Letter to Editor: Talbot Preservation Alliance Responds

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 2.01.51 PM

Last week the Talbot Spy published correspondence from one Clint Wadsworth vilifying Talbot Preservation Alliance for its alleged “extreme environmental agenda.”

Extreme? How about this:

In 1997 the same Mr. Wadsworth proposed the development of a 100 acre farm he owned, abutting the eastern boundary of St. MIchaels, with 350 houses, commercial space, a conference center and a marina. But annexation into the town was required and St. Michaels balked at this.

In reaction Mr. Wadsworth submitted applications for development under county zoning that included two 500 foot chicken houses, a swine nursery, an anaerobic wastewater pond, a manure storage facility, a field of gingkos (that emit a foul smell) and six animal shelters.

Ultimately the land was sold to a third party and these initiatives were abandoned. But Mr. Wadsworth still owns land in Royal Oak. Given his history, we can understand why, as he states in his letter, he does not want to be burdened by “restrictive land use initiatives.”

Wadsworth holds himself out as a “fourth generation” farm owner in Talbot County. One wonders how the first and second generations might have reacted to his proposal for developing the family farm as he proposed. He claims that the activities of TPA have been “disastrous for the citizens of the County.” But apparently he did not believe that placing a pig farm and manure storage facility at the gateway to St. Michaels would be “disastrous” for the image and citizens of that small town.

According to his letter, the restriction that troubles Mr. Wadsworth is the two acre minimum lot size in the Talbot County villages, adopted unanimously, on an interim basis, by the County Council. Wadsworth believes this occurred because TPA “has taken control of the Talbot Council.” This control must come as a surprise to the three member Council majority who are supported and endorsed by the Chamber of Commerce, the Board of Realtors, the Talbot Farm Bureau and the Republican Central Committee.

Wadsworth cannot restrain himself from a cheap shot at County Council member Dirck Bartlett, claiming he is “running on a platform of restricted economic growth.” This is nonsense. Nothing in Bartlett’s public statements or campaign materials advocates for “restrictions” on economic growth. Indeed, over the past eight years Bartlett has been a leader in the fight to retain Memorial Hospital, the primary driver of our local economic growth, close to Easton.

Wadsworth’s letter, although gratuitously provided to the Spy, actually was sent to all of the financial contributors to Talbot Preservation Alliance, and to its election year PAC, during the last election cycle. He obtained the names and addresses for those contributors from the required public records and sent off his baseless charges for the admitted purpose of trying to dissuade them from further financial support for TPA. The ethics of this cheap trick were approximately on a par with the ethics of making the self serving inflammatory but baseless charges we have addressed above.

So please consider Mr. Wadsworth’s letter in its proper context, and consider whether he is in any position to rail about “extreme” land use initiatives.

Thomas T. Alspach, President
Talbot Preservation Alliance

MHATC Offers Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

The Mental Health Association in Talbot County (MHATC) will be offering Youth Mental Health First Aid Training on Tuesday, November 4, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the offices of FURUNO USA, Inc., 70 Engerman Avenue, Denton, MD 21629.

Youth Mental Health First Aid is an internationally recognized, evidence-based training that teaches the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, and provides individuals with tools to respond to a mental health emergency until professional help arrives. This Youth curriculum provides action steps to take in order to help a young person experiencing the early signs of a mental health disorder. The training focuses on the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders that may affect youth ages twelve to seventeen, and is particularly designed for parents, teachers and caregivers of that age group.

With support from the Leonard and Helen R. Stulman Foundation this course is offered at a reduced fee of $15.00, to cover the cost of the training manual.

For more information or to register for this course, please call the Mental Health Association in Talbot County at 410-822-0444 or email sherman@mhamdes.org.

Save the Date for the 44th Annual Waterfowl Festival: An Eastern Shore Tradition

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 12.51.46 AM

The Waterfowl Festival returns to historic Easton, Md. for its 44th year on November 14 -16, 2014. More than 18,000 visitors are expected to experience a time-honored Eastern Shore tradition that pays homage to the annual migration of ducks and geese through the Atlantic Flyway and supports wildlife and habitat conservation throughout the region. The Festival kicks off with Opening Ceremonies and the Premiere Night Party on Thursday, November 13th and then opens to general admission guests on Friday, November 14th.

WaterfowlFestival3“Like all traditions, the Festival continues to evolve and change, but we are still as committed to celebrating and conserving our Eastern Shore heritage as our founders were in 1971,” said Albert Pritchett, Waterfowl Festival Board President. “We are looking forward to another great year.”

This year, the Festival is returning to its classic Premiere Night Celebration, letting the art take center stage. Premiere Night guests have the opportunity to enjoy a traveling cocktail party at each of the Festival’s downtown art galleries. For the first time in its history, the Festival will be combining paintings and sculpture in the new Art at the Armory, Art at the Avalon and Art at the Pavilion galleries.

Also new this year is 2014 Waterfowl Festival Featured Artist, sculptor Ken Newman, and his signature bronze, Confluence of Blue, which was inspired by the community spirit of the Waterfowl Festival. The original piece, along with other work by Newman will be on display in the Art at the Pavilion gallery on Harrison Street.

The Craft Brew Pub at the Easton Elks Lodge returns this year offering local and national craft beer tastings and traditional Chesapeake fare, as well as the ever-popular Wine Pavilion on Harrison Street.

Perennial favorites will also return including the popular Dock Dogs® Competition at Easton Middle School, the Retriever Demonstrations at the Bay Street Ponds, and the Sportsman’s Pavilion at the Easton Elks Lodge. For a complete schedule of events and details about all the events and exhibits, festival visitors are encouraged to visit www.waterfowlfestival.org.

Over the past 44 years, the Waterfowl Festival has raised nearly $6 million for the creation, restoration and conservation of waterfowl and their habitat throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and the Atlantic Flyway.

Waterfowl Festival Inc., a partner of Waterfowl Chesapeake Inc., is dedicated to wildlife conservation, the promotion of wildlife art, and the celebration of life on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The 44th Festival will be held November 14-16, 2014 in historic Easton, Md. General admission tickets are $15 for all three days and Premiere Night packages are also available. For more information, to volunteer, or donate, visit www.waterfowlfestival.org or call 410-822-4567.

Lecture: Practical Approaches to Run-Off with a focus on Oxford

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 7.51.16 AM

The Garden Club of the Eastern Shore announces a talk “Practical Approaches to Run-Off”, free and open to the public, at 11:00 AM, Wednesday, November 12, theOxford Community Center to be delivered by Alan Girard of the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. His talk will be followed by an optional visit and introduction to two projects in Oxford, one old and one new.

Mr. Girard who heads the CBF Easton office will describe solutions to slowing run- off from roofs, roads and our multi-use landscape so that chemicals toxic to our Bay and greater watershed can be slowed and remediated with all of our help. As a recent Oxford initiative and another partnership project with which CBF is involved will show, homeowners and businesses, farmers and community infrastructure can together put in place practical solutions to our problem. Mr. Girard will also introduce the Talbot Roadside Ditch project, a new and growing effort shared with multiple non-profits and civic agencies in our county, including CBF, the Nature Conservancy, Environmental Concern, the Chesapeake and Atlantic Coastal Bays Trust Fund.

Seats will be limited and unreserved.

Letter to Editor: Talbot Preservation Alliance Turning Extreme

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 8.24.16 AM

As one of the approximately twenty three founding supporters of the Talbot Preservation Alliance and most specifically Citizens for Sound Growth PAC, you are aware that these organizations have served Talbot County well. Eighty seven percent of county land has been downzoned from two to twenty acre zoning. This will help protect our rural life. However, the purpose of this letter is to inform you of the current actions of these groups which continue be disastrous for the citizens of the County.

As these organizations have aged they have created problems for Talbot citizens. Using your funds, TPA gained control of the Talbot Council, the Planning Commission and the Public Works Advisory Board. These representatives have put forth an extreme environmental agenda. Their scheme shows little or no concern for the citizens of the County.

The update of the Comprehensive Plan and recent legislation has been a forthright attempt to stop growth in the County, most specifically in the villages. One member of the Council who is a TPA candidate, Dirck Bartlett, is running on a platform of restricted economic growth. Three members of the Planning Commission are attempting to down zone village properties on sewer to a two acre minimum lot size. All of these maneuvers are contrary to the 2005 Comprehensive Plan, Smart Growth policies, and a promise the County made when downzoning farms to keep villages as areas for affordable housing. These initiatives will limit opportunities for native Talbot Countians to work or live here.

Please stop these extreme approaches to economics and land use. I am the last of four generations of my family in the County. I have seen the effects of elitist economic policies on my and my friends children. Following restrictive land use initiatives, the villages will ultimately be gentrified like St. Michaels and Oxford. TPA has gone beyond your original intentions.

Talk to your friends and especially to long term residents of the villages. The TPA and CFSG PAC are working against the residents of the county. Do not vote for TPA candidate, Dirck Bartlett. Tell Planning Commission and Public Works members to back off. Demand that the remaining approximately $18,000 in your PAC be redirected.

Clint Wadsworth
Royal Oak

Chestertown Playwright and Composer Collaborate to Create a New Musical


A theatrical concert performance premiering songs from a new musical, Red Devil Moon, inspired by Jean Toomer’s Cane, will be presented on Saturday, November 15, 2014 at 8PM and Sunday, November 16 at 3PM at the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre in Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Composer and bandleader Pam Ortiz has written 16 songs for the production, and poet/playwright Robert Earl Price has written narration and dialog that connect songs and story. Price’s book for the full-length musical is inspired by the novel, Cane, by Jean Toomer, originally published in 1923.

Music in the show will be performed by the Gospel trio Sombarkin, and the Pam Ortiz Band. Sombarkin, whose members include Karen Somerville, Lester Barrett Jr., and Jerome McKinney, is well known and admired for their deeply layered and finely wrought sound and vocal arrangements. The Pam Ortiz Band, whose members include Nevin Dawson (viola, violin and vocals), Philip Dutton (piano, keyboards and vocals), Ford Schumann (guitar and vocals), Bob Ortiz (percussion and vocals), and Pam Ortiz (guitar and vocals), will be joined by Tom Anthony on bass and Ray Anthony on drums.

Jean Toomer’s Cane is widely considered the first major text of the Harlem Renaissance. The novel has long been an inspiration for playwright Robert Earl Price, who approached Ortiz, after hearing her 2012 album of original tunes, with the idea of collaborating on a new piece of musical theatre.

Red Devil Moon, inspired by Jean Toomer’s Cane tells the story of events that unfold on the night of the full moon during the sugarcane harvest in South Georgia. The enveloping scent of boiling cane syrup, the observant creatures of the night, the provocative moon, and conflicted characters conspire to set the backdrop for a love story that is both personal and universal.

This performance is being funded in part by grants from the Kent County Arts Council and the GAR Charles Sumner Post #25 with special sponsorship by the Garfield Center for the Arts at the Prince Theatre.

Advance tickets and reservations are recommended and may be obtained at The Garfield Center for the Arts, 210 High St., Chestertown, MD 21620

(410) 810 – 2060 or by visiting www.GarfieldCenter.org


Bus Trip to View Costumes of Downton Abbey

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 1.22.24 AM

If you are a fan of Downton Abbey and can’t wait until January to see the new series, join the members of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) on a bus trip to view a special exhibition that features costumes used in the filming of the award-winning television series.

On Tuesday, October 28th the group will take a guided tour of the Costumes of Downton Abbey the mansion and gardens at Winterthur.

The bus will leave from Creamery Lane at 8:45 AM to arrive at Winterthur about 11:00 in time for a snack (bring your own if you wish) prior to a 12:00-1:00 tour of the house and grounds. From 1:00-2:45 we will view numerous videos and pictures from the show and then view the costumes the actors and actresses wore in these scenes. At 3:00 we have reservations for high tea at Special Teas Tea Room in Chadds Ford, PA. The cost of the trip is $100 which includes the bus, tour of Winterthur, the costumes, and afternoon tea. Call Pat Crane at 410-819-3653 for reservations.

BSO First Flutist Emily Skala Opening Eastern Shore Concert

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 1.12.42 PM

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 2014-2015 Eastern Shore series begins at Chesapeake College, Friday October 17. It’s a program that will bring out the best of this highly acclaimed symphonic organization. The concert starts at 8:00PM with a pre concert conversation with the BSO’s artistic director Matt Spivey at 7:00PM.

The program begins with an overlooked composition by Swedish composer Elfrida Andree. The piece titled Concert Overture is a sonic rouser that will show off the versatility and quality of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. It will be a BSO premier performance. Mozart’s Flute Concerto in G featuring BSO’s principal flutist Emily Skala will follow it. The concert ends with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 3 “Polish.”

Elfrida Andree, who was born in 1841, is one of a small group of female composers, who was best known in her lifetime as an organist and an activist in the Swedish women’s movement. She was the organist at Gothenburg Cathedral and composed two organ symphonies, which are frequently performed. She was also a conductor, and composed several works for orchestra and chamber music ensembles including the Concert Overture. Andree died in 1929.

Emily Skala, the BSO’s principal flutist, is a virtuoso performer. Her playing has been described as having a “blazing and flawless technique.” One of her many recordings has been described as representing the best in contemporary flute performance. The Eastman School of Music graduate has been affiliated with six major American orchestras before joining the BSO in 1988. Skala is also on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University Peabody Institute of Music.

Here’s a nice clip of her in performance:

The concert concludes with one of Tchaikovsky’s neglected works – Symphony No. 3. It highlights his most brilliant orchestrations, and Tchaikovsky considered it “a step forward in craftsmanship.”

The BSO will be led by Norwegian born Arild Remmereit who has built a solid career with many of the world’s leading orchestras. He was recently music director of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, where he regularly programed female composers including Alfrida Andree, Fanny Mendelssohn, Clara Schumann, Amy Beach and contemporary composers including Margaret Brouwer, Gabriela Frank and Sofia Gubaidulina.

Now in its 44th year, the Mid-Shore Symphony Society presents the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra concerts at Chesapeake College. The concerts are supported in part by the Maryland State Arts Council, the Talbot County Arts Council, the Queen Anne’s County Arts Council, and the Kent County Arts Council.

Tickets are $40 for single seats, students $10, available at the door, or call 410 827 5867.

Maryland Household Income Lags Behind National Average


As Maryland ramps up to midterm elections, the state economy continues to be an overarching concern.

Natalie Sherman writes in the Baltimore Sun about our “wageless” recovery and the fact that personal income has lacked well behind the national median.

Read this article here.

Register for Bay to Ocean Writers Conference 2015


The 18th Annual Bay to Ocean Writers Conference will be held February 28, 2015 at Chesapeake College, in Wye Mills, Maryland.  This year’s conference features 30 one-hour sessions whose topics will include: the craft of writing—fiction, poetry, mystery and memoir; publishing and marketing; the internet for writers, creativity; and three panel discussions.  One-on-one manuscript reviews by published authors will be available by appointment. Conference fees are $115 for adults and $55 for students with ID. Fees include buffet breakfast, lunch, and afternoon snacks. As one of the region’s premier educational seminars, last year’s conference drew a sellout crowd of over 200 writers from five states and the District of Columbia.   Registration is open now at http://www.baytoocean.com.  Early registration is strongly encouraged as the conference has sold out for the last eight years.