Calvert courthouse revisits Phase III of reopening

The rapidly evolving health emergency regarding the spread of COVID-19 requires the Maryland court system to continually review and evaluate contingency planning efforts. The Calvert County Courthouse, located at 175 Main St. in Prince Frederick, will remain under restricted access, with new changes to operations and court proceedings effective immediately.

Due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and consistent with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maryland Department of Health, an emergency exists for which measures continue to be required to mitigate potential for exposure for individuals visiting a court or judicial facility and judicial personnel. The rapid increase of COVID-19 infection rates throughout Maryland requires a realignment of the phase of operations consistent with the worsening health conditions and risk to individuals visiting a court of judicial facility and to judicial personnel.

Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera issued new administrative orders dated Nov. 12. Among them was an order returning the operations of courts to Phase III through Dec. 31. The new orders regarding Phase III can be viewed on the judiciary’s website.

At this time, Mark Stephen Chandlee, the administrative judge of the Calvert County Circuit Court, has determined that all currently scheduled hearings and trials in the Calvert County Circuit Court will remain as scheduled. All jury trials will be converted to status or settlement conferences on the dates they are currently set to begin. All other hearings and trials as previously scheduled. The Circuit Court will rule on requests for conversions to remote hearings and continuances on a case-by-case basis.

Any individual seeking to enter the Circuit Court Courthouse shall undergo screening protocol which includes a contactless thermal temperature check, screening questionnaire, and any follow-up questions deemed appropriate. Additionally, all individuals entering or traveling through the courthouse are required to wear a face mask or covering. Furthermore, all individuals are required to practice proper social distancing and follow instructions from the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office and bailiffs.

Essential court personnel will be available to the public by telephone between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Maryland Electronic Court continues to be available for electronic filing and is required to be used for all MDEC counties. For pleadings not required to be filed electronically, filings will be received by mail and may be received via drop box installed in the rear parking lot of the courthouse.

For more information relative to cases or proceedings at Circuit Court call 410-535-1600 or for district court: call 443-550-6700. For further details regarding the administrative order and the policies and procedures of the Circuit Court, go to circuitcourt.co.cal.md.us.

Safe Nights program to open Jan. 3

Calvert County’s annual Safe Nights program providing winter shelter for the homeless will run Jan. 3, 2021, through Feb. 28, 2021.

Safe Nights provides winter protection for Calvert County’s homeless population by offering shelter in a clean and safe environment. The host shelter will provide a warm bed and breakfast, a bag of lunch and dinner. Shelter hours are 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., seven days a week.

To qualify, individuals must: Be homeless, show identification, show proof of previous Calvert residency, be ambulatory and capable of self-care, be older than 18, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, pass a background check and sign the guest shelter agreement and agree to abide by its provisions.

A one-time, in-person registration is required each season. Walk-ins will not be accepted. Call Safe Nights of Calvert County beginning Dec. 10 at 443-486-8670 for more information.

Safe Nights is working with the Calvert County Health Department to safely operate with precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Program volunteers will provide instructions throughout program registration and participation.

Those in need of shelter before Safe Nights opens can receive assistance by contacting the Department of Social Services at 443-550-6900; Department of Community Resources at 410-535-1600, ext. 8802; or Public Safety at 410-535-1600, option 6. Find more information by going to www.CalvertCountyMd.gov.

Calvert parks to offer longer winter hours

The Calvert County Department of Parks & Recreation announced that Cove Point, Dunkirk and Hallowing Point district parks and Solomons Town Center Park are now operating with winter park hours of 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. These extended hours will be in effect through mid-March to allow citizens more time to enjoy the county’s active and passive recreation opportunities.

“It has become clearer than ever through the COVID-19 pandemic that recreation is essential to the mental and emotional well-being of our community,” Shannon Nazzal, parks and recreation director, said in a release. “We are very excited to be able to provide extended winter hours this year so that residents have an additional two hours each day to take advantage of outdoor recreational activities.”

Other park hours vary based on location and amenities. Park hours are posted at the entrance of each county park.

MARTY MADDEN