Local Leads: 12/30/08

News you need to know

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


Israel is considering suspending its Gaza offensive to give Hamas militants an opening to halt rocket fire on Israel, but the threat of a ground offensive remains if the cease-fire does not hold, an Israeli defense official said Tuesday. (USAToday)

As the economic outlook grows increasingly bleak, school systems in the Washington region are delaying construction and even considering shuttering schools, moves that could force wide-scale shuffling of students among campuses and disrupt deep connections that students and families have to neighborhood schools.This month, Prince George's County's interim superintendent, William R. Hite Jr., proposed closing six under-enrolled schools and parceling out those students to other schools. Prince William County   is considering putting plans for a badly needed high school on hold, a decision that would result in shifting students to balance enrollments. Loudoun County is facing delayed construction of schools planned for fast-growing neighborhoods and the prospect of closing a handful of under-enrolled schools.  (Washington Post

The sour economy hasn't affected Virginians' taste for liquor. It's just encouraged them to do more drinking at home instead of in bars and restaurants, state Alcoholic Beverage Control sales figures show. Overall liquor sales from July through November were up 6.5 percent from the same period a year ago, but the bulk of that increase came from sales to individual customers at ABC stores. Those sales rose 8.1 percent, while sales to bars and restaurants increased only 0.6 percent. (AP/WTOP.com)


A small number of Allegheny Power’s residential customers face an electricity rate increase of nearly 50 percent, starting Thursday. That’s when a state-imposed cap on the company’s rates expires under Maryland’s electric utility deregulation law. (AP/ Frederick News Post)


The Maryland Transit Administration is shutting down a route that helped hundreds of commuters travel between Annapolis and metropolitan Washington, D.C. Starting Jan. 12, the administration will eliminate the 921 bus along with several other bus and commuting lines across the state. Commuters were warned about a proposed series of cuts in October. (The Capital)

Food prices continue to rise, according to a monthly report released yesterday by a state agency.But they are not increasing as rapidly as they did earlier this year, industry experts say. What's more, lower prices for cattle, hog and dairy products could show up in grocery stores in the next couple of months, the experts say.The cost of the Virginia Department of Agriculture's market basket of 40 foods and beverages in December in the Richmond area rose to $132.05, up 0.6 percent from November and 11.3 percent from a year ago. (Richmond Times Dispatch)

Attending President-elect Barack Obama's swearing-in next month may be free, but the cost of being a part of the inaugural festivities can add up quickly. Here is an unscientific look at how much two adults and two children might spend over four days in Washington to celebrate Obama's Jan. 20 swearing-in. These estimates are based on Media General News Service research. All costs were tallied Dec. 22 and are subject to change. (Richmond Times Dispatch

Dance troupe to perform at 75th Orange Bowl: Young dancers from Motion Mania Dance Center in Gaithersburg will be performing with 200 others at halftime of the 75th annual FedEx Orange Bowl on Jan. 1. The 17 dancers, ages 11-18, started learning the 5-minute dance number last week.  (Gazette)

Calling all Bill Clinton look-alikes: an Arlington audition next month will cast the role of the former president for a new indie flick. A room is reserved at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City for the audition, where Monica Lewinsky was interrogated by the FBI in 1998. The tentative date is the weekend before inauguration. (Washington Business Journal


Three Worman's Mill residents persuaded a covenant committee to withdraw a fine against Christmas light displays within the neighborhood.  Members of the covenant committee of the subdivision said they were going to recommend the guidelines be revisited after the Rev. Donald Suhaka and two neighbors, Elena Lazo and Debra Sachs, defended their home displays on Stoney Creek Road.  (Frederick News Post)

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