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11 Dec

WCTR LOCAL NEWS

News December 11 click to listen

>The town of Rock Hall may be losing more than 10% of its water...

 

The town of Rock Hall may be losing more than 10% of its water. A representative of the Maryland Rural Water Association was at the Monday, Dec 4 town of Rock Hall workshop and reported to the town that of 63 million gallons of water that went through the plant as recorded by water meters, 16 to 17 million gallons were lost. Joe Evard of the Maryland Rural Water Association said the figures involved some guess work due to incomplete numbers from the Maryland Department of the Environment, but guesses that more than 10% of the town’s water is unaccounted for. Town manager Ron Fithian said that some of the numbers might be higher due to flushing hydrants to clear ground water out of the system. Everd suggested the town look into MDE grants for meters or upgrades to the system. Councilman Timothy Edwards said he looked into this when he was a town employee and the requests were tossed into the trash by Fithian. Fithian called the claim “ridiculous”. The town also addressed a complaint that the town did not address an Open Meetings Compliance Board opinion at the Nov. 9 council meeting with town attorney Chip MacLeod saying the town amended its minutes because of the Feb. 9 violation and because the subsequent complaint was about the amended minutes, he asked how many times do you complain to the Open Meetings Board about the same meeting. The town also voted unanimously to charter a Boy Scout troop after hearing from the district director of the Delmarva Council of the Boy Scouts Of America who wants to bring the scouts back to Rock Hall. The town has cancelled their Dec. 14 and January 1 meetings for the holiday season.

A Kent County Commissioner is asking for state legislation that would restrict exemptions for non-profit institutions involved in green energy projects. At the Tuesday, Dec. 5 Kent County Commissioners meeting, Commissioner William Short said that he wants state legislation that would require exemptions that non-profit colleges or universities get for renewable energy be on property they actually own. Short cited a hypothetical situation where the University of Maryland attaches to a big solar company on the Eastern Shore and are automatically given an exemption. Short said he did not think that the exemption process was designed to work that way. Commissioner William Pickrum disagreed saying that nonprofit institutions and organizations have always gotten them and that they should continue. The commissioners also heard from Eliott Furhman from Vision To Learn about their efforts to provide free eye exams and glasses to children and that Kent County will be the first Maryland county to benefit from the program. The commissioners also honored the retirement of Greg Welch, a 30-year Public Works employee and the commissioners voted to fill two vacant public works position and to hire a youth programs recreation coordinator. The commissioners also approved the purchase of two vehicles for the Public Works Department.

The Chestertown Police Department reports that two juveniles who were reported missing from the Downtown Chestertown area have been located and are safe. Chestertown Police reported that 15-year-old Keashan Henry and 17-year-old Sieria Henry were reported missing on Tuesday, Dec. 5. Social media reports indicated the children were located on Wednesday and this was confirmed by Chestertown Police on Thursday, Dec. 7.

A Delaware church musician has been sentenced to three months at the Kent County Detention Center after he pleaded guilty to inappropriate sexual contact with an intellectually challenged 22-year-old man from Rock Hall. On Friday, Dec. 1, 68-year-old Bennett Thomas Johnson Jr. of Clayton, DE was sentenced to one year with all but three months suspended by Kent County Circuit Court Judge Paul M. Bowman. Johnson will be on a five-year supervised probation after release and must register as a sex offender. The alleged incidents happened in June and July 2016 at a church where he had attended and been a musician for about 10 years. He was indicted in early January but wasn’t served an arrest warrant until March because he was out of state and hard to find according to Harris Murphy, at the time, Kent County’s State’s Attorney. Johnson entered an Alford Plea in August where he did not admit guilt but conceded there was enough evidence for prosecution.

The town of Galena voted to allow more business signs at the intersection of Main and Cross Streets. The move came after the owner of a confectionary store on Main Street said that visitors complained that it’s hard for them to know if the store is open due to the lack of signage. Councilman Harry Pisapia voted against the amendment saying that fewer signs make the town look nicer. He suggested the town look at the existing sign rules and make some corrections. The new amendment also allows temporary signs to be up for 21 days instead of seven. The town is also getting new water meters thanks to a grant from the Maryland Department of Environment and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Town manager Sharon Weygand said bids will go out soon. Town Attorney Tom Yeager said he is working on updating the town rules to raise fines against people or companies taking water from fire hydrants, a problem brought up at last month’s mayor and council meeting.

Two owners of a Chestertown liquor store have been arrested and charged with transporting alcoholic beverages to Delaware in an attempt to evade taxes. 58-year-old Robert Connell, Jr. of Galena along with 47-year-old Fortunato Cristiano of Bear, Delaware were arrested on Dec. 1 by the Delaware Division Of Alcohol and Tobacco with help from the Maryland State Comptroller’s Office after setting up surveillance near the state line after learning that liquor was being transported from Maryland to Cristiano’s residence in Delaware. Connell is one of the owners of Pip’s Liquors and Cristiano who owns a liquor store in Newark, DE is also a part owner of Pip’s. Cristiano’s residence was searched and turned up 117 cases of untaxed liquor, nearly $106,000 in cash, business records, a handgun and a small amount of marijuana. Both were released on bond.

The Town Of Centreville is having a public information meeting regarding upcoming road construction on Rt.213, Liberty and Commerce Streets. The meeting is Thursday, Dec. 7, 7pm at 107 North Liberty St., 2nd Floor. For more information, call the town at 410-758-1180 or go online at http://www.townofcentreville.org.

The Town Of Chestertown has given the organizer of the town’s Harry Potter Festival the key to the town. At the Monday, Dec. 4 mayor and council meeting, mayor Chris Cerino presented Rachel Perry a proclamation and the key to the town for her efforts in organizing the festival which he says has brought tens of thousands of dollars to the local economy since it was founded four years ago. Perry is stepping down as the head of the festival which will be taken over by Tess Hogans, who is also the theater manager at the Garfield Center of the Arts. The town council also praised Kay McIntosh, the town’s economic development and marketing director, for her work in making the first “Dickens Of A Christmas” a big success. Town manager Bill Ingersoll said he received a letter from Washington College addressed to the State Highway Administration, over concerns the college has about pedestrian safety at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Campus Avenue discussed at the Nov. 20 council meeting. Also, Jon Hanley the chairman of the town’s Environmental Committee asked the town to partner with a third party to install electric vehicle charging stations. Mayor Chris Cerino said he was interested in the idea but needs more information.

Carrie O’Connor is the new Queen Anne’s County Board Of Education member. The announcement was made by the school system on Nov. 16 as O’Connor was selected by Governor Larry Hogan to fill the seat left vacant by the death of board member Arlene Taylor. O’Connor is a graduate of Radford University with a Masters from Salisbury University. She is a Licensed Graduate Social Worker and works as a therapist at Bridges Behavioral Health in Centreville. She is also in her third term on the Local Management Board and a member of the Centreville Ethics Committee. She will be sworn in at the Wed. Dec. 6 Board Of Education meeting.

The Maryland Public Service Commission is holding public hearings on Delmarva Power’s requested $21.6 million rate increase which would be about a $2.60 increase per customer. The Public Service Commission is required to decide by Feb. 10. The next public hearing will be held Wednesday, Dec. 6 at the Kent County Public Library, 408 High Street in Chestertown at 6:30pm. You can also learn more at www.psc.state.md.us.

Chestertown mayor Chris Cerino and Washington College president Kurt Landgraf addressed the Greater Chestertown Initiative meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 29 and talked about the Chestertown Waterfront. Mayor Cerino talked about the progress of the Chestertown Marina and showed photos of the ongoing work, especially with the new larger boat ramp and the bulkheads and walkways which have been raised about two feet. He also showed pictures of the installation of the floating dock which was delivered last week before the meeting. Cerino also talked about the upcoming work which will involve more dredging and raising the level of the parking lot shared with the Fish Whistle restaurant. President Langraf talked about the college’s relationship with the town and that their work on the waterfront is a prime example. Landgraf talked about the college’s new boathouse which will also be used by the Chester River Rowing Club. Landgraf talked about the upcoming environmental center as well as what to do with the armory which he called an eyesore but also an underutilized resource. He’s looking at ideas such as a B&B or hotel, but that the building’s designation as a national historic site is a roadblock to development. Landgraf was also asked about the purchase of the Blue Heron restaurant and he said the purchase was not by the college, but by a private citizen who is leasing the property to the college for a food laboratory. Landgraf also talked about strengthening Kent Forward and working with the Kent County School System on having high school students take college courses for credit. Finally, Landgraf talked about their $10,000 donation to the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company and lauded the Save Our Hospital Group. In an answer to an audience question, Landgraf said that he would like to have more of a college presence downtown and wants to work with the school bookstore to do that.

The 18th Annual Kent County 4-H Toy Drive is in full swing. The Kent County 4-H, partnering with the Lions Club Of Kent County are collecting new, unwrapped toys and gifts for children from newborn to 15 years with various drop off locations around the county including all county schools and various government offices, along with various businesses. For more information, call the Kent County extension office at 410-778-1661.

Queen Anne’s County State’s Attorney Lance Richardson is running for re-election in November 2018. Richardson was appointed to the seat in 2009 to fill the term vacated by Frank Kratovil’s election to the United States Congress. Richardson was elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.

The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating an unusual Tuesday night fire in Marydel caused by a dirt bike. The fire broke out in a shed on Fueller Drive and was caused by a dirt bike that had been put in the shed without cooling down after being ridden for about 45 minutes. The bike ignited nearby combustibles and took 20 firefighters to put out the fire that caused about $15,000 in damages. No one was injured and the owner rescued their dog from a kennel located next to the shed.

The Betterton mayor and council have chosen David A. Bramble Inc. to fix draining problems on Main Street. The announcement was made at the town’s mayor and council meeting on Tuesday and Bramble was the lowest of multiple bids, but town manager Elizabeth Greenwell said that the company needs to update their plans. The town also voted to change the town clerk position from part-time to full-time.

The first Kent County Commissioner candidate has filed to run. Bob Jacob of Chestertown is the first candidate to file with the election’s office. A native of Rock Hall, he is the owner of Chesapeake CNC a manufacturing company with 23 employees and he is the vice chairman of the Economic Development Commission of Kent County. Jacob wants to focus on bringing families to Kent County and he wants to focus on improving the school system as well as help with growth in the county. He said that the Economic Development Commission wants to bring in 5,000 people in the next five years but wants to focus on bringing in 1,000 families.

Barry Donadio has filed to run for the District 3 Queen Anne’s County Commissioner seat currently held by Robert Buckey. Donadio was elected to the Queen Anne’s County Republican Central Committee in 2014 and was appointed Sergeant At Arms for the State Republican Party earlier this year. He is the president of Public Security LLC and in the past has worked for the Secret Service during the Bush and Obama administrations. In 2013, he published the book “TWA Flight 800 First Responder Witness Account” detailing his actions during the rescue of the flight in July 1996. Donadio said he wants to encourage medium wage job growth, end new taxes and stop tax increases, and to take steps to fix the traffic problems in the county.

School funding was the major topic of conversation at the Nov. 21 Kent County Commissioners meeting. School superintendent Karen Couch and supervisor of Financial Operations Jane Towers talked about the budget for education and was a response to commissioner Ron Fithian extending what he called an olive branch to the school board at the Nov.14 meeting. Couch and Powers talked about the fund balance at about $1.9 million with over $700,000 currently being used leaving about $400,000 available. Fithian said that the fund balance includes $500,000 as a contingency fund leaving almost $900,000 available. Couch also approached the county about hiring extra staff including a social worker for Rock Hall Elementary School as requested by parents. Fithian suggested that for any position request, the school system should put in a written request. The school system’s financial officer Jane Towers said the school system expects a nearly $1.5 million deficit going into the next fiscal year starting July 1.

The Chestertown community is mourning the loss of a local businessman. Frank Bonass of Kennedyville, the owner of O’Connor’s Irish Pub, passed away Monday, Nov. 27 from cancer. He was a native of Dublin, Ireland and moved with his wife Betty to the United States in 1990, originally in Ardmore, PA. In 1997, they opened their first restaurant the Dublin Dock in Betterton before opening O’Connor’s, after his wife’s maiden name, four years later. The popular pub and restaurant just recently won best crab soup at the Chestertown Rotary Club’s “Soup and Sip” competition. The pub is known for its St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and has hosted fundraisers for former governor Martin O’Malley and election night parties for Kent County Democrats. The restaurant is also a supporter of the Chestertown Bloomsday Festival which celebrates “Ulysses” by Irish writer James Joyce. Funeral arrangements are pending.

The Chestertown Solar Co-op has made their choice for a solar panel provider. The co-op has selected Solar Energy World, who beat out four other companies to install solar panels for co-op members. The deadline for residents to join the Chestertown Solar Co-Op is January 31 and residents can sign up at http://solarunitedneighbors,org/Chestertown. Joining the co-op does not require a commitment to purchase solar panels but members will be able to purchase them at a group rate.