Day of service planned

There will be three donation collection sites coordinated by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. as part of a day of service program for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Nu Zeta Omega Chapter will serve as a cosponsor of the Martin Luther King Prayer Celebration at St. Mary’s College of Maryland on Monday, Jan. 18. A virtual program featuring keynote speaker Crystal Fleming, a professor of sociology and Africana studies at SUNY Stoney Brook, will begin at 8 a.m. Registration for the virtual program is required at www.smcm.edu/mlk.

The sorority and college will also be collecting items for those in need from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Jan. 18. New and gently worn shoes and coats, nonperishable food items, used eyeglasses, and new gloves, hats, socks, scarves and blankets. All items should be bagged or wrapped. Drive-by collection sites will be at: St. Peter Claver Church, located at 16922 St. Peter Claver Road in St. Inigoes; St. Mary’s College of Maryland, located at 47600 Mill Field Dr. in St. Mary’s City; and St. Mary’s Ryken High School, located at 22600 Camp Calvert Road in Leonardtown.

For more information, contact Francine Dove Hawkins at 301-904-6514 or drhawk@rcn.com or Rochelle Savoy at 301-848-7091 or rochellelsavoy@gmail.com.

Hotel relief fund applications open

A county program offering grants to local hotels and lodging facilities opens for applications today, Jan. 15, at 10 a.m.

The St. Mary’s County Hotel Relief fund, authorized by the county commissioners and processed through the department of economic development, offers grants to lodging facilities for operating costs and PPE purchases.

Amounts are determined through a state formula based on the number of rooms, with a maximum grant amount of $31,000.

Eligible businesses may apply at www.yesstmarysmd.com/hgrants/ by 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 5.

Hotels must have at least 10 rooms, and bed and breakfast accommodations must have at least 5, and must show a reduction in year-over-year gross revenue from April to November in 2020 over 2019. Facilities must have been operational as of Nov. 1, 2019, and must reopen to the public by March 31, 2021 if not already opened.

Questions may be directed to Kellie Hinkle, Economic Develoment Deputy Director, at Kellie.Hinkle@StMarysMD.com or by calling 240-925-7178.

Electric vehicle charging available in Leonardtown

The first of 20 electric vehicle charging stations in the county is now operational at the Leonardtown Library.

Two dedicated spaces with 24-hour access are available at the new Leonardtown Library and the Garvey Senior Center.

Construction to be done on Mill Seat Road, closed for duration

Mill Seat Road, located in Mechanicsville, will close on or about Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, for the replacement of a drainage pipe. Construction work will take place just southwest of the Mill Seat Road/Tanyard Drive intersection in the Country Lakes neighborhood.

During the construction, through traffic will not be possible; residents may continue to access entrances. Drivers are cautioned to look for changeable message signs and detour signs providing route navigation information around the closure. Crews will be working, and the roads will be closed for approximately two weeks, weather dependent

Contact the St. Mary’s County Department of Public Works & Transportation with questions or for additional information at (301) 475-4200, ext. 3527.

Restaurant relief fund II approved

Commissioners approved round two of the St. Mary’s County Restaurant Relief Fund during their meeting Tuesday, Jan. 5. Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused economic hardship for many small businesses, St. Mary’s County has activated the Restaurant Relief Fund for foodservice establishments during this time.

The second round of the grant program will have a maximum budget of $470,000. The goal is to provide grants to support St. Mary’s County restaurants (full service and carry out licenses), caterers, food trucks, and bars that serve food.

Grant funds may be used for working capital, such as rent, payroll and job training, purchase of equipment and services to expand outdoor dining areas, such as tents, heaters, warmers, and carts infrastructure improvements, such as HVAC system upgrades, technology to support carryout and deliver, purchase of PPE and disposable food containers or utensils and purchase of sanitation services.

Restaurants will have access to grant funding of up to $10,000 and must be in good standing with the State of Maryland, St. Mary’s County Department of Land Use and Growth Management, Office of the Treasurer, and the Health Department.

Eligible businesses can submit an online application starting at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 8, at https://www.yesstmarysmd.com/rgrants/

The deadline to apply is 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 22.

At the end of the two-week application period, the total grant funding of $470,000 will be divided equally amongst the qualified and complete applications received, with individual awards not to exceed $10,000.

Applicants are encouraged to visit the grant portal at any time before Jan. 8 for more information on required documents, applicant eligibility, and to create a user account prior to submission of the application.

If you have any questions, contact Kellie Hinkle, Deputy Director at Kellie.Hinkle@StMarysMD.com or by calling 240-925-7178

Emergency Services provides supplies to county agencies

The St. Mary’s County Department of Emergency Services released data relating to personal protection equipment (PPE) distribution since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, the department has provided to local partner agencies with 3383 bottles of hand sanitizer, 103,741 surgical masks, 111,581 N95 masks, 108,105 KN95 masks, 1482 homemade face coverings created by local volunteers, 37,221 gowns, 10,109 shields,119 thermometers, 941 containers of wipes and 152,600 gloves.

Emergency Services began providing protective supplies in early 2020 to first responders, county agencies, law enforcement offices, long term care facilities, dentist offices, and daycare providers.

Stephen Walker, Director of Emergency Services, said, “The pandemic has created an incredible need for PPE throughout the county. We hit the ground running in March and haven’t slowed down in our efforts to provide supplies to those most in need. We have also built up a supply of additional supplies that will greatly assist us in riding out COVID-19 until the vaccinations begin to turn the tide and we return to normalcy.”

“This is a snapshot of the hard work our county departments and agencies have done to serve and protect our county,” said Commissioner President Randy Guy.

For more information on St. Mary’s County Government COVID-19 response, visit our COVID Operations webpage at https://www.stmarysmd.com/covid-19/updates/.

St. Clement’s Island Museum to host appraisers

Residents have the opportunity to visit with expert appraisers as they determine the value of prized possessions at St. Clement’s Island Museum at the annual Appraiser Fair on Saturday, January 23, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

The Appraiser’s Fair provides an opportunity for the public to learn the value of their heirlooms and how to properly care for them. Appraisers will be available to offer oral appraisal to members of the public for the following categories: fine arts, coins, and currency. The fine arts category includes ceramics, pottery, glassware, artwork/paintings, music boxes and small furniture pieces. Items in this category are limited to two items per person at a fee of $5 per item. Other category fees are $5 each.

The public must make an appointment to see an appraiser by calling St. Clement’s Island Museum at 301-769-2222 during museum hours. Only one appointment per person to see one Fine Arts appraiser will be allowed. Each appointment is 10 minutes long and is good for a maximum of 2 items.

Appraisers will wear masks and the public is required to wear a mask and observe social distancing guidelines while at the event. Limited walk-ins (those without an appointment) will be permitted but must wait outside and will be called to fill any available openings.

The public is encouraged to only bring items that can be hand-carried. Items that do not fit this category will not be accepted for appraisal. Appraisals are not certified; however, one can make arrangements for a certified appraisal at a later date and time.

Those who are members of the Friends of St. Clement’s Island & Piney Point Museums will enjoy free tickets good for item appraisals. Friends members enjoy these and many other benefits throughout the year and at museum events, so be sure to join the Friends now and support local historic preservation.

St. Clement’s Island Museum is located at 38370 Point Breeze Road, Colton’s Point, MD 20626. Call 301-769-2222 for details and hours of operation. During winter hours, the museum is open seven days a week, noon to 4 p.m.

Applications accepted for the redistricting board

The Commissioners of St. Mary’s County seek five interested applicants to serve on the 2020 Redistricting Board.

Pursuant to Chapter 26-2(A) of the St. Mary’s County Code, following each decennial census of the United States, a Redistricting Board shall be appointed. A Redistricting Board shall be between Jan.1 and March 1 in the year following each decennial census.

The Commissioners of St. Mary’s County shall each appoint one member to the Redistricting Board, which shall hold meetings, create a redistricting plan, hold public hearings on the plan, and submit the plan to the Commissioners of St. Mary’s County by Dec. 31, 2021. The Redistricting Plan becomes law 60 days after it is submitted to the CSMC. The CSMC does not approve the plan.

To be considered members must be registered to vote and a residents in St. Mary’s County. County and state employees or officials are restricted from service on the board.

Appointees will be expected to attend all meetings and public hearings of the 2021 Redistricting Board from February until November.

All citizens interested in volunteering their time should complete the application available on the County’s website and attach resume’ https://www.stmarysmd.com/boards/. Applications will be accepted until Jan. 21.

Behavioral health screening tool launched

The St. Mary’s County Health Department has launched an online behavioral health screening tool to help community members assess their mental health and to connect them with support if needed.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted us all in significant ways,” said Dr. Meena Brewster, St. Mary’s County health officer. “Our community members may be feeling sadness, anxiety, stress or other strong emotions due to isolation, financial strain or loss. This online tool is meant to help community members gauge their mental wellness and to connect them with resources to assist if needed.”

This screening tool is free and available for all community members, to use as regularly as needed. To take the screening or for more information on mental health resources and coping during the pandemic, visit www.smchd.org/coronavirus and click on Mental Health, Substance Use & Crisis Support+.

Funding utility for nonprofit entities available

St. Mary’s County government has opened the funding utility for St. Mary’s County Nonprofit entities for the fiscal 2022 budget year, as awarded by the county commissioners.

The Notice of Funding Availability can be found at www.stmarysmd.com/finance/non-profit. Read the notice completely and follow the links. The application process is entirely electronic and must be submitted on-line.

The application is for those agencies with IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit status only. The deadline for submission is Jan. 15, 2021. Final adoption of the fiscal 2022 budget is anticipated to be completed next May.

The finance department will be holding a one-hour training class on how to navigate through the online application process. The class will be held on Dec. 14, at 3 p.m. Contact Michelle Rance at 301-475-4200, ext. 1203, or email nonprofithelp@stmarysmd.com to sign-up for the class.

Agencies are urged to not delay beginning the application process as it is new for some.

The system will allow users to save and go back and edit submissions until the Jan. 15 deadline. For more information about the funding process, send email to nonprofithelp@stmarysmd.com.

Seasonal reminder for drivers

Citizens are reminded to be alert for deer during the fall breeding season. Many wildlife related accidents occur between dusk and dawn. Watch for deer where roads pass through wooded or rural areas. Driving the speed limit reduces the chances of an accident with a deer; and, at night, reduce speeds below the limit, especially in rain, snow or fog.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind as a driver.

Never veer for deer. Slow down and avoid hitting deer, but do not swerve. This can cause you to lose control and strike another vehicle, or to leave the highway and strike a tree or other object. Injuries to drivers and passengers increase when the vehicle swerves.

Deer usually travel in groups and generally maintain a home range of about one square mile. If you see a deer cross the road, slow down and use caution. Additional deer may be out of view and more are likely to follow.

A deer standing calmly in a field may suddenly jump into the road. Anticipate the potential for this rapid change in posture.

Elevate your deer awareness at locations with deer crossing signs. Deer crossing signs indicate areas where heavily used deer trails cross roadways. Slow down and watch for the eye-shine of deer near the roadway edges.

Be especially aware during the morning and afternoon. Deer tend to be more active during the early morning hours and late afternoon hours year-round. They are moving between evening feeding areas and daytime bedding sites.

Never approach an injured animal. Finally, in the unfortunate event of striking a deer, never approach an injured animal. Pull to a safe location with hazard lights on and call the police. Make it a safe season for you and the deer.

If you notice an animal carcass lying along or in the roadside, please report it by using the County Highways online Maintenance Request Form at www.stmarysmd.com/dpw/.

The icon is on the upper right corner of the website and can be identified as an oval symbol with “311” in the center. You may also contact the Department of Public Works & Transportation at 301-475-4200 ext. 3517.

Criteria for small business relief fund expanded

The criteria for St. Mary’s County COVID-19 Small Business and nonprofit Relief Fund has been altered to allow more St. Mary’s County businesses and nonprofits to meet the eligibility requirements. As of June 8, the relief program will expand to allow businesses and nonprofits that have experienced a drop in revenue of at least 30% to apply. Previously, a 50% drop in revenue was needed to qualify. In addition, businesses and nonprofits with annual revenues under $3 million are eligible to apply; previously limited to entities with annual revenues under $2 million. Locally owned franchises are now eligible to apply.

The initial round was reserved for those locally owned independent businesses that we hardest hit by the pandemic. This phased approach allows the County to ensure that those entities harmed the most would be considered first for these local grants.

The grant program has a budget of $2 million. Small businesses and nonprofits with 15 or fewer employees are eligible for grants of $5,000 and entities with 16 to 30 employees are eligible for grants of $7,500 (grant amount not to exceed a yearly average of two months revenue). We anticipate that over 300 grants will be issued.

Grants may be used for working capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business.

Eligible businesses and nonprofits can submit an online application at www.yesstmarysmd.com/grants/.

If you have any questions, contact Kellie Hinkle, Deputy Director at Kellie.Hinkle@StMarysMD.com or 240-925-7178.

Twitter: @MadisonEntNews