Category Archives: News

Governor Larry Hogan, Community Celebrate Completion of MD 404 Expansion on Maryland’s Eastern Shore November 20, 2017

MD Governor’s Office

11.3 Miles of Divided Highway between US 50 and the Denton Bypass

ANNAPOLIS, MD – November 20, 2017

Governor Larry Hogan was today joined by area residents, local business leaders, and officials to celebrate the long-awaited improvement of one of the Eastern Shore’s primary corridors – MD 404. The event included a ribbon cutting followed by the first cars driving on the much-anticipated new lanes. Under the Hogan administration’s landmark investment of an additional $2 billion in roads and bridges announced in June 2015, this $158 million project completed the upgrade of MD 404 from two lanes to a four-lane divided highway from US 50 to the Denton Bypass.

“For decades, improvements to this vital corridor were slow to move forward, and our administration heard your calls loud and clear,” said Governor Hogan. “With the completion of the MD 404 upgrade, our administration is proud to deliver on the number one priority for Queen Anne’s, Talbot, and Caroline counties – complete and a year and a half ahead of schedule.”

The 11.3 miles of the dualized MD 404 provide a direct route between US 50 and the Town of Denton. The project improved safety with a median that separates the eastbound and westbound sides, as well as four travel lanes instead of two. This project is a critical link – along with projects such as the Dover Bridge replacement, the Salisbury Bypass replacement, and US 113 widening – that connect residents to the Eastern Shore safely.

“This new and improved road is part of our system of systems to connect Marylanders safely to life’s opportunities,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn.

During peak summer travel, traffic dramatically increases when drivers head to the Maryland and Delaware beaches. Today, 16,400 vehicles each day travel along MD 404, with more than 20,150 vehicles during the summer. By 2035, average daily traffic will increase to 21,900 vehicles a day, and up to 26,900 vehicles during summer months.

The MD 404 upgrade was planned for years, with small segments improved as funding became available. In the decade between 2005 and 2014, 402 crashes occurred and 12 people lost their lives. Upgrading MD 404 has been the top priority for Queen Anne’s, Talbot, and Caroline counties for years.

In 2015, the Hogan Administration directed the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to deliver the project before Thanksgiving 2017. MDOT developed a fast-track process and solicited teams of contractors and designers to deliver the project within the timeframe. MDOT selected MD 404 Safety Corridor Constructors in June 2016. The crews began relocating utilities, coordinating with area property owners and local law enforcement, and constructing the new travel lanes while maintaining traffic in fall 2016. Workers were permitted to work seven days a week to stay on schedule. Local outreach staff met with emergency services personnel and the agricultural community to keep them informed and coordinate services across Queen Anne’s, Caroline, and Talbot counties. The Hogan administration currently has nearly 1,000 transportation projects totaling $9 billion dollars under construction across the state, including more than $781 million dollars on the Eastern Shore.

Caroline County Trustee Joins Chesapeake College’s Board

Chesapeake College
September 2017

Milton Nagel, assistant superintendent of administrative services for Caroline County Public Schools, was recently appointed to the Board of Trustees. Mr. Nagel brings his experience in accounting, the military and education to Chesapeake’s Board.

“Chesapeake College is a key partner to the five counties that it serves. Its value is evident in the vast opportunities that stand before its students. Whether that role is a stepping stone to a four- year degree or a series of course work to further skills in a trade, Chesapeake works to meet the individual needs of each student,” Mr. Nagel said. “The success of the next generation depends largely on the quality of education received and Chesapeake College plays a vital role in ensuring that level of education is available to all in the community.”

Mr. Nagel, a Certified Public Accountant, has been with Caroline County Public Schools for 25 years.

Mr. Nagel was raised on the family farm located outside of Federalsburg. A 1984 graduate of Colonel Richardson High School, he is a 1998 graduate of the University of Delaware where he received his Bachelors of Science Degree in Accounting. While attending the University of Delaware, he was a member of the Reserve Officers Training Corp (ROTC) and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army upon graduation. He spent four years working as a CPA for Jefferson, Urian, Doane and Sterner, P.A. at their Georgetown, Delaware office and at the same time served his country as an Army Reserves Military Police Officer. Mr. Nagel began his Caroline County Public Schools career in August, 1992 as an Accountant and Internal Auditor. Over the years, he has assumed ever-increasing responsibilities leading up to Assistant Superintendent for Administrative Services and was the Interim Superintendent of Schools for the 2014-2015 school year. He is active with several state and regional organizations to include Past President for the Association of School Business Officials for MD, Chair of the Eastern Shore of Maryland Educational Consortium Health Insurance Alliance, Chair of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education Group Insurance Pool and Vice Chair of the Eastern Shore of Maryland Energy Trust.

Mr. Nagel married his high school sweetheart, Christina (Tina) Lorenz, in 1988 and they have two sons, who are graduates from Colonel Richardson High School and both attended Chesapeake College. He has been very involved in coaching and supporting numerous local sports that both sons were active participants.

Caroline County is Fed-Up

August 31, 2017

Residents of Caroline County are Fed-Up with the way that Heroin and other drugs have overtaken their county. On August 31st, on the National Overdose Awareness day Mid-Shore Restoring HOPE in Women led the 2nd Annual Fed-Up Rally in Denton Maryland on August 31st.

In 2016 only Baltimore City had more overdoses per capita than Caroline County. As one of the smallest county on Maryland’s Eastern Shore resources are slim. They are the only county on the Shore that doesn’t have a hospital withing their boundaries. Recovery Beds are in short supply.

Mark Mitsch and his mother Cathy Bowrey share a moment during the rally

Mark Mitsch, his mother Cathy Bowrey and a faithful group of volunteers organized the event. Mitsch struggled with drugs and more recently Heroin for 20 years. He is now in his 4th year of recovery and hope that the path to recovery for others will be easier than his, with more help and resources available.

Speaking at the event were people of all walks of life dealing with Heroin and addiction. Elected Officials, Law Enforcement, Judicial System, Service Providers and Recovering Addicts.

Caroline County Delegates, 36th District Jeff Ghrist and 37th District John Mautz, spoke that the government, under the state of emergency declared by Governor Hogan, is doing what it can. They do see that more needs to be done. (Video of Jeff Ghrist speaking at the Rally on our Facebook Page)

Caroline County Warden Ruth Colburn gave a fiery speech, not as an official but as a private citizen, saying that we can’t sit around waiting for results. We need to get out and help find the answers to get results.

Some of the most emotional talks came from the recovering addicts themselves. They told their stories and doing their part to help. But in many eyes the sigma attached to recovery is a huge burden.

For more information on Mid-Shore Restoring HOPE in Women visit their facebook page at www.facebook.com/pg/restoringhopeinwomen

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Slideshow of Photos from the Fed-Up Rally in Denton on August 31, 2017. Photographs by SG Atkinson

Ultralight Aircraft Crash In Caroline County Claims Life Of The Pilot

MD State Police
June 25, 2017
(FEDERALSBURG, MD)

An ultralight aircraft crashed in Caroline County claiming the life of the pilot.

The pilot is identified as Michael Malick, 71, of Federalsburg. He was the sole occupant of the aircraft and was transported to Nanticoke Hospital in Seaford where he succumbed to injuries sustained in the crash. The model of the aircraft involved is a Dream Machine 582.

Shortly after 9:00 a.m. this morning today, Maryland State Police at the Easton Barrack were dispatched to the report of an aircraft crash at a privately owned residential landing strip in the 3000-block of Seippes Road in Federalsburg, Md. Police believe the pilot is the owner of the grass airfield where the incident occurred. There no injuries reported on the ground.

The preliminary investigation indicates shortly after takeoff, the pilot lost control of the aircraft for reasons unknown at this time. As he was ascending, investigators believe the plane hit a power line. Witnesses informed police the plane spiraled to the ground. A parachute appeared to have deployed from the aircraft.

State Police notified officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board. FAA officials will be responding to the scene to continue the investigation.

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Maryland State Police Arrest Caroline County Man For Child Pornography

Maryland State Police
March 3, 2017
(Preston, MD)

A Caroline County man was arrested and charged earlier today after a Maryland State Police Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force investigation developed evidence supporting charges of distribution and possession of child pornography.

Photo: Christopher PalgutaThe suspect is identified as Christopher Palguta, 32, of the 7700 block of Shore Drive, Preston, MD. Palguta was arrested without incident and charged with ten counts of possession of child pornography and ten counts distribution of child pornography. Palguta is pending being seen by a District Court Commissioner at this time of writing.

Investigators received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about the potential distribution of child pornography over the Internet. As a result of the subsequent investigation, Palguta was identified as the suspect. Earlier today a search warrant of Palguta’s residence lead to the seizure of numerous computers, electronic devices and media storage devices. A search of those devices revealed images and videos of child pornography. The computers seized during this investigation will be submitted to the Maryland State Police Digital Forensics Lab for analysis.

The Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is comprised of police agencies from around the state. Its primary mission is to protect children from computer-facilitated sexual exploitation. The Task Force works cooperatively with law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to provide resources to combat these crimes. Additionally, the Task Force provides community awareness campaigns helping to prevent the spread of these crimes through education.

Talbot Co. Man Charged With Possession Of Child Pornography

MD State Police
January 20, 2017
(EASTON, MD)

Maryland State Police criminal investigators have charged a Talbot County man with multiple counts of possession of child pornography as a result of an Internet crimes investigation.

The suspect is identified as Harry H. Rieck III, 59, of Easton, Md. He is charged with ten counts of possession of child pornography. Rieck was charged on a criminal summons, which was served on him yesterday after he responded to the Maryland State Police Easton Barrack.

The investigation began in November 2016, when Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division investigators assigned to the Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force received information about an Internet user actively downloading images of child pornography online, using a peer-to-peer network. The investigation led to the identification of a residence and a search warrant was obtained. Investigators served a search warrant in mid-December 2016 at the residence and recovered computers and related electronic equipment belonging to the suspect.

A forensic preview was conducted at the Maryland State Police Computer Crimes Unit forensic laboratory. Investigators found multiple images of known child pornography. State Police investigators applied for criminal charges and a criminal summons was issued.

The forensic examination of the computer equipment is continuing. Additional charges are possible.

The Maryland Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force is comprised of police agencies from around the State. Its primary mission is to protect children from computer-facilitated sexual exploitation. The Task Force works cooperatively with law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to provide resources to combat these crimes. Additionally, the Task Force provides community awareness campaigns helping to prevent the spread of these crimes through education.

Editor’s Note:
Harry H. Rieck III ran and won election this past fall for Talbot County School Board. He did resign due to personal reasons before taking office.

He did serve on the Talbot County School Board in 2008 as he completed a term of a member who resigned due to health reason. He lost the election later in that year. He also ran for Talbot County Council in 2010, but lost in the primary.

Maryland State Police Arrest Two Suspects In Connection With An Armed Robbery In Caroline County

MD State Police
January 14, 2017
Greensboro, MD

Maryland State Police arrested two suspects in connection with an armed robbery last night in Caroline County.

The accused are identified as James Moore, 30, and Frederick Kirsch, 35, of no fixed addresses. Both are in police custody after being arrested on outstanding warrants. Moore has an outstanding arrest warrant through Dorchester County Circuit Court. Kirsch is wanted in Caroline County for Theft under $10,000.

Shortly before 10:30 p.m. last night, troopers from the Maryland State Police Easton Barrack and deputies from the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 12,000 block of Knife Box Road in Greensboro, Maryland. The owner of the residence called 9-1-1, with a report of an armed robbery.

When police arrived, the homeowner told police he was sleeping in his bedroom when he heard a knock at his front door. The homeowner answered the door. Two Caucasian men, standing on his door step, used a ruse to gain access to the house.

During this time, police were told that one of the men pulled out a black semi-automatic pistol and asked for the homeowner’s money. The homeowner told the men he was having a heart attack and sat down in his living room chair. Fearing for his life, he then tried to defend himself and pulled out his own pistol which was subsequently taken by the suspects.

While the men were inside the residence, the homeowner was able to dial 9-1-1 from his cell phone and left the line open during the incident. Emergency dispatchers on the other end of the cell phone call dispatched law enforcement officers from multiple agencies while the crime was taking place.

Once law enforcement arrived, the homeowner told police the two men had fled the residence and ran south on Knife Box Road. He informed police the men stole a pistol, a large amount of U.S. currency, and other personal belongings.

An investigator with the Caroline County Narcotics Task Force responded to the scene to assist the various law enforcement units. As he turned onto Knife Box Road from Burrsville Road, he observed a black 2012 Ford Focus with temporary Delaware tags, travelling south on Knife Box Road at a high rate of speed. The two Caucasian men fit the description of the suspects involved in the armed robbery.

The investigator began following the Ford Focus which continued to speed onto several back roads until pulling into a driveway at the 28,000 block of Bloomery Road in Federalsburg, Maryland where they exited the vehicle. Backup units arrived at the location and the two men exited the residence and were subsequently detained, and arrested without incident by police. No injuries were sustained by the homeowner or by law enforcement during the incident.

Maryland State Police from the Easton Barrack were provided assistance by the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office and the Caroline County Narcotics Task Force. The Maryland State Police crime scene analysts also responded to process the scene. The investigation is active and ongoing.

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Twenty Four Arrests Made As Police Dismantle A Drug Distribution Operation On The Eastern Shore

MD State Police
August 21, 2015
(Eastern Shore, MD)

A cooperative cross-jurisdictional and multi-county drug investigation has led to twenty four arrests with more expected as police dismantle a drug trafficking organization they believe was responsible for the distribution of heroin and a variety of other drugs throughout the Upper Shore region.

The Maryland State Police Criminal Enforcement Division and the Eastern Upper Shore Drug Task Forces conducted Operation “Look Out” from July 15, 2015 through August 20, 2015 . The drug enforcement initiative yielded 926 marijuana plants, 919 grams of marijuana, more than 20 grams of heroin, 185 grams of cocaine, over 500 MDMA (ecstasy pills), 5 vehicles, 50 guns and almost $23,000.00 in drug related cash. The illegal drugs recovered have a street value of almost $13 million dollars.

Operation “Look Out” is an initiative among police agencies in Caroline County, Queen Anne’s County, Talbot County and Kent County. During the investigation, task force members worked with community members to identify persons involved in the distribution of controlled dangerous substances and drug users.

During the course of Operation “Look Out”, the following individuals were arrested for various violations of controlled dangerous substances with felonies and misdemeanor violations.

William Newcomb, 51, of Chestertown, MD was arrested for possession with the intent to distribute heroin and possession of heroin. He was held on $15,000.00 bond.

Marcia Bozarth, 39, of Millington, MD was arrested for possession with the intent to distribute heroin and possession of heroin. She was held with no bond.

James Robinson, 29, of Chester, MD was arrested for possession with the intent to distribute cocaine and possession of cocaine. He was held on $100,000.00 bond.

Daniel Wong, 29, of Chester, MD was arrested for possession of heroin. He was held on $7,500.00 bond.

Robert Holmes, 46, of Centreville, MD was arrested for manufacturing marijuana and possession of marijuana. He was held on $5,000.00

Danita Smith, 38, of Centreville, MD was arrested for possession with the intent to distribute oxycodone. She was held on $250,000.00 bond.

Katherine Arrabal, 29, of Church Hill, MD arrested for manufacturing marijuana, possession with the intent to distribute marijuana and possession of marijuana. She was held on $35,000.00.

Catherine Gollick, 62, of Denton, MD was arrested and charged with possession with the intent to distribute narcotics and possession of controlled dangerous substances not-marijuana. She was held on $20,000.00 bond

James Gollick, 67, of Denton, MD was arrested and charged with possession with intent to distribute narcotics and possession of controlled dangerous substances not-marijuana. He was held on $20,000.00.

John Gardner, 47, of Greensboro, MD was arrested on an outstanding bench warrant. He was taken before a district court commission and is awaiting trial.

Jessica Tolson, 31, of Denton, MD was arrested on an outstanding bench warrant. She was taken before a district court commissioner and is awaiting trial.

Vincent Norman, 24, of Ridgely, MD was arrested on an outstanding bench warrant. He was taken before a district court commissioner and is awaiting trial.

John Pollard, 47, of Ridgely, MD was arrested for manufacturing controlled dangerous substances, possession with intent to distribute controlled dangerous substances, possession of controlled dangerous substances manufacturing equipment, maintaining a common nuisance for controlled dangerous substances, possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. He was held on $100,000.00 bond.

Michael Loftus, 54 of Federalsburg, MD was arrested for manufacturing controlled dangerous substance, possession of controlled dangerous substance and possession paraphernalia. He was held $10,000.00 unsecured bond.

Dominic Savage, 26 of Ridgely, MD was arrested for Distribution of a controlled dangerous substance (heroin), possession with the intent to distribute heroin, possession of a controlled dangerous substance not-marijuana, and 11 traffic citations. He was held on $100,000.00 bond.

Clayton Dubeau, 26 of Denton, MD was arrested for manufacturing controlled dangerous substance, possession of controlled dangerous substance manufacturing equipment, possession of controlled dangerous substance not-marijuana [two counts one for heroin and the other for methamphetamine (Meth)], possession of controlled dangerous substance administering equipment and trespassing on private property. He was held on $100,000.00 bond.

William Smith, 26, of Denton, MD was arrested for trespassing on private property. He was held on $2,500.00 bond.

Robert Pollard, 33, of Ridgely, MD was arrested form manufacturing controlled dangerous substance, possession of controlled dangerous substance manufacturing equipment and possession of marijuana. He was issued a district court criminal summons and released on his signature pending trial.

Ginna Grocki, 31, of Marydel, MD was arrested for possession controlled dangerous substance not-marijuana and possession of controlled dangerous substance paraphernalia. She was issued a district court criminal summons and released on her signature pending trial.

Nathan Charles Roupe, 20, of St. Michaels, MD was arrested for possession of heroin, possession of controlled dangerous substance paraphernalia and controlled dangerous substance administered equipment (Hypodermic Syringes). He was taken before a district court commissioner and released on his own recognizance pending trial.

Patrick Bruce Wrightson, 36, of Wittman, MD was arrested for possession of heroin, possession of controlled dangerous substance paraphernalia and controlled dangerous substance administered equipment (Hypodermic Syringes). He was held on $1,000.00 bond.

Samuel Luke Blevins, 19, of Easton, MD was arrested for possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of controlled dangerous substance paraphernalia. He was held on $12,000.00 bond.

Benjamin Mainguy, 20 of Easton, MD, was arrested for possession of marijuana and possession of controlled dangerous substance paraphernalia. He was issued a criminal citation and released on his signature pending trial.

Juvenile, 17 of Easton, MD was arrested for possession of marijuana and possession of controlled dangerous substance paraphernalia. He was released to his parent (father) and referred to the Department of Juvenile Services.

Clifton Rudolph Wilson, Jr. ,25 , of Chestertown, MD, was arrested for 2 counts of possession with intent to distribute narcotics, possession with intent to distribute, 2 counts of possession of controlled dangerous substance not-marijuana, possession of marijuana and 3 counts controlled dangerous substance possession of paraphernalia. He was held on $30,000.00 bond.

Lauriea Diane Johnson, 30, of Rock Hall, MD, was arrested for controlled dangerous substance administered equipment possession/distribute, 2 counts of possession paraphernalia and 2 counts of possession not marijuana. She was taken before a district court commissioner and released on her own recognizance pending trail.

Task Force members issued 7 civil citations for possession of marijuana less than ten grams. These persons are awaiting their court hearing.

All suspects should be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There are other individuals that have been identified throughout this operation that will be arrested. Those individuals are not listed as those cases remain under investigation.

The Upper Shore Drug Task Forces were assisted by the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, Caroline County Sheriff’s Office, Talbot County Sheriff’s Office, Kent County Sheriff’s Office, Centreville Police Department, the Maryland State Police Field Operations Bureau, the Maryland State Police Gang Unit, the Maryland State Police Marijuana Eradication Unit, the Centreville Police Department, the Rock Hall Police Department, the Ridgely Police Department, the Chestertown Police Department, the Federalsburg Police Department and the Denton Police Department. Investigators consulted with the State’s Attorneys in each of the four counties in this investigation.This operation was initiated to improve the quality of life of the residents of the upper shore and to address their concerns regarding criminal activity.

Police encourage anyone with information regarding criminal drug activity to please contact the respective Drug Task Force as listed below. All callers may remain anonymous.

Queen Anne County Drug Task Force at 410-758-8477

Caroline County Drug Task Force at 410-820-4222

Talbot County Narcotics Task Force at 410-820-8940

Kent County Narcotics Task Force at 410-778-3744

Caroline Hospice Foundation and Compass Regional Hospice Host Caroline Hospice Home Blessing

Caroline Hospice Foundation and Compass Regional Hospice
Denton, MD
August 5, 2015

On August 4, 2015 staff, board members and volunteers from Caroline Hospice Foundation and Compass Regional Hospice gathered with area clergy to bless the Caroline Hospice Home. The Caroline Hospice Home located at 613 S. 5th Avenue in Denton is scheduled to re-open this fall.

Clergy from all denominations in Caroline County were invited for breakfast and a tour of the three-bed residential hospice center. The blessing was led by Compass Regional Hospice chaplain Rev. Nancy Greenwell with a special prayer offered by Rev. Denzel Cheek, pastor of Church of the Brethern in Ridgely. Rev. Greenwell led the group in song with Betty Ballas, president of the Caroline Hospice Foundation.

Rev. Greenwell blessed the house and the people who will work and receive care there by saying, “By the Spirit of Grace, may those who give and receive pastoral and hospice care do so in the spirit of human and divine compassion.” The participatns responded, “We dedicate this House to all who abide here awhile, even to the close of their days.”

The Caroline Hospice Home, which is owned by the Caroline Hospice Foundation, was recently renovated with the help of members of the community, who donated time, labor and materials.

Compass Regional Hospice has been providing hospice services and grief support in Caroline County since September 2014. When the Caroline Hospice Home opens, Compass Regional Hospice will staff this facility 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and continue providing hospice care in private residences, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Learn more about Compass Regional Hospice at www.compassregionalhospice.org or call 443-262-4100. To become a hospice supporter in Caroline County, contact the Caroline Hospice Foundation, 410-479-3500, carolinehospice.com.

Photo:  Pictured at the blessing of the Caroline Hospice Home in Denton are (left to right), seated, Rhonda Knotts, MSCC, grief counselor, Compass Regional Hospice; Rev. Karen Handy, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Denton; Laney Tapponnnier, member, Calvary Baptist Church, Denton; Viola Gibbs, Union Bethel AME Church, Denton; Teresa Baumann, vice chair, Compass Regional Hospice board of directors; Rev. Nancy Greenwell, chaplain, Compass Regional Hospice; Janet Fountain, Union Bethel AME Church, Denton; and Wayne Larrimore, MEd, grief counselor, Compass Regional Hospice; standing, Rev. Denzel Cheek, Church of the Brethren, Ridgely; Sharon Loving, LSCW-C, support services supervisor, Compass Regional Hospice; Heidi Plutschak, director, Caroline Hospice Foundation; Betty Ballas, president, Caroline Hospice Foundation board of directors; Brandy Cathcart, human resources, Caroline Hospice Foundation; Courtney Williams, manager, volunteer and professional services, Compass Regional Hospice; Shelly Griffith, RN, nurse educator and Bridges clinical navigator, Compass Regional Hospice; Wanda Molock, volunteer, Compass Regional Hospice; Rev. George Clark; Archie Cawley, Greensboro Baptist Church; and Rev. David Griffin, Ames United Methodist Church, Denton.

Pictured at the blessing of the Caroline Hospice Home in Denton are (left to right), seated, Rhonda Knotts, MSCC, grief counselor, Compass Regional Hospice; Rev. Karen Handy, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Denton; Laney Tapponnnier, member, Calvary Baptist Church, Denton; Viola Gibbs, Union Bethel AME Church, Denton; Teresa Baumann, vice chair, Compass Regional Hospice board of directors; Rev. Nancy Greenwell, chaplain, Compass Regional Hospice; Janet Fountain, Union Bethel AME Church, Denton; and Wayne Larrimore, MEd, grief counselor, Compass Regional Hospice; standing, Rev. Denzel Cheek, Church of the Brethren, Ridgely; Sharon Loving, LSCW-C, support services supervisor, Compass Regional Hospice; Heidi Plutschak, director, Caroline Hospice Foundation; Betty Ballas, president, Caroline Hospice Foundation board of directors; Brandy Cathcart, human resources, Caroline Hospice Foundation; Courtney Williams, manager, volunteer and professional services, Compass Regional Hospice; Shelly Griffith, RN, nurse educator and Bridges clinical navigator, Compass Regional Hospice; Wanda Molock, volunteer, Compass Regional Hospice; Rev. George Clark; Archie Cawley, Greensboro Baptist Church; and Rev. David Griffin, Ames United Methodist Church, Denton. – Contributed Photo

State, local officials announce first regional anti-heroin campaign ‘I Wish I Knew’ encourages community dialogue

Regional Anti-heroin Campaign
Chester
July 2015

State and local officials on Wednesday, July 1, 2015 announced the first-ever Mid-Shore opioid misuse prevention campaign, at a kick-off event held at the Chesapeake Heritage Center in Chester.

Heroin and prescription drug use is a growing problem on the Mid-Shore, with 53 recorded opiate-related deaths here last year. Across the state, last year 464 people died from heroin and 316 died from prescription pill overdoses. In the first half of 2014, heroin-related deaths rose 46 percent with 310 deaths across the state, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Additionally, 7 percent of local high school students have tried heroin – a statistic nearly twice the state average.

‘I Wish I Knew’ is an awareness campaign that offers information and local resources on heroin and prescription pills. The campaign also encourages community participation on social media and online at www.IWishIKnewMidShore.org.

“Please, take time to follow the campaign – encourage others to ‘share’ on Facebook and follow on Twitter,” said Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble, who spoke at the campaign kick-off event. “You, your family and your loved ones need you to learn more. It takes all of us to turn back the tide of opiate abuse. Take time today to join the conversation!”

The campaign runs through Sept. 30, is funded through SAMHSA and the Maryland Behavioral Health Administration and includes Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. It is the first regional, coordinated effort of its kind.

“I am pleased to kick-start a campaign that is near and dear to my heart and that is bringing light to the drug problem we face here on the Mid-Shore,” said Queen Anne’s County Commissioner Jim Moran, who also spoke at the kick-off event. Moran advocated for expanded access to Suboxone, a medication used to treat opiate addiction, and called for mandatory drug education in local schools for parents and students.

The campaign includes unprecedented media reach through television, local movie theaters, billboards, radio stations and print publications. Ads include information on the signs of opiate abuse, the signs of an overdose and what to do in an overdose.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity for our community,” said Kelley L. Allen, owner of Soul Candy Media, which created the campaign. “Nearly everyone has been affected by heroin or prescription pills – we need to keep talking about it and working to change our culture.

“This campaign not only offers invaluable information, but also encourages community participation. We hope everyone goes to our website www.IWishIKnewMidShore.org and joins the conversation with an ‘I Wish I Knew’ statement. What you tell us will help us work toward reducing misuse in our community.”

Gayle Jordan-Randolph, deputy secretary for the state’s Behavioral Health Administration, and Tim Dove, director of addictions for the Caroline County Counseling Center, also spoke at the event.

Officials in attendance included Lt. Tim McDonald, barrack commander for Maryland State Police Centreville; state Del. Steven Arentz, R-36; Betsy Hamilton, representing state Del. Christopher Adams, R-37B; Denise Lovelady, representing U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st and Meg Butler, representing state Rep. John Mautz IV, R-37B.