THE REGION

Veterans Day Lunch Planned for Homeless

Homeless veterans in the Washington area will be honored on Veterans Day with a sit-down lunch and be given an opportunity to call loved ones. The meal and free use of cell phones and directory assistance will be provided from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Central Union Mission, 1350 R St. NW.

U.S. VETS, an organization formed to help homeless veterans, has partnered with Sprint to provide free cell phone access for the veterans. It estimates that veterans account for 23 percent of America's homeless population, including about 6,500 in the Washington region.

"This holiday meal and accompanying phone call could very well be the catalyst needed for homeless veterans to reconnect with their family and friends," the group said.

Caterpillars Have First Word on Winter

A Maryland almanac points to the woolly bears in making a prediction for a winter that will be milder than usual.

The black-and-brown markings on about 100 caterpillars inspected by the staff of J. Gruber's Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack indicate that the first half of winter in the mid-Atlantic states will be merely average, while the second half will be more like spring, Gerald W. Spessard, the publication's business manager, said yesterday.

Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted below-normal temperatures and near-normal precipitation this winter for the mid-Atlantic states.

THE DISTRICT

Pair Pressure Ridge on Hazmat Shipments

D.C. Council members Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) yesterday called again on Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge to reroute rail shipments of hazardous materials away from the nation's capital, saying that Saturday's derailment of six CSX Corp. freight cars carrying gravel in Northeast underscored the danger.

"Anything short of a permanent ban fails to recognize the status of this city as a 'high threat' community and the readiness of terrorists to use weapons at hand at any time," they wrote Ridge in a letter dated yesterday. They promised to take up council legislation Nov. 9 that would permanently bar local shipments if Ridge does not act.

If the derailed cars had been carrying chlorine, the lawmakers said, D.C. emergency workers "would have been dealing with an evacuation and mass casualties." The Homeland Security Department confirmed Sunday that CSX has been diverting certain dangerous cargos from Washington since March.

VIRGINIA

Catholic Charities Gets $2 Million Grant

Alexandria-based Catholic Charities USA said yesterday that it has received a $2 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund its 40 housing counseling programs, including a program operated by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington.

Catholic Charities' 10-year-old National Housing Counseling Program advises the homeless, people with disabilities, refugees and low-income individuals on buying and renting homes.

The decade-old program's services also include instruction on money management, how to avoid getting cheated when buying or renting a home and how to care for a house or apartment.

Lake Braddock Teacher Is Tops in Va.

A 44-year veteran of Fairfax County Public Schools has been named Virginia's Teacher of the Year.

Joseph Hills, 69, a social studies teacher at Lake Braddock Secondary School, was honored Friday at a banquet in Richmond. He will represent Virginia in the National Teacher of the Year competition. Hills started his career with Fairfax schools in 1960 as a teacher at Fairfax High School. He taught at Marshall High School and Langley High School before moving to Lake Braddock in 1973.

Haymarket Man Dies in ATV Accident

A Haymarket man died Saturday after he lost control of his all-terrain vehicle and slammed into a tree, police said.

About 5 p.m., Tobby Jonathan Taylor, 21, of the 6200 block of Edwards Drive, was driving the Kodiak four-wheeler about 25 mph when it skidded and hit a tree, pinning him between it and his ATV. He was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, said Detective Dennis Mangan, a Prince William County police spokesman.

Tourism Revenue Up 5% From 2003

The economic benefit of tourism is growing in Virginia, according to the office of Gov. Mark R. Warner (D).

Tourism generated $15.2 billion for the state in 2003, the governor's office said, a jump of more than 5 percent from the previous year. Warner's office said that travel and tourism in Virginia account for almost 281,000 jobs.

MARYLAND

Montgomery Names Security Coordinator

Montgomery County Fire Administrator Gordon Aoyagi will head the county's new Department of Homeland Security, County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) announced yesterday.

The department will coordinate emergency management, disaster and public health preparedness and other matters of security.

Aoyagi, a county employee for 20 years, has been Montgomery's first and only fire administrator, a position created in 1998 to coordinate volunteer and career fire services. He will begin the job Jan. 1, pending confirmation by the County Council.

Targeted Strip Club Tries New Pitch

The owners of the Goddess nightclub, a Baltimore strip club, say that their building has a claim to fame that makes it worth sparing from the wrecking ball: Baseball legend Babe Ruth bought the bar for his father in 1915 and worked there in the off-season during the early years of his career.

Owners George and Foula Kritikos have hired a Frederick preservation firm to investigate the building's historical significance.

Baltimore's economic development agency say apartments would be more appropriate and would help revitalize the west side.

"It's got to get better. If the river that runs through the nation's capital continues to be as polluted as it is, it's a tragedy."

-- William C. Baker, head of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which

released its "State of the Anacostia River" report yesterday. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Karlyn Barker, Spencer S. Hsu, Jacqueline L. Salmon, Maria Glod and Ian Shapira and the Associated Press.