THE REGION

Package Diverts National Flight to Dulles

A U.S. Airways flight bound for Reagan National Airport was diverted to Dulles International Airport yesterday after a suspicious package was reported.

Flight 1403 from Hartford, Conn., was diverted about 2 p.m., Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokeswoman Tara Hamilton said. Hamilton did not know who reported the package.

A bomb squad inspected the plane after security officials cleared it of passengers. Security officials did not find anything dangerous. Passengers were driven to National.

Weekend Closings Set for Blue Line Stops

Metro officials said work on an extension of the Blue Line will cause partial shutdowns over the next three weekends. There will be no service between the Stadium-Armory and Addison Road-Seat Pleasant stops. Passengers will be bused. All other Blue Line stations will remain open.

Regular service will resume Monday, and the same procedures will be followed next weekend, beginning Friday night.

Officials also said passengers should expect delays this weekend on the Red Line between the Takoma and Rhode Island Avenue stations because trains will share a single track. Normal operations will resume Monday.

VIRGINIA

Tax Revenue Growth Better Than Expected

Virginia's economy is continuing to improve, with revenue from state taxes growing at an annual rate of 9.3 percent, according to state officials.

Officials had predicted last year that revenue would grow by 6.7 percent. The economy's better-than-expected performance has generated higher sales tax and corporate tax receipts, Finance Secretary John M. Bennett said in his monthly report to Gov. Mark R. Warner (D).

In Northern Virginia, payrolls grew 4.1 percent, indicating steady job growth, Bennett said. Lottery income increased 3.2 percent, and revenue from taxes on insurance premiums is up 5.1 percent. But he added that throughout the state, automobile registrations and building permits showed signs of future decline.

State officials have said they expect Virginia to end its fiscal year June 30 with a surplus. New taxes passed in this year's General Assembly session will begin to take effect later this year.

Kilgore Backs Richmond's Mayoral Plan

Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore (R) said yesterday that he sees no reason for the U.S. Justice Department to invalidate the city of Richmond's plan for direct election of its mayor.

Kilgore made the remarks in a meeting with a city government reform commission headed by former governor L. Douglas Wilder (D) and former representative Thomas J. Bliley Jr. (R).

Wilder -- who was the nation's only elected black governor and is now running for Richmond mayor -- was in the meeting a day after traveling to Washington to make his case to the Justice Department.

Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (D-Va.) told Justice Department officials last week that the at-large mayor plan will illegally dilute black voting strength in Richmond.

Kilgore said that as the state's top legal officer, he is hard pressed to see how Scott can support such an argument. He said black voters currently have no say in who is elected mayor because the City Council chooses the mayor from among its members.

The Justice Department expects to rule on the plan's legality by June 21.

Warner Announces Chinese Trade Deals

Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) announced several trade deals yesterday between Virginia and companies in China. Warner is on a nine-day trade mission to the country.

Warner said the Henrico County Economic Development Authority has opened an office in Shanghai to recruit Chinese companies and set up partnerships between Chinese firms and Henrico businesses. The office is the first of its kind for a Virginia community in China.

Also, Warner said the Port of Virginia's operating company, Virginia International Terminals, has reached a new three-year contract with China Shipping Container Lines.

THE DISTRICT

Emergency Training to Be Held in Spanish

A training session in emergency preparedness will be held tomorrow in Spanish for members of the Latino community, officials said. The session will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Church of the Sacred Heart, 16th Street and Park Road NW.

D.C. Emergency Management Agency Director Barbara Childs-Pair said the event, held in conjunction with the fire, police, health and other city departments, will supplement the agency's outreach.

"Although we have provided Spanish-language copies of our Family Preparedness Guide to large numbers of Spanish-speaking residents, many others still have not been exposed to the kind of basic emergency preparedness information that will help them prepare for, respond to and recover from an emergency," she said.

Anyone with questions may contact JC Cruz at 202-673-7695.

MARYLAND

Court Allows Execution to Move Ahead

The Baltimore County Circuit Court denied a motion yesterday to reopen the post-conviction proceedings of Steven Oken and thus delay his execution, scheduled for next week, said Kathryn Grill Graeff, chief of the criminal appeals decision in the attorney general's office.

But U.S. District Court Judge Peter J. Messitte has agreed to hear an appeal for a stay of execution Monday at 2 p.m. in federal court in Greenbelt.

Fred Warren Bennett, one of Oken's lawyers, said yesterday that he also had filed a motion with the state Court of Appeals seeking a stay of execution and expected to file a petition today with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The two federal petitions will allege that the method of lethal injection chosen by the state violates the Constitution's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment because it will cause Oken extreme pain, Bennett said.

Motions filed with the state trial and appellate courts questioned the effectiveness of Oken's representation by lawyers at his original trial and in the post-conviction appeal of his death sentence.

Oken was sentenced to die for the 1987 rape and murder of Dawn Marie Garvin in Baltimore County.

"He was always an adventurous spirit. And in the last years of his life, that adventurous side really began to come out."

-- Fabiola Antezana, daughter of pathologist Nils Antezana, who died on Mount Everest after climbing the world's highest mountain at 69. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Steven Ginsberg, Petula Dvorak and Michael D. Shear and the Associated Press.