Try me­di­a­tion to help re­solve con­flicts with oth­ers

Maryland Independent - - News -

Me­di­a­tion can help re­solve dis­putes be­tween fam­ily, em­ploy­ers and em­ploy­ees, busi­nesses, land­lord/ten­ant mat­ters, home own­ers as­so­ci­a­tions and more. The Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land, La Plata Cam­pus/ Charles County Com­mu­nity Me­di­a­tion Cen­ter is spon­sor­ing a me­di­a­tion work­shop 1:30-3:30 p.m. Satur­day, Aug. 5, at the La Plata Li­brary Branch, 2 Garrett Ave. For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact Julie Wal­ton, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the cen­ter, at 301539-4683 or go to www.csmd.edu/com­mu­nity/me­di­a­tion.

Free doc­u­ment shred­ding of­fered Aug. 19

The De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works is pro­vid­ing doc­u­ment shred­ding ser­vices on Satur­day, Aug. 19, from 9 a.m. to noon in the Re­gency Fur­ni­ture Sta­dium park­ing lot, 11765 St. Li­nus Drive, Wal­dorf, home of the South­ern Mary­land Blue Crabs. Fea­tured at the event is:

• Free, se­cure, on­site shred­ding ser­vices avail­able from 9 a.m. to noon;

• Bring up to five boxes (per ve­hi­cle) of per­sonal

Comp­trol­ler an­nounces open­ing of new tax­payer call cen­ter

At the grand open­ing cer­e­mony last week for the new Hager­stown Branch Of­fice, Mary­land Comp­trol­ler Peter Fran­chot (D) an­nounced plans to open his agency’s se­cond re­mote cus­tomer call cen­ter to as­sist tax­pay­ers dur­ing the 2018 Tax Fil­ing Sea­son. The new cen­ter, which will open at an as-yet un­de­ter­mined lo­ca­tion in down­town Hager­stown, will en­hance the agency’s abil­ity to as­sist tax­pay­ers in a timely man­ner and add up to 12 jobs to the lo­cal econ­omy.

The new cen­ter’s staff will as­sist Mary­lan­ders from across the state with tax ques­tions and pro­vide tax pay­ment op­tions. Dur­ing the busy tax sea­son from Jan­uary through April, the agency’s Tax­payer Ser­vices unit in An­napo­lis typ­i­cally swells from 35 to 75 em­ploy­ees to han­dle the vol­ume of in­quiries. This past Jan­uary, the Comp­trol­ler opened the agency’s first re­mote call cen­ter at Sea Gull Square in Sal­is­bury.

The call cen­ter will not be open to the pub­lic, but any­one with a tax ques­tion or in need of free tax help can stop by the new Hager­stown Branch Of­fice at 1850 Dual High­way, Suite 201, week­days from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The new branch lo­ca­tion of­fers great vis­i­bil­ity from the high­way, easy ac­cess and con­ve­nient park­ing for tax­pay­ers seek­ing as­sis­tance, ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease.

Schools open Sept. 5 for the 2017-18 school year

The 2017-18 school year of­fi­cially be­gins Tues­day, Sept. 5, for Charles County Pub­lic Schools stu­dents in grades kinder­garten through 12. The school sys­tem ex­pects to wel­come more than 25,000 stu­dents this school year. Stu­dents in the 3-year-old and prekinder­garten pro­grams start school on Tues­day, Sept. 12.

Dates for the com­ing school year are avail­able on the CCPS web­site in the 2017-18 Par­ent Hand­book/Cal­en­dar posted at www.ccboe.com/abou­tus/cal­en­dar/201718CCPSCal­en­dar.pdf.

Stu­dents and staff re­ceive a copy of the cal­en­dar dur­ing the first week of school. To en­sure all stu­dents, par­ents and staff re­ceive a cal­en­dar, com­mu­nity re­quests will not be hon­ored un­til af­ter the first week of school.

Ad­di­tional back-toschool in­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing school open house and ori­en­ta­tion dates and times, is posted un­der the In the News sec­tion of www.ccboe. com.

MSP con­tin­ues fo­cus on dis­tracted drivers

Mary­land State Po­lice are con­tin­u­ing to make en­force­ment of dis­tracted driv­ing laws a top pri­or­ity as troop­ers is­sued sig­nif­i­cantly more ci­ta­tions and warn­ings over the first six months of 2017 com­pared to the same time last year.

Be­tween Jan. 1 and July 1, Mary­land State troop­ers is­sued a com­bined 20,762 warn­ings and ci­ta­tions, com­pared to 17,718 over an iden­ti­cal time pe­riod in 2016, ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease. This in­cluded 10,158 ci­ta­tions and 10,604 warn­ings this year com­pared to 9,126 ci­ta­tions and 8,592 warn­ings in 2016.

The Na­tional High­way Traf­fic and Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion (NHTSA) de­fines dis­tracted driv­ing as any ac­tiv­ity that di­verts at­ten­tion from driv­ing, in­clud­ing talk­ing or tex­ting on your phone, eat­ing and drink­ing, talk­ing to peo­ple in your ve­hi­cle and/ or ad­just­ing the stereo, entertainment or nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems. Ev­ery time a driver takes their eyes off the road and fo­cuses their at­ten­tion on some­thing else, they are en­dan­ger­ing them­selves, those in their ve­hi­cle and ev­ery­one else on the road around them, the re­lease states.

It has been es­ti­mated that a per­son tex­ting takes their eyes off the road for an av­er­age of five sec­onds. To put this into per­spec­tive, this is like cov­er­ing the length of a foot­ball field while driv­ing blind­folded at 55 mph.

The Mary­land High­way Safety Of­fice es­ti­mated an av­er­age of 30,000 peo­ple are in­jured or killed each year in crashes linked to dis­tracted driv­ing. The NHTSA re­ported that in 2015 alone, 3,477 peo­ple were killed and 391,000 more were in­jured in mo­tor ve­hi­cle crashes in­volv­ing dis­tracted drivers.

The in­creased en­force­ment ef­fort comes af­ter the pas­sage of Jake’s Law. In ef­fect since 2014, Jake’s Law is named af­ter Jake Owen, who was just 5 when he was killed in a car ac­ci­dent caused by a dis­tracted driver in 2011. The law states that a driver caus­ing se­ri­ous in­jury or death while talk­ing on a hand­held cell­phone or tex­ting may re­ceive up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Th­ese are pri­mary of­fenses and po­lice of­fi­cers can stop drivers when those ac­tiv­i­ties are ob­served, re­gard­less of the pres­ence of other vi­o­la­tions.

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