Commissioners to Study $20 Million Expansion at Vickers Drive Complex

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The Kent County Commissioners are exploring a plan to expand and upgrade the county detention center, at a potential cost of more than $20 million.

Site plan of a proposed expansion of Kent County Detention Center and safety offices by Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates. The Detention Center is at right, with proposed new construction shown in red; a new building at left is to house the sheriff’s office and the 911/OES facilities.

The detention center, which also houses the county sheriff’s office and the 911/Office of Emergency Services (OES) center, is more than 30 years old. At their August 6 meeting, the commissioners heard the results of a “public safety feasibility” study, conducted by Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates of Pennsylvania. Architect Joe Crabtree gave the report, which suggested expanding the existing building on Flatland Road by some 17,000 square feet. The plans include a new 2-story building, across the existing parking lot from the existing one, for the sheriff’s office and 911/OES center, adding another 30,000 square feet.  That makes for a total of about 47,000 additional square feet of new space between the two projects.  In the site plan above, the white area is the current Kent County Detention Center; all the rest is the proposed extension and new two-story building.

Crabtree began by outlining the deficiencies each department is experiencing in the existing building, which opened in 1988. All three areas of the building, including the sheriff’s office, are not handicapped accessible, and all have issues with security, notably in the parking lot and the perimeter. The detention center lobby does not have a waiting area for visitors, and the kitchen, medical facilities, storage areas, and exercise yards are undersized or otherwise inadequate. In addition, the entire facility needs upgrades to comply with code; and the facilities for male and female inmates are not properly separated.

The report continued to say that the prisoner transfer facility is not sufficiently secure. The garage area, evidence preservation and records storage areas, and the office space are inadequate. The 911/OES offices, currently in the basement, have problems with lighting and ventilation, which leads to humidity and moisture problems that can affect the computer systems. And the facility is down steep stairs, which would become accessible only if an elevator were installed.

Crabtree showed plans to expand the existing facilities, adding some 4,000 square feet to inmate housing at the detention center, along with 2,800 square feet for central booking, 2,400 square feet for inmate support services and nearly 1,900 square feet for security operations. Other detention center facilities would also expand by smaller amounts for a total of about 17,000 square feet of building and an additional 4,000 square feet outdoors. In addition, some 19,000 square feet of the existing facility would be upgraded.

Front elevation of the proposed new building for the Kent County Sheriff’s and Emergency Operations offices by Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates

The sheriff’s office would add some 5,000 square feet for administrative offices, 3,000 square feet for building support, and another 2,600 for circulation and mechanical facilities, with a grand total of a little over 10,000 additional square feet added. The 911/OES center would add 2,500 square feet for emergency operations, 2,200 for circulation and mechanical equipment and 1,000 for administrative offices, with a total of nearly 9,000 square feet. All in all, the new building would total some 30,000 square feet for the two offices.

Neither the detention center nor the 911/OES center would need to increase staffing under the planned renovations, Crabtree said. In the sheriff’s office, the addition of a central booking facility would probably result in new positions based on operational needs. However, Sheriff John F. Price said the end result would be to free up deputies for police work, especially late at night when staff levels are lower. He said that bringing in a prisoner could take a deputy off the road for as much as four hours.

Price also noted that under the current system there is an officer safety issue when a lone deputy has to bring in and process a prisoner who could become violent. “I think it’s a good proposal,” he said of the architect’s plans, and he expressed hope that it could be implemented “down the road,” if the budget allows it.

Site Plan of the proposed expansion of the Kent County Detention Center and safety offices by Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates

Warden Herbert Dennis said the lack of a proper waiting area for family members visiting inmates was a problem, exacerbated by the facility’s poor accessibility for the handicapped. He said the proposed upgrades to the center include a gym, along with improved security for the outdoor exercise areas. He said that some facilities elsewhere have had problems with drones dropping contraband into outdoor areas where prisoners exercise, though that has not so far happened locally.

Wayne Darrell, head of Emergency Management Services, said the planned renovations would allow the department to close its satellite facility in Lynch and consolidate its operations under one roof. He said the main facility is overdue for replacement flooring and new furniture.

Estimated costs for the expansion and upgrades would come to between $9.5 million and $11.5 million for the detention center. However, these costs could be offset by between $5.5 million and $7 million in state reimbursements. For the new sheriff’s office and 911/OES center building, construction costs would be approximately $14 million to $16.5 million. This would bring the total cost to the project, after reimbursements, to $19.9 million to $23.6 million.

Commission President Thomas Mason asked if state funding would be available to offset the costs of expanding the sheriff’s office. Price said there had been a good deal of funding available shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, but “there’s not a lot now, as far as I know.” Darrell said that his department also used to get federal funding, but that it had dried up in recent years.

Commissioner Ron Fithian said the commissioners need to study the proposal and discuss it in detail before making any decisions how to proceed.

A summary of the architect’s report is accessible from the meeting agenda posted on the Kent County website. Click on “Public Safety Facility Feasibility Study Presentation” to download the report.

County Commissioners Bob Jacob, Tom Mason and Ron Fithian at the Aug. 6 meeting — photo by Peter Heck

Drone Camp at Easton Airport Not Child’s Play

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It still stretches the imagination when thinking about the future use of highly dependable flying drones on the nation’s economy, but it’s fair to say it will be a major disruptive force in the way we get things done. From inspecting cell towers far too dangerous for humans to delivering fine linen bed sheets from Amazon, the world of using and programming drone activity is only getting more crowded with applications.

That all of that activity requires a workforce with the skill set to manage this new world order. Unlike the myth that the drone industry will take away human labor, the demand for technicians and pilots will only increase.

One place where this new future is well known is the Easton Airport. With increasing regulations from the FAA and other local municipalities, the airport has been front and center for more than a decade of drone use. But as the airport continues to define its educational mission, Easton’s new airport manager, Micah Risher, felt there was a real need to introduce regional youngsters to the promising career track.
With Micah’s recruitment of instructor Jeremy Vogel, founder, and president of Eastern Shore Dronography, the airport’s ACE (Aviation Career Education) programming has attracted more than a dozen young students to spend weeks in the summer learning how to plan and operate drone missions.

The Spy observed the Drone camp a few weeks ago and sat down with Jeremy to get the lowdown on this new era of aviation.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about the Easton Airport and its ACE program please go here.

At Six Years, Legacy Day is Established as a Special Late Summer Celebration

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Legacy Day celebrates its sixth year. It has established itself as a late-summer event that consistently fulfills its dual missions of celebrating the rich cultural heritage of African Americans in Kent County and creating opportunities for all Kent Countians to recognize their shared history and have a good time as they do. 

The Legacy Day 2019 program focuses on Historic African American Churches of Kent County. So far we have enjoyed historian Bill Leary’s presentation on historic churches delivered to a standing-room crowd at the Kent County Historical Society’s Bordley History Center.  

This past Saturday, four a cappella gospel ensembles drawn from vocalists representing five churches in Kent County performed to a full house at Bethel A.M.E. Church, a historic African American church formed in 1872 that moved to its current location in 1910. The church was a perfect setting for the artists to deliver a powerful affirmation of the spiritual power of songs of praise and hope.  

One attendee remarked that if you didn’t come full of the Holy Spirit, you definitely were full of the Holy Spirit when you left. 

Formed around the pillars of Community, History and Culture, the inaugural Legacy Day in August 2014 celebrated the contributions of Charlie Graves, owner of The Uptown Club at the corner of Calvert St. and College Avenue and hands-down the Number One promoter of R&B and Jazz on the Eastern Shore and on some nights on the East Coast during the 1950s-60s. The Uptown Club remained a night club in Chestertown until Graves retired and the Uptown Club closed in 1988.  

As August 16, 2014, arrived, present in the background was the civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri after a white police officer had shot and killed an unarmed African American man.  It was caught on video that went viral and led to outrage by local citizens, including many African Americans, who were frustrated and angry after years of predatory abuses by the white-dominated local judiciary and police force.

The band “Soulfied Village”  provided live music for dancing in the street at the 2017 Legacy Day  —  photo by Jane Jewell

But despite the nation-wide tension, the inaugural Legacy Day arrived with great weather and a tremendously positive vibe in the community. The 200-block of High Street was transformed into a street party setting.  The first Legacy Day emerged as a landmark event in Kent County history: a well-attended public event, maybe the largest primarily local assembly in Chestertown’s history that embraced the contributions of African Americans, stories often never publicly shared.  Each succeeding Legacy Day has built on that, adding activities such as the genealogy workshops and gospel concerts.  New in 2019 is an art exhibit at the RiverArts Education Center featuring local African-American artists.

Reverand Ellsworth Tolliver, who has been the Master of Ceremonies for several Legacy Days  — Photo by Jane Jewell

Legacy Day succeeds because it is community-driven by its team of volunteers, staffed by many hardworking volunteers and supported by local institutions.  It started as a project of a Historical Society subcommittee that grew from discussions at the Diversity Dialog Group. It has found a place to grow at Sumner Hall, where scholarship and education about Kent County’s African Americans is the mission. With the help of the Historical Society and the Garfield Center for the Performing Arts, Sumner Hall and the Legacy Day committee have built an extended program of community events, lectures, and workshops for children and adults, and the performing arts including a month-long exhibit on historic African-American churches at the Kent County Historical Society.

Friday brings the recognition of the Legacy Day Honorees held at the Bordley History Center. Saturday’s education programming starts at 10 a.m. and continues all day. The Legacy Day Parade starts at 5 p.m. followed by the street festival in the 300-block of High Street. Learn more by visiting here.

Dancing in the street at the 2017 Legacy Day celebration – photo by Jane Jewell

Kent County Community Marching Band, Legacy Day 2017 — Photo by Peter Heck

Barbara in den Bosch and Armand Fletcher carry the Diversity Dialog Group Banner at the 2017 Legacy Day 2017 — Photo by Peter Heck

 

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Industrial Hemp Comes to the Shore

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Industrial hemp is getting traction as federal and state legislation loosens regulatory strangleholds on production. Industrial hemp was widely used in the United States for broad application of industrial uses including shipping ropes and lines, paper, linen, oils and fuels, livestock feed, and food additives up in the 1930s when powerful chemical and paper interests put an end to hemp production overnight in the name of drug interdiction, a theory now discredited.

Claas Xerion 4000 VC from DunAgro, a Dutch manufacturer, separates protein-rich foliage from the stem and collects it in a bunker on the back of the machine for cattle feed

Shawn Landgraf, CEO of Universal Hemp, headquartered in Cambridge, Maryland, is working with his team to bring industrial hemp back, hopefully in the Eastern Shore’s climate and growing conditions. The company has adopted a vertically integrated concept of controlling hemp production by partnering with farmers and controlling the processing and distribution.

The company is working to meet industrial hemp CBD (Cannabidiol) demand, the industrial cousin of the more potent pharmaceutical grade CBD grown and processed in controlled environments and free from pesticide and herbicide exposure and sold only in medical cannabis dispensaries. Industrial hemp is grown in fields in the proximity of other crops.

“We are engaged in the research to develop the genetics and best management practices for industrial hemp production,” Landgraf said. He went on to explain that Maryland has lifted hemp production restrictions and he is actively engaged in recruiting farmers.

“Hemp can be used to make any manufactured better,” Taylor Martin, director of Universal Hemp’s national production. Hemp seeds and other by-products are exempt from federal criminal laws, as opposed to medical cannabis. It has no psychoactive effect. Martin described the broad use of hemp, including paper, cloth, concrete inputs, industrial oils, fuels and lubricants. “Hemp is a great food protein source, Martin continued, citing such outputs as hemp seeds, flour and milk, all currently available in U.S. grocery stores.

Martin touched on the period prior to the 1937 prohibition on marijuana and hemp production, when hemp CBD was part of livestock feed and found in the American diet in many forms. “We were a much healthier country,” Martin noted.

Jude Desiderio, Universal Hemp’s director of sales, remarked that the company is looking at a “full spectrum of uses.” He remarked that the upside for farmers was substantial. Comparing inputs and yields for traditional row crops, Desiderio explained the return on investment per acre is as high as $25,000-$35,000 per acre.

Special Olympics Kayak Championship Starts This Weekend on the Chester River

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Special Olympics coach Jack Brosius addressed the Chestertown Council on the upcoming Special Olympics state kayak championships, to be held on the Chester River Aug. 10 and 24.

Brosius gave a brief history of his involvement in kayaking, beginning with his participation in the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany. He has been coaching since 1976. He retired to the Chestertown area in 2003, when one of his neighbors recruited him as a Special Olympics coach. In addition to kayaking, he coaches powerlifting and swimming.

Jack Brosius, Special Olympics coach, at the Chestertown Council Aug. 5

The state competition will be held over two weekends. On Saturday, Aug. 10, there will be time trials to determine heats for the competition. Special Olympics rules limit the number of competitors in a heat to six, who must have trial times within 10 percent of one another from fastest to slowest, “so that everyone has a fair chance,” Brosius said. Each event may have as many as 15 to 20 heats, depending on the number who want to participate.

Saturday, Aug. 24 is the statewide championship. Races are held at four distances: 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 meters. Medals are awarded for the top three in each heat, with ribbons for the other three finishers. Most of the competitors are individual paddlers in single kayaks, but there are also events for “unified teams,” in which a person without special needs teams with a person with special needs.

This will be the 8th year that the championships will be held at the Washington College boathouse. This is “a premier facility,” matched only by the multi-million dollar Olympic competition sites in Gainesville, Ga., Oklahoma City and Long Beach, Cal., Brosius said.

“We are expecting about 150 athletes from across the state of Maryland, plus 18 to 20 from Pennsylvania, where there is no such Special Olympics kayaking program,” Brosius said. There will also be another 100 coaches and supporters, plus 30 to 40 volunteers to run the events.

Brosius thanked Washington College for supporting the Special Olympics kayak events, as well as allowing the swimmers in the summer program to train in its pool. The college also hosts the annual Special Olympics high school unified sports statewide bocce tournament at Kirby Stadium each May. The tournament brings in about 175 high school students with special needs, who are teamed with athletes without special needs.

“We are currently working with about 30 athletes from this area,” who take part in swimming, cycling, kayaking, and powerlifting, he said. About two-thirds of the local athletes compete in the Special Olympics, and the program remains open to anyone with special needs who wishes to participate. The athletes cover an age range from 11 to 50, he said, with a wide range of special needs. Many are clients of Kent Center. The program tries to make its activities affordable for all, raising funds to cover the costs of insurance, equipment, uniforms, and other needs. The national Special Olympics program does not provide funds for the local programs, which are dependent on grants and donations from their communities.

The programs are also dependent on many volunteers – “we can always use more,” Brosius said. He thanked members of the Washington College swim team and the Sho’men junior swim team, who work with the Special Olympic swimmers.

Pat Cullinan, regional director of the Northern Chesapeake region of Special Olympics Maryland

Brosius then introduced Pat Cullinan, the regional director for Special Olympics of Maryland, who gave an overview of the program and its goals.

Cullinan said he had been a Special Olympics volunteer for 20 years before becoming a staff member of the state organization, responsible for the programs in the Northern Chesapeake region, including Harford, Cecil, and Kent counties. He noted that Special Olympics, founded 51 years ago by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, is now an international organization with programs in 172 countries. He quoted the program’s mission, “to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities.” Though the original focus was –and still is– on those with intellectual challenges, athletes with physical disabilities are also welcome.

The program’s goal in Kent County “is simply to grow and advance the county organization,” Cullinan said. He expressed gratitude for Brosius’s years of service, calling him “the face of Special Olympics in Kent County.” He went on to give a summary of the program’s efforts to reach those with special needs at an early age, starting as young as three years old and progressing through school into adulthood “to age 80.”

Cullinan stressed the program’s need for volunteers. “The people we need to build this organization are here. It’s just a matter of them becoming aware of the program” and identifying a fit for their interests and talents. He said the goal was also to recruit more athletes and to make more sports and “higher quality and more frequent” competitions available to them. He said he had met with Sheriff John Price and Police Chief Adrian Baker to discuss participation in the Law Enforcement Torch Run, in which law officers carry a torch from county to county to raise awareness of Special Olympics. He also mentioned the annual Polar Bear Plunge, a winter fundraiser for the program held at Sandy Point State Park.

Mayor Chris Cerino asked about details of the kayaking championships. Brosius said the event begins at 9:30 a.m., with opening ceremonies at 10. College President Kurt Landgraf will give the opening speech, after which the competition will go until 5 or 6 p.m. He said it would be especially helpful to have some additional volunteers near the end of the afternoon when those who had been there all day are losing energy. “When you work with these athletes, you never forget the experience,” he said.

“It’s a great thing,” said Cerino. “I would encourage everyone here to check it out.” Anyone who would like to volunteer either for the upcoming events or for future activities should visit the Maryland Special Olympics website or contact Brosius at jack.rosincreek@gmail.com.

Picture Gallery of Special Olympics Bocce Tournament at Washington College, May 2018 – Photos by Jane Jewell.

Special Olympics Bocce Tournament at Washington College May 2018 – Kent County Special Olympics Coach Jack Brosius at far right in blue. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Getting ready!  Special Olympics Bocce Tournament at Washington College May 2018 – Photo by Jane Jewell

This shows the special equipment developed to help some physically challenged athletes participate. – Photo by Jane Jewell

Special Olympics Bocce Tournament at Washington College May 2018 . – Photo by Jane Jewell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Stetson Will Not Seek Fourth Term on Council

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Councilman Marty Stetson announces his decision not to run for reelection

Chestertown Councilman Marty Stetson announced Monday that he will not seek a fourth term in this fall’s council elections.

Stetson, who represents the town’s fourth ward, is the longest-serving current member of the council, having taken office in January 2008. He made his announcement during his ward report at the Aug. 5 council meeting. He said that he is in excellent health and that he believed he would not have any problem in winning another term. However, he said, increasing problems with his hearing were the deciding factor. “Listening is an important part of this job,” he said, and with difficulties in following verbal discussions or conversations with constituents, he realized he could no longer fill his role effectively.

A former town Police Chief and county alcoholic beverage inspector, Stetson has been a consistent advocate of fiscal restraint during his time on the council. He was strongly opposed to the town’s purchase of the Chestertown marina, arguing that the facility serves only a fraction of residents and that its revenues would never repay the purchase price. He has also been a consistent opponent of spending taxpayer funds for a July 4 fireworks display, which ultimately led to the decision to drop fireworks from the 2019 budget.

At the same time, Stetson has been an active supporter of the dog park, which is funded by the Friends of the Dog Park and is located in Margo Bailey Park in his ward. The Friends have donated funds to purchase and construct all the park’s facilities and make a regular donation to the town to allow the town crew to perform maintenance.

Councilman Marty Stetson, Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver and Town Clerk Jen Mulligan at the Aug. 5 Chestertown council.

During his tenure on the council, Stetson has been an enthusiastic representative for the town at Maryland Municipal League meetings, where he has regularly carried the town’s flag in opening ceremonies. He has also been a regular attendee at Kent County’s Council of Government meetings. And it is rare for him to miss a local ribbon-cutting or other events where a council presence is appropriate. Stetson is also a dedicated sports fan, often wearing ties or socks with Orioles or Ravens logos to meetings, especially after a home team win.

After Stetson’s announcement, Councilman Ellsworth Tolliver, who was elected in 2017, expressed his appreciation for Stetson’s willingness to help the newer members of the council learn the ropes of town government. He praised Stetson’s wisdom and patience and thanked him for his long service to the town.

Councilman David Foster, elected the same year as Tolliver, said that Stetson and he had not agreed on all issues, but that Stetson had never let their differences affect their relationship as colleagues. “He doesn’t hold a grudge,” Foster said. He also said that Stetson was always ready to offer a ride to out-of-town meetings they were both attending, and to make other efforts to smooth his younger colleague’s way during his first term on the council.

Here is the text of Stetson’s announcement, of which he provided the Spy with a printed copy.

“From time to time I am asked if I am going to run for a fourth term. I think now is a good time to let you know my decision.

“First I am in good health – I exercise a minimum of an hour each day, can and do 100 sit-ups and 50 push-ups. My exercise may be just a walk or a bike ride but usually includes swimming laps, working with weights or an elliptical machine. I of course no longer run marathons or swim across the Bay, that occurred many years ago. I am within 10 pounds of the weight I graduated from high school, but I will say it is not distributed in the same manner.

“All that being said, I am 82 years old and I, like many other people, felt that someone 82 should not be running for office. Now that I am 82, I am not sure I feel that way.

“But I do have a loss of hearing. I have been wearing hearing aids for over 20 years but as of late, my loss has become more pronounced. I am having trouble hearing all that is said, not usually by the Council people if they talk one at a time. But I do have trouble in group settings of any kind. I believe listening is a very important part of this job – so because I feel that it keeps me from doing the job as I think it needs to be done, I will not be filing for the fourth term.

“It is not because I feel I may lose, I feel I could win my Council seat if I choose to run. I seldom go out in public without someone stopping and saying they appreciate my honesty and frankness while serving on the Council. Some say they may not agree with me but appreciate the sincerity of my thoughts.

“When you add in my four years of active duty in the military service, with my time on the Maryland State Police, time as Chief of Police of Chestertown, that of Alcoholic Beverage Inspector for the county along with the twelve years I have spent on the Council, it amounts to over 60 years of public service of one kind or another.

“I plan on being a very active member of the council right up until my successor is sworn in, whoever he or she may be.”

Council members and members of the public attending the meeting applauded at the conclusion of Stetson’s statement.

Councilwoman Linda Kuiper, who also faces reelection this fall, has not announced whether she plans to run for a third term.

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Ash+Ember’s Colen Sisters Discuss the Dispensary Business and Campaign to De-stigmatize Medical Cannabis

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Ashley Colen and Paige Colen, principals of Ash+Ember cannabis dispensary in Centreville, spoke to the Community Breakfast group Tuesday, July 25. The sisters grew up on a farm outside of Rock Hall. They received the license to operate Ash+Ember in February 2018, which has grown to over 5000 registered patients, often recommended by local medical providers. They also hold a U.S. patent for the first 3-D printed delivery device for medical cannabis.

Cannabis sativa is the scientific name for the cannabis plant, distinguished from commercial hemp that has no psychoactive properties. All strains of medical cannabis produce a variety of chemical compounds – cannabinoids – including THC, responsible for the marijuana “high,” and CBD, believed to reduce anxiety, inflammation, and pain.

Ashley Colen explained that components of the plant – especially THC and CBD – regulate bodily processes differently from opiates, which mask pain but do not heal. The illegal status has stymied research in the U.S., but Ashley Colen reported that studies in Israel, England, and other countries show that CBD can be useful for epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and childhood diabetes.

“Western medicine is just catching up now,” Ashley Colen said. Researchers at John Hopkins are starting to suggest that patients try CBD. The University of Maryland Pharmacy School recently announced its Masters in Cannabis Studies program.

“While cannabis is effective for pain relief, it’s not a quick panacea, like pop this in and everything’s going to be great,” Ashley Colen remarked. She contrasted it with opiates that may produce quick relief, but are highly addictive with unwanted side effects. “You might not feel pain in your leg, but you probably also don’t laugh as hard or enjoy your sunsets…. It dulls all of your senses, so that’s not ideal.”

Cannabis studies show “it’s more like a supplement, a vitamin,” rather than a “quick fix.” The healthy body naturally produces molecules identical to THC, she explained. Cannabis therapy “fills in the holes” to replace those molecules lost in aging bodies. “It makes your body work more as it did when you were 20.”

Atlas asked about the long-term effects of regular use of cannabis. Ashley Colen responded that “It’s been used for thousands of years of medicine in numerous cultures, so the evidence is there.” Western science “is just getting into it.”

Paige Colen explained that Israeli researchers have been investigating cannabinoids for almost 40 years and have isolated over 400 different compounds in addition to the familiar THC.

“But it’s also been determined that most of these chemicals have specific effects that can be used to target different ailments. Identified by scientists in the 1990s, the human cannabinoid system has receptors on most of the major organs of the body. There are none on your brain stem, so that is why you cannot overdose on cannabis,” Paige Colen explained.

Audience member Airlee Johnson asked about varieties that Ash+Ember offered.

“If you come in and tell me how you want to feel, I will tell you what strain you want,” Ashley Colen explained, noting that Ash+Ember has developed relationships with Maryland’s top growers and stocks 60 different strains depending upon availability. Ash+Ember’s staff is trained about different strains with similar healing effects so that patients can have alternatives. Factors like sleep, exercise and diet are in play while deciding on a course of treatment. There is a pharmacist on staff, mandated by state law, and all staff members are rigorously trained.

Paige Colen discussed differences between ingesting cannabis products in food and smoking them. Smoking gets the cannabinoids into the bloodstream very quickly, but the effects last only about 3 hours. Conversely, edibles are slower to take effect, but last much longer – 4 to 6 hours, typically. Delivery depends on the patient’s condition and comfort level, she said.

Atlas said that many people are brought up believing that “life is hard,” and that anxiety and stress are “the normal state of affairs.” He worried that if he “felt good all the time about things,” he might not be “my normal participant self.”

“You’re not altered to the point where you’re numbed and you just don’t care about anything,” Paige Colen responded. “You’re just not snappy anymore.” She added that cannabis allows the user to step back and evaluate things, “which is what you should be doing at every stage.” She said she found that her own performance in all areas was enhanced by using cannabis, although she has stopped using cannabis when she became pregnant.

Chestertown Councilman David Foster asked, “What is the difference between Maryland’s medical marijuana law and recreational use?”

“When you come to us, we don’t tell you can only take CBD,” Paige Colen said. “I like to say that anyone who’s using cannabis for recreation, the joke’s on you, because you’re getting the medical benefits” such as lower anxiety, improved sleep, and pain relief.

Dr. Harry Hart, a retired optometrist, remarked that his wife had tried CBD for chronic pain, at first with some success, but didn’t result in further improvement of her condition.

Ashley Colen explained Hart’s wife was likely taking CBD derived from industrial hemp, and that studies have shown that such CBD has “a top-off point, and the body stops absorbing it.” “Medically-optimized Cannabis sativa does not have that problem because it has a higher concentration of CBD, Ashley Colen explained, adding that the main side effects are “happy, sleeping well, hungry.”

Ashley Colen also reported that they have started a non-profit program to supply cannabis to indigent hospice patients to allow them to have some quality of life without being sedated with opioids.

Foster asked what the sisters would tell their children about cannabis?

Paige Colen said she would be talking to them and telling them about it as a medicine.

Ashley Colen talks to her nine-year-old son “very openly.” Her mission is to “destigmatize this plant. It’s not dangerous.” Communicating respect for “the power of the plant” is the best approach to deter young people from misusing it, she remarked. If a child thinks, “Mommy sells medical cannabis to sick people all the time, he’s less likely to be attracted than if it’s somehow mysterious and forbidden,” she said. “Kids aren’t going into your medicine cabinet and chugging aspirin.”

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission requires patients to register and pay for a patient ID card that can be ordered online at www.mmcc.maryland.gov. Ash+Ember can assist patients who need application assistance.

Ash+Ember is open seven days a week: Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m; Friday-10 to 8; Saturday-10 to 5, and Sunday-11 to 3. Medical cannabis is not covered by most insurance plans. Ash+Ember accepts cash or checks. For more information, visit www.ashembercannabis.com.

The community breakfast group meets at 7:30 a.m. every Thursday at Holiday Inn Express in Chestertown. The talks usually last about an hour, with a question-and-answer included.

Editor’s note: Steve Meehan is a Chestertown Spy advisor, volunteer editor, and part owner of Ash + Ember.

Philanthropy: Qlarant Foundation Grants Spotlight Health Needs on the Shore

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While it may have a new name, the Qlarant Foundation, formerly known as the Quality Health Foundation, has been providing significant grants in the field of healthcare since the grant-making institution began in 2003. In fact, the grant-making institution has just reached the $6 million mark after their last round of donations were released last month.

During the award ceremony, the Qlarant Foundation made close to $400,000 in grants to seventeen health organizations, many of whom directly serve the Eastern Shore.

And while the Spy could not profile each recipient, we did catch up with three local recipients, the leaders of  the Eastern Shore Wellness Solutions of Dorchester County, Rebuilding Together of Caroline County, and the Kinera Foundation from Queen Anne’s  to understand more about what these relatively new and not very well known organizations do to improve the quality of life their communities. We also talked to Qlarant Foundation volunteer chair, Dr. Molly Burgoyne-Brian, on its mission and decision-making process.

This video is approximately seven minutes in length. For more information about the Qlarant Foundation please go here.

Council Hears Reports on Meter Bags, Car Show, Police Recruit

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At the Chestertown Council meeting, July 15, Kay MacIntosh of Main Street Chestertown showed council members samples of bags to be placed on parking meters for streets that need to be closed for special events.

Kay MacIntosh

MacIntosh said the bags would be an “easier and more positive” way to inform the public of street closings, not just saying “you can’t park here,” but turning it into “don’t park here because there’s a great event coming.”

The bags would take a burden off the police department, which currently posts paper signs on trees, utility poles, or other fixtures for the purpose. Those signs can be damaged by rain or wind, which requires that they be replaced. The weatherproof bags, designed by Barbara Slocum, are made of bluish-purple canvas,  and they would have a slot with a clear plastic window for insertion of a paper sign specific to the event. The signs would be placed in the bags at police headquarters before they were deployed. The bags can also be used for the Saturday Farmers Market, where they would stay up full-time, MacIntosh said. 

A $2,464 grant from the Maryland State Arts Council will pay for almost all of the bags, MacIntosh said. The Tea Party Festival is the only regular event that would require placing bags on all the downtown meters, which are primarily on High and Cross Streets and Park Row. If the cost exceeds the grant amount, she said, the balance can be covered from donated funds visitors put in the parking meters.

MacIntosh said she would consult with the town police before placing a final order for the bags.

Town Manager Bill Ingersoll asked MacIntosh about plans for a classic car show to be held downtown in September.

MacIntosh said the organizers had not yet received permits for the event, but she believed they had filed the application. The show is scheduled for Sept. 14, at 2 p.m., after the Farmers Market closes. Cars would be exhibited on High Street next to Fountain Park, and on Park Row and Memorial Plaza. There would be a couple of food trucks, and beer and wine vendors. Half a dozen especially interesting cars would be displayed in the park itself, she said. She said the organizers would take special care to avoid damaging the grass in the park.

Councilwoman Linda Kuiper expressed concern about giving Farmers Market vendors enough time to break down their displays and leave the park before the cars need to set up. Barbara Slocum, one of the organizers, said she had been at Farmers Market and timed the vendors as they left. The park was “almost empty” by 12:40, she said, leaving enough time for everyone if setup for the car show begins at 1 p.m. and the show itself at 2.

Ingersoll said the possibility of damage to the park grass should be minimal. He also said it should be put in the context of a plan by the Chestertown Garden Club to aerate and reseed the park later in September. He joked that “the biggest rain of the season” would probably fall on Sept. 13, making the park too muddy to show cars there.

Chestertown Police Chief Ardian Baker

After Chief Adrian Baker presented the monthly police report for June, Ingersoll asked if there was any update on the “purloined” police recruit who completed training under Chestertown auspices and then resigned to take a job with another Shore town.

Baker said the police department had received a personal check from the recruit reimbursing the town for his salary. The department also expects a check from the town with which he is now working for the cost of training, Baker said. He said the other recruit hired at the same time is “doing great,” with field training expected to be completed by August. He said he would bring the new officer in to introduce him to the council at the next meeting.

Councilman David Foster, in his ward report, asked if the town was considering kayak and bike rentals in the marina.

Ingersoll said there had been some discussion of the idea. He said said that any rentals would need to be “non-commercial,” so as not to expose the town to tax liability for the property. Also, he said, there is currently dredging being done at the marina, which makes it less safe for kayakers to launch there. The two kayak launches at the marina were not getting a great deal of use, he said.

Ingersoll also said there is an issue with slip fees for visiting boaters who want to eat at the 98 Cannon restaurant. He said the restaurant only maintains two slips. “We’re working out details,” he said.

Councilman Marty Stetson reported that playground equipment in Margo Bailey Park was recently vandalized. He said the equipment is underused, and its location makes it an easy target for mischief. “It’s a question if it’s the right place for it,” he said. Stetson also reported that the town street crew had pruned and trimmed about 100 trees in the park. “It’s really beautiful,” he said.

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