Wicomico County

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A local Wicomico group wants its say in the proposal for a major poultry farm off Naylor Mill Road.

Concerned Citizens Against Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations says the thirteen chicken house operation would sit over the paleochannel which provide much of the water for the county.

Gabby Cammarata with the group told WBOC that the 500-thousand chickens expected to be on the site would pose a threat to the water supply.

There are other concerns including the impact on nearby residential neighborhoods.

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Eleven bridges will be getting repaired along Route 13 bypass this fall as part of a $20 million upgrade in Wicomico County.

There are six locations which are beginning to show signs of wear and tear.

WBOC reports that most of them are up to 45 years old.

The repairs are expected to be completed by 2018.

To meet that deadline there will be a number of new traffic patterns to allow crews to work on the bridges.

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With the debate heating up over a planned 13 house poultry operation in Wicomico County local leaders say they are going to work with the industry to come up more regulations for the industry.

Council President John Cannon said he was willing to look at greater setbacks and tougher buffering requirements for such operations.

The discussion at the County Council meeting yesterday saw Bill Satterfield with Delmarva Poultry Industry Inc. at the table offering his group’s guidelines called “Good Neighbor Relations”.

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The expansion of the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex could be just a land deal away.

Wicomico County is looking at finalizing a contract for a 20 acre parcel that is zoned for industrial use.

It’s mostly wooded and is owned by Patsy Guy.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that she originally made it available during the efforts by the county to get the city to provide some property for the expansion.

But the city council killed the deal.

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The battle over the cost of fire and ambulance service by Salisbury for Wicomico County residents is going to a study.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the county says the cost is around $956-thousand while the city say it’s more like $2.2 million.

Next month the City and County Councils are expected to approve a contract with Tri-Data of Arlington, Virginia for the study.

The conflict over the cost heated up last April when then Mayor Jim Ireton threatened to withhold service if the city was not fairly compensated.

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Eastern Shore Delegate Chris Adams wants to reverse a state rule that requires fire sprinklers in new and renovated single-family homes.

The rule went into effect in July.

The Wicomico County Republican told the Salisbury Daily Times that it was “a backdoor attempt to halt economic growth on the Eastern Shore.”

His measure would leave the decision to local officials.

The paper reports since the rule was put in place Wicomico County has gotten only one home building permit application.

There was a rush of applications to beat the deadline.  

Don Rush

Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver’s daughter has been hired as a revenue specialist in the county’s Finance Department.

An ethics commission has ruled that there are no violations in hiring Courtney Culver who will be paid $13 an hour.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that the job description includes responsibilities for billing and collecting all Real Estate and other taxes for County Mall Tax notices.

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State Senator Jim Mathias says he’d like to see a third span across the Chesapeake Bay.

During a recent meeting in Wicomico County the Maryland Democrat said that he believes this would ease the congestion on the current two spans.

WBOC found that Maryland state officials say that last year around 25.6 million cars crossed the bridge last year.

There was a proposal for a ferry to cross the bay with a landing cite in Crisfield

But that was scrapped after a study of project.

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Fruitland will be the site of a town hall for a company seeking to open a medical marijuana facility in Wicomico County.

Biocannatix LLC is hosting the meeting tomorrow for its plans to put a location near Hebron that would grow, process and dispense the medical marijuana.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that to back up its plans the company is bringing in Katherine Grimm an industry consultant along with Delegate Cheryl Glenn from Baltimore.

It is not the only company vying for a spot in Wicomico County.

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The rise in heroin addiction has led more than 200 parents and family members to come out tonight for a candlelight vigil at the Salisbury Riverwalk Park at 5:30 p.m. tonight (9/16).

Many have lost loved ones to the epidemic or have loved ones who are still battling their addiction.

Among those in attendance tonight will be City Council Vice President Laura Mitchell whose loved one has been battling heroin.

Don Rush

Wicomico County’s economic initiative got off to a slow start this week when the County Council said it wasn’t sure it wanted to cough up all of the nearly $340-thousand for operating expenses.

Council President John Cannon said he thought $50-thousand was a better figure even though he considered bringing economic growth to the region a high priority.

He said he was not comfortable with the full amount until he knows exactly how it will be spent.

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Confusion now reigns over whether there will be an expansion of the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex after all in conjunction with Salisbury.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that on Monday Mayor Jim Ireton said that Wicomico County officials decided against asking for a 35 acre donation from the City of Salisbury.

In addition, the paper reports that a hearing on the donation set for later this month has also been cancelled.

The city said that Wicomico County officials have indicated that they are looking at other pieces of property.

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SALISBURY, Md. (AP) - Wicomico Superintendent of Schools John Fredericksen has announced he will not seek to renew his four-year contract when it ends next June.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports Fredericksen announced his decision at a school board meeting Tuesday.

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The storm that moved through the region last night left some 63-thousand customers without power last night in Delaware and Maryland.

Late last night the company was able to bring that figure down to just over 23-thousand in the northern portion of the region.

The crews worked through the night restoring power after severe thunderstorms, high winds and intense rain hit the power grid.

The company also used contractors to help in the work.

But…the weather is still warming up with some temperature having reached the mid-90’s.

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Existing home sales in Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties have gone up by nearly 14 percent.

That’s during the first 5 months of 2015 compared with the same period last year.

The Salisbury Daily Times analysis also found that they have risen by nearly 40 percent since 2011 according to stats form the Coastal Association of Realtors.

The paper reports that biggest hurdle is that prices have still been low with a typical house selling for around $147-thousand compared to $161-thousand five years ago.

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GRASONVILLE, Md. (AP) - Northern snakehead fish have been caught in Wicomico and Queen Anne's counties and may be breeding in the waters.
 
Signs from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources urge anglers to report as much information as possible if they catch a snakehead fish and kill any they catch. In Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, it is illegal to possess or release a snakehead. The penalty is a fine up to $25,000 and 30 days in jail.
 

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Mayor Jim Ireton says that he will table his July 1st deadline to withhold fire and emergency services in Wicomico County.

He said that he was taking – what he has called – the nuclear option off the table because he believes that the county leaders are negotiating in good faith to resolve their tax dispute.

Ireton made the threat in his effort to get an agreement to resolve the problem of many county residents not paying for these services provided by the city.

The city and county met on April 28th to begin discussions and that led Ireton to withdraw his deadline.

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Wicomico County has issued a deadline to the city of Salisbury.

It wants to know by May 1st if the city will go through with Mayor Jim Ireton’s threat to cut off Fire and EMS service to surrounding county areas if there is no agreement by July 1st.

The Salisbury Fire Chief and a top city administration official met with county officials yesterday to begin discussions on a new agreement.

The city says that currently it is costing the Salisbury $2.2 million to provide service without adequate compensation from county residents.

Don Rush

In the ongoing dispute over fire and EMS service Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver has some questions about any agreement with the city of Salisbury.

Mayor Jim Ireton has threatened to cut off city fire and EMS service to surrounding county areas by July 1st  if city taxpayers are not given some form of tax relief for those services.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that many of the questions center on funding mechanisms.

The two sides are to meet on April 28th to discuss the issue.

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The best way to deal with providing fire and EMS service in Salisbury and the surrounding area is for Wicomico County to agree to some form of tax relief.

That’s was the opinion of the Salisbury Fire Chief Rick Hoppes.

Mayor Jim Ireton has laid down a deadline for later this year for the county to come to some agreement with the city or fire and EMS service will be restricted to the city limits of Salisbury.

The comments by the chief came during a roundtable discussion yesterday looking at options to resolve the issue.

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If there is no meeting between Mayor Jim Ireton and Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver by April 28th the Mayor says he will outline a number options to the public on the issue of city fire and EMS service to the county.

Ireton declared, ”You have city taxpayer money and you have to give it back.”

This week the Mayor said that if there is no agreement by July 1st on tax relief for city residents who provide fire and EMS services to the county he will keep those services to within the city limits.

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Mayor Jim Ireton will lay out his 2016 fiscal budget for the Salisbury City Council this afternoon.

Issues in his spending plan range from the first ever reduction in Urban Service sewer rates and public safety to infrastructure improvements and a new zoo exhibit.

In addition, the Mayor is expected to bring up – what has been called -- the Nuclear Option for Fire Department and EMS service.

The Mayor is seeking tax relief from Wicomico County for duplicative services.

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The Maryland Mayors Association will be lobbying in Annapolis for a bill that would give them some tax relief from the counties.

And Mayor Jim Ireton hopes that the legislation will allow him to get as much as $2.2 million in tax relief for a number of country residents.

The Salisbury Daily Times reports that a study found the residents of Salisbury is paying for just over $1 million in taxes for service they did not get.

For Fruitland it was just over $98-thousand while for Delmar was $55-thousand.

The legislation would require counties to examine the issue.

Don Rush

Wicomico County has a new Director of Finance Leslie Lewis.

The appointment was approved yesterday by the Wicomico County Council but did not make a decision on a new director of Recreation, Parks and Tourism.

County Executive Bob Culver fired the last finance director Gary Mackes after coming into office along with the Public Works director Lee Beauchamp.

The county executive’s decision to dismiss Mackes came as a surprise to some including the council vice president Matt Holloway.

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Wicomico County could soon have an elected school board.

Last night there was almost unanimous support from those attended a public hearing by the Board of Education.

Harry Basehart said that it should follow the model set by Caroline County where the board reflects the gender, ethnic and racial diversity of the local residents.  

Many complained that the Board is accountable to the governor not the county residents even though education takes up half of the Wicomico County budget.

Don Rush

It’s a fix-it strategy for the West Salisbury Elementary School.

Wicomico County Executive Bob Culver has opted to make improvements in the aging structure rather than building a new facility.

Wicomico County released a report on the building needs and the fix-it strategy will come at a much lower price tag.

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(Questions Raised About Culver's Private Tour of School -- Salisbury Daily Times)

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Salisbury Fire Department Website

Mayor Jim Ireton says the Salisbury is not being fairly compensated for the services that its fire department  provides in Wicomico County.

Under the current agreement the department serves over 56 percent of the county population and responds to more than 62% of the service calls.

But, says the Mayor, it does not get equal funding for the amount of work it does.

Ireton wants the new county leaders to take up the issue in the next fiscal year to address of a gap that, he says, amounts to over $2 million which has been paid by the city tax payers.

Don Rush

It was a good night for Republicans on Tuesday.

Larry Hogan beat the odds by besting Democrat Anthony Brown by a vote of 54 percent to 44 percent to become the only the second Republican since Spiro Agnew to ascend to the governor’s chair in Maryland.

Hogan beat back Brown’s attempt to be the first Maryland Lt. Gov. to succeed to the office and the first African American to hold the office Maryland.

During the campaign the Republican had battered Brown over tax hikes and the flawed rollout of the state’s health exchange.

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A contract agreement appears to have been reached between Wicomico County and the local Fraternal Order of Police.

F.O.P. President Mary Fisher says a deal has been struck that would protect any Wicomico County Sheriff deputies who have been injured on the job.

The new agreement also includes a deal on wage hikes.

Earlier this month the police organization had argued that the county had tried to change the contract so that it did not include disability protection which it said was essential.

Don Rush

Biking advocates were relieved yesterday to learn that while Wicomico County will be expanding the Henry S. Parker Athletic Complex to include more soccer and baseball fields a bike trail will still run through the area.

The expansion plan would wipe out most of the nearly 5-mile network of trails that were first established in 1996.

But there will be an access road leading to a creek with a bridge that would be built to provide access to 80 acres of land where new trails could be carved out.

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