State funds to maintain open space in Calvert County have dropped from more than $500,000 to $182,000 in the past two years, a county official said Tuesday.

"It's been a steady decline from the high-water mark of 2002," said Sherrod Sturrock, director of capital projects.

The state funds, allocated according to population, have been cut each year for Program Open Space, operated by the state Department of Natural Resources to allow counties to acquire and maintain open space and recreation areas.

In 2002, the county received $512,000; in 2004 the amount fell to $224,000. The county is receiving $182,000 for fiscal year 2005.

Half of the sum must be used for land acquisition to preserve open space. The county has acquired a lot of land over time, Sturrock said, but acquisitions have become limited as funds have shrunk.

"It's not enough to do anything major," she said. "What are you going to buy in Calvert County with $91,000?"

The county is using the funds to acquire cultural and historic sites, develop a range of recreation sites and facilities in or near town centers, and to connect county wide parks to each other and to town centers with trains and greenways.

Mayer Supports Charges

Charles County Commissioner W. Daniel Mayer (R-La Plata) spoke out this week in favor of the first-degree murder charge against the teenagers from the Washington area who authorities say robbed a home in Pomfret and were involved in a fatal car accident while leaving the scene.

Some juvenile-justice advocates have criticized the charge as being too strict for juveniles, one as young as 14, but Mayer defended the adult murder charge Tuesday during a commissioners meeting. He said the "government needs to go on record . . . that [crimes] like that need to be stopped and stopped as quickly as possible."

"Somehow, we have to go and discourage this kind of action from people outside our county coming in here and preying upon our citizens," Mayer told the other commissioners.

On July 14, six teenagers from the Washington area are alleged to have robbed a Pomfret home. Two of the teenagers then crashed their stolen getaway vehicle into an oncoming car near La Plata, killing a 50-year-old woman and one of the teenagers, authorities say. Three of the remaining five suspects have been caught.

Alton Lee Peele-Howard, 16, of Suitland, has been charged with first-degree murder, and Charles County authorities have warrants on the same charges for Trayvon Marquell Ham, 16, and Ray Kenneth Spencer, 14, both of Northeast Washington, who were in a different stolen vehicle leaving the scene, authorities said. Ham and Spencer are being held in Washington until they can be extradited to Charles County and formally charged, authorities said. Peele-Howard was denied bond in a hearing this month.

The sheriff's office has also identified two other suspects but has not yet located them. They are Derrick D. Scott, 18, and De'Angelo W. McNeil, 17, both from the District, authorities said. The sheriff's office asked that anyone with information about their location call 301-934-2222.

Bowie Appointed

Warren A. Bowie, a Town Council member and former mayor in Indian Head, was appointed to the Charles County Orphans' Court last week by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R).

The appointment is for the remainder of a four-year term that began after the November 2002 general election. Bowie succeeds Lillian A. Clark, who resigned May 31. The recess appointment is subject to confirmation by the state Senate in the 2005 legislative session.

Bowie, 65, is vice mayor of the town of Indian Head. He served as mayor from 1985 to 1991 and from 1995 to last year. He served on the Charles County Planning Commission from 1992 to 1994.

The Charles County Orphans' Court handles matters related to the administration of estates and trusts. Three judges serve on the court, each for four years. In case of vacancies on the court between elections, the governor appoints a successor, with advice and consent of the Senate, who serves until the next general election.

Test Standards Released

The Maryland State Board of Education announced the scoring standards last week for students taking new state reading and mathematics tests in grades four, six and seven.

The standards for the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) tests were set after a week-long process involving more than 150 Maryland teachers and experts. The tests were taken by students in those grades for the first time in March.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind law, all students must be proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014.

Reading scores were calculated on an 800-point scale for grades four, six and seven. The state board set scores at which students at each grade level should be considered proficient as well as a level at which they should be considered advanced.

* Grade four -- Scale score for proficient is 371, while a score of 437 is considered advanced. At those levels, 75.3 percent of Maryland students scored at proficient levels or better.

* Grade six -- Scale score for proficient is 381, while 421 is considered advanced. At those levels, 69 percent of the students who took the exam this year scored at proficient or better.

* Grade seven -- Scale score for proficient is 385, while 425 is considered advanced. At those levels, 67.8 percent of the students who took the exam this year scored at proficient levels or better.

Mathematics scores were calculated on a 100-700 point scale for grades four, six and seven.

* Grade four -- Scale score for proficient is 374, while a score of 433 is considered advanced. At those levels, 69.7 percent of the Maryland students scored at proficient levels or better.

* Grade six -- Scale score for proficient is 396, while 447 is considered advanced. At those levels, 50.7 percent of students taking the exam scored at proficient levels or better.

* Grade seven -- Scale score for proficient is 396, while 451 is considered advanced. At those levels, 50.3 percent of students taking the exam scored at proficient levels or better.

W. Daniel Mayer supports the first-degree murder charges against teenagers from the District.