The county’s Teen Court program, operated by the St. Mary’s Department of Aging and Human Services, runs on volunteers.

Teen Court is a youth diversionary program, where first-time misdemeanor cases such as fights, traffic incidents and underage alcohol use can be sent from the Department of Juvenile Services, where cases are tried and can leave a teen with a permanent criminal record, to a court of their peers, where a sentence does not stick.

The teen court program “gives [teens] a second chance,” Gregory Jones, the program’s coordinator, said. “They do not get a record that haunts them.”

Hosted in the district courthouse, a jury of teens decides on a sentence based on “what that individual needs to learn.”

That sentence can include serving as a teen court juror, doing community service, writing an apology letter or creating a public-service announcement video, Jones said, but the sentence can be crafted to the teen’s interests. “It’s not just cookie-cutter sanctions,” Jones said.

A program where teens can learn to serve as the defense and prosecution is in the works for the teen court program, Jones said, and the office is working with lawyers doing pro-bono work and the St. Mary’s state’s attorney’s office to get that off the ground.

“It’s very rewarding to see that one kid who really gets the message,” Jones said. “I get to see all of them, and that’s the greatest gift.”

Teens who volunteer as jurors also earn state-required service learning credits for serving, Jones said.

The first teen court session of the new year will be held at the district courthouse in Leonardtown at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 13.

For more information on volunteering as an adult or teen, visit www.stmarysmd.com/teencourt/.

Health department offering overdose response training

The St. Mary’s County Health Department is hosting a free opioid overdose response training at the Charlotte Hall library on Saturday, Dec. 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants will learn the signs and symptoms of an opioid overdose, how to care for someone experiencing an overdose until emergency services arrive and how to administer naloxone, a medication that might restore the breathing of somebody who has overdosed on opioids.

Participants will receive a free rescue kit that includes naloxone upon completing the training. Overdose response classes are also scheduled at the health department on Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 6 p.m. and Thursday, Feb. 6, at 6 p.m. For more information, or to schedule a training session for a group, contact the health department at 301-475-6806.

Maryland’s secretary of state warns citizens of possible holiday scams

Maryland Secretary of State John Wobensmith issued a warning this week, asking Marylanders to beware of fraudulent charities which take advantage of the season of giving.

A release from the secretary’s office says that donors should beware of certain red flags before donating to a charity. If a charity refuses to answer questions, refuses to send written material or financial information, offers to send a person to collect a contribution, sends an invoice for a payment due for a contribution a person doesn’t remember pledging to, or if a charity’s logo closely resembles another charity with a similar purpose, be wary.

Marylanders can contact the secretary of state’s nonprofit line at 800-825-4510 to check if a charity is registered, the release says, and can check the charities database at sos.maryland.gov/Charity/Pages/SearchCharity.aspx to verify if a charity is registered.

The Mission seeks seeks donations of money and volunteers

The Mission is seeking volunteers to assist with rehabilitating two donated houses, which will house homeless men and women. The organization is asking for groups or individuals to volunteer or donate for material costs. For more information, contact Richard Myers at 562-822-8752.

Troopers focusing enforcement on drivers during holiday season

State troopers from all barracks will continue to focus enforcement efforts on impaired, aggressive and distracted driving this holiday season, a release from the state cops office says.

“State troopers will be using a variety of patrol initiatives between Christmas Eve and New Year’s to keep traffic moving, respond quickly to highway incidents and take appropriate enforcement action when violations are observed that threaten the safety of travelers,” the release says.

To play it safe this holiday season, the release says if you are attending a Christmas or New Year’s party, designate a sober driver that evening and give them your keys. Don’t let a friend drive drunk, the state police advise, and avoid drinking if you need to drive that evening.

If you are hosting a party, the release says to remember that you can be held liable if you serve alcohol to someone who ends up in an impaired-driving crash, and to serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages. To be a good host, make sure your guests have a plan for getting home safely that evening.

Noise advisory issued by NAS Pax River

Pilots at Naval Air Station Patuxent River will be conducting field carrier landing practices on Dec. 30 and Jan. 3 through 5 between 7:15 a.m. and 7 p.m., and the base has warned the surrounding communities that the testing events are noise generating.

The FCLPs are simulated carrier landings, according to a release from the base, which prepare pilots to land safely on an aircraft carrier.

For more information contact the NAS Pax River toll-free Noise Hotline at 1-866-819-9028.

Gallery hosting art reception on Jan. 3

The North End Gallery in Leonardtown will be hosting a monthly art reception, “Animal Vegetable Mineral” on Friday, Jan. 3, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The featured work will include “brilliant stones and fine metals, colorfully fused and stained glass, finely grained woods, repurposed materials and earthy clays” this month.

New Year’s Eve ball slated in Mechanicsville

Start out the new year with a healthy hike

A First Day Hike will be held at Greenwell State Park in Hollywood on Wednesday, Jan. 1, at 8 a.m. The 2-mile, free family hike on the Brown Trail, led by a park ranger, will explore different areas of the park and is rated as being on “the easy side of moderate.” This trail is not stroller friendly, but dogs on leashes are welcome. Wear sturdy, closed-toed shoes or boots, and bring a mug for hot cocoa and hot apple cider. Meet at the pavilion by driving down Rosedale Manor Lane and take the first left. For more information or to RSVP, call 301-872-5688 or email pointlookout.statepark@maryland.gov and catherine.donley@maryland.gov.

There will also be a First Day Hike at Calvert Cliffs State Park on Jan. 1 at 10 a.m. This will be an easy, 3.6-mile round trip hike for families. Meet next to the bathhouse. The park is located at 10540 H.G. Trueman Road in Lusby. For more information or to RSVP, call 443-975-4360.

A non-alcoholic Knights Ball will be held on New Year’s Eve, Tuesday, Dec. 31, at Immaculate Conception Parish Hall, located at 28297 Old Village Road in Mechanicsville. The dance will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. and will include dinner (from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.), a 50/50 raffle and music by DJ Mean Gene. Dress to impress. Tickets are $20 per person. Tickets available at door, if not sold out. To buy tickets in advance, which is recommended, email Tim Steelman at tcsworkplace@gmail.com.