News of interest to Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties that appeared in the daily Post, July 17 to 23

Sunday | 17

Cyclist Fatally Hit by Car; Driver Charged

Steven Gordon, 38, of White Plains was struck and killed by a car July 16 as he bicycled along the shoulder of Hawthorne Road in the Mason Springs area. Gordon, an avid cyclist, was married and the father of two children. The driver of the vehicle was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of drugs.

Sunday | 17

Project Seeks Beneficial Tobacco Uses

The federally funded Alternative Uses of Tobacco Project at the University of Maryland is seen by farmers and scientists as one of the only remaining opportunities to revive the tobacco industry, which was once the economic and cultural backbone of Southern Maryland. Researchers hope the project will transform tobacco, which has hastened the deaths of millions, into a plant with beneficial uses that could enhance shampoos, treat kidney dialysis patients and even fight certain types of cancer.

Wednesday | 20

Md. Turnaround: $1 Billion Surplus

Maryland finished the fiscal year in June with a $1 billion surplus because a strong economy and rising tax revenue helped erase a shortfall the state faced as recently as two years ago, state officials announced. Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R), who came to office in 2003 confronting a nearly $1 billion budget gap, hailed the surplus as "a remarkable turnaround" that vindicated his administration's spending cuts and resistance to some tax increases. Across the nation, a revived economy has helped at least 34 states improve their revenue outlook this year.

Wednesday | 20

Va. Naval Air Base Added to Review List

Oceana Naval Air Station, Virginia Beach's largest employer, was added to the list of military bases across the country that may be closed or shrunk. The vote on Oceana by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission put a second Hampton Roads facility on the list; the other is the Army's Fort Monroe. The region, in southeastern Virginia, has the largest U.S. military concentration in the world. Some 15,000 people work at Oceana, including civilians.

Wednesday | 20

Arson Investigators Search Home

Federal agents investigating arson fires that devastated a subdivision under construction in Charles County in December executed search warrants Tuesday, according to authorities and residents of a home that was searched. Waldorf resident John Buckley said three FBI agents, accompanied by a deputy from the Charles County Sheriff's Office, scoured his home on Garner Avenue for four hours. Buckley said his adult daughter was acquainted with some of the five men charged in the fires at Hunters Brooke, the state's largest residential arson in recent memory. There was no indication that the woman was a target of the investigation.

Thursday | 21

A Well-Trod Path: Pr. George's to Charles

Driven by a desire to escape high crime rates and to find lower housing prices, Prince George's residents are moving to Charles County in record numbers. Their arrival is transforming the once-rural area into Southern Maryland's most diverse suburb. Between 2000 and 2003, more people from Prince George's moved to Charles than from any other state or neighboring county. State planning figures show that 81 percent of Charles County's net newcomers moved from Prince George's.

Friday | 22

Raid Finds Guns, Meth Lab, Officials Say

Authorities said they found guns, explosives, a methamphetamine lab and literature from an anti-government group at the home of a La Plata man. Lawrence Fox, 23, was arrested Tuesday after co-workers at Belk Department Store in California, Md., reported that he had a handgun on the store's property. When police searched Fox's 1995 Infiniti, they found two handguns, almost 200 rounds of ammunition, a biochemical suit and a black ski mask, said Cpl. William Rosado, spokesman for the St. Mary's County Bureau of Criminal Investigations. Later that night, a raid on the La Plata townhouse where Fox lives with his mother turned up more weapons and explosives as well as a small methamphetamine lab in his bathroom, Rosado said.

EHRLICH