Kent County High’s Ronald Parker Becomes New Student Ambassador


Ronald Parker III, a ninth grader at Kent County High School, was chosen by the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education (MBRT) to represent his district of Kent County in the non-profit organization’s new Student Ambassador Program. The Chestertown resident is one of several students selected who demonstrates a desire to improve his school and community by making his voice heard in discussions related to education policy.

“I applied to become a Student Ambassador because I want to help my fellow classmates and help my school become a better place, and this is my opportunity to do so,” says Parker. “Successful leaders have to be bold, open-minded and good with people. I love being a student leader.”

Parker currently holds a 3.89 GPA, is acting treasurer in the Student Government Association, a center and power forward for the high school basketball team and a drummer in the school band. Outside of school, he works part-time at Beverly’s restaurant and participates in the Horizon’s summer program. He also participates in the Next Generation Scholars program, which provides personal attention, guidance and education about opportunities that can help shape the future for students who come from families with a demonstrated financial need. After high school, Parker wants to attend college and pursue a degree in psychology.

“We are so pleased to have Ronald as a member of our 2018–2019 inaugural class,” says Nona Carroll, chief strategy officer for MBRT. “A natural leader and effective communicator, Ronald also exhibits empathy, which is a core competency in building leadership skills. He is in a prime position to use his voice to represent his district.”

MBRT’s Student Ambassador program provides students with the opportunity to learn and develop leadership skills that will help them succeed throughout their academic journey and in the professional world. Ambassadors gain confidence in their skills to lead and communicate effectively as well as how to interact with professionals and manage their time.

As Parker and the rest of the Student Ambassadors step into leadership roles, they will provide feedback on MBRT programming and resources as well as communicate their views on issues such as state education policy. Student insight will help inform MBRT’s development of and involvement in innovative ways to ensure every student has a future and every business is a success.


Joint Chestertown Lions & Rotary Club Valentine’s Day Dinner


Lions Club President Dave Dunham and Rotary Club President John Murray.

Approximately seventy Chestertown Lions and Rotary Clubs’ members, wives, and significant others met for the second consecutive year at the Chester River Yacht & Country Club the day before Valentine’s Day. This is the second time now the two largest service clubs in Kent County have met jointly to share stories of service to the community.

The meeting started with a social hour with background music provided by a string trio from Washington College. After dinner, the trio provided the group with a series of romantic melodies.

Lions Club President Dave Dunham shared the highpoints of the services the Lions Club provides to Kent County followed by a short video highlighting all the Club’s activities over the past year. Rotary President John Murray presented his Club’s highlights followed by a video displaying their Memorial Day Celebration for Kent County veterans.

This annual dinner meeting was an opportunity for Lions members whose motto is “We Serve” and Rotary members whose similar motto is “Service above Self” to exchange their ideas in the bonds of friendship, good fellowship and mutual understanding.

The evening ended with recitations of the Rotary Four-Way Test and the Lions Club Toast and a pledge to meet again next year.


Letter to Editor: Tragedy Of The Soft Shell And Razor Clam


I read Tragedy of the Commons many times in my undergraduate career. We are all familiar with the premise: overuse of a common resource for personal benefit ultimately eliminates that resource, spoiling it for everyone. To ensure that our common resources do not become depleted in Maryland or the Chesapeake Bay, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) works to “preserve, protect, restore, and enhance our environment for this and future generations.” Specifically, DNR strives to create balance between our economy and our environment, which we at ShoreRivers commend and support.

Consider the eastern oyster, for example, a filter feeder that improves water quality and habitat, and is an iconic menu item for locals and tourists alike. A DNR Fishery Management Plan is needed for this species to ensure that we continue to see both ecological and economic benefits for generations to come. This is an example of a state agency regulating a natural resource so that all can benefit.

Two lesser known bivalve species in the Bay provide similar ecological value. Soft shell clams and razor clams filter the same volume of gallons in one day as the oyster. Numerous studies have found that these species once played an integral role in the Chesapeake’s food web, as a primary food source for multiple predators. Unfortunately, also similar to the eastern oyster, these clam species are on the brink of extinction in the Chesapeake Bay.

The soft shell clam fishery has been “boom and bust” since the invention of the hydraulic dredge in the 1950’s. “Boom” times with high harvest rates and high numbers of clamming licenses are followed by “bust” times with significant drops in clam populations, which result in lower harvest rates and fewer licenses.

Considering the high ecological value these species provide and their current low populations, ShoreRivers believes they are in need of conservation. Without a DNR Fishery Management Plan, there is currently no balance between the economic and ecological value of these clams. To ensure this balance is established and that there are clams in our Maryland waterways in the future, ShoreRivers fought for a Fishery Management Plan for the clam fishery during the 2019 Maryland Legislative General Assembly. This bill would have initiated relatively low-cost studies of current clam populations and habitats, impacts to the population from climate change, and economic and ecological values of clams.

Unfortunately, the Department of Natural Resources was not supportive of this bill and was unwilling to compromise. DNR’s main argument was that these species are too transient and difficult to study. However, considering that there have been studies of these species in the past (although none that inform regulation), and the fact that these species continue to be harvested, we feel that this decision clearly states that DNR is supportive of the economic value of these species, more so than the ecological value. If we are unable to study a species, consider the ecological value, or make regulation recommendations that promote sustainability, then we should not have that commercial fishery.

Yes, we are all familiar with the Tragedy of the Commons, but it seems as though our current administration is choosing to ignore the warning signs of resource depletion. To be clear, I am in support of sustainable fisheries – fisheries that provide economic value, support our local watermen, and ensure that species continue to provide ecological benefits to our ecosystems.

However, if, according to DNR, it is not possible to find balance between economy and ecology, then which side should we choose? What repercussions might we see if we lose the soft shell and razor clams? As Miles-Wye Riverkeeper, I have the privilege of giving a voice to the river; I have no doubt the river would choose the side of ecological benefits.

Elle Bassett
Miles-Wye Riverkeeper

Letter to Editor: Sen. Hershey’s Chestertown Hospital Bill is just what the Doctor Ordered


Whether you’re convinced that our community will win or lose the fight to Save Our Hospital, we have great news.

Sen. Steve Hershey, the state senator who represents our district, has introduced a bill designed to put the state in the driver’s seat of the Chestertown hospital.  

If the bill becomes law, UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown will become a Maryland Department of Health rural Pilot Program on October 1 of this year, with as many as 25 inpatient beds and lots of state attention, expertise and resources.    

The bill that could transform our hospital has an un-catchy name, clearly the handiwork of lawyers instead of poets:  The Chestertown Rural Health Care Delivery Innovations Pilot Program. The bill number is SB 1018.

UMMS’ Shore Regional Health System will, the bill makes it clear, likely continue to own and operate the hospital under state direction, so Shore would receive state funding and resources for physician recruitment and expanded services.  

It is, in many ways, exactly what Shore Health President and CEO Ken Kozel has said he would welcome.  

The bill says the purpose of the Department of Health Pilot Project is to find innovative solutions for sustaining inpatient hospital care in Maryland’s rural communities, and it appears against the backdrop of a national crisis.  Since 2010, 98 rural hospitals have closed in the U.S., and in Chestertown, where the community depends on the hospital for economic stability as well as medical care, Shore Regional Health has been cutting services since 2015.

If SB 1018 dies in Annapolis, Shore Health will almost certainly convert the hospital into a “Freestanding Medical Facility” after March of 2022.  It will have an Emergency Room, diagnostics (MRI, CT-Scan, X-Ray, Mammogram equipment, for instance), as well as outpatient surgery, lab, chemotherapy and rehab facilities.  Without inpatient beds, it will no longer be a hospital, and patients who need inpatient care will be transferred to Easton or hospitals that are an hour or more away.

If Sen. Hershey’s bill becomes law, however, the state Pilot Program will operate our hospital for two five-year periods; the Department of Health could open a Center of Excellence at the hospital during the second five-year period, perhaps for the study of rural health or gerontology, or some other medical concern that’s relevant in this area.  

And after 10 years, the bill decrees, the Maryland Department of Health will recommend whether the Pilot Program should become a “permanent program.”  

Permanent!  What a beautiful word.

You’re welcome to come to a Save the Hospital meeting tonight—7:30 on the second floor of Chestertown’s Town Hall–when we set out plans for our campaign to win passage of SB 1018.  If you can’t attend the meeting, watch for more media articles, and follow my posts on Facebook’s Chestertown Life page.

The General Assembly session is moving fast, so plan to get on board.  

Margie Elsburg
Communications Coordinator for “Save the Hospital”

Letter to Editor: Equal Burden Needs to be Shared among Chestertown Property Owners


Chestertown home owners are being arbitrarily and capriciously over-taxed.

I don’t object to paying taxes. They fund our schools and other key services.

But the story of the recent tax appeal by my wife and myself is instructive. It shows that residential property owners in town pay significantly more than those zoned for “agricultural land.” And I don’t mean just “farms,” some of which are small to medium size agri-businesses, with yearly turnovers in the hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars.

There must be equal burden sharing for all the community both in Chestertown and outside it.

The senior community in particular, and those on low fixed incomes, are under increasing cash-flow pressure.

We moved here in late May 2017, after 29 years in Washington, D.C. Chestertown is a wonderful place to live, offering multiple activities and the intimacy of a friendly small town.

But we are paying 50 percent more in property taxes than the previous owner of our home. To add insult to injury, within weeks of buying the house, with no alterations done inside or outside, the tax authorities added a mystifying one-third to what we paid for our property as “valuation.” We thought some kind of bureaucratic mistake had been made. How naive we were.

But the local property market is static or growing minimally, and has really not recovered from the major recession of the middle 2000s and a significant number of homes are still on the market, unsold.

And so began a frustrating round of three appeals.

First stop, in fall 2017, was the tax office on Lynchburg Street. We presented the “comparables” needed, i.e., prices of similar homes in the historic district, roughly the same size, with the same facilities, and which had sold in the past couple of years. We worked with our Realtor and a lawyer friend to gather this data.

To our surprise, our first effort failed, so we opted to appeal at the Kent County Commissioners offices, a number of weeks later. We revised our “comparables,” double checked for newer sales, and made our case once more. Importantly, we specifically asked what algorithm or method of calculation the assessor was using to justify adding one third to the price we paid, within just weeks of purchasing our house. We never received a clear answer. We lost again.

Now, it became a matter of principle. We appealed to tax court in Centreville and with the assessor present once more. But we lost yet again. To go to a final fourth stage at the courthouse in Chestertown, would mean paying for a transcript of the tax court hearing and other expenses. We decided it was just not worth it.

Before we began this whole process, we checked with others. One of the houses on our street, almost an exact copy of ours, was the subject of an appeal about three years ago and succeeded at the first stage in having their tax assessment reduced by a fair amount. But other householders who have appealed in just the last year or two have failed.

Is there a pattern here of tax appeals now more and more being turned down? It seems so.

It is time for residential property owners outside Chestertown who do not “farm” but live on “agricultural use” property to share the burden.

We have discussed this matter with our local council member. Perhaps there needs to be a public meeting about this where people can make their views known.

We keep reading about inequality in America.

We need to address inequality in Chestertown

Michael McDowell

Art Exhibit at Heron Point Features Two Local Artists in March


Winter Assembly by Jack Fancher

Heron Point is hosting an exhibit of artwork by two members of Chestertown RiverArts, Olga Owens and Jack Fancher.  The exhibition began March 4 and will run until the end of March in the newly renovated Administration Hall.  The show is open daily during normal business hours.

After the Storm by Olga Owens

 Visitors to Heron Point check in at the front desk for a pass to see the show.  Join the Heron Point Art Interest Group this coming Sunday, March 10, from 2 P.M. to 4 P.M. for a wine and cheese reception open to the public in the hall.

Letter to the Editor: LGBTQ Community Shaken but Resilient


I write in my capacity as President of PFLAG Mid-Shore MD, as a member of the LGBTQ community, and as a resident of Chestertown, to clarify a few issues that were brought up at the February 19 Chestertown Town Council Meeting surrounding our Mid-Shore Pride event on May 3rd-5th, 2019.

Members of the Mid-Shore LGBTQ community, especially in Chestertown, remain shaken following Council Members Tolliver and Stetson’s remarks. The remarks are particularly distressing, given that as Council Members, Stetson and Tolliver have sworn to represent the interests of the members of their community, not to state their own biases. The expectation exists that they would take seriously the job of representing all constituents with dignity and respect, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, socio-economic status, age, or other factors. Ironically, the harmful statements made by the Councilmen highlight exactly why this community so desperately needs a Pride event on the Eastern Shore. It is important that we teach tolerance and acceptance, not hatred, fear, and discrimination.

Our plans for Mid-Shore Pride are now stronger than ever after receiving the Council’s approval to go forward with the event. Thank you to the community members, educators, and business owners who have voiced their support of our event and the work that we are doing. Thank you to Council Members Kuiper and Foster and Mayor Cerino for voting in favor of letting the event go forward. Not only will Mid-Shore Pride economically benefit our area with the added visitors that it will bring, but it will help showcase our community as the supportive and inviting place that we believe it to be.

Our family-friendly series of activities during this event are intended to help often disconnected LGBTQ members of the public within the mid-shore region see that there are not only resources available to them, but that they have allies here as well. We are excited to have events in Easton, Chestertown, and Cambridge. Mid-Shore Pride will begin on Friday, May 3rd with First Friday celebrations in downtown Chestertown and a comedy night in Easton. Saturday morning, our members will be in Easton at the Multi-cultural festival before coming back into Chestertown for a music festival in Fountain Park from 1:00pm-4:00pm. Saturday night will feature a drag performance at Washington College with local celebrity Marti Cummings. Mid-Shore Pride festivities will conclude with a drag brunch in Cambridge. Contrary to what has been reported and circulating on social media, there will not be a parade – simply a series of celebrations around the mid shore for LGBTQ families and their allies to enjoy together.

PFLAG of the Mid-Shore believes that now more than ever a Pride festival is essential for our community to increase acceptance of those who are different. We look forward to celebrating the first-ever Mid-Shore Pride and invite you to join us. You can find more information on our website or at our Facebook Page

Claire Hansen
PFLAG Mid-Shore MD
And the PRIDE Planning Committee


Letter to Editor: Councilmembers Stetson and Tolliver Should Resign


Two members of the Chestertown Town Council voted to deny its citizens fundamental and inalienable rights of all men and women. Rights enshrined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Rights men and women in uniform died to protect. Councilmembers Stetson and Tolliver voted to deny citizens their rights to freely and peacefully assemble, and they voted for discrimination.

Their vote to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) citizens and their families, friends, and allies in their request to use a public park to celebrate their diversity must not go unaddressed. This isn’t just about a vote that is an affront to the Chestertown that I know—a welcoming town that would look vastly different without the important contributions of our LGBTQ friends and family. This is bigger. The reputation–and maybe even the future–of Chestertown is at stake. Mr. Stetson and the Rev. Tolliver must resign.

Left unaddressed, this vote to discriminate may have profound and as yet unknown consequences for the community. What business or person would want to move to a community where nearly half its elected officials voted in support of discrimination? Those same elected officials bemoan the lack of jobs for young people and lament the loss of economic development. But those officials are unable to see how discrimination and bigotry play a role in young people’s departure from Chestertown for better opportunities and fail to understand that businesses well suited for a college town—businesses like a tech startup—would quickly dismiss Chestertown as unwelcoming because of their recent vote.

Despite their many years of service to Chestertown, which should be congratulated, Mr. Stetson and the Rev. Tolliver cannot continue to represent the citizens of Chestertown on the Town Council. They must resign immediately. And the citizens of Chestertown must come together to ensure our town continues to welcome everyone, regardless of whom they love. We must stand against people who vote to deny citizens their fundamental rights and must call out discrimination in every form. This cannot go unaddressed.

Bruce Alexander
Former Chestertown resident

Letter to the Editor: Citizens’ Climate Lobby Chapter Formed in Chestertown


Are you concerned about our changing climate? Do you want an effective way to drive change? Have you seen the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC) informing us that we had 12 years to curb the climate change catastrophe? The IPCC’s Jim Skea says it can be done within laws of physics. But, there is one last box we must tick: political will. Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) is a non-profit, bipartisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on passing a national policy to address climate change. We work through local volunteers to create the political will to move our national representatives to climate action.

Grant Samms and I co-lead the Chestertown Chapter, and we are excited that a bipartisan bill has now been introduced in the House. H.R. 763, The Energy Innovation Act of 2019, would reduce America’s emissions by at least 40% in the first 12 years while creating jobs and stimulating our economy. It works by placing a fee on fossil fuel extraction which starts out low, but increases each year over the next two decades. The funds collected will be allocated in equal shares each month for every American to spend as they see fit; not unlike a tax rebate. This policy gives incentives to energy companies, industries, and consumers to move toward cleaner, cheaper options while creating the kinds of jobs that will build tomorrow’s economy.

Would you like to learn more? Sign up for the CCL Chestertown Chapter to get updates on meetings, actions and activities. We would love to hear from you. Now is the time to act.

Hope Clark

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