Carrying King’s Legacy Forward

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Award winners and presenters at MLK Breakfast 2018 – Fahren Bartley, Alycia Wilson, Airlee Johnson, Leslie Raimond, Aniya Jefferson, Mae Etta Moore, Kurt Landgraf, Kim Kratoville

“Get out of your comfort zone!”

Because that’s when change begins.  This was the theme for several of the speakers during the Martin Luther King breakfast at the Rock Hall Firehouse on Monday, January 15.  The breakfast is organized by the Chester Valley Ministers’ Association with the help of the Kent County Arts Council.

The meeting room was soon packed as guests arrived for the 7:00 am breakfast and celebration.  The crowd of over 250 people was entertained as they entered by the Kent County High School Jazz Band. Led by Keith Wharton, the band played two up-tempo blues and an arrangement of the bossa nova standard, “Corcovado”.

KCHS Jazz Band at MLK Breakfast 2018

Washington College President Kurt Landgraf at MLK Breakfast in 2018

Washington College President Kurt Landgraf, serving as Master of Ceremonies, set the tone for the proceedings by noting that he grew up in an orphanage and it was there that he learned the importance of helping other people –  just as King taught.

“Education is important,” Landgraf said, “but providing basic needs is more important. A nation that doesn’t care for the disadvantaged will inevitably fail.” He urged attendees to get involved and unite to put their principles into action. To demonstrate Washington College’s commitment to racial equality, he said that at the Feb. 23 Convocation, the college will award an honorary Doctor of Laws degree to Frederick Douglass, the Civil War-era abolitionist who grew up on the Eastern Shore. Douglas’s biographer from Yale will speak at the Convocation and a direct descendant of Douglass will be present to accept the degree.  This will be the first doctorate ever awarded to Douglas, either posthumously or during his lifetime.  And the first honorary degree since Howard University awarded one to Douglas in 1872.  The event is open to the public and Landgraf invited everyone to attend.

The invocation was given by Cantor Gary Schiff who prayed for peace in our times.  He noted that Jewish prayers traditionally end with a call for peace.  Following the invocation, Kent County commissioner William Pickrum read the official proclamation, declaring the January 15 Martin Luther King Day an official holiday.

The Chamber Singers of the Chester River Chorale were next with three beautiful songs.  The singers, led by assistant director Michelle Sensenig, were all dressed in black and wore long colorful scarves.  Their first song was a jazzy arrangement of “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” followed by the women’s voices a capella on “Down to the River to Pray.” For their final selection, everyone stood to join in “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the black national anthem.

Chester River Chorale at MLK Breakfast 2018

Chester River Chorale at MLK Breakfast 2018

Julie Lawrence with Chester River Chorale at MLK Breakfast 2018

Rosemary Granillo, Vice President of the CVMA, announced grants awarded to community organizations. Recipients were the Vincent Hynson Scholarship Fund at Washington College,  the Good Neighbor Fund, the Samaritan Group and the Kent County Food Pantry. The grants are funded by the proceeds from the breakfast and the “Lift Up Our Voices In Song” concert Saturday night.

Three students from Kent County Middle School received Vincent Hynson Youth Awards, recognizing contributions to the quality of life in the community and participation in school and community events. This year’s recipients were Taion Johnson (not present), sixth grade; Alycia Wilson, seventh grade; and Fahren Bartley, eighth grade.

Leslie Raimond presented certificates to recipients of the Vincent Hynson Memorial Youth Awards Alycia Wilson (7th grade) and Fahren Bartley (8th grade) at MLK Breakfast 2018

Airlee Ringgold Johnson and Kent County High School senior Aniya Jefferson were the recipients of the Dr. Martin Luther King  Jr. Humanitarian Awards, presented by Rev. Mae Etta Moore. The award recognizes significant contributions to the quality of life in Kent County. Jefferson, receiving the award, thanked God and her parents. She quoted King saying. “Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve others.”

Rev Mae Etta Moore presented the Humanitarian Award to KCHS senior Aniya Jefferson 

Johnson, who left Kent County after graduation from then-segregated Henry Highland Garnett High School, said she originally planned never to return. Living elsewhere, she became active in her communities and learned about the “big world” that was not segregated. She advised the audience to get out of their comfort zone and seek out members of other races, recognizing that things have changed. Chestertown is not just for one race or group — it is getting wide recognition for its cultural life. “We can’t afford to be separate any more,” she said. She mentioned her involvement in the Legacy Day committee and the Social Action Committee as examples of how change is coming to the community. “It’s a brand new day; we need to move forward,” she said in conclusion.

Airlee Johnson and Rev.Mae Etta Moore at MLK Breakfast 2018

The keynote speaker was Sam Abed, Secretary of the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services. Abed, whose grandparents emigrated over 100 years ago to the U.S. from Palestine.  Working with young people who have fallen into conflict with the law, he said, he inevitably observed a disproportionate number of African Americans.

Abed warned the audience that parts of his story might make many of them uncomfortable. He then described the anti-Arab prejudice he encountered as a young boy in Virginia. He was called “sand-n****r” and “towel-head” at school.  Though it hurt, he tried to ignore the taunts, and he said he still believed in America and the values of democracy and equality that it stood for.  At the time, he felt the insults were isolated incidents, that most people did not feel or act that way, that America was not a racist country.

But the final blow came when, in the fall of 2001, he graduated from law school, passed the bar, and applied for jobs. A year afterward, every member of his class had found a job except him — he didn’t even have one interview out of more than 1,000 applications. And he had been a good student; graduating in the top quarter of his law school class.  Finally one of his professors told him, “You have to change your name.” Sending out the same application with a new name, he immediately got three interviews. The change consisted of dropping two letters from his birth name: Osama.  As soon as he became “Sam” Abed instead of “Osama” Abed, he got a job! He was glad to get the job but disappointed that people hadn’t been able to look past the name to the individual.

He told his staff to challenge them to take responsibility for their actions and not blame others  — the judges, police, schools or parents of the young people that came into the system. “Fix what we can fix, hope others will do the same,” he told his staff, reminding them of what King’s work means — “keep going and fighting” to make a difference in the world.

The keynote speaker, Secretary Sam Abed, Esq., Maryland Department of Juvenile Services

The Sensational Stars, a favorite at the MLK breakfasts, brought old-time gospel harmonies to “Heaven is a Beautiful Place” and “It’s Going to be All Right” before concluding with a soulful version of Sam Cooke’s powerful anthem, “A Change is Gonna Come.”

Sensational Stars at MLK Breakfast 2018

The morning ended just a little before 10:00 am with a benediction by Rev. Sheila Lomax.  Following the benediction, the entire audience rose and held hands to sing “We Shall Overcome.”

Photo Gallery below.  Photography by Jane Jewell.

Rev. Jim Van de Wal with Sam Abed at MLK Breakfast 2018

 

MLK Breakfast 2018

Marianne Leery, George Shivers at MLK Breakfast 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Earthquake Off Delaware Coast

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The area in red where the November 30, 2017, earthquake was felt.

Did you feel anything odd just before 5:00 pm yesterday, Thursday, Nov. 30?  Some shaking? A bump or jolt while driving?  Did anything fall or break in your house?  If so, you might have experienced the 4.1 magnitude earthquake that struck yesterday at 4:47 pm off the Delaware coast about 6 miles northeast of Dover, Delaware.

A 4.1 earthquake is considered strong enough to cause moderate to considerable damage. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is trying to determine the extent and severity of the quake.  If you felt the quake, MEMA would like to hear from you. The full message from MEMA–with a link to report where you were and what you felt–is at the end of this article on the Dover earthquake, along with a copy of the earthquake survey questions. MEMA needs help from residents to make a “shaking intensity map” of the affected areas.

Earthquakes are rare in the Mid-Atlantic area. In fact, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), earthquakes are rare east of the Rockies Mountains. The last tremor felt in Delaware was in 2011–that from the 5.8 earthquake centered in Virginia that was felt all up and down the East Coast and, in DC, caused cracks in both the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral.  Thursday’s quake was felt as far inland as the I-95 corridor in Maryland, Delaware, and southeastern Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and New York to the north.  It was felt over 90 miles away in Washington, DC, in Baltimore, in Philadelphia, and 125 miles north in New York City. However, many in these areas said they didn’t notice anything. The USGS said that light shaking was felt as far south as Virginia and as far north as Poughkeepsie, New York and Connecticut.  The quake registered at a depth of five miles, which is considered a shallow quake and that shallowness causes the quake to be amplified and felt over a larger area. Earth tremors on the East Coast tend to cause shaking in a wider area than those in western states due to the type of quake, the depth of the quake, and to the type of bedrock.

Partial map of Eastern Shore of Maryland showing epicenter –starred– of the Thursday, Nov. 30, 4.1 magnitude earthquake. The quake’s epicenter at the wildlife refuge is roughly 36 miles from Chestertown.

Closer to the quake’s center in Dover, houses shook, windows and loose items rattled, and many people reported a boom and a sound like a train that was loud but only lasted a second or two.   In Dover, the ground shook for 10-20 seconds, sending people pouring out of buildings and into the streets where others were already gathering for the Dover Capitol Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting ceremony. The celebration, which was scheduled for 5 -8:00 pm., continued despite the disruption of the earthquake.

The quake was originally reported at a magnitude of 5.1 then shortly afterward downgraded to 4.4.  After examining readings from multiple monitoring stations, the tremor was downgraded to a probably final magnitude of 4.1.

No aftershocks have been reported so far.

The Delaware Emergency Management Agency believes the epicenter was in Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. No injuries, major damage, or interruption of services were reported in the first few hours after the quake. The wildlife refuge is roughly 36 miles from Chestertown.

The Delaware earthquake was one of five earthquakes registered on Thursday in the US’s lower 48 states. But it was the strongest.  It was not just the strongest quake on Thursday, Nov. 30, but also the strongest in the US for the month of November.  Just 30 minutes after the 4.1 quake in Delaware, there was a tremor–magnitude 3.6–near Salida, Colorado.

Here are the questions on the earthquake survey form from MEMA.  To record your experience click on the “jump” link below then click on the 3rd box in the first row with the title “Felt Report–Tell Us!”

Jump to Navigation

  Magnitude 4.1 Earthquake – 10km ENE of Dover, Delaware

Felt Report – Tell Us!   Expires 05/31/2018

Your location when the earthquake occurred

Choose Location

Did you feel it?


  • Yes

  • No

The remainder of this form is optional.

Help make a shaking intensity map by telling us about the shaking at your location.

What was your situation during the earthquake?


  • Not specified

  • Inside a building

  • Outside a building

  • In a stopped vehicle

  • In a moving vehicle

  • Other

Were you asleep?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Slept through it

  • Woke up

Did others nearby feel it?


  • Not specified

  • No others felt it

  • Some felt it, most did not

  • Most felt it

  • Everyone/almost everyone felt it

How would you describe the shaking?


  • Not specified

  • Not felt

  • Weak

  • Mild

  • Moderate

  • Strong

  • Violent

How did you react?


  • Not specified

  • No reaction/not felt

  • Very little reaction

  • Excitement

  • Somewhat frightened

  • Very frightened

  • Extremely frightened

How did you respond?


  • Not specified

  • Took no action

  • Moved to doorway

  • Dropped and covered

  • Ran outside

  • Other

Was it difficult to stand and/or walk?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes

Did you notice any swinging of doors or other free-hanging objects?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes, slight swinging

  • Yes, violent swinging

Did you hear creaking or other noises?


  • Not specified

  • Yes, slight noise

  • Yes, loud noise

Did objects rattle, topple over, or fall off shelves?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Rattled slightly

  • Rattled loudly

  • A few toppled or fell off

  • Many fell off

  • Nearly everything fell off

Did pictures on walls move or get knocked askew?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes, but did not fall

  • Yes, and some fell

Did any furniture or appliances slide, topple over, or become displaced?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes

Was a heavy appliance (refrigerator or range) affected?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes, some contents fell out

  • Yes, shifted by inches

  • Yes, shifted by a foot or more

  • Yes, overturned

Were free-standing walls or fences damaged?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes, some were cracked

  • Yes, some partially fell

  • Yes, some fell completely

Was there any damage to the building?


  • No Damage

  • Hairline cracks in walls

  • A few large cracks in walls

  • Many large cracks in walls

  • Ceiling tiles or lighting fixtures fell

  • Cracks in chimney

  • One or several cracked windows

  • Many windows cracked or some broken out

  • Masonry fell from block or brick wall(s)

  • Old chimney, major damage or fell down

  • Modern chimney, major damage or fell down

  • Outside wall(s) tilted over or collapsed completely

  • Separation of porch, balcony, or other addition from building

  • Building permanently shifted over foundation

Additional Comments

Contact Information (optional)

Name

Email

Phone

Submit Cancel

New Jersey is also surveying their residents to discover the range of Thursday’s quake.  Their site has an interactive map and totals per town of those who felt the quake.

Official Message from Maryland Emergency Management Agency Monitoring After Earthquake Near Delaware Coast

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (November 30, 2017) — In the wake of the earthquake that hit off the coast of Delaware this afternoon, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency is monitoring for any reports of damage.

The quake, which the United States Geological Survey currently lists as a 4.1 magnitude, hit just before 4:50 p.m. off the Delaware coast, about 6 miles east/northeast of Dover. Reports say it was felt as far east as the I-95 corridor in central Maryland.

The United States Geological Survey asks anyone who may have felt the quake to report it on their website.

While earthquakes are not common in this region, they do happen. In August of 2011, most of Maryland felt a magnitude 5.8 earthquake that was centered near Mineral, Va.

For more information about earthquakes in Maryland, please visit the MEMA website.

For more general information about earthquake preparedness, visit the federal government’s earthquake website.

End Official Mema press release

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Young Artists Shine at KidSPOT!

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Kaela Covey, grade 4, mask; Sukie Tilghman, grade 3, owl; Saraia Wilmoree, grade 3, doll; Elizabeth Healy, instructor; Alden Swanson,grade 4, owl

KidSPOT! is an after-school art program for, well, kids. Sponsored by RiverArts,  KidSpot has year-round activities including drop-in sessions.  This Friday will be the last day of  a special six-week KidSPOT! session in coordination with the Kent County Public Schools for students grades K-8 .  The younger kids made masks, dolls, cut-paper art and more. The middle school students did drawings in various media. And their KidSPOT! exhibit was up on the walls at RiverArts by First Friday.  And you can see it, too!

The People’s Choice award for the middle school went to Emma Porter, grade 8 for her big cat.

RiverArts will run another six-week after-school program starting in the new year.  Contact RiverArts for information.  The program runs from 3:30 to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Gabriel Nailor, grade 5, Super Dog; Sei-Aun Thompson, grade 3, doll; August Swanson, K, cut-paper art; Kato Swanson, grade 2, cut-paper art

Joy Maine was curator and instructor for the Middle School exhibit.  She has taught art in the Kent County Middle School in Chestertown for over 30 years.  Elizabeth Healy was curator and instructor for the elementary school students. She taught elementary school in Montana for 25 years before moving to Chestertown in 2014.  She is currently the co-chair of KidSPOT.

The RiverArts Gallery at 315 High Street, Suite 106 (behind Dunkin’ Donuts)is open Tuesday through Friday, 11 am to 4 pm, Saturday 10 to 4, and Sunday 11 to 3 pm.  Don’t miss it!

The KidSPOT! exhibit is in the second and third rooms at RiverArts.  The main room has another exhibit that is also worth taking a look at. The Spy article on the Chester River School of Art Student Exhibit is here.

Photo Gallery below by Peter Heck and Jane Jewell

Masks and dolls by artists ages 5-10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster by Grant Barry, grade 6

Lexi Sullivan, grade 8

Trista Strong, grade 8

Caleb Schultz, grade 8

Chloie Massey, grade 8

Sebastian Aquilar, grade 6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Major Barbara” – Professional Production at Washington College – This Weekend Only

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Cast and crew of Major Barbara production at Washington College, Oct6-8, 2017. Front row, left to right: Shannon Lawn, Brendon Fox, Jackie Dulaff, (Patricia Delorey on Skype), Conor Maloney, Rachel Treglia, Tim Maloney, Katie Peacock Back row, left to right: Lex Liang, Cole Capobianco, Lexy Ricketts, Dan Perelstein, Adam Ashcraft, Nate Krimmel, Kelly Young, Colin Higgins, Abby Wargo, John Leslie, Iz Clemens, Laura Eckelman, Kate Moncrief, Giselle Brown, Meghan McPherson, Erin Caine, Nic Job, Tedi Rollins, Victoria Gill, Patrick Salerno, Mark Christie

This weekend is your chance to see a professionally produced production of one of the classics of British theater.  Written in 1905 by George Bernard Shaw, “Major Barbara” has been in theaters almost continuously since then.

Now it’s at Washington College. Each semester there is one play directed by a senior member of the theater department.  This fall Assistant Professor of Theatre, Brendon Fox, is directing one of his personal favorites, and the WC Department of Theatre and Dance has brought in a professional production team to help design the set, sound, costumes, etc.   This gives the students a chance to work with theater professionals and learn professional techniques from the pros while making both friends and contacts. They even have a professional fight choreographer to give those fight scenes a realistic touch!

Professor of Drama Emeritus Timothy Maloney, Washington College, takes the role of rich munitions manufacturer, Andrew Undershaft

This is also a rare opportunity to see one of Chestertown’s finest actors.  Professor of Drama Emeritus, Timothy Maloney, has come out of retirement to play Andrew Undershaft,  the captain of industry and father of Major Barbara.  His wife, Lady Britomart Undershaft, is played by Professor of English Kate Moncrief.  Rachel Treglia, WC class of ’19, takes the title role as Major Barbara Undershaft.

Performances will be in Decker Theater in the Gibson Arts building on the Washington College campus on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings, Oct.5- 7 at 7:30 pm.  There is also a matinee at 2:00 pm on Sunday, Oct. 8. All performances are free.

Kathryn Moncrief, Professor of English and Department Chair, plays Lady Undershaft – photo by Tamzin B. Smith

“Major Barbara” was first staged at the London Royal Court Theatre in 1905. In the USA, it made its Broadway debut at the Playhouse Theatre in 1915, just as World War I was raging in Europe. A 1941 film adaptation starred Rex Harrison, Wendy Hiller and Robert Morley. This film version of Major Barbara was shot in London during the blitz bombing of London in 1940. With explosions going on around them, the cast and crew often had to drop everything and run for the bomb shelters. But producer-director, Pascal didn’t stop the production and, amazingly, the film was finished on schedule. The play was also released as a 4-LP Caedmon Records set in 1965 with Maggie Smith in the title role and Morley reprising his role as Andrew Undershaft. While the play was originally set in the early years of the 20th century, the Washington College production is set in the present day.

“Major Barbara” tells the story of an idealistic young woman, Barbara Undershaft. A Major in the Salvation Army in London, Barbara has devoted her life to helping the poor.  For years, Barbara and the rest of her family have been estranged from their father, Andrew Undershaft, a rich munitions maker.  Ironically, their father is a major supporter of the Salvation Army and has made substantial donations to the organization.  This offends Major Barbara, who objects to his “tainted” wealth. However, the father claims that he is doing more to help society by creating jobs and a steady income for people than the Salvation Army is by feeding them and praying for them. A social satire like many of Shaw’s works, the play uses humor to explore themes of morality, money, and power, often within the family structure.

Rachel Treglia, class of 2019, as Major Barbara – photo by Tamzin B. Smith

Brandon Fox, Assistant Professor of Theatre at Washington College, director for “Major Barbara”- photo by Heather Perry Weafer

Director Brendon Fox received his B.S., Performance Studies at Northwestern University, 1993 and his M.F.A., in Directing at the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2009.  He teaches classes on acting, directing, and theater history, among other subjects. His research interests are in Restoration comedy and the adaptation of literature to the stage. In July 2014, Fox directed Two Gentlemen of Verona, for the Houston Shakespeare Festival. In 2016, he adapted the popular, best-selling British novel The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde for a staged reading at Washington College.  This was a world stage-premiere for The Eyre Affair. Author Jasper Fforde came to the college for the premiere and worked with the students in several workshop sessions.

All performances are free.  But reservations are strongly encouraged. Reservations may be made online here up to two hours before each performance. If online reservations are already closed, come to the theater at least 30 minutes early for a ticket, if available, or to have your name placed on the waiting list. The doors open one-half hour before curtain time.  Those with reservations will be allowed to enter first. At five minutes before curtain, house managers will begin admitting patrons from the waiting list. For more information, email theatre_tickets@washcoll.edu and a student worker will respond.

The cast features Professor of Drama Emeritus Timothy Maloney playing Andrew Undershaft and Professor of English Kate Moncrief as Lady Britomart Undershaft, as well as:

 Adam Ashcraft ’19 (Peter Shirley)

Giselle Brown, ’20 (Rummy Mitchens)

Iz Clemens, ’19 (Jenny Hill)

Colin Higgins, ’19 (Charles Lomax)

Nate Krimmel, ’18 (Snobby Price)

John Leslie, ’19 (Stephen Undershaft)

Meghan McPherson, ’19 (Billie Walker)

Conor Maloney, ’19 (Adolphus Cusins)

Lexy Ricketts, ’20  (Sarah Undershaft)

Rachel Treglia, ’19 (Major Barbara Undershaft)

Abby Wargo, ’19 (Mrs. Baines) 

Kelly Young, ’20 (Morrison/Bilton) 

The production and design team includes:

Erin Caine (’19): Dramaturg

Patricia Delorey: Dialect Coach, (Professional-Florida) 

 Lex Liang: Costume & Scenic Designer, (Professional-New York)

Laura Eckelman: Lighting Designer

Dan Perelstein: Co-Sound Designer, (Professional-Philadelphia) 

Mark Christie (’18): Co-Sound Designer 

Claudia Adjou-Moumouni (’18): Music Director 

Cliff Williams III: Fight Choreographer, (Professional-DC) 

Cole Capobianco (’16): Associate Costume Designer, (Alumni &Professional-NJ)

Kaitlyn Peacock (’19): Assistant Scenic Designer & Props Master 

Shannon Lawn (’18): Stage Manager

Jackie Dulaff (’20): Assistant Stage Manager

Nic Job (’21): Assistant Stage Manager 

Victoria Gill (’21) – light board operator

Patrick Salerno (’21) – soundboard operator

Gillian Kelahan (’21) – wardrobe crew

Tedi Rollins (’21) – stage/wardrobe crew

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St. Martin’s Ministries – Lighting the Way

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Lighthouses by Dick Swanson displayed in his workshop. Both are included in the auction.

The 12th annual Arts Dinner Dance and Auction to benefit St. Martin’s Ministries (SMM) will be held Friday, Oct. 13 in the Chesapeake Room of Rock Hall firehouse. Works by more than two dozen artists will be available for bidding.

This year’s theme is “America the Beautiful, From Sea to Shining Sea.” To highlight the theme, this year’s featured artist, master wood craftsman Dick Swanson has created six replicas of classic lighthouses from all over the country. Each lighthouse, in addition to being a finely detailed work of art, contains several internal compartments suitable for storing jewelry, keys, or other small items. To get a preview of all six models, check out the front window of the Finishing Touch in Chestertown, where they will be on display until the day of the event.

Dick Swanson in his workshop shows book with photograph of the lighthouse that one of his is modeled on.

In addition to raising money for a very worthwhile charity, the dinner and auction is a lot of fun with good food, good conversation, and good art. The evening begins with cocktails and the silent auction at 6:00 pm.  As you stroll the Chesapeake Room in Rock Hall, you can examine the lighthouses up close along with the other works of art and decide what you might want to bid on. Maybe you’d prefer to bid on one of the glamorous get-aways for an exciting trip to the city or a relaxing weekend in the country.  Dinner is at 7:30 pm followed by dessert and a few after-dinner remarks by the staff and leaders of St Martin’s Ministries as they share stories of the work and progress in the past year.  Then the live auction will begin about 8:45 pm when you can defend your bid against your friends who would try to take home just the item you want the most – unless you can top their bid!  At 9:15, the dance begins with music by DJ Marc McCallum. His special program of musical selections entitled Dancing through the Decades provides both lively and romantic dancing to the oldies while it brings back all those memories!  At 10:00 pm, it’s time to check out and collect your winnings. It’s a lot of fun, and all in all, a wonderful evening.  Many people come back year after year.  Each year’s dinner has a different theme and a new featured artist. And all proceeds support St. Martin’s Ministries’ work with women and children. There is more information on St. Martin’s Ministries below.

Lighthouses shown in their original setting.

In addition to Swanson, contributing artists include Marjorie Aronson, Evie Baskin, Jayne Hurt Bellows, Paul Bramble, Robyn Burckhart, Nora Carey, John Carey, Laura Cline, David B. Giffort, Charlotte Guscht, Pegret Harrison, Lynn Hilfiker, Mary Averill James, Jonathan King, Marlayn King, David Lyon, Joyce Murrin, K. Chrisgtine O’Neill, David O’Neill, Mary Pritchard, Marcy Dunn Ramsey, Lani Seikaly, Lolli sherry, Linda Sims, Nancy R. Thomas and Dennis Young. While the emphasis is on beautiful and unique works of art, there are also other items available for bidding at the silent auction.

All the lighthouses are currently being displayed in the window of Finishing Touch on High Street in Chestertown, just across from Fountain Park.

Tickets for the SMM Arts Dinner and Auction are $110. To make reservations, go to the Mid-Shore Foundation’s website.  You can also make donations at the site to help SMM in their work with women and children and in the process become an official St. Martin’s Ministries Angel, Archangel, Seraphim, or you can join the Heavenly Chorus, each for various levels of donations.

Three of the six lighthouses that up for auction at the St. Martin’s Ministries’ arts Dinner and Auction on Friday, October 13.

Those who would like to bid on a lighthouse but cannot attend the dinner on Oct 13, can submit a bid by email to Anne Donaghy at Donaghy.Ja@gmail.com. Include the word LIGHTHOSE in the subject line of your email.  Then in the text, give your name, telephone, email address, and the name and number of the Lighthouse you’re bidding on, plus the amount of your bid. There is a minimum bid of $150 for a lighthouse. (So bid high if you can’t be there during the auction to raise your bid as needed!) A few days before the dinner, someone will call to verify your bid and request credit card information.  Should you win, you will be notified the next day. Credit cards will not be charged unless your bid wins. This information is also on a sign in the Finishing Touch window.

Saint Martin’s Ministries

Saint Martin’s Ministries began in 1973, when The Benedictine Sisters of Ridgely founded St. Martin’s Barn – an outreach ministry to Christ’s poor. The Barn provided food, clothing and limited funds for preventing evictions and electricity cutoffs. Ten years later, June, 1983, Saint Martin’s House became a reality – a transitional residence which seeks to empower homeless women and children to work towards self-sufficiency in a safe and stable environment.

Today Saint Martin’s House in Ridgely provides up to 2 years of transitional housing for single women and women with children. The program also provides appropriate support services to persons who are homeless or who are close to homelessness. The transition is to help them be more self-sufficient so they can move towards living on their own. The ministry also provides clothing, emergency food, eviction prevention assistance and utility assistance for those in need. St. Martin’s Ministries administers the Rental Assistance program for Caroline County.

For example, in one recent year, SMM reported that the residences had housed 29 persons, 15 women and 14 children.  They came from all over the Mid-Shore.  This amounted to 7,368 bed-nights valued at $92, 100.  In another year, SMM housed 14 women and 44 children for a total 4,685 bed-nights.  With careful administration and efficient volunteers, the cost per person has run around $40 per day.

The St. Martin’s Barn program provides emergency food and clothing. In one year, they distributed 3, 672 food packages, averaging over 300 per month.  The same year, SMM provided over $100,00 to save 171 families from eviction.

In order to keep these services going – to help more women and children –  SMM runs several other fund raisers in addition to the annual Arts Dinner and Auction,. They just finished their 2nd annual golf tournament and also hold an Authors’ Luncheon in the spring.  SMM has been awarded over $150,000 in government grants.  Altogether, St. Martin’s Ministries has been a life-changing and life-saving influence in the lives of hundreds of women and children over the years.

SMM is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization. All donations are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

You can be a part of this.

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Coming Attraction — Movie Theater to Reopen!

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The old Chester 5 Theatres will become the new Chesapeake 5 Theatres – opening late November 2017

The movies are returning to Chestertown!

Chesapeake Theaters, Inc., a new company, has formed to re-open, refurbish, and operate the old Chester 5 Theatre in Washington Square in Chestertown. Their license application was submitted to the town yesterday and immediately thereafter work began in the theater building.  The company expects to have the theater open in time for Thanksgiving when theaters traditionally do a large share of their annual business.  At the latest, it should be open for the Christmas season.  It all depends on the progress of the construction.  The new complex will be named Chesapeake 5 Theatres.

The old chairs ready to be carted out.

The renovation began yesterday,  a representative of the company told the Spy on Wednesday, Sept.20.  The seats are already unbolted from the floors in 4 of the 5 theaters in the complex.  In the next week or so, he said, the entire theater will be essentially gutted – drapes pulled down, carpeting ripped up.  Then the remodeling and refurbishing can begin. When finished, the theater will have new floors, carpeting, seats, wall coverings, marquees, projection screens — “new everything,” the representative said. The restrooms and concession stand will also be brand new. ‘It’s not going to look like anything you’ve ever seen.” he said.

The new rocker chairs – 44 inches from floor to top of headrest – with padded arm-rests and headrests.

The five new theaters will be in the same spaces as previously – no walls will be removed. Each theater will have brand-new, 44-inch high rocker-chairs with padded arm-rests that can be raised or lowered.  Each arm-rest has a cup holder.  Initially, all the seating will be rocker-chairs.  However, the company has special luxury recliners on order.  When those arrive, in approximately 2-3 months, the rockers will be removed from the back half of each of the five theaters and the recliners installed.

The concession stand will offer a much more varied menu than the previous theater. Along with the usual popcorn and candy, the new expanded menu will include pizza, hamburgers, fries, mozzarella sticks, and chicken tenders. There will be special trays that fit into the cup holders on the theater seats so patrons can eat while watching. Alternatively, they will be able to sit at a table in the dining area of the lobby while waiting for their show to begin. The company representative said the theater might apply for a liquor license at some point but has not made that decision yet. One of the reasons cited for the closure of the Chester 5 complex was the availability of beer and wine at the competing Middletown theaters.

The new theater has already re-hired the former manager for the Chester 5 Theatres.  According to their representative, they will be looking to hire about a dozen more employees.

The principals of Chesapeake Theaters, Inc, a small independent company formed to operate the new theater complex, have had substantial theater experience, including operating other theaters in Maryland. The company representative said that they are very impressed with Chestertown and want to be a community-oriented company.   They are also open to holding fund-raisers for community organizations, especially anything that benefits children, such as the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.

The old Chester 5 Theatres closed Sunday, June 4, 2017, without any advance notice. At the time, theater manager Charlene Fowler said business had been slowly declining for about five years. She attributed the change in part to competition from the newer movie theater in Middletown, Del., which had a more up-to-date facility and a liquor license.

Let the show begin!

Photography by Peter Heck and Jane Jewell.  Special thanks to Chestertown Spies Alexander and Emma for their hot tips and timely info!

Old Chester 5 theatre room

Old seats partially dismantled.

Kent County Schools Will Cancel Bus Contract

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Reliable Transportation of Baltimore school buses parked at the former bowling alley on Route 213 in Queen Anne’s County 

A resolution to the school bus crisis is on the way.

At the Kent County Board of Education meeting on Sept. 18, Superintendent Karen Couch announced that the school system and Reliable Transportation of Baltimore have reached an agreement in principle to cancel their current contract. While details are still being worked out by lawyers for both sides, the school system has already begun transitioning to the new school bus system. At Superintendent Couch’s request, the board passed a motion to authorize the on-going final negotiations with Reliable.

By Monday morning, Sept 18, Couch said, there were already six buses on the road hired directly by Kent County Public Schools through contractors or individual owner/drivers.   All the buses meet both state and county safety standards with all required equipment installed. With more direct hires in the works, Couch stated that there is still a need for at least 14 more buses which Kent County Public Schools (KCPS) will purchase.

Until the new buses arrive, Reliable will continue to pick up children on the routes not covered by the drivers hired directly by the school district. The school board did not have a time line for the new buses to be in service as of the Monday meeting. They are still considering possible short-term options including borrowing buses – especially special needs buses – from other school systems.

Many of the bus drivers from Reliable will be offered driver positions as the new buses come in. This model of school transportation, in which a school system owns some buses and hires drivers directly, while other buses are supplied by independent contractors who own one or more buses, is known as a hybrid. Caroline, Talbot, and Queen Anne’s counties all have hybrid systems, while Wicomico owns all its own buses.

Reliable knows of the school board’s plans and has agreed to have its buses and drivers used until the school district can transition to their new buses. Couch said that cancellation of the contract with Reliable was despite the company’s best’ efforts and due to circumstances beyond their control. Reliable is committed to a smooth transition, she said.

The county will still need to hire more drivers, some of whom will probably be unfamiliar with the routes, so some of the problems such as late pick-ups and drop-offs may continue during the transition. Three buses will be available for field trips and athletics — an improvement over last year, when only two buses were available, which often made for scheduling difficulties.

Superintendent of Schools Karen Couch

The school plans to buy the additional 14 buses, two of which are special needs buses, for a total of no more than $1.5 million. KCPS will piggy-back the contract with one from another local school district. City National Capital will provide the loan at 2.15 percent interest for 10 years. The deal is a lease-purchase, so the county will own the buses at the end of the 10 years. The lease/purchase agreement is expected to cost $168,000 per year, which is within the school’s current transportation budget. There is no penalty for early repayment. Interest over the 10 years will amount to an estimated $183,000. As the average life of a school bus is 15 years, this may give the district five more years with only maintenance costs. The school district is hoping to join the county’s bulk fuel purchase program to minimize fuel costs.

 

Swingin’ in the Park!

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Come hear the big-band sound of Swing City on Sunday, Sept 24 at 3:00 pm.  This will be the last of the summer concerts in Fountain Park in downtown Chestertown.  Originally scheduled for July, the concert was postponed due to a torrential downpour on the day.  Note that due to scheduling issues, this Music in the Park concert is not on the usual Saturday evening.  Instead, Swing City will perform on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm in the usual location in the park. There is no charge for any of the Music in the Park concerts but donations will be gratefully accepted.

Led by trumpeter Elmer Dill, Swing City performs all over the eastern U.S., with occasional ventures as far afield as Canada. The 35-member band has been a hit with Music in the Park audiences, drawing large crowds for its appearances in the open-air concert series. Before the evening is over, there have usually been several couples dancing on the bricks around the fountain.

Elmer Dill, founder and director of Swing City, led his first band while still in high school. He attended the University of Delaware, where he played with the university’s stage band, the Delmodians. After college, he joined the U.S. Navy and played in bands all over the world. Several other Swing City regulars share Dill’s military band background, and nearly a third are current or retired musical directors. Most of them live in the Delmarva area, though a few come from as far afield as western Maryland, Pennsylvania, or New Jersey. Members have ranged in age from students in their teens to musicians in their eighties.

Ann Morris of Swing City

The band’s repertoire includes both swing era classics from the likes of Tommy Dorsey and Glenn Miller and stylish, big band arrangements of more modern material. The set list for Sunday features sax and trumpet solos as well as popular songs  such as “In the Mood,” “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” and a six-trumpet arrangement of “Bye Bye Blackbird.”  Ann Morris, a favorite from previous Swing City concerts, returns as the band’s featured vocalist.

Sunday’s program begins at 3:00 p.m. and will end at approximately 4:30. Admission is free. Audience members should bring something to sit on. Only limited seating is available. Note that there is no rain date.  In case of rain, the concert will be canceled. This concert marks the end of the 2017 Music in the Park program. The summer 2018 series will begin in mid-June after the National Music Festival which is the first two weeks of June in Chestertown.

The Music in the Park series has brought a variety of musical styles, including jazz, swing, bluegrass, klezmer, folk, gospel and more, to Kent County audiences since it began in the mid-1990s. The concerts are sponsored by the town of Chestertown with support from the Kent County Arts Council and many community contributors. To help make these free programs possible, send donations payable to the town of Chestertown and designated for “Music in the Park,” to 118 N. Cross St., Chestertown, MD 21620. Donations may also be made at the concert.

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It Happened on Queen Street

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David and Anne Singer of Chestertown were out of town for a few days at the beginning of July.  When they returned, they noticed a puddle in the driveway but thought nothing of it.  Maybe it had rained.  But the next day, the puddle was still there.  Was it a little larger?  Long story short, a pipe under the driveway from the house had sprung a leak.  They turned off the water to the house and called their plumber.  However, it was now in the middle of the July 4th holiday.  Their plumber was out on a job and not available.  They called several other plumbers but each was either busy or didn’t have the large equipment necessary to dig down to the pipes. The Singers had now been over 24 hours with no water in their house.  Finally, they found Doug Nicholson, Sr, plumber and electrician, who had the equipment and was willing to come in over a holiday for an emergency job.  After excavating the full length of the driveway to a depth of about five, Nicholson unearthed something the Singers had never seen before – “tar-paper” pipes.

The Singers’ house is one of those wonderful old brick homes on Queen Street. Built around 1790, number 109 N. Queen Street is listed as “The Chambers House” in Michael Bourne’s Historic Houses of Kent County (p 350). According to Bourne, it was probably built at the same time (1788-90) as the Nicholson House, next door, with which it shares several architectural features including a molded Doric cornice, one of the earliest documented in Kent County.

The plumber-to-the-rescue, Doug Nicholson, Sr., is not related to the next-door Nicholson House family from the 1790s, – as far as we know. But then again, it’s Kent County, so who knows!

The Chambers house is not known to be listed in any official records until 1811 when it appeared on a deed. The land was acquired in 1786 by Benjamin Chambers, a prominent attorney in the town who served as Clerk of the Court and later as a general of the militia at the Battle of Caulk’s Field. His prominence can be measured by the fact that in 1810 he moved to Widehall. At that point, he transferred the house to his son Ezekial Chambers, a prominent attorney in his own right and later a judge. The younger Chambers moved to Widehall in 1822, and the North Queen Street house became a rental property until 1865, when Chambers sold it to a local contractor, John Greenwood.

Then Greenwood sold the property just a year later to the Vestry of Chester Parish, who converted it into a residence for the rectors of Emmanuel Church. It remained in the hands of the parish until 1910. During that time, the house was expanded to add a pantry and dining room on the first floor and two bedrooms upstairs. Thereafter it had several owners until 1994, when the Singers bought it and began restoring it.

The tar-paper pipes were a surprise to the Singers but not to Nicholson who said that he had seen them often in the older parts of town. They looked like hollowed out logs.  Not at all like today’s plastic pipes. The tar-paper pipe is made of wood pulp and pitch. It represents a less expensive alternative to classic clay piping which has been used throughout history, in ancient Rome, through Chinese dynasties, and into modern times, and is usually referred to as terra cotta.

In addition to tar-paper pipes being used as sewer pipes, they were frequently used as conduits for electrical wiring – notably in the Empire State Building and other skyscrapers. Tar-paper pipes were also adopted by the oil industry to pump salt wastewater out of drilling sites. Its use as sewer pipe was very common during World War II and into the 1950s, which fits Nicholson’s estimate that the pipe at 109 N. Queen St. was “about 70 years old.”  The pipes are commonly called Orangeburg pipes from the name of the upstate New York town where they were manufactured by the Fiber Conduit Company, which later changed its name to the Orangeburg Manufacturing Company. Orangeburg pipes were widely used from 1860 until 1970, when plastic pipe such as PCV came into common use.

Bob Sipes, Utilities Manager for the town of Chestertown, said the sewer system on Queen Street was installed in the first decade of the 20th century, so it’s conceivable that the Orangeburg pipe, which is a lateral line leading from the town sewer mains to the house, dates back to that period. However, that would be unusually long for that sort of pipe to last.  The town’s water and sewer systems were not built using Orangeburg.

Orangeburg pipe’s main liability is its tendency to flatten under pressure. The layers of rolled-up tar paper can also begin to separate, creating “bubbles” or humps.  While its normal life expectancy was listed at 50 years and some can last considerably longer, Orangeburg was often known to fail within 10 years, usually due to the pressure of the soil in which it was buried. So this one, at 70 years old, did pretty well.

While we were there taking pictures and talking to the Singers and several neighbors who came by to see the progress, we noticed a steady stream of cars come slowly up the one-way street, carefully negotiating the speed bump and the construction.  David Singer sighed and said that for some reason many GPS systems give this narrow, one-lane, one-way, residential street as the preferred route to downtown Chestertown rather than the wider Cross or Spring streets.  At least, he noted, the drivers first view of Chestertown is the beautiful, historic homes of Queen Street.

Well, now the pipes are all replaced with modern longer-lasting pipes.  The water is turned back on. The Singers can heave a sigh of relief. Until the next time.  That’s the joys of owning an historical home – you never know what’s in the attic, under the stairs or the paint or even the driveway.  But you learn a lot of fascinating history along the way.

(This article, “It Happened on Queen Street,” is the first in an irregular Spy series on the homes and history of Chestertown and Kent County.  Please contact us if you have an idea for a future subject in the series, either below in the comments or by email to Editor@ChestertownSpy.com.)

All done! But then it’s never all done with an old house, is it?