THE REGIONWeb Site Seeks to Improve Access to Work A regional collaborative of nonprofit organizations and government agencies has launched an online program to help people search for job-training programs and social services -- such as homeless shelters, child-care programs and health care -- in the Washington area. Workforce Organizations for Regional Collaboration said its online program, at http://askROSS.org, will allow users to search by location, Zip code and program type. Information available includes contact names, hours of operation, and program eligibility requirements and restrictions.

MARYLAND17 1/2 -Year Sentence for Heroin Dealer, 72A 72-year-old Silver Spring man was sentenced yesterday to 17 1/2 years in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute and possession with the intent to distribute heroin, U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said. William Edward Turner, who used the alias "Dog," distributed heroin in Maryland, the District and Pennsylvania, prosecutors said.

Gwendolyn Levi, 60, of Elkridge and Moises De Los Reyes Uriarte, 31, of the Bronx, N.Y., also have pleaded guilty in the case and are expected to be sentenced this summer.

ICC Comment Period ExtendedMaryland highway officials said yesterday that the public comment period on an environmental study for the intercounty connector has been extended by nearly a month.

The public will have until March 23 to submit comments on a federally required environmental impact statement for the planned 18-mile highway, which would traverse northern Montgomery and Prince George's counties.

Opponents of the highway had pushed for extra time, arguing that the $2.4 billion project deserved more review time than the standard 30 days. Maryland officials initially agreed to extend the comment period to 45 days, and the latest change expands it to 75 days.

The Federal Highway Administration will issue its decision on the highway in the spring. Maryland officials plan to begin construction by the end of the year.

Labor Unions' Nod Goes to DuncanFive labor unions announced yesterday that they are supporting Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor of Maryland. "Doug's record shows he has stood with us in the fight for living wages, access to health care and the right to organize," Barry Chapman, president of AFSCME Local 422, said in a statement. "We are proud to endorse his campaign."

The unions -- the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Locals 422 and 3389; the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts Local 22; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 26; and the Transportation-Communications International Union -- represent 6,500 workers in the state.

VIRGINIAGirl, 2, Drowns in Pool in Fairfax CountyA 2-year-old girl drowned in a pool at a Fairfax County home yesterday, and the circumstances were under investigation. The girl was identified last night as Jada Leiva-Hernandez of the 7400 block of Lee Highway in the Falls Church area of Fairfax County.

About 2:15 p.m., police were called to a house in the 3400 block of Grass Hill Terrace, in the Lake Barcroft neighborhood south of Falls Church. The girl had been discovered in the pool and was taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said.

The child had been taken to a relative's house for day care, said Officer Beth Funston of the Fairfax County police.

It was not immediately clear how the girl got into the pool. Funston said it had been covered with a tarp.

As of early evening, police had found no indications of foul play, Fairfax police spokeswoman Mary Ann Jennings said.

THE DISTRICTNE Man Found Slain at HomeA 58-year-old man was found slain inside his Northeast Washington apartment yesterday, and D.C. investigators are trying to determine the manner of death. Ronald Morton's fiancee found his body in the apartment in the 3800 block of Jay Street NE about 3:45 p.m., said Quintin Peterson, a D.C. police spokesman. Morton had suffered trauma to his head and body, Peterson said.

The body was taken to the D.C. medical examiner's office.

WASA Must Correct Flawed Water Tests The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority to conduct additional tests for lead in drinking water after ruling that a dozen samples submitted by WASA last month were invalid.

WASA announced in January that the amount of lead in the city's water was below the federal limit for the six-month period of July through December 2005. It marked the second six-month sampling period in a row in which WASA had met the standard -- expected to be enough to remove it from the stricter EPA oversight implemented after excessive lead was found in the District's water in 2004.

However, the EPA ruled yesterday that 12 of WASA's 103 samples were invalid because they had been taken from improper locations or mishandled during the sampling process. For example, nine samples were taken at homes with copper service pipes instead of lead pipes.

New Mental Health Director NamedD.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) appointed Baltimore's top mental health official yesterday as director of the D.C. Department of Mental Health.

Stephen Baron will replace the relatively new agency's first director, Martha B. Knisley, who announced her departure last summer.

Baron, 56, has served for 17 years as president of Baltimore Mental Health Systems Inc., the city's public mental health authority. That appointment capped a long history in the region for Baron, who has also been a social worker and therapist in Montgomery County, in Northern Virginia and at the University of Maryland's Methadone Treatment Program.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"I wonder if they resent what I'm doing. I wonder if they think, 'If you don't like our dirty neighborhood, why did you move in here in the first place?' "

-- Craig Kujawa, 35, a transplant to the Shaw neighborhood

from San Diego, contemplating the impression he makes

as he picks up trash in the neighborhood. -- A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Tim Craig, Steven Ginsberg, Tom Jackman, Ernesto Londoño, Lori Montgomery, David Nakamura, Jacqueline L. Salmon and Clarence Williams.