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PRSTD STD US Postage Paid Permit No. 145 Waldorf, MD

Thursday, January 4, 2007 • St. Mary’s County, Maryland

Established 2006 • Volume 2 • Issue 1 • FREE

Drugs, Guns and Robberies

Violent Crimes Increase in County By Andrew Knowlton Staff Writer This past year, St. Mary’s County has seen an increase in violent crimes, particularly armed robberies, according to law enforcement officials in the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department. On Dec. 28, the Checkers Fast Food Restaurant in California became the latest target in this rash of armed robberies. Copsey’s Seafood Market was robbed at gunpoint Dec. 21, and on the same day, three suspects were arrested for the armed robbery of two victims from North Carolina in a Mechanicsville residence. There are several reasons for this increase in crime, according to county law enforcement officials. “Of course, it goes hand in hand

that the more population we have, the more problems we’re going to have,” head of Vice Narcotics Det. Sgt. Steve Hall said. “So there’s bound to be an increase in people violating our laws. This is definitely on an upswing.” While Hall indicated there is no evidence of an increase in weapons in the county, guns have clearly become part of our culture. “Some feel real cool being part of it,” he said. “When [guns] are in the wrong hands, that’s bad.” Many guns used in these armed robberies are obtained by dealers from outside the county who come to St. Mary’s to distribute them. Some are also obtained through home invasion, and as St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron points out, “ a lot of law-abiding citizens own guns.” In recent years, Montgomery and

Prince George’s Counties have seen an increase in gang activity from groups such as MS-13. With the growing population in St. Mary’s County, Cameron believes the people - especially the youth (who are subject to being recruited by gangs) - need to be educated, so that the problems faced by neighboring counties do not become ours. In recent investigations, St. Mary’s County law enforcement officials have found that gangs are already an emerging problem, but are not the types of gangs we are accustomed to hearing about. “They’re not organized gangs, so to speak, like national gangs or anything of that nature,” Commander of the Bureau of Criminal Investigations (BCI) Lt. Louis F. Burris said. “Certainly when you have a group of people that

SMECO to Cut Off Power

Policy Change May Leave Some Out in the Cold By Adam Ross Staff Writer Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative enacted a new policy this winter season to not allow delinquent bills to amass from November through March without a power shutoff. SMECO is Southern Maryland’s main electric utility, and prior to 2005 barred winter power shutoffs for 24 years. The new policy brings SMECO in line with other utilities in the Washington region, said David Foggo, government and public affairs manager for

SMECO. In the past, some members stopped paying their bill from October through March, creating congestion for SMECO

and community organizations, Foggo said. Vice President of Customer Service, Susan Hamilton, added that SMECO made the change in response to a grow-

ing number of delinquent accounts but the “goal is to get the bill paid, it’s not to disconnect. [Disconnection] is a last resort,” she said. Of the 44,250 customers in St. Mary’s County, SMECO has stopped service to 101 households as a result of nonpayment this winter season, Hamilton said. The policy was actually enacted in 2005, but no power was cut off until March of 2006. SMECO has cut the power to 18 accounts in the past two days alone. In accordance with state law,

See SMECO on page A-3

Heating Help Available for Those in Need By Emily Finch Staff Writer Many families are in need of financial assistance for their heating and electric bills this holiday season, and the Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) has created the Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) for just that reason. The program is run by the Maryland Department of Human Resources. “MEAP has been in existence since

Index Op.-Ed........Page A - 4 Obits...........Page A - 7 Sports.........Page B - 1 Police .........Page B - 4

For Continual News Updates Visit: somd.com Local Weather Friday Few Showers 63° Saturday Few Showers 64° Sunday Showers 55°

1981, when the federal government recognized the energy crisis throughout the nation,” said Mary Lou Kueffer, Director of Home Energy Services for the Maryland Department of Human Resources. It is a federally funded program that offers eligible Maryland citizens assistance paying heating bills as well as some assistance in repairing broken or inefficient refrigerators and furnaces. Last fiscal year, July 1, 2005 through June 7, 2006, MEAP received nearly 107,000 applications, according

to Kueffer. Of those, 92,000 households were given assistance, most in more than one grant. The number of applications MEAP expects to receive this fiscal year is around 125,000, Kueffer said. Kueffer said the expected uptick in applications this year will be due to the increase in the income eligibility requirements. “We also take into account the increased cost of electricity and fuel statewide,” he added The milder

See Heating Help page A-

Kudos from Coca-Cola

Great Mills Student Chasing $20 K Cola Scholarship By Adam Ross Staff Writer The Coca-Cola Scholars Program sorts through 87,000 applications from high school seniors across the United States who excel in academics and community service. Right in the thick of things is a student from Great Mills High School. Ye An “Annie” Kwon, 18, advanced to the semifinals, and is now one of 2,100 seniors in the running for $3 million in college scholarships that the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation will award in spring 2007. With a 4.3 cumulative grade point average, and a schedule jam packed with extra curricular activities and community service, Kwon is a phenomenal student with a unique opportunity to earn

as much as $20,000 towards her college education. Kwon said the application was submitted online and it asked for school activities, extra curricular activities and community service, and that she had to record her hours for each one. Kwon listed her time spent teaching music at Bay Montessori School in Lexington Park, organizing and participating in her high school chess club, volunteering at church to teach Korean, and raising money to build orphanages in the Philippines. Kwon also said she is a member of the National Honors Society and the bible club. “My free time,” Kwon said, laughing at the concept. “I don’t have a lot of [it], but I like to relax and talk with my

See Scholarship on page A-3

County Times File Photo

get together to commit crimes, you can technically assume they’re a gang, but no, it’s not gangs in the normal term of the word ‘gang.’” These ‘gangs’ do not seem to be involved in narcotics, which is a common link to violent crimes, according to Hall. Major drug trafficking stays on the thruways from the Washington and Baltimore areas. St. Mary’s County does not see the same amount of trafficking because it is a “dead-end county,” according to Hall. Recently, BCI has led two major investigations in the county that have resulted in the confiscation of large amounts of drugs. A one-month investigation in

See Crime on page A-3

St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron

New Year’s Eve Crash Leaves One Dead One man was killed Sunday afternoon in Mechanicsville when an oncoming vehicle crossed into his lane of travel and struck his small pickup truck head-on. According to the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Department, at 1:43 p.m., Sunday, Allen James Lyon of Charlotte Hall, operating a 1998 Ford Explorer, was traveling North on Maryland Route 5 in the area of North Earnshaw Way, Mechanicsville. Lyon failed to keep right of the center, crossed into the Southbound

lane of Rt. 5 and struck head on the 1988 Chevrolet S-10, operated by Albert Marshall Cook, Jr. Cook died at the scene of the collision due to his injuries. Lyon and a juvenile passenger were flown to Washington Hospital for treatment and released. The initial investigation concluded that neither speed nor alcohol were contributing factors in the accident. The Sheriff’s Office Reconstruction team is conducting an ongoing investigation.

Getting Them Ready

MSDE Plan to Ready Children for Rigors of School By Adam Ross Staff Writer A new strategic plan accepted by the Maryland State Board of Education (MSDE) Dec. 13 is expected to bridge the gap between early childhood care and the public school system. Put forth by early childhood advocates and educators in the state, the new strategic blueprint is a three-year plan aimed at boosting the quality of early learning. By 2008-2009 the plan states 75 percent of all Maryland children should enter kindergarten ready to learn. MSDE has been in charge since July 2005 of policy and regulation for all early care and early education programs in Maryland. The programs’ transfer in 2005 to the Division of Early Childhood Development within MSDE aided the alignment of early childhood programs with K-12 education. According to a press release from MSDE, the plan is aimed to ensure that children have the skills to enter school ready to learn. “We are aware of a huge responsibility that was handed to us by the General Assembly and the Governor when child care was transferred from the Department of Human Resources to MSDE,” said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. “We made it clear that young children in child care programs deserve nothing less than quality care and a positive start in learning.” Grasmick said “this plan will move us in the direction of establishing a high quality continuum of education from birth to grade 12.” Bringing statewide accessibility to child care for children with disabilities and improving the transparency and effective transition practices between early care education programs, and those in public schools are two long-standing issues addressed by the plan. Its other initiatives include: expanding program accreditation and credentialing of child- care providers, establishing state-endorsed early childhood

curricula for non-public early childhood programs, instituting the Maryland Early Childhood Career and Professional Development Fund, strengthening the rigor of pre-service, improving

Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick, superintendent of Maryland Schools

the quality and capacity of school-age child care programs and expanding Judy Center services for economically disadvantaged students to other Title I elementary schools. The plan is divided into a three-pillar system, which outlines Programs, Regulations and Standards; Career and Professional Development; and Public Relations and Outreach as its core targets. According to the plan, by 2009, there will be an increase in the number of spaces for quality childcare, and a reduction in the skills gap for minority children, males, English-language learners, children with disabilities, and children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The plan also states objectives that by July 2008, 30 percent of all Maryland child-care providers will be participating in the Maryland Child Care Credential program at Level three or higher.

See Early Learning page A-


The County Times

Section A - 

Thursday, January 4, 2007

In Your Community Little League St. Mary’s American Little League, a non-profit organization serving our youth atheltics in the community for more than 25 years, is looking for six volunteers for the 2007 season. Positions needing to be filled include Safety Officer, Player Agent, Vice President Minor League, Publicity Coordinator (web-site), Fund Raising Chairman, and

Sponsorship Chairman. Most positions require four-six hours a month for this worthwhile effort in shaping the future of our children. Please contact John Kolb, President at kolb@gmpexpress. net or 301-536-0214 for more information.

Department of Aging Launches

New Walking Program in 2007 Are you making that important New Years’ resolution to become healthier and more physically active in 2007? The Department of Aging is beginning a new program that is just for you. Join the new Walk to Wellness program that is now underway Walk to Wellness is a

program designed to encourage a healthier and more physically active you. Be part of the group who’s goal is to walk 250 miles by mid- May. That sounds like a lot, but the program is designed to make it possible. The first 100 people to register will receive a free pedometer and daily log. Keep track of your daily steps and you’d be surprised how quickly they add up! Progress

will be charted weekly at your neighborhood senior center. Mileage will be tracked as well as body mass index, weight, and pulse. You will see real evidence that your increase in physical activity helps you to be healthier. Prizes will be awarded for each 50 miles you achieve. Pre-registration is suggested by calling 301-475-4200 ext. 1062. Make that commitment to become healthier and more physically active, you’ll be glad you did!

Avenue Boy Scouts Troop 7 meets at the 7th District ball field every Thursday at

Morning, Noon & Nightime Too We Always Have The Best For You!

7 p.m. We are looking for boys ages 11 to 18 to join as well as adult leaders. If you enjoy camping, hiking and other outdoor activities please call for more information or join us Thursdays. Contact Mike Hearth, Scoutmaster 301-769-4890 in the evening, or Bob Bowles, Committee President 301-769-2269 in the evening.

Soup Cook Off The Dr. James A. Forrest Career & Technology Center is hosting its second annual Soup Cook-off Jan. 9, 2007 from 3 – 7:30 p.m. in the school’s state-ofthe-art kitchen. Cooking begins at 3 p.m.; doors open to the public at 5:30 p.m. with tasting and judging starting at 6 p.m. The contest is open to the public. . Soups will be grouped in six categories including cream based, seafood, red meat, poultry, vegetarian, and other. The contest will be judged by expert chefs and community leaders. A people’s choice award will also be chosen by the public. Costs for the tickets are $5per adult, $3per student, and free for children under four.

Riverside Dinner Theatre Trip Are you wondering what gift to give yourself or a friend for the holidays? Well, the Department of Aging has the perfect gift idea for you. On Jan. 10, 2007, the Department of Aging will be taking a trip to Riverside Dinner Theatre in Fredericksburg, Va. to see “Nunsense.” “Nunsense” is a clean, high-spirited musical comedy about a nun who has accidentally poisoned 52 of her fellow sisters and the surviving nuns who stage a benefit concert to raise money for proper burials before the health inspector shows up. You will delight in this zany musical comedy which to date has spawned three awardwinning sequels. The cost of the trip is $67 and includes the show, scrumptious meal, coach bus travel and gratuities. Call 301475-4200 ext. 1072 to reserve your space.

Wellness and Fitness Night Join Green Holly Elementary School for their Wellness and Fitness Night Jan. 11, 2007, 6 – 8 p.m., at the school site. The evening will include activities for the entire family. Get informed and get active with community organizations such as Health Connections, Good Earth Natural Food, Jazzercise, “The Body Shakers,”  Pro-Fitness, and local scouting troops.  Student activities will include physical fitness testing, a cup stacking relay, rock climbing, juggling, and jumping rope.  Active footwear is required for this event and all students must be accompanied by an adult. For more details, contact the main office of Green Holly Elementary at 301-863-4064.

HVRS Breakfast The Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad Auxiliary is sponsoring an All-You-CanEat Breakfast Jan. 14 from 7:30 – 10:30 a.m. at the Rescue Squad building on Route 235. The menu will be: Sausage Gravy and Biscuits, Sausage Links, Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Fried Potatoes, Pancakes, Fruit Cocktail, Escalloped Apples, assorted juices, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. The cost will be $ 8 per adult, $4 per child agest 6 – 12 and free for children 5 and under.

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Route 245 Hollywood, MD 20636

Route 246 & Great Mills Rd. Lexington Park, MD 20653

301-475-2531 301-862-7702

Route 5 & Mohawk Drive Wildewood Shopping Center Charlotte Hall, MD 20622 California, MD 20619

301-884-5636 301-866-5702

Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad WE NEED MEMBERS!! The regular monthly meeting of the Hollywood Volunteer Rescue Squad Auxiliary will be held Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Rescue Squad building on Route 235. Anyone wishing to become a member of the Auxiliary is encouraged to attend. For more information, call 301-904-2095.

League of Women Voters See Community on page A-4


The County Times

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Section A - 

Charting a New Course for Schools in the New Year By Adam Ross Staff Writer Dr. Michael J. Martirano sat up and looked forward, eyes attentive as he thought about the people of St. Mary’s County and what they should know about him as their Superintendent of public schools. “Sometimes I have a hard time articulating these kinds of things,” Martirano said running his hand across his forehead. “I am extremely passionate about what I do. This line of work for me is a calling and I live and breathe it each and every day.” A man of strong convictions, Martirano not only believes in his philosophy “Work Hard and Be Nice,” he wears it on his wrist over a white rubber band-like bracelet. It’s one of several sayings Martirano has practiced over his 18 months in SMC. And today, with the help of the second most highly qualified teaching staff in the state, Martirano said his vision of excellence is pushing forward to a place where all children will learn. “Am I satisfied?” Martirano asked himself. “No. I’m never satisfied, but we are trying.” In an upbeat tempo Martirano spoke on his responsibil-

ity to address the successes and challenges of St. Mary’s County Public Schools (SMCPS). He characterized his office as “brutally honest” about operations, with no room for secrets. Martirano discussed an achievement gap, a technology gap and a need to revisit funding sources. Rising energy costs contributed to a $3 million deficit upon Martirano’s arrival last year, leaving him no room to negotiate with teachers. Overcrowding and a new healthcare policy are being addressed. Martirano said the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has worked diligently to shore up the funding woes, but there is work to be done. “What I’m hopeful for is the commissioners will sit down with the board of education in the next several months and re-examine the Bridge to Excellence funding agreement to see how we modify that to be more responsive to the needs of our school system,” Martirano said. Calvert County has a similar funding agreement modeled after SMC, but took it a step further with an area for new initiatives. With approximately 500 more students, Calvert County

allocated $24 million more to its operating budget for public schools. Martirano had a problem with this discrepancy, and discussed it at the state of the schools address. He moves between these issues with grace, not by sugarcoating them, but by speaking in earnest with optimism and specificity. It is the connection to his community that keeps Martirano going. “My entire style of leadership is predicated on relationships,” Martirano said. “I have to be in a community or work in an environment that is child centered, relationship oriented and values the role we play in making a difference with children.” It was that way in Frostburg Maryland, Martirano’s hometown. “Everyone remembered your name, and teachers kept track of you right up the ladder of grade school,” Martirano recalled. With 16,667 children in SMCPS, that could be a difficult task to accomplish, but talking with Martirano, he shrugs it off as no big deal. “I have three children of my own,” Martirano said, “but I also have 16,667 children I worry about every single day.”

Photo by Adam Ross

St. Mary’s County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael Martirano is ready to face the challenges the New Year will bring as he marches on towards his goal of making St. Mary’s Schools number one.

Martirano said his days as math and science teacher, principal and teacher specialist overseeing 39 schools have him prepared him for his task today

Early Learning

Crime

Continued from page A - 1

Continued from page A - 1 Lexington Park ended Dec. 19 when a search turned up 111.6 grams of marijuana, $619 in U.S. currency, a stolen .22 handgun and a Mossberg shotgun. On Dec. 15, a six-month investigation in Avenue led to the seizure of 32.3 grams of marijuana, 4 grams of crack cocaine, 1.4 grams of powder cocaine and $2,054 in U.S. currency. “Drugs are a major thread when it comes to crime – they are certainly a big part of the puzzle,” Cameron said. “We’re going to

The Division of Early Childhood Development will provide leadership in promoting readiness for school and life for all children, including those with special needs and disabilities. The Division will develop a high quality early care and education system statewide which provides safe, healthy, nurturing, culturally sensitive, and cognitively stimulating environments for all children who receive early childhood education and school-age child care. The Division will strive toward continued improvement and accountability and promote the continuum of learning by establishing early care and education as the foundation for school success. MSDE Strategic Objective 1.3: By 2008-09 75% of all children will enter kindergarten ready to learn.

PILLAR ONE

PILLAR TWO

PILLAR THREE

Programs, Regulations and Standards

Career and Professional Development

Public Relations and Outreach

x Licensing of child and school age care x Health and safety standards x Public pre-kindergarten and Kindergarten x Head Start x MSDE Accreditation x Judy Centers x Family Support Centers x Maryland Model for School Readiness x Nursery school approval x Inclusive Child and School Age Care

x Licensing Staff Requirements x Credentialing Program x MMSR Professional Development x The Maryland Early Childhood Professional Development Fund x Quality Improvement (i.e., Tiered Reimbursement, Judy Centers Enhancement Grants)

x Communication o Newsletters o Web-site

x Families

o Resource and Referral o Family support centers

x Sustainable funding o Subsidy o Corporate and business partnerships

overseeing SMCPS. Many feel that success is built on attitude and philosophy. Martirano is out to prove those people right, dedicating himself

entirely to making teachers and students alike the best they can be.

try to root out this problem with aggressive narcotic enforcement. That’s where it starts.” Hall agrees with Cameron on the importance of cracking down on drug issues in the county. “We’re going to continue enforcing and we’ll target on narcotics. We can prevent other crimes this way because (guns and narcotics) are interconnected,” he said. “We’re going to hit the narcotic trade real hard.” As the holiday season comes to an end, it is likely that the number of armed robberies

will decrease. Robbers are more likely to strike during the holiday season, Cameron said. “Crimes like these are more common to occur during the holidays because retail places do more business and have more cash in the drawer, making them a bigger target,” Cameron said. “The holiday season skews everything.” Hall is also confident that county law enforcement is getting to the bottom of this problem. “We’re closing cases and putting people in jail, so I feel we’re doing good work,” he said.

x Recruitment and retention of early childhood professionals

x Safe, healthy, effective quality care and education system for children. x Alignment of curriculum, instruction and assessment for all early care and education programs. x Career and professional development for professionals in early care and education and school age child care, including leadership capacity within the Division. x Affordable and accessible early and school age care for families with young children. x Sustainable funding and financing system for public and private providers of early care and education. x Results–based accountability and leadership system for early care and education and school age child care. x Partnerships with communities, agencies, providers of services and families to support school readiness.

1

This graphic represents the three pillars of the Early Childhood Development plan passed by MSDE in December.

The credentialing program recognizes child-care providers who go beyond the requirements of State licensing and registration regulations. There are six credential levels, each one recognizing a provider’s achievement of a speci-

fied number of training hours, years of experience and professional activities that lead to quality child care. Level three requires “90 clock hours of Core Knowledge training,” according to the organizations’ online chart.

Within those 90 hours, 20 clock hours in child development and 20 clock hours in curriculum methods are required. Providers who meet level three of the credentialing process receive a one-time bonus of $300.

fabulous because it’s like onestop shopping.” Meanwhile, Kwon said she hopes to study engineering at either Massachusetts Institute of Technology or California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. “I like math and science and I know as engineers you apply what you learn in math and science to real life,” Kwon added. Both schools cost roughly $46,560 per year after tuition, books, room and board and food are factored in. Kwon said she does not have much money set aside and hopes to fund her education through scholarships, federal grant money and loans. As a semifinalist for the Coca-Cola scholarship, Kwon submitted additional information to be reviewed next month by a committee comprised of 30 educators from high schools and universities throughout the country.

If Kwon advances to the finals, she will be among a total of 250 Finalists who will travel to Atlanta April 12 – 15 for an all expenses paid trip to the CocaCola Scholars Weekend. During the weekend, Kwon would be interviewed and designated as either a National or Regional Scholar. Fifty National Scholars will receive $20,000 scholarships, and the 200 Regional Scholars will receive $10,000 each. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation was created in 1986 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Coca-Cola, and to establish a legacy for the education of tomorrow’s leaders through college scholarships, according to the foundation. More than 3,700 scholars nationwide have benefited from nearly $32 million the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has awarded.

Scholarship Continued from page A - 1 mom about things. She tells me stories of when she was growing up.” The Coca-Cola scholarship is one of six Kwon has already applied for, and she said she plans to apply for more. The astronomical costs of college today are forcing more students and parents than ever before to look more closely at alternatives to financial aid and loans. A great number of college scholarships often go unused nationally. To combat this locally, a community alliance is organizing the County’s scholarship givers to link up and use one common application so students can save time and avoid costly mistakes that come with meticulously filling out multiple applications for small scholarships. Board of Education member Mary M. Washington said at the most recent school board meeting “the common application is

See Our Police Breifs on Page B-4

Photo by Adam Ross

Checkers in California became the latest in a string of armed robberies that have hit St. Mary’s County in the last few weeks. Checkers was robbed Dec. 28, one week after the armed robbery of the Copsey Seafood market in Mechanicsville. St. Mary’s Law Enforcement Officials believe the heightened crime is due to the holiday season, and that it will subside, but point to the fact that they are working hard to bring those who break the law to justice.

Know who’s

entering

your home

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Winters Heating Cooling and Indoor Air Quality 22100 Point Lookout Rd. Leonardtown, MD 20650

(301) 475-5611


The County Times

Section A - 

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Editorial & Opinion

SMECO Winter Shutdowns: Good Business Decision or Bad News for Customers? The new SMECO policy enacted this winter will mark the first time in nearly a quarter of a century that SMECO will cut power during the winter months to customers who fall behind on their bills. This is sure to fire up people on both sides of the issue, as SMECO will defend the decision as a necessary business measure and those in danger of losing their power will oppose it and cry foul.

The reality is that this decision is both a good one and a bad one. It is a bad decision in the sense that those without the resources to pay their electric bill may find themselves literally out in the cold. And with the policy of the last two plus decades, many may not be aware of the change and think they have another year of power through March. These people in many cases do not fail to pay their bills out

of malice, or a need to cheat the system, but because they truly do not have the means to pay their bill. And, for those truly in need of help, there are a number of options available. The first is to arrange a payment plan through SMECO. This can be done with a simple phone call to their office. For those who find this to be too great a financial burden, assistance is available. On the front page of this very issue is an article about one such service to help

Big City Boy, Small Town Heart

those in need with heating costs. The Tri-County Community Action Committee Inc., is another group to obtain needed help from. SMECO itself takes part in such a program, called Project Match, in which they match dollar for dollar member contributions through April 15, up to a total maximum of $50,000. The money raised is used to assist those in need of help paying their oil, heating or gas bills. The fact is, this decision

was not made for the purpose of hurting those in need, but to make the business of SMECO run more smoothly. With many not paying their bills through the winter, SMECO finds itself in a logjam until April every year, and then has to scramble after the fact to collect. And many of those who did not pay because they could not afford their bills during the winter end up with a super high bill covering five months of service,

Ramblings From A Country Girl

New Year’s Resolutions By Adam Ross Staff Writer

New Year’ resolutions until the day after New Years. That way we can get started with the first My New Year’s resolution step of honoring a New Years’ this year is absolutely noth- resolution: remembering it. And speaking of remembering. Does anyone really follow through with these resolutions ing resolutions, I happen to recall some unique ones that have been anyway? I admit, I felt kind of bad. made over the years. There was my mother who After all, say what you want about a resolution, cynicism actually resolved to spend more isn’t exactly the best way to money after learning of a man’s kick off 2007. Plus, I could use death who was younger than her. a good excuse to get started on The devout penny pincher, my one of my many needed areas of mother came to her senses after the news, and not only vowed improvement. Looking through most areas to spend more money, but then of my life, I’m far from perfect. went out and bought a golf cart Still, the logic behind reso- for my father, and a brand new lutions and January 1st is lost 50-inch television! Then there was my classic when even my own people, the Jews, don’t recognize the date as resolution last year to eat more fatty, non-healthy, artery clogthe true “New Year.” Plus, you’re telling me that ging, food. Say what you want making a resolution and then about it, but youth only comes going out and getting plastered once, and if I’m heading towards is the way to enact self-determi- the realm of the cholesterol nation? Try losing weight, kick- watching and blood testing that ing a smoking habit, or spending comes with old age, I’m going more time with the family when into it savoring every last bite of the last thing you remember is a grease and cheese. After all, the old adage “if cold bottle of beer and a world it’s worth doing then its worth that won’t stop spinning. We would all be better off, doing with excess,” couldn’t be at the very least, holding off our more spot on.

Community Continued from page A- The League of Women Voters of Saint Mary’s County will have a luncheon meeting Jan. 18.  The speaker will be Devon Snider of the Maryland citizens’ health initiative Health Care for All coalition.  The meeting will start at 11:45 a. m. and will be held in Saint Andrews Church on Route 4 in California.  It is open to the public.  For reservations, call 301-373-5691 by Jan. 15.

In essence that resolution is still going on today, so maybe I did make one this year, even if it was indirectly. But that’s as close I get to a New Years’ resolution. There are some things I want for 2007, but I’m not stooping to the resolution point. If I want something, I’m doing it without the cover up of a fake New Year. For example, I want to walk my dog more. But if I turned to my dog and said that my New Years’ resolution was to give him more exercise, he would probably slap me. That’s assuming he has a strong command of the English language and enough use of limbs to stand on two feet and slap me with a paw. He would rather I save the resolution and just start walking him more because I want to and it’s good for him. A New Years’ resolution is just another cover up, another opportunity to speak on behalf of a weaknesses without ever really stepping to the plate and taking ownership of it. Don’t be a victim in 2007, be a doer, not because you said you would, but because it’s your life and by golly that’s what you want to do.

Income Tax Preparation Services

Loans Available for Home Accessibility Upgrades

St. Mary’s County residents age 60 and over may have simple income tax returns prepared free of charge. Appointments will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Garvey Center beginning Feb. 13 from 1 - 4 p.m. Individuals who have business, farm, or rental income to report are not eligible for this service. For an appointment call 301-475-4200, ext. 1064.

The Accessible Homes for Seniors program is a zero percent interest, 30 year deferred loan program available to persons age 55 and older who wish to make accessibility improvements to their homes. Types of improvements include installation of handrails, bathroom modifications, wheelchair ramps, etc. For more information call 301-4754200, ext. 1064 or 301-475-4002, ext. 1004.

The County Times

wishes a Happy and Prosperous New Year to all our readers.

which were not paid for. When coming up with one month’s payment was difficult, they now must find a way to come up with almost half a year’s payments at once! This new policy will prevent this from happening, and will encourage those families to seek help earlier, thus avoiding a fall into further debt and having the power shut down as soon as spring arrives.

Waste Not Want Not Terri Bartz Bowles Contributing Writer

nies that are making the effort to reduce their packaging and making conscious decisions to Waste and excess. There’s streamline the process and use a lot of that going on during the of resources. Particularly timely after holiday season. Now that the holthe season of giving is the idea idays are past, it’s a good time to of going through your house think about waste and excess and and reducing your holdings. Of determine how each of us can course you were good and Santa address that in the coming year. A particular gripe of mine brought you new stuff so now is is senseless waste. Senseless a great time to get rid of old stuff, waste, to me, ranges from exces- excess stuff, stuff you no longer sive packaging to people throw- need or use. It’s the “getting rid ing away good stuff instead of of” part I’d like to talk about a donating it. As far as excessive bit. If you have items that are packaging goes, don’t think you not broken and are serviceable, can’t do anything about it be- please don’t just throw them in cause you can. The consumer the trash. I know that’s easy but has power, so use it. Contact the it is a terrible waste. It’s also a bit company or manufacturer and lazy. It’s not that hard to make let them know what you think. a trip to the thrift store; there With the Internet and e-mail, it’s are several options in St. Mary’s so easy to do. Just use a search County and the tri-county area engine to find the company and for donating stuff – just look in send them a quick e-mail letting the phone book. It’s a travesty them know your concerns. But to throw away things that somedon’t forget to praise compa- body else can put to good use.

To me, that’s the hallmark of a society so wallowing in excess that we don’t even recognize the degree of our wastefulness and its ultimate expense to ourselves and others. By donating to a thrift store, you are saving resources and helping others whose current situation may be tight financially. Many of these stores are run by charitable organizations and the workers are folks who have special needs and this gives them the opportunity to be working and contributing members of the community. Others use the profits from the stores to assist those in need. This is a win-win-win situation; there is no downside! All it takes is for you to donate your excess so it doesn’t become waste. It’s an easy and responsible thing to do so please consider it the next time you start to throw away something that could be useful to someone else.

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The County Times

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Eye on the Market The Year Ahead

By Patrick Dugan O’Brien Realty

So the New Year is here and the old one is gone. Wow, what a year it was! Wonder what next year will bring?

Last year at this time, all the economists and housing market specialists were talking about a rise in the prime interest rate that would send mortgage rates up to at least 7 percent, maybe even 8 percent, by years end. How wrong they were. Interest rates started upward in September of 2005, and went as high as 6.75 percent by June of 2006 for a conventional mortgagee with good credit. But it stopped there! And then, MORTGAGE RATES FELL! Yes, they fell. This was the best news of the year in the

housing sector, because just about everything else stunk up the joint! Housing sales slowed considerably. We even started to see a decrease in housing prices in some parts of Southern Maryland. Builders had so much inventory they started offering huge incentives to buyers, such as Plasma televisions, basements, theatre rooms etc… Builders even started going to real estate offices to try and lure agents back to their developments. This was a drastic change from the relationship

that builders and realtors had in the last three years when the market was different. Locally, we saw houses sit on the market far longer than we have in the recent past. We had sellers, who weren’t willing to be the first to lower their price, languish on the market while their competitors, and that is what other home owners trying to sell their homes are, sold their homes faster and for more often than the reluctant sellers. We had buyers wondering whether the deal they were getting was good enough, or could it be better. We had renters whose rents increased for the first time in a couple of years. Of course with more people renting instead of buying, a rental price increase was sure to follow. Now the New Year is here

Section A -  and we all want to predict the future. Since I cannot do that, I will use my years of experience in the housing market to make an educated guess. I believe housing starts will continue to slow in St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties. While we will still have a huge number of new homes on the market, I think that starts will drop in the first three months of the year. As the spring approaches, I think we shall see a stronger market develop. Waterfront homes were very slow this year, and I would be stunned to see that happen two years in a row. Inventory of new homes is so high that I think the prices of resale homes will continue to be soft. I do not think prices will decrease much, if at all, this year. Mortgage rates are still low, and there is plenty of

money available on the market so that most people will still be able to obtain decent loans to purchase a home. For the New Year, I see another good year in Southern Maryland, better than in many parts of the country. If you are planning on selling, figure at least 120 days, unless you price your home to sell more quickly. Plan on fixing up the place, paint, clean etc. You will need to do this to beat your competition. I look forward to working with many of you during the next year and when you have questions about real estate, send them to Patrick.dugan@obrienrealty.com and put “The County Times” in the subject line. Next week: Answers to some of the questions I have already received.

Washington. Board of Education student member Brittany Thurston said filling out college applications is overwhelming enough, and when you add scholarships to the pile, small mistakes are easily overlooked. And as most students have learned, small mistakes land applications into the trash. “It feels terrible when we can’t even look at an application for the littlest thing like forgetting to sign your name,” Schaller said. St. Mary’s County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Michael J. Martirano said a scholarship is “a hard nut to crack,” and commended BECA for making the process easier on students. Although the scholarships are for relatively small amounts considering the overall costs of college, BOE member William

M. Mattingly acknowledged that after footing the bill for his kids’ educations, every free dollar makes a difference. BECA is not in the business of dealing with scholarships over $1000 that can only be used at a pre-selected institution. “We are in the local $1000 or less business,” Schaller said. “Money you can take anywhere.” Roughly 4,000 students from the area’s three public high schools and three private high schools qualify for the passport each semester. Students receive special privileges at a wide variety of County establishments including varsity-sporting events, music stores, tanning salons, bookstores, flowers shops and restaurants.

College is Just a Passport Away By Adam Ross Staff Writer A passport and traveling go hand-in-hand, but in St. Mary’s County, The Business, Education and Community Alliance (BECA) is providing a new kind of passport to high school students who maintain good grades and stay in school. This paper based “Passport To The Future,” in accord with 43 businesses around the County, is a gateway to local discounts and thousands of dollars of unused scholarship money. Robert R. Schaller, President of BECA and Professor at the College of Southern Maryland, said since 1995 more than 70 County students have received scholarships from $500 to $1000. To be awarded a Passport, a student must maintain a mini-

mum 2.5 grade-point-average, have five or fewer absences and no detentions for the semester. To qualify for a Passport scholarship, seniors must have received a passport at least five semesters and completed an application made available every spring in each high school’s career and academic advising centers. One of BECA’s prime accomplishments is providing high school seniors with a common application encompassing a number of local scholarships that often go unused. The common application allows students a one-step application process for multiple scholarships around the County, so students do not have to meticulously fill out a number of time-consuming applications. “The common application is fabulous because it’s like one-stop shopping,” said Board of Education member Mary M.

File Photo by Bryan Jaffe

St. Mary’s School Board Member Mary Washington stated strong support for the academic passports at the last Board of Education Meeting.

2006 a “Historic” Year for Southern Maryland The 2006 calendar year was a good one for historic sites in Southern Maryland, as the Southern Maryland Historic Area Consortium (SMHAC) awarded $10,000 in mini-grants to support 11 projects at these sites. These awards mark a doubling of previous efforts, and the awards fund small projects for historic sites, art programs, preservation, conservation, ecotourism and other heritage cultural activities throughout the Southern Maryland Area. The grant recipients must match the awards dollar for dollar to fully fund their project or event. Receiving awards were: Calvert Marine Museum Society, Inc. for their Second Annual Solomons Maritime

Folklife Festival. The requested $1,000 will help cover the cost of traditional music and food demonstrations. Greenwell Foundation for their Bond-Sims Barn Self-Guided Tour. The requested $1,000 will help pay for research, writing, desktop publishing, printing and distribution of the brochure. Chesapeake Ranch Railway Museum for their Spring Family Fun Day. The requested $400 will help cover the cost of the major performance of the day, which will be the puppet show. Southern Maryland Carousel Group, Inc. for their Marshall Hall Carousel Memories project. The requested $1,000 will help produce a DVD of compiled interviews of personal memories of the old carousel at Marshal Hall.

Bayside History Museum, Inc. for rehabilitation of the museum. The requested $600 will purchase paint for the scheduled repainting, to be completed in time for holiday events at the museum. Sotterley Foundation, Inc. for their Riverside Winefest at Sotterley. The requested $1,000 will help advertise and promote this growing and very successful fall event, which features local and regional wines for tasting and purchase. Calvert County Historical Society for their Calvert Historian project. The requested $1,000 would help pay for the production, publications and distribution of this soft-cover annual containing photos and essays highlighting historical events, people and places in Calvert

County. Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions for their Juneteenth 2007 event. The requested $1,000 will be distributed and used to support this event and the web page development with information on the event. Society for the Restoration of Port Tobacco, Inc. for their Outdoor Interpretive Signage for Post Tobacco Historic District. The requested $1,000 will help develop exterior signs for the benefit of visitors even when the museum is not open to the public. Friends of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Inc. for the Patuxent Encounters: Communications Support event. The requested $1,000 will help purchase four new portable ra-

dios, which play a vital role in the communications logistics for this and all other events. These radios have a rage that covers the entire 560 acres, allowing staff to communicate both maintenance and safety issues and updates during all events. The American Chestnut Land Trust (ACLT) for their Parkers Creek North Side Trailhead Enhancement project. The requested $1,000 will support the manufacture and installation of a North Side Trailhead sign and expansion of existing parking areas. Last year the SMHAC MiniGrant Program funded projects for Piney Point Lighthouse Museum, The Unified Committee for Afro-American Contributions, The Chesapeake Bay Field Lab, The Chesapeake Bay

Floating Theatre, the Old Wallville School, the Bayside History Museum and the Isaak Walton League of Southern Maryland. The Heritage Area receives its funding from the three counties’ Boards of Commissioners, the Maryland State Heritage Area Authority and private contributions. Their mission is to enhance the economic activity of Southern Maryland by combining quality heritage tourism and small business development with preservation, cultural and natural resource conservation and education. Contact the Consortium by email, SoMDHeritage@tccsmd.org or telephone at 301-274-4083.

Fire Scout MQ-8B UAV Flies at Webster Field Special to the County Times From Naval Air Systems Command The U.S. Navy’s MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) made its first flight Dec. 18, at the Webster Field annex of Patuxent River Naval Air Station, in St. Inigoes, Maryland. The Navy’s vertical takeoff and landing tactical UAV (VTUAV) system was originally dubbed the RQ-8A, but during the summer of 2005, was re-designated the MQ-8B to reflect the Fire Scout’s evolution toward an increased, multi-functional role. The test events described here mark the first flight of the enhanced variant. During flight test, three events were conducted and executed as planned. Flight test one was a test of the command for launch abort functionality, calling for the operator to command a launch and immediately command an abort. This test ensured that the control logic would hold the aircraft on deck if it had not yet taken off. Flight test two was focused on the same system after takeoff. It called for the operator to issue the launch command then issue

an abort command immediately after takeoff. The third flight test focused primarily on safety. Fire Scout developers have determined that when the aircraft is below ten feet, it is safest to return immediately to the deck. If the aircraft is higher than ten feet, it should continue up to a “perch” altitude of thirty feet, and await further commands. Flight test three

Upon issuance of the land command, the aircraft executed an uneventful landing back to the launch spot. “We are very proud of our efforts leading up to this important milestone for the program,” said Cmdr. Rob Murphy, the VTUAV team lead. “We had an aggressive schedule, and the integrated team really pulled together to make it happen on time.”

station than the previous version of VTUAV. The Fire Scout UAV program strives to provide safe, reliable, repeatable, autonomous flight operations in a maritime environment from all air capable ships. When operational, Fire

Heating Help Continued from page A-

U.S. Navy Photo

The Navy’s new MQ-8B Fire Scout UAV underwent it’s first flight at Webster Field Dec. 18.

confirmed this functionality, as the air vehicle properly ignored an abort command above ten feet and continued to the perch position. The aircraft was then allowed to hover for 12 minutes as telemetry data was recorded.

Some of the most notable improvements seen with the MQ variant of the Fire Scout include increased power, fuel, and payload capacity. Additionally, the MQ-8B offers more than double the mission radius and time on

winters have had no impact on the amount of applications received by MEAP. To receive a grant from MEAP, potential applicants must meet specific requirements. These include, but are not limited to, income requirements, existing public assistance, and veteran or disability status. A full list of these requirements can be found on the MEAP website (www.dhr.state.md.us/meap) or at any application office. An application must then be filled out at any local energy assistance office. In the tri-county area, this office is located in the Luther Stuckley Building in Hughesville. Applications can either be dropped off there or at a local Department of Social

Scout will provide critical situational awareness, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and targeting data to the forward deployed warfighter. The program is on schedule for fleet introduction in FY 08, with full rate production in FY 09 following suc-

cessful operational evaluation. The Fire Scout UAV is manufactured by Northrop Grumman Unmanned Systems, and the program is managed by the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Air Systems program office, PMA 263.

Services office. In St. Mary’s County, this office is located in the Carter Building on Leonard Hall Drive in Leonardtown. There is also a satellite office on Great Mills Road in Lexington Park that can receive MEAP applications on designated days. A list of these days can be obtained by calling 240-895-7000. To receive applications by mail, the number is 1-800-352-1446. If potential applicants are senior citizens or disabled and cannot make the trip to the office, a home visit can be arranged. The amount of the grant is determined by the applicant’s income range, family size, consumption, type of fuel used for heating and the geographical area in which they live. “This amount is tailored to individual needs,” said Kueffer. “It ranges from the minimum of $48 to a maximum $1,150.” After an application is received, approved

and processed at an OHEP office, the grant will be sent to the applicant’s heating supplier. After December, this grant may take two to four weeks to be issued. MEAP grant applications are accepted throughout the program year, July 1 to May 31. They are then processed until June 7. Applications must be submitted every year for consideration. According to Kueffer, they are not saved from year-to-year. The home heating grant does not impact other public assistance benefits. For more information on the Maryland Energy Assistance Program, or how to get additional help over the holiday season, contact St. Mary’s County Department of Social Services at 240-895-7000 or visit www. somd.com/holidays/christmas/ getting-help.php


The County Times

Section A - 

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Making Miracles Happen

Mike’s Food Fund Spreads Christmas Joy Emily Finch Staff Writer With just three nights under their belts this season, the volunteers of Mike’s Food Fund have delivered more than 1,000 meals and nearly 10,000 pounds of potatoes to some 700 families. Mike Schwartz, owner of Mike’s Bikes on Great Mills Road, started the whole program 22 years ago, and it is still growing strong. “This has been one extraordinary year for volunteers,” said one of the volunteers at the Zion United Methodist Church (ZUMC) in Lexington Park. “The first night, Tuesday, there were people in here everywhere, volunteers and families.” This year there were nearly 60 people helping Schwartz with his mission to do something good for those less fortunate. Volunteers help gather and package canned foods and dinners,

SMECO

and then deliver them throughout the county. “It is very rewarding when you see the look on these peoples’ faces,” said another volunteer rushing out the door with more food for families, “It’s like you just gave them Christmas.” And for some people, this is all their holidays will consist of. A young lady who was gathering toys and clothing for her family at the ZUMC said “I’ve been doing this for two years and it has really made the difference. This is all I can give afford to give my daughter and two nieces that I have custody of.” The four of them were there together, picking out presents for each other and for themselves, as well as their turkey and potatoes for Christmas dinner. Schwartz uses the $15 donation from the families for their traditional holiday dinner to purchase just the food. Esperanza Middle School donates some of the clothes and all of

tions (COMAR 20.31.03.03) authorizes electric utilities to disconnect customers at any time Continued from page A-1 during the year.” SMECO supplies more SMECO cannot cut power to a than 140,000 customer memhome if the forecast for the sucbers in Calvert, Charles, Prince ceeding day is below 32 degrees. George’s and St. Mary’s CounSMECO notified customties, according to Foggo. ers of the policy change through Sandra Washington, execunews stories, bill inserts and a tive director of LifeStyles Inc., company newsletter, according a nonprofit organization that to Hamilton, although that inforprovides community assistances mation cannot be found on the company’s website, which has to people throughout Southern uploaded bill inserts dating back Maryland, said there is a significant increase in families asking to August of 2005. Mention of the policy was for assistance this winter seamade in the company’s most cur- son despite the relatively mild rent December 2006 newsletter, temperatures. However, Hamilton claimed under the heading “Customer the energy assistance organizaAssistance Available,” but is limtions were in support of the policy ited to two sentences, “Custombecause it spread out the number ers who do not pay their bill may of people filing for the assistance have their service disconnected. over the entire year instead of in The Code of Maryland Regula-

the toys each year, and Mary Holton donates the rest of the clothes. These gifts are available to families who come in to Zion United Methodist to pick up their dinner. The church has been Schwartz’s home base for dinner distribution for many years. The pastor of ZUMC, Reverend Bryan Jackson, and the church members that volunteer with Mikes Food Fund, are “extremely proud to be able to offer their facilities and volunteers to help such a great program,” said another volunteer seated at the head table. If the Food Fund yields leftover money, Schwartz uses it for emergencies which people may call him with. Most of these calls recently dealt with a lack of heat or no electricity. Schwartz strives to help families in need throughout the year as a form of payback. After he lost everything in a

Photo by Emily Finch

John Otto, center, and Mike Schwartz. Otto has been helping with Mike’s Food Fund for the last four years and Schwartz said he has been extremely helpful.

house fire back in the 1980’s and needed help himself, he has been determined to give back to the community. He accepts do-

nations year-round at his store and is always willing to do what he can for those who say they need it.

“Mike makes miracles happen with this program,” a volunteer said. “He really does.”

April, when SMECO begins acting on delinquent accounts. While Washington said she agreed that the policy helped to spread out the logjam, it still hurts the people who have recently come on hard times, the very people LifeStyles attempts to help. “We are in the midst of the season and [SMECO] is a business and they have to look at that,” said Washington. “But [the policy] has a severe impact on the families we are serving. There are not a lot of resources out there to assist families.” According to SMECO’s Customer Rights and Responsibilities booklet, “Bills are due when issued and are past due after 20 days.” The booklet Photo by Adam Ross outlines SMECO’s procedure for terminating power, which SMECO’s headquarters in Leonardtown. SMECO has changed its policy of not turning off power in the winter includes a notice on a bill read- for overdue bills. Now, for the first time in a quarter century, SMECO customers will have to pay up or be shut

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down.

ing “service is subject to being turned off,” and a Notice of Termination mailed separately from a bill. The latter notice informs customers they have 14 days to fully pay the past due amount or service may be turned off. According to Hamilton, SMECO follows up on a past due bill with a phone call to the member, and then a site visit to try and collect payment. Foggo said it’s a member’s “own fault” if they have their electricity cut off because they failed to call and make the proper arrangements. People rely on their SMECO service for heating, lights, cooking and, in some cases, their water service because of electric pumps placed in county wells. Despite the effect cutting service may have on a customer’s water service, Foggo said “[SMECO] would not really have any way of knowing which customers were on city wells or public water to begin with.” Foggo compared the problem to a gas

furnace, because it too runs on an electric motor and said it’s not really SMECO’s concern over what is affected, customers are responsible to make payments on their bill or at least contact SMECO to arrange a payment plan. Once service is disconnected, members cannot set up individual payment plans. The bill must be paid in full, along with a $20 reconnection fee, and in some cases a deposit if one is not already on file. Washington said she stresses to residents to seek assistance as soon as they start having difficulty keeping up with their bill, and not until after their power has already been cut. There is an extensive application and interview process for families applying for energy assistance through the Southern Maryland Tri-County Community Action Committee Inc., Washington said. “Tri County is one of our biggest helps,” added Washington. “Getting an appointment

and getting through the process takes time and this policy is certainly having an impact.” Meanwhile, SMECO refers its financially challenged customers to the Energy Assistance Program and the Electric Universal Service program within the state Public Service Commission. SMECO also takes part in the Project Match program and has vowed to match donations from its community members up to $50,000 through April 15, according to A. Joseph Slater, president and executive officer of SMECO in a December letter to SMECO members. The Project Match program benefits local families who may be unable to pay their oil, gas or electric heating bill. The program has increased its match amount over the last three years from $15,000 to $25,000 to $50,000. In 2004 SMECO members contributed $11,000 to the program, and last year members contributed $31,000.

Evening High School Registration is Right Around the Corner The St. Mary’s County Public Schools Evening High School will begin classes for the second semester of the 2006-2007 school year Feb. 7. Registration for the second semester will be held Jan. 30 – Feb. 1 from 3:45-7 p.m. in the Evening High School Office in Area F of Leonardtown High School. St. Mary’s County students under 21 years

of age must pay a nonrefundable $35 registration fee plus $15 per course. The fee for St. Mary’s County residents over 21 years of age is $50 plus $25 for each course. Courses are only open to St. Mary’s County residents. Regularly scheduled classes will meet Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:45-5:40 p.m.

or 5:45-7:40 p.m., at Leonardtown High School. Students may register for up to four classes per semester. Students should meet with their high school guidance counselors prior to registration. Enrollment numbers for courses will determine whether or not the course is offered.

Correction In the Dec. 28 issue of the County Times, it was indicated in the story “New Year’s Resolution? Determination… and Lots of Effort” that Ladies Workout Express in Hollywood was the only center in St. Mary’ County with dual hydraulic equipment. LadySlender Fitness and Spa in Leonardtown also has dual hydraulic equipment available for use.


The County Times

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Obituaries Isaac Olay Armstrong, 96 Isaac Olay Armstrong, 96, of Washington, D.C. died Jan.1 in Providence Hospital, Washington, D.C. Born July 16, 1910 in Ridge, Md., he was the son of the late Samuel and Mary Sewell Armstrong. For arrangements details please visit our website at www.mattingleygardiner.com.

Margaret Louise Bryant, 73 Margaret Louise Bryant, 73, of Coltons Point, Md. died January 1, 2007 in St. Mary’s Hospital. Born November 12, 1933 in Md., she was the daughter of the late Louis Marshall and Catherine Eleanora Harris Thompson. For arrangement details please visit our website at www.mattingleygardiner.com.

Rev. Eamon Dignan presiding. Interment prayers and burial were held at St. John’s Cemetery. Those planning an expression of sympathy are asked to consider a donation to St. Mary’s County Hospice.

James Emerick Dean, 29 James Emerick Dean, 29, of Hollywood, Md. died Dec. 26 in Leonardtown, Md. Born December 23, 1977, in Leonardtown, Md., he was the son of Joseph L. Dean and Elaine Purdy Dean. He graduated from Leonardtown High School in 1995. On Aug. 26, 2006, he married Muriel Estelle Denney. Mr. Dean worked for T. N. Bowes HVAC as a service technician. He was an avid hunter and fisherman.

Francis “Frank” L. Davis, 67 US Navy Chief Boatswain Mate retiree, Mr. Francis “Frank” L. Davis of California Md. passed away Dec. 28 with his family at his side. Frank was 67. He is survived by his wife Ms. Marguerite Davis (Margie), and three children John, Kellie and Kathy Davis. Frank is a 30 year Navy veteran, retiring after 22 years active military and eight years inactive reserves. Frank graduated from the Navy Training Center, Great Lakes, Ill, Jan. 20, 1958. He served his country during the Vietnam War and was in the thick of the Cuban Missile Crisis performing radar surveillance when President Kennedy imposed a naval blockade on Cuba. Frank also served on the Navy’s last icebreaker USS ATKA (AGB-3) completing two tours to Antarctica for Operation Deep Freeze, the government’s scientific program at the bottom of the world. He is one of the few to visit both the North and South poles. In addition to his esteemed naval career, Frank worked as a state employee at the Leonardtown Maryland State Police Barracks as the maintenance technician, retiring after 10 years of dedicated service. Formally from Washington, D.C., Frank is the son of the late Mary Louise Davis and the late Grover P. Davis, brother of the late Constance Dunn and Carol Davis. Frank and Margie Kelly married July 15, 1962 and celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary this past year. Their marriage was a strong, loving union that produced a son and two daughters. Frank touched the lives of many as a result of his 10-year involvement with little league, as a football referee, basketball scorekeeper, along with church and other community activities. A dedicated family man, a loving husband and father, Frank enjoyed the time spent with his family to the utmost. An avid fisherman, he was most happy with a pole in his hand exploring the tri-county area’s fresh and salt water ways. Frank enjoyed life to the fullest and will be deeply missed by his family and friends. A Mass of Christian Burial was conducted at St. John’s Catholic Church, Hollywood, Md. with

In addition to his parents and wife, James is survived by two step-children, Tanya and Shane Bottorf of Hollywood, Md., a sister, Kelly Lynn Sampson of Fayetteville, N.C., great grandmother, Frances Garner of Edgewater, Md., great grandparents, Joseph and Irma Hayden of Callaway, Md., grandmother, Mary Catherine Dean of Hollywood, Md., grandfather, Robert Purdy of St. Mary’s City, Md., nephew, Brayden Sampson, and god-son, Cody Gibson of Hollywood, Md. The family received friends Monday from 3- 8 p.m. in the Brinsfield Funeral Home Chapel, Leonardtown, Md. where prayers were recited at 4 p.m. A Graveside service was conducted Tuesday at 11 a.m. in Charles Memorial Gardens, Leonardtown, Md. The Reverend John Ball will officiate. Serving as pallbearers were Tommy Maynor, Gary Welch, Bobby Purdy, Rickey Norris, Jacob Buckner, and Johnny Bean. Serving as honorary pallbearer was Anthony Doran Walen. Memorial contributions may be made to ALS Research Foundation, JHMI/ Neuromuscular Division, 600 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, Md. 21287.

Brenda Elaine Decker, 54 Brenda Elaine Decker, 54, of Valley Lee, Md. died Dec. 26 in Valley Lee, Md. Born July 3, 1952 in Leonardtown, Md., she was the daughter of the late Wil-

liam Francis and Mary Gertrude Russell. She was the loving wife of John Robert Decker, whom she married Feb. 24, 1973 in Lexington Park United Methodist Church. She was the devoted mother of Melissa Bean of Valley Lee, Md. She is also survived by her siblings Frances Ann Tameris of Ft. Washington, Md., Robert “Bobby” Russell of Hollywood, Md. and Joseph “Jay” Jennings Russell of Valley Lee, Md.; 12 Nephews, six Nieces and one Goddaughter. She was preceded in death by her sisters Jean Delores Russell and Donna Marie Langley. Mrs. Decker was a lifelong St. Mary’s County resident and graduate of Great Mills High School, Class of 1971. She belonged to the St. Mary’s County Friendly Fund. The family received friends in the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home Chapel Saturday, from 10 – 11 a.m. with a funeral service held at 11 a.m. with Richard Voorhaar officiating. Interment took place Tuesday at 10 a.m. in St. George’s Catholic Cemetery in Valley Lee, Md. Pallbearers were Edward Voorhaar, Richard Tameris, Timothy Tameris and Ronald Tameris. Honorary Pallbearers were Matthew Voorhaar, Michael Russell, Charles Langley IV, Benjamin Voorhaar and Billy Joe Russell. Contributions may be made to Hospice of St. Mary’s, P.O. Box 625, Leonardtown, Md. 20650, St. Mary’s County Friendly Fund and/or The Komen Foundation, P.O. Box 650309, Dallas, TX 75265-0309. Arrangements Provided by Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home, P.A.

Bryan William “Bones” Downs, 32 Bryan William “Bones” Downs, 32, of Charlotte Hall, Md. died Dec. 28 in St. Mary’s County. Born Feb. 3, 1974, in St. Mary’s County he was the son of Leonard Downs, Sr. of Mechanicsville, Md. and the late Betty Downs. He is survived by his son: Floyd Downs of Fla.; siblings: Sissy Thompson, David Downs, Ray Downs, Nancy Pilkerton, Larry Downs and Matthew Downs all of Mechanicsville, Md. and Leonard Downs, Jr. of Clinton, Md. and also by many nieces and nephews. Mr. Downs attended Chopticon High School. He was a lifelong St. Mary’s County resident where he was a masonry worker for Pilkerton Masonry. He enjoyed playing pool, watching NASCAR, drawing and he loved to party. He was also very outgoing, took his time for others and always had a smile on his face. The family received friends yesterday from 5– 8 p.m. in the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home, where Prayers were said at 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated today at 10 a.m. in Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, Mechanicsville, Md. with Fr. Peter Alliata officiating. Interment will follow in Trinity Memorial Gardens, Waldorf, Md. Pallbearers will be: J.R. Thompson, John Allan Pilkerton, Jr., Billy Buckler, Robbie Copsey, Chris Cheericoe and James Barker. Honorary Pallbearers will be: Ricky Thompson, Allan Pilkerton, Sr., L.J. Downs, David Downs, Jr., Cody Pilkerton and Alex Pope. Contributions may be made to: Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 37,

Mechanicsville, Md. 20659 and/or Mechanicsville Volunteer Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 15, Mechanicsville, Md. 20659. Arrangements provided by the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home, P.A.

Florence Richardson Farrell, 88 Florence Richardson Farrell, 88, of Huntingtown, Md. died Dec. 27 at her residence. She was born Jan. 23, 1918, in Forestville, Md. to the late Pembrook and Rosa Claudine Hayes Richardson. She was a member of the St. Mary’s County Homemakers Club, a Red Cross Volunteer, St. Mary’s County United Way and Babies for Base. She enjoyed making blankets. She married her late husban, George Stanley Farrell, Jan. 23, 1934 at St. Mark’s in Washington, DC. She and her family moved to St. Mary’s county in 1978 from Prince Georges County.

In addition to her parents and husband, she is predeceased by daughter Marian June Ebert. She is survived by daughter Barbara Ann McKinley of Huntingtown, Md., eight grandchildren, eleven great-grandchildren and two great-great grandchildren. The family received friends Friday at Brinsfield Funeral Home, 22955 Hollywood Road, Leonardtown, Md. from 5 – 8 p.m. with prayers recited at 7 p.m. A Funeral Service was held Saturday at 10 a.m. in St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, St.

Section A -  Andrews Church Road, California, Md. 20619. The Reverend Rona Harding conducted the service. Interment followed in the church cemetery. Memorial Contributions may be made to St. Andrews Episcopal Church P.O. Box 600, California, Md. 20619. Arrangements handled by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A. Condolences to the family may be made at www.brinsfieldfuneral.com.

Raymond Lloyd “Ray” Hammett, 74 Raymond Lloyd “Ray” Hammett, 74, of California, Md. formerly of Washington, D.C., died Dec. 27 in Washington, D.C. Born Sept. 2, 1932 in Washington, D.C., he was the son of the late Lloyd E. and Agnes Stone Hammett. He was the beloved husband of Patricia H. Hammett whom he married in Washington, D.C. He was preceded in death by his siblings: Robert L. Hammett and Patricia A. Hammett. Mr. Hammett graduated from Eastern High School, Class of 1952. He moved to St. Mary’s County from Clinton, Md. in 1993. He worked for the U.S. Government for 25 years until his retirement in 1976. He served in the U.S. Air Force four years from 1952 – 1955, where he served in the Vietnam War. He was a member of the: VFW, Moose, Elks, American Legion and Fleet Reserve. The family received friends Tuesday from 5 – 8 p.m. in the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home, Fenwick St. Leonardtown, Md., where Prayers were said at 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Wednesdayat 11 a.m. in Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, Three Notch Road, Lexington Park, Md. 20653 with Fr. Mike Dolan officiating. Interment followed in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Ridge, Md. Arrangements provided by the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home, P.A.

Amie R. Higgs, 85 Amie R. Higgs, 85, of Leonardtown, Md., died Dec. 21, in Leonardtown, Md. Born March 15, 1921, in Hollywood, Md., she was the daughter of the late Stephen E. and Estelle Mae Raley McGee. She was preceded in death by her husband Wilmer Vernon Higgs, whom she married April 5, 1974, in Va. She is survived by her daughter Agnes V. Morgan of Flowood, Miss., son Ronald W. Dorsey of Lexington Park, Md., and step-daughters Shirley Wilkerson, Janet Nagle and Jean Bartelmes of Mechanicsville, Md. She is also survived by her long time friends and caregivers Mary Norris, Paul Goddard and Julia Sieverston as well as five grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren. She was also preceded in death by her son, John E. Dorsey, and her siblings, Agnes Gatton, Nettie Joy, Leatha Norris, Emily Greenwell, Henry McGee and William McGee. Mrs. Higgs was a lifelong St. Mary’s County resident where she was a housekeeper for the Belvedere Hotel. The family received friends in the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home Dec. 27 from 5 – 8 p.m. with prayers being said at 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at 10 a.m. Dec. 28 in St. John’s Catholic Church with Fr. Raymond Schmidt officiating. Interment followed in Charles Memorial Gardens. Pallbearers were Robert Norris, Jr, Christopher Stewart, Bobby Morgan, Jack Russell, Bobby Quade and Paul Goddard. Contributions may be made to Meals on Wheels and/or Hospice of St. Mary’s, P.O. Box 625, Leonardtown, Md. 20650. Arrangements provided by the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home, P.A.

See Obituaries page A-


The County Times

Section A - 

Obituaries Continued from page A-

Richard James Love, 62 Richard James Love, 62, of Hollywood, Md. died Dec. 29 in his home. Born Nov. 8, 1944, in Hammond, Ind., he was the son of the late Weldon James Love and Leona B. Jusko. In 1963 he graduated from Oliver P. Morton High School in Hammond, Ind.. In 1965 he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and shortly thereafter was assigned to NAS Patuxent River, where he served until his enlistment ended in 1969. He married Eve Himmelheber in St. Mary’s City, Md., in 1975. Mr. Love attended St. Mary’s College of Maryland and worked at NAS Patuxent River until his retirement in 2004. He enjoyed tennis, water skiing, model railroading and home improvement projects. He is survived by his wife Eve, daughters; Kerry A. Love of Lusby, Md., Stephanie M. Love of Hollywood, Md. and a sister, Sandra Plopper of Kennesaw, Ga. There will be a gathering of friends today from 4 – 8 p.m. in the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A. in Leonardtown, Md. Interment will be private. Memorial contributions may be made to HOSPICE of St. Mary’s, Inc., P.O. Box 625, Leonardtown, Md. 20650.

William Trow “Bill” McLaren, Jr., 60

He was a member of the Lexington Park Baptist Church and a former member of the Lexington Park Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad. He is survived by his mother, his longtime companion, Flo Schmidt, of Lexington Park, Md., four step-children, Sandra Otto and her husband John of Lexington Park, Md., Raymond Schmidt and his wife Ronda, Randy Schmidt and his wife Ginny, and Tony Schmidt, all of Geneva, Ohio, sister, Marleen McDaniel and her husband, Jack of Byron, Ga., ten grandchildren, a niece, Kara Mattingly, three nephews, William Thomas McLaren, Michael Kent McLaren, and Robby Katzberg, and one great- nephew, John Thomas Mattingly. Bill is preceded in death by his father and his sister Sheila McLaren Katzberg. A Visitation was held Friday from 10-11 a.m. in the Lexington Park Baptist Church, Lexington Park, Md., with the Funeral Service at 11 a.m. Pastor Mark Garrett officiated. Interment followed in Charles Memorial Gardens, Leonardtown, Md. Memorial contributions may be made to American Diabetes Association, P.O. Box 1131, Fairfax, Va. 22038-1131. Arrangements made by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A., Leonardtown, Md.

Lenwood Carroll “Sookie” Ramos, 79

Lenwood Carroll “Sookie” Ramos, 79, of Leonardtown, Md. died Dec. 24 in St. Mary’s Hospital, Leonardtown, Md. William Trow “Bill” Born June 15, 1927 in LeonMcLaren, Jr., 60, of Lexington ardtown, Md., he was the son of Park, Md., died Dec. 26 in St. the late Charles M. Ramos and Mary’s Hospital, Leonardtown, Lola Catherine Bramble Ramos. Md. He married Doris Ann Dyke RaBorn November 19, 1946 mos March 25, 1950. in Washington, D.C., he was Lenwood owned Town the son of Doris Virginia Kent Cleaners in Leonardtown, Md. McLaren and the late William from 1968 until 1987, when he Trow McLaren, Sr. In 1964, retired. He was a founding memBill graduated from Great Mills ber of the Leonardtown Baptist High School, Great Mills, Md. Church. He also was a past mem-

field Funeral Home, P.A., Leonardtown, Md..

Clarence William “Mickey” Robinson, Jr., 73

ber of the Leonardtown Volunteer Fire Department, and he enjoyed volunteering in the concession stand at the annual carnival. Mr. Ramos was the projectionist for the new movie theatre in Leonardtown, Md. His hobbies included gardening and making bird houses. He is survived by his wife, two sons; John Michael “Mickey” Ramos and his wife, Gloria, of Leonardtown, Md. and Dr. Carroll Leslie Ramos and his wife, Margaret, of Weatherford, Okla., four sisters; Thelma Parr of Lawrenceville, Ga., Catherine McMillen of Millington, Tenn., Mary T. Wathen, Leonardtown, Md., and Linda C. Knott of Leonardtown, Md., a brother; Joseph L. Ramos of Bushwood, Md., and three grandchildren; Harmony Ramos Ferris of Baltimore, Md., Jo Hanna Ramos Shriver of California, Md., and Nicholas C. Ramos of Weatherford, Okla.. He is preceded in death by his two sisters, Marjorie M. Dyke and Judith M. Clarke and his brother, Charles C. Ramos. A Visitation was held Dec. 28 from 10 a.m. – noon. at the Leonardtown Baptist Church, Leonardtown, Md. with the Funeral Service at noon. The Reverend Clyde E. Phillips officiated. Interment followed in Charles Memorial Gardens, Leonardtown, Md. Serving as pallbearers were Steve Vellines, Aden Osborne, Bill Hobgood, Tom Bolton, Bob Forbes, Arthur Shepherd, and Noel Petree. Memorial contributions may be made to the Leonardtown Volunteer Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 299, Leonardtown, Md. 20650. Arrangements by the Brins-

Clarence William “Mickey” Robinson, Jr., 73, of Forestville, Md. died Dec. 26 in Southern Maryland Hospital, Clinton, Md. Born June 10, 1933 in Valley Lee, Md., he was the son of the late Clarence William Robinson, Sr. and Edna Robinson. He was a facility engineer for the U. S. Government. He is survived by his daughter, Sabrena Robinson of Louisville, Ky. and one grandchild. The family received friends at the Brinsfield Funeral Home Chapel, Leonardtown, Md. with the Funeral service following. Interment followed in Charles Memorial Gardens, Leonardtown, Md. Condolences to the family may be made at www.brinsfieldfuneral.com

Joseph Wilmer “JW” Russell, Jr. 78 Joseph Wilmer “JW” Russell, Jr. 78, of Clements, Md. and formerly of Hollywood, Md. died Dec. 24 in St. Mary’s Hospital. Born Jan. 15, 1928 in Hollywood, Md. he was the son of the late Joseph W. and Eva Copsey Russell, Sr. He was the loving husband of Dorothy Ann Russell, whom he married Aug. 8, 1970 in St. Joseph’s Catholic Church,

Thursday, January 4, 2007 Morganza, Md.. He was the devoted father of Debra LaMay of Rosehaven, Md., Gail Guest of Harwood, Md., Joseph W. Russell, III of King George, Va., Sue Lynn Russell of Leonardtown, Md., Stephen Andrew Russell of Newport, Vt. and Cynthia Leigh Russell of Edgewater, Md. He is also survived by his siblings Mary Agnes Huntt, James Miedzinski, Charles Miedzinski and Eva “Susie” Owen all of Hollywood, Md., Margaret Saunders of Hughesville, Md. and Cecilia Taylor of King George, Va. and 10 grandchildren and five great grandchildren. He is also survived by his beloved cousin Lloyd “Bubba” Copsey. He was preceded in death by his siblings Theresa Russell, Elizabeth Stone, Louise Miedzinski, Joseph Miedzinski and Francis Miedzinski. He was also preceded in death by his first wife, Joyce Ann Russell, on April 27, 1968. Mr. Russell was a lifelong St. Mary’s County resident where he was a heavy equipment operator for 45 years with the International Union of Operating Engineers Local Union 77 until his retirement in September of 1990. Mr. Russell also served in the United States Army from March 27, 1946 until April 4, 1947. His hobbies included wood working, card playing, watching the Washington Redskins and NASCAR. The family received friends Dec. 28 in the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Dec. 29, at 12:30 p.m. in Holy Angels Catholic Church, Avenue, Md. with Fr. John Barry officiating. Interment followed in Sacred Heart Cemetery. Pallbearers were Jason Guest, Michael Guest, Frank Sabatke, Trevor Higgs, Dann Doyle and Chris Keller. Contributions may be made to the 7th District Volunteer Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 7, Avenue, Md. 20609 and/or Holy Angels Catholic Church, 21335 Colton’s Point Road, Avenue, Md. 20609.

Arrangements provided by the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home, P.A.

Margaret “Peggy” Thornberry, 81 Margaret “Peggy” Thornberry, 81, of Piney Point, Md., formerly of Glenn Dale, Md., died Dec. 30 in Piney Point, Md. Born July 16, 1925, in Medford, Ore., she was the daughter of the late Paul A. and Margaret Scherer. She was the beloved wife of George I. Thornberry whom she married Dec. 22, 1947 in Parkland, Md. She is survived by her children: Richard Thornberry of Napa, Calif., Brenda Page of Glenn Dale, Md., Jeanne Halpin of Arnold, Md., and George Thornberry, Jr. of Davidsonville, Md.; siblings: Polly Anderson of Carmel, Calif., Anne James of Medford, Ore., Martha Dillen of Astoria, Ore. and Betsy Altman of Santa Fe, N.M.; five grandchildren and four great grandchildren. She was also preceded in death by her sister: Emily Brosius. Mrs. Thornberry attended West Lake School for Girls and Pomona College where she received her bacelor’s degree. She moved to St. Mary’s County from Glenn Dale, Md., in 1973. She worked as a school bus driver for the Prince George’s County School Board. She was a member of the Lady Lions Club, Suburban, Glenn Dale, Md., VFW Ladies Auxiliary Post 2632, California, Md., and the Homemakers Club, Hollywood, Md. The family will receive friends tomorrow from 1 – 2 p.m. in the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home, where a Memorial Service will be held at 2 p.m. Interment will be Private. Contributions may be made to: 2nd District Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, P.O. Box 1, Valley Lee, Md. 20692. Arrangements provided by the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home, P.A.


2007-01-04-A