Calvert County employees carried on like it was a holiday, singing and bestowing gifts. They weren't celebrating Christmas a little early, just saying goodbye to three of their bosses.

Tuesday was the last full official meeting of the current Board of Commissioners, and county employees offered them certificates of appreciation, gifts and a whimsical serenade.

Then the three departing commissioners -- John Douglas Parran (R-At Large), Barbara A. Stinnett (D-At Large) and Robert L. "Bobby" Swann (D-Solomons) -- said their official goodbyes. Next week the new board will be sworn to office.

Stinnett suffered a narrow election loss. Even though she finished among the top five vote-getters in the general election, she was displaced by seventh-place finisher Jerry Clark (R) because local rules require a 1st District representative on the board.

Stinnett maintained that she was "probably going to be out there" in the audience watching the commissioners, looking out for the interests of the county.

"People do call a lot," she said.

Parran, who also was knocked out of office by Clark -- losing narrowly to him in the Republican primary -- said, "It's been a great run. I've enjoyed it."

"You win some, you lose some," Parran said. "Life goes on."

Swann was the only outgoing commissioner leaving by choice -- he did not run for election. Swann was appointed by Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) to replace former Democratic County commissioner Patrick M. Buehler (D), who resigned.

"I, too, am a little sad today and a little happy," Swann said.

Commissioner Linda L. Kelley (R-Owings), who was reelected, said she thought the board had "accomplished a lot."

Then Swann had some words about Kelley, recalling advice he received when he was first named a commissioner: "People said when you get to the board Linda's going to give you a trip. Well, she did."

Finally, Commissioners President David F. Hale (R-Owings), who was also reelected, reflected on the journey they had all taken.

"Goodbye to Bobby, Doug and Barbara," Hale said. "What a long strange trip it's been."

Shake-Up in Sheriff's Office

On his first full day as St. Mary's County sheriff, David D. Zylak ordered a major shake-up in department personnel, giving control of most operations to two top commanders and shifting authority away from deputies who were favored by former sheriff Richard J. Voorhaar.

The changes last week drew criticism from Voorhaar and from some rank-and-file deputies who say the moves took experienced people out of top positions and heaped too much responsibility on already busy commanders.

"It's unbelievable," said one deputy.

Zylak (D) said the reassignments were the first step in his plan to change the command structure of the sheriff's office. He has asked county commissioners to authorize five captains who could be hired and fired at the sheriff's pleasure to command the agency's departments, replacing the old system of lieutenant commanders whose jobs are protected by the merit system. Zylak also wants a major to be assistant sheriff.

"This is what we've needed for a long time," Zylak said.

Zylak named a patrol sergeant, Kenneth L. Cusic, as his captain and assistant sheriff. Cusic, a supporter of Zylak's campaign for sheriff, spent 12 years as a supervisor in the patrol division and several years before that as a narcotics detective before Zylak made him captain on Dec. 3.

Cusic's promotion means John Horne will become a lieutenant again. Horne was named assistant sheriff after Voorhaar demoted Lt. Steven M. Doolan last summer as the Maryland state prosecutor probed the disappearance of thousands of dollars worth of property seized by the sheriff's office.

So far, Horne, a well-respected deputy with 19 years at the department, has no new assignment besides helping Cusic become captain.

Doolan and Lt. Michael R. Merican, whom Voorhaar picked in March to replace Zylak as commander of the County Detention Center after Zylak was charged internally in connection with a jail suicide, have been assigned to permanent duty officer status, a position that until recently was staffed by sergeants on a rotating basis.

The changes also mean more responsibility for two veteran lieutenants. Lt. Timothy K. Cameron, who commands the department's special operations division, will also run the County Detention Center. Lt. Lyle E. Long, commander of the patrol division, will now also oversee criminal investigations. Sgt. Daniel Alioto, the acting commander of criminal investigations under Voorhaar, was reassigned to the patrol division.

Emergency Center Opens The Charles County Board of Commissioners officially opened the county's new $3 million Emergency Services Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday at the headquarters off Radio Station Road in La Plata.

Building crews completed construction last month on the 21,000-square-foot facility, which will bring the numerous arms of the Department of Emergency Services together under one roof. Animal control, the False Alarm Reduction Unit, 911 Communications and Emergency Medical Services all have moved into the new headquarters.

Next year, the county's Emergency Operations and new public safety communications system also will move into the facility. The site, on Audie Lane, also includes EMS ambulance bays and a building for the Mobile Command Post.

Board of Elections Posts The Charles County Republican Central Committee is seeking candidates for nomination to the governor for appointment to the County Board of Elections.

Maryland law identifies the political party of the governor as the majority party; therefore, openings are available to Republicans for two regular members and one alternate. Republicans seeking appointment must have been registered as GOP voters in Charles County for the past five years.

A candidate must submit a standard biographical form provided by the state. Copies of the form can obtained from Vivian Castello, vice chairman of the Charles central committee, by calling 301-932-8666 (or 301-843-6009 after working hours). Completed applications can be returned directly to Castello or mailed to: Republican Central Committee of Charles County, P.O. Box 1126, Waldorf, Md. 20604.

All applications must be received by Dec. 27.

Counties' Holiday Closings St. Mary's County government offices will be closed on Dec. 24 and 25 in observance of Christmas. All county offices will reopen on Dec. 26 for normal business hours.

All county offices will be closed Jan. 1 for New Year's Day. St. Mary's Transit (STS) bus service will run its normal schedule on Dec. 24. There will be no STS service on Christmas Day or New Year's Day.

The Saint Andrews Landfill and the six refuse convenience centers will be closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. The St. Mary's County Department of Public Works and Transportation at 301-863-8400 has additional information about the landfill, convenience centers, and the STS bus service.

In Charles County, government offices will close Dec. 25 and Jan. 1. In addition, the Tri-County Animal Shelter in Hughesville, the county landfill and the recycling centers will all close on Christmas and New Year's days.

The holiday closing schedule has yet to be finalized in Calvert County.

Staff writer Colleen Jenkins contributed to this report.