Wicomico council lists its federal funding needs for Sen. Cardin

By Annabel Hofmann
Posted 1/20/23

Wicomico County Council members met remotely Thursday with U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin to discuss federal appropriations for a number of projects and initiatives within the county.

Present for the …

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Wicomico council lists its federal funding needs for Sen. Cardin

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Wicomico County Council members met remotely Thursday with U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin to discuss federal appropriations for a number of projects and initiatives within the county.

Present for the special meeting were council members Shanie Shields, Jeff Merritt, John Cannon and Josh Hastings.

Cardin began the meeting by emphasizing the importance of having “not only a contact now but a continuing contact to help Wicomico County.”

Cannon then opened discussion stressing the importance of the Salisbury-Wicomico Regional Airport and local programs to train airline pilots and mechanics. He asked for continued federal assistance in funding those projects.

Cardin agreed, saying the Wicomico-run airport is an “extremely important asset” and an “extremely high priority for our federal Congressional delegation.”

The senator answered that there is funding allocated for the airport within the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, passed in November 2021, and the American Rescue Plan, which became law in March 2021.

Shields then inquired about “crime prevention funding for nonprofits to save our children.”

She brought up ideas such as community policing, “Meet the Sheriffs” events and welfare to work programs.

Cardin answered that funding for most of these initiatives could be provided at the state level, but there were also opportunities for collaboration with the federal government.

Hastings drew the senator’s attention to the unforeseen delays hindering the development of Pirate’s Wharf, a county park planned for Quantico which will have water access to the Wicomico River. He requested that the federal grant providing funding for the park’s creation be extended one year to accommodate these setbacks.

Steve Miller, Director of Recreation, Parks and Tourism for Wicomico County ­– who was also present at the meeting – seconded Hasting’s request.

Cardin agreed that water access is essential and said he would do everything he could to support that initiative.

Merritt brought to Cardin’s attention problems with water sewer infrastructure in the county, particularly the fact that constructing a system for Wicomico County will “require a lot of funding.”

The senator recognized the importance of this issue, especially when the infrastructure in place is old, wasteful and presents a public health risk. Cardin said most of the funding will probably be allocated through the state, but he thought there would be some individual opportunities for federal partnership.

Cannon also requested increased funding to help enhance the local Career and Technical Education programs, such as the home construction projects at Parkside High School.

Cardin agreed that “vocational ed is just as important.”

Additionally, Cannon mentioned that county fire companies are having difficulty recruiting and maintaining volunteer firefighters and asked if the federal government could help in any way.

The senator outlined several programs at the federal level which provide equipment, training and benefits that could help support the volunteer firefighters in Wicomico County.

Shields then asked if there was any federal help available to address growing homelessness within the county.

Cardin concurred, saying this is a nationwide and multifaceted crisis. The senator mentioned an initiative, which he is a principal sponsor of, that would allow for increased access to affordable housing. He also emphasized that mental health services are key to tackling increasing homelessness and there are state and federal funds available to put toward such programs.

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