CHESTERTOWN – Sultana Projects plans to expand its physical space to match the success of its programs, Drew McMullen told the commissioners at their Tuesday meeting.
He told the Kent County Commissioners on Sept. 17 that his group doesn’t need money, but does need letters of support to help with an ambitious fundraising plan.
The goal is to raise $5.5 million by 2016. Of that, $2.2 million will go to a planned educational center on Cross Street.
“We’re in a pickle,” said McMullen, president of Sultana Projects Inc., because its programs have outgrown the space available. The well-known schooner Sultana makes up only about 30 percent of the organization's programming now. There also are ecological kayak trips to shallow parts of the Chesapeake Bay’s creeks, curriculum development and teacher training programs.
Private donations to Sultana Projects come mostly from Kent and northern Queen Anne’s counties, said McMullen, even though its programs serve students in 15 to 20 of Maryland’s counties.
As a result, they are looking at significant funding through the state, he said, and letters of support from throughout the community will “demonstrate to the governor there is local backing for the project.”
McMullen distributed color booklets outlining Sultana Projects' “Vision 2020” initiative.
The most visible part of the plan is a new home base. The nonprofit plans to buy the old Kent Printing building on the corner of Cannon and Cross streets, because it’s been fully restored. The price is a bargain compared to rehabilitating an existing building, said McMullen.
The empty lot next door would become “The Commons,” a LEED Platinum-certified classroom and shop building. Together they will form an education center.
If the new building is LEED Platinum certified, it will mean that it is as energy-efficient and “green” as possible.
“That’s what we’re shooting for,” said McMullen. “It’s a challenge in an urban setting. It will be unlike any building around here.”
Commission President Ron Fithian said, “I certainly support the Sultana and the programs you offer.”
Local municipalities and school boards “should lend their voice, too,” said Commissioner William Pickrum.
Also at the meeting, Gary Gunther, executive director of Upper Shore Aging Inc., presented the annual plan for his agency.
He said one recent state initiative is to help people age in their homes and remain part of the community, rather than being placed in a nursing home.
The state’s average cost for elder care in a nursing home, he said, is $73,000. Aging in place can be accomplished for about half that.
In Other Business:
•The commissioners accepted a $64,804 Maryland Emergency Management Agency grant, which will help fund an emergency services position.
•They voted to approve $54,000 from the contingency fund for a new position in the public works department.
•Dr. James Lacey notified the county that he will leave his position as Kent EMS medical director on Jan. 1.