Someone Noticed – Should We Keep it or Should We Dump It?

At last Wednesday’s workshop of the town of Elkton Mayor Fisona led off the session by saying let’s all agree to forget this land swap thing.  Everyone nodded and in just a few minutes (if that much) of discussion, it was all over.  With significant financial challenges facing them, they weren’t interested in building a recreation center for years to come, though Commissioner Piner said he hoped they could do it in 4 or 5 years when things get better.

What was striking was how fast this approval came about in those fleeting few minutes.  Since March when word started seeping out, many open sessions often involved long, heated discussisons.  But on this Wednesday in October, they quickly and quietly dispatched a land policy issue that had occupied hours of time.  We can only guess that there was a good deal of behind the scenes dialogue on this, perhaps in emails or one-on-one discussions.  Whatever the case, everyone was on board with letting go of the land deal as the mayor suggested as soon as he brought it before the workshop.  We were pleased with that October surprise, of course, and we’re relieved that it’s now over. 

Our regular readers, ranging from nearly 200 on slow days to peaking out at around 430 on the days the town made lots of nosie, will recall that we launched this blog in order to bring attention to a deal involving some town land.  By the time we marked our second month of existence on Sept. 10, we had a regular following of readers in the blogosphere looking for the “411 on the Mayor and Commissioners of Elkton.”  Of course our deep focus on that one issue and the attention the town brought to it at meetings helped spread the word so we had a regular following.  Then, too, others in the Cecil County blogopshere joined in helping spread the word.

The question we’re pondering right now is should we keep the blog or should we ditch it?  Our primary purpose has been accomplished and the wranglings of the Mayor and Commissioners in day-to-day, painful detail are archived in the World Wide Web for anyone Googling up appropriate keywords.  But our ongoing purpose, the one that drove a fair number of readers to our site regularly, no longer exists.

This experience, however, has shown us the important need for the larger community to have more news on what goes on at meetings, sort of the “411 on the Mayor and Commissioners of the Town of Elkton.”  While coverage of the meetings has improved over the past few months, there are still so many things that aren’t covered.

Down on the canal, they have two dedicated bloggers focusing on Chesapeake City and one with a wider arena that pitches in as appropriate.  But the largest town in the county is dependent on our daily newspaper as the gatekeeper for whatever does or doesn’t make it into print.  In other places, such as Perryville and Port Deposit, they still have three newspapers covering the council (Havre de Grace Record, Whig, and the Herald).

We were surprised with the encouragement that we received when we started this so we now ask, should we keep it or should we pull the plug under the cover of midnight darkness some late October evening, as Halloween approaches Elkton?

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17 responses to “Someone Noticed – Should We Keep it or Should We Dump It?

  1. NO WAY, Mike, should you fold your tent, or your blog. The very fact that your blog had so much impact on this issue shows that you should stay on the “watch” on the Elkton commissioners. Your literate, intelligent and very informed voice is very much needed in this county. The Elkton commissioners are, in the majority, an embarrassment and need to be fully “watchdogged” on any and all issues. We all nominate you for the job! Just expand your focus to ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that the Elkton commissioners do, think, or plot about!
    Please keep up your good work!

  2. Wayne Fenstermacher

    Mike,

    Until someone else comes along and you have competition to drive the changes in the needed “open” and public discourse — please don’t call it quits. If you truly value history – as we know you do – you’ll continue to help shape it rather than look back and provide the analysis.

    If the local politicos know they can’t hide things and there’s intelligent inquiry, you and this blog can have a significant positive impact on those in and around Elkton.

    You can’t be tiring of this already – can you?

  3. Crazy History Teacher

    Keep it! Someone has to keep an eye on those scoundrels!

  4. Crazy History Teacher

    By the way, I noticed that Milt Diggins left a comment a few days ago. I’m still trying to remember but I’m pretty sure he was the teacher that wore the bumble bee costume every halloween…Maybe it was that Gary Burns fella! I think he used to teach at Perryville Middle too.

  5. Well Cecil Times, Wayne and Crazy History Teacher thanks for the comments. As several of you said and it is so true, the Town of Elkton needs much more news coverage. It just makes for good government, if the political leadership knows that almost anything they do will show up in print in several places and is subject to review and evaluation in editorials. As Wayne well knows there was a period when they wished they had less coverage since some great stories, for a small town weekly, were broken there and they required investigative journalism to dig it up. You couldn’t just take the politicians words and statement and move on. The responses had to be challenged and verified through documentation and digging.

    I’ll certainly keep everyone informed, but it does take a time committment to do this.

    I have a few wrap-up editorials I’ll want to do as I get time to reflect on those and make sure they’re well put together. I was right at the edge of filing a Freedom of Information Act request since the Mayor never came through with imortant municipal documents, his papers about what he told ELk Landing when he took the developer there. He said he lost them and Elk Landing said the town couldn’t have addotopma; copies.

    I definitely don’t think that would hold up for an AG review and I was prepared to move forward the next morning, as I’d mentioend in an email earlier that day. But now that the information is no longer relevant, I want to take my time and ask that the town to develop a records retention policy and some method to audit it to make sure politicians are doing the right things with the people’s records. In addition to posting here on the blog, I’ll see that it gets a better spread through other outlets somehow and also do a little, professional speech at the town meeting to make sure its heard in that business environment.

    For a town with such a large professional staff, they have so many things to work on like the purchasing policy that came out of the computer mess when they had cost overruns in the range of $70,000 on what was supposed to cost $7,000.

    But the one to watch is the tax levy they’re going to possibly propose the taxpayers shoulder this year. Watching this from the beginning it was obvious that there were many major costs they were taking on and, of course, many of them had to be accepted, such as utilities.

  6. I’m sure we hear from Silence Nogood, Minute Man, Mary Hollingsworth, and more once the midnight hour rolls over Cecil County. That bunch of commentators tends to come out under cover, when a deep late night darkness blankets the county. Is there a full moon tonight? That’s when they like to offer up the ponderables and with the Halloween season getting a grip on the Landing, I’m sure they’re getting ready to post.

  7. Mr. Moderator,
    Say it ain’t so! I would rather see Gary Sorke take a Dale Carnegie course than to see Someone Noticed shut down operations. You have just begun to rake the muck around the Head of Elk. Look what has been accomplished. A backroom plot to swap Program Open Space at Elk Landing for a contaminated industrial site has beeen thrwarted. What you have exposed so far is just the top of the iceberg and we all should remember it was a tip of an icedurg that sunk the Titanic. Keep fighting the good fight.
    Your humble and obbedient servant. S.N.

  8. I see Ms. Nogood apparently wasn’t paying attention in Dr. Franklin’s spelling class. Spell Check must not have been invented yet.
    Mike, all patriots in Cecil County turn to Someone Noticed to keep informed of current events. The milita stands ready to defend our sacred free speech rights. There is nothing like a good midnight ride in the blogosphere to spread the word, ” The politicians are up to no good.” -Minuteman

  9. Please do not shut down. I can only rely on you and your staff for the truth and what actions the town is taking and not tell the residents. PLEASE DO NOT SHUT DOWN.

  10. Joan:

    Thanks so much for posting here regularly and for letting us know whether we should ditch it or keep it. I also appreciate your periodic letters to the editor and the views you present there.

    There certainly is a need for more straight-talk around here about the what’s happening at Elkton meetings. It’s an ideal place for a young reporter learning the ropes for they’ll certanly give you the stories that can grab the headline above the fold.

    At least they can say they’ve been blogged, for the past two months in with the day-to-day details of all this wrangling. I suspect the town’s never had so many exposure on one subject.

    BTW, Wayne, you should recognize that pitch of should we keep it or should we ditch it. We liberarlly borrowed the idea from when another editor once pitched a question to his readers about a very entertaining columnist, Jim Nance. He certainly knew how to shake things up and challenge scared cows. I glanced at that humorous piece by the editor an the responses it received back when I started the blog.

  11. We knew that as the midnight hour came over Elkton and halloween got a cold chilling grip on Elk Landing, those two lurkers would come out to poke at the situation.

    We appreciate they way they turn the humor on this serious situation since it made our task a little more fun, to see how they’d spin things under cover of the dark, deep Elkton night.

    Thanks for posting Nogood and Minuteman. We appreicate your feedback and your humor

  12. What the HELF are you talkin’ about partner. What the HELF. Did that Elk Landing bunch get ya mixed up or somethin. Remember they’re the bunch that voted against the land deal after they voted for it. That’s what I read in that Whig! Darned if I know.

    We need some straight-talk around these parts. Sure ain’t getting it anywhere else. What the HELF.

    That’s what old Sam says. Keep it goin. Besides what’s old Sam gonna do when he runs from Mayor without some way to get the word out.

  13. Yeap I wth ya on this one Crazy History Teacher. But didn’t you teach all these politicians everything they know bot history. I think ya did. Aint much whatever da case.

  14. Just to reenforce what we, and others have said: Mike, Cecil County NEEDS you. You have developed a very important, highly respected voice in Cecil County. Just expand your focus to cover whatever the Eklton board does, or plots about. Fisona is an utter embarrassment! If you don’t report it, damn sure the Whig will rest easy and never ever cover it!

  15. Gentlemen (and Ladies),

    Here is a reality check. Maintaining a daily blog or any kind of news producing resource for the community takes much time, effort, and contributions. I realize that you, Mr. Dixon, have been the primary source for news and information, and you should be applauded. However, in order to maintain this level of excellence, it will take a lot of work. My best wishes are with you as you continue this worthy and necessary endeavor.

    Zeb Jr.

  16. WOOF, WOOF, WOOF-WOOF & WOOOOOF!

    Translation… Keep up the good work.

    Anybody got a bone?

  17. Crazy History Teacher

    Sadly, I did have these knuckle heads in class! They would know a lot about history if they didn’t fall asleep in class! They’re the reason why I’m the crazy history teacher!

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