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Board of County Commissioners

April 23, 2002

The Honorable Board of License Commissioners met today with the following present: Larry B. Beck, W. Michael Newnam, and Ronald H. Fithian, presiding.

T. Edward Robinson, County Administrator, was also in attendance.

Minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

W. Roger Williams, Treasurer, reported a balance of $5,483,423.00


Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning Administration, appeared and reported on the April 22 Board of Appeals meeting.


Due to extenuating circumstances, the Commissioners were unable to attended the Arbor Day Poster Awards Ceremony at 1:15 p.m. hosted by the Maryland Forest Service and Kent County Forestry Board, however, T. Edward Robinson, County Administrator, attended as their representative. The ceremony took place at the Court House grounds.

The Commissioners selected the winners of the third grade Arbor Day Poster Contest as follows:

First Prize - Haley Williams - Rock Hall Elementary School

Second Prize - Elizabeth N. Scholastico - Rock Hall Elementary School

Third Prize - Chrissy Bartz - Garnett Elementary School

Fourth Prize - Lakesha Black -Garnett Elementary School

Fifth Prize - Grace Baker -Garnett Elementary School

The Commissioners signed and the County Administrator presented a proclamation designating the month of April, 2002 as Tree-Mendous Month in Kent County in an effort to encourage everyone to become actively involved in the State's Urban Forestry and Stewardship Programs.


Carter Stanton, Director, Public Works, appeared to advise that the low bidder, Baltimore Pile Driving, for the public boat launch ramp declined the job as he was unable to perform the construction as per the bid requirements. He reported that the next low bidder, George & Lynch, Inc., would honor their original bid of $137,000. Mr. Stanton further noted that the suggestion to reduce the size of the ramp for economical purposes, would reduce the cost of the project only by

$12,000. Commissioner Newnam stated that the ramp size reduction would not significantly reduce the cost of the project to warrant proceeding in that direction, however, the cost comparison for a double v. single ramp will be requested in writing by the contractor. Commissioners Beck and Fithian concurred. Commissioner Fithian requested Mr. Stanton not to proceed until funding issues surrounding the project were resolved.

Later in the day, County Engineer provided information as requested. A motion was made by Commissioner Fithian and passed by the majority of the Board to award contract to George & Lynch, Inc.


Correspondence was received from Frances Miller, Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services, requesting a budget adjustment to the unrestricted and restricted positions of the Current Expense Fund. Fiscal Year 02 Budget Adjustment No. 4 included three adjustments as follows: 1) Appropriate the donation for the match for the Maryland Equipment Incentive Fund, 2) Appropriate funds received in insurance recovery, 3) Appropriate funds received from the Health Department under the Tobacco Restitution Program. A motion was made by Commissioner Beck, seconded by Commissioner Newnam and made unanimous by Commissioner Fithian to approve the request.


Angie Dowling and Jeanne Edwards, Rock Hall, and seven interested persons appeared to discuss the proposed closing of Rock Hall Elementary School. Mrs. Edwards provided information documenting the public information on the subject to date. Mrs. Dowling read a summary of their objections to the closure of the elementary school. She expressed concern with pre-K students in close contact with eighth grade students. Mrs. Edwards expressed concern at the lack of information available from the Board of Education. Mrs. Dowling noted that although enrollment is declining, Rock Hall appears to be growing and questioned the reliability of the projected figures.

Mrs. Dowling inquired as to the possibility of the elementary school closing escaping local control by circumventing the Board of County Commissioners. Commissioner Fithian advised that he was not aware of another funding source and this Board would be involved in the decision making process.

Mrs. Edwards noted that recently $500,000 was spent on replacing the Rock Hall Elementary School roof and questioned the use of the building should it become vacant.

Commissioner Fithian noted that decline in enrollment was undeniable, however, he did not support closing Rock Hall Elementary School. He reiterated that he would be more in favor of considering the proposal to sell the Washington Avenue Board of Education building and relocating administrative staff rather than students. He too, expressed concern as to the use of the Rock Hall Elementary School building should it be vacated. He felt the administrative building, centrally located in Chestertown and in close proximity to Washington College and Kent and Queen Anne's Hospital, if offered for sale, would be less likely to remain vacant.

Commissioner Newnam expressed his desire for more information from the Board of Education on the proposal and questioned if other alternatives had been explored other than closing a school. Mrs. Edwards advised that the Board of Education was just starting a feasibility study and appeared not to have any defined plans.

Commissioner Beck stated that the Board of Education should be looking at cost savings, however, not at the expense of elementary school students. Commissioner Fithian advised that a meeting will be scheduled with the Board of Education to discuss their proposal, plans for segregating young students, funding associated with proposal, and status of feasibility study.

Mrs. Edwards expressed her concern that the proposal was being rushed. The Commissioners reiterated the plan to schedule a meeting to provide more information and discuss the proposal in more detail.

The Executive Assistant noted that Dr. Lorraine Costella was invited to attend today's meeting, however, was advised prior commitments precluded her appearance.


The Commissioners held a budget work session with Carl Burke, Executive Director, Upper Shore Aging, and Wayne Morris, Director, Department of Water and Wastewater Services. Pat Merritt, Director of Budget and Accounting, was also in attendance.


The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Fithian executed the Chesapeake Bay Critical Area Commission Grant Agreement. The grant award in the amount of $39,000 will fund the implementation of the Critical Areas Program in Kent County Planning and Zoning Administration.


In follow-up from last week, the County Administrator advised that County Administrators and fiscal representatives of the participating counties met on April 17 to review the proposed budget submitted by Chesapeake College. As a result of that meeting, correspondence was approved by the Commissioners to send forth to Dr. Stuart Bounds, President, Chesapeake College, requesting a reduction to their budget request. Also included was a request by the participating counties (Upper Shore Association of Counties) for the College to address specific issues.


In follow-up from the April 9 bid opening, the Commissioners approved and executed a contract by and between the County Commissioners and Pardoe's Lawn & Tree Service, Inc., for landscaping maintenance at the Court House, Kent County Government Center and Public Library.


Ed Spray, Superintendent, County Roads, forwarded the proposed FY 03 Surface Treatment Program for County roads. The proposed program treats 48 roads for a total of 41.14 miles at an estimated cost of $143,458.82.


Ken Beatty, representing the Delmarva Space Training Center, appeared to discuss his proposal to use the Hearse House, located behind the Kent County Library, to house a Space Museum. Mr. Beatty advised of proposed renovations that would include American Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.

Commissioner Newnam stated that he would not support this project in light of recent correspondence received from the Public Library advising of an interest in the building to which he would assign priority. He also expressed concern about parking for potential museum patrons. Commissioner Beck concurred that County's needs should be addressed and noted the Library has precedence for the future use of the building.

Commissioner Fithian thanked Mr. Beatty for his presentation and advised he would be informed of their decision.

Correspondence was received from Gloria Urban, Kent County Public Library, requesting serious consideration be given relating to the use of this building. She expressed concern that zoning laws require 10 parking spaces and a handicap-accessible space. The Library has a total of 54 spaces. According to zoning laws the library is required to have 46 parking spaces for library patrons. In addition, one handicap space is designated for a disabled employee, leaving 7 spaces. Ms. Urban also reminded the Commissioners that the parking lot expansion was to accommodate 400 High Street as well as Church overflow parking. Ms. Urban concluded that any additional use of the parking facility will have a negative impact on the library's users.

The County Administrator advised that a proposal for use of the building would be forthcoming from the Library and noted that the proposal was discussed at the March 26 budget presentation held at the Library.


Wayne Morris, Director, Department of Water and Wastewater Services, appeared to report on the following issues:

Millington Water and Wastewater Expansion Project - Due to Commissioner Beck having pending questions relating to the project, no official vote has been made. Commissioner Beck advised of the resolution to his concerns and a motion was made by Commissioner Newnam, seconded by Commissioner Beck and made unanimous by Commissioner Fithian to approve the Kent County portion Millington Water and Wastewater Expansion Project as specified under the revised plan.

Mr. Morris advised that both the Operational and Sewer Agreements by and between the Commissioners and the Mayor and Council of Millington are forthcoming.

Quaker Neck Service Area - In follow-up from last week relating to the request for 12 additional allocations, Commissioner Newnam inquired as to the process in requesting the incorporated Town of Chestertown to consider the County purchasing additional allocations to meet this request and for future use. Mr. Morris advised that the Board of Commissioners needed to pursue the matter with the Town of Chestertown, and if approval given, it will be followed by a public hearing. The Commissioners concurred to pursue the matter and requested Mr. Morris to draft correspondence requesting additional allocations from the Town of Chestertown.


Correspondence was received from Peter Engel, Director, Mulit-Family Housing, Department of Housing and Community Development, advising that after a review of the Kent County Housing Voucher Program, administered by the Maryland Rural Development Corporation, the program is rated troubled. Mr. Engel noted specific examples of incomplete files and file errors.


At 10:50 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Beck, seconded by Commissioner Fithian, and passed by the majority of the Board to go into executive session with Ernest S. Cookerly, County Attorney, for legal counsel in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Items of discussion included litigation and local legislation.

The executive session adjourned at 11:00 a.m.


Correspondence was received from Delegate Mary Roe Walkup, advising of the 2002 Legislative requests that passed through the Senate and House Delegates and were signed into law by the Governor on April 9.

House Bill 357 - Kent County - Treasurer- Salary

House Bill 365 - Kent County - State's Attorney- Salary

House Bill 506 - Kent County - Alcoholic Beverages Violations- Penalties

House Bill 508 - Kent County - Alcoholic Beverages - Special Theater License

House Bill 630 - Kent County - Sheriff- Salary

The County Administrator noted that HB 365 is scheduled, but not yet signed by the Governor.

Correspondence was received from Cheryl Hystad, Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition, Inc., requesting opposition to HB 649 - Credit Regulation - Extension of Credit, that preempts local law from addressing predatory lending. Ms. Hystad is requesting Governor Glendening to veto the bill.


The County Administrator reported on meeting held on April 22 with Edward Birkmire, Environmental Director, Nony Howell, Sanitarian, Gail Owings, Director of Planning and Zoning Administration, Rick Myers, Enforcement Officer, and Jack Canan, Housing and Development Coordinator, as it relates to enforcement process in accordance with the Zoning and Nuisance Ordinances. Mr. Birkmire and Mrs. Owings were requested to list violations that their office is responsible for enforcing and the process for enforcement.


At 9:35 a.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Beck, seconded by Commissioner Newnam and made unanimous by Commissioner Fithian to go into executive session to discuss personnel matters in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

The executive session adjourned at 9:50 a.m.


Susanne Hayman reported that representatives of VALIC has been contacted and placed on notice as to transfer of accounts from individual county employees to the State Pension System will be requested in the near future. The representative from the State Pension System has agreed to schedule two meetings with county employees; one during the day and one evening meeting.


Elizabeth Morris, Suzie Miller, RN, CAPA, and Linda Hickman, Ph.D., MBA, RN, Vice President of Patient Care Services at Kent & Queen Anne's Hospital, Kathy Neuman, RN, and Deborah DuPhily, RN, Chester River Home and Care Hospice, and Patricia Gaffney, RN, Director of Clinical Operations and Carol Lindsey, RN Assessment Nurse, Magnolia Hall, appeared to request the Commissioners to proclaim May 6 as Nurse's Day. The theme for Nurses Day is "A Shining Light of Excellence, and they requested the County to join in celebrating nurse's accomplishments and efforts to improve our health system. The Commissioners encouraged demonstrating a public appreciation of nurses at every opportunity throughout the year. The nurses spoke of events planned at the various facilities throughout the week which include awarding Nurse of the Year Award at Kent and Queen Anne's Hospital.

Commissioner Fithian read and presented the proclamation.

Nancy Kirby, Executive Director, Judy Willock, Board President, Judy Sharretts, Board Vice President, Beth McDonald, Director, Volunteer Programs, and Judy Cooper, Secretary, representing Kent Hospice Foundation, appeared to request the Commissioners to locally recognize National Volunteer Week. Mrs. Kirby reported that more than 100 citizens serve the community as Hospice volunteers in providing patient care, family support office staffing as well as fund raising.

Mrs. Kirby introduced Mrs. McDonald who was recently hired to further the volunteer program. Mrs. McDonald spoke of her goals to enhance the many opportunities to serve the community. She noted of the needs to be filled at Magnolia Hall and hope to expand services there.

Commissioner Newnam inquired as to funding sources for Hospice. Mrs. Kirby advised that the majority of funding is obtained through the generosity of the community through fund raising and some grant awards. She noted of the new grant funded program for the initiation of a children's bereavement support group.

Mrs. Willock advised that the Golf Tournament was the biggest fund raiser and mentioned other fund raising activities such as Summer Celebration. Commissioner Fithian stated that he views Hospice as one of the greatest organizations in the County and thanked all for their efforts in serving the community.

The Commissioners proclaimed April 21-27, 2002 as Hospice Volunteer Week. Commissioner Fithian read and presented the proclamation.


The Commissioners approved and Commissioner Fithian executed an agreement between Caroline, Queen Anne's, Talbot and Kent Counties to participate and facilitate Tire Amnesty Day held in Kent County, Nicholson Landfill in September.


Correspondence was received from Gail Owing, Director, Planning and Zoning Administration, recommending the release of Bank Letter of Credit - Sediment Control, as well as Landscaping for Robert H. Van Dyke, Jr. Mrs. Owings advised that Rick Myers, Enforcement Officer, has inspected the property and all sediment control regulations and landscaping requirements have been met. The Commissioners agreed to release both letters of credit as requested.


The Commissioners received correspondence from Harriet Tregoning, Special Secretary, Governor's Office of Smart Growth, accompanying a copy of a new pocket-sized publication entitled Smart Growth by Numbers.


Correspondence was received from Maryland Department of the Environment and the U.S. Army Corps. Of Engineers advising of the application from the Department of Natural Resources to plant 50,000 cubic yards of rubble and preformed concrete structures on two sites in the upper Chesapeake Bay oyster sanctuary for oyster bed enhancement. The project is located west southwest of Tolchester. Questions concerning this matter may be directed to Charles R. DeRose at 410 631-8079.

Correspondence was received from Henry Dierker, Jr., advising of a water use application for permit. The project located at Wood Bound Farm, Massey, will be used for agricultural irrigation. Questions concerning this matter may be directed to Water Management Administration at 410 631-3591.


Per the Commissioners' request, Rick Myers, Enforcement Officer, provided status pending zoning violations for the Commissioners' review.

There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, April 30, 2002.


Please contact Joyce Laskey or Janice Fletcher at (410) 778-7435 or by e-mail with any questions or comments.

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