Maryland counties are starting the legwork on the 2020 Census, and they’re asking for citizens’ help.

Per an executive order from Gov. Larry Hogan (R), county governments and others are building up complete count committees to mobilize participation in the 2020 decennial census through community outreach.

“This is a relatively newer strategy” in collecting census data, one that involves community-based organization, ALisa Casas, communications director for St. Mary’s County government, said this week.

St. Mary’s is holding its own kickoff committee meeting on Thursday, June 20, from 11 a.m. to noon in the Chesapeake Building at the governmental center in Leonardtown, which the public is encouraged to attend, either for informational purposes or if they’re interested in joining the committee.

“The kickoff is really gonna be a great way to introduce people to what the plan is, as we go into the 2020 Census,” Casas said.

St. Mary’s government is seeking out residents to serve on the volunteer committee, and its subcommittees, which will range from government and business to education, media and faith-based groups, Casas said, although the details are still being developed and will be clearer after the initial meeting.

The committees serve as conduits from their communities to the state’s Complete Count Commission and by extension the U.S. Census Bureau, Casas said.

Census participation is “incredibly important,” she said. “The total [population] determines a number of things — the number of seats Maryland will have in the [U.S.] House of Representatives,” for one, and it also “allows communities to redraw legislative and school district lines,” she said.

“There’s $675 billion in federal funding distributed to communities each year. Having as accurate a count as possible will definitely have an impact on our federal funding,” Casas added.

Shell recycling program grows

The Oyster Recovery Partnership’s shell recycling program has grown by 43 restaurants, one oyster farm and two public drop sites over the past several months. The new members have helped ORP reclaim significantly more shell, putting the organization on track for another record collection year while increasing the capacity for Chesapeake Bay oyster restoration projects. In St. Mary’s, Double “T” Oyster Ranch in Tall Timbers is a new Shell Recycling Alliance member.

The program, the Shell Recycling Alliance, is the largest shell recycling network in the nation with nearly 350 member seafood businesses and 70 public drop sites throughout the Chesapeake Bay region. Since the program launched in 2010, ORP has collected 190,000 bushels of shell, to support the planting of up to 950 million oysters in Chesapeake Bay waters.

Learn more about this service at shellrecycling.org.

Show honor to our country’s flag today

Flag Day festivities will take place on Friday, June 14, at 6 p.m. at the governmental center lawn in Leonardtown. The event will feature a procession by various color guards and veterans groups from around the county, and a formal ceremony and pause for the Pledge of Allegiance. At the conclusion of the program, members of the American Legion Post in Avenue will hold a flag retirement ceremony. The Seventh District Optimist Club will provide refreshments and free hand-held American flags. For more, contact ALisa Casas at 301-475-4200, ext. *1342.

Bible school planned

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church will hold vacation Bible school the week of June 24 to 28 at the church on New Market Turner Road in Mechanicsville. There will be creative games, snacks, music and more each day from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, call 301-884-5184 or visit www.stpaulssomd.org.

State pushes enforcement on illegal pesticides

The Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources are working together to address the continued illegal use of carbofuran — a banned pesticide that has been implicated in recent poisoning events in Kent and Talbot counties that have killed at least seven bald eagles and one horned owl.

“We are all very troubled by the continued use of this highly toxic banned pesticide,” Agriculture Secretary Joe Bartenfelder said in a release. “Carbofuran has been banned for a reason, and this trend of wildlife poisonings on the Eastern Shore is unacceptable. I urge anyone still in possession of carbofuran to contact our pesticide regulation section immediately and arrange for proper disposal.”

MDA’s pesticide regulation section has issued an enforcement advisory regarding the persistent illegal use of carbofuran, which was commonly sold under the trade name Furadan. It is illegal to use or sell or these products under state and federal law. Any violation of Maryland’s Pesticide Applicator Law is subject to a fine of up to $25,000 and/or prison.

The department urges any individual in possession of carbofuran to responsibly dispose of the pesticide immediately. For directions on the proper disposal of pesticides, call 410-841-5710 or email pest.reg@maryland.gov.

Have a talk about civility, and eat, too

Join the St. Mary’s County Library on Friday, June 21, at 6 p.m. for “The Longest Table” community conversation over a family-style meal from Mission BBQ. Tickets are $10 and available for sale through the St. Mary’s County Library website at www.stmalib.org.

The event will be held at the St. Mary’s County Government Center, on the front lawn near Miedzinski Park in Leonardtown. During the meal, participants will discuss how to “choose civility” in their everyday interactions. In the event of rain, dinner will be held inside the Leonard Hall Recreation Center. Share a meal and conversation with someone you don’t know, exchange stories about life in St. Mary’s County, and discover both common ground and new ideas.

County parks offer reduced rates for low-income families

The St. Mary’s County Museum Division recently announced that it has joined Museums for All, a signature access program of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, to encourage people of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum-going habits.

The program supports those receiving food assistance, or SNAP benefits, visiting the museums overseen by the St. Mary’s government — St. Clement’s Island Museum and Piney Point Lighthouse Museum — for a minimal fee of $3 per person for the museum and the water taxi (or free admission if just visiting the museum) at St. Clement’s museum and $3 per person at Piney Point museum, up to four people, with the presentation of a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer card.

Similar free and reduced admission is available to eligible members of the public at more than 250 museums across the country and St. Mary’s, including Historic St. Mary’s City and the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum. For more information, visit www.Museums4All.org.

Middle school safe boating course offered

The Sailing Center Chesapeake, in conjunction with St. Mary’s College of Maryland, has openings in three week-long safe boating courses sponsored by a Spirit of America grant from the U.S. Coast Guard. Course dates are July 8 to 12 at Tall Timbers Marina, July 22 to 26 at St. Mary’s College and Aug. 5 to 9 at Tall Timbers Marina, with hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. Students who have completed sixth, seventh, or eighth grade in 2019 are eligible. Students must pass a swimming test on the first day the course. Completion of the course and passing the final exam earns the student a MD Safe Boater Certificate, required to operate a boat in Maryland. There is a $100 application fee. Register at http://sailingcenterchesapeake.org/spirit-of-america/.

CHS Class of 1969 to hold reunion

The Chopticon High School Class of 1969 is planning its 50th class reunion for the fall of 2019. Members or teachers of this class can update contact information to receive announcements for the festivities by contacting Sarah Blackistone Richardson at 240-925-1119 or TheMightySBR@msn.com, or Norwood Graves 301-848-9525 or Saramy1@verizon.net.

Submit artwork for veterans home show

The Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, in partnership with the Charles County Art Alliance, is accepting submissions for its Summer/Fall Art Show, a multimedia exhibit, to be held at the veterans home from July 3 through Jan. 31, 2020. The gallery will be presented along the E-wing dining hallway. Local artists are invited to submit a maximum of two works of art for consideration. There is no submission fee. Artwork entries must be submitted electronically as digital images (JPEGs) attached to an email sent to VeteransHomeArt@charhall.org. For more information, call 240-577-7003.

Apply for CSM Kids College

Registration for the College of Southern Maryland Kids and Teen College summer program, which includes scores of comprehensive and exciting courses ranging from guitar lessons to SAT/ACT prep for ages 6 to 17, is now open. Kids College is designed to give participants the opportunity to explore their interests or learn new skills on a college campus. For more information, visit www.csmd.edu/programs-courses/non-credit/youth-family-programs/kids-and-teen-college/.