Hurlock mayor puts to rest complaints about Hurlock’s website

HURLOCK — Minutes of the Hurlock Town Council meetings have not been available for a long time on the town’s currently unavailable website. At the Jan. 9 meeting Mayor Joyce Spratt addressed the issue.

Her comments were in response to complaints that the council meeting minutes are not readily accessible to the public on-line. She prefaced her remarks by saying, “We don’t have to have a Hurlock website; we don’t have to have a Hurlock Facebook page.” The minutes, after council approval, are posted in the front office. “That is all that’s necessary,” she explained. “If anybody wants to come in and get a copy of them they can.”

Town Administrator John Avery said, “We are working with various government websites to construct a new website. I don’t think it’s going to take very long. Mr. Avery estimated about a month for completion and then meeting minutes will be posted on-line. “The (former) website that was developed was very cumbersome and difficult to use. Most of the time we had to go to one or two people outside the office and it was very difficult. This website is supposed to be much more user-friendly.” The Hurlock Police Department’s website will also be restored.

Mayor Spratt confronted a “rumor” about the natural gas issue. “This has been beaten to death.” She said, “Chesapeake Utilities attended several public meetings and they would not come here and do anything about it because they did not see a demand for it, the desire for it, or the money to convert to gas. Whatever rumors you hear we cannot make a company come. If there’s no profit for them they aren’t going to come.”

In her report Mayor Spratt praised the Dec. 10 Christmas in Hurlock event. “That was a big day in Hurlock; the biggest we’ve had.” It started at noon in the American Legion where crafts, decorated trees, and wreaths were displayed. The tree/wreath auction “made enough money so 8 families and 16 senior citizens could have a really good day. We were very happy.” The railroad cars were called into service to show the classic movie, The Polar Express, and Ms. Spratt noted she is thinking about using the train cars for children’s movies during the summer.

The mayor reported that East Coast Underground in the Hurlock Industrial Park is closing. “We will not be losing anything,” she said. “There are plans for the building. We are going to be fine. In response to Councilman Charles Cephas’ question about how many jobs will be lost, the mayor replied “6 jobs will be lost as a result of the closing.”

Peter Franchot will be in town on Jan. 23 at 2 pm for a round table discussion with town officials. At 2:30 pm he will be at the fire station to recognize the volunteers.

Mr. Avery announced that eight bids were received from contractors for site work and development of three Habitat for Humanity lots on Jackson Street. The lowest bid was from Shore Real Estate Investment for $16,593; a second was from Kelly Excavating for $18,500. The highest bid was for $60,000; the remaining five ranged from $30-50,000. Shore Real Estate Investment met all the requisite criteria including references, insurance certificates, and liability insurance, and was given the job following a unanimous council vote.

Wayne Suggs, director of construction for Habitat for Humanity Choptank said “we are comfortable with the bid” and noted the organization has worked with Shore Real Estate in the past. He told the council the home being constructed on Charles Street in Hurlock will be complete and ready for move-in by late May. He asked for volunteers, noting that three more houses will be under construction in the future and help will be need. He emphasized, “No experience necessary.”

According to Administrator Avery, the street paving project is 90 percent complete. The tie-ins to the side streets will be completed as soon as the weather allows and Broad Street will be paved. He noted a few residents were concerned about the finished edges of the sidewalk but he explained the state is in charge of the job and has been “very responsive about taking care of any issues.” The sidewalks will be completed in the spring.

Councilman Earl Murphy asked about using salt on slippery spots after a snow or ice storm. Mr. Avery responded that the town is very careful with salt because it can leach into the shallow aquifer and would be an issue with the drinking water. “It is a concern,” he said, “so we only use a chemical at intersections when necessary.”

During councilmember comments, Councilman Cephas expressed his indignation about rumors that he and the council have acted improperly. He said, “I can assure you that there is no fraud or misrepresentation by anyone.” He said if anyone knows about anything that I’ve done or anything that I’ve taken from anybody … then prove it … What worries me is how you can pick people apart; make them look like villains, without any justification.” He offered a $1,000 check to anyone who can prove that his life has been about anything but faith in Christ and helping people. “If you can’t prove me wrong and you continue to say these things I’m going to sue the devil out of you. So don’t keep putting lies about me and this council out there. I am not going to allow any false accusations about me or this council”
Councilman Jerry Rhue interjected a comment that lightened the mood and brought chuckles: “I’m going to help you with your blood pressure.” He paused before announcing, “Your 3 minutes are up!” The council then agreed that this particular council had worked well together and completed tasks without internecine squabbling.

The next meeting is slated for Jan. 23, 6 p.m.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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