Concert Hall Gets Go-Ahead

GMU, Pr. William to Share the Center's Cost

Prince William County and George Mason University have agreed to help finance a $56 million performing arts center near Manassas styled after the famous La Scala opera house in Milan.

A four-story, 1,100-seat performance hall will be part of a larger cultural complex to be built at GMU's Prince William campus and financed by the university, the county, the city of Manassas and private funds.

VDOT Seeks Help on Western Bypass

Businesses Asked to Offset Va. Funding Shortfall

Virginia transportation officials are asking private businesses for help in building a 50-mile highway that would stretch from Interstate 95 in Stafford County to Route 7 just east of Leesburg.

The road, known as the Western Transportation Corridor, is designed to bypass the congestion of the Capital Beltway and serve rapidly growing populations and job centers on the outer tier of Northern Virginia.

The highway was clipped from the state's six-year plan in 2003 because of budget problems.

Special-Ed Teacher Acquitted

Security Tape Derailed Sex-Abuse Case, Jurors Say

A Prince William County jury acquitted a special education teacher of all charges of sexually abusing a student with Down syndrome in December.

David A. Perino, 39, who had been charged with attempted forcible sodomy and aggravated sexual battery, could have faced 30 years in prison.

Jurors, who deliberated about an hour and 15 minutes, said afterward that the accuser's account seemed inconsistent with what they saw on a videotape from a school security camera.

Va. Commits to Schooling Law

Panel Kills Bill to Waive Federal Mandates

A Virginia House of Delegates committee rejected a bill that would have allowed the state to waive mandates required by the No Child Left Behind Act.

Members of the Education Committee, who voted 11 to 6 to kill the bill, said they feared that opting out of the law's requirements could freeze the federal funding that the program brings to the state.

Delegates in the Republican-controlled House have been troubled by the program's requirements.

Alexandria Sheriff Hospitalized

Dunning Is Treated for Dehydration, Vertigo

Alexandria Sheriff James H. Dunning was hospitalized after suffering from dehydration and vertigo.

Dunning, 54, whose wife, Nancy, was found slain in their home nearly a year ago, was taken by family members to Inova Alexandria Hospital for treatment.

Dunning was elected sheriff in 1986. In the last four years, he has overseen some of the country's most high-profile inmates, including convicted spies Robert P. Hanssen and Brian P. Regan and terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui.

Across the Region

Metro Probe Advances; Bay Pollution Suit Filed

* The safety system that automatically stops Metro trains from rolling backward could not have prevented the recent crash at Woodley Park because both trains involved were being run manually, transit officials said. The National Transportation Safety Board is continuing to investigate a runaway train that slid backward Nov. 3 and slammed into a six-car train carrying 70 passengers at the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan Station.

* The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has sued the Environmental Protection Agency, accusing it of dragging its feet as sewage plants across the region pollute the bay's waters. Specifically, the suit asks that the EPA respond formally to a petition, submitted by the foundation in December, that seeks to limit the amount of nitrogen released from such plants.

Sunk: A Fairfax County school bus fell into a sinkhole caused by a water main break Thursday. No one was injured.