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Board of County Commissioners

March 18, 2003

The Honorable Board of County Commissioners met today with the following present: Roy W. Crow, Scott D. Livie, and William W. Pickrum, presiding.

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

Minutes of the previous meeting were approved as amended.

W. Roger Williams, Treasurer, reported a balance of $ 6,904,211.00.

The Commissioners held their regular Tuesday meeting at Kent County High School Auditorium to afford the student population the opportunity to participate in County government. Commissioner Pickrum introduced himself, Commissioners Crow and Livie , County Administrator, County Attorney and Executive Assistant.

Those in attendance were Al Hanifee, President, Board of Education, Dr. Bonnie Ward, Superintendent of Schools, Gordon Sampson, Principal, Kent County High School, Ms. Nina Newlin, Principal, Rock Hall Middle School, approximately 50 members of the Student Government Association and 10 persons representing the general public and media.

Later, student Tracey Dawson, President, Student Government Association, welcomed the Commissioners and student Britney Spry, Junior Class President, provided specific information on curriculum opportunities at Kent County High School such as advanced placement courses and the distance learning lab.

Commissioner Crow encouraged students to participate in the election process in the future. Upon question raised by a student, Dr. Ward advised the High School was on a waiting list to implement a ROTC Program.


Correspondence was received from David A. Bramble, President, David A. Bramble, Inc., and Allan Housley, Chestertown, expressing their support for the proposed airport project.


Commissioner Pickrum met with Lieutenant Government Michael Steele on March 17 in Annapolis. Commissioner Pickrum reviewed with the Lieutenant Governor the Thornton formula disparity and how it will cause a fiscal hardship to Kent County.


In follow-up from last week, correspondence was received from Jim Wright, County Engineer, providing an update on the search for available office space to relocate the Board of Elections. Mr. Wright reported that he evaluated five locations and recommended two options for review. The need for relocation resulted from the Board of Education notifying the Board of Elections would not be able to lease space in the Board of Education Building as of July 1.


At 1:50 p.m., the Commissioners held a budget work session with Sheriff John Price and Linda Stryholuk, Administrative Aide, and at 3:20 p.m. with Robert B. Rust, Jr., Emergency Management Director, Sue Willits, Emergency Planning Coordinator, Stacy Gouldin, Chief Paramedic, Ken Smith, Emergency Communications Specialist Supervisor, and Shawn Mathiesen, Information System Manager.


Correspondence was received from Michael Waal, representing Chesapeake Fields, requesting additional office space at the Public Works Complex for the new position of Project Manager at Chesapeake Fields. The Commissioners approved the request and Carter Stanton, Director, Public Works, will be so advised.


Third reading was held on Code Home Rule Bill No. 1-2003, which is an Act to repeal and reenact with amendments Section 42-2 of Chapter 42 of the Code of Public Local Law of Kent County (1994 Edition) titled "Parks and Recreation Advisory Board" adding two (2) Kent County High School students to the Advisory Board, with voting status.

Ballots were distributed for voting. Upon their return, all ballots were marked favorable for this legislative bill. This bill will become effective May 2, 2003 ( forty-five days from the adoption date).

Commissioner Pickrum advised the students the purpose of changing local legislation to include students on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and encouraged them to consider the volunteer position. He also stated those students appointed would be eligible to use the time contributed to this Board towards the community service credit requirement.


Correspondence was received from members of the Clearview Homeowners Association seeking the County's assistance in alleviating the frequent problem of speeding on Coopers Lane. Request was made to place a three-way stop sign at the junction of Waterview and Coopers Lane. Once enforced, it is the residents' feeling the signs would considerably slow the speeders on this road. The Homeowners Association also offered to pay for the sign's installation. They expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by Sheriff Price by placing periodic speed traps in the 30 mph zone, however, he is limited in the time that can be given on this issue. A copy of this correspondence will be forwarded to Carter Stanton, Public Works Director, and Ed Spray, County Roads Superintendent.


The Commissioners were notified that the House Appropriations Committee will hold hearing today during the 2:00 p.m. time slot on House Bill 998 "$750,000 Bond Bill Request-Kent County Community Center Project". Commissioner Pickrum testified on behalf of the Board of County Commissioners. Others in attendance were Alan Hanifee, President, Board of Education, Judie Berry, Chairperson, Local Management Board for Children's and Family Services, and Jeff Troester, Parks and Recreation Director.


Correspondence directed to the Office of Transitional Services, Department of Human Resources, was co-signed from Pat Carney, Director, Department of Social Services, and Commissioner Pickrum submitting proposal for use of additional funding available through the Emergency Food Assistance Program for Fiscal Year 2003. The additional funding of $1,000 would be used for purchase of a photocopy machine needed to process applications and other materials that are used by the community panty for audit purposes, a chair and shelving to store canned and packaged food.


Worton Service Area - The Board approved and signed a Public Works Agreement by and between the County Commissioners and Mt. Olive AME Church for water and or sewer allocation in this service area.


Correspondence was received from Warden Ronald Howell advising that the Detention Center has exceeded the overtime budget for FY 03 by approximately $5,900. He noted that hospital security required excessive overtime. Warden Howell advised that due to scheduled surgery for a member of his staff, as well as training for two correctional officers, more overtime is anticipated.


The Commissioners will make announcement of the appointment of the Economic Development Director during the March 25 meeting. They also agreed to designate the office space adjacent to the second floor conference room in the County Government Center as the Economic Development Office. Relocation of other county offices will be made to accommodate accessible office space for the Economic Development Director.


Given the constant threat of terrorism, a County department head meeting took place on March 17 for the purpose to discuss the preparedness of the County should an emergency arise as well as provide an update on the status of specific emergency plans.


The Commissioners approved a Raffle Permit for Nicholson Speedway, Inc., to hold fund raising activities weekly from March 16 to December1 at Nicholson Speedway.


Chris Powell, President, Fire Chiefs Association, appeared to state the need for volunteer firemen/rescue squad recruits. He advised that Kent County has six volunteer fire departments and one rescue squad. He provided statistics that reflect an annual increase of emergency calls. Mr. Powell reported that although the volunteer fire departments receive some funds from the State and County, fund raising is continuous. He advised that Queen Anne's and Cecil Counties have programs in the high school curriculum to promote the program and recruit volunteers. Mr. Powell noted that time devoted as a fire/rescue volunteer would meet the community service credit requirement. Commissioner Crow stated that he hoped the students would communicate the need for volunteers to the remaining student body.


Jack Canan, Housing and Community Development Coordinator, and Stephen R. McHenry, Executive Director, Phyllis Kilby, Cecil County Commissioner and 1st Vice Chairperson, FORVM for Rural Maryland appeared to discuss the program. Mr. McHenry advised that the organization coordinate and focus on issues pertinent to rural areas and reviewed the following proposed FY 03 legislation: Available/affordable broadband communication and the inclusion of additional counties in the Upper Shore Regional Council. He reiterated that the FORVM for Rural Maryland is a task force to ensure rural communities issues are addressed.

Ms. Kilby expressed her appreciation of the issues FORVM addresses and encouraged the Commissioners to participate.


At 1:30 p.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and passed by the majority of the Board to go into executive session with Susanne Hayman, County Attorney, for legal counsel in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Items of discussion included Nuisance Ordinance violation, Animal Control Ordinance, and Housing Improvement Program.

The executive session adjourned at 1:40 p.m.


The Commissioners received a phone call from Frank Micriotti, Baltimore County, requesting the Commissioners to enact legislation (passed in 2002 - SB 867), granting benefits (tax credit) to survivors of EMS/Firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty.


Jim Wright, County Engineer, reported to the County Administrator that on March 5, the Chestertown Historical Commission gave approval of installation for a handicap ramp for the Hearse House. He will now put this project out to bid.


Notification was received from Joseph R. Miller, Chief, Bridge Inspection and Remedial Engineering Division, advising of proposed work to repair the deteriorated culverts on MD Route 291.


Notification was received from Joseph R. Miller, Chief, Bridge Inspection and Remedial Engineering Division, advising of proposed work to repair the deteriorated pipes on MD Route 445.


Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning Administration, reported that she attended the March 13 Mid-Chesapeake Bay Island Environmental Restoration Feasibility Study meeting hosted by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. The study focuses on restoring acres of aquatic and wildlife habitats through the beneficial use of dredged materials. Options will be reviewed for shoreline and island restoration. Mrs. Owings advised that she has requested to be kept apprised of the studies.


The Commissioners received the proposed budget operating expenses for mosquito control in Kent County from Cyrus Lesser, Chief, Mosquito Control Section, Department of Agriculture. The County's portion for calendar year 2003 is $9,800 which is the same amount as last year. Commissioner Crow noted that this is an example of services the County funds and is seldom recognized until it is not provided.


Jeff Troester, Director, Parks and Recreation, appeared to discuss Summer programs/ employment requirements. He reported that Parks and Recreation hires 48 seasonal/summer employees ranging from camp counselors to lifeguards. He stated the need for life guards for the 2003 summer season for Betterton Beach, Millington Pool and the pool at Bayside Park. Mr. Troester provided job descriptions and information for the student body.


At 1:15 p.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and passed by the majority of the Board 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 1:30 p.m.

At 1:50 p.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie, and passed by the majority of the Board to go into executive session with Sheriff Price to discuss personnel matters in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

The executive session adjourned at 3:10 p.m.

At 4:25 p.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum 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 5:00 p.m.


Gail Owings, Director, Planning and Zoning Administration, and Carla Martin, Community Planner, and Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, appeared to celebrate National Agriculture Week. Others in attendance were: John Bergen, Chairman of the Agricultural Land Preservation Board, Frank Dierker, Ann W. Hoon, Joe Hickman, Mr. and Mrs. David Gsell, Holly Harris McCoy, James Sutton, and Mr. and Mrs. John Stap, all who have voluntarily participated in the agricultural land preservation program. Ms. Martin advised that 20,000 acres have been preserved in Kent County since the initiation of the project in 1974. As a farmer, Commissioner Crow stated the importance of farming to Kent County and this country. He noted the ever importance of farming as the number of farmers is decreasing and encouraged the students to continue family tradition in farming. Commissioner Pickrum read and presented the proclamation to Mr. Bergen.


James Urda, appeared to discuss the Rails to Trails proposal. He advised of two options for funding, a Federal Highway Trust Fund grant or Transportation and Community Systems Preservation Pilot Program. Mr. Urda requested that the County be the sponsor for either funding route, but emphasized that the grant application was for planning/feasibility purposes and was 100% grant funded. He requested the County designate a task force to work directly on the program. Mr. Urda noted that the upcoming deadline for applications is the end of March.

Commissioner Livie inquired as to the approximate cost per mile as well as maintenance costs. Mr. Urda advised that the planning grant would yield such information. Commissioner Crow inquired as to any commitments associated with the grant. Mr. Urda stated that by the County sponsoring the grant, it reflected local government's knowledge of the project.

Weldon Welch, Foxley Manor, appeared to express his opposition to the proposed project. He advised that his property is adjacent to the railroad tracks and should a rails to trails project go forth, it would disrupt his privacy, as well as the privacy of 43 neighboring homes. He advised of the close proximity of the rail tracks to his home and expressed concern for the safety of his family and neighbors.

Mr. Welch posed questions relating to the validity of letters of endorsement for the project and noted that supporters of the project do not live near, and are not directly affected by the project. He provided detailed information on the impact of property values both adjacent to and near a rails to trails projects and reported the data reflected no economical gain to the community.

Mr. Welch noted that the proposal was being referred to as cost free to the taxpayers, however, he stated funding for grants is acquired from taxpayers. He requested that the project be proposed to the public before any action taken. Mr. Welch reported that an unofficial poll reflected definite opposition to the project. Commissioner Livie inquired if Mr. Welch was opposed to a feasibility study. Mr. Welch advised that decisions relating to the project should be made by the public and requested that should a task force be established, it include those in opposition as well. Commissioner Livie stated that a feasibility study should be conducted to analyze the project before proceeding. Mr. Welch reiterated his concerns for his privacy and the use of tax funds to investigate an unwanted project.

The Commissioners advised of the need to review the information and further discussion would take place next week.


Sheriff John Price appeared to discuss the Sheriff's Office Annual Report. Lt. Brian Kirby, Detective Sergeant Scott Metzbower and Captain Philip Russum were also in attendance. Sheriff Price advised of a new mission statement and reported that accreditation is pending this fall. He noted that the School Resource Officer has resulted in a 30% reduction in juvenile referrals over the past year. Sheriff Price reported that he is fulfilling community policing grant by hiring two additional officers.

A student inquired as to how the Sheriff's Office is addressing terrorism. Sheriff Price stated that the main goal was to gather intelligence to attempt to stop terrorism. He reported of the County meeting that took place on March 17 to address/educate the County on emergency issues. He requested all to be alert and vigilant.

A Memorandum dated March 18 directed to the Commissioners from Sheriff Price was received advising that on March 12 at approximately 1:55 p.m., the Sheriff's Office was involved in a pursuit that occurred in the area of Garnett Elementary School and College Avenue. As a result of this pursuit one unmarked police vehicle along with a covert vehicle were damaged. The accused suspect accelerated his van and crashed into the covert vehicle and later collided with the unmarked police vehicle driven by Sheriff Price. The van that was driven by the accused was successfully stopped and the accused suspect was taken into custody after a short foot chase. The accused suspect has been charged with both serious motor vehicle and criminal charges and is currently incarcerated at the Kent County Detention Center on $75,000 bond. The 1999 Ford Crown Victoria has been declared a total loss. A check in the amount of $11,750. has been issued by the insurance company toward the replacement of the vehicle. Sheriff Price has obtained cost of a new vehicle at $20,253 per Delaware State Contract making $8,503 the actual cost to the County. A motion was made by Commissioner Livie, seconded by Commissioner Crow and passed by the majority of the Board to approve this purchase using contingency funds. Commissioner Pickrum was attending a hearing in Annapolis at this time and therefore not in attendance for this meeting. Sheriff Price also advised that the covert vehicle is being repaired.


A copy of correspondence was received directed to Thomas J. Maguire, Director, Property Disposal Division, General Services Administration, from William L. Huie, Program Manager, Federal Lands to Parks, U. S. Department of the Interior, requesting assignment of the Still Pond Station property to the Secretary of the Interior for conveyance to the Kent County Commissioners for public park and recreation purposes.

There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, March 25, 2003.


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

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