Archives for September 2014

Meet Easton’s Gluten Free Bakery Girl

glutenfreebakerygirlTucked inside the very first stall of Easton Market Square on Washington Street you’ll find professional pastry chef, Tricia King. There, in a tidy little kitchen, she creates cookies, muffins, pies, cakes, specialty pastries and more, all with a special twist. They’re completely gluten-free.

“Gluten-free isn’t a fad, it is definitely here to stay” said King, owner of the business Gluten Free Bakery Girl. “My customers are people with celiac disease, but also people with gluten intolerance, or any type of inflammation – Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Lyme disease, or many other autoimmune disorders. Even parents of children with autism say that a gluten free diet without sugar or dairy makes a difference.”

What is gluten? It’s simply a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. People with celiac disease can’t digest it and become very ill, and people with gluten intolerance feel achy, tired and sore after eating it. King’s experience was that she’d feel lethargic for days after eating gluten. And in our industrial food system, gluten can be found in the most unlikely places – in sour cream and yogurt, for instance, black olives, and anything labeled “modified food starch.”

Confused? You’re not alone. But it’s becoming easier to access gluten-free products and more information is widely known about the disorders. Tricia King offers consulting services to people who have recently been identified as gluten intolerant. As a personal chef for over ten years, she has the skills and experience to help people modify their kitchens and diets to keep themselves well. She can help anyone pick safe foods, read food labels to identify hidden dangers, and feel good about a gluten-free lifestyle.

Soon her operation will be certified as gluten-free by the FDA – a lengthy process in which all of her handmade flour mixes will be laboratory tested to ensure that there are less than 20 parts per million of gluten. This certification will allow customers to be sure that every single item made in King’s kitchen is completely safe for gluten intolerant eaters.  King also makes paleo items, as well as sugar-free baked goods using coconut palm sugar.

With an expanding wholesale business, Gluten Free Bakery Girl products can now be found in Annapolis and beyond. Locally, you’ll find Tricia King at Easton Market Square from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm W-F, and 8:00 am – 4:00 pm on Saturday, her busiest day of the week. Call ahead 48 hours for special orders, from birthday cakes to breakfast pastries, cookie trays or specialties for holiday parties.

“If people have questions, they should come see me. I’m here for anybody with gluten intolerance” she said. For more information, call (801)792-3700, see her website here, or stop in and visit her at Easton Market Square at 137 N. Harrison St in Easton.

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Audit: Mental Health Administration Failed to Check Patient Eligibility; Personal information Not Secure

State auditors found that the State Mental Health Administration found that the MHA failed to:

  • Keep documentation showing patients who received over $16 million in mental health services were eligible
  • Assure timely reviews/audits of provider claims and perform regular bank reconciliations
  • Maintain adequate security over computers and sensitive patient data
  • Keep adequate internal control over cash receipts
  • The Mental Health Administration delivers comprehensive care, treatment, and rehabilitation of individuals with mental illnesses, either through a network of hospital facilities operated by MHA or through community service agencies. MHA spent $788 million during fiscal year 2013.

MHA receives funding from multiple federal and state sources and each funding source can have different eligibility rules. Because of this, MHA must keep detailed records about patients so the funding source is correctly matched to each patient service.

Eligibility documentation missing; important statistics not kept

MHA utilizes an Administrative Services Organization (ASO) to review its mental health services. During fiscal 2013, the ASO paid approximately $16.4 million of State funds for “uninsured” patient care, without keeping documentation showing patients were eligible for the mental health services they received.

The documentation is important because it is the basis for determining who ultimately pays for care: the state, federal government or the individual. This finding was repeated from the previous audit.

In addition, the ASO is required to periodically examine selected providers and supporting documents supporting claims to see if the process is adequate. However, the ASO didn’t target its examinations to a particular kind of claims (uninsured coverage.) Therefore, critical statistics to measure performance related to those claims were not kept.

Untimely audits and bank reconciliations

MHA hired an accounting firm to conduct quarterly independent reviews of provider claims and reconcile a bank account owned by the state and then issue reports of its findings. The Office of Legislative Audits found the quarterly reports were chronically late; from one year to 21 months. These reporting delays adversely affected MHA’s monitoring of the ASO’s payment and reconciliation duties.

Inadequate security over sensitive information

The ASO’s computer system contains typical demographic information for MHA’s beneficiaries, including name, social security number, address, and date of birth. The system also keeps sensitive personal health information, including medical diagnosis codes, prescribed medications, and physician assessments of patient risks, impairments, and substance abuse. OLA found:

Several unnecessary and insecure connections were allowed into portions of the ASO’s internal network, thereby placing various network devices at risk.

Ineffective intrusion detection associated with encrypted data transmitted over 61 ASO internal network addresses.

Third-party networks had unnecessary access to almost all destinations on the ASO internal network via all ports.

Personally Identifiable Information (PII) was not protected against unauthorized use and fraud.

Access to PII wasn’t limited based on a need-to-know principle. Thus, users had unnecessary read and modification access to certain critical ASO files containing sensitive PII for Maryland Medicaid enrollees.

Control over cash receipts needs improvement

MHA did not verify that collections received through the mail, which totaled approximately $741,000 during fiscal year 2013, were forwarded to and received by DHMH’s general accounting unit for deposit. Also, collections received at MHA’s Crownsville Hospital Center were not adequately controlled and verified. These collections totaled approximately $251,000 during fiscal year 2013. This finding was repeated from the previous audit.

By Charlie Hayward

UM Shore Health October Sceenings, Support, and Events

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Franchot Headlines First Friday Reception at Democratic HQ October 3

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot will headline the First Friday Reception at Democratic Headquarters, 125 N. Washington Street, in Easton. The reception will occur Friday, October 3, from 5-7 PM. The event, sponsored by the Talbot County Democratic Forum, is free, and drinks and snacks will be provided.

Franchot, a lawyer, served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1987-2007, and has been Comptroller since 2007. He is an independent voice and fiscal watchdog for the taxpayers of Maryland, and is well-known among various Eastern Shore constituencies, and is running for re-election for his third term.

Franchot has endorsed Congressional District One candidate Bill Tilghman, State Senate 37 candidate Chris Robinson, and State Delegate 37B candidate Keasha Haythe. Also attending will be Talbot County Council candidates Hilary Spence and Eric Lowery, among others.

The Democratic Headquarters opened to the public June 23, and is open Monday-Friday from 11-5 and Saturday from 11-3.

The Talbot County Democratic Forum seeks to provide a forum in which concerned citizens may meet to exchange views and develop positions on contemporary political and social issues, and to encourage all citizens to participate in the political process at local, state, and national levels, and to be an effective voice for the Democratic Party at all levels of governance.

For Further information, contact Forum President Richard Calkins at richardlcalkins@gmail.com.

Treating MD’s Juvenile Delinquents at Home More Effective, Less Costly Than Jails, Advocates Say

The $225 million set aside to build three new jails for juvenile delinquents and improvements to a fourth in Maryland should be spent on community-based treatment instead, a state review panel found.

Putting more money into juvenile jails would lead to less effective treatments, according to a report by the Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit, which tracks the needs of children under the Department of Juvenile Services and produces quarterly reports on the conditions of the department’s facilities.

The budgeted money, which includes the proposed construction of three new juvenile jails in Baltimore, Prince George’s County and Wicomico County, should be re-directed to provide more nonresidential, evidence-based treatment programs in the communities, said Nick Moroney, director of the Maryland Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit.

More emphasis on community-based treatment could help reduce juvenile recidivism rates, according to the report.

“Maryland should follow the national trends and be moving away from large, congregative facilities and move more towards services in the community,” Moroney said.

Not all juvenile offenders are suited for community-based treatment, and some, who are very high risk or have certain mental health needs, need to be incarcerated out of state because Maryland lacks the specific services to treat them, said Eric Solomon, public information officer for the Department of Juvenile Services.

Last year, 126 youth were incarcerated out of state, according to the department’s data resource guide. The construction of the proposed facilities could mean that more youth are able to stay in state in the future, Solomon said.

“We would love to be serving as many kids as we can in state,” Solomon said. “Some of these possible treatment centers that we could be building could help us in bringing back some of those kids to treat here.”

Maryland has seven state-operated facilities for convicted youth offenders, including five lower-level security facilities controlled mainly by staff, and two that are heavily secured by hardware such as fences and bars, according to the Department of Juvenile Services.

In 2013, 630 youths were placed in staff and hardware secure facilities and 716 were in community-based treatment in Maryland, according to the Department of Juvenile Services.

Studies have shown that intensive, community-based treatment programs, such as multisystemic therapy and functional family therapy, are more successful at reducing recidivism among juveniles than incarceration, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Baltimore-based philanthropy working on national children’s issues.

Functional family therapy involves the youth’s family members and aims to turn around juveniles who are at risk or already exhibiting delinquency, substance abuse or behavioral issues without sending the child away from home. Multisystemic therapy is designed to work with chronic and more serious juvenile offenders in their own communities to address every aspect of their lives, from their families and friends to schools and neighborhoods.

But their success rates vary: One is better than incarceration, and the other worse, research indicates.

More than 19 percent of youth were reconvicted and 14.7 percent were re-incarcerated 12 months after release from a state-operated facility, according to the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services’ 2013 data resource guide.

More successfully, 12 percent of Maryland youth were reconvicted and 7 percent were incarcerated within 12 months of completion of functional family therapy in 2012, according to a 2013 report from the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Twenty-seven percent of youth were reconvicted and 19 percent were incarcerated in 2012 within 12 months of completing a multisystemic therapy program in Maryland, according to a similar report.

The statistics did show that functional family therapy produced lower rates of recidivism among youth offenders than incarceration and multisystemic therapy produced higher rates, but it’s impossible to fairly compare these rates because of the many variables at play, said Jennifer Mettrick, director of implementation services at the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

How a child responds to community-based therapy depends on the kind of offender he or she is and whether he or she has been through the justice system before, and there is no concrete system to decide who gets what kind of treatment, Mettrick explained.

“You can’t do a straight comparison because there’s not a systematic way that kids are being referred to these services verses out of home,” she said.

There are sets of criteria that make youth ineligible for community-based treatment, such as exhibiting suicidal, homicidal or psychotic behavior, being charged as a sex offender or not being of the appropriate age. Youth must be 10-18 years old for functional family therapy and 12-17 years old for multisystemic therapy. Once a youth’s eligibility for community-based treatment is determined, it is up to the court to decide where he or she is sent.

Sometimes, the decision comes down to wherever there is availability. This means that less serious offenders can wind up in residential facilities, while more serious offenders are being treated in their communities, Mettrick said.

“Sometimes they’re an apples to apples comparison, sometimes they’re not,” she said. “But there are a lot of very similar kids that just by chance happen to get into one or the other service.”

Treating children in the community is much cheaper than treating them in a residential facility. The average cost per child per day for multisystemic therapy is $110, compared to $34 per child for functional family therapy, while each day at a state-operated facility per child costs $274 or $531, depending on the security level of the facility, according to the university’s report.

“If we can keep 50 percent of kids from coming back into the system, and we’re doing it at a much reduced cost and a much smaller length of time and kids are able to stay in their communities, that’s a win-win,” Mettrick said.

Community-based therapies take into account almost every aspect of the child’s life, rather than sending him or her away to a facility only to return home to the same situation that influenced his or her behavior in the first place, said Eliza Steele, senior monitor of the Juvenile Justice Monitoring Unit.

“The idea is that you address whatever dysfunction is happening in the family or the home so that you look at the kid holistically to understand what he needs,” she said.

There is still a need for secure, state-operated facilities to house violent youth offenders who pose a potential threat, but courts should choose community-based treatment for convicted youth whenever possible, Mettrick said.

“You can’t take those out-of-home placements completely out of the service array because they are still needed, but maybe to a lesser degree,” she said.

It’s difficult to walk the line between wanting to provide more individualized treatment services for youth and needing to meet the demand for juveniles committed to incarceration by the courts, said Jason Tashea, juvenile justice policy director at Advocates for Children and Youth, an independent organization advocating for the needs of children in Maryland.

“I have faith that DJS is working with all the relevant actors to try to make sure that the right kids are going to the right places,” he said. “But we would like to see more of an emphasis on the community treatment and less emphasis on secure committed facilities.”

By Madeleine List
Capital News Service

Spy Chat: Talbot’s School Superintendent Kelly Griffith Gets Down to Work

While the odds of being appointed a permanent superintendent of schools after serving in an interim position are relatively small ones statistically, Kelly Griffith is the kind of person that tends to break through those ceilings. As a self-confessed organizer of people and things, Mrs. Griffith is the first to admit that she loves being in a leadership role, and officially becoming head of Talbot’s public schools last May was a natural next step for her.

In her first interview with the Talbot Spy, Superintendent Kelly talks about some of the challenges that face her school district, including the introduction to “Common Core”, a rise of students that use English as a second language, and the ongoing limitations of budget resources for public schools. But she also talks about the role of innovation in education, and the extraordinary success stories of Talbot’s students and teachers as they creatively find new ways to thrive.

This video is approximately ten minutes in length

Spy Eye: Concours d’Elegance a Winner

The 8th annual St. Michaels Concours d’Elegance was held at the Hyatt in Cambridge today. Classic and antique cars, boats, and even an airplane engine drew crowds on the green. The event included a fashion show and fundraising dinner for the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. Classic pre-war vehicles, antique wooden boats and 50s sports cars lined up beside the September bay grasses on the Choptank River on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

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Local classic car fans will be glad to know that a new motor museum is in the works for St. Michaels. Bev Pratt and Cathy Stinchcomb of the Classic Motor Museum of St. Michaels shared plans for the new St. Michaels museum, which will feature classic vehicles and motorcycles. The museum will be on Marengo St. adjacent to the Old Mill, and will feature a restored Pinckett House, the historic home recently moved from Cherry St. For more information, email classicmotormuseum@gmail.com.

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Spawning Sturgeon Make Surprise Return to Maryland Rivers

 

Biologists recently netted several adult sturgeon on the Marhyhope. The endangered fish were thought gone from Maryland Rivers. Dave Harp photo for Bay Journal News Service.

Biologists recently netted several adult sturgeon on the Marhyhope. The endangered fish were thought gone from Maryland Rivers. Dave Harp photo for Bay Journal News Service.

When a crew of biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources hauled a gill net out of the Marshyhope Creek in late August, they hauled in more than the catch of the day: It may have been the catch of their careers.

One of the nets contained two “ripe” — ready to spawn — Atlantic sturgeon. One was a 7-foot 3-inch, 154-pound female. The other was a 5-foot 2-inch, 70-pound male. The female was filled with black eggs, and the male was leaking sperm.

“That was probably the most exciting and rewarding day in my career,” said Chuck Stence, head of the anadromous fish restoration unit of the DNR Fisheries Service, who was leading the survey crew. “We’re out there fishing — you’re not expecting to catch anything — and then all of sudden two fish like that get dropped into your lap.”

That catch turned out to be just the beginning. By-mid September, the crew had caught eight ready-to-spawn fish, including six males and two females on the Marshyhope, a tributary of the Nanticoke River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. They saw several others that they weren’t able to net.

“That is pretty exciting,” said Steve Minkkinen, who heads the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Maryland Fisheries Resources Office, and has been active with sturgeon programs in the state. “There is a population of them up there. It is not just one or two random fish that showed up for some reason.”

Atlantic sturgeon are the largest fish native to the Bay, where they historically reached lengths of up to 14 feet. Once common, they suffered a dramatic population drop in the last century caused by overfishing, habitat destruction and pollution. Two years ago, the National Marine Fisheries Service listed them as an endangered species.

Like other anadromous fish, sturgeon live most of their lives in the ocean, but return to their native rivers to spawn. The James River is the only Bay tributary known to still have a spawning population. No sturgeon have been documented spawning in Maryland since 1972, when one was found in the Nanticoke River. 

But the recent catches suggest the Marshyhope now has a spawning population. “I can’t imagine a fish that big going up in there for any reason other than to spawn,” Stence said. 

And, like the James River, the sturgeon seem to be spawning in the fall, unlike sturgeon that spawn in rivers farther north, such as the Hudson. 

“I am very surprised by that,” Minkkinen said. “All the other anadromous fish are releasing their eggs in the spring.” That’s when plankton blooms fuel the food web that helps support newly spawned fish. 

Proof of successful spawning would require finding recently spawned “young of year” fish in the river. Right now, Stence said, no surveys exist in the vicinity of the Marshyhope that would catch young-of-year sturgeon. Now, with evidence that suggests likely spawning activity, the fishery service will consider starting one, he said.

It’s unknown where the sturgeon came from. They could be remnants of a native Maryland population that went undetected for decades.

It is possible, some have suggested, that they are James River fish that have wandered up the Bay. 

Another possibility is that they stem from a small batch of juvenile Hudson River fish that were released in the Nanticoke in 1996.

Those questions could be answered in coming weeks. The biologists take DNA samples of each sturgeon for analysis to determine their river  of origin.

Biologists would also like to know what habitats the fish are using. So the captured sturgeon were briefly anesthetized and the biologists made minor incisions in each to insert a small transmitter and a tag so they can monitor the sturgeons’ movements and identify them in the future.

After that procedure, the biologists jump into the chest-deep water and cradle the fish, “like babies,” Stence said. After about 10 minutes, the sturgeon recover and swim away.

The recent catches ended more than two years of frustration for the biologists. Fishermen have reported seeing sturgeon jumping in the Marshyhope for several years. Last fall, one landed in the boat of two anglers.

But crews from the DNR and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had — until Aug. 28 — failed to catch any sturgeon. The previous week, in fact, Stence and his crew saw one jump only 40 feet from their boat, but they were unable to net it.

“It’s so frustrating when you see them jumping right in front of the boat, and you still can’t catch them,” he said.
That changed as they were pulling in the last of four, 100-yard gill nets that had been deployed on the 28th.

“We got maybe a third of the way through the net, and all of a sudden the net started pulling back,” Stence said. “And the closer we got, you could see the big shadow in the water. It’s amazing how the adrenaline kicks in when you go out there for three years and catch nothing, and all of a sudden you can see a big one in the net — and then having another one right behind it.” 

 


By Karl Blankenship
Bay Journal News Service

Distributed by Bay Journal News Service.

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Comptroller Franchot Gives Thumbs Up for Keasha Haythe

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot has endorsed Democrat Keasha Haythe in the race to represent District 37B in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 5.14.04 PM“Keasha Haythe has a proven track record of working with business to create jobs and increase economic opportunity on the Eastern Shore – which is exactly the type of leadership we need in Annapolis,” Franchot said. “I am proud to endorse her candidacy for the Maryland House of Delegates.”

Haythe, who has also been endorsed by the Maryland State Education Association, said, “I am honored to receive Comptroller Peter Franchot’s endorsement. Comptroller Franchot stands for fiscal responsibility, financial literacy programs in our schools, and recognizes the contributions that businesses make when they invest in Maryland.”

The granddaughter of a Bellevue waterman, Haythe was born and raised in Talbot County. Since 2008, she has served as the Dorchester County Economic Development Director. Partnering with private and public stakeholders, she has championed education, entrepreneurship and expansion of existing businesses as ways to create jobs. Her campaign expands that approach, stressing the importance of education, economic development and environment.

Haythe is one of two Democrats on the ballot facing two Republicans. Voters will be asked to vote for two. State law mandates that the two winners come from different counties, so if the two top voter-getters are from the same county, the third-place finisher could be one of the two winners.

“It’s important for voters to understand how this odd election works,” Haythe said. “People need to know they should vote for only one Talbot County candidate – and that’s me.”

More information about Haythe is at www.KeashaHaythe.com.

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Talbot Arts Council Offers Mini-Grants for Arts Programs

The Talbot County Arts Council is offering mini-grants between $100 and $500 for arts-related projects and programs during the present fiscal year that ends on June 30, 2015. The amount requested must be matched at least a dollar-for-dollar by the grant recipient. The mini-grant program allows the Arts Council to quickly support new arts organizations and initiatives. It is funded by grants from Talbot County and the Towns of Easton, Oxford, and St. Michaels.

The concept of mini-grants was introduced in 2000 with five grant awards totaling $1,800. During the past five years, the Arts Council has distributed almost $35,000 in mini-grants. This year’s mini-grant budget is $7,500, to be distributed between $5,000 for projects sponsored by organizations and $2,500 for arts programs in public and private schools.

Applications may be submitted at any time by nonprofit or government-related organizations or schools in Talbot County. Requests received by the end of a given month are decided during the following month. Below are some of the mini-grants approved during the past year:

Grants to Organizations

Friends of the Lunar New Year, an activity of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, Inc., for Lunar New Year Celebration at the field house of The Country School on February 1, 2014

Oxford Community Center, Inc., for a one-man show, “P.T. Barnum: the Master Showman,” at the Center on March 30, 2014

St. Michaels Community Center, Inc., for a concert by Kim and Reggie Harris and Magpie: Celebration of Earth Day and Tribute to Pete Seeger, at the St. Michaels Middle/High School Auditorium on April 23, 2014

Talbot County Free Library, for a lecture on Robert Frost by local poet Sue Ellen Thompson at the Main Library in Easton on April 24, 2014

Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Inc., for metal casting workshop with casting sculptor Christian Benefil during May 5-8, 2014

Chesapeake Center, Inc., for a Happenstance Theatre presentation of Pinot & Augustine featuring award-winning artists Mark Jaster & Sabrina Mandell, at the Center for an audience of adults with various disabilities on May 9, 2014

Critchlow-Adkins Children’s Centers, Inc., for a Happenstance Theatre presentation of Pinot & Augustine at the Center for an audience of about 100 preschool children on May 9, 2014

Chesapeake Multi-Cultural Resource Center, Inc., for a Happenstance Theatre presentation of Pinot & Augustine at the Center for an after-school audience of mostly Hispanic immigrant children on May 13, 2014

Local Port of Art, an activity of Michaels Events, Inc., for Mommy/Daddy & Me: Painting the Basic, a children’s art class at the gallery during July 22-29, 2014

St. Michaels Events, Inc., for A Fair Weekend in St. Michaels during September 19-20, 2014

Carpe Diem Arts Outreach Fund, an activity of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, Inc., for a four-part performance series at Brokletts Place, the Talbot County Senior Center, during September-December 2014

Frederick Douglass Honor Society, an activity of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, Inc., for the musical component of Frederick Douglass Day in Easton on September 27, 2014

Grants to/for Schools

St. Michaels Middle/High School, for annual student musical theater production of Godspell 2012 at the SMMHS Auditorium during February 27-March 2, 2014

Saints Peter and Paul High School, for annual student musical theater production of Xanadu at the Historical Society Auditorium in Easton on March 14-16, 2014

Easton Middle School, for annual student musical theater production of Willy Wonka at the Talbot County Auditorium on March 28-30, 2014

For further information on the mini-grant program, contact the Talbot County Arts Council, PO Box 6, Easton, MD 21601 (phone 401-310-9812/e-mail gearly@talbotarts.org) or visit website www.talbotarts.org.