VIRGINIA

Residents Urged to Dial Area Code

Northern Virginians won't have to dial 10 numbers to call their neighbors until next March, but the phone company wants them to start practicing now.

Bell Atlantic urged customers yesterday to begin dialing 703 when making local phone calls. That means residents would punch in 10 digits, even when calling a neighbor.

"We want people to get into the habit of dialing the extra digits," company spokesman Paul Miller said. "The main thing is to reprogram faxes and speed dialers now rather than at the eleventh hour."

After March 1, residents who do not dial 703 when making a local call will get a recorded message.

Beginning in April, new business or residential phone numbers in Northern Virginia will get a new area code, 571, which will be the state's fifth.

Teens' Condition Upgraded to Serious

The conditions of three Fairfax County teenagers who were injured in a car crash that killed a fourth youth were upgraded yesterday from critical to serious. John M. McClellan, 18, Emily M. Jones, 17, and Kimberly Huff, 18, were all being treated at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

Police said the three were injured when the car McClellan was driving west on Route 50 just east of Stringfellow Road went out of control shortly after 1:30 a.m. Monday.

Matthew Dawson, 18, the fourth person in the car, was killed.

All the teenagers are current or former Chantilly High School students, and crisis counselors were at the school yesterday to help students deal with the tragedy.

"Everything was just kind of quiet and subdued," said Margie Wheedleton, a neighbor and friend of the Dawsons who was designated as the family spokeswoman.

McClellan, a 1998 graduate of Chantilly High, has been charged with driving while intoxicated.

Police said they are still trying to determine where the teenagers had been and how McClellan became intoxicated.

Man's Body Pulled From Occoquan River

The body of Brandon Scott Bailey, a 19-year-old Woodbridge resident, was recovered by Fairfax County police divers yesterday from the Occoquan River.

Bailey, of the 5800 block of Anthony Drive, apparently drowned when he fell overboard Monday afternoon while boating in the river's Belmont Bay area just south of Mason Neck. He was one of three passengers aboard an 18-foot motorboat that was pulling a rider on a knee board.

Investigators said Bailey fell off the side of the boat as it circled back to pick up the knee-board rider, who had fallen in the water.

U-Va. Offers Teen Study Skills Program

The University of Virginia's Falls Church center is offering its first summertime clinic geared to improving the study skills of teenagers, including those with learning disabilities or attention deficit disorders.

The clinic will provide one-on-one instruction in time management, reading comprehension, writing, test taking, error monitoring and other learning strategies for middle and high school students.

The clinic will meet weekdays from July 12 to 23, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

There is no charge, but parents will be asked to pay a nominal fee for materials. Advance registration is required. For further information, contact program director Laurie U. deBettencourt at 703-536-1129.

Alexandrian Proposes During Graduation

Tired of the status quo and not at all fearful of becoming persona non grata, a Princeton University student from Virginia slipped a marriage proposal into the end of a commencement address delivered in Latin yesterday.

"Will you marry me, Anastacia Rohrman?" were the only words spoken in English during Thomas Wickham Schmidt's salutatory speech.

She said yes. Or, more accurately, held up a sign that a friend of Schmidt's slipped her with the word "YES!" written on it.

And there was no caveat emptor. Rohrman eagerly waved the sign, university spokeswoman Mary Caffrey said.

Schmidt, 22, of Alexandria, received a bachelor of arts degree in classics. Rohrman, also 22, of St. Paul, Minn., received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering.

THE DISTRICT

Southeast Man Killed in Fire in Home

A 51-year-old Southeast man died of burns suffered in a fire in his home early yesterday.

The unidentified man was pulled from his burning apartment in the 4300 block of Fourth Street SE about 2:30 a.m. by Ambulance Company 26 paramedic Edward Morgan, who was the first to arrive at the scene, according to fire spokesman William Mould. He said Morgan searched the efficiency apartment, found the man and got him out. The man suffered burns over 90 percent of his body.

Mould said one firefighter was taken to the hospital for exhaustion.

MARYLAND

Fog-Related School Closings a Problem

Some Talbot County parents are concerned that their children are missing too much school because of delayed openings or closings for fog.

School officials in the Eastern Shore county changed policies after a school bus and a tractor-trailer collided on a foggy morning in October 1997, killing the bus driver and injuring about two dozen children.

There have been 15 late openings, early closings or full-day closings this school year for fog, freezing rain or snow, compared with six the year before and one early closing in 1996-97, according to Charlie Briddell, head of transportation and safety for Talbot schools.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I was frankly distressed at the defiance, defensiveness and arrogance betrayed by the court officials." -- Colin Dunham, president of the Superior Court Trial Lawyers Association, on the behavior of the court's officials on matters of money and management.

CAPTION: Anastacia Rohrman responds to Thomas Schmidt's proposal.