Charles County's libraries are offering free high-speed wireless Internet access at all three branches to patrons ages 18 and older.
The county has 88 computers available to the public, but "they are all full all the time," said library director Emily Ferren.
Without the money to purchase additional computers, the library is encouraging customers to bring their laptops to check e-mail and conduct online research.
Comcast Cable and the Waldorf-based consulting firm Meridian Ventures donated the service, hardware and technical expertise to the libraries.
Initially, only adults will be allowed to use the wireless connection because the service does not block e-mail or chat rooms as required by the library's policy for children and teenagers.
"We're trying to filter at the lowest level possible to give people as much access as possible,'' Ferren said. "The only issues left are chat rooms and e-mail."
St. Mary's County, which also provides patrons with free wireless access, does not have an age limit. The county purchased software last year that provides the same filtering system for wireless and wired users.
For Charles County's library hours and more information, visit www.ccplonline.org or call 301-934-9001.
Kelly Launches Campaign
Charles County Commissioner Candice Quinn Kelly (R-La Plata) will begin her election campaign with a reception and dinner party at a private home overlooking the Wicomico River.
The event is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. and end at 9 p.m.
Kelly was appointed commissioner in March to complete the term of former commissioner W. Daniel Mayer (R), who was selected to fill a vacancy in the Maryland House of Delegates.
Kelly supporters recently formed the Committee to Elect Candice Quinn Kelly. The organization will guide Kelly's efforts to retain the seat in next year's commissioner elections.
Provisional Voting Bill
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the House Democratic whip, has introduced an election reform bill called "Secure America's Vote Act of 2005."
The measure seeks to bring uniformity among the states in the way provisional ballots are treated. Legislation adopted after the 2000 presidential election requires states to provide provisional ballots to voters whose registrations are in doubt when they appear at polling places.
"Unfortunately," said Hoyer, who represents the 5th District, "some states in 2004 refused to count provisional ballots if they were not cast in the right polling precinct, even if they were cast in the correct county or voting jurisdiction, and for federal candidates for whom voters were eligible to vote."
Under the proposal, starting in 2006, a provisional ballot cast in a federal election would be counted if the voter is eligible and casts the ballot in the correct county or township. Beginning in 2008, provisional ballots would be counted if they are cast at any polling place in the state. Only those votes for federal candidates for whom the voter is eligible to vote would be counted.
The measure also calls for improved security for electronic voting machines and the software used to run them, controls to ensure that eligible voters are not removed from the rolls and streamlined federal voter registration forms.
List to Be Updated
The Charles County Public Information Office is updating its mailing list of community, neighborhood, service, fraternal, professional and nonprofit organizations. The list is used to distribute information about local government and its services.
Groups and organizations that want to be placed on the list should send the name of the organization, address, contact person, telephone number and e-mail address to the Public Information Office -- by mail to Charles County Government Building, PO Box 2150, La Plata, Md. 20646; by fax to 301-645-0580; or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Study Lauds St. Mary's
A study conducted by the American City Business Journals to find the nonmetropolitan counties that offer the best quality of life in each section of the country names St. Mary's County as the best in the mid-Atlantic region.
The study used 20 statistical indicators to rate the quality of life in 1,766 micropolitan and rural counties and independent cities across America. A Micropolitan Statistical Area must have at least one urban cluster of at least 10,000 but less than 50,000 residents.
The categories were: stability, work within neighborhood, work within county, short commutes, mass transit availability, young adults, racial diversity, poverty, unemployment, top-level jobs, income, home value, home affordability, property taxes, new housing units, big houses, homeowner rate, high school graduates, college graduates and graduate degrees.
The study did not include the nation's 1,089 metropolitan counties or the 286 micropolitan and rural counties with populations below 5,000. Statistics used were from the 2000 U.S. Census.