News of interest to Calvert, Charles and St. Mary's counties that appeared in the daily Post from Oct. 23 to 29

Monday | 24

Twenty-Somethings Leave Calvert

Where have all the twenty-somethings gone? Even as Calvert County became Maryland's fastest-growing jurisdiction during the 1990s, the number of people ages 20 to 29 dropped by 746. Only 8.8 percent of Calvert residents are in their twenties, according to the 2000 Census -- down from 15.3 percent in 1980, a more precipitous drop than the slight decrease nationwide in the percentage of people in that age group. The national average is 13.6 percent. This generational shift in Calvert -- which along with Fauquier County had the lowest percentage of adults in their twenties in the Washington region in the 2000 Census -- is in part an extreme example of a phenomenon found throughout the region's outer suburbs: Young people fleeing in droves.

Good News, Bad News on Schools

In Maryland and Virginia public schools, statewide exams are a cause for perpetual celebration. Scores go up almost every year in virtually every grade level and subject tested. On the Maryland School Assessment this year, scores rose in all 24 school systems. But on another test, the only one given by the federal government to public students nationwide, scores tell a different story. According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Maryland students have improved their proficiency since 2003 in just one area, fourth-grade math. Virginia scores are up, but not by much, and eighth-grade reading performance has stalled. The results provide a sharp contrast to the dramatic gains reported by Maryland and Virginia on their statewide exams, required under the federal No Child Left Behind law. To critics, it's further evidence -- along with comparatively flat SAT scores, graduation rates and other measures -- that public education is not improving in an era of high-stakes testing.

Thursday | 27

Md., Va. to Study Toll Lanes

The governors of Virginia and Maryland announced plans to study adding express toll lanes to 28 miles of the region's major commuter routes, including large portions of the Capital Beltway, as both states push to build the new-style highways. Maryland will lead a study on adding toll lanes to 14 miles of the Beltway from Georgetown Pike across the American Legion Bridge and onto Interstate 270 to its juncture with Interstate 370. Virginia transportation officials will lead a study on adding the lanes to 14 miles of the Beltway from Springfield across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to Route 5 in Maryland.

Teen Substance Use Drops Again

The use of alcohol, tobacco and most other illicit substances by Maryland youth declined last year, continuing a downward trend that has lasted a decade, according to the results of the 2004 biennial Maryland Adolescent Survey, presented to the State Board of Education. Among the highlights were a nearly 50 percent drop since 1994 in the percentage of students who said they had consumed alcohol the month before. Similar drops were reported for the percentage of sixth- and eighth-graders who reported they had used marijuana.

Friday | 28

Neighbors' Deadly Dispute

St. Mary's County State's Attorney Richard D. Fritz (R) is reviewing a confrontation between neighbors over access to a boat ramp on Tanner Creek. In the shoving match that followed, Joseph Donick Jr., 57, fell down several steps and ended up on the ground. His wife called an ambulance, which took Donick to St. Mary's Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Fritz said he plans to bring the case before a grand jury next month, but is waiting for a report on the cause of death, an issue complicated by Donick's previous heart problems.

Judge Not Cited for Wreck

Maryland state troopers said in a report two months ago that Prince George's County District Judge Richard A. Palumbo, the focus of controversy in recent days for a decision in a domestic violence case and a voided traffic ticket, caused a two-vehicle accident in Charles County. But they did not issue a citation to him. The August incident near Port Tobacco occurred six months after a trooper was "counseled" for deviating from official procedure by voiding a speeding ticket he had issued to Palumbo in Mitchellville. On Wednesday, Palumbo, 67, was reassigned to administrative tasks following a Washington Post report on the voided ticket. Palumbo has faced criticism for dismissing a protective order against a man who allegedly set his wife on fire three weeks later.

Calvert Cliffs Might Expand

Constellation Energy, which owns Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, and France-based Areva Inc. announced their intent to file an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license to build and operate a new generating plant. Earlier this year, the two firms joined to form the UniStar Nuclear partnership for the purpose of building a nuclear power plant. Calvert Cliffs is one of the possible sites for the new reactor.