The board of directors for the Charles County Fair met on May 26 to discuss the Fourth of July fireworks celebration and voted unanimously to cancel this year’s show due to safety concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release this week.

“We felt that coronavirus pandemic safety concerns for our patrons and staff outweighed the positives,” Glenn R. Belmore, president of the fair board, said in the press release.

The board plans to host the Independence Day celebration next year with a “bigger and better” show, the release stated.

“We hope you all will find some safe way to celebrate our Country’s Independence Day with your family and loved one’s,” Belmore said in the release.

Household hazardous waste collection is July 11

The Charles County Department of Public Works is holding a household hazardous waste collection from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 11, at the Department of Public Works building, at 10430 Audie Lane in La Plata.

Long lines are anticipated, so the department is asking residents to be patient and remain in their vehicle until it is their turn to be served. Residents are asked to maintain six feet of social distancing while at the event, and facial coverings are required when interacting face-to-face with staff.

Items accepted include pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, gasoline, oil-based paint, cleaning supplies, pool chemicals, fluorescent lights, mercury thermometers and other poisons found in the home. Mark any container that does not have a readable, original label.

Unacceptable materials include bio-medical waste (sharps, needles and anything with bodily fluids), latex paint, prescription drugs and ammunition. Used motor oil, anti-freeze, propane tanks and batteries are accepted on a regular basis at various collection sites. Latex paint is not considered hazardous waste and can be placed in household trash as long as it is solidified. This can be accomplished by adding kitty litter, shredded paper, paint hardener or sawdust to aid in drying it out.

For more information, call the Charles County Department of Public Works, Environmental Resources Division at 301-932-3599 or 301-870-2778, or the landfill and recycling information line at 301-932-5656.

Easier loan forgiveness application available

The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, posted recently a revised, user-friendly Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness application implementing the PPP Flexibility Act of 2020. In addition to revising the full forgiveness application, the SBA also published a new “EZ” version of the forgiveness application applying to borrowers who:

• Are self-employed and have no employees.

• Did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%, and did not reduce the number or hours of their employees.

• Experienced reductions in business activity as a result of health directives related to COVID-19 and did not reduce the salaries or wages of their employees by more than 25%.

“The EZ application requires fewer calculations and less documentation, which makes the process much less intimidating,” SBA Regional Administrator Steve Bulger said in a press release. “I’m sure this will go a long way toward improving access and helping us distribute the remaining PPP appropriations to support small business owners and their employees.”

Both applications give borrowers the option of using the original eight-week covered period (if their loan was made before June 5) or an extended 24-week covered period. These changes will result in a more efficient process and make it easier for businesses to realize full forgiveness of their PPP loans.

Get the EZ Forgiveness Application here: bit.ly/2YOIvqJ. Get the Full Forgiveness Application here: bit.ly/2YdNdzx.

‘Feed the Need’ grants available for farmers

The Future Harvest “Feed the Need Fund” was created to help farmers weather market changes caused by the pandemic and to help address hunger by providing food access in a variety of ways to communities in the region.

Cash mini-grants will be awarded to farmers, ranging from $500 to $5,000. In light of a renewed commitment to stand for racial equity, Future Harvest commits to having 50% of these awards go to black, indigenous and other farmers of color. From activities like sliding scales on CSA orders and home deliveries to providing produce to local food banks and pantries, grant award recipients will have the flexibility to participate in this effort using the tools and means that work best for them.

Eligible applicants are vegetable, fruit, meat and dairy producers in Maryland, Virginia, the District of Columbia, West Virginia or Delaware. Priority will be given to Future Harvest members.

The online grant application, found at www.surveymonkey.com/r/FeedTheNeedApp, is easy to complete with a few detailed questions to help ensure that Future Harvest is awarding producers with the greatest needs and that can provide food to those in need. Applications are due July 15.

SMADC partners to acquire Maryland Market Money program

The Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, a division of the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland, announced in a news release that they have partnered with the Maryland Agricultural and Resource-Based Industry Development Corporation to acquire the Maryland Market Money program, previously run by the now disbanded Maryland Farmers Market Association.

Maryland Market Money is a statewide food incentive program that provides a dollar-for-dollar match for purchases made using federal nutrition benefits at select farmers’ markets. Each MMM dollar works to help food-insecure Marylanders access wholesome foods, boosts farmers’ sales at the markets, and strengthens the farmers market community.

SMADC, a Southern Maryland regional entity that works closely with farmers and farmers’ markets and that has extensive knowledge of the MMM program, has partnered with MARBIDCO, a statewide-serving agribusiness development organization with a long track record of successfully running financial assistance programs, to reinstate and also hopefully expand the reach of the MMM program.

MARBIDCO is collaborating with SMADC to facilitate the program, and as the fiscal agent has the capacity to accept and distribute MMM-designated funds. The day-to-day management of the program will be delegated to SMADC staff. SMADC’s director, Shelby Watson-Hampton, provides added expertise having worked previously for the Maryland Department of Agriculture on the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, and possesses extensive knowledge of farmers’ markets in Southern Maryland and across the State.

The MMM program provides farmers markets statewide with funds — via a combination of county, state and privately-raised grant monies — to provide low-income SNAP/EBT, WIC and Senior FNMP customers with additional resources to match their federal benefits.

For example, if an eligible customer comes into a farmer’s market with $5 in SNAP benefits, they could receive an additional $5 in Maryland Market Money as a match to use for more purchases at the market. This allows them to buy more fresh produce and eligible farm products. Therefore, not only does the participating customer benefit from the $10 in food product purchases, the farmers benefit from the increase in extra product sales.

The following federal nutrition benefits can be matched with the Maryland Market Money program at participating farmers’ markets:

• Farmers Market Nutrition Program for seniors and WIC.

• eWIC, or Women, Infant, and Children Fruit & Vegetable Benefit Program.

• SNAP/EBT, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The match does differ slightly among the benefits programs; the SNAP benefit match is limited to $5 per customer per market day, as is the eWIC benefit. However, there is an unlimited dollar-for-dollar match for the FMNP benefit coupons.

The success and impact of the program has been far reaching: In 2019 the MMM program served 21,873 Marylanders in 7,291 food-insecure households and spent $455,128 in federal nutrition benefits and MMM matching dollars with 416 agricultural producers at 36 farmer’s markets across the state.