THE DISTRICT

Student Charged in Menorah Vandalism

A Georgetown University sophomore was arrested yesterday after the eight-foot-tall outdoor menorah on campus was knocked down for the second time.

Michael Byrne, 20, of the Henle residence on campus, was charged with misdemeanor destruction of property and released with a citation, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a D.C. police spokesman. He said the incident has been classified as a hate crime. University officials said Byrne has been suspended pending a campus disciplinary hearing.

The menorah was first knocked down and bent, and its electric bulbs were shattered, early Dec. 4, the second night of Hanukah, according to Steve Glickman, president of the Jewish Students Association. Jewish and non-Jewish students held a nightly vigil for the rest of the eight-day holiday.

Several students were guarding the menorah early yesterday when a man ran up to it about 3:15 a.m., Glickman said. The man made disparaging remarks about Jews and knocked the menorah down, breaking bulbs, Glickman said. Students said they seized Byrne and held him for police.

Georgetown University's president, the Rev. Leo J. O'Donovan, met with students yesterday. "I was profoundly disturbed to learn about a second incident of vandalism against the menorah," O'Donovan said. "Let me be clear. This is offensive, unacceptable and wrong. . . . I condemn this senseless and deplorable act. . . . Respect and reverence for every person is the very core of our identity as a Catholic and Jesuit university."

Metro to Run Shuttle Along Q Street NW

The D.C. Department of Public Works will begin running a free shuttle bus tomorrow between 2500 Q St. NW and the Dupont Circle Metro station to help residents hindered by the closing of the Q Street Bridge, which will be demolished and rebuilt.

The shuttle will run every 15 minutes daily from 7:30 a.m to 9:30 p.m., including holidays, DPW officials said. It will stop at 2500 Q St. NW, 27th and Q streets NW, 28th and Q streets NW, 22nd and Q streets NW and the Q street entrance to the Metro station.

The Q Street Bridge--also known as the Dumbarton Bridge--is a main access route to Georgetown from the east and carries about 9,400 vehicles weekdays, city officials said.

City Conducts Snow-Readiness Test

The District government's snow-response team conducted its annual dry run yesterday with about 400 employees from the Public Works, Corrections and Human Services departments and the Water and Sewer Authority.

The D.C. government employees, which included drivers, front-end loaders, administrators and supervisors, ran through a simulated snow emergency by driving their routes, operating communications equipment and testing new computer programs.

"We think it went very well," said Linda Grant, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works.

VIRGINIA

Gilmore to Give Funds to Tobacco Farmers

Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) announced plans yesterday to give tobacco farmers $107 million from the national tobacco settlement in the next few months.

In addition, Gilmore proposed spending $69 million during the next two years on community revitalization efforts in the state's struggling Southside, including money for new buildings and programs at Virginia Tech and other colleges.

Most of the money would require approval from legislators and a state commission, officials said. The remaining $24 million would come from a private trust that gives tobacco company money to growers.

Gilmore said the direct payments are needed for tobacco farmers, who have been hurt by low prices and quota reductions on their production.

The tobacco aid is the latest in a series of proposals from Gilmore leading up to the 2000 legislative session.

On Friday, Gilmore said he will ask legislators to allocate $800,000 to start a fund to restore wetlands. The Citizens Wetlands Advisory Committee appointed by Gilmore had recommended restoring 20,500 acres in the next decade, saying that nearly half of the state's 1.8 million wetland acres have been destroyed in the past 200 years.

Gilmore's proposed Virginia Wetlands Restoration Fund is part of a $34 million package of water quality improvement initiatives he plans for the next state budget.

Park Police Looking for Fort Hunt Vandals

U.S. Park Police investigators are searching for vandals who left numerous "road spikes" along a roadway in Fort Hunt, which police called a deliberate attempt to damage property.

Police discovered 130 spikes--made of nails and epoxy--Thursday night when a police cruiser drove over them. A Park Police spokesman said the spikes were on an access road leading to Park Police stables off Fort Hunt Park Road.

MARYLAND

7 Children Homeless After Wheaton Fire

A fire started by a 4-year-old boy playing with an altar candle yesterday left a Wheaton household--including seven children--temporarily homeless, according to Montgomery County fire officials.

County firefighters responded to a house fire in the 11100 block of Amherst Avenue just before 11 a.m. It was started when the boy entered the room of his 1-year-old sister as she slept, removed a lighted candle from a small altar and accidentally ignited the closet, officials said.

Woman Killed in Charles County Crash

An 87-year-old woman died yesterday after a pickup truck collided with her car as it crossed Route 210 at Matthews Road in Charles County, according to Maryland State Police.

Kathryn Davis, of Indian Head, was pronounced dead at the scene of the 10 a.m. collision. Her husband, Harry Davis Jr., 83, was driving the truck across Route 210 when a southbound Ford Ranger struck its side, police said. There is no stoplight at the intersection.

Harry Davis Jr. was listed in fair and stable condition at Washington Hospital Center.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"The burbs are dull and boring after you've been there all week. You're dying for some culture. But to just go into the city and come back out, all in a few hours, is tiring and not worth it."

-- April van de Camp, of Reston, who is part of a trend of high-tech workers who live in the suburbs but stay weekends in the District.