Summer Solstice and Thoughts About Birds by Nancy Mugele

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Welcoming Summer on my porch today watching the red-winged blackbird dine on my finally-filled bird feeder. The longest day of the year just might find me sitting on this porch all day long – lazy ceiling fans above match my mood. I am on a much needed staycation this week in my new hometown and I am really trying to resist email, social media and happenings at my school. I am not doing such a good job as I have already been there once to finish reading report cards and sign Honor Roll certificates. In my spare time I am reading from a stack of novels that have been on my coffee table since spring break, notating in some new educational texts, savoring Jamie Kirkpatrick’s Musing Right Along and doing some writing.  

My husband is in Baltimore today so the house is mine. I am not usually home alone during the week. My neighbors are at work or out of town and the quiet is a blessing – except for all of the birds chattering away in my yard. I am not a bird lover. Too many viewings of Hitchcock’s movie and living with pigeons in NYC as a young twenty-something fueled my dislike. Truth be told birds really scared me. 

When we found the red roof inn there was an osprey nest in the Chester by our dock. Instead of immediate disgust, I, strangely, felt a sense of calm. I knew it was an omen as Kent School’s mascot is the Osprey but I did not know at the time that it would completely ease my irrational fear of birds. Our two osprey – fondly named Olive and Oscar – sit stoically upon their roost. They arrived as predicted in April and we were so happy to welcome them to our family. We watched in awe as they built their love nest of wild branches. The first baby osprey sighting was on Mothers’ Day and we were thrilled by its existence. We mourned its loss days later when we realized it had simply disappeared. No explanation. The osprey talk loudly all day (like our family when we are all together) yet I wonder how sad they must be. I have grown very attached.

We also inherited a bird motel on a high rusted pole near the water’s edge. We need to take it down as it leans precariously towards the house, but it has no vacancies at the moment. So I sit, transfixed by all of the comings and goings of our birds. Funny thing, quiet, because it never really is. The birds’ calls to each other signaling new seeds or new flowers interrupt my solitude yet I feel like I have friends visiting my porch. Friends with huge appetites as the food I offered this morning has been devoured by day’s end. A lonely blue jay searches for the last remnants. There are a few morsels left but don’t get me started on the squirrels. 

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at the Kent School in Chestertown

Recovery: Maryland Approves Pharmacies Dispensing Naloxone

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The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recently announced that Dr. Howard Haft, the agency’s Deputy Secretary for Public Health, issued a new statewide standing order that allows pharmacies to dispense naloxone, the non-addictive lifesaving drug that can reverse an opioid overdose, to all Maryland citizens. The order follows legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Larry Hogan that included a Hogan administration proposal to enable all citizens to access naloxone. Previously, naloxone was available only to those trained and certified under the Maryland Overdose Response Program.

“As the opioid epidemic has evolved, we have worked steadily to expand access to naloxone,” said Dr. Haft. “Pharmacies play an important role in providing access to naloxone and counseling on how to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose. This order is yet another tool to fight this crisis and to provide immediate assistance to overdose victims.”

The Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act, a bipartisan omnibus bill passed during the 2017 legislative session that contains provisions to improve patient education and increase treatment services, included the Hogan administration’s proposed Overdose Prevention Act. This updated standing order resulting from the new law further eliminates barriers to naloxone access for anyone who may be at risk of opioid overdose or in a position to assist someone experiencing an opioid overdose.

“By allowing even more people access to naloxone, we’re helping to save lives,” said Clay Stamp, executive director of the Opioid Operational Command Center. “We must remember though, that ultimately, those suffering from the disease of addiction or substance use disorder must be linked to additional treatment to aid in their recovery.”

Single doses of naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, have been demonstrated as effective in reversing a heroin overdose. However, more potent drugs such as fentanyl tend to require multiple doses to reverse an overdose. Emergency services—calling 911 or taking someone to a hospital’s emergency department—should always be sought in an overdose situation.

The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s 2016 Drug-and Alcohol-Related Intoxication Deaths in Maryland Report, released earlier this month, revealed that 2,089 individuals died from overdoses last year, a 66 percent increase from 2015’s data. For more information on opioid overdose recognition and response, click here.

In March, Governor Hogan declared a State of Emergency in response to the heroin and opioid crisis ravaging communities in Maryland and across the country. This declaration activated the governor’s emergency management authority and enables increased and more rapid coordination between the state and local jurisdictions. The Opioid Operational Command Center, established by Governor Hogan in January through an Executive Order, facilitates collaboration between state and local public health, human services, education, and public safety entities to combat the heroin and opioid crisis and its effects on Maryland communities.

Before It’s Too Late is the state’s effort to bring awareness to this epidemic—and to mobilize resources for effective prevention, treatment, and recovery. Marylanders grappling with a substance use disorder can find help at BeforeItsTooLateMD.org and 1-800-422-0009, the state crisis hotline. 

The Spy’s George Merrill Wins Award from Chesapeake Press Association

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The Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association met last weekend and awarded Spy columnist George R. Merrill their “Outstanding Editorial and Commentary” award for an essay he aired on Delmarva Public Radio in August of 2016. The commentary explores the myths underlying our political philosophies and how they are rooted in the Judeo Christian tradition of the western world.

This is the third year Merrill has received awards for his editorial comments aired on Delmarva Public Radio.

Listen to the essay by accessing this link

Finding True North in Chestertown with Help from ‘She She on High’ by Nancy Mugele

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True North is often used to describe one’s inner moral compass. For me this past year, True North has had even deeper meaning as it symbolizes the perfect alignment of my personal and professional life in historic Chestertown.

July marks one year that my husband and I have lived on the Chester – beginning a new chapter as empty-nesters (unless you count our resident osprey). The Red Roof Inn – affectionately named by our three grown children – is our True North and we stand (or maybe sit, with glass in hand) in awe of the artisan sunset painted on our sky each evening.

We moved to Chestertown from the Baltimore suburbs for my career. I have the distinct honor and privilege to be the Head of Kent School. Located at the very end of Wilkins Lane amidst a working farm and sitting on the bank of the Chester River, I have grown to love the School and our learning community in ways I did not even realize I would. With deep gratitude to my husband, who commutes to Baltimore a few days a week, Kent School, for me, is also True North. I feel a great sense of peace as I drive onto campus in the morning knowing, without doubt, that it is the place I am meant to be.

I only ever really wanted a few simple things in my life. A small hometown with a red-brick covered main street, a fan-cooled screened-in porch with a view, a magnolia and a lilac tree. And, a calling that leaves me intensely joyful and exhausted at the end of each day.

I will forever treasure my new True North(s). Thank you, Chestertown, for welcoming us and for inspiring me.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at the Kent School in Chestertown

Lost Dog Alert: Gus is Missing in Quaker Neck

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The family dog of Jon and Beverly Jones has gone missing in Quaker Neck. Gus went missing on May 31.  He is a black lab and golden retriever mix. He is six years old, about 80 lbs. and very calm and friendly.
He is unaltered and does not have a chip. Please call  on cell: 443-480-3377 or landline: 410-778-1536 if you find him or with info. There is a $500 reward with no questions asked.
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http://chestertownspy.org/2017/05/20/105210/

GCI Announces “Open for Business” Recipients

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The Greater Chestertown Initiative’s  “Open for Business in Chestertown” program announced three recipients of “kickstarter” funding for new or expanding businesses in downtown Chestertown.

Bill and Andrew Short of Eastern Interiors; Chris Tilghman of SheShe on High; Carla Massoni and Lani Seikaly of the Greater Chestertown Initiative; and Dale Hornstein and Sharon Puckett of Tiny Tots Boutique

Chosen to receive funding were Chris Tilghman for SheShe on High; Sharon Puckett & Dale Hornstein for Tiny Tots Boutique; and Bill & Andrew Short for Eastern Interiors.

the Open for Business program invites entrepreneurs to submit requests for funding. Awards are made in the form of matching funds and virtually interest free loans. The program is supported by the non-profit SFW Foundation, created to fund these business incentives.

The GCI is an informal and independent coalition of leaders of organizations both non-profit and for-profit, community associations and government agencies, Washington College and other interested groups and individuals. Among its projects have been supporting the town’s application for an Arts & Entertainment District designation from the Maryland State Arts Council,creating additional tourist events and additional Saturday and Sunday activities for First Friday weekends.

 

Rock Hall Candidate Forum Organized by League of Women Voters

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Candidates Beth Andrews, Timothy L. Edwards, David L. Mayne, Allen Riley, and Charles Price.

ROCK HALL ––More than 100 Rock Hall residents filled the Civic Center auditorium Wednesday night to hear five candidates for two vacant seats on the town council. The election is Saturday, May 6.

Taking part in the forum were candidates Beth Andrews, Timothy L. Edwards, David L. Mayne, Charles Price and Allen Riley. Two other announced candidates had withdrawn from the election before the forum.

The candidates’ forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Kent County and the Rock Hall Business Association, featured two questions that the candidates were given in advance, followed by questions from the audience. Margie Elsberg of the League of Women Voters, who served as moderator, read the audience questions, which were submitted in writing.

While the discussion was wide-ranging, especially in response to the audience questions, several key issues emerged from the forum. The future of the police department and the health of the town budget were among the most important.

The issue of the police department came up in the third audience question, which asked what candidates would do to keep the town’s police force, currently made up of a chief and three officers, at full strength.

Andrews said she would do everything in her power to make sure the town maintains its police force. She said a number of problems, such as the drug epidemic, require a full police force – and “if we need to, grow it.”

The town can only cut the budget so much, said Edwards. He said it wouldn’t benefit anybody to reduce the force.

Mayne said that he wasn’t sure there was a significant risk of the force being reduced. He said he believed the force needs to be sustained the way it is, but if there are budgetary constraints, the town needs to consider alternatives such as outsourcing part of the town’s law enforcement to the county sheriff or to the state police.

The drug problem is worse than it ever was, said Price. “I’m all for adding to the police force,” he said.

Price said he didn’t know why there was talk of reducing the force. “We definitely need a police force,” he said, pointing to the number of senior citizens living alone in town.

Another audience question cited a recommendation by the Government Finance Officers of America that municipalities need to keep 10 percent of their budgets for reserves equal to two months of expenses. The question said that Rock Hall had $7,200 in reserves as of July 2015, and $11,200 as of July 2016. The candidates were asked whether they felt the reserves were sufficient and how they would increase them.

Price said the town definitely needs funds for infrastructure, with the water system “not up to all the way up to par yet – a lot of streets need new lines up in.”  As far as raising the money, he said he would have to talk to other council members to see what the best way is to do it.

“I’ve been thinking about this a lot,” said Andrews. She said in her job as a bank officer, she is responsible for reviewing and adjusting reserves on funds she manages on a quarterly basis. “That’s what the town should be doing, as well,” she said. “It absolutely needs to be done. You don’t just have a blank checkbook.”

Edwards said he’d want to know why the town was in such shape. “You’ve got to figure out what the problem is before you can do anything.”

“It’s a difficult question and it requires difficult answers,” Mayne said. He said the town effectively had no reserve, given the size of its budget. He said some of the town’s fee schedules need to be adjusted, and a tax increase may be necessary for the town to stay solvent. He said annexing properties to increase the town’s tax base might also work, but it would need to be analyzed to see whether doing so would be beneficial.

Riley said the town might see if it could get more grants or expand the town limits to increase the tax base.

Asked what the most important qualifications for a council member are, Mayne cited sound business experience and leadership skills. The business experience would allow them to make the budget decisions and the leadership skills are needed “to drive the initiatives the way we need them to go.”

Riley said the criteria could be experience with town government, such as his own work on the planning commission, and some length of time as a resident.

“Going out and interacting with the people, talking to everybody,” said Price. He said council members should be in touch with what “the people that live here” want.

“Whoever is elected should always keep in mind that they are representing the people and what the people want, and not someone else’s agenda,” said Andrews. She also agreed with Mayne that a good financial background would be an asset.

Edwards said the first thing should be accountability. “There’s a lot of people who want to hold you responsible for whatever you do, and that’s just part of being a public servant,” he said.

Asked what they would do to being a small industry or new business to town, Price said he thought people would like to see a new industry there, if it was put in the right place and didn’t interfere with the way of life.

“The first thing I would do would be to make sure it was the right industry and the right business for the town,” Andrews said. She said working with the state and with industry groups would be the way to start.

Edwards said he would check whether the infrastructure could handle the business, and whether the business would pay for necessary upgrades.

Mayne said he had heard of a town in another state that annexed property and put in infrastructure to attract businesses. He said the town would need to be sure it had personnel in place to support it.

Riley agreed that the town needs new business for youth employment.

The candidates generally agreed on certain issues. Asked about the best part of living in Rock Hall, they pointed to the closeness of the community and the way it works together. “When someone is down in this town, they all pull together as one,” said Riley. The others gave variations on the same theme. Edwards said, “You can fight with your neighbor one minute, and as soon as that person needs you, you’re right there.”

The forum ended with the candidates’ closing statements. Price said he was glad to run for the council seat. “I hope I can do my best and what’s best for the town,” he said.

“I may not have the education of some of the others, but I do care about this town and the future of this town,” said Riley. If elected, he said he would listen to all and do his best to move the town in the right direction.

Mayne told how he and his wife ended up in Rock Hall after visiting on a date a few years back. He said he had many memories of the town and its people, “and now I want to give something back to the home I’ve come to love.”

Edwards said he had worked for the town for 29 years. “I know this town inside and out,” he said. “I may not know all the ins and outs of the mayor and council, but I am willing to learn. I think I have what it takes. I will be accountable for what I do and what I say.”

Andrews said she was concerned about the financial condition of the town, and believed the residents deserve greater transparency about the use of their tax dollars, which she said should be used for the safety and security of the citizens and a sound infrastructure.

She said the town should take advantage of state grants to increase its appeal to tourists.

Elsberg concluded the session by thanking attendees. She encouraged them to vote and to get their friends and neighbors to vote in the election.

More information on the candidates, and their written answers to several additional questions, can be found online on The Rock Hall Masthead at rockhallmasthead.com. More general information is at the Rock Hall Wave on FaceBook.

Images from the Front Lines Defending Science by Horn Point Lab’s Diane Stoecker

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Editor’s note: Last weekend, thousands of scientists, lab researchers, professors and students gathered in Washington DC for the first ever People’s Climate March. While it is impossible to guess how many Eastern Shore citizens turned up for this important event, one very distinguished member, Diane Stoecker, Professor Emerita at Horn Point Laboratory, made the journey to remind lawmakers how important science is for our society at this critical time in the earth’s history. Professor Stoecker also took with her a camera and began recording the unique perspectives of marchers protest signs.  With her permission, the Spy shares those images to continue the conversation about climate change. 

“On Saturday, April 29th, I joined the thousands who attended the People’s Climate March. Since 1995 until recently, having just become a Professor Emerita, I have been a researcher at the Horn Point Laboratory investigating topics related to biological oceanography. It was important that I join the voices of many people who recognize climate change as having enormous consequences for the future of our planet. The photo portraits that I took of people and their posters represent a thrilling diversity of people and viewpoints who came to be heard. There were many religious, ethnic, and age groups. I was encouraged.”

This video is approximately two minutes in length