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School system plans to offer summer meals program for kids

Charles County Public Schools is offering a free summer meals program for children 18 and younger who live in Charles County.

CCPS will continue to serve grab-and-go meals at the 11 meal sites from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. through Tuesday, June 30. Meals will continue to be available through Aug. 14; however, CCPS is waiting for direction from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for direction on how meals can be provided after June 30.

More information will be available as program plans are finalized.

Meal sites are set up for parents to remain in their cars. Staff will continue to provide meals to children present in the car, but they must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Staff will ask parents picking up meals without their child to show a student identification badge or copy of a report card showing the child’s student identification number.

Parents picking up meals for children not yet enrolled in school should bring a copy of their child’s birth certificate to verify the child’s age.

Meal sites operating through June 30 include: Henry E. Lackey High; Maurice J. McDonough High; St. Charles High; Westlake High; Milton M. Somers Middle; Dr. Thomas L. Higdon Elementary; Indian Head Elementary; Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary; Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary; J.C. Parks Elementary; and J.P. Ryon Elementary.

Parents can pick up the following each day: one breakfast, one lunch, one dinner and a snack. Requests from parents for additional meals on the same service day will not be honored. Visit for the latest information.

Boy Scouts holding food drive

Boy Scout Troop 2421 will hold a drive-through food drive to help feed those in need in the community, from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, June 13. Bring non-perishable, unexpired items to either Waldorf Elk’s Lodge, at 2210 Old Washington Road in Waldorf or Pinefield Park, on Pinefield Road in Waldorf.

The food drive will benefit the Southern Maryland Food Bank. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended safety measures will be observed.

Groups plan Juneteenth celebration

Woman of Action Charles County and the Charles County Matters Facebook group are putting on a Juneteenth Celebration, “The Fight Continues....,” on Saturday, June 20. The free event, which includes food vendors, music, drinks and poetry, is meant to celebrate “freedom, diversity and community,” according to a press release. A live performance by Musical Eargazm is planned. The event will begin at 3 p.m. at Middleton Hall, 4045 Renner Road, in Waldorf.

Chamber, county host ‘Back to Business’ website

The Charles County Chamber of Commerce and Charles County Economic Development launched recently the Charles County Back to Business website. This powerful mapping site helps customers easily and quickly find businesses that are open and get more details about services, hours, links to business websites, and more. Users can search by business type, by location and other criteria, and the site shows a map with all the business locations and information. The Back to Business site is at

Commissioner hosting virtual meeting June 18

Commissioner Amanda M. Stewart (D-District 3) will host a Facebook Live meeting with Charles County’s chief of recreation, Sam Drury.

Tune in on Thursday, June 18, at 5 p.m. It can be viewed at Email questions in advance to by noon, Tuesday, June 16.

Landfill resumes normal operations June 20

The Charles County Landfill at 12305 Billingsley Road in Waldorf and the Piney Church Road Mulch Facility at 5370 Piney Church Road in Waldorf will resume normal hours beginning Saturday, June 20.

These changes are contingent on the continued successful observance of COVID-19 precautions, according to a county press release.

The hours will be Monday through Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Saturdays from 7:30 a.m. to noon, mulch loading is available for non-commercial trucks and trailers at no charge.

Residents are asked to maintain 6 feet of social distancing while at the landfill or recycling centers. Facial coverings are required when interacting face to face with staff.

For more information, visit or call the recycling information line at 301-932-5656. Citizens with special needs may contact the Maryland Relay Service at 711, or Relay Service TDD: 800-735-2258.

MCASA offers virtual Title IX training

The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault is offering a virtual training session from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 25 on new Title IX regulations. In May, the Department of Education published sweeping new title IX regulations, drasticaly altering schools’ obligation to protect their students from sexual harassment, according to an MCASA news release. MCASA’s school and prevention policy attorney will offer an in-depth training on the new Federal regulations that implement Title IX. Topics will include:

• An overview of the new regulations.

• The differences between requirements for higher education and K-12 education.

• Discussion of the interactions between Maryland and federal law.

• Harm reduction when implementing the new regulations.

For more information, email or visit

VA encourages use of online resources

To help reduce the risk of novel coronavirus infection at the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center, health care professionals ask that veterans use VA’s online resources for routine or non-urgent mental health care and questions, according to a VA press release.

The VA offers veterans a variety of at-home resources, including the following:

Telephone or video appointments: Veterans should maintain their existing mental health appointments — and may receive care at home — using VA Video Connect on their computers, smartphones or tablets. To set up telephone or video appointments, veterans can send their health care provider a secure message on My HealtheVet by visiting Veterans can learn more about VA Video Connect at

Prescription refills and safety: Veterans should continue taking all medications as prescribed and talk to their mental health provider if they have any concerns. Veterans may request prescription refills and order shipments of medications to their homes using My HealtheVet or the Rx Refill mobile app, which can be downloaded at

Text message reminders: Veterans can use Annie’s Coronavirus Precautions protocol to receive automated text messages with information about COVID-19. This application helps veterans monitor their symptoms and can assist those who need to contact their VA facility for care. Veterans may enroll in the app at

Mental health information and resources: The VA’s information about managing stress and anxiety, as well as mental health resources, are available at

To make an appointment with the Washington DC Veterans Affairs Medical Center, call 202-745-8000, option 2 or press option 3 to speak with the nurse advice line. For the latest news and information about the medical center, go to

Arts council looking for input

The Maryland State Arts Council is seeking opinions from Maryland residents on whether to retain or change the name of the Maryland Traditions program. Cast your vote for either “Maryland Traditions” or “Maryland Folklife” by completing the online survey no later than Wednesday, June 24. The survey can be found at

The results of the survey will not affect the program’s mission to identify, document, support, and present community-based living cultural traditions handed down by example or word of mouth, according to an arts council press release. Its grant programs and support of public programming will continue. A current overview of the program can be found at

MSAC began supporting folklife in 1974 with the Maryland Folklife Program. That program was rebranded in 2001 as Maryland Traditions, which has existed up to the present. Over the years, MSAC has raised the profile of Maryland’s living cultural traditions through grant making, festivals, fieldwork, archiving and other activities. The current rebranding discussion is an effort to align the title of the program with the work it does, as well as with the titles of other MSAC programs.

‘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, 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.

State to launch new tax processing system

Despite challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) recently announced that the first phase of the agency’s new tax processing system, called Compass, will launch on time on July 6.

The $160 million Compass will upgrade the state’s tax processing system and create a program that will expand revenue-generating projects, provide enhanced reporting functionality and make it easier for taxpayers to view and manage their accounts online, according to a comptroller’s office press release.

The first phase of the system upgrade focuses on alcohol tax collection and license renewals. The process will be more automated and many forms have been condensed and streamlined to save taxpayers time and allow for quicker customer service.

The Compass integrated tax system will continue to be implemented over the next several years, with corporate taxes launching in the first quarter of 2021, followed by business taxes and individual income taxes in 2022.

When fully implemented, some of the benefits will be improved fraud detection and prevention programs, increased ability for taxpayers to manage their accounts via an online portal, and maximized audit, collection, reporting and estimating functionality.

MDOT wins awards for safety campaigns

The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration has received three “Communicator Awards” for marketing campaigns to ensure safety on our roads and highways, according to an MDOT news release.

MDOT SHA received the “2020 Communicator Award for Excellence” in the category of “Individual-Public Service for Online Video” for a video encouraging young people to put down their phones and not text and drive. The video can be viewed at It depicts teenagers using their cell phones in preposterous situations – while accepting their diplomas, while performing ballet and practicing football – and asks that they apply lessons learned and not use their cell phones behind the wheels of their cars.

MDOT SHA also won two “2020 Communicator Awards of Distinction,” for its bicycle safety campaign aimed at bicyclists and motorists, and for a campaign to protect workers from being injured by drivers at highway work zones.

A full list of the 2020 winners can be found at

July Maryland bar exam postponed

Maryland’s 2020 Uniform Bar Examination, which was scheduled to take place July 28-29 at the Baltimore Convention Center, has been postponed, according to a news release from the Maryland Judiciary..

The Maryland Court of Appeals issued an administrative order, May 26, postponing the July 2020 Bar Exam due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. It is tentatively rescheduled for Sept. 9-10, at multiple locations, which will be determined and announced at a later date. Various factors were taken into consideration, including the number of exam filings received by the May 20 filing deadline, as well as discussions between the State Board of Law Examiners (SBLE) and the governor’s chief legal counsel. SBLE concluded it could not administer a single-site bar exam in July 2020.

The board’s ability to administer the UBE on Sept. 9-10 will depend on the status of COVID-19 in the state of Maryland and public health recommendations regarding group gatherings and social distancing.

There will be no new, additional, or extended application filing periods because of this delay. Applications timely filed by the May 20 filing deadline will be carried over automatically to the September administration. Requests for the board to accept late-filed applications, pursuant to Maryland Rule 19-206(d) and Board Rule 2, will be addressed pursuant to those rules.

The administrative order postponing the exam suspends Maryland Rule 19-203(b), which requires the board to schedule the exam each July and February.

To read the administrative order, go to:

State House dome is livestreamed

The Maryland Department of General Services has a new feature on its website: a livestream video of the Maryland State House dome. The service shows the U.S. and Maryland flags flying in real time atop the dome, allowing anyone to check that days flag status.

“Maryland has the most historic state house in the country, and the ability to livestream video of its most prominent architecture, the dome, brings Maryland into the 21st century,” DGS Secretary Ellington Churchill Jr. said in a press release. “Through technology, we allow both Marylanders and visitors to see the dome and the status of U.S. and Maryland flags from anywhere in the world, whether in Westminster, Maryland, Westminster, California, or Westminster, England.”

General Services’ Capitol Police is responsible for raising and lowering the flags on the State House dome. Flags may be ordered at half-staff by either the president or the governor. In 2019, General Services lowered and raised the U.S. and/or Maryland flags on 14 separate occasions.

In 2018, the department improved the illumination of the State House dome. The LED lighting package provides greater and brighter light spread across the dome, with a fixture capacity of approximately 30,000 lumens. The improved system allows the dome to be seen from more vantages around the Annapolis area.

The State House dome was fashioned by shipwrights using rot-resistant cypress logs and no metal nails. Instead, it is held together by wooden pegs reinforced by iron straps forged by an Annapolis ironmonger, according to the DGS. The exterior was completed in 1788 and the interior was completed in 1797, making this iconic Maryland symbol over 232 years old. Maryland State Archives records note the lightning rod at the top of the dome was constructed and grounded to Benjamin Franklin’s specifications. The flag system is incorporated into the lightning rod with a system of ropes and pulleys.

The public may access the live-stream images of the State House dome and flags by going to

Past customers will be asked to change their password.

In 2019, Park Service customers made more than 100,000 reservations using the system, either online or by phone. Any customers with questions or concerns may contact Lora McCoy at 410-260-8156.

Leadership program holds orientation in Indian Head

Leadership Southern Maryland’s new Emerging Leaders Program, or LEAP, Class of 2020 held its first of six program sessions to kick off the pilot program in the tri-county region on Jan. 17.

The day opened at the Indian Head Pavilion with a discussion on the definition of a leader with Marine Col. (ret.) Joe Mortenson, LSM’16. During the majority of the day, participants worked with Leslie Fazio on their “Emergenetics” profiles, where they learned about everyone’s behavioral and thinking attributes and how to use this new understanding within a team framework.

This was followed by a panel discussion, facilitated by Theresa Kuhns, LSM’19, on leadership and current community issues with Charles County leaders, including Sheriff Troy D. Berry (D), Commissioners’ President Reuben B. Collins II (D), Economic Development Director Darréll Brown, Executive Director of Schools Marvin Jones and Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division’s Technical Director Ashley Johnson.

At the conclusion of the program day, the class adjourned to Ollie’s Bar & Grill to reflect on the events of the day and network with one another.

DNR names 30 new forest wardens

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources graduated a class of 30 new forest wardens last fall, a special commission that authorizes employees to perform educational and enforcement activities, according to a DNR press release.

From Southern Maryland, Collin M. Sapp, a forest ranger in Charles County, and Ryan Galligan, a forest ranger in Calvert County, graduated from the program.

The warden training school was held at Wor-Wic Community College in Salisbury and attendees included current Maryland Forest Service employees ranging in years of service from four months to nine years. A graduation ceremony was held Oct. 3. The forest warden commission provides employees the authority to perform their job functions under Natural Resources Title 5 in program areas ranging from state forest management, wildfire prevention and suppression, urban and community forestry, and forest stewardship activities.

“Our forest wardens are usually the first point of contact for Maryland citizens regarding forest laws and regulations,” Maryland Forest Service Director Don VanHassent said in the press release. “The guidance they provide helps avoid violations and situations that could lead to enforcement actions.”

Since Maryland Forest Service was founded by the 1906 Forestry Conservation Act, forest wardens have been charged with education and enforcement of Maryland’s forest protection laws and regulations.

Prepare for the next emergency

The American Red Cross prepares all year for disasters and urges everyone to “Be Red Cross Ready,” too.

“Disasters can happen anywhere, at any time, even in your home,” Scott R. Salemme, Greater Chesapeake Region American Red Cross CEO, said in a press release. “During National Preparedness Month, we ask you to take three action steps — get an emergency kit, make an emergency plan and be informed — so you and your loved ones can react quickly if an emergency occurs.”

The Red Cross urges everyone to take three important action steps to get prepared:

• Build a kit: Build an easy-to-carry emergency preparedness kit that you can use at home or take with you if you must evacuate. Include items such as water, non-perishable food, a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, first aid kit and medications.

• Make a plan: Talk with members of your household about what to do during emergencies. Plan what to do in case everyone is separated and choose two places to meet — one near your home in case of a sudden emergency such as a fire, and another outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.

• Be informed: Know what kinds of emergency situations may occur where you live, where you work, and where you go to school. Get trained in First Aid and CPR/AED so you’ll know what to do in an emergency if help is delayed. Don’t forget your pets, plan for them, too.

So. Md. American Red Cross elects new board members

The Southern Maryland Chapter of the American Red Cross announced that Richard Tait of Arnold will serve as chairman of the chapter’s board of directors for a one-year term that began earlier this year. Tait and other board members were elected in proceedings at Anne Arundel Community College recently.

Tait is COO of Kaizen Approach Inc., a cybersecurity consulting firm, a University of Maryland University College graduate and a U.S. Navy veteran.

“I am truly honored to be elected the American Red Cross Board Chair of Southern Maryland,” Tait said. “I look forward to leading a dedicated team of volunteers in writing a new chapter for the Red Cross of Southern Maryland. Our long-term goal is to become a top performing chapter and be recognized as a diverse and inclusive board of choice for volunteers, donors, and employees, while offering the highest level of compassionate service to our clients.”

The highly visible role works cooperatively with the Southern Maryland Chapter’s executive director to ensure the American Red Cross’ goals and mission are achieved. The population served by the chapter ranges between 500,000 and one million that reside in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties.

The following were also elected as new members of the board of directors to serve a three-year term:

• Mary-Ann Burkhart, chief, Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Office.

• Joshua Burnett, business owner.

• Ignacio Goya, pastor and director of Chesapeake Conference of the Seventh Day Adventist Church.

• Whitney Harmel, director of Strategic Partnerships at the Maryland Chamber of Commerce

• Jeremy Tucker, emergency room physician.

The board of directors is composed of representatives from many different community sectors. The group develops the vision for the chapter and determines the policies that guide decisions. The board also ensures that the local Red Cross unit is an effective steward of our donors’ contributions. Board members are selected based on their individual expertise as well as their commitment to the American Red Cross humanitarian mission.

USDA helps ag businesses lower energy costs

Acting assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley is encouraging farmers, rural small businesses and agricultural producers to apply for financing in a key U.S. Department of Agriculture program that provides loan guarantees to help rural small businesses lower their energy costs, according to a USDA news release.

USDA accepts applications for REAP funding year-round. Potential applicants should contact their state USDA Rural Development office for additional information.

REAP funding can be used for renewable energy systems such as anaerobic digesters, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, wind and solar. It also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration. Below are some examples of USDA’s REAP investments.

Edgehill Farms, an ag tourism center in Oakland, Ky., received a $34,596 loan guarantee to install a 34.8-kilowatt photovoltaic array system on the roof of its ham processing facility. The system will generate approximately 45,000 kilowatt hours annually that will be sold directly to the local utility, earning $4,448 for the firm annually.

In Magnolia, N.C., Optima KV received a $6.5 million loan guarantee for an anaerobic digester that will help hog producers dispose of waste by converting it to energy. The project aggregates multiple biogas streams at a refinery. The resulting natural gas is then transported via pipeline to a power plant to generate electricity. The digester produces additional revenue for hog producers and a cleaner environment.

In April 2017, the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity was established to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, the task force’s findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Supporting the rural workforce was a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. For more information, visit

Md. School for the Blind appoints new principal

The Maryland School for the Blind recently appointed Nicholas Pagani as its new principal of the General Academic Program, according to a press release from the school.

Pagani has been on the staff at the school for six years as a teacher of the visually impaired before being promoted to an assistant principal in 2015. He received a bachelor of science in special education from Northern University in Illinois in 2005 and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration from Capella University in Minnesota in 2014.

In addition to holding teaching and administrative positions at MSB, Pagani has taught students who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities at the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind and the Philip Rock Center and School and the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind in Illinois. He and his family currently reside in Parkville.

The Maryland School for the Blind is a private, statewide resource center providing outreach, education and residential programs to children and youth from infancy to age 21 who are blind or visually impaired, including those with multiple disabilities. Annually, the school serves 65% of the 2,000 students identified in Maryland who are blind or visually impaired from all 24 Maryland jurisdictions through its on-campus and outreach programs.

For more information, contact Dotty Raynor at 410-319-5722,, or visit

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