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Ewell Fire Company
Holds Annual Banquet
by Chris Parks

December 28, 1999

The Ewell Volunteer Fire Company celebrated its 42nd year of service with a banquet and dance on December 28. Company President Donnie B. Marsh welcomed approximately 85 fireman and guests at the Ewell Recreation Center. Fire Company Chaplain Junior Evans gave the invocation.

Master of Ceremonies Jennings Evans noted that this would be the last gathering of the company before the start of the new millennium. Evans then gave a brief account of the Ewell Volunteer Fire Company history, which was first organized in 1957 and received its charter in January of 1958. The first fire truck was obtained later the same year and transported to the island by an amphibious landing craft. The Fire Companyís first station was a skipjack sail used to cover the fire truck. A permanent building was erected in 1960, and has received several additions and improvements since. The Ladies Auxiliary, a valuable partner to the company, was formed in 1961.

The Fire Company joined Somerset Countyís 911 system in 1985 and received its first ambulance in 1990. A second ambulance, donated by the Lower Shore Ambulance Squad, was added in September of this year, 2000. In 1997 the company celebrated its 40 years of service with the purchase of a new Barr International pumper.

Over the years, 100 men and three women have served in the Ewell Volunteer Fire Company. There have been three chiefs, 24 presidents, and eight treasurers. At the end of his remarks Evans asked that all fire and ambulance personnel stand and receive a round of applause from the assembled guests.

The next order of business was a tribute to former Chief Elmer L. Evans, who was inducted into the Fireman Historical Foundation of Delmarva Hall of Fame (see adjacent story).

Current Chief Otis Ray Tyler, who has served longer than any chief in the history of the Fire Company, asked for a moment of silence to honor deceased members. Before giving his annual report Chief Tyler thanked the community for its support.

According to Chief Tyler, in 1999 the Ewell Fire Company responded to 1 house call, two smoke alarms, 42 medical calls and set up 14 landing zones for the Maryland State Medevac Helicopter. There were also five mutual aid calls to Station 7 at Tylerton, 10 regular meetings, eight drills, nine continuing education classes for Cardiac Rescue Technicians and EMTs, and 22 instances of collateral duties such as fund raising events. An average of ten members responded to each call, contributing one and half man-hours per call. The total man-hours served by company members for the year was 938. Total property loss to fire was $95,000.

A number of firemen were honored for their years of service. Charlie Evans and Richard "Dickie" Evans received pins for 40 years of service. Jessie Brimer and Phillip Evans earned pins for 35 years of service. Carl Tyler was honored for 30 years of service. John C. Tyler received a pin for 25 years of service. William Glenn Evans reached the milestone of 20 years of service, receiving a letter from the Maryland State Senate, a Ewell Volunteer Fire Company watch and gold card. Richard Evans was recognized for his 10 years of service, and Gary Guy, for completing his fifth year as a member. Chris Parks was named Fireman of the Year. Matt Smith was runner-up.

During his annual report, Company Treasurer Eddie Evans Junior said that total income from grants, contributions and fundraisers for the year amounted to $70,075. Expenditures for the year totaled $58,619, leaving a balance of $11,456.

Ladies Auxiliary President Carol Tyler gave her annual report, thanking Ray Krantz and Richard Evans for helping with the installation of a central air conditioning unit in the Recreation Center. Because of this addition the building can now be used year round for activities. Tyler also thanked the firemen and the community for their support during the past year. Finally she announced that Candace Smith would serve as the Auxiliary's new secretary.

At the conclusion of the ceremonies members and guests danced the night away to the sounds of the band, North Point.

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Pastor Rick Responds

By Reverend Rick Edmund

November 11, 1999

Iím writing in response to the article in the Halcyon about the "bomb threat." I feel that comments were made there that need to be addressed by me in my role as pastor.

The first sentence in the article reports that "the pastor and the board of trustees tried to have me (Chris Parks) arrested." Not true. We were responding to an anonymous (which I donít believe Chris alluded to in the article) quote that was sent through the mail and posted on the church entry during services. After discussion with a member of the trustees, the two of us felt uncertain about the intent of the sender, and thought it best to ask others for opinions about such matters. I contacted our local postmaster and she suggested I call the Sheriffís Department, which I did. A deputy said not to let anyone else handle the paper, and he would be over Monday (this was Friday) to take fingerprints. Both of these individuals were suspicious enough to encourage further investigative action.

I should explain what triggered our suspicions. The quote, which was from John Donne, ends with the words, " never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. The bell referred to is the church bell, which at the time of the author, would toll when someone died. Our concerned was raised because no situation was referenced and no one had signed their name. We felt we could not ignore a reference to death bells tolling for "thee," which seemed to refer to the board of trustees for whom the notice was addressed. Many people had anxious moments over this notice, especially when it was taped (with black tape) to the entryway walls of the church during Sunday Morning services. After a quick consultation with several members of the church, it was decided that I would call the Sheriffís Department and also request that the Maryland State Police be notified.

We were glad to know it was someone like Chris who sent the notice, whom we viewed as not wanting to harm anyone. Upon returning to Rhodes Point, during which time I was not sure what had happened in Ewell, other than knowing the fire siren had gone off and the state police helicopter had landed, I was taken to the church for a meeting of the trustees, a State patrolman, and Chris Parks. We did NOT urge the state trooper to have me arrested. We told the officer to do what he thought was best. The article states that "the only reason I wasnít arrested was because the investigating officer had enough education and sense to see the poem for what it really was." Not true. The officer called his supervisor to explained the situation and read the quote. The supervisor said what we thought might be a threat was too vague to be grounds for arrest. I was relieved because I didnít see how any good purpose would be served by Chris being led away in handcuffs. It is my understanding that the trustees and myself would have wanted to press charges to have Chris arrested, and that was never discussed.

Chrisís second sentence is true Ėthe Maryland State Police did fly here to investigate a threat. But the next two sentences describe that a "letter" had been sent through the mail and that a "letter" had been posted on the church. I donít consider an anonymous quote of an author to b a letter. I think for most of us a letter tells to whom it is addressed and who sent it.

The article states that "it should be clear to everyone in this community that this poem is not a threat to the pastor, the board of trustees or the congregation." That is true now, but it was not then. I shared this notice in church to let everyone know what the notice actually said to eliminate rumors, and several people urged me not to stay in the parsonage alone until this was settled. Although he didnít intend for this to happen, I donít yet think Chris realizes how upset some people were, and I donít believe he apologized in his article for the trouble he caused, although he did say he was sorry at the church meeting on that Sunday.

I donít believe what Chris wrote can be considered an "article," but is more an editorial comment on his point of view of the incident.

I have been here four months now and have started to meet all members of the community Ėboth churchgoers and non. For the most part I have been encouraged of how we help one another no matter where we are on Sunday mornings. One positive point of Chrisís article was to point out some issues that do need to be considered and possibly addressed in our community. It would be good to check that we are "loving our neighbors as ourselves." Chris also felt that some church members shut out those who didnít attend. It may well be that we need to reach out more to the unchurched and give them the opportunity to feel comfortable attending services. The poem Chris quoted should speak to us all as a reminder that when one of the island folks hurts, we all hurt. But the message was lost in the way it was presented.

I think most of us were willing to let the events surrounding this supposed "threat" just go away, but this article in the halcyon (which seem created to serve as a sounding board" just sirs up more animosity. The word "Halcyon" refers to a bird related to the kingfisher, which is supposed to bring calm to the seas. Sometimes we need to be stirred up to bring about change, and Iím hopeful that something positive will come out of what has happened on our Island concerning this supposed "bomb threat."

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Navy to Monitor Sonic Booms
in Smith Island Area

By Chris Parks

January 18, 2001

In 1998 the Naval Air Station at Patuxent River did an environmental impact study to look at the effects of base operations on the general health of the Chesapeake Bay and its communities. One of the effects studied was the noise resulting from aircraft operations. Of particular concern was how loud the sonic booms were that sometimes rattle windows and shake houses.

Russ Miller, a Project Manager with DynCorp, contacted the Halcyon in early December. He explained that the Navy is placing monitors throughout the Chesapeake Bay area to further study the effects of sonic booms. He is interested in placing one of the monitors on Smith Island. The monitors are relatively small, about the size of shoeboxes, and use no more power than electric clocks. To install one, Miller needs a relatively tall building with an accessible 110-power outlet.

Navy helicopter at straight stretch

Isaac Dize, Mark Luncher, Russ Miller and Chris Parks
Mr. Millerís first attempt to visit Smith Island on December 27 was thwarted when ice forced the cancellation of the evening run of the Island Belle. Finally, on January 11, Miller and his team were flown to the island by a navy helicopter, which startled a number of residents by landing near the "Straight Stretch" portion of Smith Island Road. With Miller were Richard Gallant, an environmental analyst, Mark Luncher from the baseís environmental office, and Brian Seraile of the public affairs office.

Mr. Isaac Dize volunteered to have the monitor placed on the electrical pole behind his house. The unit will be installed sometime in the near future. According to Mark Luncher, the Sonic Boom Monitor (SBM) is essentially a pressure transducer that measures and records changes in air pressure. It can be set to trigger at very low-pressure levels, able to detect pressure changes from sounds that would be barely audible. The Navy team will set the trigger level to 1 Ė 2 pounds per square foot initially. A change of six pounds per square foot would be very loud but not loud enough to shatter windows. If they need to, they will be able to change the settings remotely. When the unit is triggered, a cell phone automatically calls the Base Air Operations Center with the data. Miller and his team hope to learn more about the effects of sonic booms by using the sensors. Luncher said that such sound focusing information can help keep sonic events away from the island and other communities.

More units may be placed at Point No Point, Bishops Head, at the Patuxent Naval Air Station and in other locations around the Bay and the Northern Neck of Virginia.

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