Easton Utilities Employees Mark Career Milestones

(Front row left), Kenneth Marks (10 yrs), Ted Book (20 yrs), Samantha Jeter (10 yrs), Lynn Kline (30 yrs), Hugh Grunden, President & CEO, and Paul Moffett (10 yrs). (Back row left) Bryan Wilkins (10 yrs), Ron Haun (30 yrs), Allan Blessing (30 yrs) and Jeff Starkey (10 yrs). Not pictured Larry Smith (10 yrs).

Easton Utilities recently celebrated ten, twenty and thirty year service milestones achieved by ten staff members.  Allan Blessing, Operations & Maintenance Coordinator; Ron Haun, Operator; and Lynn Kline, Administrative Support, celebrated 30-year anniversaries during the past year.  Ted Book, Director of Cable & Communications, marked his 20-year anniversary. Samantha Jeter, Customer Service Representative; Kenneth Marks, Senior Water & Wastewater Operator; Paul Moffett, Engineering/Water & Wastewater Manager; Larry Smith, Assistant Operator; Jeff Starkey, Vehicle Maintenance; and Bryan Wilkins, Water Distribution & Wastewater Collection Operator, marked 10-year anniversaries with the company.

“These dedicated individuals have talent and experience which makes them an invaluable asset to our organization and our customers,” said Hugh E. Grunden, President and CEO of Easton Utilities.

Maryland 3.0: As Medical Cannabis Nears, Bill could boost Minorities’ Stake

After a four-year wait to provide medical cannabis to patients, the drug could be available to Marylanders as early as this month, according to industry stakeholders.

“I think we could see product in November, with increase in December and a steady flow from all operators in the new year,” said Wendy Bronfein, the marketing director for Curio Wellness, a company in Lutherville, Maryland, awarded two licenses to cultivate and process medical marijuana.

However, racial diversity in the state’s medical marijuana industry is wanting, and some lawmakers said they are planning to introduce a bill early next session to grant licenses to African-American business owners.

A disparity study ordered by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan in April and due in December focuses on whether minorities who sought a license in the cannabis industry were at a disadvantage.

The study was prompted after the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus raised concerns about the lack of African-American involvement in the industry.

Of the 321 business owners granted preliminary licenses to grow, distribute or process the drug, 208 were white men or women and the remaining 113 identified as a member of a minority group or as multiracial. Of these, 55 — about 17 percent — were black men and women, according to the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

“It’s shameful in a state like Maryland where we have one-third of the population of the state, one-third is African American,” said Delegate Cheryl Glenn, D-Baltimore, chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus.

As the General Assembly’s January session approaches, members of the Black Caucus told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service they have begun drafting a bill that would award 10 new licenses for growers and processors specifically targeted at African-Americans interested in the industry.

They will move forward with their legislation regardless of the outcome of a Hogan’s disparity study, Glenn said.

“I will bank on it that we’ll come away from the table with five new licenses for growers and five new licenses for processors that will be awarded based on the results of the disparity study. What does that mean? That means these licenses will go to, in large part, African Americans,” said Glenn.

A weighted scoring system will give businesses an advantage of being awarded a particular license if they have a certain percentage of African-American ownership, Glenn said.

A “compassionate use fund” will be part of the legislation in order to make medical marijuana affordable for patients in Maryland. The fund will be financed based on the fees that licensees in the industry must pay, Glenn said.

“Marijuana is still an illegal drug, according to the federal government. Your insurance will not pay for marijuana even though it is medical marijuana. So what does that mean? That means it becomes a rich man’s struggle. We’re not gonna have that,” said Glenn, whose mother died of cancer and is the commission’s namesake.

Marylanders who are insured through the state’s Medicare and Medicaid programs will not be covered for medical cannabis, said Brittany Fowler, spokeswoman for the Maryland health department.

The legislation has been numbered Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 2, and should gain initial approval as an emergency bill during a joint hearing by the House and the Senate during the first weeks of the session — which is scheduled to start Jan. 10 — Glenn said.

Members of the Legislative Black Caucus said they intend to use the upcoming election as leverage for the bill.

“Next year is election year … so timing is everything … I am very, very sure that this is going to be taken care of,” Glenn said.

Cannabis companies have said that the drug is likely to be available to patients this month.

ForwardGro Inc., the first licensed medical marijuana grower, successfully passed the state’s cannabis assessment this year, said Darrell Carrington, the medical cannabis director of Greenwill Consulting Group LLC.

Patients will be able to get cannabis in a variety of forms such as lotion, pills and transdermal patches, said Michael Klein, the chief operating officer of Wellness Solutions in Frederick, Maryland.

The industry has been projected to open toward the end of the year, according to Brian Lopez, the chairman of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission.

“The industry is starting to move forward,” Lopez said late last month. “We hope we are going to have another 20 to 30 dispensaries by the end of the year and at that point we will have an industry that is starting to receive product consistently around the state. But with that we are going to also, I’m sure, see some growing pains.”

Maryland still faces a wide range of challenges as the industry starts up. The commission has not decided how to regulate how dispensaries will serve out-of-state patients, deal with the green waste from the cannabis, or address fraudulent activity within the industry, said Lopez.

“I’m sure we are going to hit road blocks, but we plan to work through them in a very consistent manner and with diligence,” Lopez said.

Maryland is considered to have one of the slowest medical cannabis rollouts in the nation, hampered by several delays that arose during the four-year process since it was legalized.

Stakeholders in the industry have pointed to the lack of funding of the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission in its beginning stages, and to lawsuits filed against the commission, as major stumbling blocks.

In 2016, GTI — Green Thumb Industries — a Bethesda, Maryland-based company that was originally awarded pre-approved licenses as a grower, filed a lawsuit against the commission for retracting its licenses in order to create geographical diversity.

The commission, which as of mid-2017 had 10 new members, made the decision to retract the license from GTI after the Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh stated in 2016 that the commission must ensure geographical diversity when choosing applicants.

GTI attempted to work with the Black Caucus to reverse the decision during the 2017 General Assembly session through legislation, which would have awarded them a license, said Delegate Pamela Queen D-Montgomery, financial secretary for the Black Caucus.

The legislation failed in the last 90 minutes of the session and there were no additional medical marijuana growing licenses given to any companies owned by minorities, Queen said.

The Legislative Black Caucus earlier this year asked Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller Jr., D-Prince George’s, Charles and Calvert, and Speaker of the House Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, to reconvene the General Assembly to Annapolis for a one-day session to pass a law expanding the medical marijuana industry. However, the request was denied.

In another lawsuit against the commission, filed in October 2016 by Alternative Medicine Maryland, a predominately African-American owned business, Judge Barry Williams ruled in May that if he finds that the commission unlawfully disregarded racial diversity during the application process for licenses he reserves the right to revoke the licenses of those who were pre-approved.

This could ultimately shut down the industry, according to John Pica, a lobbyist and attorney representing Alternative Medicine Maryland.

Frosh also had said it would be unlawful to seek racial diversity in the application process without there being a history of racial disparities in the nascent cannabis industry.

“While it is still too soon to say for certain when we can expect a final analysis, we are encouraged and grateful to collaborate with these offices as we pursue this important work,” said Medical Cannabis Commission Executive Director Patrick Jameson, who announced his resignation from the commission on Thursday.

Queen said she thinks that a major issue that negatively affected the industry was the poor funding the commission initially received from the state.

When the panel was created as the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission in 2013, its purpose was to oversee academic medical intuitions in distributing medical marijuana. However, the institutions were unwilling to distribute the drug because it is illegal under federal law.

In 2015, when the commission was recreated as the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Cannabis Commission, they were given a greater responsibility to evaluate and certify businesses to grow, process and distribute the drug.

The commission received $140,795 in fiscal year 2015 and $2,540,331 in fiscal year 2017. The increase of funding over time was used to hire more employees, contractual labor, office spaces that can support the growing staff, travel expenses and to pay Towson University for scoring license applications for the industry, according to Maryland Department of Budget and Management.

By Oluwatomike Adeboyejo

 

Byrnes joins Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Steven Byrnes, of Easton, Md., has joined the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md. as Vice President of Operations. In this position, Byrnes serves on the senior management team and is responsible for oversight, implementation, and management of CBMM’s strategies for its guest services, marina, Museum Store, charity boat donation program, and boatyard operations.

Byrnes has more than 33 years’ experience in operations management, most recently serving as Senior Director of Capgemini America, a leading global consulting firm. Byrnes brings international experience to the position, from business and IT strategy development, through to the operational transformation necessary to achieve those strategies.

“I’m an avid boater and CBMM member who loves getting out on the Bay,” said Byrnes. “This is a great opportunity to join the CBMM team, and make a difference in a meaningful way.”

Byrnes grew up on Long Island and spent many hours boating and clamming on the Great South Bay. He views returning from the Chicago area to the Chesapeake Bay region like ‘coming home.’

“We are delighted to have Steve working with us,” said CBMM President Kristen Greenaway. “His management experience and collaborative work with all departments will be key in helping CBMM achieve high standards of excellence in all our operations.”

Byrnes holds an MBA in banking and finance from Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from Dowling College in Oakdale, N.Y. He served on the board of the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation, and is a past member of the Auto Finance Council and the Equipment Leasing & Finance Association’s International Committee. He has published more than 25 articles on operations and technology topics, and has served as a speaker at numerous industry events, including the ELFA annual convention, CFO roundtable, and a Global Strategies webinar.

Established in 1965, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a world-class maritime museum dedicated to preserving and exploring the history, environment, and people of the entire Chesapeake Bay, with the values of relevancy, authenticity, and stewardship guiding its mission. Charitable gifts to the museum’s annual fund enable CBMM to educate and inspire the next generation of Chesapeake Bay stewards, and can be made online at cbmm.org/donate.

Shore Leadership Visits the NASA Wallops Flight Facility

The 2018 Shore Leadership Class toured the NASA Wallops Flight Facility as part of their two-day leadership training in October.  Mr. Keith Koehler, News Chief for the Office of Communications at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility, led the class on a “behind the gates tour” of the facility.  During the visit the class visited the control room and launch pad to understand the many facets of the NASA facility.

Later that afternoon, the class visited the NASA Wallops Education Center where Dr. Joyce Winterton, Senior Advisor for Education and Leadership Development, and Linda Sherman, Educational Directorate, shared information about the educational programs and student internships available through NASA.  Dr. Winterton then took the group through a Decision-Making Exercise to simulate NASA launches allowing them to make decisions about each mission.

Immediately following the tour, Dr. Memo Diriker, Executive Director and founder of BEACON (Business Economic and Community Outreach Network at Salisbury University), Dan McDermott, Executive Director of the Upper Shore Workforce Investment Board, and Mike Pennington, Executive Director of the Tri-County Council for the Lower Shore of Maryland, discussed the current and future workforce development and training needs for the Eastern Shore.  Concerns were raised about the expanded use of robotics and the need for services to assist the aging population. The discussion was a great overview of the issues impacting the Shore and more importantly the need for regional collaboration and communication.

Day-two of the program session focused on Leadership Development led by Facilitator, Carol Graser where the class created and then discussed their Personal Mission Statements.

The final Shore Leadership Session will be held in Kent County on November 15th where the program session will focus on Manufacturing.

For more information on Shore Leadership or to apply to join the 2018 Shore Leadership Class, go to www.shoreleadership.or or email info@shoreleadership.org.  The 2018 Shore Leadership Class begins with a two- day retreat on April 25-26, a $200 discount will be applied to applicants who apply by November 15, 2017.  Tuition assistance is also available upon request and approval.

Ekedahl Joins CBMM Board

Duane H. Ekedahl recently joined the Board of Governors of the Chesapeake Maritime Museumin St. Michaels, Md.

Ekedahl began his career with marketing positions at Shell Chemical Corp. and FMC Corp. Retiring in 2015, he worked for many years with Smith Bucklin & Associates, the nation’s leading association management company. With Smith Bucklin, he was executive director of the Pet Food Institute, and president of the Regional Airline Association. For 15 years, Ekedahl was vice chair and head of Smith Bucklin’s Washington office, and later served as chair of the firm for three years.

​Ekedahl’s community ​service includes nine years as chair of the board for the Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind​, as a member of the steering committee for the George Washington University School of Business & Public Policy, and as a member of the Library Board of American University​. He served in the United States Air Force​ for two​years​, and holds a MBA​ from Harvard University​, and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry​ from​ Rutgers University​.

He and his wife, Sharon, have homes in both Washington, D.C., and Bozman. Sharon Ekedahl previously worked as an executive for an international staffing company, and will serve on CBMM’s 2018 Boating Party Committee.

Established in 1965, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a world-class maritime museum dedicated to preserving and exploring the history, environment and people of the entire Chesapeake Bay, with the values of relevancy, authenticity, and stewardship guiding its mission. Serving nearly 80,000 guests each year, CBMM’s campus includes a floating fleet of historic boats and 12 exhibition buildings, situated along the Miles River and St. Michaels’ harbor. For more information, visit cbmm.org.

Mid-Shore Pro Bono Executive Director to Receive William L. Marbury Outstanding Advocate Award

Mid-Shore Pro Bono Executive, Director, Sandy Brown, is a 2017 recipient of the William L. Marbury Outstanding Advocate Award from the Maryland Legal Services Corporation. The annual award is presented to a “non-attorney who has demonstrated outstanding service representing the civil legal needs of low-income Marylanders or by expanding access to justice.”

“I am honored and deeply touched to have been selected for this award,” Brown said. “It is a reflection of the progress our staff, volunteer attorney network and community partners are making to improve access to justice for the most vulnerable populations of the Eastern Shore. Mid-Shore Pro Bono is often overlooked simply because we aren’t in the mainstream. I feel the most important part of my job is to be an advocate for residents of this great community.”

Brown has served as the Executive Director of Mid-Shore Pro-Bono since 2008, and has grown the organization and its impact during her tenure. Under her leadership, Mid-Shore Pro Bono was awarded Non-Profit of the Year in 2014 by the Talbot County Chamber Commerce, and in 2015 received the same recognition by the Caroline County Chamber of Commerce. In 2012, she was selected to participate in the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Fellows Program. Brown has been nationally recognized by the American Bar Association and serves as a trainer to assist new Legal Services Pro Bono Program Managers for Rural Areas.

Brown will receive the award on Monday, December 4th at the Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore, Md. For more information about the award and the Maryland Legal Services Corporation, visit www.mlsc.org. 

About Mid-Shore Pro Bono

Mid-Shore Pro Bono Mid-Shore Pro Bono connects low-income individuals and families who need civil legal services with volunteer attorneys and community resources. The organization serves citizens across 2,000 square miles in Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester counties. For more information or to make a donation, call Mid-Shore Pro Bono at 410-690-8128 or visit www.midshoreprobono.org.

Quality Health Strategies CEO Dr. Ron Forsythe, Jr. Named Savoy Magazine’s 2017 Most Influential Black Corporate Directors

Savoy Magazine is the premier listing of African-American executives, influencers and achievers contributing leadership to corporate boards.   The magazine has just announced their 2017 directory of the most influential black corporate directors across the nation, which includes the Eastern Shore’s Dr. Ron Forsythe, Jr.   Dr. Forsythe a member of the Chesapeake Utilities Board, and is also the CEO of Easton’s leading employer, Quality Health Strategies.

“Dr. Forsythe’s extensive leadership experience, financial, and operational expertise has enabled him to make terrific contributions to our company.  We are extremely proud to see him receive this prestigious and well-deserved recognition,” said Pat Boos, Director of Marketing at QHS. “As a company, we have a deep appreciation for the importance of experience combined with a natural entrepreneurial spirit — from our board of directors to our review teams, designers and data scientists, we value it highly across our organization.”

Ronald G. Forsythe, Jr. is a member of the Board of Directors of Chesapeake Utilities Corporation, a diversified energy company headquartered in Dover, Delaware.  In 2017, he joined colleagues serving on other public boards, including Fortune 500 companies, as a recipient of the highest recognition for corporate directors – the NACD Board of Leadership Fellowship.  Forsythe is President and Chief Executive Officer of Quality Health Strategies and previously served as its Chief Operating Officer.  Prior to that, Forsythe served as Chief Information Officer and Vice President at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore where he led projects that made the Eastern Shore more eco-friendly in its energy use.  He is a member of the Regional Advisory Board of Branch Banking and Trust Company and previously served as a member of the Advisory Board for the Worcester County, Maryland School System STEM Initiative, and a member of the Boards of the Peninsula Regional Medical Center Foundation, Quality Health Foundation, and Horizons at the Salisbury School.

Forsythe holds a Bachelor of Chemical Engineering degree from the University of Delaware and holds masters and doctoral degrees in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland.

About Quality Health Strategies www.qualityhealthstrategies.org serves the entire nation in an effort to protect the fiscal and clinical integrity of healthcare systems. The company currently holds a number of federal contracts for detecting and combating health care fraud, waste, and abuse on a national and regional level. For More Information, Contact: Pat Boos, Director of Marketing   boosp@qhs-inc.org

Museum Appoints Murphy as Director of Finance

Patrick R. Murphy of Stevensville has been appointed as Director of Finance at the Academy Art Museum in Easton, MD. Murphy previously was Associate Executive Director, Finance and Administration at the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) before coming to the Museum. Murphy is accomplished in employee relations and streamlining administrative systems. While with NAESP, he performed contract negotiation with local unions, managed all human resource and benefit programs, and managed the membership processing team. Murphy has a bachelor’s of science degree of George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.

According to Ben Simons, Director of the Academy Art Museum, “Patrick has deep experience in non-profit finance and administration and a great interest in forwarding the mission of the Museum. We are excited that he has chosen to join our administrative team.”

Shore Leadership Meets in Dorchester County for Agriculture Session

The 2017 Shore Leadership Class traveled to Dorchester County to hear from 2007 alumni, Kelly Jackson owner and operator of Emily’s Produce who hosted the group for a farm to table luncheon where she spoke to the class about the valuable leadership skills she uses every day managing her family’s agri-tourism business.  The class also heard from Rachel Widmaier, 4-H council and vice president of the Trailblazers 4-H Club who shared her journey in 4-H and the leadership skills she is developing through her service.

2017 Shore Leadership Class Visits Emily’s Produce

The leadership focus for the day was Leading Change.  Leadership Facilitator, Carol Graser of the Annapolis Learning Center, who led the class through several exercises and discussions on leading change in your business or organization. “In leading change, I need to be less focused on problem-solving issues and more on the stories people bring with them and the emotions involved,” said a member of the current class.

Later that day the class went to Layton’s Chance Winery where they heard from 1999 alumni, Michael Thielke, Executive Director of the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center.  Michael talked to the class about his role at the Center and explained his view point of agriculture and seafood looking through a lens of innovation and technology with a focus on farm, fish and food.

The day ended with a panel discussion about the challenges of farming and agriculture led by Emily Zobel, Maryland Extension Agriculture Educator.  Afterwards, Mr. Joe Layton and Mr. William Layton talked about their Lazy Day Farm and the Layton’s Chance Winery.  Lazy Day Farm was inducted into the Maryland Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2011.

For more information on Shore Leadership or to apply to join the class of 2018, go to www.shoreleadership.org or contact info@shoreleadership.org.

Governor Hogan Names Rolle to Talbot County Board of License Commissioners

Maryland Governor Laurence J. Hogan recently named St. Michaels resident William C. Rolle, Jr. (Bill) to the Talbot County Board of License Commissioners. The appointment is to fill a vacancy created, in the six-year term, by the recent death of Commissioner Gretchen Panuzio.

Rolle has been active in the Talbot County community, recently finishing a six-year term on the Talbot Hospice Board, where he served on the executive committee and chaired the communications and development committees. He continues to serve on the communications committee.

Rolle also serves on the Easton Airport Board, The Londonderry on the Tred Avon Board, the Talbot SPY Advisory Board and the Institute for Religion, Politics & Culture at Washington College.

He understands the small business environment, having worked as a marketing communications consultant for 50 years in the Washington Metropolitan area. He founded and managed his own communications firm there for 20 years, prior to selling it to a major New York advertising firm to manage its Washington office.

He has a BS degree from Georgetown University and a MA Degree from American University. He taught Branding, as an Adjunct Professor, at Georgetown University and Advertising and Marketing at Washington College.

Rolle and his wife Carol have lived in St. Michaels for 15-years, moving there after living in Bethesda, Maryland, for more than 50 years. They celebrated 60 years of marriage in February this year. They have four children, one daughter and three sons, ten grandchildren and one great grandson.