Downtown Chestertown Association Reboots its Summer Sidewalk Sale

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The Chestertown Sidewalk Sale, July 27-28, is two fun-filled days of amazing shopping deals in stores along Cannon St., Cross St., High St., and Park Row. Occupying the same weekend as Crazy Days, the newly redesigned event will feature evening shopping hours, wine and spirits tastings, additional food offerings and live music. “Our goal is to create a more vibrant event offering new experiences,” commented Downtown Chestertown Association President Jennifer Laucik Baker. “We hope to bring more people into the community and introduce them to some of our new, unique businesses.” What remains unchanged is the special pricing on the latest trends in clothing, home décor, gifts, books, music, and handcrafted items made by Kent County artisans and furniture makers.

The weekend kicks off on Friday, July 27, with stores opening and sales beginning at 10am. You’ll find brands you won’t find in big box stores, and many items discounted by an average of 40%. From 5-9 p.m., enjoy “Chestertown After Dark.” Shops will keep their doors open until 9pm where visitors will find bargains on a wide variety of merchandise while enjoying a festive downtown filled with food, music, and fun. When you’ve shopped up an appetite, visit Figg’s Ordinary, Bad Alfred’s, The Kitchen, Chester River Wine & Cheese Co., Play It Again Sam’s, or the Fish Whistle. For a quick bite on the go visit Park Row for Walker Family Deep Fried Baskets, Suzie Bee Hand Pies, and Lockbriar & Daughter Ice Cream.

Friday night the Downtown Chestertown Association is excited to welcome Maryland wine, beer and spirits producers from Kent, Talbot, and Cecil county. In addition to Chestertown’s own Bad Alfred’s Distilling, producers will offer tastings, as well as bottles for purchase to take home. Look for Crow Vineyard & Winery, Broken Spoke Vineyard & Winery, St. Michaels Winery, Lyon Distilling, and Bull & Goat Brewery in various locations around town from 5-9 p.m.

– Bull & Goat is on tap at Bad Alfred’s Distilling
– Broken Spoke Vineyards at The Finishing Touch
– Crow Winery between The Village House and Welcome Home
– Lyon Distilling at Chester River Wine & Cheese Co.
– St. Michael’s Winery at Gabriel’s of Chestertown
– Wine tasting at Chestertown Natural Foods

As you shop, sip, nosh, and stroll, we’ve planned an evening filled with live music and entertainment. Figg’s Ordinary is hosting free corn hole games in their Cross Street parking lot from 6-8pm. Entertainment and live performances include:

5:00 – 6:30: Pres Harding with lap steel in front of Bad Alfred’s Distilling
5:00 – 6:00: Fredy Granillo with acoustic guitar on corner of Cross & Cannon
6:00 – 7:30: Van Williamson jazz at Figg’s Ordinary and Gabriel’s of Chestertown
6:30 – 7:30: Jigs & Reels celtic at Bee Crafty and Barn Life Primitives

The family fun in our historic arts & entertainment district continues Saturday, July 28 with special sales, face painting, and hand dipped ice cream. Visit the farmer’s market early and come back for a day of shopping with us.

For a full lineup of events and a preview of specials, visit www.facebook.com/downtownchestertown.

Spy Poll Results: Chestertown Overwhelmingly Likes Idea of Nonstop Public Transportation to Easton

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The results of a Spy poll on public transportation is in, and the conclusions might surprise a few people.

In short, Residents of Kent County overwhelmingly support some form of public transportation to downtown Easton, based on an hourly schedule, with an average cost around $15 per ticket, departing every hour, and would be willing to do so more often if offered special discounts by restaurants or performance venues.

Over 170 Spy readers responded to the Spy poll posted last week asking Chestertownians if they would use a non-stop shuttle service between downtown Chestertown and downtown Easton for either work or pleasure. A summary of the survey is shown below.

1.  Would you use an nonstop bus shuttle from Chestertown to Easton?

2.   What would be a fair round trip fee for such a trip?

3.  Ideally, what schedule would you prefer if a service was offered?

4.  Would your employer help you cover some these costs?

5.  If traveling for entertainment or dining, would you be more likely to use the service if there were special discounts rates offered by restaurants or performance venues?

Qlarant Hosts Annual Grant Awards Event

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Qlarant Foundation, the philanthropic arm of nationally recognized program integrity and quality company, Qlarant, has awarded charitable grants to fourteen Maryland and District of Columbia organizations seeking to improve health equity. Members of the Board of Directors for Qlarant Foundation held a reception for the 2018 Qlarant Grant Awards.

“Giving out these grants is so gratifying,” said Dr. Molly Burgoyne-Brian, Board Chair for Qlarant Foundation. “This is the 11th year that we have provided these grants to the community and each year it gets better. This year we’ve added four new grantees to the list of organizations that have received funds from Qlarant Foundation. We’ve now given over four and a half million dollars to fantastic organizations like these since 2007.”

Photo: Qlarant Foundation presented $385k to fourteen organizations: (left to right) front row: Brenda Crabbs (Qlarant Foundation Board Member), Sen. Addie Eckardt, Dr. Molly Burgoyne-Brian (Qlarant Foundation Board Chair), Deb Keller (VP Qlarant), back row: Robert Valenti (Qlarant Foundation Board Member), Amanda Neal (Qlarant Foundation Board Member).

This year’s grant recipients include previous grantees Access Carroll, Inc., Breast Care for Washington, D.C., Channel Marker, Inc., Community Ministries of Rockville, Help and Outreach Point of Entry, Inc., La Clinica del Pueblo, Maryland Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped, Miriam’s Kitchen, Mission of Mercy, and University of Maryland Medical Center’s Breathmobile. All of these organizations are dedicated to providing health and human services to underserved populations. First time grantees included Eastern Shore Wellness Solutions, University Legal Services, Inc., as well as Shirley Grace Pregnancy Center, Inc. and Girls in the Game; the latter two were honored for their commitment to women and young girls. Also attending the ceremony were Delegate Johnny Mautz and Senator Addie Eckardt. Sen. Eckardt presented citations to the organizations in her district.

During the luncheon, catered by Blue Heron Catering, the grantees were given the opportunity to present a summary of their organizations’ work and successes followed by workshops focused on partnership and networking.

“Our Foundation Grants Event is one of our favorite parts of what we do at Qlarant,” said Deb Keller, Qlarant Vice President. “Our ability to do the good work that we do and provide support for even more positive impacts to the community is what makes Qlarant so special.

About Qlarant Foundation

Qlarant Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Qlarant, a not-for-profit nationally respected leader in fighting fraud, waste & abuse, improving program quality, and optimizing performance. The organization was founded more than 45 years ago to improve health care and human services for all. Qlarant Foundation is focused on reinvesting in our people and resources to better support our clients’ missions. www.qlarant.com/about/qlarant-foundation

If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Glennda Moragne El at 410.872.9632 or email at moragneelg@qlarant.com.

Back home on their Range: Quail find Refuge on Restored Grassland by Tim Wheeler

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Dan Small, field ecologist for Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society, coordinates the Natural Lands Project, which works with private landowners to re-create Eastern Shore grassland habitat. (Dave Harp)

It’s a little past dawn on a foggy spring morning, but already the field on Maryland’s Upper Eastern Shore is wide awake. From the cover of tall grass and a few shrubs, a multilingual chorus of birds greets the new day with a cacophony of chirps, warbles and whistles, like a symphony tuning up before the concert.

Then, amid the familiar trills of red-winged blackbirds and other feathered regulars, comes a call rarely heard any more in these parts — bob-white! Down a lane across the field, the black-and-white striped head of a Northern bobwhite quail pokes out of some short grass.

Once commonly heard, if not seen, in brushy meadows and hedgerows, quail have become scarce in Maryland and elsewhere as farming practices have changed, eliminating much of the ground-dwelling birds’ habitat. This 228-acre prairie along the Chester River — part of sprawling Chino Farms in Queen Anne’s County — has become a refuge for quail since it was converted from cropland nearly 20 years ago.

“You really can’t go many places on the Shore and hear this many [quail],” said Daniel Small, an ecologist with Washington College, the private liberal arts college in Chestertown that uses the tract as a research station and outdoor classroom.

Bill Harvey, game bird section leader for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, agrees, calling the number of quail there “unbelievable.”

“It used to be that just about everywhere was quail habitat,” Harvey said. But in the interests of cultivating crops more efficiently, modern farming has removed the fencerows that once segmented the land into small fields, along with shrubbery and weeds along the edge of croplands — all of which provided shelter for grassland birds.

“As time has gone on,” Harvey added, “the acreage has shrunk to the point where a lot of [the habitat’s that’s left] is not connected in a way that quail can use it.”

But at the college’s Chester River Field Station, switchgrass and waist-high bunches of broomsedge bluestem wave in the gentle breeze, an uncommon sight in a rural landscape dominated by vast uninterrupted fields of corn and soybeans, the staples of Shore agriculture.

A quail takes flight from the grasslands at Washington College’s Chester River Field Research Station on Chino Farms. (Dave Harp)

Quail use the cover of the tall grass and occasional shrubs to forage on the ground for seeds, leaves and insects. During mating season in spring, they call to one another with their trademark whistle and a series of other sounds. In the winter, the birds huddle together for shelter in groups called coveys.

Small, who lives in a house on the tract, said it’s not clear just how many quail inhabit the grassland, which occupies just a sliver of the 5,000-acre Chino Farms — owned by Dr. Harry Sears, a retired physician who’s on the college’s governing board. But “calling counts” conducted on a portion of the tract have tallied about 35 male birds in that immediate area.

Though the grassland looks wild and even a tad unkempt to the untrained eye, it’s actually managed to stay that way. In a rotation intended to sustain the grasses but vary their height across the tract, blocks of land are periodically mowed, sprayed with herbicide and set ablaze with controlled burns. Otherwise, shrubs and eventually trees would take over. While that would be a natural succession, the aim in this case is to retain a haven for wildlife that thrive only in prairie-type landscapes.

Though quail — a once-popular game bird — may be the most charismatic denizen of the Chester River tract, they’re not the only avian species that have a stake in the success of the grassland restoration. In essence, according to Small, they’re an “umbrella” species for lots of other birds that need similar habitat, such as the grasshopper sparrow and field sparrow.

Like quail, a number of other grassland birds are in decline across Maryland, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. At one time, as many as 80 nesting grasshopper sparrow pairs were spotted on the Chester River tract, Small said, but their numbers have slowly dropped over the years. On that spring morning, he said, he hadn’t heard a single call.

For the past few years, the college, through its Center for Environment & Society, has been working to persuade other Shore landowners to follow suit and re-establish some of the grassland habitat that’s been lost over the decades, in hopes of reversing those declines.
In 2015, the school teamed up with Shore Rivers, a nonprofit advocacy group, to launch the Natural Lands Project, a bid to make some of the region’s farmland more wildlife friendly while also enhancing water quality by establishing grassy runoff buffers and wetlands along streams and rivers.

With the help of a $700,000 grant from the state DNR, the project team has enlisted 27 landowners in Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. By the end of the year, it hopes to have converted 375 acres into grasslands, as well as another 36 acres into wetlands. The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has kicked in $499,000 to create another 275 acres of upland habitat and 27 acres of wetlands, extending farther south into Talbot County.

“It’s not going to be for everyone, and we’re not trying to twist landowners’ or farmers’ arms to do this,” Small explained. “They have to want to create that change on the property.” But if someone has marginal cropland they’re willing to convert, he said, they can be compensated for taking the land out of production by signing up for one of the federal farmland conservation programs, with the project’s grant funding to help make up any difference.

Small said the team is most interested in working with landowners willing to convert at least 40–50 acres at a time, otherwise the habitat isn’t large enough to be really helpful. “You can’t expect to make a change in quail populations by doing five or 10 acres at a time,” he said. The project further attempts to create habitat on adjoining or at least nearby tracts, to create a corridor where quail can spread. The birds do not migrate or fly long distances.

Small said hunters are among the most receptive audience for the project’s habitat restoration pitch. They’d like to see Maryland’s small quail population grow and become more sustainable for hunting. New Jersey has banned quail hunting except on private game reserves, but it’s still legal to shoot wild quail in Maryland — if you can find them.

Harvey, the DNR game bird leader, said that while quail hunting has been restricted on public lands, wildlife managers have been reluctant to do likewise on private property because they believe it would undercut efforts to preserve and restore habitat.

“Just like Chino Farms and Dr. Sears,” Harvey pointed out, “a lot of the people interested and willing to take land out of production and spend the money it takes to manage for quail [are] at least somewhat interested in hunting for quail.”

Rob Leigh said that he and his wife Linda are still waiting to hear that distinctive “bob-white!” call on the 35 acres of farmland in Betterton that they turned into grassland and wildflowers 2.5 years ago.

Leigh, a retired dentist, recalls hearing the birds all the time when he was growing up on the Shore, and it’s what prompted him to place a portion of their 114-acre farm in the Natural Lands Project. He believes it’s only a matter of time until the birds take up residence there, as quail have been sighted just a few miles away.

Leigh said he was a little nervous at first about converting the cropland, which they’d been renting to a neighboring farmer to grow corn and soybeans. But the farmer found other land not far away, and Leigh said the lost rental income is covered by federal and grant funds.

Even without any quail yet, he added, they’re enjoying the sights and sounds of other wildlife on the converted cropland. “We see an immense array of different birds, of a variety I’ve never seen before,” he said. “The swallows and bluebirds, they just swoop up and down, they’re so fun to watch.” The patch of wildflowers planted in the center of the grassland has proven to be an insect magnet — drawing butterflies and so many bees that Leigh said they generate an audible buzz that carries across the field.

“I feel like we planted a prairie almost, it’s very lovely,” he said, calling the field “a kaleidoscope of color” in spring, first awash in yellow blooms and then hues of purple. “My wife loves it. She thinks it’s the best thing going.”

Timothy B. Wheeler is associate editor and senior writer for the Bay Journal. He has more than two decades of experience covering the environment for The Baltimore Sun and other media outlets.

Maryland Launches “Know Your Zone” Hurricane Preparedness Campaign

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With the record-setting 2017 hurricane season still fresh in most American’s minds, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), in conjunction with local emergency managers, is rolling out a new hurricane and severe weather evacuation system as a result of the Maryland hurricane evacuation study which concluded earlier this year.  The study identified 3 large areas in Maryland subject to tidal flooding. Know Your Zone aims to bring awareness of the evacuation zones to the forefront of Marylanders’ summer plans and make evacuation notices easier to disseminate.

“Proper and timely messaging for evacuations saves lives,” said MEMA Executive Director Russ Strickland. “This new system is designed to make it easier for local emergency managers to evacuate areas by encouraging Marylanders to Know Your Zone before a storm hits.”

The first year of the program will encourage Maryland residents to know the evacuation zone of their residence, business or vacation site. The zones are designated by letters A, B and C.

Zone A areas are the most likely to be impacted by severe flooding in the event of a major storm or hurricane. In future years, the program will focus on refining evacuation routes away from the affected areas.

The three evacuation zones only affect areas subject to tidal flooding or storm surge – communities at or near the Atlantic Ocean, the Coastal Bays, and the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. That covers 16 Maryland counties along with Annapolis, Baltimore City and Ocean City.

“Hurricane Sandy in 2012 was a wake-up call for the mid-Atlantic region;it could have been Maryland,” said Strickland. “Working with local and federal partners, and using technology that until recently was not available, we studied updated flooding and surge patterns caused by more powerful storms to develop these new evacuation plans.”

Residents of and visitors to Maryland are encouraged to visit the new interactive Know Your Zone web page, www.KnowYourZoneMd.com, where they can learn more about the project. On that page, you can type in an address and quickly find out what zone, if any, the property is located in.

If local officials feel an evacuation is needed to protect lives, they will issue the order by zones instead of having to define specific geographic areas. This program is similar to one rolled out last year in neighboring Virginia.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June to November. Hurricanes can cause strong winds, heavy rain, inland flooding and other severe weather, but residents in Maryland can be prepared by ensuring they know how to receive a warning, have a plan, practice safety tips and know their evacuation zone.

It is important to remember Maryland can see hurricanes and impacts from a storm hundreds of miles away. Hurricanes can produce 150-plus miles per hour winds, tornadoes and tremendous flooding from both tidal surges as well as torrential rain

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released its forecast for the upcoming season and predicted near- to above-normal activity.  However, it only takes one storm hitting the mid-Atlantic area to seriously affect Maryland.

Residents can also take the following actions to remain safe:

• Build an emergency supply kit and develop a family emergency and communications plan.
• Stay tuned to trusted sources such as the National Weather Service and local broadcasters for official weather information.
• Follow instructions and advice given by emergency officials, especially instructions related to evacuation.
• During severe weather, stay indoors away from windows, close all interior doors, and brace external doors. If you live near the shore or coast, expect the storm tide will inundate your home.
• Monitor NWS flood warnings for your area and be prepared to seek higher ground. Flooding is often our biggest threat.
• Fill a bathtub or other large container with water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets.
• Charge electronic devices before bad weather hits and consider keeping a charger in your car.

Additional preparedness information can be found on MEMA’s web site at mema.maryland.gov or the Kent County Office of Emergency Services web site at www.kentcounty.com/oes. Residents can also download the free MARYLAND Prepares mobile app at mema.maryland.gov/Pages/mdprepares.aspx.

DCA Plans Changes in “Crazy Days,” First Friday

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Jennifer Laucik Baker, president of the Downtown Chestertown Association, tells the town council about plans for the annual sidewalk sale.    

The Downtown Chestertown Association has decided its annual “Crazy Days” sidewalk sale needs a new look. The answer – add wine and music!

At the July 2 meeting of the Mayor and Council, Jennifer Laucik Baker, president of the DCA, said this year’s sidewalk sale will feature several regional wineries and a distillery offering their wares on Friday evening, July 27. She requested a waiver of the town’s open container ordinance for Friday evening. In addition to the wineries, the evening will feature four or five local music groups performing at various locations throughout the downtown shopping district between 5 and 9 p.m. The name of the event will also be changed from “Crazy Days” to “Chestertown Sidewalk Sale.”

Baker said the idea was to make the annual sidewalk sale, scheduled for July 27 and 28, “a more vibrant event” in hopes of bringing more people into the community. “The event needs to evolve a bit,” she said, and to reflect the changing demographics of the business community. The addition of music and wine tasting should offer “more experiential-based opportunities in addition to retail opportunities during the event itself,” she said, with multiple events to engage a younger crowd. The evening will end at Bad Alfred’s Distillery with events to bring attendees inside.

The DCA also requested that Park Row be closed to traffic for part of the afternoon and evening Friday. An ice cream vendor, some food trucks and live music would be on the block. Baker said there are three new businesses on Park Row, and the idea was to attract attendees to that section of the town, which is separated from the rest of the shopping district by Fountain Park. Other music will be near Figg’s Ordinary, the former J.R.’s bar, and Skippy’s – again, with the intention of drawing people to parts of the shopping district they might not normally visit.

The event will continue on Saturday, but without the vineyards and with no street closing. Baker said there would be some live music Saturday.

Town Manager Bill Ingersoll recommended that the council approve the permits, describing the event as “First Friday on steroids.” The council approved the permit without dissent.

Baker also said the DCA is working in conjunction with the Kent County Arts Council and the Arts and Entertainment District to make a few changes in the First Friday format in coming months. She said the goal was to foster “a more arts-based event,” increasing live music and arts. She said First Fridays are already an important occasion for the town’s various galleries and arts-oriented businesses. “The next big First Friday we’re planning is September, which will be ‘Welcome back WAC’ for the Washington College crowd,” she said. The DCA is partnering with the college for events coordinated with orientation for new students, with the goal of making it an annual September experience.

Chestertown Mayor and Council — from left, Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver, Mayor Chris Cerino, Town Manager Bill Ingersoll, Councilwoman Linda Kuiper and Councilman David Foster     

Ingersoll told the council that residents of the Haacke Drive neighborhood have requested traffic calming along the street, in the form of two speed humps. Ingersoll said he thought the best locations for the humps would be near the intersection of Morgnec Road, near Magnolia Hall, and near the actual residential project which borders on Scheeler Road. He said the town has had “varying success” with speed bumps in town, citing the ones in front of the two schools as the most successful. In other neighborhoods, “they come and go,” he said. The broader humps cost $2,000 to $3,000, compared to the “more abrupt” speed bumps seen elsewhere, which cost $700 to $800, he said.

Ingersoll said he had spoken to Cerino about the issue of putting in the humps on a road that leads to the KRM business park now under construction at the north end of Haacke. He said a fair amount of traffic to the park would be using Haacke. He said he thought the town needs to talk to the builder before committing to the humps, but his recommendation would be to install them.

Councilwoman Linda Kuiper said there had been accidents at the four-way stop at the corner of Haacke and Scheeler. She said she hoped the four-way stop would not be taken out.

Ingersoll said he thought there would eventually be a light at that intersection, but until then the four-way stop is “an absolute necessity.” He said the density of zoning in the area meant that Haacke Drive would be “a little more traveled” than other town streets.

Cerrino said that the neighborhood had done everything the town asked for as far as gathering signatures on petitions and contacting the council. He said expected that the developer of the business campus “isn’t going to like it,” but that the residents of the neighborhood have a legitimate safety concern.

The council voted to authorize the bumps pending consultation with the neighborhood and the developer of the business campus.

Also, Ingersoll requested the council to authorize Mayor Chris Cerino to sign any papers relevant to a federal grant application that could result in the town receiving several million dollars for street repairs. The deadline for the application is July 19. Ingersoll said the grant will be very competitive, but he hopes the town could get $2 million to $2.5 million to repair the streets that have deteriorated the most. The grants, which focus on rural transportation, fall under the American Recovery Act. “This is a tremendous opportunity; it’ll take some work, but I believe it’s worth it,” he said. “We have to try to grab this ring while we can.”

The council approved the appointment of Dinah Hicks and Harold Somerville to the town Recreation Commission, pending completion of background checks.

Kuiper, in her ward report, called attention to the Kent County Historical Society, located in the Bordley Building at the corner of High and Cross Streets. She said the society is dedicated to preserving and commemorating the history and heritage of the county, with exhibits, lectures, and a research collection. She said it should not be confused, as some residents do, with the town’s Historic District Commission, which rules on building and construction in the historic district. She said that the Historical Society gets many phone calls from residents assuming it is responsible for enforcing the historic district regulations, and she wanted to clarify the difference between the two bodies.

At the end of the meeting, Cerino announced that the town hall bocce team had finished in second place in the town bocce tournament, losing the final match 17-13 after leading by as many as five points. He proudly displayed the trophy, promising a stronger finish in the future.

Mayor Chris Cerino displays the trophy for the town hall team’s second-place finish in the town bocce league.    

Chestertown Theater Looks to Open in August

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The facade of the former Chester Five movie theater awaits its new sign. The theater is projected to open under new management in August, more than a year after it closed.

Movie fans in Kent County will have to wait at least another month for the Chestertown theater to reopen.

Closed since June 2017, the theater attracted the interest of the Chesapeake Movies group last Fall. The Chestertown theater will be the first for Chesapeake Movies, though the principals have been active with Horizon Cinemas, which operates a number of theaters in the Baltimore area.

After negotiations with Silicato Development, which operates the Washington Square shopping center where the theater is located, the Chesapeake Movies group obtained a $75,000 economic development loan from the Kent County Commissioners. The Chestertown Mayor and Council agreed to repay the loan from proceeds of the town’s entertainment tax, which applies primarily to movie theaters. The town has received no revenues from the tax since the theater closed last year.

While the owners were at one point hoping to open by Memorial Day weekend, Mike Klein, one of the principals of Chesapeake Movies, said in a recent interview with the Spy that the opening is now expected to be in August. The renovation is, he said, is in process.  “We’re still cleaning the building out,” Klein said. “There was a lot left behind by the previous owner.” He said the new owners have taken out four dumpsters of material left behind, with more still to be removed. Among the items removed are the old seats, which Klein said were in poor condition and had to be destroyed. He said he had been contacted by one local theater interested in taking them if they were still usable, but “they were no good for anybody.” The old carpeting is also being replaced.

The theater is being completely rewired, with new digital projectors and sound equipment to be installed. Klein described the new equipment as “2018 technology.” “It’s going to be a nice community theater,” he said.

Among the renovations being planned is a complete upgrade of the theater’s heating and cooling systems, which is being paid for by Silicato Corp., the mall owner. The need to replace these systems was partly responsible for the renovations taking longer than originally planned, Klein said.

Also, the concession area is being completely renovated.  Offerings will depend on the kind of space available for preparation, but typical theater fare (popcorn, candy, etc.) may be expanded to include finger foods such as mini-pizza, chicken fingers or mozzarella sticks. The drinks will all be Coke products, Klein said.

The new owners are retaining the five-theater configuration. Not only does it reduce the amount of construction needed, it keeps the theaters at a reasonable size for the anticipated local audience. In fact, with the installation of higher-quality seats – including three rows of recliners – the overall capacity will be slightly reduced. Klein said the recliners take up twice the space of regular seats, so the three rows at the front of the auditorium will occupy the space of six rows of normal seats.

The film offerings will generally be first-run movies, but Klein said the owners would be open to offering art films or “marathons” of a popular star’s or director’s films. “I’m a movie guy, I love the old movies,” he said, adding that he was willing to “think outside the box” if there was enough community demand for something in addition to currently popular offerings. “Being an independent theater gives us the ability to do that,” he said. One option might be opening the theater for special showings during off-hours, such as before noon.

The owners haven’t settled on a price structure yet, but something in the neighborhood $6 to $8 a ticket is under consideration, Klein said. “We have to see what numbers we need to be profitable. We don’t want to charge what the big theaters charge.” Concession prices will also be in line with the local area, he said.

There will be a slightly higher price – “maybe a $2 upcharge” — for the reclining seats, which customers will be able to reserve in advance, either by phone or on the theater’s website. The rest of the theater will be general admission, Klein said.  There are likely to be lower prices for matinees, along with discounts for children, seniors or Washington College students – again, something like a $2 discount per ticket.

Klein said that Chesapeake Movies is trying, wherever possible, to use local contractors for all the work being done.  Klein said he could not say whether it would be early or late August for the opening but said he would keep us apprised of any progress or delays.

We look forward to the opening of the new theater.  Keep tuned for to the Spy for updates.

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Rep. Andy Harris Opens Application for Military Service Academy Nominations

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Congressman Andy Harris, M.D. (MD-01) is pleased to announce that the U.S. Military Service Academies nomination application is now available for students wishing to join the class of 2023. Congressman Harris will nominate some of the finest students from Maryland’s First Congressional District for appointments to the U.S. Military, Naval, Air Force, and Merchant Marine Academies. The Coast Guard Academy does not require a Congressional nomination, though Congressman Harris will recommend interested applicants on a case-by-case basis.

Admission to the service academies is based on SAT/ACT scores, class rank, physical aptitude scores, extracurricular activities, athletic abilities, medical examinations, and a panel interview. Academies accept applications on a rolling basis beginning in September. Final acceptance is also contingent upon receiving a nomination from an authorized source such as one’s Congressman or Senator.

The deadline to apply for a nomination from Congressman Harris is October 22, 2018. All qualified residents of Maryland’s First District are encouraged to apply. Interviews will be conducted in the fall by Congressman Harris’ Military Academy Review Board, which is made up of veterans and reservists of the United States military. The Service Academies will be notified of Congressman Harris’ nominations by December 31, 2018.

Students can download the nomination application at https://harris.house.gov/services/military-academy-nominations. Completed applications should be submitted to Congressman Harris’ Kent Island District office at 100 Olde Point Village, Suite 101, Chester, MD 21619. For questions, please call the Kent Island District Office at 410-643-5425.

Chestertown to Get Map of Water System

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Chestertown Utilities Manager Bob Sipes (R) tells Mayor Chris Cerino about bids for mapping the town’s water system.

Chestertown will be getting a new, state-of-the-art digital map of its water system.

Town Utilities Director Bob Sipes reported the results of a bid opening for creating the map at the July Utilities Commission meeting, at the beginning of the Monday council meeting.

“We got a large number of proposals for the mapping,” Sipes told the council. He said he had looked at the four lowest bidders as possible contractors for the map, which would include a graphic information systems computerized map showing all mains, hydrants, and valves, plus other necessary information to allow workers to maintain and perform repairs on the system. The contractor would also train town employees to edit the map and add features, so it wouldn’t be necessary to call in the contractor if the town added a development or annexation.

The town already has an up-to-date map of the wastewater system, which the new map would supplement. He has said he wants a complete map of the system to be available to any future utilities manager, both on paper and in electronic form. Sipes joked about putting the file on a thumb drive and putting it in a safe so it could be recovered if town hall was destroyed in a hurricane.

Earth Data, Inc., of Centreville, was fourth lowest bidder at $42,000. “I’m thinking because they’re local, they would be better suited to build the system and tend the system,” Sipes said. He recommended them over three lower bidders, all of whose proposals were in some way flawed. He said the prices for the license, at $7,000 for a perpetual license and $3,000 for a term license, were “the same for everybody.” He recommended having the work done all in a single year, to ensure consistency. If the town did it in three installments, “you don’t know if it’s going to be the same guy back, or that he can remember his processes” from one year to the next.

Earth Data is an environmental consulting firm that specializes in groundwater, geospatial, planning, watershed restoration and other environmental projects. The firm has done a number of local projects, including monitoring test wells on the grounds of the Chestertown hospital for oil leakage into the groundwater.

Sipes said the lowest bidder, at $33,500, did not cover the entire system. Another bidder’s proposal “looked good,” but when Sipes called their references, they didn’t recognize the name. He said the bidder told him they were a subcontractor on those bids, which he said should have been noted in the bid. A third bidder came in low, but didn’t include the software – which left them room to “jack up the contract,” Sipes said. He said some of the bidders went as high as $210,000 for the project.

The council unanimously authorized Sipes to accept the Earth Data bid.

Also in Sipes’ report, he said the town had received two bids for maintenance on the water towers. However, he said, he wasn’t satisfied with the responses and would like to rebid the project.

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