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Andy Harris defends election challenges, Trump promises ‘orderly transition’ after Capitol chaos

EASTON — U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st, is defending his objections to Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump.

Harris faces criticism from Democrats and anti-Trump Republicans who are upset with the challenges and the Eastern Shore conservative sticking with those objections after protesters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday.

Some critics are calling for Harris and other Trump supporters who backed objections to Biden’s win to resign or be expelled from Congress. The Maryland Democratic Party has specifically called for Harris to step down.

“I have routinely and consistently rejected violent protests, whether in the case of yesterday, or last summer. Democrats are calling for unity, yet also calling for the expulsion of Members who objected in yesterday’s Electoral College count. Today, some Marylanders are even calling for my resignation, which I will not do,” Harris said in a statement on Thursday, Jan 7.

Harris and other Trump allies had launched their first objections to Biden’s Electoral College win on Wednesday when pro-Trump protesters overran the Capitol after an earlier rally in front of the White House. Both chambers of Congress were locked down and a woman, who supports Trump, was shot and killed potentially by police.

Harris represents the Eastern Shore and areas north of Baltimore. He said the certification challenges were not about overturning the election.

“My colleagues and I held legitimate Constitutional concerns about how the November election was conducted in certain states and felt compelled to highlight those concerns during the formal vote count. We did not call for the overthrowing of an election. Joe Biden will be president on January 20th. Some of my colleagues, including those still in the Maryland delegation, offered objections in 2017 when counting the electoral votes for President Trump. Congress is afforded the right to count, and object, to electoral votes, which we utilized yesterday to highlight concerns we had regarding the November election. There was nothing treasonous or seditious about it in 2017, nor this year,” Harris said.

Social media platforms — including Facebook and Twitter — have banned Trump after the chaotic protests in D.C.

A White House spokesman issued a statement from Trump on Thursday saying he would abide by the 2020 results. “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!,” Trump said portending a run again in 2024.

A number of Trump critics — including U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican — want the president out of office immediately

“I think there is no question that America would be better off if the president would be resigned or removed from office,” Hogan said during a briefing in Annapolis on Thursday, Jan. 7.

Police allege Queen Anne's man led drug trafficking ring

CENTREVILLE — Six people have been charged in connection to what police have described as a significant drug trafficking organization on the upper Eastern Shore.

They include Terrance Darnell Brooks Jr., 41, of Millington, who allegedly headed the drug ring, according to a Jan. 7 news release from the Maryland State Police.

Also charged are Terrance Darnell Brooks Sr., 64, of Millington; Chestertown area residents Carrie Hope Harris, 40, and Aaron Ashley Garnett, 49; and Michael David Bragg, 54, and Joanne Marie Bragg, 75, both of Elkton.

The investigation is continuing. Additional arrests are pending, according to the news release.

The Queen Anne’s County Drug Task Force initiated investigation into suspected distribution of large amounts of opioid pills and cocaine in the county.

The task force requested and received assistance from the Maryland State Police Heroin Investigative Unit during the summer and fall of 2020. Multiple law enforcement agencies from Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline and Talbot counties,, including the Kent County Narcotics Task Force, ultimately provided assistance.

Queen Anne’s Sheriff Gary Hofmann applauded the joint law enforcement teamwork and commitment to keeping the community safe and free of illegal drugs.

“As I have often said, if you are dealing drugs it’s only a matter of time before we hunt you down and arrest those responsible for killing our community,” Hofmann said in the news release.

“If you have a substance abuse issue we will help you,” Hofmann said, “but we will not tolerate drug sales in and around our community.”

According to police, the investigation confirmed that an organization believed to be led by Terrance Brooks Jr. was involved in the daily distribution of both powder and crack cocaine and illegal opioid prescription pills in Kent and Queen Anne’s counties.

Police said evidence was developed that enabled investigators to obtain 12 search warrants for four residences, five vehicles and two individuals.

The homes searched were located in Millington and Chestertown. Two of the warrants were served at the same address.

Police recovered suspected powder cocaine, oxycodone, Adderall and Alprazolam pills, Suboxone strips, an assault pistol, a shotgun and two handguns, according to the news release.

Four vehicles and more than $17,000 in cash believed to be connected to the drug operation were seized.

The first person to be arrested was Terrance Brooks Jr.

Police on Nov. 17 served a knock-and-announce warrant at 405 Spring Road in the Queen Anne’s County portion of Millington. Police identified this as Brooks’ residence.

According to court records, police seized 38.1 grams of suspected cocaine; 150 oxycodone pills; drug paraphernalia; more than $12,000 in cash; and a loaded Ruger .44 caliber single-action revolver.

Police reported that a search of the National Crime Information Center indicated the gun was stolen from Caroline County.

The revolver was located under Brooks’ mattress and was not secured with a gun lock, according to court documents.

Police reported that Brooks’ three juvenile children were in the residence and could access the gun and drugs, which were not secured.

Brooks is charged with possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute (four counts); possession of oxycodone with the intent to distribute; possession of drug paraphernalia (five counts); use of a firearm during a felony; use of a firearm in a drug trafficking crime; illegal possession of a regulated firearm (two counts); illegal possession of a stolen regulated firearm; reckless endangerment; and neglect of a minor.

He remains held without bail.

Terrance Brooks Sr. was arrested Dec. 2 and charged on a criminal summons with possession of an illegal assault weapon. He was released on personal recognizance.

According to online court records, Terrence Brooks Sr. also lives at 405 Spring Road.

Garnett, who was arrested Dec. 14, and Harris, who was arrested Dec. 18, also were released on personal recognizance. Their Chestertown addresses are in Queen Anne’s County, according to the online state Department of Assessments and Taxation website.

Garnett was charged with possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute; possession of cocaine (two counts); possession of drug paraphernalia; possession of controlled dangerous substance packaging materials; and maintaining a common nuisance.

Harris was charged with possession of cocaine; possession of oxycodone with the intent to distribute; conspiracy to possess oxycodone with the intent to distribute; possession of oxycodone; and conspiracy to possess oxycodone.

Michael Bragg and Joanne Bragg, both arrested Dec. 22, were charged with conspiracy to distribute oxycodone; conspiracy to possess oxycodone with the intent to distribute; distribution of oxycodone; and possession of oxycodone with the intent to distribute.

They have the same address, according to an online case search of the Maryland Judiciary.

Michael Bragg is being held without bail.

Joanne Bragg was released on $2,500 unsecured personal bond.

In the news release, Queen Anne’s State’s Attorney Lance Richardson said: “On behalf of the State’s Attorney’s Office, we would like to convey our great appreciation of law enforcement’s efforts in this investigation. The Queen Anne’s County Drug Task Force has worked tirelessly and steadily in their fight against drug dealers. Our community is overwrought by those who are willing to make a buck by exploiting those who suffer drug addiction. But we will not stop in our fight against them.”

Hurlock man charged in Christmas shooting

CAMBRIDGE — A Hurlock man has been charged in the Christmas night shooting in Cambridge.

Cambridge Police arrested Charles B. Bibbs III, 42, about 11 a.m. Jan. 7. He is being held without bail in the Dorchester County Detention Center on charges of attempted first-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, handgun and other related charges.

The charges stem from an altercation between two men that occurred about 9:30 p.m. Dec. 25 in front of the Elks Lodge on Pine Street. Bibbs ended up on the ground, where he pulled out a gun and shot the other man in the abdomen, according to Capt. Justin Todd.

The shooting victim was flown to University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore and is currently recovering from his injuries, Todd said.

A bail review for Bibbs is set for Friday morning, Jan. 8, in Dorchester County District Court. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 20.

Cambridge Police are still looking for a suspect in a Dec. 21 shooting. A victim was found with a gunshot wound to their back about 8 p.m. on Leonard’s Lane. Their investigation determined the shooting took place in the Philip/Moore street area.

No suspect has been identified yet in the Oct. 25 shooting death of Khalil St. Croxie Reid, 21, of Laurel, Delaware. Reid was found lying on the ground in a grassy parking area in the 600 block of Chesapeake County. That case was turned over to Maryland State Police.

Police continue to look for Ryshon Kelly, 36, of Cambridge, who is wanted on a first-degree murder charge in the Oct. 24 stabbing death of Roderick Russ Jr., 28, also of Cambridge.

Police are also looking for Tiara Latanya Cromwell, 39, of Cambridge, who is wanted in connection to a bank robbery that occurred Dec. 22 at 1880 Bank.

Anyone with information in any of these cases is asked to contact Cambridge Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Division at 410-228-3333.

Brighter Christmas Fund donations top $98K

Your donation to The Star Democrat‘s Brighter Christmas Fund has helped over 1,600 children and nearly 700 families during the 2020 holiday season.

From Nov. 24 through Dec. 31, 2020, The Star Democrat and its sister newspapers published stories each day about families in Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Queen Anne’s and Kent counties who struggled to provide a Christmas for their children. These stories were the only way The Star Democrat solicited donations for the Brighter Christmas Fund.

Because of your generosity, parents and caregivers were able to provide gifts for their children. The Star Democrat donated 100% of the Fund’s administrative and operating costs.

We are pleased to continue acknowledging all those who have generously donated to the Fund in 2020, as we are still receiving donations through the mail.

The Brighter Christmas Fund is a 501(c)(3) charity, and tax-deductible donations, which also help other families in need on the Mid-Shore, may be sent to The Brighter Christmas Fund, c/o The Star Democrat, P.O. Box 600, Easton, MD 21601. Donations also may be made online via credit card or Paypal at www.brighterchristmasfund.org. Click the “Donate” button. For more information about the Fund, call 410-200-1884 or email bcf@chespub.com.

The total to date is: $98,845.75.

Those sharing the spirit of giving with others this holiday include:

Norman & Marion Shannahan

In memory of Richard “Dick” Cooper and Chris Cooper Watkins

Martin Hughes and Mary Ann Shindler

Linda Goss

Paul and Barbara Ayers

Terry Schaefer and Gail Donaway

In memory of Pete Fisher

David and Pamela Baker

Neal and Patricia O’Shea

Silas Morton Creech and Linda Creech

John and June Wagner

Diane and Gene Katz

From Cooper and Tebow

John and Janice Foss

Ellen Wile

Robert Case

In memory of our parents John and Mary O’Mara and Bill and Bunny Myers

Andrew and Kellee McLean

In loving remembrance of Edwin, Eunice and Levin Bailey

John and Mary Ellen Hutchison

In memory of Dottie Streaker

In memory of Marie Haymaker Davis

Tom and Wendy Wilson

In memory of Judith J. Compton

Paulette and Al Lawing

In loving memory of Doug Edsall

Penny and Jim Reynolds

Coats Lodge No. 102, A.F. & A.M.

Billie Jane and Warren Marton

John Huntington

In memory of Bill and Betty Weisman

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Shore hospitals see COVID-19 patient surge, will stay 'nimble' as pandemic endures

EASTON — University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is seeing more patients with COVID-19 after the holidays than it has seen since the pandemic began. The system says the rise was expected but has prompted a flexible response.

Trena Williamson, a spokesperson for Shore Regional, declined to say how many coronavirus-infected patients are currently being cared for among the region’s three hospitals. Williamson said patient bed availability “frequently changes” across the hospital system.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Shore Regional hospital at Easton has averaged 21 COVID-19 patients per day based on 7-day averaged data from Dec. 25 through Dec. 31.

Ninety-three percent of the hospital’s adult in-patient beds were in use last week, the data show, and 28% of those were occupied by COVID-19 patients.

HHS coronavirus patient data were not available for the Chestertown and Cambridge UM SRH hospital locations, but the agency reported 81% of in-patient beds were in use last week at Chestertown.

“Similar to most hospitals across Maryland, with the wider community spread of COVID this fall, we are caring for more individuals with COVID illness than in the spring while maintaining delivery of care for non-COVID related conditions such as surgeries, cancer treatment and care for heart or neurologic illnesses,” Williamson said in a statement.

The hospital spokesperson, in response to questions about Shore Regional’s preparedness for patient surges related to the coronavirus pandemic, said, “We are regularly revisiting our labor and surge plans.”

Williamson said Shore Regional is focusing on “maintaining the ability to be nimble to respond to local emergency and inpatient care needs quickly, safely and effectively.”

She named “multiple strategies” the system has to increase its staffed bed capacity if needed, including operationalizing the surge designated mobile hospital in Easton, redeploying personnel to areas of need, changing ratios, and offering opportunities for extra shifts.

Hospitalizations among Talbot County residents have increased since Thanksgiving Day on Nov. 26, with 26 residents requiring hospital care for virus-related illness within a six-week time span.

Just under 670 residents have tested positive for the virus since Thanksgiving Day, accounting for 46% of local cases reported during the entire pandemic.

The county is reporting 206 active cases as of Thursday. Twelve residents have died due to the pandemic, and 88 have been hospitalized to date.

As for how many of the regional hospital system’s employees have been vaccinated against COVID-19, Williamson declined to provide specific numbers or percentages.

She said, as of last week, the system had scheduled 32 vaccination clinics at its three hospitals and will continue running clinics at various outpatient locations.

”We are receiving regular distribution of vaccine from the state through University of Maryland Medical System COVID Incident Command and are administering all the vaccine to our team members as we receive supply,” Williamson said.

She said the hospital system expects to continue receiving regular vaccine supply for first doses and will begin administering second doses in the coming weeks.