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Tuesday Night’s Storms, Smallpox Found At NIH, Wayne Curry Remembered, & MD’s AAA Bond Rating

Nathan Sterner

Severe thunderstorms ripped across Central Maryland last night, downing trees and power lines. A look at the wake of the storms, plus: smallpox found at NIH, remembering Wayne Curry, MD’s AAA bond rating, Baltimore homicides, a runway closure at BWI, and more.

Tuesday Night’s Storms: Severe thunderstorms ripped across Central Maryland last night, downing trees and power lines. One child was killed and eight others were injured at a Carroll County summer camp when tree branches fell during the storm. The injured children were taken to local hospitals. Authorities tell the Baltimore Sun that the kids had been playing outside and were running for safety when the storm hit. The storm knocked out power for more than 130-thousand Maryland homes and businesses… and tens of thousands of BGE customers were still in the dark on Wednesday morning. You can report an outage to the utility by calling 877-778-2222.

Smallpox Found In MD: Several vials of smallpox were discovered in Maryland last week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the vials labeled "variola" were found in a storage room at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda. The vials apparently date back to the 1950s. Only two labs in the world are supposed to have samples of the disease… and the Bethesda lab is not one of them. Maryland Health Secretary Doctor Joshua Sharfstein says an investigation is coming. The CDC is now checking to see if the smallpox is still viable; afterward, it plans to destroy the samples. The Baltimore Sun has more.

Prince George's County's Wayne Curry Remembered: WYPR's Fraser Smith and Ovetta Wiggins of The Washington Post talk about the leadership of Wayne K. Curry, the first black County Executive of Prince George's County, who died last week. It’s this morning’s edition of Inside Maryland Politics.

Curry To Lie In State Today: Marylanders will have an opportunity to say goodbye to former Prince George’s County Executive Wayne Curry, who died last week of lung cancer. He will lie in state today in the Prince George's County Administration Building from 9am to 7pm. Curry’s funeral will take place tomorrow at First Baptist Church of Glenarden, with public visitation starting at 9:30am. The Capital Gazette has more.

AAA Bond Rating Reaffirmed: Maryland has retained its coveted AAA bond rating. Yesterday, three major agencies that set the rating agreed to keep Maryland's at the highest level. Only eight other states have their bonds rated AAA. Governor Martin O’Malley characterizes the news as an endorsement of what he calls his “fiscally responsible approach” to governing. When a state sells bonds it pays them back with interest and a good bond rating means lower interest – saving taxpayers money. Bonds are sold to finance projects like hospital or school construction – and Maryland's getting ready to sell around $800-million worth of bonds this month. The Baltimore Sun has more.

Baltimore Homicides: Homicides are down in Baltimore this year. 103 murders were reported during the first 6 months of 2014… 32 less than had been reported during the same period last year. In fact, it’s the lowest mid-year total in 3 decades. Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says she’s encouraged by the trend… but says more needs to be done. WYPR’s Kenneth Burns has more here, and there’s more here from the Baltimore Sun.

Police, Fire Unions Oppose Proposed Pension Changes: Baltimore’s police and fire unions are fighting a new proposal from Mayor Rawlings-Blake to privatize part of the pensions of new employees. Union officials tell the Baltimore Sun that the plan would make it hard to hire and keep the best young officers. The Mayor says the pension change is necessary to reduce growing unfunded liability of the Fire and Police Employees’ Retirement System.

Deal Between Service Union, Hopkins Hospital: Johns Hopkins Hospital and the union representing some 2-thousand service workers employed there have reached a tentative agreement on a new contract. The Baltimore Sun says the deal was reached early yesterday morning. The agreement establishes a $15-an-hour minimum wage for certain long-term employees… and ensures that all current employees would make at least $13-an-hour by the year 2018. Union members will vote on the deal tomorrow and Friday.

Runway At BWI Closes: BWI Airport has shut down its main runway. It’ll be closed for the next 90 says so it can be upgraded to meet new federal standards; the work’s being done as part of a $350-million program to enhance and improve BWI facilities. The Capital Gazette reports that the closure won’t likely affect flights… but that planes will be flying over communities that don’t usually see and hear it so that those planes can use other runways.

“Battle Of The Beltways”: the “battle of the beltways” took a breather yesterday… as the planned game between the Orioles and the Nationals was rained out. That game will be made up on August 4th. Tonight, the series comes to Camden Yards… with first pitch set for 7:05pm.