An item in yesterday's Metro In Brief column on candidates for the Howard County Board of Education failed to mention candidate Marcelino Bedolla. With Bedolla, there are 18 candidates for the board, five of them from Columbia. (Published 12/29/1999)

MARYLAND

Montgomery Lawmaker No. 2 in Senate

The president of the Maryland Senate has promoted Sen. Ida G. Ruben (D) to the position of president pro tem, making her the first Montgomery County legislator to rise to that leadership post in more than a century.

With the assignment, Ruben becomes the second-ranking senator and will be responsible for presiding over the Senate in the president's absence. "This position will provide her with a platform to become the voice and conscience of the Senate and an advocate for fairness and inclusiveness in Maryland," said Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's).

Ruben replaces Sen. Norman R. Stone Jr. (D-Baltimore County) as president pro tem. Stone, a 33-year Senate veteran, will become president pro tem emeritus, a new position.

Driver on I-270 Falls Asleep, Hits Wall

A Germantown man who told police that he was drowsy from cold medicine fell asleep while driving on Interstate 270 yesterday, and his car struck the barrier wall, sending chunks of concrete flying and tying up early afternoon traffic, Maryland State Police said.

Benjamin Jackson, 54, of Applegrath Way, was taken to Suburban Hospital but his injuries were not believed to be life-threatening, Trooper Brian Kloos said. Jackson was charged with negligent driving, Kloos said.

Jackson told police he was sick and took cold medicine at work yesterday morning before his boss sent him home. While driving a 1995 Chevrolet Lumina north on I-270 just before Middlebrook Road about 12:50 p.m., Jackson fell asleep in the far right lane. The car crossed three lanes of traffic before hitting the barrier wall at at least 55 mph, said Kloos, who investigated the collision.

No other vehicles were hit, although large chunks of the barrier wall flew into the southbound lanes of I-270, police said. Traffic was snarled in both directions as police investigated the collision and the chunks of concrete were removed.

17 People Vying for Howard School Board

In an election year when the Howard County school system is facing concerns about equity among schools and the superintendent is leaving, an unusually large number of candidates filed by yesterday's deadline to run for the Board of Education.

There are 17 candidates for two seats, compared with seven last year. The seats are nonpartisan, although the candidates identified themselves as a roughly even mix of Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated. Only five board hopefuls live in Columbia, the most populated part of the county.

The candidates are incumbent Stephen C. Bounds, Glenn Amato, Virginia Charles, June D. Cofield, Daniel M. Dotson, Don Dunn, Allen Dyer, Patricia S. Gordon, Cheri J. Herschman, Melody J. Higgins, Michael F. Katz, Jerry D. Johnston, Kristine Lockwood, Kathleen Sinkinson, Steven Swanhart, Lydia Williams and Arthur Neal Willoughby.

Amato, Willoughby and Johnston ran in the primary last year and placed third, fourth and fifth, respectively.

Historic Graveyard May Be at Home Site

Some amateur historians fear that plans to develop a lot on the shores of Back Creek in Annapolis could disturb what they believe is a century-old cemetery for an important black family.

Janice Williams, of Pasadena, believes land records show that the lot, a 0.62-acre parcel at the end of Georgetown Road, contains a graveyard from the 1880s for the family of London Pinkney.

A free black man before the Civil War, Pinkney is a significant figure in local black history. Besides being a large landowner, which was rare for blacks in the post-Civil War era, he also was a trustee for what became Mount Moriah Church, Williams said.

The current property owner, Walter Czerwinski, is seeking two variances to build a house in the area bordering Back Creek, city officials said. The city Board of Appeals has not voted on the variances.

No gravestones are visible on the wooded lot sloping down to the water. But Richard Hughes, chief of the Office of Archaeology, said land records indicate a cemetery is at that general location.

City officials want the owner to have an archaeologist present when construction starts. If the grading turns up evidence of graves, the work would stop, and procedures would be followed for disinterment, said Jacquelyn Rouse, of the city Planning and Zoning Department. "Everyone acknowledges that this is a sensitive and difficult situation . . . and we're trying to do what's right," she said.

VIRGINIA

Visibility Sought for Funeral Processions

Concerned about growing disrespect or inattention among drivers for funeral processions, funeral directors in Chesapeake, Va., are considering adding a purple light to the lead car.

Drivers have become increasingly unwilling to allow funeral processions to pass, making the drive to the cemetery more dangerous, said Joann McElmurray, executive director of the Virginia Funeral Directors' Association.

Last summer, two accidental traffic deaths occurred during funeral processions: one in Memphis, the other in Florida. In June, West Virginia made yielding to a funeral procession state law.

McElmurray said there have been enough close calls in Virginia to warrant action. The General Assembly passed an emergency bill this year authorizing the use of purple lights as of Jan. 1.

THE DISTRICT

Musicians Sought for Fort Dupont Series

The National Park Service is holding auditions for local rhythm-and-blues and jazz performers to be opening acts for this summer's Fort Dupont Summer Theatre Millennium Concert Series.

Auditions will take place every Saturday in February. Reservations to audition can be made Jan. 12-28 by calling 202-426-7723 between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Reservations are first-come, first-served, and selections will be made from the first 30 acts to register.

For more information, call Fort Dupont Park between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays at the same number.

Aquarium Hosts Name-the-Gators Contest

The National Aquarium recently received five alligators and is calling on the public to help name them. Entries can be dropped off before Jan. 7 at the aquarium admissions desk on 14th Street NW, between Constitution and Pennsylvania avenues in the Department of Commerce building, or they can be e-mailed by the same date to gsi.aquarium@erols.com. On Jan. 8, the aquarium will introduce its new additions during "Gator Day" activities.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We have sanitation, surgery, drainage, plumbing every product of science and accessory of luxury. It seems impossible to imagine an improvement on what we have." -- an editorial writer for this newspaper on the eve of the 20th century. -- Page A1