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

Main Street Looking to Buy Portable Stage for Town

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Stage Line 75 portable stage, for which Main Street Chestertown is raising funds to purchase for the town. The stage is made in Canada and can be installed by two workers in 30 minutes.

At the Chestertown Council meeting, Feb. 19, Kay MacIntosh of Main Street Chestertown told the council about plans to acquire a portable stage for town events. The stage, which can be hauled by a pickup truck and set up by two people in about 30 minutes, would replace the town’s current stage.

The stage, from Stage Line, a Canadian firm, offers a 16-by-20-foot covered performance surface, with mounting brackets for lights. It folds into a road-legal trailer, which means it can easily be moved to and from the sites where it is needed, and it could be stored in the town yard between uses.

MacIntosh said that Main Street plans to apply for a matching grant from the Maryland Heritage Authority to fund the purchase, which she said would total about $103,000. She said the idea came up because of the time and manpower the town street crew needs to set up the town’s current plywood stage every time it’s needed for an event. She said she had looked into several suppliers, and the Stage Line model appeared to have the best quality. “It should last 20 years,” she said. The stage also has removable back and side panels which can be put up or left off depending on weather.

Kay MacIntosh of Main Street Chestertown

She asked the town for a $5,000 commitment toward the purchase. She said the pledge would show the granting foundations that the town supported the project. Main Street would donate the stage to the town. She said that because of the timing of the grant process, the funds for the stage might not be available until the end of the summer. The price quoted includes all the accessories for the stage, plus two days of training to ensure that the local crew can set it up efficiently.

Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said, “I think it’s a wonderful idea. I think we could probably sell off our old stage, which someone might want for a more permanent installation.” He said the sale would possibly recoup the town’s investment in the new stage. He said it takes four men about four hours and requires the use of heavy equipment to move the stage from storage and set it up. Last summer, the stage was left standing in Fountain Park for the entire season so it wouldn’t have to be taken down and set up every two weeks for the Music in the Park concerts. Ingersoll also commented that the stage would cause much less damage to the park, since it could be wheeled into place. He also noted that the stage has a plug to allow amplifiers or other sound equipment to be attached directly.

Mayor Chris Cerino said it would be a good idea to sell the current stage. Ingersoll said he would advertise it as soon as the new one arrives.

Councilman Marty Stetson said he remembered when the town purchased its current stage, which he said had been a real improvement over the “cement blocks and plywood” that were used before the purchase. “I certainly would be in favor of something newer,” he said. He said it could also be taken to Wilmer Park for events there.

MacIntosh said the stage’s portability would allow the town to set it up for a morning event and take it down and move it for another event later in the day. “I think it’ll help every nonprofit and civic group that has events.” She said it might also increase the number of town events because it would make hosting them easier. She said she wanted to talk to Farmers Market manager Sabine Harvey about using it in the park.

Councilwoman Linda Kuiper, a member of the Tea Party Festival committee, said the group would be interested in using the town’s stage for this year’s festival.

The council voted to set aside $5,000 contingent upon Main Street Chestertown obtaining the grants, and authorized Cerino to send a letter of support for the grant applications.
MacIntosh also reported that Main Street Chestertown is sponsoring a “bluegrass block party” from noon to 3 p.m. April 20, which is also the date for the town’s Earth Day celebration. The concert, rescheduled from the fall, features the Baltimore-based Dirty Grass Players. Beer and barbecue will be available.

The stage will be set up on High Street between Cross St. and Lawyer’s Row, and there will be no parking on that block. McIntosh said that between the Earth Day festivities and an Easter egg hunt in Wilmer Park, it should be a “great day for Chestertown.” The council approved permits for the event.

In response to a question by Councilman David Foster, Ingersoll said the “MVA on Wheels” bus has been having trouble getting wi-fi service for its computers at the Fountain Park site where it normally sets up. The bus personnel will be visiting town to explore alternate locations with better service. Possible sites include the uptown shopping centers, which have adequate parking and power hookups. He said he would know within a week or so what site has been chosen for March.

Cerino said that Verizon will be installing a new antenna on its cell tower near Dixon Valve’s High Street headquarters, which is expected to improve service in the downtown area. Ingersoll said installation is tentatively scheduled for April.

Also at the meeting, the council approved setting aside funding for a consultation with a marina management company, Coastal Properties Inc., to explore operational procedures and marketing plans for the town-owned marina with the mayor, Ingersoll, and other town staff who work with the marina. Cerino said a half-day consultation would cost $550. The council approved the funds, which would come from the marina operating account.

March 2019 Sky-Watch

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Spring arrives in the Northern Hemisphere on March 20th at 5:58 pm EDT, as we will have shifted to Daylight Savings Time on March 10th, at 2:00 am. Astronomically, spring arrives with the Vernal (Spring) Equinox. This is when the Sun moving along it’s “apparent” path in the sky, known as the Ecliptic, crosses the Celestial Equator. Of course, this perceived motion of the Sun is really caused by the Earth orbiting the Sun. We cannot “feel” this motion, but we can see the result of it by watching the Sun appear to move annually.

The Ecliptic gets its name because only when the Moon, orbiting Earth, lines up right on the orbital plane of the Earth and Sun, can eclipses occur. We can track the path of the Ecliptic in the sky because it is marked by the 12 Zodiac constellations.

From now until June 21st the Sun will appear to be higher in the sky each day at noon and the weather in the northern hemisphere will warm gradually. Summer arrives in June with the Sun at its highest point in the southern sky for the year. So we can start looking forward to warm weather.

Meanwhile, the spring equinox is ushered in with a Full Moon occurring just 4 hours (9:43 pm) on March 20th EDT.

March continues the early morning planet show that start to impress us in February. Looking southeast, Jupiter rises by 2:30 am on March 1st and by 1:30 pm on the 31st. The waning gibbous Moon will appear just a few degrees away from Jupiter on the morning of March 27th, and will be Jupiter’s only real competition for brightness, as the giant planet brightens from –2.0 to –2.2 during the month. When twilight begins to show in the eastern sky, Jupiter will be 25 degrees above the horizon and will give telescope viewers a clear shot.

Saturn rises around 5:30 am EDT among the stars of Sagittarius and is brighter than all of its stars. On March 29th the waning crescent Moon will be seen just to the lower left of the ringed planet. Venus rises right around the same time as Saturn but easily outshines it and Jupiter. At magnitude –4.1, Venus will fade only to –3.9 by the end of the month. On the morning of March 13th look for all three planets in the southeastern sky, Jupiter, Saturn, and Venus about evenly spaced between themselves, about 45 minutes before sunrise. (Venus lowest and brightest; Saturn above and right; and Jupiter above and right of Saturn.

We can still catch a glimpse of Mercury in the first week of March (March 1 to 6) looking to the western horizon some 8 degrees up and 45 minutes after sunset. Binoculars will help pick it out in the twilight. Mars orbital motion now, relative to ours, keeps it moving eastward against the starry background, but from our vantage point on Earth, it will remain mostly as a fixed sight in our evening skies (in the southwest), not setting until around 11:30. Bright enough to be easily seen with the unaided eye, and even better in binoculars, Mars does not reveal surface details even through telescopes now. It is just too far away.

However, on the night of March 23rd a binocular view of Mars will show it in the same field of view with the Pleiades star cluster (M 45). Mars will remain in that vicinity of the sky until about April 4th. It is worth taking a look!

Green Team Announces Relaunch

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Members of the Chestertown Environmental Committee at the Feb. 4 Council meeting. Darren Tilghman (standing) and Greg Farley (seated, front row) told the council the committee’s plans for the upcoming year.

Chestertown’s Environmental Committee – the “Green Team” – came to the Feb. 4 council meeting to announce a relaunch.

John Hanley, who has chaired the committee since 2009, introduced new members Greg Farley and Darran Tilghman to present the committee’s new goals.

Tilghman said the committee hopes to take advantage of the town’s significant resources to get meaningful work done. She said that almost every environmental organization in the area was represented on the committee. With business owners, parents, “even a handful of people under 40” on board, the Green Team represents a new diversity, she said. She delivered printed biographies of the committee members to the council.

Under Farley’s guidance, the group went through a vision process in November. Farley explained the process of “figuring out what we wanted to be,” which led to the creation of four interest groups within the larger structure. They plan to focus on administration, energy, the health of the river and its habitat, and management of the town’s waste stream. These aren’t the only issues of interest to the committee, just the key ones that emerged from the planning process, he said. They represent a compromise between the group’s interests and the town’s goals, which include recreation, the rail trail, and the waterfront among others.

A PowerPoint slide included in the Environmental Committee presentation to the Chestertown Council

“It’s a work in progress, and we welcome input from the community,” Farley said. He said they planned to consult the mayor and council for ways the committee can help the town. Each of the breakout groups would also like to meet with the mayor and council independently.

Council members had several questions for the group. Mayor Chris Cerino asked who was the team’s representative from the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. Tilghman identified him as Darius Johnson, who does not live in town but is a Kent County native.

Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver asked if the committee has a member who is a resident of the Third Ward, which he represents. Farley said the group doesn’t have a geographic breakdown of members’ residences.

Councilman David Foster asked for examples of projects the committee has in the works. Tim Trumbauer, ShoreRivers’ Chester Riverkeeper, said he is involved in the committee’s new river and habitat team. He said that with the help of ShoreRivers, they plan to pursue grants for completion of the town’s projected riverwalk, which would run along the shoreline from Wilmer Park along lands owned by Washington College to the mouth of Radcliffe Creek.

“We see ourselves as a force multiplier,” said Tilghman. She said the members are able to bring fundraising expertise and generate projects for fundraising for the town.

Cerino noted that a program of tree planting along town streets was a major accomplishment of the previous committee, citing plantings along Campus Avenue. “I’d love to see that continue,” he said. He also noted that a community playground has long been on the town’s wish list, and said that he has come to the conclusion that it belongs in Wilmer Park. “We need people to fight for it,” he said, noting that there is likely to be opposition to the idea among some neighbors of the park. He said the project could be funded by the Community Parks and Playgrounds program of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, which has helped finance several other parks in town. Once the current work to upgrade Louisa Carpenter Park in the Washington Park neighborhood is complete, funds should be available for another project, he said.

Cerino said the riverwalk is a challenging project, since most of the route is on college property and therefore out of town control. “It’s important to the future of the town, as a connection between the waterfront and the commercial district,” he said.

A PowerPoint slide included in the Environmental Committee presentation to the Chestertown Council

Cerino also mentioned the last leg of the rail trail, for which the engineering and design work has been completed. The town has a grant for the project, but it needs about $40,000 in matching funds to complete it. He said if the environmental committee could help find the match, the project could be completed this year. Asked if in-kind matches would fill the bill, he said they would be acceptable, but that it would be hard to make up the full amount through in-kind work.

Councilman Marty Stetson added that it would be especially welcome if the Green Team could impress the Kent County Commissioners with the value of extending the rail trail to the county community center in Worton. He said the completion of that part of the trail would make it possible for young people in town to ride their bikes to the community center instead of having to find rides. “It would be my dream,” he said.

Tolliver invited the committee to take a look at Carpenter Park, which is in his ward. He said he hoped they would be able to help the community get “the best bang for the buck” correcting drainage problems in the park.

Councilwoman Linda Kuiper said the group should also consider helping with Fountain Park, which needs attention to the trees and work to remedy compaction of the soil.

Foster said he was impressed by the group’s resources and that he was looking forward to working with them.

Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said the committee’s meetings must be open to the public and that they should be advertised on the town calendar so anyone interested can attend. He said it would be good to have representatives from each ward. There are a lot of projects the town and Washington College can work on together, he said. The completion of the rail trail to Worton is “a dream a lot of us have,” he said. He also suggested that the team explore the possibility of becoming a non-profit entity so it can raise funds for projects it considers important that the town itself can’t undertake.

Tilghman said the team also sees its mission as a contributing element for economic development, making Chestertown a destination with equitable access for the entire community.

Cambio Wi-Fi Leaving Kent County

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In a message to its customers dated Jan. 21, internet service provider Cambio Wi-fi said it will be moving its services out of Kent County. The message, signed by Steven J. Kirby Jr., president and founder of the company, says the move takes effect immediately.

On its website, Cambio describes itself as the fastest, most reliable Advanced LTE Pro wireless broadband internet service on the Delmarva Peninsula utilizing high-speed fiber optics and state-of-the-art equipment.” The website states that Cambio had 1,500 customers in Kent County, with another 2,975 in Queen Anne’s and Caroline, and 263 listed as “pending.” According to Kirby’s message, only the Kent County customers will be affected by the move.

The message explains the decision to terminate service in Kent as follows: “We started experiencing issues with our backhaul (fiber) provider Atlantic Broadband who made changes to their network that would not work with the equipment we have on the towers. We tried to work with them, but they won’t change the network back to the original configuration so we can continue business. We signed contracts with them because they were the only fiber provider in the area at the time. If Kent County Fiber Optic Systems were in place in the beginning, we never would have had these issues and would have provided even better service than we did in the beginning.”

The message goes on to say that Cambio customers will not be billed for February services. It asks customers who still owe money through January to pay their bills because “we are not going out of business, we are operating in other Markets on Delmarva and other parts on the county where we have control over our own network and fiber.” It also notifies customers that Cambio will be scheduling removal of company equipment installed on their houses over the next week or two. Customers will be billed $500 if the equipment is not returned, the message said.

Cambio customers are advised to contact the company’s partners Bridgemaxx (844-303-5900) or Tidewater Wi-Fi (443-282-1176) for continued internet service. For fiber service, customers are asked to contact ThinkBig Networks (888-319-1372). Kirby’s message states that business accounts will be given priority.

Customers who need to get in touch with Cambio should email support@cambiowifi.com for support and equipment return or accounting@cambiowifi.com for account questions. Cambio’s Maryland office is now in Denton. The phone for the Denton office is listed as 410-779-9876. The company also maintains an office in New York City.

Cambio’s departure from Kent comes as a surprise. As recently as Nov. 6 last year, Cambio announced that it was partnering with Kent County Fiber Optic Systems to increase its capacity to provide internet services in Kent County. In 2015, Cambio reached an agreement with Kent County to use water towers to broadcast its wi-fi signal to homes and businesses at distances of 5 to 7 miles, with speeds up to 90 megabytes per second. Cambio’s presence in Kent was also notable for the company’s support of the three then-incumbent county commissioners in the 2018 election, announced on several billboards around the county. Of the three, only Ron Fithian won re-election.

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February 2019 Sky-Watch

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Looking due south on clear winter nights in February, sky-watchers can find 6 bright constellations and see 8 of the top 20 brightest stars, as seen from Earth. These include the brightest of all, SIRIUS, the “dog” star, in the constellation Canis Major. Also by 9:00 pm local time in mid-February, the first sign of approaching spring is heralded by the appearance of Leo the lion, rising above the eastern horizon.

Start half-way up to the zenith (top of the sky), looking south for the “hour glass” shape of Orion the hunter. Three equally bright stars in a neat line in the center of Orion mark the “belt” around the waist of this mighty hunter. Red giant star BETELGEUSE (upper left corner), and the blue giant star RIGEL (lower right corner), are two of the eight 1st magnitude stars of winter. Orion also boasts 5 bright 2nd magnitude stars, which include the three belt stars.

Moving one’s eyes through the belt stars, down and left, points us to SIRIUS, twinkling near the southern horizon. Using the belt stars of Orion again to point up and to the right brings us to red-orange ALDEBARAN, brightest star in Taurus the bull. The bull’s head is made of stars forming a distinct V-shape in this Zodiac constellation.

Above Sirius, and slightly to its left is Canis Minor, a constellation of only 3 stars, that represents the smaller or Orion’s two hunting dogs. Brightest of the 3 stars is PROCYON. Just above this is the Zodiac constellation GEMINI, the twins. The two stick men formed by Gemini’s stars are headed by two more of winter’s brightest stars, POLLUX and CASTOR.

Above Gemini and nearly at the zenith is Auriga, the goat herder constellation, which has a pentagon shape. The brightest star in Auriga is CAPELLA, a yellow star like our Sun, but much larger.

Leo the lion is also a part of the Zodiac and one of the brightest of the spring constellations, but in February Leo introduces itself as a sure sign that spring is coming by rising above the eastern horizon then. Leo reaches its peak in April and May. The bottom star at the front of Leo is yet another 1st magnitude star to be seen in February it is called REGULUS.

Mars, among the planets, remains easy to see in the evening southern sky, but it fades in magnitude from +0.9 to +1.2 through February. Is continues to move further away from us in its orbit. even telescopes will not bring in much surface detail now because of this distance.

Mercury will give us its best views of 2019 from February 15th to February 26th. On the 15th Mercury, at magnitude –1.1, may be seen left of where the Sun set 30 minutes afterwards. But it will only be 5 degrees above the western horizon then. However, Mercury rises higher each day until by the 26th it will be 18 degrees left of the Sun, which will translate to 11 degrees of altitude, 30 to 45 minutes after sunset.

The pre-dawn eastern sky features 3 planets this month. The first up (around 4:00 am) will be Jupiter (-2.0 magnitude). On the morning of the 27th, the waning crescent Moon will be just 2 degrees above Jupiter. Venus comes up some 30 minutes after Jupiter in the East, and be even brighter at –4.2. Venus will appear in almost the same spot in the sky as Saturn on the morning of the 18th. Venus then will be only one degree above the ringed planet Saturn, which will be at magnitude +0.6. Find a good clear view to the eastern pre-dawn horizon all month to watch all 3 of these planets in the one to two hours before sunup.

Full Moon for February is on February 19th.

Mt. Harmon Wins Chestertown Horsemen’s Cup

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Steve and Holly Isaacson from the Friends of Mt. Harmon (left) are receiving the Kent County Cup from last year’s winner, Chestertown horseman and this region’s fox hunting master Ed Fry

Attracting large numbers of horseback riders to historic Mount Harmon Museum Farm on the Sassafras River has drawn national attention to this rural tourism destination site and earned its owners the Kent County Cup from the Chestertown Horsemen’s Club.

Steve and Holly Isaacson from the Friends of Mount Harmon have been recognized for adding horse activities to the estate’s many tourist options. “At a time when museum farms face dramatically declining visits by younger Americans, the Isaacson’s have provided U.S. historic preservationists with a new “best practice” option, says Dave Turner, founder of Chestertown Horsemen’s Club in Kent County, Maryland. “Horseback riding definitely enlivens such sites. “It’s tragic when museum proprietors fail to promote horseback riding at their sites,” says Turner, “or, worse when they ban horses from properties where horses were a key feature for hundreds of years.”

In particular, the 269-year old estate hosts a wintertime “paperchase” event. More than 150 equestrians ride trails and jump obstacles along a path laid out by Mount Harmon organizers. In addition, Friends of Mt. Harmon offers special Equestrian Memberships to the public, which allow people to ride at the estate between May and October. “Such rides add to the spectacle for regular tourists,” says the group’s President Steve Isaacson. The Friends host regional and national military re-enactments that feature dragoons (Calvary units). “This year’s Paperchase raised $4,500 for the group,” says Isaacson, who is also a local farmer. “The Paperchase is my wife Holly’s brainchild.”

Friends of Mount Harmon, Inc., is 21 years old and is credited with restoring and maintaining the colonial Georgian home, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The group has approximately 900 members, a number of whom participate in the unique Equestrian Membership option. The group depends on fundraising to keep the site available to the public. Like a growing number of other museum farm, Mt. Harmon provides river kayaking, nature trails for birders, and opportunities to help with locating Native American camps, slave cemetery sites, and slave dwelling footprints. Currently, Mt. Harmon has located one such locale and is in process of rebuilding the slave house. The effort is to show visitors a hands-on replication of an 18th century tobacco farm in the mid-Atlantic region. The Tockwogh Tribe inhabited the area when Captain John Smith visited in 1609.

Future equestrian projects for Chestertown Horsemen include assisting with the development of a full-scale equestrian park in the vicinity, a Heritage Horse Day Celebration in cooperation with the Historical Society of Kent County, and the establishment of a riding trail alongside Kent County’s railroad tracks. A course on Chestertown’s recreational horse activities was offered in this season’s WC-All curriculum. The group’s Kent County Cup is maintained in the council chambers at Chestertown Town Hall. Previous winners were Mr. Harry Sears and Master of the Foxhounds Ed Fry.

For information about joining Chestertown Horsemen contact Turner at dathistory@gmail.com.

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