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KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND


Board of County Commissioners

September 30, 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.

W. Roger Williams, Treasurer, reported a balance of $5,778,650.00.

BETTERTON VOLUNTEER FIRE COMPANY, INC.
HURRICANE ISABEL

A copy of a letter of complaint was received, sent by Deborah F. Price, Emergency Medical Services Captain of the Betterton Volunteer Fire Company, Inc., and directed to the Chester River Hospital Center, describing the medical treatment of one of Betterton's firefighters, who was taken to Chester River Hospital on September 21, 2003, after assisting in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel, suffering from an apparent parasitic fungus infection.

BOARD OF EDUCATION

In a follow up to correspondence dated August 5, 2003, received from Frances W. Miller, Assistant Superintendent of Administrative Services, the Budget and Accounting Director advised supplemental financial information has been received and reviewed as it relates to budget adjustment request. The adjustment included change in the Current Expense: Unrestricted portion of the budget is the appropriation of the carry-over amount for 1) Adult Education Foundation - $6,360.83 and 2) Fixed Charges: Health Care - $146,000.00. A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to approve Budget Adjustment No.1 for Fiscal Year 2004.

BROADBAND ACCESSIBILITY

Ed Robinson, County Administrator, received correspondence from Michael P. Pennington, Executive Director, Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland, reviewing the history of the plan to increase the availability of broadband accessibility on the Eastern Shore. The Tri-County Council first presented the plan at the Upper Shore Association of Counties meeting in February 5, 2003, after which Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne's Counties agreed, along with the Mid-Shore Regional Council and the Tri-County Council, to fund the plan development. Funding has also been received from TEDCO and DBED. The Tri-County Council is presently in the process of completing a final grant application to the USDA Rural Development Office for the balance of the funds. USDA has requested documentation from all parties involved, including Kent County which indicates support for the development of the plan, e.g. a letter of support or a copy of the minutes from the meeting agreeing to provide funding. The Commissioners approved to send a letter of support for this project.

CHESAPEAKE FIELDS

John Hall, President of the Chesapeake Fields Institute, appeared and gave a presentation outlining past and current activities, challenges, and development, and goals specific to the Chesapeake Fields Institute and Chesapeake Fields Farmers LLC which are the two components of Chesapeake Fields. His presentation included the following major foci:

Problems Facing Mid-Atlantic Agriculture: encroachment, no market alternatives, a negative cash-flow for commodity grains, etc.

The Solution: a new model for regional economic development.

The Challenge: Can CFI create a new economic development program to meet agricultural economic needs?

Strategic Plan: Preservation through profitability. One-third of the nation's consumers live in the mid-Atlantic region. Their desire is to encourage local farmers to consider food instead of feed.

Social Needs: Their focus is to strengthen society's respect for and the preservation of the agricultural environment.

Environmental Needs - Local citizens must respect the preservation of "Our Place" and be willing to pay the cost for it. Therefore, the education of our citizens is essential.

Education and Awareness - through a tourism approach, by showcasing CF products, by teaching, particularly younger people, about where food actually comes from, by encouraging a sense of place and appreciation of agriculture as the best use of the land.

Results from Market Research - Identity Preservation (IP): Identity Preservation enables the ability to trace food to its source. IP is the future for niche markets, for example the growth of specialty grains for specialty customers. IP also defines CF's goals to preserve Delmarva agriculture.

CFI - has been developing in three main areas: an Agricultural entertainment and educational park, research, and Chesapeake Farmers LLC.

Mr. Hall continued his presentation with the introduction of some of the members of his staff: Elizabeth Morris, Staff Associate, who distributed packets of information about Chesapeake Fields and its projects, S. Lansing Williams, Director of Administration and Accounting, who greeted everyone and thanked the Commissioners for the office space which the County provided for Chesapeake Fields (Public Works Complex, Chestertown), and Joseph Bauer, Director of Operations, who emphasized the importance of encouraging farmers to emphasize food instead of feed ("Sell food, not feed.").

Dr. Bauer also emphasized the potential economic benefits for Kent County given its location in the lucrative niche market of the NY-Richmond-Washington, DC-Baltimore corridor through participation in "value-added" farming, the artisan bread industry and market, and the specialty snack food market featuring soy and soy products - all of which would add to the economic base of Kent County (and all of Delmarva).

In summary, both Chesapeake Fields Institute and Chesapeake Farmers, LLC have the same mission: "searching for ways to improve economic profitability for mid-Atlantic family farmers in ways that strengthen environmental preservation of the land and educate the public of the important role of stewardship in farming."

Commissioner Pickrum inquired as to whether there exists competition from other industries on Delmarva which might adversely impact the artisan bread and snack food markets, for example, the poultry industry. Mr. Hall responded that the poultry industry is aware of CFI's plans and indicated that, given national and international mergers in the poultry industry, the industry will probably move to South America as a result of its internal battles. Therefore, Delmarva may lose that industry and should now be considering a replacement for it, and, therefore, there is no competition projected for CFI's strategic industries and markets.

Commissioner Livie noted that there are currently many snack foods flooding the market and questioned how CFI would be able to compete with those well-established companies. Dr. Bauer responded by indicating that the major cost of a snack food industry in this region would be the capital investments in facilities for packaging, labeling, and branding the snacks. A solution towards alleviating some of those costs would be by co-packing with financially stable and established businesses.

Commissioner Crow advised that, as a farmer himself, sees CFI as a change of mind-set and that the added effort required from farmers be compensated by CFI on a market supply and demand basis.

At the invitation of the Commissioners, Department heads were also in attendance for this presentation.

COMPTROLLER OF MARYLAND

A copy of correspondence sent by R. Dean Kenderdine, Chief of Staff, MD Comptroller's Office, to Senator Pipkin, was received regarding the closure of the Comptroller's branch office in Chestertown, effective on Friday, December 5, 2003, at the close of the day's business. The three employees in the Chestertown branch office are being assigned elsewhere in the Comptroller's Office without loss of pay.

COURT HOUSE

Memorandum was received from James M. Wright, Jr., County Engineer, outlining the findings from an inspection of the Court House conducted by Mr. Wright, Carter Stanton, Director, Public Works, Bob Merritt, Maintenance Supervisor, Joe White and Richard Funk, representatives of the Department of General Services, and representatives of the District Court. The memo lists the areas of complaint, such as leaks, peeling wall paper, mold, mildew, and the evident lack of general cleaning of the building, as well as a plan of action to address and resolve these problems.

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

As scheduled for Kent County, the following representatives of the MD Department of Transportation appeared for the Department's annual Tour for review of the draft FY'04 - 09 Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP): Secretary Robert L. Flanagan, Neil Pedersen, State Highway Administrator, Richard Lindsey, District Engineer, Howard Johnson, Regional Planner, and others. Delegates Mary Roe Walkup and Richard A. Sossi, and Senator E.J. Pipkin were also in attendance. Secretary Flanagan presented updates concerning the FY'04-09 MD CTP with an emphasis on the impact of this Program particularly on the following issues facing Kent County:

Air Quality - The State does a good job concerning limiting adverse effects on the ozone. Among the most significant challenges regarding the status of the ozone is the large volume of truck traffic that comes through the State from the Mid-West. The State will have to approach this challenge either by alleviating the volume of truck traffic or by creating legislature to control the volume. The Secretary gave his assurance that the State will work with the County, striving to be pro-active particularly in two areas: congestion and safety.

Secretary Flanagan cited that MD ranks 42nd among all the States in under-investment in highway funding. Their proposal is to raise toll-fees in areas of the State where improvements are needed the most, for example Route 95 north of Baltimore, Baltimore City tunnels, and the Bay Bridge (improvements needed regarding traffic flow and the promotion of E-Z Pass and E-Z Pass lanes).

In response to a question raised by Commissioner Pickrum, Secretary Flanagan responded that there will not be a toll increase on the Bay Bridge. He reported that the east-bound lanes of the Bridge will need to be re-decked in 15 years, and that the idea of expanding the number of lanes on the Bridge has its pros and cons.

Secretary Flanagan also reported that there is currently no money in the Transportation Trust Fund which is the fund from which County projects are supported. Larger projects (State-wide) are primarily funded through tolls and bonding power. He recognizes that at the next legislative session, his Department must address the necessity of replenishing that Fund. His Department, in an attempt to win the credibility of the public, tightened its belt (for example, through a hiring-freeze), raised transit fares, and is in the process of selling-off assets including the World Trade Center in Baltimore City.

Neil Pedersen, State Highway Administrator, then spoke about his efforts, through system preservation and maintenance, to address the following Kent County highway concerns: traffic safety, congestion relief, efficiency in government, environmental stewardship, and customer service. He added that he recognizes the importance to partner with the County in all of these areas.

Concerning the area of traffic safety, it was reported that the County mirrors the statistics of the whole State in that there are far more traffic fatalities than homicides. In order to address the increase in the number of traffic-related fatalities, the DOT is focusing on engineering (construction of roads and road surfaces), law enforcement (particularly regarding impaired drivers and seat belt-usage), and education (raising the public's awareness about all of the above).It was also noted that costs for the disposal of dredged material will increase on the average over the next 20 years from $20 million to $40 million.

The MD Department of Transportation representatives then continued with their presentation about their FY 2004 - 2009 Consolidated Transportation Program in Kent County as follows (hand-outs of the Draft were distributed to all present):

PRIMARY DEVELOPMENT & EVALUATION PROGRAM

Project - US 301, Blue Star Memorial Highway: a study to construct a new interchange at MD 313, with the shoulders on MD 313 to accommodate bicycles. The existing at-grade intersection creates a conflict point on this high speed arterial. This project will improve safety and access controls on US 301. However, due to the success of the "J" turn at this interchange, the new interchange has been placed on hold.

Chestertown By-Pass - Mr. Pedersen referenced meeting held with Kent and Queen Anne's County Commissioners relating to the Chestertown By-Pass Project. At that time, it was agreed that the State Planning staff will meet within the next several months with Kent and Queen Anne's representatives for further review of this project. Secretary Flanagan agreed to look into the Chestertown By-Pass Project in an effort to preserve this historical community.

SYSTEM PRESERVATION MINOR PROJECTS PROGRAM

Completed in FY 2003:
Resurface/Rehabilitate - MD 291/ Morgnec Road/River Road.

FY 2005:
Resurface/Rehabilitate - MD 213/Augustine Herman Highway; MD 291/River Road/MD 290 to beginning of roundabout; MD 444/Locust Grove Road/Kentmore Park Road; MD 290 to end of SHA maintenance.

Safety/Spot Improvement - MD 213/ Washington Ave/Spring Street (sidewalk and pedestrian improvements).

Neighborhood Conservation (All involving urban street reconstruct and/or drainage.) - MD 213/Augustine Herman Highway, East Cross Street & South Main Street in Galena (Project on indefinite hold.); MD 291/Cypress Street, through the Town of Millington (Project on indefinite hold.); MD 292/Still Pond Road through the Town of Still Pond (Project on indefinite hold.); MD 292/Main Street, within the limits of Betterton (under construction); and MD 445/Main Street, Green Lane to Rock Hall Ball Park and MD 20 from Gratitude to Chesapeake Villa Road in Rock Hall - urban street reconstruct and drainage (under construction) .

Richard Lindsey, District Engineer, noted that Hurricane Isabel created a lot of work for his Department and expressed their thanks to Kent County for their "neighboring process" (and again after the blizzards of the winter 03).

Commissioner Crow expressed his opinion that an improvement in communication on all levels is needed specific to the information dispersed by the media, citing, for example, the lack of communication to the public about the closing of the Chester River Bridge during/after Hurricane Isabel. Mr. Lindsey responded by confirming that communication does need improvement and that reported that his department has already critiqued this problem.

Commissioner Pickrum expressed his concern about the large volume of truck traffic and traffic in general going through Chestertown and that this would be alleviated with the construction of a Chestertown By-Pass.

Mr. Lindsey commented that in the areas requiring Neighborhood Conservation, the reason why several have been put on hold indefinitely is because of the funding challenge facing the Transportation Trust Fund. For example, concerning Still Pond Road, there is no funding available to correct the drainage problem, an improvement that must be made before the road is built.

Delegate Walkup commended the work of the MDOT on Main Street in Betterton that, given the new resurfacing materials being used, the road not only appears more attractive, it helps to slow down excessive driving speeds.

Mr. Pedersen commented that the abundance of summer 03 rains created an enormous drainage challenge which has, in turn, held up road repairs and construction. Commissioner Pickrum noted that CFF, a local business, that recycles newsprint into a material which is used as an additive in asphalt and he encouraged the MDOT to investigate the possibility of contracting their business.

Mr. Pedersen advised that as of the next day, October 1, 2003, the State will be distributing left-over funds to certain Counties, including Kent County. Those determinations will be made in the near future.

Commissioner Pickrum spoke regarding public transportation in the County and gave an update on U-STAR reporting that it is an important bus transit link from Chestertown to Chesapeake College for students and that it provides a necessary service for the senior citizen population in the County. He said that U-Star requires more funding to support the construction of additional facilities, such as a park'n'ride. He advised that the County will be requesting the partnership of the MDT to get this initiative off the ground.

Mr. Flanagan applauded the goals and efforts of the County to improve its public transportation and, again, gave assurance that the MDOT will partner with the County.

Commissioner Pickrum noted that public transportation is difficult to fund in the more rural counties, such as Kent, because the population is not a large as in the more urban areas. He asked when the County can expect the Transportation Trust Fund will be replenished. He also expressed his appreciation for the State Highway Administration's efforts in the County, stating that the County has great roads and that 100% of the funding for the County's highways comes from the State.

Commissioner Livie reported that the County took a disproportionate cut in funding a challenge which has been compounded by the fact that the condition of the County's roads has deteriorated greatly due to the large amount of rainfall of the past summer. He expressed his concern that the County will require the State's assistance in funding the repairs of the roads. He also inquired as to whether the State will find the additional funding for the repairs in the next budget. Delegate Walkup responded to this concern by committing the efforts of the Delegates to give the funding that was cut back to Kent County, thereby preventing Kent County from going into deficit funding again. She continued to report that Kent County received 7.5% less funding than any other County in the State.

Senator Pipkin reported that because of the increase in funding in education for the County, funding for roads was cut. However, given the recent decline in public school enrollment, the funding for education was also cut, thereby creating a disproportionate effect in the County. He continued to indicate his belief that the State's formula for balancing funding for roads and for education has to be changed, has to be rectified.

Delegate Walkup conveyed her appreciation for this opportunity to hear the Secretary of the MDOT speak, and, concurring with Commissioner Livie, emphasized that there is significant number of people in the County that depend upon public transportation in the County. However, she continued to report that many people that use the transportation have complained that there are not enough buses which causes schedule problems, for example, the long time lag between bus arrivals. An additional benefit of public transportation is that less people have to rely upon the use of individual cars and, hence, less congestion, pollution, road wear and tear, etc. She encouraged the MDOT to recognize that there is currently a different user-population in this County than in previous years - a population that is becoming more and more dependent upon public transportation.

Commissioner Crow encouraged the support of the MDOT for the continued upgrades to the rail system in Kent County, which would, among other benefits, reduce the volume of truck traffic in the County. Mr. Pedersen responded that the MDT is supporting the rail project on the Eastern Shore which will include Kent County.

The Commissioners thanked the Delegates, Senator Pipkin, and all the representatives of the MDOT for attending the meeting and for their contributions to the discussion.

DEPARTMENT OF WATER & WASTEWATER

Wayne Morris appeared and reported on the following issues (Gail Owings, Director of Planning, was also present):

Tolchester Service Site - As per the direction of the Commissioners given at the last meeting, Mr. Morris checked on the properties of Mrs. Dorothea McSorley and gave an update on their status: (Mrs. McSorley had requested sewer allocations for four parcels.)

#436 - There are no problems and is recommended for approval;

#50 - There is the problem of it being a split-parcel and within the identified sensitive area outlined by Department staff and, therefore, is not recommended for approval;

# 80 - There are no problems and is recommended for approval;

#108 - There are no problems and is recommended for approval.

A motion was made by Commissioner Livie, seconded by Commissioner Crow, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to approve Parcels # 436, # 80, and # 108 for Mrs. McSorley's sewer allocation application.

Mr. Morris advised that the County will need to determine policy as to the size of sewer extensions.

Commissioner Crow emphasized the importance of the meeting between the Commissioners and the Tolchester community as an opportunity to learn more about the property and water issues in that area.

Bond Counsel Services (Refinancing)- As per the direction of the Commissioners at the September 16th meeting, Mr. Morris inquired of the four firms who submitted cost proposals for Bond Counsel Services whether they would be willing to lower their costs. Mr. Morris provided copies of the re-submitted proposals. He also indicated that he has worked with three of the four firms, all of whom are familiar with water quality concerns, and that they are all capable of providing the services needed.

Commissioner Livie asked if Mr. Morris had any objections about the lowest bidder, to which Mr. Morris reported that he had no objections.

A motion was made by Commissioner Livie, seconded by Commissioner Crow, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum that Bond Counsel Services be awarded to McKennon, Shelton & Henn LLP for a total fee of $4,900 plus out of pocket expenses.

Edesville Service Area - Mr. Morris reminded that action on the purchase of a portable generator system, Project Number WWS 04-02 of the Department of Public Works to the County Department of Water & Wastewater, was tabled by the Commissioners at the last meeting, and that he will need the decision of the Commissioners by next week.

Commissioner Livie indicated that the reason for tabling action was in order to find alternative sources for funding. He asked if there may be funding available from the Homeland Security Office; check will be made with Bob Rust, Director of Emergency Management..

Water & Sewer Rate Studies - The results of the study conducted on water and sewer rates will be reviewed with the Commissioners next week.

Kennedyville Wastewater Treatment Plant Lagoon - A copy of correspondence was received from Virginia F. Kearney for Robert M. Summers, Director, Water Management Administration of the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), with an enclosed proposed Consent Order between the MDE and the Commissioners regarding improvements to the Kennedyville lagoon. The Commissioners approved and signed the Consent Order as prepared.

Used Generator Bid Tabulation - Dated September 25, 2003, the tabulation recorded by Mr. Morris' Department and inclusive of bids from J & J Distribution Co., Inc., Marty Davidson, and Chesapeake Diesel, Inc., conveys Mr. Morris' recommendation the sale of the units to Chesapeake Diesel, Inc., the high bidder.

A motion was made by Commissioner Livie, seconded by Commissioner Pickrum and passed by the majority of the Board to accept the bid submitted by Chesapeake Diesel, Inc. (Commissioner Crow was absent due to his attendance at a funeral.)

ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

A copy of a letter of complaint directed to Dr. Grant, Health Officer, was received from Deborah and William Steller of Smyrna, DE, regarding their property in Golts, MD, which reports their understanding of interactions, inspections and recommendations conducted between them and representatives of the County Health Department, regarding their plan to either upgrade or replace their septic system before rebuilding their home on the Golts location. The Steller's complaint is that they believe that they have been treated unfairly throughout the inspection and assessment process.

FISHERIES

Correspondence was received regarding a public informational hearing for Wetlands Application 03-WL-2144, sent by Richard J. Ayella, Chief, Tidal Wetlands Division of the MD Department of the Environment, and scheduled for October 22, 2003, 7:00 p.m. at the County Courthouse. The application, submitted by the MD Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Services, is to hydraulically dredge ten million bushels of fossilized oyster shells from two sites in the Upper Chesapeake Bay: a 583-acre site off Worton Point and a 729-acre site off Plum Point.

GAMING/RAFFLE PERMIT

The Commissioners approved a Raffle Permit for the Radcliffe Creek School for their activity to be held at the Radcliffe Creek School on October 3, 2003, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

HUMAN RELATIONS COMMISSION

The Commissioners appointed James E. Saunders and reappointed Marian Cooke as members of the Human Relations Commission for a three year term ending October 4, 2006.

HURRICANE ISABEL

Emergency Management - The Commissioners received copies of the news releases issued by the County Emergency Management Agency updating the County's hurricane recovery. As the local coordinating agency for Federal aid for the County, the Agency reported that as of September 24, 2003, a FEMA Disaster Recovery Center would be opened September 25th at the Rock Hall Town Office Auditorium on Main Street. Citizens who have sustained damage to their homes and businesses can go to the Disaster Recovery Center to get information about public assistance programs and file claims. The hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, and noon to 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

In addition to the FEMA staff, the following agencies will be available to provide information and answer questions about cleanup and recovery: MD Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), Kent County Planning Office, Kent County Health Department, Kent County Social Services, and Kent County Cooperative Extension Office (UM).

Citizens have been advised that before they visit the Recovery Center, to begin the application process by calling the FEMA 1-800 number or TTY 1-800 number for the hearing and speech impaired, from 7:00 a.m. to midnight, seven days a week until further notice.

The Commissioners received fax from the office of Senator Paul Sarbanes which listed the names and contact phone numbers to assist citizens with Hurricane Isabel disaster recovery, inclusive of FEMA, MEMA, the Small Business Administration, Department of Agriculture, American Red Cross, and Salvation Army. Additionally, an advisory was included concerning flooded wells, recommending the use of bottled water.

Information was received from the State Department of Assessments and Taxation to assist property owners by using the following procedures for severely damaged real property and for totally destroyed business personal property:

Real Property - Property taxes for real property that is partially damaged or totally destroyed are abated on a monthly basis. When a dwelling is damaged and uninhabitable, the total value of the structure is removed from the assessment rolls until it is again substantially complete. For answers to questions about assessments for severely damaged or destroyed real property, County citizens are encouraged to contact the local assessment office.

Business Personal Property - For businesses that filed a MD 2003 personal property return (Form 1 or AT3-51) and sustained damage, relief may be obtained as follows:

1. All personal property totally destroyed - A letter or amended return may be filed with the Department of Assessments and Taxation stating that all property owned on January 1, 2003 was totally destroyed.

2. Some personal property totally destroyed - An amended 2003 personal property return may be filed with the Department that removes the totally destroyed property that was owned on January 1, 2003.

If the 2003 assessment was based on the return originally filed, a corrected notice will be issued that reflects the removal of all destroyed property.

If the 2003 return has not been filed, property owners are encouraged to complete the return by reporting all property owned on January 1, 2003 with the required documentation cited above. For questions regarding abatement of assessments for totally destroyed business personal property, owners should call 410-767-1170 (legal entities), 410-767-4991 (sole proprietorships and general partnerships) or toll free at 888-246-5941, option 2.

MD Department of the Environment - Correspondence was received from Richard Eskin, Acting Director, Technical and Regulatory Service Administration, reporting that the MDE has determined an elevated risk of shellfish contamination due to flooding and run-off from Hurricane Isabel and, therefore, pursuant to the Annotated Code of MD, Natural Resources Article 4-742 (1990 Volume), MDE temporarily reclassified the following area as restricted for the harvesting of shellfish effective immediately: Maryland's portion of the Chesapeake Bay and tributaries. The closure was to remain in effect until September 28, 2003.

HURRICANE ISABEL
LAND USE ORDINANCE

A Resolution by the Board of County Commissioners Authorizing Use of Recreational Vehicles as Temporary Residences Pending Repair of Homes Damaged by Hurricane Isabel was adopted and signed by the Commissioners.

LEGAL COUNSEL

At 2:30 p.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Pickrum and passed by the majority of the Board to go into executive session for conference call with Alexander P. Rasin, III, County Attorney, for legal counsel in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

Item of discussion included land acquisition.

The executive session adjourned at 2:45 p.m.

LOCAL MANAGEMENT BOARD

The Commissioners approved and signed four addendums to Memorandums of Understanding by and between the Local Management Board for Children's and Family Services and the County Commissioners on behalf of the Parks and Recreation Department relating to the following: Fiscal Year 04 Mini-Jr. Leaders Club, Fiscal Year 04 Mini-Youth Fishing Derby, Fiscal Year 04 Mini-Leaders Club, Fiscal Year 04-Consolidated Education Block Grant-Beyond the Bell Program whereby funding provided of the MOU's is conditioned upon Contractor's agreement that all eligible activities, services or programs will provided in a manner that is free from religious influences.

"MARYLAND YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL" PROGRAM

As a result of the review of the nominations received, the Maryland You Are Beautiful Program Local Committee, consisting of Mayor Dennis Hager, Margaret Briscoe and Rosalie Kuechler, selected Thelma O'Grady as Kent County's Most Outstanding Volunteer for 2003 as part of the "Maryland You Are Beautiful" Program.

The Commissioners invited all nominees to be formally recognized with a Certificate of Appreciation and a Volunteer Mug as follows:

William I. Blake nominated by the Galena Town Council

Patsy Cornelius nominated by Judy and Joe Stalter

Mark Mumford nominated by Patsy Whiteley

Joanna Rash nominated by Bette Lou Cruikshank

Ann Turney nominated by the staff and individuals of Kent Center, Inc.

Mrs. O'Grady was congratulated as the 2003 Winner in recognition of her years of volunteer service and dedication to help others in many activities, including volunteering at Galena Middle School after retiring as a teacher for 43 years, tutoring, and devoted 53 of her 75 years as a Girl Scout Leader. She was nominated by the Kent County Retired Teachers Association. Mrs. O'Grady was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation, Volunteer Mug, a gift certificate from Turner's Unlimited and a beautiful flower arrangement donated by Turner's Unlimited. Those in attendance for Mrs. O'Grady's recognition were Dr. Bonnie Ward, Superintendent of Schools, Gayle Gill, Principal, Galena Middle School, and members of the Kent County Retired Teachers Association.

Floraine B. Applefeld, Director of the "Maryland You Are Beautiful" Office, Rosalie Kuechler, MYAB Local Committee member, and Janice Fletcher, Local Coordinator, as well as many friends and families of nominees were also in attendance.

The Commissioners congratulated all the nominees for their volunteer contributions to Kent County and special recognition to Mrs. O'Grady. The Commissioners will be escorting Mrs. O'Grady to the Governor's MYAB ceremony scheduled for November 12 in Annapolis.

PERSONNEL

At 2:20 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 2:30 p.m.

PLANNING

Gail Owings, Director of Planning, appeared and gave updates on her office's work at the Rock Hall Disaster Recovery Center/FEMA Disaster Center. They are maintaining a list of the questions which the public has asked when they come to the Center for information and assistance. She reported the following specific questions raised by County citizens that will require the Commissioners' attention:

- Will the County waive the late payment penalty for taxes due September 30 for those properties damaged in the flood? The Commissioners discussed this issue with Roger Williams, Treasurer, advising that to differentiate properties damaged by the flood would be a very difficult task for his office and should instead be referred to relief established by the Department of Assessments and Taxation as an alternative. The Commissioners concurred.

- Will the County offer tax breaks for structures damaged in the flood? According to a memorandum from the MD Department of Assessments and Taxation, property taxes for real property that is partially damaged or totally destroyed are abated on a monthly basis. Business personal property that is totally destroyed is also subject to abatement on a monthly basis. For more information, property owners of severely damaged or destroyed property may contact the County Treasurer's office.

- As substantially damaged properties must be elevated as a part of the repair, will the County provide assistance in determining the required flood elevation and ground elevation? These elevations are necessary to determine house design and height from the ground.

Commissioner Livie inquired as to the number of houses that incurred serious damaged, to which Ms. Owings reported that there are many houses and that there have been a lot of delays experienced by the owners in their attempts to receive assistance. She also reported that once owners understand that they will have to elevate their house should they choose to re-build, they are agreeable.

In response to Commissioner Livie's question, Ms. Owings responded that there is a federal requirement for home owners to elevate their house prior to rebuilding. Once a house has been assessed as "substantially damaged," it must be elevated as part of its reconstruction, otherwise the home owner's flood insurance rates will increase dramatically.

Ed Robinson reported that the number of applications for disaster relief submitted at the Disaster Recovery Center have been averaging 30 a day.

Ms. Owings indicated that her staff have been asking people if they are interested in a buy-out of their homes, and advised that an example of an alternative use for that property would be re-forestation. She and her staff are also watching for any grant money opportunities for the County's disaster relief efforts.

Commissioner Pickrum noted that FEMA will suggest low-interest loans, and, therefore, he encouraged Ms. Owings and her staff to continue to search for grant monies.

Ms. Owings reported that the people who do not have flood insurance tend to be people who have lived in their houses a long time; the people who have mortgages on their homes are the ones who have flood insurance because eligibility for a mortgage in more recent years requires flood insurance.

Ed Robinson noted that there were many automobiles destroyed as a result of Hurricane Isabel.

Ms. Owings continued by reporting that she and her staff a keeping a list of the most extreme hardship cases and the responses of the public to her office's questions. She encouraged the Commissioners and all other County agencies to come to the Disaster Recovery Center and witness for themselves the efforts being extended in addressing the concerns and challenges facing the County's citizens in the aftermath of Hurricane Isabel.

Ms. Owings concluded by advising the Commissioners of a citizen-participation meeting to be held that evening sponsored by Drayton Manor regarding application submitted for development of a retreat center in Kent County. She also advised that this property represents a critical area allocation and will be an issue brought to the Commissioners in the near future.

A memorandum was received from Ms. Owings concerning flood-related questions, such as questions concerning permits and questions that are not related to Planning.

Correspondence was received from Doldon W. Moore, Jr., Wetlands Administrator, MD Board of Public Works with enclosures of copies of authorizations that grant permission to repair and/or replace certain types of structures damaged during September 18 and 19, 2003, Hurricane Isabel as follows: expedited tidal wetlands , private tidal wetlands permit, and US Army Corps of Engineers Public Notice. The letter also advises that if the proposed repair or replacement exceeds the original authorized scope of the structure, an individual Expedited Tidal Wetlands Permit will be required.

UPPER SHORE REGIONAL COUNCIL

Correspondence was received from Stephen R. McHenry, Executive Director of the Rural Maryland Council (RMC) indicating that to facilitate the making of preliminary arrangements for beginning the operations of the Council, an "USRC Organizing Committee" has been established consisting of several legislators and county officials from the three counties. To facilitate the filing of the necessary organizational paperwork, Commissioner Roy W. Crow has agreed to serve as Acting Chairman of the Upper Shore Regional Council. The first meeting of the full Council will take place on October 22, 2003 at which time Council officers will be elected, bylaws will be approved, etc.

A tentative deadline of October 15, 2003 has been established for the Council's three municipal representatives to be selected prior to the first full meeting of the Council. To facilitate the appointment of the municipal members of the Council, the Organizing Committee requested the RMC to assist the municipalities in each of the three counties towards making the respective appointments. Mr. McHenry has offered to assist in making this selection.

There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, October 7, 2003.


THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OF KENT COUNTY, MARYLAND

Janice F. Fletcher
Executive Assistant

Approved:
William W. Pickrum, President

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




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