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Elkton keeps chugging away; looks to transform old town hall

ELKTON — Despite stay at home orders and limitations on activities due to the global spread of coronavirus, Elkton keeps its eyes on revitalizing the downtown area.

The town has put out a public notice calling for architectural/engineering firms to conduct an adaptive reuse feasibility study for 110-112 North Street — the former Elkton Council Hall. The new use would “showcase the building and transform the space in such a way as to add economic value to the downtown and provide a revenue source for Elkton’s Main Street organization, the Elkton Alliance,” according to the request for proposal.

Also, during its regular Wednesday afternoon meeting, the Elkton mayor and commissioners approved the receipt and expenditure of $115,277 that was used to make town square ADA accessible. Funds were from the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Community Development Block Grant as well as a donation from the Elkton Alliance. The commissioners also recognized the receipt and expenditure of $61,264 through the Community Legacy Program for the Elkton Downtown Facade grant.

Feasibility study

With use of a Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development Technical Assistance Grant, the Town of Elkton is requesting bidders submit proposals for the adaptive reuse feasibility study.

The public notice went out earlier this month and today the Town of Elkton is hosting a pre-proposal meeting at 110 North St. at 10 a.m. Official sealed bids must be submitted no later than August 17, and will be publicly opened on August 19 during the mayor and commissioners regular meeting.

The town has set August 28 to award the contract with specifications and cost estimates due December 1.

Currently, the building, which adjoins the Elkton Alliance/Elkton visitors Center, is being used for storage. The mayor, according to town officials, would like to see some more use out of the building.

“We’re excited to see what ideas are provided to us,” said Jeanne Minner, director of Planning for the Town of Elkton, adding that the town would like to see the buildings former glory reflected in the design.

Among other items, the scope of work includes: 1) the removal of existing paneling and drop ceilings to expose the original brick walls and barrel ceiling; 2) Design a creative reuse of this unique building; 3) Design should include options for ADA compliant access to the building; 4) Design should options should include a nod to the previous use of the building by the fire department.

The all-brick structure at 108-110 North Street dates back to 1832 as “fireproof offices” for the Clerk of the Court and Register of Wills, according to the project summary. The structure at 112 North Street, formerly known as Council Hall, was the first town building in Elkton. The first floor served as offices for town government and the second floor served the Singerly Fire Co.

The town hopes to see this building used as an economic driver. Some ideas have included an incubator space or entertainment venue.

ADA curb project complete

Though the project was completed late 2019, the council officially closed out the grant this month.

The project, which was focused at 101 E. Main St. and included the brick stoops at 108 and 110 North St., upgraded the sidewalks to be ADA accessible. Now, as can be seen walking the streets in downtown, the curbs are sloped at the corners of Main and North streets to accommodate wheelchairs and those who could not previously make it up to the sidewalk with ease.

Last year, when the bid opened, the town awarded the construction to Priority Construction Group for $133,130. The cost, though, was over the allotted amount in the grant. The town had to work with the company to lower costs. Priority was the lowest bidder of two proposals.

The negotiated contract eliminated landscaping, benches, trash cans and lighting for the end price of $100,680. The town did install lights, two park benches as well as a trash can.

Landscaping in the area may come up at a later time. But as of right now, it “looks pretty good,” said Minner.

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Perryville Outreach continues to teach life skills

PERRYVILLE — This week the lesson was physical activity and getting cardio-vascular health.

Danielle Hemling director of the Perryville Outreach Program, taught the lesson with a variety of outdoor games with names such as “Sharks and Minnows,” “Knights, Horses and Cavaliers,” and “Atoms.”

“They love Sharks and Minnows,” she said, as she watched Malaya Robinson — the shark in this round — try to catch Brayden Mitchell, aka, a minnow. The elementary and middle-school aged children in her charge scattered like the tiny fish, not wanting to be shark-bit.

For the month of July, the first in which the program has been open since the pandemic closed it down in March, the overarching lesson is self esteem. Each week is a different element; life skills, organization and time management, physical fitness and helping others.

“We talk about how we can feel good about ourselves,” Hemling said.

When school was in session the OP, located on Elm Street in Perryville, would have 30 or more kids each afternoon. These days attendance is much lower, but no less frenetic.

“They are just so happy to be together,” Hemling said.

COVID-19 guidelines are in place, she noted, but added, “Outside we’re letting them be kids as much as possible.”

Inside the CDC rules are followed, she said.

“Inside they wear masks and there’s hand sanitizer everywhere,” she said, with emphasis on “everywhere.”

A version of musical chairs, when the kids play “Atom” they run at large around the field. Hemling calls out a number and the kids run together to form a group corresponding the number called. Anyone left over is out until the next round.

Although it was not as hot as a typical July day, Hemling told the group to take a break and Carrie Taylor, who was recently hired as a case worker for the OP, handed out ice pops.

“They’ve been playing hard,” Hemling said, adding, “and learning too.”

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CCPS looks to improve online student assessments

Cecil County — One of the issues discussed in last week’s Cecil County Public Schools Board of Education meeting was the need to improve student accountability, especially if schools are required to have either all or a portion of the educational delivery be done through virtual means.

During last week’s meeting, CCPS Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Lawson said the grading set up from the spring semester was not strong.

“We have to do a better job with assessments,” he told the board members. “We are very committed to improving in this area.”

During an interview with the Cecil Whig this week Lawson said the district has been working to find an effective method to deal with the issue of student accountability as it pertains to assessing student performance on assessments.

He noted that the district is a little uncomfortable having students assessed at home.

“How do we know what the integrity is of the test if students are taking tests at home?” he said.

He noted that in a way it was a good problem to have during the spring because teachers could simply teach students without always having to worry about assessments.

“Our mindset is that if our teachers teach the way we know they can then we know students will learn,” Lawson said.

Lawson said the district went with a passing or incomplete system during the spring, but the district could not do that for the fall.

“Basically the way it worked is if they participated they passed, if we couldn’t verify they participated it was considered incomplete,” he said. “We can’t continue to do that, we have to be stronger on our assessments.”

Lawson said one area of improvement is that the district has been working closely with providers of the various technologies and applications used for virtual learning and they will be able to have more rigorous online testing capabilities in the fall. He said there will still be some concern that the work done by students reflects that student’s true capabilities, but noted that if the school must resume a virtual online program in the fall with no in-person teaching the district will need to do what it can to try to best assure the work reflects actual student accomplishments.

Overall, Lawson said he does think the district will be stronger if required to resume an all-virtual learning system. He noted that teachers are now even more prepared to deal with the district’s online platforms, and the curriculum will be better organized as teachers an administrators now have more familiarity with the delivery model.

He said there will be a push, if the district does have to go to an all virtual learning framework to get families that used paper packets in the fall connected online through the loaning out of devices and providing online hotspots for those that need them.

“Nothing replaces face to face contact with a teacher, but online is considerably better than a packet,” Lawson said.

He said that while recent surveys show a significant number of students and teachers want to come back to some form of in-person education, there are also significant numbers of students who have concerns about coming back to in-person learning. One of the points the district is really considering in making its plans for the 2021 school year is equity and fairness for all students, teachers and parents. Lawson made a point that the district does want to consider the feelings of those students and parents that may have some apprehension about returning to an all in-person learning environment due to health or safety reasons.

Shannon Humiston and baby Charlotte ride the Merry-Go-Round at the Cecil County Fair.

Hunter Johnson guided his grand champion market hog around the arena at the 4-H Livestock Auction at the 2019 Cecil County Fair. This year the auction is online at

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Police: Man assaulted Perryville police officers three times in 10 days

PERRYVILLE — A man remained jailed Thursday after he allegedly deliberately slammed a door on the foot of a Perryville Police Department officer – marking the third time in 10 days that the suspect had been arrested and charged with assaulting a member of that agency, according to Cecil County District Court records.

Investigators identified the suspect as Dejon L. Wright, 21, of North East.

Charged with second-degree assault on a law enforcement officer and second-degree assault, Wright remains in the Cecil County Detention Center without bond, after his bail review hearing on Wednesday, court records show.

Wright was free on a $7,500 unsecured bond when the latest incident occurred on Wednesday, according to court records, which further indicate that he was free on a different $7,500 unsecured bond when the second incident in the series occurred on Monday, two days earlier.

Moreover, the first incident occurred on July 5 and, after spending one night in the county jail without bond, Wright was released from custody July 6 on a $7,500 unsecured bond, following his bail review hearing earlier on July 6, court records show.

The third incident

The most recent incident occurred at approximately 12:05 a.m. on Wednesday, when Wright came to the side door of PPD’s station at 2 Perryville Town Center Dr. and started to “aggressively pound on the door,” prompting Officer Kennedy and Ofc. Lenzi to come to the entrance, open the door and speak with him, police said.

Wright was inquiring about a book bag that he had in his possession two days earlier, when a PPD officer arrested him after the second incident in the series, police added.

“I explained to Mr. Wright that he needed to come back during the business day and he began to argue and curse. Mr. Wright then intentionally slammed the door on (me) while I was explaining what he needed to do. When he intentionally slammed the door, it struck my right foot and I could feel pain from the door striking it,” Lenzi outlines in his written statement of probable cause.

Lenzi arrested Wright at the scene, court records show.

In the charging document, Lenzi notes, “This is the third time in approximately one week that Mr. Wright has been arrested by the Perryville Police Department for assaulting a law enforcement officer.”

Wright is scheduled for an Aug. 19 trial, court records indicate.

The second incident

The second incident in the string occurred at approximately 9 a.m. on Wednesday, after PPD Officer Michael Reno spotted Wright seated on the front porch of a house in the 300 block of Front Street, stopped his marked patrol car in front of that residence and spoke to Wright from that vehicle, police said.

Reno did so because he knew that Wright did not live there and because the officer was aware of “numerous complaints of (Wright) loitering and trespassing on various properties around town,” police added.

The officer asked Wright to move along, police reported.

“Mr. Wright responded with a ‘(Expletive) you,’ along with extending the middle finger of his right hand toward the officer,” court records allege.

Amid a conversation in which the officer tried to convince Wright that he must get off the porch and leave the property, Wright allegedly walked over to the patrol vehicle, stuck his head through the open front passenger’s side window and spit on the seat, according to charging documents.

Reno then contacted PPD Lt. Robert Nitz, asking for assistance because he was going to arrest Wright, police said. After the lieutenant arrived, police added, Reno informed Wright that he was under arrest and ordered him to turn around and place his hands behind his back.

“As this officer reached to put handcuffs on Mr. Wright, (Wright) struck the right side of Officer Reno’s face with an open hand,” Reno alleges in his written statement of probable cause.

After Wright allegedly slapped Reno in the face, Reno and Nitz handcuffed the suspect and then drove him to PPD’s station for processing, police reported.

Wright is charged with second-degree assault, failure to obey a lawful order and malicious destruction of property valued at less than $1,000, according to court records, which show that he is scheduled for an Aug. 19 trial in that matter.

He spent one night in the county jail without bond, before he was released Thursday on a $7,500 unsecured bond after his bail review hearing earlier that day, court records show.

The first incident

The first incident occurred at approximately 4:30 a.m. on June 5, after PPD Ofc. Gerard Morgan II responded to the common area of PerryVilla Apartments in the 300 block of Broad Street because a resident there had complained that a man was asleep on a chair in that private outdoor area, police reported.

Morgan recognized the man in question to be Wright, as he approached him, and further explains in charging documents that he “has had many encounters with Mr. Wright in the past.”

“Ofc. Morgan shouted, ‘Hey Dejon.’ (Wright) woke up and kicked Ofc. Morgan three times in his legs and jumped up. Mr. Wright took a fighting stance with his fists clenched. Ofc. Morgan was giving verbal commands for Mr. Wright to back off, and Mr. Wright took steps toward Ofc. Morgan three times,” Morgan outlines in his written statement of probable cause.

After the officer placed Wright under arrest and handcuffed him, Wright allegedly exhibited more resistance, police reported.

“Mr. Wright pulled away several times and attempted to head-butt Ofc. Morgan. Ofc. Morgan continued to give verbal commands for Mr. Wright to stop,” court records allege.

As Morgan attempted to conduct a pat-down search, Wright allegedly “slapped Ofc. Morgan’s left hand and again squared up,” police said. During that pat-down search, police added, Morgan found approximately one gram of suspect marijuana inside Wright’s front pants pocket and confiscated it.

Morgan drove Wright to the PPD station, where, after processing him, officers tried to handcuff Wright again in preparation to transport him to the Cecil County District Courthouse in Elkton for his appearance in front of a bond commissioner, according to police.

“Mr. Wright kicked Ofc. Reno with his right foot in his right shin,” court records allege.

(Reno is the same PPD officer that Wright allegedly assaulted during the incident on Wednesday, which occurred some eight days after the first incident.)

Relating to the first incident — all of which was captured on video gleaned from agency-issued body cameras — Wright is facing five charges, including resisting arrest, obstructing and hindering and two counts of second-degree assault, court records show. Wright is scheduled for an Aug. 19 trial in that criminal case, according to court records.

After spending one night in the county jail without bond in the wake of his July 5 arrest, Wright was released the next day on a $7,500 unsecured bond after his bail review hearing earlier that day, court records show.

Sue McDonald and Rebecca Dixon bag up sandwiches donated by Wawa for the Corners of the Field ministry that feeds the hungry through Porter’s Grove Baptist Church in Rising Sun.

Patrick Alan Ingham of Oxford, Pa., recently earned the honor of Eagle Scout. Here he is pictured with his Eagle Scout Service Project, including a map of the United States, two hopscotch courts and two four-square courts on the playground area of the Avon Grove Charter School Early Learning Center. The project entailed over 180 hours of service between Patrick and more than 25 volunteers.