Hopkins MBA Preview

There will be an information session on the Johns Hopkins University master of business administration program from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center, 44219 Airport Rd., in St. Mary's County.

Information on courses, application procedures, admission requirements and general academic advisement will be available. Those attending will be able to make initial applications with some fee reduction. Students who have earned a previous master's degree are not required to take the GMAT exam for this MBA program.

Degree programs are presented in their entirety at the Higher Education Center, with courses meeting on weeknights and weekends to accommodate working professionals.

The center presents 81 academic programs, in the fields of engineering, modeling and simulation, information technology, management, nursing, social work, counseling, and education. Included are 16 upper-division bachelor's degrees, 45 master's degrees, 9 graduate certification programs, 10 graduate certificate programs, a PhD in education, and 2 doctorates in science and in engineering.

The center is a half-mile off Route 235 in the Wildewood Technology and Professional Park in California, five miles north of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

Additional information is available on the center's Web site, www.smhec.org, or the Johns Hopkins Web site at www.spsbe.jhu.edu.

Open Burning Permits

St. Mary's County public health officials have implemented a new permit process for open burning in the county.

Acknowledging that summer is a time of increased open burning, county health officer William Icenhower said in a statement that "educating residents about the new permit process and successful burn management are important first steps in reducing environmental and medical complaints and improving public health quality during periods of increased burning activity."

He said many people are unaware that the amount of open burning allowed varies from place to place in Maryland.

St. Mary's County is in a less-restricted air quality zone than neighboring Calvert and Charles counties, with their closer proximity to the metro area. While open burning is limited during the summer elsewhere, in St. Mary's it is allowed year-round. In addition, leaf burning and burning campfires are allowed year-round and do not require permits from the Health Department.

The new permitting process requires a more specific description of the burn request in order to determine the best procedure for a safe burn, the Health Department said.

This year, the Health Department has received 21 verified complaints, nearly as many as in all of 2004.

Each complaint is investigated, and if necessary those involved are instructed about safe burning practices and state air quality regulations.

For more information about burning permits and safe burning contact the St. Mary's County Health Department Environmental Health Division at 301-475-4322.

Hurricane Insurance

With this year's hurricane season already having produced two named storms that have struck the United States, the Southern Maryland Red Cross office advised residents last week to be sure they are adequately insured.

Even with time to prepare for a disaster, those who live in a storm's path still may suffer significant property damage, the Red Cross said in a statement.

To make sure insurance protects against the perils residents face, the disaster aid organization offered the following suggestions.

For homeowners:

* Buy full replacement or replacement cost coverage. This means the structure can be replaced up to the limits specified in the policy.

* Consider buying a guaranteed replacement cost policy. When and where available, these policies can pay to rebuild a house, including improvements, at today's prices, regardless of the limits of the policy.

* Periodically reappraise homes to be sure the policy reflects the real replacement cost.

* Update the policy to include any home improvements, such as basement refinishing.

* Buy a policy that covers the replacement cost of personal possessions. Standard coverage only pays for the actual cash value (replacement cost discounted for age or use).

* Be very clear about what the policy will and will not cover and how the deductibles work (the part the policyholder pays before the insurance company pays).

* Check state-operated or federally operated insurance pools if it is difficult to obtain private coverage because of a recent disaster.

* Do a home inventory, and use it to check the policy's coverage against the value of personal possessions.

For renters:

* Buy renter's insurance, which pays for damaged, destroyed or stolen personal property. The landlord's insurance won't cover damage or loss of the tenant's possessions. Consider special coverage, such as flood insurance for belongings.

* Be clear about what a policy will cover. For example, will it pay for living expenses if the rental property is not inhabitable? Will it cover damage from sewer backup?

Both groups may want to consider special coverage for floods, earthquakes, home offices and other potential problems.

More information on preparing for disasters is available at www.redcross.org.