Local Leads: 12/4/08

News you need to know

The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

Metro passed a major hurdle Wednesday in its campaign to extend its rail system to Dulles Airport.  The Federal Transit Administration has approved plans for the proposed 23-mile project. Earlier this year, the FTA said the expansion project did not meet federal cost-efficiency standards.  That designation jeopardized $900 million in necessary federal funding. (NBC Washington)

Treasury Department is strongly considering a plan to intervene directly in the mortgage industry to dramatically force down rates and stimulate the housing market. To stimulate the housing market, they want to force down the cost of loans.  Under the plan, the Treasury would offer to buy securities that finance newly issued loans for home purchases. But to participate in the government's program, mortgage lenders would have to set exceptionally low interest rates, for instance, no more than 4.5 percent for traditional, 30-year fixed-rate loans.  (Washington Post)

Capital One, a leading credit card company, plans to announce today that it will buy Chevy Chase Bank, a landmark Washington financial firm with branches throughout the region, according to sources familiar with the matter. The deal would be another sign of how the financial crisis is fueling consolidation in the banking industry. Capital One, which would pay $520 million in cash and stock, has received a $3.56 billion investment from the Treasury Department as part of the government's effort to stabilize the banking industry. No layoffs are currently planned. There are 250 local CCB branches.(Washington Post)

Officials Hail $89 Million Deal to Close Budget Gap. Montgomery County teachers and other school employees have agreed to give up a 5 percent pay raise next year, a concession that saves the school system $89 million and allows Superintendent Jerry D. Weast to balance the budget. (Washington Post)

Chronic wasting disease, a contagious neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, could devastate local deer populations, and National Park Service officials want to be prepared if the disease makes its way inside the boundaries of Monocacy and Antietam national battlefields.  Park officials presented options at a public meeting Wednesday night at Antietam National Battlefield, and will do the same tonight at Monocacy.  Monocacy National Battlefield has 155 deer per square mile, over a total of 2.12 square miles. Deer hunting is not allowed in either Monocacy or Antietam.  (Frederick-News Post)

A Pennsylvania pizzeria insists venison is not on the menu -- despite the impression a customer may have gotten when she saw one of the cooks butchering a deer in the shop's kitchen. The manager of Stromboli Pizza in Allentown says a customer saw one of the restaurant cooks carving up a deer Tuesday. But John Okumus says the venison was not intended for the store. He says he shot a doe during a hunt and left the carcass in the store's kitchen for pickup by a friend. Okumus says a customer complained to the city health department after seeing a cook mistakenly butcher the deer. The department investigated but did not issue a citation. (AP/Richmond Times Dispatch)

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