THE REGION

Returned WWII Tickets to Be Given Out

The American Battle Monuments Commission, sponsor of the National World War II Memorial, will give away any returned tickets to Saturday's dedication ceremony on a first-come, first-served basis later this week.

A commission spokeswoman said that returned tickets will be available beginning at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Dedication Information Tent. The tent is at the National World War II Reunion site next to the "Building the Memorial" Pavilion on the Mall, between Fourth and Seventh streets NW.

As of yesterday, no tickets had been returned, said Betsy Glick, but she added that "there may be a very small number" returned. She said, "If they are turned in -- and that's a big if -- they will be made available."

Glick advised the public to take advantage of one of the three alternative sites in Northern Virginia that will simulcast the event or to watch a television "in the comfort of your air-conditioned room."

Information on the simulcast sites and free ticket availability can be obtained by calling 800-432-1792. Glick said C-SPAN will broadcast pre-ceremony and dedication events from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The History Channel will broadcast the dedication from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

THE DISTRICT

Groundbreaking for SE Subdivision

The Marshall Heights Community Development Organization has scheduled a groundbreaking ceremony today to mark the start of construction on 20 detached single-family homes in the Benning Heights neighborhood of Southeast Washington.

The subdivision is planned to be built in three phases, on land previously owned by the city, at Benning Road and G Street SE.

Forum Planned on Section 8 Housing

Activists in the Shaw neighborhood of Northwest Washington are holding a forum tomorrow night to discuss the possible displacement of low-income residents from Kelsey Gardens, a 54-unit townhouse complex that is slated to lose its federal Section 8 subsidy because the buildings have failed routine safety inspections.

The meeting will also focus on other housing complexes that are at risk of losing their federal funding. It is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. at Third Baptist Church, 1546 Fifth St. NW.

Crack Leads to NW Townhouse Collapse

A Northwest Washington townhouse partially collapsed yesterday and probably will have to be demolished, fire officials said.

Firefighters noticed a large crack on the three-story townhouse about noon when they responded to a report of a gas leak at a neighboring construction site in the 2100 block of 11th Street NW, said Alan Etter of the D.C. Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services. While firefighters were looking at the damage caused by the crack, it grew worse, so authorities evacuated the building, Etter said.

They called District building engineers to the scene, and firefighters sealed off the townhouse, he said.

The crack may have been caused by work at the construction site, where firefighters found a small leak of natural gas trapped in old pipes. No one was injured.

VIRGINIA

Identity Sought of Body Found Off I-95

Law enforcement officials in Stafford County are working with their counterparts in Cumberland County, N.C., to determine whether a body found off Interstate 95 in Stafford over the weekend is that of a missing person. State police would not release the gender or name of the person who was missing from North Carolina, nor the circumstances.

State police Sgt. Gary Settle said in a news release yesterday that an autopsy was underway.

The body was found south of Quantico Saturday evening.

Settle said state police and the local sheriff's office were working with officials from Cumberland County and police from Fayetteville, N.C. Law enforcement officials in Cumberland and in Fayetteville refused to give any additional information, and authorities in Stafford were unavailable last night for comment.

Bush Eyes Hager for Education Dept. Post

The White House said yesterday that President Bush intends to nominate John H. Hager, a former Republican lieutenant governor of Virginia, to be an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education.

Hager, who has used a wheelchair since contracting polio in 1973, is to be nominated as Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. He recently resigned as special assistant for homeland security to Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D).

Hager, who was lieutenant governor from 1998 to 2002, holds a bachelor's degree from Purdue University and a master's degree from Harvard University.

Quantico Stable Facing Closure

The recreational horse stable at Quantico Marine Corps Base, where Ronald Reagan once went to ride as president, could be closed by Aug. 31, a casualty of a tightening budget and five years of operating in the red.

The stable has lost an average of $84,263 a year over the past five years, prompting Community Services Director Tom Loughlin to recommend that it either be closed or converted into a base-approved club that would allow it to sustain itself.

JoAnne Foster, one of 25 people who board horses at the stable, is among a group of horse owners that is trying to persuade Col. James M. Lowe, Quantico's base commander, to keep the stable open.

MARYLAND

Charles Moves Toward Stadium Deal

While the District and Virginia have been struggling to attract baseball to their jurisdictions, Charles County officials plan to sign an agreement tomorrow that could lead to construction of a $15 million baseball stadium in the county -- baseball, even if it is minor league.

But even with the minor leagues, there's a hitch -- going forward depends on state support, which is not yet solid, a county spokeswoman said. She said that officials would sign an agreement with Maryland Baseball LLC for a stadium in Hughesville and that officials did not know yet what classification of minor league team would play at the park. She added that play could start as early as April 2007 if state support comes through.

"They offered me a job before they even graded my exam. . . . At that time, a warm body who could type was a very valuable asset."

-- Irma Lee Westrell, retired management analyst in Bethesda,

describing how she came from Paducah, Ky., to work in Washington

as one of tens of thousands of "government girls" who were needed

to staff the bureaucracy during World War II -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Michelle Boorstein, Sylvia Moreno, Del Quentin Wilber, Debbi Wilgoren and Martin Weil and the Associated Press.