NEWS JANUARY 13-JANUARY 17
Kent County schools to team up with Discovery education
On Wednesday, over 100 people gathered at the community center in Worton to hear the details on the Kent County Public School district’s partnership with Discovery Education. The news, announced on WCTR Wednesday morning by school superintendent Karen Couch as well as a representative from the Discovery Channel, plus school personnel and students, will create a partnership with the school and Discovery Education, which includes the Learning Channel, Discovery Network, and Animal Planet. The school system will distribute iPods and MacBook Air laptops for all students grades six through twelve and will have access to online teaching tools through Discovery Education. This is coming via a $400,000 digital innovation grant that Kent County was one of six school districts in the state to receive. The program will start at Kent County Middle School.
Waterfront Task Force ruled to have violated open meetings act
According to a Monday opinion, the Open Meetings Compliance Board has determined that the Waterfront Task Force organized by former Chestertown mayor Margo Bailey and Washington College president Mitchell Reiss is a public body and therefore has violated the Open Meetings Act. The complaint was filed by the Kent County News. The OMCB said the task force was a public body because it was created by a resolution from the Town Council. In a response to the complaint, town attorney Stewart Barroll said the task force acted only in an administrative capacity, an argument that the OMCB rejected. The task force has met privately and was originally slated to give their report in June, but is expected to issue their report later this month.
Kent Co. commissioners hear alcohol sales to minor cases
At Tuesday’s Kent County Commissioners meeting, the commissioners heard four cases of stores allegedly selling alcohol to minors. The cases heard involved C-Town Liquors & Deli, Plaza Tapatia, and Super Soda of Chestertown and the Galena mini-mart. C-Town Liquors and Plaza Tapatia contested the charges while the other two had representatives that explained the sales. The commissioners said they will review all of the cases and get back with the businesses. The commissioners also discussed changing the number of gaming permits that the county allows per applicant every year. Right now the number is two, but exceptions are allowed. County administrator Ernie Crofoot said that the maximum given has been five and he would like to raise the limit to six.
Denton home fire ruled an accident
A house fire in Denton has been ruled an accident. The fire on Monday evening around 4:30 on New Bridge Road caused about $50,000 damage to the home and $10,000 to contents inside and took 30 firefighters about 45 minutes to put out. The state fire marshal said the fire was caused by combustible material near the chimney.
QAC gets federal funding for emergency food and shelter system.
Queen Anne’s County has received federal funding for an emergency food and shelter system. The $4,859 grant was received from the Department Of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Emergency Food and Shelter National Board Program. A local board will determine how the money is spent under the guidelines of the grant. Under the terms the benefiting agencies must be private non-profits or units of government, be eligible to collect federal funds, have an accounting system, practice non-discrimination, have the capacity to deliver the services, and have a voluntary board if a private organization. Organizations are encouraged to apply for funding in writing by January 23 through the Queen Anne’s County Department of Community Services - Housing Division to the attention of Virginia Petrie at 104 Powell Street, P.O. Box 327, Centreville, MD 21617
Chestertown rehabilitation project to get tax credits
A project on Cross Street in Chestertown will get tax credits from the state. Maryland has allocated $10 million in tax credits and has designated 10 historic buildings across Maryland to receive the funding. According to a news release, the building at 110-112 Cross Street that houses the Bookplate, Cornucopia, and the offices of Yerkes Construction will receive $80,000 in state tax credits for repairs. The estimated $400,000 renovation project also qualifies for a rehabilitation tax credit from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Yerkes Construction will perform the repairs. Yerkes Construction will also do the renovation of the Charles Sumner GAR post building on Queen Street.
QAC mulling over North County EMS location
Queen Anne’s County is looking at three possible locations for a paid paramedic unit in the northern part of the county. Church Hill town commissioners were told of the possible locations for a paid paramedic unit that the town would like to have at the Church Hill Volunteer Fire Company. The nearest paid paramedic unit in the county is in Sudlersville. The first option put forward by the county is to build an EMS unit on county property on Shine Smith Road and moving the Sudlersville Fire Department there. The second option is leasing the old Gambacorta car dealership on Rt. 213 in Kingstown and creating a North County EMS, County Roads Department, and North County Sheriff substation. Option three is to place EMS personnel at the Church Hill Fire Company which is the option preferred by the Church Hill town commissioners.
Eastern Shore legislators introduce new bills for the current session
New State Senator Steve Hershey had the first pre-filed bill in advance of the start of the legislative session last Wednesday. Hershey’s bill would let residents required to go on best available technology septic systems be exempt from the Bay Restoration Fee. Delegate Michael Smigiel has pre-filed a bill to repeal the Firearm Safety Act of 2013 while Senator Richard Colburn has pre-filed a bill to reduce the state’s corporate income tax by .4% each year for five years to match Virginia’s 6% corporate tax. Also members of the Eastern Shore delegation have sent a letter to governor Martin O’Malley in hopes of getting a roundtable discussion about the state’s phosphorus management tool initiative that Eastern Shore legislators are concerned will adversely affect Eastern Shore farmers.
Rock Hall discusses renovations to tennis and basketball courts
At Rock Hall’s mayor and council meeting Thursday night, the town discussed saving money on renovations to the tennis and basketball courts. Town manager Ron Fithian said that he received bids from two construction companies for the project coming to around $141,000 without lights increasing to around $180,000 if lights are added. Rock Hall has already received a state grant for $161,000, but according to town councilwoman Susan Francis who led the committee that got the grant said that the town cannot keep the leftover funds. Councilman Butch Price questioned the need for lights, but Francis and mayor Bob Willis supported the lights wanting a safe haven for kids to play in the evenings. Town manager Ron Fithian suggested that the town attempt to do some of the demolition in order to drop the cost.
Rock Hall mayor looks at incentives for Main Street businesses
Also at Thursday’s town council meeting, mayor Bob Willis wants the town to look into tax rebates or incentives for Main Street businesses. He also wants to apply to bring in the Main Street Maryland program, which was started in 1998 by the Department of Housing and Community Development. Mayor Willis said it would be difficult for a small town like Rock Hall to get the program and suggested that Rock Hall team with Galena and Chestertown, which has Main Street Maryland status, to team up to share the costs. There was support on the town council for bringing a Main Street representative to a town meeting. Vice mayor Brian Jones expressed concern about focusing efforts on Main Street saying that there are businesses not on Main Street that are also struggling.
Groups helping victims of Betterton fire
A fire at a Betterton apartment building injured one person and has left 12 residents displaced. The fire at 207 Main Street in Betterton broke out before 1pm on Thursday and about 45 firefighters from Betterton, Rock Hall, Chestertown, Kennedyville, Galena, as well as from Cecil, Queen Annes’, and Caroline Counties plus Delaware fought the blaze which took about 4 hours to extinguish. The fire started in the rear of the building and caused about $300,000 in damage to the building and $70,000 in damages to its contents. The cause remains under investigation and anyone with information is urged to call the Fire Marshal’s office at (410) 822-7609. One resident suffered a broken leg and was flown to Shock Trauma in Baltimore. The Red Cross is assisting the displaced residents. Also, the People’s Bank has established an account to help and donations can be made at any branch or mailed to the main branch and reference Bloomgarden Apartment Fire Fund. Also, the Betterton Fire Company is collecting items for the residents.