Flu Reported in College Park

Maryland health authorities said yesterday that laboratory tests have confirmed the state's first case of influenza this season in a student who resides at the University of Maryland at College Park.

The exact subtype of the Influenza A strain confirmed by the tests is not yet known. This year's influenza vaccine protects against influenza types A/Beijing, A/Sydney and B/Yamanashi.

State health officials said vaccinations against the flu are recommended for people 65 and older and people whose medical conditions make them vulnerable. Also, health care workers and people who care for household members who are at risk are advised to get shots to protect themselves and to avoid the possibility of passing it on to others.

Utilities Grilled on Emergency Readiness

Members of the Maryland Public Service Commission expressed concern at a meeting that Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.'s service reliability could be jeopardized by job cuts, noting the long wait many customers endured before their power was restored after Hurricane Floyd.

The commissioners questioned BGE and the state's other power utilities--Potomac Electric Power Co., Allegheny Power and Conectiv Inc.--for five hours about emergency preparedness at the meeting Thursday.

Utility officials described Hurricane Floyd in September as the kind of storm that occurs once every 40 years and outlined steps being taken to improve communication with customers during emergencies. Nearly half of BGE's 1.1 million customers in the Baltimore area lost power, some for as long as eight days, during the storm.

State Receives Seat Belt Grant

On the average, Maryland drivers are more likely to buckle up when they get behind the wheel, helping the state collect $2.95 million in federal grant money.

It is the second year that the Maryland Department of Transportation received a seat belt use incentive grant. The grants are given to states where drivers use seat belts at a rate above the national average.

Maryland's seat belt usage rate was 83 percent last year, 13 percentage points higher than the national average.

The amount of the grant was calculated from the savings in medical costs to the federal government from increased seat belt use.

Governor Selects U-Md. System Regent

Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) has appointed the head of an Eastern Shore think tank to the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland.

Nina Rodale Houghton, a longtime Queen Anne's County resident and head of the Wye Institute in Queenstown, will complete the remainder of former governor Harry Hughes's term on the board, which expires in June 2001. Hughes resigned earlier this year, midway through his five-year term.

Houghton is also treasurer of the Maryland Center for Agroecology and a member of the board of visitors of the University of Maryland at College Park.

The 17-member Board of Regents oversees the activities of the 11 public colleges and two research institutions that make up the university system.


Students Raise Money for Homeless

Students of Blessed Sacrament School in the city's Chevy Chase neighborhood raised nearly $8,000 for the homeless yesterday in an eight-block charity walk through their neighborhood, according to the Catholic elementary school's principal, Frances Scango.

The walk was a "mini-version" of the Fannie Mae Foundation's Help the Homeless Walk on Nov. 20, Scango said. When matching funds pledged by the foundation are added to the school walk, the amount will total $15,000.

Most of the 500 students participating, who learned about homelessness in preparation for the charity walk, pledged more than the $10 entry fee, she said.

Panel to Discuss Golf Course Renovation

A panel discussion about the history of Langston Golf Course and plans for a renovation is scheduled between 9 a.m. and noon today at the federal facility at 26th Street and Benning Road NE, according to a spokeswoman.

The free event, sponsored by the Nation's Capital Bicentennial Celebration, will begin a fund-raising effort to finance a new clubhouse, a new teaching and practice facility and a minority golf museum.


Gilmore Names Health Commissioner

Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) has named E. Anne Peterson commissioner of the Virginia Department of Health. Peterson, a resident of Fairfax County, has been acting commissioner since last December.

In making the appointment, Gilmore noted that Peterson, formerly a consultant to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization, "has devoted her entire career to enhancing public health." Peterson also has worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

Peterson received her medical degree from the Mayo Medical School and has a master's in public health and preventive medicine from Emory University in Atlanta. She lives with her husband and three children in Oakton.

Arlington Looks for Cat That Bit Woman

Arlington health officials want to find a black short-haired cat that bit a woman Wednesday night in the 5000 block of North 13th Street.

The woman told authorities that the cat seemed friendly until it was picked up. Unless the cat is found and tests negative for rabies, the woman will have to treated with the rabies vaccine.

According to Arlington officials, the woman described the cat as having a red collar and a face more pointed than most cats.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Taking your shirt off does not seem so bad once you have seen [U.S. soccer team player] Brandi Chastain pull her shirt off in front of 3 billion people. Young women athletes feel that same kind of spirit she felt. There's a cultural progression here." -- John Moore, coach of the Ohio State University women's rugby team. Unlike Chastain, the 13 Ohio State players who bared their breasts for a photograph at the Lincoln Memorial weren't wearing bras.