THE REGION

Metro Plans Town Hall Meeting Tonight

Metro will hold a town hall meeting tonight in College Park to answer questions from the public. Members of the board of directors and senior managers of the transit agency will be on hand to discuss Metrorail, Metrobus and MetroAccess.

The evening will begin at 6 with an open house, where the public can view exhibits, pick up information and question officials on a variety of topics, including job opportunities. The meeting will run from 7 to 9 p.m. in the auditorium of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., across from the College Park Metro station on the Green Line.

For more information, call 202-962-1388 or go to www.metroopensdoors.com.

Friday Masses to Focus on Storm Victims

Washington area Catholics are invited to pray for Hurricane Katrina victims at two Masses on Friday, designated the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for those affected by the storm.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, head of the Washington Archdiocese, will say a 12:10 p.m. Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Northeast Washington. In the Arlington diocese, Bishop Paul S. Loverde will celebrate a Mass at 12:05 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More.

THE DISTRICT

Job Fair for Armory Evacuees Is Today

Home Depot, Au Bon Pain and the State Department are among 13 companies and government agencies that will have recruiting tables at a job fair today for the victims of Hurricane Katrina staying at the D.C. Armory.

The number of evacuees at the armory was 166 as of Sunday night, including 94 females and 72 males, according to Sharon Gang, a spokeswoman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D). A total of 295 people were taken to the armory last week after being flown to the District from New Orleans, but many have been reunited with family and friends.

Other employers at the fair will include the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority, Safeway, Wendy's and Value City Department Stores. The State Department is the only federal agency attending, said Diana Johnson, a spokeswoman for the District's Department of Employment Services. She said the State Department is looking for people to fill clerical and other entry-level jobs.

The fair will run from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at the armory.

Escalator Trouble at Foggy Bottom Station

Subway riders trying to use the Foggy Bottom Metro station last night had to wait in a long line to get into the station because of problems with escalator service.

About 2 p.m., an escalator broke, Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith said. Foggy Bottom has three escalators and an elevator, but one escalator has been out of service for repairs, leaving only one in operation yesterday afternoon.

The station manager turned off the lone functioning escalator so it could be used by passengers walking into and out of the station, Smith said.

She said passengers were "lined up around the corner" to walk down the escalator. Metro officials encouraged riders to avoid the Foggy Bottom Station and walk or take a shuttle bus to the closest station, Farragut West.

A Metro spokeswoman said late last night that mechanics were trying to repair the broken escalator.

VIRGINIA

Ophelia Prompts Emergency Declaration

Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) declared a state of emergency yesterday because of the possibility that Tropical Storm Ophelia could bring damaging winds and rain to parts of the state.

In a statement, Warner said that "no one needs to be told that hurricanes and tropical storms can cause significant damage." He said the Ophelia emergency declaration will allow state agencies to take necessary precautions for the storm.

Forecasters expected the storm to reach the Outer Banks of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia by tomorrow night or Thursday morning, the statement said.

Warner has declared a state of emergency relating to Hurricane Katrina to allow Virginia agencies to send help to stricken areas in the Gulf region.

MARYLAND

Duncan Calls for Anti-Price Gouging Law

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) called on the General Assembly yesterday to pass anti-price gouging legislation to mitigate rising gas costs.

The bill, which would be debated in the 2006 legislative session, hasn't been drafted. But a measure defeated this year would have prohibited raising the price of an essential good or service by more than 10 percent during a declared state of emergency.

Washington area drivers are coping with some of the nation's highest gas prices. At a news conference in front of a gas pump in Rockville, Duncan and County Council President Tom Perez (D-Silver Spring) endorsed plans by General Assembly leaders and Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. (D) to investigate the reasons behind the recent spike in gas prices.

1 Year Before Primary, Mfume Assails War

Kweisi Mfume, a candidate for one of Maryland's U.S. Senate seats, sought to draw attention yesterday to a Democratic primary exactly a year away with a morning appearance in the community where he grew up and an evening policy address in which he called the Iraq war a major mistake.

"The war on Iraq was never a war on terrorism to begin with," Mfume told a gathering of about 80 people last night in Chevy Chase. "We ought to never yet again commit young men and women in harm's way when we are not certain we are doing the right thing."

Mfume, who started the day in Turners Station in Baltimore County, urged voters to evaluate candidates' ideas and not just look at money and endorsements. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin of Baltimore has raised far more money and secured more endorsements than the three other Democrats in the primary contest scheduled for Sept. 12, 2006.

"I'm very sorry for all of the harm that I've caused you."

-- Thomas A. Sweatt, apologizing to his victims and their relatives as he was sentenced to life without parole for setting fire to 45 houses and apartments in the Washington area. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Tim Craig, Lyndsey Layton, Caryle Murphy, Paul Schwartzman, Michael D. Shear and John Wagner and the Associated Press.