Hurlock town council focuses on youth, families
HURLOCK — Concerns for youth and families dominated the discussion of the Hurlock Town Council meeting Tuesday evening, Oct. 11.
From basketball courts to special events, the meeting led by Mayor Joyce Spratt focused mainly on the town’s efforts to provide a safe environment for youth and families, and to celebrate its fall festival, new fire truck and planned memorial park.
A large segment of the meeting was taken up by a discussion of where town youth are now allowed to play basketball. Because of complaints and liability concerns, Spratt explained that the private hoops behind The Drugstore were taken down.
Hurlock Police Chief Les Hutton explained that, because kids were playing on town property, the town was liable if any were injured.
A discussion about the issue between council members and town residents continued for 20 to 30 minutes. Hutton said the complaints were not so much with well-mannered youth playing basketball with a private hoop on a town street. The problem for some residents was bad language and traffic manners.
“It’s okay if kids try to do the right thing,” Hutton said.
“Kids are kids,” Hutton said, adding they need a place to play in their own neighborhoods, not on the town-owned parking lot.
“I have a problem with kids not having a whole lot to do. We have a fiduciary duty to keep people safe,” councilman Rev. Charles Cephas said. “But we have a responsibility to give kids opportunities as well.”
“As long as there’s no cussing, and kids pick up their trash, (and) as long as the neighbors are okay with it, it should be okay,” councilman Russell Murphy said.
Councilman Jerry Rhue wants youth to keep playing basketball on the town parking lot. He said his mother lives close by and “likes the kids playing there.”
Cephas encouraged the council to “find common ground” to resolve the issue. Spratt asked Cephas and Hutton if they would work on a solution, and bring it back to the council. They agreed.
“I think we’ve got to come up with some kind of plan for the whole town,” Spratt said.
Resident Frank Bittner, co-chairman of the ad hoc Hurlock Citizens Association, suggested “an open work session to discuss the pros and cons of the hoops issue ... it would be a great way to show young people how democracy works.”
Topping the agenda was a report on the rained-out Fall Festival that nevertheless featured flu shots and train rides. Free flu shots were administered to 114 people by Walgreens. Nonrefundable fees totaling $815 paid by craft vendors were used to help pay for a van for a local handicapped child.
Town Administrator John Avery announced that Oct. 21 is the deadline for bids to complete paving for 4,000 feet of road on Oak Street, Dogwood Avenue and Wrights Avenue. The cost estimate is $120,000, and Avery expects the bids to be presented for a vote at the Oct. 24 town council meeting.
Hutton concluded his brief police report by saying that the previous two weeks had been “pretty uneventful.” Another officer is leaving the force, prompting resident Rhoda Palmer to ask, “Why are we losing so many officers?”
“Let’s face it, this world’s crazy,” Hutton replied. “Officers are putting their families first, and I’ve got to respect that.”
Hutton called Hurlock a training ground. “It’s hard for a small town to maintain officers for a long period of time,” he said, adding, however, that “there are some (potential) new officers in the pipeline right now, including a female officer.”
“We want to be diversified. Female police officers are invaluable,” Hutton said.
Assistant Fire Chief R.J. Helmer reported that, to date for 2016, the fire department has responded to 200 calls, while emergency medical services have made close to 400 calls. The brand new $1 million ladder truck that has been in the works for a year was dedicated on Oct. 1 to Charles Coulbourne for his 65 years of service with the fire company.
“It was the most impressive ceremony I’ve seen in a long time,” Spratt said.
Frank and Faye Fraley reported on the planned Hurlock Veterans Memorial Park to be located on Main Street in the center of town. Fraley hopes to begin construction next spring.
“It’s really going to look like a park,” Fraley said. “For veterans (in) our community who gave their lives and everything, so we can stand and salute that flag.” Fraley anticipates Memorial and Veterans Day events taking place there.
Cephas raised concerns about two issues: crop dusting by farmers and mosquito control by the county. He said he is “still having concerns about the high cancer rate” in the Prospect Heights area, and wonders if crop dusting is presenting a health hazard to children and senior citizens.
“I don’t want to hurt farmers,” Cephas said, but he says he wants “some kind of dialogue with (Dorchester) county” to establish a buffer zone between the community and the spray area.
As for the mosquitoes, Cephas said they’re “getting bigger, and the smaller ones are getting more violent,” eliciting laughter from the council and attendees.
Avery said that he has brought up both of Cephas’s concerns to the county.
Before the meeting’s adjournment, Cephas, who is pastor of the Full Gospel Church of God In Christ Jesus in Hurlock, issued a plea for Hurlock residents to donate water, clothes and shoes to hurricane victims in Haiti.
“We are the land of plenty,” he said, to several amens in response. “I experienced so much poverty and pain (in Haiti), but I also experienced how much I’m proud to be an American. This is the greatest country in the world, the most reliable country in the world.”
The Hurlock town council met on Tuesday, Oct. 11 to discuss town improvements and events. From left are council members Russell Murphy, Jerry Rhue, Bonnie Franz, Mayor Joyce Spratt, Earl Murphy, Rev. Charles Cephas, town attorney Robert Merriken and Town Administrator John Avery.