The Washington Times - May 4, 2011, 06:59AM

A ROCKVILLE HOUSE EXPLODED at about 3 a.m. Wednesday in the Garrett Park/North Bethesda area of Montgomery County, according to WRC-TV. The house is in the 1100 block of Ashley Drive. The occupants were taken to a hospital with severe burns, but they are expected to survive, the TV station reports. Investigators are still trying to determine what caused the explosion.

VA. GOV. BOB MCDONNELL has used a powerful executive tool to further his goal of phasing out state funding for public broadcasting. After two efforts to get legislators to cut more funding than they would agree to, the governor moved closer to his objective Tuesday when he signed the amended 2012 budget and included one line-item veto that will result in 25 percent fewer dollars for educational programing for public radio and TV stations, according to The Washington Times.

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ENGLAND’S PRINCE CHARLES began his first trip to the United States in four years Tuesday by visiting an urban farm in Washington, D.C. The 62-year-old Prince of Wales, known for his environmental interests, strode through the Common Good City Farm in the LeDroit Park neighborhood in Northwest, chatting with local dignitaries and dozens of area gardeners and royal fans who turned out on the warm spring afternoon, The Washington Times reports.

A D.C.-BASED COMMISSION is hosting a discussion Thursday about so-called crews and gangs and whether they are on the rise in the city. The discussion being hosted by the Commission on Black Men and Boys will be held at One Judiciary Square in Northwest. It will include violence-intervention workers, residents and gang members. The purpose of the discussion is to increase public understanding of gangs, cliques and crews, according to the Associated Press.

THE DISTRICT AND METRO plan to start a pilot program this month that will replace paper student transit passes with electronic identification cards, similar to the SmarTrip fare card, according to The Washington Post. The DC One Card contains a chip with ID information that can be used to track usage or restrict students from using the subsidized passes during non-school hours, though city officials say they do not intend to use the cards for those purposes unless directed to do so by Metro officials. About 500 students at the School Without Walls in Northwest will be the first to use the transit pass.

THE RACE FOR A NEW SENATE SEAT IN THE VA. ASSEMBLY has its first entrant: Bryan Rhodes, of Goochland County, a Richmond prosecutor. He will run as a Republican for the seat in the 22nd Senate District, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.