Sen. Cardin makes Federalsburg vis­its

Times-Record - - Front Page - By ABBY AN­DREWS aan­drews@car­o­line­times­record.com

— U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., made sev­eral stops in Federalsburg through­out the morn­ing and early af­ter­noon Mon­day, June 5, to talk to Caro­line County res­i­dents and hear their con­cerns re­gard­ing a wide range of is­sues.

Among those dis­cussed were ed­u­ca­tion,

im­mi­gra­tion, health care ac­cess, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and the opi­oid ad­dic­tion epi­demic.

As Mary­land’s se­nior U.S. sen­a­tor fol­low­ing the re­tire­ment of Sen. Bar­bara Mikul­ski, Cardin said, it is his re­spon­si­bil­ity to unite the state’s fed­eral del­e­ga­tion.

The tours in Federalsburg and across the state are a chance for Cardin to hear di­rectly from con­stituents what they need their leg­is­la­tors to ad­dress, he said.

Federalsburg Judy Cen­ter

Cardin’s first stop was the Federalsburg Judy Cen­ter. Di­rec­tor Tear­esa French de­scribed the cen­ter’s many pro­grams for chil­dren, adults and fam­i­lies, in­clud­ing Head Start and Early Head Start school readi­ness for chil­dren from birth to 5, and GED and English as a Sec­ond Lan­guage classes for adults.

French said the cen­ter’s big­gest chal­lenges are find­ing qual­i­fied bilin­gual early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion staff; wor­ry­ing about a loss of fed­eral fund­ing that will stiffen the com­pe­ti­tion for the state grants the Judy Cen­ter re­lies on to op­er­ate; and find­ing the staff and fa­cil­ity space to meet up­dated fed­eral op­er­at­ing guide­lines for early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion.

Cardin vis­ited a class­room of adult im­mi­grants from Haiti study­ing for the U.S. cit­i­zen­ship test.

Im­mi­grants are wel­come in the U.S., Cardin said, not just be­cause it is the hu­man­i­tar­ian thing to do for peo­ple who can­not live in a coun­try like Haiti, rav­aged by a se­ries of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters, but be­cause im­mi­grants have al­ways been key to the Amer­i­can econ­omy.

“Amer­ica has al­ways grown its in­dus­try be­cause of im­mi­grants com­ing here to work,” Cardin said, adding that many busi­ness lead­ers sup­port im­mi­gra­tion.

Pro­grams like those of­fered at the Judy Cen­ter are ex­tremely im­por­tant, Cardin said, and he promised to work to en­sure con­tin­ued fed­eral fund­ing.

Fair and pre­dictable im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy is also im­por­tant, Cardin said, so im­mi­grants can plan their lives.

Cardin said he does not agree with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ideas for travel bans and a wall along the Mex­i­can bor­der, but Trump is the pres­i­dent and Congress must work with him.

“The cards have been dealt, and we need to fig­ure out a com­mon way for­ward,” Cardin said.

Cr ys­tal Steel Fab­ri­ca­tors

Cardin’s next stop was Crys­tal Steel Fab­ri­ca­tors in the Frank M. Adams In­dus­trial Park. The Del­mar, Del.-based com­pany, which al­ready had ad­di­tional fa­cil­i­ties in Mem­phis, Philadel­phia and the Philip­pines, bought its new­est prop­erty in Federalsburg last fall, and be­gan op­er­a­tions in Jan­uary. It cur­rently em­ploys about 60 peo­ple, and ex­pects to dou­ble that num­ber as it adds an­other shift to in­crease pro­duc­tion, man­age­ment said.

Cardin took a tour of the pro­duc­tion floor be­fore meet­ing with sev­eral lo­cal busi­ness own­ers, elected of­fi­cials and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Caro­line County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion.

“This is a great county, with a great way of life, but it has its chal­lenges,” Cardin said. “Its lo­ca­tion can be both an ad­van­tage and a dis­ad­van­tage.”

Cardin said the county’s push to grow its econ­omy by en­cour­ag­ing man­u­fac­tur­ing busi­nesses is a model for other ru­ral ar­eas.

“You need to bring the right type of jobs to a ru­ral area,” Cardin said. “You need an econ­omy that can pre­serve your way of life.”

Dr. Clay Rai­ley, vice pres­i­dent for aca­demic af­fairs at Ch­e­sa­peake Col­lege, said fed­eral Pell Grants should be avail­able for stu­dents pur­su­ing ed­u­ca­tion for skills trades, not just for those on track for a tra­di­tional fouryear de­gree.

For ex­am­ple, Rai­ley said, the col­lege’s 10-week truck­driv­ing pro­gram can lead to a ca­reer that pro­duces $50,000 to $60,000 in an­nual in­come, but the $4,000 fee for train­ing is too much for many peo­ple.

Emad Mo­hamed, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of Crys­tal Steel, said high-speed internet ac­cess is still an is­sue in ru­ral ar­eas like Federalsburg.

Cardin also heard about con­cerns rang­ing from health care costs to the cor­po­rate tax rate.

“We need bet­ter poli­cies so com­pa­nies can spend more money (in the U.S.),” Cardin said.

Federalsburg Ele­men­tary School

The third stop on Cardin’s tour was the Chop­tank Com­mu­nity Health Well­ness Cen­ter at Federalsburg Ele­men­tary School.

Run through a part­ner­ship be­tween Caro­line County Pub­lic Schools and Chop­tank Com­mu­nity Health Sys­tem, the well­ness cen­ters are lo­cated in ev­ery pub­lic school in Caro­line County, as well as in a few in Tal­bot County.

The cen­ters pro­vide on­site med­i­cal and den­tal care for stu­dents and teach­ers alike, said Chop­tank Com­mu­nity Health CEO Sara Rich, and their li­censed providers can re­fer pa­tients to spe­cial­ists when fur­ther care is needed.

Cardin was im­pressed by the well­ness cen­ter, espe­cially its oral care pro­gram, im­ple­mented in 2001, years be­fore it be­came more com­mon in schools.

“You’re re­ally pi­o­neers here,” Cardin said. “This is a great county com­mit­ment to health in schools.”

Pro­posed Med­i­caid cuts in Trump’s Fis­cal Year 2018 bud­get were a top con­cern.

Rich said 41 per­cent of Chop­tank Com­mu­nity Health’s pa­tients re­ceive Med­i­caid, while 17 per­cent of its pa­tients are unin­sured. The pro­posed cuts would drive up the num­ber of unin­sured pa­tients, neg­a­tively im­pact­ing both the pa­tients and the cen­ters, Rich said.

Su­san Johnson, vice pres­i­dent of qual­ity and pop­u­la­tion health for Chop­tank Com­mu­nity Health, said while com­mu­nity health cen­ters see about 6 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion statewide in Mary­land, that frac­tion grows to 25 per­cent in ru­ral ar­eas, and in Caro­line County specif­i­cally, to 40 per­cent.

Kat Stork, deputy di­rec­tor of the Caro­line County De­part­ment of Recre­ation and Parks, was also con­cerned about Trump’s FY18 bud­get, which would zero out the fed­eral 21st Cen­tury Learn­ing Cen­ter grants that fund the af­ter­school and sum­mer learn­ing pro­grams, run by the de­part­ment in part­ner­ship with the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion.

“It would be dev­as­tat­ing to Caro­line County to lose those grants,” Stork said.

Cardin said both Med­i­caid and the 21st Cen­tury Learn­ing Cen­ter grants were fully funded by Congress in the re­cently-passed Fis­cal Year 2017 bud­get, and he ex­pects bi­par­ti­san sup­port for both in the FY18 bud­get.

“I’m con­fi­dent (Trump’s pro­posed) bud­get won’t pass,” Cardin said. “I will do ev­ery­thing to sup­port your (fund­ing) sources so you can con­tinue to pro­vide ser­vices, and even ex­pand.”

Christ United Methodist Church

The fi­nal stop on Cardin’s tour was Christ United Methodist Church, where Cardin had lunch and met with mu­nic­i­pal and county elected of­fi­cials, as well as lo­cal law en­force­ment.

Caro­line County Com­mis­sion Pres­i­dent Dan Franklin said it is im­por­tant for Congress to pro­tect Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Block Grant fund­ing.

Such a grant greatly con­tributed to the fund­ing source for a much-needed new waste­water treat­ment plant be­ing built in Pre­ston, Franklin said, driv­ing down the amount the town will have to fi­nance and pay back.

Cardin said he would have a prob­lem with a fed­eral bud­get that cuts all CDBG fund­ing, but it was also fully funded in the FY17 bud­get, which he ex­pects it to be in FY18.

Caro­line County Cir­cuit Court Judge Jonathan Newell said the county’s Lo­cal Drug and Al­co­hol Abuse Coun­cil just com­pleted an eight-date show­ing of a doc­u­men­tary on opi­oid abuse through­out the county, in the hopes of pre­vent­ing peo­ple from try­ing opi­oids and be­com­ing ad­dicted.

Holly Ireland, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Mid Shore Be­hav­ioral Health, said cuts to pro­grams ad­dress­ing the opi­oid ad­dic­tion epi­demic in Trump’s pro­posed FY18 bud­get are alarm­ing.

Cardin said he also thought those pro­grams would re­main funded in FY18, as they were in FY17.

“I think Congress might even put more money in (to those pro­grams),” Cardin said.

Ireland said with all the fo­cus on opi­oid ad­dic­tion, she en­cour­ages law­mak­ers to not lose sight of other as­pects of be­hav­ioral health that also need at­ten­tion, such as the climbing rates of sui­cide, anx­i­ety and de­pres­sion, espe­cially among youth.

Cardin wrapped up the fi­nal meet­ing of the day by thank­ing ev­ery­one for their in­put.

“This has been a very help­ful morn­ing to me,” Cardin said. “Let us know, as spe­cific is­sues un­fold, how we can help.”

PHO­TOS BY DUSTIN HOLT

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. visits with chil­dren at the Fed­er­als­burg Judy Cen­ter Mon­day, June 5.

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. meets with Caro­line County Pub­lic Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Dr. Pa­tri­cia Sae­lens and lo­cal of­fi­cials at Fed­er­als­burg Ele­men­tary Mon­day, June 5.

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. meets with lo­cal res­i­dents at the Fed­er­als­brg Judy Cen­ter to dis­cuss im­mi­gra­tion Mon­day, June 5.

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., Caro­line County Com­mis­sioner Wil­bur Le­ven­good and Caro­line Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Co­or­di­na­tor Rachel Barry re­ceive a tour at Crys­tal Steel in Fed­er­als­burg, Mon­day, June 5, from Crys­tal Steel Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent Emad...

PHOTO BY DUSTIN HOLT

U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md. meets with Chop­tank Com­mu­nity Health Pres­i­dent and CEO Sara Rich, Vice Pres­i­dent of Qual­ity and Pop­u­la­tion Health Su­san John­son and Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­nity Based Pro­grams and Pop­u­la­tion Health Shel­ley An­drews at Fed­er­als­burg...

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