EASTON — Gov. Larry Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford made separate visits to the Mid-Shore Monday, June 24 while passing through to this week’s Maryland Municipal League conference in Ocean City.
While enjoying lunch at Snappers Waterfront Cafe and celebrating the Cambridge restaurant’s 25th anniversary, Hogan touted the Chesapeake Bay’s blue crab population rebound.
Overall, the Bay’s crab population rose by 60% from last year to reach an estimated total of 594 million crabs, according to a dredging survey released in May.
An annual winter survey released by the states of Maryland and Virginia shows almost twice as many juveniles as last year. Adult males rose by 38%, or roughly 80 million. Spawning-age females have increased, climbing to 190 million for a nearly 30% gain.
“The crab population was a tremendous surprise,” Hogan said. “It is the biggest increase I can ever remember. It is much better than anticipated.
“The Bay is doing so well,” he said. “It is so much cleaner with all the Bay grass coming back. It is a really positive sign. We are going to eat some of the crabs this afternoon, but there will still be enough for everyone else the rest of the summer.”
Owned by John and Laura Sydnor, Snappers is located along Cambridge Creek next to J.M. Clayton Seafood.
Hogan presented the Sydnors with a Governor’s Proclamation for 25 years in business. He also was joined on the visit by members of his staff; Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio; state Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore; and Del. Johnny Mautz, R-37B-Talbot.
“It takes such hard work for them to be successful here for 25 years,” Hogan said of the Sydnors said. “I’m just happy to come down and recognize them for 25 years. It means a lot for Cambridge, being here on the water. A lot of people make this a stop along the way to the beach. A lot of people come over here from Annapolis. They draw from far and wide.”
Comptroller Peter Franchot celebrated the Snappers 25th anniversary with a visit to the restaurant on June 10. He along with Eckardt and Mautz presented the Sydnor family with state proclamations.
Hogan said Franchot does a great job with the “Shop Maryland” campaign, and enjoys joining the comptroller in towns across Maryland.
“Buy local is really important,” Hogan said. “The comptroller and I, we go out to a lot of small towns all across the state. We encourage people, instead of just going to the big chain stores and big chain restaurants, to come out and get into the towns by getting down to main streets and supporting the local merchants and the folks like this that have tremendous restaurants.
“It means a lot to the local economy, and puts a lot of people to work,” he said. “We are excited to help recognize that.”
Rutherford visited Easton June 24 and made a few stops at several downtown businesses.
During lunch at the Tidewater Inn, Rutherford discussed major initiatives, including the Opportunity Zone Task Force, the Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health in Maryland and continuing the fight against opioids.
On the topic of Opportunity Zones, which offer tax breaks for economic development, Rutherford would like to accelerate particular areas that have not yet succeeded over the last several years. He would like to see more investment occur that leads to more jobs and opportunities for local jurisdictions to jump toward additional development.
“While the economy of the state has done quite well, there are regions (and) communities that have not done as well,” Rutherford said.
The behavioral health commission’s objective is to study the state’s mental health system, including access to mental health services and the link between mental health issues and substance use disorders.
One of the initiatives that Rutherford is involved in is a continuation of the opioid interaction with mental health issues and how to deliver services to mentally ill in the community.
“The state, and the country as a whole, is not doing a very good job when it comes to addressing mental health issues. This is particularly for families getting help for family members both adults and minors,” Rutherford said. “We have a separate task force to study how we deliver services in the mental health area, as well as behavioral health in general which includes opioid and drug addiction.”
Rutherford’s vision to fight the opioid epidemic is a three-fold plan that involves the person who is ready to seek treatment; and to have resources available and coping mechanisms.
“One thing we need to work for is the private insurers to make sure that they are providing the coverage and that they don’t have additional barriers or that the patient doesn’t have time constraint issues,” Rutherford said. “Patients need to learn coping mechanisms and have outpatient type of care to help them deal with the outside and where they are not using the narcotics.”
Shortly after 1 p.m., Rutherford made his first stop at the Avalon Theatre. That was followed by visits to Albright’s Gun Shop, Hill’s Drug Store and Shore United Bank.
For over 35 years, Albright’s team of experienced sportsmen and gun enthusiasts have helped hunters and gun lovers from all over the country in the purchase and sale of firearms.
At Hill’s Drug Store, co-owner Mimi Hill Shannahan discussed with Rutherford the history of the store and how independent pharmacies are being squeezed out by large chains.
“Ever since chain pharmacies have bought pharmacy benefits managers, and ever since they have merged their businesses together, they are squeezing us out more,” Shannahan said. “They are directing our patients to use their services and sometimes these customers are fourth- or fifth-generation customers; and they are happy with our services because we take care of our customers.”
Shannahan also said that she is happy that she will have the opportunity to talk to Rutherford again where they can, “go into detail about what are some of the roadblocks that we are facing.”