Harry Hepbron, Former Cecil Commissioner, Files to Run Again

June 30, 2010

   Harry A. Hepbron, a former vice-president of the Cecil County Board of Commissioners, has filed his candidacy to run again for a seat on the Cecil County Board, according to state Election Board records.

   Hepbron, a long-time farmer and owner of the Dove Valley Vineyards and Winery in Rising Sun, filed as a Republican candidate for the 3rd District County Commissioner’s seat on Tuesday, June 29, according to state election board records.  Hepbron served two terms on the county Board before being defeated for re-election in 2006  by Democrat Brian Lockhart, who is currently the President of the County Board of Commissioners.  Lockhart was scheduled to file for re-election on Wednesday, June 30.

   In an interview with The Cecil Times,  Hepbron said he decided to run again for Commissioner because of his concerns about “wrong turns” taken by the county board in the past four years. He said his top priorities for the county were “jobs, jobs, jobs” as well as economic development initiatives and support of education programs.  He said the current Board had failed to pursue  economic development opportunities and had become bogged down in partisan infighting.

   “I don’t  care if an employer is a Democrat or a Republican,” Hepbron said. “As long as a business is willing to locate in Cecil County and employ our citizens, that is fine with me.”

   Hepbron also said he strongly opposed what he called “the trash tax”– a new fee imposed by the county Commissioners for people who recycle soda cans, plastics and similar items. Such recyclables were previously allowed to be deposited at county landfill and trash transfer stations for free.  Hepbron noted that he appeared at a county Commissioners meeting several months ago and strongly opposed the “trash tax.”  He said he helped initiate a single-stream recycling program as a Commissioner and opposed the current Board’s abandonment of  support for that enviromentally important program.

   “I’m a farmer, vineyard operator and winery owner,” Hepbron said. “It is really important to our local economy and environment to support recycling and environmentally responsible programs.”

   Hepbron said that a top priority would be promoting “value-added agriculture”  and related tourism opportunities in the county, including  more wineries and a  potential new beer micro-brewery industry.  “Agriculture is a key part of our county’s economy and tourism is an important growth area,” Hepbron said. “Let’s put the two of them together for a new economic development initiative.”

  While a commissioner, Hepbron drew fire from some anti-growth activists.  In response, Hepbron said recently that he respected the concerns of such groups and would like to meet with them to address their current concerns.

    During his past service on the board of Commissioners, Hepbron was accused of conflict of interest because his family-owned vending company had past contracts,  signed before he was a Commissioner, for vending machines located in county-owned buildings. Hepbron cited records showing he had recused himself, and walked out of the Commissioners’  board room, whenever any discussion of vending machines occurred.  The vending machine company operated by his son and other familiy members currently has no contracts with the county government, Hepbron said.

  The former county commissioner said he was gratified by the many county residents who have asked him to run again for Commissioner.  “Wherever I go, people ask me to run again,” Hepbron said. “I am grateful for the support of Cecil County residents,” he added.

  Hepbron will face a challenger in the Republican primary, Ted Kolodzey, an employee of a local gym mat company, a  political newcomer and member of the local “Young Republicans” club that is fielding candidates in all three Commissioner races on the ballot this year.

BULLETIN: Re-Elect Signs for Sen. Pipkin, Del. Smigiel Crop Up Overnight

June 29, 2010


    Like some new agricultural crop or weed that grows exponentially in a matter of hours, signs touting the re-election of Sen. E. J. Pipkin (R-36) and his cohort, Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) cropped up overnight throughout southern Cecil County, seeming to answer the question: “what will E.J. do?”

   Pipkin has been toying with the statewide press, refusing to downplay rumors that he was considering a statewide run for Comptroller against incumbent Democrat Peter Franchot.  Pipkin is believed to have commissioned a poll to assess his chances against Franchot, who has amassed an impressive campaign warchest and is very popular in his home area of the populous Montgomery County. While the poll results have not been disclosed, the obvious calculus of a late date entry into the Comptroller race indicates that 2010 is not Pipkin’s time for a statewide run.

   Pipkin would have had to give up a safe Senate seat for an uncertain  statewide run against a popular incumbent.  But just by cooling his heels for another four years, Pipkin would have an excellent shot at the Comptroller slot in 2014, when Franchot is expected to seek the Democratic nomination for governor.

   Pipkin’s refusal to disclose his plans has kept many down-ticket Republicans in limbo.   Del. Richard Sossi, R-36, has said he would run for the Senate seat if Pipkin vacated it. But Sossi filed for re-election to his Delegate seat recently, even though he said he had no idea what Pipkin would do. Sossi told the Cecil Times that he was prepared to withdraw from the House race and run for Senate if Pipkin gave up the seat.

   Smigiel, who has been joined at the signpost with Pipkin, was known to be interested in the Senate seat and a Pipkin statewide run could have set up a Sossi-Smigiel primary battle for the 36th District Senate seat.  Sossi is very popular in the District and would be the odds-on favorite to clobber Smigiel in a GOP primary.

     But now that the “say it with signs” word is out, Sossi seems to be comfortably back in re-election mode. No Democrat has surfaced so far to run against him.

      Smigiel, who failed to carry his home base of Cecil County and also lost in Kent County in 2006, will face well-known Democrat William Manlove (Bill Manlove), who has filed for the delegate seat. Manlove is the former president of the Cecil County Commissioners, a farmer, and environmentalist.

UPDATE: The Cecil Times interviewed Del. Richard Sossi, R-36, from Queen Anne’s County, and he confirmed  Tuesday that he was advised over the weekend by Pipkin that he would seek re-election to his state Senate seat.  (Del. Sossi has been forging an independent course from Pipkin-Smigiel.) Sossi said he was unaware that the Pipkin-Smigel team had put up joint campaign signs in the district. He said he planned to erect his own campaign signs independently.

NEWS UPDATE: State election board records posted online June 30 show that Smigiel filed his candidacy papers for re-election as a Delegate on Tuesday, June 29. However, the database did not reflect a filing by Pipkin.

NEW NEWS UPDATE:  Updated State Board of Election records show that E.J. Pipkin filed for re-election to his state Senate Seat late in the day on 6/30/10.  LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

Feds Drop Plan for Security Training Center in QA County

June 29, 2010

   The federal government has dropped its plan to build a State Department security training center on farmland in Queen Anne’s County, after intense local opposition from environmentalists and community activists. The decision was announced Monday in a letter to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-MD.

   The decision removes what could have been a potent election year issue in the 1st Congressional District, where incumbent Democrat Frank Kratovil had lobbied to get the project for his home county as an economic development boost that would have created an estimated 400 permanent jobs. But Kratovil and other elected officials, including Mikulski and the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners, backed away from the project after community opposition surfaced.

    The pullback from Queen Anne’s County could create a jobs opportunity for the Harford/Cecil County area, in conjunction with the ongoing BRAC expansion of Aberdeen Proving Ground operations.  The federal government already owns the Aberdeen facility, and the nature of the State Department security training would mesh closely with the weapons testing already conducted at Aberdeen. 

    Much of the local opposition in Queen Anne’s County centered on environmental concerns, including noise from weapons training that would impact neighboring farms in the Ruthsburg area. Southern Cecil County residents are already used to the ‘boomers’ and vibrations crossing the airwaves over the Bay from Aberdeen weapons testing.

    The State Department is seeking a location within a short driving distance of Washington, D.C. to consolidate security training for staff assigned to protect embassies and U.S. facilities around the world. Aberdeen’s location just off I-95 would fit that requirement.

    In a letter to Sen. Mikulski, the General Services Administration said that agency and the State Department would continue to seek another site for the training center. (See letter here:  http://mikulski.senate.gov/_pdfs/Press/June2010GSALetterToMikulski.pdf )

    Sen. Mikulski said she had already contacted Secretary of State Hilary Clinton to urge the State Department to consider other Maryland locations. (See Mikulski statement here: http://mikulski.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=326010

     Aberdeen Proving Ground would be an obvious choice.

Cecil Charter Board Reverses Course, Votes for At-Large Council

June 21, 2010

   The Cecil County Charter Board reversed course Monday night, voting to propose a charter form of government in which County Council members would be elected at-large by all voters in the county. The Board had previously proposed election of council members only by residents of their own district.

    The Charter Board voted 6-2 to revise the proposed charter, which has been the subject of multiple public hearings throughout the county for months. Barry Montgomery and Robert Gell voted against the change to at-large election of all council members.

   The Charter Board was appointed by the County Commissioners last year and tasked with producing a proposal to change the form of local government in Cecil County from the current five-member Board of Commissioners to a charter form of government with a County Executive and a County Council. Charter government counties have more local powers than the Commissioner form of government, which requires state General Assembly authorization of most major decisions.

   The Charter Board will present its charter proposal to the county Commissioners July 19 but the Commissioners have no power to make any changes in the document, which will be submitted to voters in a referendum on the November ballot, according to Joyce Bowlsbey, chair of the Charter Board.

   The about-face by the panel on Monday reflected growing concerns that such a significant shift in the way that citizens elect their county representatives could sink the entire charter effort.  Dan Schneckenburger, vice chair of the panel, said that even supporters of a charter form of government had strong concerns about district-only elections.

 County Commissioners are currently elected at-large and that requires all commissioners to campaign throughout the county and listen to citizens’ concerns even if they live outside the Commissioner’s district. But supporters of district-only elections say that some parts of the county, such as the largely rural south county, have unique concerns and issues that are ignored in favor of the more urban areas under the current system once an election is over.

   County Commissioner Robert Hodge (R-5) urged the Charter Board to change the proposal to provide at-large election of council members, saying, “I want the best people” to run for the council,  and district-only election would lead to partisanship and “parochial attitudes.” He said that the current 1st, 2nd and 4th Commissioner districts are largely Democratic in registration and would probably support Democrats. “That’s bad,” Hodge said. “I’m afraid a commissioner would only be looking out for his own back yard” rather than the best interest of the whole county.

   The current Board of Commissioners has three Republican seats– the 1st, 2nd and 5th. However, the 2nd District seat is up for election this year. Republican Rebecca Demmler is not seeking re-election. A candidate for the GOP nomination for the 2nd District seat, Tari Moore, attended the Charter Board meeting and agreed with Hodge that at-large election of County Council members was best for the county. “It would be a lot easier, and cheaper, to have to run only from one district,” she said. “But it’s not good government.”

   The charter proposal would cut the pay of county commissioners and strip them of health and other benefits if a shift to charter government is approved by voters. But charter would add an elected, full-time County Executive, to be paid “not less than” $98,000 a year, plus full benefits.

   Cecil County voters have repeatedly rejected charter government in the past and have also voted down Code Home Rule, a less drastic revision in the form of government. Code Home Rule retains the commissioner system, without a county executive, and provides many of the same powers as charter, and in some cases grants more autonomy from second-guessing by Annapolis than charter government.

   The push for charter this year reflects growing dissatisfaction in Elkton with efforts by some members of the state legislative delegation to micro-manage the county government. In particular, Sen. E.J. Pipkin (R-36) and Del. Michael Smigiel (R-36) sponsored legislation to limit Cecil County Commissioners’ authority on property tax levels and labor relations, prompting the Commissioners to hire a lobbyist and successfully defeat the legislators’ efforts. But Pipkin and Smigiel’s battles with the Commissioners go back many years, before the current board, and they were also defeated on other issues.

   Supporters of charter government have formed a political committee with a website, www.friendsofcharter.com and are expected to campaign for voter support in the referendum.  Pipkin and Smigiel and their allies are expected to oppose charter, which would diminish their power to control the county government from Annapolis.

    However, with just a few weeks left before the election filing deadline, Pipkin has not yet filed for re-election to his Senate seat and is said to be considering a statewide run for Comptroller. Smigiel has not yet filed for re-election as a delegate. Del. Richard Sossi, R-36, has filed for re-election but has told The Cecil Times he would run for the Senate seat if Pipkin vacates it.

Del. Richard Sossi Files for Re-Election–But Hedges Bets Against Pipkin Moves

June 9, 2010

   Del. Richard Sossi, a Queen Anne’s County Republican, has filed for re-election to his 36th District House of Delegates seat– but that doesn’t mean he has a magic divining rod to determine the intentions of State Sen. E.J. Pipkin, who may run for re-election but then again might run for Comptroller and vacate his Senate seat.

   For months, Sossi has, in effect, been running for both his old House seat and for the 36th District Senate seat, raising a substantial campaign warchest that could be used for a race for either post. On Tuesday, June 8, Sossi filed for re-election to his House seat, according to state Elections Board records. Those records also show that Pipkin had not filed for re-election or any other state elected position.

   You wouldn’t want to play poker with Sossi, who is continuing to hedge his bets. “Yes, I filed for re-election,” Sossi told The Cecil Times. “But I also picked up another application to run for Senate and an application to withdraw” from the House campaign, he said with a chuckle.  The filing deadline is less than a month away, and Sossi could still file for the Senate seat if Pipkin decides to vacate it, and then withdraw his House seat candidacy.

   Sossi said he called Pipkin’s office as a courtesy to inform the senator of Sossi’s intentions to file for re-election. But Sossi still has had no word from Pipkin on just what he plans to do.  “In fairness, I don’t think he really knows in his own mind yet what he is going to do,” Sossi said of Pipkin.

    Sossi said he felt it was “the fair thing to do” to send a signal to other Republicans who might be interested in his own seat. Foremost among them is Diana Waterman, vice chair of the Queen Anne’s County Republican Central Committee, who has been on pins and needles waiting for the trickle-down decision-making from on high. Sossi said he called Waterman to inform her of his filing for re-election, and she agreed not to run against him, but would be interested in running if Sossi shifts his focus to the Senate seat.   So far, no Democratic candidate has come forward to run for the seat.

All the mixed signals and silence from Pipkin has roiled some local Republicans– and confounded Democrats– as many potential candidates are left to play a waiting game to see what Pipkin will do. As the Cecil Times reported last fall, https://ceciltimes.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/e-j-pipkin-campaigning-in-cecil-but-for-what-job/ Pipkin has been periodically campaigning with old ‘re-elect” signs and tee shirts implying he would run for his Senate seat. But then his aides insist no decision has been made and that other possible races are still on the table.

    Pipkin appears to be focusing on the state Comptroller position as an alternative to another four years in the state Senate. He is believed to have commissioned a poll to test the waters but the results have not been disclosed. If he does get into the race against incumbent Democrat Peter Franchot, Pipkin would first have to win the Republican primary, in which two others have already filed: William H. Campbell, a political newcomer but an experienced financial manager and former Chief Financial Officer of Amtrak; and a young student from Baltimore County, Brendan Madigan.

    Franchot has been campaigning for re-election virtually from the day he won the post four years ago. He has a current cash-on-hand campaign fund balance of $513,413, according to a report filed in mid-January with the state Board of Elections.  For anyone but Pipkin, that much money in the bank would be a deterrant. But Pipkin , a former junk bond trader in New York, has a long history of self-financing his campaigns and given his past track record could match or even double that amount with his own checkbook.

  All the “what will Pipkin do” speculation hasn’t really changed Sossi’s campaigning. The House and Senate districts are the same– covering all of Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s County and part of Caroline– and Sossi is omni-present throughout the district even in non-election years. He is well ahead of his past fund-raising track record, as the Cecil Times reported in January here:  https://ceciltimes.wordpress.com/2010/01/22/del-richard-sossi-fundraising-success-but-for-which-seat/

  Regardless of what seat he eventually REALLY runs for, Sossi is feeling good about this election season. “It’s going to be a Republican year,” he said, noting the top-of-the-ticket governor’s race by Republican Robert Ehrlich against incumbent Democrat Martin O’Malley should bring out a strong GOP vote that will flow down to lower-ticket GOP races such as his own.

 Sossi was the top vote-getter of all three winning Delegates in the 36th in the last election. Del. Mary Roe Walkup, R,  who placed second in the vote tally last time, has announced she will not seek re-election this year to her Kent County-based seat. Del. Michael Smigiel, R,  of Cecil County, was in last place and did not carry his home county. (The 36th District elects three “resident delegates,” one each from Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties, but voters in all those counties, plus part of Caroline County, vote for candidates from their own and the other counties.)

    Early voting is a new wrinkle in the campaign this year and Sossi said it is unclear what impact it will have on the 36th contests. He said some estimates project early ballots could amount to about 20 percent of the total votes cast. “It is what it is,” he said, adding that it will make it harder for candidates to reach out to voters in the final days of the campaign.

State’s Attorney Contest Gets Heated: UPDATE

June 8, 2010

   The campaign for Cecil County State’s Attorney could be one of the more interesting, and heated, races to watch this year as incumbent Christopher Eastridge and potential challenger Michael Halter– Eastridge’s former deputy– square off, as they did in separate interviews with The Cecil Times on Monday.

    Halter criticized his former boss for not giving prosecutors in the office more “discretion” in handling felony cases, deciding which cases stand the greatest chance of successful prosecution at trial and which cases should be handled with plea agreements. Eastridge shot back that Halter’s  criticism was unfounded and said of his former deputy:  “The position went to his head.”

   As The Cecil Times reported Sunday,( article linked here:   https://ceciltimes.wordpress.com/2010/06/06/michael-halter-files-to-run-against-chris-eastridge-for-states-attorney/ )  Halter filed his candidacy as a Republican last week and a day later, Eastridge filed for re-election as a Democrat. So far, Eastridge is unopposed in the Democratic primary while Halter will face longtime Elkton attorney Ellis Rollins III in the Republican primary. Rollins filed his candidacy last summer but is also seeking a gubernatorial appointment to a vacant Circuit Court judgeship.

  Halter and Eastridge insisted Monday that there was no attempt to orchestrate a challenge to Rollins in the GOP primary as a maneuver to possibly weaken the well-known Rollins for a potential match-up with Eastridge in a general election contest.  And given their comments about one another, it seems clear that Halter and Eastridge are ‘in it to win it.’

  Halter said he did not speak to Eastridge about his plan to run– “That’s just not something you would do with Mr. Eastridge”– but had talked with fellow Republican Rollins twice about his intent to run. “He  urged me not to run,” Halter added.

   Eastridge said it was “well known” that he planned to file for re-election and that it was simply a coincidence that both men filed within a day of each other. “It is not anything I’ve engineered,” Eastridge said.

   Halter said that a key issue in his campaign will be the need for more “discretion” for prosecutors to determine which cases should be brought to trial and which cases should be dealt with through a plea agreement. He said that the “excellent” staff attorneys in the office should be listened to more but now “every case is his,” he said of Eastridge. There were cases that staff felt were too weak to go to trial, but Eastridge insisted on taking them to court “and then these cases fell apart at trial,” Halter said.

    Eastridge countered that “I reserve to myself an appropriate level of authority” to determine which cases should go to trial. He said he consults with staff attorneys and seeks their views in such decisions. “I am not so obsinate as to be unwilling to see the potential pitfalls in certain cases,” he said.

   However, since most of the prosecutors are part-time, “we can’t have a staff meeting every week,” Eastridge noted.

   Halter joined the office as a part-time prosecutor in 2004 and went to full-time status in 2005. He was appointed Deputy State’s Attorney– the number two job in the office– in 2007, to replace the retiring David Parrack. Halter resigned his post in the fall of 2009. He said he decided to leave the office because “Chris controlled everything” and  prosecutors were “forced to try cases I did not think were winnable.”

   Eastridge shot back that Halter “has to accept responsibility” for his own cases and that in one case he reviewed after Halter left, the loss “could have been a question of appropriate instructions to the jury.”

    Both men explained that the heavy caseload requires prosecutors to make difficult decisions on which cases to fight at trial and which cases are best resolved through plea agreements. State speedy trial rules complicate such decisions. Eastridge estimated there are about 400 felony cases a year stemming from grand jury indictments or filing of criminal information documents, and such serious cases are top priority. Another 1,200 cases a year, many of lesser seriousness, are bumped up to Circuit Court when defendants refuse to resolve them in District Court and “pray” a jury trial at the higher court level.

   Eastridge said he “personally reviews” the serious felony cases stemming from indictments before decisions are made whether to take it to trial or seek a plea agreement.

    Halter said another key issue in his campaign would be the nature of plea agreements, which he said should be “binding” in most cases so that a defendant cannot come back a short time later and seek sentence modification from the original judge or subsequent diversion to non-jail programs, such as drug treatment. Halter has been critical of some judges for watering down punishment after a defendant only served a small portion of the original sentence.

    Both men are experienced, knowledgable prosecutors and a November general election campaign would be an interesting education on the law for citizens. But first Halter has to convince voters that he is the better GOP candidate than Rollins, who is an experienced trial attorney but has not been a prosecutor. The Rollins family name is legendary in local legal circles, since both his father and grandfather served as Circuit Court judges.

    Rollins is also still on a list of candidates recommended to the Governor by a judicial nominating commission for a seat on the local Circuit Court bench. One seat is currently vacant and another will be vacated this fall when Judge O. Robert Lidums retires.

    Eastridge applied for a judgeship but was passed over by the nominating panel earlier this year. “I think there was personality politics at work there,” Eastridge said of the panel’s decision. He declined to elaborate.

   Eastridge was elected State’s Attorney in 2002 and re-elected in 2006. He is a graduate of Washington College and received his law degree from the University of Virginia. He also served as deputy State’s Attorney in Kent County from 1999-2002.

    Halter is a graduate of the University of Delaware, with a degree in criminal justice, and holds a master’s degree in criminal justice administration. He received his law degree from Widener University. He and his wife, Megan, have two young children and live in the Fair Hill area.

Michael Halter Files to Run Against Chris Eastridge for State’s Attorney

June 6, 2010

   Michael J. Halter, a veteran Deputy State’s Attorney for Cecil County, has filed as a Republican candidate for State’s Attorney to run against incumbent Democrat Christopher Eastridge, who appointed Halter as his deputy. Halter was once quoted as saying he would never run against Eastridge.

  Eastridge suffered an embarrasing slap in the face from the judicial nominating commission several months ago when he was passed over for recommendation to the Governor for an appointment to the Circuit Court to replace the retired Judge Dexter Thompson. The Governor recently appointed Democrat V. Michael Whelan, a veteran trial attorney and former assistant State’s Attorney, to the judgeship.

  Eastridge just filed for re-election as State’s Attorney on June 2, one day after Halter filed as a Republican candidate for the job, according to state Board of Elections records.

  To compound the political complexities, E.D.E. “Ellis” Rollins III filed as a Republican candidate for State’s Attorney last summer, so Halter and Rollins would face each other in the GOP primary. But Rollins has also hedged his political bets by applying for a judicial appointment. Although Rollins was passed over for the Thompson seat, Rollins remains on the recommended list for one other current vacancy on the Circuit Court, and yet another seat will be vacated in the fall with the upcoming retirement of Judge O. Robert Lidums.

 Rollins is a political newcomer, as is Halter. But as a Republican, Rollins’ chances of getting a judicial appointment from a Democratic governor seeking re-election this year seem slim. Although Rollins has not run for political office before, his grandfather served as the county’s State’s Attorney, state Attorney General and Circuit Court judge, and his father was also a  Circuit Court judge.

 Halter was a full-time prosecutor for much of his tenure with the local State’s Attorney’s office, unlike many of the assistant state’s attorneys who work on a part-time basis as prosecutors while handling civil matters in private practice. Halter joined the office in 2004 and was appointed the Deputy State’s Attorney by Eastridge in 2007, after the retirement of the long-time Deputy, David Parrack.  At the time of his appointment, Halter was quoted in an interview with The Cecil Whig as saying he would “never” run against Eastridge, although he expressed interest in the State’s Attorney job if his boss decided to leave and do something else.

  With a judgeship pass-over by the nominating commission, Eastridge has put his political future on the re-election block.  

  But this is, after all, Cecil County and all things political are often not quite what they seem. Halter’s entry into the GOP primary means that Rollins will have a very credible challenger. The Rolllins family name is golden in the county and Rollins has been a trial attorney but not a prosecutor, while Halter would bring intensive prosecutorial experience to the top job. An aggressive primary campaign could rough up Rollins even if he wins, giving Eastridge an advantage in a general election match-up with Rollins. But if Halter wins the Republican primary, it would set up an intriguing boss-deputy contest, assuming that Halter would want to criticize his former mentor.

   But Halter has not been shy about criticizing some Cecil County judges. He drew some fire in the past for openly criticizing what he saw as  unwarranted leniency toward defendants by some judges, especially Judge Thompson.

Halter has set up a private law practice website, http://www.myelktonlawyer.com/home.html on which he touts his experience prosecuting over 2,000 cases with the State’s Attorney’s office but also emphasizes his skills as a criminal defense attorney who “knows the weaknesses of the State’s case” and would “get the best results for his clients.”  It could not be confirmed Sunday when he left his position as deputy to Eastridge.

  The Cecil Times has left phone messages for Halter and will update this report accordingly. Eastridge could not be reached for comment Sunday, with phone listings reported as disconnected.

NEWS UPDATE: The Cecil Times interviewed both men on Monday and posted a new article on their comments. The story is here: