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Scraping the ice


By Christine Swanson
February 13, 2014

I have been reading the posts from residents on this site's chat areas about the poor conditions of our roads with some amusement. This county does an admirable job keeping the roads up by patching the holes until the entire road needs to be resurfaced. The problem this winter is not the lack of ambition to keep the roads up, it is the inexperienced snow plow drivers literally scraping the roads. The plows should be lifted a good 2 inches of the road to keep from ripping out the fills. I have seen plows going up and down the main roads with sparks coming off the plow because they are scraping the road. Unbelievable! Every time the roads are patched and we get snow, the patches are scraped out. As someone who has lived in other areas that get snowfall, I can say that here they are doing it wrong. The roads do not need to be scraped, but cleared. The road treatment, either salt or sand, will take care of the remaining inch of snow if the sun doesn't melt it first. Do you want better roads and to not have the county overspend to keep fixing the roads? Then we need to train the snow removal team.

Chris Swanson, Stevensville


KIO


Has Christianity killed us all?


By Durk Simmons
March 28, 2013

The following is exclusively my opinin and observations. As a local resident for over 13 years, and given the religious demographic of the area, I hope the following does not offend anyone. My hope is to enlighten, not enrage. The novel I have written is geographiclly local, but entirely fictional.

It sounds crazy, but has Christianity killed us all? Speaking environmentally I mean. As we’re all well aware, our long-term survival as a race is looking sketchy. In my opinion it’s because the ‘big three’, Christianity, Judaism, and Muslimism, ignore the environment as a foundational tenet.

If earth worshiping Pagan traditions had been adopted into or instead of the current religious followings, more than likely the ideas that we would have developed at the dawn of our technological progress would have been ‘green’ to begin with. When given the prospect of an energy source that would poison the water and air, we would have been ‘hard wired’ to find a different solution from the very beginning. If all of our ancestors had focused on the environment as the pinnacle of their religion, then we who followed would have also, throughout our industrial revolution. We would have seen basing our infrastructure on petroleum as sacrilegious, and would have sought out an alternative.

Yeah, sounds silly like I said at the start, but deep down you’re thinking, maybe he’s got a point. Imagine if all the inventions since the 1500’s had been inspired by earth worshiping Pagans. I seriously doubt we would be facing the environmental predicament we are facing.

Even with the religious history written as it is, we had the chance to eliminate our current oil quandary at the turn of the last century, but we blew it. In 1900 almost one third of the cars in the US were electric! But the electric starter made the gas car more appealing, so the genie was out of the bottle. No one back then gave an initial thought to the pollution these horseless carriages discharged. We didn’t care about exhaust until we couldn’t breath the air in the 1960’s.

Okay, hindsight is 20/20 and complaining about what ifs will get us nowhere in a hurry, so what to do? Something that’s what, it ain’t rocket science! Simple things really do count and we all need to remember that. Turn the water off while you brush your teeth or wash your hands. Stop chasing technology just because it’s the newest model. Guess what? The latest, greatest, whatever it is you just bought is already obsolete. The happy designers are already busy replacing it, so skip a model or two. It’ll save you money and help reduce the pile of stuff we already don’t use anymore. And we all know we could do a better job of not wasting food, not to mention eating too much to begin with. We as Americans are so incredibly blessed, and so spoiled it boggles the mind! Everyone has heard it but it bears repeating here. If each country on earth consumed as the United States does it would take SIX Earths to support us all, yet we go merrily along as though nothing is amiss. Just today I read that world CO2 emissions are UP 2.5%, and our extra trips to the store or the mall don’t help. Again I’ll state the obvious. We are all in this together and the only hope we have is for EVERYONE to do SOMETHING to help, and yes this includes you Mr. $20 million a year CEO, not just the everyman. If you’re not part of the solution you ARE part of the problem.

Durk Simmons
Author of the novel STRINGS OF CONNECTION


KIO


The World Shook


By Joe Duley
September 11, 2011


September 11th, 2001
8:00 am
Green lights and blue skies shine up and down Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn as The Rascals warble, "It's A Beautiful Morning" in my Walkman.

8:10 am
I leave my apartment in South Slope to bop over the Brooklyn Bridge to lower Manhattan, where I bee-line to the promenade of the World Trade Centers (to grab an unhealthy breakfast) before a day of meetings, interviews, and work.

8:25 am
Happily dragging my ass to grab the N, F, or R train. My meeting is canceled, so I can now Carpe Diem with great gusto! The day looks great. Color me happy. What a gorgeous Tuesday morning! Even the air smells clean. And with my proximity to the Gowanus, that’s saying something.

8:45 am
I decide to hang-out in Central Park later in the morning, listen to Reggae on the Walkman and read the paper. Happy hour with friends later this afternoon. Tonight, I’ll walk back to Brooklyn on this perfectly peaceful Autumn-like day. There is nothing more beautiful than watching the setting sun from the Brooklyn Bridge.


BOOM!

8:46 am
Flight 11 explodes into the North Tower of The World Trade Centers. Lower Manhattan is a buzz with wild speculation - something is very wrong.

8:52 am
I’m above ground now. The subways are at a standstill. I’m not sure where I am - but I’m on the street. I don’t actually see the first plane hit the building, but I see smoke billowing-out as I approach Manhattan. People look-on with morbid curiosity. I walk back and forth all along Atlantic Ave. Many others do the same. A few confused and scared people walk in a circle to nowhere. All of us ask “what the (expletive) is happening”? For the most part, people are fairly calm- considering the unknown tragedy that was unfolding around them. I quickly get my computer, grab my extra phone batteries, and make my way closer to the carnage, not knowing what devastation lies before me.

8:59 am
Trains jam-up. Traffic is chaotic on the street. People are more concerned about watching what just happened than seeking their destinations. I see several cops calming the chaos, helping people, and trying to keep control. It was reassuring. I ask a transit police officer what happened. He said, "this is a big one- all hell's breaking loose." My adrenaline is pumping.

9:01 am
I run into a deli, and with other gawkers, watch the TV behind the counter spew speculative bullshit and sound-bites about what happened. I want someone to tell me what's happening...I want someone to tell me everything will be OK. A grizzled Brooklynite makes a comment about them "coming for us" and asserts “it was the A-rabs”. There’s a collective moan as a morning Anchor says, "don’t over react- it was probably a wayward small plane. Maybe a Cessna". What the hell is this idiot talking about? A little plane can’t cause an explosion like-


BOOM!

9:03 am
Flight 175 strikes the South Tower with even greater force than the first high jacked human missile. There is no doubt. We are a city under siege. People look at each other as if to say, "is this it?" Nobody, including myself, knows what to do. We have no idea what’s really happening. After the second plane hits, time stands still; yet my mind spins a million miles a minute. The frenzy is a crescendo of confusion. Panic ebbs and flows. I’m sweating and shivering, frustrated with not knowing what is happening. I need to know what the hell is going on! Am I going to be killed? Are there more planes coming?

9:30 am
I make more calls, frantically trying to reach friends who live and work in lower Manhattan. I knew my roommate was safe, so that was a relief. Circuits became busy. I kept dialing. Some friends answered. Sadly, some did not. I watched the continuously updated news from different locations as I make my way closer to the unknown through the thick smoke and fallen debris.

9:54 am
The South Tower crumbles. My biggest fear is that we will be the first casualties of World War III, killed by yet-unknown planes flying into us from above. Oh my God! This is not happening! This is not happening in my city! This is not happening in our America!

9:55 am
I don't know what's happening. Is it the end of the world? Myself and a gathered group of men scan the skies to look for more planes...I don’t want to die alone. I don’t want to die like this. I keep thinking about family and friends. Yet something draws me closer to the towers, like when watching a horror movie through your opened fingers that shield your eyes. But this was no movie. This was happening now, right now.

10:25 am
People shout that DC is being bombed. Rumors fly. The White House is destroyed. The Capitol has been hit. I worry about family and friends in Washington DC, Annapolis, and Baltimore.

10:28 am
The North Tower crumbles and descends in to a mushrooming cloud of death. The rolling smoke and debris envelop, choke, and smother the running hordes. I hear the screams of people as they run past me. As the Twin Towers melt and collapse and smother New York firefighters, cops, and other heroes who ascended to their deaths to save strangers, I find myself caught up in the mass exodus.

When the first majestic tower plummeted to the ground, New York shook. When the second tower crumbled and collapsed, the world shook.

I vividly recall thinking when I saw the North Tower disappear in front of my eyes, that hell had opened its gates and swallowed mankind. Innocent people died as fiery balls of wreckage fell from the sky. Dozens jumped to their deaths from a quarter mile above ground to avoid being engulfed by 2,000-degree burning jet fuel. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, lovers, relatives of my fellow Americans silently screamed as they descended to a gruesome end they did not deserve. To this day, the image of those poor people sitting at their desks working, eating breakfast, drinking coffee, chatting on the phone, as Death flew into them at hundreds of miles per hour resonates in my mind. All those people murdered by fanatical, soulless-monsters. Hatefully murdered, for doing nothing more than going to work at The World Trade Centers.

The stench was overwhelming (which lingered for weeks and weeks). I used a mask for two days. It was the foulest, most repugnant smell I had ever endured. It crept up from the billowing, giant plumes of smoke which engulfed lower Manhattan, and created an eerie Specter for weeks thereafter.

I remember when the first of the scrambled jet fighters screeched across the sky, an elderly man yelled out to all of New York, "There’s our boys!" And I, along with many others, cheered.

Later in the day, people once dressed in pressed suits and clean, nice outfits lumbered toward me. Some looked like the walking dead. The backs of their suits and jackets and dresses were singed. They were soot-covered. At that point, the noise around me got louder and quieter at the same time as I watched this walk of survival from Manhattan. The ambient noise was deafening. I didn’t see people screaming, but heard screams in my head. I remember hearing shuffling feet. Confused people marching out of Cadence. Sirens wailed. Several women and children quietly cried on the streets as they slowly walked past my building. It was like watching a violent movie in 3-D and Smell-O-Rama.

Through tears of disaster, I looked at people of all stripes coming together to comfort one another. They seemed to walk as one. Collective New York. White collar Wall St. executives walked side by side, in silence, with construction workers, blue collar people, young, old, black, white, and other innocent victims of many ethnicities who survived the attacks.

Did those beacons of Americana really collapse? Did those people really jump to their deaths? I still tear-up thinking about the brave people who chose to plummet to their deaths rather than burn slowly in agony. How does one describe the indescribable?

The next evening after dark, September 12th, 2001, I wandered to the promenade at Brooklyn Heights across the river from where the towers once stood. Smoke still hauntingly rose from the smoldering ashes and debris. Several dozen people stood along the fence looking westward across the river. Each and every one stood silently-staring. There was a beautiful young woman in her twenties who stood next to me. She was crying. Her diamond ring glistened as she silently sobbed. Tears welled in my eyes. I reached over and grabbed her hand. She took it. And we both looked straight ahead at what once was. Did she cry for her husband? Fiancé? Significant other? It was too much to imagine. I didn’t need to know. Actually, we never spoke a word to each other as we stood there looking at the smoldering silhouette of shattered lives. We stood there for about five minutes or five hours. I honestly don’t recall. After a while, she gently squeezed my hand, then tearfully mouthed “thank you” without ever making eye contact. As she walked away, my tears poured. Did I comfort her? Or did she comfort me?

Death did not discriminate on that day. I ask myself, why was my meeting canceled that morning? I could have been one of the dead. I could have been down there at my meeting, eating breakfast, or drinking coffee with friends. Why not me?

Now, ten years later, I still feel sadness, anger, and yes, hatred for those who committed this murderous act of fanaticism. I think about life, and how uncertain it is. I think about death and how uncertain it is not. The innocent souls who perished didn’t know it would be the last time they’d see the sun. Kiss their children good-bye. Embrace their spouses. Pet their dogs. Enjoy summer change to autumn…go to work. They were robbed of life. And so too were their loved ones. Many innocent people died on September 11th. And yet, they will always live on because we remember. Whether Democrat or Republican, Christian or Jew, Muslim or Hindu, Agnostic or Atheist, Right or Left, we must always remember. And never forget how lucky we are to be alive and live in the greatest country in the world. America: the beautiful. May She always stand tall.

Joe Duley is a freelance writer, creative consultant and co-host of Dining With The Duleys radio show Tuesday nights 7:30-8PM on WMPG.104.1 and 90.9 FM and frequent contributer to Kent Island Online. www.duleynoted.com


KIO


What I know About Boats - 2!:


By John R. Wieslander

January 13, 2011

Boats, boating and boating people have been a big part of my life since I was just 4 years old. My dad was an avid boater and fisherman who included me on most every weekend outing on our small wooden Owens cabin cruiser. I grew up in Salisbury way back in the 60’s and we kept our boat in Crisfield for years and then later in Oxford. Oh, how I looked forward to those weekends, the roar of the engine, the smell of steaming crabs in Crisfield and the old historic homes that line the Strand in Oxford which I appreciate more now than then. Of course the bountiful waters of the Chesapeake Bay were the real draw!

Growing up we always had a boat in the family and with the Wicomico River only blocks away I spent all of my free time playing on or in the river. I developed a love for boats and all things mechanical. I learned how to paint the bottom, tinker with the motor and became a very good boat handler! I got my first boat when I was just 10 years old, a jon boat with a 1954 Evinrude 71/2 HP. It was so awesome and gave me the freedom to explore the river I loved so much.

As the years passed my love of boats and all things boating grew and in 1976 and 1977 I sailed on a replica of the Santa Maria for nearly 9 months. Wow what a trip of firsts for me. My first time really on a sailboat, let alone a square rigged ship, my first time at sea, my first time giving tours of our ship while portraying the way of life of Columbus and his crew. It was my first time in tights and an Elizabethan collar (probably scarred me for life) while giving tours to hundreds of little kids who were in awe of our fine ship or maybe it was just the day out of the class room. I have sold boats, worked boat shows, cruised on the Inter-Coastal Waterway and have fished all over the east coast. I have owned many boats over the years, but still say “the best boat belongs to someone else!”. My love of boats became my profession and for more than 25 years I have earned my living doing what I love. There is always something new and fantastic but always seems to have roots in the past. I am always learning from my friends, customers and my own experience and now, I would like to share with you, a little of what I have learned over the last fifty years of boating and working in the marine industry.

I can not stress enough the importance of a well maintained boat, motor and trailer. If there is anything I have learned is that getting towed back to the ramp really sucks and with the cost of towing these days it can also break the bank! Now in the dead of winter you should be planning for your next season of boating, not much to do? Don’t worry there will be. How about giving your insurance agent a call? A quick conversation will assure you have the right coverage and are taking advantage of all the savings opportunities available to you.

Here are a few simple questions that could save you big money on your insurance premium and reduce your financial exposure should you have a loss, failure or accident resulting in a claim.

1. Am I taking advantage of multi- policy savings? Most insurance companies offer big savings for having your home, auto and boat all with the same company. Recently I took a simple on line survey with my insurance company and saved 5% on my auto policy!

2. Are my boat and its equipment valued properly? Ask your agent if he can compare the book value with your insured value. Many of us over value our boats; yet undervalue the equipment, personal stuff and towing coverage. These coverage’s are generally very inexpensive and if ever needed could save you thousands. A single tow, even a short distance could be well over $500.00 yet the coverage may only cost you as little as $10.00!

3. Are my liability coverage limits where they need to be to properly protect my personal assets? Most of us just go with the minimum in coverage and give very little thought to what we are protecting. It is way more than your boat, it is all of your assets, savings, home and your financial future should you ever have a serious accident.

4. Is my deductible to low or too high for my comfort level and if it is raised will I save on my policy premium? Generally the higher the deductible the lower your premium but make sure the savings are worth the additional exposure.

5. Finally am I covered for the bodies of water on which I use my boat? Most of us never leave the Chesapeake Bay however if you do you may not have coverage for that area. For example; if your coverage is for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and you are vacationing and boating on the waters of North Carolina’s Outer Banks you may not be covered for a loss, accident, theft or even towing. It is always a good idea to check you coverage’s before you venture out to new waters!

Only you and your insurance agent can decide on what limits of liability, collision and comprehensive coverage or what deductible are right for you. Be sure that all boat operators are qualified and that those who are required, have passed a safe boating course before turning your boat and possibly your future over to another!

As the boating season approaches I will have much more for you! Next, how to maintain your trailer so the first trip to the ramp is a round trip. That’s what I know about boats!


KIO


What I know About Boats!:


By John R. Wieslander

January 2, 2011

Boats, boating and boating people have been a big part of my life since I was just 4 years old. My dad was an avid boater and fisherman who included me on most every weekend outing on our small wooden Owens cabin cruiser. I grew up in Salisbury way back in the 60’s and we kept our boat in Crisfield for years and then later in Oxford. Oh, how I looked forward to those weekends, the roar of the engine, the smell of steaming crabs in Crisfield and the old historic homes that line the Strand in Oxford which I appreciate more now than then. Of course the bountiful waters of the Chesapeake Bay were the real draw!

Growing up we always had a boat in the family and with the Wicomico River only blocks away I spent all of my free time playing on or in the river. I developed a love for boats and all things mechanical. I learned how to paint the bottom, tinker with the motor and became a very good boat handler! I got my first boat when I was just 10 years old, a jon boat with a 1954 Evinrude 71/2 HP. It was so awesome and gave me the freedom to explore the river I loved so much.

As the years passed my love of boats and all things boating grew and in 1976 and 1977 I sailed on a replica of the Santa Maria for nearly 9 months. Wow what a trip of firsts for me. My first time really on a sailboat, let alone a square rigged ship, my first time at sea, my first time giving tours of our ship while portraying the way of life of Columbus and his crew. It was my first time in tights and an Elizabethan collar (probably scarred me for life) while giving tours to hundreds of little kids who were in awe of our fine ship or maybe it was just the day out of the class room. I have sold boats, worked boat shows, cruised on the Inter-Coastal Waterway and have fished all over the east coast. I have owned many boats over the years, but still say “the best boat belongs to someone else!”. My love of boats became my profession and for more than 25 years I have earned my living doing what I love. There is always something new and fantastic but always seems to have roots in the past. I am always learning from my friends, customers and my own experience and now, I would like to share with you, a little of what I have learned over the last fifty years of boating and working in the marine industry.

I can not stress enough the importance of a well maintained boat, motor and trailer. If there is anything I have learned is that getting towed back to the ramp really sucks and with the cost of towing these days it can also break the bank! Now in the dead of winter you should be planning for your next season of boating, not much to do? Don’t worry there will be. How about giving your insurance agent a call? A quick conversation will assure you have the right coverage and are taking advantage of all the savings opportunities available to you.

Here are a few simple questions that could save you big money on your insurance premium and reduce your financial exposure should you have a loss, failure or accident resulting in a claim.

1. Am I taking advantage of multi- policy savings? Most insurance companies offer big savings for having your home, auto and boat all with the same company. Recently I took a simple on line survey with my insurance company and saved 5% on my auto policy!

2. Are my boat and its equipment valued properly? Ask your agent if he can compare the book value with your insured value. Many of us over value our boats; yet undervalue the equipment, personal stuff and towing coverage. These coverage’s are generally very inexpensive and if ever needed could save you thousands. A single tow, even a short distance could be well over $500.00 yet the coverage may only cost you as little as $10.00!

3. Are my liability coverage limits where they need to be to properly protect my personal assets? Most of us just go with the minimum in coverage and give very little thought to what we are protecting. It is way more than your boat, it is all of your assets, savings, home and your financial future should you ever have a serious accident.

4. Is my deductible to low or too high for my comfort level and if it is raised will I save on my policy premium? Generally the higher the deductible the lower your premium but make sure the savings are worth the additional exposure.

5. Finally am I covered for the bodies of water on which I use my boat? Most of us never leave the Chesapeake Bay however if you do you may not have coverage for that area. For example; if your coverage is for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries and you are vacationing and boating on the waters of North Carolina’s Outer Banks you may not be covered for a loss, accident, theft or even towing. It is always a good idea to check you coverage’s before you venture out to new waters!

Only you and your insurance agent can decide on what limits of liability, collision and comprehensive coverage or what deductible are right for you. Be sure that all boat operators are qualified and that those who are required, have passed a safe boating course before turning your boat and possibly your future over to another!

As the boating season approaches I will have much more for you! Next, how to maintain your trailer so the first trip to the ramp is a round trip. That’s what I know about boats!


KIO


TERRAPIN PARK - WE DON'T NEED NO STINKIN' RULES:


August 31, 2009

It seems as if the county has given up on Terrapin Park in Stevensville. The park was never well maintained, but always a nice place to go for a walk or bike ride. Last year I noticed that it was getting worse. The small cabin that is meant for bird watching was covered with spray paint on the inside and overgrown weeds were on the outside. There was a lot of garbage scattered around, and it looked like people were lighting fires on the beach and leaving the remains behind. This year it has become a straight-up eyesore. There is garbage everywhere, and not just beer bottles. Dirty diapers, condom wrappers, scraps of food, plastic utensils, old clothing and shoes, and the usual bottles and cans. The people that are not only breaking every rule that is posted on the park sign, but are doing so without any fear of being held accountable for their actions. Why have rules if they aren't going to be enforced and why have this park if it is going to be turned into a dump.

Queen Anne's County Parks & Recreation need to be back there frequently to empty the trash, cut back the weeds, fix any vandalism, and do basic upkeep on the park. The local law enforcement needs to make routine trips through there to enforce the rules. Park users need to call Parks & Recreation to report rules being broken, and this all needs to work without anyone passing the buck. How long until these people start going to Matapeake Park and trashing that facility...or is that why they are being left alone in the first place?

The mess that is now Terrapin Park


KIO


THE 2009 GENERAL ASSEMBLY – TRYING TO FIND THE GOOD NEWS:


By Senator E.J. Pipken
April 16, 2009

The sinking economy, plummeting revenue and rising unemployment left a $2 billion deficit in the state budget. However, Washington came to Maryland’s rescue with $3.7 billion worth of stimulus aid over the next two years that allowed the state to plug the budget hole and avert state employee layoffs. The liberals called the stimulus billions “a blessing.” But as a conservative, I am with the crowd that called the stimulus money “a curse.”

Indeed, the billions of bucks from Washington will enable the O’Malley Administration to avoid the budget cuts it should make for the next two years. The Administration will spend every stimulus penny. In two years, we will be facing another budget deficit and another call for a tax increase. Be assured, I will continue to oppose tax increases and fight this type of fiscal policy that refuses to recognize the reality and the urgent need for serious belt tightening The Governor’s nearly $14 billion budget allotted aid for education for the Upper Shore in the following amounts. In Caroline County education aid totaled $42.6 million. In Cecil County, $97.6 million. In Kent County, $10.2 million. And in Queen Anne’s County, $30.7 million. For the fourth consecutive year, the state froze in-state tuition costs for Maryland’s university and college students. Community college aid rose nearly 3.8% or $7.7 million for each of the next two years.

“Big Daddy Government” grew by leaps and bounds, almost as fast as concerns for business shrank. The O’Malley Administration pushed a liberal labor agenda that has made even some liberals uncomfortable. The Administration pushed for and got unemployment benefits for part-time workers, a so-called “Fair Share” collective bargaining bill that requires employees who do not belong to a union to pay service fees to that union and a bill, tagged “Workplace Fraud” that makes both the purposeful and the erroneous misclassification of employees as independent contractors illegal and punishable by stiff fines. Yes, indeed, your state government is going to police the workplace looking for misclassified employees even if it forces small businesses out of business. The O’Malley Administration seems hell bent on making Maryland the most business unfriendly state.

We are going to have our speed in highway work zones and within a half mile radius of schools monitored by cameras. The fine will be $40 for going 12 miles or more over the posted speed limits. However, these violations will not count against a driver’s record or be used by insurance companies. So, what is their purpose? You guessed it! It is another way to pick your pockets. It is about more revenue, not safety.

Unfortunately, the Governor’s bill to re-regulate the electric industry was killed. It did represent the only way for residential and small commercial users to get out from under the thumb of big utilities and the skyrocketing rates set in motion by the disastrous 1999 electric deregulation.

While I was disappointed that my Medevac Reform legislation was not passed, I will take heart that the requirements in the bill for the Medevac system to comply with the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) flight, maintenance and repair standards was adopted. I regret that although every Maryland auto owner pays an $11 auto registration fee, expecting it to be used for Medevac emergency evacuation, that cost will be covered only if the person is flown to medical care in a Medevac helicopter. If a Medevac helicopter is not available and a private helicopter is used, that individual can expect a whopping $7,000 bill for the private ‘copter.

Although I joined with rural representatives to fight the Chesapeake Bay Nitrogen Reduction Act of 2009, the legislation which requires homeowners to replace their septic systems with modern systems that reduce nitrogen, this will be law when the Governor signs it. These modern septic systems can cost as much as $12,000. In theory, the homeowner can get a grant from the Bay Restoration Fund to pay for the new system. However, there are doubts whether the Fund has enough money. But a homeowner who accepts such a grant will have to sign away the right to build additions onto their homes. Certainly, I support efforts to rid the Bay of nitrogen. But I do not support that effort if it is individual homeowners who will bear the brunt of that exorbitant cost.

And, of course, let’s not forget the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, although the General Assembly seems to forget Bay Bridge needs every session. Once again, the State Legislature ignored the obvious need for an immediate, thorough inspection by an independent entity. Meanwhile the cables on the westbound span have not been intrusively inspected for 35 years and protective sleeves to deter corrosion of bridge pillars seem to corrode and float away from bridge pillars and bob around in the Bay without the MdTA even aware of it. The Bay Bridge is not solely an Eastern Shore concern. Marylanders from every corner of the state travel the bridge and the Ocean City economy is largely dependent on the good health of the bridge.

I voted against the REAL ID legislation because of its amnesty provision. While it requires proof of “legal presence” to get a driver’s license, it allows illegal immigrants who already have a license to renew it. They would get a one-time license stamped with “not federally compliant,” which would allow them to drive, but not board a plane, enter a federal building or cross a border. These licenses will expire on July 1, 2015.

Some of the rare good news of the 2009 session was approval of legislation to broaden the definition of those with legal standing to challenge environmental permits granted to developers and manufacturers. Current law gave standing only to neighbors within “sight or sound” to bring legal action against environmental changes in sensitive areas. The legislation gives standing to other individuals and associations, thus, bringing the state’s standing law into line with the broader federal policy.

Also in the narrow good news column is the passage of Truth in Sentencing legislation that prohibits the release of an inmate with enough “good time” credits until he is eligible for parole. The legislation also requires that when the judge imposes sentence, he declares in open court the minimum and maximum amount the convicted offender must serve.

Times are hard, however, the 2009 General Assembly has made them even harder for rural conservatives who want a less intrusive government that looks to the needs of people more and taxes less.


KIO


QAC Schools In Trouble!:


November 6, 2008

Queen Anne’s County public schools are in dire need of help. The grim status of funding for our children’s education is apparent with every passing year. Parents are being asked to supply materials that even five years ago could have been purchased through regular orders by classroom teachers or principals. Notebooks, paper, pencils, erasers, tissues, paper towels, and hand sanitizer are just a few basic things being put on supply lists for fall. Some schools need to ask for much more such as copies of particular books. Soon there will be lab fees and studio fees at every level. And supplies seem to be the least of our worries.

Public schools are supposed to provide a quality, free education for every child in this country. How will we provide for our children’s educational needs if we allow over three million dollars to be cut from the budget? Class sizes will rise significantly, there will be a shortage of special education teachers and we could loose highly qualified teachers. Not to mention being unable to keep technology in our schools and continue training and professional development for our teachers so they may better help our youngsters.

The libraries will not get new materials. Our children’s textbooks will be out dated. Pre-Kindergarten will not be available to every child. Extra-curricular programs will be cut. This sounds like a school system in trouble to me.

Demand that your child be given a chance to succeed. The only way to make sure our children have the same opportunities as students in other counties of Maryland is to contact our five county commissioners at http://www.qac.org/depts/cmnrs/cmnrs.htm and let them know that your child is just as important as any other (and to you, the most important). Other ways are to attend budget hearing meetings are area schools and Board of Education meetings in Centreville. Please help our children succeed.


KIO


STOP THE BUILDING OF RIVERSIDES ESTATES PHASE II – NO MORE SECTION 8 ON COX NECK ROAD!:


By Kim
January 03, 2008

As some of you are aware, we recently found out that Queen Anne’s County is planning on building 108 additional section 8 units in Riverside Estates - just off Cox Neck Road – basically directly across from Bentons Pleasure. There are 28 units in Riverside Estates already and these 28 units are already a breeding ground for crime and drug use - - an additional 108 units will have a significant negative impact on our community.

Please take the time to visit the website I created to help raise awareness of this issue and plan to attend the next meeting held at the commissioner’s office (info listed on the website). Please spread the word around to all your neighbors so that they are aware of this potential problem. I have also created an on line petition. Every petition that is signed on line is automatically sent to the Queen Anne County Commissioner’s Office.

Website: www.nomoresection8.com

I have also ordered several signs that I will place on Cox Neck Road – please let me know if you would like to order signs to place in your neighborhood as well.

Kim – Chester, MD info@nomoresection8.com


KIO


K.I. is the #1 Commuter Town in America:


By KIO
April 01, 2007

The April 2007 issue of "Men's Journal" has named Kent Island as the #1 commuter town in America! We were up against some pretty stiff competition, but we came out on top! I'm not sure if the magazine put things like the summer beach traffic and the dreaded Severn River Bridge (with it's seemingly hourly accidents / backups) into consideration, but even if they didn't, we couldn't agree more with their opinion. Yeah, we're biased just a bit... :)

Here are the Top Ten Best Commuter Towns in America:

1. Kent Island, MD (Washington, D.C.).
2. Gainesville, GA (Atlanta).
3. Stillwater, MN (Minneapolis).
4. Nyack, NY (New York City).
5. Fairfax, CA (San Francisco).
6. Hingham, MA (Boston).
7. Parkville, MO (Kansas City).
8. Vashon Island, WA (Seattle).
9. Bandera, TX (San Antonio).
10. Oxford, OH (Cincinnati).


Thanks to "Mikey" in the Kent Island Online "Forum" for the info!


KIO


Crucial Election:


By Margo French
September 10, 2006

This is a crucial time. The future of our county is at stake. The developers are pulling out all stops, paying for full page ads in the developer-controlled papers - 'Bay Times' and 'Record Observer', hiring a Baltimore "Spin" firm to write defaming articles against opponents of Cassell, Cupani and Smith, and blocking rebuttal articles from their opponents from getting into the Bay Times and Record Observer, their favorite papers!! - It is distressing to see the slanderous articles about good candidates, (thousand dollar full-page ads) and I can only hope that the residents of the county can see through this negative attack method. If not, and the three commissioners, Cupani, Smith and Cassell, get back in, our county will become one of urban sprawl and extremely high taxes!!! It will be a very sad thing to watch. I won't be around to watch it, I will leave. I can only hope that the residents choose Kurt Babe, Mike Koval, Rud Roe, Bob Foley and Don Alcorn as Commissioners on the Republican side in the Primary. I also feel that Gene Ransom and Jack Broderick are Democratic candidates who believe, as the good Republican candidates do, in keeping our property taxes low, stopping the sprawl, smaller government and saving our fragile environment. I don't want to have to start another tax revolt a year from now, for we won't have the election pressure behind us to use in our favor! I'm hoping for the best and going door to door again!


KIO


No strings attached:


By Bill Evans
September 7, 2006

I’m about to break a rule about the use of names and endorsements during an election in this column. My reason for doing so is pretty straight forward, but may be considered a little dark to some, unless they happen to reside in my age group – then they’ll understand all too well.

I’m doing this because my warranty on parts and service expired a long time ago. I’m now in the count down stage of my life when time becomes more precious, and frankly I just don’t want to spend the next four years being agitated and frustrated by the inability of our county’s elected officials to work together and come up with positive solutions to head off the disaster looming on the horizon that threatens our quality of life.

And I have another reason, just as self serving as the above. I am sick to death of politicians who say one thing as candidates, and do the opposite in office, and frankly I’d love to see them taken down. (Good Bill would probably have toned that down a bit, but this is Bad Bill’s column.) I’d also like my faith in humanity restored. I want to believe in our ability as citizens to see through all the bulls**t being shoveled our way, and do the right thing.

Having said that, there is one Republican primary vote next Tuesday that is pivotal in determining whether this will happen. The results from it will tell us how closely Queen Anne’s voters have been paying attention to what’s been going on in Centreville during the past four years, and how serious they are about having their voices heard, and putting people in office who are true to their word.

I’m talking about the District #4 Republican primary pitting two current commissioners against each other – Mike Koval vs. Ben Cassell.

This was not a match created in heaven. Think lower, much lower - it was created by the Queen Anne’s Republican Central Committee. This would be Mike’s punishment, you see, for straying from the pack and voting for what he believes is in best interest of the citizens who voted him into office. I wasn’t there, but I can imagine how all this went down.

“How dare he cut the strings!” scream the chief puppeteers on the realtor-invested central committee. “We’ll show him. We’ll put puppet Ben up against him,” they say after chastising Mike in public noting that "A REAL REPUBLICAN works for the betterment of the party, attends the Reagan Day Dinner, gets out signs, blah, blah, blah...”

Pardon me, but this isn’t just a slam against Mike Koval, it’s also an insult to a long list of my Republican friends who could never be bullied into abandoning what they believe in for the betterment of the party. That is simply not a viable option. And it doesn’t make you REAL anything – just the opposite. Does phony ring a bell?

I am not going to comment further on Ben Cassell here. You know what he said he’d do four years ago. And you know what he did. Enough said on that subject. I will comment on Mike Koval. He has proven his loyalty to the citizens who elected him to office. He is passionate about fighting for what he believes in. By virtue of his profession he knows more about the building industry and it’s impact on infrastructure than any of the 19 candidates for commissioner. And you can take his word to the bank.


KIO


Our Backyard:


by Sveinn C. Storm, Centreville

Although not perfect, our backyard was the best one in the neighborhood for baseball. It was rectangular in shape causing the distance between first and third to be considerably shortened. This produced a rather elongated diamond, narrowing the playing field, and enabling us to reduce our rosters by one infielder and one outfielder. The distance from one end to the other was just about the limit of an eleven or twelve year olds? ability to hit the ball so thumping a homer bestowed a legitimate sense of accomplishment. The neighbors on one side were an older retired couple and they never minded us climbing the fence to retrieve foul balls. As a matter of fact, frequently old man Collins would come out in his backyard just to watch us and when a good play was made, it was extremely gratifying to be on the receiving end of one of his resounding "attaboys".

Once in a while he would volunteer to call balls and strikes but his pretty good eye tended to deteriorate as the innings progressed and his consumption of Pabst Blue Ribbon increased. His participation made for a much more entertaining game and we never seemed to mind as his strike zone became increasingly unpredictable. It was equally irregular for both sides. There was always his version of the seventh inning stretch which occurred when his cooler ran a little low or his bladder a little full, and I'm convinced that had we ever gone into extra innings, it could have seriously affected his ability to negotiate the short distance home.

The neighbors on the other side provided both a swimming pool and one of our most reliable players, Skipper Barnes. He may have been the most mature twelve year old God ever made and as such was held in high esteem by every adult in the neighborhood. Sadly, he increased parental expectations for the rest of us. Always the peacemaker, any significant loss of temper during competition would end his participation, which would of course cost all of us the ritual after game swim.

It was Saturday and one of those perfect summer afternoons for baseball. We had just the right number of players on each side, and it was one of those rare times when the selection process had resulted in perfectly matched teams. The competition was fierce, the score was close and then the unthinkable happened. Mom called the game on account of dinner.

My mother subscribed to the theory that somehow the nutritional value of a hot meal declined with its drop in temperature and no manner of pleading was going to change her position. When mom called you to dinner you were expected to drop what you were doing, wash your hands, be seated at the table, and bow your head for Grace- all in one smooth motion. Even the pleading of Skipper fell on deaf ears and mom swiftly ordered us to the table. To this very day, I still believe the additional exercise I would have received from a few extra innings could have more than offset the dietary decline I may have suffered from consuming cold food.

Once at the dinner table, I expressed my discontent by crossing my eyes. Mom had never developed an appreciation for making faces and my form of dissent quickly got her attention. Her reprimand came with the warning that the position of my eyes could become a permanent condition, an admonition she had used many times before. I informed her that indeed that had happened and that I was unable to uncross them.

My father suggested that a quick jolt could possibly cure my disorder and miraculously the mere mention of his treatment brought about immediate healing. Concerned with the dangerous example I had set for my younger brothers, Mom said, "If you want to look that way for the rest of your life, go ahead and act like your brother, but don't come crying to me when your eyes are stuck." Apparently she believed the risk was genuine.

I quickly mentioned Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy, which my father found briefly amusing until he recognized mom?s demeanor. To mom?s dismay, dad exposed the myth and our meal concluded in irritated silence.

The citizens of Queen Anne's County are being fed an endless supply of development myths. "You can't stop growth." "Growth provides necessary tax revenue." "Growth provides good jobs." "You either grow or die." For a number of years now we have heard these and many similar statements from the narrow group of individuals reaping huge profits from development. They testify before our county commission and town councils and make these statements without substantiation. The myths that growth reduces our taxes, brings good jobs, and provides affordable housing are just that: myths! These false assumptions are perpetuated without any supporting evidence and continuing to allow their acceptance will ultimately destroy our quality of life. The solution is quite simple. Present the truth.

Factual information related to the effects of growth clearly shows the majority of the time: Taxes will increase. Housing costs will increase. Crime rates will increase. Traffic will increase. Schools will be overcrowded. Unemployment will increase. Environmental quality will decline. Natural resources will decline. The sense of community will disappear.

Diligent examination of the facts related to growth is essential for the future of Queen Anne's County. The citizens deserve an accurate and unbiased presentation of necessary information to determine if and how they want to grow.

Mom's myth was harmless. The developer's myths aren't.


KIO


Politicians:


by Sveinn C. Storm, Centreville
Ask a small child what she or he wants to be when they grow up and you’re likely to hear fireman, policeman, doctor, nurse, teacher or maybe even a lawyer. What I find interesting is that these noble choices are all professions intended to serve others.

I don’t know that I have ever heard a child say, “When I grow up, I want to be a politician.” If I did, I would probably have serious doubts about the kid. Why is that? In actuality, the role of a politician should be to serve others. In reality, all too often the opposite occurs.

It has been my experience that there are three basic types of people that run for political office. The first group is made up of those who truly want to improve their community. Their motivations are pure and selfless and their goals are fueled by genuine concern for their fellow man. These are people that see wrongs that need righting and feel compelled to act upon their convictions.

The second group is made up of those people whose desire is to feel significant. They have inflated egos and seek political power to advance their public image rather than the public good. Their decisions are based on maintaining or improving their hold on office and their beliefs are directed by political winds rather than moral conviction. You will find these politicians at every social event and when they speak they sound as if they always agree with you. By attempting to be all things to all people, they are in reality indifferent to each and every one of us. They will never comprehend that a "No" spoken from genuine conviction is far superior to a "Yes" merely uttered to please.

The third group is made up of people whose goal is to serve selfish interests. They seek political power for their own financial gain or that of the groups they represent. Seldom do their decisions benefit society as a whole as their intentions are to relentlessly manipulate the system to facilitate greed. Their entrance into the political arena is generally achieved through well funded, flagrant deception of the voters and they are easily identified by the lobbyists and special interest groups in attendance at their fundraisers. Their ability to achieve and maintain political office is directly related to their ability to avoid ethical accountability.

The first challenge to getting good government is the ability to discern group 1 politicians from groups 2 and 3. There isn’t much difference between the egotist politician (group 2) and the special interest politician (group 3) with respect to the damage they cause democracy.

The second challenge to getting good government is motivating citizens to follow through and support group 1 candidates. “Politician” doesn’t have to be a dirty word, but it’s up to the voters to change that. This election, carefully evaluate the motives and character of the candidates so you can cast your vote wisely. Choose a politician whose desire is to serve the community and if you get the chance, help level the playing field by supporting your honest candidate with a small donation.

It is important for every citizen in Queen Anne’s County to care for their community and cast well educated votes in the upcoming election. There are kind, caring, capable and deserving people running for office. But there are also deceitful, greedy and unethical politicians who have done significant damage to our quality of life and will continue to do so if allowed to remain in office. Bad politicians are elected by good citizens who do not vote.


KIO


Constant Yield, Yes, But First Plan Well For It:


by Eric Wargotz, Queenstown
We have hunting seasons, planting and harvest seasons, winter, spring, summer and autumn seasons so I guess it makes sense to designate a Property Tax Season. February seems to be the beginning of Property Tax Season, which ends when the county budget is adopted. February seems appropriate because it’s when our Queen Anne’s County Commission receives its constant yield packet from the Maryland Department of Assessments & Taxation heralding the county budget process.

As we’ve read recently in local newspapers, the Queen Anne’s County public schools administration has proposed a 2007 school budget increase of $8.6 million, of which the county would be expected to cover $5,893,347. The state would provide $2,793,843, another indicator that February is Property Tax Season.

This isn’t to say that taxing citizens is not a year-round, full-time endeavor. After all, assessments in Queen Anne’s County occur every year in a three-year cycle for a different third of the county. The assessors are busy assessing every year. After the sticker-shock my neighbors on Kent Island experienced this past autumn with new assessments, I can imagine with some anxiety what mine may look like in the coming year.

We are fortunate because Queen Anne’s County adopted a 5 percent tax-cap effective 2006 (state property tax-cap is 10 percent). The cap applies to primary residences only. The constant yield is the tax-rate per $100 of assessed property value necessary for the county to collect as much property tax revenue as last year. The constant yield is 80.1 cents for tax year 2006 (Queen Anne’s County fiscal year 2007) while the current tax rate is 87 cents.

The County Commissioners are being encouraged to adopt constant yield. While I believe constant yield is attainable, I am not certain it can or should be accomplished this year.

Cost of operating government and providing services continues to increase. Essentials such as fuel and utility costs, not subject to county control, cost more over time. The public schools system continues to place significant demands on county finances. Before adopting constant yield, we must cultivate an atmosphere, an environment of greater government accountability and efficiency for controllable budgetary items. Adopting constant yield, without a solid foundation for cost containment, will result in our government’s failure to provide relied-upon community services.

A more prudent approach is to reduce the tax rate by about 4 cents to 83 cents which in conjunction with the 5 percent county tax cap should result in primary homeowners’ tax bills closer to last year’s payment.

This accomplishes at least two goals:
1) It allows for development and implementation of cost-containment measures in the form of a new county budgetary management plan allowing continuation of current county service efforts.
2) The tax savings would benefit primary homeowners the most and importantly, also benefit commercial/business property.

We can and should adopt constant yield but first we must put forth a plan which will preserve the quality of life of our community and still save us property tax dollars, instead of hastily implementing constant yield and risking community crisis.


KIO


Towards Better Planning in Queen Anne's County -- The Comprehensive or Master Plan:


By ERIC WARGOTZ
Much has appeared in the newspapers about growth and development of the Eastern Shore and in particular, my home, Queen Anne's County. Criticism of the county commission abounds and constructive suggestions get lost in the rhetoric of a brewing storm as the election year approaches.

In the past, the Comprehensive or Master Plan process, which occurs every six years for counties, was primarily driven by growth projections often provided by the state coupled with the existing county zoning. In the last election of 2002, a proposed number, 400 permits for new homes per year to be issued by the county, was touted as the best way to reign in rapid growth.

The problem with that approach is that when you look at 400 new homes a year over 10, 20 or 30 years the resulting numbers, 4,000, 8,000, or 12,000 new homes, respectively, with no end in sight, in all likelihood would continue to fuel the growth debate. Such 'permit caps' cannot possibly be effective since independent (incorporated) municipalities (IM's) within a county have the ability to annex county land for their own development.

In an attempt to bring sanity to the discussion, I seriously and humbly and most of all, sincerely suggest that the approach to growth and development be realigned in a new Comprehensive or Master Plan so that the priorities expressed by our community, Queen Anne's County Citizens be set into motion. At the core of my plan is the principle of a 'build-out' number:

The county as a community must determine how big it wants to be. That is, how many additional households does it wish to embrace before we stop building any more residential units whether they are detached, single-family homes or multifamily units. A community must consider preserving its quality of life or improving it.

At some point, the increased growth and development leads to a diminished quality of life for its existing citizens. Once the build-out number is decided through a process of citizen input similar to that used for the Comprehensive or Master Plan, then the appropriate zoning is determined to allow the build-out where it makes most sense, in growth areas and the state priority growth (so-called "funding") areas. The rate at which the growth occurs is also to be determined.

In Queen Anne's County, the communities on Kent Island constitute a designated growth area. The overdevelopment making its way through the approval process renders this growth area essentially 'dead' in terms of additional large scale residential development and additional growth should be limited to ?infilling? of existing lots. Thus, this growth area needs to be 'contracted'.

Composition of citizen advisory groups is critical to the process as individuals with vested economic interests such as those in the building and development and related sectors should be represented but by no means form a majority. The independent municipalities also need to be part of the process of determining the 'build-out' number, otherwise, no Comprehensive or Master Plan has any hope of achieving its stated goals.

In Maryland, I believe it is fair to say that state law essentially places county governments and independent (incorporated) municipalities (IM) on the same playing field. The only ways that a county government may legally attempt to control growth in an independent municipality is through withholding sewer allocation if it is needed and/or denying annexation for a maximum of five years.

We must work hard to establish mutual respect with the independent municipalities and view them as partners not as impediments to county government, as is so often the case. Establishing long-term and renewable cooperative planning agreements is essential and at present do not exist.

The county and the independent municipalities must coordinate their planning efforts so that any countywide comprehensive plan actually means something.

Ultimately, people need to adjust their thinking about growth on the Shore. We should get used to the idea of ignoring projections of growth and determine our own destiny. We as counties and independent municipalities can determine how big we want to become, how fast we want to grow and where any growth should be. We can determine our growth destiny.

The notion of letting growth projections drive our Comprehensive and Master planning process has got to change. The counties and independent municipalities of the Eastern Shore ought to embrace a regional process of planning its future to determine an ultimate 'build-out' number.

By doing so, we as the people of the Shore can control the destiny of our communities, environment and hence, the quality of life here, now and in the future.

Eric Wargotz is a Queenstown resident.


KIO


Bay Bridge Traffic

As we all realize, the Bay Bridge has to be re-decked. I think that it is safe to say that we all realize that how this project is currently being done is purely asinine. I have been repeatedly stuck in long back-ups on both sides of the bridge because of lane closures. I do not understand why an entire lane has to be closed across a span (like the current middle lane closure), when it is only being worked on a section at a time. Why not close a half-mile of a lane instead, this way traffic can move. The lack of logical thought on this is amazing. Even worse than full lane closures is the use of thick, obtrusive jersey walls to block off the center lane.
The jersey walls that are in place across the westbound span are a hazard, to say the least. The left and right lanes are ridiculously narrow, causing drivers to slam on their brakes at the start of each jersey wall, and creating a chain reaction that often leads to backups of three to five miles. The fact that the community is putting up with this poorly planned and poorly executed method of bridge repair is astounding. It is not only an inconvenience, but also a hazard. Due to the massive backups an ambulance cannot get to Annapolis (especially on Sundays), which obviously is a bad thing if you need to go to the hospital. There have been more accidents and fender-benders than usual as well.
The community needs to get involved if things are to change. It's obvious that the contractor doesn't care about the problems that they are causing, nor does the MTA or the politicians. Please contact your local representatives and maybe with a little push, this mess will stop.
R.C. Fitzgerald
Chester


KIO


Hurricane Awareness

As we all waited for Hurricane Isabel to hit landfall we all knew that there was a possibility that this category two hurricane could potentially come up the Chesapeake Bay. What we got was Isabel Lite, "Fizzabel", a mere Tropical Storm. What we also got was hurricane style damage. What if Isabel had hit this area at hurricane strength? Kent Island and surrounding areas were not prepared for a storm of this magnitude, obviously. The time will come (again) where a full strength hurricane will hit this area, and if Isabel is any indications, there will be mass devistation.
Preventitive measures should be used. Power lines should be run underground wherever possible, new structures should be out of flood zones and raised, and people in this area should be aware that hurricanes do and will happen. This area has trees overgrowing on power lines, and new housing being built on the bay. Will the trees finally get trimmed, probably not. To bury the lines would cost money, so ditto on that as well. New houses being built are not on raised pilings like they should be. What isn't being realized is that one big storm will cost far more than today's preventitive measures.

Larry Stiegel
Stevensville

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