Tickets for Christmas Tree Lighting

Free tickets to the annual lighting ceremony for the National Christmas Tree will be given out Nov. 6 starting at 8 a.m. at the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion, 15th and E streets NW, officials said.

The Pageant of Peace ceremony will be held Dec. 2 at 5 p.m. Everyone must have a ticket to attend. Tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis, with a limit of four per person.

Kayaker Presumed Drowned in Potomac

A kayaker disappeared yesterday on the Potomac River near Great Falls and is presumed drowned, authorities said.

The male kayaker, whose name and age were not released, went over the falls and did not resurface, authorities said. Rescue crews called off the search at 4:30 p.m. and will resume looking today.

Four people have drowned in that stretch of the river since May, not including yesterday's disappearance.


Fort Belvoir Gate Access to Change

Fort Belvoir's Tulley Gate will be open only to inbound traffic beginning Monday. Drivers should leave through another gate from Oct. 25 to Dec. 6 during installation of vehicle and security barriers.

The Visitor Processing Operations Center at Tulley will remain open. Hours of operation at Tulley will also remain the same: Monday to Friday, 5 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Drivers should expect traffic pattern changes during the construction period, said security specialist Keith Minard.

GMU Official Charged in Child Porn Case

A George Mason University official who deals with sexual harassment cases was arrested yesterday and charged with producing child pornography, authorities said.

Fairfax County police said Ronald J. Sinacore, 55, of Long Boat Court in the Fairfax area, was arrested after an investigation prompted by an allegation about a four-year-old incident.

GMU spokesman Daniel Walsch said Sinacore was placed on leave from his job as associate director of equity and affirmative action.


NW Woman Accused of Killing Boyfriend

A 45-year-old Northwest Washington man died after being beaten with a skillet and burned by an iron in the apartment he shared with his girlfriend, D.C. police said.

The girlfriend, Dominique Jackson, 31, of the 2400 block of 17th Street, has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Adolphus Jackson, police said. They said Adolphus Jackson was attacked Sunday and died the next day.


Council Member Treated for Cancer

Montgomery County Council member Michael L. Subin (D-At Large) announced yesterday that he underwent prostate cancer surgery last week.

Subin said he went public to try to persuade more men to get tested for prostate cancer, which is treatable if caught early.

Subin said he expects to recover fully and to stay on the council.

Low-income and uninsured Montgomery residents can receive free prostate screenings through the Montgomery County Cancer Crusade, which can be reached at 240-777-1222.

Crowding Concerns at Montgomery Blair

About 60 parents of Montgomery Blair High School students gave Montgomery County school system officials an earful last night about crowding at the school. The Silver Spring school was designed for 2,800 students, but enrollment exceeds that number by 500.

In response to expressions of frustration at the PTA meeting at the school, officials indicated that they would set stricter limits next year.

School Board Chief Defends Hornsby

The head of Prince George's County's school board e-mailed state legislators yesterday defending schools chief Andre J. Hornsby, who is the subject of an inquiry by the state prosecutor's office.

Hornsby is under scrutiny for letting Plato Learning, which does business with the school system, pay for an Africa trip 2003, when he headed the National Alliance of Black School Educators. He has also been criticized for not disclosing to the school board that he lives with Sienna Owens, who works for LeapFrog, a company that made a sale of nearly $1 million to the system in June.

Board Chairman Beatrice P. Tignor (Upper Marlboro) told county legislative delegation members that Hornsby had notified the board of his planned trip, which was arranged before his June 2003 hiring. She also wrote that he did not have to reveal his relationship with Owens on his annual ethics form, filed in January, because she was not with LeapFrog then. Owens was not involved in the Prince George's transaction, she wrote. Nonetheless, Tignor has asked the system's ethics panel to look into the purchases.

Hornsby said Monday that his relationship with Owens had nothing to do with his decision to buy LeapFrog products.

Meeting Tonight on Merriweather Post

A community panel studying the future of Merriweather Post Pavilion, the outdoor amphitheater in Columbia, will meet tonight in Ellicott City to hear public testimony.

The panel was asked by Howard County Executive James N. Robey (D) to look into a Rouse Co. offer to sell Merriweather Post to the county. A recommendation is expected by year's end. Testimony starts at 7 at the George Howard Building.

Rouse recently decided to keep the venue open at least one more season and told rock promoters I.M.P. Inc. of Bethesda that it would renew the company's contract to manage the site.

State's Projected Shortfall Shrinks

Maryland released updated revenue estimates yesterday showing that the state has taken in more money than expected and will face a smaller shortfall when lawmakers convene in January.

June projections showed the state facing a $1 billion shortfall in fiscal 2006, but it is now expected to be just shy of $400 million. Legislative analysts credited robust sales and income tax revenue, but fiscal analysts said spending is also rising, leaving a structural deficit.

"The English language has 300,000 words, but this is a very good spot to start."

-- Frank Chalmers, Rotary Club of Washington member, speaking to students about the 6,000 dictionaries the club delivered to D.C. schools. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Rebecca Dana, Allan Lengel, Clarence Williams, Tim Craig, Matthew Mosk, David Snyder, Miranda S. Spivack, Nancy Trejos, Martin Weil and Del Quentin Wilber and the Associated Press.