MARYLAND

Floyd Gives Tax Filers a Reprieve

Those affected by Hurricane Floyd are getting a break on the deadline to pay their estimated quarterly Maryland taxes.

State Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D) said Friday that the Sept. 15 deadline has been extended to Sept. 30. The Internal Revenue Service made a similar announcement on federal returns.

"Anyone who needs the extra time to file should write 'Hurricane Floyd' at the top of their return," Schaefer said. "This is the right thing to do since many state residents, especially on the Eastern Shore and Southern Maryland, spent a lot of time preparing for Floyd and didn't have the time to finish their returns."

Quarterly estimated tax payments are paid by self-employed people and others who do not have taxes withheld by their employers.

Mediators to Aid Farmers With Disputes

Maryland farmers in disputes with lenders, regulators or neighbors will soon have a new place to turn for help.

The Maryland Department of Agriculture is setting up a mediation service to help resolve such conflicts for a cost as low as $25 to each party.

The federally subsidized program mirrors those in at least 21 other states offering an alternative to costly, lengthy litigation.

Once the program is set up, probably by the end of the year, an agricultural producer will be able to call the department and be referred to a mediator trained to help resolve conflicts, usually in a two-hour session, according to Director Jane Storrs.

Small Child Drowns at Family Gathering

A girl drowned after falling into a backyard swimming pool during a family reunion at her grandmother's house in Western Maryland, state police said.

Emily Lauren Tabor, of Manassas, apparently fell into the pool in Thurmont while walking Sunday morning from the main house to the pool house, where the family was gathering for breakfast, police said.

The girl, who was nearly 2, was in the water for perhaps 10 minutes before she was discovered. Family members pulled her from the water and tried to resuscitate her before rescue units arrived. She was pronounced dead at Frederick Memorial Hospital, police said.

VIRGINIA

Lottery Winners Emerge From Seclusion

After living for three weeks knowing that their lives would change but not telling anyone, a Hampton couple recently came forward as winners of a $1.8 million Lotto jackpot.

Dale and Jean Staley won the prize in the Aug. 21 drawing but didn't reveal themselves until last Tuesday. The Staleys said they used the time for financial planning.

State officials said the couple decided to receive the prize in annual after-tax payments of just under $50,000 over the next 26 years. Dale Staley says that the jackpot is "just too fabulous to talk about," and that the money will be used to help his family.

Measles Outbreak Hits Bedford County

Health officials have reported nine cases of measles in Bedford County in the first outbreak of the disease in central Virginia since 1988.

Officials said the outbreak started with a man who was infected during a visit to Africa. He and his three children were the first patients, Joanna Harris, a physician with the Central Virginia Health District, said yesterday.

The other five patients were people who had contact with the family. Harris said school authorities were notified, although the infected children were not enrolled in public schools.

"There is always the danger it will spread," she said.

Only two confirmed measles cases were reported in Virginia last year. According to a report this month by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 100 confirmed cases of measles occurred in the United States last year.

Fairfax Rescue Team May Go to Taiwan

Fairfax County's Urban Search and Rescue Team was activated last night and is scheduled to head this morning to Taiwan, where an earthquake caused widespread devastation yesterday.

Last month, the team went to Turkey, where it helped rescue a number of people trapped in the rubble of that quake. The 77-member team includes firefighters, paramedics, doctors and engineers.

Cooke Foundation Seeks First Director

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is looking for its first executive director and is soliciting inquiries about the job, nominations and applications.

The foundation was established in the will left by Washington Redskins owner Cooke, who died in 1997. "The primary purpose of the foundation is to award substantial scholarships to pre-college, undergraduate and graduate students of unusual intelligence, application, deportment and character," a news release said.

The foundation is to be located in Northern Virginia. Its director is expected to be appointed in January.

THE DISTRICT

Comment Sought on Smithsonian Project

The National Capital Planning Commission is seeking public comment on an environmental assessment for a planned Smithsonian Institution central chilled water plant that would serve six existing buildings on the south side of the Mall and the yet-to-be-built National Museum of the American Indian.

The proposed unit would be located on about an acre on the west side of the National Air and Space Museum at Seventh Street SW near the Mall.

Copies of the assessment are available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at NCPC, 801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Public comments must be received by the commission no later than Oct. 14.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Most of the members are rightfully reticent to override a democratic referendum, but they're also afraid that . . . they will be subjected to 30-second ads claiming they voted to legalize drugs."

-- U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.), warning that Congress is unlikely to go along with enactment of a D.C. law legalizing medical use of marijuana.