Happening this week around the county …

Great Wolf Lodge is officially the owner of the 44-acre property on which the company plans to build one of its signature resorts in Perryville.

“So they are not going anywhere,” said Dianna Battaglia, director of economic development for Perryville.

Mayor Robert Ashby announced that GWL had gone to closing Oct. 26 on the land near Hollywood Casino off Chesapeake Overlook Parkway.

“This is the start of something really big for us,” Ashby said.

Battaglia said Great Wolf is still finalizing its plans and hopes to put the project out to bid early in 2021.

“Construction could start in the spring,” she said.

Great Wolf Lodge is planning 500 rooms, several restaurants, rock climbing, a ropes course, gift shops, an outdoor pool and other amenities for the family-style resort.

•••

Driver’s University is holding its first class teaching teenagers the rules of the road. For owner Ernie Miller his school is more of a mission than a business.

“In working with teens I see things there’s a need for,” said Miller, who is also a teacher at North East High School. “It made me wonder why did so many kids not have their license at 16?”

For Miller, who grew up in Cecil County and graduated from North East High School in 1996, getting that license was a rite of passage.

“Today’s kids can connect without driving,” he observed of the technology ruling that generation. However in talking with the teens he discovered there was also a financial roadblock, so to speak.

“So why not offer a school that’s more affordable,” he said. Driver’s University charges $289.

Driver’s University was supposed to open in April.

“But COVID,” Miller said. The pandemic pulled the brakes on in person classes and putting several students in a car for the required on-the-road experience.

After researching how to move the classroom online Miller launched his Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration certified school using Google Meet.

“It’s more secure for when we issue assessments,” Miller said.

Students still receive 30 hours of classroom instruction virtually and six personal hours behind-the-wheel. Miller said the challenge is keeping his students engaged.

“The curriculum is dry, but it’s a strict guideline,” he said.

By learning how to drive and earning that driver’s license Miller hopes to instill values in his students.

“I want to build that relationship so they can develop into good citizens. Gaining that independence opens up an opportunity for them to be successful,” he said. “The county needs more productive teenagers.”

Miller is open to working with families, offering payment plans to cover the tuition. He also has gift cards for parents or grandparents, for example, who want to give the gift of driving lessons.

The next class starts Nov. 30. For more information call 888-253-2833 or go to MyDriversU.com

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Baker’s Restaurant is offering Thanksgiving Family Dinners to go. Rob and Wendy Matthews will also be open Nov. 26, Thanksgiving Day, from noon until 6 p.m. for dining in, but because seating capacity is limited this year reservations must be made in advance.

Those to-go meals offer a choice of entrees, sides, soups and desserts starting at $39.99 for a family of four.

To order for curbside pick up call 410-398-2435 by 6 p.m. Nov 22. Pick up will be Nov. 25 from 4 until 8 p.m.

Baker’s Restaurant is located at 1075 Augustine Herman Highway in Elkton.

•••

Restaurants in Cecil County can apply starting Monday for a slice of a $660,000 grant program made available by the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Fund and administered by the Cecil County Office of Economic Development.

Through the Cecil Restaurant Relief Grant, money will be awarded in amounts of $10,000, $20,000 and $30,000 based on the number of full time employees.

This is to be used for expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021.

“We are excited to have this influx of additional relief funding to help our food and beverage service establishments survive the winter months during a pandemic that’s not expected to end any time soon” said Sandra Edwards, Acting Director of the Office of Economic Development. “Every little bit helps and everyone can help by supporting our local restaurants throughout the winter.”

The money must be used exclusively for such expenditures as working capital, rent, payroll, job training; equipment such as outdoor heaters and carts; HVAC system upgrades to improve ventilation; technology to introduce or support carryout and delivery; purchase of personal protective equipment and disposable food containers and utensils; and sanitation services.

To qualify, a business must be located in Cecil County, own, rent or lease a permanent or mobile food and beverage operation, operating prior to Oct. 1, and open at least 35 hours per week. The business can not be part of a national chain, except in the case of it being owned and operated locally. Also there can not be a drive-thru pick up window.

The business must also be in good standing with state and county regulations and registrations.

There also must be at least one full time employee.

“I encourage all eligible establishments to apply for this funding, and I commend our Office of Economic Development and Finance Department staff for continuing to provide services and support to our small businesses and their employees,” said Alan McCarthy, county executive. “This is a wonderful program that can and will assist many of our Cecil County restaurants who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.”

Applications may be sent in no earlier than 8 a.m. on Nov. 16 and must be returned by 4 p.m. on Nov. 20 for consideration.

To obtain the application packet go to ccgov.org.

•••

Key Lime Taxi is now open in its new location on Singerly Road in Elkton.

Ashley Bennett, marketing and public relations director, said this is the company’s first owned building.

“In our other location we used to rent,” Bennett said.

After being stunted for several months thanks to the pandemic, Bennett said business is picking back up in Cecil County. However the precautions remain in place and are strictly enforced, she added. Riders must wear a mask and are no longer allowed to sit in the front seat next to the driver.

“When COVID hit we ordered plexiglas and cut it to fit a divider between the driver and the passenger,” she said. “It’s like what you’d see in a New York City cab.”

COVID also caused Key Lime Taxi to change its operating hours, now running Monday through Saturday from 5 a.m. until midnight and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

“We used to run until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday but with COVID the bars weren’t open,” Bennett said of their typical late night customers.

For the uninitiated, a Key Lime Taxi ride starts at $9.50 for the first three miles or less. Bennett said that is the charge whether the cab drives two blocks or two miles. Any distance over 3 miles is charged about $1 for each additional mile. The fare can be paid with cash or credit card.

Key Lime Taxi accepts vouchers from several programs operated by Cecil County Transportation, Christiana Care Union Hospital and Perry Point VA Medical Center.

Call 410-996-4950 to hail a Key Lime Taxi.

•••

Veterans and those currently in the US military in Cecil County are being invited by Golden Corral in Elkton to pick up a gift card for a free meal in honor of Veterans Day. With the pandemic limiting capacity in restaurants, the folks at Golden Corral felt this was the best way to carry on their annual celebration at which they usually offer veterans a free meal.

“Our annual Military Appreciation event may look a little different this year, but that will not keep us from safely celebrating those who defend our country and our freedom,” said Lance Trenary, president and chief executive officer of Golden Corral. “Over the past 20 years, honoring America’s heroes has been a privilege that our restaurant teams look forward to all year. We were not going to break that tradition, so we adapted our program to allow the active military and veterans in our communities to come in to enjoy a free “thank you” meal over a more extended period of time to accommodate social distancing.”

Veterans and military personnel should go to the Golden Corral on Belle Hill Road in Elkton or on Route 40 in Aberdeen.

The coupon can be used Monday through Thursday now through May 31, 2021.

•••

Elkton Diner is gone. Not just the business, the entire building has been demolished.

Closed in June 2018, the property at the entrance to the Big Elk Mall has been leveled except for the sign giving interested parties a number to call for information on the prime piece of Route 40 real estate.

•••

Northeastern Maryland Technology Council is hosting a Nov. 19 virtual iDisruptor Tech Talk 3.5 called ”The Future of Everything; Markets, Technology and Political Implications of CIVID-19 in 2021.”

There will be three speakers in the session running from 4 until 5:30 p.m. via Zoom Cast. Finances, medicine and investment are among the topics to be discussed.

Register in advance on the events page at nmtc.org

Tickets are $20 for NMTC members and $35 to guests with proceeds going toward Women in STEM and Technology for Kids scholarships.

Business Beat is a weekly column on business happenings in and around Cecil County. If interested in having your business featured in this column, contact Jane Bellmyer at jbellmyer@cecilwhig.com or 443-245-5007.

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