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Letter to Editor: Thinking Big Does Not Necessarily Include Another Bay Bridge, by Rob Etgen

While it is admirable to hear the Governor’s concerns about traffic at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, an announcement focusing on a shiny new bridge lacks any real discussion about cost, impact on communities, and the understanding that a sprawling flood of people, traffic, and pavement can detract from rural Maryland.

There is a large and growing body of evidence and near consensus that our conventional approach of solving traffic congestion by increasing roadway capacity is ineffective over the long term. The most immediate example that comes to my mind is Route 1 in Delaware – an expensive, new north south highway in Delaware that was over capacity starting with the day it opened. Concurrent with the highway construction was massive amounts of sprawl housing in southern New Castle County, which immediately overwhelmed the new infrastructure.

We are long overdue for a more modern approach to transportation planning – one that emphasizes mass transit and other forward thinking measures that make the most out of the infrastructure we have, and emphasizes land use decisions that decrease auto dependence and increase transportation choices. What about expanded bus services with a stronger backbone service from Baltimore and Washington to Ocean City, stopping in key population centers and complementary service from rural areas to the backbone stops? Or public-private partnerships such as a high-speed ferry option? And should an eventual new Bridge be built, what about revisiting passenger rail (which used to exist on the Shore)?

With declining gas tax revenues, changing living preferences for millennials, and a warming planet caused in part by our poor transportation habits, the time is now for fresh thinking.

Fresh thinking on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge situation could also include ideas such as setting up telecommuting centers in our Eastern Shore small towns, and work policies such that State and Federal employees could work from the Shore on peak traffic days or even more often, in turn saving fuel, pollution, and traffic while also stimulating the vibrancy of our towns. Implementing new tolling technologies and policies which do away with the toll booths, increasing rates during peak use periods and decreasing rates for high occupancy vehicles is yet another direction that could be explored for considerably less money.

These ideas and many others can be done now and for very little cost relative to a new Bay Bridge.

Spending $5 million to study the environmental impacts of a new Bay Bridge feels like fiddling while Rome burns. Let’s talk about the things we can do today to relieve congestion immediately, then think about what might be needed to manage cross Bay travel demand over the long term, and only thereafter consider whether a new bridge is worth its considerable financial and environmental cost.

Rob Etgen
Executive Director
Eastern Shore Land Conservancy

Eastern Shore Land Conservancy is a regional nonprofit organization that has worked to advance strategic land conservation and sound land use planning on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

50th Anniversary of the Desegregation Eastern Shore Schools by Kathleen James-Chakraborty

Fifty years ago I entered first grade at the Chestertown Elementary School on Washington Avenue. There was no public kindergarten yet, so all six classes of first graders, except those few who were repeating the year, were new to the school. I was put in the class of Mrs. Fannie Wilson.

Not all of us were aware that we were participating in a momentous moment in Kent County history, but along with our counterparts in the first and seventh grades in elementary and high schools in Rock Hall and Galena, we certainly were. Each of our classes was fully integrated, and for the first time, white students were being taught by black teachers (a select few blacks had already been added to largely white classrooms). Kent County was finally implementing the decision reached a dozen years earlier in Brown v. Board of Education.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 7.47.33 AMI cannot begin to describe the impact of integration on my African-American classmates, although I can still remember many of their names – Patricia Rideout, who became my best friend, Joy Brown, and Michael Sewell — but I can write a few words about what it meant to me, the direct descendant of slave owners. First, it allowed me to have an absolutely superb teacher, one of the very few in the county with a masters degree, which she had recently earned from Temple University in Philadelphia.

Mrs. Wilson remained my friend until her death in 2001 at the age of ninety-one, and at least one of my classmates also continued to pay regular calls on her for all those years. From her I learned a different history of the Eastern Shore than had previously been taught within these walls, one that featured Frederick Douglas learning to read and Harriet Tubman following the North Star as she navigated the swamps not so far from town. Mrs. Wilson was, she told me in a conversation held years later on her front porch on Calvert Street, among the teachers who had already brought Thurgood Marshall over from Baltimore in a successful effort to get equal pay.

Attending integrated schools meant, as well, that I knew the entire community of kids my age in and around town, especially since those who went to Broadmeadow or, once it was established in 1968 to the Kent School, mostly attended Emmanuel Church with me. Most of the friends I made in college had grown up in suburban school districts keyed quite closely to family income, but in Chestertown in 1966 the mayor’s daughter shared a classroom with the daughter of an Amish butcher and with kids whose parents worked at Vita Foods and Campbell Soup; we were all in this together.

The daily news Mrs. Wilson wrote up on the board, and which we laboriously copied with our thick pencils onto double ruled lined paper, recorded the arrival of new siblings, the visits of relatives, the celebration of birthdays, and all the other momentous events in our young lives. Pulling our appropriately scaled chairs into circles, we struggled to master reading; back at our desks, we unraveled the mysteries of how to tell time. In the cafeteria, we were stared down by the lunch ladies, and on winter afternoons we hooked arms square dancing (the school had no gym). We grew up to be farmers, nurses, police officers, and college professors. Not so many of us still live in Chestertown, but all of us probably share memories of which teachers were particularly kind, which classmates were funny, and which aspects of school were initially scary, in ways that still stun our children when a couple of us get together and reminisce.

Fifty years on, starting first grade remains a key moment in almost all of our lives, and we were lucky to be able to do so as a group, no longer divided by the color of our skin. Many challenges remain in Kent County, the United States, and the world, but, along with learning to read and write, we who entered first grade in Kent County in 1966 were fortunate to gain a sense of each other as equals that had been denied to those who came before us.

Kathleen James-Chakraborty, a historian, is professor of art history at the University College Dublin. She has also taught at the University of California, Berkeley; the Ruhr-Universität Bochum; and the University of Minnesota.  James-Chakraborty received her B.A. from Yale University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. She is the daughter of the the late Norman James, chair of the English Department at Washington College. 

Enrollment Declines Hurting Many Maryland Small Colleges

Some of Maryland’s smallest colleges and universities have experienced steadily declining enrollment over the past five years, according to the reporting of Carrie Wells for the Baltimore Sun.

These declines have come in tandem with an overall enrollment increase in four-year institutions in the state, which has been driven largely by gains in online students at University of Maryland University College. Nationwide enrollment was also up over the same period by about one percent.

Smaller schools are typically dependent on tuition revenue to cover costs and many of the schools in the article have been laying off staff as budgets are strained.

You can did into the college-by-college details and learn more here.

SANDBOX Autumn Events Continue to Blend the Arts and Natural Sciences

SANDBOX is a unique program that draws students and faculty at Washington College from the Departments of Art and Art History, Music, Drama, Literature, the Humanities, and the Natural Sciences, and welcomes participation from other academic departments. It conducts outreach in the form of collaborations with surrounding art museums and institutions.

There is a lot on the SANDBOX calendar this fall. Read on for what’s in store:

Fall Semester Events

Death Perception:
Opens First Friday, September 2, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Closes September 23

Senior Meghan Dulin and Professor Julie Markin were recipients of the latest SANDBOX summer project grant. With Professor Markin’s input, Meghan sought out unique groups, ranging from the Gullah in South Carolina, to Maori Elders in New Zealand, in an effort to conceptualize her own perceptions of death through the rituals and practices of other cultures. This exhibition displays the culmination of that experience.

Morgnec Gateway Mural:
September 17 – 18

Mural artists Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn return to Chestertown to lead a team of local middle schoolers, community members, and college students as they work together to produce a mural along Morgnec Road, behind Kent Plaza.
The project is co-sponsored by HOYAS-CPIP, RiverArts, and SANDBOX.

Community members are welcome to observe Saturday from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. Afterwards, participation will be open to all attendees. Sunday will be open to the public as well, beginning at 11:00 am.

Parliament of the Fowls:
Illustrated Lecture – October 4, 5:30 pm Litrenta Lecture Hall
Exhibition opening – October 7, 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Closes – October 28th

In this exploratory exhibition Professors Jennie Carr and Courtney Rydel examine Chaucer’s poem to tease out the factual ornithological observations that have slipped into the highly anthropomorphized characters in this classic of medieval literature.

Mark Dion:
“The Undisciplined Collector, The Trouble With Jellyfish and Wonder Workshops: Mark Dion’s recent endeavors.”

Dion, one of the most influential environmental artists working today, will give a visual tour of his recent work and explain the driving forces behind it. His work is a melding of the artistic and the scientific, investigating taking inspiration from taxonomical classification, archaeology, and laboratory experimentation.
October 11, 5:00 pm in Decker Theatre
Reception will follow

Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) Residency:
Paul D. Miller, known by his stage name DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid, is an electronic and experimental hip hop musician, turntablist, producer, philosopher, itinerant explorer and author. His work has been included in the Whitney Biennial, the Venice Biennial, and at the Warhol Museum.

DJ Spooky will be in residence at Washington College for three days:
Wednesday, 7:30 p.m.: Multimedia talk & musical performance. With Professors Kimberly McCollum (violin) and Daniel Shomper (cello).
Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts

Thursday, 5:30 p.m.: Rebirth of a Nation, a remix of D.W. Griffith’s controversial 1915 film, with an introduction and Q&A. Originally commissioned by the Lincoln Center Festival.
Decker Theatre, Gibson Center for the Arts

Friday, 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.: First Friday exhibition of art and sound, including pieces from Ice and “Terra Nova: Sinfonia Antarctica.”
SANDBOX Gallery, 107 Cross St.

All DJ Spooky events are co-sponsored by the C.V. Starr Center for the American Experience, SANDBOX, and the Department of Music.

Eco-Cosumtes: Sustainable Fashion Onstage
Opening: December 2, 5:00 – 7:00 pm
Closes: December 16

Recent alumnus Nicole Cappobianco and Professor Laura Eckelman traveled to the United Kingdom to undertake research into the production of “green costumes” for stage productions. After visits to the museums and theaters in London, and research in Scotland, Nicole will produce costumes for Washington College’s senior capstone production of Macbeth. Material from their trip, design sketches, and the costumes themselves will be on displayed in the SANDBOX studio for the length of the exhibition.

‘America’s Big Band’ to Perform Free Jazz Show By Ron Liebman

This year the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival will feature the Jazz Ambassadors, the official touring band of the United States Army. Also known as America’s Big Band, this 19-piece ensemble, in existence since 1969, has toured throughout the U.S. and abroad, thrilling audiences with their varied repertoire that runs the gamut of jazz styles. Whether it’s big band swing, bebop, Latin, standards, contemporary, Dixieland, you name it, the Jazz Ambassadors will likely keep your toes tapping and your knees jumping.

Over the years the band has been featured performers in most of the world’s other jazz festivals, including the famous Montreux (Switzerland) and Newport (Rhode Island) Jazz festivals. They are known for their custom-tailored compositions and arrangements that display their musical virtuosity, both as a tight knit and sophisticated orchestra, as well as a melodic and rhythmic podium for the group’s creative soloists.

The Jazz Ambassadors will take the stage at the Avalon Theater on Saturday morning August 3, 2016 at 10:30AM. The concert is free and seating is open on a first come first served basis.

Jazz Ambassadors

Monty Alexander Jazz Festival Schedule

Friday, September 2nd
• 8 p.m. – The Magic of Gershwin with Ted Rosenthal and Chuck Redd

Saturday, September 3rd
• 10 a.m. – FREE Community Concert with the United States Army Jazz Ambassadors

• 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Brunch at the Tidewater Inn, featuring bassist Max Murray and his band. Please make a reservation with the Tidewater Inn!

• 2 p.m. – The Musical Universe of Dominick Farinacci

• 8 p.m. – Monty Alexander presents Remembering Jazz at the Philharmonic

Sunday, September 4th
• 2 p.m. – The Spirit of Cyrus Chestnut, featuring Howard University’s premier vocal jazz en-semble Afro Blue

All concerts held at the Avalon Theatre unless stated otherwise

To purchase tickets, visit or call 410-819-0380

Save the Date: Crabtoberfest Returns to Historic Downtown Cambridge this September

The annual Dorchester celebration known as Crabtoberfest will return to downtown Cambridge on September 24 and feature German and American food and beer, music, folk dancing, kids activities and car show. The celebration, which commemorates 11 years of cultural and business exchange between Dorchester county and Dueren county, Germany, attracts guests from not only Maryland but nearby Pennsylvania, Delaware and Virginia.

keg tap“We’ve been putting on Crabtoberfest for almost 10 years and every year it just gets better,” said Crabtoberfest Chair Jennifer Brant. “This is our fun, distinctly Dorchester way of bringing the community together to celebrate our German friends and partners of Dueren with music, dancing and food.”

Local Dorchester county restaurants will serve bratwurst, sauerbraten, potato salad, and desserts, as well as Eastern Shore favorites like steamed crabs, fried crab dishes and oysters; German, American and craft beers also will be on tap. Frank Nanna & The WW IIunes of Salisbury will perform German festmusik and the Enzian Volkstanzgruppe of Delaware will perform the traditional schuhplattler and other dances. Best Dressed at the Fest, a competition that awards those wearing Oktoberfest attire will be held, and a Kinder Garten will feature games, crafts and face-painting for kids. The Eastern Shore Corvette Club, also known as the “Shorevettes,” will have many classics at the venue for car enthusiasts.

Crabtoberfest is Saturday, September 24 from 4 to 10 pm. Admission is $5 with special package pricing for entry, beer and commemorative mug. It will be held outdoors at Race and Gay streets in Cambridge. In the event of rain, Crabtoberfest will be held on the same day and time at 447 Race Street.

Plan Well, Live Well: Continuum of Care for Seniors

The Talbot County Commission on Aging, in partnership with Chesapeake College, is pleased to offer the 2016-17 Senior Speaker Series: “Plan Well, Live Well.”

The program is free and open to all

The second session topic in the series is “Continuum of Care for Seniors” with speakers Amy Moore, Bill Roth, and Debbe Fairbanks. This topic will be presented at the following places and times:

Tuesday, August 16, 5:30PM
Talbot Community Center
10028 Ocean Gateway
Easton, MD 21601

Thursday, Augut 18, 2:00 PM
Oxford Community Center
200 Oxford Road
Oxford, MD 2165

Join us in September for the next topic, “Paying for Care Including Insurance” with speakers Tonya Pritchett and Patricia Dorn.

Septeber 13, 5:30PM
Talbot Community Center
10028 Ocean Gateway
Easton, MD 21601

September 15, 2:00PM
ST. Pauls Evangelical Lutheran Church
12095 Blades Road
Cordova, MD 21625

Stay tuned for more speaker topics and presentations in October and November as well.

Op-Ed: Limit Short Term Vacation Rentals in Talbot County’s Residential Neighborhood

The Town of Easton has been grappling recently with the thorny issue of short term vacation rentals (STRs). It is time for Talbot County to do so. The County Code and licensing process for STRs was developed in 2009, when the County received only a handful of applications annually. In 2015, 108 STR licenses were issued; so far in 2016, 126 have been granted. In 2009, a simple application with few requirements, minimal monitoring, and limited enforcement was adequate. Since then, Internet STR marketing websites such as AirBNB and VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) have changed the game completely. A recent online search for STRs that accommodate at least six people in the general vicinity of Easton, MD, revealed over 450 listings!

The discrepancy between STR licenses issued and number of online listings suggests that not all are licensed, one component of the wider and growing STR problem. Municipalities nationwide are grappling with the need for revenue and the problems caused by vacationers in residential communities. Some areas have banned STRs completely; some have limited them to specific locations, while others have imposed limits on the length and frequency of rentals. Common concerns include increased noise, traffic, and trash, as well as damage to the character of neighborhoods, reduced property values, and difficulty selling homes near STR properties.

In Talbot County, most of the STR licenses granted are in residential neighborhoods. Some are located on private roads designed for community use only and maintained by residents. Even worse, STR licenses are granted in residential neighborhoods with existing covenants prohibiting that type of activity.

It may be a surprise to many Talbot County residents, as it was to us, that protective covenants are not a factor in the current licensing process. The County’s licensing process ignores them, enabling investors to convert homes in residential communities into virtual unsupervised hotels. This leaves the community with the options of suing the errant property owner or becoming STR monitors. While Talbot County prides itself on its high quality of life, its failure to support the existing land use restrictions that many of us relied upon when we purchased homes in these communities actually undermines the very reason we moved here.

Under current code, Talbot County cannot deny an STR license if the application meets very limited requirements; location or unusual conditions are not considered. Thus, STRs are allowed to open almost anywhere at any time. License revocation is a lengthy complaint-driven process, forcing neighbors into a surveillance role. The current licensing process favors the applicants, often nonresidents, and burdens residents who live and vote here.

In our community’s case, nonresidents purchased a waterfront home and applied for a license to use the property as a short term vacation rental. Several neighbors strongly opposed it and were granted a County hearing to voice our concerns. Nevertheless, the license was granted, and we are now forced to live with a transient group rental facility. Large groups of noisy, disruptive strangers arrive as frequently as every two days, driving our personal liability and security costs higher, devaluing our homes, and demonstrating clearly the incompatibility of vacationers with residential communities.

Talbot County residents and potential residents should know that under current STR code, nothing protects you and your family from a virtual hotel opening next door. The proliferation of STRs in residential neighborhoods will change the nature of Talbot County if left unchecked. If you are concerned about STRs in your neighborhood, please contact us at Let’s work together for reasonable limitations on short term vacation rentals in our neighborhoods.

Donna and Bill Dudley
Sarah and Jay Eastman
Holly and Paul Fine
Sue and Herb Haschen
Bernadette and Jack McLain

Recovery: “Generation Found” Film in Salisbury September 21

The National Council on Alcoholism; Drug Dependence-Maryland is sponsoring “Generation Found” at Regal Theater in Salisbury, 7:30 pm, September 21, 2016 with a reception prior to the movie screening. Afterwards, filmmaker Greg Williams leads a panel discussion addressing Recovery High Schools, Collegiate Recovery Centers, and the Recovery Youth Movement.

To reserve seats for this significant Easter Shore event, go to

Candidate Joe Werner to Speak Thursday August 11 at JR’s

Joe Werner, Democratic candidate for the US House representing the First Congressional District, will speak at the Democratic Club Meeting at JR’s on Thursday, August 11.  All are invited to attend.

Werner will speak from 7:00 to 8:00 with time for Q&A.

Werner won a close race with former Salisbury mayor Jim Ireton in the Democratic primary and is running against Republican incumbent Andy Harris in the general election.

The club meeting will begin at 5:30 for those folks who would like to buy dinner or drinks and include a short business meeting from 6:45 to 7:00. If you haven’t met Werner or heard him speak yet, this would be a good opportunity to do so.