MARYLAND

Victim of Beltsville Fire Identified

Prince George's County authorities yesterday identified the woman who died Saturday night in a house fire in Beltsville as Virginia Avents, 65.

Firefighters found Avents's body shortly after 9 p.m. on the first floor of her home in the 10400 block of Truxton Road, according to Cpl. Joe Merkel, spokesman for Prince George's police.

The house had been severely damaged by fire, but fire officials said yesterday that they did not have any information on the cause of the blaze.

Doctors to Protest Rising Insurance Cost

Some physicians in Prince George's and Washington counties are planning to cut back on their work this week, starting today, to protest the rising cost of medical malpractice insurance. Several Prince George's County doctors said they will protest by not performing many elective surgeries.

Karl Riggle, a surgeon in the Hagerstown area who is helping organize the slowdown, said a small group of physicians is curtailing work this week to spend time lobbying and fighting for malpractice reform. He said other doctors will cover for them.

House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) have said they will meet this week to try to work out a solution to the medical malpractice crisis.

THE DISTRICT

SE Man, 53, Found Fatally Stabbed

D.C. police are investigating the stabbing death Saturday night of a Southeast Washington man.

Police said John Walker, 53, was found dead in an apartment in the 2100 block of R Street SE shortly before 11 p.m. They provided no additional details except to say that the investigation is continuing.

Leg Nearly Severed in NW Argument

A District man was arrested yesterday and charged with assault with intent to kill after an altercation at a Northwest gas station in which another man's leg was nearly severed, police said.

Luis Alcantara, 41, of the 1300 block of Clifton Street NW, was arrested after he and another District man, 27, argued shortly after 3 a.m. at a gas station in the 2600 block of 14th Street NW, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman.

The pair exchanged words, Gentile said, and then Alcantara returned to his car and used the automobile to hit the man.

Police did not release the name of the injured man because he is a witness in the case. He was in critical condition last night, police said.

THE REGION

National Sound, Film Center Advances

The Library of Congress' National Audiovisual Conservation Center will be a movie lover's dream with 56 miles of shelf space for the nation's film library.

Construction of the first phase of the project at the old Federal Reserve Bank site east of Culpeper began in August 2000. The underground storage area was unearthed and refurbished. It will become the Collections Building, where nearly 3 million sound and radio recordings and more than 1 million films will be stored.

The Collections Building is scheduled to open in May. The Conservation Building, now under construction, is to be completed a year later. It will house offices, restoration facilities and a 200-seat movie theater, where public screenings will be held up to three times a week.

VIRGINIA

Jamestown Ferry Overload Feared in '07

Some people are worried that the Jamestown-Scotland Ferry service won't be able to handle the expected crush of tourists in 2007 for the 400th anniversary of the landing at Jamestown. Residents in Surry County, where the ferry lands opposite Jamestown, are forming a committee to ask lawmakers for a new, larger ship to replace the smallest of the four-ship fleet.

The Virginia Department of Transportation runs the free ferry service. Spokeswoman Tiffany Elliott said the department recently cut plans to build a new ferry because other Hampton Roads road-building projects took precedence. There are design plans for a new ferry but no money for the project.

"Ballparks bring lots of people to a neighborhood. But if people come and see there's nothing worth staying for, a good part of the potential has been wasted."

-- Denver Mayor John W. Hickenlooper, touting the success of Coors Field in reviving the surrounding neighborhood. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Lila Arzua and Clarence Williams and the Associated Press.