Letter to the Editor: Protect the Chesapeake Bay on Election Day

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While Andy Harris should be commended for his recent vote in support of cleanup efforts in the Chesapeake Bay, the League of Women Voters rates his overall stand on environmental issues at 3 percent. A sudden change of heart on our representative’s part – probably not.

The Chesapeake Bay is such an important part of my life and has been for years. I’ve played in it and on it for years and I followed my parents to the Eastern Shore when my husband and I retired here nearly 20 years ago. It has changed so much since I was a young and could grab oysters from under my parents dock or chicken neck for crabs for dinner. Now the oysters are gone and I can’t see into the water to net the crabs.

Fortunately, the Bay is also a recognized in general as a national and regional treasure, providing not only enjoyment but significant economic benefits for the region. Despite our representative’s voting record, Congress and our previous presidents have recognized this importance and have committed to restoring the health of the Bay. After a 15 year and $19 billion dollar cleanup effort the Chesapeake Bay health is slowly but steadily improving earning a C in the latest report card.

Let’s put someone in office who recognizes and values the Chesapeake Bay. Jesse Colvin, who is running against Andy Harris in the upcoming election, wants to add one million oysters to the Chesapeake Bay. Perhaps if that happens my grandson and I will eventually be able to see the crabs and I can pass on the wonderful art of “chicken-necking” to his generation.

Ellyn Vail
Worton, MD

Letter to the Editor: Tariffs Explained by Bob Moores

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There is a small island far far out in the ocean. On the island are two villages, Unbrellina and Chairica. Unbrellina was so-named because it is home to renowned maker of beach umbrellas, Joseph Umbrellaman. Chairica was named for Samuel Chairman, whose business of making quality beach chairs is legendary in oceanic lore.

Both Unbrellina and Chairica use the same currency, the Nemodollar.

Unbrellaman sells his umbrellas for $10, both locally and for export to Chairica.

Chairman sells his chairs for $10, both locally and for export to Umbrellina.

Chairica has a local manufacturer of umbrellas, Sydney’s Umbrellas, but since Sydney’s is not efficient, its price for umbrellas is $15. Value-minded Chairicans therefore buy most of their beach umbrellas from Umbrellina.

Similarly, Umbrellina has a local manufacturer of beach chairs, but because of a shortage of chair-stuff he has to price his chairs at $15. Consequently, Umbrellinians buy most of their chairs from Chairica.

One day, the Chief of Chairica, in order to help his friend Sydney, slaps a 100% tax (a.k.a. tariff) on umbrellas from Umbrellina. Umbrellas from Umbrellina now cost Chairicans $20 instead of $10. Naturally, value-minded Chairicans stop buying imported umbrellas and begin buying $15 umbrellas from Sydney.

The Chief of Umbrellina is not happy with the new tariff on his main export. He retaliates tit-for-tat. He slaps a 100% tax on chairs from Chairica, imported chairs now costing $20. Value-minded Umbrellinians stop buying imported chairs, and begin buying $15 locally-made chairs.

Who wins and who loses from these events?

Sydney of Chairica is happy because his umbrella business is more profitable. The two additional employees he hires are happy to be employed.

Umbrellica’s local supplier of chairs is happy because of increased sales of his chairs. The two additional employees he hires are happy to be employed.

But the 1000 consumers in Chairica must pay 50% more for every umbrella they buy. And the 1000 consumers of Umbrellica must pay 50% more for every chair they buy.

The consumers of both villages lose. It’s called “inflation.”

Bob Moores
Chestertown

 

Darn Good News: Eastern Neck Refuge To Fill Position and Stay Open

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it will continue to staff a position at Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge, an island north of Rock Hall, Maryland. Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge will remain open to hunting, fishing, bird watching, and other wildlife-dependent activities

The Wildlife Refuge Specialist position, which oversaw day-to-day operations at the refuge, became vacant in 2017. The Service reviews every vacant position within the National Wildlife Refuge System in order to manage within declining budgets. The refuge system’s leaders have had to make difficult choices, resulting in elimination of almost 400 positions nationwide in the last eight years. The position at Eastern Neck refuge was being considered for elimination to address budget challenges.

The position will work closely with the dedicated volunteers and Friends of Eastern Neck who support the refuge, which includes operating the refuge visitor center. Currently, staff stationed two hours away at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge drive to the Eastern Neck to work with volunteers and Friends.

Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1962, for the primary purposes of migratory birds, threatened and endangered species, and other native species. Approximately 2,286 acres, Eastern Neck NWR is important migratory and overwintering habitat for thousands of waterfowl, including over 500 tundra swans. Over 70,000 visitors come to the refuge annually to observe wildlife and walk the five trails and two boardwalks. The refuge hosts deer hunting and a mentored youth turkey hunt, and is a popular fishing spot. Two county parks, including a popular boat launch, are at the end of the refuge. The refuge has 68 volunteers and an active Friends group.

Rebuttal: Man O’War Shoals Op-Ed Intentionally Deceptive by Robert Newberry

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Here are some short and to the point facts that need to be printed on Marc Castelli’s Spy op-ed article regarding Man O’War Shoals:

1. The writer of this article evidently does not know the difference between fake news and what he has presented as intentional deception. It appears the majority of his comments have been taken way out of context.

2. The area that he refers to at Man O’War Shoals is only a small portion of the bar and will not affect the sanctuary portion or the so-called planted area of that bar.

3. Do state that 5 million bushels is insignificant in Oyster restoration is absolutely ludicrous. At the present time our money in the industry is being spent on under a hundred thousand bushels a year from Virginia, with some excellent seed from Virginia and also some not so favorable spat on shell from local producers here in Maryland. This may be a five-year project, but one has to start somewhere and modification will occur on this permit through the course of dredging. So to downplay the five million bushels appears to all of us that the writer has other intentions of where the money should be spent.

4. For the writer to say that the MWA and the MOA have supported this dredging program since 2006 is not truthful. First of all the MOA was not established until 2007. I know this because myself, and 3 other gentlemen from Kent County and a lobbyist from Annapolis met in the back room of PE Pruett’s restaurant in Rock Hall to start this organization. I never remember seeing the writer at any of these meetings. And most important of all, the MWA does not support the dredging of man o war Shoals and has stated this in public meetings and in public comment. Every other watermen’s group around the state and specifically on the Eastern Shore firmly support the dredging of man o war Shoals. Even the largest group on the Eastern Shore Talbot County used the non-support of MWA on Man O War Shoals as the main reason they are no longer affiliated with them.

5. To say that DFA piggybacks on the success of MWA and MOA is another comment made by the writer of purposeful deception. DFA is comprised of leaders not followers, and has set the bar on many occasions over the past several years on issues concerning the Chesapeake Bay and the seafood industry. This is only been met with opposition both publicly and behind curtains from both of these organizations. One must ask themselves where are they on all the current issues of Bay health and the seafood industry. We hear hardly anything out of them. Many Waterman don’t even know who the MOA is or what they do. The DFA attends meetings such as the ASMFC, MID ATLANTIC COUNCIL,G.I.T. CHESAPEAKE BAY PROGRAM, AND ALL THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL MEETING OF THE BAY COMMISSION.

We hardly ever see anybody from these two groups at these meetings, and specifically have never seen the MOA at any of these meetings. So how can one piggyback on these associations when they have no back at all??

6. The one thing that the writer of this article does accomplish is that he drives a wedge of division between all user groups in Maryland through this article. At DFA we understand it is very important for all of us to work together on issues concerning the seafood industry in Maryland and the health of the Chesapeake Bay. To have this writer, once again set forth his wedge driving comments is disgusting. Once again purposeful deception is being used. The MWA recently had a vote among their executive board to have nothing to do with DFA. On many occasions DFA is extended the olive branch over the past years to this group only to have it returned with bad news all over it.

We still stand firm in saying that we all must work together, but as proven recently on an issue in the st. Mary’s River, this group continues to undermine everything that DFA does with its members to benefit the commercial Seafood industry in Maryland. DFA still hopes that all of us can join together as one common voice, and this is evident by the information that we put out not only on our website but to other organizations involved in the seafood industry in Maryland.

In summary, it is easy enough to say that we all must work together and stop listening to these people that want to drive a wedge of division amongst us for their own personal gain. Maybe this writer of this article should make his living working with the seafood industry full time and put down his brushes and stop painting his dirty picture of our industry and those that are working to make it better.

Robert Newberry is the chair of Delmarva Fisheries Association Inc.

WBOC TV, Man O War Shoals, and False News by Marc Castelli

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Non-aligned journalism is even more important in these days of “fake-news” and presidentially personal news services. Recently a Maryland television station, WBOC, allowed itself to be used by several organizations for their own purposes of self-promotion.

The article/segment was about the watermen trumpeting a hard-won decades-long victory in winning the rights to dredge for oyster shell on Man O War Shoals in the upper Bay. The piece featured a fair amount of false information, outright manufactured news and blatantly misleading self-promotion.

The world of news is increasingly fast-paced these days. Social media has made fact-checking time consuming which makes accurate reporting difficult. But that should never be an excuse for not exercising due diligence when reporting. The segment that was in dire need of fact-checking by the all too trusting reporter included some alarming misdirections. I will list the errors in the video segment below.

The oyster bar known as Man O War shoals is not just a sanctuary. Only a portion of that shoal is a sanctuary. The implication that watermen will now be allowed to dredge shell from a sanctuary is dangerously misleading and to do so is illegal.

The public needs to realize that the 5 million bushels of shell that will be dredged as a short-term 5-year experiment is not a lot of shell. This is even more apparent when that amount is to be divided up among sanctuaries, aquaculture, and the oyster industry.The spokesman for the newcomer organization, “Delmarva Fisheries Association” (DFA), Mr. Tom Bradshaw made the “victory” sound as if it was solely the result of his organization’s “decades-long” hard work.

DFA has been around for a little over three years. The struggle for renewing a shell dredge permit was started by Delegate Tony O’Donnell in 2006 at an Oyster Advisory Commission meeting, with the full support of the Maryland Waterman’s Association (MWA), and the Maryland Oystermen Association (MOA). For those two organizations, it has been a long struggle. Not by any definition a decades-long fight. The state legislature mandated the permit application; it is the law. It has been pared down by many environmental stakeholders to its current incarnation of a 5-year study to record the effects of shell dredging. It is not a permit for widespread dredging of shell from Man O War or any other bar in perpetuity.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s assertion that the process is not cost effective is reveals that CBF will complain as loudly as the media will allow when it feels that any funding not coming its way is misspent. The funding for the Man O War shell dredge experiment comes from several sources of which only a portion is from the Obama mandated Chesapeake Restoration Bill. Information that comes from the experiment fits the need for restoring the bay.

The CBF’s assertion that their plan of concrete balls for oyster bar restoration is the best technique for alternate substrates is not the solution. It is at best a cynical plan to deny any bar that has such devices planted on it to be permanently removed from any future active management plan that might be better and more cost effective.
The images of successful concrete oyster bar restoration are misleading. Using photos to survey an oyster bar is at best subjective. It can be an exercise in smoke and mirrors. The business that performs the surveys needs to explain to the public how it conducts the surveys and how “scientific” they actually are.

I will address the errors in the written portion below.

Despite assertions made to the contrary, no shell will be dredged from either sanctuary portions or from planted areas.

The erroneous self-promotion by DFA expressed in the video segment was also repeated in the written article accompanying the video. DFA has not been around for decades. It piggybacked its “success” on the many years of efforts carried out by MWA. and the MOA. It is unfortunate that all the hard and steady efforts of the MWA. and the MOA were purposefully ignored by the DFA. Restoring the oyster industry is an effort carried on by many organizations and will need to be so for many years to come.

The dredge permit approval is only for a five year scientifically monitored experiment with very limited dredging allowed.

The seed and shell programs erroneously credited to the watermen by the DFA. have been state programs that were conducted with the industry’s co-operation along with the use of industry gear and boats. Those programs were halted in 2006 with CBF, CCA. approval and backed up by the past O’Malley/Griffin administration.

Once again, CBF oversimplified the costs effectiveness of the project. The funding is multi-sourced. A majority of the shell will go to the sanctuaries, as that protocol is the most funded. I have a hard time imagining anyone would object to increasing the already large amount of scientific information about the effects of shell dredging. This is even more obvious when with some more in-depth journalism the public would see that the project has been planned and reviewed many times to reduce the amount of any envisaged damages.

For more information, please refer to the D.N.R. 72-page explanation of the permit.

http://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/Pages/oysters/permit-applications.aspx
http://dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/Documents/Attachment_1-Man_O_War_Application_revFeb2017.pdf

The 2017 February review is the most recent. You will find all of the known science, maps, and the many missing facts from the article/video and in the CBF statements about the project. It’s all there for foundations, stakeholders, and citizens to read and for journalists to be better able to inform the public. I am constantly puzzled by the media’s lack of effort to get the facts from as many sources as possible. The reporter in this instance should have gone to the DNR for cross-checking the information presented by the CBF and DFA.

Marc Castelli is an artist who lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

 

 

The Save Our Hospital: Our Worries and Hopes by Margie Elsberg

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The standing-room audience at Save the Hospital’s meeting last Thursday of doctors, nurses, first responders and citizens asked hard questions and offered powerful indictments of how Shore Regional Health manipulates the inpatient count in Chestertown today, and decried plans to eliminate the Intensive Care Unit after 2022. Our doctors insisted that the need for ICU care is non-negotiable while 911-responders and hospital nurses told Shore president and CEO Ken Kozel they believe that Easton physicians sometimes transfer patients to Easton to reduce the number of inpatients in Chestertown.

They say unnecessary transfers take ambulances and 911 responders out of the county and patients far from home. They explained that Chestertown nurses are sent home when they report for work because there are so few patients, leaving them to choose whether to lose income for the day or accept pay allocated for a vacation or personal leave day. So many nurses have been sent home multiple times, we learned, that they have no paid leave left, and five long-time Chestertown nurses have just resigned to accept secure jobs elsewhere.

Another concern was the aging, reduced workload and retirement of local primary physicians. Six of our 13 primary doctors are now 64 to 70-plus, a situation Shore Health has always known could be avoided by recruitment efforts. Nonetheless, until Scott Burleson became Chestertown’s Executive Director, Shore made NO attempt to recruit primary doctors to Chestertown.

In less than two years, until his retirement in March, Burleson brought Dr. Julia Belanger and Dr. Beth Reetz to Chestertown and recruited Dr. Matthew Reetz (Beth’s husband) to start practicing in December, 2017. Inexplicably, Shore has delayed Matt Reetz’ arrival until January, 2019. Notably, Burleson’s part-time replacement, Kathy Elliott, the highly-respected Nursing Director in both Chestertown and Grasonville, has no experience recruiting physicians.

Meanwhile, Save the Hospital and Shore are suddenly allies (politics makes strange bedfellows), seeking legislation that will literally save our hospital beyond 2022. We both want Maryland to designate our hospital as a “Rural Access Community Hospital,” a change that will save inpatient care and direct the state to provide support to offset the reality that rural care costs more to deliver than urban care.

We will need huge community support to win this legislation, so please stay tuned. For now, please use the hospital and donate to the Chester River Health Foundation to equip our excellent hospital with state-of-the-art technology.

On behalf of Save the Hospital,

Margie Elsberg

Washington Post: Seafood Company Diluted Chesapeake Blue Crab Meat with Imported Crab

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Based on a tipster telling authorities that a Virginia seafood supplier was selling premium Chesapeake blue crab meat cut with cheaper foreign crab, federal agents fanned out to markets across Virginia, Delaware and North Carolina, scooping up crab meat from Casey’s Seafood and sending it out for the type of DNA analysis more common in rape and murder cases.

The results would reveal the tip of what authorities say is a massive fraud worth millions of dollars, one so large it has shaken the food industry and raised questions about just how much of the iconic food labeled as local comes from the Chesapeake Bay.

Please read the full article here

The Community Emergency Response Team Training Starts Next Week

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The Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program educates individuals about disaster preparedness and trains and organizes teams of volunteers that can support their communities during disasters. The CERT Program offers training in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, and disaster medical operations. With proper CERT training, you can help protect your family, neighbors, and co-workers if a disaster occurs. Queen Anne’s County’s Department of Emergency Services is offering free CERT courses. Here are the next dates for CERT classes:

Summer Session 2: 8/6, 8/8, 8/10, 8/13, 8/15, 8/17, 8/20, 8/22 Kent Island Fire Department, 1610 Main Street Chester MD 21619 {6-9pm each day} All dates must be attended to complete the training.

For more information, please watch this video

WC’s Academy of Lifelong Learning Starts September 4; Register Soon

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On September 4, Washington College Academy of Lifelong Learning will resume classes for the 26th time in its history. Founded in 1992 as a continuing education program for adult learners, WC-ALL enrolls about 400 members each semester and offers courses taught by community members which cover a broad range of topics. Participants can sign up for as many courses as they wish for one inclusive membership fee. There are no educational requirements for membership, and no papers or exams. WC-ALL promotes learning for the joy of it.

The curriculum committee, headed by Ed Minch, is pleased to announce a dynamic lineup of fall courses. The first 6 week session, running from Sept. 4 through Oct. 12, includes some familiar titles, such as “WC-ALL Premier Movies” with Nancy Hartman, “Astronomy: Enjoying the Light” with Dennis Herrmann, and another in a series of popular seminars led by Jane Hukill and Dick Hawkins entitled “Tube Talk: Big Ideas in Television.” Dick Swanson will again host 6 area business organizations to present an overview of their enterprise, mission, goals, activities, and impact on local life in “Kent County Enterprise Potpourri.” Several new topics are on tap as well, including David Turner’s “Horseplay: Chestertown’s Other Sport” with a history of local equestrian activities and visits to 4 area stables to learn about each one’s particular discipline. Washington College’s John Seidel and the Center for Environment and Society will present “WC’s River and Field Campus (Chino Farm)” with a look at the history, research, and future plans for the unique campus, including an on-site visit.

During the second session, running from Oct. 21 – Dec. 7, John Christie will offer 2 sections of the ever-popular Supreme Court class, reviewing a “momentous” term for a full bench of 9 judges for the first time after 2 terms. A new course called “The Exponential Power of Two: Kent County’s Artistic Duos” will be moderated by Jonathan Chace. At each session, a local couple will describe their artistic endeavors, creative process, and how their collaborative chemistry gives greater depth and meaning to their work. Richard Lohkamp will explore a provocative question in “What Does ‘Being a Man’ Mean in the 21st Century?”, and if you tend to shy away from poetry, “Poetry for People Who Think They Don’t Like Poetry” by Jeff Coomer and Jay Stearns may be the class for you. There will also be courses on water science, the Submarine Service, western art, digital photography, immigrant literature, basic Spanish, and much more.

To learn more about WC-ALL’s full list of fall course offerings, visit our table at the Chestertown Farmers’ Market on Aug. 4 and 11, and plan to attend Fall Showcase at 4 pm on Thursday, Aug. 16 in Hotchkiss Recital Hall, located in Gibson Center for the Arts on the Washington College Campus.

The course catalog and registration information are available at http://www.washcoll.edu/offices/wc-all/what-were-studying.php/ or call the WC-ALL office at 410-778-7221. Registration for both fall sessions runs from Aug. 2 – 21. Please note that classes are filled as registrations are received.