From South of Left Field: Re-Union by Jimmie Galbreath

Unions, now there is something we aren’t taught in school. Try this on for size, in 1619 Polish craftsmen brought to Jamestown were not allowed to partake in the Virginia colony elections. They went on strike and due to their economic importance won the right to vote. Was this action justified?

This small action reflects the meaning of collective bargaining; people who lack a right they desire to resort to collective action to get it. In this case, the government wasn’t providing the right to vote, so they took action to get rights equal to the others. Later in history women collectively marched for the right to vote. Acting collectively can mean voting or striking, depending on who and what is the issue.

Here in the United States, two major examples of politically driven inequality can be found in women gaining the right to vote and the myriad racial inequalities addressed by the Civil Rights movement. Both were collective actions to gain a right or remove an inequality. Ideally, by voting and keeping politicians focused on the welfare of the common citizen, actions such as these would not be necessary. The government should work to limit abuses such as murder, enslavement, and suppression of the right to live a reasonable and safe life.

Unions? Well now, back in the day workers in factories could be under age 7 and work 12-18 hours a day around machinery that operated without guards to prevent injury or death. The owners lived in luxury and wealth unlimited by tax law or regulation. Abject poverty was the worker’s problem, not theirs. Worker health and safety, just be careful. Dangerous fumes or chemicals? Too bad. Injured? Fired! Ah, the good ole glory days of a Greater unregulated America. This was trickle down as it worked, and ‘trickle’ is the operative word.

Snide perhaps, but actually a fair representation of the way things were before citizens, workers, and reformers began to change the status quo to provide a more favorable life for everyone. The struggle to remove children from mines and factories and provide them schooling was waged for over a century by many organizations including Unions. Their primary opposition was from businessmen and corporations working with elected officials and police.

The introduction of regulations to provide better working conditions to improve health and safety was also an effort by many groups, notably Unions. Again the opposition was businessmen, corporations, and elected officials.

To quote a great man born here in Maryland, “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass.

Our nation has a long history of struggle to achieve equal rights from an unequal society. Perhaps we aren’t taught real history in our schools, because if we were the long struggle from one strongpoint of resistance to another, driving toward a more equal society would be apparent. Slavery, Women’s votes, Civil Rights, LGBT rights, all are just flashpoints of conflict between the oppressed and the oppressor stretching throughout our national history but glossed over (if taught at all) in our schools. We aren’t taught an awareness of why organizations such as the NAACP or Unions came to be.

The point I seek to make here is that the life cycle of the very organizations that rose from the common worker to demand better pay and safer working conditions, that fought to send our children to school rather than a factory or mine is dying. Not because they are no longer needed, but because they have been demonized and broken by our politicians. An outstanding example of this was Ronald Reagan firing the Air Traffic Controllers in 1981 when they refused to return to work from their Union’s strike. Not content with firing, he barred them for life from working for Civil Service. Recently many states under Republican control have passed laws preventing citizens from collectively bargaining for better wages or working conditions. For example, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Texas and Virginia won’t even let teachers bargain for better pay or working conditions.

These are dangerous trends because there is little difference between collective bargaining, collectively protesting, or collectively voting. Please pause and consider that this effort is one to limit or outlaw us from acting collectively. Politicians (the tools of wealth) start by demonizing Unions, using ‘shoot from the hip’ claims of Unions being controlled by organized crime, is made up of communists or socialists (they are actually different things), or of hurting business.

Unions were born because the wealth generated by an industrializing America was retained by the owners and little or nothing was shared with the workers. Unions were formed to free children from dangerous jobs. Unions were formed to improve safety in the work place. Unions were formed because the elected politicians failed to do any of this until their backs were pushed against the wall.

The bottom line is this, the time to begin to swing the pendulum away from government favoring the wealthy and back to government improving the lot of the general working population has arrived. Unions can help. Corporations will not.

Jimmie Galbreath is a retired Engineer originally from a small family owned dairy farm in Jefferson County, MS. He earned a B.S in Petroleum Engineering from MS State University, accumulating 20 years Nuclear experience at Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station. Along the way he worked as a roustabout on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, served 3 years active service as a Quartermaster Officer in the US Army, Supervised brick kilns first in MS than in Atlanta GA and whatever else it took to skin the cat. He now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Book Launch for “Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power”

This Saturday, Sept 23 from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M., Roger B. Burt will be signing books at the NewsCenter in Easton. He will be available to discuss his new book Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power. Dr. Burt says,”In this time of worldwide crises it was irresistible to mesh the movement to empower women with mythology in a novel.”

The first of a trilogy, Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power, opens in a contemporary reality with an undersea culture of people who have been reserved by our Earth Mother, Gaia, to guard the future of humankind and our precious blue planet. Some, called mermaids, live in the sea, where they are seen from time to time. But some have adopted fully human form, live on land and build families. Among these people are the warrior women of the Andromeda. In the first book their central adversaries are the greedy and power hungry Overlords. But as the trilogy develops the conflict broadens and it is clear that the spirit world is involved. There may be a transformational future for humankind.

“I first became interested in the women’s movement in the 1960s and we are now experiencing a further development of the movement. We are seeing benefits not just for women themselves but also for their families, communities and countries. Featuring this movement in my novel was irresistible. It also felt natural to include women warriors. I was amazed to learn that the Amazon Warrior Women were not mythological figures at all, but real women living and fighting in the ancient world.”

In discussing his book Dr. Burt notes that his interest in mythology started in college. He believes that mythological stories are not just interesting tales but bring us revelations about ourselves. In short they can be teaching devices.

He notes we are entering a period of considerable risk. He compares it to the period just before World War I. At the time no one was expecting worldwide conflict but it erupted and in turn led to a prolonged period of instability culminating in another world war. The terrible wars were followed by refreshing stability with Europe integrating and the United States experiencing sustained growth. As we enter the information technology age, with all that entails, the magnitude of world conflict is increasing and it comes at the time we enter increasing environmental crises.

“It is interesting to discuss what is happening in our world just now but I find it even more intriguing to explore the future in a fictional world where I could highlight movements and themes. I look forward to being able to discuss these issues with visitors at the NewsCenter on Saturday September 23 rd. from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M.”


Cheers for Aliah: Denton Girl Now Ranked 6th in Country in Gymnastics Tumbling

USA Gymnastics has announced the U.S. Trampoline and Tumbling Team for the 2017 World Age Group Competition, Nov. 13-20, in Sofia, Bulgaria. The World Age Group Competition will determine champions in trampoline, double mini-trampoline and tumbling for boys and girls in age-groups 11-12, 13-14, 15-16 and 17-21.  

Twelve year old Aliah Raga of Denton, a gymnast at Chesapeake Gymnastics in Easton, has been named as a U.S. Trampoline and Tumbling Team member in the competition’s double mini-trampoline event.  The U.S. Team for the World Age Group Competition was named by the Selection Committee based on scores from USA Gymnastic National Championships as well as bonus points earned at Winter Classic, Elite Challenge and USA Gymnastic National Championships.

Raga has trained in gymnastics since she was five.  “After climbing baby gates in her infancy and the tallest slides when she was a toddler, I realized that a recreational class at Easton’s Chesapeake Gymnastics was what she needed,” proclaimed Adrienne Raga, Aliah’s mother.  After only a few months, Raga advanced to Chesapeake’s artistic gymnastics team, which claimed multiple first place team trophies her first year, and where Aliah received a gold medal on balance beam at the State competition.  By the time Raga was eight, Coach Joan Dyott moved her to the Chesapeake Gymnastics’ Trampoline and Tumbling program. “With her power and determination, she was destined to succeed there,” noted Dyott.

Although Raga was ranked 6th in the nation for power tumbling level 9 in the 11-12 year old age group at the 2016 USAG Trampoline and Tumbling Championships, she was unable to compete in that event during 2017, due to an injury. Aliah was, however, able to compete at the 2017 Fairland T&T Invitational in both trampoline, where her five double somersaults earned her a bronze medal, and in double mini-trampoline, where two double somersaults earned her the gold.  She was mobilized to youth elite status in both of these events, and went on to compete at the 2017 USAG T&T Nationals, taking third place in double mini-trampoline as a youth elite.  

When asked how she felt about representing the United States in an international meet, Raga stated, “Whatever happens will happen, I am just happy that I will be there.”  

Champions Booster Club, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to supporting and encouraging Chesapeake Gymnastics team members to reach such heights, is accepting donations to assist with the expenses involved in travel to Sofia, Bulgaria for the World Age Group Competition.  If you would like make a donation, please send checks to Champions Booster Club, c/o Chesapeake Gymnastics, 8610 Commerce Drive, Easton, MD 21601.  For further information, contact Deborah Davis at (443) 239-1194.


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Good Deeds: St. Michaels Foxy’s Helps Another Foxy on Jost Van Dyke Island after Irma

What started as an idea over lunch turned into a huge production and a community effort that surpassed anyone’s expectations.  One day last May, Will Workman, owner of the George Brooks House and Parsonage Inn B & B in St. Michaels was having lunch at Foxy’s Harbor Grille in St. Michaels, when an idea came to mind.  Located on the island of Jost Van Dyke is Foxy’s Tamarind Bar, the inspiration for the name of the restaurant in St. Michaels. Foxy’s on JVD is owned by an island legend, Foxy Callwood, a philanthropist, philosopher and troubadour, largely responsible for putting this island on the sailing itinerary of boaters from all over the world.

The bar began in 1966 (moved to its current location in 1968) as a place to share a “libation” after church where residents would celebrate successful harvests. Workman was a frequent visitor to the British Virgin Islands having sailed through the islands on his boat many times.  He approached the current owner of Foxy’s Harbor Grille, Terye Knopp, and asked if she had ever thought about bringing Callwood to St. Michaels.  She hadn’t, but thought it was a great idea. So, Workman, via email, contacted Callwood and his wife Tessa, and surprisingly, they agreed.  Saying they had no plans for September, and would love to come, they could use the opportunity to arrange some other visits to friends in the States.  Callwood agreed to play guitar, sing and entertain with his unique Caribbean style of music and storytelling combined.

A date was set for September, and an event was created.What started as an idea over lunch turned into a huge production and a community effort that surpassed anyone’s expectations.  One day last May, Will Workman, owner of the George Brooks House and Parsonage Inn B & B in St. Michaels was having lunch at Foxy’s Harbor Grille in St. Michaels, when an idea came to mind.  Located on the island of Jost Van Dyke is Foxy’s Tamarind Bar, the inspiration for the name of the restaurant in St. Michaels.  Foxy’s on JVD is owned by an island legend, Foxy Callwood, a philanthropist, philosopher and troubadour, largely responsible for putting this island on the sailing itinerary of boaters from all over the world.

Throughout the planning, one thing was clear.  The seating capacity at Foxy’s Harbor Grille would never be enough to accommodate the interest, as tickets sold out within weeks.  So, four shows were scheduled to take place over two days, September 12th and 13th.  A backup band was arranged to accompany Foxy, who is now 78 years old and has had surgery for polyps on his throat, and four sets would stretch his limits. The ticket sales profits would be donated to the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society, the foundation that Callwood began, whose mission is to “… promote the conservation of Jost Van Dyke, its adjacent smaller cays and marine systems through education, research, restoration and, monitoring.”  Everything was in place.

Then came Irma.  Just a few days before the event, the catastrophic hurricane destroyed the majority of the buildings on the island of Jost Van Dyke with a direct hit.  Many of the surrounding islands that comprise both the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands were devastated. Without normal communications, the organizers Workman and Knopp relied on social media, a few text messages, and spotty emails to find out how Foxy and his wife faired, along with the other residents.  The good news was that they were ok, but the bar was almost totally destroyed.  They sent word via their assistant that they would not be able to get off the island to come to St. Michaels.  But, they requested the continuation of the event, turning the monies raised through ticket sales and donations into relief funds for the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society. These dollars would now provide much needed supplies to help the islanders begin the long, hard and expensive task of rebuilding.

So, the event went on as planned and it was a major success.  Four shows – two on Tuesday, and two on Wednesday, with the band Trinidelphia from Philadelphia.  Guests were treated to a special Caribbean menu, exceptional music, dancing and ironically, lovely weather.  The money raised (over $12,000) will be hand-carried to the foundation’s accountant here in the states and will provide immediate help to the islands that so many here in this area have fond memories of.  One couple in attendance had just returned from their annual boat charter to JVD and had had dinner with Tessa one week before the hurricane hit.  Many of the guests travelled from out of state in the hopes of seeing Foxy Callwood, but were just as happy to party on in his honor and willingly donated their ticket costs for relief efforts.

The recovery will be long and arduous. If anyone would like to donate to the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society, you can donate online at It is Workman and Knopp’s hope that someday, Sir Philicianno “Foxy” Callwood, knighted in 2009 for his significant contributions to improving the life of the people of the British Virgin Islands, can visit the bar that bears his name here in Maryland.

The organizers are planning to do this again next September in the hopes that Foxy Callwood can attend.

by Julie Imirie

 If you would like to join us in helping Foxy and those wonderful folks that live on the island, you can send a check made out to “JVD Preservation Society” and mail to Will Workman, Caribbean Nights Productions, 24500 Rolles Range Road, St. Michaels, MD  21663.  The charity is an approved IRS 501 (c)(3) foundation and they will mail you a receipt for your tax records.  For credit card donations, go to their web site: and the last section to the right is for donations (PayPal or your credit card).  If you have any questions, give Will a Call on (410) 829-0510.


Jazz Review: The 2017 Monty Alexander Festival by John Malin

Labor Day weekend in Easton has become established over the last eight years as a great destination for Jazz lovers as the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival (MAJF) has grown in stature and popularity.

Friday, September 1st, marked the start of this year’s festival in the Avalon Theatre with a magnificent performance from Bria Skonberg and her band. Bria drifted onto the stage trumpet in hand, saluted the audience and blew up a storm with a version of Louis Armstrong’s “Swing That Music.” Supported by the “holy trinity” of piano, bass and drums, Bria played a range of jazz styles from traditional New Orleans through to modern Jazz and Blues, playing numbers from Dizzy Gillespie, Django Reinhardt and Hoagy Carmichael before moving on to Nat King Cole’s “Revenge” and the beautiful French song “I Am Alone Tonight” by Lucienne Delyle. Listening to Bria singing in perfect French I imagined a young Brigitte Bardot with a voice like a honey glazed stiletto purring and cutting through lyrics with a surgeon’s precision. The support piano work of Matisse Picard was both original and technically outstanding, providing a perfect complement to Skonberg’s trumpet.

The second set included some of her own original work including a haunting swing number “Wear And Tear” featuring a beautiful muted trumpet solo. The set concluded with a moving delta blues style vocal “I Love You But I Can’t Have You” with Bria singing in a soulful rich voice and playing ever ascending horn riffs in a question and answer style vocal and instrumental. The Avalon audience loved it. Bria Skonberg was fabulous…watch this space Jazz fans.

Saturday’s events began with a wall of sound from the U.S. Navy Band Commodores, led by Bill Mulligan. We usually listen to amplified individual instruments but to hear an 18-piece band in a small theater is an unforgettable experience. The band played an eclectic range of jazz classics with instrumental solos from most all of the players and a selection of songs from Ella Fitzgerald, celebrating the centenary of her birth. Kristine Hsia, the vocalist, finished with an original and beautiful arrangement of “Georgia On My Mind.” Bill Mulligan, bandleader and a virtuoso sax player, produced a fabulous big band sound with these world-class musicians and the Avalon is still shaking.

Brunch at the Tidewater Inn with the Washington D.C.-based Conservatory Classic Jazz Band has become a tradition of the festival and the seven-piece band played their repertoire of New Orleans, Chicago, and small group swing as customers feasted on Bloody Marys and crab cakes.

Jazz trumpeter Sean Jones, with drummer Obed Calvaire, bassist Luques Curtiss, and pianist Orrin Evans

Sean Jones, the young and very talented former lead trumpet player with Wynton Marsalis, kicked off Saturday afternoon in a packed Avalon Theater with Obed Calvaire on drums, Luques Curtiss on bass, and Orrin Evans on piano. Starting with a tribute to Ella with “Come Fly With Me” and moving to “Two Or Three,” a slow haunting trumpet and piano arrangement, the quartet then played a selection of classic and original numbers that demonstrated not only their technical excellence, but their ability to create an atmosphere of cool, smooth jazz that seemed like we were all sitting in a small, intimate, dark and smoke-filled club. The original snow scene inspired by “Gretchen” raised emotions of Christmas carols and “Nomo” showed the fabulous drumming skills of Obed Calvaire. The finale, an emotional trumpet solo by the gentle giant Jones playing an arrangement of “Danny Boy,” had not a dry eye in the house and received a standing ovation.

Grammy-award nominee René Marie made her second appearance at the MAJF to lead the Saturday evening show with her very

Jazz vocalist René Marie (left), with pianist John Chin and vocalist Dee Daniels

creative and original songs that are intensely personal and probe the most elated and depressed emotions of human existence. With pianist John Chin, drummer Quentin Baxter and bassist Elias Bailey, René roamed through a selection of her own material like “If You Were Mine” and classics like Arty Shaw’s “Moonray.” At times René proudly stood at side stage watching her band deliver fabulous solos urging them on to even greater things. John Chin was just magical as he stared upwards, trance-like, playing absolutely inspired piano. The second set had a surprise appearance by Dee Daniels, another favorite of the MAJF audiences. Dee, with her four octave vocal range, and René sang an amazing duet arrangement of “What A Difference A Day Makes” with the two great voices making exquisite harmonies. A version of Nina Simone’s “Oh Nina” finished the concert with John Chin again showing his tremendous musical influence to René Marie’s most original style of music.

Monty Alexander headlined the final concert of the Festival on Sunday. The concert was dedicated to the memory of Beth Schucker, one of the original supporters of the MAJF, a lifelong Jazz fan and a dear friend to so many Eastern Shore folks. Monty, with his regular bassist Hassan Shakur and drummer Jason Brown, struck a very melodious but spiritual theme with classics like “I Have A Friend In Jesus” and “The River.” Monty shared some of his most challenging life experiences, including his battle with cancer, that inspired his composition “Renewal,” featuring his unique piano string plucking technique as an introduction to his inimitable keyboard skills. The music flowed seamlessly from Armstrong, Charlie Chaplin and Nat King Cole with some wonderful solo interludes, including one where Monty walked off stage for several minutes leaving Hassan Shakur playing a most creative selection of tunes including “The Pink Panther,” using his amazing multiple string chord strumming techniques.

Nat King Cole was born again as Allan Harris (Tony Bennett’s favorite singer) joined the ensemble to sing the Presley song “I Believe.” Harris has a deep rich and resonant baritone voice and when you close your eyes Nat King Cole is in the room. Dee Daniels joined the group to sing “Someday We Will All Be Free.” The mood changed with a fast rendition of “Sweet Georgia Brown” with Monty confirming his dominance as one of the pianos greatest virtuosos. The set ended community singing style with Monty in cowboy gear playing a jazz/calypso version of “Home On The Range” to a standing ovation which drew an encore with Daniels and Harris singing the Duke Ellington classic “Come Sunday.” A wonderful show and a marvelous memorial tribute to Beth Schucker.

The MAJF has evolved over the last eight years into a very classy small town Jazz Festival and probably the best in the USA. It is classy without being pretentious or exclusive and is attracting a diversity of audiences. The caliber of the performers is world class and with such great young and creative performers like Bria Skonberg and John Chin the future for Jazz looks very rosy.

Chesapeake College Announces Timeline for New Presidential Search

Chesapeake College’s Board of Trustees has announced the formation of a search committee to select the college’s sixth president and a process to involve members of the campus and Mid-Shore communities in identifying the qualifications, characteristics and values sought for the school’s new leader.

The 14-member Presidential Search Advisory Committee (PSAC) will be chaired by L. Nash McMahan, Vice Chair of Chesapeake’s Board of Trustees and President of Tri-Gas and Oil Co., and include four additional trustees from the Mid-Shore: Christopher Garvey, President & CEO of Associated Builders and Contractors Chesapeake Shores Chapter; Robert Grace, President & COO of Dixon Valve & Coupling Company; Mike Mulligan, retired Colonel U.S. Marine Corps and Senior Account Manager for Battelle; and Brenda Shorter, retired Kent County Schools educator.

“Nash McMahan’s experience as a CEO, civic leader and collaborator will be catalytic in helping the search committee identify qualifications and characteristics for the president that are based on widespread community input,” Chesapeake College Board of Trustees Chair Blenda Armistead said. “In particular, we felt it was important to get broad participation from the business community since the college plays such a critical role in educating and training our region’s current and future workforce.”

Additional members of the search committee include representatives from the Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board, the college’s Foundation Board and Business Council; and Chesapeake’s administration, faculty and staff.

Residents and employers in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties are invited to participate in the search process by completing a brief online survey on the campus website through Sept. 20 at noon. Results will be used to help develop a job description to recruit the new president.

“We have already completed individual interviews and focus groups on campus and in the community with elected officials and business leaders,” McMahan said. “The online survey gives others throughout the region the opportunity to share their ideas and priorities and the characteristics they would like to see in the new president.”

Based on this input, recruitment advertisements will be posted in October with applications accepted through the end of the year, according to McMahan.

The search committee will evaluate applicants in January and February and a list of three to four candidates will be submitted to the Board of Trustees in March. Campus and community engagement will be sought during the final interview process.

“We hope to announce our choice in the spring with the new president on campus by the start of the fiscal year on July 1,” Armistead said.

Chesapeake College Interim President Dr. Stuart Bounds is assisting the Board of Trustees in the search.

“Chesapeake College has had a deep commitment to the values and aspirations of the Mid-Shore community throughout our 50 year history,” he said. “The Board and the Presidential Search Advisory Committee will be seeking a candidate for the sixth president of the college who will build on that commitment and expand educational opportunity for all the citizens of our five-county community.”

To participate in the survey please go here

Lou Yeager of Catastrophic Health Planners to speak at Chesapeake Multiple Myeloma Meeting

Lou Yeager of Catastrophic Health Planners will speak at the quarterly meeting of the Chesapeake Multiple Myeloma Network (CMMN) on Saturday, September 16, at 4:00 PM in the Large Conference Room of the Eastern Shore Conservation Center (114 S. Washington St., Easton). The talk, Managing the Financial & Legal Costs of Long-Term Treatment for Multiple Myeloma and other Chronic Diseases, is free and open to the public.

Lou Yeager, a long-term cancer survivor, is President and Executive Director of Catastrophic Health Planners, Inc., an award-winning Maryland not-for-profit founded in 1993 that provides free education and case management services to patients and families before, during and after catastrophic health events. The talk should be helpful to myeloma patients and their families as well as other individuals facing the many financial and other costs of long-term care for chronic conditions involving very expensive treatments. Health care professions working with myeloma patients and others with chronic illnesses also will benefit from Mr. Yeager’s presentation.

The Chesapeake Multiple Myeloma Network (CMMN) is an informal Eastern Shore group of individuals affected by multiple myeloma—a cancer of the bone marrow and blood. Its mission is “to provide ongoing resources of information, support, shared experiences, and hope for persons with multiple myeloma, their families, and friends.” CMMN partners with the University of Maryland’s Shore Regional Health Cancer Center’s Outpatient Oncology Support Program and is an affiliate of the International Myeloma Foundation. CMMN’s meetings are informal and last about an hour and a half.

Parking is available in the Conservation Center’s Washington St. lot and on Washington St. itself. The Center is handicapped accessible. For further information about CMMN, contact Bob Kelly at 410-226-5345 or or visit

Op-Ed: Back to School, Back to the Problem of Rural Broadband Parity by Josh Hastings

As students return to school, we are all reminded of the challenges created by gaps in broadband access in Maryland’s rural areas and beyond. The issue is not only important as we try to educate our students and future workforce, but as we try to close the prosperity gap among our rural and urban communities.

According to the Education Superhighway, a nonprofit that supports proper online learning tools, 21 million students in America’s K-12 public schools are being left behind in the ability to receive digital learning content. Twenty-three percent of U.S. school districts do not have enough bandwidth to meet the current needs for digital learning and it’s much worse for rural or low income areas.

As we strive to close that “last mile”, connecting the end-user to nearby services, let’s not forget how important broadband truly is to a thriving community.

Today’s economy is based on information and services. If we want to encourage economic development, we will need to ensure the flow of commerce and services. It will be essential to continue to expand and maintain the utility infrastructure – including broadband.

Access to information is now dramatically making the difference between a growing economy and a retracting economy – a better quality of life and a poorer quality of life – an engaged society and a divided society.

Many of us take for granted the services and amenities that accompany living in the 21st century, in a developed country; services such as the distribution of power, fuel and water, but also increasingly, access to the internet. The internet has opened up opportunities for economic growth and will continue to do so in the future.

Internet access dramatically affects commerce. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, nearly 8 out of every 10 Americans has made at least one recent online purchase and online commerce is only continuing to increase. Across the U.S., broadband connectivity is a critical component to a number of services – most notably health care. Telemedicine, being able to connect rural patients to doctors, is particularly important in areas where few physicians or specialists exist and chronic disease prevalence is high.

Our cities and rural towns are still recovering from the loss of good-paying blue collar manufacturing jobs, but what should replace those lost jobs and how do we create new ones for the economy of tomorrow? Studies show the positive impact of broadband expansion on the economy. Workers can develop new skills, children can learn, and seniors can receive better medical care. Each of these will require an accessible and reliable internet.

In a recent presentation at the 2017 Regional Rural Broadband Forum, held in Annapolis, Robert Puckett, of the New York Telecommunications Association, spoke about expansion of their infrastructure, which also included very strong pricing structures. Increasingly, the higher cost of the higher speeds present a burden to startup businesses, to large producers, and to individual residences alike.

Unfortunately, many of our underserved communities are being left out of the 21st century. Internet providers are ready to build, but can’t service households without a return on investment. Whether through government incentives or regulations, the state’s policy must address this market failure. Public private partnerships, such those that have developed in Garrett and Kent Counties, are good examples of positive approaches to this challenge and a recently created state task force will be investigating this issue in the coming months.

As obviously important as connectivity is, it’s not easy to do without greater commitments, investments, or partnerships. Let’s not leave our students, healthcare workers, small businesses, seniors, and broader rural communities behind. Let’s work together to find solutions now and let’s close the prosperity gap.

The Rural Maryland Council looks forward to working together on collaborative solutions so that broadband access will be a part of all citizens being able to live in healthy, connected, and thriving communities.

Josh Hastings
Chair, Rural Maryland Council


Mid-Shore Arts: Famed McMartin Woodcuts at Trippe-Hilderbrandt Gallery

This September, Trippe-Hilderbrandt Gallery in Easton will be presenting a very special exhibit of the woodcuts of Philip McMartin. McMartin’s son, Jim, is well known in the area as an exceptional designer and creator of benchcrafted artisan furniture and co-owner of McMartin and Beggins in Wittman, Md.

Philip McMartin was born and raised in Plattsburgh, New York. Moving to Vermont in his early twenties, his first job was as a reporter for the St. Johnsbury daily newspaper. His early reporting career gave him experience in both photography and writing, two skills he would use throughout his life.

The series of woodcuts were done over an approximately five year period. It’s likely that the experience gained working with wood in the course of repairing and restoring his boats influenced his interest in choosing wood as a medium for his art. He produced a total of about 20 woodcuts over the period beginning in 1968.

In retrospect, he was a completely self taught man in virtually all of the endeavors of his life. Included in that was his art. A very independent and solitary man by nature, he taught himself the art of the woodcut having no formal training. His chosen subject matter was very close to his heart. The romance he felt for the water is certainly expressed in his woodcuts. Add to that the admiration and respect he felt for people who make a living using their hands, their wits and wisdom, in particular those among us who wrest a living working on the water.

The exhibit opens on September 1 with a special reception during First Friday’s Gallery Walk. Trippe-Hilderbrandt Gallery is located at 23 N Harrison St. For more information please call 410-310-8727 or visit

Ice Cream Social Fundraiser set for Progressive Candidates

The Eastern Shore Political Action Committee for Social and Economic Justice is having an ice cream social and fundraiser this coming Saturday, September 16 from 2-4 pm at the Friends Meeting House in Easton. You won’t want to miss hearing local leader, Richard Potter, discuss reversing racism in our communities. Delicious ice cream will be served by the local, family-owned, Kilby Cream Moo-Mobile.

Eastern Shore Political Action Committee for Social and Economic Justice
Ice Cream Social and Fundraiser

Saturday, September 16, 2017 2-4 p.m.
Third Haven Friends Meeting House
405 S. Washington St. Easton, MD 21601