Tour highlights economic development
CHESTERTOWN — A delegation of Mid-Shore legislators toured Kent County on Tuesday to see ongoing projects and a few points of interest.
The delegation consisted of State Sen. Steve Hershey, R-36-Upper Shore; Del. Jay Jacobs, R-36-Kent; Del. Steve Arentz, R-36-Queen Anne’s; and Del. Jeff Ghrist, R-36-Caroline.
Representatives from state and local offices who also attended were Ryan Snow, Eastern Shore outreach coordinator for the Gov. Larry Hogan; Melissa Kelly, Eastern Shore regional director for U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen; Kimberly Kratovil, Eastern Shore representative for Ben Cardin; Mike Arntz, community liaison for Congressman Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st; and Erika Howard, representative from Hershey’s office.
With county Economic Development Director Jamie Williams serving as guide, the delegation started its tour at the R. Clayton Mitchell Building in Chestertown to hear about Kent’s fiber project and hot spots.
They then visited the Chestertown Marina, KRM Development’s business park, took a driving tour of the U.S. Route 301 corridor and stopped at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge near Rock Hall.
Before the tour returned to the government center at 400 High St. in Chestertown, the delegation stopped for lunch at the Wheelhouse in Rock Hall.
Commissioner Ron Fithian, Rock Hall Mayor Brian Jones and Betterton Councilman Harry Marcy also attended at the beginning of the tour.
Scott Boone, director of information technology, provided updates on the county’s fiber projects.
His presentation focused on Kent County’s efforts to create a backbone of fiber throughout the county, which will allow residents to have access to internet.
He discussed the installation of Traxyl or non-traditional fiber that is laid on top of the road instead of hung from telephone lines or dug underground.
Additionally, he highlighted the county’s efforts to create “hotspots” in most of the incorporated towns and highly populated areas, which allow students, for example, to have free internet. More information and the specific location of the hotspots can be
found at kenthotspots.com.
Boone said this is a huge benefit for students who may not have internet at home.
On the next stop, Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino served as the tour guide for the town’s marina. He said the property essentially had to be “blown up and rebuilt” to make it into a more usable space.
Cerino said one of the biggest issues with it was the near constant tidal flooding, which led to flooded docks and slips being too filled with sediment to be used by larger boats. To combat this, he said the area has been raised as much as 2½ feet in some places.
Cerino said the final cost for the project will be about $5.7 million. Work should be completed by Thanksgiving.
The mayor’s tour highlighted porous pavers being installed near the water, the new interpretive center, extending existing docks and raising the area.
Following the tour of the marina, the delegation traveled to the KRM business campus in Chestertown where Kate Gray, president of KRM Development, provided information on the future of the campus.
The delegation then took a driving tour to the 301 corridor with
Williams providing information on the area.
Then it was on to Eastern Neck where Annji Bagozzi, deputy complex manager, and Phil Cicconi provided the delegation with information on the refuge’s history and uses.
Cicconi said the refuge sees close to 92,000 visitors annually. He credited the “high visible” letter-writing campaign to get the refuge a new manager as part of the reason so many people visited this year in particular.
The refuge relies on about 60 volunteers to provide upkeep for the refuge. Melissa Baile, presi-
dent of Friends of Eastern Neck NWR, said volunteers do anything from staff the bookstore to mow grass to maintaining the butterfly garden.
She said visitors from across the United States come to see an array of animals from eagles to tundra swans. The refuge also serves as a stop for monarch butterflies on their migration south, Baile said.
Baile said because the wildlife refuge has so many visitors, it is essential to have a manager.
From Eastern Neck, the tour concluded with a brief drive through Rock Hall and finally lunch at the Wheelhouse.
From left, Del. Jay Jacobs, R-36-Kent and state Sen. Steve Hershey, R-36-Upper Shore listen to Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino as he provides updates on the town’s marina project.