Archives for December 2015

For Edwards, Health Care Issues Are Personal

As a young single mother, Donna Edwards once collapsed in a grocery store and had to be taken to the emergency room.

Because she was raising her son with just a single source of income, Edwards did not have health insurance. The medical bills from this incident, combined with her burdensome student loan payments, put her in such a deep financial hole that she almost lost her home.

Edwards told this story in 2009 on the floor of the House of Representatives as a freshman congresswoman casting her vote for the Affordable Care Act.

“If I could have gotten some health care and antibiotics, I would not have ended up in the emergency room, so it shaped the way I thought about what my responsibility was to make sure we could get as strong as possible a bill out of the House,” Edwards told Capital News Service during an interview in her Landover campaign office recently.

Edwards, 57, cited health care reform as a main reason she first decided to run for Congress in 2006. She lost the Democratic primary that year, but came back in 2008, defeating incumbent Rep. Al Wynn in the primary and cruising to an easy general election victory in the heavily-Democratic 4th Congressional District. The district covers parts of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties.

“Her story resonates with a lot of folks here in Prince George’s County, we have 150,000 residents that don’t have health insurance,” said Del. Darryl Barnes of Prince George’s County, who has endorsed Edwards in her bid for the U.S. Senate.

Her 2008 election made history as Edwards became the first African-American woman to represent Maryland in Congress.

Now she is aiming to fill the seat of another trailblazer, the longest-serving woman in the U.S. Senate, Barbara Mikulski. If she wins, Edwards would be the only African-American woman in the Senate, and just the second ever — Illinois Democratic Sen. Carol Moseley Braun left the body in 1999.

This would be familiar territory for Edwards. The North Carolina native was one of six black women in her graduating class at Wake Forest University.

Edwards said she feels proud when she speaks to young African-American girls, who tell her they are able to see themselves differently when they see someone who looks like them holding a seat of power in Washington.

But it is not just her race and gender that set her apart in the halls of Congress. Her experience as a single mother struggling to pay the bills gives Edwards a unique perspective that she says shapes the way she thinks about policy-making.

“She’s been through these same kind of struggles, a single mother trying to raise her son and get ahead financially, that much of America is going through,” said Steve Cobble, political director for Progressive Democrats of America, an advocacy group that has endorsed Edwards. “That would seem to be an important thing that helps her understand how real people live and I’m afraid a big chunk of Congress comes without a clue.”

Cobble worked with Edwards when she was the executive director of the campaign finance reform group Center for a New Democracy and has known her for 25 years.

Before she got into politics, Edwards obtained a law degree from the University of New Hampshire and founded the National Network to End Domestic Violence, a coalition of advocacy groups for battered women. She helped pass the Violence Against Women Act in 1994 and then fought to reauthorize the law as a member of Congress in 2013.

As chairwoman of the Democratic Women’s Caucus in the House, Edwards changed the conversation about equal pay to include emphasis on the fact that African-American women make just 64 cents for every dollar men make; for Latina women that number is 49 cents for every dollar men make.

“It’s important to have the voice of a woman, and particularly my voice as a black woman, at the seat of power in the United States Senate because I have the ability to not just talk about those things from the 30,000-foot level, but talk about it on the ground because I have experienced it,” Edwards said.

On the campaign trail, Edwards talks about how in college she relied on Planned Parenthood for medical check ups, making the current debate and heated rhetoric over that organization personal for her.

“When I look at the role that Planned Parenthood plays in so many lives, both in mine but certainly in other women’s lives, I think how dare anyone think about taking away women’s health care choices and an opportunity for a quality health care?” Edwards said.

Her passion about women’s issues has been a central theme of her campaign, which looks to be a head-to-head with Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County in April’s Democratic primary (Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore has not ruled out a run). Van Hollen has a substantial fundraising advantage, out-raising Edwards by more than $3 million.

Van Hollen’s campaign has criticized Edwards for accepting a large portion of her money from outside of Maryland.

A Capital News Service analysis of Federal Election Commission records found that 47 percent of Van Hollen’s individual fundraising through September came from within Maryland, while 14 percent of Edwards’ fundraising came from donors in her home state.

In July Van Hollen called for both candidates to take a pledge to keep outside money out of the race. Edwards defended her fundraising, saying she doesn’t want to silence progressive groups such as Emily’s List, which aims to elect pro-choice women to Congress. The organization recently pledged to give $1 million to support Edwards’ campaign.

“I am proud to have the support,” Edwards said. “Emily’s list was first a supporter of Barbara Mikulski and propelled her into the Senate and they are helping me out in this campaign as well.”

By Jon Banister
Capital News Service

January Events and Programs at the Oxford Community Center

This January, the Oxford Community Center can help you beat cabin fever! From exercise classes to free classic movies, a screening of “Selma” on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, to a Disney movie sing along, there are reasons to come together to beat the winter doldrums.

Every Tuesday and Thursday at 10:30 a.m., instructor Janet Pfeffer leads 45-minute “Steady and Strong” exercise classes. Participants have raved about this class for adults who seek enhanced core and muscle strength along with better balance, posture, and flexibility. No special equipment needed; just wear comfortable clothes, resistance bands are provided. Pfeffer has been leading Steady and Strong at the St. Michaels YMCA and Londonderry since 2009. She is sponsored and trained by the YMCA of the Chesapeake. The class meets for 45 minutes twice per week on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:15 am. The drop in cost is $8 per class, or you can pay $50 per month, which includes all classes for the month.

Beginning on Thursday, Jan. 7 at 7pm, OCC introduces a classic movie series, with the 1935 best picture nomination, “Ruggles of Red Gap.” On the first Thursdays of January, February, and March, OCC will be showing 2014 additions to the National Film Registry. Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. The films must be at least 10 years old. “Ruggles of Red Gap” is a comedy-romance from 1935, which was nominated for best picture. Charles Laughton, known for such serious roles as Nero, King Henry VIII and later as the 1935 Captain Bligh, takes on comedy in this tale of an English manservant won in a poker game by American Charlie Ruggles, a member of Red Gap, Washington’s extremely small social elite. Laughton, in understated valet fashion, worriedly responds: “North America, my lord. Quite an untamed country I understand.” However, once in America, he finds not uncouth backwoodsmen, but rather a more egalitarian society that soon has Laughton reciting the Gettysburg Address, catching the American spirit and becoming a successful businessman. Aided by comedy stalwarts ZaSu Pitts and Roland Young, Laughton really shows his acting range and pulls off comedy perfectly. Each of the films is free and open to the public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Beer and wine will be available to purchase. To pre-register, please call 410-226-5904 or e-mail

On Monday, Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m, join OCC in remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. “Selma” is the story of a movement, with the film chronicling the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. King led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Director Ava DuVernay’s “Selma” tells the real story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. King and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history. The screening of “Selma” is free and open to the public.

Kids can’t stop singing along to Disney’s “Frozen,” so let them! On Sunday, Jan. 24, at 2:30 p.m., OCC will have a “Frozen” sing along. This enchanting sing-along includes a full screening of the #1 animated film of all time, with lyrics appearing on screen and OCC’s own ‘princesses’ will show you how to use your free prop bag, warm up your singing voices, and teach you some hand actions and heckles before you sit back and “Let it Go.” Costumes are encouraged! The audience are the stars as they interact with the film. A prop bag, Frozen-inspired snacks, and a few surprises are also included! The cost of the “Frozen” sing is $8, and financial assistance is available.

For more information on OCC’s events and programs, please call 410-226-5904, e-mail, or visit

Eastern Shore Education: The Touchstones Discussion Project on Kent Island

In a nondescript business park in Stevensville, just a mile or so from the Bay Bridge, the Touchstones Discussion Project has occupied a small office suite for the last 5 years. It is hard to imagine that from this little outpost, Touchstones has reached thousands of children, business executives, politicians, and even prisoners with its unique programs aimed at creating new skills in communication and leadership.

Based in part on St. John’s College’s well-known seminar programs, Touchstones used that model and refashioned it to build skills in collaboration and teamwork. A quick look at the organizations and governments it has worked with during thirty years of operation is testimony to the extraordinary success this approach has had in this country and around the world. Those include such diverse clients as Cecil County Public Schools to the Kingdom of Jordan Ministry of Education.

The Spy caught up Howard Zeiderman, with one of the founders of Touchstones, a few weeks ago to talk about this very special nonprofit organization on Kent Island. Zeiderman, a product of St. John’s College and Princeton University, talks about his work with fellow St. John’s faculty members Geoffrey Comber and Nick Maistrellis in 1984, which formed the principles around Touchstones and the extraordinary success stories of its applications in all sorts of different settings.

For more information on Touchstones, please go here

Rural Maryland Council Elects 2016 Leadership

The Rural Maryland Council met on Wednesday December 2, 2015 in Annapolis and elected officers for the 2016 calendar year. The Council elected the following officers:

Chair: Ms. Doris Mason

First Vice Chair: Mr. Josh Hastings

Second Vice Chair: Mr. Matt Teffeau

Ms. Doris Mason currently serves as the Executive Director of the Upper Shore Regional Council where she provides leadership on key projects for the USRC as it partners with public and private entities to optimize the physical, economic and social well-being of the residents of Cecil, Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties. “I am looking forward to serving the residents of rural Maryland and am excited for this opportunity,” said Ms. Mason. “We plan to focus our leadership towards enhancing our state’s investments in our rural areas through the Rural Maryland Prosperity Investment Fund, so that our rural regions can grow economically to be the prosperous places we know they can be.”

Mr. Josh Hastings currently serves as Policy Director for the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy where he monitors land use policies at the local, state, and federal government levels. “With the 2016 Legislative Session of the Maryland General Assembly fast approaching, we look forward to continuing our conversation regarding rural economic development, protection of agricultural lands and encouraging the development of renewable energy.”

Mr. Matt Teffeau serves as Assistant Government Relations Director for the Maryland Farm Bureau where he is responsible for issues in transportation, wildlife, energy and poultry. “Agriculture is an essential part of our rural economy. We want to ensure its continued viability while protecting our rural communities and cultural heritage.”

Mr. Scott Warner of the Mid-Shore Regional Council serves on the RMC Executive Committee as the Immediate Past President.

Since its inception in 1994, the Rural Maryland council is the only state-wide entity working to advance the interests of rural Marylanders across the State. The 40-member Board represents each rural region including the rural for-profit and nonprofit communities, elected officials from the State and local levels and federal, state and local agencies. The RMC represents approximately 1.6 million Marylanders. Since 2001, the RMC has awarded almost $3.3 million in small grants to rural areas serving nonprofit organizations that undertake statewide and regional planning, economic and community development and forestry education projects. For Fiscal Year 2016, the Council will focus on broadband, agriculture, youth, energy, workforce and economic development and health care.

Christ Church Easton to Present Silent Film, Chaplin’s “The Circus” with Live Organ Performance

This Sunday, January 3, 2016 at 4 pm, the Christ Church Concert Series presents the 1928 film “The Circus” written and directed by Charlie Chaplin.

The plot involves the ringmaster of an impoverished circus who hires Chaplin’s most memorable on-screen character and an icon in world cinema during the silent film era, The Tramp, who discovers that he can only be funny unintentionally, not on purpose. The film stars Chaplin, Al Ernest Garcia, Merna Kennedy, Harry Crocker, George Davis, and Henry Bergman.

Michael Britt

Michael Britt

Accompanying the film will be Michael Britt, well known silent film organist as well as organist at Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, at the four manual Rodgers 484 organ recently installed during renovations at Christ Church in downtown Easton.

Michael T. Britt, a Baltimore native, began piano studies with Gwendolyn Logston. At age twelve, Britt entered the Peabody Preparatory School where he studied piano with Joyze Sutherland, James Warthen and organ with Gretchen Benchoff. In 1979 he entered the Peabody Conservatory of Music where he studied organ with Dr. Paul L. Davis and Improvisation/Sacred Music with Arthur Rhea. Mr. Britt graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Organ Performance having been the recipient of the Richard L. Phelps Award and a three-time recipient of the Richard Ross Award for organ. In 1980, he became the Associate Organist at the Shrine of the Little Flower and in 1981, was appointed Minister of Music where he served for nearly 26 years. In 1984 he was a finalist in the Arthur Poister competition in Syracuse, New York. Further studies have been with Thomas Spacht, Donald Sutherland, John Rose and John Walker.

As well as being a frequent recitalist of classical organ literature, Michael Britt is a performer of theatre organ music and is in demand throughout the country as a silent film accompanist, performing for chapters of the American Theatre Organ Society and most recently, for the Region III-American Guild of Organists Convention in Baltimore. He has been featured on Maryland Public Television and other televised presentations on the theatre pipe organ and Maryland’s Free State Theatre Organ Society.

In 1998, Mr. Britt was invited to perform at Baltimore’s Senator Theatre where he accompanied five silent films for the National Film Registry Tour, which was sponsored in part by the Library of Congress. He has also performed at the Palace Theatre in Cleveland, Ohio; The Paramount Theatre in Anderson, Indiana; The Byrd Theatre in Richmond, Virginia as well as yearly performances at the Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. In 2002, Mr. Britt was invited to perform a series of concerts on the recently restored Aeolian pipe organ installed at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C. In 2005, he was invited to Princeton University to accompany the silent film classic, “Phantom of the Opera” at the University Chapel where recently, he completed his tenth performance of this annual event.

Sunday’s concert is free and open to the public, and a freewill offering will be received. The church is located at 111 S. Harrison Street and doors open at 3:30 p.m. The Christ Church Series is partially funded by the Talbot County and Maryland State Arts Councils. For more information, call 410-822-2677 or visit


Op-Ed: Only the Planning Commission Can Amend County’s Comp Plan by Mike McConnel

I am writing to address a legal issue first raised publicly at the Council’s last meeting. At this meeting, Mr. Thomas T. Alspach, Esq., representing the Talbot Preservation Alliance, called into question the Council’s authority to amend Talbot’s Comprehensive Plan. Throughout most of this year the Council has met monthly to consider changes to the Plan. The Council’s most recent meeting earlier this month was the first, however, to permit public comment on both the Council’s red-lined draft of the revisions it is considering and the review process it has followed so far.

As I commented to someone recently, I am a “has-been” Managing Partner of Drinker Biddle & Reath, Philadelphia, PA where I practiced for 33 years in another field entirely and never with respect to Maryland law! Nevertheless, my wife and I have been residents of Royal Oak for 19 years and have viewed with alarm the Council’s direction and process as it pertains to land use and the Comprehensive Plan. This began with Bill 1305 which the Council proposed in July and which would have given just three Council members sole power to change the zoning of a land parcel anywhere in the County, and total control over how it was developed including usage, size and building structure. Our alarm that was set off by Bill 1305 has continued—now, I should say, in the company of even more citizens.

As I said in my e-mail to you on December 14, “as a resident of Royal Oak for the past 19 years, I have some understanding of the cost and safety implications of increasing the residential density of Royal Oak by a factor of 4 or so.”

Following Mr. Alspach’s comments at the Council’s last meeting, and despite not having qualified to practice in Maryland, I undertook to look at the provisions that seemed to bear on the roles of the Council and the Planning Commission in reviewing and revising Talbot County’s Comprehensive Plan. I would like to share these with you now.

Section 404 of Talbot County’s Charter provides that the Planning Commission “shall make advisory recommendations to the County Planning Officer and the Council relating to the Comprehensive Plan . . . .” As best I can tell, this language was originally adopted in December, 1973. See The Star Democrat, October 30, 2001 at 9. It has since been superseded by changes in the Maryland land use Code. Only the Planning Commission can amend Talbot County’s
Comprehensive Plan. This is a matter of statutory law, not interpretation.

The law that’s applies to a charter county like Talbot today imposes a mandatory obligation on a planning commission with regard to a county comprehensive plan: “At least once every ten years, each planning commission shall review the comprehensive plan and, if necessary, revise or amend the comprehensive plan . . . .” Md. Ann. Code, Land Use Section 1-416(a) (emphasis added).

Maryland general law does not give the Council any authority whatsoever to “revise or amend” a comprehensive plan (either before or after the Planning Commission has adopted its final revisions and amendments). To the contrary, Section 1-405 stipulates that “a charter county shall” . . . “amend” . . . “a [comprehensive] plan in accordance with [statutory provisions that include this Section 1-416(a) now cited].” (emphasis added).

In the interests of being complete, the Maryland land use Code does address the Council’s role in this process:

Section 1-417. Periodic review; implementation.

“(a) Required review. At least once every 10 years, which corresponds to the comprehensive plan revision process under Section 1-416 . . . a charter county shall ensure the implementation of the visions, the development regulations element, and the sensitive areas element of the plan. (emphasis added)

(b) Implementation. A charter county shall ensure that the implementation of the requirements of subsection (a) of this section are achieved through adoption of the following applicable implementation mechanisms that are consistent with the comprehensive plan:

(1) zoning laws; and

(2) local laws governing: (i) planned development; (ii) subdivision; and (iii) other land use provisions.” (emphasis added)

To summarize, the Maryland land use Code describes a “comprehensive plan revision process” that is mandatory and under the sole jurisdiction of the Planning Commission; and an “implementation” role for the Council to adopt zoning and other laws that are “consistent with the comprehensive plan,” as revised periodically by the Commission.

One might ask: what then is the effect of Talbot County’s Charter provision requiring the planning commission to make “advisory recommendations” to the Council? This Charter provision obviously conflicts with the sections of the Code I have referred to.

The highest court in Maryland (the Maryland Court of Appeals) has established (as you might expect) that Maryland general law takes precedence over conflicting local laws, including conflicting provisions in a county charter:

“The Maryland Constitution, Article XI-A Section 1, provides inter alia that a county charter shall be subject to the public general laws of Maryland. If a provision of a county charter,
including a charter amendment, conflicts with any public general law, the charter provision may not be given effect.”

Montgomery County v. Board of Elections, 311 Md. 512, 536 A.2d 641, 642 (1988); Wilson v. Board of Supervisors of Elections, 273 Md. 296, 328 A.2d 305, 308 (1974) (“any conflict between a county or city charter and a public general law must be resolved in favor of the public general law.”)

Section 1-416 of the Land Use article in the Maryland Code, quoted above, is a public general law and therefore, as a matter of law, takes precedence over conflicting provisions in the Talbot County Charter.

If the foregoing discussion is correct, it seems to me the following conclusions need to be drawn:

1. The process followed by the Council in considering revisions to the Comprehensive Plan during 2015 has been ultra vires, that is, without legal authority; beyond the Council’s power; and needs to be discontinued;

2. The Talbot Planning Commission, taking under consideration the work of the Council and the public’s comments to date, needs to meet again, hold hearings as it deems appropriate, and review the Comprehensive Plan, revising it or amending it as it considers necessary; and

3. The Council should “ensure the implementation of the visions, the development regulations element, and the sensitive areas element of” the comprehensive plan, as revised or amended by the Planning Commission, by adopting zoning and other local laws that are consistent with the plan.

In closing, I would like to make some personal remarks. I chose to go to Vietnam in 1967 as a 1st Lt., U.S. Army, Ordnance Corps. stationed in Pleiku (II Corps, the Central Highlands). I saw close-up the gifts to us in life and limb made by my contemporaries, including personnel in the 4th Infantry Division headquartered there. Men and women who believed fervently in our country, our country’s leadership and our nation’s democratic values gave their sacrifices tragically but willingly. Others have and continue to do the same.

For 8 years (1988 – 1995) I served two elected terms as a Commissioner of Lower Merion Township, PA (Republican) on a Board of 14 where I represented much of Bryn Mawr and Gladwyne, Pa. Lower Merion Township is the largest township in Pennsylvania with a population then that exceeded 70,000.

In the military you are sometimes faced with the request: “Permission to speak frankly, Sir?” Normally, you say “yes” and normally, you don’t always like what you hear. The point is, I feel I have earned the right to speak frankly and so will right now.

Like it or not, each of you occupies a position of sacred public trust. Your personal circumstances must be made irrelevant since you are a trustee and by running for office, you chose to be accountable to the people who elected you. They are entitled to expect and demand that you do what you believe is in their interests, as they see it and as you, taking this into account, believe it to be. Aside from paying taxes, most of us will not often have reason to interact with state or national government; not so, however, with local government! We all know there is today pervasive cynicism with and about government. But each of you individually is in a position to counteract this. So do it—by the way you demonstrate your fealty to your office and to the public; by the way you conduct yourselves; and by your actions. Our County and the lives we lead today were given to us by others. Honor the contributions of those who came before and make us proud of you.


Out and About (Sort Of): Four Seasons Saga Goes On and On and On by Howard Freedlander

I am dismayed but not surprised that the opponents of the long-embattled Four Seasons development on Kent Island have appealed the most recent Maryland Board of Public Works wetlands decision to the Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court.

Some months ago I wrote: “This battle, fought too many times in court, needs to end.” As I recall, the column drew a comment, not unexpectedly, that strongly disagreed with mine.

For 15 years, environmental groups and citizens have fought this 1,079-acre senior housing project. They want nothing on this property. In every court decision of which I am aware, the opponents have met defeat. Yet, they persist. Delay is effective, I suppose.

On Nov. 18, 2015, the Board of Public Works (BPW), in a 2-1 decision, granted K. Hovnanian, the developer, a wetlands decision permitting the installation of a sewer line under Cox Creek, construction of 10-slip pier with a wave fence and the discharge of fill from stormwater system into tidal wetlands. The Chesapeake Bay Critical Areas Commission, other regulatory agencies and the BPW’s wetlands administrator recommended approval. This wetlands license is necessary for the project to proceed.

The developer probably knew better than to break out the champagne.

I was interested and skeptical to read criticism that the BPW failed to consider requirements regarding stormwater and provide sufficient public testimony at its most recent meeting. The wetlands administrator drew flack for saying that the stormwater system would not remove 100 percent of the pollutants. He supposedly said that the project would handle nitrogen and phosphorous pollution more effectively than the property remaining as is.

The opponents are skilled at parsing comments and finding cause for continued litigation.

I am hard-pressed to accept the assertion that the BPW was somehow negligent in considering stormwater requirements. This project has undergone extensive study by experts, BPW staffers and the board members themselves. As for public testimony, I recall sitting through a marathon BPW session in 2007 when opponents and proponents alike had exhaustive opportunity to voice their thoughts. Since then, court cases and continued entreaties from the opponents have created a trove of information and scientific studies related to this project.

As someone sitting on the sidelines, no longer involved in this troubled project, I find myself impressed by the single-minded focus of the environment groups. Our legal system allows innumerable appeals if the arguments differ, I guess. Then, my admiration wanes.

I think about the enormous amount of money spent by Hovnanian and the opponents for legal fees and scientific studies. Both sides obviously foresee a benefit in their investment of time, money and energy. So this contentious land-use saga goes on and on and on.

I wonder why the opponents have not exerted the same amount of effort to find a way to raise the money to preserve and buy the Four Seasons property. Without knowing if this is a viable option, I continue to see no proactive approach on the part of the opponents. Would the developer accept $10-$20 million to sell the property and move on to a project welcomed and supported by a community other than the one on Kent Island in Queen Anne’s County? Has the idea ever been broached?

This property has become an emotional battleground, consuming a tremendous amount of time and money in the legal and government worlds. That bothers me. Perhaps the opponents feel pleased that they have delayed this project for 15 years; that’s victory of sorts. Perhaps the developer feels pleased with favorable governmental and legal decisions and believes that construction will begin sooner, rather than later.

I walked this property nearly nine years ago. Its waterfront is impressive. It would be wonderful to preserve in its present state and add no more people and cars to an already congested Kent Island. What’s also impressive is that the developer has cleared every bureaucratic and regulatory hurdle. It has shown tremendous patience and perseverance; the monetary objective must be significant.

So this saga will add another courtroom chapter.  


Brown Bag Lunch to Feature Local Author Peter Hartjens

Local author Peter Hartjens will be the speaker at the Brown Bag Lunch on Monday, January 4, 2016 at the St. Michaels branch of the Talbot County Free Library at noon. Peter will be holding a brief workshop on storytelling.

The format will be interactive and fun. Storytelling is a craft, not an art. We are storytellers by nature – all of us. Some people may be funnier than others; some better at suspense. Some may bring you to tears; others may just give you a warm, fuzzy feeling. If you are interested in improving your storytelling, you may get some tips (or, as some say these days, hacks). If you just want to sit back and enjoy the stories that too, is a great excuse for being there. If you have any favorite stories you would like to hone, bring them along.

As a writer, storyteller, entrepreneur, academic, university administrator, consultant, evaluator, and senior municipal, state, and federal official, Peter Hartjens brings a quiver full of life experiences and a palette rich in deep verbal hues to the challenges of helping others turn thoughts and words into tools for change. Dr. Hartjens’ government service includes stints as director of evaluation for the Governor’s Commission on Crime Prevention and Control in Minnesota, as a senior advisor to the president of the University of the District of Columbia, as director of policy and program evaluation for the city of Washington, D.C., and as an international training administrator with the U.S. Agency for International Development.

The Friends of the Library are sponsors of the speaker series and everyone is invited to bring their lunch or a snack and enjoy coffee and dessert provided by the library. All library programs are free and open to the public. For more information you can check the library website at or call (410) 745-5877. Copies of his book are available at Chesapeake Traders in St. Michaels.


UM Shore Regional Health Events for January


“Ask the Expert” Podcasts – To listen to informative interviews with UM SRH specialists on diabetes, childbirth and parent education, men’s health, women’s health, stroke awareness, interventional radiology and integrative medicine, visit


Alzheimer’s/Dementia Caregivers Support Group – Thurs, 1/21, 6-7:30pm, UM Shore Nursing & Rehab Center at  Chestertown. Led by Stephanie Golebieski, assistant director of  nursing, UM SN&R Center at Chestertown. Contact: 410-778-4550.

Find information about skilled nursing, inpatient rehab and respite care in Chestertown online at


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

Survivors Offering Support (SOS) – Free 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.

Look Good … Feel Better – Mon, 1/18, 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.

Breast Cancer Support Group – Tues, 1/26, 6-7:30pm, Cancer Center, Easton. Information and support for patients at any stage – diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship. Contact: 410-822-9400.


CARES Educational Series – Tues, 1/5-12-19-26, 3-5pm, Cancer Center, Easton. Free four-week program including these topics: Cancer Recovery and Survivorship – Emotional Wellbeing (1/5); Nutrition and Physical Activity – Why it’s Important to Cancer Recovery (1/12); Managing Health Issues Following Cancer Treatments (1/19); and Living Beyond Cancer – Facing the Unknown, Keeping Health Records (1/26). To register, contact: Margot Spies, 410-822-1000, ext. 5096.

Cancer Patient Support Group – Tues, 1/5 and 1/19, Cancer Center, Easton. Information and support for patients at any stage diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship. Contact: 443-254-5940.

US TOO Prostate Cancer Support Group – Tues, 1/12, 6:30pm, Cancer Center, Easton. Information and support for patients at any stage – diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship. Guest Speaker: Christopher Levey, MD, radiologist. Contact: 410-820-6800, ext. 2300.

Prostate Cancer Support Group/Chestertown – Mon, 1/18, 7pm, UM SMC at Chestertown Conference Room. Information and support for patients at any stage – diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship. Contact: 410-778-7668, ext. 2175.

Cancer Support Group/Chestertown – Mon, 1/25, 6:30pm, UM SMC at Chestertown Conference Center. Information and support for patients at any stage – diagnosis, treatment, recovery and survivorship. Contact: 410-778-7668, ext. 2175.

Find more information about cancer treatment and support services online at


Breastfeeding Support Group – Tues, 1/5 & 1/19, 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. 5700.

Labor & Delivery Class – Sat, 1/9, 8:30am-3pm, UM SMC at Easton, Health Education Center. Overview of maternal reproductive health; signs, symptoms and stages of labor, including pain management; techniques for a successful birth experience; cesarean delivery; and recovery after the birth. Free; register by phone, 410-822-1000 or 410-228-5511, ext. 5200.

Breastfeeding Class – Sat, 1/23, 9am-12:30pm, UM SMC at Easton Health Education Center. Led by lactation consultants for new and expectant mothers. Free. Contact: 410-822-1000 or 410-228-5511, ext. 5200.

Find more information about The Birthing Center’s programs and services online at programs/birthing /services.


Carb Counting Class – Tues, 1/5, 1:30-3:30pm, UM SMC at Easton, UM Diabetes & Endocrinology Center. Overview of meal planning for diabetics. Referral and advance registration required. Contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5195.

Diabetes Support Group/Denton – Weds, 1/6, 5:30pm, St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Denton. Information and support for diabetes patients and family members. Led by Doris Allen, lead educator, UM Diabetes & Endocrinology Center. Contact: 410-479-2161.

Diabetes Self-Management Classes/Easton & Chestertown – Easton (two sessions): Tues, 1/5-12-19, 9am-12pm and Weds, 1/6-13-20, 1:30-4:30pm, UM SMC at Easton, UM Diabetes & Endocrinology Center. Chestertown: Thurs, 1/14-21-28, 1-4pm, UM SMC at Chestertown Education Center. Medical information and strategies enabling patients to manage their diabetes for optimal wellness. Referral and preregistration required. Contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5195.

Diabetes Self-Management Refresher Class – Mon, 1/18, 10am-12pm, UM Center for Diabetes & Endocrinology, UM SMC at Easton. For those who have completed diabetes education classes but want to improve their self-care. Referral and preregistration required. Contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5195.

Diabetes Support Group/Easton – Mon, 1/18, 5:30pm, Talbot County Senior Center-Brookletts Place. Information and support for diabetes patients and family members. Led by Karen Hollis, diabetes educator. Contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5195.

Diabetes Support Group/Dorchester – Weds, 1/20, 5:30pm, UM SMC at Dorchester Board Room. Information and support for diabetes patients and family members. Contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5195.

Diabetes Support Group/Chestertown – Tues, 1/26, 5:30pm, UM SMC at Chestertown. Information and support for diabetes patients and family members. Led by Chrissy Nelson, diabetes educator. Contact: 410-778-7668, ext. 2175.

Find information about diabetes treatment and support services online at


Acupuncture, Massage, Psychotherapy and Reiki – By appointment, Mon-Fri, except holidays. Center for Integrative Medicine, Suite 300, 522 Cynwood Drive, Easton. For information about services, providers and scheduling, visit, or call 410-770-9400.


Safe Sitter® Classes/Chestertown & Easton – Sat, 1/16, 9am-4:30pm, UM SMC at Chestertown Education Center; Sat, 1/23, 9am-4:30pm, UM SMC at Easton, Health Education Center Rooms A-B. Pediatric nurses teach youth ages 11-13 the basics of babysitting, including the first aid, CPR and more. Cost: $40 (scholarships available). Limited seating, advance registration required. For more information or to register: Chestertown class – 410-778-7668, ext. 2175; Easton class – 410-822-1000, ext. 5231.


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


Mid-Shore Stroke Support Group – Thurs, 1/7, 1-2:30pm, Presbyterian Church, Easton. Topic: Identity Theft. Presenter: Devon Hainey, VP, Suntrust Bank. Stroke survivors and family/caregivers welcome. Contact: 410-310-9280,

Queenstown Stroke Support Group – Tues, 1/26, 12-2pm, UM Shore Pavilion at Queenstown. Open Forum led by Jessica Fluharty, neuroscience specialist, UM SRH. Stroke survivors and family/caregivers welcome. Contact: 410-822-1000, ext. 5068,

Cool Outdoor Stuff: A Hawaiian Break with Andrew McCown

Even the greatest lovers of the Chesapeake Bay need a break now and then, and for Captain Andrew McCown of the Echo Hill Outdoor School, that meant taking his family to Hawaii for the first time this past November.

Once settled in, it didn’t take long for Andy to see the wonders of Hawaii. In his latest episode of Cool Outdoor Stuff, he takes us to the land of flora and fauna for a special look for what makes these Pacific Islands so special.

This video is approximately four minutes in length