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Taryn Thomas was born in St. Mary’s and lived the first five years of her life here, before she and her mother moved to West Virginia, and her birthplace has provided both venues and inspiration for her fledgling career as a country singer-songwriter.

Now 20, Thomas recently moved to Nashville with both hope and an eyes-wide-open sense of realism about her chances in professional music. Her persistence has led to a series of public performances, and the recording of some of her own compositions.

“I always go back home [to St. Mary’s] to visit there. I love my Maryland blue crabs,” Thomas said Tuesday, a day that found her once again making the trip from her family’s home in Huntington, W.Va., to Nashville, where she has a home of her own and works as a waitress in a restaurant.

“When I was younger, I used to come up for a month in the summer [to St. Mary’s, and at] Christmastime,” she said, and St. Mary’s County’s Sandy Bottom community also served a couple years ago as a place to sing and play. “I used to be in a duo group,” she said. “We played at Toot’s ... [and at] family functions, and The Greene Turtle in Prince Frederick.”

Thomas and her partner in The Allure submitted a video in advance of a concert by the band Train, and she said she got to sing twice with the band, in Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., including once when a member of the band spontaneously got her to join in for another performance of their song “Bruises.”

“He saw me in the crowd,” she said, “and he pulled me up on stage to sing that song again.”

Thomas plays a six-string acoustic guitar, composing songs that sometimes reach back to her childhood, even if they’re never performed or recorded, including one simply called “This Place.”

“The house that I grew up in, my grandfather’s house, was the house where everyone grew up. It was really important to me,” she said, nonetheless so now, when the dwelling no longer is owned by her family.

Thomas said she’s written about 70 songs, including “25 good ones,” four of which are included on a CD recorded last September in Franklin, Tenn. A single from the CD, “When You Were You,” tells the story of a relationship with another person, she said, and “thinking they were someone they weren’t.”

“Everything is so new to me. I don’t have as many connections [in Nashville], ... but I’ll get there,” she said. “I knew from a young age, that when I wrote my first song at the age of 12, that’s where I wanted to go. I have a really supportive family.”

Thomas added, “I know the odds are against me, but I have a really great relationship with God. As long as he is leading me, he will take me as far as he wants me to go.”

Thomas’ music, released under her first name “Taryn,” can be found online at iTunes and Amazon.

Candidates honored at GOP dinner

The St. Mary’s County Republican Central Committee hosted its annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner on May 16 at Olde Breton Inn in Leonardtown, where speakers included Diana Waterman, chairperson of the Maryland State Republican Party, and former Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich.

Del. Anthony O’Donnell (R-St. Mary’s, Calvert) was awarded the Amole-Bishopp Award, as Republican Man of the Year for 2013, and Deborah Rey, a candidate to represent District 29B in the state’s House of Delegates, received the Irish-Thompson Award, as Republican Woman of the Year 2013, according to Mary Burke-Russell, chairman of the Republican Central Committee.

See coastal flood maps on June 9

The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s updated flood insurance rate maps will be preliminarily issued next Monday, June 9, and can be viewed from 6 to 8:30 p.m. that day at the Dr. James A. Forrest Career and Technology Center in Leonardtown.

Officials will be available to answer flood risk and insurance questions and explain the preliminary maps. As a result of the map updates, some buildings in St. Mary’s County may, for the first time, be included in a high-risk flood zone, known as the special flood hazard area, which may require the mandatory purchase of flood insurance by those affected property owners.

More information can be found online at www.R3Coastal.com, or by calling the county’s Department of Land Use and Growth Management at 301-475-4200, ext. 1500.

Register by June 9 for exchange program

Registrations are being accepted until next Monday, June 9, for the second Southern Maryland Local Government Exchange to be held on Friday, June 13, at venues in North Beach to provide a forum on regional community issues and solutions.

The daylong event will cover topics including the region’s agriculture, communities that need to accommodate a growing population and the development of visual, cultural, social and environmental qualities and characteristics.

For additional information on registration and the program, contact Nancy Nunn by sending email to nnunn@umd.edu or by calling 410-827-6202, ext. 128.

Deadline extended for Camp DARE enrollment

The St. Mary’s sheriff’s office is looking for a few more incoming fifth- and sixth-graders to participate in this year’s Camp DARE, taking place July 7 to July 10. Parents can submit applications for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program until next Thursday, June 12, by going online to www.firstsheriff.com or picking up an application at sheriff’s office headquarters in Leonardtown. For more information, call sheriff’s Cpl. Angela Delozier at 301-475-4200, ext. 9094.

Dance on June 14 in Chaptico

A contra dance, sponsored by Southern Maryland Traditional Music and Dance and featuring caller DeLaura Padovan, will be held on Saturday, June 14, at Christ Episcopal Church’s parish hall at 37497 Zach Fowler Road in Chaptico.

The doors will open at 7 p.m., and the dancing begins at 7:30. Contra is a traditional American style of social dance. Beginners are encouraged to arrive at 7 to get some instruction in the various dances. There will be an ice cream social following the dance.

For more information and directions, go online to www.smtmd.org.

Ride the bus June 19

St. Mary’s Transit System, the American Public Transportation Association and the public transportation industry will celebrate the 9th Annual National “Dump the Pump” Day on June 19, encouraging people to leave their cars at home and ride public transportation.

The annual event emphasizes the environmental benefits of using public transportation, and it’s a day for people in St. Mary’s to take part by conserving gasoline, saving money and helping the environment by riding public transportation. “I Dumped the Pump for Transit” stickers will be handed out by the county’s STS bus drivers.

For more information, call 301-863-8400, ext. 1120, and county transit bus schedules, routes and fares can be found online at www.stmarysmd.com/dpw/.

A fitting farewell for grand old flags

American Legion Post 221 at 21690 Colton Point Road in Avenue will conduct a flag disposal ceremony at 7 p.m. on Monday, June 16, to show respect for the U.S. flag and properly dispose of flags that are unserviceable. Flags in poor condition also may be dropped off prior to the event, by placing them in the back parking lot flag repository or in the front alcove area. For more information, call 301-884-4071 or go online to www.alpost221.webs.com/.

Firefighters report classification upgrade

Bay District volunteer firefighters reported this week that their department will receive the Insurance Services Office’s Class 3 public protection classification, effective July 1, and that the upgraded score can benefit area residents and businesses.

The Insurance Services Office, an independent agency, evaluates fire departments, water services and communications systems, according to the fire department, and its ratings through a public protection classification program aid insurers in deciding what businesses to cover, what coverages to offer, and what prices to charge for personal or commercial property insurance. The Class 3 rating may allow insurance providers to give a discount on annual insurance premiums for residences and businesses.

The new survey improved Bay District’s rating from Class 4 to Class 3, making Bay District’s response area one of six communities in Maryland with that rating, according to the fire department. The survey evaluates an area’s emergency communications operations, a fire department’s response, training and equipment-maintenance protocols, and whether the community has sufficient water supply, through adequate hydrants and flow testing, for fire suppression. Bay District showed significant improvements in all three grading components since the last survey in 1996.

BeerFest to return June 21

The fourth annual BeerFest will be held at the Historic St. Mary’s City Museum from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, June 21, featuring the music of John Luskey, The 25th Hour Band and the Justin Myles Experience, and beverages from craft brewers such as Ruddy Duck, Brewers Alley and The Raven.

There will be tours of Van Sweringen’s Ordinary, one of the first taverns of the colony, along with a beer-making demonstration and a cider-making demonstration. Artisans will have select offerings for sale, and activities for children may be found at the Kid’s Tent.

The event is a fundraiser to support the education and research activities of the museum. Festivalgoers can arrive on foot, on a boat, in a car or by swimming to the site. Designated drivers get in for half the admission fee. Parking is free.

For more information, call the Historic St. Mary’s City Foundation at 240-895-4977, send email to SusanE@DigsHistory.org or go online to www.stmaryscitybeerfest.org.

Spring cleaning can improve fire safety

The Maryland state fire marshal’s office suggests that spring-cleaning habits can include checking homes, porches, garages, sheds and yards for dangerous materials and unsafe conditions.

Check and correct potential hazards such as frayed or damaged appliance cords, wiring, fuses or breakers, as well as piles of rubbish, trash and yard debris. Remove stacks of paper and magazines and place them in recycling containers. Check for water leaks, especially near electrical appliances. Check for adequate clearance between heating appliances and combustibles.

Properly store flammable liquids and home chemicals, including making sure that gasoline and cleaning fluids are well marked and are out of the reach of children and pets, by storing the items in a cool, dry place outside the house. Clean up work areas, including putting dangerous tools, adhesives, matches, or other work items away and out of any child’s reach. Make sure that all chemicals are kept under lock and key and out of reach of children and pets.

Check fire-protection and safety equipment, such as testing smoke alarms and CO detectors. Make sure all doors and windows open easily and are accessible for fast escapes. Street numbers should be posted properly and clearly visible. Make sure a working flashlight and battery-powered radio are on hand, for the approaching storm season.

Plan escapes from a home fire by sitting down with the family to make sure that everyone knows what to do in the event of a fire. Make sure there are two ways out of every room, and that there is a meeting place outside the home for the whole family. Practice the escape plan.

Register for writers’ conference

Writers may practice their craft on the shores of the St. Mary’s River this summer at the Chesapeake Writers’ Conference at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

The week of craft talks, lectures, panel discussions, and readings in July also will include daily workshops in fiction, poetry, or creative nonfiction led by accomplished faculty. This year, the conference will be offering course credit for interested college students.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. For more information, go online to the Chesapeake Writers’ Conference website at www.smcm.edu/summer/writing/ or send email to Jerry Gabriel, the conference’s director, at chesapeakewritersconference@smcm.edu.

Rural council grant applications due July 11

The Rural Maryland Council will accept grant applications to the Maryland Agricultural Education and Rural Development Assistance Fund through midnight on July 11.

The grant funds are intended for rural-serving nonprofit organizations that promote statewide and regional planning, economic and community development, and agricultural and forestry education. Also eligible are rural community colleges that support small and agricultural businesses through enhanced training and technical assistance.

For more information and an application, go online to www.rural.maryland.gov.

Be wary of suspicious packages

The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office recently issued an advisory that the potential exists for anyone to receive a suspicious package or locate an explosive device, and the agency offered some related safety tips for dealing with the situation.

A suspicious package or letter may contain explosives, chemicals or even biological agents, the fire marshal’s office reports, so if recipients are unsure about the contents of a package or letter, they should not handle or touch it. Instead, isolate the area and contact 911.

Be wary of packages that are unexpected or from someone unfamiliar. Do not touch or move the package if wires are protruding, aluminum foil is visible, a strange odor in present or odd staining is visible. Misspellings of common words, threatening language, unusual labeling, excessive postage and restrictive endorsements such as “personal,” “confidential,” or “do not X-ray” notifications are potential signs of a suspected device. A missing return address, excessive tape or string, or oddly shaped packages also are warning signs.

Explosive devices can be very unstable — including being sensitive to movement, friction, impact, electronics or heat — and may even detonate without warning. Devices large or small can cause serious injuries or death. Explosive devices have no limit on type or design, and if there’s a question on whether an object is a potential explosive device, call 911 for assistance.

Military ordnance is occasionally located in areas that were utilized by the U.S. government in the past, as well as, in some homes, garages and sheds of military veterans. Until these devices are rendered safe by a trained professional, they can be unstable.

Jazz, seafood to return July 12 to Colton’s Point

The Potomac Jazz & Seafood Festival’s 14th annual show is slated to begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 12, at the St. Clement’s Island Museum, located at 38370 Point Breeze Road in Colton’s Point.

Scheduled jazz artists include Oli Silk, a keyboardist from Great Britain, followed by Elan Trotman, a saxophonist from Boston, and for the grand finale, national recording artist Nick Colionne, a jazz guitarist from Chicago.

Tickets must be purchased in advance. Only 800 tickets are available, and all sales are final. No tickets will be sold at the gate. Ticket price includes free parking, admission to the museum and an optional boat cruise around St. Clement’s Island State Park.

Tickets can be purchased by calling the museum at 301-769-2222, or going online to www.stmarysmd.com/recreate/Museums.asp.

The festival takes place rain or shine.

Barbecue contest slated at fairgrounds

The Southern Maryland Brew and BBQ will be held Aug. 1 and 2 at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds in Leonardtown.

The Full Effect Live! Entertainment Group will present the nationally sanctioned Kansas City Barbecue Society competition, as featured on the Food Network and Destination America’s BBQ Pitmasters. The festival will feature attractions, food and entertainment for all ages, including live music, rides, games, unique vendors and a craft beer and wine garden.

jwharton@somdnews.com