THE DISTRICT

Workers' Mistake Cuts Water Service

Water distribution problems in parts of upper Northwest Washington on Monday night were caused when city workers turned off a pump by mistake, officials said yesterday. More than 100,000 residents lost water service or had it severely curtailed for three hours.

Libby Lawson, a spokeswoman for the Water and Sewer Authority, said workers preparing to fix a leaking valve at 27th Street and Military Road NW, who were supposed to shut off a pump at Fort Reno NW, shut off both that pump and one at a pumping station in the 300 block of Bryant Street NW.

Lawson said the incident is under investigation and apologized to residents for the interruption in service.

Ford to Give Howard U. $2 Million

Howard University will receive a $2 million grant from Ford Motor Co. on Thursday, expanding one of the nation's longest-running corporate-university partnerships.

The grant will be used in part to broaden the program, providing more scholarships with increased value.

The grant will be awarded at 6 p.m. at the Blackburn University Center after an exhibition of antique Ford cars on the university's upper quadrangle.

Police Suspend Commander

A veteran D.C. police commander was suspended yesterday with pay for allegedly pulling a gun on a detective as a prank, D.C. police said.

The official, Cmdr. Thomas McGuire, who heads special investigations, was suspended pending a complete investigation of the incident, which allegedly occurred Nov. 22 in police headquarters, said Executive Assistant Chief Terrance W. Gainer.

VIRGINIA

Car Hits Wall and Bus, Killing Driver

A Lake Ridge man was killed Monday night after his car slammed into a concrete wall along Interstate 95 in Prince William County, then collided with a crowded OmniRide commuter bus. The 40 passengers aboard the bus were uninjured.

Virginia State Police said Duc Minh Ta, 48, crashed his 1987 Honda into a concrete divider along the southbound HOV lanes about 7:30 p.m. Police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell said Ta apparently had missed the exit ramp onto Route 123 and hit the wall as he was attempting to cut over toward the ramp. The car then collided with the commuter bus.

Ta, an employee in The Washington Post's systems and engineering department, was pronounced dead at Potomac Hospital. Police said he was wearing a seat belt.

Farmers to Fight Fertilizer Ruling

A group of 11 Amelia County farmers said yesterday that they will ask the Virginia Supreme Court to throw out a judge's decision upholding the county's ban on using treated human waste as fertilizer.

The farmers sued the county in April, contending the ban conflicted with state law that allows application of sludge if a farmer has a permit from the state Department of Health. On Nov. 9, Circuit Judge Thomas V. Warren ruled that the county ban did not conflict with the law.

The Amelia Board of Supervisors voted in March to ban the use of the treated human waste, known as biosolids, because of concerns that the fertilizer is a health and environmental hazard.

Farmers save on fertilizer costs by using the free sludge from wastewater treatment plants.

MARYLAND

Gordon to Leave Montgomery School Post

Beatrice B. Gordon, the longest-serving member of Montgomery County's Board of Education and past president of the Maryland Association of School Boards, has decided not to seek a third term.

"I feel strongly that board members ought to have a strong connection to the schools. My daughters are grown and almost out of college," she said. "I don't have a reason to be as involved as closely anymore."

Gordon's is one of three school board seats up for election next year. Board member Mona M. Signer has already filed to run for reelection. And Kermit V. Burnett, who was appointed after Blair G. Ewing left to run for the County Council, plans to run as well.

Several names are being floated as potential candidates for Gordon's at-large seat. Sharon Cox, former president of the county's Parent Teacher Association, confirmed she plans to run and will file before the Dec. 27 deadline. So far, only Bill White, who has run before as an anarchist, has filed.

Panel Urges Business Grant Changes

State economic development officials would have more flexibility to hand out loans and grants to business prospects under legislation proposed this week by a study panel.

But the panel on Monday refused to recommend giving up legislative oversight of grants made from the state's highest-profile aid program, the Sunny Day fund that is used when Maryland is competing with other states for major economic development projects.

The Department of Business and Economic Development would still have to get legislative approval for all grants from the fund, but the study group proposed changes in procedures to allow quicker approval of projects under $2.5 million.

County Councils Elect Leaders

The Prince George's and Montgomery county councils elected new officers yesterday for the coming year.

In Prince George's, Dorothy F. Bailey (D-Temple Hills), a former Family Services director and an ally of County Executive Wayne K. Curry (D), takes over as council chairman.

Bailey succeeded council member M.H. Jim Estepp (D-Upper Marlboro) in the largely ceremonial post. The council elected first-term council member Peter A. Shapiro (D-Brentwood) to be vice chairman.

In Montgomery, council member Michael L. Subin (D-At Large) was picked to succeed Isiah Leggett (D-At Large) as president. Council member Blair G. Ewing (D-At Large) was elected vice chairman.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"It's a huge national event, and at least some contribution should come from those staging the party. People who throw the party should pay the band."

-- Chris Zimmerman, Arlington's representative on the Metro board of directors. Metro wants the federal government to help pay the estimated $1 million that it will cost to ferry revelers around the region to the New Year's Eve party on the Mall.