Mark Belton, Charles County administrator and former Maryland secretary of natural resources, has been elected to the board of directors of the Cheapeake Conservancy.

The Chesapeake Conservancy announced this week that Charles County administrator Mark Belton has been elected to its board of directors.

Belton is the former Maryland secretary of natural resources under the Larry Hogan Administration. He was previously the county administrator of Queen Anne’s County, Charles County and Page County in Virginia. Belton also served as executive director of the Pride of Baltimore.

“Mark brings a wealth of leadership experience, a deep understanding of state and local government, and a passion for the Chesapeake Bay. We are honored that he has chosen to contribute his efforts to the Chesapeake Conservancy’s mission,” Anne Scott, chairwoman of the board, said in a press release.

“It’s an honor to have been elected to the Chesapeake Conservancy’s Board of Directors. I am passionate about leaving a legacy for future generations of a healthier Chesapeake Bay that supports a thriving outdoor recreation economy,” Belton said in the press release. “I have admired Chesapeake Conservancy’s phenomenal work with data and technology that is bolstering the efforts of other nonprofits and state and local governments. I also value their work with the National Park Service to increase public access so that more people can fall in love with the Bay and help take care of the Chesapeake.”

A former U.S. Navy rear admiral, Belton served his country for 31 years before retiring in 2014. Belton served on active duty for more than seven years and spent the remainder of his naval career in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He was recalled to active duty twice, the first time to Kosovo in 2001 and the second to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in 2009 as the senior force representative to the Iraqi Ministries of Oil and Electricity. When he retired, he was serving as deputy commander of Naval Supply Systems Command.

Belton graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1983. He holds a master of business administration from Regis University; graduated from the United States Naval War College, College of Distance Education; as well as the Advanced Joint Professional Military Education program at the Joint Forces Staff College. He lives in Charles County.

Maryland School for the Blind holds graduation

Graduation ceremonies will be held for the five students of the Maryland School of the Blind’s Class of 2019 at 6 p.m. on June 10, in the school’s gymnasium, at 3501 Taylor Ave. in Baltimore.

The commencement speaker will be paralympic silver medalist Andrew Jenks.

Jenks earned a silver medal as a member of the men’s goalball team at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. He was also a member of MSB’s 2018 Guinness World Record setting goalball team. He has competed on four continents, 11 countries and in 12 states throughout his 16-year goalball career. He is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Delaware and is an active advocate for disability rights, accessibility and disability sports.

SMADC hosts town hall meeting for ag center updates

The Southern Maryland Agricultural Development Commission, a division of the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland is hosting a town hall meeting for the regional community to hear updates on the Westham Butcher Shop (the soon to be completed Amish-operated slaughter facility), the proposed Regional Agricultural Center and the Southern Maryland Meats program.

Southern Maryland farmers and producers of all types, as well as others from the community are encouraged to attend and participate in the discussion and share their questions, concerns and ideas.

The meeting will take place on Wednesday, June 19, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the SMECO Auditorium located at 15035 Burnt Store Road in Hughesville.

SMADC is eager to engage the advice and expertise of those interested, to assist in the development of the various key components of the regional center.

An additional set of separate evening discussion groups will also be held to solicit input on stakeholder needs for each of the specialty areas, on June 24 through June 27, from 5 to 8 p.m., at the SMADC office at 15045 Burnt Store Road. Sign-up sheets will be available at the town hall meeting for those wishing to join committees for the following areas:

• Monday, June 24: Meat Locker and Cold Storage (for meat, seafood and produce).

• Tuesday, June 25: Commercial Kitchen and Instructional Kitchen.

• Wednesday, June 26: Butcher Shop and Charcuterie.

• Thursday, June 27: Retail Outlet.

Those who are unable to attend the town hall meeting who would like to stop by with questions or ideas are invited to visit the SMADC offices during the posted small group times.

School system earns workplace wellness award

Charles County Public Schools reached the bronze level in the Healthiest Maryland Businesses Wellness at Work awards. HMB is a statewide initiative through the Maryland Department of Health that supports and promotes wellness in the workplace, according to a press release.

“A healthy workforce is a productive one,” Superintendent Kimberly Hill said in the release. “By supporting healthy lifestyle choices and providing weight management and fitness options for employees, we believe the long-term effects will benefit CCPS and its staff.”

The CCPS wellness initiative includes an at-work Weight Watchers program for employees and their families, and emails highlighting health-related topics sent each month to employees with information about the flu, skin cancer, physical activity, sleep and other topics. Earlier in the year, four Webinar Wednesdays were offered covering topics such as diabetes awareness, raising healthy children, brain health and creating a work-life balance.

Healthy cooking classes taught by the culinary arts instructor at North Point High School are offered to CCPS employees on a first-come, first-served basis and immediately fill up with a waiting list. A produce stand was open during summer and fall at the Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building to allow employees and visitors an opportunity to purchase locally-grown produce. The stand reopened this month.

Fitness classes were offered in spring and fall 2018 with 223 participants in the fall and 244 in the spring — an increase of almost 10%. Classes were offered again in Spring 2019. The Keep Well Program partners with CCPS to provide discounted World Gym memberships to employees. Participation among CCPS employees and their families jumped by 15% in the 2018-19 school year from 310 participants to 356. Future plans include a CCPS 5K race slated to be held in the fall.

Award recipients will be recognized June 7 at the 10th annual Worksite Health and Wellness Symposium in Baltimore.