THE REGION

Report Cards Issued on Drunken Driving

Virginia's efforts to combat drunken driving improved over the last three years while Maryland's faltered slightly and the District fared below the average of the 50 states, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

A report by MADD analyzed accident statistics, the toughness of sanctions against drunk drivers and recent legislation on the issue. Virginia rated a B-plus, up from a B three years ago. Maryland went from a B-plus in 1996 to a B-minus this year. The District got a C-minus, below the national average of C-plus but the same score it had in 1996.

The report was released to coincide with the travel-heavy Thanksgiving holiday, when MADD estimates there will be 250 deaths and 13,000 injuries nationwide from drunken driving. Only California was assigned an A. The lowest grade was a D-plus for Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Environmentalists Give Area 'Last Chance'

A national environmental group named an area of Northern Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia yesterday as one of a dozen across the country most threatened by rampant development.

The designation as a "last chance landscape" was given by the Washington-based group Scenic America to focus attention on grass-roots efforts to protect natural and historic landmarks from rapid residential and commercial growth.

The designated area takes in parts of 10 Virginia counties, including Loudoun, stretching from the Shenandoah Valley to the Blue Ridge. It encompasses Civil War landmarks including the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Md., and Harpers Ferry, W.Va. The area is about 80 miles across and 40 miles wide.

MARYLAND

County Offices Proposed for Howard Site

Howard County Executive James N. Robey proposed yesterday spending $3 million for a 25-acre site in Ellicott City that would be used to consolidate county offices.

Robey (D) said he will ask the County Council today for authority to buy the property, which is off Rogers Avenue. A master plan for a government campus on the site would be developed, combining offices that now are spread among four locations, only one in the county seat of Ellicott City.

"If we wait any longer, there will be no land left in the county seat for this consolidation to become a reality," Robey said in a statement released yesterday.

Police Panel Gets New Members

The Prince George's County Council confirmed yesterday three appointments to a police oversight committee charged with monitoring allegations of misconduct.

Calvin Brown, Melvin C. Eley Jr. and Stephen J. Del Giudice will replace Valerie J. Kaplan, Alfred Barrett and the Rev. Perry Smith.

Del Giudice is a former council member from Hyattsville. Brown is an accountant and former Internal Revenue Service agent who serves on the board of directors of Prince George's Hospital Center. Eley is a computer engineer.

The seven-member panel had been under fire in recent months for working in secret and failing to produce annual reports as required by law.

Panel members are appointed by County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D) to four-year terms. The council voted 9 to 0 to approve the nominations.

THE DISTRICT

Help Recommended for Firefighters

A report requested after the deaths of two firefighters last spring says more training, personnel and updated equipment are needed for the D.C. Fire Department.

Firefighters Anthony Phillips and Louis Matthews died in a fire May 30 in a town house on Cherry Road in the Fort Lincoln development in Northeast. Two of their colleagues were injured.

The report by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, in response to a request by the International Association of Firefighters, offers 11 recommendations, including providing all firefighters with a personal alert safety system and with backup equipment for pieces taken out of service.

Fire Chief Donald Edwards said yesterday that he hasn't read the report and would not comment.

Appointed School Board Proposed

D.C. Council member Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3) introduced legislation yesterday that would establish a new D.C. Board of Education composed of five members appointed by the mayor rather than elected by city voters.

Patterson's proposal follows one introduced this month by Education Committee Chairman Kevin P. Chavous (D-Ward 7), who wants to trim the board from 11 to nine members: an elected president and eight ward representatives who would be nominated in ward primaries but elected citywide.

The Chavous bill, when introduced, had support from all but three council members. Patterson's bill guarantees that the idea of an appointed board will be part of a citywide discussion on D.C. public school governance. Both plans will be discussed at a public hearing from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday at One Judiciary Square.

The legislation is being proposed as the current school board is trying to regain its power to oversee the school system, which it lost in 1996. Chavous has asked the D.C. financial control board to delay the board's return to power until proposals to restructure the board can be considered.

VIRGINIA

Woods to Ask for Election Recount

Republican Jane H. Woods of Fairfax County, who lost her bid for reelection to the state Senate by 37 votes to former congresswoman Leslie L. Byrne (D), said yesterday that she will request a recount.

Woods, a two-term senator, said she is not alleging wrongdoing. But she noted that Byrne's margin of victory in a contest where close to 30,000 votes were cast represents a difference of less than one vote per precinct.

In 1991, election officials initially identified David Sanders (R) as the victor in a House of Delegates contest by a margin of 17 votes. After a recount, hospital executive James M. Scott (D) was certified as the winner by one vote.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"People who often feel dependent will on this special day be the hosts, the givers. We think it's important."

-- Craig Sniderman, director of Food and Friends, which is providing Thanksgiving dinners, each enough for three people, to Washington area residents sick from the AIDS virus.