With 2011 drawing to a close, The Herald-Mail took a look back at some of the stories the newspaper published during the year. We will follow up on some of those stories each day through Saturday to provide a glimpse of what happened next.
Fire shuts down historic pipe organ factory
The story: A fire damaged a section of a historic building at 403 N. Prospect St. in Hagerstown that housed the Eastern Organ Pipes factory.
The update: The building has been condemned, and Eastern Organ Pipes has gone out of business.
The Jan. 6 fire ended up being the death knell for Eastern Organ Pipes.
The building, which before Eastern opened in 1992, housed the former Moller Pipe Organ factory from 1896 to the early 1990s, has not rebounded, either.
The building has been condemned. A baby seat, broken glass, empty malt liquor bottles and other trash litter the ground outside. Broken windows and other damage can be seen.
At one point, Moller Organ was the largest pipe organ manufacturer in the world. Moller organs have been at the Camp David Chapel and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.
Officials said the fire started when combustibles ignited in a paint room and rapidly spread.
Delphin Frushour, former co-owner of Eastern Organ Pipes, said recently that he and his partners did some “soul searching” after the fire and decided not to reopen.
“We had no intention of closing before the fire,” Frushour said. “The fire put us out of business.”
Frushour said Eastern employed 18 people at one point, but was down to about eight workers at the time of the fire.
He said none of those employees received a severance package. The former owners and employees planned to have a Christmas luncheon this year to “find out how everyone’s doing,” he said.
When called Dec. 14 to talk about plans for the building, Frankie Corsi III, of Moller Properties LLC in Frederick, Md., said he had no comment.
Corsi and John Laughlin, also of Moller properties, are listed as the building’s owners, according to a building-inspection notice that was posted in February on the front door by the Hagerstown Fire Department.
— Dan Dearth
Pit bull euthanized after vicious sheep attack
The story: The Washington County Animal Control Authority ruled that a pit bull involved in a vicious attack on sheep at a Funkstown farm in May should be euthanized.
The update: The pit bull was euthanized in July, Humane Society spokeswoman Katherine Cooker said.
The county animal control authority ruled in June that the pit bull, named Isabella, should be euthanized, but the owner had the option to appeal that decision in Washington County Circuit Court.
No appeal was filed, according to Sandy Schulte, who provides staff support for the authority.
Isabella was one of two pit bulls that witnesses said they saw at Joseph Frey’s farm at 116 Old National Pike on the morning of May 15, when Frey found six of his sheep dead and 14 others injured.
The other dog, Bubba, was shot and killed by Frey’s son, Justin. Isabella ran back to her owner’s home, but was impounded the next day and declared “vicious and dangerous.”
— Heather Keels
Man set for trial in 2008 city slaying
The story: More than three years after the death of Carol Marie Brown, Darrol Chris Sands was indicted on murder charges on Dec. 1, 2010.
The update: Sands is scheduled for trial in February 2012, in Brown’s 2008 slaying.
By the time Darrol Chris Sands goes on trial, it will have been nearly four years since the death of the Hagerstown woman he is accused of killing.
Sands, 44, formerly of Hagerstown, is charged with first- and second-degree murder and manslaughter in the April 19, 2008, death of the 22-year-old Brown. His jury trial, which had been scheduled for November, is now set to begin Feb. 14, according to court records.
Brown, the single mother of two, was found in the bathtub of her Mitchell Avenue home, her death caused by a combination of stabbing and asphyxiation, according to previous court statements. At the time, Sands lived across the street.
Fingerprint and DNA evidence from Sands was found in Brown’s house, according to a videotaped interview police conducted with Sands at the time of his arrest. The interview, taped in August 2010, was played at a suppression hearing earlier this year.
In the interview, Sands denied killing Brown, but filed a motion to have the interview excluded from evidence at his trial. The motion was denied by Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell.
Sands was indicted on charges in Browns’ death on Dec. 1, 2010. In August of that year, he was also charged with unrelated drug-trafficking offenses. He later pleaded guilty to two counts of distribution of crack cocaine and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Twice in 2010, the Hagerstown Police Department asked that information about Brown’s death be published in The Herald-Mail in hopes of obtaining leads in a case that had gone cold.
— Don Aines
Fate of school for veterans' children undecided
The story: The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania shuttered Scotland School for Veterans' Children in Scotland, Pa.
The update: The future of the property has not been decided.
Two and a half years after Pennsylvania shuttered the Scotland (Pa.) School for Veterans’ Children, the 183-acre property’s future remains in limbo.
One lawmaker said the 70 buildings are fast falling into disrepair, even though the state pumps $500,000 to $1 million a year into their maintenance.
Asbestos and worsening infrastructure problems make the former boarding school a hard sell to private developers, according to state Sen. Richard Alloway, R-Franklin/Adams/York.
“This property is a challenge,” Alloway said.
Several private investors have toured the property, and at least one remains interested, Alloway said. One investor’s engineers and construction managers reported it would cost them $10 million to $12 million to upgrade the site after spending $5 million to purchase it, he said.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly can sell the property it owns to a viable entity for fair market value.
“It’s a taxpayer-owned asset that has value,” Alloway said.
However, he said another consideration is selling the land and buildings at a price that attracts a buyer who can create jobs, boost the tax base and possibly provide services for a segment of the population, such as veterans or children with special needs.
“For me, that’s a win for the taxpayers,” Alloway said.
In early 2011, a newly formed nonprofit organization, the Scotland Landing Foundation, announced its plans for the property. Its vision included a veterans home, library and resource center, schools for children and adults, financial counseling services, and job training and employment opportunities for veterans.
The governor’s office chose to proceed with the sale process instead of the foundation’s plans, Alloway said.
Former Gov. Ed Rendell closed the school north of Chambersburg, Pa., after the Class of 2009’s graduation.
— Jennifer Fitch