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Charles County increased its population by nearly 1 percent in 2012, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The county is currently ranked sixth in the state for highest percentage growth.

The 2012 population of 150,592 in Charles County was an increase of 2.8 percent since 2010.

Calvert County had a population of 89,628, and St. Mary’s County’s population was 108,987.

Ken Gould, president of the Business Alliance of Charles County, said all anyone needs to do is drive around Waldorf, “especially around [Regency Furniture Stadium,” and it becomes obvious the county is growing.

He said that for the business community, he hopes the growth will spark an uplift in activity and “ultimately increase sales and revenue.”

While the area is growing, the reality is that many residents live in the area and work elsewhere, Gould said, meaning many are not shopping in the county.

More people does not equal more crime, according to the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.

Based on preliminary 2012 year-end uniform crime reporting, crime in Charles County decreased 10.2 percent.

Overall, crime has decreased 23 percent in the past five years and is 21 percent lower than it was a decade ago.

“The good news is that for the last several years, crime has not kept pace with our population growth,” Charles County Sheriff Rex Coffey wrote in a newss release.

Coffey (D) explained that while lower crime numbers might bring satisfaction, “it’s little consolation for those who have been victimized.”

Charles County has 26,644 students currently enrolled in public schools. This is a decrease of 134 students from last year, according to information provided by the school system.

Of the 35 schools, 18 are overcrowded, with North Point High School in Waldorf being the most overcrowded at 600 too many students.

St. Charles High School on Piney Church Road in Waldorf will open in 2014, which will alleviate overcrowding in high schools.

Redistricting for the new high school is under way.

Assistant Superintendent for Supporting Services Charles Wineland said that by 2017, he estimates there will be 720 elementary students over state-rated capacity in schools west of U.S. 301 and about 70 elementary students over capacity in schools east of U.S. 301.

Wineland said the numbers indicate that the next school the system will need will be an elementary school.

gphillips@somdnews.com