GRASONVILLE — On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 3, the Maryland Watermen’s Monument marked its 10th anniversary and was rededicated. A crowd of some 70 people was on hand for the 20-minute ceremony.

The monument’s founder, George O’Donnell, former waterman and former county commissioner, served as master of ceremonies. While he came up with the idea for a monument to honor watermen of the Chesapeake Bay 17 years ago, O’Donnell gave credit to two other people for making the monument a reality, former state Del. Wheeler Baker and local artist and charter boat Captain Tilghman Hemsley, who designed the 7,000 pound bronze statue that sits along Md. Route 18, just east of the Kent Narrows Drawbridge in the area between Fisherman’s Inn Restaurant and Fisherman’s Crab Deck.

Wheeler Baker reminisced about growing up at the Narrows, seeing many shucking houses in his youth that no longer exist. “It hurt to see the seafood industry decline,” Baker said. “It’s important to remember where we’ve come from and where we’re going to go.” He reminded local elected officials of their responsibility to watermen in the future.

State Sen. Steve Hershey spoke of the challenges facing today’s watermen. He said, “Unfortunately, one of Maryland’s most traditional industries is under attack, from quotas and harvest limits to increased fees and regulations .... We in Annapolis believe we are in much better hands when watermen are directly involved and participate in the Bay’s restoration.”

Hershey credited state Del. Jay Jacobs with creating a Commerical Watermen Caucus that meets every Monday during the legislative sessions to educate representatives from districts in the state that are not directly in the Bay region, helping those delegates understand critical Bay issues.

President of the Maryland Watermen’s Association Robert T. Brown, of St. Mary’s County, also spoke briefly. He said, “This monument represents the best of times and today, the worst of times in the seafood industry.” He indicated lots still needs to be done to correct failing sewage plants and issues with the Conowingo Dam that continues to allow major pollution in the Chesapeake Bay.

Rev. Oscar Lopez of Immanuel United Methodist Church in Grasonville provided a blessing for the monument to close the ceremony.

Names are still being added to the monument. Done in several ways for a small fee, names can be added to the base of the monument. For more information, contact George O’Donnell, who serves as president of Maryland Watermen’s Monument Fund Board of Directors, at 410-490-7400.

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