THE DISTRICT

Housing Grant to Fund Computer Center

The D.C. Housing Authority has won a $250,000 federal grant to add a computer center to a mixed-income neighborhood it is building on 20 vacant acres in Southeast Washington where public housing once stood.

The 269-unit New Eastgate Gardens community will be funded in part with a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's HOPE VI program, which promotes replacing blighted or abandoned public housing with new neighborhoods.

The computer center, which is required as part of the project, will offer residents technology training and links to information about employment opportunities and social services. NASA is providing an additional $125,000 in funding, and CAM Systems is giving $6,500, the Housing Authority said.

Conference to Focus on Eliminating Lead

The D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development will hold its second annual conference Wednesday on how to eliminate lead contamination from single- and multi-family housing.

The conference, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the Housing Finance Agency Auditorium at 815 Florida Ave. NW, will focus on city requirements, programs and funding sources for keeping properties lead-free.

Property owners and managers, advocacy groups, development organizations, financial institutions and others who want to attend should send e-mail to Annie.Y.Fitzgerald@dc.gov or call 202-442-7184.

Discount Day for Energy Assistance

District residents who anticipate needing help with their energy bills this winter can apply for financial assistance and utility discounts at a day-long event.

Utility Discount Day will take place from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Pl. NW. Chuck Clinton, director of the D.C. Energy Office, encouraged customers to take early advantage of the services because of a projected rise in natural gas, oil and electricity prices. Last year's discount day attracted more than 7,000 residents.

The event is sponsored by the Energy Office, the Public Service Commission, the Office of the People's Counsel, Pepco, Washington Gas, the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority and Verizon. Outside of the one-day event, residents can call the D.C. Energy hotline for appointments at 202-673-6750.

Metro to Field Questions on New Station

Metro officials will be on hand in Northeast Washington today to talk to residents about the construction of the New York Avenue Station and answer questions about related bus service and safety and security issues. Metro officials working on the station will be at the Giant grocery store at 1050 Brentwood Ave. NE, adjacent to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro station, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

The New York Avenue Station is scheduled to open Nov. 20. It is the first "infill" Metro station, built between existing stations on the Red Line.

MARYLAND

Wallaby on the Loose in Anne Arundel

Police in Anne Arundel County are on the lookout for a wallaby, an Australian mammal resembling a small kangaroo, which has been spotted there in recent days.

The animal, perhaps three feet tall, was first spotted Thursday in the town of Severn, south of Baltimore. It was seen again that night by an animal control officer in a residential area near Constant Avenue, said Sgt. Shawn Urbas, a police spokesman. The wallaby ran off before the animal control officer could react, Urbas said.

"We were unable to get our hands on the little guy," he said.

Urbas said police don't know where the wallaby came from or how long it has been in the area. He said the animal, which eats plants, is not considered dangerous -- but cautioned that people should not try to capture it on their own.

Instead, anybody who spots the wallaby should call police, Urbas said. He said it would be captured without being harmed.

Touch-Screen Voting Example Online

Montgomery County residents who want to familiarize themselves with touch-screen voting machines before Election Day can get a live demonstration by visiting http://www.mdvotes.org/demo.php, the county's Board of Elections announced.

Individuals without Internet access can visit any public library or community center for assistance.

Voting units are available for demonstration at: the Board of Elections, 751 Twinbrook Pkwy., Rockville; Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor Lane, Bethesda; Eastern Montgomery Regional Services Center, 3300 Briggs Chaney Rd., Silver Spring; Upcounty Regional Services Center, 2424 Reedie Dr., Wheaton; Silver Spring Regional Services Center, 8435 Georgia Ave.; Gilchrist Center for Cultural Diversity, 11319 Elkin St., Wheaton; TESS Center, 8513 Piney Branch Rd., Silver Spring; Long Branch Community Center, 8700 Piney Branch Rd., Silver Spring; Fairland Library, 14910 Old Columbia Pike, Burtonsville; and Damascus Library, 9701 Main St.

For more information, contact the Board of Elections at 240-777-8500.

Land Deal Angers Environmentalists

A coalition of environmental groups raised strong objections yesterday to a controversial proposal by the state to sell land it purchased in St. Mary's County to a politically connected developer.

In a letter to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), a group calling itself Partners for Open Space said the proposed sale to Willard J. Hackerman, president and chief executive of Whiting-Turner Contracting Co., violated the most basic standards of a fair and open process. The group also complained that the undeveloped, wooded parcel, which "provides the best possible protection for the water quality of the Chesapeake Bay," should not be "offered for sale to a private party, and sold without the protection afforded by conservation easements."

State officials have backed away from the planned sale in recent days. A legislative hearing on the deal is scheduled to be held Tuesday.

"What I feel morally obligated to do is give it to people at greatest risk. So many have two or three of these major illnesses. . . . It's a real tough call, but we just use the best judgment we can."

-- William Rosson, a New Carrollton internist,

on the rationing of flu shots. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Debbi Wilgoren, Theola Labbe, Lyndsey Layton, David A. Fahrenthold and Matthew Mosk.