THE REGION

New United Way Board Meets to Regroup The new 21-member board of directors charged with rebuilding the troubled United Way of the National Capital Area met formally yesterday for the first time, and interim Chairman William Couper said the group began by familiarizing itself with the organization and choosing a committee to nominate board officers.

Couper said members would not tackle restructuring the organization, whose financial practices are under federal investigation, until later this month.

Last year, the organization abolished its board and an outside task force selected the new members. In an effort to regain donor trust, the group has pledged to cut its workforce by a third and limit its administrative spending to 10 percent of what it raises.

Also yesterday, officials said they would delay announcing their fall fundraising total until March because some drives are still going on. The campaign, which raised about $43 million last year, is expected by most observers to raise significantly less this year.

MARYLAND

Driver Dies in Collision With School's Bus A 55-year-old woman was killed in Charles County yesterday when the minivan she was driving veered across the road and struck a bus carrying high school basketball players from Calvert County, authorities said.

The minivan driver, whom authorities declined to identify until her relatives were notified, died at the scene.

After the head-on collision at 3:30 p.m., the 40 varsity, junior varsity and freshman players from Calvert's Patuxent High School were taken to a hospital, but none was seriously injured, said Capt. Joseph C. Montminy of the Charles County sheriff's office. Two boys were taken by ambulance with back, neck and laceration injuries, Montminy said.

The bus was headed west on Hawthorne Road to a game at Charles County's McDonough High School when the eastbound minivan driver crossed the centerline at Sleepy Hollow Road and hit the bus, Montminy said.

Missing Alzheimer's Patient Found Dead An Alzheimer's patient who disappeared early yesterday in Prince George's County was found dead shortly after nightfall just around the corner from the spot where he was last seen, police said.

Hammie Loadholt, 80, had recently moved from South Carolina to live with family members in Mitchellville. They called police yesterday after he left their home in the 3900 block of Aynor Drive about 5 a.m. and didn't return, said Debbie Sabel, a police spokeswoman.

Loadholt may not have been wearing a coat or shoes when he left the house, and he didn't know the area well, so police issued a bulletin alerting people to look for a gray-haired man described as 6 feet 6 and 250 pounds. Loadholt's body was found about 7:30 p.m. in a shallow stream alongside the 10800 block of Kencrest Drive in Bowie, about an eighth of a mile from the family home.

Investigators said they are not sure whether a heart attack, the cold weather or something else killed Loadholt. They do not suspect foul play and do not believe he drowned, Sabel said. An autopsy is to be conducted today.

Boy, 12, Dies in Ski Accident in Pa. A 12-year-old boy from Kensington died Friday after he crashed into a tree while skiing at Whitetail Mountain Resort in Mercersburg, Pa., police and a resort spokesman said.

Samuel Johnson, a student at St. Jane Frances de Chantal School in Bethesda, was skiing close to the edge of the novice Snowpark Trail about 3:15 p.m., when one ski came off and he veered from the trail and hit a tree, the police report said. He was taken to Washington County Hospital in Hagerstown, Md., where he died about 4:30 p.m., said Don MacAskill, mountain manager for the resort.

MacAskill said it was the first death at the resort in at least five years.

13 Glendening Appointments Approved The Maryland Senate approved yesterday 13 key appointments by outgoing Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D), including positions on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents, the Parole Commission and the State Board of Contract Appeals.

The Senate agreed unanimously to confirm 11 of the appointments, which included three former Democratic lawmakers from the Baltimore region and the fiancee of a fourth Democratic lawmaker, House Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve (Montgomery). Two others, both judges in Prince George's County, were approved 46 to 1.

Republican senators agreed not to challenge the appointments as part of a deal with Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's) to delay about 140 other nominees to less significant jobs awaiting legislative approval. The delay gives Republican Gov.-elect Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., who takes office tomorrow, a chance to review those nominees and possibly replace them.

Truck Crashes Into Historic Mansion A tractor-trailer traveling on a dirt road early Sunday crashed into a historic, 270-year-old mansion in Piscataway Park in western Charles County, the National Park Service said.

Bill Line, a Park Service spokesman, said the crash caused significant damage to Marshall Hall, an 18th-century plantation house across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon that was once the site of an amusement park. The crash occurred about 2:50 a.m. Sunday when the 38-year-old truck driver kept going when the road ended, said Sgt. Scott Fear of the U.S. Park Police.

Line said the house would be restored.

VIRGINIA

Official Apologizes for Drinking, Driving Manassas City Manager Lawrence D. Hughes apologized publicly last night after his October arrest on two drunken driving-related charges.

"I made a serious mistake," said Hughes, 61. "As a result of that thoughtless action, I made many people angry, more than for any other act in my life. . . . For that, I'm truly sorry."

The charges -- driving under the influence and consuming an alcoholic beverage while driving -- were dropped Dec. 27 by a Caroline County judge after defense attorney Bruce P. Ganey presented evidence that Hughes's blood-alcohol level was 0.06 when he was arrested as he drove home from a Virginia Municipal League awards banquet in Norfolk. The state limit is 0.08.

Manassas Mayor Marvin L. Gillum (R) said last night that the City Council would not recommend any action against Hughes.

"This is another instance where through their own blundering, they've killed an animal."

-- Richard Farinato, director of captive wildlife programs for the Humane Society of the United States, about the death of two red pandas at the

National Zoo after rat poison pellets were used. -- Page B4

Compiled from reports by staff writers Michael Amon, Petula Dvorak, Michele Clock, Lori Montgomery, Ylan Q. Mui and Jacqueline L. Salmon.