Hurlock discusses community center, lists yard contest winners


Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz Hurlock council members listen to Jerod Kimble (standing, l) and Christopher Adams (2nd from left) as they present their intent to re-open the bank building at the 5 way intersection in town as a community center for youth and adults. It served as a youth center under Mr. Adams’ direction from 2005-2009.

Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
Hurlock council members listen to Jerod Kimble (standing, l) and Christopher Adams (2nd from left) as they present their intent to re-open the bank building at the 5 way intersection in town as a community center for youth and adults. It served as a youth center under Mr. Adams’ direction from 2005-2009.

HURLOCK — At the July 11 Hurlock Town Council meeting Councilman Russell Murphy announced the June winners of the new Beautiful Yard Contest. This event continues through October with three monthly prize winners. Mr. Murphy promoted the idea last month in an effort, encouraged by Mayor Joyce Spratt, to beautify the town. The councilman toured the town to make his selections and noted that suggestions by the town’s police officers were a big help since they see homes and yards on a daily basis. First place winners of a $75 gift card were Mike and Marjorie Reed; 2nd place winners of a $50 gift card were James and Kimberly O’Neil; and 3rd place winner of a $25 gift card was Roberto Torres Perez. In October a Grand Prize winner will receive a dinner for two at Suicide Bridge Restaurant.

Former Town Councilman Christopher Adams presented his plan for a community center in the former bank building at the 5-way intersection in Hurlock. He began by apologizing to the town for “jumping the gun on our interview with channel 47.” Acknowledging “breaking protocol on our part,” Mr. Adams explained the circumstances which preceded a recent television interview regarding the community center plan. “We did not want to lose that opportunity (for publicity). Our intention is to revitalize the community center which operated from 2005 to 2009.”

Recently Jerod Kimble, a former member of the earlier center, and other residents approached Mr. Adams about resurrecting the center. He said, “I saw how the center affected a lot of lives. It had an impact. It could have a greater impact even today.” Now a father of two, Mr. Kimble says being a parent motivated him to push for reopening a center that would not only benefit the children but would “be a big community asset and I’m all for it.”
“I want to do this as a community,” said Mr. Adams, and invited “everyone to participate.”
Mr. Adams noted the group also broke protocol by announcing a basketball tournament at Prospect Park without consulting town officials. He explained, “When you’re bringing something new you need to introduce yourselves to that group” of town officials.

Mayor Spratt said flyers were distributed about the tournament and “we knew nothing about it at all.” The proposed 12 hour tournament would involve police officers, neighbors, insurance, and other details. “That’s what protocol is,” said the mayor.

She asked Mr. Adams if he has a business plan to which he replied, “Not yet. We are forming a board and it will be the board’s job, not mine, to develop a business plan. I’m trying not to push myself on these decisions.”

After Councilman Charles Cephas described the requisite procedures to host a basketball tournament he offered to help “in any way I can.”

Ms. Spratt suggested that Mr. Adams return to the council with a “more concrete plan in place.”

Mr. Adams responded that he and Mr. Kimball were at the meeting “just trying to introduce our effort. We definitely will be back.”

In his report Town Administrator John Avery thanked residents for cooperating during the water main replacement project. “It’s coming together. Thanks for putting up with the dirt and the mess and having the water shut off. It’s a big step forward.”

Mayor Spratt said new, handicapped accessible sidewalks will be constructed throughout the town. The state-funded $1.2 million project is estimated to take 8 months to complete. Following completion the streets will be resurfaced.

Police Chief Les Hutton explained the final move to the new police station will happen as soon as the computer system is installed and operational. Everything else is ready, he said. Chief Hutton reported for the past two weeks there were: 6 reportable thefts from unlocked vehicles and suggested that residents lock their cars; 6 miscellaneous; 3 domestics; 2 drug overdoses; and 2 peace order violations. In the last 6 months there were 35 adult and 18 juvenile arrests. For May, there were 471 calls for service of which 26 were 911 calls.

Councilman Cephas proposed several issues for the council to address. He suggested work sessions to review and update the town charter and employee handbook. He wants to address growth plans over the next 10 years and how the town government will assist in that growth. Other topics included: A grievance system for employees, their inclusion in some budget talks, and the need for a council president. “It is time to step back and take time out to see how we can work on these things.”

The councilman also said that former Hurlock Middle School Principal Vaughn Evans was exonerated after a “false charge” was made against him. The Rev. Cephas believes the county board of education has done a “disservice to the students and him (Mr. Evans)” by moving him from the middle school to Secretary Elementary School. “It’s like a demotion.” He explained, “If I’m found not guilty I should be able to go back to a job I had.” Rev. Cephas hopes the board of education and the superintendant “rethink what they’re doing.”

In addition, the councilman expressed his support for solar panel projects, particularly for use as emergency power sources, calling them the “wave of the future in Dorchester County.” Mayor Spratt agreed, saying it would mean about $700,000 in tax revenue. “That would pay for the new school. Somebody’s going to get it and it may as well be us.”

Councilman Russell Murphy also asked for more work sessions “because I’d like to see more formal communication.” He feels the town website needs to get up to date and include agendas and meetings information. He noted that “not everyone does Facebook … We need more than one way (to communicate) so everybody knows.”

During public comments resident Frank Bittner asked the council to notify the public ahead of time when discussions about codifying or changing the charter are scheduled so “we can talk about it.”

In response to a question from resident Pat Finley about upgrading the sewer system Mr. Avery said, “We haven’t had the problems with the sewer that we have had with the water … The water system at this point has an absolute priority. The sewer system is old but we don’t have the multiple breaks and leaks like those in the water system … Is it old? Yes. Is it breaking? No.”

The next council meeting is scheduled for July 25 at 6 pm.

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