Come Sing with Us

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If you love to sing, the Chester River Chorale wants you!

Come join us at 6 p.m. Monday January 15 in Wesley Hall at Chestertown’s Heron Point as we begin our 20th season. Our ages range from college student to octogenarian. Our voices range from soprano to bass. No auditions required.

Dues are $50 with students free as we begin to practice for our annual mid-April spring program. Its title—Leaves of Bluegrass—should give a hint of the original oratorio that we will sing backed up by a bluegrass band.

Those singing with the Chorale will also be eligible to join the National Musical Festival orchestra in June for the Mozart Requiem.

See our website for more information.

Mastering the Art of Gingerbread Cookie Decorating at KidSPOT

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Chef Stu Cawley demonstrates proper technique

Budding pastry chefs gathered at KidSPOT on December 3 for the annual Gingerbread Cookie Workshop.

Chef Stu Cawley demonstrated the proper technique using red, green and white icing and a variety of candies. The children then created their masterpieces with gingerbread cookies generously donated by Little Village Bakery.

This annual event is not possible without our sponsors: Evergrain Bread Company, Twigs and Teacups, and Yerkes Construction. It is presented by the Downtown Chestertown Association and hosted by RiverArts’ KidSPOT. Special thanks to Stu Cawley, Jayne and Paul Heckels.

Budding chef at work

 

Photographs by Lynn Teo Simarski on View at Adkins Arboretum

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“Spikerush” by Lynn Teo Simarski

During the six years she lived aboard a boat on the Chesapeake and its tributaries, photographer and science writer Lynn Teo Simarski often slipped her kayak into the water to explore the delicate borders where water mingles with land. In her show Emergent: Visual Sips from the Waterline, on view through February 2 at the Adkins Arboretum Visitor’s Center, her digital photographs tell the stories of the remarkable plants she found in the region’s quiet coves and marshes. There will be a reception to meet the artist on Sat., Dec. 16 from 3 to 5 p.m.

Sliding along low in the water, the kayak gives Simarski a close-up, intimate view of every detail of the shoreline. In photographs that range from spare black-and-white images of slender marsh grasses and their dancing reflections to masses of lotus leaves floating in water rippled with brilliant autumn colors, she distills moments of beauty and playfulness that few people get to see. There are softly rising mists, dramatic slanting shadows and an occasional dragonfly perching weightlessly on a bit of grass.

Simarski, who lives in Alexandria, Va., when she and her husband aren’t aboard their 40-foot trawler, Bright Pleiades, said, “I kayak as much as I can. That’s really my favorite part about having lived on the boat.”

In a perfect image of the interconnections of earth, water and sky, sprightly blades of grass emerge from satiny reflections of the clouds above in “Skygrass.” Simarski’s fascination with emergents—plants that are rooted in the underwater soil but grow up into the air—continually draws her to the fragile edges of the water where these aquatic plants perform a vital role in the ecosystem by providing shelter, food and breeding places for countless creatures.

The majority of the show’s photographs come from the Chesapeake region, but Simarski shot a few of them in Maine, Wisconsin and South Carolina. Interestingly, except for some tassels of Spanish moss dangling from a leafy branch, it’s hard to tell the difference. There’s a certain universality in the elegant calligraphic gestures of blades of marsh grass and the ever-changing effects of light, mirrored skies, turning tides and shifting seasons.

With its perky bright green stalks tipped with gold, Spikerush” is a jaunty image. A type of sedge, it’s small and grows just barely above the water’s surface. Simarski found it with tiny concentric rings dimpling the water where its stalks meet their own reflections.

“This is one that was not from a kayak,” she explained. “It was spring, and I was going for a walk at the marina in Galesville, Md., where we keep our boat. I saw these patterns in a ditch, and I was just stunned. Here were these rushes only about three inches high. So, I ran back to the boat and drove back over so I could stand on the car and look down at the ditch to get the viewpoint I wanted.”

In addition to her photography, Simarski has written articles on the Bay for Chesapeake Bay Magazine and Bay Weekly. She and her husband, Guy G. Guthridge, are currently working on a book called Chesapeake Winter about their years living aboard their boat and their conversations with scientists, watermen and others about the Bay’s future. They are planning a trip to Florida along the Intracoastal Waterway.

For Simarski, the margins of water and land are endlessly compelling. Speaking of her love for these vulnerable, ever-changing perimeters, she said, “The boat enables me to go to these places you can’t get to by road and put the kayak in. The boat is our magic carpet.”

This show is part of Adkins Arboretum’s ongoing exhibition series of work on natural themes by regional artists. It is on view through Feb. 2 at the Arboretum Visitor’s Center located at 12610 Eveland Road near Tuckahoe State Park in Ridgely. Contact the Arboretum at 410–634–2847, ext. 0 or info@adkinsarboretum.org for gallery hours.

Cast Chosen for Church Hill Theatre Production of Biloxi Blues

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Director Michael Whitehill has announced the cast for Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues, the lead off production in Church Hill Theatre’s 2018 season. The Tony Award winning play is set at boot camp in Biloxi, Mississippi during World War II. Loosely autobiographical, the comedy pits the cruel and caustic Sgt. Toomey against the draftees, especially the sensitive Arnold Epstein. His friend Eugene Morris Jerome channels Simon’s own memories of military service as a fledgling author. This classic coming-of-age tale includes danger, sex, love, prejudice, bravery and some pretty salty army talk.

Fresh recruits on their bunks in Church Hill Theatre’s production of Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues. Clockwise from the top left: Robbie Spray, Jeff Rank, Troy Strootman, Morgan Jung, Timothy Daly, Anthony Daly.

Arnold Epstein will be played by Robbie Spray and Eugene Morris Jerome by Troy Strootman. Other draftees are Anthony Daly as Roy Selridge, Timothy Daly as Joseph Wykowski, Morgan Jung as Don Carney, and Jeff Rank as James Hennesey. John Haas takes the role of their nemesis, Sgt. Merwin J. Toomey. Kendall Irene Davis is the sweet Daisy Hannigan and Christine Kinlock is the not-so-sweet Rowena. Scarlett Chappell completes the cast, playing a USO dancer.

Whitehill, one of Church Hill Theatre’s most experienced directors, most recently directed the thought-provoking Doubt: A Parable.  His production team for Biloxi Blues includes Sylvia Maloney, Laura Crabtree, Steve Atkinson, Katie Sardo, Douglas Kaufmann and Brian Draper.

Biloxi Blues will open at Church Hill Theatre on January 19, 2018, and run through February 4, with weekend performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays.  Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for members, and $10 for students, with special prices for groups of ten or more. CHT offers 2 for the price of 1 tickets on opening night, Friday, January 19, to those who reserve by phone. Reservations can be made by calling the box office at 410-556-6003 or online at www.churchhilltheatre.org

Chesapeake Charities Awards Luncheon Spotlights Opioid Crisis

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Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble receives Chesapeake Charities Volunteer of the Year award from Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, with wife Mary Gamble and son, Josh Gamble.

Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford recognized the outstanding work being done to combat the heroin, opioid and fentanyl crisis, including that of Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble, at Chesapeake Charities’ packed awards luncheon last month in Stevensville.

Sheriff Gamble was honored as Volunteer of the Year for his tireless commitment to prevention and education efforts in Talbot County. Accepting the award, Gamble talked about the shock of learning that high school students he had once coached had become heroin addicts, and the desperate parents who asked him for help. Realizing the need for prevention, he inspired his community to take action, starting the “Talbot Goes Purple” campaign with Talbot Rotary to raise awareness in the schools about the dangers of prescription opioids. “Every business, every family that we approached for help has been impacted by this epidemic,” Gamble said.

Joe Gamble talks about “Talbot Goes Purple” at Celebration of Charity awards luncheon.

More than 190 people from the Eastern Shore, Anne Arundel and Calvert counties listened to stories of heartbreak and hope in the heroin and opioid epidemic. “This crisis is on everyone’s mind,” said Chesapeake Charities Executive Director Linda Kohler. “We thought it made sense to use our annual event as a kind of forum for the community to focus on solutions and share a message of encouragement and inspiration.” This was the 2nd annual Celebration of Charity event hosted by Chesapeake Charities.

The event program also included tributes to Bernie Fowler, Jr., founder of Farming4Hunger, as Philanthropist of the Year, and Samaritan House of Annapolis as Nonprofit of the Year. Fowler, who employs and trains former addicts and inmates to grow food and feed the hungry, was inspired to do something because of his painful experience with his daughter’s heroin addiction.

Mike Goldfaden, Executive Director of Samaritan House, heads up the men’s 25-bed long term residential recovery program. Goldfaden said there is at least a 30-day waiting list to get into Samaritan House and talked about their plans for doubling the size of the facility in 2018.

Keynote speaker Lisa Hillman told the story of her family’s experience with her son’s drug addiction and recovery. She advised families of addicts to tell someone about the problem and consider joining Al-Anon. Hillman pointed out critical areas for change: longer treatment times for addicts, more transitional housing to move addicts back into society, earlier education about addiction at the 5th, 6th and 7th grade levels

Chesapeake Charities Board Chair Audrey Scott announced that Chesapeake Charities has established The First Responders Fund to support heroin and opioid emergency response efforts for local fire, police, emergency and medical personnel. Provisions will include equipment, supplies and training needed to protect first responders. For more information about the fund or to apply for funding, contact info@chesapeakecharities.org.

A community foundation located in Stevensville, Chesapeake Charities supports a wide range of charitable causes including arts, education, health and human services, animal welfare, and the environment. All of its 85 component funds have a common cause – a passion for making a difference in their communities. Chesapeake Charities serves organizations in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Charles, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties. They have invested more than $9 million in the Chesapeake Bay region since 2005.

For more information, contact Chesapeake Charities at (410) 643-4020 or info@chesapeakecharities.org, or visit their website. Chesapeake Charities is accredited by the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations.

(Photo credits: Executive Office of the Governor, Joe Andrucyk)

“Miracle on 34th Street” a Holiday Treat

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“Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.   Jim Landskroener, director and Mr. Bloomingdale, David Ryan as Kris Kringle, Allan Price as Mr. Macy.      Photo by Jeff Weber

“Miracle on 34th Street,” one of the classic films for the Christmas season, has been adapted as the Garfield Center’s annual holiday offering. Directed by Jim Landskroener, the play assembles a large cast to present this heart-warming story of how Santa can imbue even the most cynical among us with the true spirit of Christmas.

The 1947 movie on which the play is based won three academy awards, including “Best Original Story” by Valentine Davies and “Best Supporting Actor,” Edmund Gwynn, who plays Kris Kringle. And it was chosen in 2005 to become part of the Library of Congress National Film Registry as a “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” film.

“Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.        Photo by Jane Jewell

The plot is the story of an elderly man who takes a job as a department store Santa Claus at Macy’s in New York City. But Kris Kringle, as he introduces himself, is not content to steer the children who come to see him toward the most profitable merchandise, as his supervisor instructs him. Rather, he does his best to see that they get what they really want — even if it means sending them to another store that carries the item at a lower price than Macy’s. This, of course, goes down very poorly with his supervisors, who warn him, and when he won’t cooperate, fire him.

But meanwhile, the owner of the store, learns that Macy’s is getting unusually favorable publicity because of the new Santa. He expresses his approval, leading the supervisors to reverse course and rehire him. But Kringle has aroused the enmity of Miss Sawyer, the store’s psychologist, who files a complaint that he has attacked her and tries to get him committed to an asylum. At this point, the play shifts to a courtroom scene, where Kringle is on trial for his mental competency. His attorney, Fred Gayley, decides to base his defense on the proposition that Kringle really is Santa Claus.

At the same time, there’s a warm love story running parallel to the Kris Kringle plot, with Fred Gayley trying to win over his neighbor Doris Walker, the Macy’s supervisor who hired Kringle. Fred has decided to let Kringle use his spare bedroom, so he sees a good deal of Doris after work hours. A disillusioned young divorcee, Doris is raising her daughter Susan not to believe in fairy tales or Santa Claus. But when Fred takes Susan to see Kris, her skepticism begins to waver. Eventually, the barriers begin to break down…

 

Kris Kringle is taken to BelleView and must now prove that he isn’t crazy – because he really is Santa! Photo by Jane Jewell

 

It’s a wonderful Christmas fantasy, with a nice love story woven into the plot, and a full quota of interesting characters. Director Jim Landskroener said before the Saturday performance that the script, written in the 1990s by Valentine Davies, was revised somewhat freely for the Garfield version, smoothing out some of the dialogue to feel more natural. Adapting a film script to live theater is always tricky; many things easily done on film are out of reach for even the most ambitious theatrical production, but Landskroener and crew have done a good job of making the story work on stage.

David Ryan as Kris Kringle     Photo by Jeff Weber

David Ryan is a delight as Kris Kringle, radiating warmth and good will. Ryan, pastor of Chestertown’s two Methodist churches, has become a valuable addition to the local theater scene, appearing at both the Garfield (“Mr. Roberts”) and Church Hill  (“You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown.”)

Natalie Lane plays Doris Walker, the Macy’s manager who initially hires Kringle. She does a nice job showing the character’s transition from distrust of emotions and skepticism about Santa to acceptance. A member of the Kent County Library staff, she previously appeared in “My Fair Lady.”

Izzie Southworth, making her acting debut here, plays Doris’s daughter Susan, who learns to trust her imagination under Kris’s prompting. She makes the character’s different moods come across clearly — well done.

Zac Ryan, whose previous GCA credits include “Mr. Roberts” and Short Attention Span Theater, plays Fred Gayley, a young lawyer who is in love with Susan. He believes in Kris almost from the beginning, and does his best to make sure the old fellow isn’t mistreated either by Macy’s management or by the legal system. A good job in a prominent part.

“Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.   Susie and Santa. Photo by Jane Jewell

Diane Landskroener, one of the most versatile actors in local theater, is wonderful as Sawyer, deploying an appropriately grating New York accent and using body language to create the character. She’s hilarious!

“Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.  Mrs. Sawyer accuses Santa of attacking her as Doris looks on, startled.    Photo by Jane Jewell

Gil Rambach is convincing as Judge Harper, whose sense of justice is tempered by the need to get reelected.  June Hall takes the role of Halloran, the judge’s campaign manager, who is appalled that he is sitting on a case that could require him to rule against Santa. And Mike Heffron does a nice job as Mara, the prosecuting attorney who discovers that he’s got a tougher case on his hands than he thought. And James Diggs is well cast as Dr. Pierce, who knows Kris from the hospital he’s lived in for a number of years.

The Macy’s elves — played by Ben Anthony, Thomas Martinez, Ellie Morton and Shane Saunders — double as stagehands and carry much of the comic energy of the scenes they appear in. They are especially funny when they give a dead-pan demonstration of the history of elvish “pranks,” culminating in the ever popular pie-in-the-face.  Young audience members should especially enjoy these slapstick bits, while older theater-goers will be amused by their interplay with the Macy’s management as the elves try to defend Santa.

Mr. Macy and the staff envision the fabulous profits that will incur due to the great publicity and good will that their Santa is bringing to the store. “Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.       Photo by Jane Jewell

The play’s pace is sometimes a little slow, largely because of the number of scene changes. This, of course, is one of the complications of translating something from film — where such changes can appear instantly and almost effortlessly — to the stage, where things have to be physically moved into place in view of the audience. Using the elves as stagehands is a clever solution, adding a bit of fun as the elves scamper and romp while they reset the stage for the next scene.  The lively Christmas music also adds to the holiday atmosphere.

The Garfield’s “Miracle on 34th Street” is a nice addition to a holiday season that has already hit high notes locally with the “Dickens of a Christmas” festival. It has the right mix of sentiment and comedy, delivered by a strong cast. Young theater-goers should find it engaging, and older audience members who know the movie are likely to find it a fresh re-interpretation of the story. Don’t miss it!

The show runs through Dec. 17. Friday and Saturday shows begin at 8 p.m, and Sunday matinees begin at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 general admission, $15 for military and.seniors 65+, and $10 for students.

Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 410-810- 2060.

“You can’t put Santa on trial!~” says Halloran, Judge Harper’s campaign manager.
“Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.        Photo by Jane Jewell

Lawyer Mara, Clerk Finley, & Judge Harper
“Miracle on 34th Street” at the Garfield Center, Dec 1 – 17, 2017.        Photo by Jane Jewell

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Eastern Shore Wind Ensemble to Present “Splendor of the Season”

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“Splendor of the Season” is the theme of the Eastern Shore Wind Ensemble’s 2017 holiday concert.

Music Director Dr. Keith A. Wharton will conduct this free concert, beginning at 4 p.m. on Sunday, December 17, at Emmanuel Episcopal Church at Cross and High streets, Chestertown. The church is handicapped-accessible, via the ramp and automatic doors on the courthouse-green side of the building. All are invited for refreshments in the church hall after the concert.

The concert features “March of the Toys” by Victor Herbert from his 1903 operetta “Babes in Toyland,” “Nativity Carol” by John Rutter, and “A Hanukkah Festival,” an arrangement of Festival of Lights music. Traditional Christmas carols are the basis for several pieces: “All Through the Night,” “All is Calm,” “On a Catalonian Carol,” “And All the Bells Shall Ring,” and “Gesu Bambino.” “Carols from the British Isles” offers another medley of favorites, and “A Christmas Festival” is a musical summation of the season by Leroy Anderson. “The Ultimate Christmas Sing-along” is the audience’s opportunity to join with the band in celebrating the music of the season.

The Eastern Shore Wind Ensemble is an all-ages community concert band. It was formed in 2001 to offer area wind and percussion musicians the opportunity to continue or return to the pleasures of playing quality music in a large ensemble. New members are always welcome, without audition or fee.

Rehearsals for the next concert on March 18th will begin on Monday, January 8th. They start promptly at 7:00 p.m. and run until 8:30 p.m. in the Washington College band room in Gibson Center for the Arts.

For more information, call 410-778-2829, send a message to ESWEemail@yahoo.com, or go to facebook.com/EasternShoreWindEnsemble. The ensemble is partially supported by a grant from the Kent County Arts Council.

Gale Rasin Joins Maryland Humanities Board of Directors

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Gale Rasin

Maryland Humanities has added five new members, including Gale Rasin of Chestertown, to the organization’s Board of Directors. They join 22 additional volunteers in service on the Board, led by newly elected Chair Cynthia Raposo. Anyone interested in discussing board service may contact Executive Director Phoebe Stein at (410) 685-0095.

“We are delighted to welcome such accomplished individuals to our Board,” said Stein. “They bring a wealth of professional and personal experiences and a deep commitment to our mission to provide impactful and accessible lifelong learning experiences to communities throughout Maryland.”

Gale Rasin served as a judge on Baltimore City’s trial courts for more than twenty years until she retired in 2012 from the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. Rasin created a felony mental health docket in the Circuit Court that supervises criminal defendants who suffer from serious mental illness. She continues to preside over it as a senior judge. In 2013, Rasin was honored by the Metropolitan Baltimore Chapter of NAMI with its Opening Minds Award. She has served as an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore Law School and has taught ethics in the Johns Hopkins University MBA program. (Kent County)

Douglas Greenberg is a Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus at Rutgers, where he also served as Executive Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. Previously, he was Professor of History at the University of Southern California and Executive Director of the USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education, which was founded by Steven Spielberg.  Earlier in his career, Greenberg was President and Director of the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum) and Associate Dean of the Faculty at Princeton University. In 2009, he received Phi Beta Kappa’s Triennial Award for Distinguished Service to the Humanities. (Baltimore City)

Mark Irwin served as Deputy Chief Marketing Officer and then Acting Chief Marketing Officer for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum from October 2015 to February 2017. Early in his career, Irwin led video productions in North America, Europe, the Middle East, and Japan for retail and advertising clients and the Federal Government. In the 1990s, he created communication and training products for Fortune 200 companies including Microsoft, Mayo Clinic, Ford, FedEx, and Thomson-Reuters. Beginning in 1999, Irwin developed branding strategies for Animal Planet, Discovery Health, and other networks for nine years. (Montgomery County)

Heather Mitchell is a seasoned litigator with Venable LLP with extensive experience representing businesses in complex commercial litigation, including contract disputes, healthcare matters, and more. She served as a law clerk to Judge Benson E. Legg, then Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Maryland. She has also represented clients in matters before federal courts and Maryland state courts.  A life-long Marylander, Mitchell serves as President of the Board of Directors of Baltimore County’s Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA). She is also on the Board of Directors of the Baltimore Curriculum Project. (Baltimore County)

Guffrie M. Smith, Jr. is a retired educator with a diverse career including almost 34 years with Calvert County Public Schools and 6-1/2 years with the Maryland State Department of Education. In Calvert County, he served as principal, vice principal, teacher, and more. With the State, his titles included Specialist in Migrant Education and Migrant Branch Chief. Smith has also served on regional and statewide boards and committees including the Multicultural Education Task Force. He is active with the Calvert County Historical Society, Calvert Crusade for Children, and other organizations. In 2009, The Maryland State Teachers Association granted him their Martin Luther King Community Award. (Calvert County)

Maryland Humanities is a statewide nonprofit organization that creates and supports educational experiences in the humanities that inspire all Marylanders to embrace lifelong learning, exchange ideas openly, and enrich their communities. Click here for more information. Maryland Humanities is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the State of Maryland, private foundations, corporations, small businesses, and individual donors.

Call for Artists: RiverArts to Launch 2018 Year of Exhibitions

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Last Dune – Cindy Bowers Fulton

RiverArts Annual Members’ Show will soon open our 2018 year of exhibitions. All member artists are invited to submit work for this show. Open to all media and with no theme, the Members’ Show offers our artists the opportunity to exhibit some of their best work.

A favorite of artists and viewers alike, the Members’ Show both celebrates and proves the variety and vibrancy of the arts in our community. January’s show is curated by Cindy Bowers Fulton.

A note from the curator:
“This is the show you all have been waiting for.  The members’ show honors you, our wonderful members. Without you, there would be no RiverArts.

We hope you all participate so we can show our public the artistic diversity that represents our community arts center on the Eastern Shore. We have members not only from the Eastern Shore but across the bridge, and we welcome everyone to participate in this show. Let us show off our many different styles and media that we work in!!
Cheers, Cindy Fulton, curator”

Drop-off dates for the January 2018 Members’ Show differ from usual drop-off dates because of New Year’s Day.

Drop Off:

Tuesday, January 2: 10 am – 3 pm

Wednesday, January 3: 10 am – 1 pm

First Friday, January 5:  5  – 8 pm

Pick Up:

Sunday, January 28, 2 – 4 pm

Monday, January 29, 10 am – 1 pm

To register and for more information click here.

Questions: info@ChestertownRiverArts.org  or 410.778.6300

 

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