The Making of Oxford Conservation Park with Preston Peper and Bill Wolinski

Although there are many exciting projects in the world of planning community infrastructure, nothing compares to starting a community park from scratch. That was the reaction of Talbot County’s Director of Parks and Recreation, Preston Peper, and County Engineer Bill Wolinski when presented with the task of converting a 96-acre parcel of land in Oxford into a passive use open space park a few years ago.

Through a creative assemblage of funding from local and state grants, Bill and Preston worked with community stakeholders to create a vision for existing farmland near the town’s volunteer fire department building, and after much planning, the Oxford Conservation Park turned into a reality last Saturday at a ribbon opening the park up for public use.

The Spy spent some time with Bill and Preston to talk about the project and how they were able to cleverly combine real conservation needs for the area with a public park dedicated to environmental education. We caught up with them at Bullett House a few weeks ago.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the Talbot County Department of Parks and Recreation please go here

 

Oxford’s Scottish Highland Creamery to Change Ownership

Pictured from left are Victor and Susan Barlow, G.L. Fronk, Gordon Fronk and Michael Fronk.

After twelve years of owning and operating The Scottish Highland Creamery, Susan and Victor Barlow are pleased to share that the business will be passed on and sold to the Fronk Family at the conclusion of the 2017 season. The Barlows and the Fronks are fully committed to working together to ensure a smooth transition over the summer and beyond so customers will continue to enjoy the same delicious ice cream they have come to expect for years to come.

“It’s been a wonderful twelve years building this business, serving our community and being welcomed into the traditions and celebrations of our customers,” said the Barlows. “However, after 35 years of making ice cream, Victor has decided to ‘pass the scoop on’ as it was to him. We cannot put into words how much we appreciate the Town of Oxford for embracing us from the start and giving us the opportunity to do what we love. The familiar faces you have come to know at the window will not change, as our entire staff will be staying with the business.”

“The Scottish Highland Creamery will be our family business,” said GL and Michael Fronk, who will be running the day-to-day operations. “Customers can rest assured that we share the Barlows’ commitment to family, hard work and the Town of Oxford. We are honored that Victor has chosen us to carry on his recipes and techniques so that his ice cream will continue to be enjoyed by current and future generations. We are excited to lead the business into its next chapter.”

The Fronks are familiar faces around The Scottish Highland Creamery and have deep roots in Oxford and Talbot County. Gordon and Sally Fronk have been pillars of our community for many years. Their sons, GL and Michael, who will be managing the day-to-day operations of the business, both have a strong background in the Food & Beverage industry. GL and his wife, Laura, a teacher at Saints Peter and Paul, live in Trappe with their two children. Michael is currently in the process of moving back to Talbot County with his wife, Allison, a flight attendant, and two daughters.

“While bittersweet, we are excited about our future and that of The Scottish Highland Creamery,” said the Barlows. “Now that we have secured the legacy of the business we’ve built, we are looking forward to spending time with family and figuring out what’s next. The fond memories from the years of establishing and growing our business and the thousands of people we’ve met and served along the way will remain with us always. We hope our patrons will continue to show The Scottish Highland Creamery and the Fronks the same loyalty and love you have bestowed on us for the past twelve years.”

Spy Moment: Talbot County Toasts Four Companies and One Special Saloon Owner

It was a pretty special morning over at the Milestone Event Center near the Easton Airport today. The Talbot County Economic Development Commission handed out their Community Impact Awards to some of the region’s most entrepreneurial and dynamic corporations, nonprofit organizations and individuals. All part of the annual Commission’s Business Appreciation Breakfast hosted by the County’s Economic Development and Tourism office.

While program was highlighted by a keynote address of Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, as well as brief remarks from Clay Railey, Chesapeake College’s vice president for workforce and academic programs, the real spotlight was placed on four companies and one individual who have made a making significant impact in Talbot County over the last year.

The Easton-based companies Caloris Engineering, Inquiries, Inc. and The Whalen Company, as well as the nonprofit, For All Seasons, focused on outpatient mental health services, all took a bow for their contributions to the region’s growth, but the largest round of applause was reserved for Diana Mautz, the community’s beloved sailing champion, philanthropist, and owner of the Carpenter Street Saloon in St. Michaels.

The Spy was there with our iPhone camera in hand to capture some of the highlights.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about the County’s Economic Development and Tourism Office please go here

 

 

The Shore Icons Mural with Bob Porter

For those who know Le Hatchery’s owner Bob Porter, it is no secret that he has been looking at a multitude of ways to beautify the area that surrounds his gallery on Kemp Lane in Easton.  In fact, some would call it a quest of sorts for the Easton-born art dealer and sign maker. While this part of town would not be called ‘blighted’ by any sense of the word, Bob always has had the goal of “sprucing it up” since he moved his gallery from St. Michaels to Easton a few years ago.

What may be new for some though is the fact that Bob has finally settled on a plan of action and the results, if funding can be found, would place the Shore Icons Mural project in the Guinness Book of World Records.

That’s right, the Icons project, as envisioned by Cambridge mural artist Michael Rosato, would be the largest hand-painted mural on the planet with the area service of 13,500 square feet in size.

That kind of goal setting is fun for Bob, but the real pleasure of the project was  not only identifying 50 Maryland iconic scenes that could not only be reproduced on this large outside canvas, but developing a lasting tool to engage Talbot County schoolchildren in  unique history and culture of the Eastern Shore.

The Spy caught up with Bob at the Bullitt House a few weeks ago to get an update.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the project contact Bob at bob@sharpergraphics.com

Profiles in Philanthropy: Trustee Dick Bodorff on the Academy, CBMM, and the YMCA

Periodically, the country’s new president has referred to some his cabinet appointments as coming from “central casting.” Using his unique phrasing, President Trump is clearly referring to a person who is a perfect fit to a particularly difficult position to fill.

That definition could very easily apply to Talbot County’s Richard Bodorff and the extraordinary roles he has played on local Talbot County nonprofit boards.

A Washington DC lawyer during the week, with an exceptional background in the world of the federal communications law and regulations, Dick and his wife have made Talbot County their second home the last seventeen years. But rather than simply pursue his love of boating and other recreation activities while in residence, Dick made it a point to truly invest in his adopted community by joining several important governing boards of local nonprofit organizations and bringing with him his special skills and Midwestern common sense.

The Spy sat down with Dick a few weeks ago at Bullitt House to talk about his background in communications starting as a kid growing up in Illinois, followed by a early career at the Federal Communications Commission, including work on the famous George Carlin “seven words” controversy, and eventually his role as partner at the law firm of Wiley, Rein, advising clients on the FCC’s incentive spectrum auction and regulatory advice. He currently serves on the boards Academy Art Museum, Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, YMCA of the Chesapeake and shares his thoughts on those organization and what it meant to be successful nonprofit organization.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length

Spy Profiles: Making the Match with Talbot Mentors’ Natalie Costanzo

It doesn’t take long to figure out after listening to Natalie Costanzo’s accent that she is not a “from here.” In fact, she freely admits that her life on the Eastern Shore was the product of serendipity when her husband, Dr. Simon Costanzo, agreed to a position at UM-Horn Point Laboratory five years.

After never hearing the name “the Eastern Shore” while growing up in Brisbane, Australia, Natalie nonetheless threw caution to the wind and agreed to relocate to Easton with the simple aspiration of raising a family of two young children while husband Simon pursued his work as a climate change scientist.

Nonetheless, within months, she found herself working for the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, and increasingly started to accept Talbot County has her adopted new home. And that commitment led her to take her current position as executive director of Talbot Mentors.

In her first interview with the Spy, Natalie talks about the history and mission of Talbot Mentors, perhaps one of the county’s most respected nonprofit organizations, and her passion in pairing together almost one hundred Talbot County mentors with some of its most promising young people in our region for lifelong friendships, advice, and support.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information on Talbot Mentors and volunteering to be a mentor, please go here. 

Mid-Shore Arts: The Church Hill Theatre at 35 Years Old with Nina Sharp

A quick check of Wikipedia shows a very limited response to the query term, “Church Hill, Maryland.” In fact, with the exception of a summary of the 2010 census, which shows that about 500 people live in the town, and that Church Hill has four buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, there’s not much there.

But it does have one thing that very few places have, and that’s the beloved and successful Church Hill Theatre (CHT).

Built in the 1920s as the town’s community center, the building became the home of the Church Hill Theatre in 1982, some thirty-five years ago. That was reason enough for the Spy to want to know more about the CHT. It seemed rather remarkable that a community theatre company could survive that long in a town of 500 which rests some fifteen miles from the next town over.

But in talking to the Theatre’s executive manager Nina Sharp the other day, it turns out the CHT is not only surviving but actually thriving. With five major theatre productions a year, two youth educational programs, as well as ongoing partnerships with Chesapeake College, Gunston School, and the Home Educators of the Eastern Shore, Church Hill is very much alive and well.

That’s not to say CHT doesn’t have its challenges with owning a building that needs a great deal of love and care, but as Nina suggests in our chat, all signs look good for another thirty five years.

This video is approximately minutes in length. For more information about the Church Hill Theatre, please go here.

Mid-Shore Arts: Ben Simons Takes the Helm at the Academy Art Museum

For Ben Simons, the road to the Eastern Shore and his appointment as the new director of the Academy Art Museum is almost a lesson in geography. Raised by diplomats who served in a variety of iron curtain countries in the 1980s, including places like Romania, Russia, and Poland, it was through this somewhat exotic childhood that Ben first connected with museums and the unique role those institutions play in culture. But it would turn out to be the island of Nantucket where Simons first embraced the world of museum management as a career.

For close to fifteen years, Ben and his wife, the artist Alison Cooley, made that remote community off the shores of Massachusetts their home which allowed them both to pursue their real interests. While Alison focused on her art, Ben became the chief curator and senior management member of Nantucket Historical Association’s highly regarded Whaling Museum. And it was at this institution that he began to connect the dots between literature, history, art, and education.

In the Spy’s first interview with Ben, he talks about his background, his passion for art, and some of the new initiatives he’s already started at the Academy, including doubling down on its educational programs, the redesign of the AAM website, reinstituting the very popular Craft Show this fall, and finally preparing for the Museum’s 60th birthday in 2018. Not bad for four months on the job.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about the Academy Art Museum please go here

Mid-Shore Culture: The Life and Times of Stymie with Lehr Jackson

While Mid-Shore resident Lehr Jackson has made himself a remarkable career in urban development, particularly with his unique partnership with urban planner James Rouse in the 1970s and 1980s, those who know him best realize that his greatest gift might be that of storyteller.

From chronicling his Vietnam years, to his pioneering work with Rouse on Faneuil Hall in Boston, or, most recently, his push to tell the tale of Stymie, a remarkable race horse of the 1940s, Lehr seems to have an uncanny ability to sniff out some really remarkable American stories.

In this case, it is the remarkable journey of a racehorse that was all but given up on in the early 1940s. Stymie, groomed for success on King Ranch in Texas, failed to show promise after his first two years of racing and was purchased by the now legendary Maryland horse trainer Hirsch Jacobs, for $1,500 and by the time he retired from the horse track at the end of the 19540s, his career winnings came close to $1 million, an unprecedented amount of money for the time.

In Lehr’s third interview with the Spy, he talks about Jacobs, Stymie, and the amazingly counter-intuitive way in which this amazing Maryland horse was trained to finish 131 lifetime starts with Stymie winning in 35 races, placed in 33, and showed in 28.

This video is approximately five minutes in length

House as Biography: Londonderry’s Manor House with Pat Lewers & Susan Andrews

While it is true that almost every retirement community has something very special going for it, whether it be a golf course, location, or excellent cuisine, Londonderry on the Tred Avon is one of the very few that has a historically significant house on its grounds.

Nestled among Londonderry’s many cottages along the Tred Avon stands the Manor House which was built in 1867. Designed by the 19th-century architect Richard Upjohn, whose credits included Trinity Church in lower Manhattan, the gate designs of the Boston Commons, and more locally, the Parish House at Christ Church in Easton and Oxford’s own Trinity Church, the Manor House not only reflects the exceptional design of the time but also is one of the Mid-Shore’s most important reference points for the history of region with such familiar Eastern Shore names as Armstrong and Pinckney.

Now under the stewardship of volunteers who live in the Londonderry community, the house is not only used as a guesthouse for visitors of the residents who live there but is now open to the public during the day for meetings, weddings, and other special occasions.

The Spy talked to Manor House volunteers Susan Andrews and Pat Lewers a few weeks ago about some of its history, architectural features, and the remarkable charm of a very special home which has withstood the tests of time, a civil war, and two fires.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information about Londonderry and the Manor House please go here