About Dave Wheelan

Local Rotary Clubs Links Arms With Club In Lusaka, Zambia To Help People Battling Addiction Worldwide

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Drug addiction is a dilemma globally shared. We all have been touched by it and can name a family member, friend or community member who has suffered because of it. But it is not just in the U.S., it is worldwide.

According to the 2017 World Drug Report, an estimated quarter of a billion people worldwide used substances in 2015. Of these, about 29.5 million people were diagnosed with substance use disorder. Opioids made up 70 percent of the negative health impact associated with substance use disorders worldwide (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2017).

The Chestertown Rotary Club has coordinated with the Rotary Club of Lusaka Central in Zambia, Central Africa to apply for a global grant to provide resources in drug and alcohol counseling to over 25 organizations across the country.

Jill Gordy Jen Reider Melissa Stuebing Andrew Meehan John Murray.

This project would provide a training in “Literacy-Free 12 Step Expressive Arts Therapy”, curriculum materials and a small operational budget for expressive arts supplies for participating NGOs and mental health professionals for the purpose of enhancing the mental health infrastructure of local communities in Zambia who are reaching or hope to reach street youth and young adults with drug and alcohol addiction.

Christiana Rotary Club, Newark Morning Rotary Club, Kent Island Rotary Club and Centreville Rotary Club have also come alongside Chestertown Rotary Club and Rotary Club of Lusaka Central in this global grant application.

The curriculum provided by this grant is already being used in our own backyard at the A.F. Whitsitt Center in Chestertown and was written by Melissa Stuebing, CAC-AD of CoLaborers International. It has been the subject of 4 clinical studies in the U.S. and in Zambia by Melissa, Hjordis Lorenz and Allyson Olkowski Arnold.

The curriculum is suitable for participants with co-occurring SUDs and mental health disorders, as well as for illiterate participants and those with self-expression difficulties. It integrates cognitive behavioral techniques and combines 10 lessons using art, dance, game, horticulture, drama, handicraft and music therapy as means of working through the 12 Steps.

“The power of therapeutic metaphor is that if I tell you, “I’m going through a storm in my life” you don’t have to know what that storm is to know how I am feeling. The thing with expressive arts is no one has their defenses up against planting or finger painting or anything that feels as silly as that when they come into a session. That is what makes it so valuable. Through creativity, we make the decision to engage in treatment and begin to address our real issues at our own pace. We may not have words yet. We may not even know what we’re feeling yet because we have been ignoring it for so long, but that is okay. This curriculum is a beginning.” Stuebing says.

This curriculum includes expressive arts that are culturally specific to Zambia, namely lessons utilizing gourd art, dance, as well drum circles with traditional songs in the call and response style of singing in local languages (Bemba, Tonga, Lozi, Nyanja and Shona, a Zimbabwean language).

Substance use counseling materials are not widely available in Zambia, let alone materials like this curriculum, which is culturally appropriate, youth oriented and does not require literacy. The literacy rate in Zambia is 64% among the youth population (Education Policy and Data Center, 2014).

The most vulnerable population in Zambia to substance use is street children and youth. In the city of Lusaka alone, there are an estimated 30,000 children living on the streets (U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005). Children and youth go to live on the streets for many reasons – often because of leaving home to due to poverty, being orphaned by AIDS, or fleeing abuse in the home environment. Some children go to the streets just during the day and some come to live there permanently (Lemba, 2002). Early substance use is very common.

One in four street children admit to using drugs/ alcohol. Most popular drugs are marijuana & sniffing glue. This number of substance users can be estimated to be much higher given the stigma associated with admitting substance use/ dependence (Lemba, 2002). These findings are also consistent with reports from BBC News on the rise of street drugs in Lusaka (Matheson, 1999; Smith, 2011).

Together, we have the opportunity to produce grassroots sustainable change in Zambia to treat and prevent the disease of addiction, particularly among vulnerable populations like youth and children in a way that it is not being addressed currently. This training introduces a program that will continue to be a part of indigenous-led organizational offerings to unserved populations long after this training is over, changing the future for substance dependent Zambians.

Please contact Andy Meehan at ameehan12@gmail.com of the Chestertown Rotary Club if you are interested in helping!

 

In Support of a Third Bay Bridge Span by Samuel Shoge

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Talk of a third span crossing the Chesapeake Bay into Kent County has rightfully stoked concern among local residents. The surrounding landscape could change in significant ways if a span makes its way to the county, requiring massive upgrades to the surrounding infrastructure and exponentially increasing the number of cars and trucks on local roads.

Most see this change as detrimental and a threat to Kent County’s way of life.

Would a third span really be such a bad thing, however?

This letter to the editor attempts to provide additional perspective to the current dialogue regarding a third span by briefly outlining local and macro-economic trends that are affecting Kent County’s economy and, in turn, its future.

Local Trends

Prior to discussing the merits of a third span coming through Kent County, it is important to understand the county’s current demographic trends.

  • Least populated county in Maryland with 19,730 residents
  • Population has shrunk -2.3% from the 2010 Census
  • Lowest K-12 public school enrollment in Maryland at 1,891 (projected to decrease through 2026)
  • Third oldest county in Maryland by median age: 45.6 (preceded by Talbot and Worcester)

Macro-Economic Trends

Demographic trends point to continued decline in Kent County. What is currently happening in Kent County is affecting most small, rural counties across the United States. U.S. Census data shows that from 2010 through 2014, U.S. counties with less than 100,000 residents combined to lose more businesses than they created. Kent County is no exception.

In 2015, Kent County had 619 business establishments, down from 728 in 2005

Rural counties have seen their portion of economic recovery steadily decrease over time during economic recoveries. In the chart below, compiled by the Economic Innovation Group by analyzing Census data, counties with less than 100,000 residents created a third of the nation’s new businesses on net from 1992-1996. During the most recent economic recovery, these same counties did not even register.

In a Brookings Institution report, the United States’ 100 largest metro areas recovered all of the jobs they lost in the Great Recession and added an additional 6 million jobs, whereas the rest of the country combined added only 300,000 jobs over its pre-recession peak.

What is contributing to massive decreases in business establishments in rural areas? In a Washington Post article, Manuel Adelino, an economist at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, describes it as this: “Capital chases high-growth ideas, and high-growth ideas tend to be concentrated in areas of highly educated and highly skilled workforce. This suggests that the lack of new business formation in rural America may lead to widening gaps in income and employment.”

Why a Third Span Likely Won’t Result in Devastating Sprawl

As the business establishment landscape in the U.S. has shifted, so has traditional development patterns. 300 retailers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and nearly 7,000 stores closed nationwide in 2017, beating a record of 6,163 closures in 2008 during the height of the financial crisis. By 2022, many analysts estimate that 1 out of every 4 malls in the U.S. will close as consumer tastes change and more consumers turn to convenience of online shopping.

Companies are also ditching the suburban office park. Real estate advisory firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, published a report on the state of office parks around the country and concluded that 14-22% of the suburban inventory faced a degree of risk in becoming obsolete.

On the residential front, McMansions, once the standard bearer for suburban expansion, are not faring well post Great Recession. Classified as homes built between 2001 and 2007 and averaging 3,000 to 5,000 sq. ft., McMansions are not attractive to homebuyers today and an analysis conducted by Trulia shows the amount buyers are willing to pay for McMansions over other homes has fallen 26 percent in the past four years, despite a recovering housing market.

Millennials, the largest age group in the U.S. at 75 million strong, have fundamentally changed the way America pursues development. They crave transit oriented mixed-use development where they can walk to work and be near bars and restaurants, preferably locally owned rather than corporate chains like Ruby Tuesday and Chili’s (companies that are quickly losing market share to new, hip fast-casual restaurants). This increasingly popular style of development adopts many Smart Growth oriented principles and is very complimentary to the County’s existing towns.

We Already Have a Clear and Defined Precedent

Do we deny that Queen Anne’s County is rural? We don’t because despite the Bay Bridge landing in Queen Anne’s and Route 50 passing through the heart of Talbot, Dorchester, and Wicomico counties, suburban expansion has mostly been confined to small portions of each county. Kent Island has captured most of the suburban expansion in QA and represents 24% of the county’s population yet accounts for only 8% of the county’s land area.

Town % County Population % County Land Area
Easton 44% 4%
Cambridge 38% 2%
Salisbury 32% 3.5%
Chestertown 25% 1%

 

What is clear is that primarily one town in the county that Route 50 passes through captures the bulk of the population and economic growth while only accounting for a very small percentage of the county’s land area, leaving the rest of the county practically unaffected regarding suburban expansion. Just look at Crumpton, Ingleside, Wye Mills, Cordova, Hurlock, and Vienna. Hardly sprawling places.

Furthermore, Route 301 cuts through the eastern portion of Kent County and has extremely limited development around it despite being a major corridor.

What makes a third span landing in Kent  somewhat different than the Bay Bridge in Queen Anne’s is that the largest population center in Maryland—Baltimore—will be directly connected to the smallest. The aforementioned logic still applies. Frederick and Frederick County reinforce the argument of one town capturing the bulk of population and economic growth. Frederick is near Washington, D.C. and its population has grown significantly—32% since 2000. Despite rapid growth and its proximity to D.C., Frederick represents 28% of the population yet is only 3.5% of the overall land area in Frederick County. The County has an excellent and well preserved agricultural heritage and its wineries and agritourism industry is lauded. Furthermore, Frederick consistently ranks among one of the best places to live in the U.S.

We Can Control How the Landscape Develops

The thought that a third span coming to Kent County will result in unmitigated sprawl is not grounded in any fact, just assumptions. What concerned citizens assumptions don’t consider is the County’s ability to govern land use through the Land Use Ordinance and Comprehensive Plan. Detailed in the Land Use Ordinance is everything that is and is not permitted in the county by land use classification. Property rights are strongly protected, preventing certain development from occurring near residential neighborhoods or on productive soils.

The Land Use Ordinance and Comprehensive Plan are interpreted by the Planning Commission and enforced by the Planning and Zoning Department. Within these documents are also design guidelines for development to follow (e.g. placing parking lots in the rear of the building, establishing setbacks, and determining how dense certain areas can be). The Planning Commission and Planning and Zoning Department have the tools necessary to shape how any development occurs.

Furthermore, dense, sprawling development is becoming increasingly difficult to build outside of areas serviced by municipal water and sewer infrastructure, especially in Maryland where strict environmental laws need to be followed. In addition, because of proximity to so many environmentally sensitive waterways, several state agencies—such as the Critical Area Commission—weigh in on development projects, further constraining development and increasing permitting costs and time.

Most notable, large, big-box retailers are already prohibited in Kent County according to the Kent County Land Use Ordinance which caps retail establishments at 60,000 sq. ft.

Store Average Size (sq. ft.)
Walmart Supercenter 179,000
Target 135,000
Kohl’s 70,000

 

Why Technology Likely Won’t Save Us…In the Near Term

With advancement in electric and driverless car technology and development of advanced transportation systems like Hyperloop, surely, we don’t need a third span…right?

Government cannot and should not be in the business of speculating when technologies will become widely available and delay projects on the anticipated arrival of said technology. For decades, we have been “five years away” from developing nuclear fusion power plants to power humanity with cheap, 100% renewable energy. For decades, we have been “near the rollout” of flying cars. By now, we should have colonies on the moon according to the predictions of scientists during the space race. Instead, we haven’t been to the moon in 5 decades.

Self-driving cars stand to revolutionize transportation, but we cannot put faith in technology that is still in development to address immediate concerns and problems.

Why Kent County Needs a Third Span

A third span is highly unlikely to result in county-wide sprawl because contemporary development patterns are finally starting to shift away from dated suburban models. Furthermore, there is precedent regarding what a highway passing through a rural Eastern Shore County does to the surrounding landscape. Most growth is limited to one region or town within the county, preserving much of the rest of the county’s rural landscape.

Rather than using Kent Island, Easton, and Cambridge as justifications to oppose a third span to Kent County, we can use them as models to guide how we accommodate growth and development. Encourage mixed-use development that ties into established towns and villages, build where water and sewer infrastructure is already established, incorporate Smart Growth principles in the design of new buildings and communities, and prohibit development on the county’s most productive soils. We can do all of these things because as a local jurisdiction, we have the power to do so through planning commissions, planning and zoning departments, land use ordinances, and comprehensive plans.

Kent County could benefit from a third span in many ways and I argue the County NEEDS this bridge. Our current demographic state does not bode well for our schools, businesses, nor residents in the long term. Whereas there are bright spots (expansion of Dixon, hospital in Chestertown to remain open, marina revitalization), continued demographic and legislative trends could detrimentally impact the county.

Ask any employer in the county what their number one issue is and 9 out of 10 will likely say “finding and hiring good workers.”

With the county population shrinking, the K-12 enrollment declining, and the median age rising, where are our businesses going to find workers?

Other challenges Kent County will likely face include:

  • Providing rural healthcare is becoming increasingly difficult. Keeping the hospital open in Chestertown was a great victory but expect to have this conversation again soon. In the meantime, dozens of rural hospitals in communities that look just like Kent County are closing nationwide as expenses mount and populations continue to drop.
  • Kirwan Commission could fundamentally change the way schools are funded, penalizing jurisdictions that have small enrollments. With teacher pay lower than Western Shore counties and aging facilities, receiving less support from the State would be devastating.
  • The data clearly shows that rural areas, including Kent County, have lost business establishments and no longer recover at the same rate as urban areas. This trend has gotten so bad that after the next economic downturn, or even before, whatever jobs or businesses are lost in these areas will likely not come back.

With all the very real challenges to be faced, are we really going to let our misguided fear of some development—development that could bring jobs, residents, and an increased tax base—scare us?

Samuel Shoge
Chestertown

 

Mid-Shore Arts: Heather Harvey and her Trash

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There are very few better examples of the remarkable art community axis that exists on the Mid-Shore between Easton and Chestertown than visual artist Heather Harvey. By day, Heather commutes to Kent County from her home on Hanson Street to assume the role of the Chair of Washington College’s Department of Art and Art History. But other times,  she can be found at the Davis Art Center in Easton working on projects in her massive second-floor studio with everyday materials to make the familiar strange and renewed.

Academically trained as an archaeologist, Heather came to realize that her greatest passion centered more around the philosophical questions that emerged as a result of an archaeology dig, or the “poetry,” as she puts it, that was found. And that search for poetry was found  with old materials, even trash found around Easton, that have spanned different moments in time and human memory.

The Spy sat down with Heather a few months ago to talk her most recent work which was inspired by her recently being awarded the highly prestigious Maryland State Arts Council individual artist award in 2017.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Heather Harvey’s work please go here

 

Mid-Shore Gardening: Ruth Clausen’s Campaign for Pollinators

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In yet another example of how the Mid-Shore seems to attract some of the very best in their chosen fields for their retirement homes, horticulturist Ruth Rogers Clausen has found her way to the Delmarva after a long and distinguished career as a gardening writer, lecturer, and the horticultural editor for the highly regarded Country Living Gardener in New York City.

Raised with a love of gardening while growing up in Wales and England, Ruth has spent her entire professional life educating thousands of inspiring gardeners of the important elements of a successful garden, or, as she says, “a garden must be something beyond looking beautiful.”

And one of her primary passions is for gardeners to do everything they can to design their projects with pollinators in mind. With 35 percent of the world’s crop production requiring pollination, gardeners can do their bit by planting flowers that are specifically designed to help such pollen transporters as bees successfully complete their work.

The Spy spent a few minutes with Ruth at the Bullitt House last week in preparation of her lecture at the Talbot County Free Library in Easton on February 14 sponsored by the Adkins Arboretum to talk about this mission.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Ruth’s lecture please go here

 

 

Mid-Shore Food: Chef Erin O’Shea at Mason’s Redux

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Just like any other hiring process for a significant leadership position, the search for the right executive chef with the proper credentials is paramount to the success or failure of that dining establishment. All serious searches start with the premise that a person’s background and education that will made an indelible impression on the community and its long-term reputation.

That is why the Spy has continuously found a way to interview some of the best Mid-Shore chefs who have made the Eastern Shore their culinary home. From the past brilliance of Jordan Lloyd in Easton, Patrick Fleming’s remarkable presence in Cambridge, or Kevin McKinney’s legacy in Chestertown, we have intentionally sought to understand better these chefs unique pedigree and history.

That was why the Spy was excited to catch up with Erin O’Shea, the new executive chef at Mason’s Redux on Harrison Street in Easton. To our surprise, Erin is no stranger to the Eastern Shore having attended school in Talbot County before heading south for a brief tenure at Texas A&M University. But while college life didn’t quite fit with her ambitions, the cooking scene in Houston did, and very shortly she headed back east to pursue her passion for food and cooking.

Last week, the Spy sat down to talk to Erin and those early years of training, her mentors, and the privilege to bring Easton’s beloved Masons back alive with her own unique touch.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Mason’s Redux please go here

Publisher Notes: Pamela Heyne

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It is with a very heavy heart that the Spy team learned last weekend that our gifted architecture and design writer, Pamela Heyne, had lost her courageous battle with cancer. Pam had been a volunteer contributor for Spy for the last four years on topics that were close to her heart including both interior and exterior design.

As many know, Pam was a gifted architect herself who counted among her many clients the likes of Ben Bradlee in Georgetown or more locally, the highly praised Cottingham Farm in Talbot County. She also had a long-term affinity and friendship with Julia Child and the challenges that come with kitchen design.

Pam was also an extraordinary experimenter with the use of lighting, particularly the early use of LED lights, and mirrors to cleverly direct emulatination and unique views from nature into dark parts of homes and offices.

Her last book, “In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child,” was a unique look back at Child’s approach to merge cooking and eating areas into one warm inviting place for friends and family .

We will miss her and her voice for many years to come.

Mid-Shore History: Frederick Douglass at 200 with Harriette Lowery and Vicki Wilson

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There is always something quite remarkable about a bicentennial. For those who experienced it as a national phenomenon during the country’s 200th anniversary in 1976, it cemented the notion that these American milestones have a special reverence attached to them.

One of those unique moments will be taking place this month and throughout the year as the Mid-Shore, and the rest of the nation celebrates the legacy of Frederick Douglass on the anniversary of his 200th birthday.

Talbot County has had an exceptional history in acknowledging the native roots of Douglass on the Eastern Shore thanks in part to the diligent efforts of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, including the moving 2011 installation of the Frederick Douglass statue in front of the Talbot County Courthouse. But even with that remarkable success story, and many others since then, the Honor Society, the Talbot County Council, and some helpful philanthropic angels have not taken lightly the task of being the first in the nation to honor this remarkable national hero.

The Spy sat down with Harriette Lowery and Vicki Wilson from the Frederick Douglass 200th Celebration planning committee to talk about the extensive programming and extraordinary outpouring of support that has come from Douglass native homeland. We also thought it would be fun to include a few of our images that came from that extraordinary moment in June 2011 when the County was blessed by a unique day of respect and harmony.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For the most current information about the Frederick Douglass Celebration schedule please go here.

Mid-Shore Commerce: Looking Forward with Shore Bancshares Chair Frank Mason

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Last month, the Spy spent some quality time with Chris Spurry, the outgoing chairman of the board of Shore Bancshares, Inc., to talk about his extraordinary tenure during a time of significant financial upheaval on the Eastern Shore as the full impact of the Great Recession was dramatically felt throughout the Delmarva.

It was a story of corporate nimbleness and perseverance as Chris and his colleagues navigated through very troubled waters over several years to finally find themselves, and their grateful customers, once again on fiduciary terra firma as signs of a real recovery started to be seen by late 2015.

At the conclusion of that interview, Chris noted that while he will remain on the board, he would be succeeded in the chair position by fellow board member and Mid-Shore native, Frank Mason, to steer the publicly traded corporation into a new era.

The Spy thought it would complete the story of Shore Bancshares to catch up with Frank as well to talk about this new, exciting, and radically different world in finance.

An Easton native who has taken a unique journey himself, Frank Mason has been part of one of the Mid-Shore’s most specialized manufacturers in the region for his entire career. Now president of Jasco Inc. based in Talbot County, which produces spectroscopy and chromatography analytical instruments, Frank also has strong family ties with Shore Bancshares where his great-grandfather had also served on the board of Talbot Bank, the precursor to Shore United Bank.

In his interview with the Spy, Frank talks about Shore Bancshares future and what he sees as an extraordinary new era for financial services in the 21st century.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Shore Bancshares please go here.

Profiles in Philanthropy: The Brief but Spectacular History of Kent County’s Kenny Award

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It would seem in retrospect that the idea of honoring a volunteer in Kent County who has given their time and energy to help promote the arts in this small part of the Eastern Shore would have been a long-standing tradition. Almost from the day Chestertown and its surroundings formed in the 18th-century, there has been an extraordinary history of art, performing arts, music, creative writing, dance, and all other forms of artistic expression to enrich the County’s quality of life. To give an award to knowledge this unique part of the region’s collective DNA would seem inevitable.

Nonetheless, this special award (and program) is only now entering its 13th year thanks to the support of the Hedgelawn Foundation.

Started after John Schratwieser (then the director of the Prince Theater) and the Kent Council Art Council began to notice other Maryland counties were honoring their best arts movers and shakers, the Kenny Awards became a reality when they compared notes with Ben and Judy Kohl of the Hedgelawn Foundation who were seeking to do that same thing. And in 2005, the first award was issued to Vince and Leslie Raimond.

The Spy sat down with John and Judy Kohl of the Hedgelawn Foundation to talk about the history of the Kennys and recalling this brief but spectacular arch for the arts in Kent County in those thirteen years.  They also gave the Spy a sneak preview of this year’s winners, Diane and Jim Landskroener.

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

Past Kenny Award Winners

Vince and Leslie Raimond
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Tom McHugh
Carla Massoni
Andy Goddard
Butch Clark
Judy and Ben Kohl
Keith Wharton
RiverArts
Lester Barrett, Jr.
Jazz Festival – Mel Rapelyea
Marc Castelli
John Wilson
Lani Seikaly
Red Devil Moon