A Sad Farewell to Lemon Leaf Cafe


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.

Unitarians to Sponsor Parenting Forums


What is it like to be a parent in 2018? What is exciting? What is challenging? Join the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River, 914 Gateway Dr., Chestertown, for food, fellowship, and conversation at a pair of parenting forums that are free of charge and open to the public – for families of all backgrounds and faith traditions:

Friday, February 23, 6 – 8 p.m. at UUCR, 914 Gateway Drive, Chestertown. “There’s Just Not Enough Time!” It’s challenging to fit in the many opportunities for children and families, but skipping these opportunities feels risky as well. How do we juggle family schedules in 2018?

Friday, March 9, 6 – 8 p.m., at UUCR, 914 Gateway Dr., Chestertown. “Parenting in a Social Media Age.” Parents today are breaking new technological ground; their days can disappear as they are pulled to check social media, texts, and email. When should children get cell phones? Instagram or Snapchat accounts? We’ll consider the experience of parenting when deluged with information.

The facilitator for both forums will be Reverend Sue Browning, Minister at UUCR.

Participants are encouraged to bring their whole families, as a light supper and childcare will be provided free of charge.  Supper will be served at 6 and at 6:30 the program will begin. The evening’s activities should end between 7:45 and 8 p.m.

Pre-registration is requested: email morningmom2@gmail.com, or call 410-778-6348 to register or for questions and more information.

Standing for Peace


Women in Black, a local chapter of an international women’s peace group who keep a weekly silent peace vigil in Chestertown

Noon, Friday at Chestertown’s Memorial Park — a group of women stand silent, holding signs: “Peace,” “No War,” “Give Peace a Chance.”

The group represents an international network for peace and justice, the Women in Black. They began holding their vigils at the intersection of High and Cross Streets on Feb. 2. On Feb. 9, the group numbered ten. While the vigil is predominantly silent, the members speak to and answer questions from anyone who engages them A number of cars honked their horns as they drove by the group. Also, the women in the group distributed cards bearing the word for “peace” in a number of languages, English, German, Japanese. The back of the cards reads, “Join us for a silent Vigil for peace. WIB an International Network for Peace and Justice. Help put an end to war and violence in our world. Womeninblack.org”

The website contains the following explanation of the group’s purpose: “Women in Black is a world-wide network of women committed to peace with justice and actively opposed to injustice, war, militarism and other forms of violence. As women experiencing these things in different ways in different regions of the world, we support each other’s movements. An important focus is challenging the militarist policies of our own governments. We are not an organisation, but a means of communicating and a formula for action.”

The movement originated in Jerusalem in 1988, when a group of women held a Friday vigil in response to violations of human rights they believed were being committed in Palestinian areas occupied by Israeli troops. Vigils were eventually held throughout Israel, and groups in other countries held vigils in sympathy. Each group was autonomous, without a common political agenda beyond a concern for human rights and opposition to war. Because the members wore black clothing during the vigils, the name “Women in Black” naturally became attached to the movement.

Women in Black – Silent Peace Vigil – each Friday at noon

The movement’s concerns spread beyond the Israeli/Palestinian conflict to other countries where peace and justice were perceived to be at risk. Women in Black became especially visible during the civil wars that tore apart former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. Protesting violent nationalism and sectarian bloodshed, the women themselves often became the targets of attacks by fanatical nationalists. In a number of countries, the focus of the vigils has been violence against women.

In 2001, the international Women in Black movement was awarded the Millennium Peace Prize for Women given by the United Nations Development Fund for Women, and the groups in Serbia and Israel were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

The local group will be in Monument Plaza across from Fountain Park and Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Chestertown again this Friday at noon.  They plan to be there each Friday for the foreseeable future.

Come and join the Women in Black and Stand for Peace.

Women in Black – Silent Peace Vigil



Trump’s Proposed Chesapeake Bay Cleanup Cuts faces Hill Battle


President Donald Trump’s plan to slash 90 percent of Chesapeake Bay cleanup funding, which could dismantle several decades of environmental restoration, met resistance from Maryland’s Democratic congressional delegation.

The cuts, which would drop the budget for Chesapeake Bay programs from $73 million to $7.3 million, are nestled in a proposed 33.7 percent decrease in funding for the Environmental Protection Agency.

That would be a paltry sum “to support the nation’s largest estuary,” Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland, said in a statement.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told Capital News Service the state would fight hard against massive cuts to the bay cleanup program.

“This is yet another assault on clean water, from a president who campaigned saying he valued it,” William Baker, president of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, said in a statement.

Trump tweeted in April 2017 that he was “committed to keeping our air and water clean but always remember that economic growth enhances environmental protection.”

Maryland’s bay-wide commercial harvest for all crabs rebounded from under 20 million pounds in 2013-2014, the lowest marks since 1990, to about 30 million pounds in 2016, according to statistics from Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources.

Critics said the proposed cuts to the EPA have the potential to derail the progress that Maryland has seen, putting both the economic growth and environmental protection Trump referenced in jeopardy.

“Protecting the bay is important not only to protect a great national treasure, but to protect our economy,” Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, told Capital News Service. “If you look at Maryland’s economy, tourism, the watermen, the boating industry, all of these people rely on a healthy bay for their economic livelihood.”

The Chesapeake Bay’s importance to Maryland is underscored by the efforts that federal, state and local officials over the years have coordinated to preserve it. It was the first estuary in the nation to see restoration efforts of this magnitude, according to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

“We look forward to working with our Chesapeake delegation in Congress to move the decimal point over to its rightful place and restore bay funding to $73 million,” said Chante Coleman, director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, a group of more than 200 organizations in the bay region.

Under the Clean Water Act of 1972, the Chesapeake Bay Program Office is tasked with implementing “pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry.”
The office also sets limits on contaminants.

Van Hollen introduced legislation to increase funding to $300 million in his Chesapeake Bay Farm Bill Enhancements Act in November 2017, which would further assist in efforts to clean up the bay.

Trump tried to eliminate all funding to the Chesapeake Bay Program Office in his proposed fiscal 2017 budget.

“The Chesapeake Bay (Program) Office is the coordinating entity for all the partners in the Chesapeake… all of that depends on the federal government to coordinate the stakeholders’ responsibilities,” Cardin said. “If that program were to receive the type of coverage that is in president Trump’s budget, it couldn’t do its work.”

“The budget from the president, we hope, is dead on arrival because it would be bad news for our region,” Van Hollen said.

By Julia Karron, Jarod Golub and Timmy Chong

DCKC Meeting: The Social Action Committee


The Democratic Club of Kent County is pleased to announce that our speakers for the February 15 meeting will be Airlee Johnson and Rosemary Granillo of the local Social Action Committee.

The Social Action Committee (SAC)is a group of like-minded Kent County citizens interested in taking action to eliminate racism.  The SAC was formed from approximately 60 Kent County residents who participated in a series of Undoing Racism Workshops between 2016 and 2017. The general body of the Committee meets on the third Tuesday of each month to vet and discuss the actions that emerge from the sub-committees of Politics, Education, Business/Employment and Social Activities.

The public is invited to attend this meeting and learn more about this new organization.  The meeting takes place on the evening of Thursday, February 15, at BAD Alfred’s (323 High St., Chestertown) – doors open at 5:30 pm for a meal and social time – main program starts at 7:00 pm.

Chester Gras — Party On!


Linda and Phil Dutton – founders and leading lights of Chester Gras.  Phil is also musician extraordinaire as he sings and plays keyboard with his band the Alligators.

Chester Gras, Chestertown’s celebration of Creole cookery and New Orleans style dance music, defied the elements  on Saturday to raise funds for needy Kent County kids.  Phil and Linda Dutton founded the festival five years ago and it has been sponsored by Peoples’ Bank right from the beginning.

Held on Saturday, Feb. 10, in a large heated tent on Spring Street outside the Peoples Bank entrance, Chester Gras drew a large crowd despite a steady downpour that caused a last-minute cancellation of the street parade. But not to worry – Phil Dutton and the Alligators got people’s feet moving with their hard-rocking music, and the party hardly missed a beat. In addition to Dutton on piano and keyboards, the Alligators are Pres Harding on electric guitar, Marc Dyckman on bass, and Ray Anthony on drums.

Kent County Marching Band – Chester Gras 2018

While the Alligators were on break, the Kent County Community Marching Band, undaunted by the cancellation of the parade, came into the tent and played several numbers appropriate for the occasion, including “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” A few other parade entrants also drove past the High Street reviewing stand before the rain drove everyone indoors.

The food lineup offered gumbo from ten local restaurants, plus red beans and rice from chef (and Peoples Bank President) Ralph Dowling’s kitchen as well as Mardi Gras-style king cake — all that along with hot dogs and Texas sausage for those with less adventurous taste buds. Peoples Bank personnel ladled out the gumbo, which came in a variety of flavors with chicken, shrimp, and spicy Andouille sausage. Food was provided by Lemon Leaf Cafe, Uncle Charlie’s Bistro, KB Market, Chester River Yacht and Country Club, Barbara’s on the Bay, The Kitchen, Chester River Sea Food, Fish Whistle, Luisa’s Cucina Italiana, Crazy Rick’s Food Truck, Kreuz Market and Little Village Bakery.

Good food – Cajun-style! – Chester Gras 2018

In addition to food and music, a costume contest was open to attendees who dressed for the occasion. Leslie Sea of WCTR radio served as announcer, and winners were chosen on the basis of audience applause. About a dozen children and a handful of adults — and one stylish puppy! — took part in the contest.

Best costumes – Stephanie and Dorian – kids division  – Chester Gras 2018

A photo booth was set up near the bandstand, with Rich Newberry snapping pictures of the attendees. A table of masks and hats was available so guests could put on their best Mardi Gras look for the pictures. Lisa Newberry, Rich’s wife, helped attendees with their costume choices. Later in the afternoon, Rich and Lisa recruited volunteers to move the booth away from the edge of the tent, where running rainwater was encroaching.

Bill Blake, auctioneer, Chester Gras 2018

A live auction, conducted by veteran auctioneer Bill Blake, offered half a dozen items: a pair of Orioles tickets; a half day fishing trip for a party of four; a custom-made 8′ by 10′ indoor rug; a goose hunt for a party of four; an original oil painting by Dan Kessler; and a weekend of pet sitting by Mary Simmons. All told, the live auction brought in more than $1,400 for the cause. A silent auction featured a variety of items donated by local merchants and organizations. Prizes included a backyard bird feeder, a ukulele, a basket of wine, artwork, and much more.

Proceeds of the festival went to the Kent County Community Food Pantry’s backpack program, in conjunction with the Local Management Board. The program provides backpacks carrying weekend meals for local students in need of nutritional support. Almost 50 percent of students in the public schools qualify for the program, according to the food pantry. Anyone wishing to donate can send a check, payable to Local Management Board of Kent County, to The Peoples Bank, P. O. Box 210, Chestertown, MD 21620. Donations are tax-deductible.

Phil Dutton and the Alligators rocked the tent! Phil Dutton on keyboard, Pres Harding on guitar, Marc Dyckman on base, (Not in picture Ray Anthony on drums) – Chester Gras 2018

The festival continued Saturday evening with a sold-out dance party in the Mainstay in Rock Hall, featuring the Dixie Power Trio playing New Orleans style jazz, zydeco and rhythm-and-blues stylings. Masks were available for guests to get in the Mardi Gras mood. As with the Chestertown event, proceeds were donated to the backpack program.

Sound reinforcement was provided by Kabam Entertainment group.

Photo gallery by Peter Heck and Jane Jewell

William Brown, Sr.; holding William Brown, Jr. with Maleah and Naruyah Brown in front at Chester Gras 2018

Lisa Newberry helped out at the photo booth at Chester Gras 2018

A selection of hats, masks, boas and other accessories were available by the Photo Booth at Chester Gras 2018

Photo booth sponsors – Chester Gras 2018

A basket of wine was a popular item in the Silent Auction – Chester Gras 2018

Chester Gras 2018

Patti Maynot Dowling – Chester Gras 2018










Chester Gras 2018

Rev. Jim Van de Wal getting in the Chester Gras spirit! –
Chester Gras 2018










The “Krew” at Kreuz Market included Brittany Rue, Jennifer Teat, Kathy Barnhart, Tanya Brilz, & Lisa Jefferson – Chester Gras 2018

Heidi Manning and Brandy Clark of Luisa’s Cucina Italiana restaurant

Chester Gras 2018

All net proceeds went to buy food and backpacks for kids in Kent County – Chester Gras 2018











Chesapeake College Announces Four Finalists for President


The Chesapeake College Board of Trustees announced the selection of four finalists in its search for the school’s sixth president. Each candidate will be on campus to meet with faculty, staff, students and Mid-Shore community leaders in a series of forums over the next two weeks.

Following a four-month process that included public input on the qualifications, characteristics and values sought for the school’s new leader, the 14-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee chaired by the Vice-Chair of the Board of Trustees, Nash McMahan, submitted four finalists to the Board of Trustees:

Clifford Coppersmith

Dr. Clifford Coppersmith, Dean at City College, an embedded community college within Montana State

Keith Cotroneo

University, Billings Montana. He held prior administrative and academic affairs positions at: Pennsylvania College of Technology, a special mission affiliate of The Pennsylvania State University, Williamsport, PA; and College of Eastern Utah, Price, Utah.

Dr. Keith Cotroneo, President at Mountwest Community and Technical College, Huntington, West Virginia. He held prior administrative and academic affairs positions at: Quincy College, Quincy, Massachusetts; Broome Community College, Binghamton, New York; Treasure Valley Community College, Ontario, Oregon; and Hagerstown Community College, Hagerstown, Maryland.


Dr. Ted Lewis, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Chief Academic Officer at Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, Tennessee. He held prior administrative and academic affairs positions at: Lone Star College-CyFair, Cypress, Texas; and Collin County Community College, McKinney, Texas.

Dr. Lisa Rhine, Provost and Chief Operating Officer at Tidewater Community College Chesapeake

Lisa Rhine

Campus, Chesapeake, Virginia. She held prior administrative and academic affairs positions at: Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights, Kentucky; Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio; University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio; and Sinclair Community College, also in Dayton.

“Under Nash McMahan’s leadership, the Search Committee evaluated 72 candidates and delivered its final choices a month ahead of schedule in response to the community’s desire for an expedited process,” said Blenda Armistead, Board of Trustees Chair. “From our faculty, staff and student representatives to volunteers from business and academia, it was a dedicated team that committed countless hours studying the community focus group and online survey results and reviewing applications from across the country.”

Armistead said the Search Committee interviewed seven candidates last week before making its final selections.
“It’s an exceptional group of finalists with considerable experience serving in administrative and academic affairs leadership positions at community colleges, technical schools and four-year institutions,” Armistead said.

The Board expects to make its final choice by mid-March and hopes to have a new president on campus by July 1.

Sponsor of Bill to Legalize Hemp in Maryland Thinks this is the Year


Proponents of industrial hemp say legalization of the cannabis relative offers many potential benefits, and, if a bill in the state Legislature is approved, Maryland might be part of a growing acceptance of the plant.

A key obstacle remains lack of education about hemp’s properties and capabilities, proponents say.

“There’s no hidden agenda, they are business people and they are trying to grow a product,” said Rona Kobell, who spoke at an Abell Foundation Hemp forum on Feb. 2 in Annapolis, Maryland.

According to a Jan. 25 report by Kobell, hemp is controversial because it’s associated with marijuana. Both plants come from the genus Cannabis, but hemp is mainly grown for its fiber and oil.

Michael Renfroe, a biology professor from James Madison University, spoke at the forum about the common misconceptions between marijuana and hemp. Forum participants said they are not the same.

“To say you can’t tell the difference between hemp and marijuana is to say you can’t tell the difference between broccoli and Brussels sprouts,” said Renfroe.
The main differences between hemp and marijuana are the tetrahydrocannabinol — or THC — content, and the cultivation process said professor Ronald Turco, Agronomy Department head at Purdue University.

Hemp, when grown, contains less than 0.3 percent THC, whereas marijuana can contain up to 30 percent, Turco said.

He also explained that hemp is grown as a row crop in fields for its seeds and fiber, whereas marijuana is hand grown and harvested for buds containing THC, which is what gives marijuana users a high.

Turco said marijuana is listed as a Schedule I substance making it illegal at the federal level, and the only way to distinguish between hemp and marijuana is through lab procedures measuring THC content.

Federal regulations state that industrial hemp can be produced if a state legalizes an agricultural pilot program to study its cultivation, growth and marketing.

As of 2016, it is legal for the Maryland Department of Agriculture or any institution of higher learning to grow industrial hemp for research purposes.

Maryland has legalized medical cannabis, and decriminalized marijuana use in smaller amounts; proponents say this should encourage the expanded legalization of hemp in the state.

According to the Abell Foundation’s hemp report, the crop would bring economic and environmental opportunity to the state.

Economically, the report said, hemp creates new jobs and generates more revenue.

The report justifies that environmentally, hemp requires no pesticides to grow. It also explained that hemp replenishes the soil, reduces pollution and helps with land erosion and runoff.

The report also states that the main uses of hemp include fiber, fuel, food and medicine.

“Hemp is grown for fiber and oil…,” said Renfroe. “You cannot get high from it.”

Kobell said during the hemp forum that many people have claimed that hemp could do things it couldn’t actually do. Accurate information about hemp has been crucial to push legalization.

“There is hope for hemp because of education,” said Kobell.

Hemp seeds can be used in foods, such as snack bars.
Since the seeds are not legal to grow outside of the department of agriculture or an institution of higher education, anyone else who wishes to use the seeds must import them from overseas. It is against federal law to transport the seeds across state lines.

According to the Abell Foundation Hemp Report, most hemp seed is imported from Europe, and countries such as Canada, Ukraine and China as large leaders in hemp cultivation.

Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, D-Montgomery, this year introduced an Industrial Hemp Pilot Program bill to facilitate its growth in Maryland.

Fraser-Hidalgo first introduced the legislation for hemp legalization in 2015 but it failed largely because of lack of education about hemp use, he said.

The 2018 bill establishes regulations that allow the agriculture department or universities to register farmers who could then grow, process, manufacture and market industrial hemp.

Alex Hempfield, whose last name was legally changed from Joseph, is the owner of Livity Foods LLC in Rockville, Maryland, a business selling nutritional bars that contain hemp seeds.

Hempfield said the legalization of hemp growth will alter customer perception and make people more informed about the product.

“Its economic value will get better. It will employ more people and make more money,” said Hempfield.

Even if the legislation Fraser-Hidalgo introduced on Jan. 31 passes, Hempfield said, the process to obtain infrastructure, create and grow the crop will take a few years.

Four states grew hemp in 2015, according to Kobell’s report. As of 2018, there are 19 states that grow hemp, the report found, and product sales accumulated a revenue of $688 million.

Fraser-Hidalgo’s bill is scheduled to be heard on Feb. 14 in the House Environment and Transportation committee.

By Layne Litsinger

Unitarians Ponder “Decency in the American Presidency”


On Sunday, Feb 11, at 10 a.m., Mr. Sherwin Markman give a sermon entitled “Decency in the American Presidency: Do We Have It? Have We Ever Had It? Will We Have It Again?” for the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River, 914 Gateway Dr., Chestertown. Sherwin Markman, an experienced observer of the American political scene, was an assistant to President Lyndon Johnson at a time when, with the active participation of both political parties, immense progress was achieved in such areas as voting rights, civil rights, Medicare, child care, and much, much more. He will share his views concerning where our current president fits within the wide canvass of American presidencies.

Clark Bjorke will provide special music for this service.

All are welcome! Religious exploration for youngsters and childcare for infants and toddlers will be available during the service.

Photo: Sherman Markman, right, with President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, 2/29/68, U.S. Pentagon parking garage.

For more information cal 410-778-3440, or visit us on Facebook.