City Warns of Parking in Emergency Lanes District officials are warning motorists to pay close attention to street signs and to make sure not to park on major thoroughfares when snow emergencies have been declared.

During the storm on Feb. 16 and 17, the city ticketed or towed 1,071 cars in snow emergency lanes, fining each driver $250. In the previous snow emergency, on Feb. 7, the city wrote 1,691 tickets, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Works said.

Snow emergency streets need to be cleared of cars to allow plows and emergency vehicles to pass through easily. Residents whose cars are towed can call 311 to find where they have been left.

Officials to Reinspect City Nightclubs D.C. fire department inspectors are attempting to reinspect the city's more than 600 bars, nightclubs and restaurants in the wake of a fatal fire in Rhode Island and a deadly stampede of patrons fleeing a fight at a Chicago club, officials said.

Fire Marshal Kenneth Ellerbe spoke to club owners at a bar on U Street NW yesterday afternoon, telling them that inspectors would schedule daytime checks and then come back for unannounced visits while the businesses are open and serving customers.

2 Children Hurt in Hit-and-Run Two children were injured late yesterday in a hit-and-run accident in Northwest Washington, police said.

A 15-year-old girl and an 8-year-old boy were taken to Children's Hospital after the accident at First and M streets NW about 4:30 p.m., authorities said. The girl was listed in good condition, and the boy was treated and released, hospital officials said. The driver was still at large last night.


No Relief From Rising Gas Prices There is no relief just yet for area motorists being driven to distraction by rising gas prices.

AAA Mid-Atlantic says the average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gas is $1.67. That's up a nickel from its last survey two weeks ago. And the price has jumped 18 cents in the past month.

As usual, the District has the highest average price: $1.75. In Maryland it's $1.66, while in Virginia it's $1.58.


Longer Montgomery School Calendar Montgomery County public schools will extend the academic calendar by two days in June, part of a plan to make up for time lost from recent snowstorms, officials announced yesterday.

Classes now will be in session through June 20. Superintendent Jerry D. Weast also announced that March 19, set aside as a professional day for teachers, will be a regular school day. The school district also is asking the state to waive the requirement to make up an additional two days.

Environmental Nominee Under Fire Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s nominee for Maryland secretary of the environment is drawing increasing opposition from lawmakers and environmentalists.

Lynn Buhl's re{acute}sume{acute} includes more than a decade of experience as an attorney for Chrysler Corp. in Detroit and a lawyer for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality when John Engler (R) was governor. Under Engler's watch, the department gained notoriety for rolling back environmental protections.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Prince George's) said yesterday that he would like to give Buhl the benefit of the doubt but that as long as environmentalists oppose her, she may have trouble winning confirmation. Yesterday, Ehrlich's staff asked a coalition of environmental groups who oppose Buhl to reconsider.

Buhl's confirmation hearing is scheduled for Monday afternoon.

County Trash Collection to Continue Montgomery County will continue to provide recycling and trash collection during the current snowstorm, officials said.

Although collections could be delayed or moved to the next day if snow continues, a county spokesman said yesterday that every effort will be made to provide full collection service for residents scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday pickup.

Residents are asked to place their blue bins and trash cans in highly visible and easily accessible locations. For more information, call 240-777-6410, log on to or watch Montgomery County Cable, Channel 6.

Ehrlich's Charter School Plan Is Held Up Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s ambitious plan for bringing charter schools to Maryland is stalled in a Senate committee while the administration tries to rally support for changes to the bill.

A charter schools plan, one of Ehrlich's top priorities, was scheduled to be approved Wednesday by the Senate Committee on Education, Health and Environmental Affairs. But Ehrlich's ally on the measure, Sen. Andrew P. Harris (R-Baltimore County), requested a delay, and the committee chairwoman said yesterday that she has no plan to bring the bill up again anytime soon.

The bill was similar to one introduced by the administration but did not include key elements sought by Ehrlich, such as a proposal to allow charter school teachers to opt out of collective-bargaining agreements and a proposal to create an independent authority to approve the creation of charter schools. Harris said he requested the delay to muster support for adding those elements.

The bill poised for committee approval would make unionization automatic and would force organizers of charter schools to take their proposals first to hostile local school boards.


Parts of Rivers Closed to Shellfishing State health officials closed portions of the James and Rappahannock rivers to shellfishing yesterday because of fears over E-coli contamination.

State Health Commissioner Robert B. Stroube says excessive water runoff from recent rain and snow may have contained a lot of contaminants, prompting the concern.

Officials believed the contaminants may have infected the shellfish, which then could have been passed on to people.

The James River was closed between Hog Island and the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel, which connects Newport News and Suffolk. The Rappahannock was closed between the Tappahannock Bridge and Stove Point.

"It might have dropped to yellow, but it's a pretty strong shade of yellow."

-- Peter G. LaPorte, D.C. director of emergency management, on reduction in terror threat level from orange to yellow. -- Page A9

Compiled from reports by staff writers David A. Fahrenthold, Clarence Williams, Anita Huslin, Lori Montgomery and David Nakamura and the Associated Press.