Let's go to the mailbox, shall we, folks?
Over the past seven days, readers have provided more to chew on than a loaf of 100 percent fiber bread with a Metamucil chaser - shaken, not stirred.
Here's a sampling.
After last week's column that highlighted poaching on the Eastern Shore and urged readers to write to the prosecutors handling the cases - Talbot County's Scott Patterson and Kent County's Robert Strong Jr. - Hugh Delaney posed this:
"It's a shame that so many people take time and tons of money trying to keep the bay one-tenth sustainable but these jerks get a mere fine. Maybe our tax-raising General Assembly could spend some time on really important issues, like raising this crime to a felony status!
"I am sure Mr. Patterson and Mr. Strong are going to get an earful. Like America's Most Wanted, maybe [The Sun] should routinely list the Chesapeake's Most Undesirable. "
Ask and ye shall receive, Hugh. Here you go, five new candidates for CMU.
After a monthlong investigation, Natural Resources Police cited five watermen last week with 184 violations involving the poaching of striped bass on the Sassafras River near Betterton.
Innocent until proven guilty are: Harold W. Cheyney III, 42, of Warwick, Joseph A. Kennedy Jr., 43, and Scott A. Siter, 20, both of Chestertown in Kent County. Each was charged with more than 30 counts of setting illegal gill nets, failing to tend or retrieve nets and possessing more net than their license allowed. Officers seized 506 pounds of striped bass and three boxes of nets from their boat.
John F. Stallard, 52, and Christopher D. Stallard, 30, both of North East, were charged in Kent and Cecil counties with multiple counts of setting illegal gill nets and failing to retrieve them, and one count of possessing in excess of 600 yards of net per licensee. Officers seized 330 pounds of striped bass and two boxes of net from their boat.
Court records indicate that when it comes to natural resources, Kennedy and Cheyney consider what's ours, theirs. For example, Kennedy has been convicted of fishing for striped bass without a license and killing too many geese. His friend has been found guilty of fishing for striped bass without a permit and catching undersized stripers.
All five watermen have dates in Kent County District Court on May 1. The Stallards will also appear in Cecil County District Court on May 6.
Ken Penrod, Maryland author, fishing guide and man about town, forwarded me this letter he wrote to Salisbury Mayor Barrie Tilghman and Jay Sakai, director of water management at the Maryland Department of the Environment:
"It's come to my attention that another sewage treatment spill [March 24] has occurred in the Wicomico River. ... I have been fishing the Wicomico for more than 30 years and it seems like the wastewater spills have been going on throughout my tenure.
"I have written books wherein I ranked the Wicomico as second-best of all the Chesapeake Bay tributaries for largemouth bass. I'm reluctant to bring clients there since the water quality has degraded so."
Well, Ken, The Daily Times of Salisbury reported that the city has been responsible for five spills in the past three years, totaling 1.09 million gallons of sewage, so it seems your concern is justified. But city officials said they are spending $80 million to double capacity at the wastewater treatment plant by September, so perhaps the end is in sight.
Fisherman supreme Wayne Blottenberger of Churchville recently sent a letter to the Department of Natural Resources that was circulated to fellow anglers about "deplorable and unsafe conditions" at Susquehanna State Park that include run-down buildings and trails:
"Would you honestly consider [Lapidum Boat Ramp] a safe ramp to be used by the general public or anyone for that matter? I didn't include photos of damaged or missing rails or how it's impossible to launch at low tide because of silting. Compare this ramp with others in the state which are larger with fresh drinking water, [concessions], phones with lots of parking for cars, trucks, and boat [trailers]."
Lt. Col. Chris Bushman, the second in command of Maryland's state parks, sympathizes with Blottenberger and promises that with a beefier budget from the General Assembly, his staff is able to start addressing the maintenance backlog.
"We're no happier than our visitors with the lack of progress and resources to deal with it. But that doesn't mean we don't care," Bushman said. "I think park users will start to see improvements as we begin to allocate our new resources."
Repairs to the tollhouse and Rock Mansion are scheduled for this calendar year. A Maryland Conservation Corps crew will be working on the Greenway Trail. A new boat ramp is in the design phase, with the contract expected to be awarded this fall.