CECIL CHATTER: Space Aliens and Rocket Science: Conspiracy Theory Fuels Local Politics; Smart Jobs Come to Cecil County

March 6, 2019


Cecil County politics is known for the wild and weird, from the many misadventures of the “Three Amigos” on the County Commissioners board to a nose-biting incident at a polling place on election day. Just when you thought that, several years into Charter government, things had changed for the better, or at least become more sane, now we have an out-of-this-world conspiracy theory put forward on social media by a two-time election loser who still harbors dreams of a comeback in the next election.

Space aliens from Elkton secretly harbor a dastardly scheme to kidnap the town of Rising Sun, suspend its charter and confiscate the whole town, to be consumed by the County Executive—no doubt seasoned with some salsa on the side. After all, the purveyor of this science fiction conspiracy, which he calls “a theory,” tried to stoke fears of illegal aliens invading the county in his two most recent losing campaigns for county office, even though federal and state census and planning data show no influx of foreign-born residents.

But the census didn’t include SPACE ALIENS! So, his new “theory” must be true, or at least suitable for Facebook fantasies.

The outer space aliens “theory” is taking off from a launchpad grounded in a few facts. The town of Rising Sun recently completed a long-planned project to pipe water from Chester, PA but, inexplicably, a town that currently uses about 170,000 gallons of water a day decided to contract for up to a million gallons of water a day. So with all that excess capacity and pipe costs that it will have to pay for, some town officials want to get into the water utility business outside town limits and are pressuring the county to make belated revisions to the county’s master water and sewer plan to accommodate that pipe dream. The town’s targeted expansion areas conflict with the county map’s dedicated “resource conservation” areas, which are not supposed to be open to development and the utilities that would promote growth.

But don’t ask questions how state environmental and planning agencies, which review county comprehensive and utility plans, might react to plopping development-oriented utility lines into conservation areas. Don’t ask why the town did not comply with a deadline to propose possible changes for inclusion in the new county plan. Don’t ask how the state Public Service Commission might view the town serving customers outside town limits, after a costly years-long fight with the town of North East over similar issues and the finding that out of town services could be subject to full PSC rate reviews in the future.

If anyone in Elkton asks such questions, well, they must be conspirators, the politician wrote, in the “theory that the county administration wants to stop this water move in order to get the town to fail, so that they can incorporate Rising Sun into the county. You have to ask why the county would force a hundred year old municipality to give up its charter, and assume well over $10,000,000 of municipal debt for all of us to pay off? No one can afford to let this happen.”

This is starting to look like the bar scene in Star Wars.

And if anyone asks why the town has racked up so much “municipal debt,” and why on earth anyone would want to take over the town and its problems, just serve them the political Star Wars Kool-Aid. Remember, space aliens were NOT counted in the census! They are invading Cecil County and Rising Sun is ground zero of the invasion!

And when you look around the Star Wars bar and do not see new Councilor Al Miller (R-3), well you just KNOW he must be hiding somewhere, looking for “on the job training,” according to the Space Alien conspiracy theorist.

In fact, Miller was seen with his camera, on a Sunday morning, on the side roads near Warwick in southern Cecil County, documenting huge tractor trailer trucks clogging rural farm roads while trying to evade tolls on the new nearby Route 301 toll road in Delaware. He’s been a key player in trying to get Maryland and Delaware police and transportation officials to address the problem. Could the conspiracy theorist find Edgar Price Road, even with a GPS?

Clearly, it’s going to be a long campaign season, with the County Executive post at stake in the 2020 election, along with two County Council seats. Sour grapes over losing two consecutive elections shouldn’t be served on a platter to leave a bitter taste for county voters or mislead them with weird conspiracy theories and distortions. County residents deserve better, Dan Schneckenburger, and you know better.



As Cecil County economic development has bloomed in the past two years, with up to 3,000 new jobs either already here or on the near horizon, some local naysayers have lamented that many of the jobs have been in warehouse or distributions centers but not higher paying opportunities. But the latest new job news is indeed “rocket science.”

Northrop Grumman, an international space, aviation and defense company with a major presence in Elkton, is expanding its manufacturing operations in Cecil County and plans to add 175 new jobs over the next five years. The facility, located off Route 40, has been a key local defense company for many years even as its name changed from Thiokol to Orbital ATK to Northrop Grumman Corp. last year, under various corporate takeovers. The facility currently employs 400 workers here.

“Our team in Elkton has delivered rocket motors for space launch and military applications for 70 years,” said Mike Kahn, vice president and general manager, Northrop Grumman. “We are extremely pleased that the state of Maryland will be supporting investments in both infrastructure and in our workforce. Our continued partnership with both the state and county will ensure that the Elkton operation will continue to provide innovative technology to NASA and the Department of Defense for many years to come.”

So when some local folks say that job opportunities in the county “aren’t rocket science,” they are overlooking an important component of the local economy. Such high-tech jobs and the expanded presence of an internationally known aerospace firm are an important bellweather for the county’s future.

Some of the local naysayers who routinely fume about state and local incentives used to attract better jobs to the county will no doubt complain about a variety of aid programs used to assist the new expansion. The state is providing an $800,000 conditional loan, pegged to meeting job-creation targets, and a $200,000 training grant to improve employees’ job skills. Cecil County is also providing an $80,000 conditional loan to help the company complete the project. The company is also eligible for state tax credits pegged to creation of new jobs in the state and in targeted economic development zones, including Cecil County.

Governor Hogan called the new jobs plan “a great win for Maryland and Cecil County.”

“Northrop Grumman’s Elkton plant had its first rocket engine test-fire more than 70 years ago,” said County Executive Alan McCarthy. “Cecil County has long benefitted from this manufacturing plant and the many jobs it provides, and we look forward to a continued strong partnership with the company to ensure their success and growth in the future.”

The new jobs are expected to include high-paying engineering, technology and scientific work, boosting both the economic ripple effect in the local economy from such jobs as well as raising the county’s profile for other high-tech companies that might consider locating in an area that already has an established, internationally-known company within its boundaries.

It IS “rocket science” for Cecil County.

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One Response to CECIL CHATTER: Space Aliens and Rocket Science: Conspiracy Theory Fuels Local Politics; Smart Jobs Come to Cecil County

  1. Roger on March 7, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    I read at the end of 2017 the Town of Rising Sun had only $30,000 in cash reserves, meaning that if the town had a water main break, that reserve money may not have been enough to cover the repairs. It seems to me Rising Sun has repaired a water main break at least once every year for many years. It was emphasized during streetscape that water and sewer lines in town were failing but next to nothing was ever done. The town has begged for casino grants and have received them despite grants originally intended to fund only education. Now Rising Sun begs to the County to solve problems Bonenberger and his puppets created against their constituents wishes.

    Interesting that when town administrator Calvin Bonenberger was hired over 10 years ago he immediately went to neighboring towns including Nottingham, Pa to sell them water from Rising Sun, this was well before an engineering firm thought Rising Sun should spend over $12 million on a pipeline, when other engineers said adding additional wells would only the town cost $2-3 million dollars.

    It should also be noted that not only does the town have $12 million loan for this unnecessary pipeline that was based on the town needing to add 700 new homes, Rising Sun also has a $10 million loan for its sewer plant. Now Rising Sun wants to annex people into town limits to pay for water, sewer and trash services they will never get the benefit of using.

    As far as I’m concerned revoking Rising Sun’s charter sounds like responsible governing to me as town hall in Rising Sun has been a running joke to knowledgeable townspeople for many many years now. Their time is up!

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