About Dave Wheelan

A Chesapeake Champion Profile: Bobby Hutchison


In a few weeks, the Mid-Shore conservation community will gather once again at Easton’s Waterfowl Chesapeake building to honor Horn Point Laboratory’s annual Chesapeake Champion. The recipients this time around will be all five Hutchison brothers for their innovative work on their 3,400 acre farm outside of Cordova.

In a relatively short period of time, the Champion award has become one of the most prestigious in the field of environmental protection for the Mid-Atlantic region. Starting in 2013, Horn Point has put an important spotlight on local heroes that have made a real and lasting contribution in protecting the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. In the past, it has gone to remarkable conservation volunteer leaders, restaurant owners, and citizen scientists, all of whom have found creative ways to sustain the Shore’s wildlife, landscapes and water.

And for the first time, the Champion award is being presented to a farming operation whose owners have meticulously cared for and protected their family’s land for close to a century. Quick to adopt best management practices, improve water quality, and the use of state of the art equipment to dramatically reduce the usage of nitrogen, the Hutchison brothers have gained the admiration and appreciation of the Eastern Shore in becoming the gold standard for how farming must be done in the future.

But what is the history of the Hutchison Brothers farm? What is it really like to be a farmer in 2019? Those were some of the questions we asked Bobby Hutchison when the Spy visited the farm a few weeks ago. His answers make it all the more clear the kind of unique sacrifices his family has made to be true stewards of the land.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about the Chesapeake Champion Awards please go here.  The Awards program will be be presented on Thursday, May 30, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Waterfowl Chesapeake Building in Easton.


​Sabine Harvey on Farmers’ Markets and Tea Parties ​


While it may indeed take a village to do certain things; in Chestertown, the phrase might be turned around to say it takes a Sabine Harvey.

From the moment she arrived with Washington College professor Michael Harvey decades ago, Sabine has been one of those extraordinary quiet forces in Kent County in countless areas. From being a Girl Scout leader, to PTA president, to being the volunteer president of the Chestertown Tea Party festival, it is hard to a more actively engaged community member. All of comes after her doing her day job as a horticulture program assistant with the University Of Maryland extension program.

Now, more recently, Sabine has added the role of managing Chestertown’s Farmers’ Market (taking over from the late Owen McCoy) which gave the Spy all the more reason to catch up with her on all this remarkable activity. We finally connected at the Spy HQ last week.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Chestertown Tea Party please go here. For the Chestertown Farmers’ Market please go here.

Spy Maritime: The Genius of a Yachtman with Roger Vaughan


It is hard to come up with a more proficient writer on the subject of yachting and competitive sailing that Oxford’s Roger Vaughan. In his sixty years of chronicling the sport, he has founded TheYacht Magazine, completed two books on the America’s Cup, as well as numerous profiles of such sailing icons as Ted Turner, Walter Cronkite, Harry Anderson and head coach of the Australian Olympic Sailing Team. His resume also includes articles written for s Life; Look; Esquire; Sports Illustrated; The New York Times Nautical Quarterly; National Geographic; Sailing/Cruising World; Sail; Oyster News; Vis-a-Vis, Sailing, and many others.

So there was little surprise when the Spy learned the other day that he had just completed another profile form the world of sailing. But, for the first time in Vaughan’s career, his subject, Arthur Curtiss James, had been long gone and buried for almost eighty years before he began this project.

Not only that but the legendary yachtsman, perhaps the one of the richest men in America during his lifetime, had also been one of the most private and discrete railroad barons of the gilded age. James, whose railroad empire covered more than a quarter of the country, left very little of a paper trail for any biographer to understand this brilliant polymath or how he had accomplished so much.

That was one of the reasons the Spy sought out Roger to talk about why Arthur Curtiss James: Unsung Titan of the Gilded Age, has been his most challenging effort yet in his long, distinguished career. We met at the Bullitt House a few weeks ago to understand more.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. Arthur Curtiss James: Unsung Titan of the Gilded Age is available here





Taking on the Dove with CBMM’s Lead Shipwright Joe Connor


Joe Connor and his crew of shipwrights at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum have either restored or built dozens of classic work boats since he joined the CBMM staff in 2013 but he’s the first to admit that heading up the reproduction effort for the Maryland Dove might be the most professionally challenging project in his career.

Contracted by the state, and operated by Historic St. Mary’s City, to build the newest iteration of the Dove over the next two years, CBMM’s staff and volunteers are preparing for the process to begin in June. And Joe Connor can’t wait to begin.

The Dove is not only enormous in size, some 76 feet in length, but comes with the extraordinary legacy of being the first trading ship to bring Europeans settlers to the shores of what is now known as the State of Maryland. While these two factors don’t necessarily intimidate the master boat builder, it does add to his unique sense of responsibility in getting the work done the right way.

The Spy sat down with Joe in his office overlooking the CBMM shipyard to talk about the project.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Maryland Dove and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum please go here.


Mid-Shore Public Transportation: Shared Mobility Coming to Chestertown


One of the best highlights of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s recent conference on traffic and public transportation last week, and there were many, was the discovery that Washington College is very close to offering a shared mobility program in Chestertown.

Working with the New Jersey-based Greenspot, which offers mobility solutions using an electric charging station infrastructure,  the College’s Enactus team to develop what it’s hoped to be the first of many stations throughout the Mid-Shore.

Last week the Spy sat down with Greenspot’s Brett Muney, its locations development manager, for a brief introduction to the for-profit company and its plans with Washington College. The net result of which would bring an exciting new option in the region’s efforts to expand its public transportation capacity.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information on the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy please go here

Mid-Shore Culture: The Little Museum that Can with Stuart Parnes


In an era of when America’s large cultural museums have become masters of blockbuster exhibitions, marketing savvy, and significant building projects, it is hard not to worry about the fate of the thousands of the smaller community-based museums throughout the country.

These pint-sized, mostly storefront operations could easily be seen as an endangered species given that their big brother/sister counterparts are increasingly taking center stage in terms of membership and philanthropy. But Stuart Parnes, the current president of the Oxford Museum, predicts a healthy future for these cultural gems.

And Parnes should know.

With a resume that includes directing the acclaimed Mystic Seaport and the Eastern Shore’s beloved Chesapeake Bay Marine Museum, as well as a well-established career as a museum consultant, Stuart is well versed on the positive impact these large institutions have their visitors and communities, but when he puts on his local volunteer hat,  it’s been interesting to note that it is to help lead the small but mighty Oxford Museum.

In his Spy interview, Stuart talks about how this tiny museum not only remains relevant but can even compete with its larger peers in hosting unique exhibitions. A case in point is the Oxford Museum’s upcoming plans to host a Smithsonian Institution traveling exhibition entitled Water/Ways.

Too large for the Oxford Museum’s venue on Morris Street, Water/Ways will be on display at the Oxford Community Center and St. Paul’s Church. At the same time, the museum plans to complement this significant exhibition with the work of the highly respected local photographer David Harp.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. Water/Ways will be from July 13 to August 24. For more information about the Oxford Museum please go here.


Maryland Journal: The Hopkins President’s Socialist Daughter with Ross Jones


Even today as you walk on the Johns Hopkins campus at Homewood in Baltimore, the fingerprints of its first president, Daniel Gilman, can be found everywhere. From the physical forms of classroom buildings and laboratories to the current undergraduate curriculum, Dr. Gilman’s intellectual contributions and legacy as a higher education genius are still intertwined with one of this country’s most distinguished research institutions.

But there is one part of this legacy that has gone missing from this narrative for many years. Beyond the countless ways that Gilman put Baltimore on the map, it was his other contribution, his daughter Elisabeth, that Ross Jones, author of the newly published Elisabeth Gilman: Crusader for Justice, believes she deserves much more attention.

To document Elisabeth’s life, which eventually led her to become one of the country’s best-known leaders of the Socialist party, was an easy task for Jones. A product of Hopkins himself, who eventually rose to become one of the school’s senior vice presidents, Ross immediately took up the biography project after his retirement. He believes that Elisabeth was the centerpiece of the socialist movement in Maryland.

The result is a book which is not only well-researched record of one of the country’s first truly independent women in the country’s political life, but documents a time when religion and socialism were strange bedfellows in the pursuit of American justice. He also tells the charming story of a progressive family at the beginnings of America’s modern century.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. Elisabeth Gilman: Crusader for Justice is published by Secant Publishing and is available on Amazon here.



Highway Robbery? Galena Mayor John Carroll on Delaware Tolls and Maryland Roads


Over the last several years, the southern tip of Middletown, Delaware has assembled an extraordinary retail experience specifically designed to attract Marylanders seeking tax-free shopping. Starting with a Walmart Supercenter and then followed by the addition of a cineplex, popular restaurants, and a half dozen national chains like Michaels, Marshalls, and Kohls, this once sleepy town had transformed itself into a major commercial zone for the Mid-Shore.

Complimenting that vision was the addition of a significant bypass for Route 301 to seamlessly connect with Delaware’s Route 1 and later Interstate 95. After years of construction, the state opened the new toll road a few months ago, saving commuters and second homeowners on the Shore close to 15 minutes in drive time to and from the Delmarva Peninsula.

That was the good news.

The bad news started immediately after the Route 301 bypass ribbon cutting. Maryland drivers noticed two things about the new traffic pattern. The first was it was impossible to access Middletown Warwick Road, where all these new stores were located, without using the new toll road. The second, with no warning, was provided about the excessive charge, for doing that. It was going to cost a driver $4.00 each way to exit Rt. 301 after only traveling less than 2 miles using EZ-Pass. It was even worse for those without it with a bill in the mail for $5.60 one way.

Perhaps Delaware’s goal was to make the history books as one of the most expensive toll roads in the United States. If that was the case, they succeeded. But in doing so, the state’s highway planners not only have angered Maryland drivers with kind of highway robbery but created the unintended consequences of severally damaging Maryland’s secondary roads like the Cecilton-Warwick Road for drivers seeking toll-avoidance routes.

And nowhere is this felt more than in the unincorporated village of Warwick where car traffic on Saturdays has risen from 20 to 30 cars per hour going through their small hamlet to up to a 1,000 or more vehicles per hour on roads never designed for this level of traffic.

While common sense would suggest that the first exit could be prorated based on the short distance involved with a simple software update for EZ-Pass toll collections, Delaware has no formal plans to make that adjustment.

One person who has been watching this closely as been Galena mayor John Carroll since the toll road was being planned some ten years ago. The Spy sat down with John in the town’s council room to talk about unfair pricing of the new highway and the incalculable damage to Maryland’s roads and the Upper Shore’s way of life.

This video is approximately five minutes in length.

25 Years of Light, Water and Stone with Greg Mort and Shelley Robzen


Over the next several months, Massoniart and its owner Carla Massoni will be celebrating thirty years of exhibiting some of the best artists in the Mid-Atlantic region. It is a remarkable achievement for Carla and the greater Mid-Shore that this exceptional gallery, which could easily have been at home in the art districts of Washington or Philadelphia, will be shortly be entering its fourth decade.

And yet perhaps one of the most fitting tributes for this anniversary for Massoniart is actually one that celebrates two of the gallery’s most distinguished artists, painter Greg Mort and sculptor Shelley Robzen.

For twenty-five years, these peerless artists have shown their work together even though they have never collaborated in the true sense of the word. United by Massoni’s famous matchmaking skills, Greg and Shelley’s work seamlessly complimented to each other’s work through by their masterful use of light and structure without any premeditation or planning on their part.

But after twenty-five years, it was in Carla’s nature to shake it up a bit. For the first time, she asked the artists to compared notes and images or their work before their joint exhibition Light Water and Stone opened. Their challenge – no small task – was to capture the invisible element of light.

Last Saturday, the Spy visited with Greg and Shelley at Massoniart to talk about their twenty-five years with Carla, their work, and how they have attempted to satisfy this exciting challenge.

There will be numerous opportunities to meet with the artists including the Opening Reception on Saturday, March 30, 12-3 pm. The Chestertown April First Friday reception Friday, April 5, 5-7:30 pm.  An Artist Talk on Saturday, April 6 at 12 noon. And the closing reception on May First Friday, May 3, 5-7:30 pm.Private appointments may be scheduled and groups are welcome.  Contact: Carla Massoni, 410-778-7330, info@massoniart.comFor additional information please visit:  www.massoniart.com.


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