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Two years after shooting, plans to remember on hold

Plans to commemorate the two-year mark of the Great Mills High School shooting, which shocked the community on March 20, 2018, after one student was killed and another injured by gunfire from a student who then took his own life, are now suspended with schools closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Officially, everything is on hold,” Great Mills High Principal Jake Heibel said on Wednesday morning.

The principal said today had been planned as a day of remembrance for Jaelynn Willey, who was murdered in the attack, while maintaining a normal school day.

“The staff and a majority of the school wanted, basically, as normal of a day as possible,” Heibel said.

The principal planned to make a brief announcement at the beginning and end of the day, and a volunteer program, Great Mills Gives Back, was going to take place during the lunch period, where staff and student volunteers were to sort and make to-go bags of package items to donate to the homeless. That event is suspended until further notice, as well.

The school had also planned to have additional mental health resources available for students and staff throughout the difficult week.

“Now, we have 50 percent of the school who wasn’t there that day, but another half that was here,” Heibel said. “We are still going to remember.”

Some members of the St. Mary’s sheriff’s office planned to attend a private prayer vigil in honor of Jaelynn Willey at the Fraternal Order of Police before walking to the high school to lay wreathes. That event, too, was canceled due to social distancing concerns, a spokesperson said.

Gallery closed

The North End Gallery in Leonardtown has shut its doors until they are safe to reopen, a release from the art gallery says, and its current exhibit, Travels in Art, is available to view online at

The gallery is also setting up online sales of some members’ work, and those interested in a certain artist or piece can contact the gallery online at

Play canceled

The Newtowne Players’ production of “Almost, Maine” by John Cariani has been canceled following the governor’s order to shutter events involving more than 50 people.

The show will not be rescheduled, the theater group said, and the theater organizers do not know if the closure will affect the group’s upcoming production of “A Night On Broadway,” currently scheduled for May 8 through 17.

The group’s exchange and refund policy is relaxed, and those who have already purchased tickets to “Almost, Maine” will be contacted by a staff member and will be allowed to transfer their tickets or receive a refund. The theater anticipates that process to be complete by Sunday.

Craft shows delayed until later in spring

The Hollywood Volunteer Fire Department’s Ladies Auxiliary’s annual craft show has been delayed from its previous date of April 5, to a new date of June 7.

And, the Second District Volunteer Fire Department’s Spring Craft and Vendor Fair, originally scheduled for March 14, has been postponed until May 16.

March fly-in farmers market scrapped

A “fly-in” farmer’s market scheduled for Saturday, March 21, at the St. Mary’s airport has been canceled. Historic Sotterley said in a release the group is continuing to plan events for the rest of 2020 for the airport’s 50th anniversary celebration this year.

Library expands online access

The shuttered St. Mary’s County Library is now offering temporary library cards online, which can be used to access the library’s online resources including e-books, e-audiobooks, e-magazines, downloadable movies, TV shows and music.

All of the temporary cards are valid for 90 days, and when the library re-opens, temporary cardholders can verify their address and obtain a permanent, physical library card.

The temporary card can be applied for at under “Library Services. Online resources through the library are available under “Read, Listen, Watch.”

Health department suspends programs

The St. Mary’s health department and satellite offices are now closed to the public, the department announced in a release Tuesday. The department’s harm reduction program, health clinic, local health improvement coalition, adverse childhood experiences program, administrative care coordination unit, behavioral health prevention programs, primary care collaborative, cancer screening, asthma and lead programs, tobacco control programs and school wellness programs are also canceled.

Still running, barring walk-ins, are the health department’s emergency preparedness and response, infectious disease control, environmental health services, Medicaid eligibility and enrollment, WIC, online vital records, nurse monitoring and care coordination for seniors and individuals with disabilities, behavioral health care coordination and system management and epidemiology services.

Also, due to declining seasonal groundwater levels, the health department has suspended additional scheduling of “wet season” perc testing. Staff will continue to honor previously scheduled perc tests. The last perc tests for the season will be concluded on Friday, March 20.

Questions about health department programs and services can be directed to 301-475-4330.

State fire marshal announces closures, delays inspections

The office of the state fire marshal announced Tuesday all regional offices are closed until further notice.

Additionally, all fire marshal inspections, including final, annual, maintenance and licensing inspections, have been postponed. Electronic communications normally done through the office’s blog are highly encouraged.

Fire marshal training classes planned throughout March have been postponed until further notice. Investigation will still continue, and fire marshal deputies, K-9 Teams and bomb squad are “on call and ready to respond to each request made.” And, the fire marshal will still be responding to emergency incidents, and any life safety code violations.

Fishing fair, boat expo postponed

The Southern Maryland Fishing Fair and Boat Safety Expo, which was scheduled to be held at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds on March 23 and 24, has been rescheduled to Aug. 29 and 30 at the fairgrounds.

The fair will host vendors selling fishing rods, tackle, fishing trips, artwork and food to fishing enthusiasts, as well as boat safety training and demonstrations by federal, state and local organizations. Vendors interested in participating at the rescheduled event should contact Bill Bonner at

Citizens warned of scams by bogus COVID-19 charities

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) and Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith recently issued a warning regarding potential scams surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak.

“During uncertain times, con artists prey on your generosity and create scams, frauds or deceptive acts to line their own pockets,” Wobensmith said in a release, noting that his office maintains a public registry of authorized, licensed charities.

The release says the Federal Trade Commission has reported scammers are taking advantage of anxieties caused by the virus, and counterfeit testing products have been reported at some national airports. Bogus charities may also solicit money and personal information from those inclined to give during the global pandemic.

The Secretary of State’s Charity Database is available at