Council Asked to Fund Playgrounds

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Children using playground equipment at Louisa Carpenter Park in Washington Park

At the Sept. 17 Chestertown Council meeting, Nathan Shroyer offered suggestions for improving the town’s parks and playgrounds.

Shroyer introduced himself as a resident of Kent County, a parent interested in the progress of the town, and a small business owner. He is a city and urban planner by vocation, specializing in disaster management and mitigation.

“I live here because of the rural character and the people, and the quality of life is very important to me and my family,” Shroyer said, characterizing himself as a proponent of green space and public spaces who enjoys walking in Wilmer Park.  He said that in a recent conversation with several delegates in Annapolis, he was told that it would be easy to get up to $200,000 to build “a first-rate quality playground” in Chestertown. He said there is a new playground in Rock Hall that has families present every time he visits it, and it inspired him to do some research on the parks in Chestertown.

A view of the Chester River from Wilmer Park 

“First of all, I found out that you’ve been building parks,” Shroyer said. “This was big news to me.” He said the only Chestertown parks that show up on a Google search are Fountain Park, Kirwan Meditation Park on the Washington College campus, and Wilmer Park – “I know there are others,” he said, noting that he had made an effort to visit as many as he could and take photographs as part of his research. He said the pocket park near the rail trail – the former Ajax property – seems to have “a bunch of surplus equipment.” He said that a query on social media about the pocket park returned a lot of negative comments, such as people sleeping in the park, used condoms on the ground, and other problems.

Based on his experience as a planner, Shroyer said that a park functions better as the number of people and the variety of different groups using it increases. He said he had come to the council to explore ways to achieve that with the parks. Wilmer Park gets “consistent use,” while Margo Bailey park is heavily used by dog walkers, he said. But he has never found people using any of the other parks. Also, the playground at Bailey Park is “binocular distance” from the parking lot, making it difficult for small children to use.

And there are no signs to direct visitors to the existing parks. The only signs are those telling visitors the hours the parks cannot be used. Shroyer said the playground at Garnet Elementary School is only open from 4:30 to sunset, limiting the time it is available for small children to use, especially in winter. He  found in his research that people once considered the Garnet playground “a great town park in the middle of town for people to use.”

Mayor Chris Cerino said the current playground at the school replaced one built by community members a number of years ago. “That’s where I used to take my kids.” He said the Board of Education had removed the old equipment because of insurance issues arising from its dilapidated condition. Since it is on school property, the town has no control over it. Shroyer said the town needs a park with facilities for teens, especially with a climate-controlled indoor space for games. Shroyer said such facilities as restrooms, a barbecue area, and tennis courts would also be a plus. “It’s really about participation,” he said.

Nathan Shroyer speaking to the Chestertown Council about parks and playgrounds

Cerino said the county has such a park at the Clarence Hawkins Community Center in Worton. An audience member added that the Kent County Public Library runs a game night at the Chestertown branch, where all ages can play board games.

Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said the town worked with the county and the school district two years ago to upgrade the tennis and basketball courts at the Kent County Middle School. He said the facilities are “empty” most of the time.

Shroyer said the facilities should be easier to find on Google maps and other online sites. “Accessibility and outreach are key,” he added.

Cerino said the town website has a section that lists the parks. Shroyer said he eventually found that website, but that the most useful information he found was in minutes of the town Recreation Commission.

Shroyer said that he came to the meeting to request that the council apply for the grant money delegates told him was available from the state. He said the town should be going for “low-hanging fruit,” such as erecting signage to let people know about the park or to put bike lanes along the road between the middle school and Bailey Park. “You could have a trail going through town with markers to designate these really great spaces,” he said. “Why should families have to drive half an hour every time they want to go recreate?”

Cerino said that the town’s budget is primarily directed toward such services as police protection and public works like road repairs. With a few exceptions, the existing parks – including Gateway Park at the end of High Street, and the Middle School playground — have been built and upgraded with Community Parks and Recreation grants from the state. Such grants are very competitive, and the state expects a municipality to spend grants it has on hand before applying for more. He said the town currently has such a grant for refurbishing Louisa Carpenter Park in the Washington Park suburb, and can’t expect anything more for parks until that is spent. He said the Kent County government might be able to get additional funding on its own, but it generally invests its recreation dollars at the community center in Worton.

Cerino agreed that a top-quality playground would be an important addition to the town’s facilities. He said he had gone to the Rock Hall park –“It’s kind of cool,” Cerino said, adding that it was designed and installed by a playground designer located in Rock Hall, with the Rock Hall Recreation Commission playing a key role. He said that at present, Chestertown’s funding for new projects is largely tied up in the completion of upgrading at the Chestertown Marina, financed with state and federal grants plus some private donations.

Shroyer said he appreciates the town’s commitment to upgrade the marina. He said it is “a question of equity” in how limited resources are used. “You need to distribute resources so people can use them,” he said. “You need to take children as seriously as dogs,” he added, referring to the dog park facilities at Bailey Park.

Councilman Marty Stetson, who has been a strong advocate for the dog park, said the park has been built up largely with private donations, and that it attracts people from all over the Shore.

Greater Chestertown Initiative Questions for County Commissioner Candidates: Diversity

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Editor’s Note: The Greater Chestertown Initiative worked this summer on a series of questions for the candidates running for one of three Kent County Commissioners to be elected in November. Over the next four weeks, the Spy will share the candidates responses to one of those questions every week.

Diversity

In the May 17 edition of the Kent County News, an editorial described how racism endures in our county. What work needs to be done to build the inclusive community Kent County should be, and how would you implement that work? How would you show the African American and Latino communities they are essential to the success of our county?

Ron Fithian

 l just had the gentlemen who is doing some work on the Legacy Days. When he found out I had graduated from high school in ’69 which meant I went through that whole integration when it started, he wanted to interview me. I’m going to tell you what basically I told him. When I grew up here in Rock Hall, it was a commercial seafood town. Blacks and whites all worked together and played together. And i’ll tell you when the blacks and whites starting going to Rock Hall High
School, it really didn’t seem to be a problem. Maybe it’s easy for me to say because they were coming to our school. But we didn’t have the real problems you might see on television. I think we’re very fortunate with that especially in Kent County. We all lived together, and it was just a natural thing. But as far as African Americans and the Latinos and how we can show them they are essential to the success of the county,

I think you need to look around at the Clarence Hawkinses, at the William Pickrums, at the Leon Frisons, leaders of this community, the preachers. Some of our more important department heads are African Americans. For example, Herb Dennis is an African American and he is the Warden of the Kent County Detention Center. One of the best we’ve ever had. And I’ve been around long enough to go through several changes of wardens. We have Myra Butler, who is in charge of Parks and Recreation. She plays a big role in Kent County, and she’s in charge of the Community Center and all of our park land. We try to make sure that African  Americans and Latinos are included not only as department heads and workers, but on our boards as well. And we’ll continue to do that. I Believe everyone has a chance in Kent County.

It’s easy for me to answer because some of my best friends are African Americans and Latinos. if there is racism in Kent County, it certainly isn’t anywhere in my travels. My father died when l was about 4 years old. His best friend was an African American and sung at his funeral. I mean we don’t look at things that way. I tend to treat everyone the same regardless of who they are or what they look like until they prove to me that I shouldn’t. That’s the way I do it. It’s one of the only good things my wife says about me. She says you might not have many, but one of the good qualities you have is—i’ve seen you walk into a meeting and you take the poorest person there and you talk to them like they’re the richest.” That is an impressive trait. I try to do that, and I would suggest everybody else do the same.

Bob Jacobs

The African Americans and Latinos are essential to the county. People are not born racist. They are taught it. I personally think everyone in life should be giving the opportunity to succeed in whatever they do. When I played sports in high school it was just a bunch of us kids just having fun trying to win a game no matter what color you are. Watching my son play sports 35 years later I saw the same thing. Routing for a bunch of kids regardless of color trying to win a game.

When I worked at Dixon Valve we were just a bunch of folks regardless of color or even gender just trying to get a job done. I have always been a goal oriented individual and don’t worry much about race. One of my commitments toward the community and making sure we are all on an even playing field no matter what color or gender you are. Everybody deserves an equal shot no matter who you are. It is all about equality. Our differences are our strengths, we learn from each other and grow together.

Tom Mason

When it comes to racial problems in our community we must practice the golden rule of treating others how we would like to be treated. I would have an all inclusive government where the African American and Latino communities will have equal opportunity to serve on committees and participate in all aspects of county government. All citizens will be treated with respect and equality when it comes to living and participating in our community. All county departments will be expected to provide the same services to all of our community without a racial or ethnic divide.

William Pickrum

I will continue to identify opportunities for inclusive opportunities.  This must be encouraged through all our social networks, i.e., churches, business groups, social and service groups, etc.  These groups must have an inclusive frame of reference.

  • How would you show the African American and Latino communities they are essential to the success of our county?

Showing by example is the best method.  I have appointed the first female African-American Department Head in this county.  As an African-American, I have been a role model for this community and have successfully been elected as County Commissioner multiple terms.  I have aggressively sought African Americans and Latinos for county employment and to serve on county boards and committees.

As a personal story, when I returned home after a career in the Coast Guard, I was not well received at an Economic Advisory Commission meeting.  In fact, I was asked why I was there. After careful thought, I decided to run for elective office. One of my goals from the beginning was to insure inclusiveness in county government.

As a County Commissioner, I’ve supported the Local Management Board.  This Board works tirelessly to make sure this is achieved. Rosemary Ramsey-Granillo, as the Director of the Local Management Board, has worked to achieve this goal and is tasked with some actions;

  1. Create a vision for the role of local government and local child and family serving agencies in achieving results for children and families.
  2. Develop plans to command public and political attention and support for programs that will achieve results for children and families at the local level.

This Board is concerned with inclusiveness and demands it.

I will encourage the development of an African-American, Latino and non-minority business directory, sponsored by the County.  This will provide local governments and residents a resource to utilize these local businesses.

All county employees should get racial and gender sensitivity training periodically.  All other local county governments should do the same.

William Short

Inclusion is imperative to the County’s overall success. All ethnic and racial backgrounds add value to our community. As an elected official I work to move the County and all of its citizens forward without a racial or ethnic divide. As previously stated I am a Commissioner for all people and have a 6 year record of serving all.

Tom Timberman

Recently, the Kent County News did us a public service by pointing out that in 2018 racism and discrimination are still very much present in Kent County. This Editorial also reminds us that Kent County’s historic record in this regard, down to the 1960s and 70’s, is not encouraging. Thus, the admirable steps being taken now, e.g. the Social Action Committee, an active schedule of events at Sumner Hall and Legacy Day, can be assessed against this background.

It’s essential that minorities actually believe that they are listened to, that they are heard and that actions are taken as a result. More African-Americans and Latinos must be invited to become involved in County management. Minorities must be hired to deliver County services. County commissions and boards should also include more minority members to become part of the decision-making process.

An initiative to identify, recruit, hire or appoint minority members should be a Commission priority.

This must start with teachers and administrators in the public school system. African American and Latino children and their parents will begin to believe they are essential to the success of the County if they are seen to occupy essential positions.

The Commission can launch an outreach program by emailing their weekly meeting agenda to African American church pastors and those from Shrewsbury Parish and the Galena Catholic Church. These individuals should be invited to speak at the meetings, to suggest agenda items and to serve on ad hoc issue committees. The Commission can also fund a video archive of their weekly meetings on the County website.

And finally, one Commission meeting per month should be conducted in each of the other four incorporated towns to encourage attendance by residents who do not live in Chestertown and are without personal transportation.

 

 

District One in 2018: A Spy Goes to the Lower Shore with Salisbury Mayor Jake Day

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This Election 2018 profile is the fourth of a six-part series on the intricate makeup and character of the 1st Congressional District of Maryland. Each month, the Spy will be interviewing different 1st District residents from the Western Shore to the Lower Shore, both Democrats and Republicans, to discuss their unique sub-region of one of the largest congressional districts in the country, and the issues and political climate of those communities.

It only takes a few minutes with Salisbury Mayor Jake Day to realize how terms like “Democrat” and “Republican” lose meaning as he discusses the political landscape of Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties. While Day is clearly a Democrat with a capital “D,” his views on increasingly the military budget and his deficit hawk tendencies could easily fit in with the GOP’s conventional platform.

This becomes even more of a gray area when the mayor suggests that Congressman Andy Harris has been soft on supporting turbine wind power off of Ocean City; a form of alternative energy that finds Harris and many environmentalists on the same side of this issue. In Day’s mind, wind power could bring up to 500 jobs to Salisbury, and as the city’s mayor, his number one job is to create an economically vibrant community.

But, as Day told the Spy a few weeks ago, the 2018 midterm election will not be focused on the issues of the day as much on a referendum on the moral direction of the country. Those whose political “brand,” like the one Harris has, is now intertwined with Trumpism, and will pay a high cost in the 1st District. The question is whether that cost will defeat an incumbent in one of most reliable GOP  congressional districts in the nation.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length.

Easton Businesses Support No Matter What. . . You Matter Suicide Prevention Campaign

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According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) every 13 minutes someone dies by suicide nationally. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reports that in Maryland, on average, one person dies by suicide every 15 hours, which results in more people dying by suicide in Maryland annually than by homicide. This fall, to help create awareness about this community mental health issue, For All Seasons is hosting its 2nd Annual NO MATTER WHAT . . . YOU MATTER Suicide Prevention Campaign with a kick-off event in Easton and a weeklong Shop & Dine event from October 5-13. The Campaign’s goals are to provide some of the warning signs of suicide and tips for how to help prevent suicide.

On Friday, October 5, 2018, from 5 to 8 p.m., For All Seasons will kick-off its second Suicide Prevention Campaign in Easton at the Bartlett Pear Inn at 28 South Harrison Street. The free event will include refreshments and live music – all are welcome.

Monika Mraz, Director of Development at For All Seasons, comments, “We are thrilled to have the support of Easton businesses to help us promote awareness about suicide prevention in Talbot County. This is a real issue in our communities on the Shore and we hope to enhance the community’s understanding of the issue, while providing some valuable tips in how to prevent suicide with our friends and family members.”

In 2017, the campaign raised $20,000 from 26 participating Easton businesses. This year, the following Easton businesses are participating in the weeklong event, donating a portion of sales on specific dates during the campaign week to benefit For All Seasons’ suicide prevention work. To date, these businesses include: Bon Mojo (October 6), Crackerjacks (October 10), Doc’s Downtown Grille (October 8, 5–10 p.m.), Dragonfly Boutique (October 12), Easton Acupuncture – Jen Coleman (October 10), Ebbtide Wellness (October 9), Frugalicious (October 7), Hill’s Café & Juice Bar (October 12), Krave (October 12), La De Da (October 6), Lizzy Dee (October 10), Marc|Randall (October 12), Out of the Fire, (October 10), Piazza Italian Market (October 12), Salisbury Gift & Garden (October 9, 10, 11, 12 & 13), Shearer the Jeweler (October 10), Sonny’s of NY Pizza (October 10), Trade Whims (October 12), and Vintage Books and Fine Art (October 12).

Sponsors of this year’s event include A Time to Heal Physical Therapy, Ashley Insurance, Baird Wealth Management, Bartlett Pear Inn, Bay Pilates, Berrier, Ltd, Chuck Mangold Jr. of  Benson & Mangold, Computers of Easton, Curlicue, Fitness Rx, Hair o’ the Dog, Hill’s Drug Store, Kevertin Pet Resort, Kiln Born Creations, Laser Letters, Massage Plus, Mid-Shore Community  Foundation, Near & Far Media, Rise Up Coffee Roasters, Shore United Bank, Studio 2 Salon, The Trippe Gallery, Troika Gallery, West Wing Salon, and YMCA of Chesapeake. Special thanks goes to Easton Business Alliance.

Suicide does not discriminate, affecting people of all genders, ages, and ethnicities. Many different factors may contribute to someone making a suicide attempt. For All Seasons hopes that by discussing the signs and symptoms associated with suicide that it can raise awareness about the issue in our community.  Because family and friends are often the first to recognize the warning signs of suicide, they can be critical to helping an individual find treatment with a provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), for every suicide, 25 suicide attempts are made. For All Seasons wants people to know that if they think a friend or family member is considering suicide, they should reach out and start a conversation. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life. The following are three steps to help people begin the conversation:

1)            Ask directly – “Are you having suicidal thoughts?” – Let them know you care.

2)            Stay and Listen – Let them share their thoughts and feelings.

3)            Get help – Connect them with a friend, family member or a therapist at For All Seasons.

Beth Anne Langrell, Executive Director of For All Seasons, comments, “For All Seasons hopes through this campaign to create an ongoing dialogue with agencies about this growing issue in our communities.  We want people to know that no matter what, they do matter.”

For All Seasons provides Trauma Certified Individual, Family, and Group Therapy; Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatry; and Crisis and Advocacy Services for Child, Adolescent, and Adult Victims of Sexual Assault, Rape and Trauma. For a same-day crisis appointment, call 410-822-1018.

Throughout the year, For All Seasons brings awareness to the community about such issues as suicide, sexual assault, trauma, and mental health needs.

Follow For All Seasons on Facebook to find out how to get involved. For further information, call Monika Mraz at 410-822-1018, email mmraz@forallseasonsinc.org or visit forallseasonsinc.org/youmatter.

Healthcare Plans See Reductions of Premiums in Maryland for 2019

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Friday announced a reduction in next year’s insurance premium rates for individual healthcare plans in the state.

The two health insurance providers in the state’s Maryland Health Benefit Exchange — which operates the marketplace consumers use to purchase healthcare under the Affordable Care Act — Kaiser Permanente and CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, will offer an average of about a 13 percent reduction in premiums across the board, the governor said. The new rates will take effect on Jan. 1.

The announcement comes after the federal government in August approved the state’s request for a waiver to establish a reinsurance program to stabilize the insurance market and prevent rate spikes.

“Rather than huge increases in health insurance rates, we are instead delivering significantly and dramatically lower rates for Marylanders,” Hogan said. “For the first time since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, all individual insurance rates in Maryland will go down instead of up.”

Prior to the waiver’s approval, insurance premiums were expected to increase dramatically next year for both HMO and PPO healthcare plans. CareFirst’s PPO rate was expected to increase by more than 90 percent. It will now decrease by 11 percent, the governor said.

CareFirst’s HMO plan, which covers more than half of the nearly 200,000 Marylanders with health insurance plans purchased in the individual market as of June 30, will see a 17 percent decrease.

Kaiser had proposed a rate increase of almost 40 percent. Instead their rates will drop by about 7 percent.

“As a result of these rates, the health insurance market in Maryland will finally have the chance to become more competitive and dynamic,” Hogan said, adding the reinsurance program will make healthcare more affordable and increase competition by coaxing more insurers into the market.

The reinsurance program is a temporary fix, however. The waiver runs through 2020 but could last through 2023, according to the waiver application — and a more permanent solution must be enacted by the federal government to ensure rates do not increase down the line, said Maryland Health Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer.

“Most of the rules regarding the Affordable Care Act are embedded in federal law. Very little authority is given to the states,” Redmer said. “What we really need — and what we’ve been advocating for years — is for Congress to put aside those partisan differences and come up with common sense solutions or give us more authority to make changes here in the states.”

Redmer declined to speculate whether insurance rates would increase after the waiver expires without a long-term solution in place.

“Short term, our health insurance rates are (going to be) much more competitive than they were this year,” Redmer said, adding that the lower rates will add more consumers to the insurance market making it healthier overall.

By Brooks DuBose

Sukkot Celebration Matched with Concern for the Environment by Rabbi Peter Hyman

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Starting Sunday night, September 23rd, at sundown, the Jewish community in Easton will join Jewish communities around the world in celebrating the holiday of Sukkot. We will moving our meals outside, to a temporary dwelling called a Sukkah. Spending time in the Sukkah, with a roof of branches open to the sky, invites us to be more aware of the changing seasons, our environment and more mindful of our place in the natural world.

Like faith communities everywhere, congregants at Temple B’nai Israel, have become increasingly concerned about the impact we are having on our environment. We’re mindful that our burning fossil fuels for electricity is pouring heat-trapping climate pollution into the atmosphere, damaging our climate and hurting our neighbors, close to home and around the world.

As warmer temperatures at the poles melt land-based ice, our seas are rising. Our own Eastern Shore communities are among the most vulnerable to rising seas. The subsidence of the Delmarva Peninsula and the slowing of the Gulf Stream will only exacerbate the harm caused by rising waters. Right here in our region, farmers, fishermen, and other residents are contending with wetter springs, hotter summers, and chronic flooding from coastal storms.

As we conclude the Sukkot holiday, the holiday in the Jewish calendar that focuses us environmental stewardship and ecological responsibility, we will reinsert into our daily liturgy a few seasonal words. We will praise God “Who causes wind to blow and rain to fall.” Here on the Eastern Shore, we can particularly appreciate this blessing and promise of the wind blowing across our coastal waters.

Recently, I along with other faith leaders, signed a letter to Congressman Andy Harris, speaking out proudly that our communities have an opportunity to show national leadership by hosting the Skipjack and U.S. Wind offshore wind projects. We called on Rep. Harris to oppose any expansion of oil and gas development and exploration in the Atlantic.

To address these problems, here in Easton and beyond, we’ll need to come together. Sukkot is a holiday for warmly welcoming guests! So we invite the entire Easton community to join us at Temple B’nai Israel this Thursday evening, September 27th at 7 pm for a free screening of the film “Reinventing Power,” and to gather in the Sukkah afterwards for a conversation about the promise of clean energy for our region. It’s a joyous time of year, please join us.

Rabbi Peter Hyman is the rabbi of Congregation Temple B’nai Israel, The Satell Center for Jewish Life on the Eastern Shore in Easton. The film screening, hosted by Interfaith Power & Light and Temple B’nai Israel, will take place Thursday, September 27th at 7 pm at 7199 Tristan Drive in Easton.

Palmer Amaranth ID Field Walk Workshop Sept. 26

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The University of Maryland Kent County Extension Office will be hosting a workshop on Palmer Amaranth. The workshop will be on September 26, 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m, at 709 Morgnec Road, Suite 202, Chestertown. All are welcome. We will meet at the Kent Extension office for coffee and doughnuts and then we’ll head down the road to a field where there has been a positive identification of Palmer Amaranth. We will discuss identification techniques and management of this herbicide resistant weed.

Hosts: Nate Richards, Jenny Rhodes, Jim Lewis and Matt Morris

RSVP preferred to Nate — nrichard@umd.edu or call 4107781661

The University of Maryland is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Offers Equal Access Programs.

Kent County Historical Society 48th Annual Historic House Tour

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The 48th Annual Historic House Tour by Kent County Historical Society is scheduled on Saturday, October 6, 2018, 1-5 P.M

Chestertown, MD, designated in 1706 as an official Port of Entry, has ever been defined by both the rich farm lands and the namesake river which engendered its wealth and survival.

This year’s House Tour reflects this by featuring some of the town’s earliest structures including: a 1730’s tavern which served merchants, soldiers and sailors alike, homes of modest merchants and three of its grandest houses.  Also on tour will be historic African American locations, Janes Church and Sumner Hall, one of only two remaining black Union Army Veterans’ G.A.R. halls in the U.S.

Along the way, we will provide a look at the life of a Revolutionary Era patriot who went bankrupt serving as Kent County’s Commissary Officer supplying Washington’s troops. We will examine the lives of 18th and 19th century African American business men and women, and provide the story of the evolution of a middle class African American neighborhood surrounding the elegant Geddes Piper House. 

And down by the Chester River, behind the 1746 Custom House, visitors will experience the restored Betterton fishing Ark and the Log Canoe “Mary Julia Hall” both examples of historic fishing vessels, while gazing at our revitalizing marina, the Chester River Packet, Schooner “Sultana”, skipjack “Ellsworth” and bugeye Boat “Annie.”

Our Tour ends at the venerable White Swan Tavern where ticket holding tour participants may enjoy a special tea while viewing the mini museum of artifacts found during restoration in 1975. (A surprise gift is included.)

Our goal is to provide our guests with a richer experience of an ancient town…come and enjoy!

For more information please call the Historical Society at 410-778-3499 or visit www.kentcountyhistory.org

Town to Seek Vendors’ Input on Market Rules

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James Lockwood of Lockbriar Farms speaks at the Chestertown council meeting Sept. 17

The Chestertown Mayor and Council discussed new rules for the Chestertown farmers and artisans markets with an audience including a number of vendors at the markets at the Sept. 17 council meeting.

Mayor Chris Cerino began the discussion by outlining several “bullet points” he derived from the discussion of the market at the Sept. 4 council meeting as well as from emails received from the public:

Expand the space available for vendors

Expand the geographic area from which vendors will be accepted

Relax a rule requiring vendors to be non-commercial

Change or eliminate a requirement that non-profits have 501(c)(3) status

Allow prepared ready-to-eat foods to be sold

Allow vendors of seasonal items to have space for part of the year

Settle questions about insurance coverage for the market and vendors

Chestertown Town Manager Bill Ingersoll and Councilwoman Linda Kuiper

Councilwoman Linda Kuiper, whose ward includes the Fountain Park area where the market is held, gave a summary of her research on the market rules, which she had prepared a revision of. She said there are some 25 types of 501 non-profit organizations, and she suggested expanding the market’s requirements to include all of them. She said the market already allows prepared foods, subject to inspection by the Kent County Health Department, and that vendors of seasonal items are already being accommodated. She said the suggested provisions in the 6-page draft she had prepared were already in a shorter version of the rules prepared in 2012. Kuiper also noted that vendors in the artisans market pay a $20 application fee, but no such fee has been imposed on farmers market vendors.

Councilman Marty Stetson said the pavement on the High Street side of Fountain Park was widened several years ago to make room for more vendors, but nobody currently uses it. He said the artisans want to be close to the farmers because that is where the most foot traffic is. He suggested moving some of the farmers, especially those who have sites on the inside of the park, to High Street, where they will be able to park their vehicles by their space and have more room than they now do. He said putting farmers on both sides of the market would benefit artisans because more customers would walk from one side of the park to the other, going past all the vendors in the middle. It might be necessary to close one lane of High Street to traffic on Saturday mornings when the market is on, he said.

Councilman David Foster asked if vendors would be required to move or be given a choice.

“Nobody will move voluntarily,” said Kuiper. However, she agreed that some vendors who don’t currently have curb space might make the move in order to park a truck next to their assigned site. The plan might also allow the market to add more vendors.

Cerino said the market could begin expansion by placing new vendors on High Street. He said the town should work with a new market manager, replacing the late Owen McCoy, to encourage other vendors to move. He said the town would also have to “step up” to ensure that the High Street side of the park is clear for vendors to use. He opened the floor to comments from the vendors in the audience.

James Lockwood of Lockbriar Farms noted that there were “a lot of experts in this room,” referring to the many vendors who sell both at Chestertown and other farmers markets. He said the market manager and vendors should work together with the town to decide on the rules.

Cerino agreed that the vendors should be more involved in the market rules. He said he would welcome an annual meeting with vendors to work out issues. He said the town has a stake in the market because of liability issues, since it is conducted on town property.

Other audience members had more specific questions. Bill Flook of the Kent County Democratic club, which sets up a tent in the non-profit area of the park, asked about the 501(c)(3) requirement.

Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said the town has never required non-profits to show such credentials. “Local and non-profit is all I ask about,” he said. He said the only problem would be with a “church-state issue,” with a religious group proselytizing on town property.

Ingersoll said the town should submit any proposed rules to the vendors using the market for comment and suggested revisions. “Let us know what works for you,” he said to the vendors.

Farmers market vendor Bill Bankhead makes a point to the Chestertown council at the Sept. 17 meeting

Vendor Bill Bankhead raised an issue with a rule against the idling of gasoline engines for more than five minutes, noting that he uses a generator to keep his produce at a safe temperature. Kuiper said the proposed rule was based on Maryland state law and intended to avoid exposing the public to fumes, but could possibly make an exception for small generators.

Cerino then went down the list of bullet points, asking the council for their take on each. Council members agreed that expanding the area of the market to High Street was worth exploring and that the geographic range should be expanded to include vendors for Cecil and southern Queen Anne’s counties. The 501(c)(3) requirement would be dropped, making any local non-profits eligible to operate in the park during farmers market. Vendors of prepared foods and short-term seasonal vendors will be permitted.

At the end of the discussion, the council unanimously approved a resolution instructing Ingersoll and Kuiper to work up a draft set of rules based on comments at the meeting and focusing on the bullet points Cerino identified. The complete draft will be forwarded to market vendors for their input.

Also at the meeting, Nathan Shroyer made several recommendations concerning parks and playgrounds in the community. Look for a full account in an upcoming Spy story.