The Talbot County Council held their regular meeting on Tuesday, October 24th at 6 p.m.; all Council members were present.
The Council amended the agenda to reconsider the proposed amendment to the Education Article in the 2024 Legislative Session.
Upon motion by Ms. Haythe, seconded by Ms. Mielke, the Council approved rescinding, by a vote of 4 – 1, its October 10, 2023, decision to forward Mr. Stepp’s proposal with regard to filling vacancies on the Talbot County Board of Education for pre-filing with the local delegation for consideration by the General Assembly during the 2024 Legislative Session. Ms. Haythe proposed instead to wait until after the Council has had an opportunity to discuss both Mr. Stepp’s proposal and Ms. Mielke’s proposal with the Board of Education on October 30th and to ascertain the cost of holding a special election as outlined in Ms. Mielke’s proposal.
Proclamation: Operation Green Light for Veterans
Council declared November 6 through November 12, 2023, Operation Green Light for Veterans week in Talbot County. The proclamation encouraged citizens to recognize the importance of honoring those who made immeasurable sacrifices to preserve freedom through their service in the U.S. Armed Forces by displaying green lights in their place of business or residence from November 6 through November 12, 2023.
The Operation Green Light for Veterans initiative provides educational opportunities for government, businesses, organizations, and individuals to learn about the struggles and challenges faced by veterans as they return to civilian life.
Members of American Legion Post 70, American Legion Blake Blackston Post 77, VFW Post 5118, Mid-Shore Behavioral Health, Maryland Commitment to Veterans (Maryland Department of Health), and Veteran and Military Support Alliance were in attendance to receive the proclamation.
Talbot County Government will illuminate County buildings in green light for the week as a way to show those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces that they are seen, appreciated, and supported. Residents and businesses are encouraged to join the initiative by lighting their house or business green, or to join the conversation online using the hashtag #OperationGreenLight. The County and local organizations will be sharing resources for veterans and their families throughout the week.
For more information about resources available to veterans, please contact Dina Karpf, Director of Maryland’s Commitment to Veterans at 1-877-770-4801. Information on Operation Green Light for Veterans may be found at: https://veterans.maryland.gov/operation-green-light/.
Proclamation: Economic Development Week in Maryland
Director of Talbot County Economic Development and Tourism, Cassandra Vanhooser, accepted a proclamation that designates October 23 – 27, 2023 as Economic Development Week in Maryland and Talbot County,
In partnership with the Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA), Economic Development Week in Maryland emphasizes the importance of economic development for the state of Maryland. The week is designed to increase understanding of the vital contributions of economic development to the state’s business climate, job retention and growth, tax base, and the overall quality of life in Maryland.
For more information on Economic Development efforts in Talbot County, visit talbotworks.org.
Hog Neck Golf Course, Practice Range Entertainment Enhancement
Rich Setter, General Manager of Hog Neck Golf Course, presented a comprehensive business plan for the proposed new practice and entertainment range for Hog Neck Golf Course.
The proposed 2-tier covered facility will allow golf professionals, enthusiasts, and families to enjoy golf year-round. Similar to popular franchised driving range venues, the facility will use a combination of software, radar, and touchscreen monitors to allow patrons to experience golf in a new and exciting way. Using the technology, patrons will be able to practice drills, participate in virtual tournaments, try out over 150 virtual courses around the world (including Hog Neck Golf Course), and play a series of golf-based games.
The proposal also includes improvements to Hog Neck’s dining experience, including a new self-service beverage wall.
“In Talbot County, there are not a lot of activities available for citizens after dark. This proposed venue would provide an area for people of all ages to come and drink, eat, and have fun with their family and friends while hitting golf balls,” said Rich Setter.
The business plan estimates that the project will pay for itself in less than three years, driving revenue for Hog Neck to cover costs in out-of-season months for additional improvement projects.
Setter has partnered with Rich Loeffler of the Maryland Small Business Development Center to refine the business plan for the new practice and entertainment range.
The request to continue moving the project forward was unanimously approved.
- Kevin Shafer, Director of Operations, Talbot County Public Schools and Peter Winebrenner, Principal, Hord Coplan Macht, presented the Design Development Submission for the Chapel District Elementary School renovation and expansion project, providing updated building renderings and site design. The project is anticipated to cost $28.97M, approximately $1M less than previously estimated. Talbot County Public Schools requested a Letter of Support of the project’s design development submission to the State; the request was unanimously approved.
- The second public hearing was held for two Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) projects to provide updates on use of funds.
- Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center, located at 331 E. Dover Street, Easton, MD was allocated $119,000 for a new commercial kitchen and community service space. The building renovations will provide additional space for events and provide services to low-to-moderate income individuals. The project is currently in the construction phase; completion of the project is anticipated by the end of November 2023.
- Shore Legal Access (formerly Mid-Shore Pro Bono), which recently relocated to 499 Idlewild Avenue, Easton, MD, was allocated $50,000 to increase their outreach to low-to-moderate income individuals regarding legal services available through their organization. Shore Legal Access serves a variety of legal needs including, but not limited to, housing foreclosures, rental evictions, property title issues, and bankruptcy to eight counties on the Eastern Shore. Outreach efforts have reached 770 Talbot County residents since the start of the grant, including 340 residents since July 1, 2023.
- A public hearing was held on Res. No 350. The Resolution proposes to place questions on the ballot for the 2024 General Election to amend Section 102 of the Charter of Talbot County; a four-fifths vote of the Council is required to be placed on the 2024 ballot. If approved by the voters, the Talbot County Charter would then state that “citizens of Talbot County shall be accorded equal treatment in all matters under the jurisdiction of the County government regardless of race, creed, sex, age, disability, health, genetic information, or national origin.” Race, creed, sex, and national origin are already included in Section 102 of the Charter being considered.
- Council unanimously approved Bill No. 1548. The bill authorizes Talbot County to borrow not more than $880,000 to fund improvements to wastewater facilities in the St. Michaels sewer collection system through the consolidation, refinancing, and sales of general bonds through the United States Rural Development.
- Clay Stamp, County Manager presented board and committee nominations for the Council’s consideration:
- Mid-Shore Behavioral Health Regional Advisory Committee – Council unanimously approved the reappointment of Tim Haynes and Sharon Dundon.
- Social Services Board of Directors – Council unanimously approved the appointment of Dorri Gowe-Lambert.
- Upper Shore Aging Inc. Board of Directors – Council unanimously approved the appointment of Pamela Limberry.
- Stamp also announced that there would be an opening on the Planning Commission, and encouraged individuals interested in serving to apply. Information can be found on the County website. Deadline for receipt of resumes is Wednesday, November 8, 2023 at Noon.
- Cassandra Vanhooser, Director for Department of Economic Development and Tourism, requested Council award of Bid No. 23-06, TALBOT COUNTY VISITORS CENTER – FEASIBILITY STUDY to the Becker Morgan Group in the amount of $48,500 to complete a feasibility study and site selection for the Talbot County Visitors Center. The request was unanimously approved.
- The Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center requested a Letter of Support for their application to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) Public Works Grant for their Agbiotech Manufacturing Facility Program. No County funds are required. The request was unanimously approved.
- Ray Clarke, County Engineer requested Council award of Bid No. 23-07, TALBOT COUNTY PUBLIC SAFETY COMPLEX – PHASE 1 – BUILDING RENOVATIONS – EASTON – TALBOT COUNTY, MARYLAND to Willow Construction, LLC in the revised amount of $3.17M. The new complex will house the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Emergency Services and is located at 28640 Marys Court, Easton, MD. The request was unanimously approved.
- Preston Peper, Director of Parks and Recreation requested an award a change order for Bid No. 22-15, TALBOT COUNTY COMMUNITY CENTER GYMNASIUM ADDITION – 10028 OCEAN GATEWAY, EASTON – TALBOT COUNTY, MARYLAND in the amount of $99,501.69 to complete wiring for parking lot lighting. Funding for the change order will come from contingency funds. The request was unanimously approved.
- Parks and Recreation also requested approval to award two contracts for jobs related to Bid No. 22-15, including removal of the parking island, lights and flagpoles to Barker Excavation, Clow Electric, and ESF Enterprises, in the amounts of $11,906.43, $8,400, and $10,693.76, respectively, and removal of driveway, sidewalk and associated remediation work to Barker Excavation in the amount of $36,945.66. Funding for both contracts is included in the capital project. The request was unanimously approved.
- Residents will have an opportunity to dispose of Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) items at the Citizen Drop-off Day scheduled for Saturday, October 28, 2023, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. at 26375 Hobbs Road, Denton, MD. For a full list of acceptable items, visit https://talbotcountymd.gov/hhwguidelines
On Tuesday, November 7, 2023, the County Council will be meeting with representatives from the Maryland Department of Transportation at 3:00 p.m. for the annual Consolidated Transportation Plan (CTP) meeting and at 4:00 p.m. with the Local Delegation to discuss the 2024 Legislative Session. Both meetings are open to the public and will be held in the Talbot County Free Library – Easton Branch, 100 West Dover Street in Easton.
The Council’s next legislative meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 14, 2023, beginning at 6:00 p.m. in the Bradley Meeting Room located in the South Wing, Talbot County Courthouse, 11 North Washington Street, Easton.