the region

Mailed Powder Disrupts Kerry Office

The John F. Kerry presidential campaign headquarters in downtown Washington was disrupted for about two hours yesterday after a worker reported two envelopes containing a white powder that ended up being harmless, authorities said.

Alan Etter, a spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said after testing of the powder that it appeared to be garlic powder, and to be a hoax.

Federal and local law enforcement agencies and the D.C. fire department responded to the 900 block of 15th Street NW shortly before 5 p.m. and blocked off the area around the office building.

Etter said three campaign workers were present in the room where the envelopes were opened and were quarantined in the room until field tests were completed.

Debbie Weierman, an FBI spokeswoman, said further tests will be conducted to analyze the material.


State Gets Grant to Extend Metro

The Federal Transit Administration formally awarded Virginia a $59 million grant yesterday to begin engineering work on the first phase of the proposed extension of the Metro system to Dulles International Airport and beyond.

The first phase would extend Metrorail 11 miles from West Falls Church through Tysons Corner to Wiehle Avenue near Reston. The engineering work will allow officials to develop a detailed cost estimate of the project, which needs to obtain funding for construction.

Gov. Mark R. Warner (D), who attended the award ceremony in Tysons Corner, said he strongly expects the federal government to pay for a share of the construction costs now that it has committed such a large amount of money to engineering.

Federal officials, however, are expressing reservations about the cost of a 23-mile extension.

Teen Abducted at Ballston Metro Stop

A 15-year-old girl was abducted from the Ballston Metro Station in Arlington County about 1 p.m. Tuesday and forced into a parking garage by a man who displayed a handgun and knife and tried to assault her sexually, police said yesterday.

The assault in the Ballston Common Mall parking garage was interrupted by a witness and the assailant fled alone, said police, who ask anyone with information to call 703-228-4052 or Crime Solvers at 800-673-2777.

Fairfax Boy Wins Bird-Naming Contest

After culling through 175 entries from as far away as Nebraska, Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project officials yesterday declared an 8-year-old boy from Fairfax County the winner of their contest to name three eaglets nesting near the construction site.

A committee of judges chose the submission of Evan Morris, who named the birds Mary (short for Maryland), Ginny (Virginia) and Doc (District of Columbia).

The bald eagles, which hatched April 7, soon will leave their parents -- a pair named George and Martha that nest about 75 feet south of construction on the Maryland shore -- to live on their own, officials said. George and Martha were first spotted near the bridge in 1998 and have since raised 15 eaglets in one of three nests they have built along the Potomac River.


Ehrlich Announces Bridge Funding

The narrow, long-ailing Dover Bridge over the Choptank River will get a modern replacement, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. promised yesterday in announcing that the state will take $42 million from its transportation trust fund to pay for the project.

"It's expensive, and it's going to take a number of years," Ehrlich (R) said at a news conference near the 72-year-old bridge. "But it starts today."

Ehrlich said the state Department of Transportation and the Maryland Highway Administration would immediately begin the design and engineering -- a $3.6 million effort. Officials hope the bridge will be completed by 2011.

Last year, Ehrlich requested federal funds to replace the bridge, along Route 331 on the Talbot and Caroline county line. But the money hasn't yet come, state Transportation Secretary Robert L. Flanagan said.

Prisons' Pepper-Spray Rules Toughened

The state prison commissioner has toughened guidelines for the use of pepper spray after the death of a Western Correctional Institution inmate who reportedly was subdued with three cans of the irritant.

The new rule requires a warden or assistant warden to approve the use of pepper spray and other chemical agents on inmates in segregation units.

The Maryland Classified Employees Association, which represents hundreds of state correctional officers, said Wednesday that the policy puts correctional officers' safety at risk. Previously, a senior correctional supervisor could approve the use of pepper spray, according to the division's regulations.

The union said the policy appeared to be in reaction to the April 30 asphyxiation of Ifeanyi A. Iko, who was held in a segregation unit.

25 Years in Robbery, Rape Attempt

A man who pleaded guilty to the burglary, armed robbery and attempted rape of an 84-year-old Rockville woman was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison, Montgomery County state's attorney's spokesman John McLane said.

James Graham, of no fixed address, broke into the woman's apartment in January 2003. She awoke to find Graham standing over her holding an eight-inch knife. He tried to rape the woman and then bound and gagged her as he stole money, jewelry and her car. Police in Arlington County found Graham in the car about a week later.


Stolen Items on Display for Claiming

D.C. police are inviting people who have been victims of robberies or burglaries to check out an inventory of recovered items tomorrow in Northwest Washington.

Jewelry, bicycles, electronic products, power tools and other items will be displayed 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the 3rd Police District, 1624 V St. NW. People planning to attend are required to have a police report or the report number, as well as a thorough description of the stolen items, serial numbers or photographs.

"We weren't able to anticipate this. It turns out the crystal ball was cracked. It was foggy."

-- Metro Chief Executive Richard A. White, on why the transit system failed to anticipate the demand for SmarTrip fare cards. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Allan Lengel, Elaine Rivera, Leef Smith and Darragh Johnson and the Associated Press.