Fourth-generation Southern Maryland farmer Earl F. "Buddy" Hance was named deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Agriculture last week.

Hance has held several positions in the state's agriculture industry, including president of the Maryland Farm Bureau, chairman of the Maryland State Tobacco Authority and chairman of the Southern Maryland Agricultural Commission.

"Few people have the combined knowledge of agricultural and environmental policy, rural development, and running a successful farm business in today's economy than Buddy Hance," Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) said in a statement announcing the appointment.

Hance, a former tobacco farmer, and his family farm 400 acres of corn and soybeans and operate several commercial greenhouses. He and his wife, Robin, live in Port Republic in Calvert County and have three children.

O'Malley's nominee for state agriculture secretary, Roger Richardson, praised Hance as being "very instrumental in bringing together the agricultural and environmental communities."

Hance also has been active in numerous local, state and national farm and civic organizations. He represents the Northeastern states on the American Farm Bureau Federation. In Maryland, he is a member of the Rural Maryland Council, the Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department, the Patuxent River Commission, the Southern Maryland Tourism Council, the Calvert Farmland Trust and the board of the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum.

Hance is the second high-ranking state agriculture official from Calvert County in as many Democratic administrations in Annapolis. Former county commissioner Hagner R. Mister served as state agriculture secretary under Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

Pushing 12 PercentGov. Martin O'Malley (D) has nominated 15 Southern Marylanders to various positions at state and regional levels. The governor announced a total of 145 nominations statewide last week. Southern Marylanders nominated for key posts were:

· Judge RichardA. Cooper, renominated for the District Court of Maryland, District 4 for Charles County.

· Leslie Jackson Jenkinsof Charles, for the Maryland Environmental Service board of directors.

· For the College of Southern Maryland board of trustees, Charles R. Bailey Jr. of Calvert County, MacArthur Jonesof Calvert, James K. Raley Jr. of St. Mary's County, Mary Maddox Krugof Calvert, Michael L. Middletonof Charles, Dorothea Holt Smithof Charles and Janice T. Walthourof St. Mary's.

· Richard E. Scott Jr. of Calvert, for the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.

· For the St. Mary's County Board of Elections, Robert H. Goldsmith, Rebecca J. Owens Wathen, Rose V. Frederick, Donald L. O'Neal and Noel T. Wood, all of St. Mary's.

"I am proud to nominate these outstanding candidates to fill key posts in Maryland's state government," O'Malley said in a statement. "We have worked hard to compile a diverse list of individuals from across our state to help make government work again for the people of Maryland."

The nominations are known as "green bag" appointments. The term derives from the historic green satchel that is used annually to bring the governor's nominations to the state Senate. This year, Appointments Secretary Jeanne Hitchcockdelivered the bag to Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden (D-Baltimore City), the Senate president pro tem.

Into the Security BreachIn the wake of the recent theft from St. Mary's Hospital of a laptop computer containing patient information, state Sen. Roy P. Dyson has introduced legislation to strengthen Maryland's identity theft laws.

Dyson (D-St. Mary's) said in a statement that he had received one of the letters sent by the hospital to notify past patients of the theft.

"According to St. Mary's Hospital's letter to me," Dyson said, "the laptop contained information including names, Social Security numbers and birthdates of thousands of former patients dating back to the 1980s."

The hospital notified law enforcement authorities and is working with National ID Recovery, a company that monitors for signs of identity theft. The service will be free to patients.

Dyson said he has introduced legislation because there is no statute that requires businesses such as the hospital to reveal incidents such as the laptop theft. Dyson's bill would mandate that businesses take steps to protect personal information.

It would apply to the compilation of the information as well as to the destruction and disposal of old files, requiring adequate security practices in both cases.

The proposal also would require businesses to notify individuals when there has been a breach of security that could result in personal information being acquired by someone not authorized to have it.

On CampusState Del. John L. Bohanan (D-St. Mary's) has introduced a bill aimed at alleviating the chronic shortage of election judges -- the people who oversee voting at polling places every election day. In a statement announcing his proposal, Bohanan said it was an outgrowth of a suggestion made by Zach Messitte, a professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland. The idea, Bohanan said, is to make serving as an election judge easier for students and staff at the state's college campuses.

Bohanan's bill would increase scheduling flexibility by:

· Allowing local election boards to appoint election judges to serve for all or part of an election day.

· Enabling the boards to apportion the compensation of election judges on the basis of each day or part of day worked.

Other provisions in the bill, Bohanan said, are intended to encourage students and faculty members at institutions of higher education to vote. To that end, the state's public campuses would have to close normal academic activities on the day of a general election.

Each election board also would have to establish a polling place at every public or private institution of higher education in its county.

Black Women's HistoryBlack History Month activities continue throughout Southern Maryland, including a program depicting the lives of black women through history to be presented Saturday at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

Maxine Maxwell, teacher and actor, will perform "Echoes of the Past" at 8 p.m. in St. Mary's Hall on the college's campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The program shows the lives of five African American women, allowing the audience to see what it has been like to be a black woman over the past 150 years.

Women spotlighted in this production include Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells and Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine.

Maxwell is from St. Louis, where she graduated from Webster University Conservatory of Theatre Arts. She has taught theater workshops and worked as a producer in the New York area.