Mid-Shore Aviation: Helping Students See the Big Blue Sky of Aviation Careers


One of the most underreported challenges facing American aviation these days is the high demand for jobs in the fields of air traffic control, aviation maintenance, piloting, drone operators, and flight paramedics. In a world that has been pushing vocations like truck driving, EMS technicians, or master welders, the field of aviation tends to get far less attention, but its need for a trained workforce has never been greater.

That’s the point of view of Easton Airport’s newly appointed manager Micah Risher.

Risher, whose own path was dramatically changed when the Trappe native was introduced to the field of aviation as a teenager at the Mid-Shore’s popular airport, has made it a top priority to develop education programs that inform and excite young people about careers that are both high-paying and can be close to home. That is why this year the airport announced the establishment of its own Aviation Careers Education (ACE) program to expose high school students to these high demand, good-paying career opportunities.

Through the use of lessons in flight planning, aviation history, and the physics of flight as well as field trips to aviation-related sites, Easton Airport’s ACE seeks to stimulate student interests that can lead to a secure career down the road.

The Spy caught up with Misah at a recently converted hangar which has now become the new AEC Center at the airport to understand more.

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

Mid-Shore’s First-ever Pride Festival Draws Good Crowds


Part of the crowd at Pride in the Park May 4 – photo by Jim Bogden

Chestertown’s Fountain Park was packed on Saturday, May 4, for the first-ever Pride event celebrated on the Eastern Shore.

The “Pride in the Park” gathering, which featured speeches, music, and a variety of organizations and vendors, was part of a celebration that extended over the whole weekend and included events in Easton and Cambridge as well as Chestertown. Barbi Bedell, one of the organizers, said that Chestertown Councilman David Foster estimated the crowd at about 300. Welcome mats were placed at each corner of the park to convey the spirit of the occasion.

Volunteers and visitors at the PFLAG booth in Fountain Park Saturday — photo by Peter Heck

Claire Hanson, president of the Mid-Shore chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, opened the ceremonies, thanking the many volunteers and supporters for their work and energy before introducing Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino.

Cerino, noting that the participants were “making history” by participating in the first event of its kind on the Shore, expressed his full support. He noted that many of Chestertown’s leading citizens are gays or lesbians, recognizing their significant contributions to the town’s life and institutions. “Discrimination is never OK for any reason,” he said. He expressed a hope that the Pride celebration could become an annual event, boosting the local economy – and urged attendees to patronize the stores in town. Cerino later entertained the crowd with his guitar and original songs.

Heather Mizeur — photo by Peter Heck

The next speaker was Heather Mizeur, former Delegate and candidate for Governor and owner of a local farm, who described the gathering as “a love festival.” Expanding on that description, she said that pride requires love of one’s self, with the courage to be confident that we all are part of the divine creation. It also involves love of our choices, she said, adding that she was proud to be part of the community as one of a lesbian couple – “I married up,” she said of her partner, Debra. Finally, there is unconditional love – including love for members of the town council who opposed the Pride festival, and others “who struggle to love us.” Mizeur said she looks forward to an era “when there is no more coming out.” She thanked the attendees for showing pride and love, and expressed hope that everyone would have fun.

Drag queen Marti Cummings, a Kennedyville native now living in New York, recalled his grandmother talking about painting the statue in Fountain Park. He thanked the organizers for their support of inclusion and equality. He recalled being told “you’re a monster, you’re disgusting,” turning the remarks around by saying he could now be disgusting with his “family.” The truth is, we’re not disgusting. Look at the person next to you – that’s your family,” he said. Noting the high proportion of young people in the gathering, he said, “this is the future of our county.” He finished by urging the young to run for office, noting that he had recently filed his papers as a candidate for New York’s city council.

After the speeches, the Front Porch Orchestra from Easton provided musical entertainment, opening with the disco anthem, “I’m Coming Out.”

Drag queen Marti Cummings  — photo by Peter Heck

In addition to Cummings, three drag queens from New York were present in Fountain Park. They and three Broadway performers gave a show at Washington College that evening, sponsored by the college’s EROS chapter. Bedell said the event drew a full crowd.

Other events over the weekend included “Paint with Pride” Thursday evening at Kiln Born Creations in Easton, which drew 40 participant; a comedy show, “Call from the GAZE,” by the Graveyard Goonz, Friday evening, which filled the Eastern Shore Conservation Center in Easton; and a Drag Brunch Sunday afternoon in Cambridge. All ticketed events were sold out, said Bedell.

Among the organizations with booths at the festival were the National Music Festival, the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River, YMCA Camp Tockwogh, PFLAG, Trans Healthcon Maryland, the Harford County Health Department, Kent-Queen Anne’s Indivisible, the Maryland LGBT Chamber of Commerce, MidShore Behavioral Health, Free State Justice, and For All Seasons.

Paint with Pride participants in Easton, Friday night –photo by Jazmine Gibson

Bedell expressed special thanks to all the committee members, including Hanson, Jim Bogden, Lynn Brennan (who organized the Drag Brunch), Tori Pack and Jazmin Gibson (who organized Paint with Pride and the comedy show – and who were married the following weekend), Michele Drostin, who organized a Pride presence at the Easton Multicultural Festival Saturday morning; and about 20 others who helped make the weekend a success.

The festival went off smoothly without disturbances or protests, Bedell said. Plans are already underway for a second Pride festival next year.

The crowd enjoys the music at Pride in the Park — photo by Jim Bogden

PFLAG President Claire Hansen opens Pride in the Park — photo by Peter Heck


Tori Pack and Lynn Brennan at the comedy night ticket table — photo by Jazmine Gibson







Chris Cerino, mayor of Chestertown, entertains — photo by Jim Bogden 





The Front Porch Orchestra of Easton plays at Pride in the Park — photo by Peter Heck

Social Action Committee Invites Chestertown Council to “Undoing Racism” Workshops


Annie Squire Southworth of Students Talking About Racism addresses the Chestertown Council, as other members of S.T.A.R. and the Social Action Committee listen

Members of the Kent County Social Action Committee for Racial Justice and of S.T.A.R. – Students Talking About Race – came to the Chestertown Council meeting May 6. After explaining their mission, they invited council members to take part in a workshop on undoing racism, being presented in September.

Ileana Lindstrom, of the Political Action and Education affinity groups, gave a brief summary of the Social Action Committee’s origins and mission. Formed in 2017, the SAC was the offshoot of Undoing Racism workshops given in Kent and Queen Anne’s counties – an experience Lindstrom described as creating a “life-changing” awareness of the place of racism in society. She said the workshops defined racism as the combination of race-based prejudice and institutional power.

Ileana Lindstrom of the Kent County Social Action Committee for Racial Justice

Members of the SAC are committed to taking action, such as analyzing data, tracking the records of elected officials and holding them accountable for their decisions, and offering the organization as ally an and resource to institutions in the community, Lindstrom said. The group “was born to end the oppression of persons of color in Kent County,” beginning with a focus on the political, educational, and criminal justice systems. The groups are also focused on bringing an awareness of the contributions of persons of color to the county’s festivals and other public celebrations.

Lindstrom noted that the SAC recognizes the significant responsibilities that the mayor and council members hold, citing the clause of the town charter that states their mission of protecting and serving the town’s residents and visitors. “We also recognize that you cannot be expected to fulfill these responsibilities alone, individually, or as a sitting mayor and town council,” she said, noting that racism can be traced back to the first interactions of Europeans and Native Americans, along with the long history of slavery, with the first recorded arrival of enslaved Africans in Virginia 400 years ago this August. Observing the difficulty of fighting such a long-established and deeply embedded institution, she said, “We can be effective in dismantling racism in Chestertown and throughout Kent County when we work together with that as our goal.”

Announcing that the People’s Institute of Survival and Beyond will be conducting an Undoing Racism workshop in Kent County Sept. 20-22, she asked for a show of hands of council members willing to participate. Mayor Chris Cerino said he was willing, but that he may have a conflict on those dates. Councilman Marty Stetson said he could not commit to the date so far in advance. Stetson later wrote in an email to the council, which he copied to the press, “My failure to say I was willing to attend had nothing to do with the group or subject but with the fact that I was sure I would not attend. I just didn’t want to say I would attend when I knew I would not be willing to give up another evening.” He added, “It would have been easy for me to raise my hand and just not show up – but dishonest.”

Following up, Lindstrom asked council members if they would receive the Social Action Committee as “a skilled and knowledgeable ally and resource.” All members agreed, though Councilwoman Linda Kuiper asked for examples of “blantant, visible racism that exists in Chestertown.” She said she serves everybody in her ward, regardless of political affiliation or color of skin.

Lindstrom said the students’ presentation that would follow would point to some instances of racism they had experienced. Also, she said, participation in the Undoing Racism workshop would help clarify some of the issues. And she said that members of the Social Action Committee were willing to meet one-on-one with council members to help them understand the issues facing people of color in the community.

Finally, Lindstrom asked council members if they were willing to take part in the SAC’s regular meetings, which are the second and third Tuesdays of the month in Sumner Hall. All said they would be willing, with Councilman David Foster adding that he had already attended meetings.

Paul Tue introduces members of Students Talking About Race at the May 6 Council meeting

Lindstrom then introduced Paul Tue, who with Barbie Glenn was a co-founder of S.T.A.R. Tue briefly outlined S.T.A.R.’s program. Tue then introduced three student S.T.A.R. members who addressed the council.

Riley Glenn summarized the group’s accomplishments since its founding a little over a year ago, beginning with “encouraging uncomfortable conversations,” forming partnerships and taking action to address inequities. The group spoke at and helped organize the March for Our Lives in Chestertown, assisted the Social Action Committee in interviewing candidates in the 2016 local elections, and attended a number of events addressing the issue of racism in the community. She said the students had come to understand that racism has “shaped all of us, and none of us are exempt from its forces.”

Tykee Bryant was the second of the students to speak. He said he sees racism on a daily basis in the school and the community. Black students are punished more harshly for identical offenses. He said he hears racial slurs and comments from fellow students and teachers. Also, Latino students are told not to speak Spanish, even though others are praised for knowing a foreign language when they do so.

The third student to speak was Annie Squire Southworth, who spoke to misconceptions regarding racism. She listed as examples of racism housing discrimination, inequities in pay, mortgage lending, and rates of policing and incarceration in minority communities. “If you refuse to acknowledge that racism is a problem in Kent County, that is racism,” she said. “We are all responsible for ending racism.” She ended by extending her invitation to local leaders to join S.T.A.R. in combatting racism, and to attend the Undoing Racism workshops this fall.

Kuiper asked if the students received training in multicultural competency and diversity as part of their mission. Southworth said that their anti-racism training encompasses all of those issues.

In closing, Lindstrom thanked the council for the opportunity to introduce the Social Action Committee and S.T.A.R. to the council and to explain their programs.

At the conclusion of the meeting, several members of the Social Action Committee spoke from the audience to reinforce the group’s appeal to council members to take positive steps to address racism in the community and to attend the workshops.

Kent Residents Ask Commissioners to End Clean Chesapeake Coalition Funding


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Environmental Committee Reports to Council


Darren Tilghman of the Chestertown Environmental Committee

The Chestertown council, at its April 15 meeting, heard an update from the town’s Environmental Committee. Several committee members helped deliver the report, which covered a wide range of activities. Committee member David Sobers handed the agenda to the council and introduced several members for specific sections of the report.

Chester Riverkeeper Tim Trumbauer

Tim Trumbauer, the Chester Riverkeeper, reported on activities in the town’s Third Ward, including plans to renovate Louisa Carpenter Park in the Washington Park neighborhood. He said Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver, in whose ward the park is located, had been working with the committee on the project. Trumbauer said the town had issued a Request for Proposals and accepted a bid from David A. Bramble to perform the renovations. He said the contractor had agreed to meet with Tolliver at the park to update him on the project and to address any concerns.

Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said he believed there was a storm drain at the park buried under more recent construction. He asked if Trumbauer had any information on that. Trumbauer said he had heard there might be such a drain from some 30 years ago, but that it was apparently no longer working. He said the main issue with the park right now was that the contractor had agreed to a specific scope of services, which the committee would talk to them about to see whether it could include working on the drainage. He said there was also a rain garden installed a number of years ago that received water draining from the road, but it was no longer functional.

Also, Trumbauer said that Tolliver had agreed to help the committee find a representative of the Third Ward, so the committee has representatives from each of the town’s four wards. Finally, he said, the committee has adopted membership rules to put itself on a more formal basis than heretofore.

Donald Small, of the Washington College Center for Environment and Society, reported on plans to address compacting issues in the soil at Fountain Park. He said he had exchanged emails with farmers market manager Sabine Harvey to let her know that the Environmental Committee is available to help with suggestions, brainstorming or grant writing. Small said that Harvey is also working with the Chestertown Garden Club, which maintains plantings in the park. He said he hoped the team would have more information in the near future.

Carl Gallegos of the Chestertown Environmental Committee’s tree group

Carl Gallegos, representing the Environmental Committee’s tree group, reported on plans to work with the College’s GIS Center to update its images of the town’s tree cover, determining what percentage of the town is currently covered. He said this would be a step toward assessing where trees need to be planted to reach the committee’s recommended level of 40% tree coverage within the town. He said the committee’s plan was to plant trees of at least 2-inch diameter, doing so over the winter to maximize their chance of survival.

Darren Tilghman gave an update on the town’s project of installing a riverfront walkway downriver from Wilmer Park, through lands now owned by Washington College. She said the main requirement for the project to move forward was “a champion inside the college,” which Greg Farley agreed to take on. She said Farley met with college officials and had reached verbal agreement to move forward with the trail, in partnership with the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy. “For the Environmental Committee, that is really important. It’s an access issue; we want people not to have to own riverfront property in order to be able to enjoy this river,” she said. She said it was also an economic development issue.

Mayor Chris Cerino asked to what extent the college was on board with the rail trail, for example, whether it was committed to giving the town an easement for a trail. He noted that the college is in the process of selling off excess property, potentially including the armory, so it would be a good idea to get the agreement in place before that property is sold. Tilghman said Farley was working on that end of the project, but she didn’t know whether there had been any specific commitments on the college’s end.

Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said the decision on an easement needed to go before the college’s Board of Visitors and Governors. He said the town had offered as a model an easement given for use of the ground in front of the Custom House for a riverfront walkway between High and Cannon streets. He said the town didn’t expect to get a lot of money from the college, but that it hoped the college would put its planners to work on carving out pathways for the proposed trails, based on the work of the town’s planning commission at the time the college’s new waterfront buildings were approved. He said the next step ought to be a meeting of the committee, the town officials, and the college to work out details.

Tolliver also asked Tilghman for an update on the garden club project at Garnet School. She said the Garnet Good Seeds Garden project is “very close to fully funded,” with a community launch event tentatively planned for May. She said there had been an “amazing” outpouring of support from community businesses, and that work would begin in the summer.

Councilman Marty Stetson asked whether there was a problem with constructing a walking trail over wetlands along the river. Ingersoll said the decision had been made not to extend the trail along Radcliffe Creek, but to end it at the old sewer plant just past the armory. He said the expense of constructing a trail through wetlands was more an issue than any environmental questions.

Tilghman said her group also looked into playgrounds and parks, as a way to get people outside. She said she had worked to activate a group of residents to work toward a grant to raise funds for playgrounds, including one at Garnet Elementary School. She said she was also working toward possibly extending the town’s rail trail.

Also, Tilghman said, the committee had learned that Chestertown is certified as a “Keep America Beautiful” town. She said that if the town can track how much trash is cleaned up from the rail trail, it would help the town keep its certification. Finally, she said the committee would have a presence at the town’s Earth Day festival, April 20, and would be distributing sustainability tip sheets to give residents specific ways to contribute to improving the environment.

Joe Bohle, leader of Cub Scout Pack 253

Also at the meeting, Joe Bohle, leader of Cub Scout Pack #253, asked the council’s permission for his pack to adopt a section of the Gilchrest Rail Trail as a cleanup project. The section chosen is the one running from High Street to the Morgnec Road bypass, through the Washington College campus, and the scouts would perform the cleanups on a Saturday, roughly every three months. Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said the town would supply trash bags for the cleanup, and would pick up the filled bags.

In his regular report, Ingersoll also outlined the schedule for the town’s budget discussions, which he would begin with a “very preliminary” meeting April 23. Worship sessions would take place on May 7 and 14, with the budget resolution to be formally introduced at the May 20 council meetings. “As usual, the budget looks like it’s going to be challenging,” he said. He noted that the town was approaching the county commissioners for a tax differential or a rebate to offset town residents’ taxes for services for which the county bills them but which are provided by the town, such police protection, water and sewer, planning and zoning, and so forth. Cerino said he thought the commissioners were more likely to offer a tax differential, which would benefit property owners in town but would not add anything directly to the town’s budget.

Marina Has New Manager, New Name


Samantha Branham, the new manager at the Port of Chestertown Municipal Marina – photo by Peter Heck

The Chestertown marina has a new manager – and a new name.

Samantha Branham began working at the town-owned marina April 15. A Centreville native who attended Queen Anne’s County High School, she has lived in Chestertown for about 10 years. She said she has worked in the hospitality industry since about 2011, with previous experience at the Great Oak and Tolchester marinas. She heard of the opening for a marina manager from Mayor Chris Cerino and decided to “become part of the changing waterfront. I’d like to see it thrive – it has a lot of potential,” she said Tuesday morning, in her new office on the Water Street side of the marina property.

Branham said she is looking forward to meeting those who have supported the marina and the many boat owners, visitors, and residents who will be coming through in months to come. She said she’s especially looking forward to those new to the area, some of whom will undoubtedly be attracted by word of the renovations and updates to the marina. She pointed out the broad view of the river from her office window, which overlooks the entire marina. “I love the Eastern Shore,” she said. “It’s an honor to live and work somewhere that people retire to, take their vacations in, and fall in love with.” And she’ll be spending much of her spare time out on the river in her own kayak.

Councilman Marty Stetson spoke enthusiastically about visiting Branham in her office on her first day on the job and being greeted warmly. “I think she’ll be great,” he said.

The new marina office and store, also home to ShoreRivers’ Chestertown office — photo by Peter Heck

The marina has undergone extensive upgrades in the past year, with new docks and bulkheads, and a new marina office and store. The docks have been extended 70 feet, adding a number of new deep-water slips. The boat basin has been dredged, eliminating a decade or more of built-up silting. And two of the three docks are now floating docks, making it more convenient for boaters to get on and off their craft, whatever the tide level. Only the Cannon Street dock, where schooner Sultana regularly berths, is at the higher level. Kees de Mooy, the town’s zoning administrator, said that many of the slips at the marina have already been reserved for the town’s major festivals, including Jazz Festival, Downrigging, and the Chestertown Tea Party.

The grade of the marina parking lot has been raised by as much as two feet in order to reduce the frequent flooding that occurred during high tides or rainstorms. And the site of the old marina store has been cleared to create a small plaza that can be used for concerts or other events. Renovations are also taking place at the boat launch, with new floating docks to be installed once the ramp is finished.

The 98 Cannon Riverfront Grill, with one of the marina’s new floating docks in the foreground – photo by Peter Heck

Changes are also coming in the former Fish Whistle restaurant, now named the 98 Cannon Riverfront Grill. Closed for renovations after a recent change in ownership, the restaurant is currently aiming for a May 11 opening. Among the expected renovations are an increased outdoor seating area extending along the south end of the building, including a crab deck. Workers were preparing the foundation for the new deck Tuesday morning when the Spy visited the marina.

Also, the Chestertown council, at its April 15 meeting, voted 3 to 2 to rename the town-owned facility “Port of Chestertown Municipal Marina.” Stetson introduced the proposal for renaming, arguing that the new name would recognize the historic status of Chestertown as a port, dating back to Colonial times, and would help turn around negative associations with the marina from before recent renovations. Stetson said the name should be officially changed before the boating season begins to allow for publicity to get underway. Councilmen David Foster and Ellsworth Tolliver supported the proposal.

The opposing votes were cast by Councilwoman Linda Kuiper and Cerino, who described himself as “moderately opposed.” Kuiper said that most people will probably continue to use the old name and that word of mouth will bring people in as they learn of the recent renovations and improvements. “I just like ‘Chestertown Marina,’” she said.

Looking at the recent changes, it’s a good bet a lot of people will like the marina – whatever the name.

Look for a report on the rest of the Chestertown Council meeting in a forthcoming Spy article.


Mourners gather in Annapolis to honor Michael Busch


Members of the Maryland General Assembly on Monday solemnly lined up outside the State House, as bagpipes played and state troopers carried in the casket of the late House Speaker Michael Busch, followed by his family.

Politicians, dignitaries and the general public gathered in the Maryland State House to pay their respects to the longtime speaker of the House.

Busch, D-Anne Arundel, died April 7, just one day before the last day of the legislative session — known as Sine Die — while being treated for pneumonia. He was 72.

A Maryland State Police procession escorted Busch’s casket — draped in a Maryland flag — and his family through a windy downtown Annapolis before stopping in the rotunda of the State House to lie in repose.

The members of the General Assembly filed in after the procession, while the public made their way through the opposite entrance of the building. Others filled the sidewalks and the grassy area outside the State House.

Several dignitaries, including Gov. Larry Hogan, R, gave remarks before the public visitation.

“Few have served Maryland with as much passion and dedication as Mike Busch did,” Hogan said early Monday afternoon. “And few will leave this earth as well-loved and esteemed as he was.”

Former United States Sen. Barbara Mikulski referred to Busch as “coach,” and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, lauded his commitment to Maryland over the years.

Delegate Maggie McIntosh, D-Baltimore, teared up while speaking, calling Busch a “leader” and “friend.”

After the remarks, members of the General Assembly walked past Busch’s casket, some closing their eyes to say a prayer, and briefly speaking with Busch’s family before exiting the State House.

Another public visitation is scheduled for Tuesday before a procession escorting the casket for the funeral service. Following the service, Hogan is expected to present Busch’s family — his wife, Cindy, and daughters Erin and Megan — with the Maryland state flag from Busch’s casket.

According to a spokeswoman for Hogan, the governor has not yet received a request to call a special session to vote for a new House speaker.

By Daniel Oyefusi


John Dillon Resigns From UM Shore Regional Health Board Of Directors


John Dillon, chairman of the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Board of Directors, has announced his resignation from the Board, effective immediately.

Dillon, whose tenure on the Board was set to end on June 30, 2019, notified the Board of his resignationApril 9, citing his belief that leaving the Board at this time is in the best interest of UM Shore Regional Health to minimize the distraction caused by current discussions regarding University of Maryland Medical System Board relationships.

“With regret, the Board of Directors has accepted John Dillon’s resignation, effective immediately,” says Board Vice Chairman Richard Loeffler. “ We are grateful to John for his years of service to UM Shore Regional Health and appreciate that his decision to step down is in an effort to allow the organization’s Board and leadership to remain singularly focused on our mission to create healthier communities together.”

Richard Loeffler, UM SRH Vice Chair, of Cambridge, will serve as Acting UM SRH Board Chair until July 1, 2019 when new officers are confirmed.


Council Supports Enterprise Zone Tax Credits for Downtown Renovations


The Chestertown council at its April 1 meeting

The Chestertown council, at its meeting April 1, approved resolutions in support of Enterprise Zone tax credits for three businesses in town.

New or expanding businesses in the Enterprise Zone, which covers the town’s main business and commercial areas, are eligible for several kinds of tax credits. Businesses hiring new qualifying employees can apply for an income tax credit of $1,000 for each new employee and $6,000, phased over three years, for each new economically disadvantaged employee. Businesses renovating or upgrading properties within the zone are eligible for credits against increases in county property tax based on the assessed value of improvements to the properties. The tax credits are administered by the Maryland Department of Commerce.

Front view of Stam’s, being renovated as an ice cream parlor and luncheonette.

Kit-Team LLC is performing renovations to the former Stam drugstore and the restaurant/bar most recently operating as Lemon Leaf Grill and J.R.’s Past Time Pub. Both properties are undergoing extensive work. The former drugstore is being prepared to open as a luncheonette and ice cream parlor, with a target opening in the fall of this year. As part of the restoration, the owners plan to restore the original storefront façade. Inside, there will be a teaching kitchen and a community gathering place on the first floor, and an office space for a non-profit and an apartment on the second floor. The renovations are expected to cost some $3 million; the luncheonette plans to create at least one full-time job and four to six part-time jobs, while the non-profit would create two to three jobs, at least one of which would be full-time.

At the restaurant site, the renovations are expected to cost about $5 million, spread over four adjacent buildings. A 70-seat restaurant is planned for 337 High St., the former Lemon Leaf site; the building will also include a new kitchen on the first floor, and private dining areas, a pub, and banquet facilities on the upper floor. At 337 ½ High St., plans are for an independently-owned bar and restaurant with outdoor seating in the rear. A small storefront, offering rare and high-end distilled spirits, is slated for 339 High St., while 341 High St. is to be converted into three or more apartments. The applicants estimate that the four buildings will generate some 37 new jobs, as well as increasing tourist traffic and other economic activity. Kit-Team LLC is applying for property tax credits for the capital improvements.

The council voted unanimously to support the tax credit applications. Mayor Chris Cerino described the two Kit-Team projects as “a godsend” to the downtown business area, praising the investors for their “altruistic” commitment to the future of the town.

The former J.R.’s Pub is being renovated — this view from the rear shows the current progress.

The council also approved a resolution in support of applications by KRM Development Corporation and KRM Construction Company, which have offices in the former bank building at 205 High St. The KRM companies are working to create the new Chestertown Business Park on Route 213 behind the Washington Square shopping center, among other projects. These companies are applying for income tax credits, stating that they both plan to create at least one new job in the upcoming year.

Also at the meeting, the council approved event permits for the Tea Party Festival and for Downrigging Weekend. Sabine Harvey, chairwoman of the Tea Party committee, said the festival over Memorial Day weekend would be “the same as always,” with a few minor tweaks. The Saturday street fair will close at 4 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. as previously, to give the town’s street crew an earlier start for cleanup. Harvey said she had already met with the town crew and the police department, and everything is on course for the festival. 

Drew McMullen of Sultana Education Foundation gives the Chestertown Council an update on Downrigging Weekend

Drew McMullen of Sultana Education Foundation gave the presentation for Downrigging, which takes place at the end of October. He said the recent renovations to the town marina would have a major impact on the festival, allowing it to present almost all its events at the marina and on the foot of Cannon Street. Among the changes would be a “festival village” on the site of the former marina store, on the downriver side of the 98 Cannon St. restaurant, the former Fish Whistle. This village will feature live music and food vendors, with music playing until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. The festival does not plan to use the foot of High Street, as in former years, but McMullen asked that the town not schedule any other events for that area, or for Wilmer Park, so those areas will be available for parking for festival attendees. Also, he asked that Front Street south of Cannon be closed to non-local traffic. There will be a fireworks display either Friday or Saturday night from Wilmer Park. The park will be closed the afternoon of the display to allow the fireworks to be set up safely.

The council also heard an update on the Chestertown bocce league, scheduled to begin its season in Wilmer Park April 16. Frank Hurst, the league president, said that last year’s league enrolled some 325 players. With three new teams signed up for the upcoming season, the league could have 350 players this year, he said. The league has $8,574 cash on hand, from which it will pay for maintenance of the turf in the park. He asked the town to ask any festivals or other events using the park not to run trucks onto the grass, so as to minimize the need for repairs. The bocce league also has a new website, which will offer updated schedules, scores and standings. The council approved a waiver of the open container law for the bocce season.

Cerino asked the council members for their opinions on a proposal to rename the marina “the Port of Chestertown,” as suggested by Councilman Marty Stetson. Cerino said the renovations in the town-owned facility have come a long way, and a new name might help the town to erase negative connotations around the marina from before the upgrades. Town Manager Bill Ingersoll said many people will continue to use the old name, whatever the town decides. After some discussion, Cerino decided to wait for the return of Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver, who was absent for this meeting, to make a decision on the renaming.

We're glad you're enjoying The Chestertown Spy.

Sign up for the the free email blast to see what's new in the Spy. It's delivered right to your inbox at 3PM sharp.

Sign up here.