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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Good Stuff: Garfield’s Annual Gala Raises $15,000

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This past Friday the Garfield Center for the rts held their annual gala fundraiser, “Broadway by the River.” Hosted by New York’s drag queen sensation, Marti Gould Cummings (formerly of Kennedyville) brought Broadway stars to Chestertown for an evening of intimate performances and conversations. Christine Dwyer from Wicked and Rent, Marty Thomas from Wicked, Xanadu and the Secret Garden, and Katrina Dideriksen from the Voice, Hairspray and Finding Neverland, all performed, while Blake Allen accompanied on the piano.

The evening was a resounding success, raising $7,000 for the Garfield’s programming in ticket sales, and an additional $8,700 to fund Playmakers and MUSICAMP, the Garfield’s summer camps for children ages 8-15.

Photos by Jeff Weber

Breaking News: Washington College to Move to Talbot County

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In a major shock to both Kent and Talbot County residents, the Mid-Shore Community Foundation issued a short press release over the weekend announcing that an anonymous donor has agreed to make a transformational gift of $1 billion to Washington College over the next ten years on the specific condition that it relocate its main campus to Talbot County.

The agreement, which has not been made public yet, describes a lengthy and complex process which moves the 236-year-old liberal arts college thirty miles south of its present location to a tract of land on the Miles River now owned by the Calhoon MEBA Engineering School on the outskirts of the town of Easton.

Artist Rendering of the Moving of William Smith Hall on Route 213

Reached for comment by the Spy on Friday, Washington College president, Kurt M. Landgraf said, “The Board of Visitors and Governors and I unanimously agreed some time ago that for $1 billion, we would move the school anywhere in the country. That being said, we are delighted that the College will be situated in beautiful Talbot County where some of the school’s original donors lived and worked. And our students are thrilled that future student bodies will finally be able to walk to a Target. It’s one of those win-win things for all.”

Landgraf also expressed gratitude to Chestertown and Kent County for its three centuries of hospitality. “Look, this was an excellent ride. It’s hard to beat 236 years being in the same town.  And I suspect some in town will be relieved that our stay is finally over.”

Future view of the moving of George Washington to his new home in Easton

According to preliminary plans, the College will only be moving the iconic William Smith Hall to Easton along with the school’s various statues of its namesake, George Washington. It is also predicted that the College’s president will reside in Perry Hall, the 18th-century plantation house on the new property, and that the head coach of WC’s men’s lacrosse team will take up quarters in the other historic home, Kirkland Hall, as part of the transaction.

Reaction in Talbot County was predictably upbeat. Ship and Print owner, and Talbot County Council member, Laura Price, commented, “To tell the truth, scout’s honor, we had no knowledge that this was taking place. But having said that, this news comes at a time when the County had been looking for new sources of cash, including adjusting our property tax revenue cap, so the timing could not be better. Of course, there will be some real downsides. I’m not wild about having all those liberal college professors moving here. On the other hand, all colleges need a good copy store, so it balances out.”

There was also immediate speculation in and around Talbot County on who the anonymous donor or donors might be. One scenario in that he or she are the direct descendants of those who originally invested in the school’s creation, particularly the family members of the Goldsborough and Tilghman clans given the disproportionately high number of those families on the original list. Others speculate that one of Talbot County’s many wealthy “come-here” residents made the spectacular offer to complement their existing or planned development projects.

The orginal donors from Talbot County to Washington College

Chestertown citizens responded with dread, anger, and confusion. The community, having recently lost its movie theatre and a popular downtown restaurant, and who nearly lost its local hospital a year ago, seems to indicate it will not let the move go forward without a fight.

Margie Elsberg, one of the founders of the “Save our Hospital” movement, immediately established a “Save our College” advocacy group. She remarked to the Spy, “First, the hospital, now this! I think it’s obvious who’s really behind this move, and I think the public needs to know.”

Chestertown also hinted that it would more than likely take the matter to court. Mayor Chris Cerino made it clear he was not going to be intimidated by what he considers to be an act of grand theft. “I don’t like it one bit, but, like so many times in the past, this community will rally and come together and fight this good fight.”

The Mayor was less forthcoming about what the town planned to do with the approximately 200 acres the College will vacate. He did not, however, rule out that the Sultana Education Foundation, where he serves as the education director, may use the WC campus for a new venture now under consideration by the organization’s board which would lead to the establishment of Sultana University.

The Campus of Calhoon MEBA Engineering School

It appears that the administration of the Calhoun Engineering School were caught totally off guard by the announcement. The education center, which has been in its present location since the mid-1970s when its parent, the Marine Engineers Beneficial Association, purchased the 656 acres just outside Easton from the now-defunct Kirkland Hall Junior College.

The only school representative the Spy could reach over the weekend found the news incredulous, but stated he was not authorized to speak on the record. He did, however, want to remind the community that the campus is not open to the general public.

Other unnamed sources familiar with the school’s plans suggest that the MEBA has been making discrete inquiries as to the future of the now vacant Russian Embassy retreat property just outside of Centerville, which they see as a more central location for their faculty and stuff.

In many ways, the Calhoon campus offers Washington College a almost turn-key transition since the school made extensive capital improvements starting in 1979, when the farm and estate buildings were converted to school use, including a refurbished dining hall, spacious residence units, a gymnasium, a modern classroom-administration building and an Olympic-sized pool.

The Mid-Shore community will undoubtedly be hearing more details about the move when President Landgraf holds a reception for Washington College alumni at the Talbot Country Club later this month.

Editor Note: Dear gentle reader, if you have been able to suspend your disbelief to the very end of this article, we must make it clear that this is entirely fake news to honor April Fools Day. 

A Sad Farewell to Lemon Leaf Cafe

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Lemon Leaf Cafe on High St. in Chestertown

There have been rumors for months that the Lemon Leaf Cafe and the adjoining co-owned JR’s PastTime Pub might close.  Those were confirmed today, Thursday, Feb 15, when owner and operator JR Alfree posted the following message on the cafe’s FaceBook page just a few minutes after 3:00 pm.

“Family and friends,

I’m so very sad to let you all know that after 8 years, the Lemon Leaf Cafe and JR’s Past-Time Pub in Chestertown, MD, will close our doors for the last time on Saturday, February 17.

Opening the restaurant was the greatest adventure of my life. Together with my team we won awards and accolades and served so many cups of cream of crab soup. I felt like we were the living room and dining room of Chestertown. We hosted many special events, community gatherings, and simple dinners for friends and family. People gathering for happy moments like weddings and sad moment like funerals would come to the Lemon Leaf and JR’s and feel at home. It has truly been the privilege of my life to serve the Chestertown community for many years and I am heartbroken that it has come to an end.

Unfortunately, the business ran into some challenges that despite our very best efforts, we could not overcome. We have a large historic building and it’s badly in need of major repairs. I hope in the future, someone will give the building the time and investment it needs so it will again serve the downtown Chestertown community.

Thank you to my wonderful managers Cathy, Jesse and Jeff, and to the entire staff for giving it all they had.

On behalf all of us at the Lemon Leaf and JR’s, let me say a final thank you to everyone who let us be a part of your lives.

Warmest wishes,

JR Alfree”

Visit the Lemon Leaf  facebook for more information or to leave a message.

Community Garden Meeting Jan. 24

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Would you like to start a garden but don’t have the space to do it? A community garden just might be the answer to your dreams — and there’s one starting up near you!

The seed catalogues have been delivered. Memories of past weed and pest problems have faded. And even though we are in a deep freeze, it’s time to plan your garden! This year, Pam and John Vogel will open up their farm on Round Top Road for a community garden. Pam has been gardening for years and shares a lot of her produce with neighbors and at a local food bank. She is a believer in having a diverse selection of flowers and vegetables in order to attract many types of beneficial bugs and birds. Bird houses are all around their 15-acre property, and they even have a bat house on their barn. She also loves to seed save the heirloom varieties she grows. John grows hops, beans, peanuts, and tends their 6 bee hives.

Their vision is that area residents will have access to fertile and sunny ground to plant flowers and vegetables. John planted a cover crop of clover a large space and will till it in the early spring so Gardeners can start their early cool weather seeds by mid-March. Gardeners must be willing to use organic practices. There will be straw and composted manure available. A limited amount of tools will be available to share as well.

There will be a planning meeting on January 24th at 7 p.m. at 218 Round Top Road. A seed swap will happen on February 21st at 7 p.m. as well. You can get more information through Meetup.com under the Chestertown Organic Gardeners and Farmers. Or contact Pam by email at pam.vogel123@gmail.com

 

First Friday: Artists’ Gallery Spotlight on Linda Hall

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“Jug of Sunflowers”, watercolor by Linda Hall

On First Friday, The Artists’ Gallery would like to invite everyone to celebrate the new year with them!  Along with their well wishes, the partners of The Artists’ Gallery are offering a discount of 15% off each of their original works of art during the first two weeks of January.  The partners of the gallery are Bonnie Foster Howell, Sally Clark, Nancy R. Thomas, Barbara Zuehlke and Evie Baskin.  For more information about the partners and the work that they do, please see the gallery website.

In addition, The Artists’ Gallery will extend a discount of 15% on paintings by Linda Hall.  Based in Betterton, Linda Hall’s work in watercolor is well known on the Eastern Shore and beyond.  She has participated in numerous juried art shows, both nationally and internationally, winning over fifty awards.  Linda is a signature member of the Baltimore Watercolor Society, Pennsylvania Watercolor Society and the Northeast Watercolor society and an exhibitor with The Artists’ Gallery, and a member of River Arts and the Working Artists Forum in Easton.

A reception for the public will be held at The Artists’ Gallery on January 5, 2018, from 5-8 pm.  Located at 239 High Street in Chestertown, The Artists’ Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-5 and on Sundays from 12:30 to 4:30.

“Getting Dinner”, watercolor Barbara Zuehlke

“Fringed Edge”, oil by Bonnie Howell

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“Koi Fish Frolicking”, mixed media by Sally Clark

 

Country Road”, oil by Nancy R. Thomas

“Good Friends”, oil by Evie Baskin

Unitarians Contemplate the Meaning of “Namaste”

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Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River, Church in Chestertown

On Sunday, Dec 31, 10 a.m., Dr. John Turner will give a sermon titled “Namaste” for the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River, 914 Gateway Dr., ChestertownJohn explains, “‘Namaste’ is the traditional greeting all over India. Although it really doesn’t translate into English, I prefer to think of it as saying, ‘The divine within me smiles upon the divine within you.’ I believe this fits the form of a blessing and that it can truly challenge how we think about others and about ourselves. And maybe give us a boost into the New Year.”
Religious exploration for youngsters and childcare for infants and toddlers will be available during the service. All are Welcome!

Brevities: Driving in Kent County Before the Solstice

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Photo by Spy Agent 7 — 00 Section

Shelley and I drove north the morning of the day before the shortest day. We rolled through Kent County, commenting on its agreeable flatness, and the winter crops turning the brown fields green. We watched the sunrise orange through the trees, flickering by as it developed its full size. It rose through a gap at the horizon and colored the rest of the heavily clouded sky with a pearl gray.

Shelley first noticed the dark lines low on the horizon. As we approached, it became clear it was thousands and thousands of geese in plumps of a couple hundred. As we got nearer, they appeared to be more overhead, and we could easily see the white bodies and black wing tips of snow geese in their asymmetric vees – none on the ground, all in the air.

The line of geese stretched for miles to the right and left, flickering randomly as the wings rose and fell. An occasional single goose or three or four of them were flying against the flow in search of friends or cousins.

We had to stop for a moment for road construction, and when we rolled the window down, we heard them honking in their hundreds, directly overhead, white against the low gray sky.

Then­ we and the geese went our way.

By Ed Minch

 

 

Estate of Rev. William L. English Donates $892,000 to Chesapeake College for Nursing Scholarships

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Rev. William L. English, Episcopal priest from Dorchester County

Wye Mills, Maryland – The Chesapeake College Foundation has received the largest planned gift in its history from the estate of Rev. William L. English, an Episcopal priest from Dorchester County.

As stipulated by the estate, an $892,000 endowment has been established to fund W.L. English Nursing Scholarships for Chesapeake students.  Preference is given to Dorchester County residents pursuing a nursing degree.

“We are honored to receive this extraordinary gift that makes it possible for students to attend Chesapeake College, earn a degree and pursue a rewarding career in nursing,” said Lucie Hughes, the college’s Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the school’s foundation.  “As one who ministered to others, Father English understood the power of compassionate care and appreciated the collaborative education and training provided by Chesapeake College and Shore Health to bring along our next generation of nursing professionals.”

Rev. English was a patient at the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center at Dorchester where the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nursing team treated him on several occasions in 2015.

According to Pat and Richard Gauen, close friends from East New Market, he often spoke of the excellent nursing care provided during those hospital stays.

“He said they treated him like a king, but they didn’t know he was going to make this donation,” Pat said.  I never heard him complain that he received bad care in the hospital…not one time.”

Bill Shertenlieb, a registered nurse from Cambridge and graduate of the Chesapeake College nursing program, was one of Rev. English’s regular ICU caregivers.

“He was very easy to take care of and had the ability to bring out creativity and kindness in the care you delivered,” Schertenlieb said. “He made you happy to be a nurse.”

Nursing is a family profession in the Shertenlieb household. His wife Wendy also graduated from the Chesapeake program and became a nurse in 2013. While she was in school and caring for their children, Bill worked three nursing jobs to support the family.

“Father English and I discussed how hard it was, but I didn’t have the slightest clue about the donation,” he said. “I was stunned. Sometimes you get surprises like this…you don’t always know whose day you’ve made.”

Shertenlieb is now a critical care transport nurse with Shore Health Maryland Express Care. Wendy works for Coastal Hospice in Dorchester County.

Nursing care is a critical need in the Mid-Shore region according to Jon Longest, Chesapeake College Health Professions Chair.

“We are in the midst of a significant nursing shortage in the United States that is even more pronounced in rural areas like the Eastern Shore,” Longest said.  “The English scholarship makes a nursing career more accessible to young adults and even older students who are making a career change or looking to advance within the profession.”

Hughes said the number of annual awards given by the English scholarship fund will depend on need and other financial aid students receive. Initial awards range from $350 to $2,000.  She estimates that as many as 25 students a year could receive grants in the future.

Students interested in the nursing scholarships should complete Chesapeake’s general scholarship application and a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Both are accessible at www.chesapeake.edu/financial-aid.

(L to R) Nurse Bill Shertenlieb with Pat and Richard Gauen outside St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, Father English’s former church in East New Market

Donors interested in discussing a planned gift with the college can contact Hughes at 410-827-5879. Online donations can be made at www.chesapeake.edu/chesapeake-college-foundation.

Rev. English was born at Dorchester General Hospital in 1936 and graduated from Cambridge High School in 1954. He was ordained in the Episcopal Church in 1965 by the Bishop of Easton and from 1965-1966, he was the rector for three Mid-Shore parishes:  St. Stephen’s, East New Market; St. Andrew’s, Hurlock; and the Chapel of the Epiphany, Preston.

Following 32 years of ministry on Staten Island in New York City, he retired to Cambridge where he lived in his childhood home on Radiance Drive until his death in 2015.

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