MARYLAND

Walkersville Pumping Sewage From Well Now that sewage has turned up in the municipal well water in Walkersville, town officials say the contaminated water is being pumped out. Meanwhile, the number of people reporting symptoms that may be linked to the tainted water has risen to 41.

Town officials were told by their hired experts that if they don't try to remove the estimated 900,000 gallons of sewage spilled in a June 18 construction accident, contamination could persist for up to a year.

The town is now hooked to Frederick's municipal water system and awaiting permission from state environmental officials to let residents resume drinking tap water again. Residents have been cautioned to boil all tap water or use bottled water.

Those reporting symptoms have complained of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

Giant Food Pledges More Minority Hiring Giant Food Inc. renewed a two-year-old pledge yesterday to boost minority hiring and promotion, the Landover-based company announced in a joint news conference with the Prince George's County NAACP branch.

Officials of the supermarket chain, which employs more than 25,000 people, said they will meet at least once a month with county NAACP representatives to review the number of African Americans employed. The company would not say how many minorities are in its work force, but officials said the number of minority managers has grown since 1997, when a similar agreement was announced. Among the company's 22 executive officers, three are African American and five are women.

Giant also agreed to buy more products from local black-owned businesses, increase its advertising with black-owned media outlets and increase corporate giving to the local NAACP.

THE DISTRICT

Charter School's Infighting Investigated The District's Public Charter School Board will conduct a "prompt, thorough inquiry" into prolonged infighting and mutual accusations of misconduct among founders of the Washington Math Science Technology Public Charter School, officials said yesterday.

Chairman Josephine Baker said the board, which gave WMST permission to open last fall and has monitored its progress, has hired a lawyer to explore "all facets of the current situation."

The school's founders--former D.C. principal Mary Johnson and her husband, Eugene Williams Sr., and the nonprofit Apple Tree Institute--have quarreled over how to organize the school. Williams has accused Apple Tree of misappropriating funds meant for the school and stacking the board of trustees to its advantage.

VIRGINIA

Climbers Hurt in Fall at Great Falls

Two rock climbers attempting to scale an 80-foot cliff at Great Falls were injured yesterday when they fell 30 feet after an anchor supporting them ripped free, a U.S. Park Police spokesman said.

The spokesman said a kayaker on the Potomac River spotted the fallen climbers and summoned police.

A 19-year-old man was flown from the site by helicopter to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition. A 25-year-old woman was taken by boat downriver to an emergency rescue station, then to Inova Fairfax, where she was listed in fair condition. The hospital would not disclose the climbers' injuries.

Park Ranger Jesse Reynolds said the climbers apparently arrived at Great Falls around mid-morning, fell at an undetermined time and were spotted by the kayaker shortly after 1:30 p.m.

Nine People Treated for Carbon Monoxide

Four children and five adults were treated last night for exposure to carbon monoxide leaking from a stove and water heater at an Alexandria town house, fire officials said.

Complaining of flu-like symptoms, the nine were taken by ambulance shortly after 10 p.m. to Alexandria Hospital, where they were expected to be treated and released, authorities said early this morning.

Fire Battalion Chief Russell Middleton said they were exposed to the fumes at the town house in the 700 block of Four Mile Road.

Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas caused by incomplete combustion, robs the body of its ability to process oxygen.

Principal Involved in Accident Resigns

The Fairfax County elementary school principal who backed his pickup truck into a school bus has resigned his position, according to a letter sent this week to parents by a school official.

Police officials had originally reported that Canterbury Woods Principal J. Martin Marinoff had knocked a student to the ground when his truck backed into the bus. School officials and witnesses later said that no student was knocked down.

A school superintendent said in the letter that parents had expressed concern about Marinoff's leadership and communication skills. The official, Paula A. Johnson, said she met with other district officials after receiving about 20 letters of concern from parents. Marinoff then resigned as principal.

Johnson said the school will temporarily be led by a former Fairfax County principal, Shirley B. Bealor.

Switched Baby's Dad Sues U-Va. Hospital Almost a year after learning that his daughter had been switched with another baby at the University of Virginia Medical Center, a Greene County man filed a $4 million lawsuit against the state and hospital employees.

Carlton C. Conley's lawsuit, filed in Charlottesville Circuit Court, closely resembles a $31 million lawsuit filed last month by the child's mother, Paula K. Johnson of Stafford County.

Conley is suing on nearly identical grounds: fraud, negligence and violating his constitutional right to raise his daughter.

The hospital was negligent, the lawsuit alleges, for failing to have policies that would have prevented the baby mix-up and for failing to notice the switch after it took place.

A spokesman for the state attorney general's office declined to comment because the office had yet to receive the lawsuit.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We are extremely and deeply disappointed. We went through the process, we did everything. We had looked at all the sites and this is still the best site.

--John Carter, project director for the memorial to Martin Luther King Jr. Its proposed site in the Mall area was rejected by the National Capital Planning Commission