When bullets kill someone in Baltimore, the public knows right away. When drugs do, notice takes months.

When someone is shot in the streets of Baltimore, police release the details swiftly. If the person dies, the city police department publicizes the victim’s name soon afterward. The department’s releases allow the public to track the toll of violence in real time, and the homicide rate is a key number by which the Police Department is judged. The Baltimore Sun follows the numbers and maps them daily. But when it comes to heroin and other opioid overdoses, which in recent years have killed far more people than bullets and knives — more than 600 so far this year, more than twice the roughly 250 homicides — real-time information isn’t routinely available. (Balt. Sun)

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Hospitals cut back on prescribing opioids to address addiction problem they unwittingly helped create

Anne Arundel Health System doctors found wide variation when they looked at how they prescribed opioid painkillers. Patients with the same medical conditions, such as a back injury, were given the potent, addictive drugs in some instances and not in others. Doctors prescribed a wide range of doses; one person might get 15 pills and another 30. Health system officials found the highest prescribing primary care doctor gave patients 10 times the opioids of the lowest, though the disparity was only three times between the highest and lowest 20 percent of prescribing doctors. The review, conducted last year amid a nationwide opioid epidemic, troubled hospital administrators. They established a goal to reduce the amount of opioids prescribed by 50 percent by 2019. (Balt. Sun)

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Hearing concludes into conduct of Baltimore Chief Judge Nance

The Maryland judicial oversight panel has begun to deliberate on whether the chief judge of Baltimore’s Circuit Court should be disciplined on charges that his courtroom conduct was disparaging, unprofessional and bullying. A four-day hearing in Annapolis for Judge Alfred Nance, 69, concluded Thursday with his attorney saying any recommendation to discipline the veteran judge would set a dangerous precedent. “Every judge in this state is going to think, ‘I better be a sphinx; I better not say anything,’ ” William Brennan Jr. told the panel, “ ‘If I criticize a lawyer, that lawyer is going to file charges and I’m going to be brought up on charges.’ (Balt. Sun)

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Invasive New Zealand mud snails found in Gunpowder River

A tiny but nonetheless concerning invader has been discovered in the Gunpowder River: the New Zealand mud snail. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources confirmed the species’ first known appearance in the state this month. Gunpowder Riverkeeper Theaux Le Gardeur said he discovered them while on a walk with his 2-year-old son in early September. “He picked up a rock and said, ‘Rock!’ and I looked at it and it was covered with snails,” Le Gardeur said. “I said, ‘Oh, my.’ ” The cone-shaped mollusk is only 4 to 6 millimeters long but has proliferated to densities of hundreds of thousands of snails per square meter in some lakes and rivers around the world. (Balt. Sun)

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Blue Water Baltimore asks judge to reject $1.6B sewage plan unless change is made

A local water quality advocacy group is asking a judge to reject the $1.6 billion sewer repair plan Baltimore filed in court this month unless a controversial provision is removed. The plan commits the city to more than a decade of work to stop leaks from its aged sewer system. But it also says water quality data cannot be used to force the city to do any projects beyond those laid out in the agreement between Baltimore, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment. (Balt. Sun)

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Annapolis, Anne Arundel partner on Forest Drive traffic initiative

Annapolis and Anne Arundel County announced a partnership Thursday to tackle traffic on Forest Drive — and it involves drones. County Executive Steve Schuh and Mayor Mike Pantelides used the often-congested roadway as a backdrop for a memorandum of understanding that will create a cooperative effort to mitigate gridlock. “This is not just a one-two punch — it’s a full-court press,” Pantelides said. Forest Drive is a major traffic route that serves most of Annapolis, touching five of the eight wards. It’s also the major traffic artery serving communities outside the city on the lower Annapolis Neck Peninsula, such as Hillsmere, Arundel on the Bay and Bay Ridge. (Capital)

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'Cowgirls of Color' break barriers to compete in typically white, male rodeo

Kisha Bowles discovered the rodeo when she was spending most of her day in front of a computer and reeling from the loss of her mother. She had ridden a horse only a few times before and knew nothing about rodeo events, let alone competing in them, but the time she spent in a Calvert County equestrian ring was a spiritual awakening. Bowles is one of four women known as the Cowgirls of Color, a team that will compete Saturday in Upper Marlboro in the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, the country’s only African-American touring rodeo competition. The Bill Pickett features events like bull riding and calf roping, and while black women have always been a part of it, most of the Cowgirls’ competitors will be men. (Balt. Sun)

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Conservation funds available to Washington County farmers trying to protect the bay

Farmers in Washington County have an opportunity to plant trees, install fencing and restore pastures to protect the Chesapeake Bay. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation — a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration and protection of the bay — announced a $200,000 grant Tuesday to help farmers in Washington, Frederick and Carroll counties improve conservation measures on their farms. The $200,000 federal grant comes courtesy of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation — an organization dedicated to restoring and enhancing the nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. The money is matched by $141,858 from local agencies and organizations, bringing the total amount of funds available to $341,858. (Herald-Mail)

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