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Track Fire Disrupts Section of Blue Line
Rush-hour service on Metro's Blue Line was slowed yesterday morning when a piece of construction material caught fire on the third rail between the Capitol Heights and Addison Road stations.
The problem started about 7:30 a.m., when rubber construction material began burning on the outbound track between the two stations, Metro spokesman Ray Feldmann said. The material was stored improperly on the track bed, too close to the electrified rail, Feldmann said. Electric power to a section of the track was shut down as firefighters from Prince George's County extinguished the burning debris, he said. Full service was restored at 9:50 a.m., he said.
Md. Panel to Study Uniform Voting System
Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) said yesterday that he wants to make voting systems uniform in Maryland by 2002 to avoid the potential for post-election gridlock in close races.
A task force chaired by Secretary of State John T. Willis will meet over the next 60 days to study voting machines and to recommend one system to be used throughout the state as well as standardized procedures for recounts. Currently, counties pay for the voting machines they use. Glendening said the state would help pay for the costs of standardization.
Most counties in Maryland use optical-scanning machines for voting. Montgomery County uses punch cards, and Prince George's County uses antiquated tab machines that are no longer made and are difficult to service.
Howard Targets Self-Service Tobacco
The Howard County Council last night unanimously approved a measure outlawing self-service tobacco displays at stores in the county. The law is virtually identical to one approved last month by the Montgomery County Council.
The law will put cigarettes and other tobacco products behind the counter in an effort to reduce shoplifting and limit minors' access to them. The proposal was initially introduced by council Republicans Christopher J. Merdon (Northeast
County) and Allan H. Kittleman (West County), but the three other members quickly added their support.
The measure exempts tobacco stores and vending machines, which are regulated by the state. It is likely to face a legal challenge. Tobacco lobbyist Bruce C. Bereano has said he will fight the tobacco-placement law in Montgomery County.
Pr. George's School Board Picks Leaders
The Prince George's Board of Education has turned to its most experienced member to lead it into next year.
Kenneth E. Johnson (Mitchellville), who has been on the board for eight years, was elected last night to a one-year term as chairman, an office that he has held once before. Johnson takes over a board that has been mired in controversy and disagreements with Superintendent Iris T. Metts. Catherine A. Smith (Cheverly) was elected vice chairman.
Carbon Monoxide Sickens Family
A Wheaton family was hospitalized after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning yesterday, a Montgomery County fire department spokesman said.
The three adults and two children inhaled high levels of carbon monoxide after a gas furnace malfunctioned in their home, in the 12000 block of Berry Street, said fire Capt. Jim Resnick. He said the father woke up about 11:45 p.m., found he couldn't wake anyone else up and then called 911.
Resnick said the furnace filter was filthy and was missing parts that would have allowed air and gas to flow through the heating ducts properly. The 38-year-old father, 36-year-old mother, 70-year-old grandmother, 10-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl were all listed in fair condition yesterday.
SOL Exams Moved to Later in Year
The Virginia Board of Education has adopted a resolution allowing school divisions to give the Standards of Learning exams later in the school year. Beginning in the spring, SOL tests may be administered during the last three weeks of school.
The later date was advocated by some school divisions to give them time to cover more material, but it means that districts will not receive test results before the end of the school year. The board also endorsed the concept of regional and/or local scoring of SOL exams to provide school divisions with unofficial results before the end of the school year.
Meeting on Future of Social Security
A town hall meeting on the future of Social Security will be held tonight on the campus of George Mason University in Fairfax County.
The forum, scheduled to run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Student Union II Ballroom, is sponsored by the group Citizens for a Sound Economy, George Mason's Phi Kappa Theta chapter and others on campus. Panelists include Kirsten Black from the Social Security Administration, Kelsey Williams from Edelman Financial Planning Services and Wayne Brough, chief economist with Citizens for a Sound
Leaders, Clergy Meet on Teen Pregnancy
City officials will join leading clergy members at 5 p.m. today at the Washington Navy Yard to discuss strategies for continuing the District's drop in teenage pregnancy.
Brenda Rhodes Miller, director of the D.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, said she would appeal to religious leaders to open their houses of worship an additional night each week to provide safe, dependable adult supervision to teenagers.
The Rev. Donald Robinson, the mayor's director of religious affairs, and Carolyn N. Graham, deputy mayor for children, youth and families, are scheduled to open the event. Sarah S. Brown, director of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, and the Rev. Leon G. Lipscombe Sr., of Allen AME Church, will discuss national and local trends.
Members of the clergy and the public can obtain more information from the D.C. Campaign at 202-789-4666.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"I don't like to use the bathrooms. They're nasty. . . . I try to hold it."
-- Marque Jeter, an 11-year-old at the District's Lucy Ellen Moten Elementary, where students refuse to use some working restrooms because they reek of urine, have bad plumbing and are missing doors or partitions.