A large number of you participated in this week’s Chestertown Spy Survey. Thank you! Some points of interest were noticed.
Take 2 minutes, and you decide.
The flags are up on Washington College’s parcel at the intersection of Washington Avenue and Morgnec Road and passersby may find themselves humming “You’re A Grand Old Flag.” The Flags for Heroes campaign, organized by the Chestertown Rotary Club and Washington College Rotaract Club, in affiliation with Mid-Shore Community Foundation, is an opportunity for community members to honor their personal heroes – a veteran, member of the armed services, law enforcement officer, firefighter, health care worker, family member, teacher, or friend, who has made a positive impact on their lives. For a $50 donation, individuals or businesses can sponsor a 3-by-5-foot American flag that will stand 8 feet tall. The list of sponsors and their heroes will appear in local publications for Memorial Day Weekend. Corporate sponsors who contribute $250 will also be prominently acknowledged for their support on the project’s website. Contributions are tax deductible.
“The Chestertown Rotary Club is proud to join with the Washington College Rotaract Club to sponsor this patriotic and thrilling public display of American flags to honor our men and women in uniform, first responders, and other heroes who help serve our communities and nation,” says Brian Moore, President of the Rotary Club. “Since we started this project five years ago, it has been enthusiastically embraced and generously supported by our community.
Since its inception, almost $20,000 in proceeds from flags sponsorships have been donated to local veterans’ groups and other worthy causes. Special thanks to our generous corporate sponsors and local media partners who continue to step up each year, and to Washington College which has once again allowed us to use the parcel, which is ideally situated on perhaps the most travelled intersection in all of Kent County.”
Andy Meehan, who chairs the project, notes: “Our intent is to honor Memorial Day and to help inspire our fellow citizens to reflect upon what it is truly about. We must never forget that Memorial Day is first and foremost a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of our Nation. The project is also an opportunity for folks to pay tribute in the form of our national emblem to family members and others who have been a hero in one’s life. In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, we hope the flag display will have particular significance and serve as a reassuring and poignant symbol of community and country. Indeed, the theme of this year’s project is “Honoring Community & Country. Over the years I have encountered many wonderful people who have amazing stories to tell. They are grateful for the chance to honor their heroes in a dignified fashion, personified by the field of flags, and memorialized in the list of honorees and their sponsors published in the Kent County News, and on The Kent Pilot, The Chestertown Spy, and WCTR websites.”
The flags are retained by the Chestertown Rotary Club for use on future projects. Proceeds will be designated for local veteran and other worthy causes. For more information or to sponsor a flag for your hero by check or credit card go to www.chestertownrotaryflags4heroes.com Sponsorships must be received by May 15 for publication purposes.
The Spy asked about how you are likely to spend time these days. We can only conclude, our readers are online, well read and well fed with a desire for reading even greater than the lure of tv movies. And, all of this is in between the likelihood that 93% of you suggested you’d be taking walks.
Most interesting, were all the other things you shared with us that you are doing. A word cloud captures the most mentioned activities…the larger the word, the more frequent the mention.
Every day, The Spy learns more and more about how people are coping with the current situation. To share the good thoughts of our readers, we are launching. a periodic survey of the readership to Take the Pulse. There are just a couple of short questions that take less than a minute to answer and submit. Results will be shared in a few days.
Please take the Take the Pulse questions here
The Sultana Education Foundation has withdrawn its offer to buy the “shipyard” property it has leased from the Town of Chestertown since 1997.
However, the foundation said it would like to revisit the issue if the town decides to offer the property for purchase or lease.
In a Feb. 24, 2020, letter to the town council and Town Manager Bill Ingersoll, Drew McMullen, the foundation’s president and c0-founder, said the organization saw no purpose in having its offer outstanding as the town considers the best use for the property and whether to declare it surplus and available for purchase.
“SEF applauds the Towns efforts to determine the best and highest use of this property. Understanding this process is likely to take months, if not longer, we see no utility in having our offer outstanding as this process moves forward,” McMullen wrote. “When and if the Town makes a determination to offer this property to the public for purchase or lease, SEF would welcome an opportunity to revisit this issue.
“In the meantime, SEF would be grateful for the opportunity to remain at the 346 Cannon Street lot as a tenant based upon the terms of our current agreement,” he wrote. “If at a future date the Town wishes SEF to vacate the property, we would appreciate as much advance notice as possible so we can avoid a disruption to our operations.”
“Since SEF’s founding in 1997, we have committed ourselves to improving educational, cultural, and economic opportunities for the citizens of Chestertown,” McMullen wrote. “At the core of our operating philosophy is the premise that our organizational interests are directly linked to the vitality of Chestertown and Kent County. If a higher and better use for the Town Yard property can be found, we ultimately believe this is in our best interests as well.
The foundation had offered to buy the parcel it leases at 346 Gannon Street in an Oct. 23, 2019, letter to the town. Ingersoll deferred the issue for the town’s newly elected council to consider in January.
McMullen encouraged the town at its Jan. 6 council meeting to find the best use for the shipyard.
“If there’s a way for the town to go out and make hay with this property, over and above what we can do with it, you should do it,” he said at the Jan. 6 meeting. “We are not saying we have any right to this property whatsoever. We just have a need for it, I’m not sure anyone else does.”
At the Jan. 27 council meeting, a group of citizens asked the town to consider a mixed-use development on the 2-acre parcel at the corner of Cannon and Mill streets, where the town’s maintenance yard and the Sultana’s shipyard are located.
“It’s time to rethink the use of this property,” said Barbara Jorgenson of the MilCan Neighborhood Association at the Jan. 27 council meeting. “In fact, we need to look at our own comprehensive plan which does anticipate the redevelopment of this property.”
“Town Yard and Sultana Boat Yard: During the recent comprehensive rezoning, the zoning of the Town Yard parcel was split to create a C-2 Downtown Commercial area on the downtown half of the parcel, and RB Professional Office on the Mill Street half of the parcel,” says Chestertown’s 2015 comprehensive plan, page 37. “It is anticipated that the Town Yard will be moved within the next five years to a new location more appropriate to its industrial function, such as Talbot Boulevard. This will create the opportunity to build a mixed-use development with residential, office and commercial uses.”
The Sultana Education Foundation has leased the publicly owned property from the town for $1 a year since 1997 to support its educational programs.
McMullen, at the Jan. 6 meeting, said the use of the shipyard has changed since the Sultana was launched in 2001 to more of a maintenance facility and to serve as a staging and storage area for their paddle programs. He said 40 to 50 canoes and kayaks are stored there.
“We actually serve as many students in our canoe and kayak programs now as we do on the [Sultana],” he said Jan. 6. “It’s a very helpful place to store and work on that gear.”
He said the location of the shipyard was also ideal for its proximity to the Holt Center on Cross Street, which serves as SEF headquarters and main teaching facility.
Despite the cold, over 200 people packed the house for the 20th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast at the Rock Hall Firehouse on Monday. The event honored MLK with history, poetry, music and recognition of local citizens.
Dr. Patrick Nugent of the Washington College C. V. Starr Center for Study of the American Experience gave the keynote address, talking about MLK’s study of history both as a way to inform his arguments and to build a case for change.
Nugent also spoke about the Chesapeake Heartland Project, a joint program of the Starr Center and the National Museum of African American History and Culture of the Smithsonian Institution to gather and digitize documents of African American history in Kent County.
Nugent said MLK was a huge influence in his life and led him to the life of a historian. Nugent recalled the Easter of his thirteenth year when he was given a copy of MLK’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail”. The book changed his life.
As he read more about and by MLK, his interest and respect for history grew. Nugent was fascinated by MLK’’s knowledge of history — both global and local history– and how he wove it into his speeches and most significantly in his Civil Rights work.
Before MLK approached officials, he did all his homework. He would cite the facts and figures of past tax disparities, of improved roads, schools, and security in wealthier, mainly white communities while African American and poor communities were ignored and under-served by business and government.
One event really brought it home to MLK. He went to a school concert one of his children was in. The concert program was supposed to be about the history of American music—it’s scope and variety. Not one selection in the hour-plus program was African American music. No jazz, no blues, no gospel. And the program ended with a rousing rendition of Dixie! How could children take pride in their heritage if they never learn about it?
Nugent, warmly introduced by Airlee Ringold Johnson, invited a number of others to participate in his speech. Dorothea Williams of the African American Museum gave an overview of the Heartland Project, which chose Kent County as the fourth locale to be digitized after Baltimore, Denver, and Chicago. And Washington College students Paris Young, Paris Mercier, and Diana Moneke told of their participation in the project and how it inspired and empowered them to record local African American history.
The breakfast featured awards to local residents in recognition of their contributions to the community. The Rev. David Ryan of First United Methodist Church and Christ Methodist Church in Chestertown was this year’s recipient of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award. The award citation noted his efforts to create an inclusive environment for all community members, notably at the Community Dinners held each Monday in the church hall. In thanking the committee for the award, Ryan invited all audience members to the dinner.
Also receiving the award was Alexus Abner, a graduating senior at Kent County High School. The Rev. Mary Walker, announcing the award, said she was impressed by how Abner spoke about her goals and aspirations. Walker said it is important to push young people to achieve – “The harder you push them, the farther they will go,” she said. A percussionist in the school’s jazz, concert and marching bands, Abner is also active in the school’s radio station WKHS. Abner plans on attending college as a music and communications major, aiming for a career in music, film, and broadcasting.
Three students at Kent County Middle School were chosen as recipients of the Vincent Hynson Memorial Youth Award, recognizing their participation in activities including sports, academic work, and community organizations. Love Ki’Onna Jackson (Grade 6), Olivia Johnson (Grade 7), and Jamiya Christie (Grade 8) were this year’s honorees.
Robert Earl Price read a powerful original poem building on a phrase from MLK, “the degenerating sense of nobody-ness” and a Harry Belafonte quote, “integrating my people into a burning house.” It told how we celebrate MLK’s vision and his stirring oratory but we rarely mention his assassination and what it says about our society.
The audience was treated to musical selections by the Kent County High School jazz band, which performed during breakfast before the program.. For the invocation, Sue Matthews sang a beautiful rendition of “The Lord’s Prayer.” The Friends in Faith quintet performed a stirring version of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” followed by “I Open My Mouth to the Lord.” And the Friends in Christ preceded Nugent’s speech with two rousing numbers, “My Ship Just Came In,” and “I Love to Praise His Name.” They returned at the end of the ceremonies to sing “Thank You Lord,” and after the benediction by Rev. Emanuel L. Johnson of Janes Church and Emmanuel United Methodist Church, to lead the singing of “We Shall Overcome.”
Program Master of Ceremony Doncella S. Wilson, a member of the Kent County Local Management Board and a Denton town councilwoman, made sure the program ran smoothly and that all involved were recognized appropriately. Another successful MLK Memorial Breakfast. Now all that remains is to go out and follow in his footsteps.
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R. Wayne Bennett of Chestertown, MD, passed away on Wednesday, September 18, 2019, at his home. He was 72. Born on November 26, 1946, in Chestertown, he was the son of the late Roland Lee and Ethel Sewell Bennett. He graduated from Chestertown High School, class of 1964 and served in the United States Army as a paratrooper and was honorably discharged. He returned and married Mary Lee Dixon in 1969.
Bennett was a familiar figure in the Maple Avenue corridor. In 1971, he and his brother, Mike started Bennett’s Mobil and Bennett’s Getty Gas Station, which became known as Bennett’s on the corner of Maple and Washington Ave. He would later expand his operations when he acquired the former Fletcher’s Service Station, now the site of the 7-11 at the corner of Cross and Maple streets. He met his customers every day and employed full-service attendants up until he removed the fuel pumps recently.
He was a member of the American Legion, Post # 246 in Betterton. He loved to play cards, travel and was a true family man. In addition to his wife, Mary Lee Bennett, he is survived by a son, Wayne and wife Libby Bennett of Chestertown; three brothers, Barry Bennett of Fairlee, Kerry Bennett of Chestertown and Danny Bennett of Tolchester; two grandchildren, Morgan and her husband Frankie Blyman of Galena and R. B. Bennett, III of Chestertown; and a great grandson, Wade Blyman. He was predeceased by his daughter, Dawn Lee Ash and two brothers, Lee Bennett of Delaware, Mike Bennett of Chestertown.
Services will be held on Saturday, September 28, 2019 at 2:00 pm at Fellows, Helfenbein & Newnam Funeral Home, 130 Speer Road in Chestertown, where relatives and friends may call two hours prior (12-2 pm). Interment will be in Chester Cemetery, following the service.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Kent and Queen Anne’s Rescue Squad, P.O Box 126, Chestertown, MD 21620 or Chestertown Vol. Fire Co., P.O. Box 296, Chestertown, MD 21620.
There is no question that Larry and Wendy Culp are bullish on Chestertown. Long before he assumed the leadership as CEO of General Electric, the Culps purchased and renovated the interior and gardens of the Wickes House in the 100 block of High Street and more recently acquired Broad Reach Farm in Quaker Neck.
The Culps were part of a group of local benefactors who provided bridge funding for the Chestertown Marina project. And their Chestertown bullishness has continued with their multi-million dollar renovations of the Stam’s Pharmacy building and the former Andy’s/Lemon Leaf properties, both on High Street.
Culp affirmed his confidence in his plan to turnaround the 127 year old industrial giant with the acquisition of an additional $3 Million stake in GE on August 12, bringing his holdings to 942,668 shares owned individually or in trust, according to an SEC filing. Culp’s stake is worth an estimated $8.5 Million in today’s market.
The Street’s Jim Cramer speaking the CNBC shares his view of Culp’s recent stock acquisition.