For Love of the Game by Nancy Mugele

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As we speak Jim and I are driving to High Point, North Carolina, and although it is Furniture Market Week, we are not going for furniture. Tomorrow night Jim is being inducted into High Point University’s Athletic Hall of Fame for baseball. I am so proud of his accomplishments (especially his Academic All American honor) although I did not know him in college or when he played for the Cincinnati Reds or Boston Red Sox in the minor leagues. Tonight our children, extended family, friends and Jim’s former HPU teammates, traveling from places near and far, will converge in High Point for a weekend of celebration. (I packed a few special bottles from the Chester River Wine and Cheese Co. just in case!)

That I should marry a baseball player was foretold to me by a psychic when I was in my early 20s. It’s true. I went to Florida with one of my close friends whose mother lived there in the mid 1980s – that is another story, but Debra and I went to the home of her mother’s friend, a psychic, on our stay. I know, it sounds lame, but it was one of those experiences that I will not forget although I can only remember one thing that she said. Sitting in the pink, overly-furnished formal living room, the soft-spoken older woman told me that I would meet and marry a baseball player. I was not dating anyone at the time so I thought it was odd that she would open the discussion with that declaration. Whatever else she told me is long forgotten, but I can still hear the clarity and conviction in her voice as she spoke about my future spouse.

Just two years later a former baseball player sat next to me on a fateful Amtrak train ride and the rest is history. With a nod to a poet during National Poetry Month, Walt Whitman said: I see great things in baseball. It’s our game – the American game. And, I could not agree more. I spent many weekend days, including a few Mothers’ Days, watching my husband coach my son in Little League baseball. Their team played in Cooperstown, New York, the epitome of Americana, and our children got to see their Dad’s minor league stats in a record book at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Those memories are forever etched in my mind and I am so grateful to have them stored away. The Major League Baseball All Star game was always an excuse for a party at our house. Anyone and everyone was welcomed as long as they were happy picking crabs in front of the television.

To me, baseball (my favorite professional sport besides ice hockey) is a metaphor for life and I think Nolan Ryan, the pitcher with the most career strikeouts in MLB history, summed it up so well. “One of the beautiful things about baseball is that every once in a while you come into a situation where you want to, and where you have to, reach down and prove something.” Don’t we all come to crossroads many times in our lives when we have to persevere and still stay standing. I also appreciate that in baseball a batter has three tries to make a difference for his team. Failure, and learning from your mistakes – perhaps a few times – makes a person resilient and strong.

Baseball is about the only sport Jim and I can agree to watch together at night. Even though I may be checking my Kent School email or playing Words with Friends while he watches the Os, I like to listen to the announcers. Baseball announcers are the best of any sport for their excitement and genuine passion for the game. And, trust me, Jim would make an incredible announcer. Several times during any given game Jim will make a comment that is then, seconds later, repeated verbatim by the announcers. It always makes me smile.

Congratulations, Jim! We are so proud of #4 on the Panthers squad. For the man you are because of your love for the game, I salute you this weekend.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.

The Future of Healthcare: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opens in Centreville

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The leading edge of a quiet revolution in healthcare reached the Eastern Shore on Valentine’s Day. That’s when Ash + Ember, a licensed medical marijuana dispensary, opened its doors. The owners of the facility—sisters Ashley and Paige Colen—say they are seeing lots of early demand. The dispensary is located at 202 Coursevall Drive #108 in Centreville.  Visit their website here. 

Maryland is now one of 29 states (plus Washington DC) that provide legal access to hemp and marijuana derivatives to treat medical problems such as pain, nausea, depression, sleeping disorders, epilepsy, and other health issues. The medical marijuana movement, however, is increasingly global. Australia, Argentina, Canada, Germany, Israel and many other countries already provide similar access. The process in Maryland requires prospective patients to get a doctor’s recommendation, then register with state authorities and receive a specialized ID card, and then to work with a licensed dispensary to identify the particular formulation and mode of delivery that best meets their needs.

Ash + Ember offers to help would-be patients with the registration process and with finding a doctor who will recommend medical marijuana therapy, as well as with finding a formulation that best suits each patient. Since the dispensary is limited to suppliers in Maryland (federal regulations make it illegal to ship marijuana across state lines), it’s stock is fairly limited at present, but the local grower and processor industry is scaling up fast and the Colen sisters expect a much wider selection in coming weeks and months. For now, they accept cash only but expect to accept credit cards in the near future and to offer home delivery of their products.They can also be reached at 443-262-8045 and are open 10am-7pm weekdays and 10am-6pm weekends.

One of the barriers to full realization of the medical and health benefits of cannabinoids—the generic term for the active ingredients in hemp and marijuana plants—is widespread ignorance about them among both patients and doctors. Many people associate marijuana with the underground growing and smoking of “weed” to get high—a practice still illegal in most states. An informal survey suggests that many doctors in private practice on the eastern shore still won’t have anything to do with medical marijuana.

But medical cannabinoids don’t have much to do with getting high. Medical scientists have now identified as many as 80 different cannabinoids, most of which produce no buzz or high at all. Indeed of the 8 cannabinoids commonly found in the now bewildering array of commercial medical marijuana products, only one—THC—interacts with receptors in the brain to produce that kind of psychotropic effect. The other most common form—CBD, the mainstay of most medical/therapeutic uses—has no psychotropic effect at all and acts on receptors that are part of the body’s own cannabinoid system. That system, found in nearly all cells, produces cannabinoids to help stabilize the body’s internal processes.

Moreover, smoking marijuana is probably the least common form of administration. Instead, the active ingredients are extracted from the plant by solvents and used as oils (directly on the skin, or ingested in capsules or food, or vaporized and inhaled) or alcohol-based tinctures (delivered as drops under the tongue). Extraction allows manufacturers both to concentrate the active ingredients and also to more precisely control concentrations and purity. And the variety of ways of using medical marijuana gives patients more control as well. Inhaling a vapor has an almost immediate effect, but may be too strong for some circumstances or not a comfortable mode of use for some. Ingesting the drug means a much slower but longer-lasting effect (for controlling pain at work, for example). Putting a drop or two under your tongue also gives immediate effect, but the concentrations in tinctures are typically lower.

Clinical research on specific cannabinoids and their impact on health conditions is still in the early stages—in large part because the federal government had made it very difficult to get permission to do such research. But last year a randomized clinical trial found that high-CBD extracts helped markedly to control epileptic seizures in children. Another study in a mouse model of autism showed that CBD has promise as a treatment there as well. Canadian studies have provided evidence that cannabinoids can help with post-traumatic stress disorder, chemotherapy-induced nausea, sleeping disorders, and arthritic pain. More research is coming.

Arguably one of the most important potential impacts of medical marijuana is likely to be easing the opioid epidemic, the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. If pain can be treated with non-addictive cannabinoids, why use opiods—and enrich the pharma companies that make them—in the first place? Indeed, research studies have reported fewer opioid deaths and reduced opioid use in states where medical marijuana is available. That in itself would be a major benefit of widespread adoption of medical cannabinoids. And if cannabinoids can be used to help wean people already addicted from opioids, as some research suggests, even better.

Of course, medical marijuana is not the only revolution going on—more and more states are legalizing recreational marijuana as well, and the dominant brands for recreational use usually include quite a bit of THC. One genuine concern about recreational marijuana is its potential impact on adolescents: cannabinoids—especially THC—can have a significant impact on the development of adolescent brains. But the more tightly controlled distribution channels for medical marijuana seem far less likely to “leak” into adolescent culture, as well as focusing more heavily on CBD.

Another concern is work-related drug tests: will medical marijuana use show up on these tests and cause someone to lose a job? As it turns out, the tests that follow a federal standard are specific to THC, so using a low-THC/high CBD formulation to control pain should not trigger a positive test.

Another barrier to use is simply social: we’re not yet to the stage where people talk openly about their medical marijuana use. But if you have medical concerns that are not well met by conventional medicines, or want to avoid opioid use or anti-depressants with bad side effects, you might want to look into what’s available—and legal—in medical marijuana, now conveniently at hand on the eastern shore.

New Chestertown Eatery – Germaine’s New Orleans Style Carry-Out

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Germaine’s Carry-Out Grand Opening Thursday, April 19, at 827 High St, Chestertown, MD, 21620

It’s open! Germaine’s Carry-Out celebrates its grand opening with a New Orleans-inspired menu today, and you owe it to your taste buds to pay a visit.

Germaine’s is located at 827 High St., the site of the fondly-remembered Herb’s Soup and Sandwich take-out. But while the location is the same, Germaine’s puts her focus on the subtly flavorful Creole cuisine, as developed by the original French and Spanish settlers of New Orleans. On any given day, the menu will feature a choice of soups — with chicken, shrimp and Andouille sausage gumbo always in the spotlight — sandwiches, including muffulettas and po’boys, and a choice of crepes. Germaine’s is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

John Hanley and Germaine Lanaux. John helped to muscle the huge freezer out of the truck and into the restaurant.       Photo by Jane Jewell

Germaine Lanaux grew up in New Orleans, sampling the offerings of the city’s great restaurants from an early age — and learning the elements of French cookery from her father Gaston. After her family moved to Baltimore, she began her career as a chef at Martick’s Restaurant Francaise, then spent some 15 years traveling in Europe, working as a chef in Spain and Paris. Upon her return to the U.S., she opened her own supper club and catering business in Baltimore, Cafe Germaine. Having moved to Chestertown a number of years ago, she now brings this rich body of experience to her new venture.

The Spy staff visited Germaine’s late in March, when she hosted a “soft” opening to give the town a small sample of her fare. The free muffulettas — with soppressata, mortadella, salami, olives and pickled vegetables on a sesame seed roll — were delicious. She plans to add larger carry-out meals and rotating dinner specials to the menu at some time soon. And be sure to ask about office trays.

The Mufaletto –a speciality of the house!  Photo by Jane Jewell

Germianes’ menu is very reasonably priced.  Shrimp, chicken, andouille, and rice gumbo is $10.  The traditional white bean, potato, and kale soup runs $4 for a cup and $6 for a bowl. In sandwich selections, the muffuletta is $8 while the Cuban–ham, house roasted pork, swiss cheese, salami, pickles and mustard on cuban bread with creole seasonings–is $9.  The Big Easy at $10 is a shrimp po’ boy with remoulade. Germaine’s also offers a variety of crepes at $8 and a Nutella crepe at $6.

Germaine believes in buying local as much as possible.  Consequently, many ingredients come from Kent County farms or other Eastern Shore sources.  They partner with Cedar Run Farm  and Langenfelder Pork for pasture-raised and naturally-fed beef and pork. Much of their produce comes from Oksana’s farm on McGinnis Rd just outside Chestertown.  Oksana’s vegetables are grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers from non-GMO seeds. Chester River Seafood, Crow Farm, Langenfelder Pork near Kennedyville, St. Brigid’s Farm also just outside Kennedyville, and Unity Nursery are also regular suppliers.

For more information and full menu, visit Germaine’s website, or call 443-282-0048.

The whole crew – ready for action!      Photo by Jane Jewell

Germaine’s Carry-Out with a New Orleans Twist at 527 High St. Photo by Jane Jewel###

Farmers Market Rules Come Before Council

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Monika Phillips asks the Mayor and Council to reinstate her as a farmers market vendor.

Chestertown Farmers Market rules and procedures were the subject of discussion at the April 16 meeting of the Mayor and Council.

Monika Philips, who until recently sold dog food at the market, came before the council to appeal a decision by farmers market manager Owen McCoy that she was ineligible to sell at the market because her products were not locally produced. Farmers market rules require all products sold at the market to be produced in Kent or northern Queen Anne’s counties.

Phillips said she had been a vendor at the market for about three years until last September. She had added some dehydrated products to her line, including some from Deer Valley Danes, a Delaware-based company of which she is a product development and sales team member. McCoy saw that the products were packaged outside the state and ruled that she could not sell them.

Phillips said that despite the label on the products, she does produce them personally. “I love the farmers market. I think it’s a jewel, and I’d love to come back,” she said.

Councilwoman Linda Kuiper, whose ward includes the downtown area where the farmers market is held, said she had checked out Phillips’ display and saw that the Deer Valley products are prepackaged and that the label said they are made in Pennsylvania, not Kent or Queen Anne’s.

Phillips said she researches every farmers market she attends. She said she had never seen the contract for the Chestertown market, though she has asked to see it several times. She said she was willing to drop the out-of-area product and stop displaying the Deer Valley banner she had been showing. “There are no prepackaged products on my table,” she said. “I apologize for any infraction. You can check me out any time you want.”

Mayor Chris Cerino said the town had not made the process clear for vendors. “We need a link to the regulations and the contract,” he said. “It’s a little bit confusing.” He added that the mayor and council don’t vet the products sold at the market.

Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said McCoy was correct to refer Phillips to the council, which is the de facto appeals board for farmers market issues.

Cerino said it would be a good idea to formalize the process with some sort of written agreement the vendors could sign. He said if Phillips provided a list of the products she sells and certified that they are all locally produced, he’d be glad to let her return as a vendor.

Ingersoll said there was a draft contract, put together around 2010, which had never been officially adopted. He said the contract didn’t specify dog treats as a permitted product, but the market had evolved a good bit since the draft was compiled. “There are a lot of things we didn’t foresee,” including sales of beer and wine at the market.

Kuiper said she had the draft contract for the farmers market and another for the crafts market, which is actually in use.

Councilman David Foster said the council should commit to updating the draft. He made a motion that the council send Phillips back to McCoy with the recommendation that her re-entry into the market be approved, provided space is available, and that her products are all locally produced. The motion was unanimously approved.

Also at the meeting, Ingersoll gave an update on the reopening of the local movie theater, which is being financed with the help of a loan from the Kent County government. The town has agreed to repay the loan from proceeds of the entertainment tax, and the movie theater has agreed that its projection equipment will stand as security. Ingersoll said he had been at the theater and work to prepare it for a Memorial Day weekend opening is going forward.

The council approved an arrangement for a line of credit with Chesapeake Bank and Trust, to be applied when the town needs cash flow to meet short-term expenses. The money is to be repaid at 60 percent of the prime rate, and the line has a cap of $2.5 million — “I hope we never reach it,” Ingersoll said. Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver requested a change in the language of the resolution approving the agreement to clarify that the funds are available for any town project. The original draft restricted the use of the line to the marina upgrades.

Cerino announced that the Maryland House of Delegates and Senate have approved a $500,000 bond bill for the marina upgrades. He said the funds would primarily be used to complete the marina store and visitor center, but might also be applied to current work on the bulkheads. He said there might be one more round of fundraising to complete the project, but he expected the work to be substantially complete by the end of September.

Kuiper said people are asking local business owners about the availability of marina slips this summer. Cerino said that because of work on the piers, there will be no slips available until the work is complete. Ingersoll said short-term visitors could possibly use the kayak and canoe floating dock on the Cannon Street side of the marina, but he agreed that the status of the marina while work is going on needs to be announced more widely.

Cerino announced a vacancy on the Historic District Commission. He said the town has received one resume, but he asked others who might be interested in the position to submit resumes before the next council meeting, May 7.

The council approved permits for the Tea Party Festival parade Saturday, May 26 and the annual Memorial Day parade the following Monday. Kuiper announced that the Budweiser Clydesdales will be taking part in the Tea Party parade this year.

 

 

Fun and Fellowship at First “Unity Day”

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Kids loved the bouncy castle in the Garnett schoolyard.     Photo by Jane Jewell

The first “Unity Day” was held from 1:00-4:00 pm, Saturday, April 14, on the grounds of Garnet Elementary School and Bethel AME Church and on College Ave, the street in front of the  church and school.  Food trucks lined the street along with booths and tables from community organizations. Among those taking part were several Washington College student groups, the WC Graphic Information (GIS) Center, CV Starr Center,  Washington College Admissions, Sumner Hall Grand Army of the Republic Post #25, National Alliance for Mental Health, the Diversity Dialogue Group, and the Kent County Democratic Club.   There were also booths for Arts by Alan Johnson, the Garfield Center for the Arts, Kent County Arts Council, the Kent County Humane Society, Kent County Library, Maryland American Beauty Pageants, and Kent County Indivisible among others.  Chestertown farmers’ market manager Owen McCoy even brought a baby goat for kids–the human kind–to pet!

Photo by Jim Block

For several years, members of the Diversity Dialogue Group and other community members have talked about the need to bring together the various communities within Chestertown and Kent County.  Plans began to firm up when Washington College officially signed onto the project last year.  The college is right down the block from Garnet Elementary School.  The Garnet building, now Chestertown’s integrated elementary school, was, until the early 1970s, the segregated Black  High School.  Now the surrounding neighborhood is mixed racially and ethnically though still predominantly African-American. Quite a few of Washington College’s off-campus students live in the area.  One of the goals of the day was to help forge links between the college and the neighborhood and the community as a whole.  It all came together in a well-attended event Saturday — and Mother Nature brought it all to perfection with a warm, sunny Spring day.

Photo by Jim Block

Bethel Church provided a Fish Fry. Also present to feed the hungry were food trucks by Papa Smurf and Crazy Rick’s.  Hot dogs were provided by the KCHS Band committee, tacos were from Los Jariochos and cookies from Washington College.

There were activities for both kids and adults, including free face painting, crayons and coloring pages, a dance contest, and a “mural-in-the-making” by KidSpot.  Two large “bouncy castles” in the Garnet schoolyard drew crowds of kids all afternoon.

And there was music all afternoon — both live and recorded.  The Chestertown Ukelele Club played several songs.  Guitarist and vocalist Fredy Granillo was accompanied by drummer and CPA Bob Miller. There was also a drum circle.

Exact attendance was hard to determine with people coming and going throughout the day, but event organizers estimated the crowd at 5o0 to 1,000, noting that some people came and left and then returned again bringing friends and neighbors.

Many community leaders came together to make the day possible– with committees working hard over the past year.  Organizers included Elena Deanda, Washington College professor of Spanish language and Black Studies; Larry Samuels, Armond Fletcher and Lolli Sherry of the Diversity Dialogue Group, Ruth Shoge, Lynn Dolinger, Rosemary Granillo, Michael Buckley, and Jamie Barrett, among others along with many volunteers.   Planning is now in the works for the second annual “Unity Day.”

Photo Gallery by Jim Block and Jane Jewell

Barbara Foster standing) and Carolyn Brooks (seated on right)  helped run coloring activities for local kids.      Photo by Jane Jewell

Photo by Jane Jewell

Organizers of Chestertown chapter of Maryland American Beauty Pageants Photo by Jane Jewell

Photo by Jim Block

Photo by Jim Block

Fredy Granillo (left)                                                                    Bob Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Jane Jewell

Photo by Jim Block

Armond Fletcher with cookies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Jim Block

Photo by Jim Block

Photo by Jim Block

 

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A Precious Thing by Nancy Mugele

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With all due respect to Easter, and a slight nod to April Fool’s Day, to me the first of April signals the beginning of National Poetry Month. I know I am a literary geek, but as a poet myself, I am inspired by this month dedicated to poets and their craft. National Poetry Month was established by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry.

For me, poetry has always been the vehicle which allows me to observe and comment on my world. I cannot remember a time when I did not read and write poems and I can still recite poems memorized in my childhood. I especially loved reading and writing Haiku as a young girl and later expanded my writing using rhyming techniques. In my early 20s I began to explore free verse or open form poetry which does not follow a specific pattern and that is the style I currently use.

My first published poem appeared in my local hometown newspaper when I was in the 6th Grade. I won a town-wide poetry contest and that was all I needed to throw myself into writing. I have had several poems published in Poetic Voices of America anthologies over the years and they sit on my bookshelf as a reminder to Write On. I wrote a poem to each of my children when they were born – that is another story – but, I have a journal for each of them which I hope one day they will treasure.

In addition to reading and writing poetry this month at Kent School, on April 27 our Middle School students will be inspired by Femi the DriFish, a spoken word artist and slam poet who uses his artistry to encourage others to discover their own unique voices. Slam poetry expresses someone’s personal story usually in an intensely emotional and very powerful way. I am so looking forward to be moved and motivated.

Last May I had the privilege to be a part of the presentation of the Sophie Kerr Prize at Washington College. An incredible endowed prize that is transformational to a young writer. For me, a highlight of the evening was a talk by Baltimore poet Elizabeth Spires whom I know. Elizabeth began her career as a professor at Washington College while she was also writing poetry. Her sixth poetry collection was published last summer and she currently directs the creative writing department at Goucher College. In her address, she asked, “Why do we write?” She detailed many reasons like wanting to tell a story and working through an emotional issue, but her description of the need to write because it is “a precious thing” resonated with me. Writing is truly a precious thing and one that I will always make time for.

Elizabeth taught me the value of writing monosyllable poems – where every word is just one syllable – as an exercise in my writing process. After you have written one there are usually nuggets you can then explore more deeply. Here is an example of a recent morning exercise, my Monosyllable to the Chester River.

I gaze

past my own porch

to the edge of grass,

Where the sand smooths

stones made by time

on its beach.

 

The tide

in ebb and flow,

bleeds deep blue and grey,

While the sun sets

and geese land on

glass paths for night.

As I write now from my home office (aka kitchen counter) which faces the Chester River, a lone Washington College crew shell is passing my house slicing the water with care and courage. A precious thing is beginning.

Follow me on Twitter @nancymugele for a taste of poetry each day during the month of April and join me on April 17 at 5:30 p.m. when I am honored to emcee Chestertown RiverArt’s Listening to the Earth: The Art of Stewardship juried exhibition of art and poetry.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.

Town, County Strike Deal to Fund Chestertown Movie Theater Opening

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Kent County Commissioners Meeting, 2 April 2018: From left, Bryan Matthews and Mayor Chris Cerino ask Kent County Commissioners Ron Fithian, William Pickrum and Bill Short to lend $75,000 to the principals of Chesapeake Theaters, who plan to reopen the Chester 5 movies in Chestertown. County attorney Tom Yeager is in the background.

The Kent County Commissioners and the town of Chestertown have struck a deal that should result in the reopening of the town’s movie theater, hopefully by May 31st of this year.

At the county commissioners’ meeting, Tuesday, April 3, Mayor Chris Cerino and Bryan Matthews, representing the economic development committee of Main Street Chestertown, asked the commissioners to advance $75,000 to the Chesapeake Movies group, which is planning to refurbish the vacant theater for an opening Memorial Day weekend. The funds would come from the county’s revolving loan fund, which was created to facilitate economic development in the county. As an incentive to businesses and entrepreneurs, these county business loans have interest-rate below current market rate with terms of five to seven years. The town plans to repay the loan from proceeds of the entertainment tax, which the theater would pay after opening.

The Chester 5 theater closed in June 2017, leaving local residents with little option beyond driving to Middletown or Dover Del., Annapolis, or Easton for first-run movies. The long-time theater manager under the old management, Charlene Fowler, said that the newer theaters in Middletown and Dover had been drawing movie-goers away from Chestertown for several years, with tax-free shopping and dining opportunities as additional reasons for locals to make the thirty- to forty- minute drive. The condition of the local theater, which had not been renovated for many years, was also a factor.

Representatives of Chesapeake Movies were seen working in the theater, removing old seats, in September, and at the time they said they planned to open for the Christmas season, traditionally a busy time for theaters, with many Oscar contenders being released at that time. However, an anticipated deal with Silicato Development, the owners of the shopping center, fell through, and for a while it appeared the theater would not reopen.

But negotiations warmed up again in February, and the principals of the theater company appeared at the March 19 Chestertown Council meeting to request the town’s help in closing the deal. Mike Klein, Ira Miller, and Bob Weinholdt told the council they were near to a deal with Silicato. They said they were prepared to invest $500,000 in the renovation, and Silicato had offered to provide another $270,000, much of which would go toward the purchase of state-of-the-art projection and sound equipment for the theaters. To close the deal, they asked the town to advance them $75,000 on anticipated entertainment tax revenue to close the deal. The town would make the advance back from proceeds of the entertainment tax, which they said could be as much as $20,000 in a good year. The theater would be completely renovated, with upgraded seats, an expanded concession area, new restrooms, and a program of first-run films along with some indie films. “It’ll be unlike anything Chestertown has ever seen,” said Weinholdt.

Chestertown council members were enthusiastic about the prospect of the theater reopening, but as Cerino noted, the requested advance would amount to nearly 10 percent of the town’s cash on hand. Guarantees would need to be in place in the event of the theater going out of business before the advance was repaid. After discussion at the Mar. 19 meeting, the council authorized Town Manager Bill Ingersoll to carry on negotiations with the theater group to find a way to help them bridge the monetary gap and reopen the theater.

Then at the April 2 Chestertown Council meeting this past Monday, Ingersoll said the town had settled on a plan to sponsor a request for the Kent County Commissioners to make up the advance from Kent County’s revolving loan plan. He said that Cerino and Matthews were on the agenda of the next County Commissioners’ meeting scheduled for the next day. Ingersoll credited Kay MacIntosh and Jamie Williams, economic development coordinators for the town and county respectively, for helping to facilitate the plan.

Then at the Kent County Commissioners’ meeting last night,  Tuesday, April 3, Mayor Cerino succinctly outlined the proposal for the theater reopening and for funding it from the county loan program, with the town forwarding the entertainment tax proceeds on a quarterly basis to repay the loan.

Matthews gave an overview of the economic benefits of keeping theater-goers in Kent County instead of Delaware, spending their money in stores and restaurants in addition to the movies. He noted that the theater would employ 12 to 15 people, which he calculated as an annual influx of some $300,000 into the county’s economy.

Commissioners Bill Short and Ron Fithian were enthusiastic about the possibility of the theater’s reopening. Commission President William Pickrum, on the other hand, hit a note of caution about the use of taxpayer money to finance a private business. He said the plan to repay the county from entertainment tax revenues was dependent on the theater staying in business long enough to realize that level of income.

Cerino said the town would be willing to commit to a memorandum of understanding or some equivalent mechanism to guarantee the loan. He said he realized the $75,000 being asked for exceeded the $50,000 cap for the revolving loan fund, but he noted that the theater was a business that would benefit both the town and the county as a whole, describing it as “a win-win.”

The commissioners voted unanimously to grant the loan. While the final details need to be settled, the theater appears to be on track for its Memorial Day opening. Get your tickets now!

Marching to End Gun Violence

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The march started at noon on High St at the corner of Mill St. in front of the old elementary school now the Kent County offices building.      Photo by Peter Heck.

Chestertown’s March for Our Lives was held on Saturday, March 24 to coincide with the big national march in Washington, DC. The local event was one of more than 800 nationwide and around the world in response to gun violence in schools, especially the murder of 17 students in Parkland, Florida on Valentine’s Day earlier this year.

Around 500 marchers assembled at noon in front of the Kent County government office on High Street, then proceeded down High Street and Cross Street to Wilmer Park, where they heard speakers and musical selections. Marchers, carrying signs and banners, remained on sidewalks so as not to interfere with traffic. The line of marchers was at least two blocks long as it made its way through town. Along the route, many of them chanted, “Enough is enough,” and “Hey hey, ho ho, school shooting’s got to go,” referring to the epidemic of shootings that have plagued the country in recent years.

Gathered in front of the old school building now the county offices.     Photo by Peter Heck

At the park, Paul Tue, one of the organizers of the march, greeted the crowd and invited them to move closer to Hynson Pavilion, where a PA system was set up. Tue, who works with local youth as one of the founders of the Bayside HOYAS, said he was “blown away” by the turnout. He told attendees that if anyone was overcome with the emotions of the event, there were several therapists on hand for them to talk to.  He asked the therapists to raise their hands so people would know who and where they were in the audience.

Tue said there had been 209 school shootings since the Columbine massacre in 1999, and gave a list of several of the more notorious, concluding with the Parkland shooting and the murder of a schoolgirl by a classmate just a few days ago in St. Mary’s County here in Maryland. “I believe I live in the greatest country in the world,” Tue said, “but today is a day to put our point across.” He asked how many shootings would have to take place on Capitol Hill itself before lawmakers were willing to change the laws governing weapons. He said there was a booth set up to register voters at the rally and urged attendees to call their representatives in Congress and the Maryland General Assembly.

Barbie Glenn, who acted as master of ceremonies for the event, then took the microphone to introduce the speakers.

First up was Dr. Kathryn Seifert, CEO of Eastern Shore Psychological Services. “We know the way to prevent violence,” she said, It will require identifying young people at risk and providing services to help them. A lot of scientific research has been done, and the causes — though complex – are clear. It’s not just mental illness, but “a perfect storm of multiple problems.” Most school shooters are white males, who find their guns at home – not at gun shows. The majority of shooters were identified as unstable before they picked up a gun, she said. She recommended a mental health program in every school, to allow evaluation and early treatment of the problems that lead to gun violence. The U.S. has the second highest rate of child abuse worldwide, and is in the top five nations for its rate of sexual abuse of children, she said. Both have been shown to cause personality disorders including violent tendencies in later life. The victims need treatment “before something happens,” she said. “Let’s get started.”

Alana Fithian Wilson, an 8th grade sstudent at Kent County Middle School, speaks during the Wilmer Park rally that concluded the March for Our Lives Photo by Jeff Weber

A trio consisting of Clark Bjorke on guitar, Phil Dutton on keyboard, and Mary Simmons sang a version of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” with new lyrics targeting the problem of gun violence. The group later returned for two other numbers, including Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer” and Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth.” Many crowd members sang along with the familiar protest songs from the 1960s.

Taking the microphone next was a group of Kent County Middle School students, Alana Fithian Wilson, Riley Glenn, Tilera Wright, and Ty-Juan Billingslea. They are members of Students Talking About Racism, a group formed after a racial incident at the school. Each gave a personal reaction to the issue of gun violence, with an equal helping of emotion and evidence. Wilson said that violence is one of America’s biggest problems, with racism as a leading cause. “We need people like you to get involved,” she told the crowd. “It’s time to take a stand, and it needs to be unified.”

 

Photo by Jeff Weber

Glenn said that gun violence has a devastating impact on American youth, backing the assertation with statistics. Particularly telling was the observation that more students have been killed in U.S. schools since Columbine in 1999 than American soldiers killed in combat since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Billingslea said guns are the third leading cause of childhood deaths, with 40 percent the result of suicides. Black children are three times as likely to die from a shooting as their white peers. Exposure to gun violence leads to greater likelihood of drug or alcohol use and criminal activity later in life, he said.

Wright said students at KCMS are being asked to perform “active shooter” drills. She said she would like to see more school resource officers and metal detectors at school. Parents need to take their children’s concerns seriously, she said. “Politicians need to pass stricter gun laws,” she concluded.

Ti-Juan Billingslea was one of four Kent County Middle School students who addressed the crowd at Wilmer Park.  Standing beside him is Paul Tue, of Bayside Hoyas, one of the rally organizers.    Photo by Jeff Weber

Tue praised the students’ passionate advocacy. “Activism has no age limit,” he said.

The concluding speaker was Grenville Whitman of Rock Hall, representing Kent County Citizens to Prevent Gun Violence. Gun violence kills Americans every day, Whitman said. “We’re here to petition our government for redress,” he said, noting that the right to do so is guaranteed by the Consitution. “It’s also our right not to be shot and killed,” he added and went on to say that the same right extends to our families, our children and our neighbors. “It’s everyone’s right.” He noted that some think that gun ownership is equally important, and the issue is being fought out in Congress and 50 state legislatures, with the Maryland General Assembly passing some sensible firearms regulations in the current session, making the state one of the safest in the nation. Whitman noted that the local assembly delegation voted for a ban on “bump stocks,” which transform semi-automatic firearms into fully-automatic weapons.  He said the delegates should be congratulated for their votes, noting that they will undoubtedly be criticized for it by pro-gun constituents.

 

 

Photo by Jeff Weber

Whitman noted that 2018 is an election year and urged participants in the march to register and vote. The crowd responded by chanting, “Vote, vote!” Many local offices are up for election, Whitman said, noting the presence of several elected officials and candidates in the crowd, including County Commissioner Ron Fithian and commission candidate Tom Timberman, as well as Andy Meehan, a candidate for State’s Attorney. Whitman said voters should ask all candidates about gun safety, and cast their votes accordingly. “(Rep.) Andy Harris…” he began — to be interrupted by a loud chorus of “Boos”– “Andy Harris is the only Maryland congressman to accept NRA donations. “Vote him out! Vote him out,” the crowd responded.

A last-moment addition to the list of speakers was Casey McQueen of Dover, Delaware, who said he had come to the march because students in his school had been shot. “Blow guns away,” he said, to applause.

Photo by Jeff Weber

Bishop Charles Tilghman, head of the Kent County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, closed the rally with a prayer. He urged the audience to continue rallying and marching to attain the goals of a country free of gun violence.

There was a multitude of signs in the crowd – both printed and hand-made – with clever and often very pointed slogans.  Some were slogans that are being used nationally while others represented the heartfelt responses of the individual marcher.  Slogans included “Protect Our Kids, Not Guns”, “Bullets Are Not School Supplies”, “Make America Safe Again”, “We Deserve to Live”, “Students Demand Action”, “Moms Demand Action”, “Civilians Don’t Need Assault Weapons”, “Love Not Guns”, and “Fear Has No Place in Schools”.

The Chestertown march was reportedly the only one on the Eastern Shore, though there were a couple in Delaware. The Chestertown event drew over 500 people, which is approximately 10% of Chestertown’s entire population.  However, not all participants were from Chestertown or Kent County.  Several marchers, including some from the Unitarian Universalist church, came from Easton to take part.  Marchers were there from several other Maryland counties and from Delaware. The event in D.C. was estimated as high as 800,000 strong, making it the largest single-day march in the city’s history. Across the country, in addition to the originating Washington, D.C. rally, there were supporting events in most major US cities including New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, Kansas City, Boston, Baltimore, Seattle, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Indianapolis. Every state had at least one “March for Our Lives” event. Around the world, there were many more with most but not all in Europe.   Events in these cities were attended by both local citizens and Americans living or visiting in the various foreign countries.  In Canada, over a dozen cities, including Toronto and Montreal, held rallies. There were also rallies in London, Copenhagen, Berlin, Madrid, Rome, and Paris plus other European cities. In Japan, a large march was held in Tokyo, while in Australia, events were held in Sydney and Brisbane. There were two in Africa, one each in Ghana and Mozambique as well as some in various Asian and South American locales. The Washington, D.C., event was largely organized by the teen-aged survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Parkland, Fl., February 14, 2018.

On average, more than 90 people are killed by guns every day in the US.

Photo Gallery by Peter Heck, Jane Jewell, and Jeff Weber

Relaxing after the march outside of Sam’s coffee shop are Leah Schell, Brook Schumann, Ilex Hoy (on lap) and Japhy Hoy (holding sign).      Photo by Jane Jewell

“Make America Safe Again” made and carried by Penny Block.      Photo by Jane Jewell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo by Jeff Weber

Photo by Jeff Weber

 

 

Photo by Jeff Weber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Photo by Peter Heck

Chestertown resident Charles Taylor      Photo by Jeff Weber

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Letter to Editor: United Way Thanks Peoples Bank and The Kitchen

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Last Tuesday evening, a Guest Chef Dinner benefitting United Way of Kent County was held at The Kitchen at the Imperial in Chestertown. The main course was paella, which is the specialty of Guest Chef Ralph Dowling, President of The Peoples Bank. The Bank donated all the food for this event, as well as Mr. Dowling’s time, and that of his “sous chef,’ David Bowman.

Steve Quigg, owner and Chef of the Kitchen, opened his restaurant for the evening for us and paid his staff for the evening. Over 100 people enjoyed their paella and several side dishes, which were prepared by Steve and his son Connor. Ticket sales were received as donations directly by United Way of Kent County, and this event raised over to $5,000 which will be used to support our 24 Member Agencies who work to improve the Health, Education and Financial Stability of individuals and Families in Kent County.

We would like to thank all the folks who came to share this special meal with us and all those at the Peoples Bank and the Kitchen who made it possible.

Sincerely,

Glenn Wilson
President of United Way of Kent County