VIRGINIA

Bush to Top Va.'s GOP Ballot Next Month

Adding to an already considerable edge in Virginia, Texas Gov. George W. Bush will have the top spot on the state Republican presidential primary ballot next month.

Bush's name was the first of five drawn yesterday by the State Board of Elections for the Feb. 29 primary. Selected after Bush, in order, were conservative activist Gary Bauer, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), radio talk show host Alan Keyes and publisher Steve Forbes.

The son of former president George Bush holds an advantage over the rest of the field in support and fund-raising aid from prominent Virginia Republicans, including Gov. James S. Gilmore III and Lt. Gov. John H. Hager. Many Republicans in the General Assembly have also endorsed Bush.

The Democrats will choose between Vice President Gore and former U.S. senator Bill Bradley in a series of closed party conventions in each of the state's 11 congressional districts.

THE REGION

Washington Monument Unveiling Delayed

The removal of the scaffolding, lighting and fabric from the Washington Monument, scheduled to start yesterday, was postponed because of rain and may be delayed another day, said Steve Lorenzetti, chief of the division of resource management for the National Park Service.

"We have to wait for the aluminum [scaffolding] to dry before we can begin," he said. "It is too dangerous for anyone to work on it when it's wet."

Lorenzetti said that if the weather remains good, the entire structure that has covered the monument during two years of refurbishing should be dismantled by the end of March.

THE DISTRICT

District Offers to Prepare Tax Returns

The District government offered yesterday to prepare city income tax returns for free this year, one of several ways officials say they have turned around the agency that annually collects nearly $2.7 billion in taxes.

To make filing taxes easier and faster, especially returns sent electronically, D.C. tax officials also said residents could pay their individual income taxes with a credit card, although a processing fee of up to $25 will be tacked on.

At a news conference with Internal Revenue Service officials, D.C. tax and revenue chief Natwar M. Gandhi said residents could file their returns by telephone (800-743-3320), provided they are single, make less than $100,000 and have no dependents, among other conditions.

The tax filing improvements, which bring the city's collection methods up to the levels of most states, are a contrast to the mid-1990s, when tens of millions of dollars in revenue was not collected because of agency-wide dysfunction.

MARYLAND

Dorr Family Establishes Memorial Fund

The family of Michele Dorr is setting up a memorial fund in her name to benefit other families of missing children, said James Shalleck, an attorney for Michele's mother.

Dee Dee Appleby wanted a "living memorial" to her 6-year-old daughter, who vanished from her father's Silver Spring back yard in May 1986 and whose remains were unearthed last week.

Details of the fund and how to make donations will be ironed out by Saturday, when Michele's funeral service is scheduled to be held at Hines-Rinaldi Funeral Home in Silver Spring, Shalleck said.

Montgomery County police, aided by cadaver-sniffing dogs, discovered Michele's remains Thursday, after Michele's convicted killer, Hadden Clark, led police to the woods near Route 29 south of Tech Road, in the White Oak area of Silver Spring. Clark is serving 30 years for Michele's murder, in addition to another 30-year sentence for the 1992 slaying of Laura Houghteling, 23, of Bethesda.

Sportsmen's Group Calls for Bear Hunting

The Maryland Sportsmen's Association will ask the Maryland Wildlife Advisory Commission next week to establish a black bear hunting season.

Most of Maryland's estimated 400 bears live in Allegany and Garrett counties, according to wildlife biologist Steven Bittner, of the state Department of Natural Resources. They are classified as game animals in Maryland, but the state has had no bear season since 1953, when the resident population was about 20.

As the bear population has slowly rebounded, nuisance complaints have mounted. A state task force in 1995 recommended crop-damage compensation, a hunting season and increased public education about living near bears. The DNR rejected the hunting proposal and, at the urging of animal-welfare groups, began selling $5 bear conservation stamps to partially compensate farmers for crop damage.

Tim Lambert, of Elkton, Md., a vice president of the statewide organization of hunters and anglers, contends that the state has been managing bears based on public opinion instead of science. "By protecting bears, we are making them like zoo animals that run around and can do anything and are not afraid of anybody or anything," he said.

Infant Killed in Arundel Crash

A 7-month-old boy was killed in a car accident in Anne Arundel County yesterday morning when his mother turned in front of a school bus.

Carin Lyn Siebers, 31, of Baltimore, was driving west on Fort Smallwood Road in Pasadena about 6:30 a.m. when she tried to turn left at a traffic light onto Energy Parkway, county police said. She entered the intersection as the light turned yellow, just as a school bus came through the light from the opposite direction.

The bus struck Siebers's Ford Mustang on the passenger side, causing it to spin and strike two cars waiting at the light on Energy Parkway. Siebers's infant son, who had been secured in a child safety seat, was thrown from the car. He was pronounced dead about half an hour later at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, in Baltimore, where his mother was hospitalized with head lacerations.

The bus driver and her two 15-year-old passengers were uninjured, as were the occupants of the other cars. The accident, which happened during rain and fog, is under investigation.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I am deeply concerned about allegations raised ... over recruitment and promotion of African Americans in the Virginia National Guard, "which should "reflect the best traditions of fairness, equal opportunity and promotion of the best and brightest soldiers, regardless of race or gender."

--Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R), in ordering a review of Guard recruiting and promotions.

--Page B1