At the Academy: Curator Anke Van Wagenberg on Ellen Hill’s Life Lines


The Academy Art Museum‘s curator, Anke Van Wagenberg, took a minute last week to brief the Spy about artist Ellen Hill and her exhibition currently in the second floor gallery place entitled Life Lines.

Hill creates mixed media work by assembling panels and fragments of carved, painted, and inked wood to produce richly textured artworks that reflect her strong respect and love for nature.

The exhibition ends March 8.


This video is approximately one minute in length

Chesapeake College SGA Fighting for Community College Funding


Normally, the student government associations at small community colleges are focused on the social life of students. Parties and events need to be planned and evaluated, but rarely does it extend to the world of Maryland politics. But this year is turning out to be the exception to that rule for Chesapeake College’s SGA.

With proposals on the table that would reduce support for Maryland’s community colleges and likely lead to a tuition increase of several hundred dollars, the Chesapeake’s SGA leadership decided that had to speak out.

In the interview with the Spy, SGA president Caroline Jones, Michael Beverley, Deep Patel, and Megan Murphy talk on the impact of higher tuition cost, the SGS lobbying effort in Annapolis, and their optimism that Governor Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly will find a way to keep current funding in place.

This video is approximately three minutes in length

Water Quality Monitoring Shows Long-Term Improvements Fading


While the Bay region has seen a long-term decline in nutrients in many areas since 1985, those trends have leveled off in recent years — and improvements for phosphorus have largely halted — according to recent water quality monitoring data.

The data, released by the U.S. Geological Survey, largely confirm findings in other recent reports which have generally shown a decline in nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in many rivers since 1985, but less improvement during the most recent 10 years.

In fact, the new data — which includes monitoring results through 2013 — detected no significant improving phosphorus trends in any of the nine largest Bay tributaries during the previous 10 years, while phosphorus concentrations showed significant increasing trends in two: the Susquehanna and the Choptank rivers.

The Susquehanna River has long-term improving trends for nitrogen, but not for phosphorus. (Dave Harp)

The Susquehanna River has long-term improving trends for nitrogen, but not for phosphorus. (Dave Harp)

On a more positive note, the data show significant long-term and short-term downward trends in nitrogen concentrations in the Bay’s two largest tributaries, the Susquehanna and the Potomac, as well as in the Patuxent. Still, while five rivers had long-term decreasing trends for nitrogen, only three maintained those trends through the most recent decade.

The data are collected from nine river input monitoring sites located just above the tidal zone of major Bay tributaries — usually near the fall line, which divides the Coastal Plain from the Piedmont.

River water originating from about 78 percent of the Bay’s 64,000-square-mile watershed flows past those sites, and the upstream region is the source of about 60 percent of the nutrients reaching the Chesapeake.

The monitoring sites tend to be located upstream of many of the region’s largest wastewater treatment plants, and therefore do not capture most of the significant reductions achieved by upgrading those facilities in recent decades.

The data do not attempt to explain the factors affecting water quality trends, though the continued short-term nitrogen reductions in the two largest watersheds — the Potomac and Susquehanna — likely benefited from substantial reductions in air pollution which have taken place since 2000. Both watersheds are downwind of major power plants that have been required to significantly reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, and recent research has shown nitrogen reductions in streams which appear linked to those improvements.

The USGS and other Bay Program agencies are planning a series of reports that will attempt to examine actions that are impacting those trends over time.

For individual rivers, the data show:

Susquehanna (at Conowingo, Maryland)
• Nitrogen: Decreasing long– (1985-2013) and short-term (2003-2013) trends
• Phosphorus: No long-term trend, increasing short-term trend
• Sediment: No significant long– or short-term trend

Potomac (at Washington, DC)
• Nitrogen: Decreasing long– and short-term trends
• Phosphorus: Decreasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Sediment: Decreasing long-term trend, no short-term trend

James (at Cartersville, Virginia)
• Nitrogen: Decreasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Phosphorus: Decreasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Sediment: No significant long– or short-term trend

Rappahannock (at Fredericksburg, Virginia)
• Nitrogen: Decreasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Phosphorus: No significant long– or short-term trend
• Sediment: No significant long– or short-term trend

Appomattox (at Matoaca, Virginia)
• Nitrogen: No significant long– or short-term trends
• Phosphorus: Increasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Sediment: No significant long-term trend, increasing short-term trend

Pamunkey (at Hanover, Virginia)
• Nitrogen: Increasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Phosphorus: Increasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Sediment: Increasing long-term and short-term trend

Mattaponi (near Beulahville, Virginia)
• Nitrogen: No significant long– or short-term trend
• Phosphorus: No significant long– or short-term trend
• Sediment: No significant long– or short-term trend

Patuxent (at Bowie, Maryland)
• Nitrogen: Decreasing long– and short-term trend
• Phosphorus: Decreasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Sediment: Decreasing long-term trend, increasing short-term trend

Choptank (near Greensboro, Maryland)
• Nitrogen: Increasing long– and short-term trend
• Phosphorus: Increasing long– and short-term trend
• Sediment: Decreasing long-term trend, increasing short-term trend

The USGS also reported that during its most recent year of data— 2013 — the nutrients flowing past the nine monitoring sites and into Bay tidal waters were below the long-term average.

Nitrogen loads reaching tidal waters in 2013 were about 160 million pounds, below the long-term average of 212 million.
Phosphorus loads were 10 million pounds, compared with the long-term average of 14.6 million pounds.

Sediment loads were 2.7 million tons which is less than the long-term average of 5.2 million tons.

Those figures do not include estimates of nutrients entering the Bay from below monitoring sites, which covers 22 percent of the watershed. Distributed by Bay Journal News Service.

By Karl Blankenship
Bay Journal News Service

Marina Dreams: Town Displays Renderings of Proposed Renovation


Images for the proposed marina redesign were displayed during Tuesday’s town council meeting.

The eight 3-D color panoramic renderings, designed by JoeKarlik ofLocust Grove Studios in Kennedyville, are based on the architectural drawings submitted to the town by McCrone Engineers Co. The architectural drawings included features gleaned from the three public charrettes held in 2014.

The images will be used as visual tools in Mayor Cerino’s fundraising effort for the marina redesign.

“Probably the most productive meeting we’ve had recently was with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They have a lot of grant opportunities, basically for economic development programs in rural areas,” Cerino said.

It is important to realize that these renderings depict design possibilities and should not be considered finalized versions of the marina’s renovation plan.

PDF of images available here.Chestertown Marina


The Faces of “hotDesk” Entrepreneurs


With plans now set for the second location of the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center’s hotDesks project in Easton next month, and another planned for Chestertown, the Spy was interested to see how the first one was actually faring in Salisbury a few weeks ago.

While hotDesks does have the amenities that any good business center might have, including meeting space, fiber optic internet connections, teleconferencing, and loads of work space, the real story of coworking space can be found in the stories of some of the first members to join hotDesks.

In their interviews with the Spy,  Nick Simpson, co-founder of Nuvu, Adebola Daramola, and Jean Paul Badjo, UMES engineering student and founder of the Badjo Suit, talk about their hotDesk experience and what this might mean for the Mid-Shore as well.

This video is approximately five minutes in length 

Spy Reconnaissance: Kent County’s Bayside Hoyas with Paul Tue


As part of the Spy’s ongoing “Spy Reconnaissance” series of profiles on non-profit leaders and their organizations, we talked to Paul Tue, a member of the leadership team of Kent County’s Bayside HOYAS, about the youth program’s two year anniversary a few weeks ago. Along with friend John Queen, and his brother Pierre, Paul helped organize and define the Bayside HOYAS mission and speaks about the highlights of the last 24 months.

Paul also talks candidly working in Kent County as an outsider (he grew up in Northwest Washington, DC) and the leadership trio’s efforts to adjust to the slower pace of decision-making and support that comes with small town living. He also speaks very openly about how recent national racial incidents impact local youth and how safe they feel in Kent County.

This video is approximately six minutes in length



Mid-Shore Lives: Gilbert Byron


Before James Michener and William Warner, or more recently, writers like Tom Horton and poets like Meredith Davies Hadaway, there was only one real writer passionately committed to capturing the essence of the Chesapeake Bay. His name was Gilbert Byron.

Some people know of his work, many do not. By choice, Byron spent his entire writing career in a small isolated cabin near the town of St. Michaels until his death in 1991, very far away from the lucrative and seductive environs of New York City’s publishing world.

Students of Byron contend his decision to forgo literary ambition to remain authentically tied to his native Eastern Shore was the price paid for his simple, almost Thoreauvian lifestyle. It didn’t seem to bother Gilbert as he spent his life documenting the Eastern Shore through poetry, short stories, letters and through the celebrated best seller “The Lord’s Oyster.”

In the third installment of Mid-Shore Lives, the Spy talks to writer Tom Horton, Jacques Baker, the author of the recently published, Gilbert Byron: A Life Worth Examining, the highly respected Jim Dawson of Unicorn Books to talk about their friend and the lasting contributions he made to honoring the culture of the Eastern Shore and its way of life.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. With special thanks to Easton’s Bill Thompson for his contribution of photography. Gilbert Byron’s collected works can be found at Unicorn Books in Trappe. Byron donated his letters and manuscripts to Chesapeake College and Washington College, his alma mater, shortly before his death. His St. Michaels cabin has been preserved and moved to Pickering Audubon Center outside Easton and is open to the public. 

SpyCam Moment: Short Chat with County Commissioner Billy Short


While Billy Short is going on his fourth year as a Kent County Commissioner, most of that time was spent filling out the term of Commissioner Alex Rasin, who had resigned due to health reasons in 2011.  But last November, Short not only won in his own right election to the Council, but also was the top vote getter in the County.

The Spy caught up with Commissioner Short a few weeks ago to ask about his time in office, the realities of policy-making, and his sense that internet connectivity is Kent County’s greatest priority in 2015.

This video is approximately four minutes in length

Talbot’s Poplar Island, Once Diminished, Reconstructed with Dredged Material


A Chesapeake Bay island, once used as a presidential retreat but diminished to fewer than 5 acres by the 1980s, has been replenished with dredged material, creating wetlands that serve as a wildlife sanctuary.

Poplar Island, located one mile northwest of Tilghman Island in Talbot County, began to vanish, like many bay islands, due to rising sea levels and erosion.

The restoration project, a joint effort of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Port Administration, received additional funding in President Barack Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2016. The appropriations would be used to expand the island by 575 acres over the previous goal of 1,100 acres, an expansion approved by the president and Congress last year.

The initial project is nearly complete and will not be able to hold any more dredged material. The expansion will allow the island to continue to provide beneficial habitat construction, according to the Maryland Port Administration.

The budget’s $26.5 million allocation for the Poplar Island project represents a 75 percent increase over the previous year’s proposal. The federal government funds three quarters of the project and the state is responsible for the remainder.

The island has been rebuilt with material dredged from the Maryland Bay Channels and the approach channels to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, a total of about 3.2 million cubic yards per year, said Justin Callahan, the Poplar Island project manager for the Corps of Engineers.

“Poplar is groundbreaking because it takes dredged material and is using it beneficially,” said David Blazer, director of the Harbor Development Department of the Maryland Port Administration.

This type of project hasn’t been done to this scale before and it is generating interest worldwide, he added.

Delegations from other nations, including Germany and Brazil, have toured the island.

Poplar’s 3.2 million cubic yards of dredged material is about 60 percent of the approximately 5.2 million cubic yards dredged in Maryland shipping channels every year.

The bay has a natural tendency to refill its deep spots through a variety of factors, including natural erosion and tidal waters, Blazer said.