Reading Water by Nancy Mugele


I have been looking for my dog-eared copy of Upstream by Mary Oliver for months. I am inspired by this collection in which Oliver illustrates the importance of creativity, her insatiable curiosity for the natural world and the great responsibility she feels, handed to her by writers before her, to observe thoughtfully and record her passions. She encourages us to keep moving upstream – to lose ourselves in the beauty of nature and to find time for the creativity that lives inside each of us. “I could not be a poet without the natural world,” she said, “someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.”

I found the book last week in an unexpected place, but one which I should have assumed. Jim surprised me with a short trip to Montana, after a few days in LA for Jim’s business and a little time for me to visit family and a dear friend.The dog-leg to Montana was the perfect end to a week on the West Coast (not to be confused with the Western Shore). I was so happy to see, for the first time, James’ new home, visit Sweetwater Fly Shop, meet the store’s owner and James’ fellow team members, and of course, hug Boh, James’ black lab. Yes, my book was in James’ bedroom sitting casually at the top of an opened, but not entirely unpacked, moving box.

I learned a lot about fly fishing in a few short days as we spent time on Mill Creek and the Yellowstone River. To me, James is clearly one-third fisherman, one-third entomologist and one-third, like Mary Oliver, a joyful nature enthusiast. The 19th Century British chemist Sir Humphry Davy, who invented the miner’s safety lamp, described fly fishing rods as “a fly at one end and a philosopher at the other.” I can attest that this is true.

James told me fly fishing is all about “reading water,” recognizing how the slightest breeze or even the movement of a cloud across the sky changes everything; noticing the dark, slow pool next to the faster water where fish may be lurking. The more time he spends observing and understanding a river, the more success he will have as an angler. Jim caught his first cutthroat trout on a fly on this trip with the help of his personal expert guide!

James also needs to know the bugs that the fish eat and how they perform on the water so that he can tie flies that replicate actual insects. We saw a lot of mayflies on the river. James thinks these are the prettiest bugs; I think they are romantic. Mayflies are aquatic insects and spend all their lives underwater. Then, one day, they leave the water to dance with each other in large groups over the riffles (the rocky or shallow part of a river with rough water – Merriam Webster), lay their eggs, and die. Fly fishermen make use of mayfly hatches by tying, or choosing, flies that resemble these flighty bugs. Tying flies is most definitely an art and a science.

Our Montana river adventure took us through Pray one afternoon and I took note of the town’s name. (You know I am thinking about Kent School and what word I should select for next year’s theme, but that is another story.) Pray, Montana was founded in 1907 on the Yellowstone River and is 30 miles from the northern entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Pray graced us with breathtaking views of the Absaroka mountains in the Gallatin National Forest. It was a spiritual experience for me, and I left the state believing that James is just where he should be, albeit very far from our Chester River.

To me, reading water is literally to read works such as Upstream and poems by others who share their thoughts about the power and mystery of water. This beauty is from Braided Creek: A Conversation in Poetry by Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison which sits in my office on my coffee table. Enjoy!

Only today

I heard

the river

within the river.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.

Letter to the Editor:Trump’s Deplorables


“Basket of Deplorables” cartoon by Clay Jones of

Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton coined “Deplorables” during the 2016 presidential campaign, her signal attempt to mark out Donald Trump’s core voters, now estimated to be 40 percent of the GOP.

But a little history’s in order. In our hyper-partisan era, we can’t forget that Trump’s Deplorables had their genesis within—and were a shameful bastion of—the Democratic Party, constituting the party’s “Solid South” and tolerated by Al Smith, FDR, and Harry Truman.

Then in 1948, Hubert Humphrey proposed modest civil rights planks for his party’s platform and punctured the dike. Southern Democrats were offended and, as Strom Thurmond’s “Dixiecrats,” they stomped out of the convention.

The Dixiecrats’ exit was followed over the next half-century by the civil rights movement painfully winning battle after battle, LBJ signing the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Richard Nixon concocting his (wink-wink, nudge-nudge) “Southern Strategy,” Ronald Reagan perfecting it, and Newt Gingrich baiting and demonizing Democrats.

Before they became Trump’s Deplorables, they were Jim Crow segs and lynchers. Before that, Confederate slave-owners and traitors. And before that, Know-Nothings.

Die-hard racists, union busters, religious bigots, misogynists, America-Firsters, states-righters, self-appointed posses comitatus, oath-keepers, and neo-fascists—collectively, the Deplorables—are no longer welcome in the Democratic Party, and few, if any, remain. They’ve all migrated to the GOP, and to Trump.

As Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Grenville B. Whitman

Rock Hall


Six Weeks of Happiness, and Hope by Nancy Mugele


Horizons’ six-week summer program returned to Kent School this week and I could not be happier. Since 1995, when Horizons first opened its doors at Kent School, the academic enrichment program has served hundreds of Kent and Queen Anne’s County children from economically disadvantaged families, as part of a national initiative to improve or maintain their scholastic skills during the summer months.

The summer program in Kent County serves 110 students in PK – Grade 8. There is also a high school mentoring program for graduating 8th graders. This June all five of the high school seniors who remained in the program graduated from Kent County High School. Four of the graduates are planning to attend community college and one plans to enlist in the Army. It is heartwarming that one of the graduates is a Horizons intern at Kent School this summer, giving back to an organization that proved transformative.

And, it most definitely fills me with great hope for the future when programs like Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s – one of 51 national affiliates – serve and support vulnerable students on their educational journey. Statistics show that students from low income families are six times more likely to drop out of high school and have a 50% chance of being unemployed. Congratulations to the Horizons graduates! We are very proud of your accomplishments.

Hope abounds during Horizons’ Six Weeks of Happiness. It is simply wonderful to host dedicated educators and mentors, families who value education, and students filled with intellectual curiosity on our campus to brighten our classrooms in the summertime. Many of our teacher desks were transformed into jeeps for an immersion in animals on safari this summer led by creative teacher/drivers! I cannot wait to watch it all unfold over the next few weeks.

While I greatly miss the joyful noise of laughter and fun when Kent School students are away for summer vacation, hosting Horizons brings a palpable, new energy to campus. I am also grateful that the YMCA of the Chesapeake uses our campus for programming in the summer and that we are the site of Victory Field Hockey Camp. Busy school campuses in summer provide six weeks (or more!) of happiness for administrators and twelve-month employees who work tirelessly, in skeletal crews, from June through August to complete and close one academic year and prepare to open the next.

Happiness and hope are two impactful words with powerful emotions attached to them. Every time I drive across Hope Road on Route 301N as I head home from the Western Shore, I smile to myself and breathe in Eastern Shore contentment. You can feel hope in the air. Merriam Webster defines hope as a verb “to cherish a desire with anticipation or to want something to happen or be true” but I prefer to think about hope as poet Emily Dickinson describes in the first stanza of “Hope is the Thing with Feathers”:

Hope is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops—at all

Hope is the one true thing that allows us to stay positive even in the face of defeat, sadness or anger. Hope compels us to discover our shared humanity, and to believe that a better world is always possible. Hope for our collective future, mirrored in the faces of all teachers and all learners, is nourishment for the soul. Hope is our fuel.

I bet you are wondering if Happiness or Hope will be the word for Kent School in the 2018 – 2019 50th Anniversary academic year. That is another story which I will share later this summer. These words may, or may not, be on my short list! Happy Summer!

To learn more about Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s visit

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.


Behind the Property Tax Increase in Chestertown


In the June 7, 2018 edition of the Kent County News, there were two front page articles: “Chestertown votes 4-1 to increase property taxes” and “Commissioners hold hearing on FY19 budget”. Both have a direct relationship to taxes; more specifically, your property taxes. Whether you feel good or bad about taxes, they are necessary to fund services. The largest revenue source for Chestertown and Kent County is property tax. Perhaps we should all feel good that the Kent County Commissioners decided to leave the property tax rate at 1.022 cents per $100 of assessed value. For those that live in Chestertown, the feeling may not be so joyous since the property tax rate is increasing from 37 cents to 42 cents per $100 of assessed value.

So why did Chestertown need to increase the property tax rate? There may not be a simple answer, but it does appear related to the lack of a Property Tax Offsets with the County. Residents of Chestertown pay property taxes to the Town and to Kent County for services. The county uses the tax revenues to pay for services that include police, fire, highway and street maintenance, sanitation and waste collection, planning and zoning services, and recreation and parks, as well as staff salaries and other costs of operation.

Property taxes paid to Chestertown and other municipalities cover many similar services yet there is no offset from the county, so town residents are essentially paying the county for services it doesn’t provide to them. Offsets might happen in two ways: Tax Differential which means lowering of the county’s tax rate for Chestertown residents, and/or Tax Rebates that are direct cash or check payments to the government of Chestertown.

There are 23 counties in Maryland. Of these counties, only three offer no Tax Differential or Tax Rebate. Those counties include Kent, Wicomico, and Worchester. Each has its own unfortunate story:

  1. Back in 2012, Kent County had a tax rebate to five municipalities to compensate for parallel solid waste disposal services. The rebate was equivalent to 2 cents per $100 of assessed value. Rebates in Kent County started in 2004. Before that, Kent County provided a Tax Differential. The total tax rebate in 2012 was $193,341 broken out as follows: Betterton-$12,487; Chestertown-$111,622; Galena-$11,202; Millington-$8,553; and Rock Hall-$49,477. It is not known whether the amount of tax rebate covers 100% of the cost of solid waste disposal services but that does not matter. What does matter is that the county recognizes that municipalities pay for duplicate services and should receive some benefit from the county for services they provide at no cost to the county. The lack of recognition by the County Commissioners is a deterrent to small business development, which primarily takes place in the towns.
  2. In January 2018, Ocean City, the largest city in Worchester County, filed suit in Circuit Court against Worchester County due to years of denying a Tax Differential.
  3. The cities of Salisbury and Fruitland and the Town of Delamar make annual requests to Wicomico County for a Tax Differential but are continuously denied.

Chestertown had a Tax Differential/Tax Rebate from 1991 to 2014 with an average of $65,000 per year. The highest amount was in 2011 at $116,147 and the lowest was in 1992 at $32,000. What is disappointing is that the Tax Rebate was denied by the Kent County Commissioners for the past 4 years.

There is a current request to the Kent County Commissioners to reinstate the Tax Rebate for Chestertown. There may be many reasons why the Kent County Commissioners continue to deny Chestertown’s Tax Rebate request. As strange as this might seem, State law allows it. Section 6-305 of the Tax-Property Article of the Annotated Code of Maryland mandates that 9 counties SHALL provide tax differentials or tax rebates when municipalities perform similar county services. Kent County is not one of those 9 counties. Instead, Kent County along with all remaining counties falls under Section 6-306 of the same code. That Section states that the remaining counties MAY establish tax differentials or tax rebates when the municipality performs similar services as the county but is not required to do so.

Beginning in 1991, Chestertown did benefit from a Tax Differential/Tax Rebate, allowing the town’s property tax rate to remain unchanged, but that ended in 2014. If Chestertown had had a Tax Rebate over the past 4 years, perhaps the tax rate increase for Chestertown could have been avoided or reduced. There is a current request to the Kent County Commissioners to reinstate the Tax Rebate for Chestertown, but the county passed its FY 2019 budget without doing so.

This is an election year for the Kent County Commissioners. We now have an opportunity to vote for Commissioners who would help reinstate the Tax Rebate to Chestertown. Everyone benefits from eliminating duplicate tax payments for the same services. An equitable tax burden just might make us all feel a little bit better about the property taxes we pay. Be sure to ask the Kent County Commissioner candidates their opinion. Let the debates begin.


Bob Miller, CPA, MST

Cedar Chase Consulting LLC

Chestertown, MD

Shore Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” Comes to Chestertown — This Weekend Only!


Poster Art Shore Shakespear’s 2018 production “As You Like It”

Shore Shakespeare Company’s Annual free Tour Production of As You Like It by William Shakespeare concludes this weekend with two performances at Chestertown’s Wilmer Park.  The production features original music and lyrics by local composer Gregory Minahan, and is directed by Christian Rogers, assisted by Lindsey Hammer.

This sparkling comedy presents Shakespeare’s send-up of the pastoral genre and an exploration of love in all its passion, illogic, and messiness.  The production features the talents of Christine Kinlock as Rosalind and Zack Schlag as Orlando, along with Madeline Webb, Troy Strootman, Will Robinson, Brian McGunigle, and Howard Mesick.  Filling out the cast are John Feldman, Heather Robuck, Henry Hills, Nita Wieczoreck, Jane and John Terebey, Josh Hansen, Samantha Davis, and Phoebe Kelly, along with a few … special guests.  Costumes are by Barbi Bedell, and stage management by Avra Sullivan.

Christine Kinlock (left) as Ganymede, Zack Schlag as Orlando in Shore Shakespeare’s 2018 production of “As You Like It”    Photo courtesy of Ernest Valeo





FREE Tour Performances this weekend at Wilmer Park include two shows, Friday, June 22nd at 7:00 pm, and Sun June 24th at 5:00 pm.  [PLEASE NOTE: Due to a scheduling conflict, there is no performance on Sat June 23rd.]  Complete information and show times are available on the company’s website at or by calling 410-690-3165.  All Tour performances are FREE and open to the public.

Join Shore Shakespeare for an al fresco performance of this delightful comedy. Full of unforgettable characters, sparkling wit, slapstick humor, and eclectic song and dance, As You Like It has it all! Make your plans now to gather with friends and family, bring a picnic and your favorite beverage, and enjoy one of Shakespeare’s most enduring romantic comedies.

Special guest (left), Jullie Yankovich as Audrey, Howard Mesick as Touchstone in Shore Shakespeare’s 2018 production of “As You Like It” Photo courtesy of Ernest Valeo

Be sure to check for weather updates!

William Shakespeare’s
Music & Lyrics by Gregory Minahan
Directed by Christian Rogers

June 22nd, 7:00 pm
June 24th, 5:00 pm
Wilmer Park
Chestertown, MD


Grassroots Progressive Groups in MD 1st District to Protest Family Separation


Members of Together We Will Harford County/Upper Chesapeake, Talbot Rising, Kent and Queen Anne’s Indivisible, Worcester Indivisible, Queen Anne’s County Democratic Club, Harford Indivisible, Together We Will – Delmarva and Lower Shore Progressive Caucus will gather on Thursday in a coordinated effort to protest the treatment of asylum seekers and their families at the U.S. border, including the separation of parents and children and the placement of these children in internment camps.

Rallies will take place at Representative Andy Harris’s offices in Bel Air (15 East Churchville Rd.) and Salisbury (100 E. Main St.) at 5:00 pm and Kent Island (100 Olde Point Village, Chester) at 6:30 pm. Harris supports the inhumane immigration policies of the Trump administration.

For further information contact:

Letter to Editor: Eastern Neck Refuge Needs Help


As a member of the community, you understand the importance of Eastern Neck Refuge to wildlife, our community and visitors.

The board of directors of the Friends of Eastern Neck has been working over the past year with local politicians and Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) personnel to encourage FWS to fill the vacant Wildlife Specialist (Refuge Manager) position at the refuge. Not filling the vacancy could lead to the refuge being closed for the foreseeable future.

Although the FWS budget has been approved in Washington, we have received no indication that the position will be filled, we believe we need your help to further encourage the FWS Regional Chief, Scott Kahan to fill the position.

The Friends of Eastern Neck Board of Directors are asking that you communicate your thoughts in support of this effort using the following contact information:

Scott Kahan
Regional Chief
National Wildlife System
300 Westgate Center Drive
Hadley, MA 01035-9589
413 253-8245

Please describe what the refuge means to you and the community and encourage FWS to fill the position and not “shutter” the island.

Time is of the essence; please communicate to Scott Kahan before June 30. Thank you for your support in helping to keep the refuge functioning.

Very truly yours,

Phil Cicconi
Vice President
Friends of Eastern Neck

Qlarant Foundation Grants $385,000 to Area Health Projects


Qlarant Foundation, the mission arm of Qlarant, recently awarded grants totaling $385,000 to 14 organizations in Maryland and Washington, DC supporting local healthcare-related quality improvement efforts.

Girls in the Game is committed to promoting the health and wellness of girls, educating them about alternatives to violence and strengthening underserved communities.

Of the 76 applications, 14 organizations received grants. “Again this year the Board was challenged with our grant selection,” said Dr. Molly Burgoyne-Brian, Qlarant Foundation Board of Directors chair. “The Board received many deserving applications, covering a variety of medical and social issues. It’s reassuring to know there are so many programs designed to improve the health of our most vulnerable populations. Ultimately, we chose a stellar group of programs covering a wide geographic area with diverse health and social concerns.”  Dr. Catherine Smoot-Haselnus, Qlarant Board chair, added “The work these organizations do is outstanding and often goes unnoticed.  We are proud to provide both funding and encouragement to the many volunteers and staff members who serve the community so well.”

Qlarant Foundation funded the following programs for 2018-19:

Access Carroll, Inc. – The Integrated Pharmaceutical Program helps low-income and at-risk residents of Carroll County achieve good health through access to free-of-charge medications and management of their chronic diseases and acute illnesses.

Breast Care for Washington, DC – Increasing Access to High Quality Breast Imaging for Medically Underserved Womenprovides mammograms, diagnostics and treatment to uninsured women at no cost to them.

Channel Marker, Inc. – Through the Health Home Program support is provided for clients in Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot counties who suffer with pre-existing severe and persistent mental illness who also have other medical diagnoses.

Community Ministries of Rockville, Inc. – The Mansfield Kaseman Health Clinic provides quality healthcare and healthcare education to Montgomery County’s low-income uninsured and underinsured residents.

Eastern Shore Wellness Solutions, Inc. – The Health Outreach Workers Program provides care coordination for program participants and their primary care provider. It also is resource for the the social determinants of health, including housing, food and transportation.

Girls in the Game – The Baltimore After School Program addresses girls’ physical, mental and emotional health by exposing girls to a variety of sports and fitness activities in combination with nutrition, health education and leadership development.

Help and Outreach Point of Entry, Inc. – Homeless and poor clients on the Lower Eastern Shore receive medical assessments, health education and screening and referrals for treatment, with a focus on dental health, through the Tri-County Dental Health Outreach Program.

La Clinica del Pueblo, Inc. – Mi Refugio Community Mental Health and Support Program provides behavioral health services for unaccompanied and recently arrived immigrant youth at the Northwestern High School in Prince Georges County.

Maryland Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped, Inc. – The Donated Dental Program recruits dentists and dental laboratories to provide services free of charge to low-income adults who are also disabled.

Miriam’s Kitchen, Inc. –The Social Services Program reduces barriers to medical and behavioral healthcare for District of Columbia residents who are experiencing prolonged homelessness and related complex health issues.

Mission of Mercy, Inc. – Expansion of the Shared Patient/Hospital Partner Program reduces hospital readmissions and improves health outcomes for uninsured or underinsured patients in Baltimore and Carroll counties as well as Baltimore City.

Shirley Grace Pregnancy Center, Inc. – The Holistic Opportunities for Prevention and Education Program addresses the gap in services offered to high-risk pregnant women on the Lower Eastern Shore.

University Legal Services, Inc. – The Jail and Prison Advocacy Program advocates for access to health care, mental health care, and comprehensive reentry support for currently incarcerated District of Columbia adults with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders.

University of Maryland Medical System Foundation – The University of Maryland Children’s Hospital Breathmobile Program provides free treatment and preventive care to Baltimore City underserved children with asthma.For more information on the recipients and their grants, go to  Link


Collective Joy by Nancy Mugele



Photo credit — Geoffrey DeMeritt Photography

Although my word this past academic year at Kent School was BELIEVE, I have been thinking a lot lately about COLLECTIVE JOY. The term was coined a decade ago by author and columnist Barbara Ehrenreich who wrote Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy. In this scholarly history of dance, the author explores the human impulse to dance, and its seemingly constant suppression throughout history. (I always wanted to dance on Broadway, but that is another story.)

Ehrenreich writes about “the desire for collective joy, historically expressed in revels of feasting, costuming, and dancing.” Communal celebrations and mass festivities date to Medieval times and are central to Western tradition. In recent centuries, however, Ehrenreich asserts that the festive tradition has been repressed, but, she states, “the celebratory impulse is too deeply ingrained in human nature ever to be completely extinguished.”

I credit Ehrenreich with naming a condition that contains so much spirit and ability to inspire. In her definition, collective joy involves “music, synchronized movement, costumes, and a feeling of loss of self.” Brené Brown also wrote about collective joy, and collective pain, in her recent book Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone. Brown encourages us to share collective joy. “People with a sense of true belonging also spend time sharing emotional experiences with large and diverse groups—whether those groups are found at sporting events, live music, church services, or vigils,” writes Brown.

“The more we’re willing to seek out moments of collective joy and show up for experiences of collective pain— for real, in person, not online — the more difficult it becomes to deny our human connection, even with people we may disagree with.”

Collective pain struck last week as both Kate Spade, creator of iconic handbags and founder of her namesake company, as well as celebrity chef and CNN personality Anthony Bourdain took their own lives. The world was surprised and saddened. If you cannot find the joy in your life please find someone to share your struggle with. We all need each other to create collective joy. Share in it. Your happiness depends on it.

A research study in 2017 supports this. “Collective assemblies (like games, concerts, or plays) contribute to greater meaning, positive emotions, and social connection in our lives.”  Thankfully, collective joy abounds in our culture, and I had the pleasure to see it play out in all of its glory in three distinct ways within a 24 hour period last week.

Take the Washington Capitals. After over 40 years, and for the very first time, the franchise finally won the coveted Stanley Cup, ice hockey’s highest honor. Fans inside, and outside of, Verizon Center, dressed in head-to-toe red, demonstrated collective joy in a visible and tangible way. Strangers drawn together by a singular drive to witness their team reach the pinnacle of the sport. I watched the crowds in DC from the comfort of my couch, but I could not help grinning ear to ear as I watched the Caps revelers – one daughter included! Joy is contagious, and it certainly was that in DC well into the wee hours of the morning as we watched and cheered each player who hoisted The Cup.

The very morning after the Caps were triumphant, Kent School graduated the Class of 2018. Collective joy abounded in the M.V. “Mike” Williams Gymnasium as families and friends celebrated an incredible group of 8th Graders. The love in the gym was palpable, and the joy I saw mirrored in the faces of the graduates and their proud parents will not soon fade away from my memory. Collectively, and singularly, each and every guest at the event held hope for the bright future of our graduates — whether they belonged in their family or not. Collective joy, collective hope and collective love together in one room — a very powerful threesome.

Later that same evening I got updates, complete with photos and video, from CMA Fest in Nashville where my daughters were on the floor in the third row, dancing and singing with thousands of country music fans. (Yes, the Baltimore daughter, who was in DC for the Caps, got on a plane very early the next morning to get to Nashville for sisters’ weekend — planned well before the Caps made history.) A year ago, Jim and I attended CMA Fest with them, and I can tell you firsthand that the collective joy at a four-day country music festival is good for the soul!

So much collective joy in such a short period of time. And, Justify won the Triple Crown the day after all of the above. I am overjoyed!

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.