NEWS DECEMBER 16-DECEMBER 24
Winter Storm hits Eastern Shore
A winter storm Thursday night and Friday morning has dumped four to eight inches of snow on the Eastern Shore. The snow has closed schools in Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties and has also closed many public services such as Kent County government offices as well as the Kent County library branches. Maryland State Highway Administration officials were out plowing and salting roads and they urge motorists to use caution as bitterly cold temperatures will mean icy conditions. The main concern facing motorists, according to the SHA, is blowing snow that can cover recently plowed areas quickly. Crews will continue salting the roads, but snow packed areas will be slow to melt due to the cold temperatures.
Upper Shore Regional Council names officers
The Upper Shore Regional Council has chosen their Executive Board officers for 2014. The council’s executive officers are Queen Anne’s County commissioner David Dunmyer who will serve as board chairman; Cecil County councilwoman Diana Broomell who will serve as first vice chairman; Kent County commissioner Ron Fithian who will serve as second vice chairman; and Kent County commissioner William Pickrum who will serve as treasurer. Also on the executive board are the 36th district delegation in the General Assembly; State Senator Steve Hershey and delegates Mike Smigiel, Jay Jacobs and Steve Arentz. Certain other county commissioners are on the executive board and Doris Mason remains as executive director for the regional planning and development organization for Kent, Queen Anne’s and Cecil Counties.
Worton man charged in shooting incident
A Worton man has been charged with assault and reckless endangerment after a December 27th shooting incident. 25 year old Troy Leonus Somerville, Jr. was charged after allegedly firing shots at a 24 year old man shortly after midnight on Dec. 27 in the 11,000 block of Old Worton Road. According to court records, the 24-year-old man was breaking up a fight with Somerville and a woman when he fought with Somerville and was hit by the woman. The complainant said he was leaving the home when he was shot at. Somerville has a preliminary court hearing on Jan. 23.
Caroline County tractor-trailer crash closes Rt. 313
A Monday tractor-trailer crash in Caroline County left Rt. 313 shut down for several hours. Just before noon, a Peterbilt loaded with farm equipment was driven by Dwayne Oswald of Pennsylvania on Greensboro Road just south of Union Road when he hit three power poles and overturned. Oswald suffered minor injuries and denied medical treatment at the scene. One of the poles was destroyed and the downed wires plus fluid spills from the farm equipment caused Rt. 313 to be closed for several hours before the northbound lanes opened at 5:30 and completely reopened at 7:30pm. Oswald was charged with negligent driving.
New Chestertown Planning Commission officers named
Last week, the Chestertown Planning Commission named their new officers. At their meeting on Wednesday, Jeffrey Grotsky was named chairman with David Borcherding the new vice chairman and Gil Watson remaining as secretary. Grotsky takes over from Chris Cerino who was elected mayor last month. Besides Cerino, Sam Shoge will also leave the Planning Commission as he was elected the new Ward Three town councilman. Town manager Bill Ingersoll said the town has received five applications and the vacancies will be filled in the new year.
Another arrest made in armed robbery spree
Another arrest has been made in conjunction with a series of armed robberies that has plagued Chestertown, Centreville, Easton, and Dover. Vontaye Lamont Gilbert was arrested on Thursday night and is being held in lieu of bond at the Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Delaware. Among the Chestertown robberies were at the Royal Farms store on Maple Ave. and the Domino’s Pizza on Washington Ave. Earlier this month, Lytia Tanielle Bailey of Chestertown was arrested and she is being held at the Baylor Women’s Correctional Institute in New Castle. Another suspect who was arrested, Brian Daniels, was released after it was determined that he was not involved.
Waterfront task force member resigns
One member of the Chestertown waterfront task force has resigned after making comments at the latest Chestertown town council meeting. Professional planner Rebecca Flora resigned and told the Kent County News that she objected to task force chairman John Moag requesting funding from the town without checking with the rest of the group and without issuing a report to the public or to the town council. The group, formed by Mayor Margo Bailey and Washington College president Mitchell Reiss was originally supposed to make their report in June, but is now expected to do so in January. They requested $8,000 in matching fees from the town to cover a grant from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development for concept drawings by a Baltimore architectural firm. Flora said that she did not disagree with the results of the study but wanted the process to be more open to the public
Stevensville home damaged in fire
A Stevensville home was damaged in a Thursday evening fire. At 6:20pm, firefighters from the Kent Island Volunteer Department as well as Grasonville, United Communities, and Queenstown responded to the one alarm fire on Little Lots Road and they reported that the kitchen was gutted while the rest of the house has smoke and water damage. The family of four, who wish not to be identified were unhurt and the family’s cat was rescued unharmed. The cause of the fire was determined to be from unattended cooking.
Coast guard investigating hoax distress calls from Kent Island
The U.S. Coast Guard is looking for someone who has been making hoax distress calls for the last few months. Coast Guard officials say a man from the Kent Island area has made 11 false distress calls since October on VHF-FM Channel 16. Because of the hoax calls, the Coast Guard and other agencies have conducted air and boat searches costing around $45,000. False distress calls are a felony offense and the Coast Guard Investigative Service is offering a $2,000 reward. Anyone with information can call (410) 576-2515.
Chestertown launches police station study group
Chestertown has a study group to look into a new Chestertown police headquarters. The committee, appointed by Mayor Margo Bailey, includes outgoing town councilman Jim Gatto who will stay on after his council term ends on Dec. 31, plus police chief Adrian Baker, Joanne Clothier, Paul Showalter, Zoning Administrator Kees deMooy, and Town Manager Bill Ingersoll. The first meeting was on Dec. 12, with another meeting last night Dec. 19 with future meetings on Thursdays Jan. 9, Jan. 23, Feb. 6, Feb. 20, March 6 and March 20. The meetings will be public due to guidelines from the Open Meetings Act and according to the town’s comprehensive plan updated in 2006, states that the current police station is too small and not properly located.
Chestertown reverses NEA grant funding from Washington College gift, hears from Waterfront Study group member.
At Monday’s Chestertown mayor and council meeting, the council voted to reverse an earlier decision by the town to devote $25,000 of the $200,000 gift from Washington College for the Armory purchase to a National Endowment of the Arts grant for a playground at Wilmer Park, and return the money to the Rails to Trails program. The motion by outgoing town council member Jim Gatto passed by a 4 to 1 vote. Also, Rebecca Flora of the Chestertown Waterfront Task Force gave a briefing to the mayor and council and stated that now the town has appropriated $8,000 to the task force for architectural work, the group has now moved from a citizens advisory group to a public committee that needs accountability to the public. So far previous reports from the task force have been postponed.
Maryland healthcare signup deadline extended
Maryland’s healthcare signup has been extended. On Monday, health insurance provider CareFirst has agreed to allow Maryland to extend the deadline for signup on the Health Connection website to Dec. 27. Policies would begin on Jan. 1 and must be paid for by Jan 15. In a Tuesday news release, other medical insurance providers in the Maryland Health Connection; Kaiser Permanente, United Healthcare, and Evergreen Health Co-Op also agreed to the extension. Due to problems with the state’s website, Isabel FitzGerald, the Secretary of the Maryland Department of Information Technology was brought in to fix the problems and technicians are working to fix some of the major issues. Also, the state announced that Optum/QSSI of Columbia, the contractor hired to fix problems with the federal site has also been brought in to work on the state’s exchange. As of Dec. 7, 5,179 Marylanders have enrolled in the program with 77,809 active accounts on the website.
Centreville area home destroyed by fire
A fire destroyed a Centreville area home on Tuesday. Around 10am, firefighters from Queenstown responded to a fire at 110 Mallard Drive and firefighters from Kent Island, United Communities, Grasonville, Goodwill, Church Hill, Sudlersville, Chestertown, Ridgely, Cordova, and Queen Anne-Hillsboro also responded. Initially the fire was fought from the inside but crews were forced to evacuate after the roof collapsed. Crews took about 45 minutes to put out the fire. The home belonged to David and Maria Grimes and their three children and the mother was home at the time of the fire. She was able to get out safely but a family pet died in the fire. The family lost everything and is being helped by the Red Cross and clothing donations are being accepted by Kennard Elementary School while Edwards Pharmacy is accepting cash donations.
Planning commission lawyer says no limitations placed on Dollar General site plan
Allegations that the new Dollar General in Rock Hall lied to the Rock Hall Planning Commission led the attorney for the Rock Hall Planning Commission and the county planning director to attend Thursday night’s Rock Hall town meeting. Planning Commission attorney Mitch Mowell told the town council that the town has little recourse to address those concerns because no limitations were placed on the site plan’s approval. An attorney representing Bayside Foods said that the town is not enforcing an agreement that Dollar General limit their floor space for grocery items to 13% and will seek court action. Mowell said that a court order would give the town an enforcement option that it does not presently have.
Marinas challenge Rock Hall's sewer fee refunds.
Two marinas are fighting back against the town of Rock Hall on the refund of sewer fees. In a letter to the Rock Hall Mayor and Town Council received by WCTR, Art Willis and Madelyn Reni the owners of the Sailing Emporium and Spring Cove marinas challenged the town’s decision to collect back sewer fees from the two marinas and two residents based on a 2009 decision to allow them, as non-town residents, to pay in town sewer rates rather than the required twice the resident rate. The letter states that the Sailing Emporium’s request in 2009 to get on the in town rate benefited both the town and the marina as the marina was looking to hook up to the county’s sewer line. The 2009 deal was also extended to Spring Cove Marina and inadvertently extended to two residential properties due to matching billing codes. The marinas are not challenging the decision by the town to end the deal this year due to complaints from a concerned citizens group that the change violated the town code, but are challenging the town’s decision to collect the back fees saying that the law does not require it. The marinas also are asking if the amount of back taxes asked for by the town has been verified by an independent accounting firm. The letter was read by mayor Bob Willis, who is the son of Sailing Emporium owner Art Willis, at Thursday night‘s Rock Hall town council meeting.
Rock Hall mayor and council discuss ethics board and open meetings complaints
In other business at Thursday’s Rock Hall town council meeting, mayor Bob Willis plans to appoint three members to the town’s ethics commission as required by town code. Town council members Brian Jones, Brian Nesspor, and Butch Price signed a letter provided by town attorney Chip McLeod acknowledging violations of the Open Meetings Act. Mayor Willis did not sign and prepared two separate letters due to not attending the July 29th closed meeting and did not want to sign a letter for that meeting. Mayor Willis also announced that fireworks will be back for Rock Hall’s New Year’s celebration.
Betterton considers feral cat ordinance
The town of Betterton will hold a public hearing on their feral cat problem. Last month the town introduced an animal control ordinance that will make it illegal to harbor a feral or a free-roaming cat colony in the town. It would also require the reporting of feral cats to the Kent County Health Department. The public hearing will be on Tuesday, Dec.17 at 7pm before the regular town council meeting which was rescheduled from the regular meeting this week that was postponed due to weather.
Bank robbery in Church Hill
A Church Hill bank was robbed on Friday morning. Around 9:47, a man entered the Queenstown Bank on Main Street in Church Hill, jumped over the counter and took money from several teller’s drawers before jumping back over the counter and fleeing the bank. According to police, no weapon was displayed and no one was injured. The robber is described as a white man with thin build, about 6-1 or 6-2 and age 20 to 40 wearing a grey hoodie, a tan down jacket, camouflage pants, boots, and a half mask with large sunglasses. The getaway car was a burgundy Hyundai with out of state tags. Anyone with information is urged to call the Queen Anne’s County sheriff’s office at 410-758-0770.
Ridgely man dies in QAC crash
A Ridgely man died in a Thursday afternoon Queen Anne’s County crash. Just after noon, 60-year-old Charles Smith was driving a AAA Transport Company van when his vehicle crashed with a Jeep Cherokee driven by 65-year-old Barbara Long of Millers, MD at the intersection of Rt. 309 and Rt. 303 across from Atlantic Tractor. Smith died at the scene while three other occupants in the van were injured. Barbara Long, the driver of the Jeep Cherokee was also injured. According to police reports, Long failed to stop at the stop sign at Rt. 309.