Emergency Drills to Start Today
Local, state and federal agencies will participate in emergency drills across the region during the next three days, authorities said.
The agencies are scheduled to take part in Capital Shield '06, an exercise led by the military's Joint Force Headquarters National Capital Region. Today's activities will include a drill at Fort Myer that will involve agencies from Arlington County, Alexandria and Fort Myer. Bolling Air Force Base, in Southeast Washington, will also be a focus of activity today, officials said.
Additional drills are planned for tomorrow and Thursday in the District and Olney and at Fort Belvoir.
Officials said the exercise is designed to ensure that agencies are prepared to respond to emergencies in a coordinated way. No serious traffic tie-ups are expected, but officials warned the public not to be surprised by emergency response vehicles or aircraft participating in the exercises.
Hearing Tonight on MetroWest Land Sale
Metro's board of directors will hold a public hearing tonight on the sale to a developer of 3.75 acres Metro owns at its Vienna station. The hearing in the Oakton High School auditorium, 2900 Sutton Rd., will begin at 7:30.
If approved by the transit agency, the sale of Metro's land to Pulte Homes would allow the company's proposed 56-acre mini-city MetroWest to sit adjacent to the station -- a site developers and planners say is essential if residents and office workers are to walk and commute by train. The developer has said that without such proximity, MetroWest residents and office workers would be less apt to walk to shops and restaurants or leave their cars behind and use transit to commute. Pulte officials have said they will build MetroWest regardless of whether they can buy the land.
Opponents of the development have argued that it would flood surrounding residential neighborhoods with traffic and people who would overwhelm schools, parks and other services.
Metro officials have said they will ask speakers tonight to sign up as either generally "for" or "against" the property sale. Speakers representing each point of view will be scheduled so as to alternate their remarks, and Metro directors will answer questions and address the audience periodically.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote this fall on whether to approve MetroWest.
After Metro officials agreed to hold tonight's hearing, Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) withdrew his threat to withhold Metro's federal funding. He supported last month's transit funding bill with the proviso that Metro hold a hearing, study MetroWest's effect on parking and traffic and analyze the project's costs and benefits.
I-66 Overnight Closures Are Reduced
Motorists using Interstate 66 overnight no longer will have to deal with the highway being closed for a stretch between Manassas and Gainesville, officials said yesterday.
The Virginia Department of Transportation had been closing a four-mile section of the highway -- one direction at a time -- for the past two months so that crews could remove pavement for a widening project. Officials said that work is continuing and that drivers will encounter overnight lane closures occasionally.
Through Friday night, the right lane of eastbound I-66 will be shut between exits 43 and 47, from 7 p.m. until 4 a.m.
Stafford Fire Engine Flips, Injuring 3
Three Stafford County firefighters were hospitalized after their fire engine flipped and rolled over as they were responding to a call about 5:30 a.m. yesterday.
State police and the county sheriff's office were investigating why the engine, from the Falmouth fire station, lost control as it drove along Plantation Drive, near Route 17, said Assistant Fire Chief Roger Sutherland.
Technician James T. Morris, in his early twenties, was treated at Inova Fairfax Hospital for cuts and bruises and released, as was a junior firefighter whose name was not made public because he is younger than 18, Sutherland said. Sgt. Hamish Brewer, a visiting teacher from New Zealand in his early thirties, fractured his back in the accident.
Man Hit by Train at Foggy Bottom Dies
A man who was hit by a Metro train at the Foggy Bottom-GWU Station died yesterday, authorities said.
Leon Valdivieso, 25, of Germantown was run over at 5:40 a.m. Sunday by an Orange Line train, Metro officials said. They said it appears that Valdivieso stepped onto the tracks before the train pulled into the station. Trains were running early that day for the Marine Corps Marathon.
Pr. George's Students Protest Transfer
An estimated 150 to 200 students skipped their first class yesterday at Crossland High School in Temple Hills to express concern over the transfer of an assistant principal to another school.
Prince George's County schools spokeswoman Kelly Alexander said the students, apparently seniors, gathered in a multipurpose room after 8 a.m. in response to news that Assistant Principal William Kitchings would be moving to Potomac High School in Oxon Hill. She said the students were upset because "they really liked" Kitchings.
Crossland Principal Charles Thomas, Kitchings and another official addressed the students, who returned to class before 10 a.m., Alexander said. She said Kitchings had requested the transfer.
Panel to Review State Election Rules
After vetoing seven Democratic proposals to change Maryland election laws in the spring, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) said yesterday he has set up a commission of non-legislators to review election rules and suggest changes.
Among the bills the governor vetoed were plans to allow Marylanders to vote during the five days before primary and general elections and a bill creating no-excuse absentee balloting, which would allow people to vote absentee even if they could make it to polls on Election Day.
Ehrlich's nine-person commission will look at absentee voting and other potential changes, including early voting and a paper receipt to record votes cast on an electronic machine. Its chairman, prominent Baltimore Republican George Beall, said he expects proposals will come out of the meetings, which begin tomorrow. Panel members include some Democrats, such as former lieutenant governor Mickey Steinberg and former first lady Frances Anne Glendening.
"I would not be standing here today, nor standing where I stand every day . . . had she not chosen to say we shall not -- we shall not -- be moved."
-- Oprah Winfrey, speaking at a memorial service in downtown Washington yesterday for civil rights icon Rosa Parks. -- A1
Compiled from reports by staff writers Nick Anderson, Michelle Boorstein and Del Quentin Wilber and the Associated Press.