A May 26 Metro in Brief item incorrectly reported that the Maryland State Police are replacing all sidearms used by troopers. The item should have said that Virginia State Police are replacing their Sig Sauer .357-caliber weapons. (Published 5/28/04)


More Soil to Be Removed in Spring Valley

Preliminary work began this week to remove contaminated soil from properties with elevated levels of arsenic in the District's Spring Valley area, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials said.

The neighborhood in Northwest Washington was built on land the Army used for experimenting with chemical weapons during World War I. Samplings of hundreds of Spring Valley properties found that 139 had soil contaminated with arsenic at levels of more than 20 parts per million, officials said. Twenty-six of the most critical properties and lots underwent soil removal and replacement in 2002 and 2003.

On Monday, crews began preparations for the next group of properties approved for soil removal. Digging is scheduled to begin in a few days, said Marshall Hudson, a spokesman for the Corps of Engineers' Baltimore District.

Officials said it would take 12 to 18 months for the contractor, Sevenson Environmental Services of Niagara Falls, N.Y., to complete soil removal and replacement at 24 properties. The remaining 89 properties have lower arsenic levels and will be addressed starting in the summer of 2005.


Death Row Appeals Moved to County

Maryland inmate Steven Oken's appeals to avoid lethal injection the week of June 14 will be considered next week in Baltimore County, not Baltimore, a judge in the city's Circuit Court ruled yesterday afternoon.

Despite defense attorney Fred Bennett's assertion that the state's effort to move Oken's civil motions to the county was a "raw exercise in forum shopping," Judge Marcella A. Holland agreed to send them there, saying the court there was far more familiar with the details of a case that began with Oken's murder of 20-year-old Dawn Marie Garvin in 1987.

The state has until tomorrow afternoon to answer Oken's claim that its method of execution is cruel and unusual punishment that would violate his constitutional rights. Bennett wants Maryland enjoined from putting Oken to death by use of chemical agents that he argues would cause pain and suffering.

Oken's execution would be the state's first in six years.

Compensation Needs Assembly Approval

Frederick County could not compensate landowners whose property values will be affected by the creation of a new trash transfer station without first obtaining permission from the General Assembly, the county's attorney has found.

In a May 21 memo, County Attorney John S. Mathias said the Frederick Board of County Commissioners lacked the legal authority to dispense taxpayer funds for such a purpose. He noted that Harford County has received such authority to give tax credits to landowners who live near solid waste facilities.

Faced with dwindling space in the county's landfill, the commissioners last month agreed to a transfer station at the Reich's Ford Road landfill to haul trash out of state. After hearing complaints about increased traffic and other problems, the board also voted to consider compensating the residents nearby.

State Police to Replace Aging Handguns

Maryland State Police are replacing all 2,000 sidearms used by troopers because of the advancing age of the Sig Sauer .357-caliber weapons.

"These guns that we currently have are seven years old, and they're reaching the point we're going to have to re-spring them," 1st Sgt. John Morykon, a weapons expert for the state police, said yesterday.

The semiautomatic pistols have a number of springs that control recoil, trigger action, cocking, the firing pin and the hammer. All would have to be replaced.


Parkway Completion Schedule Moved Up

Virginia transportation officials announced yesterday that the final segment of the Fairfax County Parkway will be built on a condensed construction schedule, allowing it to open more than a year ahead of schedule.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said it would seek to combine contracts for the 1.5-mile section between Rolling and Fullerton roads. Officials said that would make it possible to open the four-lane road as soon as the end of 2007.

The $92 million project has been planned for years but has not been built because of a lack of money. The section, which cuts through Fort Belvoir, also was delayed because of problems on the site, including security concerns after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Catholic Bishop Installed in Richmond

The Rev. Francis Xavier DiLorenzo was installed Monday as the 12th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond, vowing to make traditional values of the church his top priority.

More than 700 parishioners and religious leaders from across the state filled Richmond's Cathedral of the Sacred Heart for the installation of DiLorenzo, 61. Eleven diocesan bishops from as far away as Las Vegas and Haiti also attended, along with the archbishops of Washington and Philadelphia and Virginia Lt. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D).

DiLorenzo has pledged to bring conservatism back to a diocese that has been led for the past 30 years by the more liberal-minded Bishop Walter Sullivan, an antiwar cleric who was one of the first U.S. church leaders to officially reach out to the gay community.

Sullivan retired last year when he reached the normal retirement age of 75.

Before coming to Richmond, DiLorenzo served for 10 years as bishop of the Honolulu diocese. His new diocese includes 143 parishes and stretches for 400 miles from the Eastern Shore of Virginia to Cumberland Gap in the far southwestern corner of the state.

Changes in Pr. William Transit Service

Starting June 7, riders of Omniride, OmniLink and Prince William Metro Direct will find some new bus stops, revised schedules and altered routes. The changes are part of a semiannual service update by the Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission, which provides commuter and local bus service in Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park.

New schedules will be available next week on buses, at the PRTC Transit Center and on the Web at www.PRTCtransit.org. More information on the service changes can also be obtained by calling 703-730-6664.

"There's been a noticeable change. I didn't have anyone cut in front of me. That's strange."

-- Humphrey Mensa, a motorist noting the changes to traffic at the

Springfield Mixing Bowl after the opening of a mile-long ramp

linking the inner loop of the Capital Beltway to Interstate 95. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports from staff writers Manny Fernandez, Susan Levine, Fredrick Kunkle, Steve Ginsberg and Lyndsey Layton and the Associated Press.