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Elkton discusses future for housing authority

Editor’s Note: This is part two of a story that began in last Friday’s edition of the Cecil Whig.

ELKTON — Following last week’s Elkton Mayor and Commissioners meeting, the consensus was that the town needs to appoint two additional members to the Elkton Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners to allow the board to be able to take actions relating to proposed developments at Rudy Park. Commissioners also discussed the long-term viability of the authority and whether the town should turn the housing authority over to the county.

Currently, the authority’s board only has three members, and according to David Holden of The Ingerman Group, which is working with the housing authority and the town to renovate Rudy Park, the lack of members is keeping the board from functioning as it should be.

Holden said that there is $20 million in financing for the Rudy Park project, but there have been a couple of snags in the project. He said that the plan is for the project to be completed in two phases and added that the project must be completed by the end of 2022, which means the time is of the essence to be able to do the things necessary to move the project forward in order to have it completed within that timeframe. Holden noted that the lack of a fully functioning board is one of the things holding up the project.

According to LuCinda Herrera with the EHA, the housing authority was created under the town’s authority, and as such is the town’s responsibility to appoint board members. She said the board is supposed to have five members to be able to properly function.

During the discussion at last Wednesday’s Mayor and Commissioners meeting, Herrera also discussed with town officials issues relating to the housing authority’s financial viability in the future. Herrera said that when the Rudy Park transaction with Ingerman closes, the housing authority will no longer receive funding for that property. Originally the authority received funding for The Willows at Windsor, Birchwood at Main and Rudy Park, but now only receives funding for Rudy Park as the other two projects have already been turned over to Ingerman for management purposes.

Herrera said the authority’s funding will consist solely of housing choice vouchers following the transfer of Rudy Park, which she noted is a very minimal amount that would not support the expenses of the housing authority.

She said that the town may want to enter into an agreement with Cecil County to manage the housing authority once that happens as the county currently has its own voucher program.

Elkton Mayor Rob Alt said he, “never figured out what we have done with the housing authority other than appoint board members.”

At one point during the meeting, Alt asked what would happen if the town simply eliminated the housing authority. Herrera noted that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban development would then make a decision on who would manage the housing choice vouchers.

Commissioner Jean Broomell suggested that the town might want to continue with the housing authority and use it in the future as a tool for potential redevelopment at Hollingsworth Manor.

After additional discussion, Alt asked Town Administrator Lewis George to come back to the town with recommendations. Alt said he was in favor of turning the housing authority over to the county, noting he had never been a big fan of the town being responsible for the authority.

Ultimately it was decided that George would come up with potential appointees for the two empty EHA board seats and present those names to the mayor and commissioners for approval as a short term fix to the issues brought up by Holden.

With the back of the SUV loaded full of gifts, courtesy of Lodge 34 of the Fraternal Order of Police, Courtney Bednarek and her children, Brian, 9 and Elizabeth, 7, stop to pose with Santa Claus.

Elizabeth Mumpower, 7, is all smiles as Santa reads her name from a present that came from his pack.

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Stuck at home for the holidays? Check out these library-recommended reads

ELKTON — With many holiday traditions on hold this year, including taking trips to see friends and family, it may be time to revisit an ancient, powerful and decidedly underrated form of travel during your homebound holiday quarantine — reading.

Cecil County Public Library curates an annual list of recommended reads, which it shares early on in the holiday season to give patrons gift ideas. In a normal year, they would set up displays in each branch, creating cute gift tags describing the books, outlining the type of readers they might be suited for, suggesting similar titles and authors.

With most in-person service out of commission at the moment, library staff focused on sharing book recommendations online. Megan Coleman, an adult services library associate at the Rising Sun branch, curated the recommendations this year.

“I tried to pick some different ones so we’d have a variety for a broad audience,” Coleman said. “What we’re trying to do with the library is have something for everyone.”

For frustrated travel-addicts, Coleman recommends Rudy’s Rules for Travel: Life Lessons from Around the Globe by Mary K. Jensen, a short but fun read chock-full of stories about a couple with very different personalities and approaches to travel.

“It’s as much about the trips that this couple takes as their relationship with each other,” Coleman said. “If there are people out there who are missing travel, this would definitely be a great book.”

Another topical read might be The Best Cook in the World: Tales from my Momma’s Table by Rick Bragg, an ‘ode to food and family’ with delicious Southern-style fixin’s and tales of family drama that will tug at the heartstrings.

Coleman said it brought back her own memories of good food and family tradition, and seemed like an appropriate pick for the time of year.

“I spend time in the kitchen with my mom and grandmother learning how to cook those dishes that are considered family favorites,” she said. “Those are the things you remember from your childhood.”

She also included a debut novel, Shiner by Amy Jo Burns, a coming-of-age story set in beautiful Appalachia. Highlighting work from up-and-coming authors is an important way to support those writers while also helping readers explore.

“It’s a really good thing for us to champion those debut novels, because they’re not necessarily getting the same amount of press,” she said. “We can help people along to find new authors.”

None of Coleman’s 2020 recommendations feature stories set in 2020 itself — she suspects, based on conversations with writers and readers, that it’s still too soon to delve into the significance of the pandemic turmoil.

“I’m very interested to see what’s going to happen, where we’re going to go in the future,” she said. “We’ll see.”

She encouraged readers to seek recommendations from library staff, saying that they will often try to match a reader’s interests and preferences with the best options for that individual. It’s satisfying, she said, to know that a reader enjoys a library-recommended book.

“We want to find you a book that you’re going to connect with, that is going to be really meaningful to you,” she said. “I also personally see it as a challenge. So we found something you like — can we find you something else?”

Many readers may take a break over the holidays to settle down with a book for the first time this year — and that’s okay. It’s never too late to start reading. And for anyone who gets addicted and wants to keep it up, Coleman recommends they check out the library’s Winter Reading Program, where readers can take on challenges and enter to win raffle prizes.

To see more recommendations, to check out books or to learn more about the Winter Reading Program, visit cecilcountylibrary.org.

Courtney Bednarek reads the engraving on a “Thin Blue Line” bracelet that was given to her by Santa Claus from the members of FOP Lodge 34. Her late husband, Gregory Bednarek, was a 19-year veteran of the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

Peggy Smith, Jean Kutcher and Peggy Dillner — all members of local chapters of Dining for Women — sit at a table on Dillner’s back porch Wednesday.

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Elkton traffic stop nets methamphetamine, heroin, one arrest

ELKTON — A man remained jailed on Tuesday after investigators confiscated suspect heroin and approximately a half-ounce of suspect methamphetamine from him during a traffic stop near Elkton, according to Cecil County District Court records.

Investigators identified the suspect as Lance D. Larson, 35, of the 2000 block of Oldfield Point Road, southwest of Elkton.

Deputy Nathan Cryder of the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office stopped a car driven by Larson at approximately 11 p.m. on Thursday in the 600 block of West Pulaski Highway (Route 40) because the license plate on the vehicle had expired and because a computer check revealed that the plate “did not belong on the vehicle,” police reported.

Other computer checks revealed that Larson’s driver’s license is suspended and that he was wanted on two active arrest warrants, according to police.

Based on that information, Cryder arrested Larson and handcuffed him, police said. While conducting a pat-down search on Larson, police added, the deputy found two hypodermic needles inside the suspect’s pants pocket.

Cryder then found a large ziplock bag holding 14 blue wax papers containing suspect heroin mixed with fentanyl while searching Larson’s jacket, in addition to six plastic baggies holding approximately 13 grams of suspect methamphetamine, police reported. There are about 14 grams on a half-ounce.

The deputy also found seven blue and white wrappers bearing a “Suboxone” stamp, court records allege.

“Deputy Cryder observed that the manner in which the (illegal drugs) was packaged was in sufficient quantity to indicate the intent to sell/distribute and not for personal use,” according to charging documents, which further allege, “A probable-cause search of the vehicle yielded several ziplock bags consistent with the packaging of the (illegal drugs) that was located.”

Scheduled for a Jan. 15 preliminary hearing, Larson is facing 10 criminal charges, of which five are felonies, including possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and possession of heroin with intent to distribute, court records show.

Larson remained in the Cecil County Detention without bond on Friday afternoon, after his bail review hearing earlier that day, according to court records.

Members of Bobbie Ann's Dance Troupe perform a number from the musical "Hairspray."

On behalf of the Rising Sun Chamber of Commerce, Norman Hunter presents the 2020 Business of the Year Award Friday to Jim Gibney and Gerry Knotts for Sue’s Restaurant.


Ashton Hozia Stroud

In this Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020 photo made available by NASA, Saturn, top, and Jupiter, below, are seen after sunset from Shenandoah National Park in Luray, Va. The two planets are drawing closer to each other in the sky as they head towards a “great conjunction” on Monday, Dec. 21, where the two giant planets will appear a tenth of a degree apart. (Bill Ingalls/NASA via AP)

Space Planets Merge