Hawaiian-Clad Council Praises Fourth of July Organizers and City Employees
The mayor and City Council members thanked city employees and volunteers for Fourth of July efforts, as well as conducted other city business.
It may have been the warm weather or the long holiday weekend, but something inspired members of the Havre de Grace City Council to don flowered Hawaiian shirts during Tuesday night's City Council meeting.
Mayor Wayne H. Dougherty was alone in sporting standard business attire.
Council President Bill Martin was quick to point out that the council meant no disrespect to their elected offices by wearing the flowered shirts. He said they were simply exercising their freedoms in honor of Independence Day.
And Independence Day was the topic of much discussion during the meeting, mostly in the form of accolades for those who organized last Sunday's parade and fireworks, but also addressing the communication breakdown. Many spectators missed the fireworks after police told them they were were canceled due to an incoming storm. However, the fireworks were launched, just a half-hour or so behind schedule.
Several members of the Independence Day Committee sat in the audience during Tuesday night's meeting as Dougherty addressed committee member Carolyn Narvell.
"I know sometimes you think you won, but then you're questioning yourselves afterwards," he said, adding that she and the committee did a wonderful job with the event planning despite the upset surrounding the fireworks.
The mayor then read into record an official statement from the city about the fireworks.
Police Chief Teresa Walter thanked city staff who supported the weekend events, saying "they did a phenomenal job." She also thanked surrounding police agencies who supported Havre de Grace during Sunday's festivities.
Walter acknowledged Havre de Grace resident Justin Dixon, who rented two light pole towers used by police Sunday night.
"They did such a great job helping us light up the area once it started to get dark," she said, noting Dixon also rented the light towers to help police last year.
Councilman Randy Craig said he was impressed by the cheerful demeanor of city employees who worked Sunday's events.
"Everyone I met was smiling and getting the job done," he said.
Martin said he was impressed by the size of the parade, and particularly the band from Ontario, Canada.
"It is an amazing logistical marvel how we are able to get thousands of people into our town, and that's not even counting the people in the parade," Martin said, commending the work of the city employees and police who control what he estimated was 30,000-40,000 people.
Councilman John Corerri said he has heard nothing but positive feedback about First Friday and all of the summer events taking place in the park.
Councilwoman Barbara Wagner expressed how much fun she had participating in her first parade since being elected.
"I hope I waved to everyone—I tried," she said, thanking her husband, George, and her grandson for supporting her in the parade.
Wagner said she visited the new "teen room" in the Havre de Grace library last Friday and was impressed by the design and construction, which was all completed by local teenagers.
She said the room is open to anyone between the ages of 13 and 19, and she encouraged local teens to stop in and check it out, noting there are video games, movies and books.
With the help of Havre de Grace resident and public transportation advocate Kevin Racine, Wagner shared some "green" driving tips, which she said could help residents save money during the recession. The tips included removing "junk from your trunk" since taking weight out of your car can improve gas mileage, checking your tires to be sure they are fully inflated, change your oil, tighten your fuel cap, and when on the road she said to slow down, avoid aggressive driving and use cruise control to save up to 11 cents per gallon.
Councilman Jim Miller said he had contacted the state and requested a traffic study be completed at the intersection Ontario and Ohio Streets. Miller said he thought if the state studied the traffic flow, it may realize there are a lot of accidents at the location. He said the report that came back indicated there were not an "appropriate" number of accidents for the location to be considered a problem.
He said the study did reveal that a sign is missing from the location to indicate the road name, so one would be erected. Miller sarcastically quipped that at least now people who are involved in accidents at the intersection will be able to tell the ambulance which street they're on.
Miller also mentioned the use of low-speed vehicles as an option for Havre de Grace residents, saying he discovered they are street legal in Maryland and could provide an alternative transportation option during the recession.
Addressing the Maryland Municipal League (MML) Convention in Ocean City, Councilman Fred Cullum said he thought it was a worthwhile event for all who attended, and important networking took place among elected officials.
"At least this way we won't have to reinvent the wheel every time we come across something," Cullum said.
Cullum also said a new trash and recycling calendar will be coming to residents in the mail, and should be reviewed since the pickup schedule will change beginning Aug. 1. Patch will post the new schedule when it becomes available.
Director of Planning Neal Mills said a report required by the state each year from all planning commissions within Maryland was submitted by the July 1 deadline, and a copy of that report is available to the public. It can be requested from the planning department. He also noted that property tax bills have been mailed out to residents.
Deputy Director of Public Works Bill Reeder reiterated there will be smoke testing of the sewer lines throughout the city, and residents should be aware. He also said a streetscape project is under way in the 400 block of St. John Street and will look much like the streetscape that has been completed on other blocks downtown. He expects the project to be complete by the next First Friday event.
Reeder said all notifications have been made to residents and construction has begun on a water connection at Lewis Lane and Route 40.
The council unanimously approved a license agreement for The Snowball Experience, and a special event called the "Greater Faith Community Jamboree," sponsored by Greater Faith Christian Center, on Sept. 3 at 5 p.m.
Walter said she wanted to make residents aware that August is typically the month with the highest rate of vehicle fatalities in Maryland, and the police department will be focusing on traffic stops dealing with speed, driving under the influence and seatbelt violations at night, the main contributors to the high summer fatality rate.
Corerri said the city's Public Safety Committee will be meeting next Tuesday, and more details will follow.
Miller reminded residents that his daughter's cat is still missing and asked that people keep an eye out for a grey cat with black spots. It was last seen around Lewis and Market streets.
The meeting was adjourned approximately 30 minutes after it began Tuesday night when the mayor jokingly tapped his gavel and said, "Aloha."