Erin Cox writes in the Washington Post that the East Coast’s first outdoor, commercial cannabis harvest is underway in Cambridge.
Erin Cox writes in the Washington Post that the East Coast’s first outdoor, commercial cannabis harvest is underway in Cambridge.
Jason Miller and Michael Brison of Eastern Shore Farm & Country Company and Donna and Eric Legg of Eastern Shore Wreath Company have moved to their new locations with fanfare.
The businesses were previously located at the Village Shops in Rock Hall and expanded to co-locate at 5745 Main Street. On September 28, 2019, Main Street Rock Hall and the Greater Rock Hall Business Association held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of the new locations.
The store will be open 10:00am until 5:00 pm daily.
Comptroller Peter Franchot presented Tom Martin, owner of the BookPlate in Chestertown, with the 2019 Kent County Cornerstone Award for Small Business Excellence. The award, which Franchot created last year, is for local businesses that contribute significantly to the local economy. A standing-room crowd filled the back room of the bookstore, where the ceremony was held Thursday, Sept. 3
Martin, who opened the used bookstore 16 years ago, introduced Franchot. Pointing to familiar faces in the audience, he likened the event to “time travel” because of all the long-time customers present, some who had come from further away just for the event. He recalled the comptroller’s previous visits to the store, including one a couple of years ago when he showed Franchot a book in which several psychologists attempted to analyze Donald Trump. Franchot bought the book and several others in the same vein, he said, to laughter and applause from the crowd.
Franchot noted that the Wall Street Journal had recently designated Maryland as the richest state in the nation, according to census bureau statistics. “We have our flaws, trust me – but we also have a lot of success,” he said, noting that the state’s gross domestic product is some $360 billion, of which 70% is due to small businesses like Martin’s that supply the bulk of jobs and economic activity in the state. “That’s why I created this award,” he said.
“There’s nothing quite like the feeling when you walk into a dearly beloved quaint bookstore,” said Franchot, adding that he has had “many engaging conversations” with the store’s owner. He noted that Martin’s success in the field has come in spite of the domination of the market by corporate bookstores. “This is a store that understands and responds to the needs of its customers,” Franchot said. As an example of Martin’s ability to adapt, Franchot cited Martin’s lowering book prices during the Great Recession to accommodate his customers. He said the store has created a legacy in the community of which Martin should be proud. The audience responded with prolonged applause as he invited Martin to the podium to accept the award.
Martin said the award exceeded his wildest dreams. He recognized his staff, local authors such as Robbi Behr and Matthew Swanson, and his loyal customers, who have been with the store since its beginnings. He reminisced about the origins of the store, crediting the sale of a rare signed first edition of Harry Potter with raising the money to commit to expanding the store’s space. The store, selling new and used books along with hand-made pottery, opened in the smaller space next door to the current main room. Then as the business prospered and grew, Martin moved to the larger area. Later when the original space became available again, he added a door between the two spaces to create the present-day spacious Bookplate. He thanked artist Marc Castelli, who was in the audience, for creating the store’s sign and a painting for the store’s 10th anniversary, titled “Who Knew?” He thanked everyone in the audience – “It’s a community bookstore, it’s for everyone here,” he said. “It’s one of those things that’s truly organic.”
Concluding the ceremony, Franchot distributed several of his signature medallions to Martin, store workers Emily Kalwaitis and René as well as to artist Marc Castelli and to Martin’s wife Liz O’Donoghue, who Martin described as his partner in business and everything. Martin reciprocated by giving Franchot a BookPlate hat and a poster showing a Castelli painting. The crowd stayed for some time after the presentation to enjoy wine and snacks and to talk one-on-one with Franchot.
The standing-room-only audience included representatives from several local organizations including Chestertown Councilwoman Linda Kuiper, Kay MacIntosh of Main Street Chestertown, Kristin Owens of the Downtown Chestertown Association, and Loretta Lodge of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce. The store cat, Keke, was also present during the entire event.
Located at 112 S. Cross St. in downtown Chestertown, The BookPlate is a full-service bookstore with a large selection including books on history, natural history, architecture, art, cooking, self-help, memoirs, politics, and more. The store also specializes in naval and marine history and all things nautical. The fiction section ranges from current popular titles to classic tales in English alongside translated works from around the globe and across the ages. You will find Voltaire and Sophocles and Shakespeare along with contemporary writers such as Sarandon and Rowling. There are whole sections of mysteries, fantasy and science fiction, westerns and poetry. And a bookcase full of signed first editions! There are also places to sit while contemplating your purchases. Come on down to Tom Martin’s BookPlate for the best hometown, independent bookstore experience.
While there continues to be good news on the main streets of Mid-Shore towns as a new generation of entrepreneurs open up new retail stores, there remains a significant problem in finding tenants to fill the increasing number of large commercial spaces in the over 10,000 square feet range.
In Easton alone, these large empty stores, from the old Safeway on Harrison, the former Earth Origins on Marlboro, and the News Center in Talbottown, remain a major reminder to the community that it has a long way to go before town leaders can say things have returned to “normal” in their retail sector.
That is one reason to look with hope at Bountiful’s recent move to its new location at Goldsbrough and Route 50.
With almost 20,000 square feet to fill, Bouniful’s owner Jamie Merida has taken a calculated risk that his customer base will actually grow in this new location, which has quickly become a new gateway into Easton thanks to the stunning new Community School building addition.
Believing that retail shopping must be an experience in itself, Jamie not only refurbished the Ceder Glass Company building into a brilliant open space showroom. He also convinced his friends at Turnbridge Point Bakery to join him in the new location so customers could enjoy fresh pastries and coffee as they walk through a delightful maze of home furnishings.
The Spy sat down with Jamie last week to hear first hand how he decided to purchase the property, his views on the retail industry, and a word of warning to landlords that they must reduce their rents to ensure success for new tenants to fill these big holes.
This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information about Bountiful please go here.
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot will travel to Chestertown to honor Tom Martin’s The Bookplate at a presentation on Thursday, October 3 at 4:15 p.m. The Cornerstone Award for Local Business Excellence is presented in all 24 jurisdictions throughout Maryland to recognize small and family-owned businesses that celebrate the guiding values of independence, innovation, and investment, while becoming part of the community fabric.
The Bookplate, the only independent bookstore in downtown Chestertown, was opened by Martin in 2004. He carries a large inventory of books across many genres and hosts numerous book talks and signings with well-known authors. Martin also co-founded the Kent County Poetry Festival, held every April since 2008.
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.
Smithsonian Magazine identified Cambridge, Maryland as one of its top 15 cities to visit in 2019. The magazine ranked Cambridge as a place to visit with other major tourist destinations including Avalon, California (Catalina Island); Williams, Arizona (Gateway to the Grand Canyon); and Medora, North Dakota (home of Theodore Roosevelt National Park). Cambridge is one of the nation’s oldest cities, dating back to 1684, and has a long history as a tourist destination. The city is located on the banks of the Choptank River, near the Chesapeake Bay, and is well known for its seafood. Cambridge provided the inspiration for author James Michener’s novel “Chesapeake”, and murals depicting scenes from his work can be found throughout the City and County.
Cambridge is a popular destination for travelers of all ages. Outdoor enthusiasts have an endless supply of scenic stretches to walk or bike and endless waterways to kayak or canoe. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is located south of town. History enthusiasts will appreciate the Harriet Tubman visitors center, the Harriet Tubman Museum, the Richardson Maritime Museum, and the Dorchester County Historical Society Museum.
Romantics will enjoy the waterfront parks, Choptank Lighthouse, historic Pine Street, and the boutique shops, pubs, and restaurants in the historic downtown. Some visitors may want to experience life as a waterman by taking a trip out on the Choptank River to dredge for oysters onboard the skipjack Nathan of Dorchester. All visitors will want to view Cambridge’s latest mural of Harriet Tubman extending her hand to a slave seeking freedom. The mural has attracted worldwide interest on both social and traditional media outlets. The community accommodations include chain hotels, Bed and Breakfasts and the Hyatt’s Chesapeake Bay Resort & Spa, all located within the city limits.
The community is hosting a media event in celebration of this noteworthy recognition. The event is scheduled for Friday, August 16th at 12:00 p.m. at Long Wharf Park, located at the end of Historic High Street. You are invited to send representatives to cover the event and see first-hand why Cambridge made the list as one of the top places in America to visit.
A new fitness center is opening at Washington Square Shopping Center right next to Town Stationers, which is soon to close its doors.
Sean Madden of Madden Fitness says he hopes to open by July 15, pending completion of renovations and inspections.
The facility will offer personal and group training as well as personalized performance training for competitive athletes. In addition to personal training, Madden said a basic membership for access to the wide array of cardio and resistance equipment will be “very affordable,” and he plans to have 24-hour keyless access by the end of the year.
Madden has been a fitness trainer for 12 years, of which six were spent at Aquafit in Chestertown. Prior to Aquifit, Madden was a trainer at Commitment Fitness in Centreville, which is now a YMCA.
A long time rugby player and fitness enthusiast, Madden says his job provides the best of both worlds.
“I get paid to do something I truly love and at the same time help others live happier healthier lives.”
Madden has earned quite a following in Chestertown and said his first order of business will focus on reconnecting with old clients and signing on new members.
New programs will be introduced after things are up and running he said. He said a “boxing type” workout will be available as well as HIIT training (High Intensity Interval Training).
Madden can be reached at 443-282-6121.
Nine current and former Maryland prison inmates have settled their discrimination lawsuit, Brown v. Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, for $1.4 million in damages and attorneys’ fees. The Maryland Board of Public Works has just approved the settlement payment. Under the settlement, the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services (DPSCS) will modify prison procedures and provide assistive technology for the blind to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other applicable laws.
The lawsuit, led by Steve Meehan and the Prisoner Rights Information System of Maryland (PRISM) located Chestertown and Brown, Goldstein & Levy of Baltimore, with the assistance of the Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind and the Prisoner Rights Information System of Maryland (PRISM), alleged that DPSCS denied the blind inmates access to prison jobs, kept them in prison longer, denied them access to prison programs and information, and put them in danger because of their disabilities. Specifically, because they were blind, the inmates were housed at a medium-security prison, even when they were eligible for lower security or for programs at the state’s 26 other facilities. Blind inmates were also excluded from the prison work programs that allow prisoners to learn job skills and earn higher wages and credits off their sentences.
The suit further alleged that the blind prisoners did not have equal access to prison services and privileges available to other inmates because the prison communicates with inmates primarily in print, but made no accommodations for inmates who could not see. The ADA, enacted in 1990, prohibits discrimination against inmates with vision disabilities and requires state agencies, including prisons, to ensure “equally effective communication” with blind and low-vision inmates. The plaintiffs in the case alleged that the prison’s discrimination denied them the ability to communicate and endangered their safety. They had to rely on other inmates to help them navigate prison facilities, read their mail (including attorney-client communications), read the rules in the inmate handbook, use the commissary and prison library, file grievances and requests for medical attention, and more. Not surprisingly, this subjected them to mistreatment by other inmates, who took advantage of the blind prisoners’ need for help by extorting money, commissary items, and even sex.
Some of the changes that DPSCS will make under the settlement agreement include:
Setting up computers with text-to-speech screen reader software, document scanners, and other assistive technology in the prison library, classrooms, and other locations to allow blind prisoners to conduct research and read and prepare documents independently;
Ensuring that blind inmates have access to qualified human readers and scribes who meet certain security and disciplinary criteria; and
Providing training for blind inmates in skills that will allow them greater independence.
“These blind inmates do not seek special treatment,” said Mark Riccobono, President of the National Federation of the Blind. “They seek only equal and independent access to the same facilities, services, and privileges that are available to other inmates. Lack of that access has not only denied them their rights but led to a nightmare of extortion, threats, and violence. We are happy the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services has agreed to make changes and hope that corrections officials throughout the nation take note. The National Federation of the Blind will continue to fight for the rights of our blind brothers and sisters, including those behind bars.”
Background: A National Problem
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 7 percent of state and federal prisoners have vision disabilities, significantly higher than the 2 percent of people not in prison. As people age in prison, that number increases to 15 percent. According to the report “Making Hard Time Harder” by the Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities Project at Disability Rights Washington, “While prison is hard for everyone, incarceration is even more challenging for inmates with disabilities. Research shows that inmates with disabilities are sentenced to an average of fifteen more months in prison as compared to other inmates with similar criminal convictions. The time they serve is also harder, with more sanctions imposed and less access to positive programming than other inmates.”
Abused, Depressed, and “Frightened All the Time”
Gregory Hammond, one of the plaintiffs, lost his sight in prison due to multiple sclerosis. He says of his experiences: “I wanted to work in one of the vocational shops at the prison to reduce my sentence and learn some skills for when I got out, but they said blind people weren’t allowed to work in the shops. They assigned me an inmate walker to guide me around instead of letting me use a white cane or teaching me how to navigate myself. Then they made me share a cell with him and he stole from me because I was blind and couldn’t see my things. He assaulted me because I bumped into his TV, and I couldn’t defend myself. And I had to depend on him for everything – going out of my cell, reading mail or rules, writing medical slips. I even had to pay him to write the medical slip to get help for the injuries he gave me. But they still would not give me a single cell. Later, when my MS acted up, no one would write a medical slip for me, so I was paralyzed in my bed overnight. Inmates I had to pay to read my mail for me even went after my family. One threatened to hook up with my mother because, while he was reading my mail, he saw a picture of her. Another wrote obscene letters to my little sister because he got her picture and address from reading my mail. I couldn’t ask them to write grievances about themselves, even if I could have afforded to, and the computers in the library weren’t accessible for the blind, so I couldn’t do anything. I was mentally abused and powerless, and it changed me. It made me depressed. I was scared and frightened all the time. And it’s hard to cope when you are a grown man and you have to depend on someone else, another inmate, to help you, and he’s just taking advantage of you.”