The "Today" show will throw a "hometown wedding" for Sarah Raley and Mark Dale on Sept. 16 at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club -- 69 miles from Dale's hometown of Lusby and 99 miles from Raley's in Valley Lee.

That's not making economic development officials and businessmen in Southern Maryland happy. Of the four possible locations that NBC viewers voted on to host the couple's wedding, only one -- the Garden of Remembrance at St. Mary's College of Maryland -- was located in Southern Maryland. The Chesapeake Bay Beach Club is just over the Bay Bridge on the Eastern Shore.

A wedding at St. Mary's College would have provided a much better opportunity to promote the county, said Bill Scarafia, president of the St. Mary's County Chamber of Commerce.

"Lost the wedding, we're disappointed," said St. Mary's County Commissioner Thomas A. Mattingly Sr. (D-Leonardtown). "I'm sure what they have on the Eastern Shore will be nice for them, and that's the most important thing, that they enjoy their day they have with their friends and family."

Raley, her father and her brother are all graduates of St. Mary's College, but the bride-to-be sounded politely pleased with the winning location.

"We were both really excited that that one was picked," she said. "But not because it was over any of the other ones."

The Beach Club has four ballrooms overlooking the water, she said, and four outdoor terraces that could be used for the ceremony. Raley said she didn't "have a set preference" among the four choices, but the Beach Club was tough to pass up.

"I did vote for it," she said.

Creative Classroom Ideas

Students in Charles County are more likely to be taught in a portable classroom than in any other county in Maryland. School officials estimate the county will need to build 18 more schools in the next 20 years.

But that's not stopping Board of Education members from getting creative and thinking outside the traditional school building walls. During a brainstorming session this week, members tossed out a long list of ideas. Among them: allowing students to take online classes from home, offering temporary tuition vouchers for students who attend crowded schools and sending more students to schools in other counties.

In addition, there were suggestions to build schools that would combine grades 6-12 and to stagger scheduling, such as rotating students between three- and four-day weeks. Board member Collins A. Bailey even joked that the district could start offering classes on the school bus.

Superintendent James E. Richmond had another idea. The school district should work with county commissioners to implement long-range building plans more aggressively.

That, he said, "is the only real solution."

Director of Aging to Retire

Gene Carter, director of the St. Mary's County Department of Aging, has announced that he will retire at the end of the month. His last day will be Aug. 26.

Carter has led the Department of Aging for the past 17 years -- a time when the number of seniors residing in St. Mary's has increased significantly.

In a statement released by the county government, Carter highlighted several accomplishments, including the new Northern Senior Center, use of aquatic classes by seniors at the Great Mills swimming pool and more meal deliveries to home-bound seniors through the St. Mary's County Meals on Wheels program.

The county commissioners are expected to begin the search for Carter's successor "within the next few weeks," said commissioners President Thomas F. McKay (R-At Large).

Sobriety Checkpoints

Because of the increased number of traffic fatalities in the county, the Charles County Sheriff's Office says it will conduct a series of sobriety checkpoints at random locations throughout the county.

The sheriff's office has participated in such checkpoints with other law enforcement agencies in the past, but increased funding is making it possible for the office to conduct its own checkpoints. The sheriff's office will notify the public through the news media and on its Web site,, about the dates.

"Checkpoints have a lot of advantages for law enforcement," Charles County Sheriff Frederick E. Davis (R) said in a statement. "We can concentrate on problem areas and remove more intoxicated drivers from our roadways than standard patrols allow."

Davis said officers will distribute fliers to sober motorists about driving under the influence of alcohol.

"Just because they pass through the checkpoint doesn't mean they've never driven after consuming alcohol, that they won't find themselves contemplating drinking and driving," he said.

Student Awarded Grant

Marisa Dobson, a senior this fall at St. Mary's College of Maryland, was awarded a full grant by the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation to attend "Think Outside the Bomb," a national youth conference this week in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Dobson is one of 70 student leaders attending the gathering, which features disarmament experts, educators, veteran activists and artists from across the United States. The grant covers lodging, food and travel stipends.

Dobson is an English major and a Nitze Scholar (the honors program that focuses on leadership and service). Last spring, she co-edited and co-produced the publication "Atrocity: Questions of Morality and Responsibility."

"I see this opportunity to attend 'Think Outside the Bomb' as an extension of my lifelong interest in international relations, social activism, and writing," Dobson wrote in an announcement from the college.

Birth Certificate Policy

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has implemented a rule change aimed at preventing unauthorized access to birth certificates in an effort to strengthen state and national security.

Applicants requesting copies of birth certificates in person must now present valid, unexpired, government-issued identification, the St. Mary's County Health Department said. Eligible people who request a copy of a birth certificate must present photographic identification that includes a date of issue and an expiration date.

Applicants who are unable to supply valid photo identification must present two pieces of alternative documentation, such as a Social Security card, current vehicle registration, utility bill, copy of income tax return or W-2 form, payroll stub, bank statement, lease or rental agreement, or letter from a government agency requesting a vital record. At least one of these documents must contain the applicant's current mailing address.

Applicants who do not have a valid photo identification will not be able to receive the birth certificate the same day.

Kullen Joins Commission

State Del. Sue Kullen (D-Calvert) has been appointed to the Agricultural Stewardship Commission established by the leadership of the General Assembly.

Other Southern Maryland members are state Sens. Thomas M. Middleton (D-Charles) and Roy P. Dyson (D-St. Mary's).

The commission was created to work with farmers and other members of the state's agricultural community to find incentive-driven practices that will help clean up Maryland's rivers and streams and the Chesapeake Bay.

A series of meetings has been scheduled across the state. The session in Southern Maryland will be held at 7 p.m. Aug. 29 at the Calvert County Fairgrounds. All farmers, conservationists and others interested in the effort are invited to attend.

Design Contest

The Patuxent Partnership and St. Mary's County government are seeking entries from artists in the cover art contest for the 2006 edition of the Technology Handbook.

The creator of the winning design will receive a $500 prize from the Patuxent Partnership, a nonprofit economic development consortium that promotes emerging-technology businesses and the diversification of technology-based industry.

Contest rules and specifications for the artwork are posted at The deadline for entries is Sept. 2.