Industrial Hemp Comes to the Shore


Industrial hemp is getting traction as federal and state legislation loosens regulatory strangleholds on production. Industrial hemp was widely used in the United States for broad application of industrial uses including shipping ropes and lines, paper, linen, oils and fuels, livestock feed, and food additives up in the 1930s when powerful chemical and paper interests put an end to hemp production overnight in the name of drug interdiction, a theory now discredited.

Claas Xerion 4000 VC from DunAgro, a Dutch manufacturer, separates protein-rich foliage from the stem and collects it in a bunker on the back of the machine for cattle feed

Shawn Landgraf, CEO of Universal Hemp, headquartered in Cambridge, Maryland, is working with his team to bring industrial hemp back, hopefully in the Eastern Shore’s climate and growing conditions. The company has adopted a vertically integrated concept of controlling hemp production by partnering with farmers and controlling the processing and distribution.

The company is working to meet industrial hemp CBD (Cannabidiol) demand, the industrial cousin of the more potent pharmaceutical grade CBD grown and processed in controlled environments and free from pesticide and herbicide exposure and sold only in medical cannabis dispensaries. Industrial hemp is grown in fields in the proximity of other crops.

“We are engaged in the research to develop the genetics and best management practices for industrial hemp production,” Landgraf said. He went on to explain that Maryland has lifted hemp production restrictions and he is actively engaged in recruiting farmers.

“Hemp can be used to make any manufactured better,” Taylor Martin, director of Universal Hemp’s national production. Hemp seeds and other by-products are exempt from federal criminal laws, as opposed to medical cannabis. It has no psychoactive effect. Martin described the broad use of hemp, including paper, cloth, concrete inputs, industrial oils, fuels and lubricants. “Hemp is a great food protein source, Martin continued, citing such outputs as hemp seeds, flour and milk, all currently available in U.S. grocery stores.

Martin touched on the period prior to the 1937 prohibition on marijuana and hemp production, when hemp CBD was part of livestock feed and found in the American diet in many forms. “We were a much healthier country,” Martin noted.

Jude Desiderio, Universal Hemp’s director of sales, remarked that the company is looking at a “full spectrum of uses.” He remarked that the upside for farmers was substantial. Comparing inputs and yields for traditional row crops, Desiderio explained the return on investment per acre is as high as $25,000-$35,000 per acre.

Just Sayin’: Cambridge Named a Top Place to visit by Smithsonian


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.  

Postponed – Chestertown “Music in the Park” Concert – Sat. July 6 – Chesapeake Brass Band


Chesapeake Brass Band concert for July 6 has been postponed due to the forecast of heat and rain for this Saturday.

The leader for the Chesapeake Brass Band has decided to postpone the concert by the Chesapeake Brass Band scheduled for this Saturday, July 6, in Fountain Park in downtown Chestertown.  Rain and thunderstorms are predicted off and on for the entire day with temperatures in the high 80s and “feels like” temperatures ten degrees higher n the 90s.

At first, the band had planned to go to a nearby church as a rain location, but upon checking out the facilities in person, it became apparent that it would not be possible to fit all 35 members of the band into the available space.

Plans are to reschedule the concert for early September, tentatively for the weekend of Sept. 6-8, exact day and time to be determined.  The Sept. concert may be an afternoon concert as dusk comes earlier by then.

The Chesapeake Brass Band is a traditional, British-style brass band that plays popular and patriotic songs.  For more information, dates and locations of other concerts, and to hear a sample of their music, see their website at

There are three remaining concerts in the Chestertown Music in the Park summer series.  All are on scheduled for Saturday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m. except the Legacy Day event which starts at 5:00 p.m. and goes until about 9:30 p.m.

July 20 – Music from Musicals with Marcia Gilliam

Aug 3 – Swing City band playing Miller, Dorsey and other Big Band favorites

Aug 17 – Legacy Day – parade, street dancing, live music, 5 – 9:30 p.m. Soul music Quiet Fire band


New Fitness Center to Open at Washington Square in July


Sean Madden of Madden Fitness

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.

Maryland DOC settles ADA claims of Blind Inmates Represented by Chestertown Law Firm


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.”


98 Cannon Riverside Grille Opens


Mayor Chris Cerino wields the scissors for the grand opening of the 98 Cannon Riverfront Grille, Saturday, as owner Joe Elliott (in sunglasses), family, and staff look on.  –  Photo by Jane Jewell

Appropriately, a cannon blast just after 11:00 am last Saturday, May 11, was the signal for Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino to cut the ribbon for the opening of 98 Cannon Riverfront Grille, the newly-renovated restaurant at the town’s marina. Formerly the Fish Whistle, and before that the Old Wharf, the restaurant offers Chestertown’s only waterfront dining experience.  The restaurant is located right on the Chester River at –no surprise– number 98 Cannon St.

Owner Joe Elliott, Elliott’s wife Kristin and their children, and the staff of the refurbished restaurant stood behind Cerino for the symbolic opening. Elliott, in brief remarks, thanked the town of Chestertown for its support. He said he moved his family here in 2012 and was inspired to invest in the restaurant after falling in love with the town. Elliott also thanked Matt Weir, who owns the physical property on which the restaurant sits, and Albert Nickerson for completing the renovations on the building in time for the opening.

After the ribbon-cutting, Elliott invited everyone to come on in! 98 Cannon, he said, is now open for business for lunch and dinner, 11 a.m. to midnight, 7 days a week.

The outside deck at 98 Cannon Riverfront Grille. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Inside the building, the changes were immediately apparent. The wall that formerly separated the bar from the dining area has been removed, leaving a larger, more spacious interior – and a two-sided bar. There are now booths on the inside wall of the main dining area, and a wide door opening onto the deck – which is being expanded along the downriver side of the building. And the entrance to the kitchen has been moved closer to the front desk.

A row of booths now lines the inside wall. – Photo by Jane Jewell

The menu has also received an update. A number of old favorites remain, including burgers and crab cakes, while new additions include brick oven pizzas, bistro steak frite, and Langenfelder Farm pork chops.  The kitchen, according to their FaceBook page, is headed by chef Chris Golder who has over 40 years experience creating fine dining.  There is an emphasis on casual yet upscale cuisine including oysters, Buffalo shrimp and even fish tacos featuring fresh, local, Chesapeake seafood and various farm to table favorites.

On Saturday, among the first customers was a family celebrating its senior member’s 100th birthday!  On Sunday there was a sumptuous and well-attended Mothers’ Day Brunch.  The menu also includes brunches for Friday, Saturdays, and Sundays.  Future plans also include Kayak and paddle board rentals.

The restaurant’s hours are 11 a.m. to midnight, 7 days a week.  The phone for reservations is 443-282-0055.  The FaceBook page is here.  A webpage is still under construction but already has some good information.  The restaurant is currently hiring more staff.  Anyone interested in a position may send info to

Lamotte Company Honored By World Trade Center Institute


At its 23rd Maryland International Business Leadership Awards reception, the World Trade Center Institute (WTCI), Governor Larry Hogan, and the Maryland Department of Commerce joined hundreds of business leaders from around the state to acknowledge and celebrate the international reach and community involvement of Maryland’s top global companies.

At this year’s reception, LaMotte Company was recognized by WTCI and the Maryland Dept. of Commerce with a 2019 Maryland International Business Award.

“It was a very special evening and such an honor to be selected as one of the 7 Maryland companies, out of 70 nominated this year. To be standing on stage accepting the award from Governor Larry Hogan—with other winning companies like Under Armour and Dap—elevated my sense of pride for all that everyone at LaMotte Company does every day to make our company a success in so many ways.” —David LaMotte, President, LaMotte Company

Each year, the Maryland International Business Leadership Awards celebrate the state’s global success through the recognition of a handful of recipients who exemplify international business growth, growth in the State of Maryland through workforce development and/or revenue growth, and support efforts to give back to the local community.

The evening began with a chance to meet, network and learn from inspirational Maryland business leaders, followed by opening remarks from the World Trade Center Institute CEO and a seated dinner during which guests learned more about LaMotte Company and the other award winners that have led their firms to success, as well as show support for Maryland’s increasing global footprint. During the event, Gov. Hogan presented the 2019 Governor’s Award to Arne Sorenson, president & CEO of Marriott International, Inc.

“This year’s award recipients represent the state on a global level, and we couldn’t be prouder,” said WTCI CEO Deborah Kielty.

This year’s event took place on April 11, 2019 at the American Visionary Art Museum. The featured speaker was Samuel Hoi, president of the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). Sponsors of the event included T. Rowe Price, CallisonRTKL, Jhpiego, and Maryland Institute College of Art.

After the First Decade: Piazza’s Emily Chandler Looks Back and Forward


As the Spy celebrates its own tenth year of operation, it dawned on us that there were quite a number of businesses on the Mid-Shore that started at the same time the Spy began publishing.  Ranging from bakeries to contractors, dozens of small businesses opened their doors amid a significant economic recession, relying on instinct and self-confidence that their services would be sought after, no matter the current business climate.

With that in mind, the Spy has decided to interview many of these brave entrepreneurs over the next year for them to reflect on their experiences.

We start with Emily Chandler, the owner of the now extremely popular Piazza Italian Market, in Easton.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Piazza please go here.


The Power of Being Agile: Qlarant Embraces the Agile Manifesto


There’s a good chance that most people, even those running major businesses on the Mid-Shore, have never heard of the Agile Manifesto nor its twelve principles of project management but there is an equally good chance they will soon.

This project planning strategy, which was created in 1983 by software developers in a remote ski lodge over a long weekend, has been the go-to system for complex product development but rarely used beyond its intended silo. In most cases, upper management was pleased to get their products to market but didn’t pay too much attention to what system was used to create those products.

But in the last decade, all of that has changed dramatically. Hundreds of companies have now adopted this unique methodology and applied it to other functions like marketing, business administration, human resources, employee education, and countless other areas of a business.

The Agile approach has become so effective that companies are not only using it but in some cases will not even be able to bid on projects unless they are officially certified as an Agile-based business.

Easton-based Qlarant had been one of those companies who adopted the Agile principles early on in the development of their sophisticated software to uncover health insurance fraud and waste. So impressed with those results, management took the Agile model and has now used it in almost every part of the company’s mission. But more recently, the company took it to another level; they applied for and received approval to train and implement these techniques with their clients.

The reason is quite simple; the Agile method works exceptionally well. While a few large corporations have had some trouble in developing the cultural shift needed to successfully deploy the twelve principles, the vast majority of companies using Agile have shown remarkable success.

In fact, the enthusiasm for this simple approach has been so great that advocates demand that nonprofit organizations and schools to integrate its use while others have promoted its use to manage their family life

Needless to say, the Spy was intrigued by this new development and what it may mean for Qlarant  to be one of the first in the country to offer this as an important part of their tool chest. We sat down with Qlarant’s Ellen Evans and Andrew Welsh a few weeks ago to learn more. 

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

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