Fire Dept. Wins Grant

The Mechanicsville Volunteer Fire Department received a federal grant of $110,950 last week to purchase gear for firefighters.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) presented a check Monday to department Chief Robert Johnson and President William Wilkerson. The funds are a federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant, a program that Hoyer worked to establish to help fire departments nationwide pay for equipment and training.

The money will be used to buy 47 sets of gear, including helmets, boots, hoods and gloves. The department will also purchase a washer and dryer for its gear.

Communication in a Crisis

Southern Maryland is no stranger to disasters and the need for skilled crisis communication. On Thursday, area public relations professionals will discuss lessons learned during Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and the La Plata tornado in 2002, as well as communicating with the public during man-made disasters that may occur within an organization.

Members of Public Relations Individuals in Southern Maryland, also known as PRISM, and others will meet at noon at the College of Southern Maryland's La Plata campus on Mitchell Road. The meeting will be in the Center for Business and Industry Building, Room 124 (next to the cafeteria).

Guest speakers will be Mike Zabko, head of the Southern Maryland Red Cross; Nina Voehl, public information officer for Charles County and the lead public relations officer following the La Plata tornado; and Bruce Leshan, a reporter for WUSA-TV Channel 9 in Washington. The speakers will lead a discussion to examine what works and what doesn't during a crisis.

The meeting is free for PRISM members and $5 for guests. Participants are asked to bring their lunch or purchase lunch from the college's cafeteria or deli. To RSVP, contact Karen Smith-Hupp at or call 301-934-7701.

Siblings With Disabilities

Partners for Success is sponsoring a free seminar called "What About Me? The Care and Nurture of the Siblings of Children With Disabilities" from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Oct. 19 in the Russell Room of the Carter Building in Leonardtown.

Psychologist Wanda Vander Nat will discuss how growing up with a brother or sister with a disability affects a child. She will offer suggestions about what parents, community service workers and siblings can do to support the development of a person with disabilities.

A light dinner will be served. Registration is required by Friday. To register, contact Susan Shannon at 301-863-4069.

Partners for Success, a joint program of St. Mary's County public schools and the state Department of Education, operates a resource center at Green Holly Elementary School to assist families of children and youths with disabilities, ages 3 through 20, with education decisions.

GED Program Orientation

The St. Mary's County public schools Adult Basic Education/GED Program has scheduled its next information and orientation session for the 2005-06 school year at 9 a.m. Friday at the College of Southern Maryland in Leonardtown, Building B.

Class information will be available, and placement assessments will be conducted and students assigned to classes. The orientation will last two to three hours. Classes begin the week of Oct. 17.

This program provides individualized instruction in basic skills such as reading, writing and mathematics as well as preparation for the GED test to obtain a high school diploma. Students may attend morning, afternoon or evening classes.

Classes are open to anyone 16 or older who is officially withdrawn from school. All classes are free, but there is a small fee for materials. Classes will meet at the following locations and times:

* Great Mills High School -- Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:30-9 p.m.

* Chopticon High School -- Mondays and Wednesdays, 6:30-9 p.m.

* Jobs Connection (Lexington Park area) -- Mondays and Thursdays, noon-2:30 p.m.

* College of Southern Maryland, Leonardtown -- Mondays and Wednesdays, 9-11:30 a.m.

There are also classes available in family literacy and an online class for GED preparation.

For more information, call the Adult Education Office at 301-475-5511, Ext. 139 or Ext. 143.

Early Learning Video

The Charles County Early Childhood Team, a group of educators, health care providers and community members, has released a video titled "Are You Ready to Learn?"

The video, produced in cooperation with the Charles County government, shows the importance of the early childhood years in preparing children to learn before they enter kindergarten.

A free copy of the video is available to be shown in any doctor's office, agency or other place serving young children.

"Are You Ready to Learn?" can also be viewed by Comcast Cable subscribers on Charles County government's Channel 95 and the county schools' Channel 96.

For a copy of the video or additional information, contact Lois Beverage, Charles County Health Department, at 301-609-6803 or

It's Militia Muster Time

Historic St. Mary's City's annual Grand Militia Muster will take place Saturday.

The St. Maries Citty Militia will host 17th-century reenactors from throughout the mid-Atlantic region for a day of competitions, drills and socializing. The public is invited to mingle with militia families at the encampment by the State House between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Visitors will be able to watch musketry, pistol, fencing and crossbow competitions; artillery demonstrations; and a mock battle. They will be able to inspect the goods offered 17th-century settlers or see what's cooking on an open hearth.

Militia members are volunteers who research and reenact the lives and times of the citizen-soldiers who took up arms to defend the colony before there was a hired armed force. The colonists would periodically travel from their plantations to practice their soldiers' skills together at a muster.

Militia Muster activities will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and are included with admission to the museum. Fees are $7.50 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, $3.50 for children ages 6-12, and free for those 5 and younger.

For more information about this event or the museum, call 800-SMC-1634 or 240-895-4990 or visit

Opening on Housing Panel

Charles County is seeking applicants for a vacancy on the Housing Commission.

The seven-member commission ensures the availability of safe, sanitary and decent housing for low- and moderate-income people in Charles County. Members serve five-year terms. Meetings are held on the fourth Thursday of each month at 4:30 p.m. in La Plata.

Any interested resident should contact Linda Rollins, clerk to the county commissioners, at 301-645-0554 or 301-870-3000 or by e-mail at to obtain an application form. You may also download an application from the Charles County government Web site,

Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. Oct. 28.

Homegrown Art Exhibit

This month, the North End Gallery in Leonardtown is celebrating the rural culture and character of the area in an exhibit titled "Seeds of Southern Maryland."

North End member artists will take a fresh and imaginative look at familiar places using a variety of media, including oils, watercolor, pottery, sculpture, photography and stained glass.

The show was created to coordinate with the introduction of Southern Maryland Trails: Earth, Art, Imagination. The trails program is a guidebook linking sites that feature the area's art, culture and natural heritage with an emphasis on things that are original, handmade and homegrown.

The "Seeds of Southern Maryland" was scheduled to open yesterday in conjunction with the launch of the trails program.

North End Gallery hours are 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon-4 p.m. Sundays at 41652 Fenwick St. in Leonardtown.