Norton Seeks Views on Federal Issues

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton has scheduled a community meeting next week on issues facing Congress, including the war in Iraq and federal spending priorities.

Norton (D-D.C.) said that she wants to gauge sentiment on both sides of the war issue and hear reaction to proposed budget cuts. The session is to run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in Room 345, Cannon House Office Building, First and C streets SE.

In a statement announcing the meeting, Norton referred to the District's fight to gain a vote in Congress. She said D.C. residents want to be heard "especially because they are paying for the war and absorbing cuts in vital programs without a vote on any of these issues on the floor."

Meetings Set on Bus Shelter Agreement

The D.C. Department of Transportation is planning meetings in December and January to gather public comment on a bus shelter agreement recently signed by Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D).

The agreement with Clear Channel Adshel calls for replacing existing shelters, increasing the number of shelters and providing features such as bus maps and real-time arrival information.

The first three meetings are set for 7 p.m. Dec. 5 at Hine Junior High School, 335 Eighth St. SE, in Ward 6; 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the 7th District Police Station, 2455 Alabama Ave. SE, in Ward 8; and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 12 at the Capitol View Library, 5001 Central Ave. SE, in Ward 7. The dates for meetings in other wards, to be held in January, will be announced later, according to the department.


College Student Killed in Car Crash

A student from the University of Maryland at the Eastern Shore was killed and three others were injured in a car crash this week near Glen Burnie, according to a university spokeswoman.

Allisha Coleman, 21, was a passenger in a car that crashed Tuesday on Interstate 97. Coleman was on her way home to Baltimore for Thanksgiving, said Suzanne Street, a university spokeswoman.

Coleman was dead at the scene, authorities said.

Police said the driver, Tanesha Davis, 21, of Pikesville, lost control of the car, which hit a guardrail and rolled over several times before going into a ditch.

Another passenger, Keyonna Mayo of Baltimore, 22, was reported in critical but stable condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Davis and a third passenger, Malika Jones, 18, of Brooklyn, N.Y., were treated and released, police said. Coleman and Mayo were not wearing seat belts, police said.

The university said it will have counseling services available when students return Monday.


Refinery Explodes, Burns in Yorktown Area

A fuel-fed explosion and fire at a refinery in the Yorktown area sent flames 50 feet into the air yesterday before dozens of firefighters were able to extinguish it. There were no injuries.

"It was very spectacular," said Assistant Fire Chief Michael Player of York County. "It was fuel-fed and very intense."

The fire at the Yorktown Refinery was reported shortly after 1 a.m. Firefighters were able to contain the fire, and they put it out by 11:30 a.m., Player said.

The refinery, owned by Giant Industries Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz., processes 62,000 barrels of crude oil a day, a company official said.

Kaine Hears More Transportation Ideas

Gov.-elect Timothy M. Kaine (D) continued his town hall meetings on transportation issues with a gathering in Richmond on Tuesday night.

Kaine drew a standing-room-only crowd at the Virginia Aviation Museum at Richmond International Airport. Suggestions for improving traffic flow included levying tolls during peak traffic; encouraging bicycle use; encouraging light-rail development; building more highways; and improving land-use planning.

Kaine plans to hold about a dozen transportation forums throughout the state to get Virginians' views on the state's transportation problems and what to do about them.

The meetings resume next week, in Manassas and Bristol.

Funds Approved for 'Ghost Ship' Disposal

Congress has given the U.S. Maritime Administration final approval to spend $21 million this fiscal year to dispose of "ghost ships" from the James River and other reserve fleets.

The disposal work is likely to continue well into the next decade, according to the agency's report to Congress. As a result, the agency will not meet a congressional mandate to dispose of all the ships by Sept. 30, 2006.

Since 2001, when Congress began funding the project, the Maritime Administration has removed 38 high-priority environmentally hazardous ships from the National Defense Reserve Fleet, said Deputy Maritime Administrator John Jamian.

But the agency expects to receive 30 ships over the next three years that will require disposal, and it has a backlog of 135 obsolete ships, including 52 in the James River. That is up from 121 ships in February, which included 44 in the James.

The ghost fleet's removal has been a priority of local lawmakers because the vessels leak oil and contain other hazardous materials.

Warner Says He'll Act in Coleman Case

Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) said Wednesday that he will decide before he leaves office in January whether to order DNA testing in the case of Roger Keith Coleman. He was executed in 1992 for the rape and murder of a southwest Virginia woman. Advocates say the test could prove that Coleman was innocent.


Flight Diverted to Remove Passenger

A United Airlines flight to Washington from Orlando was diverted last night to Charlotte, where an unruly passenger was removed, an airline spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman, Robin Urbanski, said the passenger began to smoke and then urinated in an aisle. After a brief stop in North Carolina, Flight 1502 continued without incident to Dulles International Airport, Urbanski said.

"Pickpocketing has changed so much. In the old days, they'd pick your wallet, take the cash and dump the wallet in the trash. Now they realize they're throwing more money away than they're taking because of the identity theft portion of the crime."

-- Metro Transit Police Detective Cedric Mitchell -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Martin Weil and Clarence Williams and the Associated Press.