MAYOR AND COUNCIL
APRIL 19, 2021
Mr. Foster moved that Ms. Efland be acting Mayor for the meeting, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Acting Mayor Efland called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m. In attendance were Councilmembers David Foster, Thomas Herz and Ellsworth Tolliver, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Kees de Mooy (Zoning Administrator), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.
Ms. Efland asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Mayor and Council Meetings of March 15, 2021 and April 6, 2021. Rev. Tolliver moved to approve the minutes of the meetings of March 15, 2021 and April 6, 2021, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Ms. Efland stated that operating funds on hand was $1,982,469.64.
Ms. Efland asked for a motion to approve the payment of the bills for April 6 and April 19. Mr. Foster moved to pay the bills as presented, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Ms. Efland introduced Ken Kozel of Shore Regional Health. Mr. Kozel stated that tonight he was present to discuss the Eastern Shore Health Care system and improvements to the overall operations of their hospital in Chestertown.
Mr. Kozel stated that the pandemic has brought out the best in their team and said that they are blessed with caring community members who have worked through this past year. He said that they began by testing, tracking and tracing the virus, then set up vaccination sites at the hospitals, mobile centers and other areas to see that any individual wanting to get the vaccine has access to it.
Mr. Kozel introduced Mr. Dennis Welsh, Vice President and Executive Director, who will be in charge at Chestertown and Ms. Lara Wilson, Director. Mr. Kozel stated that inpatient beds will continue in Chestertown and an aging and wellness center will be added. He said that the Maryland Rural Hospital and Aging and Wellness Center will be a model for the State of Maryland focusing on health care and other social determinants of health that are needed in a small community. He said that critical hospitals are closing throughout the country and they looked to hospitals thriving in their communities. with this sustainable model.
Mr. Kozel stated that the Hospital has been listening to Chestertown’s needs in the community, such as hospital-based care complimented with other aging and wellness programs. Mr. Kozel stated that the Chestertown hospital will remain a key component and they will create a healthier Kent County community overall.
Mr. Kozel stated that models of care they have developed are designed to meet the needs of the community, provide high quality care and a great experience, while keeping the costs as low as possible.
Mr. Kozel stated that many people have left the services of Kent County and he would like to get those people back, becoming the provider of choice for those who live here. He said that they were in the process of gaining regulatory approvals meeting with the community through information sessions and will begin implementation on July 1.
Mr. Kozel stated that the Maryland Rural Hospital is licensed for up to 25 inpatient beds. Care will be for inpatient general conditions while keeping a full- service Emergency Department. Geriatric Emergency medicine will be available by a specialist who will be joining the team. There will be an EMSTAT team in place for more critical needs at the Hospital. Inpatient and outpatient non-major surgeries will be available where stays are not expected for more than 4 days. Clinical and diagnostic services will also be available.
Mr. Kozel stated that the Aging and Wellness Center of Excellence will provide hospital- based care and will extend to include primary care, behavioral health and dental services. There will be a mobile wellness team supporting home-based care. There will also be medical and non-medical transportation available and health education and financial stability education offered to residents.
Mr. Kozel stated that Choptank Community Health will partner with them for the Aging and Wellness Center of Excellence, noting that they already provide services in the mid-shore area. Mr. Kozel stated that State funding has also become available in the amount of $2 million a year for the next 3 years for programs for providers and specialists thanks to our local State Delegation.
Mr. Kozel stated that he hoped this model will bring sustainable services to Chestertown and Kent County. It will begin on July 1st. All other programs will begin this calendar year as well.
Mr. Foster thanked Mr. Kozel for his presentation and asked if someone were to need the services of an Emergency Room in a serious condition, such as a stroke, would the care be available in Chestertown. Dr. Huffner stated that a patient in this condition will be given stroke testing that will allow for immediate care but may be sent to another location for treatment once stabilized.
Rev. Tolliver asked about pediatric care in the community. Dr. Huffner stated that the emergency physicians can treat children but likely a pediatric patient will be transferred to the pediatric center in Easton or to another facility where specialists were available for treatment.
Rev. Tolliver asked if there was any update on the pump and treat system at the Hospital. Mr. Kozel stated that Gannett Fleming is the new consulting team, and they continue to work with the community and MDE. He said that the Town receives all submittals made to MDE from the Hospital and there was certain criteria they had to follow and meet before resubmitting for a trial shutdown. The proposal is to reinvestigate the pilot study allowing for a period where the pump- and- treat is off, with continued testing, and an immediate turning back on of the system if it becomes warranted.
Mr. Kozel stated that there was an underground tank on site, and they were working with Gannett Fleming on a process to remove it with the hope that approval would be received to do so in the future.
Ms. Efland introduced Mr. Ben Tilghman to discuss the Public Arts Committee. He said that there were three (3) items for the Council’s consideration, all of which had been forwarded in advance of the meeting.
Mr. Tilghman stated that he was looking to appoint an ad hoc committee for the duration of the project of an enslavement memorial (an initiative of the Equity Advisor Committee), working in conjunction with community members who represent African American history in Chestertown and the African American experience present day. Mr. Tilghman stated that everyone he nominated has a willingness to serve on the committee. Mr. Tilghman stated that the members of the committee will make a recommendation on a work of art to be erected in Chestertown which will ultimately come before the Town Council for approval.
Ms. Efland stated that nominees for the ad hoc committee enslavement committee are as follows:
- Pastor Monique Upshur Davis
- Kate Livie
- Lorna Hunter
- Jason Patterson
- Wanda Boyer
- Benjamin Tilghman
- Fredy Granillo
- Gordon Wallace
- Pam White
Nominees will be voted on at the next meeting.
Mr. Tilghman stated that the policy by which the Public Arts Committee and Town Council will deliberate on regarding donated public art was developed mostly by Ms. MacIntosh. This document gives guidelines on when to take artwork in and when to remove public art in Chestertown. He said that if the Council was not ready to vote on this at this meeting, he wanted the Town to know that there should be a process for receiving donations before there were too many donations that could not be cared for properly.
Rev. Tolliver asked how the damage and vandalism would be assessed. Mr. Tilghman stated that it would have to be done on a case-by-case basis, such as if the area was well lit or there could be endangerment or liability if the structure was not stable, or if the area where it had been placed was relevant to the art. Mr. Tilghman stated that they were trying to build a dialogue and balance the art in a way for the Town to display and ways to install the art in well-lit and well-monitored areas.
Rev. Tolliver asked how a contentious piece of art would be handled. Mr. Tilghman stated that an overwhelming opposition by the residents of the Town would be determined by the Council, but a legitimate reason would be that the Town did not support the statement that the art was trying to make. This document will also be voted on at the next meeting.
Mr. Tilghman stated that a clarification was needed on who would handle the funding for the works of art such as a 501(c)3, a non-profit corporation, or the Town to handle the funds with a separate account for public art. He said that the paying the Town staff for the extra work would be worked into their budget if the Town took on the job of handling funding. Mr. Foster stated that he appreciated the committee coming back with options on how to handle different scenarios.
Mr. Drew McMullen was present to give the overview of Downrigging Weekend. He said that it is still unclear on if it can be hosted due to the pandemic, but he would like approvals if it were possible to go through with it, considering all Covid restrictions that may be in place at the time. He said that he would be happy to return later with updated plans regarding Covid protocols, adding that he would likely know if the festival could take place by July. Mr. McMullen stated that he needed to know if the areas he was requesting for use would be available so he can plan for the event. Mr. Herz moved to tentatively approve the permit for Downrigging as submitted with a joint decision to be made in July or August depending on Covid restrictions, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Acting Chief Dolgos was present and gave the March 2021 police report. He said that CIT training was cancelled in April. He said that there will be a Restorative Justice meeting next week, adding that if admitted into the program and the offender completes the guidelines of the program the criminal charges will be dropped. Acting Chief Dolgos stated that a new officer began on April 3rd and is in field training.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that tonight was the adoption of Ordinance 02-2021 Ward Redistricting. He said that this was not a perfect situation because the Town was hoping to use the 2020 census numbers, which were delayed due to Covid. The 2020 numbers will be incorporated once received if lines change from the 2010 census. Mr. Herz moved to adopt Ordinance 02-2021 Ward Redistricting, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried with 3 in favor, Rev. Tolliver opposed.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that regarding the vacancy left by the Mayor he had sent the Charter to the Council and there were three options:
- Select or elect someone from the Mayor and Council or select someone at large from the Town;
- Continue to vary acting Mayor duties until the Election; or
- Choose a member from the Council to be Mayor and name a Councilmember from that Ward.
Mr. Herz asked how to move forward if they pursue a member of the community. Mr. Foster stated that he would like to wait until May to decide. Rev. Tolliver stated that he thought a member of the Council should be acting Mayor until the election, not a member of the Town at large. He said that he would be willing to fill a Council seat at this time if they chose a Mayor among them, but he did not support someone coming in to serve as Mayor.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he felt that there was nothing wrong with rotating the Acting Mayors until the election. Rev. Tolliver stated that the Council could also have one member of the Council as Mayor until December. Mr. Foster stated that if there were people who thought they should be appointed as Mayor, there was no reason that they could not submit a resume to the Town Clerk for discussion.
Mr. Herz moved for cover letters and resumes to be forwarded to the Town Clerk if the Council decided to move forward and appoint a Mayor until the next election, meeting the requirement of the Charter, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried with three (3) in favor, Rev. Tolliver opposed.
Mr. Foster moved that the person selected at each meeting remain Mayor until the next meeting, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried with three (3) in favor, Mr. Herz opposed.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the first budget workshop will be held on Tuesday, May 11th. He said that things were somewhat better financially this year than last, but the budget will look much like last year’s. He said that the wild card would be the federal funds that may come which will be used as almost a separate budget for the items allowed.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that a crew filming The Road to Galena was in Chestertown last week on the 200 block of High Street and near Sam’s on Cross Street. He said that the producer was thankful that the Town could permit his requests on such short notice for use of the streets.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that Main Street was looking to close High Street again this year for al fresco dining in front of the Kitchen on Saturday nights,. He had some concerns that the request was for several months Saturdays because it involved the use of the police and the street crew support and concerns for the 300 block of High Street restaurant. He asked if there were any objections to signing the request. The Council agreed to the request.
There was a request from River Arts for their annual Plein Air Paint the Town for participation in the June First Friday which Mr. Ingersoll read into the record. Mr. Foster moved to approve the permit request for June 4th as submitted, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and passed with three (3) in favor, Ms. Efland recused as she was vice-president of River Arts.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the Ajax Park follow up was on the agenda as a place holder for a plan, but nothing has been submitted. Mr. Foster asked what the status of a Chairperson for the Recreation Commission was at this time.
Rev. Tolliver stated that at the last meeting he asked the groups to get together and get a plan together and he did not know if that was done or not, but he said that he would like to take a vote on the issue at the first meeting in May. He said that an alternative plan must be reviewed and voted upon.
Ms. Carla Johnson was present on behalf of the business owners in the area and stated that she was working on an alternative plan with the neighbors and the help of professionals and would like to present that plan at a future meeting in person, not virtually. She said that she had thought that they would have until May 17th at the earliest to get the plan together. Rev. Tolliver asked if Ms. Johnson was amenable to working with the Recreation Commission on a mutual plan. Ms. Johnson stated that she would very much like that and it what they had been trying to do since last September.
Rev. Tolliver asked if the Recreation Commission and Ms. Johnson and her committee will work together on a plan. Ms. Johnson stated that she was working with her group on her plan, but it would not necessarily be ready to meet with the Recreation Commission at their next meeting on May 12th, but she would bring the project as soon as it was ready. Mr. Herz stated that any competing plan should be reconciled with the Recreation Commission and then put before the Mayor and Council as that was the purpose of the Recreation Commission.
Mr. Rhodes stated that any plan that was offered up (by the Recreation Commission) before was met with a challenge or a reason why they did not want parts of it. He said that he would like to meet and come to a decision. Mr. Rhodes stated that they have agreed to leave the playground equipment until Wilmer Park was built but they wanted to maintain the court. Ms. Johnson stated that all the Recreation Commission seemed to want is the basketball court and nothing else.
Ms. Efland stated that everyone had to agree on a plan and present whatever ideas they have at a Recreation Commission meeting and then bring it forward to the Council. She said that they planned to look at the plans at the May 17th, allowing the Recreation Commission to meet in May 2021.
Mr. Bogden stated that May 12th was the next Recreation Commission meeting, but if there was a Chair it was possible to call a meeting earlier.
Mr. Herz moved to appoint Jim Bogden as the Chair of the Recreation Commission, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Ms. Efland stated that she would like to nominate Ms. Rosie Ramsey Granillo to the Recreation Commission. A vote would take place at the next meeting.
Ms. Efland asked for ward reports.
Mr. Foster stated that the new Ward Districts have been accepted and the headquarters for the Road to Galena filming crew was in the new Ward One.
Mr. Foster stated that there has been a tremendous outpouring of understanding and sadness of the resignation of Mayor Cerino. He said that now is a good time to reflect on factors that led to it. He said that the community must be involved but it does not mean that those who they disagree with are the enemy. Mr. Foster stated that he hoped that the Council would be able to provide continuity of services during this time of transition.
Mr. Herz thanked Mr. Foster for his words stating that he agreed with what he said. He said that he wanted to take time to recognize Michelle, Joey and Jake Cerino for their service during the Mayor Cerino’s tenure as they dealt with the stress brought on by Mayor Cerino’s service. He said that they should be honored and thanked for their sacrifice.
Mr. Herz stated that he wanted to thank Mr. Ingersoll, the Tree Committee and the Town Crew for the tree planting that was done last week.
Mr. Herz stated that the www.chestertownresponds.com website has been taken down and he would work with Mr. Webb on alternate reporting. He said that the domain name will expire soon.
Mr. Herz stated that the Mayor had been attending the weekly meetings regarding Covid and suggested that a member of the Council attend if they were. Acting Chief Dolgos stated that the meetings are every Thursday at 9 a.m. The Council agreed that Mr. Herz will attend the meetings on behalf of the Council.
Mr. Herz stated that a vaccine clinic was taking place tomorrow at Washington College and there were spaces available if anyone needed a vaccine.
Mr. Herz stated that the DCA reached out to him regarding opening the Visitors Center and read a letter into the record. He said that they were feeling limited because they were closed. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the employees have been queried and are ready to return to work. He said that he did not want to be responsible for anyone getting sick and he still was concerned about reopening, but proposed reopening on June 1st if the Council agreed.
Mr. Herz stated that he would discuss a motion to reopen the Visitors Center at the May 3rd meeting, adding that he hoped the Center would be open before June.
Mr. Herz stated that he would like to create a task force for the stimulus funding that may be coming to Chestertown and would make a motion at the next meeting to do so.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he wanted to thank the SHA for repaving Rt. 514.
Rev. Tolliver stated that he wanted to acknowledge the passing of William Pickrum who was a long- time public servant in Kent County, adding that he was sorry to have heard the news.
Ms. Efland stated that this weekend was the Art Crawl in downtown sponsored by the A&E District. Social distancing and masks would be required.
There being no further business and no other questions or comments from the audience, Mr. Foster moved to adjourn the meeting at 10:20 p.m. was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor