VIRGINIA

Monroe Picked to Chair Arlington Board Charles Monroe (D) was chosen to be chairman of the Arlington County Board yesterday by his fellow board members. Traditionally, the board reaches a consensus on the next chairman. He will begin his term Jan. 1. Veteran board member Paul F. Ferguson (D) was named vice chairman.

Monroe, 46, who will be running for his second term in November, said he will announce a broad-based agenda at the county's annual New Year's Day meeting. An Arlington native and the son of the county's first African American judge, Thomas Monroe Sr., Monroe has been an advocate for affordable housing for much of his public service career. Monroe is a resident of the Glencarlyn neighborhood in South Arlington and is an attorney based in Alexandria.

Ferguson, 36, who served as board chairman in 1999, will be running for his third full term in November. Each year, the board chooses as chairman a member who is facing a reelection contest.

Board Approves New Historic District The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has voted to create a historic district in Middleburg that property owners hope will keep their rural roads from being widened.

The new Beaverdam Creek Historic Roadways District is 80 miles long and only 70 feet wide, because it extends only 35 feet on either side of the center line on a series of unpaved roads. It is designed to protect such features as stone walls, fences, buildings, signs and trees.

Participation is voluntary and applies only to the 189 property owners who have agreed to be in it.

Parts of Columbia Pike Plan Approved The Arlington County Board Tuesday night approved parts of a plan to revitalize Columbia Pike, the 3.5-mile strip of stores and apartments stretching from the Pentagon to Baileys Crossroads, that officials have hoped to spruce up for three decades.

The board extended the borders of the revitalization area into adjacent neighborhoods and approved measures to provide more open space, such as parks and public squares, and widen some neighborhood streets to keep traffic moving.

The board also agreed to give financial assistance and tax credits to developers who improve sidewalks, streets and other infrastructure as part of their building projects.

Action on rules to limit building heights and setbacks has been deferred until February.

THE DISTRICT

Mayor Helps Get Center Underway D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams helped strip the boards off an abandoned building in Washington Highlands yesterday that by spring should be transformed into a community center, offering housing and financial counseling for adults and after-school programs for as many as 200 children.

The Far Southwest-Southeast Community Development Corp. received funding from the city and federal governments, and from private foundations, to renovate the 6,000-square-foot former drugstore at South Capitol and Atlantic streets SE. The building has been vacant for eight years.

The development corporation is headed by the Rev. Eugene Sheppard, who founded a church in the neighborhood in 1989.

Police Detail Surveillance for Rallies D.C. police announced yesterday that they will put up temporary surveillance cameras next month during anti-war rallies and during an antiabortion demonstration.

During the war protests, scheduled for Jan. 17-19, police said, they will put extra cameras in Farragut Square, Malcolm X Park, the north end of Dupont Circle in Northwest, the Marine Barracks at Eighth and I streets SE and along the proposed march route from the Capitol to the Washington Navy Yard in Southeast.

On Jan. 22, during the antiabortion event, police said, they will put up additional cameras along Constitution Avenue NW and outside the U.S. Supreme Court.

Police also have 14 permanent cameras around downtown that are activated during large demonstrations, as well as a camera mounted on the department's helicopter.

MARYLAND

No Anthrax Leads in Search of Forest

The FBI was wrapping up a six-day search in a Frederick forest for clues in the anthrax case yesterday, but had yet to find any new leads, law enforcement sources said.

The FBI was examining materials seized in the search, but some law enforcement officials said they held out little hope that it would amount to anything.

Agents combed the forest and ponds at Frederick Municipal Forest. The search was in response to a tip from someone who had spoken to former Army scientist Steven Hatfill hypothetically about biological weapons. Hatfill has been described as a person of interest in the case.

Pat Clawson, Hatfill's spokesman, said last week that "the FBI can search the planet until hell freezes over, but it will find that Steve Hatfill was never involved in anthrax attacks."

Montgomery Conference Center Advances Maryland officials approved funding yesterday for construction of a 36,000-square-foot conference center in Rockville at Rockville Pike and Marinelli Road.

The state Board of Public Works approved the sale of $23 million in bonds to pay for its share of the project. The Montgomery County Council had agreed to support the $72 million project four years ago, including the county's $20 million share of the cost.

The remainder of the funding would come from developers.

The project has been held up since 1997 by a lone opponent, neighbor David H. Brown, who filed repeated legal challenges because of concerns about crowding and traffic congestion. A court ruled last year that his objections were not sufficient to stop the project.

Montgomery officials have billed the center as a state-of-the-art meeting space for area businesses. Marriott has proposed building an adjacent 225-room hotel.

The project is expected to break ground next year, county officials said.

"We decided we would come from the approach that the president is the coach, and the coach called the team. And when he does that, you say, 'What position do I play?' "

-- Tamara Medeiros, of Westminster, Md., wife of Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Jack Medeiros, whose unit returned home from active duty recently and could be called up again. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Chris L. Jenkins, David A. Fahrenthold, Allan Lengel, Guy Gugliotta, Katherine Shaver, Debbi Wilgoren, Linda Wheeler and Matthew Mosk.