MARYLAND

Repairs Tie Up Wisconsin Ave. Again

Repairs to a 12-inch water main that had ruptured impeded traffic yesterday along Wisconsin Avenue between Friendship Heights and Bethesda--one of the busiest traffic arteries in Montgomery County.

W. Gregory Wims, chairman of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, said last night that the repairs should be completed by early this afternoon.

The main, installed decades ago, broke Tuesday, releasing thousands of gallons of water and tying up traffic at Wisconsin and Dorset avenues.

The northbound lanes of Wisconsin Avenue were closed yesterday, and traffic was detoured. A southbound lane also was closed for much of the day but was reopened shortly after 6 p.m., Wims said. He added that traffic moved better than expected because many commuters were off work for Veterans Day.

Wims said crews would complete repairs before today's evening rush hour, and Montgomery County police advised motorists to avoid the area.

State Probes Conservation Easements

The state Department of Natural Resources says it is investigating sales of forest conservation easements to developers in Frederick County, where some planners take a dim view of the state's reforestation law.

The 1991 Forest Conservation Act requires developers who destroy trees to plant new ones or protect existing trees in threatened areas. But in sales and swaps valued at more than $75,000, developers have paid to preserve forested land in already protected watershed in the Middletown area, records show.

The Natural Resources Department is investigating the practice because easements do no good when sold for land that is already protected, said Becky Wilson, regional coordinator for the State Forest Conservation Program.

If the state finds the deals were improper, it would forbid future sales of watershed easements but would not order past sales rescinded, Wilson said.

No Big Problems in Nuclear Plant Drill

No major problems were found during a review of Baltimore Gas & Electric Co.'s Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant, federal regulators said.

Federal officials met last week with the operators of the plant at Lusby, on the Chesapeake Bay, to offer a critique of an Oct. 26 emergency drill at the site.

Federal officials evaluated more than 1,400 items during the emergency drill and found 28 items of concern. Nine other issues remained unresolved from a routine evaluation of the plant two years ago, said Kevin Koob, a radiological expert for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

No operational problems were identified, and some issues raised in the review may be resolved before FEMA issues its final report. Of the 28 problem areas, eight involved planning, 13 were related to communications and one dealt with the drill itself, Koob said.

Suspense Surrounds State Sen. Neall

Republican state Sen. Robert R. Neall (Anne Arundel) scheduled an announcement for today amid speculation that he would switch to the Democratic Party.

Neall has been contemplating a change, saying he has been dismayed by attacks from within his party that he is not conservative enough, not Republican enough.

There was no answer at Neall's home or office yesterday. He told the (Baltimore) Sun on Wednesday that he would have an announcement today but would not say what it was.

VIRGINIA

1 Killed, 1 Injured in Collision

One person was killed and a second seriously injured Wednesday night in Arlington when the motorcycle they were riding collided with a minivan, Arlington police said yesterday.

The Harley-Davidson motorcycle was traveling west on Columbia Pike at Walter Reed Drive about 7:55 p.m. when it collided with the van, which was making a left turn from the eastbound lane, said police spokeswoman Kim Roberson.

The driver of the motorcycle, Shawn Stoner, 28, of the 900 block of South Rolfe Street, Arlington, was pronounced dead at the scene. His passenger, Fannie Delacruz, 26, of the 3700 block of Paul Street, Alexandria, was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, police said. The driver of the minivan was not injured.

Roberson said Stoner and Delacruz were wearing helmets.

The accident was under investigation.

State University to Require Computers

Every incoming freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond will be required to have a personal computer beginning in the fall semester of 2001, the school said yesterday.

Dormitories will be equipped with computer ports in every room, and arrangements will be made to ensure that students living off campus also have Internet access.

A survey this year found that 53 percent of incoming VCU freshmen had a computer and an an additional 17 percent planned to buy one.

The VCU Board of Visitors said the university will negotiate deals that will allow students to buy computers at a discount.

Virginia Tech last year became the first university in the state to require new students to have computers.

THE DISTRICT

School Trustees Schedule Budget Hearing

The D.C. school system's emergency board of trustees has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday to get suggestions from District residents on what to seek in the school budget for fiscal 2001.

The hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Hine Junior High School, 335 Eighth Street SE. Citizen testimony will be limited to three minutes for each person and will be heard from 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. People wishing to speak or to submit written statements should call William Ng, at 202-442-5181, by Monday.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"We ask that our bodies may find a resting place in the ground designated for the burial of the brave defenders of our country's flag."

-- Louis Hicks, director of the Alexandria Black History Resource Center, quoting an anonymous black Civil War soldier during a ceremony yesterday at Freedmen's Cemetery in Old Town Alexandria, a 19th-century burial ground for nearly 2,000 African Americans, including some who fought in the Civil War.