THE REGION

Metrorail Service Starts Half-Hour Earlier

Metrorail service begins at 5 a.m. today, a half-hour earlier than before, in an effort to get more early drivers out of their cars and onto trains.

Stations at Vienna, Franconia-Springfield, Huntington, Branch Avenue, Addison Road, New Carrollton, Greenbelt, Shady Grove and Glenmont will open first, and other stations will open about 10 minutes before the first train is scheduled to pass through.

Metro officials say the new service will cost about $723,000 a year and is expected to increase daily ridership by about 1,700 passengers.

THE DISTRICT

Union, Hotels to Renew Negotiations

Leaders of the union representing about 3,800 hotel workers who staff the top business and tourist class hotels in Washington will resume contract negotiations today. The talks recessed Tuesday after no significant progress was made between Unite Here Local 25 and the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C.

The union represents housekeepers, facilities personnel and other support employees. The trade group represents Hilton, Marriott, Loews, Hyatt and Starwood. Hotels run by Best Western, Hilton, Holiday Inn and Omni Shoreham generally match wages and benefits paid by hotel association members.

The union's pact expired Sept. 15. The union is seeking a 20 percent increase in the first year of a new contract, but management is offering 4 percent. Work rules and health benefits are also among the unresolved issues.

VIRGINIA

Pr. William Crash Injures 1, Backs Up I-66

A single-car accident on Interstate 66 in Prince William County brought eastbound traffic to a standstill for 45 minutes yesterday afternoon, according to Virginia State Police.

The crash occurred about a mile west of Sudley Road when a driver veered off the road about noon and was ejected when the car overturned, Trooper S.C. Molden said.

The driver was hospitalized with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening, Molden said.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

"It looked a lot worse than what it was," Molden said.

Erosion Forces Cemetery to Move Graves

Severe erosion caused by heavy rain has forced workers at the Hebrew Cemetery in Richmond to move 15 graves dating from the 1920s through the 1940s to a newer part of the eight-acre cemetery.

The cemetery, established in 1816, contains the remains of at least 30 Jewish Confederate soldiers, but none of those graves was disturbed when rain from Tropical Storm Gaston washed away the north edge of the cemetery. Workers put down large rocks and sandbags to protect the hill from eroding further as more rain fell when Hurricane Ivan's remnants passed through Virginia.

An official with Congregation Beth Ahabah, the synagogue that operates the cemetery, said repairs will begin after soil test results and proper permits are obtained.

Beth Ahabah is seeking federal funding and has asked its 1,600-member congregation for donations to cover the estimated $500,000 in repair costs.

MARYLAND

Man Walking on Tracks Killed by Train

A Rockville man walking on CSX tracks near East Deer Park Drive was hit by a train and killed, Montgomery County police said.

A northbound train noticed the body of Norbin Reyes-Ventura, 21, on the southbound tracks about 6:45 p.m. Saturday. An investigation into the accident continues.

Trapped Canoeist Rescued From Potomac

A man whose canoe was trapped by swift and treacherous Potomac River currents was pulled to safety Saturday after rescuers cut apart his boat , authorities said.

The man, who was not identified, was taken to a hospital after being rescued about 4:30 p.m. near Turkey Island, said Pete A. Piringer, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. Piringer said the pressure of the water apparently made it necessary to cut the boat to free the man, who had apparently suffered an ankle injury.

Many Baltimore High Schools Lack Nurses

Twenty of Baltimore's 39 high schools do not have a nurse this year, a situation administrators blame on cuts in a program to place health personnel in every school.

"It's a travesty," said Barney J. Wilson, principal of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. "I understand budget crunches, but when it comes to having a healthy child in a classroom, it's important to have a nurse."

The lack of nurses is one of the effects stemming from cuts in a more than $10 million nursing program that is meant to place a nurse or health aide in every Baltimore school. The medical personnel are provided by the city Health Department, and the program is funded by the schools and the city. School officials said they were alarmed when the city's Health Department told them about the cuts in June. Gayle Amos, who oversees student support services for the system, said the Health Department did not consult with school administrators first.

City Health Commissioner Peter L. Beilenson said the 20 schools lost their nurses because of a $1.5 million shortfall in the program's budget, about half caused by cuts in state medical and welfare funds. The city also could not continue to cover what had become an annual $400,000 shortage in funding for the nursing program, he said.

The city pays for slightly more than half of the $10.6 million nursing program, which staffs either a health suite or clinic in every school. A 7 percent pay raise for nurses, who had been making $33,000 a year on average, also increased the cost of the program.

School administrators say they have been flooded with requests for help from principals, who say they have been forced to dispense medication to sick students, a violation of state regulations.

Citing Cost, County Quits Using Clean Fuel

Worcester County commissioners have decided to stop buying diesel fuel made partly from soybeans for county vehicles, saying the fuel costs too much despite the environmental benefits.

The county had been paying $1.74 a gallon for a fuel mixture that was 20 percent soy-based, compared with $1.15 for regular diesel fuel.

The county has been testing the fuel since November 2002, using about 3,500 gallons a month.

"The Beltway."

-- Maryland State Police Lt. Bonnie Morris, after she was asked which roads motorists might seek to avoid before and after tonight's game at FedEx Field between the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys. -- Page B3

Compiled from reports by staff writers David S. Fallis and Martin Weil and the Associated Press.