Civista Health Inc., which runs Charles County's only public hospital, is examining itself in the wake of a financial crisis, according to a letter the institution sent to county commissioners.

In the Jan. 13 letter, Civista Health Chairman Michael J. Schreyer touted the institution's success in reducing its billing backlog--a sum that had grown so large that Civista in October asked the county for as much as $10 million in emergency loans.

But last week, Civista turned down a smaller county loan offer, saying it had turned its finances around. Commissioners nonetheless pressed for changes, including more openness by Civista boards.

Civista Health runs the Civista Medical Center, the former Physicians Memorial Hospital in La Plata, as well as several clinics.

In his letter, Schreyer signaled that the commissioners' concerns have been heard. "Like you, we feel additional changes are needed," he wrote.

"We have discussed several possible changes in our governance and corporate structure with you over the past few years," Schreyer wrote. "The Board has begun a review of the governance structure and is committed to addressing your concerns."

The letter gave no indication what changes might be forthcoming. Schreyer wrote that "our target date for completion of this task is March 2000."

Calvert Makes Room for Seniors

The Calvert County Board of Commissioners has endorsed plans to build a new senior center in North Beach.

On Tuesday, the commissioners agreed to apply for a $50,000 federal Community Development Block Grant that could help pay for design work and other necessary planning for the center. The commissioners pledged $150,000 of county money for the design phase as well.

The proposed $1 million center would serve a rapidly growing senior population in the northern part of the county. Seniors now use the North Beach Community Center, but must share it with many other activities.

"It's very much, very much needed," said Commissioner Barbara A. Stinnett (D-At Large).

The center is part of a broader effort in the local community to help seniors. On Tuesday, the commissioners attended a groundbreaking ceremony for a new senior housing complex near the site for the proposed North Beach Senior Center.

"It demonstrates our commitment to the seniors in the greater North Beach area and northern Calvert County," North Beach Mayor Mark R. Frazer said.

North Beach's plans mirror similar moves elsewhere in Calvert County to provide facilities for seniors. The largest county facility serving seniors is the Calvert Pines Senior Center in Prince Frederick, and a new wing for seniors opened last year at the Southern Community Center in Lusby.

According to the county's Senior Facilities Master Plan, the senior population is projected to jump in the next 10 years by 290.8 percent in North Beach and by 277.5 percent in the Owings area. And more than "40 percent of the county's increase in senior population over the next 10 years is projected to occur in the census tract that includes North Beach and Chesapeake Beach and the two contiguous census tracts," according to the plan.

County officials will hold a final public hearing about the planning process.

Strength in Politicians

Y'all come now, y'hear? Even if you won't get a chance to speak.

That's the message the Charles County Board of Education is sending the Board of Commissioners.

The school board wants as many elected officials as possible sitting in the audience in Annapolis on Wednesday as Maryland's Board of Public Works decides whether the county gets school construction money.

That way, the three politicians who make up the Board of Public Works won't miss the issue's importance to the politicians of Charles County. Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D), Treasurer Richard N. Dixon (D) and Comptroller William Donald Schaefer (D) make up the Board of Public Works. The board has final say on many major state expenditures.

Charles County wants preliminary funding for a new high school in the northern part of the county. It also wants money for renovations to Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Elementary School, for a new roof at Mount Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School, and for the renovation and enclosure of the outdoor swimming pool at Lackey High School.