About Dave Wheelan

Letter to Editor: Enough?

“This is not the time to address gun violence,” we were told as the recipients of millions from the NRA tweeted their thoughts and prayers. We have experienced 18 school shootings so far this year, but having the unthinkable become the predictable might mean we have nowhere to move but in a positive direction.

President Trump has revoked 14 executive orders issued during the Obama administration. It may be years before we know whether or not he succeeds in killing the Clean Power Plan, but he has signed a bill blocking background checks for mental illness from being required for gun purchases.

97 percent of us want background checks, and Parkland’s high school students are insisting we “do something.” They’re not just waiting around, either. They’re walking out of schools, meeting with state legislators, and going to Washington. Survivor David Hogg explained, “If we don’t take action, because our politicians won’t, more are going to die.”

Donald Trump Jr., the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank Aleksandr Torshin, and candidate Trump had attended the 2016 annual meeting of the NRA. They reportedly shared “gun-related small talk” as Trump’s candidacy was endorsed. The NRA would contribute over $30 million to the Trump campaign.

Federal Election Commission regulations prohibit foreign nationals from ”directing, dictating, controlling, or indirectly participating in the decision-making process” of our elections. The possible funneling of Russian funds to the Trump campaign through the NRA is worth investigation. Millions have been spent by Russians on hacking our election sites and social media, and Everytown USA has called upon the NRA to “come clean” about its relationship with Russia.

President Trump tweeted, “Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.” His tweets angered survivors. He may have forgotten that his 2019 budget cut funding to states for reporting to the federal database.

The meetings with students and families were timely, but elicited observations that the high school students sounded like adults, while our president, with a crib sheet, sounded like a high school student – and one that has delivered misstatements at an alarming rate. With a bit of research we know he has not “signed more bills in his first 6 months than any other president,” doesn’t have the “biggest defense budget ever,” and has not given us “the biggest tax cut in U.S. history.”

The numbers are very clear when it comes to school shootings; and while the record number of guns sold in 2016 may have led some of us to believe we’re safer, the frequency of school shootings has increased from an average of 1 per week since 2012 according to Everytown research to 18 so far this year, or 3 per week.

Support for stricter gun laws has hit a 10-year high, and a recent survey has found that only 29 percent of Americans think our president is doing enough to prevent mass shootings. School walk-outs and demonstrations across our nation may have convinced him that doing nothing has become politically untenable.

He has called upon his Department of Justice for proposals to ban bump stocks and improve background checks, but this may be a relatively weak solution. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms sent a letter to Congress in 2013 stating, “Stocks of this kind are not subject to the provisions of federal firearms studies.”

Legislation would be more effective, but the House recently rejected yet another proposal to ban semiautomatic weapons, and prioritized declaring pornography a health risk.

“We should have a national school sit-out, where nobody goes back to school until laws are passed,” David Hogg has suggested.

Donald Trump Jr. “liked” the tweets attacking him and suggesting he was a fabrication of “the mainstream media.”

Another student offered, “That is what we do with things that fail. We change them.” The U.S. has the highest rate of gun ownership in world, and our homicide rate is more than three times higher than in any other developed nation.

President Obama required the checks for mental illness that were revoked by President Trump, and President Obama was recently ranked among our top ten presidents.

That could matter to President Trump, who was ranked at the bottom of the list by the politically diverse group of 170 presidential scholars. He has suggested that the FBI “get back to the basics and make us all proud.” Things might work for everyone if our elected representatives were to take this advice.

Carol Voyles
Talbot County

Profiles of Our Community’s YMCA: Shania Gregory

Over the course of the next twelve months, the Spy will be presenting several profiles of individuals who make up the YMCA family on the Mid-Shore. Almost since the Spy started in 2009, we have been exceptionally impressed by the unique success story of the YMCA of the Chesapeake and its leadership, programming, and sense of civic responsibility. From chess classes near Chincoteague to rumba instruction in Cambridge, diabetes prevention in Denton, yoga in Centreville, swimming in Elkton, senior fitness in St. Michaels or even pickleball in Easton, the Y stands alone in the scope and scale of their work.

We decided to start our series with one of the more moving examples of how this regional resource has changed lives with the story of Shania Gregory. Growing up in Easton with her three brothers and a single mom with multiple jobs, Shania’s family had limited recreational options until her mother, determined to give her children a safe place to play, reached out the YMCA and found an organization eager to help make that happen regardless of costs.

So it was particularly exciting to note Shania returned to her beloved YMCA as part of the staff and more recently she was named as the Y’s membership director whose primary responsibility is to encourage families, like her own years ago, to become involved and stay active.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the YMCA of the Chesapeake please go here

A Special Wall Comes to the Mid-Shore​ with Kenley Timms and Royce Ball​

While the Eastern Shore is only about one hour and 30 minutes from the National Mall in Washington, D.C., it is a fair statement to say that most of the veterans of the Vietnam War have not taken that journey to see the highly revered Vietnam War Memorial Wall dedicated to those who lost their lives in that conflict.

There are many reasons for that. One is perhaps the simple aversion to traffic or travel costs, but for other vets and families, it is their emotional trepidation of reconnecting with their past in unfamiliar surroundings that prevent them from visiting this remarkable masterpiece of remembrance and honor.

Volunteers Kenley Timms and Royce Ball wanted to make it easier for those local vets to connect with the wall and their memories after hearing about The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall project. They immediately joined forces to bring a near replica of the Wall to Easton later this year.

Kenley, a Vietnam war veteran, and Royce, co-founder of Mid-Shore Recovering Veterans Group, are working with several veteran groups to install the traveling exhibition on the VFW grounds from May 31 to June 6, 2018. The Spy caught up with both of them at Bullitt House last month to talk about their plans.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For those interested in supporting the project, volunteering, or participating in the reading of the fallen, please contact Kenley Timms at kenleyt@goeaston.net, Royce Ball at royceball@mac.com or their Facebook page here

 

 

 

Photos of Suspended Sediment in the Chester River – February 2018 by Marc Castelli

 

Mid-Shore Arts: Heather Harvey and her Trash

There are very few better examples of the remarkable art community axis that exists on the Mid-Shore between Easton and Chestertown than visual artist Heather Harvey. By day, Heather commutes to Kent County from her home on Hanson Street to assume the role of the Chair of Washington College’s Department of Art and Art History. But other times,  she can be found at the Davis Art Center in Easton working on projects in her massive second-floor studio with everyday materials to make the familiar strange and renewed.

Academically trained as an archaeologist, Heather came to realize that her greatest passion centered more around the philosophical questions that emerged as a result of an archaeology dig, or the “poetry,” as she puts it, that was found. And that search for poetry was found  with old materials, even trash found around Easton, that have spanned different moments in time and human memory.

The Spy sat down with Heather a few months ago to talk her most recent work which was inspired by her recently being awarded the highly prestigious Maryland State Arts Council individual artist award in 2017.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Heather Harvey’s work please go here

 

Mid-Shore Gardening: Ruth Clausen’s Campaign for Pollinators

In yet another example of how the Mid-Shore seems to attract some of the very best in their chosen fields for their retirement homes, horticulturist Ruth Rogers Clausen has found her way to the Delmarva after a long and distinguished career as a gardening writer, lecturer, and the horticultural editor for the highly regarded Country Living Gardener in New York City.

Raised with a love of gardening while growing up in Wales and England, Ruth has spent her entire professional life educating thousands of inspiring gardeners of the important elements of a successful garden, or, as she says, “a garden must be something beyond looking beautiful.”

And one of her primary passions is for gardeners to do everything they can to design their projects with pollinators in mind. With 35 percent of the world’s crop production requiring pollination, gardeners can do their bit by planting flowers that are specifically designed to help such pollen transporters as bees successfully complete their work.

The Spy spent a few minutes with Ruth at the Bullitt House last week in preparation of her lecture at the Talbot County Free Library in Easton on February 14 sponsored by the Adkins Arboretum to talk about this mission.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Ruth’s lecture please go here

 

 

Mid-Shore Food: Chef Erin O’Shea at Mason’s Redux

Just like any other hiring process for a significant leadership position, the search for the right executive chef with the proper credentials is paramount to the success or failure of that dining establishment. All serious searches start with the premise that a person’s background and education that will made an indelible impression on the community and its long-term reputation.

That is why the Spy has continuously found a way to interview some of the best Mid-Shore chefs who have made the Eastern Shore their culinary home. From the past brilliance of Jordan Lloyd in Easton, Patrick Fleming’s remarkable presence in Cambridge, or Kevin McKinney’s legacy in Chestertown, we have intentionally sought to understand better these chefs unique pedigree and history.

That was why the Spy was excited to catch up with Erin O’Shea, the new executive chef at Mason’s Redux on Harrison Street in Easton. To our surprise, Erin is no stranger to the Eastern Shore having attended school in Talbot County before heading south for a brief tenure at Texas A&M University. But while college life didn’t quite fit with her ambitions, the cooking scene in Houston did, and very shortly she headed back east to pursue her passion for food and cooking.

Last week, the Spy sat down to talk to Erin and those early years of training, her mentors, and the privilege to bring Easton’s beloved Masons back alive with her own unique touch.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Mason’s Redux please go here

It’s “Almost Maine” in Oxford with the Tred Avon Players

If there is one sure thing about the Tred Avon Players season opener that comes February, you can count on a comedy theatre production at the Oxford Community Center.

Sensitive to their Mid-Shore audience longing to break out of winter doldrums, the TAP has a great tradition of offering some of the best of comedy plays in the history of the theater.

And this year is no different.

 

Starting on February 15,  TAP will be presenting “Almost Maine,” a unique comedy that includes a cast of fourteen and tells nine stories of couples falling in and out of love on a cold, clear moonless night in the middle of winter in the mythical town of Almost, Maine.

The Spy caught up with director Fiona Foster and cast members Steve Ford, Leigh Marquess, and Lynn Sanchez to talk about these charming vignettes about love and  good-natured realism with its fill of  surprise endings.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For ticket information please go here

Almost Maine at the Oxford Community Center will be on February 15, 16, 17, 22, 23, 24 at 7:30 p.m. February 18 and 25 at 2 p.m and Thrifty Thursday February 15 at 7:30 p.m.

 

Publisher Notes: Pamela Heyne

It is with a very heavy heart that the Spy team learned last weekend that our gifted architecture and design writer, Pamela Heyne, had lost her courageous battle with cancer. Pam had been a volunteer contributor for Spy for the last four years on topics that were close to her heart including both interior and exterior design.

As many know, Pam was a gifted architect herself who counted among her many clients the likes of Ben Bradlee in Georgetown or more locally, the highly praised Cottingham Farm in Talbot County. She also had a long-term affinity and friendship with Julia Child and the challenges that come with kitchen design.

Pam was also an extraordinary experimenter with the use of lighting, particularly the early use of LED lights, and mirrors to cleverly direct emulatination and unique views from nature into dark parts of homes and offices.

Her last book, “In Julia’s Kitchen, Practical and Convivial Kitchen Design Inspired by Julia Child,” was a unique look back at Child’s approach to merge cooking and eating areas into one warm inviting place for friends and family .

We will miss her and her voice for many years to come.

Talbot County’s Frederick Douglass at 200 with Harriette Lowery and Vicki Wilson

There is always something quite remarkable about a bicentennial. For those who experienced it as a national phenomenon during the country’s 200th anniversary in 1976, it cemented the notion that these American milestones have a special reverence attached to them.

One of those unique moments will be taking place this month and throughout the year as the Mid-Shore, and the rest of the nation celebrates the legacy of Frederick Douglass on the anniversary of his 200th birthday.

Talbot County has had an exceptional history in acknowledging the native roots of Douglass on the Eastern Shore thanks in part to the diligent efforts of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society, including the moving 2011 installation of the Frederick Douglass statue in front of the Talbot County Courthouse. But even with that remarkable success story, and many others since then, the Honor Society, the Talbot County Council, and some helpful philanthropic angels have not taken lightly the task of being the first in the nation to honor this remarkable national hero.

The Spy sat down with Harriette Lowery and Vicki Wilson from the Frederick Douglass 200th Celebration planning committee to talk about the extensive programming and extraordinary outpouring of support that has come from Douglass native homeland. We also thought it would be fun to include a few of our images that came from that extraordinary moment in June 2011 when the County was blessed by a unique day of respect and harmony.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For the most current information about the Frederick Douglass Celebration schedule please go here.