Unitarians Ponder “Decency in the American Presidency”

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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.

Queen Anne’s County Arts Council Accepting Grant Applications

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The Queen Anne’s County Arts Council is accepting applications for 2018/19 Arts in Education (AIE) and Community Arts Development (CAD) Grants.  Each year the Council makes AIE grant awards to support programming in schools through the Art in Education Grant and to community organizations through the Community Arts Development Grant.    Qualifying programs range from art related assemblies and artists in residences in schools to performance and operational assistance to non-profit arts organizations.    Since 1984 we have awarded more than $640,000 in support of the arts in Queen Anne’s County.

Rick Strittmater Executive Director said of the program, “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to provide support to some of the wonderful art based non-profit organizations and groups we have here in Queen Anne’s County.  It is my hope that the financial boost these grants provide will help expand their efforts in a meaningful way.”  Eligible programming includes the visual arts, music, performance, and literary programs for presentation in local schools and performance and operational expenses for community arts organizations.

These awards are made possible in part by funding from the Maryland State Arts Council, Queen Anne’s County, and the Town of Centreville.  Applications are available on line at www.queenannescountyarts.com or by calling the Council at 410-758-2520.   The application deadline is May 1, 2018 Anyone with questions regarding the application process can call the Queen Anne’s County Arts Council 410-758-2520.

The Queen Anne’s County Arts Council, Inc. is a non-profit organization committed to promoting, expanding and sustaining the arts.  All donations are 100% tax deductible.

New Program Allows Dogs to Comfort Children during Witness Testimony

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A new pilot program that brings dogs into the courthouse to help children during court proceedings has launched in two circuit courts in Maryland.

The Courthouse Dog and Child Witness Pilot Program is now available within Anne Arundel and Harford County circuit courts. This pilot program allows facility and therapy dogs to accompany child witnesses who are testifying or appearing in court in criminal or civil cases.

State Sen. Bryan Simonaire, District 31, spearheaded the idea behind the pilot program. Anne Arundel County Circuit Court partnered with the Caring Canines Pet Therapy team to assist with the implementation.

Caring Canines is a pet therapy program created by Dogwood Acres Pet Retreat in Davidsonville. It provides certified pet therapy teams in an effort to create a peaceful presence to those in need in our community.

“The Dogwood Acres and Caring Canines teams are thrilled to see this program up and running,” said Erin Bogan, marketing director for Dogwood Acres Pet Retreat. “It has been a long-time dream for us to see our amazing dogs helping those in the court system who may need extra support to make their experience less traumatic.”

According to the court administrator for Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, witnesses eligible for the program will be identified by the state attorney’s office, a best interest attorney or a volunteer with the Court Appointed Special Advocate, also known as CASA. The request must be made in writing to the court and will go before the court’s administrative judge for approval.

Since the program’s inception, both Anne Arundel and Harford County circuit courts have not received any written requests; however, both courts expect to see requests in the coming months.

“We’re looking forward to receiving requests because we’ve seen how helpful dogs can be in easing the stress of children who come to court,” said Judge Angela Eaves, Administrative Judge for Harford County Circuit Court.

Teams of trained facility dogs and their handlers will join Maryland Court of Appeals Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera, Judge Laura Kiessling, Administrative Judge for the Fifth Judicial Circuit (Anne Arundel, Carroll and Howard counties), and State Court Administrator Pamela Harris for a ceremony at the Anne Arundel Circuit Court in Annapolis this afternoon. Following remarks, the facility dogs and their handlers will take a short tour of the courthouse.

WC to Confer Honorary Degree on Frederick Douglass on Feb. 23

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On the bicentennial of Frederick Douglass’s birth, Washington College is posthumously awarding the famed abolitionist orator, author, and statesman the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws. Douglass’s great-great-great grandson, Kenneth Morris, co-founder and president of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, and David Blight, a professor of history at Yale University and director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance and Abolition, will offer remarks and receive the College’s Award for Excellence.

The free, public event, part of the annual George Washington’s Birthday Convocation, is slated for Friday, Feb. 23, beginning at 4:00 p.m. in Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts. The ceremony will also be livestreamed: https://www.washcoll.edu/offices/digital-media-services/live/

“Two hundred years after his birth, it is truly an honor for Washington College to recognize the tenacity and the moral courage Frederick Douglass exhibited by speaking out in support of equal rights for all men and women,” says College President Kurt Landgraf.

Born into slavery in February 1818, not far from the College’s campus on Maryland’s Eastern Shore,Douglass came to understand at a very young age that education would be his path to freedom: “Knowledge unfits a child to be a slave,” he wrote. In 1838, he escaped slavery and spent the rest of his life speaking out on human rights issues, including abolitionism and women’s rights, in addition to serving as a federal official and diplomat. His first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), is taught in universities around the world. Yet Douglass himself never had a college education, and Washington College is believed to be the first institution to award him an honorary degree since Howard University did so in 1872.

When Douglass was born, Washington College—the first college in Maryland and one of the oldest in the United States—had already existed for almost 40 years. Among its founding donors, alongside George Washington, were members of the Lloyd family, on whose Eastern Shore plantation Douglass was enslaved during his childhood. The College remained a racially segregated institution until the late 1950s.

“Even without a formal education, Frederick Douglass steeped himself in newspapers, political writings, and treatises to become one of the most famous intellectuals of his time,” Landgraf says. “Washington College should have been thrilled to enroll such a promising scholar. We can’t change that history, but we can and should learn from it.”

The event coincides with Black History Month and a program organized by the College’s Office of Student Affairs, “The Black Experience: From Slavery to Modern Times.” Over the course of several weeks, students and faculty will learn about and discuss contributions African Americans have made to our society, as well as the legacy of slavery that remains. They will visit the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park and Douglass sites in Talbot County, as well as Cedar Hill, Douglass’s home in southeast Washington that is now a National Historic Site. For a complete listing of events commemorating Frederick Douglass’s bicentennial, visit https://www.washcoll.edu/offices/student-affairs/frederick-douglass-bicentennial/index.php

As part of the Douglass centennial activities on Feb. 23, members of the College’s Black Student Union will deliver copies of the Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas: An American Slave to eighth-graders at Chestertown Middle School. Morris will join them; to honor Douglass’s 200th birthday, Morris’s family foundation is distributing one million hardcover copies of the book to middle-schoolers across the country.

The Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives is a modern abolitionist organization dedicated to teaching today’s generation about one of the most influential figures in American history and raising awareness about the ongoing crisis of human trafficking.

As director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University, David Blight oversees the annual Frederick Douglass Book Prize and other public outreach programs regarding the history of slavery and its abolition. Blight is considered the nation’s foremost Douglass scholar; he recently completed the first major biography of Frederick Douglass in more than 20 years, which will be published later in 2018 by Simon and Schuster.

During Convocation ceremonies, recipients of the President’s Medal, the President’s Distinguished Service Awards, and the Alumni Service Award will also be honored.

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at washcoll.edu.

Upper Eastern Shore Anglers February 20th Meeting

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The Upper Shore Eastern Anglers fishing club will hold its monthly meeting on Tuesday, February 20th, at American Legion Post 36 (9155 American Legion Rd, Chestertown, MD 21620).  We meet at 6:00 PM for dinner (optional at $15 per person), and the meeting begins at 6:30.

Upper Eastern Shore Anglers is a diverse group of fishermen from Delaware and the Upper Eastern Shore of Maryland.  We’ve been fishing together for over twenty years now.  Our goal is to share our love and knowledge of fishing with other fishermen.  We meet on the third Tuesday of each month to socialize, share a meal, plan events, listen to expert speakers, and swap fish stories. Members enjoy discounted charters, tournaments, and fishing trips, as well as annual fish fries and crab feasts.

The public is welcome to attend.  For more information, contact Stephen McWilliams at 862-591-7327 or here

 

Council Members Weigh In on Bay Bridge

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Chestertown Councilmen Marty Stetson and Ellsworth Tolliver

At the Chestertown Council, meeting Feb. 5, several council members commented on the possibility of a new Bay Bridge coming through Kent County.  Councilman Marty Stetson said he had attended a meeting at the Chestertown Firehouse at which members of the Kent Conservation and Preservation Alliance presented information on the project and encouraged residents to oppose it.

Observing that the meeting was “packed,” Stetson noted that nobody in the audience had expressed support for a Kent County bridge. He said the meeting organizers had suggested three ways for residents to express their opposition to the project – writing to the Maryland Transit Authority, putting up a yard sign, and telling friends and neighbors about it – and that he had done all three. He said that during his time as a Maryland State Police trooper, he had seen an increase in crime on Kent Island, which he attributed to the bridge.

Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver said he had attended a Super Bowl party at Bethel AME Church, where several attendees had asked him about the possibility of a bridge. “People see growth and economic development as a plus,” Tolliver said. “A lot of people seem to support it in Ward 3,” he said. “Some see it as the future of Kent County.” Tolliver, who was also present at the firehouse meeting, said he hadn’t made up his mind about the bridge.

Councilman David Foster said that residents curious about the bridge project who were unable to attend the firehouse meeting would have a chance to see Elizabeth Watson, who was one of the presenters at that meeting, at an upcoming meeting of the Community Breakfast Group, which meets Thursday mornings at the Holiday Inn in Chestertown. Foster said he had moved to Chestertown to escape urban congestion. “But I think people need to weigh the pros and cons and not just dismiss it,” he said. He said opponents of a bridge need to find ways of providing other economic opportunities for the community.

Also at the meeting, the council approved a letter of support for the LaMotte Company’s application for Enterprise Zone benefits in connection with a new building the chemical company is undertaking. The 9,000 square foot building would be for the production of a new water testing product. Kay MacIntosh, the town’s economic development coordinator, said the company expected to hire at least 15 new employees to work on the new product. She explained the Enterprise Zone benefits, which include a 10-year tax credit for new construction and a $1,000 hiring credit for each new employee, a figure that rises to $6,000 if the employee is from an economically disadvantaged group.

Kay MacIntosh (left) and Jamie Williams explain benefits of the Enterprise Zone at the Chestertown Council meeting, Feb. 5

Jamie Wiliams, economic development coordinator for Kent County, said that LaMotte has already added 35 new employees as a result of the new product.

The council unanimously approved the letter of support, which Mayor Chris Cerino read into the record.

At the end of the meeting, Jeffrey Carroll of the Fish Whistle restaurant told the council about a fishing tournament he is planning for this summer, with substantial cash prizes to the winners. He said he hoped to have 100 boats taking part. He asked what permits he would need to get from the town to put on the tournament, which would have its headquarters at the restaurant and adjacent town-owned marina.

“How much money will I win with my 15-pound rockfish?” asked Mayor Chris Cerino. Carroll said he hoped the top prize would be $10,000, assuming there were enough entries. He said he was talking to an underwriter about the possibility of an even larger prize if any of the participants catches a state record fish. The contest would be open only to rockfish and catfish, and prizes would be awarded on the basis of weight.

Cerino said Carroll should meet with Town Manager Bill Ingersoll to work out details. Ingersoll and Town Clerk Jen Mulligan were absent from the meeting on account of illness. Discussion of several items of business, including the possible sale of a town-owned property on Calvert Street, was postponed until the next meeting to allow Ingersoll to provide detailed information.

The next Mayor and Council meeting will be held Tuesday, Feb. 20, because the Presidents Day holiday falls on Monday.

Annapolis: Bills on Live Video, Pink Hunting Gear, and Organ Transplants

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In a move to bring more transparency to the state government, the Hogan administration has proposed legislation, Senate bill 295, that will require all sessions of the Maryland General Assembly — including floor sessions, voting sessions and hearings — to be livestreamed to the public. Maryland is one of seven states that doesn’t have audio or video of what’s happening on the floor, according to the governor’s office. The bill was heard by a Senate committee on Tuesday.

Tax bill would alter personal exemptions
A bill altering personal exemptions passed unanimously in the Senate on Tuesday. The legislation, Senate bill 184, clarifies that a taxpayer can deduct personal exemptions for themselves, their spouse and eligible dependents for state income tax purposes. Prior to 2018, taxpayers were able to write off personal exemptions but the value was indexed for inflation and reduced or eliminated if the taxpayer’s federal adjusted gross income exceeded a certain dollar amount.

Slavery-era insurance provision addressed
A bill repealing provisions of laws that would require insurers to provide the Maryland Insurance Commissioner with information regarding slavery-era insurance policies advanced in the House of Delegates on Tuesday
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Delegate Mary Washington, D-Baltimore, is sponsoring the legislation, House bill 189, which cuts provisions that authorized insurers in the state to submit information related to slaveholder insurance policies to the Maryland Insurance Administration, which could then compile and report that information.

The current law consists of a policy issuing or benefitting a slaveholder that insured against a slave’s injury or death. Insurers then had to submit information about the policy, but the proposed legislation repeals the “obsolete” provisions.

Hogan bill addresses repeat drunken driving
The Hogan administration is cracking down on repeat drunk-driving offenders with a bill scheduled to be heard in a Senate committee on Tuesday. Senate bill 296 increases the penalties for a person who is convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs and either has three or more prior convictions or was previously convicted of a specified homicide, manslaughter, or life-threatening injury by motor vehicle. Violators would be given a felony charge and could be subject to imprisonment for up to 10 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000 — up from a maximum of 4 years of imprisonment and/or fine of $4,000.

Legislation bans passenger-seat marijuana smoking
A bill that would prohibit both the driver and passengers of a motor vehicle from smoking or consuming marijuana in the passenger area of a motor vehicle on a highway was scheduled to be heard on Tuesday by a Senate committee. Sponsored by Sen. Robert Cassilly, R-Harford, Senate bill 345 would make the offense a misdemeanor and the existing public marijuana use and possession penalty of a maximum fine of $500 will apply.

Learner’s permit time may be shortened
Sen. Bobby Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, is sponsoring legislation, Senate bill 424, that reduces the period of time by six months during which certain adults younger than age 25 who hold a learner’s permit must wait before taking a drivers test for a provisional license. Young drivers must wait nine months before getting a license under current legislation. Instructional permit holders convicted of, or granted probation for, a moving violation are not eligible.

Hunting in neon pink could become law
A Maryland lawmaker is advocating for the authorization of “daylight fluorescent pink” as a color for certain outerwear hunters must wear. Sen. Adelaide Eckardt, R-Caroline, Dorchester, Talbot and Wicomico, has drafted Senate bill 341 that would allow hunters to wear specified pink clothing, or wear daylight fluorescent orange clothing. Daylight fluorescent pink has been authorized in six states. The bill was heard in a Senate committee on Tuesday.

Bills address organ donation
Two measures related to organ donation are under consideration in the General Assembly. A bill heard on Tuesday by a Senate committee would authorize the Motor Vehicle Administration to designate a vehicle used to transport organs as an emergency vehicle if it meets certain requirements. Under Senate bill 475, sponsored by Delegate Thomas Middleton, D-Charles, these vehicles would be equipped with lights or signal devices and all drivers will be required to complete a course approved by the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute. And on Tuesday morning, House Speaker Mike Busch, D-Anne Arundel, honored the University of Maryland Medical Center transplant team and his sister, who donated part of her liver to him last year. Busch is the sponsor of House bill 96, a tax measure that creates an income reduction for up to $7,500 of qualified expenses incurred by a living organ donor.

Motorcyclists could go helmet-free if bill passes
A bill heard on Tuesday in the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee could exempt some motorcycle riders from helmet requirements in Maryland. Any licensed motorcycle operator who has been riding for at least two years and has completed an approved motorcycle rider safety course, as well as their passengers, will be exempt from headgear. Senate bill 439 was sponsored by Sen. Wayne Norman, R-Harford and Cecil.

Bills would allow collective bargaining at college; crack down on hazing
Multiple Senate bills were on track to be heard in the House Appropriations committee on Tuesday regarding higher education, including collective bargaining rights to certain adjunct faculty (House bill 163) and graduate assistants (House bill 199) at certain public institutions of higher education; and written policy and educational programs on hazing (House bill 368).

By Hannah Brockway. Capital News Service correspondent Sean Whooley contributed to this report.

 

Main Street Chestertown Announces Grants for Downtown Façade Improvement

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The nonprofit downtown revitalization organization Main Street Historic Chestertown is offering a total of $40,000 in matching façade-improvement grants to spruce up commercial buildings in the Historic District. In this first year of the program, owners of downtown buildings or businesses may apply for grants covering 60 percent of the cost of their improvement project, up to a maximum grant of $20,000. The minimum grant amount is $500. Applications will be accepted any time after February 12, 2018.

Funding for the grants is provided by the State of Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development, through its Community Legacy program. Throughout the State, façade grants encourage building renovation, historic preservation and improved economic vitality for historic downtowns. Studies have shown that quality aesthetics increase property values and sales revenues, improve the marketability of spaces within a building, and draw businesses and residents to the area.

A building on Cross Street gets a new coat of paint in the fall of 2016. Photo by Kevin B. Moore.

Chestertown’s Façade Improvement Project will be administered by a three-member panel drawn from the Main Street Design Committee. Architect and historic preservationist Barton Ross will chair the review panel. Working with him will be retail stylist and designer Ellen Hurst and artist and graphic designer Joe Karlik.  Ed Minch will represent the Historic District Commission as a non-voting advisor on the panel.

Any owner of a commercial building in the Historic District, or a store owner who is a tenant of a building in the District and has permission from the building owner, can apply for funding. No government buildings or private residences are eligible.  The grants can apply to a range of improvements, from simple additions such as awnings, flower boxes, signage and painting, to more complex construction projects such as restoring an original façade or replacing windows.

To illustrate how the 60 percent grants apply: A property or business owner must make a minimum investment of about $834 to qualify for the minimum grant reimbursement of $500 (60 percent of $834). If the improvement costs $2,000, the grant would reimburse $1,200; and for $8,000 in expenses, it would reimburse $4,800.  For all renovations costing $33,500 and up, the grant would reimburse the maximum amount of $20,000.

“Preference will be given to projects that restore a building’s historical integrity and improve the exterior appearance of a retail store or restaurant,” says review panel chair Ross. “We also encourage coordinated efforts by contiguous properties.”

Timing is important: Applicants must apply before work begins and are asked to submit “before” pictures and detailed drawings of the proposed renovations, along with at least two bids from contractors. Approved projects will be reviewed by the Maryland Historic Trust and the applicant will need to present the plans to the local Historic District Commission for approval, as is required of any downtown renovation. Reimbursements will be based on actual project costs and will require proof of expenses.

“Façade grant programs have been effective in sparking improvements in small-town commercial centers across the country,” says Ross. “Main Street Chestertown is excited about helping property owners keep our own historic downtown looking fresh and inviting.”

To learn more about Main Street’s Façade Improvement program and to download the application documents, visit www.mainstreetchestertown.org or contact Main Street manager Kay MacIntosh (kay.chestertown@gmail.com410-778-2991).

Mid-Shore History: Frederick Douglass at 200 with Harriette Lowery and Vicki Wilson

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There is always something quite remarkable about a bicentennial. For those who experienced it as a national phenomenon during the country’s 200th anniversary in 1976, it cemented the notion that these American milestones have a special reverence attached to them.

One of those unique moments will be taking place this month and throughout the year as the Mid-Shore, and the rest of the nation celebrates the legacy of Frederick Douglass on the anniversary of his 200th birthday.

Talbot County has had an exceptional history in acknowledging the native roots of Douglass on the Eastern Shore thanks in part to the diligent efforts of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, including the moving 2011 installation of the Frederick Douglass statue in front of the Talbot County Courthouse. But even with that remarkable success story, and many others since then, the Honor Society, the Talbot County Council, and some helpful philanthropic angels have not taken lightly the task of being the first in the nation to honor this remarkable national hero.

The Spy sat down with Harriette Lowery and Vicki Wilson from the Frederick Douglass 200th Celebration planning committee to talk about the extensive programming and extraordinary outpouring of support that has come from Douglass native homeland. We also thought it would be fun to include a few of our images that came from that extraordinary moment in June 2011 when the County was blessed by a unique day of respect and harmony.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For the most current information about the Frederick Douglass Celebration schedule please go here.