St. Mary's County wants to preserve the Chesapeake Bay shoreline south of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station by designating the land for protection under the state's Rural Legacy program.

On Tuesday, the St. Mary's commissioners endorsed a request that 13,703 acres be turned into the Mattapany Rural Legacy Area. If approved by the program, the designation would make landowners eligible for state payments for conservation easements.

The area, bounded by the base to the north, St. Jeromes Neck Road to the south, Route 5 to the west and the bay to the east, has 53 miles of streams, 1,000 acres of wetlands, 15 sites mapped on the Maryland state inventory of historic places and 2,500 acres already protected, said John Savich, director of the county's Department of Economic and Community Development.

The county, working with the Patuxent Tidewater Land Trust, has requested $3.7 million in state funds to pay for land conservation in this area. St. Mary's has only one other Rural Legacy area, the 6,500-acre Huntersville area, of which about 65 percent has been protected with $9 million since 1999, said Donna Sasscer, manager of agriculture and seafood development in the county economic development agency.

Over the past couple of years, funding for the program has been cut back across the state, she said, and the county hasn't received any Rural Legacy money since 2002.

Sasscer said another benefit of preserving this land would be to prevent further encroachment of development around the Navy base and within flight paths of aircraft there. All eight of the owners whose property forms a contiguous block along the shoreline have expressed interest in creating the easements, she said.

A Degree of Certainty

At one point during his speech last week at the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, President Bush called for tough education standards in public schools.

But when it came to his own schooling and political rise, Bush dismissed the importance of grades and test scores.

"I appreciate the secretary of energy joining me today," he said as the secretary, Samuel W. Bodman, sat behind him. "He's a good man. He knows a lot about the subject, you'll be pleased to hear -- he's taught at MIT."

Then he turned to Bodman and asked: "Do you have a PhD?"

"Yes," Bodman replied.

"Yeah, a PhD," Bush said with a grin on his face. "Now, I want you to pay careful attention to this: He's the PhD, and I'm the C student, but notice who's the adviser and who's the president!"

The crowd of about 500 -- which included nuclear engineers as well as state and local politicians -- burst into laughter and applause.

Readers Needed

When in the course of events at tomorrow's River Concert Series activities it comes time to honor the nation's birthday at the beginning of the Fourth of July weekend, a few good readers will be needed.

Beginning at 6:15 p.m., before the music starts at St. Mary's College of Maryland, local volunteers will read excerpts from the Declaration of Independence. Anyone who would like to be a reader should call Kitty Turner at 301-994-2875.

This week's free River Concert performance will start promptly at 7 p.m. after the patriotic program. This event is free and open to the public.

'Flush Tax' Is Coming

Property owners in St. Mary's County who use private septic systems will soon get their first encounter with the "flush tax" passed by the 2004 Maryland General Assembly.

The law imposed a fee to raise revenue to improve Chesapeake Bay water quality, partly through construction of modern sewage treatment plants. In January, operators of wastewater treatment plants began collecting a $2.50 monthly fee from their users. St. Mary's County users of public sewers began being billed by the Metropolitan Commission (MetComm) on Jan. 1.

For septic tank systems, the fee will show up on the property tax bills scheduled to be mailed tomorrow. Users of on-site sewage disposal systems or holding tanks will pay a fee of $30 a year. The fee for users will appear as a line item labeled BRF on their tax statements.

Revenue from the Bay Restoration Fund payment will be used by the state to upgrade on-site systems and implement cover crops to reduce nitrogen runoff to the bay.

At the end of May, the St. Mary's County commissioners adopted an exemption from the fee for landowners for whom the charge would impose a substantial financial hardship. Property owners who want to apply for an exemption should call Laura Sutton at 301-475-4BAY (4229).

New Title for Savich

John Savich, director of the St. Mary's County Department of Economic and Community Development, was elected vice president of the Maryland Economic Development Association.

The association, headquartered in Aberdeen, was established in 1961 as the Maryland Industrial Development Association to improve the state's business climate and the professionalism of people working in economic development. The organization changed its name within the last year. Members include 460 economic development professionals who work for government, business, chambers of commerce and other institutions.

Savich, of Leonardtown, has been director of the county department for four years and is responsible for county efforts in economic development, tourism, agriculture development and housing.

Attention, Carver Parents

Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, a federally funded program provides supplemental services for students in high poverty schools to help them meet the same state standards of learning and performance that apply to all Maryland students.

The federal law gives students enrolled in high poverty schools that have been identified for school improvement on the basis of standardized test scores the option to request transfers to other selected public schools in the school system.

In St. Mary's County, George Washington Carver Elementary School falls under this provision because it did not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress standards for the 2004 and 2005 administration of the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) tests, St. Mary's County public schools officials said in an announcement.

Parents of students scheduled to attend Carver elementary for the 2005-06 school year have the option to transfer their child or children to Green Holly Elementary School or Town Creek Elementary School. Transportation to the option schools will be provided by the school system.

Parents who want to take advantage of the transfer option must complete a student transfer request form, available at the Carver elementary office. The form must be submitted for approval to the director of pupil services by July 20.

A parent school-choice information night is scheduled for next Thursday at Carver. For more information about the school transfer option, call Carol Poe in the academic support department at 301-475-5511, Ext. 140.

DBED Office Moving

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) announced last week that it would move its Southern Maryland regional satellite office to Hughesville beginning tomorrow.

The office serves Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties.

"The relocation of this office speaks to the potential of Southern Maryland," DBED Secretary Aris Melissaratos said in a statement announcing the move. "The area is quickly growing, and DBED is committed to ensuring that the region continues to prosper."

The Southern Maryland Regional Office provides a variety of services to technology and manufacturing businesses in the tri-county area. Steven Wall, DBED's Southern Maryland business development representative, will lead the office.

The agency's Southern Maryland regional office has been housed at the La Plata campus of the College of Southern Maryland since 1996. The office is being moved to a larger location that is more geographically central to the Southern Maryland region and will share space with the Tri-County Council for Southern Maryland.

The Hughesville office will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and can be contacted via the following address and telephone numbers:

* Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, Southern Maryland Regional Office, 15045 Burnt Store Rd., Box 549, Hughesville, Md. 20637.

* Phone: 301-274-9138; fax: 301-274-1924.