98 Cannon Riverside Grille Opens

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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 jobs@98cannon.com.

Kent Residents Ask Commissioners to End Clean Chesapeake Coalition Funding

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The Conowingo Dam, the main target of the Clean Chesapeake Coalition’s lobbying efforts

By letter, two Kent County residents are asking Commissioners Tom Mason and Bob Jacob to consider terminating the county’s annual $17,000 payment to the Clean Chesapeake Coalition.

“From all available evidence, the Coalition is a lobbying group, not an environmental organization,” according to Bill Herb (Chestertown) and Gren Whitman (Rock Hall). They add: “Before handing the Coalition another $17,000, we ask that you determine what actual, tangible, provable benefits Kent County residents have received from the Coalition’s work since 2013.”

They point out: “On its website, the Coalition goes out of its way to question Watershed Implementation Plans, which hold farmers and landowners responsible for pollution entering the watershed from their properties.”

Since 2013, Kent County has allocated a total of $159,000 to the Coalition.

Herb and Whitman are inviting Mason and Jacob to conduct a public hearing “to test and examine the legitimacy of the Coalition’s claims.”

Because Commissioner Ron Fithian is the Coalition’s chairman, the letter asks for his “recusal from any discussion of this issue” and that he also “abstain from any vote on the Coalition’s funding request.”

Bill Herb is a hydrologist specializing in sediment studies who previously worked with the U.S. Geological Survey in College Park and Towson. He wrote a Spy article examining the Clean Chesapeake Coalition’s efforts in September 2018.

Publisher Notes: The Spy Welcomes Columnist Angela Rieck

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Adding to our roster of Spy columnists, we are pleased to welcome Angela Rieck as she begins her weekly column in both the Chestertown Spy and Talbot Spy today.

Dr. Rieck offers our Mid-Shore readers a unique perspective as a native of Caroline County and her professional life the led to her work at the prestigious Bell labs and other high tech companies after receiving her Ph.D. in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland.

Now retired in St. Michaels (and periodically Key West), Angela has reconnected with her Eastern Shore roots as she combines her sense of place, a love of analysis, and an uncommon literary sensibility for a mathematician in her writing. All of which makes her point of view a perfect fit with the Spy’s ongoing quest for thoughtful commentary on our world on the Eastern Shore and beyond.

Angela’s column will be published every Thursday.

April 2019 Sky-Watch

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In April, warmer nights start to make it easier for sky-watchers to spend more time enjoying the night sky. Several bright planets will add to the sky’s splendor this year, and the year’s first good meteor shower may be seen in the last half of the month. Mars, among the stars of Taurus the Bull, will be seen in our evening skies, but the best and brightest planets will be seen before dawn.

In mid-April, Mars stands high in the western sky, near Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus. Binoculars will show Mars among the stars of the open star cluster called the Hyades. On April 8th, the waning crescent Moon may be seen just below Mars, until they both appear to set in the west around 11:00 pm.

Giant planet Jupiter rises in the southeast sky by 1:30 pm in early April, but by 11:30 pm at the end of the month. Bright at magnitude –2.3, Jupiter dominates against the background stars of constellation Ophiuchus. As we move closer to Jupiter in our orbit, its colored cloud bands (atmosphere) and its four biggest moons come into easy view through telescopes. On the morning of April 23rd, the gibbous Moon will be seen just above Jupiter.

Saturn rises in the southwest at 3:00 am on April 1st; by 1:30 am on April 30th. Any telescope will reveal Saturn’s spectacular rings which make Saturn a constant show-piece for sky-watchers. Both Saturn and Jupiter will be favorably placed in the southwest sky for several hours before dawn (Jupiter brighter and higher).

Venus is even brighter than Jupiter, but it does not rise until 5:30 am, which means it will be coming up in twilight. Even so, Venus can be seen in the gradually brightening sky, close to the eastern horizon.

This month one of the year’s better meteor showers, the Lyrids, will peak on the night of April 22nd/23rd. Normally 20 meteors per hour can be seen from this meteor shower, looking toward the northeast horizon from 9:00 pm to 1:30 pm. However the bright, nearly Full Moon (on the 19th), will make it harder to see the meteors because it rises around 11:00 pm. But if we look northeast starting around 10:00 pm and up to midnight before the Moon gets really high in the sky, we may see 5 to 10 meteors per hour. It is worth trying.

Meteor showers are caused by comet debris dropped from periodic comets passing through our upper atmosphere as we plunge into these debris fields in our orbit around the Sun. They are named by the constellation that occupies the place in the sky from which the comets appear to come. Thus the name, Lyrids, comes from the constellation, Lyra the harp.

By the Byways: Easton to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

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If you take no other intentional tour along the Chesapeake Country Scenic Byways, find time for a visit to The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge just south of Cambridge. Less than 30 miles fr

om the center of Easton, the visit offers an experience not easily matched. In fact, the refuge has been referred to as the “Everglades of the North,” and is called one of the “Last Great Places” by the Nature Conservancy.

Before being declared a wildlife refuge, the marshland along the Blackwater River was managed as a fur farm. Then, in 1933, The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge was established as a waterfowl sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway.

While the area is large, visitors can experience the heart of the Refuge by going to the entrance at Wildlife Drive. Click here for the map.

Here is a scene captured one quiet morning near the entrance to Wildlife Drive….just to provide a feeling for the natural beauty of the area…

Along Wildlife Drive, you will see wildlife…sometimes when you least expect it, so go slow! The drive is a four and a half mile paved road that winds along freshwater ponds, through woods, past fields, and adjacent to marshes. You enjoy it best by pulling off and just watching the wildlife.

On one recent cold morning, a Blue Heron stood still for more than one photographer…

One of the most remarkable sites involves the American bald eagles. Blackwater is home to the largest breeding population of American bald eagles on the East Coast, north of Florida. And, they are sited frequently while just driving through the Refuge.

Of course, there are numerous areas to hike and get off the road for even better looks at the waterfowl and wildlife. If you visit once, you will most likely come back throughout the year for brand new experiences.

For more information, click here for the Blackwater brochure:

Cars on High Back for Third Year, Plans September Car Show

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Checking out the classic cars at Cars on High — car photos by Jane Jewell, 2017

At the Chestertown Council meeting, March 18, the council approved a third year of Cars on High, a monthly gathering of vintage car enthusiasts. For the event, the 300-block of High Street is closed off from 6 to 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month from April to October, weather permitting. Collectible cars are parked on both sides of the street and around Fountain Park for the public to enjoy. Cars on High is sponsored by Main Street Chestertown.

John Slocum, the organizer of the event, told the council that the turnout for Cars on High has increased over the first couple of years, with 20 to 25 each month during the first year and 30 to 40 a month during the second year. Owners bring their cars from as far away as Washington, DC, and Wilmington, Delaware, he said.

John Slocum of Cars on High at the Chestertown Council meeting, March 18

Slocum also announced that he would like to present a car show, tentatively the afternoon of Sept. 14. He said he would ideally like to close off the 200- and 300-blocks of High Street, depending on response. He said the idea of the show came about partly because the Cars on High events are drawing about 50 percent new exhibitors each month, so there are far more interested car owners than the monthly turnout suggests.

He said he would like to offer five to eight judged categories, and invited council members to participate as judges, along with downtown business owners and other “local folks.” He said, “I think it would be good for downtown and good for business, as well.”He said the entry fees, minus the cost of trophies for the winning cars, would be donated to the Chestertown Garden Club and Main Street Chestertown. He added, “There are some spectacular cars here in town and in the surrounding area, which we’ve all been shocked when they show up – because where are they the rest of the time?” He mentioned one resident who has 25 Ferraris – “He brings two of them out every month.”

As part of the proposed show, Slocum asked the council to allow the show to park five or six cars on the Fountain Park grass. These would be invited cars of special interest, he said. There was some discussion of how the park grass would be affected by having cars parked on it. Slocum said many famous car shows have the cars displayed on golf courses. He said the condition of the park is such that a few cars parked there for an afternoon wouldn’t make much difference. He said he’d be willing to plant grass if the areas could be roped off long enough for it to grow.

Ingersoll said that with the farmers’ market running year round, it’s nearly impossible to find a time when nobody is using a given area of the park. He said he thought the idea of the car show was “a great idea if done properly.” Slocum said he would email the council a diagram of where the cars would park. The council unanimously approved the permit for Cars on High, and tentatively approved the car show, pending Slocum’s providing more detailed plans.

Cars on High for 2019 begins on April 18.

Ted Capel and his wife, Brenda, and daughter, Kimberly, with his ’34 Plymouth hot rod.

By the Byways…..Cambridge to Taylors Island

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Known for hunting, fishing and crabbing, Taylors Island claims a population of fewer than 200 people who live just 16 miles southwest of Cambridge, Maryland. Turning onto one of the side trips of the Chesapeake Country’s Scenic Byway from Highway 50, state route 16 takes travelers all the way to a bridge over Slaughter Creek and onto the island. Today’s bridge completed in 1999 replaced the wooden bridge from 1856. Prior to that, a ferry connected the island to the mainland.

On the island side of the bridge, you are greeted by an historical marker and a worthy stop to read about the history of The Battle of the Ice Mound, the last battle in the war of 1812 in the Chesapeake Bay. The event occurred on February 7, 1850 and a captured cannon is located on the site.

Reportedly, the island was originally called “Taylor’s Folly” in 1662 when the Taylors took ownership of 400 acres of land on the island. A short (but, perhaps dated) history of the island is found on the Taylors Island Facebook page.

“Taylor’s Island is about six miles long, lying parallel with Chesapeake Bay, on the western border of the county, and separated from the mainland by Slaughter Creek, and from Hooper’s Island by Punch Island Creek.

Colonists from St. Mary’s and Calvert Counties settled on this island ten years before the County of Dorchester was laid out. Thomas Taylor, after whom the island was named, Raymond Staplefort, Francis Armstrong and John Taylor, were among the early settlers, who cleared the land of timber and made fine farms there.

The cultivation of tobacco and corn was the principal employment and the chief products raised for support of the people during the first century of the colony. From the year 1700, timber and lumber trade increased for the next 150 years to the extent of a profitable industry. Soon thereafter catching oysters for sale in city markets rapidly became a paying business and is still a trade of much activity. The revenue derived from oysters has added valuable and attractive improvements to this section of the county.

On the island are three fine churches, large stores, canneries, and fine dwellings, the homes of well-to-do and cultured people.”

Traveling around the island brings beautiful panoramic views of a charming, wooded and quiet place.

There are beautiful churches on the island. Below is the Chapel of Ease Old Trinity Episcopal Church which dates to around 1707.

While there are clearly roads less traveled…

….you can round a point and come upon views of the Bay complete with snow geese!

 

Finally, either on the way to Taylors Island our on the way out, don’t miss a stop at the Woolford Country Store for a breakfast or lunch. 

Like so many of the miles of Scenic Byway, a trip to Taylors Island connects us all with a bit of the past as these small communities build their future.

Joint Chestertown Lions & Rotary Club Valentine’s Day Dinner

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Lions Club President Dave Dunham and Rotary Club President John Murray.

Approximately seventy Chestertown Lions and Rotary Clubs’ members, wives, and significant others met for the second consecutive year at the Chester River Yacht & Country Club the day before Valentine’s Day. This is the second time now the two largest service clubs in Kent County have met jointly to share stories of service to the community.

The meeting started with a social hour with background music provided by a string trio from Washington College. After dinner, the trio provided the group with a series of romantic melodies.

Lions Club President Dave Dunham shared the highpoints of the services the Lions Club provides to Kent County followed by a short video highlighting all the Club’s activities over the past year. Rotary President John Murray presented his Club’s highlights followed by a video displaying their Memorial Day Celebration for Kent County veterans.

This annual dinner meeting was an opportunity for Lions members whose motto is “We Serve” and Rotary members whose similar motto is “Service above Self” to exchange their ideas in the bonds of friendship, good fellowship and mutual understanding.

The evening ended with recitations of the Rotary Four-Way Test and the Lions Club Toast and a pledge to meet again next year.

 

Chestertown Rotary Award to Sumner Hall

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John Murray, president of the Chestertown Rotary Club (L) gives the club’s Dr. Paul Titsworth Service Award to Sumner Hall; President Larry Wilson accepts

At its regular luncheon meeting Tuesday, March 12, the Chestertown Rotary Club awarded Sumner Hall G.A.R. Post 25 the Dr. Paul Titsworth Service Award for 2019. The award is named for the former Washington College president who was one of the founding members of the Rotary Club in Chestertown.

The ceremonies were held in Sumner Hall, one of the last two remaining posts of the Grand Army of the Republic founded for and by black veterans of the Civil War. The Chestertown chapter of the G.A.R. was founded in 1882.  The hall, built in 1908, was named for Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner (1811-1874), a prominent opponent of slavery. It was an important social center for the local African American community for 60 years.

Sumner Hall

After the death of the last local black Civil War veterans in 1928, the building continued to serve as a gathering place, at one point hosting musical acts such as the Chick Webb band with a young Ella Fitzgerald on vocals, and the “all-girl” band, the Sweethearts of Rhythm.

The building fell into disrepair in the 1970s and deteriorated until the 1990s. It was scheduled for demolition until a group of preservationists entered into a campaign to restore it. The building was reopened in 2014 and is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

Vic Sensenig, Washington College Chief of Staff

At the award ceremony, Rotary president John Murray introduced Vic Sensenig, Washington College chief of staff, who gave a brief summary of Titsworth’s career at the college and as a Rotary founder in 1926. Titsworth came to Washington College in 1923 and served as president for 10 years. He is credited with transforming the college from a small local school to a recognized regional institution, increasing enrollment and raising academic standards. Sensenig quoted from an address Titsworth gave at graduation in 1931, in which he exhorted the students to dedicate themselves to community service, which he characterized as “a fine art.”

Rotarian Garret Falcone then gave a history of the service award, which is in its second year. The initial award was given in 2018 to the Save Our Hospital committee. Falcone then read from the nomination for Sumner Hall’s award, noting that it has become a “showcase for African American history and arts.” He cited Sumner Hall’s partnership with local institutions including the college and the public schools, the Kent County Library and the Historical Society to educate the public on the important contributions of African Americans to the community.

The award was then presented to Sumner Hall president Larry Wilson and 2nd vice president Barbara Foster. Wilson thanked everyone who attended the ceremony and invited them to return for other events and exhibits. He gave a brief history of the G.A.R. post, citing several of the founders and detailing its history of community service after the death of the Civil War veterans. He ended by quoting Sumner Hall’s mission, to preserve the building as “a place of remembrance,” to promote understanding of the African American experience, to honor the contributions of African American veterans, “to promote the pursuit of liberty for all, and to advocate for social justice.”

Titsworth, founding member and first president of Chestertown Rotarian CLub and President of Washington College from 1923-1933.

Foster described Sumner Hall as “a very special place,” with which she has been involved as a board member for five years. She recognized the courage of the founders for their effort to ensure that they and other veterans received the benefits they had been promised for their service. She also called attention to the hard work of restoring the building, returning it to the condition it was in during its heyday – recalling one older community member who looked at the restored building and said it was just the way he remembered it being when he had his wedding party there years ago.

She also recognized several of those who made special contributions, including Carolyn Brooks and Nina Johnson for helping forge a relationship with the Smithsonian Institution, Airlee Johnson for bringing the Legacy Day celebration to Sumner Hall, board treasurer Yvette Hynson, board members Dale Alexander, Larry Samuels, Ben Kohl of the Hedgelawn Foundation and Cheryl Hoopes, who is in charge of Sumner Hall’s participation in the Tea Party Festival this year.

In response to an audience question about upcoming events, Foster mentioned the appearance of saxophonist Jason Blythe and his band in the April 13 installation of the African American Roots concert series. She said the organization’s newsletter and email list are available to anyone and she invited Rotary members to sign up. She also gave a brief account of the other surviving African American G.A.R. post, in South Carolina.  The South Carolina G.A.R. building, though restored after fire damage, has no museum or artifacts and is only open by appointment or for rental events such as weddings and private parties.  Following the Civil War, there were hundreds of Grand Army of the Republic chapters across the country, some of which were integrated, others which were segregated by race.  The G.A.R. was equivalent in its place and importance in its day as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars have been in more recent times.

At the end of the meeting, Rotarian Beverley Birkmire encouraged attendees to talk to members about the Rotary Club’s activities and meetings, every Tuesday at noon.

Sumner Hall board member Carolyn Brooks shows the Rotary Service Award

Larry Wilson, President of Sumner Hall and US Navy veteran

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