It's hard work running a political campaign.

That's part of the advice that Charles County Republican Party Chairman Ernest Wallace had at a recent meeting of Neighbors of Zekiah Swamp, a group formed to fight a proposal to strip-mine hundreds of acres in Dentsville.

Wallace put in his long hours last year in a failed bid to unseat Board of Commissioners President Murray D. Levy (D-At Large).

He attended the annual membership meeting and pep rally at the American Legion hall in La Plata and told the Neighbors group that if they want change, they should look to politics.

He said he is on the alert for potential candidates for the next set of local races, in 2002.

"I want to start identifying people who think like I do, start grooming them," Wallace said.

Government Loses Power

St. Mary's County Governmental Center in Leonardtown was powerless most of Monday morning.

The power outage began about 7:30 a.m. when telephone company workers installing a new cable accidentally cut the line that supplies electricity.

The difficulty wasn't reported until about 8 a.m., the start of the day for most of the workers in the building that houses offices for the county commissioners, the county administrator, the county attorney and the county finance director.

For more than three hours, there was no electricity in the building, although from time to time an emergency generator kicked in, said Yvonne York, county spokeswoman. Computers were disabled during the outage but there were no major work disruptions. Many of the telephones continued to operate, workers said.

"It was certainly an inconvenience but we still had stuff to do," said Linda Opdyke, a paralegal at the county attorney's office. Power was fully restored by 11:30 a.m.

Russians to Sample Democracy

A dozen Russian leaders are planning to visit Southern Maryland later this month in a tour designed to give them a chance to watch how an open, democratic society operates.

The visit, being coordinated locally through the office of Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), is part of the Russian Leadership Program organized by the Library of Congress. James H. Billington, librarian of Congress, and James F. Collins, U.S. ambassador to the Russian Federation, announced in Moscow last month that the program will bring 2,000 emerging Russian leaders to communities throughout the United States this summer.

Hoyer has enlisted Gary V. Hodge, the former executive director of the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland, to organize stops and events for the visitors in the 5th Congressional District. Tentative plans call for meetings with local elected officials, as well as other civic and business leaders with an eye toward how the different sectors interact to create public policy. Hodge also is hoping to put together a forum that will include local news reporters and editors for a discussion of the media's role in and influence on democratic politics and economic development.

The Russian delegation also will visit the region's historical sites, educational institutions, defense and aerospace centers, farming enterprises and natural resource areas, Hodge said.

The visit will begin Aug. 26 and run through Sept. 3.

Charles Restricts Real Estate Signs

Speaking of interaction between government and business, the Charles County Department of Planning and Growth Management has spelled out the details of the county commissioners' recent decision to try to reduce the number of roadside real estate signs directing motorists to new subdivisions.

The new regulations attempt to limit nearly every aspect of the signs intended to attract potential buyers to sprouting developments.

They restrict the time of posting such signs: They can go up at noon on Fridays but must be removed by 9 a.m. on Mondays.

They limit the number and size of the signs: just one directional sign pointing the way to suburban nirvana within 30 feet of an intersection, and the placards may be no more than three square feet in size.

The signs cannot be made of paper or cardboard--they must be metal or plastic.

The rules limit the content of the promotional message to the name of the subdivision, a description of the type of development and an arrow pointing the way. They also can include the name of the builder or realty agent if that information will fit within three square feet.

The new regulations also ask developers to submit a sign location plan before they can receive a permit to post the signs, and they allow for fees based on the size and number of signs planned.