MARYLAND

Officers Assist in Roadside Baby Delivery

Montgomery County police Officer Robert Hunt was checking for speeding cars along Interstate 270 in Germantown early Saturday when he got a most unusual request, a police spokeswoman said yesterday.

About 1:30 a.m., Hunt was using a hand-held radar detector near the Middlebrook Road exit when a van pulled over. The driver, Joe Duboyce, told Hunt that his wife, Melissa, was in labor and about to deliver their sixth child. Could Hunt help deliver a baby?

Hunt, who learned basic first aid in police academy, helped with the delivery and found the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby boy's neck and the child turning blue. He untangled the cord and cleared the baby's mouth, and the child began to cry. A second officer, Thomas Flood, arrived and helped until an ambulance arrived to take the mother and infant to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital.

The Germantown couple named their son Thomas Robert Duboyce in honor of the officers.

Commission Probing Education Inequities

A state commission has begun what is expected to be a year-long effort to overhaul the way Maryland hands out more than $2.7 billion in aid each year to public schools.

The Commission on Education Finance, Equity and Excellence started sorting through about 50 different state programs yesterday as the first step toward proposing to the legislature a new formula for dispensing aid to local schools.

According to legislative analysts, Montgomery County, which tops the state in per-pupil funding, spends 40 percent more than Caroline County, which is at the bottom of the list.

Half-Naked Woman Coaxed From Pole

A woman dressed in only a T-shirt was coaxed down from a utility pole in Clinton by a police negotiating team yesterday after clinging to the pole for three hours.

The Potomac Electric Power Co. said it had to cut power to some of its lines to keep the woman from being electrocuted on her perch on the pole in the Louise Cosca Regional Park.

Maryland-National Capital Park Police said the 35-year-old woman, whose name was not released, was wearing only a T-shirt and carrying a blanket when maintenance workers spotted her about 10:15 a.m. She ran away, and when police found her about a quarter-mile away, she had climbed halfway up the 200-foot utility tower.

Police negotiators eventually persuaded her to come back down. She was committed to Prince George's Hospital Center for a psychiatric evaluation, said Lt. Stanley R. Johnson, spokesman for the Maryland-National Capital Park Police.

County Panel Opposes Same-Sex Benefits

A Montgomery County Council committee recommended yesterday against a proposal to extend health benefits to the same-sex live-in partners of county employees.

The 2 to 1 vote by the Management and Fiscal Policy committee is not binding, and supporters of the domestic partners bill say a five-member council majority has decided to endorse the measure when it comes to a full vote in the coming weeks.

But the vote underscores deep divisions on a measure that has raised concerns among social conservatives, who say it undermines the institution of marriage. Bill supporters say domestic partners should not be barred from the health plans.

THE DISTRICT

Group Sues for Sewer Gas Emission Data

The American Canoe Association has filed a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court to force the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority to release data on hydrogen sulfide emissions that are vented from a huge sewer pipe at numerous locations along the C&O Canal National Historical Park.

The authority denied a request under the D.C. Freedom of Information Act, according to David Bookbinder, general counsel for the canoe association. Bookbinder's group is seeking the data to find out how much of the foul-smelling gas is escaping into areas where members of the public may breathe it.

A spokeswoman for the authority declined to comment because officials have not seen the complaint. The complaint quotes the authority's attorney advancing the argument that the emissions data are part of "interagency deliberations," which can be withheld from public disclosure. Bookbinder responded that raw data is not defined as "deliberative" under the law.

Web Site Offers Public School Information

A new Web site was introduced yesterday to help parents find information about D.C. public and public charter schools that is often difficult to wrest from the D.C. schools bureaucracy.

The Web site, www.DCSchoolSearch.com, allows parents to check test scores, special programs and demographic data from individual schools or search for schools of a certain size or achievement level. The school profiles include pictures, maps and a message from the principal and may eventually provide information on the number of computers, Internet connections and library books.

The site is funded by grants from the Smith Richardson Foundation and the National Science Foundation as part of a three-year study on how parents choose schools for their children to attend.

VIRGINIA

Gilmore Predicts Growth for Coming Year

Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) said yesterday that his economic advisers have forecast strong growth in the state for at least another year, followed by more-modest growth.

He made the remarks to open a meeting of his Advisory Commission on Revenue Estimates. The meeting was then closed so commission members could brief Gilmore on their businesses' hiring, layoff and wage plans for the next three years, along with their views of the economy.

Commission members declined to say what was discussed, although Lt. Gov. John H. Hager (R) described the tone as upbeat. In drafting the proposed state budget, Gilmore considers information provided by the Governor's Board of Economists, which met last month, and the revenue estimates commission.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"Financing a millennium celebration is not infrastructure."

-- Rep. Ernest J. Istook Jr. (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee on the District. Congress turned back the city's plan to spend $4.5 million in federal money for a millennium party and other non-transportation uses instead of street repairs, for which it was intended.