Archives for November 2011

Aguayuda presentation set for tomorrow at 5 p.m.

Aguayuda, a nonprofit based in Easton that specializes in helping people in developing countries get clean water, will host a five-year anniversary presentation tomorrow from 5 to 6:30 p.m. at the Historical Society Auditorium in Easton. Simón Zimmer and Sabrina Zimmermann of Aguayuda will give a presentation about their work. The event is free to the public and refreshments will be served. Reservations are encouraged by e-mail at or by calling 410-463-1455.

Operation Christmas Holds Special Meeting for Local Guatemalan Teens

Jaki and Graham Steward wrap gifts.

Members of area churches were busy in November readying shoeboxes for the Operation Christmas Child, the world’s largest Christmas program. This year, Operation Christmas Child aims to collect and ship shoe boxes filled with gifts for some eight million children.  Since 1993, some 86 million boxes have been distributed in more than 130 countries.

Operation Christmas is part of Samaritan’s Purse, a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to the poor, the sick and the suffering around the world. Franklin Graham, the eldest son of Billy and Ruth Bell Graham, serves as President and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse.

Locally, two teens adopted from Guatemala, Jaki and Graham Steward of Trappe, regularly received Operation Christmas boxes each year while in a Guatemalan Children’s Home. Both children were adopted by Dawn and Gregg Steward, teachers at Chesapeake Christian School in Easton. This year, the school’s faculty and students packaged 149 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas.

Jaki Steward, age 16, comments, “God shows us that a simple box shares love and joy.”  She adds, “I used to look forward to getting my shoebox every Christmas Eve, because I knew someone prepared it just for me and it would be filled with special goodies, like candy, small toys, stuffed animals, coloring books, crayons, even a new toothbrush, toothpaste, a new washcloth and soap.”

Graham Steward, Jaki’s 15-year old brother, who was adopted from the same Children’s Home, recalls, “I remember when I would open my Christmas box, it would mean a lot to me because we didn’t get things often.  I would hold it close to my chest and think it was from someone who loved me – someone sharing the news of Jesus Christ with me.”

Jaki explains that in addition to the items in the shoeboxes, she and Graham added letters and pictures of themselves to the boxes they sent so the children who received the boxes would know who they were from.  Each box also often included a check for $7 or more to help cover shipping and other project costs.  Jaki has shared her story with five area churches to encourage church participation in this project.

This year, 1,717 boxes were collected by Brian and Kay Spence of Talbot Bible Church in Easton, one of collection centers for Operation Christmas on the Mid Shore.  Kay commented that this year’s collection was the largest they have ever had and that the regional collection site in Seaford, DE, where they transported the boxes, reported an 11 percent increase in boxes this year.  Chick-fil-A in Easton provided many of the shoeboxes for Mid Shore churches that participated in Operation Christmas this year.

Talbot Spy Supports Christmas in St. Michaels coming Dec. 9, 10 and 11


The Talbot Spy Supports Christmas in St. Micheals.

This is the 25th year that Christmas in St. Michaels has raised money for local charities. The non-profit organization that sponsors the weekend events, including the parade down Talbot Street and tours of local homes, has given almost $1 million to local churches, schools and community groups.  New this year are the “Stars on Talbot Street” and the book, “The Santa Diaries: Memories of a Small-Town Christmas.”  For a donation of $25, contributors will get a star, with a three-word message of their choice, posted along Talbot Street. Here is an order form for the stars. Star form

The new book is a collection of letters to Santa and the Christmas memories of local residents. It is on sale at local stores.  The St. Michaels Christmas ornament this year celebrates Log Canoe racing and is also for sale at local stores. For more information and a schedule of events click here.


The Santa Diaries

2011 Christmas Ornament

O’Malley defends trade mission to India

Gov. Martin O'Malley presents Maryland flag to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy at signing of sister-state agreement. DBED photo 

Gov. Martin O’Malley presents Maryland flag to Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nallari Kiran Kumar Reddy at signing of sister-state agreement. DBED photo. 

Gov. Martin O’Malley, talking to reporters via Skype from India’s financial capital of Mumbai, on Tuesday strongly defended his six-day trade mission to the subcontinent.

“It would be economically irresponsible for us not to be engaged with India,” O’Malley said.

Maryland officials and Indian importers signed agreements Tuesday to boost the exports and imports between the two countries, which have grown by 70 percent since 2005, according to Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary Christian Johansson, who is on the mission with the governor.

That moved India up from 18th to 11th place as a trade partner with Maryland.

“India will become one of our top five trading partners” in coming years, O’Malley said.

O’Malley said his Sunday stopover in Doha, Qatar, where he met with the emir and investment groups, was part of a long-term strategy to “forge a sister-state relationship with a Muslim country in the Middle East.”

The governor also visited “big entities that make big investments,” including Qatari Diar Real Estate Investment, which this year put $700 million in City Center on the former four-block site of the Washington, D.C., convention center.

“We would welcome foreign investment in Maryland,” O’Malley said.

House of Delegates Majority Leader Kumar Barve, whose grandfather emigrated from Mumbai a century ago, said the Indians they met were impressed with the size and breadth of the Maryland delegation, which includes about 100 people.

Paying their own way

“No other state has put together so many people to pay their own way,” Barve said. “The vast majority of the costs of this visit is being born by the participants.”

That includes Barve, and freshman Dels. Sam Arora and Aruna Miller, all Montgomery County Democrats. O’Malley said he had bragged at least 20 times that the three delegates meant that Maryland has more Indian Americans than any legislature in the country.

About 75 members of the delegation are paying their own way, at a cost of $5,000 to $7,000 per person, according to travel firms making the arrangements.

Manish Kothari, president of Sheladia Associates Inc., a Rockville engineering firm, said he signed a $3.7 million deal Monday to provide design and project management for an Indian national highway.

“Gov. O’Malley’s presence has helped us a lot,” Kothari said.

Kothari has 135 employees in Maryland and does business in 20 countries. He said the lack of U.S. government involvement is striking compared to assistance he sees given firms from other counties.

Other deals announced since O’Malley arrived in Hyderabad Monday include one by Angarai, a Greenbelt management consulting firm specializing in project management, oversight and business transformation solutions. It signed an agreement with CI, a technology product development company based in Chennai, to pursue opportunities in mobile and web applications, potentially opening up an office in Maryland.

Other memos of understanding were signed involving biomedical equipment and a health hotline to be staffed by a call center in Prince George’s County.

O’Malley has also given addresses to several Indian trade groups, and on Monday signed a sister-state agreement with the state of Andhra Pradesh, whose capital is Hyderabad. The governor is scheduled to sign another on Wednesday with the state of Maharashtra in its capital of Mumbai.

Johansson said that one reason to pursue overseas trade at this time is that “the export markets are growing faster than our domestic markets.”

O’Malley said some of the objections to the trade mission raised by Maryland citizens reflect “a xenophobia wave that’s going through our country.”- Len Lazarick


“Roots of a Nation” Teacher Scores Rise 30%

Thirty-five teachers from seven Maryland counties participating in the “Roots of a Nation Teaching American History Initiative” showed an average 30% increase in their knowledge of critical eras of American History following the first year of this three-year program. Overseen by the Kent County Public Schools and Sultana Projects, Inc., and funded by a Teaching American History Grant from the United States Department of Education, “Roots of a Nation” is a comprehensive professional development program for select teachers from Calvert, Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s and Talbot counties. The evaluation of teacher test results and progress for the first year of the “Roots of a Nation” initiative was based on a series of pre and post program tests conducted by GEI, Inc., an independent evaluator certified by the U.S. Department of Education.

The principal goals of “Roots of a Nation” include improving teachers’ core content knowledge in American History, improving pedagogical practices in the classroom, and exposing teachers to local resources that make history instruction more pertinent and meaningful for their students. Through a series of 19 in-depth courses and conferences, teachers participating in “Roots of a Nation” have access to graduate-level instruction focusing on four areas of American History: 1) Native American History and European Settlement, 2) the Revolutionary War, 3) the War of 1812, and 4) Slavery and the Civil War. Programming partners for “Roots of a Nation” include Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and Center for Environment and Society, the Calvert Marine Museum, and Sultana Projects.

“Roots of a Nation is a significant accomplishment for the Kent County Public School system and the six other participating school districts,” said Dr. Barbara Wheeler, Superintendent of the Kent County Public Schools which is serving as the Lead Educational Authority for the Roots of a Nation initiative. “Professional Development programs of this caliber are generally not available for smaller school systems, but through our relationship with Sultana Projects and our partnership with the other participating school districts we have been able to provide our history teachers with some world-class opportunities. The test results just confirm what we already knew was happening because of this program.”

“The teachers participating in Roots of a Nation are some of the finest we have ever worked with and deserve much of the credit for their accomplishments,” said Chris Cerino, Vice President of Sultana Projects which developed and administers the Roots of a Nation program on behalf of the participating school districts. “It has also been rewarding for us to work with our partners, the C.V. Starr Center, the Center for Environment and Society, and the Calvert Marine Museum, each of which has done incredible work for this program.”

Now in its second year, the “Roots of a Nation” initiative is scheduled to continue through August of 2013. For more information about “Roots of a Nation,” and Sultana Projects, Inc. please visit

Tourism Industry Leaders Honored

Annapolis, MD— More than 200 tourism professionals met recently at the 31st annual Maryland Tourism and Travel Summit to network, learn, and be recognized for outstanding achievements.

At the Summit, the Maryland Tourism Council (MTC) presented 5 Professional Awards and 10 Marketing Awards. In addition to the awards given by MTC, the Maryland Office of Tourism Development honored members of the state’s tourism industry with 4 awards and the Maryland Destination Marketing Organization presented their Annual Award.

This year’s MTC recipients are:

Tourism Person of the Year — Liz Fitzsimmons with the Maryland Office of Tourism
Tourism Advocate of the Year — Rachelina Bonacci, Howard County Tourism and Promotion
New Tourism Professional of the Year –Kathy Mackel, Caroline County Office of Tourism
Audrey Davenport Hospitality Person of the Year –Melanie Pursel, Greater Ocean City Chamber
Promotion — Continuing Campaign — Harbor Queen Cruises in Annapolis
Promotion — One Time Campaign — The Conference & Visitors Bureau of Montgomery Co.
Best New/Improved Product or Event —-Talbot County Office of Tourism
Best Printed Promotional Material Award –Allegany County Department of Tourism
Best Electronic Marketing Award– Prince George’s County Conference & Visitors Bureau
Best Visitors Guide –Tourism Council of Frederick County
Educational Development Award from the Maryland Tourism Education Foundation — Heather Skipper, Director of Guide Operations for Watermark Journey.
Best Shoestring Budget Program — Cecil County Tourism
Industry Partnership Award — Ocean City Hotel – Motel – Restaurant Association; Ocean City Chamber of Commerce, Worcester County Tourism and Ocean City
Impact Award — Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s Counties
Judge’s Award — Frederick County Office of Tourism

Recipients of the state tourism office’s annual awards are:

Green/SustainableTourism Award — Savage River Lodge
Visit Maryland Award — The Tourism Council of Frederick County
Cultural Heritage Tourism Award — Caroline County Tourism and Dorchester County Tourism
Economic Engine Award — The Preservation Society

Recipient of the Maryland Destination Marketing Organization Annual Award is:

Dan Patrell — Maryland Life Magazine

For more information on the award winners and their campaigns, read the Maryland Insights newsletter at or visit the MTC blog.

Tot Time @ St Michaels Library This Winter

On Mondays, December 5 & 19, January 9 – 23, and February 6, 13, & 27, at 10:15 a.m., the St. Michaels branch of the Talbot County Free Library will offer its popular Tot Time program for children 5 and under accompanied by an adult.

All library programs are free and open to the public but patrons are asked to pre-register their children for this program. For more information, call the library at 410-822-1626, or visit

Date and Time of Event: December 5 & 19, January 9 – 23, February 6, 13, & 27, 10:15 a.m.

Location: 106 Fremont Street, St. Michaels, MD

Contact: Shauna Beulah, telephone: 410-745-5877


Santa Diaries Authors to Speak at Brown Bag Lunch

How did letters to Santa, photos held by black corners in album pages, written and oral memories from the Bay Hundred area become The Santa Diaries – Memories of a Small-Town Christmas? Local award-winning authors Laura Ambler and Mala Burt will recount how

From left, Mitch Wheatley of Economy Printing, author Mala Burt, John Frampton, of Economy Printing, and author Laura Ambler look over proofs of the Christmas in St. Michaels book, “The Santa Diaries: Memories of a Small-Town Christmas.”

that first box of letters morphed into a joyful, nostalgic and humorous book which shows the universality of the holidays and provides a snapshot of the kind of small-town Christmas for which most of us yearn.

Local authors Mala Burt and Laura Ambler will be the speakers for the Monday, Dec 5th Brown Bag lunch at the St. Michaels branch of the Talbot County Free Library at noon.

Mala is a co-founder of Step By Step Counseling Center in Baltimore, Maryland as well as creating, a villa rental agency that specialized in Caribbean villa vacations, one of the first such companies on the internet. Mala is the author of several books and publications and co-author with Laura Ambler of several more. Their e-book, Big Skye Ranch, garnered awards in 2010 and has been turned into a screenplay.

Laura Ambler’s first screenplay, The Theory of Chaos, was purchased by legendary movie producer and di­rector Roger Corman. Ambler has written ap­proximately twenty screenplays in genres from horror to action adventure and has optioned scripts to film industry giants like Warner Bros. and Village Road Show. Patrons are invited to bring their lunch and enjoy coffee and sweets provided by the library.

Library programs are free and open to the public. For more information, call the library at 410-745-5877, or visit

Monday, December 5, 2011
St. Michaels Branch Talbot County Free Library
106 Fremont St. St. Michaels, MD 21663
Phone: 410-745-5877

Fegel wins Trappe election by a vote

Norman R. Fegel won the election to the Trappe town council yesterday by 0ne vote. Fegel received 47 votes, Cheryl A. Lewis, 46, and Patricia A. Bridges, 26, according to the town’s website. They ran to fill the unexpired term of council member Richard Dorbin who resigned in September. Fegel will serve until May, 2013, when the seat comes up again for re-election. Fegel and Lewis have served terms on the council before and Bridges has made previous, unsuccessful, runs for the office.

Best Bets This Week

Bluegrass Alert !   Sierra Hull, child prodigy mandolin player and now, at the ripe old age of 19 ,  a virtuoso instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, will perform two shows at the NightCat  Thursday, December 1 with her ace band, Highway 111. Yes, it’s a weeknight, but she’s worth it.

There are a number of entertaining options available  Saturday evening. ( We assume you will be too busy shopping during the day.) Adkins Arboretum is holding their annual Celebration of Winter, a family friendly event with horse drawn wagon rides, hot cider, and caroling along candle – lit paths.

The kids might rather watch Easton’s Old Tyme Parade and Tree Lighting. We hear that Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the Ghosts from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol  will be parading along with floats, bands, horse and carriages.

Strictly for grownups: St Michaels Midnight Madness. Sometimes you do have to pay to play. Tickets for chances to win numerous prizes, including a Florida vacation  and $1,000 shopping spree will be awarded through participating merchants to customers purchasing $10 or more in their St Michaels shops  now through December 3.

Thursday, December 1 – 7:30 and 9:30 pm: Sierra Hull and Highway 111 at NightCat Cafe Sierra Hull may be a youngster, but she’s already earned considerable respect in the bluegrass world, the IBMA’s voting members having nominated her for no fewer than five awards over three year. She just performed at the White House with Alison Krauss for a PBS special, catch her now in an intimate setting.  Tickets $25.  5 Goldsborough St, Easton, MD  21601

Sierra Hull

Saturday, December 3 – 6-9pm: Adkins Celebration of Winter Participants of all ages are invited to sing carols while strolling along luminaria-lined woodland paths, sip cider by a roaring bonfire, and uncover the mysteries of the winter sky with help from Delmarva Stargazers. 12610 Eveland Road,  Ridgely, MD 21660  410.634.2847 PS -Beginning at 10 am the Arboretum’s annual Holiday Wreath Sale will offer unique decorated wreaths, decorated boxwood trees, and a variety of fresh-cut greens to deck your halls.

Saturday, December 3 –  6:30pm: Old Tyme Holiday Parade in Easton, Followed by Tree Lighting The parade starts at Brewer’s Lane on N. Harrison St., then follows a route south to Dover, across to North Washington, up to TalbotTown and ends at Brewer’s Lane.

Saturday, December 3 -11:30 pm:  St. Michaels 10th Annual Midnight Madness St. Michaels will be adorned in colorful and festive Christmas holiday decorations, with each participating shop providing snacks, spirits, and sales while shoppers earn chances for the 11:30pm drawings. DJ Mark Savage will play holiday music from the decks of Marco’s Restaurant leading up to the midnight hour.