THE REGION

Tai Shan Set for Public Viewing

The National Zoo's giant panda cub, Tai Shan, goes on public view Thursday for those who have obtained tickets to the Panda House via the zoo's Web site. More than 40,000 free, timed-entry tickets have been made available through Jan. 8.

More than 13,000 tickets have been distributed to the general public. An additional 27,000 tickets have been offered to members of Friends of the National Zoo, a zoo support organization. Several thousand of those are available, FONZ said, and will be offered again to members next week.

A limited number of same-day tickets will be available for zoo visitors.

Members of the public who have tickets will have to show identification that matches the name on the ticket. Zoo officials said they are doing this to discourage selling of the tickets for profit and to guard against ticket duplication.

"We urge panda fans to wait for additional free tickets to become available rather than spending money on what is intended to be a free ticket," FONZ spokesman Matt Olear said in a statement. "As Tai Shan matures and becomes more active and independent, not only will we extend viewing hours, but members of the public will likely have an even greater opportunity to see the cub."

Wintry Weather Hits Region

Numerous traffic accidents were reported late last night and early today in northern and western sections of the region as a mixture of cold rain, light snow and ice pellets fell.

Salt and sand trucks were requested by county police in northern parts of Montgomery County, and slipping and sliding vehicles became involved in fender-bender crashes on Rte. 70 in Howard County. Roads were reported icy in parts of Prince William County, as well.

THE DISTRICT

City to Get Environment Agency

Mayor Anthony A. Williams has signed legislation creating a department to handle all environmental matters under city jurisdiction.

The Department of the Environment will oversee services now handled by the health, sewer and public works departments.

Under the legislation, which was signed Friday, the Health Department will yield authority over environmental quality and hazardous waste disposal. The new department will take over storm water management functions from the Water and Sewer Authority and will absorb the Public Works Department's energy agency.

Murder Charge in NE Shooting

A District man has been arrested on a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of a 55-year-old man in his home late Thursday in Northeast Washington, D.C. police said.

Robert L. Robinson, 42, of the 4200 block of Brooks Street NE was charged Friday in the killing of Gregory Foster in the 4600 block of Blaine Street NE, police said yesterday.

Police said the shooting stemmed from a drug-fueled argument over $5.

Man Found Fatally Wounded

An unidentified man was found fatally shot yesterday in Southeast Washington, D.C. police said.

He was found at 3:40 a.m. in the 1500 block of Butler Street, they said. The killing raised the year's homicide total to 183, equal to last year at this time.

Police asked to be called at 202-727-9099. A reward of up to $25,000 is offered.

MARYLAND

Sex Offender Supervision Plan

The two leading Democrats in the Maryland General Assembly plan to join Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr. (D) on Tuesday to submit legislation to expand parole supervision of sex offenders and notification of communities in which they live.

Sex offender regulation is expected to be prominent in the upcoming legislative session. Curran's proposed legislation would empower the Maryland Parole Commission to enter into individualized parole agreements with sex offenders that might include monitoring through Global Positioning System technology or restricting an offender from living close to schools or other places where children congregate.

Virginia

Worker Dies in Construction Fall

A worker was killed yesterday in a fall in a house under construction in the McLean area of Fairfax County, the county police said.

The man, who was helping put a wall into place at the house in the 2200 block of Glenheather Drive, fell from the second floor to the basement, police said. His name and age were not immediately available.

"When God finds a job that a man can't handle, he sends a woman."

-- The Rev. R. David Hall, praising the enduring strength of women around the world and in Bacontown. -- A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Clarence Williams, Del Quentin Wilber, Martin Weil and Karlyn Barker and the Associated Press.