County Council Meeting Minutes
June 6, 2006
County Council of Dorchester County
The County Council of Dorchester County met in regular session on June 6, 2006 with the following members present: Present were Glenn L. Bramble, President; David Yockey, Vice President; Effie M. Elzey; Ricky Travers; William Nichols. Also present were Jane Baynard, County Manager and Donna Lane, Administrative Specialist.
The Council adjourned from Regular Session and convened in an Executive Session to discuss one personnel item pursuant to § 10-506(a) of the State Government Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.
INVOCATION AND PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
Councilman Yockey led the invocation and Councilman Nichols led the pledge of allegiance.
CALL FOR ADDITIONS OR DELETIONS TO AGENDA
Ms. Baynard stated that an additional budget transfer to transfer money to the general reserve fund and a request for a letter of support from the Neck District Volunteer Fire Department will be added to the agenda.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES-MAY 23, 2006
The Council approved the minutes for May 23, 2006 with changes.
APPROVAL OF DISBURSEMENTS
The Council approved vouchers as presented with Councilman Bramble and Councilman Travers abstaining for Dorchester Service Associates and Simmons Center Market, respectively.
FINANCIAL REPORT: CASH AND INVESTMENTS
Councilman Bramble reported total cash and investments as $5,344,263.91.
RECREATION BUDGET TRANSFER REQUEST
Council approved the budget transfer request of Scott Eberspacher, Recreation and Parks Director, to transfer $1,584 from pool salaries to water, postage, trash removal and other expenses to meet increased costs in pool chemicals, postage and the ordering of the pool dumpster early due to the resurfacing of the pool. Ms. Baynard stated that the pool will open on June 10, 2006.
TOURISM BUDGET TRANSFER REQUEST
Council approved the budget transfer request from Natalie Chabot, Tourism Director, to transfer $6,500 from building maintenance/repair and other expenses to postage and $600 from Lodging and Meals to printing. Council acknowledge the transfers are due to the fact that the Tourism Department was housed in temporary trailers for longer than anticipated, the Departmant was able to save some funds that would normally be spent if all resources had been available but that postage and phone expenses higher than anticipated due to the success of the County’s marketing plan. Ms. Baynard stated that the Department will relocate into the renovated Visitor’s Center beginning immediately.
YOUTH SERVICES BUDGET TRANSFER REQUEST
Council approved the budget transfer request of Madeline Moore, Youth Services Director, to transfer $172.86 from contractual services to mileage and $25.00 from training to office supplies due to the increased costs of gas/mileage reimbursements and the need to purchase basic office supplies to last until the end of the fiscal year.
RECORDATION TAX BUDGET TRANSFER REQUEST
Council approved the budget transfer request of Michael Spears, Finance Director to transfer $300,000 of unanticipated and unbudgeted recordation tax to the Reserve fund. Council acknowledged that the unanticipated and unbudgeted recordation tax was due to the sale of residential lots on the Hyatt property.Ms. Baynard explained that this transfer fulfills Council’s requirement to set aside funds for the Fiscal Year 2007 budget to achieve the fiscal policy requirement for a reserve deposit.
EXECUTIVE SESSION SUMMARY
Motion made, seconded and carried to conduct a closed session pursuant to the above. All members of the Council voted in the affirmative to conduct the closed session for the purposes stated above and to discuss the topics listed above.
Action taken at the closed session: (1) Recommendation to hire employee; (2) Approval of minutes of May 23, 2006.
The above information is being provided to the public pursuant to and in compliance with Section 10-509(h)(2) of the State Government Article.
USS FOREST SHERMAN DESTROYER PRESENTATION-KURT WAGEMANN-FOREST SHERMAN FOUNDATION
Kurt Wagemann, representing the Forest Sherman Foundation, advised Council that the Foundation would like to investigate birthing the USS Forest Sherman Destroyer at the pier at Sailwinds – Governor’s Hall.
Councilman Bramble stated that he has received comments from local area residents about the maintenance costs and bulkhead repairs that will be needed.
Mr. Wagemann stated that the project has a $5 million budget with $3 million designated for the restoration of the ship and $1 million for future maintenance. He said that there are 109 ships in the Historic Fleet, that none of them have declared bankruptcy and that the Navy, as a part of the donation, required that the Foundation escrow funds so that they can take the ship back if it is not used. He stated that the Navy inspects the ships every year.
Based on a question from Councilman Bramble, Mr. Wagemann stated that Foundation hopes to find a long-term home for the vessel at the pier at Governor’s Hall. In response to another question from Councilman, Mr. Wagemann stated that the City had formed a committee to review the proposal but never invited him to speak before them and instead, to his knowledge, made the decision not to accept the proposal. He further stated that he appeared before Mayor Rippons and the City Commissioners at their meeting last week and that they were surprised that he had not been invited to speak at the committee meeting and that the Mayor stated that he would ask the committee to meet again and invite Mr. Wagemann.
Councilman Bramble expressed concern that the Council should not make any decisions about the proposal to relocate the Destroyer to Cambridge when the City Council has not approved the proposal. Mr. Wagemann stated that the Foundation is not asking for a financial contribution from the County and that the funding for the project will be received from the Federal and State governments and from Heritage Legacy grants, of which there were $13 million approved for the Department of Defense Budget. He said that Cambridge was one of the several sites that was considered by the Foundation.
In response to a question from Councilwoman Elzey, Mr. Wagemann stated that the ship will be managed under a lease/management agreement with the Baltimore Maritime Museum He stated that a prime feature of the Destroyer would be a Sleep Aboard program for Children.
Based on a question from Councilwoman Elzey as to how much attendance this project would bring to Dorchester County, Mr. Wagemann stated that during the Foundation’s bi-annual meeting in Ocean City last year they generated at least $250,000 for the city’s economy in three days and that the restored Sherman would draw convention business from Navy Veteran Groups. He reiterated that the Foundation is not requesting any funds but would appreciate a partnership with local government.
In response to a question from Councilman Bramble in reference to the condition of the pier. Mr. Wagemann stated that the pier itself it collapsing and needs major work. He stated that the State conducted an underwater study of the pier that showed there were major problems with the structure.
Councilman Yockey spoke in favor of the Sleep Aboard program.
Mr. Wagemann stated that due to escalating expenses incurred to find a long term birth for the ship, the Foundation will be approaching the Maryland Historic Trust for a grant in the amount of $45,000 in emergency capital funding and that as a part of that process the Foundations will need letters from local officials of support. He stated that Congressman Gilchrest is drafting a letter of support.
Based on a question from Councilman Travers, Mr. Wagemann said that he did not know how much the pier would cost to repair and that he has heard rumors stating it will cost $100,000 to $1 million. He stated that the cost can not be determined until an engineers study is complete. He stated that part of the $3 million dollars will be used sandblast the exterior and paint the ship and that engineers have determined that it contains 70% of its original steel from 50 years ago and is a better quality of steel than what is produced today. He stated that the gun barrels were cut in half but that the supplier of the gun barrels will donate new ones to the Foundation. Mr. Wagemann stated that much the work, to renovate the interior of the ship, including replacement of the galley improvements to heating and ventilation and electronics systems, as well as general cleaning and painting would be done using local labor.
In response to a question from Councilman Bramble, Mr. Wagemann stated that the USS Sherman’s engines can never be started nor can the guns be fired according to Navy regulations.
Based on a question from Councilman Travers concerning fund drives, Mr. Wagemann stated that the Foundation does not plan to have a capital drive but noted that funds garnered from memberships will be used for long-term costs. He stated that they have already raised $.5 million. In response to another question by Councilman Travers, Mr. Wagemann stated that the stern would be 50 to 60 feet past the end of the pier when morred. Mr. Wagemann stated that the term of the proposed lease would be ten years with an automatic ten year renewal. He estimated that 85,000 tourists would visit the USS Sherman.
In answer to Councilman Traver’s question as to how many other ships there are on the East Coast, Mr. Wagemann stated there are ships in Baltimore; Camden, New Jersey; a group of ships in North Carolina; a submarine in Pittsburg and a ship in Norfolk.
Councilman Elzey proposed that Council defer a request for a letter of support until the City Council makes a decision.
Jane Devlin of the West End Association, stated that Cambridge was the second choice to locate the USS Sherman, that she was on the City’s investigatory committee and stated that one major concerns was the City only has three years left on the lease of the property. She stated that the pier was usable and while some problems with the pier did need to be addressed, the City and Sailwinds officials were looking into it necessary repairs. Ms. Devlin stated that there was no support for this Destroyer from the committee and that the money raised by the Foundation has already been spent. She stated that this project was addressed at last Wednesday night’s City Council meeting. She stated that the County was not overwhelmed with tourism and that such a valuable pier should not be dedicated to this project.
Portia Ennals-Johnson, stated that she was on a City committee that looked into the possibility of having a tugboat school at the pier at Sailwinds. She stated that the committee members voted 11-0 in favor of locating the tugboat school at the site versus housing the USS Sherman there. She stated that this vote was based on the fact that there is only three years left on the City’s lease of the pier and property.
Glenn Payne, a resident of Dorchester County, stated that he did not agree with committing the site at Sailwinds for 20 years and that there are not many deep water ports in the State. He cautioned that the City Council only has control of the pier for three years and after that, that the State may decide they want to sell the property.
Based on a question from Mike Detmer, News Director of MTS Broadcasting concerning the use of the pier, Mr. Wagemann stated that the ship has to be tied to a pier. He stated that the main deck is 13 feet above the water level with the pier as it is now and that the higher section, which is three stories tall, is approximately 40 feet.
Councilman Bramble stated that he likes the concept however he believed it was premature to make a decision until the City Council makes its decision. He stated that rumor is that the State may dispose of the property in the near future.
Mr. Wagemann stated that there was confusion about the pier and that the pier was owned by the Maryland Port Administration. He stated that he has a legal opinion that the pier does not meet the legal requirements of a commercial pier.
In response to a question from Councilman Travers, Mr. Wagemann state that the ship can be moved without dredging because they will be taking the props and sonar off before towing.
Councilman Bramble thanked Mr. Wagemann for his time and requested that he contact the County when the City makes it decision.
PUBLIC HEARING-RESOLUTION FOR COMMUNITY ACTION AGENCY/MD DEPT OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT
Ms. Baynard stated that at the Council’s meeting on May 23, 2006, Nancy Shockley, Local Management Director defined the process undertaken by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development to select a more permanent community action agency for the local area. She stated that the pervious Community Action Agency was Dorchester County Development Corporation and that it voluntarily absolved itself of the CAA responsibilities in 2005. She stated that since then there has been an ongoing process to select another agency and that bids were received and reviewed by an independent committee of community stakeholders . She stated that there were three respondents and at the last meeting the Council considered the appointment of Delmarva Community Services as Community Action Agency for Dorchester County. Ms. Baynard stated that under State law, prior to affirming the Community Action Agency, there must be a public hearing held. She stated that should Council agree to do so, it will be necessary to adopt a resolution which will then be forward to the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for review prior to being forwarded to the Governor for final disposition by the first of July, 2006.
In response to a question about advertising from Councilman Bramble, Ms. Baynard stated that the public hearing had been advertised in the newspaper.
In response to a question from Portia Ennals-Johnson, Ms. Michelle Nichols of Delmarva Community Services stated that the proposal defined that the Community Action Agency would have a presence in the downtown area but DCS is not sure whether the building previously occupied by DCDC will be the location due to confusion regarding the building’s ownership.
Ms. Baynard stated that there is an interim planning period once an agency is selected and Ms. Nichols agreed.
Based on a question from Ms. Ennals-Johnson, Ms. Nichols stated that the Board is required to be made up of one-third citizens, one-third elected officials and one-third community representatives.
In response to a question from Rick Price, a resident of Dorchester County, Ms. Nichols stated that they have proposed that there also be an office in their North Dorchester facility and at their Route 16 facility.
Council approved and agreed to execute the Resolution to designated Dorchester Community Services as the Community Action Agency for Dorchester County.
NOISE VARIANCE REQUEST-DOCKSIDE BAR AND GRILL
Ms. Baynard stated that Robin Wood, Proprietor of the Dockside Bar and Grill has requested a noise variance for June 24, July 22, August 19 and September 3, 2006 from 12 noon to 10 p.m. Ms. Baynard reminded Council that the request contained two past dates. She stated that Ms. Wood was present for questions.
Councilman Bramble stated that the Council did receive one comment from a neighbor of the Dockside Bar and Grill by email which contained some suggestions to control noise concerns from that establishment.
In response to a question from Councilman Travers, Ms. Wood stated that the noise variance request is for basic entertainment outside. Ms. Wood stated that they have never had a complaint until just recently.
Based on a question from Councilman Travers, Ms. Wood stated that the outside entertainment is usually completed well before 10 p.m. She stated that she would be willing reduce the hours requested for the variance.
Bruce Coulson, a resident of Taylors Island, stated that to him the entertainment was not that loud and that he was in favor of the noise variance request.
Councilman Bramble stated that on Memorial Day Weekend he was present at the Dockside Bar and Grill and that the people there were congregated in an orderly manner, that he did not hear anything out of the ordinary as far as music and that there were lots of people present. He stated that the email received from a neighbor suggested that the establishment try to minimize the music out on the dock and he asked Ms. Wood to do so, if possible.
Based on a question from Councilwoman Elzey, Ms. Wood stated that the band would play four hours at the most and that they would be taking breaks so it would not be a consistent noise. She also stated that she would be willing to adjust her noise variance request to four hours.
Councilman Travers suggested a 2 pm. to 8 p.m time limit. He stated that the County was working on amending the noise ordinance so that the noise level could be measured by decibels. He asked that Ms. Wood keep the neighbors in mind.
Councilman Bramble stated that 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. was reasonable.
Council approved the noise variance request of Robin Wood, Owner of the Dockside Bar for June 24, July 22, August 19 and September 3, 2006 from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.
SECURE OUR SCHOOLS GRANT APPLICATION-SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT
Council approved the request of Sheriff James Phillips and agreed to execute the Secure Our Schools Grant application. Council acknowledged that the grant is for $60,000 for video surveillance equipment for the schools, is a 50/50 match and that the required match is $30,000. Council agreed to use $30,000 from the Fiscal Year 2006 Contingency Fund as the County’s match.
Based on a question from Councilman Travers, Ms. Baynard stated that the video cameras are to enhance the school security’s job and monitor more area without hiring another employee. She stated that there will be six cameras put in North Dorchester High School and six in Cambridge South Dorchester High School.
REQUEST TO DORCHESTER COUNTY OFFICE BUILDING LOBBY ON 9/4/6-ELECTIONS
Council agreed to allow Elections to use the lobby for the Primary Election from Tuesday, September 5 to Saturday, September 9, 2006, from 7 a.m. through 9 p.m. and for the General from Tuesday, October 31 to Saturday, November 4, 2006 from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Council acknowledged that the Elections office will partition about half to two-thirds of the lobby for privacy and will be using four voting units and six Election Judges.
Based on a question from Councilwoman Elzey, Ms. Baynard stated that she will advise staff to take appropriate measures to ensure the machines are secured in the evening.
Based on a question from Councilman Travers, Councilwoman Elzey stated that there are the same voting machines as used previously.
REQUEST TO USE COUNTY VAN FOR SUMMER YOUTH PROGRAMS-RECREATION AND PARKS
Council agreed to the request of Scott Eberspacher, Recreation and Parks Director to use the County van from June 19th to August 3, 2006 on Monday through Thursday to transport five high school/college students for the summer youth programs. Council acknowledged that Recreation and Parks will be responsible for paying for the fuel.
Council requested that Mr. Eberspacher coordinate with officials from the Sheriff’s office who use the van on occasion.
FY08 COMMUNITY PARKS & PLAYGROUNDS GRANT FUNDING-RECREATION AND PARKS
Mr. Eberspacher stated that he had just received notification of available FY08 Community Parks & Playgrounds Grant Funding and that he intends to submit a project on behalf of Dorchester County to completely renovate the tennis court at Dr. James McCarter Park. He stated that the grant is 100% reimbursable and that he plans to meet with the contractors this Thursday to discuss McCarter Park. He stated that the tennis court is the only part of the park that has not been renovated.
BID AWARD-COUNTY BOAT RAMPS TRASH SERVICE-PUBLIC WORKS
Council agreed, at the request of Bob Tenanty, Public Works Director, to execute the Waterway Improvement Program grant in the amount of $25,000 which will cover the costs for trash containers and portable toilet service at the County Board ramps in Fiscal Year 2007, staring July 1, 2006. Council acknowledged that trash dumpsters will be located at the Madison Boat Ramp, Taylor’s Island Boat Ramp, Tyler’s Cove Boat Ramp, Hoopersville Boat Ramp and at the Ragged Point Boat Ramp.
Council agreed, at the request of Mr. Tenanty, to award the bill for the trash containers to J. Neal Waste Solutions at $2,950 per month for a period of five months for a total award of $14,750. Council acknowledged that competitive bids were solicited from J. Neal Waste Solutions, Allied and Waste Management and only J. Neal Waste Solutions submitted a bid and that the rest of the monies will be used for the cost of the portable toilets.
Council requested that Mr. Tenanty investigate placing trash containers at all County boat ramp locations and advise Council of an approximate cost.
Mr. Tenanty advised Council that last year the County had no trash containers at the boat ramps because they did receive approval from the State until the middle of August. He stated that it took from last year to now to get these five locations approved.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING-DORCHESTER FIRST! REVOLVING LOAN FUND
Council approved the request from Joy Loeffler, Dorchester 1st! Coordinator to execute a Memorandum of Understanding between the County and Maryland Capital Enterprises to declare duties and obligations and to effectively change administrative payment to Maryland Capital Enterprises from 5% of the loan amount to $300 at the time of closing and a 2% interest spread on the loan amount to be deducted on a quarterly basis from the established revolving loan fund. Council requested that the language be added to ensure that the County Council must approve legal expenses prior to being incurred.
DORCHESTER COUNTY FISCAL YEAR 2006/2007 HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
Council approved the Fiscal Year 2006/2007 holiday schedule based on the fiscal year starting with July 4, 2006 and ending with Memorial Day. Council acknowledged that the holiday schedule mirrors the State holiday schedule and in keeping with prior years.
MARYLAND FIRE SERVICE PERSONNEL QUALIFICATIONS BOARD REPRESENTATIVE AND ALTERNATE
Ms. Baynard stated that Council received correspondence from Michael Robinson, Chair of the Maryland Fire Service Personnel Qualifications Board requesting the Council follow up on the requirement of their bylaws and name a representative and alternate to the Board. She stated that the current alternate was Robert Kramer and that she researched and found that the last time the County made an appointment to the Board was in 1986. She said that the organization is now cleaning up their records and that she has telephoned Brian Burton, President of the Dorchester County Volunteer Association, for his comments but received no response prior to this meeting. Council deferred making a recommendation of a representative and alternate for the Maryland Fire Service Personnel Qualifications Board until recommendations are received from the Volunteer Fireman’s Association.
RECONSIDERATION OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM REORGANIZATION
Councilman Bramble stated that he and Council have spent many hours concerning the reconsideration of the economic development and tourism reorganization as has the County Manager. He stated that there have been a lot of concerns expressed by the public, which the Council has considered. He stated that he had compiled in a document what he has gathered from Council, the public and the department heads.
Councilman Bramble stated recognizes that the Tourism department has had many successes. He stated that a part of his suggestion is that the two departments remain independent but that the Tourism Director will focus only on tourism and the Economic Development Director will focus only on economic development.
He said that that Council has been accused of several things that he will not dignify with a response. He stated that public hearings are held to obtain information from the public to help Council.
Councilman Bramble said that although the compromise last week was worthy of consideration, he can not accept it as a solution. He explained the public comments are clear and it is apparent that the public and staff want to keep a commitment to tourism efforts in Dorchester County. He suggested that the DorchesterFirst! program be moved to the Economic Development office. Councilman Bramble stated that he, Councilwoman Elzey and Councilman Travers met with Secretary Aris Melissaratos of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and that he said he would support that change. He stated the Council should consider immediately hiring a Heritage Area Manager to best support the board in the same fashion as other Heritage Area Management Boards in the State and that the two departments implement a shared agreement for marketing and advertising by sharing staff and resources at the agreement of both department heads.. He stated that the Economic Development Director would work with Heritage Board for all economic development issues in order to insure the integrity of tourism efforts. Councilman Bramble said that Council would review the Heritage Area Plan to ensure the resources that are assigned to tourism are not diverted to economic development functions. He stated that the details can be worked out and will be done in a responsible manner. He stated the Council would then seek grant funds and review availability of resources and consider ways to consolidate costs. Councilman Bramble said these plans will take the partnership of the Heritage Area Management Board of which the Council would expect nothing less. He stated that the Council has heard the concerns of that Board and, in return for their meeting their request, should expect cooperation on implementing a course of action to protect the efforts of tourism development for the County. Councilman Bramble requested feedback from the rest of the Council on his proposal.
Councilman Nichols stated that he likes parts of Councilman Bramble’s suggestions but that he believes that someone should be over top of the Tourism Department.
Councilman Travers said he was glad that the two departments would remain independent and that the budgets are independent but stated that the budgets would have remained independent if the reorganization had taken place. He stated that he agreed with moving Dorchester First! because it was an economic development program and that he agreed with sharing marketing resources to advertise Dorchester County under a united front. He said he supported hiring a Heritage Area Manager for the County. He stated that he thinks this proposal would work and that he felt that the merger would not have work. He stated there are two capable department heads involved that are very good in their fields involved.
Councilman Yockey said that he wanted to clarify that during the meeting with Secretary Melissaratos, Mr. Melissaratos made it clear that it would be a good move to relocate Dorcheser First! because it is an economic development engine. He stated that other Heritage Area Management Board’s have a manager that are not the Tourism Director and that the Tourism Director has talked about moving towards a Heritage Area Manager in the past. Councilman Yockey stated that the shared agreement to market the County in an united front was a good idea.
Councilman Bramble said that his proposal was a compilation of Council’s, the public’s and staff’s thoughts and ideas and that hopefully it is a middle ground.
Councilwoman Elzey stated that she agreed with Councilman Nichols that this Board has tired to do what is best with Dorchester County and that it was not to personally to punish or award a department head. She said she and Councilman Bramble sit on the Heritage Area Management Board and that some statements have been made by that Board that needs to be addressed. She stated that the Council had been accused of a scheme to oust the Tourism Director and that is incorrect and was never discussed by Council. She stated that the Council believe that the Tourism Director would have been a great addition to the economic development program and would have made a more efficient and effective program for Dorchester County. She said that there were statements made that a merger of the tourism and the economic development departments have not worked anywhere and stated that she has been advised that the merging of the two departments was done in Montgomery County and works very well. Councilman Elzey stated that the Council has been accused of selling its birthright to the highest bidder. She expressed hurt and dismay over such comments and noted that the council has and will continue to be committed to supporting the Heritage Area Management Plan. She stated that there have been accusations that there is irresponsible spending in the budget and that there will be a domino effect to the taxpayers. She stated that the Council has given careful thought to the restructuring and it was their goal to find efficiencies now and in the future. She said that the Finance Director, Michael Spears has been consulted and found no justification for those statements. Councilwoman Elzey stated that the Heritage Area Management Board stated that their decision to protect the merger of the two departments was unanimous and that she knows that at least two members, she and Councilman Bramble, who were not present nor provided copies of the minutes. She requested that Ms. Baynard obtain the minutes of that meeting. She stated that since the Board was appointed by the County Council that it needed to abide to the open meeting laws.
Councilman Nichols reiterated that he believes there needs to be Director over the Tourism Director.
Councilman Bramble said that it has been eluded to that the Council has kept secrets andi stated that anyone who has knowledge of government and private industry knows that they cannot discuss specific personnel issues in public.
Council unanimously agreed that the two departments will remain independent with separate department heads; that Tourism will focus on tourism issues only and Economic Development will focus on economic development issues only; that DorchesterFirst! will be moved to Economic Development; that a Heritage Area Management Board Manager will be hired at the start of the fiscal year; that the Economic Development Director will work with the Heritage Area Management Board on all economic development initiatives while the Tourism Director will continue to work with the Heritage Area Management Board in addition to the newly appointed HAMB Direcgtor; and that there will be a shared agreement for marketing and advertising with the two departments for staff and resources at the agreement of both directors.
HEALTHY FAMILIES CONTINUATION APPLICATION-LOCAL MANAGEMENT BOARD
Council approved the request of Ms. Shockley to execute the Healthy Families Continuation Application for a grant in the amount of $363,132 for home visiting of children and families in their home. Council acknowledged that the grant is historically funded from the Governor’s Office of Children, Youth and Families and as of this year, based on 2005 legislation, was transferred to the Maryland Department of Education, which required a formal application.
REQUEST FOR LETTER OF SUPPORT-MD STATE FIRE ASSOCIATION’S VOLUNTEER CO. ASSISTANCE FUND BOARD-NECK DISTRICT VOLUNTEER FIRE CO, INC.
Council agreed to the request of the Neck District Volunteer Fire Company, inc. to send a letter of support to the Maryland State Fire Association’s Volunteer County Assistance Board for a replacement tanker. Council acknowledged that the Neck District Volunteer Fire Company applied to the Department of Homeland Security for two years without success and that they need to show a good faith effort to obtain funds from the County.
Council requested that staff verify what local commitment is needed and authorized a County match of $5,000 from the Contingency Fund which is equal to commitment for purchases made under the Emergency Trust Fund for volunteer fire companies. Ms. Baynard reminded Council that any funding requests other than those for the Emergency Trust Fund, must be considered by Council on a case by case basis.
Mr. Payne stated that there is a bump on Hurlock Cabin Creek Road that needs to be repaired. Council requested that Mr. Tenanty review the situation and make recommendation to the Council as to what needs to be done to address this problem.
Ms. Karen Tolley, a resident of Dorchester County, stated that she was representing herself and not the Heritage Area Management Board when she stated that an “unanimous” decision had been reached to not support the proposed Economic Development and Tourism merger and apologized to Councilwoman Elzey and the Council for stating a vote was unanimous. She said that the comments made were from concerned citizens and not the Board and futher stated that the Board had not met but that the decisions had been reached via telephone calls to members of the Board as well as other citizens. Ms. Tolley said she had been confused when she indicated there was a vote of the Board. She stated that they did not notify the Tourism Director. Ms. Tolley said that she was aware that all meeting should be public and that as a concerned citizen she agrees that departments should remain independent; that she understands that the DorchesterFirst! program will move to the Economic Development Department which she is not opposed to and that the two departments will share marketing resources. She stated that she believed as a resident that it was a fair outcome and that she could not speak for the Board because they do not meet until the following Tuesday. She said that she believed that with this plan no one wins or loses and that it is a win for the County. She thanked the Council for coming to the decision they made and stated that she wished they had come up with this proposal two or three meetings ago.
David Owens, a member of the Heritage Area Management Board said that he was happy with the decision. In response to his question about the County hiring an assistant for the Tourism Department, Councilwoman Elzey stated that, that the details have not been worked out but the Council will meet with the Heritage Board to discuss this and other issues.
Joy Staniforth, a resident of Dorchester County, stated that she appreciated the hard work the Council did on the discussion about the merger and realized they had to make difficult decisions. She said that she admired them and thanked them for making the decisions they had at this meeting regarding the proposed merger.
Portia Ennals-Johnson said that she was confident that, based on the motion from Council, that the members had taken time to review suggestions in order to present a new proposal for Economic Development and Tourism. Ms. Johnson stated that speaking for her point of view, she can understand that there is a lot that the Council can not tell the public. She said that she missed a lot of the meetings and came to a couple to ask questions and that she believed all five Council Members listened to the public, the State and themselves when making this decision. She congratulated them for the decision.
Councilman Nichols said that Councilwoman Elzey put it eloquently about the comments he addressed in the last few weeks including the scheme to oust the Tourism Director. He asked Councilman Travers and Councilman Yockey if there had been any mention of ousting the Tourism Director and both of them said no. He stated that in some counties a merger of the Tourism Department and Economic Department have not worked but in Montgomery County, Prince George’s County and other counties the merger did work so the public cannot say that it does not work when it does. Councilman Nichols stated that there has been comments made about inappropriate spending and that Mr. Spears had said that everything is appropriate in the FY 2007 approved budget. He said that if anyone watched the whole budget process they would realize that the County cut $2 million dollars in taxes for the next fiscal year. He stated that if people can’t back up their statements with the facts they should not say something that will make them look good instead. Councilman Nichols said that he had been on the Council twelve years and he knows the Council does research and its homework and cringes at someone not telling the truth. He stated that if anyone plans to sit on the Council they should do their homework first.
Councilman Travers said that he was glad the Council was able to resolve the issues and felt good about the department in that they can move forward without turmoil in the direction they were headed. He stated that he was pleased that the Council put a lot of time into the decision and listened to what the people had to say. He said that the two department heads are very competent and can work out the minor issues.
Councilman Travers requested that Mr. Tenanty take a look at the Riverside/Bayview intersection because he has received word that there is trash sitting there. Mr. Tenanty said that he would look into it.
In response to a question from Councilman Travers in reference to when the Expressions of Interest for Maces Lane School would be addressed by Council, Ms. Baynard stated that they are on the next agenda.
Based on a question form Councilman Travers, Ms. Baynard stated that Joe Ross from Shore Health Systems will be at the next meeting to update the Council on the merger of Shore Health Systems and the University of Maryland.
In response to a question from Councilman Travers concerning the Trenton Street Marina, Mr. Tenanty stated that the Army Corp of Engineers has been reviewing the application and that there are a couple of minor corrections that have been made. He stated that the permit for the piers should be advertised the first part of July and will be started no sooner than September, 2006.
Councilman Travers asked if the 911 Advisory Board vacancy had been addressed. Ms. Baynard stated that a call has been placed to Brian Burton, President of the Dorchester County Volunteer Fireman’s Association for suggestions for a consumer appointment.
Councilman Yockey stated that Mike Dubuque’s last day on the Planning Commission will be tomorrow and that he has been in contact with Frank Bittner who has agreed to fill the vacant position. He said that although Mr. Bittner is not from this area, he currently lives in Hurlock and has a lot of experience in this area and would be a good addition. Council approved Frank Bittner filling the vacant Planning Commission seat left by Mike Dubuque.
Councilman Yockey requested that a commendation be prepared and presented to Mike Dubuque for his many years of serving on the Planning Commission. Council approved presented a commendation to Mike Dubuque for his service.
Councilman Yockey stated that he wanted to thank Council for looking at all sides of the tourism/economic development merger and that the Council members worked hard to do what is in the best interest of the County. He stated this decision contradicted an email he got stating that the Council does not listen to the people. He stated that this is another example of the Council listening to the people. He thanked the people for their comments and the Council Members for the many months of hard work on the budget and this issue.
Councilwoman Elzey stated that she spent the last two days in Talbot County talking about the environment and regulations. She said that the County has an excellent staff person in Planning and Zoning, Wanda Cole, who was able to talk about Blackwater Resort and put to rest a lot of questions that the people had concerning the development. She said that she cannot say enough good things about Ms. Cole or Steve Dodd, Planning and Zoning Director, who was also present at the meeting. She stated that one lady from Virginia made the comment that they were building on the Blackwater Refuge. Councilwoman Elzey said that she has the annual report from Chesapeake Bay Trust about the work being done for the Bay cleanup up and the Maryland Tributaries Plan and will leave in the office for Council’s review.
Councilwoman Elzey stated that she also has the comprehensive plan for the Board of Education and that in 2005 65% of those in kindergarten needed support to succeed in the school. She said that both genders made gains with 50% of the girls and 39% of the boys being ready for school.
With no further business to discuss, the Council adjourned.
ATTEST: DORCHESTER COUNTY COUNCIL:
Jane Baynard, County Manager Glenn L. Bramble, President
David Yockey, Vice President
Effie M. Elzey
William V. Nichols