Try mediation to help resolve conflicts with others
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.