Earthquake Off Delaware Coast

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The area in red where the November 30, 2017, earthquake was felt.

Did you feel anything odd just before 5:00 pm yesterday, Thursday, Nov. 30?  Some shaking? A bump or jolt while driving?  Did anything fall or break in your house?  If so, you might have experienced the 4.1 magnitude earthquake that struck yesterday at 4:47 pm off the Delaware coast about 6 miles northeast of Dover, Delaware.

A 4.1 earthquake is considered strong enough to cause moderate to considerable damage. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is trying to determine the extent and severity of the quake.  If you felt the quake, MEMA would like to hear from you. The full message from MEMA–with a link to report where you were and what you felt–is at the end of this article on the Dover earthquake, along with a copy of the earthquake survey questions. MEMA needs help from residents to make a “shaking intensity map” of the affected areas.

Earthquakes are rare in the Mid-Atlantic area. In fact, according to the US Geological Survey (USGS), earthquakes are rare east of the Rockies Mountains. The last tremor felt in Delaware was in 2011–that from the 5.8 earthquake centered in Virginia that was felt all up and down the East Coast and, in DC, caused cracks in both the Washington Monument and the National Cathedral.  Thursday’s quake was felt as far inland as the I-95 corridor in Maryland, Delaware, and southeastern Pennsylvania as well as in New Jersey and New York to the north.  It was felt over 90 miles away in Washington, DC, in Baltimore, in Philadelphia, and 125 miles north in New York City. However, many in these areas said they didn’t notice anything. The USGS said that light shaking was felt as far south as Virginia and as far north as Poughkeepsie, New York and Connecticut.  The quake registered at a depth of five miles, which is considered a shallow quake and that shallowness causes the quake to be amplified and felt over a larger area. Earth tremors on the East Coast tend to cause shaking in a wider area than those in western states due to the type of quake, the depth of the quake, and to the type of bedrock.

Partial map of Eastern Shore of Maryland showing epicenter –starred– of the Thursday, Nov. 30, 4.1 magnitude earthquake. The quake’s epicenter at the wildlife refuge is roughly 36 miles from Chestertown.

Closer to the quake’s center in Dover, houses shook, windows and loose items rattled, and many people reported a boom and a sound like a train that was loud but only lasted a second or two.   In Dover, the ground shook for 10-20 seconds, sending people pouring out of buildings and into the streets where others were already gathering for the Dover Capitol Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting ceremony. The celebration, which was scheduled for 5 -8:00 pm., continued despite the disruption of the earthquake.

The quake was originally reported at a magnitude of 5.1 then shortly afterward downgraded to 4.4.  After examining readings from multiple monitoring stations, the tremor was downgraded to a probably final magnitude of 4.1.

No aftershocks have been reported so far.

The Delaware Emergency Management Agency believes the epicenter was in Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. No injuries, major damage, or interruption of services were reported in the first few hours after the quake. The wildlife refuge is roughly 36 miles from Chestertown.

The Delaware earthquake was one of five earthquakes registered on Thursday in the US’s lower 48 states. But it was the strongest.  It was not just the strongest quake on Thursday, Nov. 30, but also the strongest in the US for the month of November.  Just 30 minutes after the 4.1 quake in Delaware, there was a tremor–magnitude 3.6–near Salida, Colorado.

Here are the questions on the earthquake survey form from MEMA.  To record your experience click on the “jump” link below then click on the 3rd box in the first row with the title “Felt Report–Tell Us!”

Jump to Navigation

  Magnitude 4.1 Earthquake – 10km ENE of Dover, Delaware

Felt Report – Tell Us!   Expires 05/31/2018

Your location when the earthquake occurred

Choose Location

Did you feel it?


  • Yes

  • No

The remainder of this form is optional.

Help make a shaking intensity map by telling us about the shaking at your location.

What was your situation during the earthquake?


  • Not specified

  • Inside a building

  • Outside a building

  • In a stopped vehicle

  • In a moving vehicle

  • Other

Were you asleep?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Slept through it

  • Woke up

Did others nearby feel it?


  • Not specified

  • No others felt it

  • Some felt it, most did not

  • Most felt it

  • Everyone/almost everyone felt it

How would you describe the shaking?


  • Not specified

  • Not felt

  • Weak

  • Mild

  • Moderate

  • Strong

  • Violent

How did you react?


  • Not specified

  • No reaction/not felt

  • Very little reaction

  • Excitement

  • Somewhat frightened

  • Very frightened

  • Extremely frightened

How did you respond?


  • Not specified

  • Took no action

  • Moved to doorway

  • Dropped and covered

  • Ran outside

  • Other

Was it difficult to stand and/or walk?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes

Did you notice any swinging of doors or other free-hanging objects?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes, slight swinging

  • Yes, violent swinging

Did you hear creaking or other noises?


  • Not specified

  • Yes, slight noise

  • Yes, loud noise

Did objects rattle, topple over, or fall off shelves?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Rattled slightly

  • Rattled loudly

  • A few toppled or fell off

  • Many fell off

  • Nearly everything fell off

Did pictures on walls move or get knocked askew?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes, but did not fall

  • Yes, and some fell

Did any furniture or appliances slide, topple over, or become displaced?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes

Was a heavy appliance (refrigerator or range) affected?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes, some contents fell out

  • Yes, shifted by inches

  • Yes, shifted by a foot or more

  • Yes, overturned

Were free-standing walls or fences damaged?


  • Not specified

  • No

  • Yes, some were cracked

  • Yes, some partially fell

  • Yes, some fell completely

Was there any damage to the building?


  • No Damage

  • Hairline cracks in walls

  • A few large cracks in walls

  • Many large cracks in walls

  • Ceiling tiles or lighting fixtures fell

  • Cracks in chimney

  • One or several cracked windows

  • Many windows cracked or some broken out

  • Masonry fell from block or brick wall(s)

  • Old chimney, major damage or fell down

  • Modern chimney, major damage or fell down

  • Outside wall(s) tilted over or collapsed completely

  • Separation of porch, balcony, or other addition from building

  • Building permanently shifted over foundation

Additional Comments

Contact Information (optional)

Name

Email

Phone

Submit Cancel

New Jersey is also surveying their residents to discover the range of Thursday’s quake.  Their site has an interactive map and totals per town of those who felt the quake.

Official Message from Maryland Emergency Management Agency Monitoring After Earthquake Near Delaware Coast

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (November 30, 2017) — In the wake of the earthquake that hit off the coast of Delaware this afternoon, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency is monitoring for any reports of damage.

The quake, which the United States Geological Survey currently lists as a 4.1 magnitude, hit just before 4:50 p.m. off the Delaware coast, about 6 miles east/northeast of Dover. Reports say it was felt as far east as the I-95 corridor in central Maryland.

The United States Geological Survey asks anyone who may have felt the quake to report it on their website.

While earthquakes are not common in this region, they do happen. In August of 2011, most of Maryland felt a magnitude 5.8 earthquake that was centered near Mineral, Va.

For more information about earthquakes in Maryland, please visit the MEMA website.

For more general information about earthquake preparedness, visit the federal government’s earthquake website.

End Official Mema press release

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Grants in Action: Making Way for Daisies with the Women & Girls Fund

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While many private foundations do admirable work in countless ways in their support for nonprofit charities, very few of them have made it a priority also to encourage and mentor young philanthropists to understand the challenges and benefits that come with giving money to needy organizations.

That cannot be said of the Women & Girls Fund which for the last several years has done just that with a dedicated program called the Daisy Fund.

The Daisy Fund was designed to help parents, grandparents, or friend teach their young loved ones the art of giving by setting up them with a designated fund ($10,000 minimum pledge) in their child’s name with the Women & Girls Fund which requires the direct input of the participants in making grant decisions.

Now with eleven active participants involved, the Daisy Fund also provides educational opportunities and field visits to applicants to learn the importance of due diligence and the vetting process to determine the best use of their funds.

Over the last few weeks, we spent some time with two Daisy Fund participants, along with Women & Girls Fund Board member Donna Cantor, to understand how powerful this program has become. .The Spy reached out to Donna’s granddaughter, Lauren Westrick, in California via FaceTime (hence the poor audio quality) as well as Women & Girls Fund founder Alice Ryan’s daughter, Allie Prell in Easton, to talk about their experience.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Women & Girls Fund Daisy Fund please go here 

 

Facebook: On the Edge by Al Sikes

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My Facebook experience began in February of 2016 just ahead of the publication of my book, Culture Leads Leaders Follow. I was looking for promotional channels.

As I have watched Facebook’s evolving position as a major news source and for some, the only news source, what began for me as a publicity option has become an object of more interest.

Since at one point I was involved in communication’s regulation I get questions like, “should the Federal Communications Commission be regulating it?”; I always say no and note the comprehensive shield of the First Amendment. This is just one more instance of a commercial offering that will ultimately be shaped by the cultural force of its users.

Facebook now recognizes it is a magnet for bad actors. A recent Wall Street Journal article noted it is using artificial intelligence to screen for terrorist postings. Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management commented, “A beheading is easier to enforce than hate speech. Certain policies are easier to enforce than others.”

Brian Fishman, lead policy manager for counterterrorism at Facebook, commented: “One of the dangers there is that we’re dealing with a nimble set of organizations that frequently change the way that they behave……We need to keep training our machines so that they stay current.”

Facebook’s core business is in relationships. It is the star of a sub-set of businesses known as social media. So while machine learning can filter out the egregious, it will take talented people to create a relationship sensitive news service of any consequence. Politics today is not very social and is especially harmful when Russians trick the political tribes into becoming propaganda partners. The Russian elite recognized that Facebook was a news medium before Zuckerberg would acknowledge that fact.

Facebook has a market value of $531 billion and an annual cash flow over $16 billion. Financially it is positioned to be a powerful force. So where does Mark Zuckerberg direct his energies? Is he interested in what is a more complicated stage in his rapidly evolving business? He, after all, has the controlling interest in Facebook.

Zuckerberg is said to be interested in running for President. He has a far more consequential opportunity. Facebook can use artificial intelligence to discern shared concerns and interests that both cross and bridge ideological differences and use the findings to shape a news service that is truly “fair, balanced and unafraid.” But, and this is crucial; it will take probing and discerning reporters and editors, not just machines, to succeed.

New York to Des Moines

While on the subject of news let me betray my Midwestern sensibilities.

My first trip to New York City, where I eventually lived, was in 1970. It seemed like I was in the center of the news universe. I can recall the CBS building, the home of Walter Cronkite. I remember walking past the residence of Time magazine, an important source of my news at the time.
Today Time magazine, indeed all the Time Inc. magazines, will soon have a new owner, Meredith. It is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa and its brands are a strong presence in the home and family categories.

Meredith’s headquarters building is adorned by a giant spade sculpture. Not a bad symbol. Advice to Mark Zuckerberg, good journalism requires a lot of spade work.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

What If… by Jamie Kirkpatrick

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What if…

Marley wasn’t dead. He never had been dead and although one day he surely would be dead, he now only wanted everyone he ever knew to think he actually was dead. He had suffered to be sure—how else could he describe all the lost years he had toiled away with that miser of a partner Ebenezer Scrooge (he barely dared utter that name lest someone put two and two together and come up with four) who only burned enough coal in their drafty old accounting shop near the Fleet Street to keep the ink in the pots from freezing—but otherwise, he was far from dead. Very far, in fact. Across an ocean far, to be specific, which was certainly to the good for prior to his admittedly precipitous leave-taking from London, Marley had managed to make away with an overly generous portion of the firm’s not unsubstantial yearly profit.

And now it was seven years ago to that very day in the Year of Our Lord 1836 when Marley, pockets bulging, had fled, spiriting himself away on a schooner bound for Boston under an assumed name, Mr. Wilmer. Despite the lateness of the season (it was first of December when he embarked), the crossing had been pleasant enough (how could it not be pleasant to leave the dreary fogs of London and quarrelsome Scrooge—by God, he would haunt the flinty old fiend if ever given half a chance!—in the ship’s wake?), but at the last, a fierce gale blew the poor ship off course and into the Chesapeake Bay where wind and tide eventually pushed it into the mouth of a wide, navigable river that the captain’s chart showed was called the Chester. The captain was a great believer in fate and so decided to make his way upstream and discharge his cargo of fine teas and his sole passenger (the mysterious Mr. Wilmer) at the small but busy wharf located at Chestertown where he would then take on a load of apricots before making his way down to the warm islands for the winter after which he would would take on a poor man’s fortune in rum and return to England the following spring when the winds were more in his favor.

And so it was that “Mr. Wilmer” arrived on the wharf at a place he had never heard of before or ever intended to visit. But so be it. Here he was and here he would make the best of it, and if he was even farther from his dubious past and old Scrooge, then so much the better. He was truly a new man in a new world!

Marley—or the newly minted Mr. Wilmer—took rooms above a tavern on the High Street and set about making a new life for himself. To his pleasant surprise, it turned out to be a relatively easy endeavor. Despite his admittedly nefarious past, he had been blessed by God with an honest face, a pleasant disposition, a keen mind, and a facility with numbers—he reluctantly credited his years with Scrooge at least that much—and so his accounting business quickly and honestly flourished. The local merchants trusted him and sooner than he ever expected, Wilmer had amassed if not a fortune, at least enough money to enable him to purchase a fine home on the Water Street and to marry a comely widow appropriately named Mrs. Comfort. Within a few months, the Widow Comfort—now the happily wed Mrs. Wilmer—began to show. As for the father-to-be, the tedious (and yes, guilt-ridden) memories of London receded to the point at which he actually believed that he was not only truly gone but also forever forgotten.

That is, until a letter arrived on that first day of December, 1843. It was addressed simply to “Mr. Wilmer of Chestertown.” Curious as to its contents, Wilmer opened the letter that night, read it by candlelight, and dropped dead on the spot. When his wife found him slumped in his chair the following morning, she couldn’t help but read the letter that had fallen to the floor from the poor man’s hand. It was brief to the point of rudeness: “I know who you are” and signed only with an initial: “S.”

I’ll be right back.

 

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington College Alumni Magazine, and American Cowboy magazine. “A Place to Stand,” a book of photographs and essays about Landon School, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015.  A collection of his essays titled “Musing Right Along” was released in May and is already in its second printing. Jamie’s website is www.musingjamie.com.

Mid-Shore Arts: The MSO “Holiday Joy” Preview with Julien Benichou and Jeffrey Parker

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While there are plenty of reasons to be grateful that the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra makes Easton its home throughout the year, it is hard to match the enthusiasm and brilliance performances that come with the Symphony’s annual holiday program. And this year is no different.

On December 7 at 7 p.m., the Orchestra will return to the Avalon for their celebration of the December holidays which gave us an opportunity to catch up with Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra’s musical director, Julien Benichou, and the Symphony board president, Jeffrey Parker to get a sneak preview of what’s planned for what must be the MSO’s most popular performance of the year.

This year the orchestra will be joined by soprano Leah Hawkins in what both Julian and Jeffrey agree could be a perfect pairing of an extraordinary singer with the warmth and brilliance of David Fraser’s This Christmastide or Jessye’s Carol since composition was written for the great Jessye Norman.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra please go here

 

Out and About (Sort of): Economic Fallout from Climate Change by Howard Freedlander

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Until I recently read a white paper concerning local climate adaptation, I simply didn’t focus on the financial cost of ignoring the effects of climate change on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It’s downright eye-opening—unless you choose to look the other way and believe that the current cycle is just an inconvenient phase.

My source is a clearly written and well-researched document entitled Prioritizing Local Climate Adaptation through Regional Collaboration on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, prepared for the Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC). Though I am a board member, the white paper is readily available on the ESLC website.

The facts are alarming. Scientists project sea level rise in the Chesapeake region of 2.1 feet by 2050 and 3.7 to 5.7 feet later in the 21st century. “Nuisance flooding” created by chronic tides affects large portions of Dorchester County, the causeway in Oxford and waterfront in Chestertown. The two feet of sea level rise forecast for 2050 will flood more than 33,000 acres or 2.9% of land across the mid-and-upper Eastern Shore. Tropical storms and hurricanes will become increasingly more “destructive when their storm surge is augmented by sea level rise,” according to the white paper.

More facts are startling. From the 1980s to the 2000s, as compared to the 1960s and 1970s, the number of “extreme heat events” doubled during this period. Scientists project a rise of 4-6 degrees Fahrenheit later in the 21st century. Why does this matter? Days with temperatures exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit will range from 60-90, up from an average of 30 days during the late 20th century. Annual days over 100 degrees Fahrenheit will increase from just a handful to 10-25 days per year.

An economic perspective of these climatic changes further substantiates cause for concern and the crying need to adapt.

Excessive heat is particularly dangerous for low-income persons unable to escape the heat for several days. Emergencies and consequent health crises will exact higher costs for residents, emergency services, hospitals and health departments. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems in older buildings will be inadequate, requiring maintenance and upgrades to roadways, buildings, and infrastructure; local governments thus will face serious financial costs.

Having experienced a 5-10 percent increase in annual rainfall over the past 60 years, with precipitation expected to increase 10-20 percent above the average amounts experienced at the end of the 20th century, the Eastern Shore will confront “intense downpours that deliver more rain in a shorter time period.” It’s reasonable to project that stormwater systems, roads, infrastructure, and property will become inundated. Currently, inadequate stormwater systems will have to be replaced. Sooner, rather than later.

Another flash point are droughts. “As rainfall becomes concentrated in more intense downpours, the region will also see longer dry periods between precipitation.” Longer droughts will become likelier. The agricultural economy will experience lower crop yields, probable crop failures and costs associated to switching to drought-resistant crops.

According to the white paper cited at the outset, “In the long term, choosing not to prepare for climate change will impose rising financial costs on communities…the report (produced in 2008 by the University of Maryland) cites tourism, agriculture, and health—all critical to the Eastern Shore’s prosperity—as sectors that are expected to suffer if attention is not given to climate adaptation and resilience.”

Adaptation and resilience are the words of choice for professionals intent on forestalling calamity.

For example, local governments can spend money now to upgrade infrastructure, such as stormwater systems, to handle the inevitable onslaught of water created by a sudden surge of rainfall.

From a planning standpoint, local governments can impose higher “freeboard” requirements—that is, requiring an increase in the height of the first floor to generate greater safety for homes and buildings and preclude flood-water damage to a structure, its occupants, and contents. Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties all have requirements in their floodplain ordinances of two feet of freeboard. Cambridge, Oxford and St. Michaels also have the two-foot requirement. Chestertown has a one-foot requirement.

Finally, the white paper calls for policy changes that would “encourage more resilient building codes and practices for siting and construction…greater risk reduction can be realized by directing the new private development and public investment of less flood-prone areas of the community.”
The white paper represents a collaborative effort by seven counties, two cities (Oxford and Cambridge), state agencies, academic institutions and non-profit organizations. I applaud this regional approach to share data and develop processes and recommendations to ensure that the Eastern Shore can respond effectively to climate change.

I mentioned viewing the need for climatic adaptation from an economic perspective. I am not ignoring the significant impact on humans of sea level rise, more frequent and intense rainfall occurrences and increasingly extreme heat days. The cost in dollars and lives is inestimable.

Inaction is not a thoughtful option.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.

 

 

 

Mid-Shore Health Futures: UM Medical System and Shore Health Team Up to Fight Opioid Drug Epidemic

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With such successful awareness campaigns as “Talbot Goes Purple” and “Recovery For Shore” events alerting the Mid-Shore community of the dangers and tragedies that come with this unprecedented wave of the opioid abuse creating havoc in rural Maryland, we thought it might be a good time to check in with University of Maryland’s Shore Regional Health, and its parent organization, the University of Maryland Medical System, to understand more about the crisis and more importantly, their approach to education and treatment for those seeking help for themselves or their loved ones.

That gave us the opportunity to spend some time with the University of Maryland’s leading expert on addiction and treatment, Dr. Eric Weintraub, who heads up the alcohol and drug abuse division of the University’s Medical Center, and Donna Jacobs, the MMS’s vice president for community health,to discuss the current state of the epidemic and their community outreach efforts.

One example of that kind of outreach will take place on November 29 at Chesapeake College’s Todd Theatre, and three other locations in Maryland, as hundreds of stakeholders gather to talk at the Not All Wounds are Visible: A Community Conversation about Addiction and Substance Abuse . This event is open to the public and provides an opportunity to hear from and talk to healthcare professionals and community leaders about addiction and substance abuse, including opioid and other drug addictions, as well as recovery programs and strategies.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length. For more information about Not All Wounds are Visible: A Community Conversation about Addiction and Substance Abuse please go here

 

Dropping The Bat by George Merrill

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I killed a bat, once. I never felt right about it. It was wrong, so unnecessary, so driven. I discovered for myself how quickly fear incites violence.

Bats are mammals, warm blooded and hairy like dogs and cats. Their wings, fashioned of thin-skinned membrane are frequently translucent. Their skeletons are shaped remarkably like humans, except that their knees bend the wrong way, like herons. Bats see, but find their way about more effectively by emitting and receiving sound waves, not unlike sonar. Like musicians and whales, bats negotiate their world by sound. But unlike musicians and whales, bats are irrationally feared.

“Liminal,” Professor Gary McCracken at the University of Tennessee, suggests of these little creatures, attempting to explain why bats give so many of us the willies: “They do not fit into people’s view of the normal scheme of things. They tend to be in between.” The human mind remains uneasy with ambiguity.
Not everyone finds bats creepy. The Chinese saw bats as symbols of good luck and bat images regularly appear in their tapestries and rugs. The Navajo Indians venerated bats as mentors during the long night hours, associating bats with their deity, the ‘Talking God.’ However, enjoying status hasn’t necessarily been an enviable estate for some bats. The Chamorro peoples of Guam, while honoring bats at special ceremonies, express gratitude for their contribution to Chamorro culture by eating them. Bats, as a result, have grown scarce in the Northern Marianas; the Chamorro’s have taken to importing bats. Being without honor in ones own land can sometimes be a blessing.

I once saw a moving picture of a bat, a Lyle’s flying fox, one of the larger bats. The photographer had taken the picture as the bat flew past a strong light, which lighted the creature the way sunlight illuminates leaves. The light set the bat’s torso in sharp relief with stunning clarity. I could see that the bat looked just like a human being, head high, arms reaching out sideways, legs extended backwards. The entire body looked woven together by the translucent wing membrane surrounding its body, which from the light behind it, shone like a penumbra, a glowing halo. The bat looked like Jesus on the cross, ascending bodily to heaven, and going to glory.

One November evening my wife, Jo, and I were sitting reading in the living room. A bat swooped over our heads; making two more passes before it went out into the hallway and out of sight. In about five minutes it returned, making a second sweep, as if he’d forgotten something, and then was gone.

The thought of his return frightened me. I had resolved earlier, that should the bat reappear again in the house, I’d swat him with the squash racket. With a twist of the wrist, I couldn’t miss.

I went to the closet, took a racket and waited for the bat to appear again from the hallway. By then my heart was pounding; the racket shook slightly in my hand. I couldn’t help myself now; I was committed. I had a passing sense that I was possessed with fear, and behaving like a madman.

The bat soon returned to the living room. I was waiting, racket in hand. A second bat appeared. They flew opposite courses around the living room. Ducking and feinting as if the bats were after me, I swung wildly, but hit nothing. I disturbed the tranquil air.

I stopped for a moment and steeled myself against an impulse to run, long enough to imagine the bats as squash balls; I turned my fear into sport. And as one bat began passing slightly over my head, I aimed deliberately and swung the racket firmly, snapping my wrist at the same time. The racket struck the bat full bore with a sickening spongy ‘whump.’ The bat flew against the wall, and with tiny high-pitched squeaks fell to the floor on its back. The bat twitched, its chest heaved and one outstretched wing lay motionless.

I felt triumphant at first. I watched the bat on the floor. His eyes were large, open as though he were surprised, and wondering. He had a pug face covered with soft brown hair; the bat looked like a miniature pup. One wing was broken asunder, the other drawn next to him as if he had tried vainly to protect himself from injury; hearing the sound of the racket approaching at terrible speed, he could do nothing to avoid it. I was sure for a moment that he was looking at me, and asking me, “Why?” The tiny chest rose and fell for a minute or so and suddenly ceased moving. His world his ended with a ‘whump.”

My wife, Jo was standing next to me. She had suggested earlier that we open a couple of windows and following the drafts the bats would leave on their own accord. Of course she was right but by then I was possessed. For many men, violence arrives too quickly on the heels of fear. Jo looked at me the way women often look at the men they love when their men do things they don’t understand, things which men feel compelled to do–driven kind of things–and her eyes looked moist, gentle and terribly sad.

I felt a faint wave of nausea; I wanted to run and to hide, to avert Jo’s eyes and never see the bat again but as I turned my head, near the tip of the bat’s broken wing bone, I saw four tiny fingers and a thumb. The bat possessed hands, one of which lay open, as if he were waiting for me to reach out and take hold of it.

Jo walked across the room to open windows.

I felt hollow, empty.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

 

Cerino Gives Update on Marina

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The Chestertown Marina during Downrigging weekend, 2017. Drone photo courtesy of Short Studios, by Sam Shoge

Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino, at the Nov. 20 council meeting, gave a progress report on renovations to the town-owned marina.

Using illustrations created from spectacular drone photos taken by Councilman Sam Shoge, Cerino showed both completed work and work planned for the next phases of the renovations, scheduled to take place over the next couple of years.  He also outlined the budgetary picture for the work, which is largely being funded by government grants. A complication with that source, Cerino noted, is that getting additional grant money is unlikely until the town has used up the funds currently on hand. Also, because the town is using state funds, it is expected to adhere to the state’s specifications for the work being done.

The town is “still plugging away” on Phase I of the project, which involves repairs to the bulkheads and walkways.. The bulkheads and walkways along the south side of the marina have been replaced, and are about two feet higher than the old ones. The new height is in response to the chronic flooding problems with the old marina. Cerino said the town decided on the new elevation after observing the Sultana pier, which is flooded only in extreme weather conditions such as major hurricanes. Funds from the Washington College donation at the time it acquired the Armory were used as the match for the state funds for this part of the work. New bulkheads and walkways were also installed at the Scott’s Point Marina, which shares a boat basin with the town marina.

Workers carve grooves in the concrete for the enlarged boat ramp at the marina.

Also upgraded in the process was the boat ramp, which has been doubled in width and given a new concrete foundation. Old finger piers along the bulkhead near the ramp have been removed. They will be replaced with six new piers, three of which will be floating piers that allow easier boarding and unboarding no matter what the level of the tide.  The piers will be far enough from the ramp to allow adequate freeway for boats using the ramp.

For this work, Cerino said the town was using a $100,000 private donation from Michael Lawrence of Grassymeade Farm near Comegys’ Bight on Quaker Neck. A small plaza suitable for musical performances, to be sited where the current marina store is located, will be named “Grassymeade Plaza” in his honor. Cerino encouraged other donors to come forward, and indicated there would be naming opportunities for generous gifts.

Phase II will take on the replacement of the bulkheads and walkways along the river side of the Fish Whistle restaurant. At the same time, the three piers along that side of the marina will be removed and the basin dredged to a depth of six feet, Cerino said. Silting has reduced the depth of the boat basin to two feet, making it impossible for larger boats to use many of the slips. The return to full depth should make the marina a more attractive destination for boaters who were previously unable to dock there. This part of the work can  be completely funded with a Maryland Department of Natural Resources grant the town already has in hand.

The long-range plan would remove two of the three piers on the river side of the restaurant, replacing them with one longer pier. The Cannon Street pier would also be extended, which would allow even larger boats to dock there. Ideally, Cerino said, this part of the project will be completed in time for Downrigging in 2018. He estimated the cost of this phase at between $350,000 and $450,000. The improved piers, extending into deeper water, would make it possible for more tall ships to take part in the annual Downrigging festival.

Architect’s drawing of the new marina store and interpretive center.

At the same time, a new marina store, combined with an interpretive center, is to be built on the site of the large empty building which was removed over the last summer. Budget constraints led to downsizing the new building, originally planned for two stories, to a single story. Yerkes Construction is the contractor on the revamped project. Cerino said the current plan is to build the foundation and shell, and try to raise about $500,000 to complete the building.  Completion of the building is a key to the economic development aspect of the marina, Cerino said. The interpretive center will include brochures and other information on the attractions in the nearby town, letting visiting boaters know about sightseeing, eateries, shops and other attractions within an easy walk from the docks.

This phase will also involve the removal of the existing marina shed and fuel tank. Both will be relocated to the rear of the property. The fuel pier will be moved slightly upriver from the current location. The town will need to sell off all the old fuel under supervision of the Maryland Department of  Environment, Cerino said.

Architect’s drawing of the planned new marina dock, with the Fish Whistle restaurant in the background and a new plaza replacing the current marina store.

Finally, Phase III will involve raising the parking lot level around the marina store and the Fish Whistle from one-and-a-half to two feet. This will also involve improvements in stormwater management for the entire property, as well as water and wastwater lines. The town will need to work closely with the Fish Whistle during this phase.

On the whole, Cerino and the council sounded optimistic about the progress of the renovations, which were one of the key issues the mayor took on during his first term in office.