Hurlock volunteers recognized with key to the city

MD-hurlock council 2x-032415

The Dorchester Banner/Susan M. Bautz
Pictured from left, Hurlock Mayor Joyce Spratt presents a key to the city to Fay and Frank Fraley for their untiring volunteer efforts, particularly on behalf of the Hurlock American Legion Post #243. A major project for the Fraleys is fundraising for Heroes Haven which supports wounded veterans. The effort is expanding to include firefighters and police officers wounded in the line of duty

HURLOCK — The theme of the March 23 Hurlock Town Council meeting was “heartfelt thanks for volunteers.” The sole piece of business was unanimous approval of the mandated and much-discussed Flood Plain Ordinance which requires that new construction of ancillary buildings must be less than 300 sq. ft. in a flood plain. Hurlock’s designated flood plain contains one residence.

The meeting opened with Mayor Joyce Spratt reporting that Police Chief Les Hutton’s wife faces a serious medical problem. She said, “They are going through a lot right now and need every prayer they can get.” Capt. Michael Henry will assume Chief Hutton’s duties as necessary. A town-organized benefit is in the works for the end of April.

Since 1995 the Hurlock Lions Club has shown support for the community and its youngsters with provided scholarships to high school graduates at North Dorchester High School (NDHS). The first fundraiser in 1996 was a dinner at Hurlock’s Unity-Washington United Methodist Church catered by Mayor Spratt. That event garnered $500. Twenty years later the same event, still catered by the Mayor, cleared $3,600 and the Scholarship Award now provides $2,000 to each of two students. Over the years the Lions Club has awarded $65,000 to 41 NDHS graduates.

Volunteers are vital to community projects. Hurlock residents Frank and Fay Fraley, active members of the town’s American Legion post #243, received a key to the city for their outstanding volunteer efforts. The Mayor said, “These people have gone above and beyond to do what they can for the town.” The couple awarded $10,000 to the fire company in 2014 on behalf of the Legion to help defray costs for the new fire truck and equipment for the ambulance service.
“To the Mayor and Council of Hurlock: Thank you for your dedication in 2014.” These words were etched on a glass prism presented by the town’s volunteer fire company at its annual banquet in appreciation of the town’s support for the volunteers. Assistant Chief R.J. Helmer was voted “firefighter of the year.”

Reporting for the police department, Capt. Henry said an unloaded handgun was brought into the elementary school during an after-hours event, was found, and “taken it into custody.” The department is collaborating with the state police and ATF in an investigation. Capt. Henry said, “I consider it to be safe. My grandson goes there.” A letter was sent advising parents and noting that the school is deemed safe.

Asst. Fire Chief David Carrier reported that the new ladder truck is on order.  American Legion contributions plus several corporate and state grants will go toward the purchase of a new cardiac monitor and much-needed fire apparatus.

Mr. Carrier said the company has been “above average busy.” There were 100 fire responses for the year which is 26 more than last year. During the past two weeks, the company has responded to 3 brush fires, 2 landing zones, 4 structure fires, 4 medical assists, 4 motor vehicle collisions, 1 hazmat, 2 alarm activations, and 2 stand-bys.  They had 15 EMS runs. He concluded, “We continue to thank everyone for their support and assistance.”

He noted the extraordinary amount of volunteer assistance during the March 11 blaze at Full Gospel Church on Academy Street in Hurlock. Councilman Charles Cephas is the church’s minister. He thanked several people for their support in emotion-filled comments. “That night was such a night that all I could do was stand on the side and watch.” His voice breaking, he turned to Assistant Fire Chief Carrier and said, “The church was saved because of your actions.” He thanked the community for coming together to help. “I am going to leave this ordeal to God’s hands. I do know that God will let us build back and let us put more programs in to help more people.”

Hurlock resident Patricia Eskridge asked why the town was surveying a house on Main Street without notifying residents. Town Administrator John Avery said that the property in question is owned by Oxford-Chase Development who represents Dollar General. Mr. Avery explained that the company asked for the survey not the town. He noted that two lots in the area are already zoned commercial and two in which the company is interested are zoned residential. The lots are currently zoned for “mixed use” and include some residential and some commercial.

Ms. Eskridge pressed Administrator Avery: “Doesn’t the town have a vision for where you’re going with this?” She wondered if he would want a business next to him that kept the lights on all night. Mr. Avery clarified, “It was not my choice. It was the council’s choice.”

At the Dec. 9, 2013 council meeting, John E. Camp of Oxford Chase Development, Inc. presented a preliminary proposal for construction of a Dollar General store on S. Main Street. He sought town support for the project before proceeding with contracts and corporate approval. Oxford Chase purchased three properties for construction of a 9,100 sq. ft. Dollar General. Mr. Avery said that zoning changes must be approved by the Planning & Zoning Commission during hearings at which adjacent property owners may voice their concerns prior to final approval. The council unanimously supported moving forward with the proposal.

Town Attorney Robert Merriken attempted to ease the tension by explaining the procedure required of the developer. He said, “There is a process that the folks who purchased the lots have to follow through.” They filed a request to the Planning And Zoning Commission to have two parcels re-zoned to commercial. “It is not the town’s decision to do it and it is not a done deal until it goes through planning and zoning. You’ll have the opportunity to participate at every level.”

The meeting is slated for April 9, 7 p.m. It will be advertised twice and letters sent to adjoining properties. Mr. Avery noted that representatives of the developer will be there so attendees may ask questions. Members of the commission include: David Wands, Sonny Jones, Mike Swann, David Carrier, Vaughn Evans, and alternate Monroe Quailes.

Meetings are televised on Bay Country channel 22. The next meeting is scheduled for April 13, 6 p.m.

Susan Bautz is a freelance writer for the Dorchester Banner.

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