The “Top Stories” for the Chestertown Spy in 2012 are a odd collection of news stories, local phenomenon and signs of a community in transition.
1) Wendy Rosen Withdrawal When Wendy Rosen withdrew from the 1st Congressional Race in the early September of this year in light of possible voter fraud violations, she also handed incumbent Andy Harris an uncontested election, depriving the district of a real debate on Dr. Harris’ far right fiscal policies.
2) Kent County Schools Scores School Board Member Michael Harvey’s report in July on declining state test scores for 3rd grade through 8th grade students ignited a countywide debate on the role and aspirations of public education in Kent County.
3) Chester River Hospital Close Obstetrics With less than 130 birth a year, Chester River Hospital decides to close its maternity ward in April.
4) Downtown Store Closings As with most towns, the signs of the country’s economy woes was seen in Downtown Chestertown in 2012, including the announced closings of the Compleat Bookseller, Ferguson Oriental Rugs, and CNB branch on High Street and others up for sale including the beloved Twigs and Teacups and Play it Again Sam’s.
5) LCD Sign for Garfield With the Garfield Center for the Arts seeking approval of new generation outdoor electronic signage for the Prince Theatre on High Street, Chestertown finds itself in the forefront of a national discussion on the role of new technology in historic districts.
6) Busking After most of the community looked up the word in September, there was an unprecedented level of attention on the Chestertown Farmer’s Market “no tipping” policy for musicians on Saturday mornings. With the prospect of lawsuits against the town from the ACLU and the Rutherford Foundation, the Town Council amended the policy late in December.
7) Microbrewery The saga of Chester River Brewing Company’s attempt to locate a microbrewery within a business park off High Street Extension was well followed by local beer enthusiasts as well as pro-business advocates.
8) Cool Outdoor Stuff Echo Hill Outdoor School’s Andy McCown’s nature video “Cool Outdoor Stuff: Summer Tidbit” becomes a YouTube sensation, with over 500,000 views.
9) National Music Festival The National Music Festival relocates to Chestertown in June. Bringing almost 200 gifted young musicians to Kent County for two weeks of classes, rehearsals and public performances throughout Chestertown.
10) Plastic Bag Ordinance First Year In its first year of existence, the Chestertown plastic bag ordinance, despite predictions from those opposed to the ban, shows no negative impact on stores (employees over ten) impacted by the new law.