Archives for December 2014

Talbot Spy Top Stories for 2014

The Talbot Spy top stories for 2014, based on total reader counts, showed an extraordinary range of subjects the year. From the plans to produce a movie based on the tragic death of local Matt Schilling to the state of the Conowingo Dam, Spy readers also showed intense interest in addiction recovery and the changing food scene in Easton and St. Michaels.

Here are our top stories for 2014:

Film Planned on Death of Local Matt Schilling to Heroin (5,205 readers)

Editorial: One Way to Kill a YMCA in Queen Anne’s County (3,305)

The Final Blow Comes to Big Al’s (2,529)

One of Easton’s Greats: Mason’s is Sold (2,357)

Profiles in Recovery: Dave Hill (2,351)

CNN New Year’s Eve Coverage: New York, London, Beijing and … Easton (2,145)

Spy Chat: Talbot Sheriff Candidates Dallas Pope and Joe Gamble (2,134)

Update: Major Claiborne House Fire (2,101)

Study of Conowingo Provides Groundbreaking Findings on Sediment Impact (1,934)

Editorial: Ending the Stigma of Recovery (1,675)

New Year’s Eve in Easton Schedule

SCHEDULE OF ACTIVITIES (all within an easy walk)

40 E. Dover St., Easton, MD
6, 7, 8 p.m. — Asbury Centennial Choir, Jackson Jubilee Singers, Union Baptist Mass Choir
9:30-10:15 p.m. and 10:30-11:30 p.m. — SwampCandy

STOLTZ LISTENING ROOM at the Avalon Theatre
6:30 and 7:30 p.m. — Broadway ~ For All Seasons
9-10 p.m. and 10:30-11:30 p.m. – Eric Henning, Conjurer

106 South St., Easton, MD
6 p.m. — John Dodge “Artful Dodger” (magician/ventriloquist)
7 and 8 p.m. — Mark Jaster “Piccolo’s Trunk” (mime, music, mirth & more!)
9:15 – 10:00 — Carpe Diem Community Sing w/ Molly Hickman, Busy Graham and friends
10-11:30 p.m. — “Calico Jenny” — Janie Meneely & Molly Hickman with Corinne Ducey. Mermaids, Sirens and Sailors: Saucy Songs from the Seas.

40 S. Harrison St., Easton, MD
6–8:45 p.m. – Kid’s Craft Tables
6–8:45 p.m. – Cascading Carlos, Juggler
7–11 p.m. – Photo Booth
7–11 p.m. – Jim Rehak, Caricaturist
7:30–8:45 p.m. – John Dodge “Artful Dodger”(up-close magic & balloon art)
9:15–11:30 p.m. – Mike Elzey Guitar Studio (students & pros, ensembles, jams)

CRAB DROPS on South Harrison Street

8:45 p.m. – John Dodge “Artful Dodger” as Emcee
11:30 p.m. – Cascading Carlos, Juggling Fire

Just Sayin’: Neavitt Dropped Crab First

As momentum builds for Talbot’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, the town of Neavitt has discreetly passed along to the Spy the historical fact that the town was dropping crabs long before Easton. Twelve years before, in fact.

And while Neavitt doesn’t expect the same crowds as Easton on Wednesday night, they want the County to know that it is a close-knit village with an inclusive sense of community, and welcomes any and all to their Annual Crab Drop.  As befits the tradition, the Neavitt Crab Drop will start this year at the Neavitt Community Center at 11:45 PM on Wednesday evening, New Year’s Eve.

In the past, the crab, lovingly crafted by local artisan potters, Forest and Martha Bogan, has been lowered to the sound of a Guy Lombardo version of Auld Lang Syne. This year, in a departure from tradition, they will play a bagpipes version of that tune, in memory of Denny Bliss, who passed away in the last year. Denny had entertained the village residents by playing the bagpipes, including on New Year’s Eve.

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The Maryland PMT: Queen Anne’s County Commissioners Discuss Phosphorus Management Tool

As part of the Spy’s ongoing commitment to cover Eastern Shore conservation issues, we have started a public affairs project on the role, politics, and community response to the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s proposed Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) regulations to change farm management to address phosphorus loss from farm fields, a critical part of protecting the Chesapeake Bay. The current proposal includes a six-year phase-in of the PMT.

The PMT proposal has created concerns from farmers about the expense of implementing changes in their farm practices, as well as other special interest groups who have raised objections to the cost to Maryland taxpayers, with an estimate of $39 million over the PMT implementation process.

Lask week, the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners had an interesting segment of their formal meeting on December 23 devoted to the PMT proposal, including a discussion of the public letter the commissioners wrote to the state on the draft regulations and hearing from the newly elected members about their own point of view on the PMT.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length

Recovery: A Mother Redefines Her Daughter’s Memory

It starts like any other love story.  For Valerie and Rick Albee of Easton, their daughter, Mariah Albee, was the apple of their eye. Their only child, they raised Mariah with love and support.  Born in Anchorage, Alaska, the family relocated to Severna Park, Maryland when Mariah was three. They enrolled her in Montessori School where she was a high achiever. Her mother, Valerie recalls, “She was very artistic, self-confident, and although shy, she had many friends. It was a happy childhood.”

Pictured left to right are Mariah Albee, Valerie Albee, and Rick Albee. Valerie has established Mariah’s Mission Fund at the Mid-Shore Community Foundation to honor her daughter, Mariah, who lost her life to heroin. The mission of the Fund is to provide resources for worthy organizations that support families who have lost loved ones to drugs and/or alcohol.

Pictured left to right are Mariah Albee, Valerie Albee, and Rick Albee. Valerie has established Mariah’s Mission Fund at the Mid-Shore Community Foundation to honor her daughter, Mariah, who lost her life to heroin. The mission of the Fund is to provide resources for worthy organizations that support families who have lost loved ones to drugs and/or alcohol.

As her interests grew, Mariah competed on the swim team and participated in cheerleading. She took private flute and ballet lessons and by the age of 10, she was the youngest member of the Anne Arundel Community College Concert Band and in the All County Middle/Jr. Band. She also performed with the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis in several Nutcracker productions.

In the middle school years, however, Mariah began to experience bullying by her peers. She went on to attend Severna Park High School and by age 14, she began suffering from anxiety and depression. Her mother recalls the trips to the therapists, who at different times diagnosed Mariah’s behavior as either acting out or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

During high school, Mariah began self-medicating with alcohol and prescription drugs to deal with her anxiety and depression. Even though she was experiencing these conflicting emotions, she still managed to be a cheerleader, football manager, and a member of the Maryland Youth Symphony Flute Choir. She also found time to help the poor and the homeless. Eventually, the debilitating effects of her emotions required her to be homeschooled to complete her senior year. In 2000, she was ultimately diagnosed at Johns Hopkins Hospital with having bipolar disorder.

Although Mariah was capable of acquiring several jobs, she was unable to sustain them due to her emotional conflicts. During this time, Mariah was slipping away.  By 2003 she attended drug rehabilitation for the first time. By this point she was using heroin, prescription drugs and alcohol. The addiction continued through the next five years, with repeated rehabilitation stays. In 2008, she was able to “get clean” and was married in 2009, only to have the marriage dissolve in 2010. During that time, Mariah was happy and worked as a manager for approximately two years. Her employer commented how she was loved by everyone for her organizational skills, her great attitude, her giving personality, and most of all, for her enthusiasm.

By 2012, Mariah had moved home and was again trying to get her life together – attending Anne Arundel Community College to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse. The family took a two-week vacation to visit Valerie’s sister Eileen and her family in Michigan. Everything seemed perfect. Then one week after returning home, the unthinkable happened. On September 7, 2012, Mariah died of a heroin overdose at her parents’ home at the age of 29.

For Valerie and Rick Albee, the effects were devastating. Their only child was gone. Valerie turned to grief counseling to try and deal with her loss and eventually found solace in a bereavement group of parents in Pasadena. The members were like her, having lost children to substance abuse. She recalls, “I wouldn’t be alive today without their counseling help.”

It has been two years since her daughter’s death and Valerie has been searching for meaning in it all.  She comments, “I don’t want drugs to define who Mariah was.  These kids don’t want to be drug addicts.”

In November 2013, the Albees moved to the Eastern Shore for a new start. While living in Easton Village in Easton, Valerie met a group of women who have embraced her and want to get involved in making a difference with the issue of substance abuse on the Eastern Shore.

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene reported in July 2014 that the number of heroin-related emergency department visits for Marylanders has more than tripled, with 1200 visits in 2013 – up from 871 visits in 2012. Two age groups showed large increases in heroin deaths between 2012 and 2013, one of which was individuals ages 25 to 34 years of age, just like Mariah. The State reported that there has been an 88 percent increase in heroin-related deaths in Maryland since 2011.

Encouraged by her group of friends, Valerie approached the Mid-Shore Community Foundation and established Mariah’s Mission Fund. The purpose of the Fund reads: “Mariah’s Mission Fund has been established to honor our beloved daughter, Mariah, who lost her life to heroin. The mission is to provide resources for worthy organizations that support families who have lost loved ones to drugs and/or alcohol. We will use our struggles and experiences to empower the community through awareness and education.”

Valerie adds, “I recently decided to tell my story to gain support for services to help families struggling with the issue of addiction on the Shore. By establishing the fund at Mid-Shore Community Foundation, I hope to support the development of these services and make them available to the community here.”

Buck Duncan, president, Mid-Shore Community Foundation, states, “We are thrilled that the Albees have decided to start a fund of this kind. It will provide resources to help families in our region who are trying to cope with the stresses of substance abuse and increase awareness of this important community issue.”

Valerie’s friends are helping her fundraise for Mariah’s Mission Fund, meeting monthly to plan fundraising activities. Currently, the group is planning to hold a silent auction in the spring of 2015. Valerie is also working with the bereavement staff at Talbot Hospice Foundation in hopes of creating a support group by next spring on the Eastern Shore to help parents who have lost children to substance abuse.  In the meantime, she is encouraging any parents in need of these supportive services to attend a bereavement group for parents at the Chesapeake Life Center in Pasadena, MD. The group meets on Mondays once a month from 6 to 7:30. For further information on meeting times, call 410-987-2129, ext. 1271.

Sharon Huseman, Executive Director of Talbot Partnership, comments, “I am reminded of how courageous it is for parents to share their experiences like Valerie has after dealing with the pain of losing their child to addiction.  Addiction is like the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. Parents often feel a stigma in having a child who is suffering from substance abuse problems.”

Donations to Mariah’s Mission Fund are tax-deductible and can be made by contacting the Mid-Shore Community Foundation at 410.820.8175  or by For further information about helping with the spring silent auction for the Fund, contact Valerie Albee at For parent resources in dealing with teen substance abuse, visit the Talbot County Parent Coalition at



by Mariah Albee

(Written to her parents while she was in rehab in 2007)


When I was little my dreams were so bright.

I never imagined my life wouldn’t be alright.

Like any little girl, I played and went to school.

Taught to always live by the rules.

My mind was filled with dreams and hope.

Unaware of the nightmare of dope.

Somehow, somewhere, my dreams went up in smoke.

With real life I could no longer cope.

With drugs and danger I began to flirt.

After all, who could I hurt?

Whenever there was pain or anger to feel.

It was stopped and stifled with little pills.

Oh, but I made some progress didn’t I?

I found stronger drugs to get me high.

My dreams turned to hallucination.

My world was empty of imagination.

If my visions were to become real

There was always another pill.

Slowly, all my hopes and dreams were destroyed by addict schemes.

My morals and values were tossed aside

As I deserted my hopes and dreams

My childhood lullabies were replaced by bent spoons

I woke to the nightmare of looking through bars

I knew I could no longer reach for the stars

I finally had to face a scary reality

No one could change this situation but me.

I have learned it’s ok to think and feel.

To go through life without the needle

Now I can reach for the stars.


(Postscript: Maybe you can understand me a little better now. I love you mom, dad and grandpa! – Mariah)


Make A Note: January 2015 Events and Classes at Shore Health

Free Blood Pressure Screenings – Every Mon & Tues, 9am-12pm, Diagnostic & Imaging Center, Easton; every Tues & Fri, 11am-1pm, UM SMC at Dorchester, Main Lobby. (Excluding holidays).

Survivors Offering Support (SOS) – Program pairing women who have breast cancer with mentors who are breast cancer survivors. If you need support or would like to become a mentor, call 410-822-1000, ext. 5866.

Transition to Wellness Workshops  – Ongoing workshops for breast cancer survivors and breast cancer patients who are ending treatment.  Contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5866.

Breastfeeding Support Group – Tues, 1/6 & 1/20, 10-11:30am, UM SMC at Easton, 5th floor meeting room. Led by lactation consultants for new and expectant mothers. Contact: 410-822-1000 or 410-228-5511, ext. 5200.

Carb Counting Class – Tues, 1/6, 1:30-3:30pm, UM SMC at Easton, UM Diabetes & Endocrinology Center. Overview of the most commonly-used method of meal planning for diabetics. Referral and advance registration required; contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5195.

Diabetes Support Group/Denton – Tues, 1/6, 6pm, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Denton. Topic: Setting Goals for the New Year. Led by Doris Allen, BSN, RN, CDE. Contact: 410-479-2161.

Gestational Diabetes Classes – Thurs, 1/8, 15, 22, 29, 10am-12pm, UM SMC at Easton, UM Diabetes & Endocrinology Center. Single-session class addressing care during pregnancy and what to expect afterward. Referral and advance registration required. Contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5195.

Diabetes Self-Management Class  – Thurs, 1/8-15-22, 1-4pm, UM SMC at Chestertown Education Center. Medical information and strategies enabling patients to manage their diabetes for optimal wellness. Referral and advance registration required. Contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5195.

Labor and Delivery Class I, II, III  – Sat, 1/10, 9am-3:30pm, UM SMC at Easton, Health Education Center. Overview of pregnancy and birth for expectant mothers, spouses and birthing coaches. Free. Contact: 410-822-1000 or 410-228-5511, ext. 5200.

Alzheimer’s and Other Dementia Caregivers Support Group – Thurs, 1/15, 6-7:30pm. UM Shore Nursing and Rehabilitation Center at Chestertown, led by Stephanie Golebieski, RN. Contact:  410-778-4550.

Diabetes Self-Management Refresher Class – Mon, 1/19, 10am-12pm, UM Diabetes & Endocrinology Center, UM SMC at Easton. For those who have completed diabetes education classes but want to take their self-care to the next level. Referral and advance registration required. Contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5195.

Look Good … Feel Better  – Mon, 1/19, 10am-12pm, Cancer Center, Easton. Free ACS program for women with cancer includes hair, skin and make-up tips, samples and a visit to the wig room. Contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5355.

Prostate Cancer Support Group – Mon, 1/19, 7pm, UM SMC at Chestertown, Conference Center. Contact: 410-778-7668, ext. 2175.

Breastfeeding Class – Sat, 1/24, 9am-12:30pm, UM SMC at Easton, Health Education Center. Led by lactation consultants for new and expectant mothers. Free. Contact: 410-822-1000; 410-228-5511, ext. 5200.

Seminar: Estate & Income Tax Considerations for 2015 and Beyond – Sat, 1/24, 10am-12noon, UM SMC at Chestertown, Conference Center. Presenters: Eugenia Cooper Wootton, Esq., Partner, Rasin & Wootton, LLC and Sally Camp, The Fiduciary’s Friend, LLC. Light refreshments. Free. RSVP: 410-810-5661.

Safe Sitter Classes/Chestertown & Easton – Sat, 1/24, 9am-4:30pm, two sessions: UM SMC at Chestertown, Education Center; and UM SMC at Easton, Health Education Center Rooms A-B. Taught by pediatric nurses, the Safe Sitter program teaches youth ages 11-13 the basics of babysitting, including the first aid, CPR and more. Cost: $40 (scholarships available). Advance registration required: Chestertown, 410-778-7668, ext. 2175; Easton, 410-822-1000, ext. 5231.

Cancer Support Group – Mon, 1/26, 7pm, UM SMC at Chestertown, Education Center. Contact: 410-778-7668, ext. 2175.

Stroke Support Group/Queenstown  – Tues, 1/27, 12-2pm, UM Shore Medical Pavilion at Queenstown. Support and information for stroke survivors and their families and caregivers regarding stroke recovery and caregiving. Bring a lunch; light snacks provided. Contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5068.

CARES Breast Cancer Support Group  – Tues, 1/27, 6-7:30pm, Cancer Center, 509 Idlewild Avenue, Easton. Contact:  410-822-1000, ext. 5411.
Diabetes Support Group – Tues, 1/27, 6:30pm, UM SMC at Chestertown, Conference Center.  Contact: 410-778-7668, ext. 2175.

One Killed and Several Injured in Caroline County Crash

One person was killed and several injured in a two vehicle crash this morning in Caroline County.

The person fatally injured is identified as Michaela D. Coulbourn, 50, of Preston, Md. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Ms. Coulbourn was the driver and only occupant of a 2005 Cadillac passenger car.

The driver of the 2013 Ford bus is identified as Rome E. Brittingham Jr., 68, of Denton, Md. Mr. Brittingham was driving a state-owned bus that was providing county transportation for individuals to an adult care facility.

Shortly after 8:30 a.m. today, troopers from the Easton Barracks were dispatched to the crash that occurred on Bethlehem Rd. (Rt. 528), one-tenth of a mile east of Newton Rd., in Preston, Md.

Arriving troopers found the Cadillac and Ford bus had collided and the bus had overturned onto its side. EMS and fire personnel responded to the scene and transported the bus driver, his assistant, and the five people being driven to the care facility to Easton Memorial Hospital.

The preliminary investigation indicates the two vehicles were traveling in opposite directions as they approached each other on Bethlehem Rd. For reasons unclear at this time, the Cadillac apparently drifted across the centerline and into the path of the oncoming Ford bus. The bus driver tried to avoid the collision, but the Cadillac struck the bus on the driver’s side near the rear axle, causing the bus to overturn.

The investigation is continuing.

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Chesapeake Charities Ushers in New Era

With 10 years under its belt Chesapeake Charities, formerly known as the Foundation for Community Partnerships, looks to the new year with increased opportunity to create more impact to its 73 funds serving seven counties in the Chesapeake Bay region. If 2014 is any indication the Chesapeake Bay area community foundation will reach every goal it sets, and then some.

Over the past year Chesapeake Charities, welcomed four new funds, six new board members, and changed its name and office location. For most public charities those changes alone would be challenging enough. But not for Chesapeake Charities which prides itself for its commitment to community and efficiency of its delivery of services to its funds, using less than 3 percent of donations for administration.

“The foundation has always taken its responsibilities to its fund advisors and to all the communities we serve very seriously,” says Elaine Curl, board chair of Chesapeake Charities. “In this past year, the efforts of our staff and board have enabled us to take our organization to the next level. We look to 2015 with much anticipation and enthusiasm,” she adds.
New board members join Chesapeake Charities

Six new board members were welcomed in 2014. They are:

Kathy Deoudes of Queenstown, who demonstrates her commitment to community service through numerous charitable and civic organizations. Her most recent appointments are being named chair of Compass Regional Hospice, formerly Hospice of Queen Anne’s, and her election to the board of the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health.

Kate Goodall Gray of Chestertown, vice president of KRM Development Corporation. Ms. Gray is a Character Counts Coach and serves on the Queen Anne’s County Economic Development Commission. She previously served on the board of directors for the Queen Anne’s County Chamber of Commerce.

Donna Judy of Queenstown, director of Marketing and Business Development, Queenstown Premium Outlets. Ms. Judy is a member of several chambers of commerce and convention and visitor bureaus, including Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Ocean City, Maryland.

Melissa Palmer of Stevensville, branch manager, First National Bank, Kent Island. Ms. Palmer serves as board member and “Blooms” fundraiser Committee chair for the United Way of Queen Anne’s County, and is a member of the Chesapeake Women’s Network, Queen Anne’s County chapter.

Mark D. Stemen of Queenstown, a homebuilding executive and attorney with more than 30 years experience as a builder/developer in the Washington, D.C. Region. Mr. Stemen served as the Virginia Division President for Lennar Homes and as Mid-Atlantic Division President for K. Hovnanian’s Four Seasons Communities.

Paula Warner of Chester, owner of Paula’s Fine Jewelry, and consummate volunteer. Ms. Warner has supported numerous civic and charitable groups. She is past president of the United Way of Queen Anne’s County, member of the Gala Committee for Compass Regional Hospice, and has served as a member of Bosom Buddies Ball Committee of Bosom Buddies Charities, Inc.

“Chesapeake Charities is humbled to have such a wealth of quality board members,” says Linda Kohler, Chesapeake Charities executive director. “Each bring unique qualities and talents to the organization and our funds are definitely benefitting from their contributions,” she adds.

Chesapeake Charities, 101 Log Canoe Circle, Suite “O”, Stevensville, Md., provides innovative leadership and quality services that encourage charitable giving, build community resources, and enable donors to achieve their charitable purposes, making lasting investments in the Chesapeake Bay region. Since 2005 it has invested more than $6 million in the areas of education, health and human services, the arts, animal welfare, and the environment. This past year alone, Chesapeake Charities has awarded grants and scholarships totaling more than $1 million. To learn more about the foundation or to set up a fund, contact (410) 643-4020 or

Spying on Queen Anne’s County: The YMCA Lives (Again) in Centreville!

The new Queen Anne’s County Commissioners surprised many last week by announcing near the end of their meeting on December 23 that they had found a way to move forward with a YMCA to be build in downtown Centreville.

In the new agreement draft with the YMCA, Queen Anne’s County will be donating the land to the YMCA where a building and indoor swimming pool is planned to be built, valued at approximately $2 million. The balance of the property would remain with QAC. There would be no remaining relationship between the local government and the nonprofit organization.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. To watch this entire meeting, please click here to watch on QAC-TV at

Sea Watch Brings Home the Turkey at St. Vincent de Paul

St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) volunteer Bill Houck hands out one of several turkeys donated by Easton-based Sea Watch International to the Society’s local Food Pantry on Canvasback Drive in Easton. Sea Watch management donated 20 turkeys, 20 hams and three cases of clam chowder for distribution by SVdP to needy families in Talbot County.

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