About Dave Wheelan

Spy House of the Week:  “Grassymeade” Farm


Realtors often use superlatives in descriptions of their waterfront properties but in the case of this property,  “extraordinary” is an appropriate adjective. How else could one adequately describe a 51 acre property situated on 350 feet of the banks of Comegys Bight in the Quaker Neck area outside Chestertown? It is also rare to find a main house, pool, three other cottages;  “Windsor”, a two-story cottage; a Caretaker cottage and a boat cottage all within the Critical Area buffer. 27 acres are tillable and 8 acres are fenced. Horses can live here too since one of the four barns has seven stalls. Nature trails, riding trails and woodlands complete this idyllic oasis less than eight miles from Chestertown.

The main house was built around 1900 and I loved the simplicity of the front elevation with its hipped roof.  A porch with columns marked the front door and rockers were positioned for the owners to wait for friends to arrive. Pairs of windows, double windows, triple windows, and an accent window next to the double wood entry doors created a very appealing façade. The rear elevation was quite different-it expanded to become an “L” shaped two-story form stepping down to two one-story wings that embraced the water.  One of the wings was a delightful screened porch with areas for seating and dining underneath a ceiling with exposed roof rafters and decking all painted bright white.

I loved the kitchen with its large true “farmhouse” vintage sink set into pale sage green base cabinets with slightly darker sage green upper cabinets.  High windows over the sink and a French door with windows on either side made this a sunny place to work. Julia Child always extolled having a table for informal dining in the kitchen. She would have certainly approved of this warm wood table surrounded by six wood chairs with woven seats.

The kitchen flowed into the large family room with rose colored chairs opposite a flat file enjoying a new life as a coffee table and a sofa with a high chest behind it now being used as a sofa table. Arched topped millwork for books , a baby grand piano and other antique pieces created a warm and restful spot by the fireplace.  The dining room glowed with its warm pumpkin-colored walls, wood antique pieces including a large oval table for family gatherings under two period pendants glass fixtures.

The bedrooms’ painted walls ranged from soft periwinkle, golden yellow and aqua-green and their beautiful antique furnishings made them restful retreats after a day exploring the grounds.

The guest cottages each had their own personalities and all were very close to the water. The diminutive Boat House was my favorite with its weathered wood siding and sage green doors and window trim.  Inside the walls and ceiling were white with exposed studs open to the exterior sheathing. Wood floors, a wooden bed frame painted light sage green and nightstands painted light pumpkin added color as did the artwork and the wood stove.

A truly extraordinary property!

For more information about this property, contact Stacy Kendall with Cross Street Realtors at 410-410-778-3779 (o), (443) 480-3453 (c),  or stacy@csrealtors.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”


Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.


District One in 2018: A Spy Goes to the Lower Shore with Salisbury Mayor Jake Day


This Election 2018 profile is the fourth of a six-part series on the intricate makeup and character of the 1st Congressional District of Maryland. Each month, the Spy will be interviewing different 1st District residents from the Western Shore to the Lower Shore, both Democrats and Republicans, to discuss their unique sub-region of one of the largest congressional districts in the country, and the issues and political climate of those communities.

It only takes a few minutes with Salisbury Mayor Jake Day to realize how terms like “Democrat” and “Republican” lose meaning as he discusses the political landscape of Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties. While Day is clearly a Democrat with a capital “D,” his views on increasingly the military budget and his deficit hawk tendencies could easily fit in with the GOP’s conventional platform.

This becomes even more of a gray area when the mayor suggests that Congressman Andy Harris has been soft on supporting turbine wind power off of Ocean City; a form of alternative energy that finds Harris and many environmentalists on the same side of this issue. In Day’s mind, wind power could bring up to 500 jobs to Salisbury, and as the city’s mayor, his number one job is to create an economically vibrant community.

But, as Day told the Spy a few weeks ago, the 2018 midterm election will not be focused on the issues of the day as much on a referendum on the moral direction of the country. Those whose political “brand,” like the one Harris has, is now intertwined with Trumpism, and will pay a high cost in the 1st District. The question is whether that cost will defeat an incumbent in one of most reliable GOP  congressional districts in the nation.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length.

No Perry Mason Moment; but Important Teaching Moments in Ford vs. Kavanaugh by Craig Fuller


We all want one, but when the week concludes we are not likely to have either a confession or a recantation in the presentations by Professor Ford or Judge Kavanaugh. What Perry Mason coaxed out of a witness on the stand was more clarity about reality than we are likely to see in real life. Why? Because both of the principals involved here have a very clear view of their own reality.

I hasten to add; it is evident that inappropriate behavior decades ago left a deep scar in one individual. It is equally clear that the accused party has led a life that honors and respects others and thus created for him a reality where inappropriate behavior is not now or ever part of his reality.

While there can be only one truth, Professor Ford and Judge Kavanaugh believe in realities that, while in total conflict, are real and totally convincing to them.

I’ve witnessed this before. During investigations into alleged wrongdoing in government, I experienced people I knew stating what they believed to be true. The thing was, it wasn’t. When I asked counsel how this could be and why would misstate facts, I learned something interesting. The explanation was that they had been telling themselves a story about an event over and over to the point where the only thing they believed is what they created in their own reality. And, they believed it so totally, they would easily pass a lie detector test.

It turns out; there is a name for this: the Rashomon Effect.

One online summation reads in part:

… every time you remember something, you rewrite it in your brain. If that recollection contains errors, you’ll strengthen those errors until you’re positive they’re correct.

The last thing I would suggest is that a traumatic event never occurred. But, lacking corroboration by witnesses, friends who had the story shared contemporaneously, or evidence gathered at the scene, we are left with two realities believed with equal conviction and articulated in ways that only solidify the preconceived views of those who will hear the testimony offered by two people locked in a conflict.

So, as much as we want to see a moment when, as in the Perry Mason show, one party cracks and only one reality remains as “the truth,” we are unlikely to experience such a nice neat result.

My assumption is that a vote will occur in the Senate on the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh consistent with where people were before this eleventh-hour revelation came to pass.

However, even without a moment where a single truth is revealed, it would be a mistake to avoid taking a few teachable moments out of this wrenching experience.

For some reason, I’ve found myself engaged in numerous discussions about the Ford/Kavanaugh situation. Some were sensitive, and several were anything but. It strikes me that there are three distinct groups of people: those who engaged in some form of inappropriate behavior; those who experienced inappropriate behavior; and, then, a group (which I believe I am in) who experienced neither of the above. What I find a bit shocking is that the “none of the above group” may well be the smallest of the three.

Following discussions with women for whom I have great respect, whether in person or in reading what they are writing, it seems that most recall with varying clarity inappropriate actions by another person. Certainly, there is a wide range of degree, and most suggest they just moved past the experience. But, the teachable moment here is that the experience remains an unpleasant memory with a life impact that is hard to judge.

Notice should be taken by all people, that inappropriate acts and unwelcomed advances have consequences. People want to connect with others. But, inappropriate actions can do harm, and those actions should never be excused as “well everyone does it.” Truth is, that is not true.

These days, inappropriate actions don’t just occur at parties. They happen online in the virtual world. These, too, are damaging forms of interaction that can have long-lasting effects.

We clearly need more focus on respect when it comes to human interaction. This needs to be the underlying value when developing a relationship with others. Whether casual or something else, mutual respect will get people past something that does harm for decades.

There is another teachable moment….

It goes to the process that has us where we are today.

Contemporaneous reporting really is important. I understand how people hesitate, I think. But, time works in no one’s favor, least of all the individual who has experienced the inappropriate behavior.

Then, public officials have an obligation to take appropriate action when they learn of the alleged offenses. Again, in my experience during government service, people did come to me with allegations of improper actions. It was always my policy to indicate that if provided with information suggesting wrongdoing, I had an obligation to take an action. I simply refused to be entrusted with information about improper conduct of any kind without doing something as a public official.

I have known Senator Diane Feinstein for decades since our days in California. The determination to withhold an allegation of wrongdoing by a nominee to the Supreme Court makes no sense. The timely and confidential consideration of this issue could have provided the best chance of learning the truth before the public uproar we are now experiencing.

When someone takes the time to document a recollection of wrongdoing, that individual deserves to be heard, and the allegation should be investigated and resolved if at all possible. In any FBI background check (and, I’ve participated in dozens of them involving other people) the question is always asked along the lines of, “is there any reason you know of that might make the appointment or security clearance inappropriate?” And, the answer given really is confidential.

When a public official has knowledge, even if it is not from direct experience, they have an obligation to inform the proper authorities.

Wherever you settle on the question of confirming Judge Kavanaugh, I think you will have to get there without the truth of a high school incident being fully unmasked. But, I hope we take the time to reflect on some of the important elements this debate has unmasked that impact the lives of so many. Today, we need to focus at least as much attention on what appropriate, mutually respectful conduct means as we focus on the breaking news around the tragic allegation of improper behavior in decades past.

Craig Fuller served four years in the White House as assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs, followed by four years as chief of staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush. Having been engaged in five presidential campaigns and run public affairs firms and associations in Washington, D.C., he now resides on the Eastern Shore with his wife Karen.

Spy Spotlight: Kent County’s Community Foundation with Buck Duncan


Imagine for a moment that Kent County had a community foundation that every year provided hundreds of thousands of dollars for educational scholarships, donated almost an equal amount of funds to help support non-profit organizations and local special projects, and was the fiscal agent for over eighty  philanthropic funds and programs under the direction of highly respected Kent County volunteer board members. All of this to help Kent County meet the needs of its citizens.

It would come to the surprise to most in the area that this charitable community foundation not only exists but has been in operation in Kent County since 1992. And that foundation would be called the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, which has close to $80 million in assets.

Perhaps it due to the fact that all five counties on Mid-Shore benefit from this extraordinary asset, but, as the Spy found out in our recent chat with Buck Duncan, CEO and President of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, Kent County is not only getting its “fair share” of philanthropic support, each year the number of giving goes up.

We caught up with Buck at the new Spy HQ on Queen Street last week to talk about Kent County’s community foundation, otherwise known as the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, for a current snapshot of its activities.


This video is approximately eight minutes in length For more information about the Mid-Shore Community Foundation please go here. Full disclosure; the Chestertown Spy’s fiscal agent is the MSCF.

Chesapeake Film Festival Spotlight: ‘Riverment’ Director Shayla Racquel


While every year the Chesapeake Film Festival brings to the Mid-Shore the best examples of independent filmmaking, with many of their annual selections going on to be full feature success stories with awards and a broad public audience, some of the really exceptional parts of the festival are devoted to showcasing the work of an entirely new generation of directors.

Independent to the core, creative, and with sometimes the simplest of equipment, like using only a smartphone camera, these young filmmakers can produce the same quality of storytelling in short form as their older, more experienced colleagues can do with full feature films.

Shayla Racquel is one of those new filmmakers, and Riverment is one of those films.

In 2018, Shayla completed Riverment, a short film that discusses intergenerational trauma while comparing and contrasting movements. The film follows the relationship between a grandmother and a granddaughter to highlight how women have been, and will continue to be, at the forefront of all political and social movements.

The Spy sat down with Shayla in College Park last month to talk about her life and film work.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Chesapeake Film Festival please go here 

The Spy Columnists: Craig Fuller


There have been more than a few lucky moments in the Spy’s nine years of existence but none more so than the serendipitous formation of a unique team of volunteer public affairs columnists who now grace its pages every week. These highly respected leaders in their lifetime careers, gifted with intellect, imagination, and passion, spanning from the political left to right, has been one of the most significant assets of our hyper-local and education-based news portals.

The commentaries of Howard Freedlander, Craig Fuller, George Merrill, David Montgomery, and Al Sikes have considerably enhanced our community’s civil debates on the most pressing issues of our times. And while the written word is their chosen medium, the Spy, a great believer in multimedia with now over 2,000 video productions, has been grateful that they have agreed to be interviewed as our country enters into one of its most important elections in recent memory.

We continue our series with Craig Fuller who started his remarkable career in politics as a real “Reagan man” while a student at UCLA during the future president’s two terms as governor of California. Connected to Reagan through a issue related to  state-funded internship programs, Fuller had all the traits that Ronald Reagan sought out with his top aides; a gentle form of conservative thinking, a congenial approach in building relations, and, of course, a genuine sense of humor.

Fuller was tapped early on in Reagan’s successful campaign for the presidency in 1980 and joined the Reagan-Bush Administration in 1981, first as Assistant to President Reagan for Cabinet Affairs and then becoming Chief of Staff to Vice President George H.W. Bush during the second term of the Administration. He co-chaired the President Bush Transition and then entered the private sector in Washington leading public affairs consulting firms, associations and serving as an officer of a major consumer packaged goods company.

After years enjoying Bethany Beach as a retreat from Washington’s hectic pace, he and his wife, Karen, eventually decided to move to Talbot County a few years ago as their permanent retirement home to play a more active role in the community, be closer to old friends, and enjoy easy access to the Chesapeake Bay for their beloved “Ranger Tug” boat.’

Since that move took place, Craig has made good on his commitment to dive in and help on the Mid-Shore. From joining the Board at the Academy Art Museum, growing a beard for the “Cover Your Chin for Charity:” in Talbot County, or even helping Chestertown find a new restaurant, the native Californian has fully embraced his new Eastern Shore commitments.

This new life also includes the world of politics. As someone who still considers himself a Republican, and as recently as 2016 was supporting Jeb Bush for president, Fuller has grown disillusioned with Trumpism. The current administration’s confrontational approach to policy, its inability to compromise, the use of fear and Tweeter-based intimidation, and lack of moral standards,  stands in such great contrast to Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, that Fuller is now fully committed himself to Jesse Colvin’s efforts to replace Congressman Andy Harris in the November midterm election.

The Spy sat down with Craig at the Bullitt House a few weeks ago to talk to him about the America’s state of affairs, his frustration with his own party, and his hope that the country can once again return to Reagan’s famed “shining city upon a hill.”

This video is approximately seven minutes in length.


Mid-Shore Goes Purple: Say It Three Times – Addiction Prevention Starts in Childhood


While having robust and sustained recovery programs for those suffering from opioid addiction is critical to the war against drugs, where communities see the highest return on investment is when it creates a similar or even more significant commitment to the area of prevention.

That is the point that Talbot County Public Schools Superintendent Kelly Griffith, Talbot County health officer Dr. Fredia Wadley, and Talbot County Dept of Social Services director Linda Webb are all eager to make during Mid-Shore Goes Purple campaign in September.

In fact, prevention works best when it can be applied to young children who have had adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs as professionals call them. These include such things as divorce, incarceration of a family member, child abuse, mental illness in the household, and other stress-inducing conditions that can be directly linked to drug addiction behavior later in life.

Now, these three organizations have teamed up tonight for a special presentation starting 6 p.m. at the Easton High School Auditorium, called “Creating a Conversation about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Building Resiliency,” with featuring speaker, Tonier “Neen” Cain-Muldrow, a trauma survivor and internationally-recognized Trauma Informed Care Expert.

As part of the program, the highly-acclaimed documentary “Healing Neen” will be shown followed by a community conversation on how best to educate the public about the impact of childhood trauma on the brain and building resilience for a successful and long life.

The Spy sat down with Fredia and Linda at the Bullitt House in Easton yesterday to discuss the enormous research that backs the claim that early childhood intervention can show dramatic results in preventing both drug addiction and mental health issues.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. This event is free to the public. The first 200 participants will also receive a copy of the book, “Healing Neen.” For further information, call 410-770-5750.

Women and Girls Fund’s Purple Grants in Action: Rising Above Disease with Bonnie Scott


As noted in our first Women & Girls Fund Goes Purple interview Sherry Collier with Restoring H.O.P.E. in Women it could be said that the  WGF has been wearing purple a long time before Talbot Goes Purple started their successful awareness campaign last year. A philanthropic organization committed to empowering women and girls; it also seeks to help with the unique health needs, both physical and mental, of women in our community who are trying to rebuilding their lives after a life of drug or alcohol abuse.

In the Spy’s ongoing Grants in Action series with the WGF, we turn our attention to Rising Above Disease’s women-only recovery house founded by Bonnie Scott.

WGF board member Talli Oxnam once again introduces Bonnie and her extraordinary personal journey from addiction to recovery, and her commitment to supporting women as a tribute to her son who tragically lost his life due to a drug overdose a few years ago.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Rising Above Disease please go here

This is the ten in a series of stories focused on the work of the Women & Girls Fund of the Mid-Shore. Since 2002, the Fund has channeled its pooled resources to organizations that serve the needs and quality of life for women and girls in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot Counties. The Spy, in partnership with the Women & Girls Fund, are working collaboratively to put the spotlight on twelve of these remarkable agencies to promote their success and inspire other women and men to support the Fund’s critical role in the future.

S.O.S. Comes to Rescue Kent County Public Schools with Jodi Bortz


While there has always been a history of community activism and concern about the Kent County Public Schools including such groups as the PTA and those trying to fight off school consolidation a few years ago, the recent emergence of S.O.S., a.k.a. Support Our Schools is entirely different in many ways.

This small, informal friends group that grew out of parental concern about the financial capacity of the KCPS system has now emerged as a real force in holding elected officials accountable for the votes they cast, or don’t, to subsidize Kent County public schools beyond the mandatory “maintenance of effort” budget requirements set by the State of Maryland.

S.O.S. also represents a new era of local leadership. A new generation of young parents, well-versed in business management, social media, and marketing, have come to the fold to fight these battles.

One of those new leaders is Jodi Bortz, the owner of Blue Canary Letterpress, the mother of two KCPS children, and a graduate of Kent County High School. The Spy talked to her at Spy HQ last week to talk about the S.O.S.mission and its concern of the long-term sustainability of its public school system.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about S.O.S. please go here