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The Charles County Historic Preservation Commission will host a preservation reception and awards ceremony from 3 to 5 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Old Waldorf School at 3074 Crain Highway in Waldorf.

The winners of the Charles County Preservation Award for 2012 will be announced.

Ralph Eshelman, the former director of the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomons, will be the guest speaker.

Widely published, Eshelman lectures on military and maritime history, polar exploration, geology and paleontology. Recent publications include “In Full Glory Reflected: Discovering the War of 1812 in the Chesapeake” and “The War of 1812 in the Chesapeake: A Reference Guide to Historic Sites in Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia.”

The Historic Preservation Awards are presented in two categories: preservation projects and preservation service.

The project award recognizes excellence in the preservation and restoration of historic buildings, interpretation of architectural features in new construction and adaptive reuse of historic structures.

The service award recognizes outstanding achievement in and support for furthering the aims of historic preservation in Charles County, including education, research, development, planning, advocacy and community leadership.

Light refreshments will be provided. A donation of $5 per person to the Charles County Historical Trust is encouraged.

Contact Beth Groth at 301-645-0684 or grothb@charlescounty.org. The award nomination deadline is Jan. 31.

Homeowners can get repair funds

Homeowners in rural areas who need repairs to their homes but can’t afford regular loans might be eligible for a USDA Rural Development loan at 1 percent interest.

Seniors 62 and older may qualify for free home repairs up to $7,500 through the grant program.

Kathy Beisner, acting Maryland director for USDA Rural Development, said there is a narrow window of opportunity to receive these funds.

“We are looking for lower income homeowners that need help fixing or replacing a roof, installing insulation, storm windows or other repairs to correct or remove existing health, safety, sanitary and accessibility issues,” Beisner said.

Those interested may apply at any time for the program, but funding may become limited after Jan. 31.

To be eligible to participate in the home repair program, applicants must own the home and be located in a small town or rural area with a population of 10,000 people or fewer. USDA must determine that the household is unable to repay a loan at regular rates and terms.

For more information, call the Southern Maryland Rural Development Office in Prince Frederick at 410-535-1521, ext. 4. Go to www.rurdev.usda.gov/md.

House and garden event coming up

On May 18, the Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage will feature some of Charles County’s private treasures.

This year’s tour will highlight homes and public spaces from Benedict to Bryantown. Some of the stops on the tour include Maxwell Hall, one of the region’s best-surviving examples of a typical late 18th-century, four-over-four room home; Wiltshire Plains, built in 1857; Manor of Truman’s Place, built between 1759 and 1782; and Evergreen Farm, the finest example of Victorian carpenter gothic architecture in the county.

Tickets are available for $35 at the door or $30 in advance at www.mhgp.org.

On the day of the tour, the American Legion Jameson Harrison Post 238 at 6265 Brandywine Road in Hughesville will serve as the information center.

Tour proceeds will go toward the Charles County Garden Club’s Maryland House and Garden Pilgrimage project at Oldfields Chapel, which is on the tour. The parish will install protective glass over its windows created by renowned glass artists Rowan and Irene LeCompte.

Call Mary Pat Berry at 301-934-2999.

More Social Security services available online

The Social Security Administration announced expansion of services available with a my Social Security account, a personalized online account that people can use beginning in their working years and throughout the time they receive Social Security benefits.

More than 60 million Social Security beneficiaries and Supplemental Security Income recipients can now access their benefit verification letters, payment histories and earnings records instantly using their online account. Social Security beneficiaries also can change their addresses and start or change direct deposit information online.

“We are making it even easier for people to do their business with us from the comfort of their home, office or library,” SSA Commissioner Michael J. Astrue said in a news release.

Social Security beneficiaries and SSI recipients with a my Social Security account can go online and get a benefit verification letter instantly.

The benefit verification letter serves as proof of income to secure loans, mortgages and other housing, and state or local benefits. People use the letter to prove current Medicare health insurance coverage, retirement or disability status, and age. A customized letter can be printed or saved.

Go to www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

Register for free financial aid workshops at CSM

College of Southern Maryland staff will be available to assist students and parents filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid at the La Plata campus during two sessions, noon to 2 p.m. and 2 to 4 p.m. Jan. 27.

The free workshop is provided to people in the tri-county region who are seeking financial assistance for tuition at CSM or any educational institution for the 2013-14 academic year.

“The FAFSA form is not difficult to fill out, but a misunderstanding or miscalculation can significantly impact a student’s eligibility for financial aid,” said CSM Financial Assistance Department Director Christian Zimmermann in a news release. He added that attendees should come prepared with information to fill out the form with assistance from CSM staff.

Prior to the event, attendees should obtain a PIN and complete a preapplication worksheet through www.fafsa.ed.gov/, and bring student and parent records such as Social Security numbers, 2012 federal income tax returns, 2012 W-2 statements and untaxed income records such as Social Security, child support and veterans’ benefits. Maryland’s deadline to have the form in to state officials is March 1.

The workshops will be held at the Francis P. Chiaramonte Center for Science and Technology Building. To register, send an email to fadasst@csmd.edu or call 301-934-7531 and press 0 to speak with a representative.