Supervised Day Trip for Hinckley Aborted

The staff at St. Elizabeths Hospital attempted to take presidential assailant John W. Hinckley Jr. on a supervised day trip yesterday but turned back after their van was followed by a news crew from WUSA-TV (Channel 9).

Hinckley, 44, who was found not guilty by reason of insanity in the 1981 shootings of President Reagan and three others, recently won a court case clearing the way for supervised outings. A federal appellate court said it is up to the hospital and Hinckley's treatment team to decide when he goes out.

D.C. government officials, federal prosecutors and Hinckley's lawyer have said there will be no public notice about Hinckley's activities because of privacy laws and safety concerns. Until prevailing in court, Hinckley had left the facility only once, for a December 1986 visit with his parents.

WUSA-TV reported that its news crew saw a van carrying Hinckley leave the hospital in Southeast Washington yesterday morning, followed by another vehicle carrying Secret Service agents. The station said the vehicles headed to Telegraph Road in Alexandria but then turned around and returned to St. Elizabeths without making a stop. The trip was aborted, WUSA said.

School Board to Finalize Compromise

Members of the D.C. Board of Education have agreed to end a weeks-long leadership feud that brought strong criticism of the panel and are hoping to meet early today to complete the arrangement, according to mediator and D.C. Council member Kevin P. Chavous (D-Ward 7).

The compromise calls for the reinstatement of Wilma R. Harvey (Ward 1) as president of the board some three weeks after she was ousted by members who accused her of a variety of improprieties. Part of the deal calls for a five-member executive committee composed of Harvey, board Vice President Dwight E. Singleton (Ward 4) and three other members not yet selected. A majority of the board will have to agree on the membership.

Another part of the compromise calls for the new executive committee to report in September on a new operating arrangement for the 11-member school board. Now, it is composed of some eight committees, a structure many people believe is cumbersome.


Chincoteague Mayor Resigns

Chincoteague Mayor Harry S. Thornton, who admitted skipping most of a hurricane conference in Orlando to take a pleasure trip to the Florida Keys, has resigned.

A judge had suspended Thornton while authorities investigated whether he misused town funds. State police said they would not charge Thornton and two others--Town Manager Stewart Baker and Police Chief Willis Dize--who took the Florida trip with any offenses.

Many Chincoteague residents were outraged when they learned their top executives played hooky from the conference but still ran up about $3,000 in expenses, including bar and restaurant tabs. Baker was forced to resign, and Dize was fired. Thornton resigned in a a letter dated Aug. 3. The Town Council will appoint a new mayor within 30 days.

I-395 Car-Pool Lanes to Close for Work

The car-pool lanes on Interstate 395 will be closed for the next two weekends, beginning tonight, while crews from the Virginia Department of Transportation repave a 10-mile stretch between the Pentagon and the Franconia-Springfield Parkway.

The lanes will close at 10 p.m. today and reopen at 7 a.m. Sunday in time to accommodate travelers returning from weekend excursions, VDOT officials said.

The HOV lanes, last repaved in 1990, are being improved in preparation for the anticipated increase in car pools during the ongoing reconstruction of the Springfield interchange.


Second Hearing Set on Selling WSSC

The task force studying whether to sell the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission to a private company has scheduled a second hearing after protests from residents and state legislators who complained that the public was being kept out of the process.

The task force will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Globe Hall Auditorium at Montgomery Community College, 20200 Observation Dr., Germantown. Anyone who wants to testify before the task force must sign up on arrival. Written comments also may be submitted through Tuesday.

State Sen. Jean W. Roesser (R-Montgomery) and some residents had complained that the task force was shutting out many of WSSC's 1.6 million customers by holding only one public hearing. The task force will submit its final report this month to the General Assembly, which will make the final decision on whether to sell the giant water and sewer agency that serves Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

Booth's Home to Go on Auction Block

The childhood home of presidential assassin John Wilkes Booth is heading to the auction block, to the dismay of history buffs who fear the Bel Air, Md., residence might fall into the wrong hands.

The four-bedroom brick home, known as Tudor Hall, is scheduled to be sold at auction Oct. 16.

The husband and wife who owned the house each died this spring without a will. Their heirs decided to auction the property after a deal to sell the home to a college fell through and Harford County officials expressed no interest.

Preservationists are concerned because, although the home is listed on national and state registers of historic places, an easement has not been placed on the property to prevent its demolition. The proximity of the home to housing developments makes the eight-acre tract a prime site for development, they note.


"I spend my life chasing down people with guns, putting my life on the line every day. I am married with two beautiful children. And today we are having to turn people back onto the streets with live guns in their hands."

-- D.C. police officer Andre Wright, lamenting that money to buy weapons in a guns-for-cash program ran out yesterday because of a bureaucratic snag.