Pax River's New Museum

Your story in the July 7 Southern Maryland Extra incorrectly described the new Patuxent River Naval Air Museum and Visitor Center project as "a renovation."

The project is not a renovation, but rather the construction of a new 23,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art museum and visitor center that will present past, current and future developments in naval aviation technology -- a showcase for the Navy's mission at Patuxent River. As an educational asset, the museum will provide learning experiences for young people, opening a window into the scientific frontiers being explored at Patuxent River and stimulating their interest in technology careers and education. As an economic development asset, the new museum and visitor center will provide a venue for marketing the capabilities of the base and the high-technology companies that support the Navy's mission.

When completed, this new, visually impressive structure will become a landmark and gateway to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station and the Lexington Park community. The present museum, which occupies 15,000 square feet of renovated warehouse space on the new museum site, will continue to perform a vital support role as part of the new museum and visitor center complex.

With the assistance of our elected leaders at the federal, state and county level, we have secured almost $6.8 million in capital funding commitments for construction of the museum. The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum Association has led the private sector fundraising campaign. As a result of these combined efforts, construction of the base project is fully funded and ready to go, and we are seeking the remaining funds needed to complete the interior mezzanine level.

The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum is one of Southern Maryland's most important attractions, welcoming more than 60,000 domestic and international visitors a year to St. Mary's County. When completed, the new museum and visitor center will serve as a regional hub for travel information, promoting destinations, museums, parks and historic sites throughout St. Mary's County and Southern Maryland.

Gary V. Hodge

Adviser, Patuxent River

Naval Air Museum and

Visitor Center project

White Plains

Drive Sober or Designate

I would like to take a moment to remind the residents of Charles County about one of America's deadliest problems: impaired driving. During the 100 days of summer, the number of alcohol-related traffic crashes and fatalities increases significantly across the nation, making this one of the most dangerous times of year.

Increased alcohol use throughout the summer and particularly around major holiday weekends -- Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day -- has made summer a grim season for law enforcement, emergency medical staff members, highway safety officials, and the friends and families of victims of alcohol-related crashes.

Fortunately, the tragedies from alcohol-related crashes can be prevented if everyone takes a few simple precautions before going out to party this summer. When you plan to consume alcohol, be sure to designate a sober driver in advance. Friends don't let friends drive drunk.

If you do become impaired, ask a sober friend for a ride home, use mass transit, call a cab, ask a friend or family member to come get you, or just stay where you are and sleep it off until you are sober. And whether you've been drinking alcohol, soda or water, always wear your seat belt. It is your single best defense against death or injury in a crash.

Every 30 minutes -- nearly 50 times a day -- someone in America dies in an alcohol-related crash, and more than 300,000 people are injured in alcohol-related crashes each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in their lives.

We don't have to accept these numbers. Crashes caused by impaired driving are preventable. This year, 19 traffic crashes in Charles County have resulted in 23 deaths. Of those, two were the result of people driving while impaired -- one driver used alcohol and one, drugs. This means too many people still don't understand that alcohol, drugs and driving don't mix. Impaired driving is no accident, nor is it a victimless crime.

So please be responsible and do not drive if you are impaired. And if you see someone who may be an impaired driver, notify law enforcement immediately. We do everything possible to find impaired drivers and take them off the roadway, and we appreciate and take seriously reports from residents about impaired drivers.

Finally, to all those who choose to be sober drivers and all those who make the life-saving choice not to drive while impaired, as a father and as the sheriff of Charles County, I thank you.

Frederick E. Davis

Sheriff, Charles County

La Plata

Rein In Extremists

It is time that the following be said, broadcast and implemented.

This is a message to the Islamic, Muslim, Arabic, Middle Eastern communities of the United States of America.

We, the remainder of the population, understand and believe that the vast majority of your religious and ethnic communities are upstanding citizens of or immigrants to the United States. We believe you wish the rest of the citizenry no harm but merely want to have pleasant and productive lives enjoying your families, your religious faith and your work, and the liberties of this country.

But -- and this is a great "but" -- certain people of your religious and ethnic backgrounds act in a manner that threatens the lives and well-being of the rest of the country's people. These wrongheaded few are . . . causing great fear in the . . . the country and, in some cases, the world.

It is time for the greater majority of your communities to . . . be the eyes and ears of the rest of the population and inform on and turn in those who are violent thugs and intend to do harm to the American way of life merely because they believe they have the only answer to the proper ordering of the community.

Many other ethnic and religious groups in the country have gone through their tribulations when some of their own were on the wrong side of the law and common sense. In many cases it took good people in those communities to insist to their ethnic or religious brethren that good order required good sense and tolerance. Now, it is your turn.

Citizens, now is the time. Procrastination will not do. Ferret out the few thugs and make this country again a free society where walking down the street is not an exercise in bravado, but merely a common enjoyable experience.

Jim Blass