Council Curbs Heating Fuel Tax

Legislation Could Save Customers $11 Million

If home-heating costs rise this winter, as expected, the city would stand to benefit because a higher price would mean higher tax revenue. With that in mind, the D.C. Council last week adopted emergency legislation that changes the way the city taxes natural gas and propane.

Prices this winter are expected to increase by a third over last year, so without the change the city would have collected an additional $11 million in tax revenue, according to estimates. The council's action means taxes will now be based on energy units sold, instead of a percentage of the cost.

Charter School Debate Delayed

Facility's Future Uncertain, Enrollment Low

The Jos-Arz Therapeutic Public Charter School received at least $9 million in revenue bonds from the city to do something most schools like it can't do: buy a building. But the facility, with 20 dormitory rooms and a capacity for 70 severely emotionally disturbed students, is empty, and the school is in trouble.

School system administrators have recommended that Jos-Arz be closed because it failed to enroll enough students or operate a residential program, as outlined in its charter. But when the matter came before the school board last week, the debate turned not on the school's perceived failures but on the procedures for deciding when a charter school should be shut down.

For the time being, the building, at 220 Taylor St. NE, will remain empty; the debate has been postponed. The school, now sharing space with another at 1401 Brentwood Pkwy. NE, has never enrolled more than 20 students. Jos-Arz officials said they were glad for the chance to save the program from the problems associated with the previous administration.

New Memorial Honors Volunteers

Pathway Dedicated by Former President Bush

The city's newest memorial is a mile in the walking and quite literally grounded in Washington.

It begins at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, goes north on 15th to G Street and continues right on G. It eventually will go to 11th Street, head south for a block to F Street and go west along F to 15th and back to the beginning.

It is the Extra Mile-Points of Light Volunteer Pathway, which was dedicated last week by former president George H.W. Bush, who made volunteerism a national mission during his tenure. Twenty worthies have had their likenesses cast in bronze and embedded in the sidewalk. Organizers hope that the walk will eventually include 70 people who were monumental examples of good deeds.

Among those honored are the founder of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, William Edwin Hall; Melvin Jones, founder of the International Association of Lions Clubs; and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. A nine-member panel votes on the honorees, who can be nominated by anyone.

Panda Debut Delayed

Cub, Mother Not Ready for Him to Leave Den

The grand debut of the baby panda will have to wait, but at least the cuddly cub will have a name to go by.

For a public eager to see the giant panda cub, the news last week was: Wait until at least December. The cub has not been venturing from his hidden den, apparently because his mother is not willing to let him go.

The bear is more toddler than infant now and not all that tiny. He walks a bit on all fours and has four canine teeth and 12 incisors. He was born July 9 and weighed 1.82 pounds at his first physical Aug. 2. He now weighs 12.7 pounds.

And his name? That will be announced tomorrow. It was chosen in an online poll sponsored by Friends of the National Zoo from among five options approved by Chinese officials. In China, cubs are not named until they are 100 days old, when their survival is believed assured.

A Growing Boy: Zoo assistant curator Lisa Stevens takes the cub for a weight check.