507 Tobacco Farmers to Get Payments

Maryland last week certified a list of 507 tobacco growers in the state eligible to receive payments from the National Tobacco Grower Settlement Trust.

The trust is an offshoot of the November 1998 settlement between tobacco manufacturers and a majority of the states, ending litigation of the states' claims to recover health care costs associated with smoking and other tobacco use. Funds paid from the trust are intended to address the settlement's adverse economic consequences on tobacco farmers, according to a statement from the state Agriculture Department.

Maryland farmers who grew tobacco in 1998 are eligible for the payments, which are scheduled to be made annually for 12 years. The amount available each year will depend on the gross sales of cigarettes, with each state receiving an amount proportional to its share of U.S. tobacco production.

The department said many Maryland farmers had not completed applications for payments by the Wednesday deadline. Because of that, the trust will make a second disbursement of 1999 funds in April.

Wawa to Open in Waldorf Dec. 15

Wawa Inc. has scheduled the grand opening of its new store at Route 228 and Western Parkway in Waldorf for Dec. 15.

The Wawa, Pa.-based company is planning a sneak preview of the store and a luncheon the day before for local business and community leaders. The firm's announcement called the event "one way to demonstrate our commitment to become an active member of the Charles County community."

Earlier this year, while the convenience and gas station was under construction, it drew some opposition from residents of adjacent neighborhoods.

New Members in St. Mary's Chamber

The St. Mary's County Chamber of Commerce welcomed new members during a recent reception at the chamber office in Mechanicsville.

Frank Goldbach, president-elect, presented membership plaques to Cafe des Artistes; Carol Drury & Associates; Edward E. Ray Co. Inc.; Lott Enterprises; Pax River Associates, LLC; Ralph's Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, Plymouth; Kwik Wash Laundromat Inc.; The RG Group; and The Washington Post.

Additional information on the St. Mary's County Chamber is available by calling the chamber office at 301-884-5555.

Charles Chamber Hires Recruiter

Jane Ratti has joined the staff of the Charles County Chamber of Commerce as membership and marketing director.

Her primary focus will be on recruiting new members to the currently 850-member business organization.

Ratti, of La Plata, previously worked for Charles County's Main Street, an online community guide. She also has owned and operated three businesses.

Prince Frederick Truck Dealer Honored

Prince Frederick Motors was named last week by General Motors as one of the top 50 GMC truck dealers in the Northeast region.

The region comprises 10 states from Virginia to Maine and consists of nearly 1,000 dealers, according the Prince Frederick Motors Vice President Mike Longon.

The Prince Frederick firm has been in business since 1927.

Nominees Named for McDonagh Award

Five Charles County businesses and one individual have been nominated for the annual Reed W. McDonagh Memorial Business of the Year Award.

The award, named for the chamber's first president in 1956, will be presented at the annual Presidential Gala's Crystal Ball on Jan. 15.

The businesses nominated are:

Applied Ordnance Technology Inc., a Waldorf defense contractor.

Hungerford Associates, a public relations firm in Indian Head.

Ralph Martin, publisher of the Maryland Independent.

Mintz & Pincus Dental Group in Waldorf.

Pembrooke Square Medical Center in Waldorf.

Southern Maryland Hospital Center in Clinton.

Real Estate Duo Joins RE/MAX

Real estate sales team Judy Burroughs and Dave Reed have joined RE/MAX Country Properties in Mechanicsville.

Burroughs, a native Southern Marylander, has extensive experience in residential and commercial property management, as well as residential and commercial sales and leasing.

Reed, a retired senior military officer, said his 15 moves in 28 years have given him a lot experience coping with the stresses of buying, selling and moving.

Burroughs and Reed work with buyers and sellers in Charles, St. Mary's, Calvert and Prince George's counties.

Health Insurer Builds Headquarters

Aetna U.S. Healthcare, the nation's largest health insurance provider, is building a new, $27 million home in Prince George's County for its national capital region headquarters.

The building's steel frame already stands on a 16.5-acre plot in the Inglewood Business Community office park in Largo. The 190,000-square-foot building eventually will house 1,100 employees and will be the nerve center for sales, marketing, patient treatment review and patient management for the 2 million customers in Washington, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

About 850 employees will move from Aetna's offices across the mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions in July, and about 250 more employees will be hired, said Bernard Slosberg, regional medical director for the Blue Bell, Pa.-based health insurer.

As a result of recent mergers, Aetna has many offices in the region, said Davita Vance-Cooks, site manager of the national capital region. Aetna merged with Prudential HealthCare in August and with NYLCare Health Plans of the Mid Atlantic Inc. last year. The new office will consolidate Aetna's operations, which are now in Greenbelt, Falls Church, Linthicum, Richmond, Baltimore, Charlotte and Raleigh, Vance-Cooks said.

Staff writer Yuki Noguchi contributed to this report.