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Rushern Baker To Focus On Education And Jobs In Prince George's

(WUSA) -- Prince George's County's presumptive next county executive has his top two priorities in order: education and job creation.

Democrat Rushern Baker visited 9NEWS NOW Wednesday morning. He is not facing a Republican challenger in the November 2 election, and is expected to succeed Jack Johnson as county executive.

Baker said during the recent primary campaign, the top question he got was about improving schools and education in Prince George's County. "It's the reason I ran for county executive," he told 9NEWS NOW's Andrea Roane. Baker said he wants to "make sure we focus on quality teachers in every classroom. That's what we need to have in Prince George's County. That would improve the quality of education throughout the county."

Has National Harbor Helped Changed The Image of Prince George's County?

Ask drivers from Virginia, who travel into Maryland, and they will tell you it is hard not to notice the beautiful development that overlooks the Potomac River, especially during the evening and night times where the National Harbor is illuminated with bright vibrate colors.  The National Harbor has not only become a destination, located just minutes away from our Nation's capital, but also a symbol of change for a county that has long struggled with attracting large public and private sector employers as well as high to middle-class retail options for its' residents compared to the surrounding counties. 

Excitement Builds with a New Wegman’s Opening in Prince George’s County

With the opening of a Wegman’s in Lanham, Md. Sunday, residents and officials feel that the often disregarded Prince George’s county can show everyone it has the strength to support high-end shopping.

Neighboring Montgomery County boasts numerous high end grocery stores, including five Whole Foods Markets and three Trader Joe's.  Prince George’s County has none.  Most of the time luxury retailers skip over Prince George’s County when it comes to business development like Nordstrom’s and Bloomingdales have in the past. Officials are hoping that the success of the new Wegman’s will change all of that.

Currently, Wegman’s has five Northern Virginia locations and six more are planned for the Maryland region including Germantown.

Firefighters and Paramedics Initiative - Helping Hearts for Troops

This story comes to us from Mark Brady of the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department:

Prince George's Council Members Vote to Raise Their Pay

The Gazette reports that the Prince George's County Council voted today to increase its $96,417 annual salary — the highest amount earned by council members in Maryland — despite sharp criticism from at least one presumptive councilman and two current members who said they should scale back the pay hikes.

"This is a really bad idea," said Mel Franklin, the presumptive District 9 county councilman, who is unopposed in the general election.

County Resolution 105, which was introduced and approved immediately by the council today after members agreed to suspend normal legislative procedure, sets new salary terms to start in December 2011 for the nine council members.

Ex-Officer Gets 2.5 Years In Bank Break-In

Greenbelt, Md. (AP)- A former Prince George's County police officer has been sentenced to 21/2 years in prison for orchestrating a bank break-in.

A federal judge sentenced 42-year-old Eddie Smith Jr. of Fort Washington on Monday and ordered him to pay more than $10,000 in restitution. Smith pleaded guilty in July to breaking into a Temple Hills SunTrust bank last year.

According to his plea agreement, Smith drove 54-year-old Earl Blake of Capitol Heights to the bank in his cruiser, then gave him tools and instructions on how to cut open an ATM safe. Firefighters responded to the bank after receiving an alarm and saw Blake inside. Blake fled and Smith ran around the bank as though he were pursuing him, but then fled himself.

Blake was sentenced to five months in prison.

Prince George's County Bus Strike Ends After 5 Weeks

Upper Marlboro, MD (AP)- Bus drivers in Prince George's County have ended a five-week bus strike and are returning to work.

Tommy Ratliff, president of the union that represents drivers and mechanics, said union members approved a three-year contract with the bus operator Veolia Transportation on Monday. Ratliff says the union sought better job security and health insurance, higher wages and changes to a disciplinary policy.

The new contract includes a $1-an-hour pay increase, an additional holiday and continued pension contributions and health care options.

Valerie Michael, a spokeswoman for Veolia, says employees will start returning to work on Tuesday.

Veolia had run limited service for weeks. The company employs 136 full-time and 26 part-time workers in the county.