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Site visits part of annual Business Appreciation Week

By SARAH FLEISCHMAN

Staff writer

Prime Time Children’s & Youth Center in Owings was quiet Tuesday afternoon. At 1 p.m., as dozens of children 5 years old and younger napped on small cots, Commissioners’ Vice President Steve Weems (R) and other Calvert County government representatives tiptoed through the dimly lit classrooms.

As part of the ninth annual Calvert County Business Appreciation Week, commissioners and teams from the Calvert County Department of Economic Development visited 15 local businesses Tuesday to learn about each business’s trials and triumphs and how the county could best assist them.

All was serene at Prime Time, but throughout the day, the center welcomed more than 200 children through age 15, and it’s not an easy task.

“It’s not one of those businesses where you make money,” said Director Brenda Tyrell.

After giving the group a tour of the center’s two buildings, Tyrell told the group — consisting of Weems, Kelly Robertson-Slagle from the DED, Belinda Denton from the Tri-County Council of Southern Maryland and realtor Chris Moore — how it is difficult for her to buy supplies locally for the center.

The Wal-Mart in Prince Frederick does not typically have the items she needs in the quantity necessary for dozens of children. She frequents businesses in Anne Arundel and Charles counties for groceries and supplies. The center provides healthy breakfasts, lunches and snacks to the children each day.

“It frustrates me that I have to go outside of the county,” Tyrell said.

Tyrell mentioned other struggles, like how the road is a private road and a site of illegal dumping and how the state requires water testing four times per year, each costing the center about $1,200. She said she felt like the requirement wasn’t being enforced on all child care centers equally.

In response, Weems said in a phone interview Thursday he would look into the water testing issue to make sure there is a consistent policy in place.

“I want to make sure any issues and concerns are addressed and make certain they [business owners] are successful,” Weems said about the site visits. “Being a small business owner, I understand the struggles.”

Prime Time Children’s & Youth Center celebrates its 25th year in Calvert County this year, Tyrell said.

“She’s been there since 1988,” Weems said. “It’s a testament to her successes.”

Commissioner Susan Shaw (R) said the feedback given during site visits, like the difficulties Tyrell has buying supplies within the county, are researched by the Department of Economic Development to come up with solutions. But sometimes, the solutions are a bit harder to come by.

When Shaw’s group — consisting of Carolyn Hart, president of the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce; Joe Hauxhurst, division chief for inspections and permits for the county; and Ruthie Buckler of the DED — visited Rausch Funeral Home on Tuesday in Lusby, they learned the funeral home will have Calvert County’s only operating crematory — only after a problem with the smokestack is solved.

Owner Bobbi Rausch said a company sold specs to the funeral home, but it received a different smokestack, which will be taller than the two-story building in the Lusby town center and will require guide wires to hold it up, presenting issues with the town center master plan and safety problems in the case of storms and high winds.

Rausch said her business partner and brother-in-law, William Gross, is in contact with the supplier to solve the problem, but Hauxhurst said he would be in contact with her, as well.

“How frustrating for everybody,” Shaw said.

Rausch said traffic at the Broomes Island Road, Port Republic, location can be especially difficult, with cars speeding on the bend as funeral attendees try to cross the street. Sometimes, she even directs traffic herself.

“We’ve buried two people who have died on that curve,” Rausch said.

Rausch Funeral Home has three locations in Calvert County, and the Lusby location, which opened in 2007, is the newest one. The business has had a presence in the county for decades.

“We focus so much on new businesses that we don’t acknowledge the ones that have been here a long time,” Shaw said.

Visiting the newest location in Lusby gave her a chance to show appreciation to the business for staying in Calvert County and for expanding, she said.

“It gave us an opportunity to tell her we value her businesses,” Shaw said.

Other businesses the commissioners visited Tuesday included Edible Arrangements, Family Auto Care, Maryland Country Caterers, Calvert Quilt Shop and others. Additional Business Appreciation Week events during the week included an all-day conference for small business professionals and entrepreneurs and networking events.

sfleischman@somdnews.com