We may appreciate this advice more than ever these days. With major news channels arguing over the meaning of Joe Biden’s statement that we have ”no inflation this month,” our Talbot County Counsel is providing relief.
First on the docket at their August 9 meeting was the introduction of Sharon Pepukayi, Ed.D., our new superintendent of Talbot County Public Schools. A “from here, come-back-here” graduate of St. Michaels High, she became a teacher in North Carolina, taught 4th grade in Ohio, and then headed back in this direction to become a teacher and an administrator in Delaware. She’s glad to be back home and is looking forward to meeting and listening to everyone who might assist her in ensuring our students’ success.
Following her welcome and the unanimous approval of updated rules for our Talbot County Board of Appeals, legislation was introduced to add a definition of “country club” to county code. Typical of our democratic process, every action taken is subject to the review of multiple governing agencies and public scrutiny. This takes more time and effort than autocratic leadership, but yields better results. We will hear more about the modification of an existing property at the public hearing for bill 1523 on Tuesday, September 13.
This procedure could be considered troublesome, but success reminds us that accountability to a community is key to positive results. Recognizing concerns for the mitigation of agricultural land in solar installation is requiring more discussion of code guidelines here in Talbot County. Considering the importance of both solar energy and farmland on our Eastern Shore, the removal of topsoil that has occurred in other states will not occur here in Talbot County. Practical considerations of how and where topsoil might be moved and stored remain; and these issues will be discussed at the council’s August 23 meeting – in time for bill 1524 to be voted upon at the September 13 hearing.
Cassandra Vanhooser, Director of the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, and Reza Jafari, Chairman, Talbot County Economic Development Commission, presented recommendations for the distribution of $3.2 million – Talbot County’s share of the $50 million to be awarded to projects that stimulate economic activity and grow jobs. 23 applications have been submitted here. The projects selected will then be submitted to the Mid-Shore Regional Council on August 12 and go to the Department of Commerce on September 2.
Winners announced this fall could include: $22,000 for equipment for the Talbot County Free Library, $87,133 for workforce development at Black African American Minds (BAAM), $125,000 for Talbot County Economic Development and Tourism, $257,000 for workforce training at Chesapeake College, $240,000 for Mid-Shore Broadband Cooperative, $300,000 for Talbot County Parks and Recreation at Frederick Douglass Park, $400,000 for Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center, $501,700 for town of Easton to bury power lines on Port St., $500,000 for the Avalon Foundation’s Stoltz Pavilion, and $750,000 for Talbot County Public Works.
There were questions. What about the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum? And Trappe? Since the parameters of this project are to promote economic development and tourism within two years, this residential project doesn’t qualify. It was also noted that the Maritime Museum is already drawing tourists and receiving funding; but the final decision of which projects will be submitted is up to our Talbot County Council, and Scott Warner of the Mid-Shore Regional Council reassured them, “We will work with you.”
This all might have been accomplished in one day, with suitable spin to follow in an autocracy; but in this case a council work session is scheduled for this coming Thursday, August 11. Council member Price wishes they had been advised sooner, but looks forward to reviewing the awards; and Vice President Lesher assured the committee that he would recuse himself from deliberations regarding the Maritime Museum.
And this is all public record. Talbot County Manager Clay Stamp then presented several county board and committee appointments for approval. County Engineer Ray Clarke relayed information regarding a sewer-related project in Tilghman; and County Attorney Patrick Thomas kept all these procedures on track for a very busy county council.
Vice President Pete Lesher also thanked volunteers who have stepped forward to serve on these projects. Council member Pack remarked about positive efforts regarding the county’s Police Accountability Board, and Laura Price ended the evening with an observation that she and Pack are both on the same page now and “on their way out the door.”
That progress has been noted. Growth issues may not have been a concern while our county’s population remained relatively stable over the past decade, but they were addressed in a robust manner during the last county council meeting. Our council is now discussing traffic and school issues regarding a development of 200 homes. That’s reassuring, but our next council will have its hands full with many more homes and a new comprehensive plan on the horizon.
Meanwhile a county website is suggesting that at least 50 local businesses are hiring. And the mayor of Ocean City, standing proudly on a crowded beach, suggested that falling gas prices are even lower this week closer to the shore.
A county council work session to determine development and tourism award recipients is scheduled for August 11, and a public hearing for legislation discussed this evening will be held on Tuesday, August 23. The August 9 meeting adjourned at 7:58 pm.
Carol Voyles is a graphic designer/illustrator who retired to the Eastern Shore and became interested in politics. She serves as communications chair for the Talbot County Democratic Forum and lives in Easton.