NEWS JANUARY 6 - JANUARY 10
Betterton apartment building damaged in 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.
Family loses everything in Barclay trailer fire
A Tuesday fire at a trailer in Barclay has caused a family to lose everything. The fire broke out around 4:30pm Thursday on Barclay Cutoff Road, and the residents were able to escape the trailer uninjured. Forty firefighters from Sudlersville, Church Hill, Crumpton, and Goodwill Fire Companies plus units from Delaware took about an hour to put out the fire. The fire caused $20,000 damage to the structure and $10,000 damage to the contents. The Judy Center in Sudlersville is seeking donations to help the family and for information, you can call (410) 438-3887.
Sudlersville town office fire was intentionally set
A recent fire at the Sudlersville town office has been determined to be intentionally set. The fire was discovered on Monday, Dec. 30 at the office building at 200 South Church Street and may have been set the previous night. The state Fire Marshal’s office determined that this fire was deliberately set and other vandalism was discovered including broken bottles and debris plus burnt toilet paper.
Chestertown responds to open meetings complaint
The Town of Chestertown has responded to an open meetings complaint filed by the Kent County News. In a mandatory response to the Open Meetings Compliance Board on Monday, Chestertown’s attorney Stewart Barroll said the Waterfront Task Force appointed by former mayor Margo Bailey and Washington College president Mitchell Reiss, works in an administrative capacity and therefore isn’t subject to open meetings laws. The attorney’s argument is that the task force, set up in a Jan. 22 resolution, established an administrative arm of the town government and that secrecy was essential due to financial considerations for landowners, landlords, and developers to participate in the project. The argument goes on to state that until a report is presented, the group has not made any recommendations to the town or the college and therefore is not required to meet in public.
Kent County commissioners back Chesapeake College spending request and approves legal resolution concerning getting a say in regulations
At Tuesday’s Kent County Commissioners meeting, the commissioners unanimously backed spending requests from Chesapeake College. The money, currently in the college’s nearly $3 million fund balance, will go into information technology projects. The approval does not involve additional money from the county. Also, as commissioner Billy Short mentioned on WCTR on Wednesday morning, the commissioners approved a 16 page resolution from the Funk & Bolton law firm on the National Environmental Policy Act which addresses the regulatory process by government agencies. This ties into the Funk & Bolton led Clean Chesapeake Coalition and seeks to maintain the rights of local authorities to have a say in how federal and state regulations are administered.
Galena looking at property purchase
The town of Galena is looking to purchase land for park use. At Monday’s town council meeting, mayor Don Othoson asked for a motion to approve a letter of intent to purchase a lot at 103 Sycamore Lane, next to the Galena Community Park. The cost would be for $38,500 which includes a $5,000 rebate on water and sewer connection. The motion, which does not obligate the town to make the purchase, passed unanimously but was criticized by former mayor Harry Pisapia who said the town doesn’t need the lot. The town also looked into a redesign of the town website.
Margo Bailey Park discussed at town council meeting
On Monday night, the Margo Bailey Community Park was the main topic of discussion at the first Chestertown Town Council meeting of 2014. The park on Rolling Road, named for the former Chestertown mayor, only has one entrance in town near the middle school playground and that entrance is for pedestrian use only. The other entrance is outside town limits on Schauber Drive off Morgnec Road. New mayor Chris Cerino said the park needs a parking lot and a nicer entrance. Right now, the only parking is available on the street. Recreation Commission chairman Bill Arrowood said the board is looking into other recreational facilities there including soccer and football fields as the dog park only takes up a small part of the facility. Town councilman Marty Stetson, who spearheaded the dog park project said he would also like to see a playground there. In other business, proposals will be made to maintain Fountain Park as well as a draft ordinance spearheaded by Marty Stetson to require Chestertown political candidates to report campaign contributions. Ted Maris-Wolf was appointed to the Historic District Commission and Morgan Ellis and Robert Fordi were appointed to the Planning Commission.
New Chestertown grocery store may be coming
Chestertown Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said that Chestertown may have a new grocery store by the spring. Ingersoll says that he has been in contact with Dennis Silicato, the owner of the Washington Square shopping center, who has been negotiating with three separate entities to replace the Fresh & Greens and expects to sign one of them by March. Silicato said that the group that owns Fresh & Greens, which closed in December, controls the property but they are investors and it is their interest to fill the store. Mayor Chris Cerino said that he’s heard several suggestions from residents on what they would like to see there, but said it doesn’t work that way but will let Silicato know what town residents would like to see.
QAC District Court has new clerk
Queen Anne’s County District Court has a new clerk. Longtime District Court employee Deborah Kiel was sworn in last Thursday as she succeeds Lynda Justice who retired after seven years on the job. Kiel has worked for the District Court since 1987 and most recently was a supervisor in the clerk’s office. Former Congressman Frank Kratovil is the District Court judge for Queen Anne’s County and has jurisdiction in landlord-tenant cases, motor vehicle violations, misdemeanors, and certain felonies.
Polar Vortex hits Eastern Shore
Upper Eastern Shore residents woke up to bitterly cold weather thanks to the Polar Vortex that brought Arctic weather to the shore on Monday night. As of 6:30 Tuesday morning, the air temperature was at 5 degrees with a wind chill of -8. The cold weather delayed the opening of Kent County schools for 2 hours.
Kent Co. Planning discusses Gateway Park
Chestertown’s plans for the proposed Gateway Park were heard at the Thursday night Kent County Planning Commission meeting. The town park, recently named for former town councilwoman Mabel Mumford-Pautz, sits on Radcliffe Creek just outside of town limits on High Street Extended opposite Flatland Road. The 11 acre property was purchased by the town in 2010 for $385,000. Kees de Mooy, Chestertown’s zoning administrator and Perry Otwell of McCrone Engineering of Centreville showed drawings of picnic tables, a basketball court, a walking trail, an observation platform and parking lot. The proposed basketball court, which was criticized by former town councilman Jim Gatto was also criticized by County Planning Commissioner Ed Birkmire who considered a basketball court in the Radcliffe Creek flood plain a bad idea due to freezing and thawing affecting the flat surface necessary. County Planning Commissioner Joe Hickman noted that an adjoining property has a perpetual conservation easement dating to 1977 meaning that a park with lights and noise next to farmland sets a bad precedent. Other concerns were building other structures in a flood plan and how much of that is permissible by state law, as well as plans for the town to annex the property which is not in the immediate plans by the town.
Del. Costa will not run again
A Maryland delegate is stepping down. On Friday, Republican delegate Robert Costa who represents southern Anne Arundel County, announced that he will not seek re-election. The retired firefighter said he never intended to make a career out of serving in the Maryland General Assembly. He’s been a member of the House Of Delegates since 2003 and much of his focus has been on health care reform. He was also one of two Maryland Republicans to vote for same-sex marriage in 2012.
Sen. Colburn's wife files for divorce
The wife of State Senator Richard Colburn is filing for divorce. Alma Fitzgerald Colburn has been married to the 37th District Senator representing the Mid-Shore for 14 years and she alleges that the Senator committed adultery with a former aide. The senator and his attorney have asked the court to limit public inspection of the divorce case because they say the records contain information that could harm his career including the potential for blackmail or coercion due to his political position. The file has already been read by several media outlets before the request was made to the court. According to court documents, the now 26 year-old woman alleged to be the Senator’s paramour was a Salisbury University student from May 2010 to August 2011 when she served as an aide to the Senator. The 64-year-old Senator has represented the 37th District since 1995 and prior to this, served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1983 to 1991. This is his second marriage.