Students collect coats for the needy

Students collect coats for needy

National Technical Honor Society and SkillsUSA members at Robert D. Stethem Educational Center are collecting coats to be donated to St. Mary Church, Newport. Pictured in the back row from left are Quentin Dibble, Esteban Gomez, Arica Jones, vice president of Stethem’s chapter of NTHS, and Derrick Thompson-Yates. In the front row are Zykerria Knott, Shalani Bedford, NTHS chapter president, and Morgan Curtis. New and gently worn coats can be dropped off at Stethem between 7:50 a.m. and 1:50 p.m. Monday through Friday when school is in session. Stethem houses a giving closet year round to help those in need.

A representative from the U.S. Census Bureau will hold recruitment and information sessions this week to offer details of positions available for working on the 2020 Census, as well as assistance in the application process. On Wednesday, Dec. 4, a census representative will be at P.D. Brown Branch Library, at 50 Village St. in Waldorf from 2 to 6 p.m. On Thursday, Dec. 5, a census representative will be at the Potomac Branch Library, at 3225 Ruth B. Swann Drive in Indian Head from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Community Bank sponsors 12 organizations

Community Bank of the Chesapeake will take to social media to raise awareness of 12 deserving local organizations that do inspiring things for the community, according to a news release. The bank will feature one per day over a 12-day period, Dec. 2 to 13, on its Facebook page. Every time a user “Likes” the bank’s post, the bank will donate $1 (up to 150 likes) to the particular organization being featured. In addition, the bank is donating a base amount of $350 to each group, for a total amount of up to $500 given to each cause.

“Join us @cbtcconnects to help us give back to 12 deserving local organizations this year — one ‘Like’ on our featured post could help provide for an organization who needs new equipment, who are feeding the hungry or, who are building homes for someone in need,” said Diane Hicks, vice president and director of marketing of Community Bank of the Chesapeake. “Join us in the spirit of giving and click ‘Like’ on our 12 Days of Giving posts.”

The selected organizations promote a wide array of causes, from feeding and providing shelter for those in need, to animal welfare and health care: Center for Abused Persons, Christmas in April, St. Mary’s, Community Mediation Center of Calvert County, Downtown Greens, Fredericksburg SPCA, Friends of Calvert Library, Friends of St. Clement’s Island and Museum, Gwyneth’s Gift, Humane Society of Calvert County, Spring Dell Center, St. Mary’s Nursing Center Foundation and The Arnold House.

County’s December schedule released

The Charles County administrator is reminding residents of changes to normal operating schedules for the month of December. All offices, facilities and services not listed will be operating their normal hours.

Wednesday, Dec. 4

• The Charles County Landfill and Recycling Center on Billingsley Road in Waldorf, and the Pisgah Recycling Center on Route 425 in Pisgah will close at 11 a.m. The Gilbert Run Recycling Center and Breeze Farm Recycling Center are closed.

Thursday, Dec. 5

• The Gilbert Run Recycling Center and Breeze Farm Recycling Center will open.

Friday, Dec. 6

• Charles County Public Library (all branches) is closed.

Wednesday, Dec. 11

• The Department of Planning and Growth Management will close at noon.

Thursday, Dec. 12

• Waldorf Senior and Recreational Center will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. for recreational activities only.

Tuesday, Dec. 17

• Tri-County Animal Shelter will close at 2 p.m.

Thursday, Dec. 19

• The Nanjemoy Community Center, and all senior centers will close at 1 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 24 (Christmas Eve)

• The Port Tobacco Recreation Center, all indoor pools, and all school-based community centers are closed.

• Waldorf Senior and Recreational Center will close at 4 p.m. for senior center activities. No recreational activities to be held.

• Charles County Public Library (All branches) is closed.

• The Charles County Landfill and all recycling centers will be closed.

Wednesday, Dec. 25 (Christmas Day)

• All Charles County Government offices and the Tri-County Animal Shelter in Hughesville are closed.

• The Nanjemoy Community Center, all senior centers, Waldorf Senior and Recreational Center, Port Tobacco Recreation Center, Elite Gymnastics and Recreation Center, and all school-based community centers are closed.

• All indoor pools will be closed.

• White Plains Golf Course and White Plains Skate Park will be closed.

• The Charles County Landfill and all Recycling Centers are closed.

• Curbside recycling will be delayed one day for the entire week.

• The Crain Memorial Welcome Center is closed.

• Charles County Health Department is closed.

• Charles County Public Library (All branches) is closed.

Thursday, Dec. 26

• All Charles County Government offices and the Tri-County Animal Shelter in Hughesville are closed.

• The Nanjemoy Community Center, all senior centers, and all school-based community centers are closed.

• The Waldorf Senior and Recreational Center will be open 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. for recreation activities only.

• All indoor pools will be open 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. for open swim (Lackey, Donald M. Wade Aquatic Center, and North Point).

• Historic Port Tobacco Village is closed.

• The Charles County Landfill and all Recycling Centers, including Gilbert Run Recycling Center and Breeze Farm Recycling Center are open.

Friday, Dec. 27

• All Charles County Government offices and the Tri-County Animal Shelter in Hughesville are closed.

• The Nanjemoy Community Center, all senior centers, and all school-based community centers are closed.

• The Waldorf Senior and Recreational Center will be open 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. for recreation activities only.

• All indoor pools will be open 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. for open swim (Lackey, Donald M. Wade Aquatic Center, and North Point).

• Historic Port Tobacco Village is closed.

Tuesday, Dec. 31

• Port Tobacco Recreation Center, Elite Gymnastics and Recreation Center, all indoor pools, and all school-based community centers are closed.

• Waldorf Senior and Recreational Center will close at 4 p.m. for senior center activities. No recreational activities to be held.

• Charles County Public Library (All branches) will close at 5 p.m.

• The Charles County Landfill and all Recycling Centers are closed.

For more information contact the Public Information Office at 301-885-2779 or PressRoom@CharlesCountyMD.gov.

Blue Crabs host breakfast with ‘Santa Claws’

The Southern Maryland Blue Crabs have announced the return of the holiday themed breakfast, according to a news release. Pinch, the Blue Crabs mascot once again teams up with Santa Claus to form the best duo in baseball. This holiday extravaganza takes place from 8 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7. The cost for admission is $7.

Events include:

• A hot breakfast.

• On-site U.S. Marine Corps Reserve accepting Toys for Tots donations, with every toy donated resulting in a free ticket to a Blue Crabs game on Opening Weekend 2020 (excluding opening day).

• Pictures with Santa “Claws.”

• Craft and cookie decorating stations.

• Ugly sweater contest, with the winner receiving a free ticket to the All-Star Game.

• Christmas caroling.

Regency Furniture Stadium is located at at 11765 Linus Drive in Waldorf. For tickets, visit mb1.glitnirticketing.com/mbticket/store/index.php.

VanGo holiday schedule released

Dec. 24, Christmas Eve: VanGO last departures from the Waldorf transfer point will be at 6 p.m. on the 301 Connector, Berry Road, Brandywine Connector, Pinefield, Indian Head, St. Charles A, St. Charles B, St. Charles C. Last departures from the Waldorf transfer point will be at 5:30 p.m. on the Business A, Business B, Charlotte Hall. Last departure from the Waldorf transfer point will be at 6:30 p.m. for St. Charles D. Last departures from the La Plata transfer point will be at 6:30 p.m. on the 301 Connector. Last departures from the La Plata transfer point will be at 5:30 for Bryans Road, La Plata and Nanjemoy. Last departure from the La Plata transfer point for Newburg will be at 4:30 p.m.

Dec. 25, Christmas Day: VanGO will not be operating.

Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve: VanGO last departures from the Waldorf transfer point will be at 6 p.m. on the 301 Connector, Berry Road, Brandywine Connector, Pinefield, Indian Head, St. Charles A, St. Charles B, St. Charles C. Last departures from the Waldorf transfer point will be at 5:30 p.m. on the Business A, Business B, Charlotte Hall. Last departure from the Waldorf transfer point will be at 6:30 p.m. for St. Charles D. Last departures from the La Plata transfer point will be at 6:30 p.m. on the 301 Connector. Last departures from the La Plata transfer point will be at 5:30 for Bryans Road, La Plata and Nanjemoy. Last departure from the La Plata transfer point for Newburg will be at 4:30 p.m.

Charles County marks national homeless memorial

The National Homeless Persons Interfaith Memorial Service will be held starting at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec.19, at Christ Church, at 112 Charles Street in La Plata.

The Charles County community is invited to join with local faith communities and agencies serving men, women and children who are homeless, as well as consumers of those services, to remember those who have died homeless in the area in the past years. The event is sponsored by LifeStyles of Maryland, and Christ Episcopal Church in La Plata, according to a news release.

The interfaith service will include readings and prayers offered by local clergy and uplifting music is a time of remembrance, a celebration of hope — and a call to action to support efforts to end homelessness. The worship includes a candlelight tribute to each person who has died homeless in our region in recent years, and will end with a candlelight procession out into the dark night, in solidarity with the increasing numbers who cannot afford homes in Charles County.

Homelessness in Charles County continues to increase, with families falling into homelessness at the fastest rate. Since 1990, Dec. 21 — the longest night of the year and often one of the coldest — has become a national Memorial Day for Homeless Persons, marked in many communities by such worship gatherings. The National Coalition for the Homeless, National Consumer Advisory Board and the National Health Care for the Homeless Council co-sponsor National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day “to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember our homeless friends who have paid the ultimate price for our nation’s failure to end homelessness,” according to the event website. This is the second year the event is being held in Charles County.

Maryland State Fair goes solar

The Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society, Inc., has reported that after extensive research and evaluation, it has decided to go solar. Members of the management team and board of directors reviewed solar opportunities for the fairgrounds from a half dozen companies and unanimously selected Baltimore County-based SolarGaines to install solar panels on the Cow Palace roof and the Sheep, Swine and Goat Barn roof.

The partnership with SolarGaines will include the installation of a weather station to capture temperature, irradiance, humidity, precipitation, pressure and wind readings. The monitoring display and kiosk software, which promotes the fairgrounds’ adoption of solar energy to help educate the public on how to reduce their carbon footprint, aligns with the educational mission of the Maryland State Fair and Agricultural Society, Inc.

St. Charles Towne Center has holiday programs

The St. Charles Towne Center is ringing in the holiday with a number of festive seasonal events planned:

• Photos with Santa/Macy’s Court: now until Dec. 24. Families can capture special holiday moments with the jolliest man in town. For hours and Santa’s full schedule, visit simon.com/stcharlestownecenter, and save time and avoid the line with Santa’s Fast Pass.

• Caring Santa/Macy’s Court: Dec. 8 from 8 to 9 a.m. Caring Santa is a private photo event for children and young adults with special needs. St. Charles Towne Center has made adjustments to the environment to support the sensory, physical and other developmental needs of children of all abilities for this special event. Register in advance on simon.com/caringsanta, and use the Macy’s lower level entrance and parking area.

• Pet photos with Santa/Macy’s Court: Dec.15 from 8 to 10 a.m. Families are invited to bring their pets for a picture with Santa Claus. Enter through the Macy’s lower level entrance and parking area (no reptiles or exotic animals permitted). To register in advance, visit simon.com/petphotossanta.

• Breakfast with Santa and 19 Days until Christmas Party: Dec. 7 from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Little elves are invited to a morning with Santa, featuring a pancake feast, crafts, face painting and special giveaways. To RSVP, visit bit.ly/SCTCBreakfastWithSanta.

• Story time and singing with Santa/Kohl’s: Dec. 8 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Spread holiday cheer with special story time and singing with Santa. St. Nick will perform favorite tunes on the ukulele. To RSVP, visit bit.ly/SCTCStoryandSingingWithSanta.

• Gingerbread house decorating/Sears Court, Lower Level: Dec. 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. Thanks to generous support from Cedar Point Federal Credit Union, guests can build their own gingerbread house, with a variety of sweet and salty options, while supplies last. For more information, visit simon.com/stcharlestownecenter.

• Holiday canvas painting/Center Court: Dec. 21 from 1 to 4 p.m. Deck the halls with a hand-crafted holiday painting. Canvases, brushes and paint will be provided, $5 to paint on glass, $10 to paint on canvas paid directly to the vendor, while supplies last.

CASA seeks volunteers to assist abused, neglected children

Every day, children across Southern Maryland are removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect. Although Court Appointed Special Advocates of Southern Maryland continues to serve more of these children each year, the need for CASA volunteers continues to grow as more children enter the child welfare and court systems.

CASA volunteers work one-on-one with an abused or neglected child, advocating for his or her best interests. Essentially, CASA volunteers “speak up” for these children in the court and child welfare systems, making sure they are safe and well-cared for, are getting the services they need, and are placed in a permanent, safe, nurturing home as quickly as possible.

These children may also have health, learning, emotional or psychological challenges, and need special services that the Court should be aware of via the CASA volunteer’s updates. “CASA volunteers don’t require any specific education. All they need is compassion, objectivity, and a commitment to children. We’ll train and supervise them to be effective voices in court,” says Tonya Kennerly, program manager for CASA of Southern Maryland.

Anyone interested in becoming a CASA Volunteer should visit center-for-children.org/programs/court-appointed-special-advocate-casa/ for more information, or reach out to the CASA of Southern Maryland casa@center-for-children.org or call NaQuita Coates, Training and Recruitment Specialist, at 410-535-3047.

There will be a volunteer information session held from 1:30 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 12, at the Waldorf West Branch Library, at 10405 O’Donnell Place in Waldorf.

The next volunteer training is scheduled to begin on Jan. 23.

Judges needed for Poetry Out Loud

The Maryland State Arts Council is seeking jurors for the 2020 Poetry Out Loud Maryland State Regional Competitions. Theater artists, educators, professors, arts journalists, writers, actors, librarians, slam poets and general poetry lovers are needed. All applicants are required to review the Poetry Out Loud Jurors Guide and at least one recitation video to familiarize themselves with expected evaluation criteria and scoring rubrics: read the 2019-2020 POL Jurors Guide and watch a recitation video, available links at www.poetryoutloud.org/teachers-organizers/judging-a-contest/.

Selected regional jurors will receive a $150 honorarium and attend an orientation conference call on Dec. 19 from noon to 2 p.m. Southern Maryland jurors will serve at the region 3 competitions at Maryland Hall, 801 Chase St. in Annapolis, on Jan. 11 from noon to 3 p.m. (judges arrive by 11 a.m.).

Submit your name and information at docs.google.com/forms/d/1FxQOyt30OKECgmkYa5QcZa0KMkKB13QveNK3m5-dcIA/viewform?edit_requested=true by Dec. 16 to be considered.

DNR service center moved to Solomons

The previous Department of Natural Resources’ Southern Region Service Center moved from its previous Prince Frederick location to Solomons in the previous Solomon’s Island Visitor Center building at 14175 Solomons Island Road, near the Thomas Johnson bridge.

The service center is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (excluding state holidays). The telephone number is 410-535-3382 or 1-866-688-3823, toll free in Maryland. The fax number is 410-535-4737. Payments for licenses and permits are accepted in cash, checks, Discover, Mastercard and Visa. The location is managed by Margie MacCubbin, who can be reached at Margie.maccubbin@maryland.gov.

Charles County Arts Alliance accepting scholarship applications

Each year the Charles County Arts Alliance offers a $1,000 scholarship to one outstanding graduating senior from each of the seven public high schools in Charles County who plans to major in the performing, literary or visual arts at a four year college or university with the goal of a career in the arts.

Visit charlescountyarts.org/program/scholarships/ to download an application. Charles County Public Schools seniors may also see their college and career advisers for a copy of the application.

Complete applications must be submitted via U.S. Postal Mail to the CCAA Office, P.O. Box 697, White Plains, MD 20695, in sufficient time to be received (not postmarked) by noon on March 6. Applications may also be hand-delivered to the CCAA Office at 10250 La Plata Road in La Plata, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For more information, contact the CCAA office at 301-392-5900, or email info@charlescountyarts.org or ronbrown990@gmail.com.

The mission of the Charles County Arts Alliance is to stimulate, promote, encourage and provide recognition of the arts and the creative spirit in Charles County. For more information about the Arts Alliance, visit www.charlescountyarts.org.

Future Next holds workshops for young adults

The nonprofit Future Next Corporation is offering a series of free workshops for college bound high school students covering a variety of topics.

The workshops continue on most Saturdays until Dec. 7. All workshops run from 10 a.m. to noon at 1192 Smallwood Drive West in Waldorf.

• Nov. 30: Resume development. Learn about resume formatting, defining goals and objectives, developing summary, experience and skills sections, description development, attracting employer interest and more.

• Dec. 7: Career pathways. Learn how to determine what career path is right for you.

For more information or to register, email ahawkins@futurenext.org or call 240-448-5799.

DNR names 30 new forest wardens

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources recently graduated a class of 30 new forest wardens, 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.

State nursery has trees to order for spring planting

Orders are being accepted for the spring 2020 planting season for shrubs and trees from the John S. Ayton State Tree Nursery, managed by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Almost all the trees and shrubs available for sale are native, and many are also pollinator-friendly according to a nursery press release.

“Many of our customers are individual landowners who enjoy adding trees to their property for beauty and conservation purposes,” State Tree Nursery Manager Richard Garrett said in the release.

The nursery offers more than 50 conifer and deciduous species each year, from loblolly pine to river birch, to meet a variety of aesthetic preferences and conservation needs. These shrubs and trees are ideal for buffer plantings, soil protection, watershed protection, wildlife habitat and windbreak protection. A minimum order of 25 seedlings per species is required. Supplies are limited.

2020 Heritage Award nominations now open

The Maryland State Arts Council announced recently that nominations are open for the 2020 Maryland Heritage Awards. The public is invited to nominate individuals, places and traditions for their outstanding support of folklife. Awards are $5,000 each and recognize sustained contributions to Maryland’s living cultural traditions. Three winners will be selected and honored at a public ceremony this spring. Nominations are due Friday, Dec. 6, at 5 p.m. Begin a nomination using MSAC’s application system, SmartSimple. Log in or create a free account at marylandarts.smartsimple.com.

Awards are given based on a nominee’s sustained commitment to a particular form of folklife, current importance to communities in which that form of folklife is important, and past contributions to that form of folklife. Each year, winners are chosen in the categories of Person or People, Place, and Tradition. Read the Heritage Awards guidelines and evaluation criteria at www.msac.org/heritage-awards.

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.

La Plata physical therapists receive board certification

University of Maryland Charles Regional Rehabilitation in La Plata has announced that two of their team members, physical therapists Amol Bakre and Lourdes Potestades, have received orthopaedic specialist certification.

According to UM Charles Regional Rebilitation’s blog, only 10% of physical therapists have achieved this designation, and are usually identified by the title “OCS” following their name.

“While any physical therapist can specialize in orthopaedics, becoming a board-certified specialist requires a rigorous certification process that spans over a decade of a therapist’s career.”

Requirements include completing 2,000 hours of physical therapy over 10 years, passing a 200-question certification test and committing to continuing education and ongoing professional development. Those with Orthopaedic Specialist Certification must recertify every 10 years.

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 www.rd.usda.gov.

Kris Kringle Christmas Market Dec. 13-15

The annual Kris Kringle Christmas Market returns next month to the Charles County Fairgrounds, at 8440 Fairground Road in La Plata. the market will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 13, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14 and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 15.

This family friendly event features handmade creations by local artists and crafters, live Christmas music, food, activities for children, fireworks, a living nativity scene, Christmas lights and more.

Admission is $3 per person and free for children 12 and under. Proceeds go to benefit the Southern Maryland Food Bank,, Charles County volunteer Firemen’s Association, Charles County Association of Emergency Medical Services and the Kris Kringle Christmas Market. Non-perishable food donations will also be accepted.

For more information, go to www.charlescountyfair.com. For vendor registration information, call 301-643-9158 or visit lslathrop@comcast.net.

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, dottyr@mdschblind.org, or visit www.marylandschoolfortheblind.org.