Tour high­lights eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By LEANN SCHENKE lschenke@thekent­coun­tynews.com

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.

PHOTO BY LEANN SCHENKE

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.

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