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The cases present themselves most often in the summer as St. Mary’s patients are exposed to strains of the Vibrio bacteria in the area’s warm tidal waters.

“I see a number of patients in the office with these infections,” Dr. John Roache of Mechanicsville, president of the county’s rescue association, said earlier this month. “These infections [can] cause loss of limbs, [and] loss of life. The risks come from going in the water, particularly when the temperature of the water is above 80 degrees.”

For more than a dozen years, the Maryland Department of the Environment has issued advisories about Vibrio, including recommendations for the safe preparation of seafood harvested in other states, and precautions people should take when having direct contact with local waters. Different strains of Vibrio bacteria “are found naturally in coastal areas, and are not a result of pollution,” according to an MDE newsletter, but safeguards can be taken, particularly to avoid exposing open wounds to the water.

Daryl Calvano, director of environmental health for the St. Mary’s County Health Department, said Tuesday that while the agency checks local bathing areas strictly for pollution levels, concerns also increase during the summer about exposure to Vibrio.

For commercial watermen, Calvano said, Vibrio is less of a problem during the oyster season, but returns during crabbing and fishing this time of year.

“It really peaks and ebbs based on [the water’s] temperature and salinity,” he said, although the bacteria’s affinity for salt may have its limit, at somewhere less than the concentration found in the ocean.

Calvano said the health department suggests that people swimming in local waters wear waterproof bandages on any wounds, and sanitize themselves when they get back on shore.

The state’s department of the environment has described “the incidence of infection from swimming in Maryland waters [as] relatively rare,” but it also recommends bringing along hand sanitizer to immediately cleanse any wounds that occur while swimming, and showering after swimming in natural waters. Swimmers especially should wash their hands before handling any food or eating.

Ridge VFD to awarded grant

The Ridge Volunteer Fire Department has been awarded $135,850 in federal funds to improve operations and safety.

The assistance to Firefighters Grant Program was established in 2001, according to the offce of Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-5th,Md) which announced the award.

The grant “will provide our firefighters with additional training and tools we need to stay safe, especially the upgrade of SCBA air bottles to help fire fighters breathe while fighting a fire,” Charlie Bradburn, president of the Ridge fire department, said in a statement. “The department is in a smaller, rural area so this carries a lot of weight – it will make it easier for us to do our job and keep our volunteers safe.”

The funds are given to fire departments and EMS organizations to enhance their response capabilities and more effectively protect the health and safety of the public and emergency response personnel.

The grant will “help to ensure that fire services in Ridge can keep St. Mary’s County businesses and residents safe,” Hoyer said in a statement.

Growler show and tell

As St. Mary’s joins the roster of Maryland jurisdictions allowing alcohol outlets to refill customer’s “growler” bottles with brew from a tap, discussion continued at last week’s county alcohol beverage board meeting about how those containers must be sealed.

David Dent, a tavern proprietor representing a local licensed beverage association, approached liquor board members with an assortment of props, including a roll of 6-inch adhesive strips. He attached one strip over the neck of a clip-top bottle.

“That’s the option I think you guys are looking at,” Dent said, estimating the cost of each strip at about 30 cents. “This adds another inventory item to the store,” he said.

As an alternative, Dent put the bottle in a paper bag, and stapled the bag closed.

“We could send it out of the store like that as well,” he said. “Stores always have bags, and I’m pretty sure everybody has a stapler.”

Moses P. Saldaña, the board’s chairman, replied that since the bottles are intended for quantities of comparatively pricey craft beers, “the whole thing is not cheap,” and that he’d like to leave intact the “tamper-proof” seal requirement in the passed legislation.

Dent said it’s also hard to get all the old tape off a bottle before its refilled, but he was appreciative of a suggestion by the board’s administrator that there are cheaper rolls of adhesive strips than the one he got from a medical-supply business.

“I’ll obviously try to find the least expensive one,” Dent said.

The board members clarified that the “growler” program involves granting an additional permit for existing alcohol outlets, and not a new type of license. Dent said he knows of “at least two or three” businesses that are interested in having “growler” permits, and that a couple of his own customers have expressed their interest.

No steak dinner tonight in Avenue

The monthly steak, shrimp and fish dinner held at American Legion Post 221 in Avenue will not take place today, Friday, at the 7th District organization. The regular schedule, on the third Friday of each month, will resume in August.

Dig archaeology at Summerseat

“Archeology Weekend at Summerseat Farm” will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on this Saturday and Sunday, July 19 and 20, at the Oakville landmark. Archaeologist Peter Quantock, in association with the Archeological Society of Maryland and Summerseat, will be leading excavations of what appears to be a domestic occupation site related to the historical operation of the farm. Initial analysis indicates the site dates from the late 18th century until the late 19th century.

The public is invited to observe and participate, in a limited capacity. Summerseat Farm is located at 26655 Three Notch Road. For more information, go online to or call 301-373-6607.

O’Donnell honored for oyster aquaculture

Del. Anthony J. O’Donnell (R-Calvert, St. Mary’s) recently was honored by the Maryland Aquaculture Coordinating Council, which acknowledged O’Donnell’s contributions to oyster restoration and related environmental improvements in Chesapeake Bay.

O’Donnell was a founding member of the interagency council and a lead sponsor on the legislation which created the panel, to advise the Maryland General Assembly and the state’s governor with recommendations on how to change laws and create policies to foster a thriving aquaculture industry in Maryland.

Classical music coming to California church

A classical music concert gala will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2, at Patuxent Presbyterian Church off Route 4 in California, featuring concert pianist Sophie Hong of Lexington Park United Methodist Church. Hong will be joined by professional musicians from Peabody Music Conservatory, performing classical works with piano, voice and violin. Erin Tennyson, the pianist for St. Maries Musica, will provide a selection of religious music.

Admission is free, but donations will be welcomed for the grand piano fund of Lexington Park United Methodist Church. Dress for the event will be black tie optional, and regular attire is welcome. There will be light desserts served during an intermission. For more information, call 301-863-8500, or send email to

Sheriff’s academy begins Aug. 21

The St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office 2014 Fall Citizens Academy, designed to give participants an inside look into the day-to-day operations of the sheriff’s office, will be conducted in eight Thursday evening sessions, from Aug. 21 to Oct. 9. Anyone interested in attending must be at least 18 and submit an application. To register for the academy, contact Kelly Castle by calling 301-475-4200, ext. 1910, send email to or apply online at

Chaptico run-walk set for Aug. 30

The 29th annual Chaptico Classic Race & Walk will take place on Saturday, Aug. 30, beginning with registration at 7 a.m. for the races starting an hour later on both a 5K or 10K certified course, with prizes to the top male and female racers in several age categories.

The Bushwood Mill Band will rally participants along the way. While results are being tallied, enjoy healthy snacks and meet three-time Olympic competitor and bronze medalist Lynn Jennings. Everyone will take home a commemorative T-shirt featuring a logo designed by Deandre Tillery.

This year, the race will benefit St. Mary’s Caring, the Mary Lou Gough Food Pantry at Our Lady of the Wayside Church, Three Oaks Shelter and the Southern Maryland Caring Network.

Preregister by going online to, calling 301-475-2886, or sending email to Download a course map, view past winners and learn more about the race at

Stay safe when the lights go out

Maryland’s state fire marshal’s office warns that when severe storms cause disruption in electrical service, its important to be cautious when using alternative light and electrical sources during the power outage.

The agency’s tips to avoid injury or death during power outages include recommending that people use flashlights during those periods instead of candles. Keep plenty of fresh batteries on hand. If the look of candles is preferred, consider flameless, battery-operated candles that offer the flickering light, without the potential fire hazard.

If candles are used, make sure they are placed on a stable piece of furniture in sturdy holders that will not tip over. Candles should fit in their holders securely, and the holders should be made of material that will not burn. Keep candles away from anything combustible — clothing, books, papers, curtains, decorations or anything else that can burn. Do not place candles where they can be knocked over by children or pets. Always extinguish all candles when leaving the room, or before going to sleep.

Never use candles, matches or lighters if medical oxygen therapy is used in the home.

Charged solar landscape lighting can be brought indoors for temporary lighting, as a safe and effective alternative to candles.

When using portable generators for electricity during power outages, use extreme caution when refueling. Fuel splashed on a hot muffler could ignite, causing severe burns and serious injuries. Never attempt to refuel a generator while it is running. Always allow the unit to cool before attempting to refuel it.

Operate generators outside of the home and garages. Carbon monoxide gas produced by operating generators is poisonous and can quickly cause severe injury or death. Ensure that the placement of the generator does not allow carbon monoxide to enter the home through windows, doors or other openings.