MARYLAND

Poultry Workers Say Perdue Underpays

Seven current and former workers at poultry slaughterhouses owned by Perdue Farms Inc. have sued the Salisbury, Md.-based company, charging that it fails to pay for countless hours of work.

The lawsuit filed Thursday says the company cheats hourly line workers by not paying them for as much as 70 minutes a day they spend putting on, taking off and sometimes washing required safety and sanitary equipment such as smocks. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Wilmington, Del., also alleges that workers are shorted on retirement benefits, which are based on paid hours worked.

Four of the named plaintiffs work for Perdue in Delaware and Maryland. Perdue, the country's fourth-largest poultry company, has 20 plants in 12 states.

A Perdue spokeswoman said the company had not seen a copy of the lawsuit and would have no comment. Last summer, workers filed a similar lawsuit against Tyson Foods Inc., the country's largest poultry processor. About 4,000 current and former employees are participating in that suit.

Howard County to Destroy Old Police

Guns Howard County will no longer trade in its police guns for new ones. County Executive James N. Robey and Police Chief G. Wayne Livesay announced yesterday that the county will instead destroy the service weapons.

The new policy follows recent reports of former police weapons being used in violent crimes, and it means the county will spend $200,000 instead of $100,000 on replacement firearms next year. "We cannot risk the chance of having one of our own service weapons turn up in a scenario where it can be used against us, other law enforcement professionals or innocent victims," Robey (D) said in a statement.

Livesay said all new weapons will be equipped with trigger locks. The department is considering letting police officers buy their old service weapons if they promise not to resell them.

Trooper, 3 Others Hurt in Beltway Crash

A Maryland state trooper and three other people were injured yesterday when a driver on the Capital Beltway in Prince George's County sideswiped a police cruiser that was parked on the side of the road, Maryland State Police said.

Trooper Renee E. Kendrick, 30, was struck by a car in a chain-reaction accident about 7:30 a.m. as she was standing on the shoulder of the inner loop between Forestville Road and Suitland Road, police said. Kendrick had pulled over a 1987 Acura and was talking to the driver when a 1997 Oldsmobile Bravado veered out of control and hit Kendrick's police cruiser. The patrol car then hit the Acura, which knocked Kendrick to the ground, police said.

Kendrick was flown by helicopter to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where she was treated and released. The Oldsmobile's driver and a passenger were treated for minor injuries at hospitals, as was the driver of a 1998 Dodge pickup truck that also was struck by the Oldsmobile, police said.

VIRGINIA

Battlefields Trust Buys Fredricksburg Lots

The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, a three-year-old organization devoted to saving significant Civil War sites, has purchased two significant lots outside of Fredericksburg where Confederate Maj. John Pelham held off 10,000 Union troops with one cannon on a very foggy December morning in 1862.

Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee later called the young major "the gallant Pelham."

The area where Pelham took his stand on Dec. 13, 1862, is being developed for housing. Trust co-founder Enos Richardson said the group had been interested in purchasing the land for several years but the owner won't sell. Recently, Richardson saw the lots were for sale, and the trust quickly arranged to purchase them for $15,000.

"We will eventually improve the lots by putting up some kind of a display," Richardson said. "Unfortunately, by then, when you look out from the lots, all you'll see is fast-food restaurants or some such."

Arlington Wants Case in Supreme Court

The Arlington School Board has authorized its attorneys to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an Arlington school admission case if the high court accepts a similar Montgomery County case for review.

The Montgomery case concerns a white elementary school student who was barred from switching schools because of the effect his move would have on racial balance. In the Arlington case, a federal judge told the School Board that it could not give any advantage to black and Hispanics students seeking admission to the popular Arlington Traditional School.

An Arlington board spokeswoman said that the board wanted to alert the justices that the two cases were related and should both be heard.

THE DISTRICT

AU Receives $15 Million for Arts Center

American University President Benjamin Ladner this week announced the largest gift ever to the school: $15 million from Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen, of Chevy Chase, for a new arts center. The gift includes $10 million to build the center, as well as the Katzen art collection, worth an estimated $5 million.

The new center, across from the Massachusetts Avenue NW entrance to the campus, will be named the Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen Arts Center. It will include art and dance studios, instructional and faculty areas and galleries for the school's Watkins Collection. The collection is composed of 4,000 works of 20th-century art and the Katzen collection, which includes works by Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Modigliani, Marc Chagall and Willem de Kooning.

Lafayette School Students Sell Calendar

Children from the District's Lafayette Elementary School will be at Starbucks and Safeway in the 5500 block of Connecticut Avenue NW today, selling a school calendar that they produced for 2000.

Artwork and poetry of 75 of the school's 500 children was chosen to be displayed in the annual calendar, the only one of its kind distributed by a D.C. school. Lafayette schoolchildren will be on hand from 8 a.m to 4 p.m. to sign their work. The calendar costs $10.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"The city of tomorrow will tend first to vastness. Gigantic buildings connected by wide, suspended roadways on which traffic will speed at unheard of rates. . . . Dwellers and workers in these buildings may go weeks without setting foot on the ground."

-- August 1939 issue of Amazing Stories.