VIRGINIA

911 Cellular Calls to Be Handled Locally

Beginning in January, Virginia State Police will no longer take 911 calls from people using cellular telephones. The calls will instead be connected to local government dispatchers.

The calls were overwhelming state police, who ended up transferring most of the calls anyway. So the General Assembly directed local governments to take responsibility for the calls. Callers who dial the star key or pound key and 77 still will be routed to state police.

State police agreed in the mid-1980s to field the calls. Cellular phones were relatively rare at the time.

Fairfax Parent Wants Book Out of Library

The Fairfax County School Board will hold a special meeting tomorrow night to act on a parent's request that a novel that she contends is inappropriate for preteens be removed from her child's elementary school library.

Victoria McGrath, the parent of a sixth-grader at Virginia Run Elementary, wants "On the Devil's Court," by Carl Deuker, taken out of elementary libraries.

The book is a short novel about 17-year-old named Joe Faust who becomes fascinated while studying the legend of Faust, who sold his soul to the devil. Joe, eager to earn a spot on the basketball team, finds himself willing to trade his soul for one perfect season. His strange feelings and visions are later explained away by a fever.

The book is available in three elementary schools, where it is part of young adult sections reserved for sixth-graders, officials said. School Superintendent Daniel A. Domenech, in a memo to School Board members, said he concurs with earlier decisions to keep the book in the library.

Missing Albemarle Boy Found Safe

A 2-year-old Albemarle County boy who wandered away from a relative's home Sunday morning was found safe and asleep in nearby woods yesterday afternoon, authorities said.

Jonathon Makepeace was at a relative's home near Blenheim for a birthday party when he was last seen about 7 a.m. Sunday, said Lee Catlin, spokeswoman for Albemarle County. Relatives realized the boy was missing about 11:45 a.m., and about 300 police and volunteers began combing the woods and fields for any sign of the child.

The red-headed boy, clad in only a diaper and T-shirt, was found about 1:30 p.m. yesterday by a search dog and its handler. Catlin said the child was asleep under some pine trees about one-third of a mile from the house.

Minorities Improve on Statewide Exams

Hispanic, Asian American and Native American students showed improvement this year on 26 of the 27 Standards of Learning exams, according to figures released yesterday by state education officials.

Hispanic students had a higher passing rate than last year on every exam except the fifth-grade English reading test; Asian Americans improved in every area but eighth-grade English reading; and Native Americans did better on every test but eighth-grade English writing.

Last week, state officials released figures showing that African American students improved on every test except eighth-grade English reading.

The performance of Hispanic, Native American and African American students still lags significantly behind that of white students, while Asian American students had higher passing rates than whites on 25 of 27 exams.

The tests are given to Virginia public school students in high school and in grades three, five and eight.

MARYLAND

Boy on Skateboard Struck by Vehicle

A 13-year-old boy was struck by a vehicle and critically injured at Wheaton Plaza last night while trying to ride a skateboard to his nearby home, officials said.

Alex Salado was riding on University Boulevard near his home on Midvale Road just before 6:30 p.m. when the accident occurred, officials said.

"He was crossing on a skateboard, made it to the median, paused for a second and continued into the path of oncoming traffic," said Officer Derek Baliles, a Montgomery County police spokesman. "A pickup truck traveling in the middle lane slowed because it saw him, but a '95 Chevy Tahoe traveling in curb lane . . . hit him." Investigators said the boy was thrown into the air and landed about 30 feet away.

Alex suffered multiple injuries and was reported in critical condition at Children's Hospital. Police identified the driver of the Tahoe as a 27-year-old Gaithersburg man but said no charges were filed.

Movie Shoots Boost State Economy

Movie shoots pumped $76.2 million into the Maryland economy for the year ending June 30, according to the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

The figure is down from the $77.1 million made by the state in fiscal 1998, but up from the $63 million in fiscal 1997. The figures include money spent by film and TV companies on local technical and construction crews, location catering and props.

"The Replacements," a movie about amateurs hired to play on a professional football team during a strike by the regular players, is expected to help next year's earnings. Co-starring Keanu Reeves, the movie will shoot for 12 weeks in the Ravens' PSINet Stadium and elsewhere in Baltimore.

THE DISTRICT

Norton Wants Reimbursement for Security

Noting the expense the city incurred to prepare for Saturday's aborted neo-Nazi march, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said yesterday she will seek a regular annual federal reimbursement for security activities related to national events and demonstrations.

Officials have estimated that police staffing and other measures taken in anticipation of the march will cost between several hundred thousand dollars and $1 million. The organizers of the march canceled it just as it was scheduled to start.

"The nation's capital is a magnet for groups whose First Amendment rights require protection," Norton said. "They do not come because the District residents live here. They come because the president and the Congress are located here."

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Dave cannot answer questions about how it feels to 'be Batman' or what Batman would do in certain situations--as he is not Batman."

-- Debbie Daniel, spokeswoman for the Six Flags America theme park, fielding a request for an interview with Dave McCoy, who plays Batman in a stunt show at the park.