Tobacco Farmers May Get Payments

Southern Maryland tobacco farmers are among 1,200 who may be eligible to receive a cut from the state's participation in the Master Settlement Agreement with tobacco companies, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

Farmers will begin receiving application materials that describe eligibility requirements this week. Applications must be completed and returned by Nov. 15.

Farmers who qualify must have owned and operated a Maryland farm last year that produced Maryland type 32 tobacco used to manufacture cigarettes, shared in the risk of producing tobacco crops or been entitled to share in the revenues from marketing the crop, according to the release.

Farmers who qualify would receive a payment from the National Tobacco Grower Settlement Trust, created during last year's master agreement to deal with claims by Maryland and other states against tobacco companies to recover tobacco-related health costs. The tobacco manufacturers agreed to pay $5.15 billion into the trust over 12 years, starting this year. The actual amount paid into the trust may be adjusted up or down, depending on changes in cigarette consumption and other factors.

St. Mary's Business Gathering Set

St. Mary's County Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17.

The gathering for local business people will be at County Sports & Apparel, 22576 MacArthur Blvd. in California. The theme of the event is "Take Me Out to the Ballgame."

Reservations are required and can be made by calling the chamber office at 301-884-5555. Those who wish to attend are asked to call by Nov. 10.

Chamber of Commerce Mixer Tonight

The Charles County Chamber of Commerce mixer is scheduled for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. today at the Center for Business and Industry at Charles County Community College on Mitchell Road in La Plata.

There is a $10 fee for members and $25 for nonmembers. Several prizes are to be awarded at the gathering.

For more information, call the chamber office at 301-932-6500 or 301-870-3089.

Computer Training Business Honored

Keep It Simple Computer Training in California, owned and operated by Laura Allison, was named the 1999 Calvert County Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year last week at the chamber's annual meeting in Solomons.

Allison started the business in 1990, offering courses that she wanted even the computer-challenged to be able to understand. She writes most of the curriculum materials and textbooks for her courses.

The small business award is designed to recognize a firm in Calvert County "that exemplifies the high standards of ethics and business enterprise" of local companies, according to a statement from the chamber.

Through her business, Allison offers computer training at no charge to clients of the Calvert County Abused Persons Program to assist them in entering the job market. She also assists with children's programs at the Boys and Girls Club.

In September, Keep It Simple was designated an authorized testing center for the Microsoft Office User Specialist exams.

Builder Receives Nationwide EPA Award

Bruce Davis Inc. of La Plata was one of just five builders nationwide recognized recently by the Environmental Protection Agency's "Energy Star" homes program.

The firm received a 1999 Systems Builder of the Year award in recognition of its Washington Square senior housing project on Washington Avenue in La Plata.

The project, 81 housing units for persons 55 and older, uses insulated concrete forms for energy-efficient walls, cement fiber siding and trim, fiberglass shingles, high-performance windows and high-efficiency heat pumps, among other energy-saving features.

The senior housing also was selected recently as a Nation's Capital Showcase Concrete Home by an industry group.

The architect on the Washington Square project, which is still under construction, is another La Plata firm, L.D. Holmes Architects.

Chaney Enterprises of Waldorf, through its Concrete Store division, supplied the Blue Maxx insulating concrete forms for the walls.

Fitness Center to Open With Free Day

The new Olympus Fitness Center officially opens its new 30,000-square-foot health and fitness club on Saturday.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., all activities will be free at the center, which features basketball, racquetball and volleyball courts, as well as training and aerobics facilities.

The center is on Post Office Road next to the Waldorf post office. All of Saturday's activities will be open to the community.

St. Mary's Mortgage Firm Relocates

All-State Mortgage, a mortgage lending firm in St. Mary's County, has relocated to the Waring Ahearn Building on Point Lookout Road in Leonardtown.

James T. Greer, president of the company, announced the new offices can be reached at 301-475-8693 or 1-888-594-4410 or at its Web site,

Indian Head Furniture Makes Donation

Indian Head Furniture recently donated two love seats and a reclining chair to Dr. James Craik Elementary School in Pomfret, where the items are being used in the Senior Reading Partner Program.

The program teams senior citizens with students to work on improving reading skills. The donation was arranged by Wendy Fuchs of the furniture store.