THE DISTRICT

D.C. Central Kitchen Receives Grant

The Dorothy G. Bender Foundation has awarded $250,000 to the D.C. Central Kitchen, which for more than a decade has collected surplus food from businesses and distributed it to the homeless while also training hundreds of previously unemployed men and women in the culinary arts.

Robert Egger, founder and executive director of the kitchen, will receive a $25,000 award as the winner of the second annual Bender Prize, which was established to honor individuals who have helped the District and its residents. The foundation's president, Morton Bender, praised Egger's "visionary zeal" in attacking homelessness, hunger and hopelessness.

George Washington University President Stephen J. Trachtenberg will present the award at a dinner Feb. 1.

Last year, the prize went to Deborah Shore, founder and executive director of Sasha Bruce Youthwork Inc., which runs counseling programs and shelters in the District for runaways and other troubled youth.

Groups Sue to Bring Cellular Towers Down

Environmentalists and some Northwest Washington residents have sued the National Park Service to dismantle two cellular telephone towers that have been put up in Rock Creek Park.

In a suit filed Friday in U.S. District Court, the Audubon Naturalist Society, the Maryland Native Plant Society and the Crestwood Neighborhood League accused the National Park Service of failing to comply with environmental laws in reviewing a Bell Atlantic Mobile request to build the towers in the federally owned park.

The Park Service "has not looked at the cumulative impact from multiple tower construction," said Jeff Smith, president of the Audubon society.

The groups expressed concern about one structure's proximity to a 65-acre Audubon bird census area and said they want to preserve Rock Creek Park as the city's best migrating warbler habitat. They said the Park Service failed to conduct a botanical review before granting permits to erect the towers.

School Board Plans Community Meetings

The D.C. Board of Education will begin a series of community meetings next week to talk with students, teachers, administrators and the public, the school board's new president, the Rev. Robert G. Childs (At Large), has announced.

On Feb. 2, the board and Superintendent Arlene Ackerman will hold the first meeting at Ballou Senior High School, 3401 14th St. SE, for residents in Ward 8. The meeting will start at 3:30 p.m. with students, Childs said, followed at 4:30 p.m. by a meeting with teachers. The board will meet with school administrators at 5:30 p.m. and with Ward 8 residents at 6:30 p.m.

On Feb. 24, the board will hold a meeting for Ward 1, starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Marie Reed Learning Center, 18th Street and Kalorama Road NW. It will follow the same time and participation format as the Ballou meeting.

THE REGION

Volunteers Sought to Deliver Meals

Volunteers with four-wheel-drive vehicles are urgently needed by Food and Friends to deliver meals to people with HIV and AIDS. Many of the organization's regular volunteer drivers are unable to drive on the snowy streets, and its most critically ill clients are not getting their meals.

Food and Friends uses volunteer drivers to deliver more than 3.3 million meals a year in the metropolitan area. To volunteer, call 202-488-8278.

Young Theatergoers Can Attend Free

The League of Washington Theatres is offering children and teenagers free tickets to more than 50 live performances in coming weeks as part of the organization's effort to introduce younger audiences to the stage.

More than 30 theatres are participating in the second annual "Stages for All Ages" program, the regional equivalent to New York's "Kid's Night on Broadway." For each adult ticket purchased, the theaters will give a free ticket to anyone up to age 17. Most of the performances are in February or March, but some begin this month.

On Feb. 19, several theaters will host a free "Kids Day at the Theatre," with workshops, games and a play. For detailed information on performances and ticket availability, call the "Stages for All Ages" hot line at 202-334-5885 or visit the league's Web site at www.lowt.org.

MARYLAND

Law Firm Adds Glendening Adviser

Prince George's County lawyer Lance W. Billingsley will join the law and lobbying firm of Rifkin, Livingston, Levitan and Silver, the firm said yesterday.

Billingsley is the former chairman of the University of Maryland Board of Regents and remains a member of the board; he is also a close friend and adviser to Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D). Alan M. Rifkin, the firm's managing partner, said Billingsley would practice real estate, commercial transactions, general corporate and administrative law but would not lobby.

Billingsley provoked controversy last year when he announced he would begin lobbying in Annapolis. Some lawmakers expressed concern about potential conflicts of interest for Billingsley, given his service to the University of Maryland, and the lawyer dropped his plans.

Frederick Plan Would Block Development

The city of Frederick is considering selling easements to prevent development of forested land in the city watershed, a notion that opponents contend violates the intent of Frederick County's forest resource ordinance.

The ordinance allows developers planning to cut down trees to buy conservation easements on other forested land to compensate for the loss of greenery. The easements permanently protect the forested land from development.

The technique generally has been used to protect private forests at prices of $4,000 to $7,000 an acre. The city is considering using it to protect some of the 7,000 acres of undeveloped land in its publicly owned watershed.

Opponents contend those trees are already protected.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"The thing about D.C. is they're not that good at snow removal, so it's great for skiing."

-- Anna Aurilio, 36, who said she skied partway to work, from Carter Barron to Foggy Bottom, and it was glorious.