About Dave Wheelan

Maryland 3.0: The Long View from Main Street Cambridge


From a variety of perspectives, the growing awareness on the Mid-Shore that Cambridge has become a hot foodie destination should make anyone involved in improving town’s economic development pretty happy.

From the urban sophistication of Poplar Bistro to chef Patrick Fleming’s growing collection of eateries, Cambridge’s downtown is slowly but surely working its way out of the dark days of economic recession.

That change of events has undoubtedly made many in that town feel a sense of optimism that a robust and thriving downtown is just around the corner for a community that has taken some pretty hard knocks for many years.

But as Katie Clendaniel, director of Cambridge Main Street, noted in her interview with the Spy at Bullitt House a few weeks ago, the road back to full recovery is a long and complex one.

While the hospitality sector is a critical factor in making that happen, the less noticeable work of improving walkability, adding traffic calming infrastructure and the expansion of high-quality residential housing all are part of a much larger plan that may take many more years to achieve the maximum impact of the economic life of downtown Cambridge.

For Clendaniel, who was part of the original team of Easton’s successful Main Street program several years ago, this kind of incremental change is the reality of almost any serious revitalization program. While frustrating for those seeking easy and quick answers, this slow process requires equal amounts of long-range strategic planning and the collective patience of the community.

This video is approximately seven minutes in length. For more information about Main Street Cambridge please go here


Mid-Shore History: Frederick Douglass and Wye House with Richard Tilghman


It is impossible to go through the bicentennial year of Frederick Douglass and not talk about Wye House. And that is particularly the case with those who live on the Mid-Shore where one of America’s greatest heroes was born and raised.

While Douglass is only on record of having lived at Wye from approximately age six to nine, it is remarkable how much recollection he had of the place when he began writing his memories some forty years later in 1845.

In fact, his memory of Wye was so indelibly fixed that he could recall in precise detail the physical location of almost every part of the estate including its smokehouse, kitchens, stables and slave quarters that archaeologists were returning to Wye more than hundred years later they were shocked to discover how accurate Douglass had been.

Wye is also the place that Douglass returned to at the very end of his life to reconcile those memories and formally forgive the the man who had beaten him while being a slave, the notorious slave driver Edward Covey in St. Michaels in 1891.  On that trip, he also decided to return to Wye House to meet with the descendant of Edward Lloyd, the original owner of the Wye plantation.

The Spy travelled to Wye House a few months ago to talk with the current owner, Richard Tilghman, who is also a direct descendant of the Lloyd family, to talk about the remarkable relationship of his family’s property with Douglass.

This video is approximately 6 minutes in length. For more information about the the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial on the Mid-Shore please go here

Election 2018: A Spy goes to Queen Anne’s County to Meet Barry Donadio


This Election 2018 profile is the first 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 Carroll County 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.

The Spy continues with a conversation with Republican Barry Donadio from Queen Anne’s County. Like many residents of western Queen Anne’s, Barry commuted across the Bay Bridge from his home in Chester for more than a decade as part of the Secret Service assigned to protect both presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. After retiring in 2013, he quickly signed up as a volunteer for the GOP in QAC and eventually ran and won a seat on the county’s Republican Central Committee the following year.

In his Spy interest, Barry talks about his conservative positions, his support of both President Trump and Congressman Andy Harris, as well as his political analysis that the factors that drove many Queen Anne’s Democrats to vote Republican in 2016 still holds true in 2018.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. Barry Donadio is currently running for a seat on the Queen Anne’s County Commission.

Mid-Shore Arts: Tara Helen O’Connor and the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival


Sometimes it’s easy to take for granted some of the most remarkable institutions within one’s community. That is periodically the case with the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival which is now entering its 33rd year of bringing some of the best classical music performers to Talbot County.

Year after year, the Festival spends countless hours to make sure that it has locked in some of the most sought-after musicians and soloists in the world for its annual program for the great benefit of Mid-Shore and the Mid-Atlantic music aficionados.

But given their consistent track record, it sometimes is lost how remarkable the organizers have succeeded in not only ensuring that these world-class performers are present but are encouraged to come back time and time again through the hospitality of local host families and the great beauty of the Eastern Shore itself.

One of those great performers is Tara Helen O’Connor who many critics now consider to be one of the best flutists performing today.

For sixteen years Tara has made the trip from New York City down to Easton not only for the enjoyment of performing in the intimate venues arranged by the Festival but also so she can once again reunite with her host family, in this case, Charlie and Carolyn Thornton, who have become part of Tara’s extended family.

The Spy talked to Tara before her recent performance about her love of her instrument, her approach to performance, and her love of the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. Additional video provided by Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. For more information and ticket sales for the Chesapeake Chamber Music Festival please go here

Spy Eye: Obama for President in Chestertown


In the remaining months of 2008, I was still infrequently commuting between California and a small second home in Chestertown. While I had decided to permanently move back to the Eastern Shore, I was still wrapping up a thirty-year career in the Bay Area and would not be a legal voter in Maryland until the following year.

That was the primary reason I wasn’t entirely up-to-date on the hyperlocal presidential politics of Chestertown. The national drama of having an African-American running for president was compelling enough without the outside chance that Obama might win Kent County that year.

So when I made a trip back that early fall, it was not only the sight of hundreds of Obama lawn signs but what it said about Chestertown and why so many love it so much.

This video is approximately three minutes in length

Mid-Shore History: Chestertown’s Black Entrepreneurs


Thanks to a small grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, volunteers Airlee Johnson and Lani Seikaly had the resources to move forward with an ambitious project to document, record, and display an extraordinary era of Chestertown’s black entrepreneurs during the 1960s and 1970s.

The exhibition, now being shown at Sumner Hall, the project tells the stories of twenty-four African-Americans who were either business owners, a member of their family, employees, or customers of the fifteen businesses that formed a very vibrant commercial sector of Chestertown.

The Spy sat down with Airlee and Lani to talk about these unique entrepreneurs and through the unique blend of Airlee’s memories and Lani’s video documentation (now on Youtube) resulted in a compelling story of independence, creativity, and self-sufficiency.

This video is approximately minutes in length. The Exhibit will run until mid-August. For more information please go here. To watch the project’s video profiles please go here



Mid-Shore Arts: Sara Linda Poly and her Eastern Shore Skies


For Sara Linda Poly, it is all about the sky. While her artwork goes well beyond the sky itself as a subject matter, the challenge and satisfaction of finding the way to best project the power of “big sky” landscapes on her canvas has been a driving force in her work well before she came to live on the Eastern Shore.

Influenced by the legendary big sky impact of California when she lived in her twenties, Sara started to capture of some those same elements as she began to work on Eastern Shore skyscapes after she moved here from D.C. area where she served as the assistant gallery director of the Art League Gallery in Alexandria, which is also known as the famed Torpedo Factory Art Center.

In her Spy interview, Poly talks about her life as an artist, a love of the outside world, and the joy that comes with starting to master her skills after years of commitment.

This video is approximately two minutes in length Sara Linda Poly is represented by Troika Gallery in Easton.  For more information please go here.


Senior Nation: A Short Report from the Front Line of Dementia Research


It’s safe to say that Dr. Terry Detrich has been around the block, so to speak, when it comes to neurology conferences. Starting his practice on the Eastern Shore as the Delmarva’s first neurologist in 1976, Detrich has long made it a habit to attend these annual gatherings to keep up with current developments in his field.

But, at least with most of these professional summits, particularly in the area of dementia, it is more often the case that Detrich has left them feeling mostly underwhelmed with the progress being made to treat and prevent neurocognitive disorders.

That was one of the reasons, Dr. Detrich was not all that excited when he decided to travel to Los Angeles (not his favorite city) for the 2018 American Academy of Neurology in April.

So it was surprising for him to hear some remarkable reports from his peers and start feeling for the first time in many years that scientific research and clinical trial results had reached a modest but clearly evident tipping point in the fight against dementia and other memory loss diseases.

For purposes of analogy, Detrich relies on the arc of progress seen in aviation to measure tangle milestones. From the first controlled flight of the Wright Brothers in 1903 and Lindbergh’s first flight across the Atlantic, to our modern era of commercial airlines and space exploration, aviation advances were unprecedented in the their speed of discovery.

Dr. Detrich makes it clear that while the field has certainly well passed its Kitty Hawk stage, he still was looking for the equivalency of Charles Lindbergh’s arrival in Paris in 1927 in dementia prevention and management.

In Los Angeles last month, the doctor felt for the first time in decades that perhaps we are close to that moment.

With advances in knowledge of gene behavior and the positive results of new trials, Detrich cautiously indicts that real medical treatment for some forms of dementia, and even a vaccine, may be in use in two to five years.

The Spy had a short debriefing on the subject from Dr. Detrich last week at the Samuel & Alexia Bratton Neurocognitive Clinic at Bayleigh-Chase.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Samuel & Alexia Bratton Neurocognitive Clinic at Bayleigh-Chase please go here

Maryland 3.0: Checking in with KRM’s Bryan Matthews


Just a few years ago, the Dixon Valve & Coupling Company made a corporate decision that would have a significant impact on Kent County’s economy and yet very little was said about at the time. The company, faced with growing pains and stiff competition for their range of piping and fitting products, had to make a difficult choice to either expand their business locally in Chestertown or take advantage of lower production costs, larger workforce populations, and reduced taxes by moving operations to another state or perhaps even another country.

This kind of significant call is not an uncommon one for American manufacturing companies. And in most cases, these businesses very quickly conclude that their bottom line profits will improve dramatically by migrating to a more business-friendly location. But in the case of Dixon, which would impact close to 375 employees in Kent County, their final decision went against that popular trend. Dixon quickly made up their mind that they would stay put in Chestertown.

While most communities in America would have held parades or honored local politicians for saving a town’s anchor manufacturing business, the Dixon decision, like so much of the rest of the family-owned business culture, was a low-key affair. Once they concluded that Kent County would remain their home for the foreseeable future, Dixon leadership assigned the task of building facilities for that future growth to the company’s subsidiary, KRM Development, and thus began a complicated multi-year plan to move warehouse, production and administrative functions to new locations.

A good part of that job is now in the work portfolio of Bryan Matthews, who retired as Washington College’ athletic director and facilities manager after thirty years of service to his alma mater to join the KRM team two years ago. In his Spy interview, Matthews talks in detail about the intricate planning required for this kind of major undertaking as well as some of the vision behind Dixon’s plans for their North Chestertown campus.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about KRM Development please go here.