Cool Outdoor Stuff: Top Eastern Shore Wood for Heating Homes


There is no greater incentive to take a look at the kind of wood you can burn to heat your house when record breaking temperatures have frozen out most of the Eastern Shore this month.  This seems to be on the mind of Echo Hill Outdoor School‘s Andrew McCown in the latest installment of Cool Outdoor Stuff.

As one can predict, each wood comes with different advantages, but they also come with own history and esthetics that only Captain Andy can make captivating.


This video is approximately six minutes in length. Gibson Anthony is the videographer

At the Academy: Curator Anke Van Wagenberg on Ellen Hill’s Life Lines

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 7.53.27 AM

The Academy Art Museum‘s curator, Anke Van Wagenberg, took a minute last week to brief the Spy about artist Ellen Hill and her exhibition currently in the second floor gallery place entitled Life Lines.

Hill creates mixed media work by assembling panels and fragments of carved, painted, and inked wood to produce richly textured artworks that reflect her strong respect and love for nature.

The exhibition ends March 8.


This video is approximately one minute in length

Mid-Shore Lives: Richard Tilghman


Richard Tilghman, who with his wife Beverly lives at and manages Wye House, is an accomplished community leader with a strong, informed sense of Talbot County history.

He currently chairs the board of governors of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) as it embarks on a capital fundraising campaign. He has served on several other local non-profit boards in Talbot County and Baltimore, often in leadership roles.

As chair of the CBMM board, Richard Tilghman fully appreciates the role played by the museum in preserving the culture and history of the Chesapeake Bay region. He also understands the challenges faced by museums in drawing visitors.

When you listen to Richard Tilghman, you will hear him talk passionately and knowledgeably about Wye House and also its connection to Frederick Douglass, a renowned 19th century civil rights activist who lived his early years as a slave on the property.

Wye House is one of the most historic homes and properties in Talbot County, if not the Eastern Shore. Built between 1780 and 1790, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The upkeep and preservation demand loving care and attention; it’s a significant responsibility, as Richard states in the interview. Though Richard may correct me, I believe he is the 11th generation of the Lloyd family to live on the family property, which was acquired in 1659.

Like Mary, his mother, Richard easily recites the history of Wye House, down to minute building details and description of historic relics. It’s fascinating to hear about a home so important to local and state history. Edward Lloyd V served as governor of Maryland, as well as a U.S. senator and congressman.

Richard and Beverly are intent on serving and improving our community, as did Mary Tilghman. They do so without seeking or claiming credit. They feel an obligation to participate in the county’s civic and historical activities and do so, enthusiastically, adeptly and generously.

– Howard Freedlander

Chesapeake College SGA Fighting for Community College Funding

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 10.30.05 AM

Normally, the student government associations at small community colleges are focused on the social life of students. Parties and events need to be planned and evaluated, but rarely does it extend to the world of Maryland politics. But this year is turning out to be the exception to that rule for Chesapeake College’s SGA.

With proposals on the table that would reduce support for Maryland’s community colleges and likely lead to a tuition increase of several hundred dollars, the Chesapeake’s SGA leadership decided that had to speak out.

In the interview with the Spy, SGA president Caroline Jones, Michael Beverley, Deep Patel, and Megan Murphy talk on the impact of higher tuition cost, the SGS lobbying effort in Annapolis, and their optimism that Governor Hogan and the Maryland General Assembly will find a way to keep current funding in place.

This video is approximately three minutes in length

Water Quality Monitoring Shows Long-Term Improvements Fading

Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 7.55.22 PM

While the Bay region has seen a long-term decline in nutrients in many areas since 1985, those trends have leveled off in recent years — and improvements for phosphorus have largely halted — according to recent water quality monitoring data.

The data, released by the U.S. Geological Survey, largely confirm findings in other recent reports which have generally shown a decline in nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in many rivers since 1985, but less improvement during the most recent 10 years.

In fact, the new data — which includes monitoring results through 2013 — detected no significant improving phosphorus trends in any of the nine largest Bay tributaries during the previous 10 years, while phosphorus concentrations showed significant increasing trends in two: the Susquehanna and the Choptank rivers.

The Susquehanna River has long-term improving trends for nitrogen, but not for phosphorus. (Dave Harp)

The Susquehanna River has long-term improving trends for nitrogen, but not for phosphorus. (Dave Harp)

On a more positive note, the data show significant long-term and short-term downward trends in nitrogen concentrations in the Bay’s two largest tributaries, the Susquehanna and the Potomac, as well as in the Patuxent. Still, while five rivers had long-term decreasing trends for nitrogen, only three maintained those trends through the most recent decade.

The data are collected from nine river input monitoring sites located just above the tidal zone of major Bay tributaries — usually near the fall line, which divides the Coastal Plain from the Piedmont.

River water originating from about 78 percent of the Bay’s 64,000-square-mile watershed flows past those sites, and the upstream region is the source of about 60 percent of the nutrients reaching the Chesapeake.

The monitoring sites tend to be located upstream of many of the region’s largest wastewater treatment plants, and therefore do not capture most of the significant reductions achieved by upgrading those facilities in recent decades.

The data do not attempt to explain the factors affecting water quality trends, though the continued short-term nitrogen reductions in the two largest watersheds — the Potomac and Susquehanna — likely benefited from substantial reductions in air pollution which have taken place since 2000. Both watersheds are downwind of major power plants that have been required to significantly reduce nitrogen oxide emissions, and recent research has shown nitrogen reductions in streams which appear linked to those improvements.

The USGS and other Bay Program agencies are planning a series of reports that will attempt to examine actions that are impacting those trends over time.

For individual rivers, the data show:

Susquehanna (at Conowingo, Maryland)
• Nitrogen: Decreasing long– (1985-2013) and short-term (2003-2013) trends
• Phosphorus: No long-term trend, increasing short-term trend
• Sediment: No significant long– or short-term trend
Potomac (at Washington, DC)
• Nitrogen: Decreasing long– and short-term trends
• Phosphorus: Decreasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Sediment: Decreasing long-term trend, no short-term trend
James (at Cartersville, Virginia)
• Nitrogen: Decreasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Phosphorus: Decreasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Sediment: No significant long– or short-term trend
Rappahannock (at Fredericksburg, Virginia)
• Nitrogen: Decreasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Phosphorus: No significant long– or short-term trend
• Sediment: No significant long– or short-term trend
Appomattox (at Matoaca, Virginia)
• Nitrogen: No significant long– or short-term trends
• Phosphorus: Increasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Sediment: No significant long-term trend, increasing short-term trend

Pamunkey (at Hanover, Virginia)
• Nitrogen: Increasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Phosphorus: Increasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Sediment: Increasing long-term and short-term trend
Mattaponi (near Beulahville, Virginia)
• Nitrogen: No significant long– or short-term trend
• Phosphorus: No significant long– or short-term trend
• Sediment: No significant long– or short-term trend
Patuxent (at Bowie, Maryland)
• Nitrogen: Decreasing long– and short-term trend
• Phosphorus: Decreasing long-term trend, no significant short-term trend
• Sediment: Decreasing long-term trend, increasing short-term trend
Choptank (near Greensboro, Maryland)
• Nitrogen: Increasing long– and short-term trend
• Phosphorus: Increasing long– and short-term trend
• Sediment: Decreasing long-term trend, increasing short-term trend

The USGS also reported that during its most recent year of data— 2013 — the nutrients flowing past the nine monitoring sites and into Bay tidal waters were below the long-term average.

Nitrogen loads reaching tidal waters in 2013 were about 160 million pounds, below the long-term average of 212 million.
Phosphorus loads were 10 million pounds, compared with the long-term average of 14.6 million pounds.

Sediment loads were 2.7 million tons which is less than the long-term average of 5.2 million tons.

Those figures do not include estimates of nutrients entering the Bay from below monitoring sites, which covers 22 percent of the watershed. Distributed by Bay Journal News Service.

By Karl Blankenship
Bay Journal News Service

The Faces of “hotDesk” Entrepreneurs

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 8.52.08 AM

With plans now set for the second location of the Eastern Shore Entrepreneurship Center’s hotDesks project in Easton next month, and another planned for Chestertown, the Spy was interested to see how the first one was actually faring in Salisbury a few weeks ago.

While hotDesks does have the amenities that any good business center might have, including meeting space, fiber optic internet connections, teleconferencing, and loads of work space, the real story of coworking space can be found in the stories of some of the first members to join hotDesks.

In their interviews with the Spy,  Nick Simpson, co-founder of Nuvu, Adebola Daramola, and Jean Paul Badjo, UMES engineering student and founder of the Badjo Suit, talk about their hotDesk experience and what this might mean for the Mid-Shore as well.

This video is approximately five minutes in length 

Out and About (Sort Of): Still Struggling by Howard Freedlander

Screen Shot 2015-02-15 at 8.55.29 PM

It’s been three weeks since I wrote a column entitled “Struggling” about the incident in which the Rev. Heather Cook, second in command of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, killed a 41-year-old bicyclist in Baltimore.

Bishop Cook has been charged with manslaughter, driving while drunk, texting and leaving the scene of an accident. She has been indicted.
In 2010 Heather Cook was charged in Caroline County for driving under the influence. She apparently was so drunk she could not stand up and take the breathalyzer test. At the time she was serving in an administrative position in the Episcopal Diocese of Easton.

During the past few weeks, news reports have disclosed that the Presiding Bishop is investigating whether Heather Cook had been honest with the Easton Diocese about her alcohol history. The national church also is looking into whether the Episcopal Church encourages a culture of drinking among clergy and parishioners.

The constant stream of information and revelations seems to get worse. It’s increasingly difficult to find grace in this affair.

A high-ranking priest in the national church issued a statement saying that ‘“many people in the church have struggled to understand better how our systemic denial about alcohol and other drug abuse in the church may have contributed to Bishop Cook’s election and coordination as a bishop even as she seemed to be struggling with addiction,” ‘according to an article in the Baltimore Sun.

In the weeks since writing my original column, I have encountered anger and frustration with the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland for failing to conduct due diligence in naming Heather Cook as Suffragan Bishop.

Meanwhile, Bishop Eugene Sutton, who heads the diocese, continues to point fingers at the Diocese of Easton for being insufficiently forthright in disclosing Heather Cook’s struggles with alcohol. He also said he noticed that the Rev. Cook seemed to be drinking heavily at a social occasion two nights before her installation in the fall of 2014.

I am struggling because Heather Cook is clearly at blame for having a drinking problem that she failed to reveal first to the Diocese of Easton and then to the Diocese of Maryland. Consequently, Thomas Palermo is dead.

I am struggling because Heather Cook seemed to ignore all the danger signs, ones that would be difficult to deny. Yet, I realize that denial is a common characteristic of addicted individuals. It’s the first and largest hurdle in addressing addiction and trying to beat it.  Many have attained the mountain-top experience of sobriety and reclaimed their lives.

I am struggling because leaders in the Episcopal Church failed to question Heather Cook about her addiction. The Diocese of Maryland is facing strong criticism for what appears to be lax employment procedures.

Finger-pointing is senseless. Diocesan leaders must look inward and claim responsibility.

The Very Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Washington Cathedral, said in an article in the Washington Post concerning the Episcopal Church’s approach to alcohol, ‘” I think the fact that the Diocese of Maryland could elect a woman who clearly has had an alcohol issue and how no one could speak about that publicly was a symptom of a bigger problem. The Heather Cook event is making us sit back and think…How do we find a way to be more intentional about our relationship with alcohol?”

So, we have a clergyperson with a history of alcohol abuse named to the second highest position in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, now charged with killing a bicyclist as she was driving drunk and texting in Baltimore. She failed to inform two employers about her addiction.
And we have a church undergoing strenuous soul-searching as it determines whether a culture of tolerance toward drinking contributed to the elevation of Heather Cook as Bishop Suffragan of the Diocese of Maryland and the tragic death of Thomas Palermo. At the same time, the church is examining its employment procedures, specifically whether it should have been more aggressive in examining a candidate’s readiness for promotion.

I also would suspect that the church also is asking itself—or it should be—whether it provides a safe haven for priests to admit their addictions or frailties without jeopardizing their careers.

A fatal hit-and-run accident involving a priest with ties to the Eastern Shore has wide-ranging, painful ramifications.

Maryland Island, Once Diminished, Reconstructed with Dredged Material

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 6.24.36 PM

A Chesapeake Bay island, once used as a presidential retreat but diminished to fewer than 5 acres by the 1980s, has been replenished with dredged material, creating wetlands that serve as a wildlife sanctuary.

Poplar Island, located one mile northwest of Tilghman Island in Talbot County, began to vanish, like many bay islands, due to rising sea levels and erosion.

The restoration project, a joint effort of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Maryland Port Administration, received additional funding in President Barack Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2016. The appropriations would be used to expand the island by 575 acres over the previous goal of 1,100 acres, an expansion approved by the president and Congress last year.

The initial project is nearly complete and will not be able to hold any more dredged material. The expansion will allow the island to continue to provide beneficial habitat construction, according to the Maryland Port Administration.

The budget’s $26.5 million allocation for the Poplar Island project represents a 75 percent increase over the previous year’s proposal. The federal government funds three quarters of the project and the state is responsible for the remainder.

The island has been rebuilt with material dredged from the Maryland Bay Channels and the approach channels to the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, a total of about 3.2 million cubic yards per year, said Justin Callahan, the Poplar Island project manager for the Corps of Engineers.

“Poplar is groundbreaking because it takes dredged material and is using it beneficially,” said David Blazer, director of the Harbor Development Department of the Maryland Port Administration.

This type of project hasn’t been done to this scale before and it is generating interest worldwide, he added.

Delegations from other nations, including Germany and Brazil, have toured the island.

Poplar’s 3.2 million cubic yards of dredged material is about 60 percent of the approximately 5.2 million cubic yards dredged in Maryland shipping channels every year.

The bay has a natural tendency to refill its deep spots through a variety of factors, including natural erosion and tidal waters, Blazer said.

Spy Tip: Marc Cohn Walking in 1970

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 8.43.34 AM

For those of a certain age, listening to Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” over the radio in 1991 brings back a special era in America. With a rare use of  piano in a pop song, lovely homages to Elvis and Al Green, and an autobiographical tale of discovery, Cohn captures a post-Reagan era that topped the charts in both the United States and England.

In many ways “Walking in Memphis” was also a tribute to the songwriters in the 1970s like had inspired his own work with the likes of Paul Simon’s “Only Living Boy in New York”, Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic and Eric Clapton’s “After Midnight.”

So there was no surprise when Cohn returned to the studio in 2010 to record Listening Booth: 1970, which brings the work of these artists, as well as John Lennon, Paul MacCartney,  the Grateful Dead and other classics all recorded in the same year.

If Easton is lucky, we’ll get a taste of his own version of the Great Amercian Songbook.

Marc Cohn
Friday, February 13, 2015
Doors: 7:30 p.m.; Show: 8:00 p.m.
Ticket information here

Spy Reconnaissance: Pickering Audubon Center and Mark Scallion

MarkScallion (1)

While there have been a few bumps in the road in creating the environmental education center that the late George Olds, and his sister, Margaret Olds Strahl, had envisioned when they donated almost 400 acres of primary land, with a mile of waterfront, east of Easton Airport in 1981 to the Audubon Society, director Mark Scallion feels every year the Pickering Center is becoming closer and closer to their intentions.

Scallion, whose entire career since graduating from college has been at Pickering, became director fourteen years ago and has slowly and methodically put into place a remarkable resource for the Mid-Shore. Devoted to education, free to the public, and open every day of the year, Pickering is one of a handful of environmental education programs on the Eastern Shore and one of the few organizations devoted to the middle of Delmarva.

In his Spy interview, Mark talks about the legacy of the Olds family, his journey to Pickering and discusses many of the high impact education programs the Audubon Center offers the community.

Footnote: Pickering Audubon Center is named after Pickering Creek, which honors landowner Francis Pickering, who bought the land in 1758.

This video is approximately six minutes in length.