An item in Wednesday's Metro section incorrectly reported the University of Virginia's graduation rate. The school's graduation rate for 1998 was 92 percent. (Published 10/02/1999)


Probe Continues Into Police Gas Spill

The 1st Police District headquarters remained closed yesterday while health and fire officials continued to test air and water samples, part of an ongoing effort to determine the damage caused by a chronic underground gasoline spill there.

By tomorrow, police will decide whether they will reopen the station or erect tents as a temporary measure, said Terrance W. Gainer, the executive assistant police chief.

Some officers were allowed into the building over the weekend after fire officials said it was safe but had to leave because of gasoline fumes. The station house has suffered from an underground leak for years and was evacuated Thursday after a spill left at least 16,000 gallons of gasoline and water in the soil.


Body of Man Found in Manassas Creek

Two boys playing near a creek in Manassas last night found a man's body in the shallow water, and police called the death suspicious.

The man's identity was not available, but police said he was about 50. The body was found in the creek along the 9300 block of Mace Street about 6 p.m., said Officer Dennis Mangan, a Prince William County police spokesman.

It was unclear how long the man had been dead or how he died, Mangan said. The Virginia state medical examiner's office in Fairfax County is conducting an autopsy, he said.

Autopsy Finds Student Not Injured in Jump

An autopsy showed that a 19-year-old freshman who drowned Sunday in a lake at the University of Richmond was not injured while jumping into the water, authorities said yesterday.

Donnie Lindsey Jr., a former star football player at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke, plunged into the campus lake with dozens of his classmates after attending an investiture ceremony for male students.

The office of the chief medical examiner in Richmond said that Lindsey did not injure himself in his jump from a walkway eight feet above the lake and was not accidentally injured by others. The autopsy confirmed that his death was caused by drowning.

Lindsey never surfaced and remained underwater for about five minutes before he was pulled out by friends and a police officer.

Study Details College Graduation Rates

A study of graduation rates at Virginia's 15 four-year state-supported colleges and universities shows that the most selective schools have the highest rates.

The University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary each had a rate of 89 percent.

Among the universities showing a decline in graduation rates were Virginia State, down to 26 percent from 33 percent; Norfolk State, down to 20 percent from 24 percent; and Old Dominion, down to 37 percent from 41 percent.

Two other schools with low graduation rates showed slight improvement. Christopher Newport University went from 33 percent to 34 percent; U-Va.'s College at Wise went from 32 percent to 35 percent.

The school with the biggest improvement was Virginia Military Institute, where the rate went from 56 percent to 68 percent.


Montgomery Council Votes to Save Barn

The Montgomery County Council voted 6 to 3 yesterday to provide $420,000 to renovate and stabilize an old dairy barn that was due to be razed along with several other farm buildings to make way for a huge recreational park being built in Germantown.

The council voted to save the barn, which is one of several buildings that were part of the former King Farm, now on the site of the planned South Germantown Recreational Park. The other farm buildings will be torn down, perhaps as early as next week.

But County Council member Nancy Dacek (R-Upcounty) said the vote still was "a major victory" for preservation. The barn is "a symbol of what this part of the county still is today and what it certainly was 60 years ago." The barn probably will be fenced off to protect it, Dacek said, and then renovated for limited public use over the next few months.

Council Opposes Buying Connector Land

The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously yesterday to oppose spending any county money to buy land along the right of way for the long-debated intercounty connector.

After Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) said he would kill the $1.1 billion highway project and sell property bought by the state back to its original owners, County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) proposed that the county step in to buy the land to keep open future options for a connector.

Yesterday, in a show of support for Glendening, council members passed a resolution saying they support the governor's plan to sell back the land to private owners.

Army Private Honored for Rescue

A 20-year-old Army private from Woodbridge was honored yesterday for rescuing two Virginia men from a burning car wreck in May. In a ceremony at Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County, Pfc. Donald Hicks received the Soldier's Medal, the military's award for heroism not involving conflict with an armed enemy.

Hicks was driving to his mother's house May 1, when he came on two cars that had just collided and were on fire. He rushed to help the drivers, both of whom were trapped in their cars. With the help of a police officer, he was able to pull both men to safety.


Concert to Raise Scholarship Funds

Business and community leaders are sponsoring School Night '99 tonight, a fund-raising concert for scholarships for children throughout the Washington metropolitan area.

Last year's event raised $2.2 million, and sponsors, including Sallie Mae and the nonprofit Fight for Children Inc., said they hope to raise more at this year's concert, which features rock star John Mellencamp. It will be held at 7:30 p.m. at MCI Center, 601 F St. NW.

Scholarship money is divided among organizations in the Washington area that help children, including the Black Student Fund, the Latino Student Fund, the Washington Scholarship Fund and the "I Have a Dream" Foundation. Information on the event can be obtained through Fight for Children, at 202-223-4933.


"Some of those people have lost everything, and hopefully knowing that they have their cat or dog will be some comfort."

-- Jennifer Roberts, Fairfax County Animal Control officer and rescue volunteer, about pets saved from North Carolina flood waters.