MARYLAND

One-Car Crash Kills Columbia Woman

A 22-year-old Columbia woman was killed and two others were seriously injured in a one-vehicle accident on Route 108 in Columbia on Saturday night, police said.

Kimberly Elizabeth Knotts, of Columbia, a back-seat passenger in a 1995 Acura Legend that had been traveling east on Route 108, was pronounced dead at the scene. The car struck trees after it swerved across the double yellow line near Red Branch Road, back into the eastbound lane and onto the road's shoulder, police said.

The driver, Leta M. Baumann, 22, also of Columbia, was released yesterday after being treated at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. A front-seat passenger, Alexi Pascal Martinex, 24, also of Columbia, was treated and released.

Four Die in Eastern Shore House Fire

Four people, including two young children, died and one person was injured in a house fire on the Eastern Shore early yesterday.

Five other people in the Pocomoke City home escaped without injury, the Worcester County fire marshal's office said.

The call came at 4:10 a.m. for the home on Fourth Street. The house was fully in flames when firefighters arrived.

A woman, a man and two children perished, said Assistant Chief Mike Thornton, of the Pocomoke City Fire Department.

Another woman suffered second-degree burns to the face and hands and was taken to Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury. Another person jumped from a window but was not injured, Thornton said.

Authorities would not release the names and ages of the dead until relatives were notified. The Worcester County fire marshal's office was investigating the cause of the fire.

Way Sought Around Spending Limits

The idea is an appealing one--limit the increase in state spending to the growth of personal income so government will not keep digging deeper and deeper into the pockets of its citizens by increasing taxes.

But in good economic times such as Maryland is now experiencing, the state's spending affordability law places strict limits on how the governor and legislature can spend surplus funds. Legislative fiscal advisers now are predicting Maryland will have close to $1 billion for the fiscal 2001 budget that will be subject to spending restraints.

That's why Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) and some Democratic fiscal leaders are quietly looking for ways to get around the law. For instance, the mandate does not apply to one-time expenditures--such as paying off debt or constructing buildings--if they do not drive up the cost of government in future years.

The governor has already announced plans to put a lot of the money into building public schools and college buildings and plans to appropriate $200 million to help replace the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, which carries Interstate 95 and the Capital Beltway over the Potomac River.

VIRGINIA

Millennium Hiking Trail Designated

The White House Millennium Council, which is selecting a hiking trail project in each of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, has designated a proposed hiking trail straddling the Virginia-Kentucky line.

The proposed Pine Mountain Trail, to be open to backpackers, mountain bikers and horseback riders, would run more than 110 miles from Breaks Interstate Park in Dickenson County to Pineville, Ky.

About 30 miles of the trail would run along the spine of Pine Mountain, which forms the line between the two states, and would enable hikers to walk with one foot in Virginia and the other in Kentucky.

Now backers hope the latest "Millennium Legacy Trail" will receive needed funding. So far, volunteers have cleared 28 miles. Finishing the job will probably cost $150,000.

Strong Christmas Tree Sales Expected

Virginia's Christmas tree growers are expecting strong sales at their cut-your-own tree farms, despite a third straight dry season.

The summertime drought may mean some trees won't be as green as they normally would, said Tom O'Halloran, president of the Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association and owner of Glengary Tree Farm in Culpeper. Still, the growers expect to bring in about $34 million this year, O'Halloran said. That's up from $20 million in sales last year.

Some growers reported brisk sales before Thanksgiving.

"They bring their video recorders and really make a family outing of it," said Ronald Skewes, who operates a Christmas tree farm in Nokesville.

The drought will probably have its greatest effect on future harvests. The tree seedlings planted this spring may develop into smaller-than-normal trees when they are ready for harvest in about eight years.

Horses Banned on Town's Sidewalks

For years, people and horses enjoyed the same rights of way on the streets and sidewalks of Wise, a mountain town of 3,100 about 300 miles west of Richmond.

No longer. Wise's Town Council passed an ordinance last week prohibiting horses, ponies and mules from traveling on town sidewalks. Town Attorney Don Pippin originally suggested banning horses from all public rights of way, including roads, except during parades. But some council members thought that was too harsh and worked out a compromise: no horses on the sidewalks, and horses traveling on streets must carry "manure catching bags."

THE DISTRICT

Man Shot to Death in Alley in NE

A man was shot and killed last night in an alley in Northeast Washington, D.C. police said.

The unidentified man was shot multiple times in the 2000 block of Constitution Avenue NE about 8:15 p.m., said Lt. Garret Baxter. He died at the scene. No arrests had been made as of early today.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I came to see it one last time, but I was too late. I thought it was sad when they took the barrier down when Ling-Ling died. This is sadness upon sadness."

-- National Zoo visitor Ron Clark, 57, learning of the death of the giant panda Hsing-Hsing yesterday.