Archives for May 2016

Op-Ed: Maryland’s DNR a Study in Passive-Aggressive Regulation by Tom Horton

It is getting embarrassing. As Maryland’s General Assembly drew to a close last month, the state’s Department of Natural Resources was once again bowing to pressure from watermen whom it is charged by law with regulating. It was the third time in less than a year.

In May of 2015 the DNR fired Tom O’Connell, its respected (including by many watermen) fisheries chief. It was to appease Maryland’s most vocal watermen — chief among them Robert T. Brown, president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association, whose backing of Governor Larry Hogan’s successful election campaign made him influential with Hogan. Also transferred out of the DNR was Mike Naylor, the agency’s head shellfish regulator, who presumably made the watermen’s hit list because of his concerns about unsustainable fishing of oysters.

Then came the DNR’s meeting with oystermen, who urged the agency to stop a multimillion dollar, state-federal program to build oyster sanctuaries in Bay rivers. Rejected by the DNR, the watermen went directly to the Hogan administration, which ordered the DNR to delay work on the sanctuaries. That move has already cost Maryland some $1 million in federal money (given to Virginia for oyster restoration there). But the most recent cave-in by the DNR seemed the worst yet, because the agency opposed carrying out the very science upon which state law requires it to base sustainable management of oysters.

To set the scene:Oysters baywide, depleted by pollution, diseases and overharvest, are at one percent or less of their historic abundance. Their immense capability to filter pollution and provide habitat as they build reefs has made restoring and protecting oysters high priority, along with traditional maintenance of the commercial oystering rooted deeply in the state’s culture.

In the last decade or so, Maryland oyster harvests have risen more than 10-fold, to around 400,000 bushels a year, a happy circumstance but one that raises important questions: How much is this bounty a true oyster comeback from disease and pollution? How much is it from a doubling of oystermen who’ve jumped into fishing by the hundreds since 2010, as prices for oysters rose? And how much is it from a more than 40-fold increase in oystermen pulling dredges behind powerboats, a technique illegal before 2000 for fear its efficiency over traditional tonging and sail dredging might risk overharvesting?

The DNR needs to know. It needs to know how many oysters are out there, at least a very close estimate. It cannot manage, cannot set harvest levels that will prevent overfishing of the public resource unless it can first count what’s there to harvest. The DNR knows this works, because Maryland has already done the good science needed to count blue crabs and rockfish. And as a result, it is able to manage both species sustainably for both watermen and sportsmen.

Which brings us to the General Assembly’s final days in April, and a hearing on a bill to finally begin the scientific surveys needed to count how many oysters are out there. Oystermen showed up in force to oppose the study. The last few good winters’ incomes are proof that all is well, they argued. The state has already taken 25 per cent of the publicly-owned oyster grounds to build sanctuaries. More science would surely lead to more regulations.

A number of environmental, educational and sportfishing groups supported it. Oysters have ecological as well as commercial value. They belong to everyone who loves the Bay, and we don’t want more booms followed by busts in their populations as in past decades, they argued.

Then there was the DNR. Twice during the legislative session, the department’s secretary, Mark Belton, had assured the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Roger Manno (D – Montgomery) that the DNR would remain “neutral” if the bill was amended, which it was. But even neutral appeared once again beyond the DNR’s control. To Senator Manno’s dismay, it lined up with the watermen and opposed the bill again in the House committee hearing.

The bill passed anyhow, somewhat weakened, but still in a form supporters say will make a long overdue start on putting oysters under science-based management. Governor Hogan took the passive approach in late May, choosing to neither veto nor sign the bill, allowing it to become law.

The DNR now claims support for the studies, which it will carry out with the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). That should ensure some independence from oyster politics. Years ago, when the DNR and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency were denying the need to control nitrogen — now acknowledged as the Bay’s principal pollutant — UMCES’ science convinced a federal judge to overrule both the state and federal governments.

Let’s hope Governor Hogan is able to turn a corner with oysters. The DNR should of course listen to watermens’ concerns, and it’s fair for oystermen to play political hardball. But DNR can’t play ball if Hogan keeps taking the bat out of its hands.

Tom Horton, a former Baltimore Sun reporter, has written about the Chesapeake Bay for more than 40 years, including eight books. He lives in Salisbury, Md., where he is a professor of environmental studies at Salisbury University.

Giving Back: The Gift of Pearls and Wisdom with Aida Leisure

For the sixth year in a row, Aida Leisure, owner of Silver Linings and DBS Fine Jewelers, has given every female graduate of Talbot County high schools a strand of freshwater pearls that was hand-knotted by her and her staff. This remarkable commitment by Leisure caused lots of curiosity for the Spy team, and we tracked Aida down at her St. Michaels store to explain this extraordinary act of philanthropy.

The project, which started in 2011, and which now has given over 1,000 necklaces to the young women in her community, began as a way to give back to Talbot County for the decades of support it has given her two jewelry stores. It was also a symbol of the hope and promise for a new generation of young women.

“We chose to give pearls because they are timeless,” says Leisure. “Each girl will now own a classic piece of jewelry. It may be the predominant accessory of the outfit she will wear for professional interviews. It very well could be worn on her wedding day, and she could even pass the necklace onto a child in future years. Even if she never acquires another piece of beautiful jewelry in her life, she will always have her Pearls of Promise.”

Thanks Aida!

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Visit the Pearls of Promise website at 

The Salt Leaf by Jamie Kirkpatrick

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.02.48 AM

Last week, I was down in the Florida Keys fishing for tarpon. In case you don’t know, tarpon are locomotives disguised as fish. They are nocturnal feeders so fishing for them is a midnight-to-dawn affair, in this particular case under a full Florida moon. My first hook-up resulted in an hour and a half battle with a 160 pound monster that ended when the steel hook broke releasing fish and fisherman from their tenuous monofilament connection. He was ten feet from the boat; I declared moral victory.

But that’s a story for another day. Today’s tale is about the lowly mangrove, the ubiquitous shrub that thrives throughout the Keys and many other tropical climes as well. That the mangrove thrives at all is nothing short of a miracle because it roots in very salty water, water that is, in fact, saline enough to kill any other species. How does it do that?

Look closer. Mangrove leaves are a brilliant jade green. But interspersed among their green finery are bright spots of yellow. These are the salt leaves. By a science I do not pretend or presume to understand, these leaves are programmed to extract enough of the concentrated salt in the water rendering it sufficiently fresh to nourish the host plant. Theories abound about how this actually works. Some botanists posit that it is the roots of the mangrove that filter as much as 90% of the salt from seawater, thereby providing enough fresh water to feed the plant. However, other botanists believe that the alchemy of turning salt water into fresh water is done by the leaves of the plant. By some evolutionary miracle, each mangrove is programmed to produce a precious few salt leaves that are capable of excreting such enormous quantities of salt through glands on their surface that they, in effect, sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the host. I like that theory a lot.

One afternoon, I spent some time trying to count the number of salt leaves on a given plant. It was a futile effort. The roots of the mangrove are so intertwined that it’s impossible to distinguish one root system from another and anyway, after a while, they all began to look alike. So I did the next best thing: I estimated. Best guess? Maybe one leaf in a thousand is a salt leaf. Even if I’m off by a factor of ten, that’s still quite a burden to bear for a single tiny yellow leaf.

By the time you’re reading this, we will have marked another Memorial Day on the calendar. It’s the one day of the year when we officially remember and honor those men and women who were and are our nation’s salt leaves. Let’s pledge to remember what these heroes have sacrificed—some ultimately—for our greater common good.

There is another interesting aspect to the mangrove: the locals say it “walks.” As it thrives, its roots spread. Silt collects and eventually new land begins to form, land that is host to all manner of other species and all other manner of immigrant life. Life begetting life.

Thank those who sacrifice. Thank the salt leaves.

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. “A Place to Stand,” a book of his photographs, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. He is currently working on a collection of stories called “Musing Right Along.”

Character Counts Awards Clark Scholarships

Character Counts Mid Shore (CCMS) awarded three A. James Clark Character Counts Citizenship Scholarships to recent high school graduates in Talbot, Caroline and Dorchester counties.

The Clark Scholarship is based on the quality of volunteer work a graduating senior has performed throughout their middle and high school years. Over twenty scholarships were submitted and the CCMS Board of Trustees made the final decisions as to which students are given the scholarship.

Emma Belle Shreves (St. Michaels Middle/High School, Talbot County) started volunteering for Character Counts while in elementary school and stayed faithful to our mission until graduation. She has served as a Character Coach for several years, manned one of the rest stops during our fund raising cycle event for three years and spent many hours helping in the office during summer break. Emma will be attending the University of Maryland, College Park majoring in government and political science.

Michele Patrice Howard (Cambridge-South Dorchester High School, Dorchester County) is graduating a year early with a GPA of 3.7 and 416 hours of community service. She has spent two summers at the Victoria Jackson-Stanley Inspiration Center teaching 3-5 year old children how to read and write. This fall, Michele will be attending Salisbury University studying psychology.

Melody Rose Cerro (Colonel Richardson High School, Caroline County) is a Girl Scout who spent 150 hours working on the Gold Award. She mentored a middle school Lego League Robotics team and influenced many students to consider studying engineering beyond high school. Melody also designed and produced postcards to hand out at Career Day events to raise awareness to the field of engineering. Her website is She is attending the University of Delaware in Newark DE majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

“For the past three years, Character Counts Mid Shore has been honored to award the A. James Clark Scholarships in memory of Mr. Clark, a CCMS Founding Board Member. He served his communities well and we are grateful to the Clark Charitable Foundation for the opportunity to recognize these outstanding students with funding for higher education,” states Susan Luby, Executive Director of CCMS.

For more information about CCHS, go to or call 410-819-0386.

Most Excellent: Mid-Shore Community Foundation Awards $500,000 in Scholarships

From the left: Grace Kulp; Mackenzie Poust; Patrick Geleta; Emma Murray and Zachary Kirby (Austin & Martha Steele Scholarship Recipients)

From the left: Grace Kulp; Mackenzie Poust; Patrick Geleta; Emma Murray and Zachary Kirby (Austin & Martha Steele Scholarship Recipients)

The Mid-Shore Community Foundation hosted its Annual Scholarship Awards Breakfast on Saturday, May 14, 2016, at the Talbot Country Club.  More than 200 guests joined the Foundation in celebrating the recipients and honoring the donors that make the scholarships possible.  

From the right: Megan Cook (MSCF Scholarship Director); Manar Dajani (Smith Scholar at UMd College Park); Buck Duncan (MSCF President); Guests (Manar’s Mother & Brother)

From the right: Megan Cook (MSCF Scholarship Director); Manar Dajani (Smith Scholar at UMd College Park); Buck Duncan (MSCF President); Guests (Manar’s
Mother & Brother)

Buck Duncan, Foundation President, welcomed guests.  “Education is the key to individual achievement and to the quality of life in our community; we are proud to sponsor this program and to distribute significant scholarship aid to deserving students,” said Duncan.

The Foundation is the largest provider of scholarships in the Mid-Shore Region.  This year, nearly $500,000 will be awarded to students with various backgrounds and educational goals.  Scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need, academic achievement, community service and other criteria specified by the donors.  

The scholarships, ranging in size from $500 – $20,000, were awarded to students from the five counties served by the Foundation – Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot.  

Caroline County Students

Emma Brohawn, Artistic Insights Scholarship;
Madison Bee, Roberta B. Holt Scholarship;
Cameron Byrd, Roberta B. Holt Scholarship;
Joniya Copper, Grover & Bernice Hastings Scholarship;
Joniya Copper, Roberta B. Holt Scholarship;
Jamie Hetrick, Roberta B. Holt Trades Scholarship;
Hunter Joseph, Roberta B. Holt Scholarship;
William Lake, B.A.A.M. College Assistance Scholarship;
Emma Murray, Austin & Martha Steele Scholarship;
Dylan Nepert, Robert F. Walls Memorial Scholarship;
Priya Patel, Beverley A. Pattenden Scholarship;
Priya Patel, Roberta B. Holt Scholarship;
Emily Phillips, Michaela D. Coulbourn Memorial Scholarship;
Mackenzie Short, Constance A. Wolcott Memorial Scholarship;
Ayana Swain, Cold Day Scholarship

Dorchester County Students

Taylor Baker, Marci Bee Dayton Memorial Scholarship;
Grace Brinsfield, Daniel H. & G. Ruth Wright Memorial Scholarship;
Erin Freeman, Delco Packaging Products Scholarship;
James Geleta, Dorchester Heritage Museum/Dale Price Memorial Scholarship;
Patrick Geleta, Austin & Martha Steele Scholarship;
Nathaniel Lowe, George B. Todd Trades Scholarship;
Emory Wongus, Colt Abbott Scholarship

Kent County Students

Alexis Johnston, Chestertown Wildlife Scholarship;
Zachary Kirby, Austin & Martha Steele Scholarship

Queen Anne’s County Students

Emily D’Orsaneo, Carter & Marion Hickman Memorial Scholarship;
Emily D’Orsaneo, Dr. Michael Judd Health Professions Scholarship;
Emily D’Orsaneo, Timothy Kern Memorial Scholarship;
Mackenzie Poust, Austin & Martha Steele Scholarship;
Delaney Ross, Dr. Elizabeth P. Hagen/Centreville High School Alumni Memorial Scholarship

Talbot County Students

Destiny Batson, Frederick Douglass Honor Society Scholarship;
Destiny Batson, NAACP/Dorothy Webb Black Memorial Scholarship;
Chase Browning, Marlin Zimmerman Scholarship;
Jack Connolly, Artistic Insights Scholarship;
Samantha Jones, Gutshall Scholarship;
Grace Kulp, Austin & Martha Steele Scholarship;
Emma Langfitt, Margaret Ferree Memorial Scholarship;
Ina Lucero, NAACP/Dorothy Webb Black Memorial Scholarship;
Savannah Masterson, Sarah H. Willis Scholarship;
Cameron McCoy, B.A.A.M. College Assistance Scholarship;
Cameron McCoy, Frederick Douglass Honor Society Scholarship;
Cameron McCoy, NAACP/Dorothy Webb Black Memorial Scholarship;
Jennifer Sharp, William O. Bryan Memorial Scholarship;
Alesha Sorrell, NAACP/Dorothy Webb Black Memorial Scholarship

Roberta B. Holt Scholars are eligible to reapply for funding each year.  The following Roberta B. Holt Scholars are renewed for the 2016/17 Academic Year:  Kashia Adams, Joshua Becker, Michelle Benton, Devon Bordonaro, Max Grable, Madison Parks, Haley Reed, Sawyer Scott, W. Garrett Shull, Matthew Smith, Megan Smith and Mitchell Wilson.

Duncan thanked the members of the Scholarship Committee: Alice Ryan (Co-chair), John Lewis (Co-chair),  Clairdean Black, Liz Brice, Dale Brown, Art Cecil, Suze Chaffinch, Ernie Chadderton, LaMonte Cooke, Jane Coppage, Sara Jane Davidson, Susie Dillon, Charlyn Fisher, Charlie Fitzgerald, John Masone, Donna Matthews, Greg Meekins, Susanne Nuttle, Linda Prager and Clay Railey.  

In his concluding remarks, Duncan encouraged the scholars to give back to the community, “serve on a scholarship committee, mentor a student – pay this forward”.

Pauline and Shirley T. Smith Scholarships are currently available to Mid-Shore students attending Salisbury University or the University of Maryland College Park in the 2016/17 Academic Year.  Applicants must have graduated from a public high school in Talbot, Caroline or Dorchester County, Maryland and must have completed at least one semester of college work, with a cumulative college GPA of 3.0 or higher.  The Scholarships will be awarded to students who demonstrate financial need (as qualified through their school’s financial aid office) and who have worked to contribute to the costs of their education.  Applications must be completed online at  The deadline for submission is May 31, 2016.  

The 2017 Scholarship Program will open this fall.  For additional information and to view additional photos from the event, visit


Out and About (Sort of): Memorial Day is Disturbing and Prideful by Howard Freedlander

Two men from totally different backgrounds went to war, action separated by 47 years. Both were officers. One came from mid-America, the other from the northeast. One came home and ascended to the top political position in our nation. The other did not, killed in a rice paddy, carrying his rifle and a legendary name in the U.S. Army.

While Memorial Day marks a time to honor those killed in service to our country, I find myself thinking about those who escaped death, and those who didn’t. In combat, survival and death often bear little or no logic. In fact, survivors often spend their lives wondering why they lived, and others didn’t. They may feel guilty. Amid their joy of living and celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions, their comrades face the world with a marble tombstone.

Memories of harrowing experiences and lost friends never vanish.

Harry S. Truman, our 33rd President, was a captain who commanded an artillery battery in the 35th Division, a National Guard unit. He had been raised in modest circumstances on a farm in Independence, Missouri. Thousands of miles away in France, in late September 1918, his battery provided support for George S. Patton’s tank brigade during the Meuse-Argonne offensive, engaged German field guns and got credit for either destroying or forcing the abandonment of two complete batteries. The 35th lost nearly 7,300 men during four days of combat. A total of 1,126 were killed or died of wounds, 4,877 were badly wounded and the balance suffered mild wounds or combat fatigue.

As the country was engaged in the Korean War, President Truman, the former Missouri artillery battery commander, issued this statement on Memorial Day, May 23, 1952:

“On this Memorial Day we should again pay tribute to the men who, by their supreme sacrifice, have helped maintain our freedom in the rugged hills of Korea, and, before that, in the great wars when all mankind was threatened with enslavement. We should pay tribute to them especially because they have shown that aggression cannot pay off. They have thereby given the world a vision and a promise of lasting peace. We must not let these men down now that the goal is so nearly attainable.”

Memorial Day speeches usually are high-sounding, filled with lofty words and phrases. Meant to be inspiring, the words can sound hollow. Somehow, when I read Truman’s words, spoken by a man known for his candor and simplicity and ingrained with the mental scars of a past war, I sense a genuine commitment to our combat soldiers.

In college nearly 50 years ago, I played lacrosse against an exceptional athlete whose team soundly defeated ours. His name was Richard Warren Pershing, known as “Dickie,” who was the grandson of the General of the Armies John Joseph Pershing. Harry Truman served under the famed General “Blackjack” Pershing. For some reason, after the game, I gloried in the fact that I played (not well) on the same field of athletic battle as the grandson of World War I’s greatest general officer.

Dickie Pershing

Dickie Pershing

Dickie Pershing, a 25-year-old lieutenant in Company A, 502nd Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, was killed in Vietnam on February 17, 1968. He was searching for the remains of a missing unit member as small-arms fire and rocket rained down on his position. His death touched me, though I knew him only as an opponent with a famous name on a lushly green lacrosse field.

Wars bury young men and women from every corner, ethnic and socioeconomic group in our country. Their futures end. Families and friends wonder: what could they have accomplished free of enemy gunfire? Communities, particularly smaller ones, suffer.

Despite the widespread unpopularity of the Vietnam War, Lieutenant Pershing willingly served his nation. Many in his privileged social class did not. This war differed from World War II, when men of all economic and social levels wanted to serve and rid the world of the terrible menace posed by Adolph Hitler.

Ambiguity, if not outright opposition and disgust, permeated our country during the Vietnam War. Dickie Pershing followed his sense of duty and honor. And so did others.

As often said, Memorial Day prompts reflection. We mourn the loss of those who served and died in the service of our country. In some cases, we grieve the loss of family members and friends. We remember them. We thank God we knew them. We treasure our memories, sometimes painfully so. We pay heartfelt tribute.

A farmer’s son from Missouri fights and leads on the firing fields of France. He performs superbly well. He returns home, eventually becoming leader of the Free World. A wealthy young man from New York City enjoys a privileged background and exceptional schooling. Dickie Pershing serves his nation in Southeast Asia, losing his life.

While intended to honor those who died in foreign military actions, Memorial Day pays homage to what’s very much alive: willingness to serve in terribly dangerous conditions, for your country and your comrades in arms.

Courage and commitment linked Truman and Pershing. As it always does in war.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.


Asbury and Green Chappel Seek to Raise Additional Funds for Cemetery

Family and friends of Asbury and Green Chappel seek to raise funds to build a fence and create signage at a historic African American cemetery on the site of the former Asbury Methodist Church in Bozman.

The cemetery had been ransacked, looted and ravaged by vandals ten years ago. Skulls and human bones were scattered throughout the wooded site and pieces of wooden coffins laid about with concrete vaults broken open.

A group of neighbors and other volunteers came together to restore and preserve the histories cemetery. They raised funds to cover the cost for the archaeological professionals at Grave Concerns to map and evaluate the site.

Since then the Family & Friends have reburied the remains in the cemetery, placed new vault covers on a number of the graves, repeatedly cleaned up the site and worked to create public interest in maintaining and sustaining it.

Talbot Master Gardeners has developed a simple but elegant plan for native plantings that will be low maintenance but appropriate for the wooded setting.

Now the group needs $30,000 to build a fence to enclose the cemetery and create suitable signage to assure its sense as a historic place in Talbot County.

Donation checks may be made out to “Friends of Asbury & Green Chappel” and mailed to P.O. Box 3241, Easton, Maryland. The nonprofit group has been designated as a 501 (C) (3) organization by the Internal Revenue Service, allowing donations to be tax deductible,


Third Annual St. Michaels Brew Fest Kicks Off Saturday, June 4th

The third annual St. Michaels Brew Fest gears up for Saturday, June 4th offering unique beers and a first-of- its- kind VIP ticket. The festival brings together over 70 American Craft Brews, including one offs, firkins and rarities, collaborations and casks from local, regional & national breweries. Ten new Firkins made only for the day of the event will be tapped. There is a specific tapping schedule you can follow at each venue to taste these unique offerings. One of the festival’s co-founders Ace Moritz of Eastern Shore Brewing shared “What makes this festival special is that it is attendee driven, not Distribution Company driven. These beers are curated by craft beer owners and true beer connoisseurs.”

Some of the featured Breweries include Dogfish Head Brewery – BBC – 16 Mile Brewery – Tall Tales Brewery – Eastern Shore Brewing Co – Real Ale Revival – 3rd Wave Brewing Co – Troegs Brewing Co – Devils Backbone Brewing Co. – Victory Brewing Co – Flying Dog – Port City Brewing Co. – Yards – Duclaw – Terrapin – Southern Tier – Brewers Art – Burley Oak – Lagunitas – Union Craft Brewery – DC Brau – Allagash – and that’s just to start with….

Foxy’s Harbor Grille’s owner and Brew Fest co-founder Terye Reese Knopp carries seventeen taps of craft beer at her restaurant. She explained, “We go to a lot of beer festivals both good and bad and we wanted to create our own for St. Michaels. We felt it would bring in a new younger demographic that was following the craft beer market and that was also good for tourism. It puts heads in beds too.”

New this year is a special VIP ticket aboard the double decker Patriot Cruise ship in the St. Michaels Harbor. Enjoy a one hour cruise on the Miles River with Hugh Sisson, owner of Heavy Seas Brewing. They will bring beer made especially for the cruise, only for VIP ticket holders. Music will be provided by local favorite, Emma Myers. Tickets are $100 plus tax and service fee. The cruise boards at 10:30am (next to the Crab Claw) and disembarks at 11:45am at the Crab Claw event. There are a very limited number of VIP tickets.

The St. Michaels Brew Fest organizers include Ace Moritz of Eastern Shore Brewing, Terye Reese Knopp of Foxy’s Harbor Grille, Jon Mason of the Town Dock and Tracey Jones-Wass of The Crab Claw. As organizers they also offer a Designated Driver ticket for $5.00 and partner with Check Yourself Talbot who offer free waters at hydration stations. “We applaud the Brew Fest organizers for their commitment to alcohol responsibility and are excited to again partner for the third year,” said Beth Williams, Check Yourself Talbot chairwoman. “The inaugural Brew Fest marked the first time our coalition participated in an event, and the response proved overwhelmingly positive! We handed out hundreds of waters and snacks, and had so many participants thank us for being there. This year, we’re bringing more than 1,000 waters to keep everyone hydrated. We look forward to another great festival and greatly appreciate the organizers for their continued effort toward hosting a safe – and fun – event.” The festival also has volunteers from The Rotary Club of St. Michaels coming to man the hydration stations to show fantastic community collaboration.

The Annual St. Michaels Brew Fest is always the weekend after Memorial Day. The festival hours are from 12pm to 5pm. General admission tickets are $45 plus tax and service fee. To buy tickets click or visit or

St. Michaels Beer Fest Venues: The Crab Claw 304 Burns Street (right on Mill Street off Talbot), Eastern Shore Brewing at 605 S.Talbot Street(Old Mill), Foxy’s Harbor Grille at 125 Mulberry Street (right on Mulberry off Talbot)

CheckYourself Talbot is a community-based coalition of people who are committed to
supporting positive and safer drinking choices among young adults.

Minding One’s Ps and Qs by George Merrill

I suffered with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) as a child. I didn’t know it. It was poorly understood then so I thought I was dumb.  Today I’m an adult with ADD and I know it. Ironically, I’m the better for it. Teachers in my schooldays regarded the symptoms of ADD as either evidence of moral failure, a lack of discipline, stubbornness or as indications of limited intelligence.

My life has been a process of recovery. Over time and with help I learned to understand and embrace my way of thinking and even to see it as a gift. In grade school I thought it was a curse. So did my teacher, Miss Richter.

During grade school, my academic performance was marginal. My mother was called in regularly for ‘conferences.’ The conference proceeded in a formulaic manner, predictable questions and required answers, the way litanies are performed in churches. Now sixty-five years later, one of the conferences remains as vivid in my mind as if it was yesterday. That I ever made it out of sixth grade seems nothing short of miraculous.

During the conferences I would stand between my mother and Miss Richter. Miss Richter wore mostly dark tan dresses, the color of Hitler’s brown shirts, and heavy black shoes with high heels that looked to me like jackboots. With her head raised imperiously, she would enumerate to my mother (as she had six months previously) my offences.

With my head lowered hangdog and feeling penitent, I would listen as she recited: “He does not apply himself. George is lazy, daydreams all the time, does not complete homework or do the required reading. He pays no attention in class.” As she spoke, my face burned with shame, my mother looked sad and bewildered, and Miss Richter, having ended her litany rose up on her toes triumphantly and posed this question to me, “Well, what have you to say for yourself?” Since this was not the first time, I knew the drill well enough to say I was sorry, would work harder to pay attention, do the reading, stop daydreaming and would apply myself. At best, it lasted six weeks. I did not like school.

Like the biblical tale of Dives and Lazarus, I wound up feeling alone: “Between us a great gulf is fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence.”  In short, the wall between the smart kids and me seemed insurmountable. I thought I was a loser.

As an adult, I slowly realized the peculiarities of the way I think and discovered something very affirming about who I was and the world I inhabited as a boy. The church was offering me a way out and only forty years later did I see how that happened. I did not have a disability; I had a way of learning that did not work well in the scholastic education model such as we had at P.S. 29 in New York City.

ADD brings difficulty in sustaining attention – a book of a hundred pages can be as intimidating as a pit of snakes. How do you get through its sheer volume? The other hurdle, although not necessarily painful, is how people like me have a wild imagination. When it’s heated up it fires off like a pan filled with hot popcorn, sending ideas ricocheting off each other. That exacerbates the difficulty in focusing. So when Miss Richter said I didn’t listen in class she was partially right. I listened to her until something she said interested me, then my imagination fired up and my mind took off like hounds to the hare. I simply left Miss Richter behind.

In retrospect, I see now that it was religion that saved me, although not in the conventional sense of the word.

I liked my church. Sunday after Sunday I’d attend church to hear in prayer and liturgy some of the most beautiful English ever written. It was accompanied by rich pageantry. I read little in the King James version of the Bible still less in the Book of Common Prayer, but Sunday after Sunday I had been hearing and internalizing the spoken words, their epic stories and the images the words inspired. For a kid who couldn’t read that well, I was amassing a formidable vocabulary. I was inexorably led to a vocation of story telling. As a preacher I told stories, as a psychotherapist I listened to stories and had the vocabulary to help shape my own stories and other’s into meaning. Then finally in later life I discovered writing, which was a pure joy, like finding myself.

I think of my poor mother, an avid reader, intellectually curious and a closet artist – having to endure the indignities of the ‘conferences’ that neither of us fully understood. My mother had little encouragement that I’d be a better student, but hoped that I might talk to our neighbor Mr. Zahn. He was a foreman at Brewers Dry Dock and at least he “could get you a nice job and the money is really good.” I’ll allow as to how probably I would have made more money in the shipyard. I know my mother is glad it worked out the way it did. I am, too.

The ultimate meaning of intelligence is not in the numbers or the names diagnostic categories assign to various mental functions. It’s in understanding how one’s mind works and then putting it in the service of what it’s best fitted to do.

N.B. I’m not saying anything but Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Einstein were school dropouts.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.


A Darn Good Sign: Underwater Grass Bed Can Protect and Maintain Own Health

An expansive bed of underwater grass at the mouth of the Susquehanna River has proven it is able to “take a licking and keep on ticking.” A recent study has found that the submersed aquatic vegetation (SAV) bed at Susquehanna Flats, which only recently made a comeback in the Chesapeake Bay, was not only able to survive a barrage of rough storms and flooding, but it has proven a natural ability to protect and maintain itself.

“It’s proof that restored SAV beds have the capability to be resilient,” said study author Cassie Gurbisz of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory. “They can stick around for a while if you give them the right conditions.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 8.46.41 AMSome 40 years ago, Tropical Storm Agnes wiped out the Susquehanna Flats SAV bed, which had already been weakened by decades of nutrient pollution. In recent years, however, the bed made an incredible comeback, and today it is one of the biggest and healthiest in the Bay, spanning some 20 square miles.

It has been projected that climate change will bring increases in the frequency and intensity of extreme storm events, which leads to the question of whether or not these ecosystems can withstand or rebound from such events. Scientists studied how the bed at Susquehanna Flats responded to the one-two punch of major storms in 2011 (Hurricane Irene and the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee) to find how resilient the underwater grasses are in the upper Chesapeake.

Sea grasses are essential to the Bay ecosystem. They pull harmful nutrients out of the water, cause sediments to settle to the bottom so sunlight can reach plants, protect the shoreline by reducing the impact of waves and currents, and provide habitat and food for a host of important organisms, including baby crabs.

The team of scientists looked at time series datasets to explore how extreme events impacted the Susquehanna Flats and to understand the factors that drove loss and resilience in this large, dense and continuous meadow of grasses. They found that the storms in 2011 did some damage to the bed at Susquehanna Flats because the rush of the water from the Susquehanna River tore up plants around the edge of the bed and deposited sediment that blocked the sunlight, limiting photosynthesis.

However, the bed was able to reduce the force of high flows sufficiently to prevent plant erosion at its inner core. In addition, although the floodwaters dumped a lot of sediment onto the SAV bed, it also dampened the waves driven by the winds. This decreased the amount of sediment that was later churned up and, as a result, increased water clarity. In fact, clear water spilled over into adjacent regions during ebb tide, further improving the bed’s capacity for renewal by creating more favorable growing conditions in areas where plant loss had occurred.

“Although there was substantial SAV loss in response to a major flood event, the system was also remarkably resilient, apparently owing to strong biophysical feedback processes carried out by a large, dense, healthy SAV bed,” said Gurbisz.

It’s called a positive feedback process. The plant beds alter physical conditions in ways that enhance their own growth – and it may help plant beds absorb the harmful impacts of storms. For instance, the plants create clear water in the middle of the bed, which promotes more plant growth, further improving water clarity, and so on. When that clear water spills out of the plant bed into the surrounding water, more light is available for new plants to grow. Together, these processes create conditions that allow the bed to resist damage and recover more quickly from the rush of water and sediments from storms.

“The SAV bed modifies its environment in ways that improve its own growth and likely serve as mechanisms of SAV resilience to flood events,” said Gurbisz.

The study, “Mechanismsof storm-related loss and resilience in a large submersed plant bed” by Cassie Gurbisz, Michael Kemp, and Larry Sanford of the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and Robert Orth of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science was published in Estuaries and Coasts.

“This study, which is part of Cassie’s graduate student research, is an example of the wonderful scientific  investigations our graduate students conduct to improve understanding of Chesapeake Bay,” said Mike Roman, Director of the Horn Point Laboratory.