EARLEVILLE — An investigation is continuing after a blaze ripped through a multi-purpose building at a marina in Earleville on Tuesday morning, causing an estimated one million dollars in damage to the structure and its contents and injuring one firefighter, according to the Maryland Office of the State Fire Marshal.
A passerby called 911 at 6:32 a.m. after discovering the burning building at Long Point Marina, which is located in the 100 block of Kitty Knight Boulevard and fronts the Bohemia River, fire officials reported.
Approximately 50 firefighters with volunteer fire companies from Cecil, Kent and New Castle (Del.) Counties battled the blaze for about 45 minutes, before bringing it under control, fire officials said. Hacks Point Volunteer Fire Company served as the on-scene command unit, fire officials added.
“When we arrived, it was mainly just smoke showing. No fire was visible from the outside,” said Cecilton Volunteer Fire Chief Jason Reamy, who estimated that the building is 50’-by-100’ and houses a lobby, offices and restrooms on the main level and a workshop, garage and storage space on the lower level.
A Middletown (Del.) Volunteer Fire Company firefighter suffered non-life-threatening injuries when debris struck him in the back and neck during a partial floor collapse, which occurred while he was inside the building’s main level battling the blaze, Reamy reported.
A CVFC ambulance crew transported the injured firefighter to Christiana Hospital in Delaware, according to Reamy.
The building’s main level and attic sustained smoke and fire damage, while the lower level sustained mainly water damage, according to Reamy.
MOSFM detectives were dispatched to the scene and, as of Tuesday afternoon, their investigation was continuing.
“We have a team of state fire marshals at the scene, and we are trying to determine the origin (starting point) and cause of the fire,” said Sr. Deputy State Fire Marshal Oliver J. Alkire, who serves as an agency spokesman and a fire detective.
Alkire was among the MOSFM fire detectives on scene. He and his specially-trained scent dog had been dispatched to assist in the investigation, Alkire told the Cecil Whig.
“This is standard operating procedure. It was done for precautionary reasons, due to the high dollar amount of damage to the structure,” Alkire commented, explaining why a K-9 unit was dispatched to the scene.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, investigators still were trying to pinpoint where the fire started and determine what caused it.
ELKTON — When Mindy Polansky started teaching in 1991, she couldn’t have imagined how her thirtieth year would begin — not in the classroom, but connecting with students virtually from a webcam in her basement. In the early days, her classroom had one computer, which students used to play Oregon Trail during breaks between lessons.
But with most Cecil County Public Schools (CCPS) students starting the school year remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Polansky did her best to replicate the look and feel of her typical classroom as a way to get students — and herself — in the learning mindset.
“I needed to feel like I was in a classroom in order to be able to communicate that to my students,” she said. “I hope it gives them that feel of transporting them into a classroom and knowing that here we are to learn, and Mrs. Polansky is going to take care of you.”
Polansky is a third grade teacher at Holly Hall Elementary School. While she had the option to go into school and reach her students virtually from her classroom, she decided to work remotely because her son is autoimmune compromised.
Despite starting the year amid such unexpected circumstances, Polansky is staying positive.
“Every year brings something different,” she said. “I try to reframe things, so if something happens and it’s not what I wanted to happen, I scream out, ‘Plot twist!’”
Still, preparing her classroom is part of getting ready for the upcoming year, and Polansky wanted to recapture the spirit of being in school. She explained that her husband helped outfit their basement room, using furniture from around the house to create a desk.
She brought some supplies from school to recreate her classroom. She has a ‘throne’ where she sits when she’s reading to the class. She uses a vowel wall to help students learn reading. She uses props, such as a big globe, to help them stay visually engaged. In setting up her home classroom, Polansky only spent her own money on a cart and a magnetic whiteboard.
“I wanted to create a culture of learning, even if it’s from my basement,” she said. “I knew I wanted to have some things from my physical classroom in my virtual classroom so that when we do go back into the classroom, it’s a seamless transition.”
Polansky said she’s excited to be seeing her students and is adapting to new technology to form connections with them. She described herself as a bitmoji addict, and said she has students use emojis or update their online statuses to make lessons more interactive.
“The heart of any learning experience is that connection, that relationship,” she said. “I make sure I use their names throughout the lesson. When they turn in their work, I put little comments on it so that they know that even though I’m not physically there with them, I’m emotionally there for them.”
She commended Holly Hall’s second grade teachers, who abruptly shifted to online learning mid-semester in the spring. Her kids, she said, are familiar with how to use technology. Still, she misses being able to see them in-person.
“I’m very big at looking at body language,” she said. “I like to read the room when I’m in a classroom, so this is the one challenge I’ve had — not being able to see all my students at one time.”
In some lessons, like reading, the in-person aspect is even more crucial.
“With my students who don’t have a strong foundation, they need to really be able to see my mouth, the position of my tongue and my teeth so that they know how to accurately make the sounds and then connect them,” she said. “It’s really important that I have a good camera.”
As CCPS considers plans for a broader reopening as early as next month, Polansky said she’s ready to get back into the classroom. She’ll set an example for students, wearing her mask and washing her hands thoroughly.
She said her journey through education has prepared her for this year.
“All the things that guided my instruction for the past bazillion years — it’s not going to change just because I’m online,” she said. “I just love a puzzle. I love a good challenge.”
As Polansky continues to find new ways to reach students amid an ever-shifting pandemic, she’s doing her best to go with the flow. Plot twist!
ELKTON — Investigators confiscated a stolen handgun and more than 60 baggies containing suspect heroin mixed with fentanyl, leading to the arrests of three men, after a pat-down search by security staff at an Elkton-area bar prompted workers to tell authorities that at least one member of that group might be in possession of a firearm, according to Cecil County District Court records.
The investigation started at approximately 1:15 a.m. on Sunday, when security employees at The Wood in the 200 block of Fletchwood Road, northeast of Elkton, told Sgt. Michael Kalinsky of the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office that a “vehicle parked directly across from the establishment contained three (men) and what they believed to be a firearm,” police said.
Security workers explained that their suspicion was based on pat-downs they had conducted on the three men earlier at the bar, police added.
Kalinsky detained the three men at the vehicle until four fellow CCSO deputies arrived at the scene, where they then assisted him in the probable-cause search of the maroon Honda Civic that the suspects had occupied, court records show.
During the search, investigators found a 9mm Ruger handgun, which was inside a blue and white cloth bag labeled “Brandywine Class of 2020, according to charging documents, which further allege that the bag containing the firearm was in the center of the rear seats “within the lunge, reach and grasp” of all three suspects.
A serial number check on the seized weapon by investigators revealed that the handgun had been reported stolen in Wilmington, Del., court records allege.
Also found inside that cloth bag were 63 blue wax paper folds holding suspect heroin/fentanyl and $391, all of which were contained in a cellophane bag, police reported.
Investigators arrested the three suspects, whom they identified as Phillip Ray Battle, 26; Shaheed Jayron Cooper, 19; and Amir Davon Young, also 19, according to court records. Battle and Young are Wilmington, Del. residents, and Cooper lives in Chester, Pa., court records show.
While one of the deputies drove Young from the arrest scene to CCSO headquarters near Elkton for processing, Young made an “excited utterance” in which he identified himself as the “sole owner” of the cellophane baggie containing the suspect heroin/fentanyl, court records allege.
The suspects are facing the same three charges, including possession of heroin/fentanyl with intent to distribute, which is a felony, and possession of a stolen firearm, according to court records.
As of Monday night, the three men remained in the Cecil County Detention Center after their bail review hearings earlier that day, court records show. Young and Battle were held without bond, while Cooper remained incarcerated in lieu of $25,000 bond, according to court records, which indicate that the three defendants are scheduled for Oct. 7 preliminary hearings.