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Knott, Rota – AHS8200 - Week 4 Journal

Monday, February 5, 2018 (12–4 p.m.)

We held a strategic planning session for the Somerset County Local Management Board
Inc.’s Board of Directors today. Despite only about half of the board members attending, we
had a spirited and lengthy discussion about the high poverty rate in the county, its causes,
what may work to address it, and partners who need to be involved. Leading causes
identified were a community mindset of hopelessness, high unemployment, low levels of
educational attainment, and lack of transportation.

Led by a consultant from the Clear Impact Group, we completed a “Turn the Curve”
exercise to develop a list of ideas for what may work to help bring people out of poverty and
who the partners are to make it work. Ideas included developing a summer youth
employment program to help provide job-specific training, soft skills development, and
connections to employment opportunities.

It was one of just a few times since I had worked for the Somerset County Local
Management Board Inc. that I felt the board members were actively engaged in planning of
our programs. Largely, I have had to take the lead in the past, gather data, and present the
programs to them. At times, I have felt like certain members of the board were just rubber-
stamping whatever I put in front of them. This time, I felt like those who attending the
strategic planning session were truly invested in digging deep to the root causes of poverty in
the community and in finding ways to initiate change.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018 (1:30–3 p.m.)

I learned today that yet another grant for which I had hoped to apply for funding to support
a college access program is no longer available. The Governor’s Office for Children held its
monthly meeting for all Local Management Boards and I participated via a conference call.
Representatives from GOC announced that they were recalling a notice of funding
availability for competitive grants for FY19. GOC had promised an additional $2 million in
funding would be made available through the competitive grants next year, but the
Governor did not include the funding in his state budget proposal. I was hoping to apply for
additional funding through the competitive grant program to support development of a
college and career access program through the LMB. It is becoming very stressful as I search
for opportunity for funding for a program. It will be hard to put together the final pieces of
my capstone project if I can’t find at least one viable grant.

Thursday, February 8, 2018 (1:30–3:30 p.m.)

I find it interesting that wherever I go, whatever the topic of the meeting I attend, and
whomever are the partners, we end up discussing some of the same issues over and over. I
have started participating as a member of a Lower Shore Suicide Prevention Coalition.
While it is supposed to cover Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties, it is largely
facilitated by individuals from Worcester County, including the health department. At every
meeting I have attended, I have been the only Somerset County representative. That makes
me feel a bit out of place. I feel like have to be the voice for every agency in the county but
at the same time I don’t necessary feel like my opinion holds the same weight as everyone
else’s. I am also very disappointed that no one else from Somerset County, or even
Wicomico, participates.

During the meeting, we discussed the professions with the highest suicide rates and how to
provide prevention efforts to individuals engaged in those career fields. That led to a
discussion specifically about watermen, farmers, and foresters in the county and how to
reach out to them, including through youth groups like Future Farmers of America and 4-H.
I had not thought about working specifically with those groups before in areas related to my
capstone project, but it may be beneficial to learn more about what then needs our in our
community from employers in related fields.

Saturday, February 10, 2018 (6-8:30 p.m.)

This evening was the annual banquet for the Princess Anne Area Chamber of Commerce. I
attended on behalf of the Somerset County Local Management Board, Inc. It was a well-
attended event with representatives from the state legislature, county commissioners, and
other local officials on hand. I didn’t know very many people at the event so I was a little
uncomfortable attending, but everyone was polite and made me feel welcome.

The guest speaker was the county sheriff, and one of the issues he discussed was the
difficulty in recruiting individuals to join his law enforcement agency. A member of the
audience said the state is also having problems in hiring correctional officers at Eastern
Correctional Institution, a prison located in Somerset County, with dozens of position
vacant. That sparked a larger conversation about challenges of attracting people to certain
types of jobs in the county. The state’s attorney remarked that those are well-paying
benefited jobs, but the negative publicity surrounding law enforcement may be discouraging
people from pursuing careers in that field. Others said short staffing is forcing many existing
law enforcement and correctional officers to work large amounts of overtime, and as a result
they are fatigued and leaving the field.

I work closely with our law enforcement agencies on a daily basis, and I have heard their
leaders repeatedly talk about being short-staffed. However, I never really connected their
staffing issues with the public perception of jobs in law enforcement or corrections until it
was mentioned at the chamber dinner. Encouraging youths to consider applying for jobs in
those career fields may fit in well with a college and career access program in Somerset
County. I am interested in talking more with law enforcement officials about that issue.