Reuben B. Collins turned 45 at the end of September, but the candidate for Charles County commissioner from District 3 had to put off his birthday bash and campaign start until this week because of someone else's birthday. Collins's first child, Janiya, arrived just before the originally scheduled party.

On Monday night, Collins was joined by dozens of friends and business, education and religious leaders for a reception at the Waldorf Hampton Inn. There was no charge to get in the door or share a slice of the birthday cake, but Collins was accepting donations for his bid for the northern Waldorf-based seat that is occupied by Republican Commissioner Al Smith.

It was surprising then to see another candidate for county commissioner, Bruce Wesbury, a Republican vying for the seat held by retiring commissioner Robert Fuller (D-St. Charles). When asked whether he was supporting Collins, who is a Democrat, Wesbury said, "Reuben has been a good friend of mine, and I'll leave it at that."

Wesbury said it was about reciprocity. Collins had attended his announcement last month at Middleton Hall.

Collins, a lawyer who practices in La Plata, has been active in the past with a political action committee that has tried to change the county's election system. He and other proponents of revisions have said the county's at-large voting prevents minority candidates from getting elected.

Under the current system, four of the five commissioners must live in and run for election from specific election districts, even though the county as a whole votes on each race.

William Braxton, the head of the local chapter of the NAACP, which has pressed for a change to district-based at-large voting, attended Monday's event and praised Collins for attracting a diverse crowd.

"It takes a good mix to win -- different businesses, different races," he said. "No race is going to be won on one accord."

Scottish Links in Charles?

Golf lovers rejoice. You may soon be able to play the renowned St. Andrews course without ever leaving Charles County.

Well, not exactly St. Andrews, but something meant to look just like it. At least that's the vision of a group of developers and designers who have their sights set on a 280-acre former mining site in Waldorf near Mattawoman and Poplar Hill roads.

The property, owned by Frank Chaney of Chaney Enterprises, would be transformed to mimic the Scottish links with a clubhouse in the style of St. Andrews's. It could also include a hotel, conference center and business park, all in keeping with the theme.

The architect, David Edsall, designed a similar course, Renditions in Davidsonville, that has re-created individual holes from exclusive golf clubs around the country, including Augusta National, site of the Masters.

Developer Quentin Weaver, chief executive of Signature Links LLC, told the Charles County commissioners that such a venue would "be a destination-type course, drawing golfers from quite a wide area."

SMECO's Williams to Retire

John W. Williams Jr., a member of the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative's board of directors since 1958, announced this week that he will retire in January.

When he leaves the board, he will have been a director for 48 years. After serving on the board for several years, he became its assistant secretary-treasurer in 1964 and was elected secretary-treasurer in 1965, serving in that post until last year.

During his time on the board, Williams has seen tremendous growth in Southern Maryland and particularly in Calvert, his home county. SMECO also has changed greatly during his tenure -- growing from a small rural electric utility into one of the largest cooperatives in the nation.

Williams also served on the board of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association from 1976 to 1993. He became the first SMECO director to become board president of the national association.

A graduate of Washington College in Chestertown, Md., Williams served in the Navy in World War II. He is a retired president of Mutual Fire Insurance Co. in Calvert County and a former member of the company's board of directors.

SMECO is a customer-owned electric cooperative providing electricity to more than 135,000 members in southern Prince George's County, in Charles and St. Mary's counties, and in all but the northeast portion of Calvert County.

CSM Veterans Fund

Veterans pursuing careers as police, security or corrections officers could benefit from the Veterans Educational Endowment Fund set up by the "Friends for Tim Hutchins" at the College of Southern Maryland.

Col. Thomas E. "Tim" Hutchins, superintendent of the Maryland State Police, established the fund through the CSM Foundation with an initial gift of $10,500 to provide scholarships and to pay for books for veterans pursuing studies in the field of criminal justice.

"Having been both a career soldier and Maryland state trooper, I have witnessed the invaluable impact education can have in these fields of public service," Hutchins said in a statement from the college announcing the new fund. "I also understand the ongoing responsibility we have as citizens who benefit from the sacrifice of our veterans to assist them in their transition from military to civilian life. . . . We need their experience and dedication to duty within the ranks of law enforcement, especially as we fulfill our new role as Maryland's first line of defense against the threat of terrorism."

CSM's criminal justice program prepares students in the fields of law enforcement, parole and probation, juvenile justice, corrections or criminal justice research, according to associate professor Ed Schauf.

As CSM also pursues homeland security curriculum opportunities, Schauf said the veterans' endowment provides "a great opportunity for our veterans returning from Iraq. They will be able to continue their training and use these skills in our fight against terrorism at home and abroad."

Hutchins, who served in the Army from 1965 to 1967 and with the Maryland Army National Guard from 1968 to 2004, received an associate's degree in criminal justice from CSM and a bachelor's degree in law enforcement and sociology and a master's degree in state and local government from the University of Maryland's University College. A retired Maryland state trooper and former commander of the Maryland State Police Academy, Hutchins represented Charles County as a Maryland state delegate from 1995 to 2003, when he was appointed Maryland secretary of veterans affairs.

Prince Frederick Peace Talks

Bay Presbyterian Church will host a series of discussions about peace at 7 p.m. on Saturdays through Dec. 17 at the Southern Maryland Community Center, 305 Prince Frederick Blvd., Prince Frederick.

This Saturday, Iman ER Albanna will talk about teaching peace with the Koran; on Dec. 10, Cantor Arnold Salzman of Washington and New York will lead the series by singing traditional Jewish songs of worship; and on Dec. 17, a holiday celebration will be held with Katherine Sparks performing a spiritual dance called "The Magnificent." For information, call 410-414-9209.

Charles Police Get Laptops

The Charles County Sheriff's Office will equip 17 of its patrol cars with laptop computers by early next year, and over the next five years, 280 additional laptops will be installed in patrol cars at a rate of 56 per year, Sheriff Frederick E. Davis (R) said.

"Officers will be able to conduct inquiries independently and without interfering with other police incidents and radio traffic," Davis said in a statement. "Most importantly, they will have access to officer safety information in seconds."

Funding to equip the first 17 cruisers is coming from a $200,000 grant.

The laptops will allow officers to quickly determine whether a vehicle is stolen or a person is wanted anywhere in the nation. Officers also will be able to link to Motor Vehicle Administration computers to determine the status of all driver's licenses and vehicle registrations.

Officers with laptops in their cruisers will be able to spend more time patrolling, the sheriff's office said, because they will no longer need to report to their station for patrol information before beginning their tours of duty, and they will be able to communicate in real time with officers on patrol. Officers will also be able to complete their reports and submit them electronically.

St. Mary's Board Meeting

The board of trustees of St. Mary's College of Maryland will convene its quarterly meeting tomorrow in the Jarrod Aldom '97 Lounge on the first floor of the Campus Center.

The general session, which is open to the public, is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

New Appointment for May

Gary May, general counsel for the Charles County Sheriff's Office, recently was appointed chairman of the Maryland Chiefs of Police Association's Legal Advisers Committee.

Maryland Transit Police Chief Douglas DeLeaver, president of the association, appointed May to the position.

The Maryland Chiefs of Police Association comprises sheriff's offices and police departments from Maryland that work together to increase the effectiveness of law enforcement. The legal committee drafts, reviews and makes recommendations about legislation.

As the general counsel for the sheriff's office, May is a specially assigned assistant county attorney who makes legislative recommendations, responds to civil lawsuits involving the sheriff's office, and examines the agency's policies and procedures. He joined the sheriff's office in 2003.

Land Donated to St. Mary's

St. Mary's County has accepted the donation of about 21,023 square feet of land (0.483 of an acre) adjacent to the Abell's Wharf Public Landing from the Arundel Corp. for public parking.

The county has leased the property since 2002 to provide a parking area adjacent to the Abell's Wharf boat ramp and pier. In 1998, Florida Rock Properties Inc. donated about 6,160 square feet of land (0.14 of an acre) to the county for use in conjunction with the public landing.

"The donation of land adjacent to the Abell's Wharf Public Landing will play an important role in ensuring that St. Mary's County citizens have appropriate parking and facilities at our public landings," commissioners President Thomas F. McKay (R-At Large) said in a statement.

Staff writer Lauren Wiseman contributed to this report.