THE REGION

Va. Farmers Get Hay From Michigan

Some Michigan farmers and truckers delivered three 22-ton loads of hay to farmers in Harrisonburg, Va., over the weekend as part of a drive prompted by the East Coast's lengthy drought.

Many farmers in the mid-Atlantic states have lost their entire hay crops because of the drought, forcing them to buy expensive feed to sustain their animals.

So when organizers from the Christian Reformed Church World Relief Committee challenged officials of Brinks Trucklines Inc. and other members of East Saugatuck (Mich.) Christian Reformed Church to help, the members jumped right in and made the 689-mile trip to Harrisonburg to deliver the hay to farmers there.

Virgil Kaufman, a volunteer for Mennonite Disaster Services, said nine loads of hay were sent out of Michigan last week with four more scheduled for this week, but he added that may not be enough.

Drought Revives Diseases in Bay

Saltier bay water caused by the ongoing drought is reviving two diseases responsible in part for decimating the Chesapeake's oyster population.

Although three wet years kept the diseases, MSX and Dermo, in check, workers for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have reported signs of the disease in nearly every major river in Maryland and Virginia, said Richard Takacs, fisheries biologist with NOAA's Chesapeake Bay office.

Signs of the two diseases have been found in the Potomac and Patuxent rivers, the Tangier Sound and in the bay as far north as Annapolis. The disease has not been spotted in the upper bay, but with the start of the commercial season less than three months away, a poor harvest is expected.

Meanwhile, Anne Arundel County legislators are asking the governor to set aside more money to replenish the Chesapeake Bay's oyster population.

MARYLAND

Ohio Family No Longer Missing at Sea

An Ohio family reported missing at sea two weeks ago was found near Ocean City on Sunday, unaware that the Coast Guard was searching the Atlantic seaboard for their sailboat.

Coast Guard officials said the Stewart family and their 65-foot boat, the Jolly Joyce, were found in good condition 17 miles offshore. The family discovered they were the subject of a search when they used a cell phone to call their 19-year-old daughter in Dayton, Ohio, on Saturday night, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Dionne Short.

"It was just a regular check-in call. They had no idea we were searching for them," Short said.

The daughter told her family about the search and then contacted the Coast Guard.

Richard and Debbie Stewart, sailing with two of their children, Chad, 16, and Mischa, 12, had last been heard from nearly four weeks ago. The family planned to sail from Florida to the St. Lawrence Seaway and into Michigan. Richard Stewart told the Coast Guard that engine trouble forced them to turn around in Newport, R.I., on July 26 and head for Cape Hatteras, N.C.

Baltimore Drinking Water Not So Tasty

Susquehanna River water heavy with iron and sulfur is flowing into the pipes and faucets of thousands of Baltimore area homes, causing many residents to complain about the color, odor and taste of their drinking water.

The city's water supply won third place in the annual Berkeley Springs water tasting competition in 1991, but the addition of the river water to deal with the drought is threatening Baltimore's reputation for tasty drinking water.

About 170 people have called the city with complaints, said George G. Balog, Baltimore's public works director.

"When we do use the Susquehanna, with its high mineral content, there's a little bit of odor to it. There's a taste," Balog said. "It's not harmful, but it doesn't taste as good."

Truck Spills Lumber Across I-95

A flatbed truck spun out of control and spilled its load of lumber across four lanes of Interstate 95 south of Baltimore yesterday morning, closing all northbound lanes near the Baltimore Beltway for almost four hours.

The driver, James F. Alford, 40, of Statesboro, Ga., and a passenger suffered minor injuries. They were treated at a Catonsville hospital and released. Their kitten was killed in the accident. State police are investigating.

Yesterday morning's I-95 rush-hour traffic toward Baltimore was detoured through I-195, which leads to Baltimore-Washington International Airport, and I-895, which carries traffic through the Harbor Tunnel.

VIRGINIA

Swimmer's Body Found in Fairfax Creek

The body of a 33-year-old Fairfax County man who disappeared Saturday night as he swam in the Little Hunting Creek was recovered from the creek yesterday morning, Fairfax police said.

Marciano Cruz, a Mount Vernon resident, had been fishing on the creek bank in Riverside Park under the George Washington Memorial Parkway bridge when he apparently entered the water for a swim.

Witnesses told police that the water current pulled Cruz into the creek and that he tried to hold on to the bridge support before he went under and disappeared.

THE DISTRICT

Mobil Donates Motor Oil to D.C. Police

Mobil is donating more than 3,000 gallons of motor oil for use in the D.C. police department's 1,400 police cars. It should keep them lubricated for about 6 million miles.

This is the second time in as many years that the Fairfax-based corporation has helped the District this way. Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer said working with the city's business partners helps "build good community relationships."

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Crime is down everywhere . . . in double digits, except these damn homicides and shootings that are popping up all over the city. It's frustrating for everybody."

-- D.C. Cmdr. Jose Acosta, who heads the 3rd Police District.