Thanks to Rescuers

I would like to thank the Bay District Volunteer Fire Department, the Solomons Volunteer Fire Department and Jim Wood, animal warden for St. Mary's County. They and others saved the kitten that was stranded on the Thomas Johnson Bridge across the Patuxent River at Solomons.

I adopted the kitten, along with another to keep him company. I have named him Solomon. He has been checked by the veterinarian, and his only ailments were fleas and a scratched cornea -- no broken bones. When he first came home with me, he weighed just 1.75 pounds. In less than a week, he had gained almost another pound.

I want to thank veterinarian Greg Lorenz of the Three Notch Veterinary Hospital, who has treated Solomon and is keeping a health scrapbook on him.

Solomon is still frightened, but he is doing much better and playing with his toys and his kitten companion, Sasha.

I urge everyone to contribute to their local volunteer fire departments. They do not get enough credit for the hazardous work that they do. They do wonderful things -- even saving a kitten stranded on a bridge.

G. Cruz


Felines Have Their Friends

I read a touching letter to the editor titled "Shameful Treatment of a Kitten" [Southern Maryland Extra, July 24]. The letter, written by Dorothy Smigel, said a lot about animal cruelty.

This kitten was thrown from a moving vehicle onto the Thomas Johnson Bridge and left for dead. Thankfully, the smart kitten saved itself by plunging to the water below and then was picked up by a waiting rescue boat.

Smigel is right by saying, "We don't have an animal problem, we have a people problem." I would refer to them as animal abusers who need to be punished for their crimes.

What a shame that a Maryland state trooper said, "Why don't we just shoot the damn thing?" Leaving helpless animals on a bridge to die is a crime known as cruelty to animals. Thank God this kitten gets a second chance at life because of the efforts of all involved in the rescue that evening.

I am a volunteer for Calvert County's Friends of Felines, a no-kill shelter. It find homes for abused and unwanted cats on a regular basis.

With all the rescue groups, foster homes and volunteers in the tri-county area, we will continue to save abused cats in Southern Maryland. Keep up the good, hard work!

Phyllis Lowe

Prince Frederick

Preserve Primary Day

Recent comments reported in some papers concerning a possible change in Maryland's primary Election Day command a rational reply. It would appear that the only reason presented for the change is that it might benefit the Democratic Party. I question if that is sound reasoning to alter the political processes in Maryland.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) has suggested that the primary be moved from September to June. Since June is at the end of the school year, and September is at the beginning, and almost half of the polling places in the state are school buildings, one would have to question how disruptive such a change would be to the end of the school-year processes, particularly in elementary schools.

Traditionally in Maryland, the period for filing a statement of candidacy for an elected position has been from one year before up to the closing date for filing. The deadline for filing is 10 weeks before the primary election. Therefore, if the primary stays on the second Tuesday of September, the filing period would have begun July 5, 2005, and would last until July 3, 2006. A change to a June primary would mean a filing deadline of about April 4, 2006, which will be before the end of the 2006 legislative session. Potential candidates will lose months of lead time to challenge the incumbents if the primary day is altered.

Candidates are allowed to post those ugly road signs we all love 45 days before the primary election. For a June 13 primary, that would be April 29. There are not too many people who want to look at political advertising on the highways and byways of Maryland from April 29 until November! There will probably be an increase in political junk mail as well, another treat we can look forward to.

A change in the date of the primary is also likely to decrease voter participation, which is already perilously low in Maryland. Any action reducing primary voter turnout should be avoided.

Changing primary day is a bad idea. We have a political system in place, and we need to stick to it. The rules are the rules, and we play the game according to the rules in place, not changing them as we go to suit our whims. Whatever happens will happen, but let's let it happen in September, the way we always do. Changing the presidential primary day to "Super Tuesday" was a dud, and this will be, too.

Tom Kelley

Chairman, Calvert County

Republican Central Committee


New Water Supply Needed

I read in the The Washington Post that Southern Maryland's water supplies are not sustainable for the next 25 years [Metro, July 28]. This is an issue I have addressed over the past two years with several of our elected and non-elected officials in Charles County.

I have studied the executive summary of the Advisory Committee on the Management and Protection of the State's Water Resources, also referred to as the Wolman report, of May 28, 2004. There are numerous references to declining water supplies, including that "water levels in some aquifers in several areas in Southern Maryland are approaching the minimum sustainable management level" (page ES-7). Additionally, water-level trends in contained aquifers based on hydrograph records of the U.S. Geological Survey and Maryland Geological Survey monitoring wells in the Magothy Formation, Upper Patapsco Formation and Lower Patapsco Formation have dropped significantly, and "water levels exceeding 170 feet below sea level have been recorded"; and "between 1990 and 2001, water levels declined about 50 feet in La Plata, 30 feet in Waldorf and 20 feet at Bryans Road."

The report also indicates that "management levels in some areas have and will be exceeded."

The advisory committee also identified topics for further study, including that a process be established to ensure that local governments approve developments based on the adequacy of the water supply for new developments.

As of this writing, I continue to see a proliferation of new development in Charles County. According to the Wolman report, "State law requires local or county authorities to ensure that adequate water is available before approving a building permit, and to ensure that adequate capacity will be available in time to serve a proposed development before approving a subdivision plat." (page ES-6)

The July 28 Washington Post article quotes Robert S. Summers, director of the Water Management Administration in the Maryland Department of the Environment, who said, "We need to begin planning . . . because 25 years is not much time." In my opinion, that 25-year estimate is optimistic and could actually be . . . 10 to 15 years.

The Post article goes on to say that Charles County has a backup supply with a capacity of 1.4 million gallons from the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission; however, that would not provide any benefit whatsoever to the thousands of Southern Maryland residents who use private wells. In addition, 1.4 million gallons is literally a drop in the bucket considering that Southern Maryland is using 43.4 million gallons per day.

This is an issue that deserves our immediate attention. We cannot wait for the well to go dry before taking action.

Cheryl E. Thomas


Confirm Safety of LNG

Dominion energy corporation and its employees, such as spokesman Dan Donovan, are voicing more and more rejections. First, it was rejecting the least damaging route that Citizens Against Pipeline Expansion members recommended for Dominion's proposed liquid natural gas (LNG) pipeline. CAPE had carefully studied Dominion's preferred route as well as the route it ultimately recommended. Another rejection by Dominion concerns the major problem of gas leaks in Prince George's County and the studies and reports by other companies and experts in this field that link the shrinking of the seals in the Prince George's gas pipes to the low hydrocarbon content in Dominion's imported gas that was supplied to Prince George's customers by Washington Gas Co. without being mixed with domestic gas. Dominion rejects the findings of the analysis, headed by Environ International Corp., and says the seals and pipelines are the problems and not the fact that the Prince George's area was served imported revaporized natural gas.

The investigation is still going on, and Washington Gas is faced with a staggering cost of about $144 million to replace the damaged seals. Of course, Dominion will try to talk its way out of paying for the seal replacement even if the unmixed, imported, revaporized gas from Dominion's Cove Point terminal is found to be the cause or main cause of the leak problem in Prince George's County.

There has been an accumulation of questionable actions on the part of Dominion up to the time of the huge problem of leaks in Prince George's County, including:

* providing false information to property owners about the surveying on their land.

* photographing activities around the facility.

* misstating the amount of gas on hand to the Department of Energy, leading to price increases to consumers.

* not reporting their gas tanker repair near the Cove Point plant until citizen inquiry.

The huge problem of leaks and future leaks is not going away just because Dominion rejects the explanation. Every tanker load of liquefied natural gas that comes into the Cove Point facility may have a different content and different problems that have not been considered yet. LNG import procedures are dangerous and unpredictable. Dominion's actions thus far make the residents of Calvert County and others wonder if Dominion would be more concerned about the corporation's welfare than about the residents if there were to be an emergency.

Is our county government requiring regular testing of our air and also the inspection of some of the overgrown gas line easements to check leakage? A federal inspector has many thousands of miles to inspect. Have the county commissioners visited the facility and understood the dangerous procedures that take place there? Have the commissioners set a standard for safety drills in case of accidents at the facility (like in 1979) or on the gas pipeline? How will residents know if there is an emergency since we do not have a radio station (and if electricity is not working). Paul Revere probably had a better communication system than our county's.

It may be worthwhile idea for the county to slow down a bit on recreation projects and focus on safety procedures since our county is a prime target for terrorists. Some progress should be made in handling safety problems as was suggested by the residents who attended the CAPE meeting a few weeks ago. Our county leaders need to ensure a safer environment in this county. Many, many people feel the United States will rue the time the administration and legislators encouraged and proliferated the use of LNG in the country and increased the danger in our lives instead of encouraging progress in the uses of sources of renewable energy and conservation.

Phyllis S. Johnson

Port Republic

Chautauqua 2005 at CSM

This summer, Chautauqua 2005, "War and Democracy: Personal Journeys," entertained and educated about 377 people with free performances at the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata from July 11 to 14.

Even with the threat of severe weather, audience members were enlightened and inspired as they listened to and engaged in lively discussions with historians portraying Margaret Bourke-White, Benjamin O. Davis Jr., George Orwell and Abraham Lincoln. For a brief time, young and old alike experienced history in a special way.

This was CSM's sixth year to host the chautauqua, which is annually presented by the Maryland Humanities Council at only six sites throughout the state. This year, CSM was especially pleased to see many newcomers, including guests from throughout Southern Maryland, Ohio and as far away as Germany.

Our success at each year's chautauqua can be credited to the support of our many community partners. Thank you to all who posted fliers, printed calendar listings, or encouraged neighbors, friends and family to join them at the chautauqua. Appreciation is especially extended this year to the Maryland Independent newspaper, Parent Line magazine, Calvert Marine Museum, La Plata Brewhouse Coffees, Nook & Monks Restaurant in Leonardtown, Citrus Cafe in Bryans Road, Borders Books & Music, and Al Smith Stamp and Seal in Waldorf. The winners of a Parent Line and college coloring contest were Danielle Shaw of Lexington Park and Sydney Tonic of Prince Frederick.

Thank you again to all, and we look forward to seeing you next summer under the big tent next July when the Maryland Humanities Council's Chautauqua 2006 returns.

Tim Keating

College of Southern Maryland

La Plata