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30 Mar

WCTR LOCAL NEWS

News Mar 30 click to listen

The Kent County Commissioners had a representative from the Maryland Rural Development Corporation at Tuesday night’s commissioners’ meeting...

 

The Kent County Commissioners had a representative from the Maryland Rural Development Corporation at Tuesday night’s commissioners’ meeting. MRDC offers services to low-income families in rural areas like Head Start that provides early childhood education, nutrition, health and family services and they already have programs in Caroline, Cecil, and Harford Counties. The MRDC also offers a foreclosure prevention program and they plan to expand their activities in Kent County while working with the Kent Family Center and Community and Family Partnerships of Kent County. The Commissioners also considered a proposal to take over ownership of the Cliffs School on Quaker Neck. The school closed in 1939 and went into private ownership and was then acquired by a preservation group. Before the meeting, the Commissioners began their Fiscal Year 2018 budget deliberations and heard budget requests from Parks and Recreation; Planning, Housing and Zoning; and Tourism. Among the presentations was from former Congressman Wayne Gilchrest who operates the Sassafras Environmental Education Center who is looking for a full-time coordinator which would allow Gilchrest to move to a part time position and spend more time fundraising.

The traveling Smithsonian exhibit “The Way We Worked” will open at Sumner Hall in Chestertown this Friday. The exhibit, which runs through May 20, will be open 9am to 1pm Tuesdays to Thursdays, noon to 7pm on Fridays, 9am to 4pm on Saturdays and noon to 4pm on Sundays. This Friday, the festivities open at 5:30pm with a reception at the Sultana Education Foundation building on Cross Street with a ribbon cutting at Sumner Hall on South Queen Steet at 6:30pm. The exhibit will focus on the history of work in America and how the industrial revolution moved people from the country to the urban factories.

The Chester River Association along with the Sassafras River Association are hosting their first shoreline cleanup of the year. The event will take place this Saturday in Wilmer Park and its part of Project Clean Stream. To learn more, get in touch with Emily Harris at eharris@chesterriverassociation.org or call 410-810-7556.

On Monday, the Kent County Board of Education approved next year’s school transportation contract. The 11 am meeting lasted about 10 minutes with members Trish McGee, Bryan Williams, and Wendy Costa in attendance and absent were members Jeff Reed and Joe Goetz. The approval was a formality as the $1.59 million contract with Baltimore based Reliable Transportation had already been signed. The meeting was described as “hastily scheduled” by board president Trish McGee because Reliable Transportation did not want to wait until the next scheduled meeting in April to begin lining up buses and drivers. One feature of the contract that met with approval from the school board president is that Reliable’s subcontractors must be approved by the board.

Kent County schools are slated to get an additional $215,000 in funding as part of a supplemental budget that Governor Larry Hogan will submit to the General Assembly. The governor made the announcement on Sunday that he intends to provide $28.2 million in supplemental school funding for school districts around the state. Besides the $215,000 for Kent County, Queen Anne’s County would get $22,000, Cecil County would get $190,000, and Talbot County would get $133,000. The only limits on how the money could be spent are for Baltimore City Schools and he would like a bill that would require more transparency and fiscal accountability for their system.

Despite calls from numerous groups to extend the length, U.S. Representative Andy Harris will hold a town hall meeting this Friday, March 31 from 5 to 6pm at the Todd Performing Arts Center in Wye Mills. According to a news release from the Congressman’s press secretary, Chesapeake College has listed numerous rules for the event which includes the venue opening at 5pm with the venue closed with no one admitted after all the seats have been filled. There are also numerous rules regarding signs and designated areas for protests or to hand out literature.

A Ridgely man has been charged with possession of a destructive device after explosives were found at his home last year. 21-year-old Talley Kyle Ober turned himself in to the deputy state fire marshal at the Caroline County Sheriff’s office in Denton on Sunday after a warrant was issued for his arrest. The warrant stemmed from a November 2016 search warrant at his home that uncovered a destructive device and material as well as stolen firefighting equipment from the Ridgely Volunteer Fire Department. Ober had already been charged for the stolen equipment in January. Ober faces a possible 25 year sentence and a $250,000 fine if convicted.

There are two candidates running in the April 3 Centreville town council election. Incumbent George “Smokey” Sigler is facing challenger Jeff Morgan and both candidates were at a forum last week sponsored by the Queen Anne’s County League of Women Voters. Both candidates talked about infrastructure with Sigler suggesting work groups to study sewer problems in the Northbrook Community with Morgan wanting to fine contractors who are late in finishing jobs or offering incentives to those who finish early. About tourism, Sigler talked about the Main Street programs while Morgan wanted to promote the historic aspect of the town more. On economic growth, Sigler talked about attracting new businesses through the Centreville Economic Development Authority created during his term and Morgan wants to bring in more dining options and maybe create a shopping district. The election will be held at the Goodwill Volunteer Fire Company on Monday, April 3 from noon to 7pm.

The town of Betterton will host a two day charrette on shoreline erosion and waterfront improvements. The event will be on Friday, March 31 and Saturday April 1 at the Betterton fire hall and will be free and open to the public. It will run from 10am to 9:30pm on Friday with meal breaks and run from 9am to 6pm on Saturday. Representatives from the Maryland Department of the Environment , the Department of Natural Resources, Kent County, as well as engineering companies will be on hand. One of the main goals will be to brainstorm solutions to shoreline erosion along Bayside Avenue. Last month the town voted to fund up to $6,000 for the charrette and the idea was proposed by town manager Anne Roane who saw a similar meeting in Cambridge. For more information, visit townofbetterton.com

An Ingleside man was sentenced to 16 years prison in connection with the September heroin overdose of a Stevensville Subway employee. 58-year old Don Diego Brown was sentenced on Tuesday in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court after he pleaded guilty in January. Back in September, 27-year-old Crystal Jean Ringgold was found dead of a heroin overdose in the bathroom at the Stevensville Subway on September 14, 2016 and police investigation of her cell phone records led to Brown and to 21-year-old Rachel Maury Bowman of Church Hill who, according to police, set Ringgold up with Brown. Both were charged with manslaughter and those charges were dropped after indictments and a plea deal. Earlier this month, Bowman was sentenced to eight years suspended and placed on 30 months of supervised probation. Ringgold was a single mother of an eight year old boy.

An elderly man who was found dead in the bathroom of a Stevensville gas station, was found to have died of natural causes. Around 10:07pm on March 15, the body of 74-year-old Gary Xavier Paul of Chester was found dead in the restroom at the Friendly Food and Gas Station on Main Street in Stevensville. A clerk at the store noticed that a person was in the restroom for an extended period and after getting no response after knocking on the door, he called 911. An investigation revealed that Paul had entered the restroom 10 hours before his body was found.

Chestertown’s Washington Park is getting ready for an upgrade. At Monday’s Chestertown mayor and council meeting, third ward councilman Sam Shoge announced that the subdivision’s park just off Flatland Road will be getting renovations when the weather gets warmer. The park is a private community park set aside by the subdivision developer, the late Louisa Carpenter and plans include benches and swing sets next to the current basketball court. The benches are being reused after originally being used at Fountain Park and the swing set was donated. Most of the work will be done by community volunteers with help from the Chestertown Recreation Commission. Shoge also said that parts of the project, like planting trees or installing a walking path could be eligible for a state Community Parks and Playgrounds grant. Also, the town of Chestertown has collected $244.20 in donations in the town’s parking meters. Parking is now free downtown but the meters encourage those parking downtown to put in spare change to help the town’s beautification programs.

Rock Hall’s two most veteran police officers tell the “Kent County News” that they are being pushed to retire early. Rock Hall’s police chief Steve Moore said that he and Capt. Bill Dempsey have been approached by town manager Ron Fithian about early retirement to downsize the police force. Moore will be 55 years old in November and Dempsey is 62. Fithian told the “Kent County News” that “this is a personnel issue that is not anyone’s business”. Fithian added that he approaches town employees all the time and that personnel decisions go through him and employees that disagree can go through the mayor and council. Mayor Brian Jones said he was told that Fithian spoke to town employees about early retirement due to eligibility and that the issue has not been brought up to the mayor and council. Chief Moore said that he and Dempsey’s concern is that they are being portrayed as disgruntled and that they did not initiate the conversations. If Moore and Dempsey are forced into early retirement, it would leave the town with two police officers and Officer Daniel Sutton said that dropping the police force down to two officers would be detrimental to the town.

A kite surfer had to be rescued off the coast of Kent Island on Sunday. According to the U.S. Coast Guard,the surfer, who was not identified, had to let go of his kite and was trying to swim to shore near Matapeake when someone saw him and called the authorities. The Coast Guard was able to find the surfer and get him out of the water. He was not injured and was checked out by medics.

The Kent County Board of Education will move ahead with their school consolidation plans. At Monday night’s meeting, the board voted unanimously to close Millington and Worton Elementary Schools beginning in the 2017-2018 school year. The public was invited to comment with three members of the public speaking out in support of the plan with one speaking out against. After the vote, Millington town council member Kevin Hemstock said an appeal would be filed with the Maryland State Board of Education.

This Tuesday, the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners will vote on an ordinance introduced by commissioner Mark Anderson that would allow farm breweries as a permitted use of agricultural property. In February, two citizens testified in favor of the ordinance which came about after the state established a Class 8 Farm Brewing License in 2012. Jay Falstad of Calico Fields near Millington said he put a new barn on his farm intending to use the hops grown on his land to create a small brewery. Nicki Sener, who owns a farm near Church Hill, is a self-professed beer geek and both see farm breweries as a way to expand eco-tourism in the county.

A Denton man has received a 5 year sentence for felony theft at the Queenstown Bank. Last week, 37-year-old Rickey Ryan Anderson received the sentence from Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court Judge Thomas G. Ross. The conviction came after Anderson opened an account at the Queenstown Bank on March 31, 2016 and would deposit bogus checks from his closed credit union account in Virginia into the Queenstown Bank account and then withdraw the money almost immediately. He made a total of 15 deposits from bank branches in Caroline, Talbot, and Queen Anne’s counties. The five day scheme netted him over $5,000 and he often used drive thru banking and accomplices to avoid suspicion before the Queenstown Bank received notice from the credit union. At the time, Anderson was on parole for armed robbery in Virginia.

The company that operates Queenstown’s water treatment plant failed to test the plant for nitrates in 2016 which required the town to acknowledge this in a post on their webpage and newsletter. The company, Miller Environmental based in Reading, PA admitted that the failure to test, which is required every year, was an oversight. The company said that a sample was collected and tested in February and the town’s water is safe.

An RV fire in Barclay on Tuesday afternoon was caused by a portable space heater. The fire was reported on Barclay Road at 4:06pm with the Sudlersville Volunteer Fire Company responding. The vehicle suffered around $150,000 in damages and the Maryland Fire Marshal’s office blamed the fire on a mechanical failure in a portable space heater.

An early Monday morning boat fire in Queenstown was caused by an electrical failure of a power line charging batteries and appliances on the boat. The fire, on Quarter Creek Drive was reported at 2:52am by the owner and the boat, hovering over the water on a lift suffered $80,000 in structural damage with another $20,000 with the contents. Another boat was on the dock but was not damaged.

One Delaware man and two Delaware teenagers have been arrested in connection with two separate burglaries from East Coast Storage in Millington. Arrested on March 3rd were 20-year-old Jacob Joseph Kolar of Delaware City and a 16-year-old juvenile from Townsend after confessing to the burglaries that happened in December 2016 and February 2017. The juvenile’s 14-year-old brother has also been implicated in the thefts. The total value of the December thefts in Millington was around $5,000 and involved 11 victims while in February, the value was just over $50,000 and involved 23 victims. The investigation also led to the three getting charged in connection with a storage facility burglary in Dover. Kolar is currently being held in New Castle County, Delaware while the juveniles were released to a parent pending proceedings in the Juvenile Justice system.

Two Caroline County men have been sentenced in connection with an arson at a Ridgely home last summer. Jeremiah Durham and Dustin O’Neal, both 19-years-old, received 10 year sentences with all but six months suspended for Durham and all but 12 months suspended for O’Neal after pleading guilty to setting fire to a home on June 14 on Ninetown Road. The two must also pay over $16,000 of restitution to the home owner.

A Stevensville woman died in a Sunday morning crash after driving into Kent Narrows. The accident happened around 7:38am when 53-year-old Leslie Ann Valentine turned onto Wharf Drive from Rt. 18 near the Kent Island Yacht Club, crashed through a bulkhead and landed into the water. According to the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Department, she was driving fast enough that she may have gone airborne before hitting the water. Police said that the driver’s door of her Dodge Dakota pickup was open and that she got out of the vehicle but she was pronounced dead at the scene. The cause of the accident is still being investigated.

A longtime Rock Hall town councilman will not be running for re-election. At Thursday’s Rock Hall mayor and council meeting, town councilman Olin “Butch” Price, who has served on the council for 17 years, will not run again citing family reasons. Price said he would serve out his term but likely would not attend the next workshop nor the April council meeting. The next Rock Hall election will be Saturday May 6 and the terms of Price and Jack Jester are up.

At Monday night’s Kent County Board of Education meeting, Dr. Karen Couch asked for a change in the proposed new elementary school boundary lines that would go into effect after consolidation. The change would affect about 35 students and would have kids east of Baker’s Lane, including Broadneck, going to Garnet in Chestertown rather than Rock Hall. The boundary change would give Garnet Elementary 385 students at 77% capacity, Rock Hall Elementary 246 students at 86% capacity, and Galena Elementary 334 students at 70% capacity. Also a Kindergarten teacher originally planned for Rock Hall will now teach at Garnet. Several people from Millington were at the meeting continuing to speak out against the plans to close Millington Elementary as a part of the consolidation. The consolidation vote is set for March 20 at the school board office in Rock Hall. The meeting will start at 6:30pm for public comment and the vote will be made at 7pm.

Chestertown mayor Chris Cerino and Main Street Chestertown held a town hall forum on Thursday night and the mayor outlined some of the town changes since his election in 2014. Cerino cited the town’s Arts & Entertainment District and hiring director Kay McIntosh. He also listed the town’s new website, the Cannon Street parking lot, Fountain Park improvements, the Ajax playground, and the upcoming fiber-optic installation. He concluded with what he said is the town’s biggest project, the improvements to the Chestertown Marina. Among the concerns brought up by residents and business leaders were better marketing and outreach, more hotel rooms and a small conference hotel, more police presence in the parking lots behind the stores especially foot patrols to discourage drug use, bringing down real estate taxes, shortening the time of getting approvals for renovations and tax credits for renovations or allowing alternative materials.

Maryland’s First Congressional District Representative Andy Harris will hold a town hall meeting on Friday, March 31 at the Todd Performing Arts Center at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills. The meeting will be from 6-7pm and this comes on the heels of a small meeting with constituents during what he called “office hours” on Saturday in Bel Air.

Andy Harris will have a Republican challenger in next year’s primary election. Lamont Taylor, a former business-owner from Denton has filed to run and he said that District 1 needs a change and it’s time to put the district first. Recently he sold his company, Taylor’s Janitorial Service and wrote a book “A Raw Business Sense” and has been involved with Mid-Shore Young Republicans based in Talbot County. He said he wants to model his approach to politics after Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

The Queen Anne’s County Board Of Education has announced their three finalists for county school superintendent. The candidates are current Interim Assistant Superintendent Gregory J. Pilewski, Dr. Theo L. Cramer and Dr. Andrea Kane. Pilewski is the current interim superintendent and has also served in various capacities in the Anne Arundel County School System. Dr. Cramer has spent 17 years in the Prince George’s County School System and nine years with St. Mary’s County. Dr. Kane started in the Anne Arundel Public School System and has served in the Richmond Virginia Public School System.

The Rock Hall mayor and council introduced three ordinances at Thursday night’s council meeting. Two of the proposed ordinances would move language on how the town handles special events and permits from the town’s zoning code to the general code. Town manager Ron Fithian said that special events would be handled by the town manager with approval of the mayor and council. The third ordinance would allow the Rock Hall Planning Commission to vote on lot line adjustments, when a property can be subdivided, in house meaning that the property owner can go to the county zoning administration office and administrator Amy Moredock can officially make the change which would speed up the process. The town expects to vote on this in April.

Two suspects have been arrested after being accused of breaking into a Denton home and pistol whipping and injuring a man. The incident happened Friday morning around 1:30 in the 800 block of Market Street and police said that the three victims, one man and two women, were awakened by two men who broke into the home. One of the men hit the male resident in the head with a handgun and after aiming the gun at all three victims, the gun was placed against the head of one of the women. The suspects fled the area and were arrested around 3am in Ocean City after enforcement action not related to the break-in. Arrested were 40-year-old Jerry Wall and 26-year-old Joshua Weaver of Lothian, MD. The injured man refused treatment from medical personnel at the scene.

The Kent County Commissioners agreed to help a request from a church to maintain a stream bank in the churchyard. At Tuesday’s Commissioner’s meeting, St. Paul’s Church asked the county to join the church’s application to the Maryland Department of the Environment to stabilize a creek bank that is eroding the cemetery grounds and depositing sediment in a nearby mill pond as well as a Chesapeake Bay tributary. The request would have the county serve as overseer of the requested $75,000 grant funding. Having the county on board would help the church get the grant and the funding would go to the county then passed to the church to hire the contractor. The St. Paul’s Church cemetery is where actress Tallulah Bankhead is buried.

Queen Anne’s County has received a AAA rating from the New York bond rating agency Fitch Ratings. A AAA rating is the highest possible rating. Moody’s kept the county at an Aa2 rating which is two steps below AAA. County officials traveled to New York to present their case for a higher bond rating to seek bond market financing for $12.6 million in long term capital projects such as the circuit courthouse under construction, school improvements and heavy equipment purchases.

The town of Millington will have a new town council member. The results are in from Millington’s town council election on Tuesday and Wayne Starkey and incumbent Michelle Holland were elected. 67 qualified voters voted for two candidates and Starkey led with 50 votes and Holland was second with 36. Sean Downey received 30 votes with incumbent David Rice receiving 12 votes. Starkey and Holland will be sworn in at the April 11 mayor and council meeting.

The Sultana Education Founding is asking the town of Chestertown to have the docks at the marina repaired before the next Downrigging Weekend. Sultana’s president Drew McMullen spoke at Monday night’s Chestertown mayor and council meeting and repeated a request he made in January since the Sultana and partner organizations must make non-refundable deposits for equipment by March 31. In a letter to the town, McMullen said they are concerned that the current condition of the docks may make them unsafe for the annual Downrigging Weekend this October. He wants the town to have a third party professional evaluation of the structural integrity of the piers and is concerned that a failure of the docks would subject the Sultana to lawsuits. Town manager Bill Ingersoll said the town is committed to making the repairs and said he feels like this request is an ultimatum. McMullen responded that it is not an ultimatum but due diligence from the festival’s organizers.

The Main Street Chestertown program is inviting artists to participate in a Tea Bag project to support the town’s annual Tea Party Festival. The oversized Tea Bags will have the tag, “Chestertown: Steeped in History, Stirred By Art”. The Main Street program will supply burlap bags in 22 by 24, 24 by 36, and 34 by 40 inch sizes along with a length of cotton rope to serve as the string. The embellished tea bags will displayed through town in the weeks before and during the Festival weekend May 26-28. Anyone interested should contact Main Street and Chestertown Arts & Entertainment District manager Kay McIntosh at kay.chestertown@gmail.com or 410-778-2991 and tea bag kits will be available at Town Hall starting March 17.

An appeal of the lawsuit in the Wheatlands property in Queenstown has been decided in favor of the Queen Anne’s Conservation Association on behalf of town residents. The case dates to November 2014 when the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners waived the 5 year zoning rights that the county maintains over annexed municipal property. In December 2014, the new set of commissioners passed a resolution overturning the waiver of zoning rights and the county was sued in Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court by the town of Queenstown and the Waterman Family Partnership, the owner and developer of a proposed residential project on the property. In July 2015, the Circuit Court found in favor of Queenstown and the developer and said that the county commissioners did not have the power to repeal the waiver. The Queen Anne’s County commissioners along with Queen Anne’s Conservation Association representing town residents filed an appeal in the Court Of Special Appeals. The commissioners then dropped out of the lawsuit. In an opinion handed down by Senior Judge James R. Eyler on March 2, the judge ruled that the county did have the power to reverse the waiver and ruled in favor of Queen Anne’s Conservation Association.