Tag Archives: Caroline County

Maryland Receives $6.4 Million Grant from HHS

Capital News Service

ANNAPOLIS – Maryland has been awarded $6.4 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for expansion of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program — one of only 13 states to receive a competitive grant.

The program, which provides money to states for home visiting programs that offer support services and education to at-risk children and families, has been administering awards under the Health Resources and Services Administration since 2011.

But this is the first time the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene received competitive funding under the Affordable Care Act..

“This is the big one we’ve been waiting for,” said Ilise Marrazzo, director of Maryland’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

Expansion grant awards are given to those organizations that have already implemented home visiting programs and want to serve a larger area, according to Michael Lu, associate administrator of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Federal grant administrators identified three main goals: Increase the availability of home visiting, improve the quality of these services through training and integrate a data system to improve performance measurements, according to Lu.

“This money will allow us to not only expand into high-risk areas, but it will allow us to expand to help all families in need by adding more front line workers and home visitors,” Marrazzo said.

Services provided during home visits include everything from prenatal care, to education on how to provide infants with a safe sleeping environment.

“Anyone who’s ever been a parent knows you need all the help and advice you can get,” Lu said. “And that’s especially true with children who have things like special needs or disabilities.”

Six counties in Maryland are already receiving program funding from a $1.3 million federal grant based on a formula that uses child poverty data.

Now four additional Maryland counties will now receive money: Allegany County, Baltimore County, Caroline County and Harford County.

These additional countries were identified through a needs assessment as being the most vulnerable, according to Lu.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene also hopes to expand programs have been proven successful, like a Baltimore City Department of Health program, according to Marrazzo, which triages all prenatal and infant cases and refers them to programs based on need and geographic location.

“These programs are extremely important in a lot of different ways; we know they do a lot in terms of improving pregnancy outcomes, reducing maltreatment, abuse and neglect, and strengthening parent and family relationships,” Lu said. “Now with additional funding, [the programs] will be able to reach out to more communities.”
CNS 09-13-13

Carolyn Spicher Named Most Beautiful Volunteer in Caroline County

Carolyn Spicher Most Beautiful Volunteer (268 x 400)Carolyn Spicher, Vice President and Regional Manager of CNB, member of Shore Bancshares’ family of companies, has been named Caroline County’s Most Beautiful Volunteer. Ms. Spicher, a life-long resident of Caroline County, was chosen out of 14 nominees and honored at a ceremony on February 16 at the Caroline County Public Library in Denton. She received recognition from the Maryland Senate and Maryland House of Delegates as well as gift certificates and awards from the Caroline County Commissioners and the Most Beautiful Volunteer Awards Committee.

Ms. Spicher works full time at CNB but also owns and operates a grain farm with her husband, Wayne. Ms. Spicher, who has over 49 years of banking experience, began her finance career with Denton National Bank then transferred to CNB which operates 11 branches serving communities on the Eastern Shore and central Delaware. Win Trice, CNB President and CEO, congratulates Ms. Spicher on the award and comments, “Carolyn is an exemplary citizen and employee and has been such an integral part of the success of our organization.” As a business development officer for CNB, Ms. Spicher has been a leading advocate and supporter of local farmers and other small business owners helping them to grow and succeed. A highlight among Ms. Spicher’s numerous accomplishments during her career was her work with the former Maryland Secretary of Agriculture, Wayne A Cawley, Jr., to develop an agricultural loan portfolio to finance the agricultural industry in the tri-county area.

She was nominated for the award by Bill Greenly who believes Carolyn “is the personification of Caroline’s Most Beautiful Volunteer, dedicated to helping people who need assistance and serving the community in general while working full time at CNB and maintaining the farm and home.” Although busy with her career and the farm, Ms. Spicher still manages to be actively involved in a long list of community organizations and events. For over 25 years, Ms. Spicher has been an active member of the Caroline County Historical Society, Inc. where she currently serves as Secretary-Treasurer. She is a member of the Mid Shore Regional Council and serves as Treasurer of its subsidiary, Shore Gourmet. Ms. Spicher was involved in organizing the Choptank Investment Partnership and the Two Governors’ Tribute event in Caroline County. In addition, Ms. Spicher is a long time active supporter of the Caroline County Chamber of Commerce, Caroline County Farm Bureau, Burrsville Ruritan Club, and Union United Methodist Church.

In photo: Adelaide C. Eckardt, Maryland State Delegate; Carolyn Spicher, CNB VP and Regional Branch Manager; Richard Colburn, Maryland State Senator

Shore Health Joins Commissioners in Announcing Five Year Initiative to Improve Health Care in Caroline County

An innovative approach to improving the health of Caroline County’s citizens was endorsed today when Shore Health System and the County Commissioners jointly announced their five year initiative to enhance health care services.

Shore Health CEO Kenneth Kozel attended the Commissioners’ meeting to explain the year long study process and the resulting agreement, which was signed by Kozel on behalf of Shore Health.

“Caroline County and Shore Health share a common interest—the health and wellbeing of Caroline’s residents,” Kozel states. “Without the cooperation and diligence of many people, this new era in Caroline County’s health care would not be possible,” he adds. “Commissioners Porter, Levengood and Ghrist have been exceptional partners along this path,” Kozel says, adding, “Commissioner Porter was the leader who saw a need for enhanced services and helped shape the discussions that have become the agreement we celebrate today.”

“This is indeed an exciting time in our history and it marks a milestone in our relationship with Caroline County, her leaders and her citizens,” Kozel explains. “It does take a village for these accomplishments to be realized and in this case, our partners at the University of Maryland Medical System, including CEO Bob Chrencik, as well as Shore’s Board Chairman John Dillon, Caroline residents and Shore Health Board members Keith McMahan and Bob Carmean, and the full Shore Health System Board of Directors, have been solidly behind this planning,” Kozel states.

The agreement, reached after more than six months of discussion and a more intensive 12 month study process, outlines a number of avenues by which the people of Caroline County will have improved access to services and support for their health care needs.  Among the most visible of the agreed upon services is an urgent care center to meet non-emergency health care needs in extended, weeknight hours. The center will be a walk-in, no appointment necessary service designed to help people who have illness or minor injury that does not require hospital –based emergency care. Staffed by physicians and a nurse practitioner, the center will offer diagnostics including routine xray and immediate lab results. It is anticipated to open in late summer or early fall at the location of Shore Family Medicine, in the Food Lion shopping center on Route 404 in Denton.

Other aspects of the agreement, outlined as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Shore Health and Caroline County, include a medical transportation grant to assist the county for five years. “We recognize that Caroline County is the only county in Maryland without a hospital or emergency center. The challenges of transportation are therefore unique in Caroline and Shore will assist the county in meeting those challenges with a grant that supports local efforts,” Kozel says.

One of the more unique aspects of the agreement is a study to explore the feasibility of a Community Based Paramedic Program that serves population health needs in the county. That planning will begin by early summer, in cooperation with the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services System (MIEMSS) and Caroline’s Department of Emergency Services.

The MOU also outlines studies of other health care needs in Caroline County, including: exploring the provision of health, wellness and prevention classes in the County, in concert with the Health Department; a study of dialysis services in the county; an analysis of diagnostic and specialty services in the county; and the study of regional hospice services, including the non-residential and residential services in-county.

“It is important to recognize that many people have brought us to this moment, including Governor Harry Hughes, Senators Thomas “Mac” Middleton, Richard Colburn and E.J. Pipkin, Delegates Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio and Adelaide Eckardt, County Health Officer Dr. Leland Spencer, and Shore Health Board members and Caroline residents Keith McMahan and Bob Carmean, and Mark Wasserman, Senior Vice President at UMMS, ” Kozel states. He also credits the community based members of the Joint Oversight Caroline County Task Force with moving the discussions forward, including: Choptank Health System CEO Joe Sheehan and retired Choptank Executive Wayne Howard; MIEMSS Region Four Director John Barto; Salvatore Verteramo, MD, Shore Health’s Regional Director of Emergency Medicine; retired educator and community advocate Dale Brown; Federalsburg Mayor Bill Beall; and both County and Shore Health support staff.

The agreement between Shore and Caroline County will be reviewed and monitored on an ongoing basis, with an annual evaluation and report from the Commissioners as the Board of Health, with leadership from the County Health Officer and the involvement of Shore Health’s CEO, staff and Board members, two of whom reside in Caroline County.

Maryland Lawmakers Push for Park to Honor Harriet Tubman

Capital News Service

WASHINGTON–Maryland’s lawmakers urged Congress Wednesday to pass legislation to create two national parks honoring the legacy of Underground Railroad leader Harriet Ross Tubman.

Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Towson, and Maryland Democratic Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin, joined senators from New York and leaders from national civil rights organizations in calling for immediate congressional action on the Harriet Tubman National Parks Act. The act would establish historic parks in Maryland and New York to commemorate the freedom fighter one century after her death.

“We owe it to Harriet to tell this story, but we owe it to this generation and the next generation so they know the story, that each and every one of us in our own way must also work and walk freedom’s trail,” Mikulski said at a news conference Wednesday.

The legislation calls for the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historic Park to be located in Maryland’s Eastern Shore where Tubman was born, escaped slavery and later returned to lead other African-Americans to freedom.

Some sites set to become part of the historic park include the Anthony Thompson Plantation where Tubman was likely born and the Poplar Neck Plantation where she led many Underground Railroad missions. A second park in Auburn, N.Y., would include the sites where Tubman spent her later years as a women’s suffrage activist and caretaker for the elderly.

Mikulski seized on momentum from Black History Month and events surrounding the Harriet Tubman Centennial.

“I pledge to you as the full chair of the Appropriations Committee, if we get it authorized this year, I’ll put it in the federal budget,” she said of the bill.

Cardin later added that the Tubman National Park–the first to honor an African-American woman–is long overdue.

“It will be incredibly valuable as a learning tool but also as an economic tool,” he said.

The Maryland project will cost $21 million, but is expected to increase tourism and job growth for Dorchester, Caroline and Talbot counties with an estimated 75,000 visitors annually, according to the Maryland Office of Tourism.

Sarbanes shared memories of his father, former Maryland Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes, telling Harriet Tubman’s story during childhood trips through Cambridge, Md.

“If anybody deserves that kind of unique response to her legacy it’s Harriet Tubman,” he said.

Several national civil rights organizations also attended to show support for the bill including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Organization for Women and the National Council of Negro Women.

Allendra Letsome, Maryland native and membership vice president of NOW, spoke of the historic park legislation in conjunction with her organization’s several-year effort to replace the Capitol building’s statue of Maryland legislator John Hanson with a statue of Tubman. Tubman’s statue would be the first of an African-American woman in Statuary Hall.

“We need to send a message to our young people that you can do great things, you can change the course of history,” Letsome said.

Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY., broke from his written speech to add, “There are some who say, well, this costs money. It costs such a small amount of money. Many on the other side opposed this bill because it costs a little bit of money. To preserve our legacy, to preserve our history, to give lessons to the children, this one… just in terms of bang for the buck would be huge, so let’s not let that issue stand in the way of this 100th anniversary year.”

Walmart Wages on Eastern Shore Leave Many Employees Below Poverty Line

Special to Capital News Service

Brooke Campbell, a student at Chesapeake College on the Eastern Shore, lost her job two months ago. Every day since, she’s sat at her computer filling out job applications on line — but only one employer has even acknowledged her.

So Campbell, 21, says she’d be delighted to work at Walmart when a new store opens in Denton, Caroline County, this fall — even at wages of less than $12 an hour.

“I’ve never made anything over $7.55,” Campbell said. “A $12 wage? Hell yeah.”

Around the country, anti-Walmart campaigns have condemned the giant retailer for paying low wages.

But Denton, the Caroline County seat, needs jobs. The unemployment rate is higher than the state average and empty storefronts plague downtown. Walmart will offer 600 jobs. And Campbell wants one of them.

“My little brother makes $13 at Wawa. He’s made more than I’ve ever made,” Campbell said. “If Walmart had that wage, that’d be awesome, even if it’s not that much in the long run.”

On its corporate Web site, Walmart says its pays full-time employees in Maryland an average hourly wage of $11.83.

A recent study found that an adult living alone in Caroline must earn $11.34 an hour to pay for the basics, which include food, housing, transportation, health care and other essentials but not cell phone or cable. The basic wage needed goes up to $17.68 for one working adult with a preschooler. Add an infant, and it’s $21.81.

This study, known as the Self Sufficiency Standard, was conducted by researchers at the University of Washington School of Social Work.

Making Change at Walmart, a national campaign supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers union, disputes Walmart’s assertion that it pays its Maryland full-time workers an average of $11.83 an hour.

“An employee who works Walmart’s definition of full-time (34 hours per week) makes just $15,500 per year,” the union says. “That means hundreds of thousands of people who work full-time at Walmart still live below the poverty line.”

Walmart declined repeated requests for interviews.

“Walmart always pays very low wages. I guess that’s better than no wages,” said former Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes, who lives in Denton. “But it would be much better if they pay more.”

Last year, Caroline County’s unemployment rate was 8.8 percent, compared to 7.0 percent for the state as a whole.

Caroline County is landlocked, without any waterfront to attract business and tourists — and money. Much of the county’s land is used for farming and industry. Denton, a small, rural town with historic buildings, rests on a hill overlooking the Choptank River.

According to census data, Caroline County’s median household income is just under $60,000. But more than 11 percent of the population earns less than the federal poverty level of $19,090 for a family of three.

“The state’s doing better than us on unemployment and a lot of other things in general,” Denton Mayor Dennis Porter said. “I mean, we’re not the most affluent area here.”

Some observers are skeptical of wage estimates such as those in the University of Washington self-sufficiency study.

“Quite honestly, when you look at that county, that wage is just not realistic,” said Memo Diriker, the founding director of the Business, Economic, and Community Outreach Network, a business and economic research and consulting group at Salisbury University.

“You’re not going to find that wage in that county unless you’re highly skilled. Those kind of jobs in rural areas do not exist,” Diriker said. “There’s no way that I can imagine in Caroline County an organization that is going to give $17 an hour” for unskilled labor.

But the author of the Self-Sufficiency Standard, Diana Pearce, said her research is not based on salaries paid. “We do not set the standard at what the employer pays for people with few skills,” Pearce said. “We set it at the minimally adequate level to meet basic needs, so we are ‘blind’ to what employers are paying when we set it.”

For comparison, Maryland’s Department of Business and Economic Development determined that Caroline County customer service representatives and secretaries earned a median hourly wage of $14 an hour in 2011. Bookkeeping and accounting clerks earned $15.75 an hour.

Don Mulrine, Denton’s town administrator, says he welcomes Walmart and its jobs, no matter the wages. They can serve as “fill-in jobs,” he said, until employees find better careers elsewhere.

Walmart, he said, has “very good jobs, and they can work up the ladder to be assistant managers, department managers, and so on, where they can get the higher values of dollar skills per hour, as well as the benefits that they are attributed to.”

But, he also said the management team for the new store is coming from outside the county. Future managers have already been selected and are being trained at other Walmarts nearby.

Construction of the 152,888-square-foot store began on Legion Road in September 2011, and Walmart is set to open at the end of October off Route 404, less than two miles from Market Street, Denton’s main street.

Eight vacant storefronts sit there now in downtown Denton. Merchants, including Michael Owens, owner of Color ‘N’ Clay, think reviving downtown will help residents achieve their financial goals.

A December 2009 study by Arnett Muldrow & Associates, Ltd. analyzed Denton’s economic potential and proposed a new marketing strategy that main street manager Ann Jacobs has already launched with the help of local businesses.

“There’s more to having a small business and being involved in the community than just earning wages. We have a responsibility to the community,” said Owens, who was named the 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year by Caroline County Chamber of Commerce.

Diriker, at Salisbury University, said he understands that some people view Walmart as a challenge to Denton’s retailers.

“Some smaller stores that cannot compete may have to leave,” Diriker said. “But the community is in no position to thrive if it says no to Walmart.”

Mark Peach, 48, who is self-employed, has lived in Denton since 2000. He said he would “cut my two legs off” before taking a job at Walmart because of the company’s “animus” toward unions and low wages. Twelve dollars an hour doesn’t go far, even in a rural area like Caroline County, he said.

“If you’re looking to add a supplemental income to what you already have, that’s fine. If you’re retired and you want to add to your income, that’s fine too,” Peach said. “But I don’t think people could live off that.

But for Danielle Smith, a senior at North Caroline High School in Ridgley, Walmart would be fine for a summer job.

“I would absolutely love $12 an hour,” she said. “It’s close to my house and it would be a raise up from $8.10 I get at Subway now.”

Caroline County Families’ Costs Jump 67 Percent in Decade

CNS Special Report

COLLEGE PARK – A family of three in Caroline County — an adult, a preschooler and a child in school — would need more than $44,500 to cover essential costs, including housing, child care, transportation, health care and food, a new study shows. That’s more than twice the federal poverty level, which is $19,090 in 2012, as calculated by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Self-Sufficiency Standard, created by researchers at the University of Washington School of Social Work in cooperation with the Maryland Community Action Partnership, calculates a baseline income that Maryland families need to earn to cover their basic needs.

According to census data, the median household income in this Eastern Shore county is just under $60,000. But more than 11 percent of the county’s population earns less than the federal poverty level. Caroline County is tied with Worcester with the sixth highest poverty rate in Maryland.

The annual self-sufficiency wage for this three-person family in Caroline County in 2001 was $26,569. Today, in 2012, that figure has jumped 67.5 percent because of rising costs.

Since 2001, this family’s taxes more than doubled, health care increased 82.6 percent, and child care went up 70.5 percent.

Because of this jump in costs of these basic needs during the recession, more county residents are applying for financial assistance from the government.

So far in fiscal 2012, the average number of monthly applications for the temporary cash assistance program at the Caroline County Department of Social Services has increased 20 percent from fiscal 2011 and 35 percent from fiscal 2010, according to state numbers.

As the recession has dragged on, nonprofit organizations that deal with needy families have also answered more calls of help.

Saint Martin’s Ministries, located in Ridgely, serves families at or below the poverty level with its emergency food pantry, stocked by the federal government through The Emergency Food Assistance Program.

Jean Austin, operations officer of this charity, said more new families, averaging an additional 15 each month, are seeking help because of their long-term unemployment.

“Last year, for our FY ending July 31, we served an average of 277 families per month,” said Austen in an email. “This FY, in the first six months, that average has increased to 318 families per month.”

Saint Martin’s Ministries also runs an eviction prevention program that is based on the availability of funds. In 2010, funding that was awarded to Saint Martin’s by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development under the state’s Homeless Prevention Program was projected to last 36 months. It was gone in 18 months, Austin said.

In Denton, Rebuilding Together Caroline County provides free services to low-income homeowners who are elderly, disabled, veterans or families with children. The group has built wheelchair ramps, repaired ceilings and floors, installed new electric wiring and heating systems, and improved insulation.

Families of one to five members, who received assistance from Rebuilding Together Caroline County in 2011 earned, on average, $18,351.70, which is below the poverty level, said Patrice Morrison, the group’s president.

Of the 48 “critical” projects in 2011 completed by Rebuilding Together Caroline County, the homeowners have lived in their home for an average of 24 years, half were between 19 and 64 years old, and the other half were over 65 years old. Eleven of those homeowners were disabled and four were veterans.

This organization’s funds come from donations. Ninety-nine percent of those funds finance its projects.

“We’re doing more without more money. The town (of Denton, the county seat,) is not getting as much money as previous years from taxes because people aren’t making it,” Morrison said. “It’s not a dead-end county. It’s a beautiful county, but it just doesn’t have the financial resources.”

Caroline County ranks second in the state of Maryland in terms of land protected under the Maryland Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation, preserving 28,000 acres of land.

But the agricultural nature of the county has limited the number of businesses to mainly farms and mom-and-pop stores.

Caroline County’s fiscal 2011 financial report said that “the collapse of the housing market, high unemployment and weak consumer demand have dampened local business activity.”

“The entire county has gone into a tailspin within the last years. I can’t think of even a dozen new construction projects within the last five years,” said Morrison, who added that some residents have to drive more than an hour to work because the county has so few jobs.

Those mom-and-pop businesses used to line the main street in Denton, but today, a majority of them are empty storefronts. Caroline County’s weekly newspaper, The Times Record, reported that in the 200 block of Market Street, two buildings that have four storefronts are in foreclosure due to the owner’s bankruptcy filing.

A December 2009 retail market study identified two of the main challenges for Denton: “We need to fill in the empty shops” and “Business recruitment and retention is a challenge for this market as it is not as affluent as other markets.”

One business plan for Denton that residents hope will bring greater economic development is the addition of a Walmart, which will provide at least 250 more jobs for residents, including the disabled.

The supercenter is set to open this summer or fall off Route 404.

The University of Washington study did not determine how many working families have incomes below the Self-Sufficiency Standard. Census Bureau data show that roughly 8,687 people in Caroline County — nearly 27 percent of the population — live in families with incomes less than 200 percent of the census poverty threshold. (For a family of four, twice the poverty line would be about $44,000.) The census data count the elderly and other categories that were not included in the self-sufficiency calculations for working families.

Coalition Announces County Clean Water Ratings

Six of Maryland’s 23 counties received the top rating from an environmental coalition for their Chesapeake Bay restoration plans. The Clean Maryland Waters coalition announced that Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Calvert, Caroline, Dorchester and Montgomery Counties submitted the strongest plans. Nine counties got the lowest ranking. They are Allegany, Carroll, Cecil, Charles, Frederick, Garrett, Somerset, Washington and Worcester Counties. The coalition says the drafts they submitted were skeletal and did not commit to clear implementation strategies. The counties submitted their plans to the state, which submitted its plan to the Environmental Protection Agency, which is spearheading a new federally led bay restoration effort.

Maryland Shakespeare Festival Presents “As You Like It”

The spirit of the Bard will once again return to the Caroline County Courthouse Green during the Maryland Shakespeare Festival’s Good Will Tour performance of “As You Like It.” Bring your own blankets or lawn chair, and enjoy an evening of live music, thrilling swordplay and Shakespeare’s enchanting poetry under the stars. Refreshments will be available for purchase.

Caroline County Courthouse, 109 Market Street, Denton, Md 21629
VENUE PHONE: 410-479-0660
EVENT CONTACT: 410-479-8120
Sunday, July 31, 2011, 7:00pm
Event Cost: Free

50th Annual Wheat Threshing, Steam & Gas Engine Show

See antique farm equipment in operation; flea market, steam engines, and antique tractors. Enjoy great food, a daily parade, blacksmith shop, tractor games, entertainment, and more. Eastern Shore Threshermen & Collectors Association, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and demonstrating antique farm machinery.

Friday, August 06, 2010 – Sunday, August 08, 2010
Rt. 313 between Denton & Federalsburg
Fri.-Sat., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Kent, Queen Anne Named Natural Disaster Areas

Kent, Caroline and Queen Anne’s counties have been designated primary natural disaster areas. Last year’s excessive rains caused farmers to lose barley and wheat and the presence of vomitoxin, which can cause nerve disorders in livestock and destroy barley and wheat crops. The disaster area also covers all three counties in Delaware.