The clubhouse at Wicomico Shores Golf Course, the greens owned by St. Mary's County, has needed work for years. The roof leaks, the 1960s-era building needs a new electrical system, the heating and cooling system needs an overhaul -- and the banquet room on the second floor isn't as sturdy as regulations now require.

But when county staff members put a clubhouse renovation project out to bid last year, the bids came in about $500,000 over budget. So the county commissioners formed a volunteer advisory board to tackle the problem again.

On Tuesday, volunteer Merrill "Chico" Rivers told the county commissioners that tearing the clubhouse down and replacing it would cost too much. The advisory board recommended two options for renovating the building and suggested it was time to start talking with contractors. The golf course is self-supporting, and more than $1.37 million has been budgeted for the project.

The course has always been popular, and use has been steady over the years, said Phil Rollins, director of the county Department of Recreation, Parks and Community Services. He said St. Mary's has tried to keep greens fees low enough so that everyone can enjoy the course but high enough so they do not have to turn to tax revenue to keep the course going. Rollins said he hoped construction on a new clubhouse could begin within a year or so.

Rivers said contractors could consider expanding the building, putting the banquet hall at ground level or adding columns to increase the support -- the advisory board will let the experts decide within the budget constraints.

Thomas F. McKay (R-At Large), president of the Board of County Commissioners, said, "I think you've hit it exactly right."

Capitol Steps Fundraiser

Just in time for the election season, the Capitol Steps will sing, crack jokes and generally tear politics and politicians to pieces in a fundraiser for the Three Oaks Center at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Great Mills High School.

Three Oaks, based in Lexington Park, provides emergency and transitional shelter for homeless men and support services to help families find affordable housing and pay their rent or food bills.

The high school auditorium seats 800. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

Three Oaks is raising funds for a $275,000 matching gift from the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, said shelter comptroller Sandy Moore.

Senator's Barbecue

State Sen. Thomas M. "Mac" Middleton's annual barbecue is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Middleton family's Cedar Hill Farm south of Waldorf.

The fundraiser for the Charles County Democrat is one of the biggest political gatherings in the area each year. In addition to food and refreshments, the event features live music.

Middleton is chairman of the Finance Committee in the Maryland Senate.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $15 for senior citizens and students younger than 18. Cedar Hill Farm is on the east side of Route 5, about four miles south of Waldorf.

St. Mary's Legislation

The St. Mary's County commissioners are seeking public input on the board's 2005 legislative proposals that will be submitted to the St. Mary's County delegation in the General Assembly.

Comments and suggestions for legislation may be sent to the St. Mary's County Board of County Commissioners, PO Box 653, 23115 Leonard Hall Dr., Leonardtown, Md. 20650. The deadline for submissions is Sept. 20.

The commissioners will review legislative proposals at their regular business meeting Sept. 28. A public hearing on legislative proposals is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12. At that session, the commissioners will receive staff briefings and public comments. The commissioners are tentatively scheduled to discuss and take positions on the legislative proposals at their regular business meeting Oct. 19.

At a time and date to be announced, the St. Mary's County commissioners and the St. Mary's County legislative delegation will hold a joint public meeting to discuss the county's proposals for the 2005 General Assembly.

Flowers at Charles Fair

The Charles County Garden Club is urging area residents to visit the Flower Building at the county fair next week.

This year's theme is "Caribbean Carnival" with divisions such as Tiki Bar, Salsa, Mardi Gras, Outrageous Orange, Steel Drums and others. Entries will include underwater designs, door decorations, petite designs and breakfast tray designs.

Exhibitors will set up their displays Wednesday, and the fair will run from next Thursday to Sept. 19.

Discuss American Values

"Let's Talk America" -- a series of four dialogues on American values -- will begin this month at the Lexington Park library. The talks are sponsored by the Southern Maryland Cultural Alliance, a small nonsectarian interfaith community action group formed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The series of open-ended discussions is designed to address the divisions of an election year through structured conversations in which everyone can express his or her values and views on priorities for the nation.

Discussions will begin at 7:30 p.m. and end by 9 p.m. Sept. 27, Oct. 25, Nov. 1 and Nov. 15. The gatherings bridge Election Day, Dudley Lindsley of the Cultural Alliance said, to emphasize "the importance of understanding and acceptance rather than 'winning' or 'losing.' "

Karen Horton and John Roberts, members of the Community Mediation Center of St. Mary's County, will moderate the dialogue.

Participation is open to any resident of Southern Maryland. Organizers are seeking maximum possible diversity among participants, so the Cultural Alliance is asking that all interested persons enroll in advance to facilitate planning and other arrangements.

Enrollment is limited. Those interested may register by contacting either Charles Demere at 301-737-4692 or Lindsley at 301-373-2551 or

There will be no formal agenda for the sessions. Topics open to discussion will not be designated in advance but may include access to health care, support of the military, fighting terrorism, preserving civil liberties, America's leadership in the world, promoting family values and other topics.

Meet Del. Kullen

Newly appointed Del. Sue Kullen (D-Calvert) has been a regular at recent events around the county, and now she is offering Calvert residents a chance to meet her for coffee.

She will be at the Common Grounds coffee shop in Prince Frederick from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and from 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 27. Kullen will also be at Bayhill Market in Chesapeake Beach from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct.4 and from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 18.