THE REGION

Mall Expansion Ideas to Be Proposed

Officially, the Mall is closed to more monuments or museums, but as Americans search for ways to commemorate and memorialize, one solution is being offered. The concept of expanding the Mall will be presented by local architects and designers with their own visions for the public space tonight at the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

Some ideas include widening the Mall to include East Potomac Park, which would add boat landings, museum sites and recreation fields. The program will be presented by the National Mall Third Century Initiative, a program of the nonprofit National Coalition to Save Our Mall. To learn more about the Mall expansion idea, visit www.nationalmall.net.

The event begins at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 for gallery members, $20 for nonmembers. Call 202-639-1700.

THE DISTRICT

Man Crashes Car Into Anacostia River

A 44-year-old Maryland man crashed his car into the Anacostia River after getting cut off on Pennsylvania Avenue in Southeast Washington yesterday, D.C. police said.

The man, whom authorities did not identify, was driving east on Pennsylvania about 11:30 a.m. when his vehicle was cut off by another car, he told investigators. His Dodge Charger then plummeted down an embankment and into the river, police said.

The man escaped from the car and swam to shore. He was taken to George Washington Hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries and released, police said.

MARYLAND

Legislator Plans 7 Energy-Related Bills

State Sen. Rob Garagiola (D-Montgomery) announced yesterday that he will introduce seven bills when the General Assembly convenes next month to promote renewable energy and reduce carbon dioxide pollution and energy consumption.

At a news conference in Rockville, Garagiola said the proposals would "set a foundation for Maryland's energy future." The package includes proposals to increase solar energy grant awards, eliminate subsidies to companies that mine coal, require the state to reduce energy consumption by 10 percent by 2010 and provide a sales-tax holiday for residents who buy energy-efficient products.

Montgomery Stiffens Forest-Clearing Fines

The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously yesterday to stiffen penalties for residents who violate the county's forest conservation law.

The penalties for residents who clear more than 5,000 square feet of forested land without county Planning Board approval is up to $1 for each square foot. Under the legislation, which was sponsored by council member Steven A. Silverman (D-At Large), the penalties will grow to up to $3 a square foot for unwillful violations and $9 a square foot for deliberate violations.

The change comes in response to Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder's decision last year to clear more than 50,000 square feet of forested land on an easement he owns next to the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal without the county's permission. In September, the Planning Board made Snyder pay the county $37,000, which environmentalists said was too little.

Pr. George's Council Picks New Chairman

The Prince George's County Council named Thomas E. Dernoga (D-Laurel) as its chairman and Camille Exum (D-Seat Pleasant) as its vice chairman.

Dernoga, formerly vice chairman, replaces Samuel H. Dean (D-Mitchellville), who ended his one-year chairman's term yesterday.

The leadership posts are key to setting the council's agenda, choosing the chairmen of the committees and working with County Executive Jack B. Johnson (D).

The council's new session will begin in January.

Montgomery Council Leadership Changes

The Montgomery County Council voted unanimously yesterday to elect George L. Leventhal (D-At Large) as its president and Marilyn Praisner (D-Eastern County) as its vice president.

Leventhal, who is in his first term, has worked to expand access to affordable health care. He replaces Tom Perez (D-Silver Spring) in the post.

Praisner, a four-term council member, is a champion of consumer issues. The president and vice president serve one-year terms.

Pr. George's Schools to Redo Master Plan

The Maryland State Board of Education approved master plans for improving student performance in 22 school systems yesterday but ordered revisions to a plan submitted by Prince George's County schools and rejected a plan from Baltimore schools.

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick, who works for the board, said Prince George's officials needed to explain certain aspects of their special education program -- such as declining graduation rates and teacher shortages -- and developments in curriculum and teacher training. The system has a Jan. 6 deadline.

Baltimore school officials were asked to overhaul by March 1 a plan Grasmick said was riddled with holes.

Students Unhurt in School Bus Accident

A Prince George's County school bus was rear-ended at 9:30 a.m. yesterday by a car that swerved to avoid an accident on Powder Mill Road in Beltsville.

None of the 17 students bound for Bond Mill Elementary School in Laurel was injured, fire spokesman Mark Brady said.

The driver of the car that rear-ended the bus was taken to a hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injures. The wet roads might have contributed to the crash, Brady said.

VIRGINIA

Airport Exit From GW Parkway to Close

The main southbound exit from George Washington Memorial Parkway to Reagan National Airport will be closed from Thursday to Dec. 16 between 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.

The closure is due to construction on the bridge over the airport exit. The work will include a bridge deck replacement, trail widening, paving and curb replacement, airport officials said.

Drivers will be able to get to the airport from the parkway by going a half-mile south to the next exit, where they can turn around and access the airport from the northbound lanes.

"He spent a long time trying to become a citizen, over a year. It took probably five minutes to make him a citizen after he died."

-- Rep. Elijah E. Cummings on Army Spec. Kendell K. Frederick, killed by a bomb in Iraq as he returned from being fingerprinted to become a U.S. citizen. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Nick Anderson, Tim Craig, Petula Dvorak, Steven Ginsberg, Allison Klein, Ovetta Wiggins and Del Quentin Wilber.