City Council meets Miss Moina, the Poppy Lady

MD-City council meeting

Dorchester Banner/Chief Dan
Miss Moina Belle Michael, a.k.a. Denise Dvorak, hands out poppies to the Mayor and Council.

CAMBRIDGE — The City Council meeting began promptly at the new starting time of 6 p.m., an hour earlier than the former starting time of 7 p.m. The Mayor opened a public hearing session to allow citizens to lodge their complaints about Ordinance 1070 which authorizes the change to the earlier hour. A number of citizens oppose the change because their work schedules make it difficult to arrive on time. The ordinance spells out that the change is for “greater efficiency and management purposes.” The meeting this week included a lesson in history and a moment of pure joy.

Special event requests varied from a wedding, Erica Butler and Shantrice Dixon at Long Wharf in July, to two requests from Cambridge eateries for beer festivals, one on May 7, the Fifth Annual Craft Beer Festival and on Nov. 12, The Fifth Annual Belgian Beer Festival. Both beer festivals are hosted by the High Spot and about 400 people are expected at each.

And free Shakespeare will be back!! The Shore Shakespeare Company returns on May 20 and 21, with the murdering mayhem of Macbeth. (A little alliteration for your amusement.) The council approved all the applications though the wedding couple has stipulations outlined by Odin Wheeler of the Department of Public Works.

A special visitor who identified herself as Miss Moina Belle Michael, born in Georgia more than 100 years ago, came to ask Mayor Victoria Jackson-Stanley to proclaim May as Poppy Month, a tribute to the war dead. Miss Moina Belle gently explained the whole tradition of the poppies and the world wars. (Turns out she wasn’t Miss Moina Belle at all, she was Denise Dvorak, Chief Dan’s wife) and she was representing the American Legion Auxiliary Unit 91. The Mayor did make the proclamation and Miss Moina (or Mrs. Dvorak) passed out poppies to all. “Lest we forget.” Very nice moment.

Patricia Esher, city planner, introduced some suggested changes and fine tuning of Ordinances 1071-1074, ordinances that deal with billboards, minimum lot sizes downtown, and group homes. The changes come with staff approval. They were introduced for a first reading and will be back for a second reading and a vote.

The Gateway Planning Committee (re: the Burger King plus site) has been meeting monthly since July. President Frank Narr says the committee is now ready to apply for a grant to be used for design of the Gateway redevelopment. The money for demolition has already been secured.
As for that moment of pure joy I wrote of at the beginning of this report, you had to watch the reaction of Commissioner Jackie Vickers when LaSara Kinser of Planning and Zoning announced that she was asking the council to approve the submission of a grant application of $100,000 to Maryland Heritage Areas that would fund new bricks on High Street. For years when other projects have been funded, Commissioner Vickers of Ward One has plaintively asked, “What about High Street?” Now she was tasting success, vindication, and she laughed and practically danced in her chair. Everyone laughed with her. That was just for the announcement of a funding application. What will she do if the funds are approved and the bricks for High Street arrive in Cambridge? I want to be there.

Commissioner Donald Sydnor is also zealous about Ward Two and he is keeping track of what wards are seeing improvements. He keeps asking “What ward is that project in? What about Ward Two? Soon he will be the Mayor of all of Cambridge as he steps in to fill the position that Mayor Jackson-Stanley is vacating. But before she ends her eight years as Mayor, she delivered a “State of the City of Cambridge.” She reviewed the difficult years of 2008 and 2009 when there were furloughs and layoffs, council cut their own salaries and imposed spending limits. In her speech, the Mayor said “Prosperity is in sight,” and we must “Collaborate, communicate, and cooperate.” She listed the many successful improvements, and the list was lengthy. She also acknowledged the drug-related crimes and what’s being done to stop the violence in the streets, but elaborated on some of the steps being taken like additional officers, and she closed with, “We must collaborate, communicate, and cooperate.”

A final matter was the application of the Choptank Lighthouse Foundation which asked for the Council’s letter of support in the quest for a grant. The funds would pay for a lighting designer with experience in designing lighting for monuments. The council gave its letter of support because what is a lighthouse with less than adequate lighting? It will be seen clearly from the bridge and draw all eyes and maybe more business and tourists to Cambridge.

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