Mt. Harmon Wins Chestertown Horsemen’s Cup


Steve and Holly Isaacson from the Friends of Mt. Harmon (left) are receiving the Kent County Cup from last year’s winner, Chestertown horseman and this region’s fox hunting master Ed Fry

Attracting large numbers of horseback riders to historic Mount Harmon Museum Farm on the Sassafras River has drawn national attention to this rural tourism destination site and earned its owners the Kent County Cup from the Chestertown Horsemen’s Club.

Steve and Holly Isaacson from the Friends of Mount Harmon have been recognized for adding horse activities to the estate’s many tourist options. “At a time when museum farms face dramatically declining visits by younger Americans, the Isaacson’s have provided U.S. historic preservationists with a new “best practice” option, says Dave Turner, founder of Chestertown Horsemen’s Club in Kent County, Maryland. “Horseback riding definitely enlivens such sites. “It’s tragic when museum proprietors fail to promote horseback riding at their sites,” says Turner, “or, worse when they ban horses from properties where horses were a key feature for hundreds of years.”

In particular, the 269-year old estate hosts a wintertime “paperchase” event. More than 150 equestrians ride trails and jump obstacles along a path laid out by Mount Harmon organizers. In addition, Friends of Mt. Harmon offers special Equestrian Memberships to the public, which allow people to ride at the estate between May and October. “Such rides add to the spectacle for regular tourists,” says the group’s President Steve Isaacson. The Friends host regional and national military re-enactments that feature dragoons (Calvary units). “This year’s Paperchase raised $4,500 for the group,” says Isaacson, who is also a local farmer. “The Paperchase is my wife Holly’s brainchild.”

Friends of Mount Harmon, Inc., is 21 years old and is credited with restoring and maintaining the colonial Georgian home, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The group has approximately 900 members, a number of whom participate in the unique Equestrian Membership option. The group depends on fundraising to keep the site available to the public. Like a growing number of other museum farm, Mt. Harmon provides river kayaking, nature trails for birders, and opportunities to help with locating Native American camps, slave cemetery sites, and slave dwelling footprints. Currently, Mt. Harmon has located one such locale and is in process of rebuilding the slave house. The effort is to show visitors a hands-on replication of an 18th century tobacco farm in the mid-Atlantic region. The Tockwogh Tribe inhabited the area when Captain John Smith visited in 1609.

Future equestrian projects for Chestertown Horsemen include assisting with the development of a full-scale equestrian park in the vicinity, a Heritage Horse Day Celebration in cooperation with the Historical Society of Kent County, and the establishment of a riding trail alongside Kent County’s railroad tracks. A course on Chestertown’s recreational horse activities was offered in this season’s WC-All curriculum. The group’s Kent County Cup is maintained in the council chambers at Chestertown Town Hall. Previous winners were Mr. Harry Sears and Master of the Foxhounds Ed Fry.

For information about joining Chestertown Horsemen contact Turner at

Letter to the Editor: Salvation Army Bell Ringing


We had the privilege to coordinate the Salvation Army’s bell ringing campaign in Kent County this past holiday season. Every weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas, volunteer bell ringers were stationed by the Salvation Army’s familiar red kettles at Acme and Redner’s, and occasionally in downtown Chestertown.
We had an incredibly successful campaign, raising over $5,000 to provide for the less fortunate in Kent County. We thank Acme and Redner’s for providing space at their stores.

We also thank our dedicated bell ringers. The members of the Washington College men’s baseball and women’s softball teams deserve special recognition, as well as our other volunteers, for their selfless gifts of time and talent. Finally, we thank the hundreds of generous contributors who placed their donations in the kettles with a smile and an exchange of holiday greetings.

These donations are already helping to make a difference in Kent County for the better. All donations remain local and, among other services, help to fight hunger, give warmth, keep the lights on, clothe the needy, and provide for the homeless.

Andy Meehan
Chestertown Rotary Club

Bob Barrows
Chestertown Lions Club

Open Letter to Congressman Andy Harris


On December 21, 2018, we received another periodic letter from Representative Andy Harris updating us on his current work in Congress. This full page letter included five paragraphs, four of which dealt with his “fight to defend the 2nd Amendment and advocate for our constitutional right to keep and bear arms.” This included discussions of bills he is cosponsoring: Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (which would allow someone from another State with concealed carry rights to carry those concealed weapons into Maryland) and Hearing Protection Act (which deals with issues relating to silencers); plus his fight against the Assault Weapons Ban of 2018.

While he again touted several ways to deal with gun violence, we have not actually seen any legislative efforts from him or other Republicans which actually take an aggressive stance on solving the on-going slaughter of our school children. According to a Washington Post article updated January 19, 2018, more than 220,000 children at 225 schools have been exposed to gun violence since 1999. This stunning number does not even take into account the massive number of students practicing active shooter drills throughout the US – including in our own congressional district. When will we read a letter from Representative Harris that includes any type of legislation which will actually tackle this horrifying problem?

While we recognize and support the right to keep and bear arms and the importance of owning weapons and the livelihood of hunting as an important aspect of the local way of life in this district – yes we love our venison steaks and goose breast chili-, we suggest Representative Harris spend more time listening to the students in our district who have walked out of their classrooms to bring increased attention to their right to attend classes without the fear of being shot by someone carrying an assault rifle into their schools.

Or, if Representative Harris actually visited our Congressional district and talk with some of his constituents, he might actually realize the importance of farm land and waterways which predominantly make of his district. Then, rather than voting against the “Farm Bill”, he would realize the importance of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 which provided funding for not only many programs that directly support our farmers but also provided millions of dollars for cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay.

At the very least – we ask that Representative Harris get back to work and vote to reopen the government for your constituents who either work for the federal government and need those pay checks to pay for their own livelihoods or for your constituents who receive important services from those agencies that are closed. As retired, 30 year senior level federal employees, we never once came across a single issue for which the federal government needed to be closed.

John and Ellyn Vail

“Drift” by Meredith Davies Hadaway


“Drift,” from Meredith Davies Hadaway’s collection The River is a Reason, reflects one of the Chester River’s quieter moments. Here we pair it with “Standing Stone,” a harp meditation and “Winter Sky,” a pastel painting, two other works by Hadaway that evoke the peace of the season.

Meredith Davies Hadaway is the author of three poetry collections, including At the Narrows, winner of the 2015 Delmarva Book Prize for Creative Writing.

Cold Outside by Steve Parks


I have a new Top 40 outrage about which to vent. And it’s so refreshing that this one—which involves a once and now again Top 40 song—has nothing to do with my previous 39 Trump-inspired outrages. What has me so steamed in this holiday season—and I mean “steamy” in a purposely scandalous way—is the #metoo defamation of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” a classic winter ode to romance by one of the great American songwriters of all time, Frank Loesser.

Some of the same people, no doubt, who castigated Matt Damon for suggesting that rape and a pat on the butt are not in the same category of sexual offense—I’m thinking of you, Minnie Driver, who fell for Damon’s title character in “Good Will Hunting”—would have us believe that it’s out of bounds for a male to suggest to a guest of the female persuasion that inclement weather might be an excuse for her to stay awhile longer, if not for the night. Does he not have another bedroom or a couch? Hey, this is a love song, not a novel. As for the rape and pat-on-the-rear analogy, one is a felony and the other deserves a slap in the face.

Loesser, of course, is best known for the musical masterpiece “Guys and Dolls.” Yeah, I know, “dolls” is sexist. But then, the “guys” are all gamblers and hoods. Whadya expect? In “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” circa 1944, Loesser has the girl singing, “My mother will start to worry. . . . So really I’d better scurry.”
“The neighbors might think . . . . Say, what’s in this drink?” To which the guy counters, “Baby, it’s bad out there. . . . No cabs to be had out there.”

To assume that “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is so offensive that radio DJs and digital programmers should boycott its play is to further assume that the man imploring his lady guest to hang out a bit longer is Bill Cosby, spiking her drink with knockout potions of Quaaludes, or Harvey Weinstein or Les Moonves chasing starlet wannabes around a bedspring acting couch while exposing themselves. Sure, if you’re dirty-minded enough to read into these lyrics that the man in question is a 60- or 70-something creep with inordinate power over a high-school girl’s fame-and-fortune ambitions, then go ahead and organize a campaign against every flirty lyric you’ve ever heard.

“What’s Wrong with Silly Loves Songs?” some guy named Paul once wrote.

How about banning “Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” which indicates that a chaste hug or, God forbid, kiss might keep a guy warm all the way home? Or think of the adultery suggested in “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”? I mean, how are we to know he’s really Daddy in disguise? It could be some old, bearded interloper forcing himself on Mama in a weak and vulnerable moment. Perhaps under the influence of wicked mistletoe or bourbon-infused eggnog. Are we to be left with no sense of humor when it comes to completely natural interaction between humans of opposite genders or of the same if that’s their inclination? Yes, flirting is risky behavior. There are boundaries to be respected, or crossed respectfully, as the case may be. But failing to take such risks, failing to flirt—failing to be alive—is an existential risk to the human race.

Dean Martin’s version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” currently ranks as a Top 10 recording, owing largely to this ridiculous controversy. Choose your targets better, #metoo. Picking on this one is brain-dead misguided, not to mention hormone-dead.

Steve Parks is a retired journalist now living in Easton.

In Memoriam: Judith C. Kohl


Judith C. Kohl, 79, died in Middletown, Delaware on December 4, 2018 from cardiac arrest following complications after knee replacement surgery. The only daughter of Willard and Grace Louise (Harnly) Cleek, Judy was born at Woman’s Hospital of Philadelphia on September 12, 1939 and spent her childhood years in Lansdowne, PA. Following the early death of her father she attended The Ellis School in Newtown Square graduating valedictorian in 1957. She earned a BA from the University of Delaware and an MA from State University of New York at New Paltz. Her postgraduate study at City University of New York focused on Venice and water imagery in the poetry of Ezra Pound.

Judy was Professor Emeritus of English and Humanities at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, New York, where she taught from 1966 until her retirement in 1995. Known for a classroom style that made American literature accessible to all students, she taught courses ranging from remedial English to autobiographies of marginalized Americans. A specialist in modern drama, she led numerous annual trips to London where students were exposed to contemporary theatre. She was Director of the Honors Program and founder of Exploring Transfer: a prototype program for community college students to matriculate to Vassar and other four-year institutions. She was an early advocate for community college education and repeatedly served as a faculty union negotiator. She was a reviewer for, and contributor to, numerous publications and anthologies.

While a student at University of Delaware Judy met and fell in love with a teaching assistant in one of her history classes. She married Benjamin Kohl, of Middletown, Delaware on January 2, 1961. After the birth of their first child, Benjamin Jr., the couple moved to Baltimore for Ben’s doctoral study at Johns Hopkins University. They lived in Padua, Italy in 1964 during Ben’s Fulbright year and returned to Baltimore where a daughter, Laura Ann, was born. That year abroad was the beginning of a life-long relationship with Italy and in particular Venice. After Ben’s passing in 2010 Judy continued to make annual trips, 42 in all, to the Veneto. Many friends benefitted from her role as generous host and expert tour guide.

As a working mother during the 1960s, Judy became a role model for many. She was a housefellow at Vassar; volunteer on national, state and local Democratic campaigns; protest organizer against the war in Vietnam and advocate for women’s rights. Throughout her life Judy maintained relationships with young women and men whom she mentored and inspired.

Judy’s lifelong commitment to service blossomed during her “retirement” to Kent County. She was a founding member of the Betterton Community Development Corporation, wrote the Talk of the Town Betterton column for the Kent County News, and persistently served as the town’s Chairman of the Board of Supervisor of Elections. Judy served as an advisor, director, or chairperson on numerous non-profit Boards in Kent County, and provided significant service to: The Garfield Center for the Arts, The Mainstay, Kent Youth, Inc., and The Chestertown Spy.

Washington College provided Judy with many satisfying experiences. She was a faculty member for WC-ALL, President and supporter of the Friends of Miller Library, and benefactor of Kohl Gallery.

While Judy herself was a generous supporter of many non-profit organizations, much of her patronage happened through The Hedgelawn Foundation. She and Ben created this small charitable trust in 2006 to promote the humanities, historical preservation and the visual preforming arts on Delmarva and in Venice, Italy. Their model of philanthropy, based on a requirement of matching funds, continues to enrich the artistic and cultural community of the Eastern Shore.

Judith C. Kohl is survived by a brother, John Willard Cleek and his wife, Constance, of Vero Beach, Florida; a son Benjamin G. Kohl Jr. and his wife Kimberley M. Kohl of Betterton, Maryland; a daughter Laura Ann Kohl and a granddaughter Haley Lee Carpenter Ball of Cortlandt Manor, NY; a niece, a nephew and numerous cousins. A private graveside service will be held at Old Saint Anne’s in Middletown, Delaware. A celebration of Judy’s life is being planned for winter 2019.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests making a contribution in Judy’s memory to St. Martin’s Ministries of Ridgley Maryland.

UM CMG Primary Care Announces Addition of Matthew Reetz, DO


University of Maryland Community Medical Group (UM CMG), announces the addition of Chestertown-based primary care provider Matthew Reetz, DO. Dr. Reetz specializes in family medicine, disease prevention and diagnosis and treatment of long-term and short-term illnesses, and is accepting pediatric and adult primary care patients.

Joining Drs. Susan Ross and Julia Belanger, he is seeing patients at 126 Philosophers Terrace, Suite 102 in Chestertown. Patients may make an appointment by calling 410-778-1878.

UM CMG is a University of Maryland Medical System-owned network of more than 300 primary care physicians, specialists- and advanced practice clinicians. As part of UM CMG, Dr. Reetz is affiliated with UM Shore Regional Health.

Dr. Reetz earned his medical degree from Des Moines University – College of Osteopathic Medicine in Iowa, and completed his residency in family medicine at Franklin Square Hospital Center in Baltimore.

“We are very excited to welcome Dr. Reetz to our team at University of Maryland Community Medical Group – Primary Care in Chestertown,” comments Dr. William Huffner, Chief Medical Officer and Senior Vice President, Medical Affairs at UM Shore Regional Health. “Dr. Reetz’s experience, knowledge and passion for treating both adults and children will be a wonderful addition to the practice and benefit to our patients in Chestertown.”

UM CMG consists of community-based provider practices affiliated with UM Shore Regional Health, UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center, UM Charles Regional Medical Center and University of Maryland Medical Center Midtown Campus.  A list of UM CMG providers is available at

About the University of Maryland Community Medical Group    

The University of Maryland Community Medical Group (UM CMG) is a multi-hospital, multi-specialty, community-based physician-led group, and part of the University of Maryland Medical System. With more than 300 primary care physicians, specialists, and advanced practice clinicians in more than 75 locations across the state, UM CMG offers patients a vast network of highly experienced providers, delivering care right in their neighborhood. For more information, visit

Film at Sumner Hall


The Chestertown Environmental Committee will be screening the film Racing to Extinction on Thursday, December 6 at 7 pm at Sumner Hall.

This film exposes the forces that are leading our planet to its next mass extinction , potentially resulting in the loss on half of all species. A how the unthinkable may occur that creatures that have survived for millions of years may be wiped from the Earth in our lifetime.

Sumner Hall
206 South Queen Street

Mid-Shore Music: Capital Ringers to Present Holiday Concert at Christ Church Easton 


On Sunday, December 2 at 4 pm the Christ Church Concert Series will present the Capital Ringers in a holiday concert for all ages.  The group, comprised of fifteen ringers, six octaves of handbells, five octaves of English Whitechapel Bells, and five and a half octaves of handchimes totaling 201 individual bells, is the largest of its kind on the Delmarva Peninsula.  

Founded in 2004 by director Linda Simms, the Capital Ringers known for their superb and engaging musicianship, but also for their showmanship utilizing the added resources of multimedia effects and percussion.  This season, the ensemble will present music for the entire family including repertoire from Trans-Siberian Orchestra (“Wizards in Winter” and “Christmas Eve-Sarajevo”, as well as “The Little Drummer Boy”, “Jolly Old St. Nicholas”, and many more.  A remarkably versatile ensemble, the group is known regionally for its vast repertoire including rock n’ roll, jazz, patriotic, sacred, and current top forty tunes, in addition to traditional holiday favorites.

As the holiday season is soon to begin, plan now to see and hear this one of a kind handbell ensemble you will not want to miss!  Christ Church is located at 111 S. Harrison Street in downtown Easton. Doors will open at 3:30 pm, and a freewill offering will be received.  This concert is partially underwritten by the Talbot County Arts Council with funding provided by the Maryland State Arts Council.