Old jail museum receives grant for new project

The Friends of St. Clements Island and Piney Point Museums has received a $2,300 grant from the National Park Service to create a Runaway Slave exhibit at the Old Jail Museum, located next to the circuit courthouse in Leonardtown.

The Old Jail Museum, which is a part of the county museum division and on the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, is aiming to create a new exhibit on the jail’s usage as a slave pen, and as a holding house for runaway slaves, which the museum division’s manager said there is a “great deal of local legend” about, but there “has been little formal research done” prior to the museum’s research.

The planned exhibit seeks to verify those stories, and to tell the stories of arrests and holding of slaves prior to the Civil War. When fully open, the Old Jail Museum will also have extended hours, a museum shop and will become Leonardtown’s visitor center.

For more information on the Old Jail Museum, visit www.facebook.com/theoldjailmuseum.

Citizens academy suspended

The county government’s 2020 Citizens Academy has officially been postponed due to COVID-19.

The seven-week course, which gives county residents a view of county government operations, had originally been scheduled to begin on Sept. 8 of this year, but has now been suspended until further notice.

The Citizens Academy program grants a certificate to participants after completing seven Tuesday night sessions, where they visit multiple governmental departments and participate in hands-on activities and seminars, learning about local government.

For more information on the Citizens Academy, visit www.stmarysmd.com/pio/citizensacademy/.

Commissioners amend ordinance

The Commissioners of St. Mary’s County have approved a proposed Critical Area Ordinance to repeal and replace Ordinance 2019-40 for Nonadjacent Growth Allocation giving St. Mary’s County the ability to change Critical Area overlay zones for specific development projects, subject to final approval by the Critical Area Commission.

The Critical Area regulations in the current zoning ordinance include a growth allocation process that allows a property’s Resource Conservation Area or Limited Development Area overlay zone designation to be changed to permit low intensity commercial use to take place on the property.

Commissioner Meetings are available for viewing on SMCG Ch. 95 or the county government YouTube Channel.

For more information on St. Mary’s County’s critical area program, visit the Land Use & Growth Management webpage.

Grants to support vulnerable population

The Commissioners of St. Mary’s County authorized a grant application for the Department of Aging & Human Services for $200,000 to fund COVID-19 related needs and services for homeless individuals in St. Mary’s County during their Tuesday, July 20, meeting. If awarded, the grant from the Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development will be provided to the county and passed through to the Three Oaks Center for the Southern Maryland Continuum of Care for this vulnerable population.

In a separate agenda item, the Commissioners approved a Senior Care Award of $124,981to fund services for residents 65 years or older who may be at risk of nursing home placement. The program allows seniors to live with dignity in their own homes at a lower cost than nursing facility care. St. Mary’s County Department of Aging & Human Services has coordinated the Senior Care Program for over 20 years.

The Commissioners of St. Mary’s County meetings may be viewed live Tuesday mornings on SMCG Ch. 95, as a repeat Friday evenings at 6:30 p.m. or anytime on-demand on the county government YouTube Channel.

Pesticide container recycling program set

The Maryland Department of Agriculture is sponsoring its summer collection program for empty plastic pesticide containers according to specific guidelines. The nearest location to St. Mary’s County that accepts out-of–county pesticide containers will be hosted by the Frederick County Landfill, 9031 Reich’s Ford Road in Frederick on July 21, Aug. 18 and Sept. 15, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

MDA inspectors will supervise the collection to ensure only triple rinsed or pressure rinsed, clean, plastic HDPE pesticide containers are collected. Information on the inspection checklist for the empty pesticide containers and the recycling program itself can be viewed at http://news.maryland.gov/mda/press-release/2017/05/08/maryland-recycles-pesticide-containers-for-25th-year-collection-dates-open-in-june/

For more information, contact the Maryland Department of Agriculture, Pesticide Regulation Section at 410-841-5710 or visit the website www.mda.maryland.gov.

For information on recycling programs in St. Mary’s County, visit www.stmarysmd.com/dpw/recycling-solid-waste/.

Kayak launch at museum to open weekends

The Kayak Launch at Piney Point Lighthouse Museum and Historic Park will now be open to interested paddlers every Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Those wishing to use the launch during the week will need to preregister.

Interested kayakers should visit www.stmarysmd.com/recreate/PPL to download the registration form. The form should be filled out and returned to April.Havens@stmarysmd.com for prior approval before paddlers may utilize the launch.

Museum staff will be on-site during the above hours and days should kayakers need assistance or information.

While Piney Point Lighthouse Museum is still closed to the public, visitors may utilize the walking paths, pier and picnic pavilion while observing proper social distancing procedures.

For more information, call 301-994-1471 or email April.Havens@stmarysmd.com.

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.

MetCom reports progress on water tower

The Metropolitan Commission is pleased to announce completion of the foundation and ring wall for its long awaited composite water storage tank. Located behind the Hickory Hills Shopping Center and Nissan dealership on MD 235, this new tank replaces the existing 500,000 gallon facility built in 1992. The derrick, used to hoist the forms for the construction of the concrete shaft composing the new two million gallon water tank, is now in place and visible to motorists on MD 235. It is important to note that the top of the derrick’s mast is at the same elevation that the new tower will be upon completion. The next phase of construction includes installation of the forms and the pouring of concrete for the construction of the tower shaft.

The budget for this new tank is $6.297 million; an additional $0.997 million was allocated for a new 700 gpm well, replacing the old well built in 1982. This project, funded through a low interest loan from the Department of Housing and Community Development, will help stabilize water system pressures throughout Lexington Park and improve water storage deficiencies to meet the current water demands of the community. A new well house, pump controls, disinfection/metering/telemetry equipment, a stand by diesel generator and demolition of the existing tower are also included in the contract.

George Erichsen, MetCom’s Executive Director stated, “We are very pleased to be pressing forward on the construction of what will be the largest MetCom water tower in our inventory.” Construction is anticipated to be completed in the spring of 2022.

MetCom operates 17 elevated water storage towers, 37 ground storage towers, and 28 water supply and distribution systems throughout the county, including 67 wells supplying approximately 1.4 billion gallons of water each year. To learn more about planned projects, visit www.metcom.org and select the Capital Improvement Projects under the Engineering tab.

Department offers call-in census assistance

The St. Mary’s County Department of Aging and Human Services is supporting the 2020 Census by offering call-in assistance to the community. Anyone seeking help completing their 2020 Census should contact Jenny Beyer, MAP coordinator, at 301-475-4200, ext. 71057.

According to the United States Census Website, the census collects demographic information that can affect federal funding, Congressional representation, and much more. For more information about the 2020 Census and the importance of your participation, visit https://2020census.gov.

‘Adopt an egg’ program

The public is invited to support the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum’s new Osprey Exhibit through the “Adopt an Egg” program. Set to open this summer, the exhibit is part of several new permanent displays going into Piney Point Lighthouse Museum.

April Havens, Site Manager of Piney Point Lighthouse Museum, is putting the finishing touches on plans for these new exhibits at the museum. “Osprey are such an integral part of our Potomac River watershed, returning each spring to a nest within sight of the museum’s newly renovated exhibit space. We have a large picture window on the second floor that provides the perfect viewing spot as the monogamous osprey reunite with their mate, repair their nest and begin courtship. The new exhibit will teach visitors about the many unique habits of our seasonal fish hawk residents,” revealed Havens.

Part of the exhibit will include museum-quality osprey egg replicas and other bird eggs for comparison. Karen Stone, Manager of the St. Mary’s County Museum Division, said, “We are asking sponsors to “Adopt an Egg” for display and a second egg for hands-on learning programs. With the temporary closure of the museums in March, many of our events, donation and fundraising opportunities have been lost and we thought this would be a novel, fun way to support future exhibits and programs.”

Jayne Walsh, Museum Stores Manager, developed the new online Museum Store, where interested sponsors can find more information about the program: “The replica eggs and other items needed will be available online for adoption by patrons. We will recognize all the “Adopters” with an adoption certificate and a sponsor plaque on display in the museum itself. This is a super fun opportunity for families to affordably fund a bit of the Piney Point Lighthouse Museum displays — so get online and pick your egg to adopt!”

To find out how you can take part in this program, visit http://FriendsMuseumStore.Square.Site.

Local museums offer online museum stores

The Friends of St. Clement’s Island and Piney Point Lighthouse Museums have launched a new online museum store this year with a selection of merchandise that can be shipped directly to your home without having to step into the temporarily closed on-site museum stores.

Karen Stone, Manager for the St. Mary’s County Museum Division, reports, “We are fortunate that the website was already up and running as a part of our goal to expand services, sales and Friends memberships before needing to close the museums and stores for the safety of our visitors. The museum store manager has been adding store merchandise daily to the e-commerce site, so shoppers will be pleased at the selection.”

To encourage and promote sales, the Friends are offering free shipping for a limited time on all purchases. There is a diverse offering of merchandise on the site, including books about regional history, St. Clement’s Island, and Drayden African American Schoolhouse; Blackistone and Piney Point lighthouse ornaments; decal; pins; magnets; Potomac Jazz & Seafood Festival merchandise; Memberships; and much more.

“We have also decided to introduce our new line of Capt. Sam’s Oyster can t-shirts, long-sleeved shirts and sweatshirts through the website” said Jayne Walsh, Museum Store Manager. The new Capt. Sam’s Oyster Can merchandise features the original oyster can logo and commemorates the Bailey Family’s historic contribution to the oyster industry in St. Mary’s County.

“The Museum Stores planned to introduce the line early spring, but the items were already designed and produced locally by Custom Promotions & Embroidery. A purchase now online does triple duty by supporting the Friends organization, the Museum Division and a St. Mary’s County business.” Walsh adds.

To access the museums online store, simply visit https://friendsmuseumstore.square.site or head to the Friends’ Facebook pages at Facebook.com/FriendsSCI and Facebook.com/FriendsofPineyPoint and click on the “Shop Now” button.

Department event update

Due to continued COVID-19 emergency public closures, Law Day, originally scheduled for Friday, May 1, at all three Senior Activity Centers (Garvey, Loffler and Northern), has been canceled. Individuals already registered for this event to meet with a lawyer and fill out an Advance Health Care form will be contacted by phone.

The 20th Annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Day, initially scheduled for Tuesday, May 12, has been rescheduled. This event will now take place Tuesday, Aug. 11, at 11 a.m. at the 5 South Event Center in Callaway, Md. The Department of Aging & Human Services appreciates the public’s understanding during this time and looks forward to honoring the Officers of the Year and local law enforcement agencies this summer.

For more information, contact Sarah Miller, Community Programs & Outreach Manager, at 301-475-4200, ext. 71073, or at sarah.miller@stmarysmd.com.

Flags lowered to honor local volunteer firefighter

This is to advise that Commissioner President Randy Guy has ordered the Maryland state flag and the St. Mary’s County flag immediately lowered to half-staff. This action is in honor of Bay District Volunteer firefighter Marcus Paxton, who died April 10, 2020.

The flags are to remain lowered until sunset the day of his interment on a date to be determined.

According to Bay District Volunteer Fire Department President Wayne Johnson, Marcus Paxton was an active senior member of the department, a medic with Charles County, and a paramedic serving in Baltimore City. “The Bay District Volunteer Fire Department is mourning his loss and sends our condolences to his family,” said Mr. Johnson.

The Commissioners of St. Mary’s County extend their deepest sympathies to the Bay District Volunteer Fire Department and the family of Mr. Paxton. “We are saddened to hear of the death of Mr. Paxton and recognize this deep loss to our community,” said Commissioner President Randy Guy.

Paid election judges sought

The St. Mary’s County Board of Elections is seeking eligible individuals to serve as election judges for upcoming elections. Training is provided and participants are compensated.

Those eligible to be an election judge must be: registered to vote in Maryland; 16 years or older; not a candidate for any public or political party office; detailed oriented and can speak, read and write the English language. Judges receive $200 per election plus $30 for attending the required training class.

For more information, call the elections office 301-475-4200, ext. 71614, or email electionjudges@stmarysmd.com.

Volunteers sought for home-delivered meals program

St. Mary’s home-delivered meals program is seeking volunteers to serve in the Lexington Park area and the southernmost parts of the county. Drivers would pick up meals at the Loffler Senior Activity Center and pack into coolers provided to maintain a safe temperature.

Volunteers are assigned to an established route and the deliver meals to homebound seniors on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. To volunteer, persons must be 21 or older, have a valid driver’s license and reliable access to a vehicle. Meals are delivered most Mondays through Fridays, 11:15 a.m. through 1:30 p.m. Mileage reimbursement or income tax deductions are available for volunteers.

Contact Monika Williams at 301-475-4200, ext. 71060, or at Monika.Williams@stmarysmd.com.

Twitter: @MadisonEntNews