U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) told Calvert County commissioners this week that the pace of growth in the county makes it crucial for residents to answer the 2000 Census. "Your county, our county, has changed so much since the last census, that we need to get an accurate count," Mikulski said during a Monday visit to the county courthouse where she met with local officials.

Most government funding formulas rely on census data, and for every person who is not counted, local governments lose about $1,000 a year in federal dollars, Mikulski said.

"I know that among some people, among the watermen community and other places, there's an attitude of `Oh, what's this? Another goddamned government survey!' " Mikulski told Commissioners Barbara A. Stinnett (D-At Large) and Linda L. Kelley (R-Owings).

Watermen? Heck, she could have been talking about Commissioner John Douglas Parran. The independent commissioner told a Census Bureau official earlier this year that he considers the long form of the census "Big Brotherish" and "a bunch of nosy questions" and promised to toss the form in the trash if he received it. Parran was absent from the meeting with Mikulski.

Education Center Garners Grant

The Southern Maryland Higher Education Center will use an $85,000 state grant to fuel its growth and to serve the goal of eventual self-sufficiency, said Jane Loughran, the center's business administrator.

For the four years it has been open, the center, which offers professional graduate degrees, has received $100,000 annually from the state. Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) recently approved the smaller appropriation requested by the institution for fiscal 2000.

Eventually, Loughran said, the growing education center next to the St. Mary's County Airport will run without state assistance.

"We are unique in the state of Maryland in that we are responsible for generating our own revenues," Loughran said. "So the $85,000 is probably the smallest amount of money being invested in a higher education facility almost in the [whole] country. That's kind of a feather in our cap, that we can provide so much for so few tax dollars."

The education center now offers 37 degree programs from seven colleges and universities, and enrolls about 500 students. Several new management degrees recently have been added to the list of mostly education, computer science and engineering programs.

Revenues come almost entirely from fees that participating institutions pay for the use of classroom space. The center plans to expand from 14 classrooms to 25, Loughran said. Officials hope to open a new building by the fall of 2000, she said.

"We are expanding with the goal of meeting the economic development needs of Southern Maryland," Loughran said, "so employers don't have to go out and find people from other parts of the country to move here to meet the needs of the job market."

Love for Pig Befalls Commissioner

Calvert County Commissioners President Linda L. Kelley (R-Owings) walked into the Tri-County Animal Shelter to watch the taping of a cable television spot encouraging pet adoption and walked out smitten by a pound pig.

Kelley was introduced to a small, white potbellied pig that had been living at the shelter after it was found wandering local roadways. It was love at first sight, Kelley said. The pig, about a year old and yet to be named, joins Precious, a 2-year-old black potbellied pig, at Kelley's Dunkirk menagerie, which she also shares with her husband, Tom.

"The animal shelter is a dangerous place to go," she said. "It's hard to get out of there empty-handed."

CAPTION: U.S. Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.) met with Calvert County commissioners.