PRESTON — The Caroline County Farm Bureau raised more than $4,700 for its scholarship fund during the organization’s annual banquet Friday, Feb. 23, at the Preston Volunteer Fire Company.

The money raised during the silent and live auctions goes toward the scholarship fund, and the organization will give out four scholarships to local students who are attending college.

“We appreciate everyone’s support of the farm bureau and scholarship fund,” said Caroline Farm Bureau President Glen Plutschak. “It is a big deal for us to support local students as they continue their education. We could not do that without the help and support of the community.”

The banquet featured the largest crowd in recent memory, according to the organization. All the tables were packed with community members and local leaders. Thompson’s Seafood Catering provided the buffet meal.

Maryland Farm Bureau First Vice President Wayne Stafford presented the Caroline Farm Bureau with the Government Relations, Promotions and Ag Education and Communications Award of Excellence.

Miss Caroline County Farm Bureau Morgan Bartz recently attended the Maryland General Assembly for the farm bureau and gave an overview of her year.

“I can’t believe how fast my time as Miss Caroline County Farm Bureau has gone by,” Bartz said. “I’ve had so many opportunities. My first event was attending the county fair. I raised money for Sweet Caroline, and then the money went to purchase school supplies for students that are less fortunate.”

During the state fair, Bartz toured several farms around Maryland with the state Farm Bureau. She also attended Christmas in Caroline during the winter and spoke with second-graders at Ridgely Elementary School about agriculture.

“Most recently, I attended Day in Annapolis, where I found out so many bills trying to be put into place to better the agriculture world in Maryland,” she said. “I know there will be many more great opportunities coming my way as Caroline County Miss Farm Bureau.”

Maryland Secretary of Agriculture Joe Bartenfelder joined the banquet and spoke about several bills that could limit the use of pesticides, which would hurt farmers.

He said only the EPA should be allowed to enact such regulations.

Del. Jeff Ghrist, R-36-Caroline, and Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore, gave an update on the state budget.

Ghrist said Marylanders could face $500 million in extra state taxes due to the new federal tax plan. He said the extra taxes come from not being able to itemize deductions.

“The legislator has a choice,” he said. “We can either not do anything and spend that money. The governor (Larry Hogan), in his budget, wants to give the money back to Marylanders.

“Because our property values are not has high in other places, the impact won’t be felt as much in Caroline County than say, Talbot County, Worcester County, or Montgomery or Howard counties. That is a big deal for the budget committee. Gov. Hogan wants to adjust the tax code so the money gets returned to the taxpayers.”

Ghrist said the issue arose because Maryland always has been one of the most taxed states in the country. He said the policies of past administrations led to this issue. He is happy Hogan wants to rectify the situation by helping Maryland taxpayers now, and in the future, he said.

Caroline County Commissioners Wilbur Levengood and Dan Franklin also attended the banquet.

Plutschak thanked Julie Cesarini and Joan Cesarini for organizing the banquet.

“Julie and her mom, Joan, did a fantastic job putting all this together,” he said. “It would not be a success without them.”

Follow Caroline/Dorchester Editor Dustin Holt on Twitter @Dustin_StarDem.

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