About Dave Wheelan

Spy Profile: John Sprinkle on Saving Places on the Mid-Shore and in America


Historic preservation as a concept is not new anymore. In fact, this unique American movement proliferated from such humble beginnings of a few local women saving Washington’s Mt. Vernon in 1858 to now a dedicated agency like the National Park Service with its multi-million dollar budget designed to certify, protect, and sometimes purchase the country’s most important buildings and landscapes of our history and culture.

And like many things on the Mid-Shore, the Spy came upon one man from the region who not only participated in the selection of many of those special places but has written extensively about local and national efforts to help save them.

John Sprinkle, a Chestertown native, is the offspring of a mother from the multigenerational Brooks family of Kent County, and an architect father who specialized in historic preservation, knew very early on that his future would be tied to the past. After completing a masters in historical archaeology and then a doctorate in history from the College of William and Mary, John soon joined the National Park Service and eventually led the agency’s National Historic Landmark Survey, co-directs its Federal Preservation Institute, it’s educational wing, and is also the bureau’s historian.

While his vita has shown a broad interest in the field, he has also participated at the local level where he serves on the City of Alexandria’s Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission and teaches at the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. And in his spare time, John writes books on the subject, with the latest being Saving Spaces: Historic Land Conservation in the United States.

John came back to his hometown last month to give a reading at the Bookplate and was willing to stop by the Spy HQ for a chat about his unique background and his observations on how historic preservation has changed over the years.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length. To purchase of copy of Saving Spaces: Historic Land Conservation in the United States please go here.

The Spy Columnists: George Merrill


It seems somehow fitting that the Spy will be ending our series on our public affairs columnists with George Merrill on Election Day. Perhaps the most apolitical of the five writers that volunteer each week to offer their unique point of view with our readers, George, an ordained Episcopal minister, has been the most inclined to bring public debates down to questions of spirituality and the workings of the soul.

While George does not skirt the issues of the day, his Sunday essays have been more about his only reaction to the challenges of life than focusing on the foibles of a particular politician or policy. His intense interest in his own makeup encourages the reader to explore their own sense of soul as they work through the news of the day.

Now eighty-four years old, Merrill has also reached a point where he can, he laughingly notes, “say anything I want,” knowing full well that this sense of liberation has allowed him the freedom to explore and take delight in what he doesn’t know as much as the wisdom that comes with living over eight decades.

In his Spy interview, George talks about his writing style, spirituality and politics, and the pure enjoyment he has in taking pen to paper.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length

Expert Witness: Former EPA Chesapeake Director Nick DiPasquale on Conowingo and the Problem of Pennsylvania


It seems that more often than not, whenever the Spy seeks to interview an expert on the some of the topical issues of the day, one is just around the corner. This is one of the great benefits of serving a region that has become the home of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of retired professionals from almost every field of concentration. From members of Congress, cabinet secretaries, professors, scholars, CEOs, or government executives, the Mid-Shore is blessed with disproportionately well populated with people who really do know what they are talking about.

So when we were eager to find another expert to interview in our ongoing coverage of the Conowingo Dam and the impact of upstream pollution problems from Pennsylvania, as if by magic, the Spy was notified that Nick DiPasquale, who had recently retired as the Director of the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program, had just bought a house in the historic district in Chestertown.

Even if we only looked at Nick’s tenure running the Chesapeake Bay program, it would be interesting to learn first hand his impressions of the health of this critical ecosystem. But what turned out to be so beneficial in helping our readers understand the complexity of Bay challenges was his remarkable career before the EPA when he had also served as the Secretary of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and as Deputy Secretary in the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The Spy sat down with Nick at the Spy HQ in Chestertown a few weeks ago to talk about some of the Bay’s most significant challenges with a specific focus on the Conowingo Dam and how Pennsylvania must dramatically change its policies to seriously regulate the damaging agricultural run0ff that contributes so substantially to the Bay’s poor environmental health.

This video is approximately twelve minutes in length. 

Mid-Shore Arts: The Spy Checks in with Academy Art Museum’s Ben Simons


The Craft Show has successfully come and gone, many of Academy Art Museum’s 60th Anniversary events have taken place, the fall exhibitions have been planned and ready for display, and its capital campaign is near completion; so you’d think it would be the best time for AAM director Ben Simons to take a break from it all and find a sunny beach somewhere.

That turns out to be the wrong conclusion when the Spy started our first periodic check-in with Ben a few weeks ago.  Still very much engaged in documenting the remarkable history of the Academy since 1958, completing a highly demanding national re-accreditation process for the institution, and leading a long-term strategic planning process for this rapidly growing museum and art school, his workdays are very much spoken for in the near term.

In the first of our periodic chats with Director Simons, the Spy talks in this installment about the remarkable history of the AAM, the grueling but highly rewarding success of being re-accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and pushing hard for the four primary objectives of the Academy’s capital fund drive.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about the Academy Art Museum please go here 

Mid-Shore Commerce: Engineer and Developer Bob Rauch on Almost Everything


It is pretty rare for a Spy interview to stray too far from a specific topic but that was virtually impossible when we talked to Bob Rauch the other day.

While our intention was to have a short chat about Bob’s engineering firm at their new office on Harrison Street, it didn’t stop there. In fact, it covered an almost endless range of subjects, including his roots in Talbot County, a passion for sound and creative design, his investment in developing long-term careers for young professionals on the Mid-Shore, the challenges and benefits of working in a rural environment with a family business, his ties to the Easton Club, his plans for housing in Trappe, a “tiny house development” in Federalsburg,  revolutionary chicken waste management projects in Princess Anne’s, and, oh yes, the likelihood of working on two new projects with Tesla in Nevada.

In short, it was impossible for the Spy to edit this conversation to any significant degree since almost everything Bob said, and how he said it, was too rich and enjoyable to cut.  Instead, we offer this extended interview which gives our readers a unique opportunity to hear from one of the Eastern Shore’s great entrepreneurs but also from one of its finest people.

This video is approximately seventeen minutes in length. For more information about RAUCH, Inc. please go here

WC Starr Center’s Patrick Henry Fellow Robert Parkinson and Fake News in 1774


One of the more intangible gifts from Washington College to the greater Chestertown community every year is a bit of a sleeper. While on the face of it, the Patrick Henry Fellowship at WC’s Starr Center is a somewhat standard, but prestigious, one-year academic appointment that many colleges and universities offer a visiting scholar,  rarely are these folks housed in the center of town, or in the case of WC, the Patrick Henry house on Queen Street.

For close to a decade, the Patrick Henry Fellows have made Chestertown’s historic district their temporary  home, which comes with a level of social interaction with neighbors that has led to lifetime friendships. Those include such remarkable scholars and Chestertown friends as Wil Haygood and Henry Wiencek.

Now the college and town welcomes historian Robert Parkinson and are eager to learn more about his newest project which puts a historical spotlight and impact on a major massacre that took place in 1774, the false reporting of who committed this horrific crime, and the impact it had on Colonial America.

We invited Dr. Parkinson to Spy HQ last month to talk about his research and perhaps wet the whistle of many interested in how this incident helped fueled the outbreak of the American Revolution.

This video is approximately four minutes in length 



Mid-Shore Arts: Potter Ken Sadler and the Pleasure of Raku


Ken Sadler’s late life journey into pottery would normally be a good story in itself. Discovering the art form from an accidental encounter with Paulus Berensohn’s book, One’s Way With Clay, when well into his late 60s, Sadler not only took up the potter’s wheel but became totally absorbed with clay, including his passion for Raku pottery, the ancient Japanese method of using direct flame to release special colors and exterior surfaces.

But it’s not all “high art” with Ken’s work. Perhaps influenced by his clown character, Dr. Goodwrench, who has appeared at the Easton hospital for years, he has a complete line of clay snakes (and other garden art) that are realistic enough to scare one’s favorite Eastern Shore gardener, or more recently, his creation of “Watchers,” figures designed to be his modern version the St. Christopher medal; very capable of  special protection for its owners.

When Ken and his wife, Sarah, recently sold their Oxford house and moved into Londonderry on the Tred Avon, Ken transferred his studio to the Davis Art Center in Easton to continue both his serious and not so serious pottery. That’s where the Spy found him last month and we had a brief conversation with him about the special pleasures that come with Raku.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Davis Art Center please go here



Mid-Shore Arts: The Other National Music Festival with WC’s Matt Palmer


Perhaps to the surprise of many in Kent County, Chestertown is the host of not one, but two national music festivals. The better-known one that comes at the end of spring is the much-beloved National Music Festival. But the other, the Eastern Shore Guitar Festival, sponsored by Washington College’s department of music, should be looked upon locally with the same pride and excitement as its more famous counterpart.

For close to a decade, WC has been the host of this gathering of some of the best and most talented classical guitar performers today as they offer both concerts and learning opportunities for students eager to join their ranks. And the man leading the charge, professor Matt Palmer, a highly accomplished guitar player in his right, is genuinely pleased with the growing attendance and greater awareness.

The Spy spent a few minutes with Matt at Spy HQ in Chestertown last month to hear more the festival and what he has planned for next week as the Festival joins Washington College’s Concert Series is some unique offerings.

This video is approximately minutes in length. For more information and schedule details of the Eastern Shore Guitar Festival 2018 please go here.

A Conversation with Spy Columnist David Montgomery and 1st District Candidate Jesse Colvin


It is usually the case that the Spy uses editorial discretion in presenting candidates for public office. To serve our readers, and respect their limited time to consume this form of video interviews, we have long used the practice of editing the comments of those running for office down to digestible segments to quickly get to the core of their policy platforms and qualifications. While we still think that this is a useful approach, and will continue to use it, we nevertheless are always eager to explore different formats to objectively as possible present different points of view.

That is indeed the case with our experiment with the Avalon Foundation’s public access television station (MCTV), to present, unedited, a healthy and respectful conversation between conservative Spy columnist (and acclaimed economist) David Montgomery, and Democratic candidate Jesse Colvin for Maryland’s 1st Congressional District, for a one-to-one interview, from beginning to end, on some of the critical issues facing this country in the 2018 midterm election this November.

We plan to interview Rep. Andy Harris using the same format on October 16.

This video is approximately forty minutes in length.