THE Region

Monument Set to Close for Construction

The Washington Monument is scheduled to be closed to visitors next Tuesday and remain off-limits until early next year, when construction of security barriers is expected to be near completion.

The multi-phased project to erect concentric rings of low concrete walls around the monument began last summer. The upcoming phase of construction aims to replace the monument plaza and regrade the grounds west of the obelisk.

During the closure, the Tourmobile stop on 15th Street will be moved to Madison Drive, and sidewalks west of the monument will be closed to pedestrians.

Scientists Seek Cause of Croakers' Deaths

Scientists in Virginia, Maryland and Florida are trying to learn what's killing millions of croakers that continue to wash up on beaches along the Atlantic Coast.

Wolfgang Vogelbein, a scientist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, said researchers have no solid leads. Bacteria, a virus and sudden changes in water temperature are possible causes.

Vogelbein has been on the case since an eight-mile swath of dead fish was found on Maryland and Delaware beaches about a month ago. Since then, masses of dead croakers have been found in Florida and Virginia -- off the Eastern Shore and at Virginia Beach.

Vogelbein said he doesn't believe that the kill could have been caused by a phenomenon known as "cold-water upwelling," in which cold water is pushed up from the depths in stormy seas. Upwelling would have killed other kinds of fish, he said.

Vogelbein said he thinks bacteria are responsible, but he hasn't been able to identify what is destroying the croakers' gills.


Curfew for Teenagers Returns Tomorrow

Starting tomorrow, the District's curfew for those under 17 will start at 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays.

Friday and Saturday nights, the curfew will start at a minute past midnight. In all cases, it will run through 6 a.m.

The midnight deadline applies each night all summer, but it reverts to the earlier time on school nights.

The law requires anyone under 17 to be off the streets and out of other outdoor public places during curfew hours. There are exemptions for such things as work, school and religious activities.


Warner Stumps for Kerry in Missouri

Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) spent yesterday in Missouri campaigning for Sen. John F. Kerry.

Warner flew Sunday on a private plane to Missouri, where he attended two gatherings and a dinner with Democratic Party faithful, according to spokesman Kevin Hall. Warner participated in five radio call-in shows and held two town hall-style meetings.

Warner endorsed Kerry days before the Virginia primary and spoke at the Democratic convention in July, but he has spent little time traveling throughout his own state on Kerry's behalf.

Warner flew back to Northern Virginia yesterday afternoon.

Second Human West Nile Case Diagnosed

A second human case of West Nile virus in Virginia this year has been diagnosed, state health officials said.

The case was reported last week on the Eastern Shore, said Larry Hill, spokesman for the state Department of Health. The man, in his seventies, is in the hospital but is expected to recover, Hill said.

The state's first victim, a Roanoke resident between age 40 and 50, is recovering.

In addition, state agriculture officials have noticed a dramatic increase in the rate of horses dying from West Nile virus.

Elaine Lidholm, spokeswoman for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, said West Nile traditionally kills about one-third of the horses infected.

But toward the end of last year, the death rate was approaching 50 percent, she said.

Of six Virginia horses stricken with West Nile so far, four have had to be euthanized.


Anne Arundel Crossing Guards Get Phones

Anne Arundel County authorities have beefed up traffic enforcement around schools with the help of 148 crossing guards.

Equipped with mobile phones to dial 911, the guards are expected to help police keep 75,000 public school students safe from speeding motorists.

"We kind of told them, 'Use it like an additional set of eyes and ears for the police department,' " said Cpl. Joe Hatcher, who got the reconditioned cell phones and chargers through a group called Secure the Call.

Police say it takes drivers some time each fall to reacclimate to groups of children walking near schools. Drivers routinely fail to slow down, illegally drive past stopped buses and ignore crossing guards' signals.

"It's a very bad problem," said Laurie Lewis, coordinator for the guards.

Last year, a guard was hit by a car near Annapolis High School. And in 1997, crossing guard Nancy Hardesty was killed when a car hit her in Edgewater.

The crossing guards have been encouraged to use the cell phones to report speeding vehicles or other suspicious activity.

Horn Point Laboratory Won't Be for Sale

Calling the University of Maryland's prized Horn Point Laboratory "critical" to the university system, a regents committee decided yesterday in a closed session to remove the Eastern Shore property from an inventory of land being considered for sale.

The finance committee hasn't compiled a comprehensive list of surplus properties, but regents wanted to allay any fears that the nature trails and wooded areas of the sprawling lab in Cambridge could be sold, Chancellor William E. Kirwan said.

"It's just too valuable to the institution," Kirwan said of the lab known for its work on Chesapeake Bay water quality and oyster restoration.

The chancellor's suggestion to get rid of unneeded off-campus lands has prompted some system administrators to review their properties, even though they haven't yet been asked for an inventory.

Horn Point, an 840-acre campus of research labs and offices run by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, has been targeted by a developer who wants to build hundreds of condominiums on part of the property.

"It was jampacked on opening day. Everything was great. We had no idea it was going to be the grand finale."

-- Charles Brotman, former Washington Senators' public address announcer, recalling the team's 1971 season. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Monte Reel and Michael D. Shear and the Associated Press.