Horizons of Kent & Queen Anne’s Dance with the Stars 2019

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It is time again for Horizons of Kent & Queen Anne’s Dance With the Stars!  Join us on Saturday, February 2 for one of the most exciting fundraisers in our community, and walk the red carpet for A Night in Hollywood. Local “stars” and pros are paired to earn votes (i.e. dollars!) that raise funds for the Horizons summer enrichment program in Kent & Queen Anne’s counties.  The program offers six weeks of opportunity for underprivileged youth to reduce “summer slide”, enrich their academics, build and grow swimming skills and give the students an overall fun learning environment in the summer.  100% of your donation to this critical program goes directly to helping local children.

As the dancers hone their dance routines, you can vote by contributing $1/vote for the pair (or pairs) of your choice.  A Night in Hollywood is sure to impress, with the Kent County Community Center being transformed into a glitzy Hollywood setting! Grab your friends and buy a table for the night, enjoy delicious food and cocktails, vote for your favorite dancers, and be ready to cut a rug when the dance floor opens up after the show!  If you aren’t able to attend the event, you can donate online at www.horizonskentqueenannes.org or mail donations to Horizons of Kent & Queen Anne’s 116-B Lynchburg Street Chestertown, MD 21620.

Compass Welcomes Medical Director, Readies for Palliative Care Program Launch

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Dr. Thomas Walsh

Compass Regional Hospice welcomed its full-time chief medical director, Dr. Thomas Walsh, on Jan. 1, and is preparing to launch its new Compass Palliative Care Program at the beginning of February.

“It is with great pride that we have hired Dr. Tom Walsh as our full-time chief medical director,” said Compass Regional Hospice Executive Director Heather Guerieri. “In addition to now taking on a full-time role with us, he will be leading our newest program, Compass Palliative Care. We will be taking our first referrals for this program on Feb. 4.”

Dr. Thomas Walsh of Queenstown recently retired from his practice with Maryland Primary Care Physicians at the end of 2018 to take on the role of full-time chief medical director with Compass Regional Hospice, effective Jan. 1, 2019. Walsh has been the chief medical director for Compass Regional Hospice since March 2017, working contractually.

Walsh received his Bachelor of Science, magna cum laude, from Benedictine University in Illinois in 1974. He is a 1978 graduate of Rush University’s Rush Medical College in Chicago and completed his residency in family medicine at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore from 1978 to 1981. He has practiced medicine since 1981, first in Anne Arundel County, and has been practicing in Queen Anne’s County since 1988. He was a founding partner and former board member of Maryland Primary Care Physicians and, prior to his retirement, served as the clinical director for its Queenstown site.

“As a family physician, I had the opportunity to be involved in the lives of patients and their families from birth until death,” Walsh said. “My nearly 40 years of medical practice has given me the privilege of caring for thousands of people. End-of-life care has always been an especially important part of my work.”

Walsh also is a Queen Anne’s County Orphan’s Court judge and he is a former member of the Maryland Board of Physicians’ licensing, disciplinary and regulatory board.

“My involvement with Compass Regional Hospice as its chief medical director has given me the chance to be front and center with patients and families when it comes to end-of-life care. I am looking forward to this new role, and I know this partnership will continue to make me a better doctor and a better person,” Walsh said.

Walsh said he and the Compass Regional Hospice team look forward to the Feb. 4 launch of the Compass Palliative Care Program, which will be offered as a home care service to anyone who is dealing with a serious illness and has received a terminal diagnosis or life-expectancy of one year or less.

“I am looking forward to the launch of Compass Regional Hospice’s community palliative care program because it will give our team the opportunity to help more people who are living with and dealing with a serious illness, but are not yet ready for hospice services,” Walsh said. “The services we will be providing will help ensure that no one has to deal with the challenges of living with a serious illness alone.”

Compass Regional Hospice’s Director of Clinical Services, Dr. Holly Hayman, said palliative care is defined by Compass Regional Hospice as “the comprehensive care and management of the physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual needs of patients (of all ages) and their families with a serious and/or life-threatening illness. Palliative Care may be complimentary to curative or life-prolonging therapies that are being used to meet patient-defined goals of care.”

“We are very excited to offer the community-based Compass Palliative Care Program to provide additional medical care for individuals in the community with a life-limiting illness who do not qualify for hospice services,” Hayman said. “The program will provide patients with an additional level of coordinated care to better manage the challenges they face while living with a serious illness. Home visits will be provided by our palliative care physician and a social worker, which will assist the patient’s current medical team with symptom management related to the life-limiting illness.”

To learn more about hospice and palliative care services, or grief support services, available through Compass Regional Hospice, please contact Haymanat 443-262-4104 or hhayman@compassregionalhospice.org.

Compass Regional Hospice – Care on your terms

Compass Regional Hospice is a fully licensed, independent, community-based nonprofit organization certified by Medicare and the state of Maryland and accredited by the Joint Commission. Since 1985, Compass Regional Hospice has been dedicated to supporting people of all ages through the challenge of living with a serious illness and learning to live following the death of a loved one. Today, the organization is a regional provider of hospice care and grief support in Queen Anne’s, Kent and Caroline counties. “Care on your terms” is the promise that guides staff and volunteers as they care for patients in private residences, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and the residential hospice centers in Centreville and Chestertown. Grief support services are offered to children, adults and families of patients who died under hospice care, as well as members of the community who are grieving the loss of a loved one. For more information about Compass Regional Hospice, visit compassregionalhospice.org.

Government Shutdown Starting to Hit Kent

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The Kent County Department of Social Services at 350 High St., Chestertown

The shutdown of the federal government is into its fourth week as of this writing, with some 800,000 either furloughed or working without pay. Departments and agencies wholly or partially closed include Agriculture, State, Treasury, Commerce, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Justice and Homeland Security, the Internal Revenue Service and the Environmental Agency.

Maryland ranks third in the nation – behind Washington D.C. and Arizona – in the percentage of federal employees in its population. While many of those are in the suburbs around Washington, according to the 2015 federal Census there are more than 16,000 in the First Congressional District, which includes the whole Eastern Shore. That is more than in some whole states. There is no easy way to find out how many of those live or work in Kent County, though the number is probably fairly small compared to, for example, Harford or Baltimore counties.

But the federal employees are just the tip of the shutdown iceberg. The shutdown affects state and local governments that depend on federal funding, contractors or vendors who deal with the federal government, and businesses that serve government employees or contractors – such as restaurants, grocery stores, and anyone else whose bottom line is suddenly affected by the fact that 800,000+ people suddenly are short of – or out of — spending cash. And, of course, the families of all the above.

So, how has the shutdown affected Chestertown and Kent County? To get a sense of the answer, the Chestertown Spy asked several local officials what effects they are feeling.

Shelly Neal-Edwards, Director of the Kent County Department of Social Services, is one of those on the firing line of providing assistance to those who are out of work or otherwise in tightened financial circumstances. In particular, her office administers the federal SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) for the Maryland Department of Human Services. The program, known in Maryland as the Food Supplement Program, supplies more than 650,000 Maryland residents with a total of more than $75 million each month to purchase groceries. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one of the federal agencies closed by the shutdown.

A press release from the Department of Human Services, dated Jan. 11, announced that SNAP benefits will continue to be funded through the month of February.

The press release states, “The [USDA] has directed Maryland and other states to issue February benefits earlier than usual. As a result, FSP recipients will get both their January and February benefits on or before January 20. […]

“As funding for has not been appropriated by the federal government beyond February, it is critical to understand the potential hardship that a prolonged federal shutdown could impose upon those in need. As state leaders continue to call for an end to the federal shutdown, the Maryland Department of Human Services stands ready to assist FSP recipients at this uncertain time.[…]”

Also, a letter was sent to all SNAP recipients in the state, informing them of the February payment and asking them to contact their local DSS office if they need additional help in locating resources available in their communities. The letter provides contact information for the local offices, along with the Department of Human Services’ website, Facebook page, and Twitter address.

Edwards said in an email Jan. 17, “ for the month of December 2018, I can tell you that Kent County DSS served 2,582 SNAP/FSP customers. Between July and December of 2018, our Department received an average of 85 FSP applications per month. We have not seen an increase in the number of FSP recipients that we serve here in Kent County, as the number of SNAP recipients in our county has decreased over the past year.”

Shelley Heller, the County Administrator of Kent County, said the main effect on county government, to date, is the inability to get federal officials’ signatures on invoices to pay local vendors when the funds involved come from a federal grant or loan. While the effect so far has been minor, she said it could become significant if the shutdown goes on a great deal longer. Many of the federal grants go through the state of Maryland, so the federal shutdown won’t have an impact until the state needs to get additional funds from the state, Heller said.

As examples, Heller mentioned funding from the Department of Housing and Community development, which applies to community legacy grants in the towns. Also, rural water and sewer systems depend on rural development funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one of the federal agencies closed by the shutdown. Also, she said, Delmarva Community Transit, the major public transportation supplier on the Eastern Shore, relies on federal funding for its operation. As of this writing, Delmarva Community Transit had not replied to a query about the impact of the shutdown on its operation.

Bill Ingersoll, Chestertown Town Manager, said the town is not heavily reliant on federal funding for most of its projects. The renovations on the town-owned marina, funded in part by USDA grants, are mostly completed, he said. “We have very little direct contact with the federal government except to send in checks,” he said. However, he said, there could be an impact if the shutdown goes on longer. Still, “It won’t affect Chestertown until it hits the state,” he said. At that point, some projects funded by federal grants may be put on hold until the officials responsible for authorizing payments are able to return to work.

In some cases, local residents receive payments directly from the federal government. This includes farmers, many of whom were expecting to receive money under the US Department of Agriculture’s “market facilitation program.” The program was created to compensate farmers in part for sales lost on account of newly enacted tariffs – notably the Chinese soybean tariff that has effectively closed what was one of the most lucrative markets for Eastern Shore farmers. Other programs included in the farm bill recently passed by Congress aren’t being implemented since the shutdown began on Dec. 21, leaving farmers without access to federal loans and other funds needed to get ready for the next planting season.

Summing up, the shutdown’s effect on the local community is small but real though definitely less at this point than it is likely to be if the shutdown continues much past the end of the month, let alone if it goes past February, when SNAP funding may disappear. There may soon be some difficulties in paying local vendors and problems relating to agriculture loans and programs.  The shutdown is beginning to be felt in Kent County.

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Washington College to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 21

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Students and faculty at Washington College have planned a series of events that will take place throughout campus on Monday, January 21 to honor the great American civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A concert by the Grammy-nominated M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio caps off a day of community service and learning led by the college’s Black Student Union.

The M.S.G. Acoustic Blues Trio concert will take place at 5:30 pm in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall. The trio offers an evening of classics for the community to sing along to – acoustic blues, roots, spiritual music, and house-party tunes that are both uplifting and heart-wrenching, performed in the legendary Piedmont style. The band includes the accomplished harmonica player Jackie Merritt, Miles Spicer on guitar, and lead vocalist and percussionist Rosa Gibbs. Sponsored by the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the concert is free and open to the public.

The Martin Luther King Day of Service and Learning kicks off with an “MLK Read-In” at 2:00 p.m. on Martha Washington Square (in the case of inclement weather, the location will be Gibson Center for the Arts). Washington College students, staff, and faculty will recite some of King’s most famous readings and speeches, including the I Have A Dream speech. Local students and community members are invited to join in with their own selected readings, poetry, and reflections on what Martin Luther King, Jr. means to them. Participating students and community members will be given priority to share their thoughts and readings at the speak-in.

From 4:00 – 5:00 pm volunteers will gather in The Egg in Hodson Hall to pack supplies for the Caring for Kids Backpack Program. This program provides lunches to qualifying elementary and middle school programs throughout the weekends when they do not have the support of school lunches.

“I have never looked at MLK Day as a day off, but instead as a day of serving those around me…our vision is to allow the community and students to have a day where they can serve each other in a meaningful way that would honor MLK and his service to the nation,” says Paris Mercier, president of Washington College’s Black Student Union.

This year’s campus event celebrating the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. coincides with the return of Washington College students from winter break. It offers an ideal opportunity for the community to come together in a meaningful way to renew their own commitment to King’s work in civil rights, social justice, and economic equality.

For more information contact Starr Center Deputy Director Patrick Nugent at pungent2@washcoll.edu or 410-810-7157.

Democratic Club of Kent County Meeting January 17

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Come join old friends and make new ones at Bad Alfred’s located at 323 High Street in Chestertown this Thursday evening, January 17th.

The Democratic Club of Kent County extends an invitation to all people interested in keeping the Blue Wave surging into the 2020 Presidential Election!  Please join us as we review last year, set priorities and brainstorm activities for 2019.  You don’t need to be a member to attend and if you already are part of the club please bring along neighbors and friends!

Bad Alfred’s doors will open at 5:30 pm for meals, drinks and social time.  Main program/discussion starting at 7:00 pm. We look forward to seeing everyone Thursday!

Mid Shore Community Mediation Holds Info Session

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Interested in making peace? If you are interested in helping resolve local disputes, consider volunteering as a community mediator. Mediation can help everyone. You’ll learn skills that will help you manage your own conflicts while you learn to help others work through disagreements and make plans about their future.

Mid Shore Community Mediation Center is holding January information sessions for anyone interested in finding out how mediation works and why it matters.  Staff and volunteers will talk about what they do and how mediation makes a difference in hundreds of people’s lives every year. The Center’s mission is to build stronger communities by facilitating fair, free and prompt resolution of disputes.

Mediation is a confidential, non-judgmental process through which those involved are supported by a neutral third party, to have productive conversations, hear each other, and move forward with plans that they create together

Mid Shore Community Mediation Center is a nonprofit community resource that delivers around 500 mediations across the community each year. The center receives referrals from individuals, the courts, community organizations and schools. Highly trained staff and volunteers mediate disputes within families, between neighbors, landlords and tenants, with business organizations and for people coming out of incarceration.

Find out more about who we are, what we do and how you can become a volunteer community mediator at:

Talbot County Free Library, Easton on Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 5:30 pm

Chesapeake College, Cambridge on Tuesday January 29, 2019 at 5:30 pm

For more on the information sessions or to RSVP, call 410-820-5553 or email info@midshoremediation.org.

The Mid Shore Community Mediation Center is committed to bringing harmony and strength to our community through peace and understanding. The Center’s mission is to build stronger communities by facilitating fair, free and prompt resolution of disputes in Caroline, Talbot, and Dorchester Counties.  To find out more, visit midshoremediation.org.

For community members in Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties visit Community Mediation Upper Shore at CMUSmediation.org. For those in Wicomico, Somerset, and Worchester Counties visit Tri-Community Mediation at TriCommunityMediation.org.

Modern Board Games for Adults & Teens at KCPL

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Modern board games run the gamut from collaborative storytelling to clever scheming to remembering (or wildly guessing) historical facts. In short, there’s something for everyone.

Join us for a casual evening of board games and an opportunity to try out the newest games in KCPL’s collection, including Sushi Go!, Topiary, The Fox and the Forest, Azul, and Love Letter. There will be strategy, hilarity, meeples, and more! Gamers of all experience levels are welcome.

For more information about upcoming programs, visit kentcountylibrary.org or call 410-778-3636.

Wednesday, January 23 | 6-8pm
Kent County Public Library | Chestertown Branch

Book Discussion by Rev. David Billings at Unitarian Universalists

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A discussion of the book Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy in United States History and Life, by Rev. David Billings, will take place at the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River, 914 Gateway Dr., Chestertown, on Thursday, January 10, starting at 6:30 p.m. The book examines the deeply entrenched notion of White Supremacy in the U.S., which persists despite the Civil Rights movement and our election of an African American president.

The discussion is an activity that supports UUCR’s goal of undertaking a church-wide focus and community activism regarding racism and racial equity. Anyone interested in learning more about the book, or this discussion, please call 410-778-3440 to learn more.

A second discussion will take place at the Bookplate, 112 S. Cross Street in Chestertown, at 2 p.m. on Sunday, January 27.

The Page Turners Book Group Hosts a Cozy Book Social at KCPL

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The Page Turners are starting 2019 with a very special get-together!

Drink hot cocoa, enjoy lively Book Talks given by a special guest librarian, and
discuss the eternal question, “What should we read next?!” A list of books that will be featured at this casual and interactive program is available through KCPL’s website if you’d like to peruse the possibilities ahead of time and add your thoughts to the discussion.

At the end of the afternoon, we’ll take a vote that will determine which books The Page Turners will read and discuss at monthly get-togethers in 2019.

The Page Turners book group meets monthly on 2nd Fridays at Kent County Public Library’s Rock Hall branch. Whether you’re interested in coming every month or just occasionally, new participants are always welcome.

For more information visit kentcountylibrary.org or call 410-639-7162. A link to the list of featured books can be found in KCPL’s online calendar entry for this event.