THE REGION

BWI Ponders Richmond Shuttle Bus

Baltimore-Washington International Airport is considering starting shuttle bus service to Richmond to lure more Virginia passengers.

BWI officials said the airport is seeking bids from transit companies interested in running the bus service south to Richmond, where about 6 percent of its passengers originate, according to a recent survey.

BWI estimates that as many as 16 percent of its annual 19 million passengers will come from Virginia this year.

The service could start as soon as June 1.

Richmond airport officials are not sure it will be reliable or profitable. Airport spokesman Troy Bell said fares out of Richmond have become more competitive recently, and traffic to and from Baltimore may be too much for travelers to bear.

MARYLAND

Girls Injured in Sledding Accident

An afternoon on a popular sledding hill in Rockville ended in the hospital yesterday for two girls who lost control of their sled, hit a tree and landed in a creek, rescue officials said.

The girls, 10 and 12 years old, were rescued from the creek by other sledders outside the Rockville Civic Center in the 600 block of Edmonston Drive, a favorite sledding spot in the county, Montgomery Fire and Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer said.

The 10-year-old was flown to Children's Hospital by a Maryland State Police helicopter because she appeared to have head injuries, Piringer said.

A hospital spokesman said she was in fair condition last night. The 12-year-old was taken to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital with a leg injury.

Piringer said county rescue workers responded to numerous sledding injuries throughout the weekend.

He said sledders should check their routes for debris and hazards such as trees, roads and creeks. Sledders also should consider wearing protective headgear, sled feet-first to minimize head injuries and use the kind of sled that can be steered, he said.

1 Killed, 1 Hurt in Montgomery Crash

A 39-year-old man was killed and another man was injured when their car slid on a patch of ice and flipped over on a Montgomery County road Saturday, police said.

The Ford Mustang was southbound on Layhill Road just south of Middlevale Lane about 6 p.m. when it hit a patch of ice, slammed into a concrete median and flipped over, landing in the oncoming lane, Montgomery County Police said.

The 39-year-old man died at the scene and the other man was taken to Suburban Hospital, where he was in serious condition last night, police said. The dead man's identity was being withheld until his family could be reached, police said.

Man Killed in Apparent Hit-and-Run

Prince George's County police are trying to identify a man who was killed early Saturday in an apparent hit-and-run accident in the 2200 block of University Boulevard in Adelphi.

Police described the victim as Hispanic, about 40 years old with black hair and a mustache. Police said the man was about 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 180 pounds. He was wearing size 10 shoes and a beige baseball cap.

Police said the man was apparently hit while crossing University Boulevard. He was found lying in the westbound lanes about 2:45 a.m. and died shortly after being taken to Washington Hospital Center.

VIRGINIA

Montpelier Exhibit Honors Black History

When most people think of Montpelier, they picture James Madison. But beyond the visitor's center of the former president's famous house stands another home, with a different story.

The log cabin with a small porch and chimney sits near the edge of a wooded area next to a cemetery. A former Montpelier slave named George Gilmore built it about 1873, after he was emancipated.

"It shows a different side of Montpelier's history, Virginia's history," said Randy Huwa, Montpelier spokesman.

The cabin, which provides a rare glimpse of black life after the Civil War, will be open to the public from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday to commemorate Black History Month. Staff at Montpelier have been working for months to restore the structure, which had "almost disappeared," Huwa said.

Eastern Shore Pushing to Keep Kmart

Residents on the Eastern Shore are rallying to keep bankrupt Kmart Corp. from closing its store on the peninsula -- a lifeblood, they say, for the struggling region.

"If you look at the whole picture, it's quite frightening," said Northampton County administrator Lance Metzler.

The two counties that make up the Eastern Shore, Northampton and Accomack, have an unemployment rate of 12.7 percent and a combined population of 51,000.

The Exmore, Va., store is one of several hundred that Kmart is closing nationwide to cut costs.

If Kmart, the area's only discount retailer, leaves, nearly 100 jobs will be lost, Metzler said. And, Northampton County will lose $60,000 to $70,000 in sales tax revenue, which the county distributes to its towns.

In an attempt to keep Kmart from leaving, Exmore and Northampton County officials have collected more than 3,000 signatures and sent letters to Kmart's chief executive and nine board members.

Kmart, based in Troy, Mich., announced Jan. 14 that it was closing 326 stores across the country as part of a plan to emerge from bankruptcy by the end of April.

Metzler said the Eastern Shore Kmart is different from stores elsewhere and should be saved. "In Virginia Beach and bigger cities, these discount stores are a dime a dozen," he said. "Here, it's a big part of the community."

If Kmart leaves, residents will be forced to travel at least 45 minutes north to the nearest Wal-Mart in Pocomoke City, Md. Or, they can drive an hour and a half and pay tolls to cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to Virginia Beach.

When Kmart first came to the Shore almost a decade ago, he said, it swallowed up nearby mom-and-pop businesses. These businesses are no longer around to offer products when Kmart leaves.

"An insider who is not strong can't survive. An outsider who is too strong can't survive."

-- Iris T. Metts, Prince George's schools chief, discussing her decision to step aside when her contract expires at the end of June. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Petula Dvorak and Timothy Dwyer and the Associated Press.