the region

Parking Garage Opens at Dulles

A new parking garage with 4,600 spaces will open today at Dulles International Airport across from the terminal's main entrance, airport officials said.

Parking at the garage will cost $5 for the first hour, with a daily maximum of $15. That is more costly than economy long-term rates but cheaper than valet rates and hourly parking rates for stays of more than an hour, according to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.

Passengers can reach the terminal via buses or a moving sidewalk inside a new tunnel. The moving sidewalk also is accessible from the hourly parking lots in front of the terminal and from the lower level of the terminal's west and east ends, the authority said.

The garage has an automated space counting system indicating how many spaces are free on each level.

THE DISTRICT

Cable Outage Hits Wizards Telecast

Hundreds of basketball fans and other admirers of Washington Wizards star Michael Jordan unexpectedly missed seeing his final home game last night when cable television service went out in part of the District.

Mike Jones, general manager of the Guards restaurant on M Street NW, who acts as a spokesman for several Georgetown restaurants, said cable service was interrupted soon after the 7 p.m. tip-off. The outage continued until the last minutes of the game.

An employee who answered the telephone at the Comcast cable system offices said outages occurred in much of the city's 20007 Zip code, which includes Georgetown , Glover Park and Foxhall.

VIRGINIA

Police Seek to ID Injured Woman

Alexandria police asked for help yesterday in identifying a woman found seriously injured in Old Town on Sunday night.

After being found bleeding by neighbors in the 400 block of Wilkes Street at 8:55 p.m., she told paramedics that her name was "Sofina" and that she had fallen.

While being treated at Inova Alexandria Hospital, she said she had been assaulted during a robbery. She was later transferred to Inova Fairfax Hospital for treatment of a head injury, and she was reported unconscious in the intensive care unit. Doctors have told police that her injuries appear consistent with a fall.

She is described as a white Hispanic woman in her fifties to early sixties who may speak only Spanish. She is about five feet tall and weighs 95 to 100 pounds. She has thinning brown hair and was wearing a dark wig. She also has an appendectomy scar and was carrying a grocery bag containing baby food and drinking water.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at 703-838-4711.

Fire Hits School Construction Site

Fire at an elementary school construction site in Loudoun County yesterday was contained before causing major damage, authorities said.

Firefighters were sent to the site of the new Frances Hazel Reid Elementary School in Leesburg about 2:30 p.m. and extinguished most of the flames in about 30 minutes, said Mary L. Maguire, spokeswoman for Loudoun Fire-Rescue Services.

She said the fire appeared to have started in roofing material. The cause is under investigation.

One firefighter was taken by helicopter to Washington Hospital Center with possible smoke inhalation and was in stable condition, Maguire said. School Superintendent Edgar B. Hatrick III said he did not believe that the fire would delay the school's opening.

Reid is one of five new schools scheduled to open in August in Loudoun.

More Drivers Passing the DMV Line

More Virginians are renewing their driver's licenses and vehicle registrations this year by mail, telephone or the Internet, the Department of Motor Vehicles said yesterday.

During the first two months of 2003, nearly 47 percent of driver's license renewals were done outside DMV offices, compared with 39 percent in 2002. Sixty-five percent of vehicle registration renewals were conducted outside DMV offices during the same period, up from 56 percent in 2002.

DMV began urging residents to use "alternative service options," such as mail, telephone and the Internet, after budget cuts in the fall temporarily closed 12 DMV offices across Virginia and eliminated Wednesday service at all others.

Eleven offices have been reopened, and the 12th will reopen soon.

MARYLAND

Lead Warning Shuts School Fountains

All of Baltimore's public schools have complied with a Health Department order to shut off drinking fountains and warn students not to drink from sinks because of potentially high lead levels, the city's health commissioner said yesterday.

Fines totaling $11,600 for failing to obey a February order to shut off the fountains and post notices will be waived, said the health commissioner, Peter Beilenson.

"We are not doing this to let the schools off the hook," he said. "We are doing this so the students don't suffer during this budget crisis. . . . Eleven thousand dollars out of millions isn't that big a deal, but it could mean a school getting art supplies or a teacher's aide. The last thing we want to do is punish the kids for the system's problems."

Beilenson issued the February order after it was learned that the fountains were still operating a decade after they were ordered shut off because of concerns about potentially high lead levels.

An inspection in March found that 51 schools had not shut off the fountains. A second inspection showed that 15 schools still hadn't complied with the order, which also required schools to provide one bottled water station per 100 students and post signs in school bathrooms warning students not to drink the water.

Mercedes Makes Deal at Baltimore Port

Mercedes-Benz USA has agreed to a new contract with the Port of Baltimore that will extend the carmaker's presence at the port for up to 20 more years.

Mercedes-Benz and the Maryland Port Authority have agreed on a pair of 10-year lease options, officials said.

"This is a major First Amendment case. Government cannot tell us what to write. Chief Moose is standing up for all public employees across this country."

-- Jamin B. Raskin, a law professor at American University who is representing Montgomery County Police Chief Charles A. Moose in challenging a ruling that he cannot profit from his sniper book. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Katherine Shaver, Patricia Davis, Rosalind S. Helderman, Clarence Williams and Martin Weil and the Associated Press.