VIRGINIA

Gilmore in Line to Lead GOP Governors

Gov. James S. Gilmore III was elected vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association yesterday, putting him in line to become the group's top officer a year from now.

Thirty-one states have Republican governors, and the group's annual meeting has become a strategy session for its members. The new chairman, North Dakota Gov. Edward T. Schafer, was vice chairman before yesterday's vote at the two-day conference in Carlsbad, Calif.

Gilmore recently helped engineer the GOP's takeover of the Virginia General Assembly and has won national attention for his tax cutting and his efforts to encourage high-technology business growth in Northern Virginia.

Shenandoah Park Wildfire Still Burning

The wildfire burning in Shenandoah National Park continued to creep through rugged mountain terrain yesterday as more than 220 firefighters worked on containing the 1,600-acre blaze.

Park officials said the blaze was about 35 percent contained, with steep rocky slopes and dense vegetation slowing the firefighting effort. About six miles of the Appalachian Trail remain closed, and several other trails also are temporarily shut down.

The fire is burning in a swath of park forest east of Skyline Drive stretching into the Rapidan Wildlife Management Area.

Fairfax Police Car Collides With Deer

Fairfax County police brought down an eight-point buck early yesterday, but hunting had nothing to do with it.

About 2:15 a.m., the deer ran into the path of a police car driven by Officer Wyatt Davis, which was headed east on Lee Highway near Piney Branch Road with a prisoner in the back seat, police said.

The deer was so badly injured that it was euthanized. Davis and his prisoner were treated for what were described as minor injuries, and the police car was a total loss, according to Officer Tom Harrington.

MARYLAND

Parents Criticize Curry's School Sites

One of Prince George's County's largest parent activist groups has criticized a plan by County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D) to accelerate funding for several elementary schools if two are built on sites of his choosing.

The Community Advisory Council, a group of 100 parents appointed by school board members, said in a letter to county officials that Curry's proposal to build schools in Upper Marlboro and Lake Arbor is a poor one, because those are not areas where schools are most needed.

Those would be built "way ahead of [schools for] other neighborhoods and communities who have been waiting for--and repeatedly promised--relief for their overcrowded classrooms and schools," the letter said. Curry's proposal also has drawn criticism from Board of Education members, who said it excluded public input.

Howard Plan Would Ease Homeownership

Howard County Executive James N. Robey (D) will introduce legislation next week designed to make homeownership easier for moderate-income residents and county employees.

Part of the proposal would have the county provide up to 20 percent of the down payment as a means to encourage banks to offer loans to people who otherwise might be turned down. The county would lend the money for a period of two years, at which point the banks would consider granting conventional mortgages. Applicants would need incomes no higher than 110 percent of the county's median income, which in 1998 was $73,756 annually, and preference would be given to people living or working in the county.

Also in Robey's proposal, announced yesterday, are incentives to encourage homeownership in areas targeted for revitalization.

THE DISTRICT

First-Time Home-Buying Credit Extended

A popular one-year program giving $5,000 tax credits for first-time home buyers in the District has been extended a year by Congress, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said yesterday. The program is aimed at bringing new residents to the District and keeping those already here.

Under the program, home buyers who have not owned a house in the city for at least a year are eligible for the $5,000 credit on their federal income tax returns. The income level for eligibility is $90,000 and under for single buyers and $130,000 and under for married couples. Fannie Mae allows buyers to convert the credit to cash, using it as a down payment.

Leaf Pickup Falls Behind Schedule

The Department of Public Works is behind on picking up fall leaves in several areas of the city, spokeswoman Linda Grant said.

Leaf pickup crews are four days behind in Ward 8 in Southeast Washington and three days behind in Wards 4 and 5, Grant said. She attributed the delay to old equipment that breaks down and said a "major investment in new equipment" is not all in place yet.

"But we're much, much, much better than we were this same time last year, when we were several weeks behind," Grant said.

Public Works Director Vanessa Dale Burns has set next Friday as the deadline for the city to be caught up with its leaf collection, she said.

THE REGION

Whitman-Walker Schedules Holiday Feast

Thanksgiving dinner for gay male and lesbian young adults age 18 to 29 will be held Sunday at the Whitman-Walker Clinic's Dupont Circle office, 1407 S St. NW.

The second annual Queer Thanksgiving will be held at 2 p.m. and is a way to reach out to young adults who may be struggling with sexuality issues, organizers said.

The event is sponsored by Whitman-Walker, the primary community-based provider of HIV and AIDS services in the Washington area, and the D.C. chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. For more information or a ride to the event, call the clinic at 202-939-7867.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"I'm the reason we need security on computers. . . . I disgust myself."

-- Eric Burns, a 19-year-old computer hacker, addressing the federal judge who sentenced him to 15 months in prison for breaking into computer systems all over the country, including Web sites used by the U.S. Information Agency, Vice President Gore and NATO.