FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to Make Address at Washington College

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Over the past month, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has been making almost daily headlines with his agency’s groundbreaking policy on net neutrality. Wheeler, who stands at the center of a stormy dialogue on the issue, recently announced a set of strong, sustainable rules to protect the open Internet as a platform for innovation, free expression and economic growth. In the face of opposition from Republican lawmakers and some business leaders, Wheeler argued that the open Internet was at risk without federal regulations to ensure that America’s broadband networks will remain open, fast, and fair.

Wheeler will appear at Washington College on Thursday, April 2, for the Spring 2015 Richard Harwood Lecture in American Journalism, hosted by the C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. His talk, “On the Front Lines of the Digital Revolution,” will take place at 5:30 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall. Cosponsored by the Department of Business Management and the Louis L. Goldstein Program in Public Affairs, the program is free and open to the general public.

“We’re exceptionally honored to welcome Tom Wheeler as a lecturer in the Harwood Series at such a historic moment,” said Adam Goodheart, the Starr Center’s Hodson Trust-Griswold Director, who will lead an onstage conversation with Wheeler following the speaker’s formal remarks. “It’s a rare opportunity to hear from a leading policymaker right in the midst of the most critical chapter of his public life. Moreover, Wheeler is a distinguished historian who will also offer the ‘long view’ of how the ongoing digital revolution relates to past moments of epochal change in how human beings communicate.”

After the FCC’s vote on February 25, the Los Angeles Times called it “a landmark decision for the future of the Internet,” while the New York Times hailed “the longest, most sustained campaign of Internet activism in history, one that the little guys appear to have won.” Meanwhile, telecommunications giant Verizon issued a statement – in Morse code, no less – accusing Wheeler of trying to roll back telecommunications to the 1930s.

Appointed FCC chairman in 2013 by President Barack Obama, Wheeler brings to his position vast experience in the fast-paced and ever-evolving communications field. For more than three decades he has been one of the nation’s leading communications policy experts, advocates and entrepreneurs in both the public and private sector, and has been hailed as a top ten innovator in the history of wireless communications.

In addition his role in Washington at the helm of the agency tasked with communications law, regulation and technological innovation, Wheeler is also a historian of technology. His books, Take Command: Leadership Lessons of the Civil War (Doubleday, 2000) and Mr. Lincoln’s T-Mails: The Untold Story of How Abraham Lincoln Used the Telegraph to Win the Civil War (HarperCollins, 2006), connect the current Digital Revolution to past eras of technological upheaval. Wheeler’s commentaries have been published in the Washington Post, USA Today, Los Angeles Times, Newsday, and other publications. Wheeler has also served as a Trustee of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Foundation for the National Archives, and the Public Broadcasting Service.

Washington College’s Harwood Lecture Series in American Journalism was established to honor the distinguished career of the late Washington Post columnist and ombudsman Richard Harwood, who served as a trustee of the College, as well as a teacher and mentor of undergraduate journalists. Speakers in the series have included many leading figures in politics and the press. The journalistic tradition has also continued in Harwood’s own family; his son, John Harwood, has had a distinguished career as a political correspondent and columnist for CNBC, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal.

Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is dedicated to fostering innovative approaches to the American past and present. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and a special focus on written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large.

CNB Continues to Grow in Delaware

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CNB, headquartered in Centreville, MD and a member of the Shore Bancshares community of companies, was joined by the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce on March 12th in a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of their new branch location at 800 S. Governors Avenue, Dover DE. Employees, customers, friends and local dignitaries and supporters came out to celebrate with the CNB staff.

“We are very excited to now have a branch location in Dover“, says Teresa Swartz, Assistant Vice President, Branch Manager. “We look forward to serving the Dover community and surrounding areas for many years to come. CNB is truly a community bank and we can offer the products and personal service that will make an impact on both your personal and business goals. We plan to be actively engaged in this community and will continually look for opportunities to support our customers and to help improve their lives.”

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Established in 1876, with 12 convenient locations in Maryland and Delaware, CNB serves the local needs of our customers and our community through personalized banking services and products, convenient operations and secure and reliable banking solutions. Stop in to see how banking with CNB can benefit you. You may also visit cnb-bank.com or call 410-758-1600 for the main Centreville branch and 302-734-2860 for the new Dover branch.

A Spy Introduction: New Chesapeake Bank CEO Glenn Wilson

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Glenn Wilson and his family never really debated where they wanted to live in retirement. The former Citizens National of Laurel executive and then CEO of AmeriServ Financial in Pennsylvania and his wife invested early in Chester River Landing to stake out a place for weekend visits and long -term retirement over ten years ago. In the meantime, he assumed his work life would continue until that golden age of sixty-six

But that was before a bank executive recruiter called him one day last year to suggest Glenn consider becoming heading up a small community bank called the Chesapeake Bank and Trust on the Eastern Shore in a town called Chestertown. Had he heard of the town, inquired the clueless headhunter? The rest, as they say, is history.

In his Spy interview, the new CEO of Chesapeake, who now facing a 75 second commute from his home to work every morning, talks about his background, the local banking climate, his confidence in the Eastern Shore’s economy.

This video is approximately six minutes in length

I’ve Got a Real Estate Question: How to Buy a Home in Rural Kent County from the Big City?

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The Spy recently inaugurated a Q and A series with Cross Street Realtors. In this first one, our customer asked Cross Street’s Stacey Kendall about retiring on the Eastern Shore.

Q: I’m retiring to the Eastern Shore from the city and have no experience with buying a home in a rural area. I’m worried that the condition of the house I’m interested in has not been fully disclosed. Is a home inspection a mortgage requirement, or optional, and do you offer this service to help me determine the real value?

A: There are a lot of questions within your one question – Let me try to answer as best I can….

The first step with buying anything is to determine your financial limits.  You should know what you can comfortably afford per month.  We then speak with lenders for qualification and back into the purchase price range determined by that monthly amount…for example, if you don’t want to exceed a payment of $1,050/month with taxes & insurance then you are looking at a loan amount of no more than $155,000.

Now that you know what you can afford, you need to decide on location.  Are you looking to live the “salt life” in or near Ocean City or a “country” life in a water oriented town……if so then Talbot and Kent Counties would be a better match.  If you want Target within 5 minutes Talbot Co is your best bet.  If you are looking for a sophisticated quaint small town where the big box stores aren’t in your back yard then Kent County is it.  Or do you want the convenience of being close to the city at an affordable price?  If so lower QA’s Co will be a fit.  Which area meets your needs?  In order to really determine this you should be working with a Realtor local to those specific areas.  They will not only be able to educate you in an effort for you to make an informed decision, but a good local Realtor will help you beyond the purchase of your home.

Once a buyer can commit to an area, finding the house is easy.  As for value – real estate is an equation.  Property condition doesn’t determine value, the condition of the market does.  A Buyer’s Agent can help determine value by finding sold comparable properties in like-kind condition.  All you need now is to come to a meeting of the minds with regard to price and terms with the Seller and you can schedule inspections to determine the real condition of the property.  Regardless of whether or not a Seller has disclosed or disclaimed – a Buyer should have a home inspection…not because the Seller is withholding information but because maybe a leak has sprung since they disclosed or simply missed disclosing a material defect by accident.

For more information, please go to Cross Street Realtors

Real Estate Report for Eastern Shore Shows Signs of Recovery

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Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate just released January 2015 monthly real estate market data for the Eastern Shore Of Maryland – including Caroline, Talbot Dorchester, Queen Anne’s, Kent, and Cecil Counties.

Highlights include:

Sold Dollar Volume: Sellers on the Upper Eastern Shore closed $61,386,729 in real estate sales in January– up 13.95% from the $53,873,985 closed in January last year. This is a positive sign for recovery. Another good sign are the 140 new pending contracts booked in January 2015, a 29.63% improvement over the previous year. Taken together these two metrics bode well for a stronger 2015 in all Eastern Shore real estate markets.

Our Guidance: there has never been a better time to buy. We have the bottom of the market in our rearview mirror and demand is starting to strengthen. Long –term mortgage rates are under 4% and the national economy is heating up. Our agents look for this trend to slowly accelerate in 2015 and thereafter as national economic fundamentals and consumer confidence continues to improve and waterfront buyers return to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay.

Average Sold Price: The average sold price of an Eastern Shore residential property in January 2015 was $290,932 – down from $297, 646 achieved in January 2014 down marginally (- 2.26%) year-over-year. The low average sold price illustrates the continued absence of luxury and waterfront buyers from the Eastern Shore markets but the marginal decline points to stabilizing prices. Look for this number to increase as we go into the spring. The average sold price is sensitive to periodic outliers in individual markets.

Median Sold Price – The median sold price in January 2015 of $185,000 continues to hover near the bottom of its 10-yr range and is a decline of 7.5% from January 2014. This reflects the continued high number of foreclosures and short sales in the market and the previously mentioned absence of luxury buyers. The median Sold Price will improve in 2015 and thereafter as the inventory of foreclosures declines and luxury buyers return to the market.

Absorption Rate – The inventory of properties on the market on the Eastern Shore (2,696 properties) at the end of January 2015 is at the bottom of its five-year range. In January 2015, 221 properties were SOLD up 11.8% from the 181 closed in January of 2014. This absorption rate suggests a 10.5 month inventory of properties, still well above the 6 month inventory considered to be a market in equilibrium but well below the 5 year average of 13.2 months. This inventory will continue to decline to healthier levels as spring progresses. Look for this trend to continue as gas prices continue to fall in 2015 and the Washington/Baltimore metroplex becomes more congested and expensive for first-time and first move-up buyers

Average Days On Market – the average of 172 Days On Market (DOM) for all sold listings in January 2015 is an improvement of 1.15% over the January 2014 (174 DOM). Look for this trend to continue in 2015 as value conscious buyers recognize the good values to be found in most Eastern Shore markets. A rising interest-rate environment will also prompt buyers to jump off the fence in 2015.

Average List Price For Solds – The average list price for solds in January 2015 of $322,306 is 8.43% below the $351,969 noted in January 2014. This metric has experienced considerable downwards pressure from short sellers and sellers will to make significant concessions to achieve timely sales for lifestyle reasons. Look for this trend to continue through 2015 as excess and shadow inventory continues to be absorbed.

Shore Bancshares Changes to “Living Wage” Base for Employees

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Easton, Maryland. Shore Bancshares, Inc. announced to its employees in December that they will be adopting a living wage increase beginning January 1, 2015. In April of 2014, Governor Martin O’Malley signed a bill to increase the minimum wage in Maryland from $7.25 to $10.10 by 2018. “To provide employees with a sufficient salary that will help meet the basic needs of our employees and their families, we went a step above the minimum wage to a living wage increase in 2015”, says President & CEO Scott Beatty. The living wage is the minimum hourly wage that is sufficient to meet the basic living needs of a single employee working full-time. The living wage is not required by the state unless a company has a working contract with a local government agency or if they receive subsidies from them. Because taxes and expenses vary from county to county and state to state so does the living wage.

Although the minimum wage increase of $10.10 for the state of Maryland does not go into effect until 2018, Shore Bancshares made the increase to base salaries in January 2015. “In all cases our employee’s hourly wage is well above the minimum wage”, says PJ Dill, Chief Human Resources Officer of Shore Bancshares, Inc. “As part of our annual compensation review, we have made a conscious decision to set our base wage to above the average of the two highest counties (Talbot and Queen Anne’s) at $11.06”, says Scott Beatty President and Chief Executive Officer of Shore Bancshares, Inc. At Shore Bancshares, we believe it is important to not only support our employees who are our most valuable asset but to also support the growth in our communities where we live and work.

Shore Bancshares, Inc. is a $1.1 billion asset financial holding company headquartered in Easton Maryland who employs over 300 employees. It is the largest independent financial services company on the Delmarva Peninsula that offers banking, insurance and wealth management services through its community of companies. Two full service community banks, The Talbot Bank of Easton MD and CNB, headquartered in Centreville MD. Wye Financial & Trust a division of CNB located in Easton, MD who offers wealth management and trust services and personal, business, benefits, trucking and marine insurance solutions through Avon-Dixon Agency, Elliott Wilson Insurance, Freestate & Son, located in Easton and Centreville, MD and Jack Martin & Associates, headquartered in Annapolis, MD.

Local Real Estate: Eastern Shore Holds Promise for 2015

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The real estate market looks positioned for a good year according to an overview put together by Coldwell Banker Chesapeake Real Estate.

They just released their “Eastern Shore Real Estate market 2014 Year End Numbers” with a forecast for a climb back to normal to continue through 2015.

“We’re bullish on both Kent and Talbot markets for 2015, ” says Hugh Smith, broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Chesapeake. “If you look at economic indicators in the national economy like lower unemployment, we’re seeing this as a tipping point for an upswing in Kent and Talbot sales. Even a stock market correction can be a good thing as people start to look for different kinds of investments and the possibility of an interest rate increase will probably knock some people off the fence from watching to buying,” he added.

The study and projection include Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot, Queen Anne’s, Kent and Cecil Counties:

Sold Dollar Volume: Sellers on the Upper Eastern Shore closed $890,448,394 in real estate sales in 2014 – down 42% from the peak of the last boom market in 2005. This represents only a marginal improvement year-over-year and but a 45% improvement over the bottom of the market which was achieved in 2011. Every year since 2011 has shown a slow but steady improvement in this metric. Look for this trend to slowly accelerate in 2015 and thereafter as national economic fundamentals and consumer confidence continue to improve and waterfront buyers return to the shores of Chesapeake Bay.

Average Sold Price: The average sold price of an Eastern Shore residential property was $282,772 in 2014 – down from a high of $383,488 achieved in 2007 and down marginally year-over-year. The average sold price continues to suffer for the continued absence of luxury and waterfront buyers from the eastern shore markets. Look for this number to improve as the tax climate for high net-worth buyers improves with the new administration in Annapolis.

Median Sold Price – The median sold price of $210,000 continues to hover near the bottom of its 10-yr range. This reflects the continued high number of foreclosures and short sales in the market and the previously mentioned absence of luxury buyers. The median Sold Price will improve in 2015 and thereafter as the inventory of foreclosures declines and luxury buyers return to the market.

Units Sold – The absorption rate of Eastern Shore real estate was still off its 2005 highs (when 4,411 units were sold) but at 3,149 units it is a vast improvement over the low of 2,050 units posted in 2008. Look for this trend to continue as gas prices continue to fall in 2015 and the Washington/Baltimore metroplex becomes more congested and expensive for first-time and first move-up buyers.

Average Days On Market – The average of 160 Days on Market (DOM) for all sold listings is a significant improvement over the high of 203 experienced in 2011. Look for this trend to continue in 2015 as value conscious buyers recognize the good values to be found in most Eastern Shore markets. A rising interest-rate environment will also prompt buyers to jump of the fence in 2015.

Average List Price For Solds – The average list price for solds at $302,572 is just off its bottom of 299,425 experienced in 2011This metric has experienced considerable downwards pressure from short sellers and sellers will continue to make significant concessions to achieve timely sales for lifestyle reasons. Look for this trend to continue through 2015 as excess and shadow inventory continues to be absorbed.

The real estate markets of the Eastern Shore are slowly returning to normal market conditions and should continue to improve in 2015 along with consumer confidence and national economic conditions. There is no reason to believe that we will return to the bubble conditions of 2005 anytime soon nor is there any reason to anticipate another bust like 2008-2011. Sellers who position their asking prices well relative to the market should anticipate selling in a reasonable period of time. Buyers who jump in in 2015 should find excellent choice and good values. Buyers who wait until late in 2015 or beyond, risk missing the most pronounced Buyers’ market conditions in a generation.

Mark Calendar: Young Professionals in County Meet Today

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The newly created Kent County Young Professionals Association meeting on January 15  the Chestertown Visitors Center. It’ll be at 7:30pm.

Art As Economic Engine: The A and E District Advantage

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As the town council readies to submit an “Intent to Apply” request to the State to designate Chestertown as an Arts and Entertainment District, the Greater Chestertown Initiative (GCI) committee has identified some of the economic advantages to artists, businesses and individuals living and working within an A & E District:

The 2014 legislature defined a Qualified Residing Artists (QRA) as an individual who: owns or rents residential real property in the state; conducts a business in any A&E district; and derives income from the sale or performance within any A&E district, or any artistic work that the individual wrote, composed, or executed, either alone or with others, in an A & E district.

Income Tax Subtraction Modification: Any QRA who resides in Maryland, creates artistic work in any of the 22 A E districts and sells that work in any of the 22 districts will be eligible for the artist’s income tax incentive. The act took effect July 1, 2014 and is applicable to all taxable years beginning After December 31, 2013.

Exemption from Admission and Amusement: In addition, admission and amusement tax gross receipts for any amusement charge levied by an A&E enterprise or any QRA, are exempt for a period of (1-10) years

Property tax credit: Property tax credits are available for the owner of a building located within the A&E District. The building must be partially built or renovated for the use by a Qualified Residing Artist (QRA), or an A&E enterprise can be eligible for a property tax credit for (1-10) years, as long as the building is used by the QRA or an A&E enterprise.

The owner will work with the State Assessment Office to determine the qualified renovations and previous assessment to determine the amount of the credit. If less than the whole building is used by the QRA, the credit is only for the portion used by the QRA. The town may choose any period of time up to 10 years to determine the credit.

 Examples of Property Tax Credit

(It is important to note that these are possible guidelines and may not be the actual percentages sought during the application process and will depend on how the request is packaged. Lani Seikaly, President of RiverArts and spokesperson for Greater Chestertown Initiative wrote to the Spy that the State recommended asking for the highest percentage of property tax credit. The State pointed out that Leonardtown was granted a 100% incentive for all ten years)

 

100% —1st and 2nd years

80% —3rd and 4th years

60% —5th and 6th years

40% —7th and 8th years

20% —9th and 10th years

0% —after 10 years

 

A 2013 Towson State economic analysis of the 22 A&E districts and their impact on jobs, wages and income, maybe be found here:

Form 501ae lists qualifications needed for tax reduction here.

Compiled with research help from Jeff Grotsky, Greater Chestertown Initiative.