Maryland Releases Total Roadway Deaths for 2016

Share

Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) Secretary Pete K. Rahn today joined top law enforcement officials and traffic-safety advocates to issue a call-to-action to eliminate highway fatalities in Maryland.  Preliminary data collected by MDOT indicates that in 2016, 523 people died in traffic crashes on the state’s roads, up from the 521 who died in 2015.  Across the nation, preliminary numbers from the National Safety Council show roadway fatalities rose by more than six percent last year to more than 40,000 total.

“Every life lost is an avoidable tragedy,” said Transportation Secretary Rahn. “We are counting on you to take responsibility for your life and the life of everyone in your car.  Don’t start the car until everyone buckles up. Your life depends on it.”

Over the last two years, from 2014 to 2016, people drove two billion more miles on Maryland roads due to low gas prices and other economic factors.  Maryland continues to work hard to make our highways safer by strengthening and enforcing traffic laws, funding roadway improvements, and educating Marylanders about the role they play in highway safety.

Today’s announcement is part of a statewide effort to highlight the ongoing implementation of Maryland’s five-year Strategic Highway Safety Plan (SHSP), which brings together federal, state, and local partners and stakeholders to reduce roadway fatalities by 50 percent in the next two decades.

“About 91 percent of drivers and passengers wear their seat belts on our roads,” said MDOT Motor Vehicle Administrator and Governor Hogan’s Highway Safety Representative Christine Nizer. “However, if we were able to obtain 100 percent seatbelt usage, 60 people killed in fatal crashes in 2016 would be alive and be with their families today.”

The SHSP addresses some of the most serious roadway safety concerns, including: preventing impaired, distracted, and aggressive driving; increasing seatbelt use; and improving conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists. The summit highlighted solutions to building a traffic-safety culture in Maryland.

The Hogan Administration has made reducing impaired driving a priority.  On May 19, 2016, Governor Larry Hogan signed Noah’s Law,which took effect October 1.  Noah’s Law mandates the use of an ignition interlock for those convicted of drunk driving and significantly increases administrative driver’s license suspension periods.  An ignition interlock is a device that prevents a vehicle from starting when it detects a certain level of alcohol on the driver’s breath and requires the driver to retest at random points while they are driving.

MDOT and its partners reminded drivers to “make a plan” before any trip:

Have a safe and sober ride. Use a designated driver, call a cab or ride share, or use public transportation.
Park the phone before you drive. Distractions lead to more than 28,000 injuries per year in Maryland.
Always buckle up! It’s the single most important way to save your life in a crash.
ADAPT your driving behavior. Leave a little early. You won’t feel the need to speed or drive aggressively.
Look twice for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists, especially when changing lanes or approaching an intersection.
Use crosswalks and bike lanes. Be visible on the road. Wear bright clothing, and cross where drivers expect to see you.
Move over when approaching an emergency vehicle or tow truck using visual signals. If you are unable to move over, slow down.

“Our motorists need to do the simple things like buckling up, always driving sober, and never driving distracted,” stated MDTA Police Chief Colonel Jerry Jones. “When that doesn’t happen, officers are writing tickets or worse, responding to a deadly crash. Our traffic laws are in place to save lives.”

Learn more about the MDOT Highway Safety Office’s Toward Zero Deaths campaign at towardzerodeathsmd.com/, on Facebook at @towardzerodeathsmd, on Twitter at @tzd_maryland, and on Instagram at twdzerodeaths_md.  For the latest MDOT News, follow us on twitter @MDOTNews and #MDOTNews.

IMF Director Christine Lagarde to Address WC Grads in May

Share

College President Sheila Bair today announced that Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), will give the Commencement Address at Washington College’s 234th Commencement on May 20. An international leader and a trailblazer who has repeatedly transcended barriers in male-dominated fields, Lagarde will receive an honorary degree, Doctor of Laws.

“I am thrilled that our seniors will have the opportunity to hear Christine Lagarde speak at their graduation,” says President Bair. “She has long been a role model for young women who aspire to achieve beyond the artificially imposed, but very real, boundaries of gender in many professions. But her accomplishments as a leader in the law, in international monetary policy, and in promoting economic stability as a way to encourage cooperation between nations, clearly eclipse gender and serve as an inspiration to all.”
Appointed to lead the IMF in 2011 and re-elected to a second term in 2016, Lagarde has guided the institution through some of the world’s most challenging economic times in recent history. From 2007-2011, Lagarde served as Finance Minister of France, becoming the first woman to serve as finance minister for any large advanced economy.
In 2016, she was named one of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People.” In the accompanying profile, U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen wrote, “Christine was central to the effort to stabilize Greece’s economy and prevent a wider crisis in Europe. She has spurred economic reform in emerging nations like China that have appropriately gained more of a voice at the IMF. She has also given the IMF a more human face by addressing issues like gender and income inequality and public-health threats like the Ebola virus.”
An accomplished lawyer, Lagarde was the first female chairman of the Chicago-based international law firm Baker and McKenzie. In 2009, the Financial Times named her “Best Finance Minister” in the Eurozone, and Forbes magazine named her the ninth most powerful woman in the world.

Created in 1945 at a United Nations conference, the IMF’s main purpose is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system while working to promote global stability through monetary cooperation, encourage economic growth, and reduce global poverty.

Washington College’s 234th Commencement begins at 10:30 a.m. on May 20 and will be held on the Campus Green, weather permitting.

Author of the Immortals’ Story to Speak at Historical Society’s Meeting

Share

The Historical Society of Kent County is collaborating with Maryland chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR) to gather information about the Maryland 400. These Marylanders, “gentlemen of honour, family and fortune” who became known as “The Immortals,” are credited with protecting the Continental Army in a battle that could have ended the American Revolution almost at its start.

That battle was fought in August, 1776, when the British attacked the patriot army that had been holding Brooklyn Heights. With fierce and repeated bayonet charges, the Maryland regiment prevented the British from crossing the East River into lower Manhattan and enabled the Continental Army to retreat and survive. The Battle of Brooklyn felled 256 of the Maryland 400, but its leaders regrouped and, along with battalions from Delaware and fresh recruits from Maryland, went on to fight in most of the key battles of the Revolutionary War. These included Trenton, Stony Point, Camden, Cowpens, Guilford Courthouse and Yorktown.

The Historical Society and SAR are seeking anyone who has relatives who served in, or fought alongside, the Maryland 400. The organizations want to gather both family stories and artifacts, such as letters and objects, related to that Maryland regiment and those battles.

On April 27, the bestselling military historian Patrick K. O’Donnell will speak to the Annual Meeting dinner of the Historical Society about the Maryland 400. Mr. O’Donnell’s 2016 book, Washington’s Immortals: The Untold Story of an Elite Regiment Who Changed the Course of the Revolution, was recently named one of the 100 Best American Revolution Books of All Timeby the Journal of the American Revolution.

Mr. O’Donnell will be joined by Major General James A. Adkins (ret.), Eastern Shore native and Washington College graduate, who in 2015 completed his 40-year U.S. Army career serving as Adjutant General of the Maryland National Guard. General Adkins will discuss the Sons of the American Revolution effort, which he is leading, to reclaim and do justice to the memory of the Immortals.

Anyone who has information about the Maryland 400 or is interested in attending the Society’s Annual Meeting dinner may call or email the Society president, Stephen Frohock at the Society, 410-778-3499, or director@kentcountyhistory.org

Survey Finds Bay Crab Population Strong with Record Number Of Females

Share

Boosted in part by a record number of female blue crabs, the Bay’s crab population remained strong through the winter — something scientists say bodes well both for the crustaceans and those who catch and love to eat them.

Overall, the annual winter dredge survey conducted by Maryland and Virginia estimated that the Bay held 455 million crabs, a decrease from last year’s tally of 553 million. Most of the drop was attributed to a falloff in juvenile crab numbers, which are both more variable and harder to survey.

But survey results released Wednesday showed that the number of female crabs — which have been the focus of conservation efforts for nearly a decade — reached 254 million, a 31 percent increase over last year, and their highest level in the survey’s 28-year history.

As a result, fishery managers expect solid harvests this spring and into early summer, buoyed by the large number of adult crabs from last year. But they warn that the low number of juveniles “recruiting” into the overall population may require some harvest restrictions when the young crabs start reaching market size later this year.

“I’m pretty confident the stock is solid,” said Rom Lipcius, of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, who helps oversee the annual survey. “But we need to be careful. We can’t just open up the fishery and stuff, especially with what appears to be lower recruitment.”

The survey, conducted in the winter when crabs are normally dormant on the bottom, is a closely watched indicator of the status of the Bay’s most valuable fishery. State fishery managers typically tweak catch levels, both up and down, based on the results compiled by VIMS and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

For instance, the states imposed catch restrictions to reduce the Baywide harvest 10 percent in 2014, when the survey revealed the number of females had sharply dropped. But managers have also eased restrictions when the crabs are found to be more plentiful, as they did last year.

While there have been ups and downs from year to year, survey data show that blue crab abundance has trended upward overall since 2008, when scientists warned the population was dangerously close to collapse. Maryland and Virginia acted together then to impose harvest limits on female crabs, allowing more to survive and reproduce.

Though the total number of crabs was down in this year’s survey, compared to last year, it was still the third highest since 2008.

Harvests have rebounded as well. An estimated 60 million crabs were caught Baywide last year, up from 50 million in 2015, and the record-low of 35 million a year earlier.

“I feel optimistic in the grand scheme of things,” said John M.R. Bull, commissioner of the Virginian Marine Resources Commission. “The trend line is that the stock has improved, and the harvest has improved at the same time.”

This year was the second time since 2008 when the number of female crabs exceeded the Bay target of 215 million recommended by scientists. It was only the third time in the history of the winter dredge survey that it had exceeded that mark.

“The good news is we’ve got a bunch of momma crabs out there,” said Robert T. Brown, president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association. “Hopefully, they hatch out good.”

Watermen in some areas have been reporting catching a lot of female crabs, Brown said, to the point that some are shifting their gear to try to find more males.

One concern voiced by scientists and fishery managers was the relative dearth of young crabs in the survey. The 125 million baby crabs estimated this winter was the lowest since 2013, and the second lowest since 2007.

Scientists cautioned that the juvenile numbers have the highest level of uncertainty in the survey because the small crabs sometimes move into shallow water where they are hard to find.

Other factors can contribute to wide swings in juvenile numbers, Lipcius said. Juveniles spend the first several weeks of their lives drifting in the ocean after they are spawned, and weather conditions greatly affect the number that return to the Bay. Those that return can suffer heavy predation from fish, and even cannibalism from adult crabs.

“One low year of [juvenile] crabs is not by itself a danger sign,” said Tom Miller, a fisheries scientist and director of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. But, Miller cautioned, two years in a row of low numbers would be cause for concern.

Fishery managers in both states said they may consider action to protect seemingly sparse juveniles, perhaps by curbing catches later this fall and next spring when they reach market size. That would increase the chances that more of them would survive to reproduce and support future harvests.

“We need to be prepared for the challenges ahead of us as it relates to the juveniles,” said Mike Luisi, assistant director of fisheries and boating services with the Maryland DNR. “We want to make sure that we’re not overharvesting on that lower abundance.”

Matt Ogburn, a fisheries scientist who works with blue crabs at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater, MD, said the fact that crab numbers have generally risen in recent years, along with harvests, offers “a good example of how fairly conservative management actions can actually lead to increases in the fishery.”

“As short-lived as they are, blue crab populations can decline very quickly if you’re not careful,” Ogburn said. “But they can also come back quickly if you are conservative about the management. And I think the last decade has proven that out.”

Nonetheless, those decisions can be difficult. A longtime crab manager with the Maryland DNR, Brenda Davis, was fired earlier this year after a group of Eastern Shore watermen complained about her unwillingness to ease crab harvest rules. The firing prompted outrage, and a legislative hearing in Annapolis.

“It’s almost more difficult, scientifically, to manage a rebounding fishery,” said Miller, “because it’s a question of how much is enough . . . if we change the regulations, how much is that going to impact the harvest?”

The winter dredge survey has been conducted annually since 1990 by scientists in Maryland and Virginia, who tally crabs dredged from the bottom at 1,500 sites across the Bay from December through March — when they are buried in mud and stationary. Historically, the survey has provided an accurate snapshot of crab abundance, and is the primary tool for assessing the health of the crab stock.

Karl Blankenship is editor of the Bay Journal and executive director of Chesapeake Media Service. He has served as editor of the Bay Journal since its inception in 1991.

Timothy B. Wheeler is managing editor and project writer for the Bay Journal. He has more than two decades of experience covering the environment for the Baltimore Sun and other media outlets.

Pam Ortiz to Speak at The League of Women Voters Annual Meeting

Share

The League of Women Voters of Kent County will hold its annual meeting at Emmanuel Church Parish Hall at 101 Cross Street Chestertown on April 27, 2017.  Luncheon will be served at 11:30 followed by a presentation by Pam Ortiz entitled “Access to Justice in a Digital Democracy” at 12:30.  The League will hold its annual business meeting following the presentation.  The public is invited to attend the presentation.  For reservations call 410-810-1883.

Book Sale at Chestertown Branch of KCPL

Share

Book lovers and bargain hunters — The Friends of the Kent County Public Library are holding their semi-annual book sale. You’ll find collectible, new, and gently used books, DVDs, audiobooks and more. In addition to our low priced items, we have a new selection of specials which might be just what the mom, dad or grad you’re looking for would love!

You’ll find us at the Chestertown Branch of the Kent County Public Library at 408 High Street at the following dates and times:

• Thursday, April 27, 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. – Members’ Night
Non-members may join the FOL at the door for only $10 per person / $20 per family.
Light snacks and beverages will be served.
• Friday, April 28, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. – First Friday
• Saturday, April 29, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
• Sunday, April 30, 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. – Box Day!
Take home a box for $5! You bring the box and fill it up so we don’t have to pack the books away! Special books and items are half price.

We accept cash or checks. All proceeds benefit the Kent County Public Library by subsidizing the purchase of new books, helping to make needed upgrades, and supporting community outreach programs.

For more information about the sale, our organization or how to volunteer, visit www.friendsofthekcpl.org, e-mail saunderscynthia@gmail.com or find us on Facebook!

Outdoor Sunrise Easter Service Planned at Retreat House Hillsboro

Share

Holy Week will be observed at The Retreat House at Hillsboro with several events, ending with an outdoor sunrise service on Easter Sunday at 6:30 a.m. The Retreat House is on the grounds of historic St. Paul’s Church, part of the Episcopal Diocese of Easton.

Good Friday, April 14, will be commemorated from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. with “Sacred Silence.” For those who wish to walk the labyrinth or sit in silence, the Retreat House grounds and St. Paul’s Church will be open. At 5:00 p.m. a traditional one-hour service will be held observing the liturgy of Good Friday, led by the Reverend Marianne Ell.

On Holy Saturday, April 15, a 7:30 p.m. service will be held in the church to mark the beginning of the Easter Vigil. Known as “Waiting and Watching,” the service includes the telling of sacred stories of the Christian faith, followed by time for silent prayer and meditation.

Easter Sunday’s Sunrise Service will be held in the churchyard with the kindling of a sacred fire, a blessing of the paschal candle and Eucharist. After the service, a potluck breakfast will be held in the Retreat House. All are welcome to attend any of the functions.

Located on the grounds of historic St. Paul’s Church at 22005 Church Street, Hillsboro, Maryland, the Retreat House is open for group retreats and meetings, individual hermitages, meditation and any who seek a spiritual connection. A traditional Chartres-style walking labyrinth is always open for walking and prayer. The Retreat House at Hillsboro is a ministry of the Diocese of Easton, MD. For more information contact Francie Thayer, Director, at (410) 364-7042, info@retreathouse.org, or visit us on Facebook.com/RetreatHouseAtHillsboro.

Writer and Scholar Jonathan Rauch at Washington College April 19

Share

Jonathan Rauch, a contributing editor at The Atlantic and National Journal, and a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution, will give a talk entitled “Unpresidented: Governing in the Age of Chaos,” on April 19 at Washington College.

The program, which begins at 5 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts, is sponsored by the College’s Richard Holstein Program in Ethics, which promotes ethics education in the classroom, across campus, and in the community. The talk is free and open to the public.

Rauch will discuss the first months of the Trump presidency and its implications for American politics. Rauch’s recent articles for The Atlantic include “Containing Trump” (March 2017), “What Obama Got Right” (December 2016), and “How American Politics Went Insane” (July/August 2016). Rauch is the author of five books on American politics and culture.

The deliberate misspelling of “unprecedented” in the talk’s title derives from a December tweet from then President-elect Trump in which he said, “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters—rips it out of water and takes it to China in unpresidented act.” The tweet was later resent with correct spelling, but the correction did little to lessen concerns about increased tensions between China and the U.S. over Trump’s rhetoric, even before he took office, about trade and policy toward Taiwan.

For more information, contact Michael Harvey, Director of the Richard Holstein Program in Ethics, mharvey2@washcoll.edu, 410-778-7889.

Current Threats to Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay

Share

Anna Wolgast, Executive Director of the Chester River Association

In Honor of Earth Day, on April 20, 2017, The Democratic Club of Kent County presents “Current Threats to our Chester River and the Chesapeake Bay-Can We Stop Them?”  Chestertown’s own Anna Wolgast, Executive Director of the Chester River Association (CRA) and former Environmental Protection Agency Deputy General Counsel of EPA and Appeals judge on EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board will share the proposals of the current administration and the impact on our local waterways.  Ms. Wolgast will discuss what the CRA is doing to combat the proposals and how concerned citizens can help.  She will also discuss additional efforts to improve water quality for the Chester and it’s tributaries being done by the Chester River Association.

The meeting takes place at JR’s Pub, 337 High Street in Chestertown.  Doors open at 5:30 pm, with the program starting at 7:00.