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Mayor, Council talk meeting structure

ROCK HALL — The town here will discuss at its next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, March 9, whether they will put a “maximum” time on their meetings.

“I’m not saying to limit what we talk about,” Councilwoman Eleanor Collyer said at the Rock Hall mayor and council meeting Feb. 27. “To give us the opportunity to say ‘oh we’ve got this,’ ‘oh we still really need to get to this, let’s limit our conversation on this.”

While she brought it up over three hours into the Feb. 27 meeting, she asked that the discussion take place at the council’s next meeting, Thursday, March 9.

Of the five council meeting held so far in 2023, all of the open sessions have lasted over two hours, with four lasting over two hours and 30 minutes and one over three hours.

Collyer also asked about the difference between the council’s regular business meetings, held the second Thursday of each month, and the regular workshop meetings, held 10 days previous, especially when agenda items overlap.

“Sometimes they’re (agenda items) on the alternative meeting because of timing, you know we need to decide something so even though we talked about it in the workshop, the decision time fell into the business meeting,” Mayor Dawn Jacobs said.

Collyer asked how it was decided what was discussed when.

“If we’re not finished talking about it … it’s going to recur until we’re done talking about it,” Jacobs said.

“I’m just trying to prevent some redundancy, because we tend to discuss more than once. We tend to discuss here and then we tend to discuss again,” Collyer said.

Councilman James Cook said he also had been thinking about the structure of the council’s meetings, “because it does feel like sometimes we talk about the same things.”

“My thought is that a workshop meeting typically is where ew discuss issues that aren’t quite ready for primetime or a vote, and then during the business meeting would be something that either requires a vote or should be brought to public attention, including public hearings,” Cook said. “That’s not to say there shouldn’t be some things that shouldn’t be in the business meeting.”

Cook said things that require more discussion and refinement should be on workshop agendas, and should only go on the business agenda when the council is ready to take an action on it.

Jacobs said if something could be dealt with and the council could get to a decision point during a business meeting, that might be reason to bring it up again.

“I try to think of it along those lines: is this official action? Then it belongs in the business,” Jacobs said.

Councilwoman Carolyn Jones added, some topics “go on forever.”

“It’s like rehashing the same things over and over again, which is important and people need to know,” Jones said.

Collyer suggested the council say, as they progressed down the agenda, which items needed to be in the next business meeting.

“It might come back to the next workshop meeting,” Jacobs said.

Cook said workshops might be longer, but if action items were on the agenda for business meetings and they were condensed, “we might get more people to come to the meeting.”

Jacobs said some items that are of larger significance or greater importance to the public — like the town hall building project or utilities— should be mentioned at both meetings because there may be new updates.

To that end, some notable updates:

• Paperwork has been filed to establish a 501c3 nonprofit to privatize the Rock Hall museum board. The council directed the museum board to privatize at its Dec. 8 meeting.

• The council voted 3-1-1, with Councilman Tim Edwards abstaining and Jacobs dissenting, to authorize Town Manager Bob Resele to negotiate a contract with Tolchester Marina to move the museum artifacts out of the municipal building at a maximum cost of $4,500. It was previously decided the museum artifacts would be moved to and stored at Tolchester Marina.

“This is the dumbest d*** thing I’ve ever seen,” Edwards said following the vote. They said the council had already decided not to allow anyone into the municipal building, and it did not make sense to allow people into the building in light of that decision. “This is crazy, I’ve never seen anything like this. Nobody can go in that building, no way, no shape, no form. ... I want somebody who knows what they’re doing to do the moving, I don’t want it to come back on the town.”

Jacobs added the town was also responsible for the museum artifacts until a formal memorandum of understanding between the town and the 501c3 was finalized.

• Regarding the sale of the municipal building, Resele asked the council if they wanted it appraised under the current zoning as commercial or as R1. The zoning definitions may change due to comprehensive rezoning, Collyer said. Jacobs asked the appraisal be done for both commercial and R1 zoning.

• There was no update regarding the purchase of a new municipal property.

centerpiece featured
Kent County sends 12 ensemble band members to states

WORTON — It may not be Patrick Mahomes heading to Disney, but 12 students going to the state solo and ensemble festival, after qualifying at the solo and ensemble festival on the Eastern Shore, is nothing to sneeze at.

Fourteen kids from Kent County High School participated in the festival Friday, Feb. 24, at Kent Island High School. The ensemble groups were comprised of two, three or four students, Ellsworth Tolliver, KCHS substitute band teacher, said in an interview March 2 at the high school.

The festival was regulated and adjudicated, meaning pieces performed at the festival were chosen from a pre-approved list. Students practiced throughout the year — especially after school on Wednesdays — ahead of the festival, where each performance was given a score by two judges.

To quality for states, students needed a one rating. Of the 14 students who participated, 12 earned a score of one; the other two students scored twos. All of the participants from KCHS received a certificate and will get a medal for earning high ratings, Tolliver said.

“These were all ensembles, combinations of clarinets, saxophones, trumpets,” Tolliver said. “These kids worked very hard. It wasn’t anything that I did that made this happen, it was all the kids. I gave them time to practice, and they did, and this was the result of it.”

Students in the ensembles are a part of the concert band, but this was additional practice, Tolliver said.

“This group of kids that went are extremely serious about their instruments and playing,” he said. “There was one young man who played in three different groups and got a one in each of the groups that he played in.”

Another student, Tolliver said, typically plays the clarinet, but played a saxophone in the ensemble and earned a one, “even though she was new to the instrument.”

“This group of kids is extremely dedicated to the craft,” Tolliver said. “They’re just a group of kids that love playing their instruments...They come in with their instruments in their hands.”

At the time of the interview, Tolliver did not know the date for the state competition. In preparation for that competition, the 12 students competing can choose to continue practices the piece they performed at the Solo and Ensemble festival or they can choose another piece from the list.

The students who compete in the state festival can also choose to remain in the same ensemble groups or form different ones. Tolliver said when he asked them if they planned to switch groups, they had not decided yet.

Tolliver said the band students have also been getting ready for the district festival, where the concert band will perform three selected pieces and do a sight reading exercise, where they will be given a piece they have never played before and will be scored on their performance.

To help prepare for the sight reading task, Tolliver said he has the students sight read every day, so they become comfortable with the process and know what to look for on the sheet music to help them play the piece well.

“It’s the idea of looking at a new piece of music and being comfortable with that,” Tolliver said about having students sight read every day. “I don’t just put a piece of music in front of them, I encourage them to look at it and tell me what they see...What key signature is it in? What’s the time signature? They’re getting used to it now.”

The district festival was held Wednesday, March 8, at North Dorchester High School.

Tolliver said he feels “really good” about how the students will perform at that competition.

Band students have other upcoming performances as well, Tolliver said. Two students will participate in this year’s All-Shore Chorus festival later this month and another two will participate in the All-Shore Band festival in April. The jazz band will be performing at the opening reception for the Kent Cultural Alliance’s new building 7 p.m. Saturday, March 25 at the Garfield Center.

PINEY NECK — Nick Kirby, left, and Ryan Manning unload their catch of perch and catfish at Long Cove Public Landing on Thursday afternoon, March 2. They had been fishing in the Chester River.

Bounty of the Chester