Cecil County Commentary: No Electricity, Internet or TV– South County Realities, Does Elkton Understand?
Down here in Earleville, and other south-of-the-Canal environs of Cecil County, local residents often wonder if our county government in Elkton understands, or cares, about the challenges that many rural residents face. That was particularly true on Monday, when all of Earleville was without electricity, wireless phones, well-water pumping or toilet flushing capacities, and Internet or satellite TV services for most of the day.
Our local electricity provider, Choptank Rural Electric Co-Operative, is a great, locally-admired service provider—showing up within minutes of devastating weather catastrophes such as tornadoes and hurricanes. Since it is a co-operative—organized under federal programs to bring electricity to rural areas—Choptank is not profit-motivated and has always had customer service as a top priority.
Choptank notified customers in advance that power would be cut off for most of the day due to needed repairs, but their estimated time for outages was vastly longer than anticipated. So local residents were powerless from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. And this was on a clear, sunny day, with no unusual weather problems.
Since the rural electric co-operatives do not generate their own power, they must buy power from larger profit-making entities—like Delmarva Power on the Eastern Shore. As a result, rural residents served by electric co-operatives pay a horrific premium for their electricity. Surprisingly, the Choptank rates are up to 40 percent higher than suburban Washington, DC rates paid for power provided by the profit-making PEPCO.
Yet do Cecil County government officials understand, or appreciate, the price that rural residents pay—in costs, time, access and quality of life, that other Cecil County residents enjoy without having to think twice about such basic services?
That is why many south-county residents bristle when we hear statements, like that of County Council President Robert Hodge (R-5), who recently referred to Earleville as “the middle of nowhere.” That comment was made in the context of the problems faced by many Earleville residents, whose drinking water wells have been contaminated by a US Army Corps of Engineers dumpsite in Earleville. Hodge said the county would not take any role in operating a new water system to provide safe, clean water to Earleville—which he characterized as “the middle of nowhere.” Does that mean ‘nowhere’ residents do not have a right to clean, pollution-free water?
Luckily for Earleville, Cecilton Town Mayor Joseph Zang is willing to step up to the water dilemma and has initiated discussions with the Army Corps and the Maryland Port Administration on the feasibility of running a water pipeline from Cecilton out to the Earleville area.
There should be no “second class citizens” in Cecil County. All members of the County Council are elected county-wide, and the County Executive is also elected by voters from throughout the county.
Earleville is not an incorporated town, but adding its residents to the populations of Cecilton and Chesapeake City south of the Canal, provides a substantial segment of county residents.
The time has come for our county government in Elkton to treat southern Cecil County residents as equals and worthy of consideration just as Elkton, Perryville and Rising Sun residents are. South county residents vote, pay taxes and have an equal right to basic services.