Community-based organizations interested in producing and presenting arts activities in their communities are being encouraged to apply for grants offered by the Maryland State Arts Council.

Under the Arts in Communities Program, activities such as senior art exhibits, afternoon concerts, special after-school programs, theater projects and poetry readings are eligible for grants of up to $1,000. The program was created to extend Arts Council funding to a broader range of organizations and to better reach underserved audiences, the council said in a statement announcing the grants.

The program is open to nonprofit organizations such as civic groups, libraries, museums, religious organizations, schools, social clubs or other community-based groups that present arts programs that are open to the public and accessible to people with disabilities. Grants can be used to pay artists, technicians and people who coordinate arts activities, rent equipment for performances or exhibits, purchase supplies or materials, publicize arts activities and meet other costs related to arts activities.

Arts in Communities grants are awarded four times a year. Organizations may submit only one application per deadline and may receive only one grant per fiscal year. The upcoming deadline for fiscal 2006 is July 13, for activities taking place between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31.

Completed applications must be postmarked on or before the deadline and mailed to the MSAC office at 175 W. Ostend St., Suite E, Baltimore, Md. 21230. Applications may also be submitted through the eGRANTsm system at www.msac.org.

Grant applications may be obtained by calling the Maryland State Arts Council at 410-767-6555 or TDD/TTY 410-333-4519 or by connecting to the MSAC Web site above.

SMECO Candidates

An item in this space last week referred incorrectly to candidates for the board of directors of the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative.

Daniel W. Dyer, who is seeking reelection from Prince George's County, is the chairman of the board.

The only non-incumbent nominated for the board at this time is George "Mike" Thompson of St. Mary's County.

Other candidates may still be nominated by petition until July 1.

Human Resources Chief

Susan Sabo will take over as St. Mary's County's director of human resources on Monday; she was named to that post by the county commissioners.

Sabo most recently was director of human resources for Resource Management Concepts Inc., and she has held similar positions with the Air Force at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington and the Air Force General's Group at the Pentagon.

She holds a master's degree in business management from Webster University in Washington, a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Maryland at College Park and an associates degree in personnel management from the Community College of the Air Force.

Progressives in Calvert

Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) has started a chapter in Calvert County.

The Calvert County Progressive Democrats said in a statement that the group's goal "is to help elect progressive Democrats to local, state and national office."

The new group has scheduled a meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Vallario Building, 180 Main St. in Prince Frederick.

A Nuclear Objection

In an editorial last week, the Bay Weekly newspaper raised objections to building another nuclear-powered electric generation plant in Calvert County.

A consortium of energy companies recently included the current Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant site as a possible location for a new plant under consideration by the group.

"It shouldn't do a lot for our self-esteem in Chesapeake Country," the Bay Weekly editorial said, "to know that the nuclear strategists put Calvert County on their list of six places in America that might roll over for the nuclear industry. The reaction from those six locales might well determine who stays on the list and who doesn't."

The newspaper said no new nuclear plants should be built until there is some resolution of how to collect, store and dispose of the radioactive spent fuel rods from such reactors.

"At least in the open spaces of the West," the editorial continues, "people have multiple evacuation routes [in case of an accident or terrorism], which is not the case in Calvert County, where a single main road connects the peninsula to the outside world. . . .

"We understand that Calvert reaps the largest single share of its tax revenues from the nuclear plant. But that has meant putting too many eggs in one basket -- not a good practice when you consider what happens to eggs."

Decision Criticized

The Ehrlich administration decided last week not to join 12 other states in a legal effort to overturn new federal regulations that environmental groups say will hinder efforts to curb air pollution from power plants.

Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran Jr., a Democrat, had sought approval from Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to join the challenge of the rules announced in March by the Bush administration. The rules exempt coal-fired power plants from tough mercury pollution-control requirements, instituting an emissions trading program instead.

Environmental groups, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Riverkeeper, criticized the Ehrlich administration's approach, saying the rules have been made final by the EPA, and the deadline for comments and most legal challenges has passed.

Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, California and Massachusetts are among the states that have filed challenges to the Bush administration's mercury-control regulations.

The new mercury regulations exempt power plants from requirements in the Clean Air Act that all smokestacks must install filters or other pollution-control devices to achieve maximum possible emission reductions.

Instead, the EPA adopted a free-market approach favored by industry, setting mercury-emission limits for power plants but allowing them to pay for the right to exceed those caps and swap pollution credits with cleaner plants.

Mercury air pollution is released when coal and other substances are burned in power plants and incinerators. Rain washes the pollutant into the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways, where it accumulates in fish and can damage the brains of developing infants when it is eaten by pregnant women.

Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) said the governor was looking out for "corporate interests" and was "trying to appeal to his donor base."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

A group of energy companies named Calvert Cliffs as a possible site for a new nuclear plant, but the Bay Weekly says waste problems should be solved before any plants are built.