Archives for January 2012

Library Announces Bookmark Contest, Kindergarten – 12th Grade

The Talbot County Free Library is currently accepting entries in a contest to design new library bookmarks. Winning bookmarks will be chosen in four different categories: Kindergarten – Grade 2, Grades 3 – 5, Grades 6 – 8, and Grades 9 – 12.

The winning bookmarks will be printed professionally and made available free of charge at all Talbot County Free Library branches beginning in March of this year. Student winners will be invited to distribute their bookmarks in person at the Grand Opening and Ribbon-Cutting ceremony for the new Easton branch library.

Entry forms for the competition are available at all Talbot County branch libraries and online at Entries must be received by February 18, 2012. For more information, call the library at 410-822-1626, or visit

Troika Gallery Displays Historic Painting with Lincoln’s Secret Female Cabinet Member

Troika Gallery presents a brief feature exhibit of “Maryland’s Version of The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation,” by Laura Era after F. B. Carpenter. Depicted in the painting (left to right) are Cabinet members Edwin M. Stanton, Salmon P. Chase, President Abraham Lincoln, Gideon Welles, Caleb B. Smith, William H. Seward (seated), Montgomery Blair, Anna Ella Carroll (reincarnated), and Edward Bates. A reception will be held on Friday, February 3 during Easton’s First Friday Gallery Walk.

The boys are back at Troika Gallery. But this time they are joined by Anna Ella Carroll, their secret female counterpart who for more than a century following her death was ignored, oppressed, and erased—literally and figuratively—from history.

Anna Ella Carroll was an intriguing and atypical 19th century woman who emerged from the male-dominated realm of war, politics, and diplomacy. As a key military strategist, Presidential advisor, and “unofficial” member of Abraham Lincoln’s Cabinet, Carroll was probably the most powerful woman in America during the Civil War. Yet, her accomplishments are virtually unknown. When Carroll died in 1894, deprived of honor, title, pension, and acknowledgement, her life story was already considered a model for the Women’s Suffrage Movement. A modern biographer described Carroll as “hands down, the most important political woman of the 19th century.”

Laura Era, a well-known portrait artist and co-owner of Troika Gallery, was commissioned by a local group that wanted to bring Anna’s story back to the forefront with a popular image. Era painstakingly painted a stylized replica of Francis Bicknell Carpenter’s famous 1864 painting, “The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln.” Carpenter’s immense painting hangs over the west staircase in the Senate wing of the U.S. Capitol. Along with Lincoln and his cabinet members, it prominently depicts an empty chair draped with a red shawl, along with maps and notes similar to those Carroll carried. Many historians believe it was Carpenter’s way of acknowledging Carroll as the unrecognized member of the Cabinet. Era’s painting, titled “Maryland’s Version of The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation,” includes the addition of Anna Ella Carroll sitting in the previously empty chair and wearing the red shawl.

Era’s painting, which was unveiled in 2010, will soon begin a travelling tour. For a short time before the tour, it will be displayed at Troika Gallery. Don’t miss the chance to get a local viewing of this historic painting. Also on exhibit will be stunning fine art by more than 30 fine artists represented exclusively in the area by Troika Gallery.

Troika Gallery will host a reception on February 3 from 5-9pm during downtown Easton’s First Friday Gallery Walk. The reception includes light refreshments.

Troika Gallery is located at 9 S. Harrison Street. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 10am to 5:30pm, and by appointment on Sunday. Artist portfolios and gallery information are available online at For more information, email or phone at 410.770.9190.

Wagner Witte Gallery Toasts Artful Valentine Show with Champagne & Chocolate

It’s all about Valentines in February at Wagner Witte Gallery. Surprise your sweetheart with a special gift selected from hundreds of “love-ly” pieces of artwork and items handmade by local artisans, including jewelry, fiber art, baskets, paintings, photography, mosaics, pottery and more.

Opening reception February 3 from 5-8:30pm during First Friday Gallery Walk features champagne, chocolates, and live music by Jim Fodrie’s new band, Mule Train.

The Wagner Witte Gallery is located at 5 N. Harrison St. (across from the Tidewater Inn). Gallery hours are Monday-Friday 11am-6pm and Sunday 11am-4pm. For more information, email or contact Jennifer Wagner at 443.521.4084.

Spy Video: Behind the Pins at Queen Anne’s Bowl

We’ve all been to the bowling alley before, but what few of us consider with every strike, spare, or gutter ball tossed is the hidden world of electron-mechanical ingenuity governing these events, restoring order from chaos, turn after turn. While some alleys have upgraded to newer equipment, others like the Queen Anne’s Bowling Center on Rt. 213 are still using the same machines that were designed half a century ago.

With the owner’s permission, we were given access to this world, which is inhabited most of the time by one man, Ben Cambier, a 23-year-old trouble-shooter mechanic. When the chaos machines succumb to chaos themselves, it is this guy’s job to fix them.

A natural storyteller in his own right, Ben speaks of his experiences working behind the lanes where he has learned the machine language, and also the tale of Earl, a long deceased trouble-shooter mechanic whose specter is thought to haunt the lanes.

Videography by Alex Evans

Governor’s Gas Tax Getting Mixed Reviews in Annapolis

Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal to extend the 6% sales tax to gas as a way to raise funds for transportation infrastructure is being cheered, booed and pondered by advocates and legislators.

The proposal, announced during an interview on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” program, had been awaited for months. In November, a government commission tasked with funding transportation passed its recommendations on to O’Malley and the General Assembly. It called for a 15-cent per gallon increase in the gas tax and prohibiting transportation money from being siphoned to other needs.

On Monday’s radio show, O’Malley went a different direction, saying that the best way to add a new tax on gasoline would be to slowly start collecting sales tax on it. Currently, gasoline is taxed at 23.5 cents a gallon, and is exempted from the state’s 6% sales tax.

O’Malley said that a “hybrid tax” – with both the flat per-gallon gas tax and the 6% sales tax – would prove a “better path forward.” Under the governor’s proposal, which has not yet been detailed in writing, the new sales tax would be phased in over three years. Each year, sales tax would increase 2%. Using current figures, the administration has worked out that this would increase the price of gas by about 18 cents a gallon. AAA has estimated it would be a 20-cent increase.

Commission chair surprised

Attorney Gus Bauman, the chairman of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Maryland Transportation Funding, said he was surprised by the governor’s announcement.

The commission spent two years studying different options to raise more money to repair and maintain the state’s infrastructure, and put together a wealth of options to get that money. While a sales tax on gas was one of the ones listed, it was not included in the commission’s recommendations to O’Malley and the General Assembly.

“In the end, we decided to go with the taxes and fees that people are used to paying rather than embark on a new tax that people are not used to paying,” Bauman said.

Business groups react

According to the commission’s report, adding a 6% sales tax onto gasoline sales would net an extra $613 million a year. The 15-cent gas tax increase would increase revenues by $458 a year.

Commission member and Greater Baltimore Committee President Donald Fry said that he is pleased that O’Malley is making transportation funding an important part of his legislative agenda for the current session.

While the sales tax isn’t exactly what the commission had recommended, Fry thought that maybe O’Malley was searching for a “middle ground.” Polls showed the public opposed to the gasoline tax hike. Sales tax is another way to solve the problem.

“This is not a novel approach,” Fry said.

In an e-mail, Maryland Chamber of Commerce President Kathleen Snyder said: “We applaud the governor’s leadership as Maryland needs to invest in our transportation infrastructure. We need to review the details of a bill before taking a position. We have supported an increase in the state gas tax for eight years, [but] have not looked at the sales tax.”

AAA spokesman John Townsend spent Monday afternoon figuring the numbers, and proclaimed that O’Malley’s plan “doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in East Hades” of meeting the public’s approval. Marylanders already spend about $3,000 a year on gasoline, and adding 20 cents to each gallon of gasoline would give the state a dubious distinction.

“Maryland would go from the middle of the pack to having the fourth highest gas prices in the nation,” Townsend said. Right now, it ranks 30th.

Maryland Motor Truck Association President Louis Campion had been following the issue closely and had heard that O’Malley might have been thinking about a sales tax on gas. However, that was just something Campion heard might be a possibility; he had no reason to expect what O’Malley talked about on the radio Monday morning.

Campion said he hadn’t been hearing much from his members on Monday, but it was too early for him to weigh in on O’Malley’s idea. He said he could not comment on the proposal until he sees it in writing and has a chance to see exactly what it entails.

Bauman agreed that the way the governor announced his sales tax proposal left a lot of questions unanswered, meaning it was difficult on Monday to weigh in on it.

Lockbox needed for money

For Bauman, the way that O’Malley proposed to collect the taxes wasn’t nearly as important as assuring that the money would be used appropriately.

The top recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Commission was to create a legal prohibition requiring that money directed to the Transportation Trust Fund be spent on transportation. In past years, when the General Fund budget has run low, the Transportation Trust Fund has been used as a supplemental revenue source.

Bauman reiterated the commission’s top finding: If the people believe that higher taxes and fees will actually be spent on transportation needs, they are much more likely to support them.

“Without that protection, I would be somewhat surprised if there’s much public acceptance,” Bauman said.

O’Malley spent most of this time on the radio talking about the methodology of the tax increase. But at the end of the segment where he talked about the gas tax, listeners asked whether O’Malley would be willing to have a legislative guarantee that the money raised would go toward transportation.

“Yes,” he responded plainly.

Fry said that adding a lockbox to protect the money would be ideal. On Monday, however, the Greater Baltimore Committee was mostly enthusiastic that one of their top legislative priorities from the last six years – more transportation funding – is getting realized.

Kim Burns, president of the more conservative Maryland Business for Responsive Government, said that without a lockbox, “this tax is designed to keep taking from the wallets of hard-working Maryland families and small businesses with no accountability.”

“This tax proposal increases the cost of doing business here and fuels our reputation as a business-unfriendly state,” Burns said.

Legislators react

Any tax changes would have to go through the General Assembly. Several legislators applauded the proposal, saying that the state’s transportation needs have gone unmet for too long.

“We clearly have an unmet need for transportation infrastructure,” said Del. Sandy Rosenberg, D-Baltimore City, vice-chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which would handle the legislation. “It’s important to me that there be a serious emphasis on mass transit.”

Rosenberg added that much like the sales tax increase in 2007, some of the money from the transportation fund would help working families, “who can least afford this kind of tax.” However, he was concerned how high the state’s tax rate would be if the proposal is implemented.

Fellow Ways and Means Democrat Del. Aruna Miller, Montgomery, also said she would support the tax. Transportation is the state’s economic backbone, and better transportation will improve the economy, property values, and quality of life for Marylanders.

Republican committee member Del. Ron George, Anne Arundel, also foresees the bill passing Ways and Means.

“There’s no Democrat on that committee that doesn’t like taxes,” he said.

House Speaker Michael Busch said he hadn’t seen the proposal and wouldn’t comment.

By Megan Poinski

Daniel Menefee contributed to this report.

Is it Possible to Train Deaf Dogs?

There are a few challenges and differences in training techniques and tools, but yes, by using hand signals instead of verbal cues, you can train a deaf dog to do almost anything a hearing dog can do. In fact, all dogs learn and respond to hand signals more easily than to verbal cues, so much so that most trainers recommend teaching dogs to respond consistently to hand signals before introducing verbal cues.

In addition to the standard hand signals for things like Sit and Stay, hand signals from American Sign Language, such as clapping to indicate “good job!” can be useful in communicating with a deaf dog. One of the challenges in training a deaf dog is getting their attention without startling and scaring them, when they are nearby as well as at a distance. For that reason, attention exercises are an important foundation and ongoing necessity for deaf dogs.

A vibrating, (not shock), collar can be a useful tool for getting a deaf dog’s attention at a distance. At night you can use a flashlight or laser light, or flick the lights on and off. Getting a deaf dog’s attention may not be as difficult as imagined because most are reluctant to lose sight of their owner and may even panic and frantically search for their owner when they do. Having a fenced yard and training him to walk well on a leash are both critical, as there are few places where he can be safe off leash. A bell attached to the dog’s collar is helpful in cases where you may lose sight of him. Should he become lost, an ID tag stating that he is deaf will help whoever finds him understand his needs. If you have a deaf dog or are considering adopting one, here are some helpful resources:

The website has a wealth of information on training, vibrating collars, and more.
The book Living With a Deaf Dog: A Book of Advice, Facts and Experiences About Canine Deafness by Susan Cope Becker, is packed with useful tips and information.

Send your dog training and behavior questions to
Or put them in the comments section.

Children’s Chesapeake Bay Art on Display at CBMM

Student artwork is now on display in the Van Lennep Auditorium at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD.

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, MD is hosting a display of 50 pieces of original art from elementary school students in its Van Lennep Auditorium now through March. The show represents young artists from across the Mid-Atlantic who have qualified as semi-finalists in a “Chesapeake Bay Revival Coloring Contest.”

Hosted by Donna Danielle McCartney and The Nautical Mile Series, the contest invited schools from within the Chesapeake Bay Watershed to participate. Students were encouraged to create an original piece of artwork capturing their own interpretation of the Chesapeake Bay and its issues, on a standard 8.5 x 11 piece of paper. The semi-finalists shown at CBMM represent 36 schools from throughout Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, and New York.

Each participating school sent one submission package, with a maximum of 15 pictures. Each submission package included all pictures intended to represent the school for their 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes.

The winning poster will be selected in March 2012 with input from contest sponsors, including Donna Danielle McCartney (the author of the Nautical Mile Series), and members of the Chesapeake Conservation Corps, the Chesapeake Bay Trust, and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. The winner and their school will win cash and prizes.

The exhibit is open to the public and is free with general admission or for museum members. For more information, visit or call 410-745-2916.

Easton Native Brings Home Fight For Consumer Protection At Mid-Shore Pro Bono

Antonia Cuffee is working with Mid-Shore Pro Bono to help local residents facing debt and foreclosure.

Easton native Antonia Cuffee has joined Mid-Shore Pro Bono to help area residents facing debt and foreclosure crises. A six-month University of Maryland School of Law J.D. Fellowship is sponsoring her work with the local agency. Mid-Shore Pro Bono provides civil legal assistance to low-income individuals in Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester counties.


Having graduated from the university last May, this new attorney already brings welcome consumer protection experience to the organization, according to Executive Director Sandy Brown. A member of the school’s Public Interest Law Project, Cuffee also has worked with Civil Justice on Maryland’s Foreclosure Prevention Pro Bono Project, and with Baltimore’s Community Law Center and St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center.

Cuffee says that she is happy to be helping the low-income residents of her home town and the Mid Shore on debt and foreclosure issues that until recently have been addressed by few area resources. Her work will be part of an added focus for Mid-Shore Pro Bono. In conjunction with the Pro Bono Resource Center of Maryland, the agency has been participating in the Foreclosure Prevention Pro Bono Project since 2009. Mid-Shore Pro Bono now will be partnering again with the Resource Center in its Consumer Protection Project, encouraging more local lawyers to receive the free training available to those willing to volunteer in defending individuals in debt-buyer cases.

“When people are in debt, they are always scared,” Cuffee explains. That fear may make them vulnerable to predatory credit relief companies that may charge illegal up-front fees and end up leaving their targets no better off than they were before. In addition to representing clients in court, she sees part of her mission as empowering people through education about their rights and the services available to them.

Many debt-buying cases are for unsecured amounts less than five thousand dollars, keeping the matters in the District Courts, rather than the Circuit Courts, where there may be more stringent review of the documentation of debt ownership. Individuals sometimes may not realize that they are being sued for a debt that has already been paid or that was covered in a prior bankruptcy proceeding.

With the lower courts being inundated with small debt collection cases, notes Cuffee, they frequently do not have time to scrutinize the details as carefully as in the higher courts. Confused and frightened by a debt collector’s intimidation, some individuals may not know they may challenge the collector’s lawsuit. According to the Pro Bono Resource Center, “The problem…is that the plaintiff often has insufficient reliable documentation regarding the debt…In many instances, if a challenge is presented, the case is dismissed or judgment is denied.”

Cuffee’s advice to those facing debt collectors or foreclosure is to confront the problem early. “Don’t be scared,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to open the mail. Talk to someone as soon as possible. The problem is not going to go away if you ignore it.” By talking with the creditor, people may be able to make arrangements to pay off the debt over a longer period with lower payments. Credit counselors can offer assistance.

Cuffee also recommends keeping good records of every interaction with the creditor or debt collector. “Keep notes on conversations, especially if you feel threatened,” she emphasizes. Save correspondence, keep records of dates and times of calls, and note any threats or abusive language. “Debt collectors can be held legally accountable for what they threaten over the phone,” she adds.

With the debt-buying epidemic in Maryland, Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s Brown welcomes the assistance Cuffee brings to those reaching out to her agency for help. “I am so grateful and delighted to have her joining us,” said Brown. “Antonia is a valuable resource for our organization and our clients.”

Those who would like legal assistance in dealing with debt collectors may call Mid-Shore Pro Bono at 410-690-8128 to schedule a consultation at its weekly clinic. More information may be found on its website,

Adkins Arboretum Honors Federalsburg Scout for Construction of Paw Paw Playground

Chase Miller of Federalsburg recently was honored by Adkins Arboretum. Miller designed and constructed the Arboretum’s Paw Paw Playground natural playspace as an Eagle Scout project.

Adkins Arboretum recently honored Boy Scout Chase Miller in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Arboretum’s nature playspace, Paw Paw Playground.

In contrast to traditional playgrounds, nature playspaces are made almost entirely of natural materials and are designed to encourage creative outdoor play. Fourteen-year-old Miller, of Federalsburg, designed and constructed Paw Paw Playground as an Eagle Scout project. His design includes two wigwams, a turtle-shaped tree stump ring and a snake balance beam. Miller has a keen interest in Native American lore; the turtle and snake are both symbols of local Native American tribes.

As a museum in the Let’s Move! network, an initiative launched by First Lady Michelle Obama, the Arboretum is committed to promoting healthy physical activity for children and families. Paw Paw Playground is open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Use of the playground is free with Arboretum admission.

Donations from Tri Gas & Oil, American Legion Post 29, Nice Farms Creamery, Easton Elks Lodge and VFW Post 5118 supported the project in part.

Adkins Arboretum
12610 Eveland Rd
Ridgely, MD 21660

Nancy Tankersley, Talbot County Treasure

It’s not news that the Eastern Shore art scene tends toward representational painting. And at the center of our regional art scene lies Nancy Tankersley – a master of contemporary expressionism.

With a lot of new minimal and cerebral art these days, there’s not always much for viewers to enjoy. Nancy Tankersley gives us the pleasure of appreciating a traditional medium, one that any art appreciator knows and loves. Like the oil painting masters before her, Nancy’s ability to paint light is simple and beautiful. We’ve appreciated this for centuries, this layering of color, abstraction of shape. Tankersley gives us local imagery to view in this genre – from narratives of people at work, to landscapes and portraits.

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Perched on the backside of the second floor of the South St. Gallery in Easton, Nancy Tankersley’s tree-top studio is cozy, and filled with music. Up there, in a small room filled with light, she methodically knocks out work, piece by piece. Focused and serious, she loves painting and it shows.

Nancy Tankersley has been an artist all of her life, a painter. She went to college for fine art, but ended up in Santa Cruz, where no fine art program existed in the late 1960s. Embroiled as everyone was in the times, Nancy found herself in school for community development and social work, and spent her early career as an activist, bringing birth control to migrant workers and working with the Office of Economic Opportunity, the agency responsible for administering the War on Poverty programs of then President Johnson’s Great Society agenda.

As a young artist of the 1970s, she pushed herself to make art that mattered – showcasing the injustices in the world around her. But she came to realize that her best work always appeared when she painted what she knew – elements of her own life.  With a husband in the military, she moved around. Florida offered fertile territory for her growing interest in portraits, and she focused on that – painting what she knew best at the time – children and families.

A move to Washington DC convinced Nancy to get serious in a new way, and she opened a studio outside of her home, treating her work as a full-time career. She learned early on that artists can’t depend on one market alone, and marketing her work to galleries around the country proved successful. Her paintings are now handled by a number of galleries from coast to coast.

Her style has always been representational. In recent years, she’s begun to think more abstractly, thinking about shapes and forms, rather than things. “Rendering something well is a learned skill. It takes talent, but you can learn to do it”, she says. “Anybody with decent skills can render well, and the general public is really impressed by that. But the best artists go beyond that. Great art gives you more – a sense of something, like a memory, or a quick glance. Taking reality, and giving it emotion, humanizing it. That,” she says – “is art.”

It’s a pleasure to observe her way of thinking on the canvas – through her strokes, laying color on top of color, Nancy executes her craft skillfully. She abstracts the planes of color and light with changing brush widths – when you view her images up close, the subject matter gets fuzzy and disappears. As you move back, the abstractions make sense again. Making optical jumps from pools of color to a narrative is a pleasant experience for any viewer, and it’s easy to see why Nancy Tankersley is known as one of our region’s best fine artists.

It’s impossible to talk about Nancy Tankersley without mentioning that she is the owner of one of Easton’s most successful art galleries, the South Street Gallery, or that she’s known as the Mother of the East Coast Plein Air movement. In addition, she’s co-owner and founder of the Easton Studio and School, a serious new art school that is attracting top talent from around the nation.

Indeed, if one were to calculate the economic impact that Nancy Tankersley has had on our region in terms of tourist dollars, from restaurants to hotel stays, the number would be gigantic.

Tankersley has spent much of the past 8 years of her life promoting other artists and building the Plein Air event. Now she’s decided that it’s time to re-focus her energy on her own work.

After eight years in Talbot County (yes, only 8), Nancy Tankersley has developed a true love for Easton and Talbot County. Her appreciation for Talbot’s people can be seen in her portraits of people at work. From workers in the restaurant trade, to men mowing lawns, she paints people at work with a serious, quiet dignity. Recently commissioned to do a series on watermen, Nancy appreciates the chance to get to know these men, and paints them with honesty and respect.

For more information about Nancy Tankersley’s work, visit the South St. Gallery, at 5 South St. in Easton, or see her website here.