THE REGION

Most in Pa. Oppose Casino Plan, Poll Finds

Most Pennsylvania residents oppose plans for a casino near the Gettysburg battlefield, a poll released by a Washington-based preservationist group shows.

The poll of 625 residents, commissioned by the nonprofit Civil War Preservation Trust, found that 65 percent oppose the proposed gaming complex, according to results released Monday. The poll was conducted late last month by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc.

Putrid Flower Set to Bloom at Garden

The rare titan arum, also known as the corpse flower, will again grace the U.S. Botanic Garden's conservatory with its rotten odor.

The flower, the largest known to man, is four feet tall and growing every day. The Indonesian plant has a cult following in the botanical world, and when one blossomed in 2003, an estimated 10,000 people came to see its fleeting bloom, the Botanic Garden reported.

This plant, raised from a seed by the botany department of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History and recently moved to the conservatory at 100 Maryland Ave. SW, has never blossomed and is expected to reach full bloom by Sunday or Monday, then collapse after 24 to 48 hours. The garden is free and open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

THE DISTRICT

Input Sought on Black History Museum

The Smithsonian Institution is hosting a town hall meeting tonight to get public input on four potential sites for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The highly anticipated museum will be one of the last structures allowed in the Mall's newly designated no-build "reserve" area. The presentation tonight will discuss merits of the four potential sites: the Arts and Industries Building at 900 Jefferson Dr. SW; an area on the Mall bounded by Constitution Avenue, Madison Drive and 14th and 15th streets NW; a spot on 14th Street SW at the foot of the 14th Street bridge; and the Banneker Overlook site, at 10th Street SW at the foot of L'Enfant Promenade.

The meeting is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the National Museum of Natural History's Baird Auditorium at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.

Legless Man, 73, Dies in NE House Fire

A 73-year-old man with no legs was killed last night in a Northeast Washington bedroom fire, D.C. fire officials said.

The man was unconscious when firefighters from Engine Company 26 found him in bed in a house in the 1900 block of Lawrence Street, spokesman Alan Etter said. Etter said the man was not wearing his prosthetic legs. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

MARYLAND

Duncan Again Calls for Emissions Law

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) yesterday renewed his call for the General Assembly to pass legislation cracking down on emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Duncan, who appeared in Silver Spring alongside environmentalists, has tried to use the issue as a point of contrast with both Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D), whom he will face in next year's Democratic primary for governor.

O'Malley has not taken a position on the bill, which would limit emissions of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, mercury and carbon dioxide. Yesterday, Duncan criticized those who "helped defeat it by remaining silent" during the last legislative session.

2 Men in Bike Collision Were Best Friends

Two 19-year-old men whose dirt bikes crashed into each other Monday night on a rural Calvert County road were close friends, according to people at the crash site yesterday in St. Leonard.

Nicholas J. Schmoltze of Port Republic and Conray G. Savoy of St. Leonard were driving without helmets about 7 p.m. on Williams Wharf Road when their Yamaha dirt bikes collided, said Lt. Thomas A. Buckler Jr. of the Calvert criminal investigations team.

Schmoltze was pronounced dead at Calvert Memorial Hospital. Savoy was flown to Prince George's Hospital Center and is in critical but stable condition, Buckler said.

At the crash site yesterday, friends placed flowers on the side of the two-lane road. They said Schmoltze and Conray were best friends and were out riding around together that evening.

Attacker Sought in Capitol Heights Rape

A woman was raped at gunpoint early Monday while walking to a Capitol Heights bus stop, Prince George's County police said.

The woman was walking toward the 2100 block of Rochelle Avenue about 5 a.m. when a man approached her from behind, forced her into a wooded area and assaulted her, police said. The man then ran away.

He is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall and 160 pounds. At the time of the assault, he was wearing a black cap, black jacket and blue jeans.

Club's Operation After Slaying Faulted

A Prince George's County Council hearing yesterday was filled with public safety officials, finger-pointing and frustrated community leaders who want to know why a violence-plagued club for minors in Suitland is still open after the killing of a 19-year-old woman.

Lakita D. Tolson was killed Nov. 5 in the parking lot of the Culture Club, a popular go-go hangout for teenagers and children as young as 12. During a hearing in Upper Marlboro, council members said the club appears to have fallen between cracks in the county's regulatory process.

Council members said a County Multi-Agency Service Team was created in 1993 to deal with nuisance establishments. But police commanders and officials at the state's attorney's office -- along with members of the service team -- said the panel's mission is unclear.

"What does [the group] do?" council member Tony Knotts (D-Temple Hills) asked at the hearing. The council is considering legislation to give the group more authority.

VIRGINIA

Ruling Affecting Marymount Teams Stands

The state Supreme Court has refused a request from the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors to reconsider its decision that in effect bars Marymount University's soccer and lacrosse teams from playing at Lewinsville Park in McLean.

The court ruled against the county in September on procedural grounds.

"The residents who live here, if they wanted to move to the neighborhood today -- with the prices that are being paid -- they wouldn't be able to."

-- Wesley Hickman, who lives in the middle-class Brightwood area of Northwest Washington, on the District's rising home prices. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Clarence Williams, Petula Dvorak, Hamil R. Harris, C. Woodrow Irvin, Allison Klein, Fredrick Kunkle, Joshua Partlow, Martin Weil and John Wagner.