VIRGINIA

Alcohol-Related Traffic Deaths Decline

Alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Northern Virginia dropped almost 30 percent from 1997 to 1998 and alcohol-related injuries declined 3 percent during the same period, according to Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles statistics released yesterday by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Last year, 27 people were killed and 1,361 people were injured as a result of drunken driving accidents in Northern Virginia. The greatest decline in fatalities occurred in Arlington County, which had five drinking-related traffic deaths in 1997 and only one in 1998, DMV statistics show.

MADD officials said that they are watching closely how drunken driving cases are handled in area courtrooms and that they plan to redouble their efforts to monitor more courtrooms in Northern Virginia.

Norfolk School Principals May Lose Jobs

As many as six principals of public schools in Norfolk could be in danger of losing their jobs after being warned two months ago to improve their performance. They were among 30 principals placed on notice to shape up after midyear evaluations found weaknesses in their job performances.

The School Board referred their cases to the city attorney's office on Wednesday for review. A school official said most of the principals rectified the problems highlighted. The principals had until the end of last week to complete their plans for making the improvements before the plans were reviewed by administrators.

Superintendent John Simpson has made improving performances on the state Standards of Learning tests a top priority. He says the program was devised to let principals know the school division is serious.

Tipper Gore to Attend Fund-Raiser

Tipper Gore is planning a fund-raising foray into Virginia today in hopes of raising $100,000 for the Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum and winning friends for her husband, Vice President Gore.

That amount would fall short of the $120,000 netted by first lady Hillary Clinton last year in Northern Virginia. A dozen female state lawmakers are hosting the $125-a-plate, $1,000-a-host reception and lunch at the Alexandria home of real estate investor Rafat Mahmood.

Striking Steelworkers Plan Demonstration

Striking steelworkers from Newport News Shipbuilding are planning a mass demonstration at the shipyard's annual meeting at Richmond's Jefferson Hotel today. Local 8888 of the United Steelworkers of America said it plans to bus more than 1,000 strikers to the capital city for the meeting.

Union spokesman Mike Zielinski said the group views the meeting as a chance to take its message directly to the directors and to inform shareholders that the losses will be severe if the dispute is not resolved.

The steelworkers have been on strike since April 4 in a dispute over wages and other considerations. Federally mediated talks between the union and shipyard broke down earlier this month.

MARYLAND

Baltimore Dismisses Uncertified Teachers

The Baltimore school system dismissed 250 of its 7,000 teachers over the last few weeks in an attempt to cleanse the system of poorly performing and uncertified teachers. Of the firings, 219 were uncertified teachers on year-to-year, provisional contracts, and 31 were nontenured teachers in their first or second years.

School officials said that in general, the teachers whose contracts were not renewed were not up to par in the classroom or were not on track toward certification. The school system says it is trying to lower the number of uncertified teachers, which now stands at 17 percent. It let go 200 teachers last year and then hired 1,000 new teachers, three-fifths of whom were not certified. This year, school officials have hired 440 teachers--all certified--for 500 openings.

Frederick Board Sides With Hog Farmer

An embattled hog farmer has won a round against neighbors who sought reversal of the decision permitting his 2,000-head operation.

Members of the Frederick County Board of Zoning Appeals said on Tuesday that Rodney Harbaugh's neighbors had not raised their objections in time. They also lectured them on the difficulties of farming and said people who move to the country shouldn't expect only pristine open spaces.

An administrative law judge ordered Harbaugh in May to reduce the number of hogs on his Rocky Ridge farm from 4,000 to fewer than 2,400 animals until he obtains a state permit required for concentrated animal feeding operations. Harbaugh complied but is appealing the order.

His neighbors sought to further reduce the operation, arguing that Zoning Administrator Michael Thompson erred in issuing Harbaugh permits for two 200-foot hog barns in 1997. The neighbors, who object to the farm's odors, contend Harbaugh should have been required to seek a special exception to the zoning ordinance.

THE DISTRICT

NW Residents Support Historic Districts

Residents of two Northwest Washington neighborhoods near the new Convention Center said yesterday that they support having their communities named historic districts. They testified at a regular monthly meeting of the Historic Preservation Review Board.

The proposed Mount Vernon East district encompasses 12 blocks and is in the area north of New York Avenue NW between 1st and 7th streets NW. The companion district, called Mount Vernon West, consists of 23 blocks and is north of L Street NW between 9th and 12th streets NW.

The board will hold the record open for additional comments until July 15 and expects to make a decision on the application at the September meeting. No one spoke in opposition to the applications, but several speakers said that if the districts are approved, they did not want the names used on the applications to become the official names.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"Beer is a very delicate product. It's not that it will harm you, but it certainly won't get better. And it will lose its hoppy delicacy and be susceptible to cardboardy, wet-papery or skunky flavors."

-- Author Michael Jackson, describing beer that is not fresh. Defenders of Montgomery County's policy of not replacing old beer with fresh say it makes no difference.