Mayor and Council Meeting Minutes – September 4, 2018

MAYOR AND COUNCIL

SEPTEMBER 4, 2018

Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:42 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Linda C. Kuiper, Ellsworth Tolliver and Mauritz Stetson, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.

Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council Meeting of August 20, 2018. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the minutes of the Mayor and Council meeting of August 20, 2018, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.

Mayor Cerino stated that total operating cash on hand for unrestricted use is $168,173.49. Restricted funds for the Marina project totaled $136,503.53.

Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay bills. Mr. Stetson moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.

Mr. Ken Kozel was present on behalf of Shore Regional Health. Mr. Kozel stated that the main reason he was present this evening was to introduce Ms. Kathy Elliott who has accepted the role of Executive Director for Shore Regional Health at Chestertown. Ms. Elliott stated that she is a life-long resident of Kent County and a nurse by trade, working at the hospital for many years. Ms. Elliott stated that this position has been a challenge, but she was passionate about retaining hospital services in Chestertown and would continue to do her best to serve the community.

Mr. Stetson stated that the hospital indicated that it would now support fifteen (15) beds and asked how they reached that number. Ms. Elliott stated that the hospital is presently staffed to fifteen (15) beds because the average daily census for patients is fourteen (14). She said that there were twenty-six (26) actual beds in the hospital and if there is an influx of patients staff is called in to work (noting that staffing is reviewed every four (4) hours and was based on need). She said that there was a difference between actual physical capacity and what the hospital staff was scheduled to handle on a daily basis.

Mr. Kozel stated that long-term future of health care shows a number of fifteen (15) beds which was based on the average daily census and the federal application numbers for a critical access hospital.

Rev. Tolliver asked how Ms. Elliott was advocating sustaining the hospital. Ms. Elliott stated that she has expressed to the Board the specialties required in Chestertown and that additional primary care positions are needed. She said that she was serving her community and would represent the needs of the community as best she could.

Mr. Foster asked who should be contacted if someone was referred to Easton for services that are available in Chestertown. Ms. Elliott stated that she should be called directly if that happened to any patient.

Mr. Erney Maher, resident of Heron Point, stated that residents of Heron Point are particularly concerned that the University of Maryland is planning to further decrease programs at the hospital, from reducing the number of beds to closing the intensive care unit. He asked if there were any new developments at the hospital other than the cuts that seem to occur. Mr. Kozel stated that in order to support the community needs, it was important to understand that hospitals are one component of the entire health care spectrum of responsibility. He said that his organization is charged with creating healthier communities. He said that he is recruiting new providers to the area and said that several primary care physicians, a cardiologist and ENT have all been hired within the last couple years. He said that if every person in the community went to a primary care provider, there could be screenings performed before large problems occur, ultimately keeping patients out of the hospital whenever possible. He said that the hospital was looking to recruit a general surgeon and the medical office building on Philosophers Terrace was full. Mr. Kozel stated that they were trying to fulfill the mission and vision of the organization which was creating healthier communities together by having primary care diagnostic testing and specialist services in the community.

Mr. Kozel stated that the hospital has partnered with Compass Regional, the local hospice provider, providing four (4) beds so people can receive hospice services close to home.

Mayor Cerino stated that he would open up the floor to a couple of other questions but did not intend to turn the Mayor and Council meeting into a public hearing about the Hospital.

Dr. Gerald O’Conner stated that he saw subtle ways that Shore Regional is showing a lack of support for the hospital.   He said just six (6) months ago, the hospital had twenty (20) patient beds and now there are five (5). He said that he has also seen where there are seven (7) patients in beds and the hospital calls it full, transferring patients to Easton. Dr. O’Conner stated that these patients could have been treated in Chestertown. He said that this feeds into Eastern Shore Regional’s plans to eliminate patient care, despite what they guarantee for 2022. Dr. O’Conner stated that beds for behavioral health could have been transferred to Chestertown when they closed Dorchester or UMMS could establish a Center of Excellence in Chestertown, but the concept of a Rural Access Hospital would be difficult to pass through the Center for Medicare/Medicaid Services. Dr. O’Conner stated that Shore Regional owns the hospitalists, meaning that if a primary care physician wants someone admitted they have to jump through hurdles (such as case managers, ER docs and hospitalists who are trained to keep patients out of the hospital or transfer them to Easton).

Mayor Cerino stated that the residents wanted to see as many service beds and services as possible. He said that this discussion was worthy of its own meeting and recommended that a public meeting be set up. Mr. Kozel stated that the “Save Our Hospital” group meets regularly and he would continue to attend them when he was asked.

Mayor Cerino called forward Ms. Latoya Murray and Ms. Catherine Torres of Saving Hope Consulting, who were present to give an overview Saving Hope. The mission of Saving Hope was to serve as a voice in the community to bridge the gap between service providers and families and children. Ms. Murray said that Saving Hope provides evidenced based group facilitation, small grant project management, and community engagement planning. She said they offered a “Nurturing Parenting” program working with the court systems and local social services. Ms. Murray stated that she also just performed a housing assessment for Kent and Caroline Counties, which should be coming out in the next month or so. She said that they held a clothing and school supply giveaway annually, partnering this year with Dixon Valve. East Coast Storage gave Saving Hope a space to store the supplies. Ms. Murray stated that 70 families were recipients of the giveaways. Coat drives are one of their annual events, along with pictures with Santa at the public housing in Kent County and the Kent Family Center. Ms. Murray stated that since beginning Saving Hope she has always partnered with the Judy Center. They also give away “Blessing Bags” to the less fortunate.

Ms. Torres has a support group for women called “Women’s Circle”, offering healthy relationship curriculum to students and parents needing help. Ms. Torres stated that they were holding a planning meeting for a possible Juneteenth event in Chestertown. She said many people do not know the history of Juneteenth and they want to provide education about it. Ms. Torres stated that they were already planning for this year’s coat drive and pictures with Santa.   A new plan in the works was to host a Women’s Expo, focusing on breast cancer this year. The event will be free and open to the public and she hoped to have it at Wilmer Park once a date could be secured.

Ms. Kuiper asked how Saving Hope received funding. Ms. Murray stated that she received consulting fees from the Kent Family Center and Kent County Social Services. She said that she started Saving Hope in 2015 as Murray Consulting and they were working on their non-profit.

Mayor Cerino stated that Saving Hope seemed to be doing great things in the community and he thanked them for giving the Council information about their business.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. Neyah White has requested of letter of support to open 341 High Street (formerly J.R. Pub’s) with a Class “D” license. Mr. Ingersoll read the support letter into the record. Mr. White stated that 341 High was actually four (4) buildings joined together into one space and some of it was in terrible condition. He said that until improvements are made he cannot open as a restaurant. Mr. White stated that he was looking forward to operating as a bar until they were able to serve food in a safe manner. Mr. White stated that 341 High did have a Class “D” license at one time, which was for patrons over twenty-one (21) and over only and could not operate on Sundays. Ms. Kuiper moved to submit a letter in support of a “Class D” Tavern License as proposed for BWL at 341 High Street to the Kent County Liquor Board, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.  

Mr. Ingersoll stated that there were many people in the audience who wanted to comment on the proposed Rules and Regulations of the Farmers Market. Mr. Ingersoll asked Ms. Kuiper to discuss the draft document she prepared. Ms. Kuiper stated that when Mr. McCoy became ill, she asked Mr. Ingersoll how to move forward. At that time, it was decided that no new vendors would be accepted into the market until Mr. McCoy returned (to date there here have been no new vendors accepted into the Farmers Market). After Mr. McCoy’s passing, his daughters offered to take over management of the market and they have been working together to find out how many were participating in the market, finances, etc. There have been several incidents at the market and it was decided to revisit rules and regulations from 2012.

Ms. Kuiper stated that in addition to the rules she read in the 2012 draft, there were instances where clarification was required. The Artisans have rules and regulations that they commit to when they are initially permitted into the market. Ms. Kuiper stated that she basically combined the Artisan’s rules with the 2012 draft Farmers Market rules and incorporated them to include all vendors, including non-profits. There would be one application for all in the market.

Ms. Kuiper stated that there have been issues and questions regarding the proposed required liability insurance in the new regulations and it was decided that there would be further review on the best way to acquire the insurance and anticipated costs. Ms. Kuiper asked if the Council would consider a rider on the Town’s insurance for vendors as the revenues from the market may be able to cover the costs. She gave a rundown of a list of known expenses and asked Mr. Ingersoll what it would cost. Mr. Ingersoll stated that it was impossible to answer that question with no other information. He said that the Town has extensive liability insurance for Fountain Park and a rider for events that take place there. However, he said that he did not think that the Town could cover a vendor’s negligence for a fall they caused, food poisoning, or anything else that could be the fault of a vendor. He said that each vendor should have some form of liability insurance already as business people to protect themselves. Mr. Foster stated that the Town could at least explore if insuring the vendors was an option and suggested an increase to the fees to cover the additional cost. Mr. Stetson stated that vendors would be much more careful if their income was paying for the insurance and not paid by the Town.

Ms. Kuiper stated that she received some comments via email and said that she was able to incorporate most of the requests. She said that part of the rules reads, “Any interested parties not directly involved in the day-to-day operations of the market should present suggestions, views and opinions to the Mayor and Council in writing or at a council meeting”. She said that there was a last minute email campaign before the meeting with questions the emailers wanted addressed.

Mayor Cerino stated that the problem as he saw it was that the market was popular and more vendors want to be a part of it. He said the market bring foot traffic to the entire downtown. He said that he boiled down the issues to a few points, as follows:

  • Expanding the physical footprint of the market so that more vendors can be included (suggestions: east side of Park Row, Memorial Park, and the brick sidewalk along High Street);
  • Expanding the geographic range of eligible Market vendors beyond Kent and northern Queen Anne’s County;
  • Relaxing regulations prohibiting commercial entities/store owners from having space at the market;
  • Loosening the 501(C)(3) requirement in the non-profit section;
  • Allowing prepared, ready-to-eat foods at the market;
  • Short-term permitting for seasonal items like honey that are only available for short windows of time.
  • Liability insurance requirements and whether the Town can purchase event insurance to cover the vendors at the market.

Ms. MacIntosh stated that she has been hearing for some time that people would like to be in the market and they were told that it was full. Ms. MacIntosh stated that the public was coming forward in an effort to express ideas as many people feel strongly about the market and want to make it even better. Ms. Kuiper stated that managers are in place to answer questions and take suggestions. Mr. Foster stated that the managers don’t make all the rules and the purpose of this was to benefit the farmers, artisans and non-profits but also for the betterment of the community as a whole.

Mr. Bill Bankhead stated that he and his wife have been selling lamb and wool for many years in the market. He said that he has attended over nineteen (19) markets elsewhere and Chestertown was the only market that paid by the tent and he thought it was counter-productive to someone trying to offer a display. Mr. Bankhead stated that he also was not informed of the rules being proposed and only learned of it after the market last week from a vendor who gave him a copy. He asked why the vendors were not asked for their input.

Mr. Bankhead stated that his nieces were now running the market, but a market manager has to be on site at all times the market is open. He said that he attends the market fifty-two (52) weeks a year and he thought that the fee should be revisited because the farmers are the reason the market makes money. There should not be a registration fee on top of the weekly fee. Ms. Kuiper asked how spaces were paid for in other markets. Mr. Bankhead said that examples were the Baltimore market which charged flat sum of money divided by three (3) throughout the year. Asked what he paid in Baltimore he stated that he pays $2,500.00 per year but it is a much larger market. He said that Lewes, Delaware and Washington charge a 5% commission. Mayor Cerino stated that a 5% commission was much more than the $10.00 per week Chestertown charged.

Mr. Bankhead stated that part of the draft discusses motors and asked if anyone was bothered by his stand and his generator motor. Mayor Cerino stated that the point of this rule was about idling trucks and the exhaust which creates a health hazard. Mr. Bankhead asked if that included generators. Ms. Kuiper stated that the rules did not disallow generators, only the truck engines.

Ms. Kuiper asked if other markets dictate the amount of space allowed to be used by a vendor. Mr. Bankhead stated that most other markets have such large spaces available that the amount of space a vendor takes up is not an issue. He said that most markets are on blacktop in large parking lots.

Mr. Bankhead stated that the draft rules also said that a vendor is not allowed to move to another vendor’s space if they are not present. He said that he does that and is going to continue to do it when it benefits the market. He also said that he cooks and samples meat at every market and intends to continue. Ms. Kuiper stated that sampling is allowed as long as the health department is involved but cooking on site is not permitted.

Mr. Wayne Lockwood of Lockbriar Farms stated that he thought all vendors would benefit from a having a meeting before the start of each year. He said that was something that has never taken place and would give the vendors time to hash out issues without burdening the Council. Ms. Kuiper stated that Ms. Gorman has meetings for the artisans before each season begins and it has worked out well.

Ms. Jenn Baker was present on behalf of the Downtown Chestertown Association and said that she had forwarded comments in reference to the draft rules and wanted to get them on the record. She said that the Farmers Market was amazing and there were many people who wanted space. She said that she would like to see the market expand as it translated to business in the storefronts using Figg’s Ordinary and Evergrain Bread Co. as examples.

Ms. Baker stated that she thought the commercial requirement should be relaxed as every business owner has commercial interests, regardless of what they sell. She thought that participation by businesses that fill gaps in the local businesses, such as a fish monger or coffee roaster should be permitted.

Ms. Baker stated that there was a provision in the regulations that says that the businesses do not seek competition from the Farmers Market. She said that is perceived as a conflict and that was not the case. She said that she would like to see that provision removed as it may create an adverse relationship.

Ms. Baker stated that the businesses would like to see the inclusion of prepared foods and/or the ability to cook on site. She said that the health department has different standards for foods sold in a cottage food industry versus a retail store. Ms. Baker stated that Ms. Brandywine White is a baker by trade and opening up a new luncheonette where Stam’s Drug Store was located. The company is called “Susie B Hand Pies” and it was turned away from the market. She said that because space is unavailable in the market there are missed opportunities to fill food gaps and independent small business owners are jumping through hoops to sell in a retail store. Ms. Baker stated that the DCA hoped that the market can find space on the sidewalk for additional vendors or perhaps relocate the non-profits to another area.

Ms. Wanda Gorman, manager of the Artisan’s Market, said that each year before the market begins the artisans gather to discuss who will be committing to the market, review the rules and regulations and introduce new artisans and items. Ms. Gorman stated that she checked into the issue of liability insurance (noting that she has insurance for her own business) and was told that it was approximately $322.00 per year. Ms. Gorman stated that when she brought the issue of insurance up to the artisan vendors it was met with negativity.

Mr. Bill Kelly of Redman Farms stated that he thought the rules and regulations were extreme at six (6) pages. He said that he didn’t even know about the proposed regulations and found out about it from another vendor. He said that he could not find the draft on the website and thought that liability insurance would be a difficulty for a smaller vendor. Mr. Kelly stated that a meeting of all the vendors should have been called so there could be collaboration on the rules. Mr. Kelly stated that Chestertown should be proud of the market as it was one of the best he has ever seen but rules and regulations are not going to make the market; working with the vendors will. Mayor Cerino stated that he did not think that the rules were all new, they were just never promoted or enforced. Mr. Kelly stated that he has been in the market for fifteen (15) years and he never saw them.

Mr. Richard Crane stated that he would like to make a pitch for the part-time vendor because he was one, noting that he sold honey for about a month during the course of the year. Mr. Crane stated that people were interested in his product and it led to great conversations about the honey bee so there was also an educational aspect to his product.

Ms. Jane Malone stated that she submitted written comments and hoped that parking and access for vendors would be considered in order to set up and break down. She said that her insurance is from a group policy written for the National Farmers Market Coalition and the premium is $275.00 per year. She said that she would send the information to Ms. Kuiper.

Ms. Dolly Baker stated that she has been a vendor for nineteen (19) years and said that she appreciated Mr. McCoy’s daughters stepping in and continuing the management of the market. She said that Ms. Kuiper’s work on the rules was also appreciated and that people were present at this meeting because of a lack of communication between the Town and the vendors. She said that the first notice was the Kent County News article last week. She said that the vendors should be asked for their input before a vote was taken.

Mr. Bankhead stated that there was many times where non-profit people were not setting up in the areas designated for them. Mr. Ingersoll stated that all non-profits were given a map showing them exactly what area to set up. Ms. Kuiper stated that she is now asking all non-profits to have their permits on site, visible, and are adhering to the map.

Mayor Cerino thanked the Farmers and Artisan vendors for their input.

Mr. Ingersoll stated that Mr. Andy Scott, the president of the Homeowners Association at Chester River Landing, was present at the last meeting to discuss speed controls on Rt. 289 to Quaker Neck Road. Mr. Ingersoll stated that Ms. Kuiper had a contact at SHA (Daniel Jeffers) who recommended a new internet process of reporting their issue on the SHA website. Mr. Ingersoll stated that a response to his report has already been received and the new District Engineer, Ken Fender, called and stated that they already have background information they have been compiling on MD 289 and said he thought that within 30-days there will be a report on the request for speed limit adjustments. Mr. Scott stated that he was still working on letters of support for the SHA.

Mayor Cerino stated that he attended the Maryland Special Olympic Kayaking Championships held by Washington College and attended a reception at the new boathouse. He said that it was a wonderful event and the new boathouse was amazing.

Mayor Cerino stated that the Marina project was coming along. He said that he was excited to be getting close to the finish line and that the docks are beginning to look like a finished product. He said in looking forward to Downrigging Weekend, construction had to stay on point in order to be able to hold the event. He said that weather could also play a factor in having the project finished on time.

Mayor Cerino asked for ward reports.

Mr. Foster stated that he did receive a couple phone calls regarding a vagrant who had fallen in Remembrance Park. Several calls were made to the police department. Chief Baker stated that the police were called and responded on two (2) separate occasions. He said that the first time the officers responded the individual refused treatment, but at the second visit he conceded to care and was transported to the hospital. Chief Baker stated that State law mandates that the police cannot force a person to get treatment.

Ms. Kuiper stated that First Friday was September 7th and the Bordley Center was showing “The History of Kent County” by Kevin Hemstock at 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Sumner Hall was hosting an artist from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. with a dessert reception and discussion.

Ms. Kuiper stated that the Capital Focus Jazz Band would be at Sumner Hall on Saturday, September 8th for Kent County Youth. Ms. Kuiper stated that Peoples Bank was hosting a dance at the Garfield Center for the Arts on Wednesday, September 5th to kick off JazzFest.

Ms. Kuiper stated that there was a complaint of produce in the trash cans at Fountain Park left by vendors after the Farmers Market. She said that she reached out to Washington College to see if they still had an active compost program and if they do she will try to have the Farmers Market vendors participate in composting their organic refuse.

Ms. Kuiper stated that Bloomin’ Wild has moved from High Street to Maple Avenue. Phone orders are being taken until the shop opens for business.

Ms. Kuiper stated that checks put through automatic scanning must be voided or destroyed. She said the duplicate presentment is taking place where people are running checks through scanners multiple times. She said that everyone should check their bank accounts to make sure there were no duplicate checks.

Rev. Tolliver stated that he had a meeting with Mr. Scott Boone of Kent County and was told Kent County Hot Spots were up and running and could be accessed by www.kenthotspots.com. There are nine (9) hotspots throughout the county and where a person can log in for free internet access. He said that he was trying to get it hooked up in the Washington Park and Calvert Street areas for students who have take-home computers.

Rev. Tolliver stated that candidate rallies are being planned for Bethel AME Chestertown on October 13th to try to increase voter turnout and provide information on the candidates in the election.

Rev. Tolliver stated that he wanted to recognize Joey’s Automotive for the grand display for Kent Goes Purple on High Street. Rev. Tolliver stated that while opioid addiction is a focus, there are certain neighborhoods where people were jailed and suffered due to a lack of treatment. He said that this type of things happened and everyone should be mindful that there are people who are suffering and need help.

Rev. Tolliver stated that Aqua Fit was holding an open house from September 11th through the 15th where all activities were free.

Mr. Stetson stated that the playground equipment at Bailey Park is being used but there were a couple pieces already broken. He said that he asked Mr. Sappington to try to fix it.

Mr. Stetson stated that on August 23rd he attended the Community Breakfast Group because the Republican candidates for County Commissioner were speaking. He wanted to see what they had to say about the tax differential. He said that there was nothing new from any of the candidates and one of them indicated that County residents pay for their own garbage pick-up. Mr. Stetson stated that a tax differential was for police protection and street maintenance. He said that there was not one candidate who would state that they were in favor of a tax differential or would support it. Mr. Foster stated that he attended the breakfast the following Thursday and the candidates were equally creative with excuses.

Ms. Trish McGee of the Kent County News asked what steps would be taken with the Farmers Market. Ms. Kuiper stated that she would look into the insurance question. Mayor Cerino stated that he would make a summary of the various requests to review and try to make some headway.

There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Rev. Tolliver moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:51 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.

 Submitted by:                                                             Approved by:

Jennifer Mulligan                                                  Chris Cerino

Town Clerk                                                            Mayor

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