About Dave Wheelan

Maryland 3.0: TEDCO’s Startup Help on the Shore with Bill Bernard

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For almost ten years, the Maryland Technology Development Corporation, otherwise known as TEDCO, has been the state’s s leading source for business assistance and seed funding for the development of startup companies.

And during their nine years of existence, TEDCO’s track record has been impressive. Hundreds of entrepreneurs have been helped in taking their products to market through mentoring, funding and networking.  That has led to over $110 million in investment dollars and over 350 and research programs funded since 1998.

But what does that mean for the Eastern Shore?

We asked that question to Bill Bernard, TEDCO’s new representative for the Eastern Shore, to get a better idea of how TEDCO works. Bill’s response was to give the example of a very young entrepreneur with a great business idea but who needed help getting his product to market.

Bill also cites his work with hotDesks, a program started by the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center, to provide the tools (like 3D printers) and business consultation support through its Revolution Labs program.

It doesn’t hurt that Bill comes to this new position after a long history of entrepreneurship after a tour of duty in the Peace Corps and a career in marine biology with the Smithsonian Institution. His businesses have included an aquaculture company that operated in the Dominican Republic, and more recently, founding 3Di’s Hyperspectral Remote Sensing Division.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about TEDCO please go here

United Way of Kent County at 60 with Bob Grace and Glenn Wilson

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One of the most important functions of the United Way of Kent County is that it helps their community solve problems. Whether that be supporting the Character Counts!, providing critical funding for the Community Food Pantry, or keeping programs for the intellectually-challenged going in the wake of government cutbacks, the United Way has been playing this important role for sixty years, and the cumulative results of their excellent work can be seen in almost every community nonprofit in the area.

So it is a bit ironic that the United Way has a problem of its own.

Gone are the days when almost everyone working in a small town, and certainly every company, large or small, would rally around the annual United Way campaign. Nowadays, as the list of nonprofit organizations and community needs grow, the United Way finds itself competing for recognition and awareness of its important role in keeping plays the Kent County community functioning.

That is one of the reasons that Glenn Wilson, CEO of Chesapeake Bank and Trust and United Way’s current board president, helped recruit Bob Grace, president of the Dixon Valve Company, to take on the honorary chair position for the United Way campaign during this special anniversary year.

It was an excellent choice for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most compelling was the fact the Dixon Valve, from its very first days in Chestertown, not only donated generously to the United Way campaign but sustained a significant employee match program so that all of their staff could participate.

The Spy caught up with Glenn and Bob a few weeks ago at the United Way’s headquarters on Upper High Street to talk about the United Way at 60, and what an extraordinary asset this philanthropic project has for our community during that time.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. The current list of grantees for this year are listed in this program.For more information on the United Way of Kent County please go here.

Profiles in Spirituality: Unitarian Universalism with the Mid-Shore’s Reverend Sue Browning

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According to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s own data, the U.U. Church currently has just under 200,000 members in the entire United States, and about two hundred of them attend church in Kent County or Talbot County on any given Sunday.

In comparison, the Episcopal Church, another relatively small denomination, has about 3,500 active members in the same region, while the Catholic faith comes close to having 7,000 adherents.

These numbers may suggest that the Unitarians represent a tiny part of the religious fabric on the Delmarva, but those statistics do not account for the extremely high level of activism these small congregations — one in Kent and the other Talbot County — participate in during the year in their communities. In fact, when one factors in contributions that the U.U. Church make locally in such critical areas of concern for social justice, immigration, and the environment, one then can one see the full impact of the Unitarian Universalists on the Mid-Shore.

And one person who sees that impact on an almost daily basis is the Reverend Sue Browning, who is in the unique role of being the minister of both the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton as well as the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River in Kent County.

The Spy sat down with Rev. Browning to talk a bit about Unitarian Universalism as a faith, which is liberal by nature and characterized by a “free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” In other words, Unitarian Universalist members do not accept a creed per se but are unified by a shared search for spiritual growth.

We also talked to Sue about the important role that faith, unconventional as it may be in the U.U. Church, plays in the life of its members, the spiritual dimensions of aging, and the need to exercise one’s compassion and gratitude like a muscle which will only gets stronger with time.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Mid-Shore Unitarian Universalist Churches, please go here for Chestertown and here for Easton

 

 

 

Mid-Shore Arts: Monty Alexander Reflects on Jazz, Easton, and Hope

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If Chesapeake Music’s Monty Alexander Jazz Festival was just named to honor Alexander’s significant and lasting legacy as a jazz pianist over the last sixty years, that would be justification enough.  Monty’s accomplishments are well documented in the annals of jazz history, and the cumulative impact of his career would lend any jazz festival some important “street cred” with those that follow regional festivals around the world.

But when the Jazz festival’s founder, Al Sikes, drove up to New York City eight years ago to ask Monty if he would lend his name to a fledgling jazz festival in a pretty remote part of the Mid-Atlantic, Sikes knew that having a connection with the Jamaican-born musician was much more than honoring Monty’s performance career.

In many ways, it is Monty Alexander’s arc of experience in jazz over the last fifty years that makes it such an honor for Easton to host this annual event. Starting with small bars in Miami as a teenager, when he was first noticed by Frank Sinatra, and later been witness to every phase of jazz from the Mid-Century forward with friends such as Miles Davis, Milt Jackson, and or even Ravi Shankar.

The Spy caught up with Monty at Patsy’s, one of Frank Sinatra’s favorite joints in Manhattan, to talk about his Jazz Festival, but also about where jazz is these days. In particular, his observations on the early roots of jazz, where its disciples would learn on street corners from the masters, to the current world of contemporary jazz artists, many of whom are more likely than not hold degrees from such famous conservatories like Berklee and Juilliard.

Monty also talks about the theme for this year’s festival, which, to his own surprise, focuses on spirituality. In this case, it is his attempt to amplify the important role of hope in our complex world, or, in his own words, his effort to, “see the donut and not its hole.”

Jazz on the Chesapeake is a program of Chesapeake Music. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit here or call 410-819- 0380.

Chestertown’s Bob Chauncey Takes to the Stage as Felix Unger in Oxford

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One of the most challenging aspects of being a community theater actor is to take on a role that is so well ingrained in America’s memory though a hit movie or television show that it becomes nearly impossible to reinvent that character.

And nowhere is that truer than when talking about to roles of Oscar Madison and Felix Unger in Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple.  With such stunning performances from Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon, and later, Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, there seems to be little room for interpretation of these iconic characters.

But that hasn’t stopped Chestertown’s Bob Chauncey (Felix) and Cambridge’s Bill Gross (Oscar) from trying. While they are the first to admit that they have studied both the film and TV versions of this stage classic, their years of training as actors have allowed themselves to explore other angles to Felix and Oscar’s personalities through the lens of their own domestic lives and rediscovered the universal themes of the Odd Couple.

The Spy had a chance to sit down with them both at Bullitt House a few weeks ago to talk about their take on The Odd Couple, directed by Ed Langrell, as the Tred Avon Players continues their extraordinary year of comedy productions at the Oxford Community Center starting August 10th.

 

Mid-Shore Arts: Kent County Arts Council Plans for Spring Street and the Fall

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The Kent County Arts Council is moving into its new headquarters, the Town Arts Building on Spring Street across from the Chestertown Post Office.

Leslie Raimond and John Schratwieser, directors of the KCAC, sat down with the Chestertown Spy to go over their plans for the building, which will include a small gallery and performance space. Repairs to the building, including roof work, are expected to begin in August, and the gallery will be hosting its first exhibitions this Fall. There will be exhibits by local and visiting artists and performances such as poetry readings or acoustic concerts.

The KCAC’s ambitious plans will expand the arts offerings available in the county, and go a long way toward making Kent County and Chestertown a true destination for art lovers from around the region.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Arts Council go here

Dry Bones by George Merrill

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My knee is on the mend. The bones have realigned. I am happy to report I am out walking again. I didn’t fully realize how much I missed it until the rubber (my sneakers) hit the road. It felt like I’d been given a second chance.

On the walk I was reminded how hot Maryland summers are. It is mid-July. We have relatives in Georgia who claim Georgia’s the hottest place on the planet except maybe at its core. Not so. Maryland beats Georgia and the earth’s core hands down. It’s not just the heat, but also the humidity, which, if you’re inclined, you can wring it straight out of the air without any help from a cloth or sponge.

But back to my walk. Once resigned to the heat and humidity, I got into the delights of mobility and began looking around as I walked cautiously along the road. I felt like the child riding his bike for the first time without training wheels.

I usually keep my eyes lowered some in front so I see a short distance ahead. I scan the road that way to see any critters that might be joining me on my stroll. There are occasionally grasshoppers, once a turtle, ants and bees, especially wasps that seem to enjoy just hanging out on the road. And indeed I did see, of all creatures, a wooly bear. I’m accustomed to seeing wooly bears on my fall walks, but in July’s blazing heat, this was new to me. She was overdressed for the day wearing her dark brown and orange fur coat that I always assumed was to keep her warm in the winter. I will say, though, she undulated along happily, like a tiny balloon filled with water, and seemed to pay no attention to the heat.

I walked close the culvert that retained a few inches of water. I was soon to discover that it was the sanctuary to a host of good-sized bullfrogs. I was not aware of them at first. As I grew close to one, he squealed and “plop,” dove into the water. I note here that unlike what people imagine about bullfrogs, they squeal and squeak as often as they croak in that full basso profundo with its deep resonance.

All the frogs in the culvert were ready for me. As I approached the next one he squealed and jumped and so did about six others in succession the way dominoes, when set up a certain way, fall consecutively after the first one is toppled. It was fun to hear the “plop, plop” as I made my way up the road. I once read a published haiku that said nothing more than: “ A frog jumps in the water, plop.” The poet had a way with words.

I was doing famously – tickled pink about my newly healed bones – and was nearing my first half-mile. Then I began to ache in the most unlikely places – not as I half expected in my abused knee, but everywhere else. It began hurting in my right buttock, my thigh, and then down the front of my leg. My hip protested a little. Then I noticed my ankle ached some and suddenly, after eighty-two years of living in this very same body, I realized just how much I had wholly underestimated the number of moving parts that constitute my frame and sinew – particularly the bone and sinew from my hips on down.

Ezekiel’s proclamation, as celebrated in the famous African-American spiritual, Dry Bones, promises that at the resurrection “dem bones gonna walk around.” The spiritual explores in considerable detail how our bones are assembled one upon the other, which one is attached to which, but mentions nothing about how they will feel when first moved after not being exercised – in my case for over a month. Consider too, those who have been waiting for centuries to be raised from the dead; those first hours on their feet are not going to be any cakewalk. Maybe Ezekiel failed to mention synovial fluids, which, if included when the saints go marching in, would be sufficient to lubricate the long unused joints and mitigate pain as well.

I’m always surprised how it is that what I have so much of, I give such little thought to. My ability to move about easily – to jump, kneel and run – when I was younger I now look upon with nostalgia and some regret. The regret is that when I had it so good, I was hardly thankful for the abundance I was enjoying. Now that I have agility again, but in much more limited measure, I am far more grateful.

Gratitude is a peculiar emotion: it’s felt in inverse proportions to our blessings; there is less gratitude when we enjoy many blessings, while when there are fewer, our gratitude increases.

I’m grateful to be on the road again.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist. A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Senior Nation: When Dad is 106 Years Old with Nina and Peter Newlin

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It seems unfathomable to imagine what it must feel like to be 106 years old. In the case of Shipley Newlin, You continue to wear your favorite shirt, you are still surrounded by loving children, and you can still make others chuckle around you using your unique brand of humor. But Shipley, who only just lost his independent living at age 102, is also aware that he is an infrequent exception in the world of mortality statistics.

That exceptionalism is also shared with his children. Nina, a curriculum administrator with the Kent County Public Schools, and Peter, an architect in Chestertown, also acknowledge the rarity of their family trait, which includes their mother, who still plays tennis at aged 97, and grandparents that were also in “Century Club” themselves.

In fact, the Newlin children (three other sons are scattered around the country) have never hesitated to celebrate their father’s longevity. They also encourage him to flex his memories and find other ways to engage the former mechanical engineer like trade jokes with him and laugh at his puns as all three of them carry on their day-to-day lives.

Now living with son Peter, and his wife Gail, Shipley and his “kids” gathered around the dinner table last week to reminisce and talk about what it’s like when dad is 106 years old and going strong.

This video is approximately three minutes in length.

 

 

 

Maryland 3.0: LaMotte Chemical Hits Paydirt

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The ultimate goal of a manufacturing company is to develop a product so rare, so specific in purpose, and so difficult for competitors to replicate, that it catapults the business to a new level of profitability and growth. In truth, however, that kind of dynamic force remains elusive for the vast majority of the small manufacturers of the world.

Faced with the day to day business of holding their market position, lacking large research and development budgets, and always needing to adjust pricing to stay in the game, the small manufacturer’s real objective is to remain competitive with what they produce now rather than seek the holy grail of a transformational new product.

And since 1919, the LaMotte Chemical Company in Chestertown has been doing just that; selling high-quality testing equipment for such things as boilers, swimming pools, and drinking water. And while they have had some breakout products since the chemist, Frank LaMotte, started the business, the public perception of the company, especially as it relocated to the Eastern Shore in 1956 from Baltimore, was one of a reliable, if not particularly exciting, venture that makes a small range of products extremely well.

That might be one of the reasons the Arthur H. Thomas Company of New Jersey purchased the family-owned business in 1983. Its “steady Eddie” track record, with modest but consistent profit margins, could only be seen as a solid asset for a new parent company eager to branch out to include water testing in their portfolio of science testing equipment.

At least that was the plan as LaMotte’s president, David LaMotte (grandson of the founder), understood it, but that didn’t stop the small company from thinking about “the next great thing” in water testing. With the encouragement of Thomas, LaMotte staff continued to explore ways to use modern technology to improve the accuracy and speed of their testing methods.

Little did anyone know that after seven years of tinkering, all this effort would produce the kind of “wow” product other firms could only dream about. The development of the Waterlink Spin Touch unit has radically changed the future of both water testing and LaMotte Chemical at the same time.

Looking like an oversized CD player, and armed with specialized testing discs and Bluetooth controlled data collection, the Spin Touch can now test for up to ten different water conditions in less the 60 seconds and broadcast those results to regional and national databases just as quickly. The results have added over $12 million annually to LaMotte’s top line, created the need to add 30 new employees, build a 9,000 square foot expansion to the physical plant, and legally protect the Spin Touch’s design through the development of dozens of new patents. This success has also caused an entirely new spirit among LaMotte’s employees as they see their product become the equivalent of the iPhone for water testing throughout the world.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about LaMotte Chemical Company please go here