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Board of County Commissioners

November 4, 2003

The Honorable Board of County Commissioners held the quarterly community meeting at 7:00 p.m. at the Betterton Volunteer Fire Hall 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 $9,169,280.00.


Commissioner Pickrum welcomed everyone present, approximately 41 people, at this Community Meeting.

Commissioner Pickrum introduced the Mayor of Betterton, Carolyn Sorge, who welcomed and thanked everyone for attending the meeting, expressing her anticipation of an informative, helpful discussion.

Each of the Commissioners thanked everyone for their attendance and for the discussions which were initiated.


Thomas K. Beckett, Chair, Airport Study Committee, appeared and provided a Status Report of the activities of the Committee. Mr. Beckett reported that the Airport Study Committee has convened 10 times since its formation in July, meeting with 11 persons with special knowledge of airports and reviewing over 17 documents related to general aviation airports.

Mr. Beckett reported further that although the Committee developed a draft of recommendations, it has not been able to resolve several significant issues. Consensus was not reached for the following reasons:

- issues regarding airport length and scope;

- the fact that the original Worton site was ruled out of consideration despite the substantial savings in development costs, favorable terms from the MD Aviation Authority, and the prolonged lead time required to evaluate and select a new airport site.

Mr. Beckett advised that, with a reaffirmation from the Commissioners that a reconsideration of the Worton site is not a possibility, the Committee will be able to resolve the remaining issues and submit its final report. The Commissioners, unified in their decision, reiterated that the Worton site cannot be considered for use as an airport for many reasons, including a land preservation concern and excessive land costs making the property unattainable. Mr.Beckett indicated that he will convey the same at the next meeting of the Committee which is scheduled for November 10th.

Mr. Beckett further reported that there are a number of administrative tasks for the Committee to accomplish, inclusive of requesting the Treasurer, Roger Williams, to audit their books and to review their spreadsheets. Commissioner Crow advised that the responsibility be shared with Pat Merritt, Director, Budget and Accounting.

The Commissioners thanked Mr. Beckett for his report and extended their appreciation to all of the members of the Airport Study Committee, acknowledging the diversity of emotions and opinions present in their discussions.


Mayor Sorge expressed Betterton's need for a more adequate water supply, citing a dry hydrant in the Town. She reported that she will be meeting with Carter Stanton, Director of Public Works, to address this problem.

A concern was expressed regarding the past summer's algae bloom and the closing of the Betterton Beach, to which Commissioner Pickrum responded that the algae bloom is not a problem restricted to the County, but a national phenomenon. He also indicated that the official closing of beaches is a function of the State, not a decision made by the County. Further, Commissioner Pickrum stated that the cause of the algae bloom has not yet been determined by the State.

Mr. Troester was asked as to the condition of the Betterton beach and beach facilities following Hurricane Isabel, to which he responded that the Hurricane delayed the progress of projects including replacing beach steps, gazebo, bathhouse roofing and electricity. He also indicated that the boat ramps are in need of repair and that he would convey to his department a concern raised about the amount of sand covering the boat ramps, inhibiting their proper use.


The Commissioners approved and signed a letter to John E. Hall, President, Chesapeake Fields Institute, endorsing the CFI's application for a grant from The Maryland Agricultural, Educational, and Rural Development Assistance Fund Program which will empower CFI to initiate opportunities for the development of a proposed business park, housing a grain seed cleaning and processing facility, artisan bread bakery, soy snack food plant, agricultural education center, and administrative offices.


Refinancing - A copy of correspondence was received from Teresa T. Ernest, Loan Officer, Grants and Loan Division, Water Management Administration, MD Department of the Environment, regarding sewer collection system debt refinancing. Ms. Ernest indicated that the Board of Public Works (BPW) approved the funding for this project for a loan amount up to $2,700,000.00 contingent upon receipt and approval of (1) a cash draw requesting reimbursement and (2) the County's Authorizing Authority to incur debt prior to its adoption for review and comments.

Tolchester Service Area - Correspondence was received from L. Susan Barnhardt, resident of Tolchester, appealing the decision to deny a sewer allocation for a lot in Tolchester, owned by Mrs. Barnhardt and her husband. She cites her family's plan to give said lot to their daughter who will not build on the lot for at least 6 years. No action was taken on this request at this time.


Regional Corrections Task Force - Correspondence was received from LaMonte Cooke, Queen Anne's County Warden, requesting a future meeting to include the Commissioners as it relates to the regional jail proposal. Commissioner Pickrum reported that the County Detention Center requires much improvement, citing that it currently houses more inmates than what was originally intended, and that there are more female inmates currently than what was originally projected in the design of the Center.

Commissioner Pickrum also reported that the Regional Corrections Task Force (Caroline, Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne's Counties) is looking into possibility of a regional facility for detention. Expansion for detention facilities will be needed nationwide according to current trends and statistics. Some proposals that are being considered include: specifying the new regional facility for one gender only; that the County Detention Center house only inmates in the work-release program with all others housed in the regional jail. It was also noted that a substantial amount of the medical costs of inmates, which are currently the responsibility of the County, could be transferred to and shared by the participating Counties of the regional jail.

Judge Tom Sisk suggested that the Commissioners schedule an advice and information meeting with County judges to discuss questions and concerns related to the sentencing procedures of the Courts, to which Commissioner Livie expressed his interest.

Roofing Contract - Contract by and between the County Commissioners and Johnathan Stoltzfus, Commercial Roof Coatings, was approved and signed by the Board relating to re-roofing project at the Detention Center at a cost of $71,820.00.

Correspondence was received from William G. Wheatley, Executive Vice President of Peoples Bank of Kent County, establishing an Irrevocable Letter of Credit in the County's favor for the account of Commercial Roof Coatings, LLC for $71,820.00 available by the County's drafts at site at Peoples Bank to guarantee completion of the roofing project.


Millington Monitoring Station - Memorandum was received by Amy G. Moredock, Environmental Planner, regarding her research into the feasibility of relocating the Millington Monitoring Station. As a result of her discussions with representatives of the MD Department of the Environment (MDE) Air Quality and the Kent and Queen Anne's Counties Early Action Compact, Ms. Moredock reported that, at this time, MDE advises that the relocation of the monitoring station would be counterproductive to the County's current goal of nonattainment area reconsideration. Further, the County has been advised to delay any action pending the outcome of the 2003 Air Quality reading for Kent and Queen Anne's Counties.

Commissioner Livie described the purpose and function of the Monitoring Station. He added that it has been the concern of the County that the poor air quality readings indicated by the station have been, to a large extent, the direct result of air pollution drawn into the County from the Ohio Valley and surrounding urban centers. He further expressed his concern that rural areas in the State are often penalized for the pollution created in the urban centers.

Memorandum was received from Amy G. Moredock, Environmental Planner, indicating that the latest ozone data collected at the Millington Monitoring Station supported attainment for the one-hour ozone standard, thereby making Kent and Queen Anne's Counties' Early Action Compact eligible for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) signature. As indicated in a letter from Kendl P. Philbrick, Acting Secretary, the MD Department of the Environment (MDE) is eager to formalize a three-way partnership to bring Kent and Queen Anne's Counties into early attainment of the 8-hour ozone standard. MDE has resubmitted the County's EAC based on a dialogue between the EPA and the MDE. The MDE also has advised the County to request a letter of support from Senator Barbara Mikulski.

As per the recommendation of Amy Moredock, Environmental Planner, and the advice of the MD Department of the Environment, the Commissioners approved and signed a letter, requesting a letter of support from Senator Barbara Mikulski to be sent to the Environmental Protection Agency regarding the resubmittal of the Kent and Queen Anne's Counties' Early Action.


A requested by Mayor Sorge, P.A.M. Schaller, Director, Economic Development, presented an update on the work of her department, including many of the following projects, all of which were included in a memorandum she sent to the Commissioners:

Vineyards - Of the Upper Shore Regional Council, only Talbot and Queen Anne's Counties have legislation permitting them to have vineyards. According to the University of Delaware Foreign Trade Representatives, there is funding, technical assistance, etc. available to Kent County Grape Growers. There is only one vineyard in Talbot County.

Education - An article was distributed to the Commissioners, "School Facilities for the 21st Century: 12 Trends That School Facility Planners Need to Know About.," by Kenneth R. Stevenson, School Business Affairs, December 2001. The article was shared by Mayor Hager of Millington.

Ms. Schaller and Tom Beckett, Chairperson, Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB), outlined the history and development of the EDAB's Action Plan for Economic Improvement in Kent County. Ms. Schaller, summarizing the Plan, indicated that the Plan not only projects the current and future needs in the County, but is an important tool for determining the ways and means for fulfilling those needs. Chesapeake Fields Institute was cited as one example of progress being made in economic improvement in terms of, in this case, the County's agricultural heritage. Mr. Beckett continued the presentation by reviewing some of the demographic trends and their implications for the County.

Commissioners Livie and Crow outlined the history and current development of the future Worton Business Park which will be constructed on 13.75 acres providing 4 lots. Commissioner Pickrum encouraged seasonal residents to consider locating their businesses to the County and to, in turn, encourage other people to do the same.

Commissioner Crow noted other areas of potential economic development in the County, citing the announcement made by Verizon Wireless of its plans to expand its service in the County, as well as the potential in the development of the US 301 corridor. Commissioner Livie expressed the excitement shared by all of the Commissioners about the future of wireless technology in the County which will, among other things, attract adults to stay and/or locate their homes and businesses in the County.

An opinion was expressed that the County does not offer young adults the means for earning an income which would encourage them to either remain in the County and for others to locate to the County. Commissioner Pickrum concurred that employment is the key for encouraging young adults, including the graduates of the high school, to remain in the County. Therefore, the County must encourage more businesses to locate in this area.

Commissioner Crow indicated that the concern is a complex one and that there is no easy or quick fix. Commissioner Livie concurred, and pointed out that the County has to improve its infrastructure, such as offering business parks, roads, water and sewer access, and broadband capability, in order to attract more businesses. He continued by stating that of the 60% of the County's young adults who study elsewhere for their higher education, a very small percentage of them return to reside in the County. The plans for a marine trades school, the plans of Chesapeake Fields Institute, the plans for introducing broadband are all examples of the County's efforts to increase its employment opportunities.


A copy of correspondence directed to Robert Rust, Emergency Management Director, was received advising the County's request to purchase a portable back-up generator was not granted because the request did not fall within the general categories of authorized equipment for current homeland security grants. The grant authorizes the purchase of small generators for the operation of emergency on-scene light sets and decontamination units. The only exception to this narrow ruling has been the limited authorization of generators for emergency operations and communication centers.

Commissioner Livie expressed to everyone present the County's need for a large, portable generator which will greatly assist emergency and recovery efforts during and in the aftermath of crises, such as Hurricane Isabel. He indicated that, although the County's attempts to source the funding for a generator through the State and FEMA have met with obstacles, the search continues. If the search comes to no avail, he advised that the County will have to purchase one.

Memorandum was received from Bob Rust, Director, Emergency Management Agency, reporting that due to recent legislation of House Bill 780, the County is permitted to increase its local 9-1-1 fee from 50 cents to 75 cents per phone per month. Mr. Rust indicated that he has given this information to the County Attorney for her review. The purpose for the increase is to cover the costs of new 9-1-1 technology which enables the identification of the location of a cell phone user. The fee increase is expected to generate approximately 40,000 in additional revenue per year for the operation of 9-1-1/Central Alarm.


A memorandum was received from John E. Hall, County Extension Director, requesting permission to use $1,139.00 of the postage/paper allotment ($4,000) that was approved on 9/09/03 for the purchase of a computer. Mr. Hall had expressed the County Extension's need for a computer at the Commissioners' meeting on 9/29/03, during which he was informed that a portion of the postage/paper allocations were recovered from State funding.

A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to approve the Extension's use of $1,139.00 of the postage/paper allotment for the purchase of a computer.


The Commissioners approved application for Gaming/Raffle Permit for the fund-raising affairs of the following:

- to be conducted by the Betterton Volunteer Fire Company and to take place at the Fire Hall in Betterton on November 15, 2003;

- to be conducted by the Betterton/ Still Pond Lions Club and to take place at the Betterton Fire Hall on November 8, 2003;

- to be conducted by Crossroads Community, Inc. and to take place at 937 Gateway Drive, ACME and Superfresh supermarkets all in Chestertown from November 5, 2003 to December 12, 2003.


Commissioner Pickrum reported that the First Annual Report (10/04/02 to 10/04/03) of the Human Relations Commission was received. He noted that Kent County is the last county in the State to adopt a Human Relations Commission which he described as having the important function of insuring a quality of life for all the residents of the County, underscoring the necessity that every single resident in the County be treated with respect and dignity. He also pointed out that given the goals of the Economic Development Advisory Board, the County must be more pro-active in its efforts to foster true community.

Commissioner Pickrum also cited the pamphlet, "Are You a Victim of Discrimination?", produced by the Human Relations Commission, as a helpful tool to assist the public in its ability to recognize discrimination as it occurs, and to increase its awareness of discrimination in general.

As written in the Annual Report, the purpose of the Human Relations Commission is three-fold: "(1) to develop positive human relations among the people of Kent County; (2) to advance the means for alleviating social friction and prejudice; and (3) to further the American ideal of equality and justice."

Future plans were listed, including a workshop to take place on November 20, 2003, entitled "Development of Community Education Programs Aimed at Preventing Discrimination." The Commission hopes that this workshop will lead into a program aimed at middle and/or high school students, perhaps in early 2004. The Report concludes with appreciation extended by the Commission to the former and current County Commissioners, and to the County Attorney, the County Administrator and staff.


At the recommendation of James M. Wright, County Engineer, the Commissioners approved to reduce Letter of Credit from the Centreville National Bank of Maryland from $159,375 to $39,844 in consideration of roadway construction satisfactorily completed in Phase I of Hunters Run Subdivision.


The Commissioners appointed Sue Willits as the County Point Person to whom residents could direct Hurricane Isabel Flood Recovery-related questions. Mrs. Willits currently fills the position of Emergency Planning Coordinator and Deputy Director of Emergency Management.


The Commissioners approved Change Order for Unruh Excavating, Inc. for the amount of $8,383.65, to be taken out of contingency, for the completion of the Commerce Lane.


At 6:30 p.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to go into executive session with Jeff Troester, Parks and Recreation Director, relating to land acquisition in accordance with State Government Article, Section 10.508 of the Annotated Code of Maryland.

The executive session adjourned at 6:35 p.m.


At 9:55 p.m., a motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum 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 local legislation and economic development proposal.

The executive session adjourned at 10:05 p.m.


A copy of correspondence was received from the Raquel Sanudo, Chairperson, Local Government Insurance Trust (LGIT), reporting that, at the beginning of the month, the Board of Trustees of LGIT met at the annual Board Retreat. With the annual audit having just been completed, the Board was able to review the Fiscal Year 2003 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). For Fiscal Year 2003, a deficit of approximately $3,180,000 was reported for the Health Benefits Pool (HBP); therefore, most of the Board's dialogue involved options for addressing this new deficit.


For the 2004 General Assembly Session, Commissioner Roy Crow will continue to serve as the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo) Legislative Committee member and Commissioner William Pickrum will serve as the Alternate Member.


A copy of Financial Statement for Fiscal Year 2003 for the Mid-Shore Mental Health Systems, Inc. was received for the Commissioners' information and files.


Program Open Space (POS) - Jeff Troester, Director, Parks and Recreation, appeared and, referring to correspondence received from James W. "Chip" Price, Director, Program Open Space, MD Department of Natural Resources, spoke to the House Bill 444 effects on Program Open Space Local Share Funding. Mr. Troester reported that this bill authorizes the Comptroller of the Treasury to terminate the spending authority of appropriated (capital) funds. There are three major provisions of HB444 of particular importance:

-Spending Authority of encumbered funds appropriated seven years prior to the current appropriation year will be terminated. This means that as of appropriation year 2004, all funds appropriated prior to June 30, 1997 will be reverted to the General Fund by the Comptroller;

-An encumbered project on which no payments have been made for the past two years shall be deemed to be completed and the spending authority on those particular funds will be terminated. This means that a project approved by the Board of Public Works two years earlier than today's date will lose its funding unless progress payments are made.

-Spending authority of unencumbered funds appropriated two years prior to the current appropriation year will be terminated. This means that as of appropriation year 2004, all unencumbered funds appropriated prior to June 30, 2001 will be reverted to the General Fund by the Comptroller.

The POS Local Share funds at risk of loss at the end of the current fiscal year for Kent County are as follows:

Pre-1998 Encumbered Funds at risk .............................. $ 0.00

Pre-2003 Unencumbered Funds at risk ..................... $91,285.03

Unencumbered Acquisition Funds at risk ....... ...........$91,285.03

Unencumbered Development Funds at risk...................... $ 0.00

Total at risk..............................................................$91,285.03

Mr. Price expressed his assurance that his office will do everything possible to preserve POS Local Share funding, adding that his office would appreciate all they help it can get from the County.

Mr. Troester requested suggestions as to the utilization of the $91, 285.03 within the brief time frame allotted and for the greatest edification of the County, noting that the municipalities within the County are eligible to make requests. Commissioner Pickrum advised that communication be sent to all of the County municipalities notifying them of this opportunity. Commissioner Crow reiterated that the money must be spent strictly for acquisition and for recreational purposes.

Mayor Sorge suggested the money be used for the construction of bike trails, to which Mr. Troester indicated that bike trails would be a legitimate use contingent upon the purchase of the land for the trails.

The Commissioners approved the recommendation made by Jeffrey J. Troester, Director, Parks and Recreation, for the purchase of a five foot aerator at the cost of $1,220.00, constituting a $220 increase of the amount budgeted. Mr. Troester advised that the additional cost would result in a more cost effective measure and would be absorbed into the existing Fiscal Year 2004 budget of Parks and Recreation.


At 6:35 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. Susanne Hayman, Human Resources Director, was also in attendance.

The executive session adjourned at 7:00 p.m.

At 9:20 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.

The executive session adjourned at 9:55 p.m.


A copy of correspondence via facsimile transmission was sent from Kevin Hedrick, Underwriting Specialist, The Cincinnati Insurance Companies, to Fleetwood, Athey, MacBeth & McCown, Inc., summarizing discussions regarding alternatives for the County to insure a tower and its surge equipment. Given the County's interest in coordinating the insurance coverages to have an expiration/ inception date of 7/01/04, Mr. Hedrick advised that the best way to accomplish this would be to issue a 6-month policy from 1/01/04 to 7/01/04, requiring the implementation of the $5,000 deductible effective 1/01/04.

A motion was made by Commissioner Crow, seconded by Commissioner Livie, and made unanimous by Commissioner Pickrum to extend the current County property insurance policy for 6 months, from 1/01/04 to 7/01/04, with the implementation of the $5,000 deductible effective 1/01/04. This insurance coverage will be placed out to bid for the term beginning July 1, 2004.


A suggestion was made from someone in the audience that a light rail system be established, using the existing rails and bridges connecting Easton to Elkton. Commissioner Crow advised that much of that infrastructure would require repairs, such as the bridges. The County's participation on a regional level, such as MACo, would be of great assistance with a rail project


In follow up to bids received on September 9 for various properties acquired through tax sale process, Deed by and between the County Commissioners and Richard L. Manning, Jr. and Heidi L. Manning was approved and signed by Commissioner Pickrum granting 0.175 acres located south side on Bayshore Road, near Fairlee, for the amount of $1,050.


Ed Robinson, County Administrator, indicated receipt of a memorandum from Kim Mielke Program Manager, Upper Shore Regional Council (Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne's Counties), concerning the election of its officers for Fiscal Year 2004. At its strategic planning session on October 22, 2003, Senator E.J. Pipkin and Delegates Mary Roe Walkup and Richard Sossi were among the elected officials and rural community leaders who were present to establish operations, elect officers, develop a work plan and determine priorities for FY'04. Among those elected, Commissioner Crow was chosen to be the Chairperson of the Council; Commissioner Pickrum was chosen to serve as the Second Vice Chairperson.

Commissioner Crow outlined the history and development of the Upper Shore Regional Council which will act as a cooperative planning and regional development agency for the counties to foster the physical, social and economic well being of the area. Examples of what could be accomplished more effectively and efficiently through the Council are transportation and agricultural concerns, given reduced administrative costs and an increased regional workforce. Commissioner Pickrum noted that there are municipal representatives on the Council.

There being no further business to claim their attention, the Board adjourned to meet again on Tuesday, November18, 2003.


Janice F. Fletcher
Executive Assistant

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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