Study of Conowingo Provides Groundbreaking Findings on Sediment Impact

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In May of this year, Colonel Richard Jordan of the  U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, testified before a Senate subcommittee on the preliminary findings of his team’s three-year assessment of the Conowingo and Lower Susquehanna watershed damage to the Chesapeake Bay during catastrophic weather. While Col. Jordan’s statement received scant attention in Maryland’s mainstream media at the time, it was a particularly unique moment of clarity in the ongoing debate about the role and accountability for the Conowingo.

In his Spy interview, Col. Jordan outlines the purpose and process of this multi-layered, scientifically driven, study on the water system, and offers some surprising conclusions about sediment and nutrient activity during major storms. He also highlights his team’s most remarkable finding that only 20% of the sediment that flows into the Bay when bad weather hits actually comes from the Conowingo section of the Lower Susquehanna.  For the rest of the 80%, the report suggests one needs to look North.

This video is approximately ten minutes in length 

Gun Wars: Wicomico Co. Sheriff Among Many Who Won’t Enforce Some Gun Bans

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Sheriff Mike Lewis considers himself the last man standing for the people of Wicomico County.

“State police and highway patrol get their orders from the governor,” the Maryland sheriff said. “I get my orders from the citizens in this county.”

With more states passing stronger gun control laws, rural sheriffs across the country are taking the meaning of their age-old role as defenders of the Constitution to a new level by protesting such restrictions, News21 found.

Some are refusing to enforce the laws altogether.

Sheriffs in states like New York, Colorado and Maryland argue that some gun control laws defy the Second Amendment and threaten rural culture, for which gun ownership is often an integral component.

They’re joined by groups like Oath Keepers and the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, both of which encourage law enforcement officers to take a stand against gun control laws.

The role of a sheriff

Lewis and some other sheriffs across the nation, most of them elected by residents of their counties, say their role puts them in the foremost position to stand up to gun laws they consider unconstitutional.

“The role of a sheriff is to be the interposer between the law and the citizen,” said Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer, an Anne Arundel County Republican. “He should stand between the government and citizen in every issue pertaining to the law.”

While the position of sheriff is not found in the U.S. Constitution, it is listed in state constitutions: Part VII of Maryland’s, for instance, Article XIV of Colorado’s, Article XV of Delaware’s, and ARTICLE XIII of New York’s. Nearly all of America’s 3,080 sheriffs are elected to their positions, whereas state and city police are appointed.

When Lewis was president of the Maryland Sheriffs’ Association, he testified with other sheriffs against the state’s Firearms Safety Act (FSA) before it was enacted in 2013. One of the strictest gun laws in the nation, the act requires gun applicants to supply fingerprints and complete training to obtain a handgun license online. It bans 45 types of firearms, limits magazines to 10 rounds and outlaws gun ownership for people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility.

After Lewis opposed the legislation, he said he was inundated with emails, handwritten letters, phone calls and visits from people thanking him for standing up for gun rights. He keeps a stuffed binder in his office with the laminated notes.

“I knew this was a local issue, but I also knew it had serious ramifications on the U.S. Constitution, specifically for our Second Amendment right,” said Lewis, one of 24 sheriffs in the state. “It ignited fire among sheriffs throughout the state. Those in the rural areas all felt the way I did.

Some New York sheriffs won’t enforce bans

In New York, the state sheriff’s association has publicly decried portions of the SAFE Act, legislation that broadened the definition of a banned assault weapon, outlawed magazines holding more than 10 rounds and created harsher punishments for anyone who kills a first-responder in the line of duty. The act was intended to establish background checks for ammunition sales, although that provision hasn’t taken effect.

A handful of New York’s 62 sheriffs have vowed not to enforce the high-capacity magazine and assault-weapon bans. One of the most vocal is Sheriff Tony Desmond of Schoharie County, population 32,000. He believes his refusal to enforce the SAFE Act won him re-election in 2013.

“If you have an (assault) weapon, which under the SAFE Act is considered illegal, I don’t look at it as being illegal just because someone said it was,” he said.

Desmond’s deputies haven’t made a single arrest related to the SAFE Act. Neither has the office of Sheriff Paul Van Blarcum of Ulster County. Van Blarcum said it’s not his job to interpret the Constitution, so he’ll enforce the law. But he said police should use discretion when enforcing the SAFE Act and determining whether to make arrests, as they do when administering tickets.

In Otsego County, New York, population 62,000, Sheriff Richard Devlin takes a similar approach. He enforces the SAFE Act but doesn’t make it a priority.

“I feel as an elected official and a chief law enforcement officer of the county it would be irresponsible for me to say, ‘I’m not going to enforce a law I personally disagree with,’” he said. “If someone uses a firearm in commission of a crime, I’m going to charge you with everything I have, including the SAFE Act. I won’t do anything as far as confiscating weapons. We’re not checking out registrations. People that are lawfully using a firearm for target shooting, we’re not bothering those people.”

Colorado made national headlines when 55 of the state’s 62 sheriffs attempted to sign on as plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of several 2013 gun control bills in the state. The most-controversial measures banned magazines of more than 15 rounds and established background checks for private gun sales.

A federal judge said the sheriffs couldn’t sue as elected officials, so Weld County Sheriff John Cooke and eight other sheriffs sued as private citizens. Cooke was the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, which a federal district judge threw out in June. He and the other plaintiffs are preparing an appeal.

“It’s not (the judge’s) job to tell me what I can and can’t enforce,” Cooke said. “I’m still the one that has to say where do I put my priorities and resources? And it’s not going to be there.”

Cooke has won fans with his opposition. He, like Wicomico County Sheriff Lewis, keeps a novel-thick stack of praise and thank-you notes in his office. He’ll run for a Colorado Senate seat in November and is endorsed by the state’s major gun lobby, Rocky Mountain Gun Owners.

Wicomico Sheriff Lewis vs. Sen. Brian Frosh

Lewis, who is running for re-election this year, said sheriffs have a responsibility to push against what he sees as the federal government’s continual encroachment on citizens’ lives and rights.

“Where do we draw a line?” he asked. “I made a vow and a commitment that as long as I’m the sheriff of this county I will not allow the federal government to come in here and strip my law-abiding citizens of the right to bear arms. If they attempt to do that it will be an all-out civil war. Because I will stand toe-to-toe with my people.”

But Montgomery County Sen. Brian Frosh, Democratic floor leader of Maryland’s FSA and a strong gun-control advocate, said Lewis’ understanding of a sheriff’s role is flawed.

“If you are a sheriff in Maryland you must take an oath to uphold the law and the Constitution,” said Frosh, now the Democratic nominee for Maryland attorney general. “You can’t be selective. It’s not up to a sheriff to decide what’s constitutional and what isn’t. That’s what our courts are for.”

Bronx County, New York, Sen. Jeffrey Klein, who co-sponsored the SAFE Act, agreed that sheriffs who refuse to enforce laws they disagree with are acting out of turn. Constitutional sheriffs are not lawyers or judges, Frosh said, which means they are following their convictions instead of the Constitution.

“We had lots of people come in (to testify against the bill) and without any basis say, ‘This violates the Second Amendment,’” Frosh said. “They can cite the Second Amendment, but they couldn’t explain why this violates it. And the simple fact is it does not. There is a provision of our Constitution that gives people rights with respect to firearms, but it’s not as expansive as many of these people think.”

But sheriffs have the power to nullify, or ignore, a law if it is unconstitutional, Maryland Delegate Dwyer said. He said James Madison referred to nullification as the rightful remedy for the Constitution.

“The sheriffs coming to testify on the bill understood the issue enough and were brave enough to come to Annapolis and make the bold stand that on their watch, in their county, they would not enforce these laws even if they passed,” said Dwyer, who lost a reelection bid after his conviction and jail time for drunken driving and drunken boating. “That is the true role and responsibility of what the sheriff is.”

Rural versus urban divide

Some rural sheriffs argue that gun control laws are more than just unconstitutional— they’re unnecessary and irrelevant. In towns and villages where passers-by stop to greet deputies and call local law enforcement to ask for help complying with gun laws, they say, firearms are less associated with crime than they are with a hunting and shooting culture that dates back to when the communities were founded.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 1.22.51 PMEdward Amelio, a deputy in Lewis County, New York, shares that sentiment. There’s no normal day for Amelio, who has patrolled the 27,000-person county for eight years. But he usually responds to domestic disputes, burglaries and car accidents. That’s why he considers the SAFE Act unnecessary.

“We issue orders of protection and some contain a clause the judge puts in there saying a person’s guns are to be confiscated,” Amelio said. “That’s mostly when we deal with guns.”

Zachary Reinhart, a deputy sheriff in Schoharie County, New York, said he responds to a wide variety of calls, too.

“Our calls range from accidental 911 dials to domestic disputes to bar fights,” he said. “You can’t really typify a day at the Schoharie County Sheriff’s Office. It’s all pretty helter-skelter.”

Violent crime also isn’t common in Wicomico County, Maryland, where Lewis is sheriff. He receives daily shooting reports from the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, which are not available for public disclosure.

“You always see ‘nothing to report’ in the eastern region, in the southern region, in the northern region, in the western region,” Lewis said. “But the Baltimore central region? Homicide after homicide after homicide.”

Even though there are few gun crimes in rural areas, Sheriff Michael Carpinelli in Lewis County argues that people need guns for self-defense.

“People rely on the police in an urban environment to come and protect you all the time,” he said. “People who live in a rural area also rely upon the police, but they realize that they live further out from those resources and that they may have to take action themselves.”

Duke law professor Joseph Blocher said gun culture has varied in urban and rural areas for centuries.

“It has long been the case that gun use and ownership and gun culture are concentrated in rural areas. whereas support for gun control and efforts to curb gun violence are concentrated in urban areas,” he said. “In the last couple decades we’ve moved away from that towards a more-centralized gun control.”

Lewis bemoaned lawmakers who craft gun-control legislation but are ignorant about guns. “They have no idea between a long gun and a handgun,” he said. “Many of them admittedly have never fired a weapon in their lives.”

But Klein, the Bronx County senator, said he does understand the gun and hunting culture in upstate New York.

“Growing up, my father was in the military,” Klein said. “When I was younger, I had a .22-caliber gun. In the past, I’ve gone pheasant hunting, quail hunting. It’s great,” he said. “I mean, there’s nothing that we do in Albany, especially with the SAFE Act, that in any way takes away someone’s right to own a gun for hunting purposes.”

Oath Keepers and Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association

If former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack had it his way, there wouldn’t be a single gun control law in the U.S.

“I studied what the Founding Fathers meant about the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms, and the conclusion is inescapable,” said Mack, the founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA). “There’s no way around it. Gun control in America is against the law.”

He knows his no-compromise stance has cost him and the CSPOA the support of some sheriffs and law enforcement organizations around the country. And it’s resulted in civil rights agencies labeling CSPOA an anti-government “patriot group.”

But Mack, the former sheriff in eastern Arizona’s rural Graham County, is not letting up. His conviction is central to the ideology of CSPOA, which he founded in 2011 to “unite all public servants and sheriffs, to keep their word to uphold, defend, protect, preserve and obey” the Constitution, according to his introduction letter on the association’s website.

CSPOA also has ties to Oath Keepers, an organization founded in 2009 with a similar goal to unite veterans, law enforcement officers and first-responders who pledge to keep their oath to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Mack serves on the Oath Keepers Board of Directors.

Oath Keepers is larger and farther-reaching than CSPOA, with active chapters in 48 states and the District of Columbia, and an estimated national membership of 40,000. Its website features a declaration of “orders we will not obey,” including those to disarm Americans, impose martial law on a state and blockade cities.

CSPOA grabbed media attention in February with a growing list of sheriffs — 484 as of late July — professing opposition to federal gun control. Detailed with links beside each name, the sheriffs’ stances run the gamut from refusals to impose a litany of federal and state gun-control laws, to vague vows to protect their constituents’ Second Amendment rights, to law critiques that stop short of promising noncompliance.

Only 16 of those 484 are listed as CSPOA members.

Too radical for some sheriffs, officers

Some sheriffs perceive Oath Keepers and CSPOA as too radical to associate with. Desmond, of Schoharie County, New York, is known around his state for openly not enforcing provisions of the SAFE Act that he considers unconstitutional. Still, he’s not a member of either organization.

“I understand where they are, I guess, but I just have to worry right here myself,” Desmond said. “I don’t want to get involved with somebody that may be a bit more proactive when it comes to the SAFE Act. I want to have the image that I protect gun owners, but I’m not fanatical about it.”

Mack is familiar with that sentiment. He suspects it’s hindered the growth of CSPOA.

“This is such a new idea for so many sheriffs that it’s hard for them to swallow it,” Mack said. “They’ve fallen into the brainwashing and the mainstream ideas that you just have to go after the drug dealers and the DUIs and serve court papers — and that the federal government is the supreme law of the land.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights nonprofit that classifies and combats hate and extremist groups, included both CSPOA and Oath Keepers on its list of 1,096 anti-government “patriot” groups active in 2013. Both groups have faced criticism for their alleged connections to people accused of crimes that range from possessing a live napalm bomb to shooting and killing two Las Vegas police officers and a bystander in June.

Media representatives from the Southern Poverty Law Center did not return phone calls and emails requesting comment.

Screen Shot 2014-08-21 at 1.21.57 PMFranklin Shook, an Oath Keepers board member who goes by the pseudonym “Elias Alias,” said the organization doesn’t promote violence, but rather a message of peaceful noncompliance.

“What Oath Keepers is saying is … when you get an order to go to somebody’s house and collect one of these guns, just stand down,” Shook said. “Say peacefully, ‘I refuse to carry out an unlawful order,’ and we, the organization, will do everything in our power to keep public pressure on your side to keep you from getting in trouble for standing down. That makes Oath Keepers extremely dangerous to the system.”

The future of gun control laws

Self-proclaimed constitutional sheriffs hope that courts will oust gun control measures in their states — but they recognize that may not happen. Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of gun control legislation in Maryland, New York and Colorado have been, for the most part, unsuccessful.

In New York, five SAFE Act-related lawsuits have yielded few results: One lawsuit resulted in an expansion of the magazine limit from seven rounds to 10, but the rest of the measures were thrown out and are awaiting appeal; a similar lawsuit was stayed; a third was thrown out and denied appeal; and two additional lawsuits have been combined but are stagnating in court.

Plaintiffs in the Colorado sheriff lawsuit are preparing to appeal the decision of a federal district judge who in June upheld the constitutionality of the 2013 gun control laws.

In Maryland, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Blake last week upheld Maryland’s new bans on assault-style weapons and high-capacity magazines.

By Marlena Chertock, Emilie Eaton, Jacy Marmaduke and Sydney Stavinoha, Marlena Chertock, the lead writer on this story, is a journalism graduate of the University of Maryland.  Emilie Eaton is a News21 Hearst Fellow. Jacy Marmaduke is a News21 Peter Kiewet Fellow. Sydney Stavinoha is an Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation News21 Fellow.

The Easton Yankees: Baseball of Yore

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It’s summertime and thoughts turn to baseball, our national pastime.

When some of us attend Major League Baseball games at Camden Yards in Baltimore or Nationals Stadium in Washington, DC with children and grandchildren, we naturally think back to our childhood when watching baseball meant cheering our favorite players, nagging our parents to buy us food and more food and eyeing all the other people enjoying a ball game.

We may recall an incredible play at third base by Baltimore Orioles great, Brooks Robinson, or a home run by another Orioles hero, Frank Robinson. Mainly, we remember a time of innocence; baseball provided a soothing feeling in our lives.

Summer and baseball seemed synonymous. We eagerly awaited both.

Sixty-six years ago, the Class D Eastern Shore League had a presence in Easton. The Easton Yankees, a farm team for the famed New York Yankees, played at Federal Park on Federal Street on a field now occupied by St. Marks Village.

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Undated photo. Image courtesy of the Talbot Historical Society

For parts of three decades beginning in the 1920s and lasting until 1949, Class D teams played at different times in Cambridge, Centreville, Crisfield, Dover, DE, Easton, Federalsburg, Laurel, DE, Milford, DE, Northampton, VA, Parksley, VA, Pocomoke City, Rehoboth Beach, Salisbury and Seaford, DE.

Easton teams carried names such as the Farmers, Browns and Cubs. From 1939-1941 and 1946-1949, it was the New York Yankees which owned and operated a minor league team on Bay Street.

In 1947, Easton was second to last place in the league with 45 wins and 90 losses. In 1948, the Easton Yankees occupied third place behind Salisbury and Milford and ahead of Cambridge, Rehoboth, Seaford, Federalsburg and Dover. Its record was 71 wins and 50 losses.

According to the “Eastern Shore League Record Book 1937-1948, “The Easton Yankees fielded the hardest hitting club in the league. They scored more runs and banged out more hits than any rival. A so-so mound staff, supported with none too stable defense, ate up the pennant mileage of the third place Little Yankees.

Undated photograph of Easton Yankees.  Image courtesy of the Talbot Historical Society.

Undated photograph of Easton Yankees. Image courtesy of the Talbot Historical Society.

“Casualties also took their toll on the Easton roster. Don Maxa, who established a league record for the highest batting percentage of .382, was in and out of the lineup several times with ailing feet. Crawford (Dave) Davidson, a .352 hitter, and author of 21 homers, wrenched a knee during June. He was sidelined for four valuable weeks. Jerry Stoutland, considered by many as the league’s top catcher, rode the bench occasionally because of a sore arm.”

If the quotations sound as if a sports writer authored them, that indeed was the case. Ed Nichols, sports editor of “The Salisbury Times,” edited and published the lively and colorful record book.

In 1948, Walter J. Claggett, an Easton attorney, was the business manager of the Little Yankees. The caption under his picture, besides citing his college degree gained at Washington College and his law degree at the University of Maryland, said, “Walter is a fellow well met—congenial, cooperative, and always eager to talk baseball.

Raised in Baltimore, I never knew a rabid New York Yankees fan until I moved to Easton in 1976 and met Jack Anthony, who in the years since never has apologized for his loyalty to the sometimes hated Yankees. I learned not too many years ago the reason for this Eastern Shore native’s passion for the pinstripers. His father, J. Howard Anthony, preceded Walter Claggett as the volunteer business manager for the Easton Yankees.

Only one farm team remains on the Eastern Shore. And that is the Delmarva Shorebirds, a Single-A Baltimore Orioles affiliate in Salisbury.

The baseball tradition continues on the Shore. Not as widespread, however. While times change, baseball still rivets our attention.

Spy Profile: Lani Seikaly and the Art of Volunteerism

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A civic leader at the beginning of the 20th century sought to define volunteer leaders as those whose “good work in life overflows the immediate channels originally designed for it, and spreads its life-giving streams afar in many a happy rivulet unforeseen, and in many a joyous rill unanticipated.”

If one takes away for a moment the Edwardian language, this seems to fit Lani Seikaly’s remarkable volunteer experience after her decision to return to Chestertown, where her summer childhood had been spent, and help the community.

A highly-regarded educator in the Montgomery County Public School District for 30 years, Lani came to Chestertown determined to contribute. And that is indeed what she has done as president of RiverArts, volunteer on the GAR building committee, an oral historian working with the African-American community, and now serving as the Greater Chestertown Initiative’s new leader.

In her interview with the Spy, Lani talks about her experiences as well as what the future might bring to the Chestertown arts, including expanding First Fridays and supporting Washington College’s innovative SANDBOX project.

This video is approximately seven minutes in length

Spy Vid: Kevin Hemstock and Steve Frohock Discuss Battle of Caulk’s Field

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For many of us the War of 1812 is a post-it note on the silver-clasped treasury of World History.

There are only a few historic dates I can recall—1066 (there was even a kid’s book, ‘1066 And All That’ that helped with that), 1776 (a bad year for tea and kings), 1861, a bloody crossroads, tragic for everyone…..but 1812?

Did the British hide out in Hudson River tree houses for thirty years and then decide, “best two out of three?” Having just sent Napoleon to Elba, and little more for their warships to do than flex their sails around Cape Trafalgar,  did a simmering resent about having been skewered by a bunch of farmers in aprons rise to the surface?

They did not fare much better in the war’s finale at the Battle of New Orleans: British losses, 2036; American losses, 21. Both parties agreed to a non-contested divorce in 1815, ushering in the “Era of Good Feelings,” which lasted three days and lay dormant until Woodstock.

Of course, the events of those three years were far more serious and I do not make light of any human loss, only my lack of knowledge of history. There were many things at play in 1812: British naval impressment of British immigrants in America, British support of Indian raids, restrictions against U.S.trade with France, an interest in annexing Canada. You get the idea. It’s always a constellation of affronts, grievances and pay-backs. Then the guns are drawn.

But between the burning of the Capital in Washington and the unsuccessful siege on Baltimore, history played out a hand on the Eastern Shore: the HMS Menelaus, a 38 gun frigate under the command of Sir Peter Parker, was ordered up the Chesapeake to create a diversion for the Command’s more nefarious plans. He anchored his ship off Fairlee and rowed his royal marines to shore for night raids.

At midnight, August 30, 1814, between Chestertown and Rock Hall, in a field of shadowy figures and muzzle flashes, a 45-minute clash between British royal marines and local militia ended 14 British lives, including that of Sir Peter Parker, captain of the Menelaus. The Kent militia suffered only wounds.

The Battle of Caulk’s Field, while no Bladensburg—a devastating strategic loss for the small American army—is, nonetheless, a unique and significant marker in the field of American History. Its memorial and past ceremonies, performed by U.S. National Guard and British Royal Marines at the battle site, have come to symbolize a mutual respect for the past and highlight a future of shared endeavors.

Here, former editor of the Kent County News Kevin Hemstock and Friends of Caulk’s Field Committee President Steve Frohock discuss the Chesapeake theatre of the War of 1812, the Battle of Caulk’s Field, Peter Parker, and the upcoming weekend of events commemorating the war’s Bicentennial.

No more a post-it note, the War of 1812 is being discovered as a full-fledged chapter in American history.

 

The video is approximately 15 minutes long but well worth it if you are a local history buff.

To read Kevin Hemstock’s history of Caulk’s Field and to find out more about the Bicentennial events, go here.

For books about the War of 1812: Alan Taylor, Richard Feltoe, and Ralph E. Eshelman are good places to start.

Photo by Kevin Hemstock.

Profile: Selling the Big Homes at Auction with Dan DeCaro

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Just a few months ago, a three-section painting by artist Francis Bacon (Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards, 1984) sold at auction at Christie’s for roughly $80 million. This staggering sum is perhaps the best example of what can happen when one matches a unique historic narrative with a particular asset and then add international marketing and human nature.

Even over time, there remains no serious alternative to a private auction when sellers of fine art, automobiles, jewelry, rugs, or antiques are seeking to find the best vehicle for the true market value of these assets.

But oddly enough, real estate, historically one of the first assets to be sold using the auction process, has preferred the broker/agent model for the better part of the last 100 years. With Hollywood depictions of bankers on the steps of distressed farmhouses not helping the image, houses going to auction has been stereotyped as the last resort for homeowners or their lending institutions. That “stigma” however seems to be lifting when it comes to large homes, and that includes the Eastern Shore big estates.

Local real estate expert Dan DeCaro has been leading the charge for the auction option for unique properties for over thirty-five years in every part of the country.

In his Spy interview, Dan talks about his own history with auctions, the marketplace for high value homes, and his own observations on the high end real estate sector.

In this video is approximately seven minutes in length

Broadway in Chestertown: Spy Interview with Mark Bramble and Paul Masse

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Star Broadway author and director—and Kent County native—Mark Bramble, along with Broadway musical director Paul Masse, sit for an interview with the Spy at Radcliffe Creek School and talk about “ShowStoppers,” a fundraising event for Horizons of Kent County to be held July 19.

Mark Bramble apprenticed with Broadway’ illustrious producer David Merrick. His many worldwide accomplishments include the authorship of Barnum (which introduced Glenn Close as a musical theatre actress),  and director and co-librettist for 42nd Street which won two Tony Awards, one for its revival in 2001.

This is the second “ShowStoppers” Bramble has produced for Horizons.

Paul Masse is an accomplished musical director currently working on project in New York and London.

Now in its 19th year in Kent County, the Horizons program provides six weeks of academic and cultural enrichment for children from low-income Kent County families.

The performance will be at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, July 19, at the Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts at Washington College. Tickets range from $25 to $100. For tickets, go here.  Or call 410-778-9903.

Governor to Celebrate Groundbreaking of Eastern Shore Conservation Center

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Join Eastern Shore Land Conservancy for a groundbreaking with Gov. Martin O’Malley at the Eastern Shore Conservation Center on S. Washington Street on Friday, July 18. The event is open to the public.

O’Malley dedicated $1 million toward the historic renovation project in his FY2014 capital budget. The ceremony begins at 3 p.m. at the site of the former McCord building and neighboring Brick Row, the buildings that will become part of the Eastern Shore Conservation Center campus.

Also speaking will by former Gov. Harry Hughes, Environmental Protection Agency Region III Administrator Shawn Garvin, and ESLC Capital Campaign co-Chairman Jenny Stanley.

ESLC since 1990 has helped protect more than 56,000 acres of farms, forests and wetlands. As the organization approached its 20th year, ESLC leaders realized Eastern Shore farms and forests are supported by and support Eastern Shore towns. The Shore’s unique rural communities can continue to thrive with the help of green infrastructure design, outdoor recreational opportunity, and access to local foods. ESLC has the resources and years of experience to recommend and implement good design and to help counsel community leaders about keeping towns great places to live, work, and play.

To that end, ESLC broadened its mission to include these things and is leading by example with the concept of the Eastern Shore Conservation Center. ESLC will leave its home in the beautiful woods, near the Wye River, and put their stake in a vulnerable area of the Town of Easton. In addition to bringing ESLC staff and skills to the community, ESLC leaders envision a new day for the community and for nonprofit collaboration.

The historic McCord Laundry Building and Brick Row are part of Easton’s National Register Historic District. Though currently abandoned, they are beautiful examples of early 20th Century commercial architecture. The project is design to have a catalytic effect on the South Washington Street corridor, where the renovation of the dilapidated McCord building and Brick Row, which was damaged by fire, has the ability to reenergize an important connection between the northern and southern neighborhoods in Easton. What is now vacant and lifeless will be a vibrant hub of community, conservation and learning.

It will bring approximately 50 jobs to downtown Easton and will serve as an example for conservationists, urban planning, community design and redevelopment experts of what can be done to retain healthy, walkable and economically sustainable rural towns.

ESLC will relocate to the building, and nonprofit partners are signing leases to be part of this collaborative environment. It will house public space for educational programming, forums, concerts and meetings about issues concerning Eastern Shore residents and organizations. It will offer a café and outdoor public leisure space to encourage conversation and collaboration among the tenants, as well as among community members.

Most importantly, it will be the catalyst for nonprofit organizations to work to address common challenges to our beautiful home on the Delmarva Peninsula and to educate and inspire the next generation of community-minded conservationists.

Women Working on the Water: Jennifer Kuhn at the CBMM Boatyard

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It’s hard not to notice how happy Jenn Kuhn becomes when talking about her job running the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum Boatyard. In a field that has historically been heavily defined by men, Jenn is becoming a new role model for girls and women as she leads dozens of volunteers to reproducing some of the Chesapeake Bay’s most beautifully designed wooden boats. In many cases, it is the first time many have worked with wood and tools.

In her chat with the Spy, Jenn talks about her relationship with boats and wood, her building projects, and her enjoyment at mentoring others eager to protect the cultural heritage of boat building on the Chesapeake Bay.

The video is approximately four minutes in length