THE REGION

Battlefield Protection Bill Approved

Congress has passed a bill authorizing a $50 million program to protect endangered Civil War battlefields.

The Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act authorizes $10 million a year to be spent in fiscal 2004 through 2008 in a matching grant program to purchase land outside National Park Service boundaries. Grants will be awarded competitively by the American Battlefield Protection Program, an arm of the Park Service.

Also this week, a bill authorizing the construction of a memorial in Washington to President John Adams and his family was sent to President Bush for his signature.

A site for the memorial can be selected from an area surrounding the Mall but not on the Mall itself, where new memorials have been banned.

Protest Filed Over Dulles Contract

A Pennsylvania company has filed a protest with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, alleging that it bid $11.4 million less than the company that was chosen to design, build and maintain a people mover at Dulles International Airport.

The authority's board this month approved about $200 million in people mover contracts for Sumitomo Corp. of America, but the contracts have not been awarded yet.

Pittsburgh-based Bombardier Transportation said Sumitomo submitted a higher bid for the work and has not built such a train system at a U.S. airport, while Bombardier has built 25 in the United States.

In a Nov. 15 letter to Norman M. Glasgow Jr., chairman of the airport authority board, nine members of Congress questioned awarding the contract to a higher bidder that would build the passenger cars in Japan, costing U.S. jobs.

Gino Antoniello, a Sumitomo vice president, said in a statement that the authority selected the "superior system."

MARYLAND

Task Force to Study U-Md. Area Crime

University of Maryland President C.D. Mote Jr. yesterday appointed a task force to seek solutions to the problem of violent crime in the area around the College Park campus.

Mote announced the task force at a forum held by Prince George's County and university police to air community concerns in the aftermath of sophomore Brandon Malstrom's Nov. 10 stabbing death.

"We must all do more to make the university and its immediate environs a community where all can feel secure and free from fear," Mote said in a statement released yesterday.

Col. David B. Mitchell, superintendent of the Maryland State Police, will head the task force. Members will include Kenneth W. Krouse, university director of public safety; Gerald M. Wilson, county police chief; Sam Finz, College Park city manager; Linda Clement, U-Md. vice president for student affairs; John Farley, assistant vice president; and Brandon DeFrehn, Student Government Association president. A final representative will be named by the incoming county executive, Jack B. Johnson.

THE DISTRICT

Brentwood Test Is Called Successful

A fumigation test at the quarantined Brentwood Road NE postal plant yesterday was described as a success by U.S. Postal Service officials.

The test, which was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m., was halted for several hours after a chemical supply pump failed and a fuse blew, officials said. Postal officials said portions of the test, including the equipment trouble, were planned as a way to check contingency arrangements, unbeknown to certain personnel involved in the work.

But sources familiar with the test said it was unclear what caused the equipment failures.

The test resumed about 6:30 p.m. Officials were not available for comment late last night on the testing's completion.

The test was the latest in a series of checks of the equipment and procedures to be used to fumigate Washington's central mail-processing facility, which closed last year after the fatal anthrax mailings.

Party Planned for Zoo's Elephant Calf

The National Zoo will celebrate the first birthday of its male elephant calf, Kandula, tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Elephant House.

Visitors can view several educational exhibits about elephants and participate in a variety of interactive events. There will be animal demonstrations, and zoo scientists will discuss research in elephant reproduction. There also will be an arts-and-crafts area for children.

Broken Pipe Delays Lottery Collections

D.C. lottery winners with winning tickets worth more than $600 will not be able to collect their money until Monday because of a flood at the claim center.

The lottery claim center was forced to close yesterday after a water pipe broke in a public restroom. The water flooded the first-floor lobby of the Franklin D. Reeves Building at 2000 14th St. NW, which houses the claim center. Tickets for less than $600 can be cashed in at stores that sell lottery tickets.

"This is an unfortunate accident, and we apologize to all the D.C. lottery winners who may be inconvenienced by this incident," said the lottery's executive director, Jeanette A. Michael.

Child Seat Checkpoint Planned Today

The D.C. Department of Transportation and D.C. police are setting up a safety checkpoint today to kick off a 30-day warning period for the Child Passenger Safety Act. The new law requires that children 8 and younger be in a properly installed infant, toddler or booster seat. The checkpoint will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Seventh and O streets NW.

VIRGINIA

State Employees to Work Half-Day Wed.

State government employees will get a half-day of paid leave the day before Thanksgiving. Gov. Mark R. Warner said yesterday that the state will call it a day at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Warner previously announced that employees would have a holiday the Friday after Thanksgiving. They also will have a holiday on Christmas Eve, along with Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

"We need an ambulance here for possibly a decedent who's not actually deceased."

-- A D.C. morgue worker in a 911 call after two staff members thought they felt a pulse in a body that had been placed in a refrigerator. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Linda Wheeler, Katherine Shaver, Amy Argetsinger, Manny Fernandez and Karlyn Barker and the Associated Press.