Are Gate Keepers Holding Rock Hall Hostage?

A sustainable community needs a number of variables to be successful. In rural towns it is often generational families and select groups of people that are in leadership positions because of a trust factor that has existed for generations, and because that is all that is available. With very little oversight or outside influence small town politics largely continue status quo.  However, Rock Hall sits on the Chesapeake Bay, a highly desirable location for more affluent citizens searching for a less hectic atmosphere they would like to maintain too.

Sociologist note that new citizens bring new experiences and talents that are often rejected and Rock Hall is no different. There is a blatant unwillingness on the part of the Mayor, a few council members and the cabinet to accept and fully engage with new citizens, some of whom have already offered, pro-bono, world renowned and national expertise that most rural towns are starving for.

The rate of deterioration of a water system is not a function of material age but rather the cumulative effect of the external forces acting on it (

In the case of Rock Hall, the town can no longer afford to continue to put up with hanging on to the good old days that have passed and laissez-faire management. The towns current situation is disturbing, and for the last four years has worsened, as indicated in this year’s financial audit. In addition, the critical situation regarding the town’s infrastructure and water system came to a boiling point. Under duress a non-profit organization, SERCAP, was called in to assist.  Why did it take so long? After all, SERCAP has been in existence for 50 years. Again the answer leads back to resistance from help from the outside and the lack of comprehensive knowledge and experience regarding research, management and the purpose of impact studies. The animosity toward certain council members who recognize the need to use research in management is evident in the meeting live streams.  Presenting reliable proof of indirect costs and impacts associated with its projects is also a requirement for grants.

Take for example, Haven Harbor South, which is in the county, and would like to hook up to Rock Hall’s water. To push the project forward without an impact study without knowing the full impact once the marina is running at full capacity would be irresponsible of both the town leadership, county commissioners and the business owners. The demands to keep water rates affordable will also continue. Therefore, private businesses should expect to pay their fair share.

Presently the town has a course rogue mayor, who believes that now that he is acting town manager he can abuse both positions and make up an alternate system of rules and governing that are unethical and verge very close to illegal. While the town’s manager has resigned to retirement, it was under his 22 year tenure the infrastructure further deteriorated. Be ever mindful of this as he is still a Kent County commissioner.

Rock Hall was once a small fishing town and now that this way of life has been altered and change is inevitable. Being responsive to the heritage and fair to both citizens and businesses requires true leadership.The current mayor, Brian Jones, has not exhibited the capacity to bring people and ideas together, but has more of a propensity to lead chaos, as evident in Council meeting live streams and in the newspapers for the past 4 years. There is untapped leadership in every community, and the voting citizens of Rock Hall should take this into consideration regarding all candidates running for election on May 4, 2019 and into the future.

Jen B. Barnes, a tax paying supporter of Rock Hall, local businesses and responsive economic development.

One response to “Are Gate Keepers Holding Rock Hall Hostage?”

  1. mastheadliz says :

    With respect to the Town’s current financial malaise; I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t discussion about seeking a working relationship with other banks. It is my understanding that the Town has been using Peoples Bank as it’s sole lender for quite some time. This is not to disparage the bank, but I think the Town would be well served to shop around and perhaps, find a lender with bigger pockets and broader depth of services. It never hurts to see what is out there. There may be possibility to consolidate some of the debt and renegotiate some of the terms.

    I think it’s beyond time to resist the practice of using the same vendors and contractors simply because “that’s who we always use”.

    Additionally, the practice of overspending due to a lack of knowledge or willingness to investigate an issue has been costly. The most recent example involves a problem with the new clarifier. The town was going to replace a component with a cost of over $40,000.00. With a little research, it was determined that the fix involved a $500.00 part and the installation. That’s quite a difference! Kudus to Councilmember Tim Edwards on that one.

    The point here is that the Town is in need of people who have the knowledge and willingness to explore and implement practical and cost effective practices.
    Additionally, systems need to be maintained on a scheduled basis and accurate records must be kept. That has not been standard practice for far too long. As a result, the Town is now beginning to face the music in a big way.

    Change is needed.

    Liz Smith

    Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.