Dorchester Council spreads Christmas cheer

CAMBRIDGE — Christmas weekend is starting early for most county employees thanks to the Dorchester County Council.
Near the end of the Tuesday council meeting, Councilman William Nichols made a motion to grant Friday off for all nonessential county staff.

“The employees here in Dorchester County work hard in the county system. They work very, very hard. To me, it would be a good show of our gratitude to let them have Friday off before Christmas,” Councilman Nichols said in making his motion. “Some of them work night shifts. Some of them working overtime, they can’t get around to doing shopping or whatever else. They really can’t enjoy the holiday. I just think we ought to give them a day off, the 23rd off, for Christmas.”

The council unanimously approved the motion. Employees were already granted Monday off in observance of Christmas, so the majority of county employees will get a four-day weekend.

County Manager Jeremy Goldman said essential employees like police and emergency services staff will work through the holiday, but they will be given eight holiday hours to use at a later date.

The councilmen took the opportunity in the last meeting of 2016 to share their thoughts on Christmas and the new year.
“Most important is that we remember why the season is here,” Councilman Don Satterfield said. “This is not about employees getting a day off or getting things done before Christmas. The reason we celebrate is because of Christ and we need to stay focused on that. … I wish everyone a merry Christmas … and a happy and prosperous year.”

Having served in the Army and Maryland National Guard for more than 30 years, Councilman Satterfield offered well wishes to those who serve.

“I pray that our military personnel that are overseas and serving anywhere, even in the United States, come home to their families safely,” Mr. Satterfield said. He reflected on his time serving the council “I’ve learned a great deal from the gentlemen who sit at this table. I’ve learned even more from the citizens of this county the past two years. There’s some extraordinary people here.”

Councilman Rick Price participated Saturday in the Hurlock Christmas Parade and said he was happy with all the events in town that day.

“I do want to commend the individuals involved with the Hurlock Christmas Parade and the other Christmas activities that took place in Hurlock last Saturday,” Councilman Price said. “It was the first nighttime parade for the Town of Hurlock and I thought it went pretty well.”

Mr. Price was also in the holiday spirit.

“I want to wish everybody in the county a merry Christmas and a happy New Year,” Councilman Price said. “Thank you, all of those in public service who may have to work on the holidays for everything you’ve done throughout the year and the work you put in during the holidays while all of us are celebrating. I wish well to all those in military service as well.”

Council President Ricky Travers closed the meeting by saying Christmas is a season of giving, and giving doesn’t necessarily mean presents.

“Councilman Satterfield said it best. We need to remember why we’re here, what the season is,” the council president said. “We need to spend a little time, whether it’s stopping by and dropping a jacket off for that homeless guy or whether it’s providing a hot meal and a cup of coffee. Some people could be going through turmoils and troubles and don’t get to put up a Christmas tree or lights because they’re in depression, mentally ill, homeless. Maybe they just happen to be down on their luck. … You’ll get a lot more out of helping someone this season if you do that simple thing.”

Mr. Travers said in the past two weeks he had an opporrtunity to help a family with two young children that have been living in a homeless shelter since September. He said he was “blessed” to be able to provide a house for them and he’s hoping to get them in the house by Christmas.

“I can tell you those kind of experiences, when you’re able to make that kind of difference in somebody’s life, you’ll never forget,” Mr. Travers said. “You might not know whose lives you’ll touch by doing that. … We need to make a difference in somebody’s life. That’s a merry Christmas and a happy New Year.”

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