Several public hearings over the next few months will provide Calvert County voters opportunities to find out about the code home rule form of local government and what some of the consequences will be if Calvert adopted it.

Still unclear though is what the public will hear at those hearings. On Tuesday, the county commissioners indicated it probably will be another week before they approve the text for a formal public presentation by the task force appointed to examine the potential ramifications of code home rule in Calvert.

"We want it to be balanced," commissioners President David F. Hale (R-Owings) said.

Last week, members of the task force, which includes Republican and Democratic representation, outlined for the commissioners the information on code home rule they intend to present to the public. The commissioners directed the task force to delete passages that individual board members thought confused the issue or appeared to take a position on code home rule.

At Tuesday's commissioners meeting, those edits had not been completed sufficiently for the board to approve the text for public consideration.

The hearings are being planned in anticipation of a decision by the Calvert County Board of Commissioners on whether to place a referendum on code home rule on the November ballot. The commissioners are scheduled to make that decision in August.

Code home rule would give the commissioners more power to enact certain kinds of laws -- including the establishment of some fees and taxes -- without action by the state General Assembly.

If approved by a majority of voters, the new system would take effect 30 days later, and Calvert would join six other Maryland counties, including Charles, operating under this form of government.

Join the Legislative Process

Speaking of code home rule, the Charles County commissioners reminded residents this week that tomorrow is the deadline to submit proposals for local legislative enactment.

In the system established under code home rule, the public is invited to join the commissioners' legislative process by offering initiatives. Proposals may also be submitted from organizations within Charles County.

Suggestions for local legislation, including revisions of laws, may be sent in writing to: "Code Home Rule Local Legislative Request," c/o Office of the County Attorney, PO Box 2150, La Plata, Md. 20646. Each proposal will be included in a preliminary package that will be available for distribution Wednesday and presented to the county commissioners at a public hearing at 7 p.m. May 25 in the Commissioners' Meeting Room.

Anyone who submits a proposal will be asked to attend the hearing to provide a synopsis of the initiative and to answer any questions from those in attendance. Work sessions will be held after the hearing to review the proposals and determine which will be enacted.

For more information, call the Office of the County Attorney at 301-645-0555.

Cicada Advisory for Pets

Animal Control Services for Charles County warns that the bumper crop of 17-year cicadas expected to soon overwhelm the region can be harmful to your pets.

These 11/2-inch bugs will not only be very tasty to your pets but also are the ultimate flying pet toys. They are loud (buzzing), slow moving and low flying -- all traits that make them easy targets for even the oldest and slowest pet. For many pets, it is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that they find irresistible.

While the cicadas are active, Animal Control advises pet owners to keep their animals indoors when not attended and monitor them while they are outside so they don't overindulge on this flying junk food.

The insects themselves are protein-rich, but their exoskeletons are indigestible.

Eating a few of these insects won't hurt your pet, but too many can overload an animal's digestive tract with chitin, the hard substance that makes up the insect's shell.

If a pet has more than a few vomiting episodes, becomes constipated or appears to be in pain after feasting on cicadas, a call or trip to the veterinarian may be in order.

Additional information is available from the Animal Control Division of the Department of Emergency Services at 301-609-3425.

Chamber Honors Datcher

Delores C. Datcher of the College of Southern Maryland was recently recognized as Working Woman of the Year by the Charles County Chamber of Commerce.

Datcher is a member of the college's board of trustees. In her spare time, she promotes cancer prevention and research.

In her nomination letter to the chamber, the college's president, Elaine Ryan, wrote: "Through her many efforts with the public, Dr. Datcher has educated and touched the lives of hundreds of Charles County citizens through cancer prevention seminars and conferences. Initially involved with volunteer outreach programs for underserved populations, Dr. Datcher has become a beacon of hope in educating Charles County women and men about cancer research and prevention."

Datcher was one of 15 women nominated for the honor by chamber members. A committee of former chamber presidents reviewed each nomination and determined the award recipient.

Ridge Memorial Day Events

The small town with the big parade is preparing once again for Memorial Day observances.

On May 31, American Legion Post and Auxiliary Unit No. 255 will host a Memorial Day Parade and ceremony in Ridge. The event is dedicated to World War II veterans.

The parade forms at St. Michael's School grounds beginning at 9 a.m. and steps off at 10 a.m. down Route 235 to the Legion hall on Route 5. World War II veterans are invited to ride in the parade.

A memorial ceremony and placing of wreaths are scheduled at the monument outside the Legion hall. In the event of rain, all activities will move inside the hall.

Veterans interested in participating should call parade committee member Shirley McKay at 301-872-5201 by next Thursday to reserve a seat in the parade.

Refreshments will be served after the wreath-laying. The event is free.

Home for Global Hawk UAV

The Navy recently chose Patuxent River Naval Air Station as the new home of its Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) program.

"Pax River will be a good fit for the Global Hawk UAV and will take advantage of the impressive capabilities" for testing and systems integration at the St. Mary's County base, Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said in announcing the decision.

Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned vehicle developed by the Defense Department and built by Northrop Grumman Ryan Aeronautical Center for the Air Force to undertake reconnaissance missions. The aircraft has a 116-foot wingspan and can fly autonomously for 36 hours at altitudes of up to 65,000 feet (nearly twice the height used by commercial airliners).

The Global Hawk's sensors can image an area of 40,000 square miles in just 24 hours, no matter the weather conditions, relaying intelligence and surveillance imagery in near real time to battlefield commanders. Once programmed for a particular mission, the Global Hawk can autonomously taxi, take off, fly, capture imagery, return and land.

The swarm of 17-year cicadas expected shortly in the region can be harmful to pets, warns Animal Control Services of Charles County. Ridge will again hold its Memorial Day parade. Shown at last year's are Logan Gaton, left, and Christin McCall from Troop 2169 Girl Scouts and Brownies.