social Security Nominee Likely To Face Bipartisan Grilling: WYPR's Fraser Smith and John Fritze of the Baltimore Sun talk about the nomination of Marylander Carolyn Colvin to head the Social Security Administration, and why she's likely to face tough questions from both parties during her confirmation hearings. It's this morning's edition of Inside Maryland Politics.

DNR Plans To Restrict Crab Harvest: The Maryland Department of Natural Resources is hammering out a plan to restrict the female crab harvest. Officials plan to meet July 9th to finalize details. A dredge survey last winter showed the female crab count in the Chesapeake Bay was much lower than expected. Officials want to reduce the female crab catch by ten-percent. They hope to have the restrictions in place by September. The Capital Gazette has more.

Induction Day At The US Naval Academy: It was “I-Day” in Annapolis yesterday. Induction Day, that is. Nearly 12-hundred students officially became midshipmen at the US Naval Academy. The class includes 889 men and 303 women – the Capital Gazette reports that’s the largest number of women ever to enter the Academy in the same class. The students came from all over the country to get their uniforms and sign their Oath of Office. The midshipmen will become the Naval Academy's class of 2018.

SPIDRE Marks One Year In Operation: Maryland State Police are marking the one-year anniversary of SPIDRE. SPIDRE stands for State Police Impaired Driving Effort; it’s a program aimed at reducing DUI-related crashes and fatalities. Police and state officials plan to discuss the program's successes today, and outline new efforts to battle impaired driving. More than 850 people died in alcohol-related crashes in Maryland between 2009 and last year. More here.

Gate Stolen From Battle Acre Monument Park: Baltimore County Police are on the lookout for the thieves who stole the historic wrought iron gates from the entrance of Battle Acre Monument Park. Police responded to the park for a report of a theft and found that a contractor discovered the gates missing on Monday. Investigators have given area scrap metal dealers photos of the gates in case someone tries to sell them. The Baltimore Sun has more.

Thurmont’s Trolley Trail To Be Paved: The Frederick County town of Thurmont is getting nearly $150-thousand in Project Open Space funds to pave the Trolley Trail. That trail runs through the town, along the line of a former trolley that used to serve parts of Frederick County. Town officials tell the Frederick News Post that paving the trail will make it easier to maintain, and prevent washouts.

Baltimore Baseball: The Orioles beat the Texas Rangers yesterday – 8 to 3 was the score. The O’s will try to do it again tonight, in a game set to start at 7:05pm at Camden Yards

Washington Baseball: the Washington Nationals beat the Colorado Rockies yesterday; the score there: 7 to 1.