PORT DEPOSIT — Although the charter does not require it, Mayor Wayne Tome decided to resign from his town leadership to focus on his new position as director of the Cecil County Department of Emergency Services.
“I could wear two hats but I didn’t want anything to distract me from my new role,” Tome said. He’s been mayor of Port Deposit this time around for 11 years. Tome noted this was the third time he has stepped down from the town board.
“I had to resign from the council to run for mayor and I had to resign as mayor to run for the county,” he said. Tome was a Cecil County Commissioner from Dec. 2006 through Dec. 2010.
Tome was appointed to DES by Danielle Hornberger, county executive, last month.
Tome’s last day as mayor is Jan. 7. He ran his final town meeting Jan. 5. Tome retired last month from the Baltimore County Fire Department where he served more than 37 years. He said taking the county DES leadership is part of his life of community service, which for the Port Deposit native includes a lifetime of service with the Water Witch Fire Company.
With 11 recent years as mayor closing behind him, Tome looked at what he accomplished such as cleaning up the town and encouraging — or in some cases forcing — property owners to care.
“We worked on abandoned structures and we were able to get some out of the way,” he said. “We started a tax sale relationship with the county to get some of these properties back on the tax rolls.”
The momentum is also there for infill development.
“We are well on our way to get some infill on Main Street,” he said, adding an annexation along Race Street could go the same direction.
Left undone on his watch is the Granite Cliffs Development, about which many in the waterfront town are concerned because of the possibility of stormwater run off creating even more flooding in a town already flood prone.
“We still have concerns ... where does that (water) go and make sure that run off doesn’t effect the town negatively,” he said. The Maryland State Highway Administration project that was supposed to fix much of the storm surge flooding in Port Deposit stalled two years ago when a contractor ran into Port Deposit’s famous granite and mysterious asbestos pipes underground.
“Influence comes from an individual. It doesn’t matter if it’s a businessman or an elected official,” Tome said, indicating that perhaps Hornberger could push the SHA to come back to the project.
“She said she wants to work with every municipality. It’ll be on her radar,” Tome said.
He’s also eager to see what will happen with the Bainbridge property, especially the remaining Tome School buildings, once he leaves town hall.
“I would like to see memorial Hall and the Headmaster’s House go back to as original on the exterior as possible,” he said. “I’d like to preserve those two iconic buildings.”
Getting Port Deposit into a position of financial stability is one of his proudest accomplishments. With that, the town has set in motion the re-emergence of its own police department.
“With the part time chief (Susan Smith) we have intel on what’s going on in town and she interfaces with the (Cecil County) sheriff’s office,” he said. He credits Smith with taking action to get rid of abandoned vehicles, cleaning properties and keeping people from parking on the sidewalks among other annoyances.
“It’s not the most glamorous job but it’s the aesthetic feel of a clean community,” Tome said. “She makes people accountable for their junk.”
It’s also carried over to the town’s public works employees, he noted. That community cleanliness includes picking up trash, clearing weeds and mowing grass. And the sense of community also means helping where needed.
“We help the seniors in our community,” he said. In cases where they want to clean up the property but are physically or financially unable Tome said Smith takes the time to learn the situation and respond accordingly. It’s something he’s wanted to see more of in Port Deposit.
“It’s all about service to the community and the residents,” he said.
Port Deposit Councilman Bob Kuhs is the deputy mayor, however Tome said the council would probably choose among themselves who would ascend to the mayor’s seat. He expected that to happen at the Tuesday night town meeting. That mayor would finish Tome’s term to May 2023.
The upcoming town election in May would seat three of the four council members, with the lowest vote getter among the three winners serving only two years instead of four. That will reset the election cycle for four council members, instead of the previous six member slate.