Today In Salisbury’s History: Saturday, March 29, 2003

Saturday, March 29, 2003 —

  • Mayor Barrie Parsons Tilghman has delivered an ultimatum to the rebellious volunteer firefighters at the city’s Station 2: Either join the city department or be kicked off the force. “Failure to sign and return the form will mean you no longer desire to remain as a member,” read a form/letter delivered this week by Fire Chief Stephen Brezler to members at the Naylor Street station. About 27 members of the station voted last month to leave the station and form their own volunteer company. The members have criticized Brezler’s leadership and the city’s interpretation of their station’s autonomy.
  • Wicomico Health Officer Dr. Judith Sensenbrenner and Peninsula Regional Medical Center President & CEO Alan Newberry announced that a nurse who died five days after a mandatory smallpox inoculation was stricken with a heart attack. Officials have been battling the local rumor mill which seemed to declare the unnamed nurse’s death as a result of the inoculation. The federal Centers For Disease Control has been investigation seven smallpox-related deaths in recent weeks, which helped give rise to the Salisbury rumors of a linkage.
  • Based on revenue projections for the remainder of the fiscal year, the Wicomico County Council will support a hiring freeze for all county offices. Springtime hiring freezes have become route the last two years as the county struggles with revenue. The latest blow, according to county Administrative Director Ted Shea, is news that income tax receipts will be $117,000 less than forecast.
  • Sharptown officials on Friday finally removed the confederate flag that an apparent prankster placed last weekend on top of the city’s water tower. Town officials said they didn’t have the safety equipment needed to reach the top and had to schedule an outside firm for the work. Mayor Doug Gosnell said that no law enforcement agencies had been informed of the incident. The flag could be seen from as far away as Route 313.
  • In a public meeting, City Council President C.T. Webster told gas station operator Brenda Cox that “It’s time to put up or shut up” regarding Cox’s effort to have the council members removed in an election recall effort. Cox says she has about 2,900 signatures now and needs just 200 more. The central question, she said, is who will pay the expected $15,000 cost to review the signatures for their authenticity. Cox has criticized the council for paying $96,000 last year to conduct a secret investigation of Police Chief Allan Webster, which produced no evidence of wrongdoing.
  • The attorney representing the city of Salisbury in an $11 million federal lawsuit is formally seeking its dismissal. Former City Police Officer Robert Riccio is suing Chief Allan Webster and three members of his command staff, accusing the department leadership of acting maliciously in its efforts to terminate him. Riccio made headlines in 1999 when he was videotaped on a convenience store surveillance system helping himself to bubble gum and beef jerky while on patrol. Riccio’s lawyer, Charles Jannace III, has said police supervisors withheld and ignored evidence, and unfairly targeted his client.
  • A memorial service was scheduled for Ginger Lashley, the 14-year-old leukemia patient who generated overwhelming public sympathy during her four-year fight. Hundreds of local residents turned out in 1999 to have their bone marrow tested so they could be matched as donors. Lashley was making progress against the leukemia when she was stricken with a rare form of cancer just three months ago.
  • Dr. Ray Hoy, President of Wor-Wic Community College, is asking the County Council for more than $2 million to design and build a 42,000-square-foot Workforce Development Center for the campus on Route 50. Worcester County has been asked to contribute $967,000; $9 million is expected from the state. Hoy said enrollment has grown 50 percent in the past three years. The center would be a three-story building facing Route 50.

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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