Archives for October 2016

Health Care Delivery Work Group Update with Deborah Mizeur

Somehow it seems fitting that the person appointed to co-chair Maryland’s Health Care Delivery Work Group on rural hospitals spent her early career working on health access issues in very remote parts of Alaska of all places.

Deborah Mizeur cut her teeth on health policy while working on the problem of tuberculosis in the 1980s before moving to Washington, D.C. where she became an expert on national health policy as a key staff member of the Committee on Ways and Means in Congress.  It was during that time that she held primary policy responsibilities on issues that ranged from health tax and coverage expansion to health quality, information technology, and Part B Medicare reimbursement.

It was only after working decades on federal and state health issues that Deborah started a second life as a clinical herbalist, nutritionist, Reiki master, and owner of the Apotheosis organic herb farm located outside of Chestertown, which she shares with her wife, former State Delegate Heather Mizeur.

And while the vast majority of her energy goes into running Apotheosis, she agreed last spring to co-chair, along with Joseph Ciotola, the health officer and EMS director for Queen Anne’s County, a study group on the future of rural hospitals in Maryland, particularly on the Eastern Shore.

In her interview with the Spy, Deborah talks about the remarkable opportunities to create a new model for rural health care and regional support for the Mid-Shore. She also talks about the current focus on the working group and the timetable to meet her goal of having a final report ready for review by September of 2017.

The next meeting of the Health Care Delivery Work Group will be in Cambridge on November 1 at the Hyatt Regency from 1PM to 5PM. Another session in planned for Chestertown on January 9.

This video is approximately thirteen minutes in length 

Rodham v. Clinton by Al Sikes

“Trust. This is one word that when I asked the class at our rehearsal what it was they wanted me to say for them, everyone came up to me and said ‘Talk about trust, talk about the lack of trust both for us and the way we feel about others. Talk about the trust bust.” Hillary D. Rodham, 1969 Commencement Speech, Wellesley College

In 1969 Hillary D. Rodham would not have voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton. What happened in between? How did ambition and the culture re-shape her sensibilities?
And, in 1969 Donald J. Trump would not have been on any ballot and certainly not as the nominee of the Republican Party. So, most of the Rodham’s of today, will vote for Ms. Clinton, feeling no alternative.

All twenty-year-olds grow up. How they grow up and especially how the most ambitious of any given generation mature is at any given moment an urgent question. We know our children and grandchildren are our legacy and we want it to turn out well.

Hillary Rodham was an earnest idealist; good for her. Winston Churchill famously noted the importance of “heart” at this stage of life. But then idealism for many turned into utopianism and then into large government bureaucracies peddling untested theories for a continental-sized nation.

Four years after Ms. Rodham’s speech, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, writing for a divided court (7-2), found the right to an abortion in the 14th Amendment’s due process clause. This abrupt preclusion of state’s rights over abortion ignited a cultural and structural war that has no apparent end. Americans had been organized around the separation of church and state and as the State got into what many regarded as the realm of religion that changed.

As the Seventies evolved, afternoon newspapers began to disappear as people turned to their TV for news. This proved to be the first stage in the cultural and economic forces that changed journalism from print to screen and from understated to overstated. In recent decades the sensational increasingly dominates whether in the headlines, videos, or hosts like Rush Limbaugh. And then digital happened, and serious journalism was increasingly eclipsed by Facebook.

In the meantime America, indeed the developed world, went from labor-intensive production to greater and greater amounts of automation. The Digital Age, in many industries, defeated labor. Little was done to smooth out the transition.

All the while entertainment was on a downhill slope with shows answering to lowest common denominator appetites. In the words of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, “defining deviancy down.” Donald Trump would find his own TV opportunity and a platform to launch a nascent political campaign.

The 21st Century, informed by the latter stages of the 20th, now presents us a political choice. Most are not amused. Ms. Rodham would certainly not be and the more thoughtful elements of the Republican Party are aghast.

Voting, of course, has started. Once more we have let our emotions overtake our collective common sense. Some had voted before the first debate between the candidates, and it is said that 17m voted before the latest developments in the email controversy. It should also be noted that tens of millions more have to be spent by the candidates because the ad buys must start earlier and earlier. What about starting voting on the weekend before the final ballots are cast onTuesday (but I digress).

It does not seem to me that Hillary Rodham’s hope expressed in 1972 should be dismissed in what some call the age of cynicism. Perhaps it should be repeated over and over and actually tried. Perhaps truth should be used to measure how programs work. Perhaps it should be used in measuring our public finances. Perhaps truth should reassert itself in how we judge our candidates. Not a bad standard in any age.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

Dying for a Party by George Merrill

Kids love Halloween; tricking, treating and especially wearing costumes. Some kids like being mischievous.  I did and I had a specialty.

How did mischief ever become a part of our Halloween traditions? I assume it reflects a belief in malevolent spirits who return from the grave to pester us and otherwise do us harm. Among costumes and masks donned at our Halloween festivities, looking like the devil is de rigueur and certainly suggests that misbehavior is condoned if not demonically encouraged.

As a boy, I thought Halloween was great. The big thrill was being allowed out after dark. Under normal circumstances, I had to be in before sundown. (These were the days when children played outside without adult supervision.) The additional thrill was that, under cover of darkness, I was free to be bad with impunity. These are special moments in any boy’s life, even for a choirboy such as I was.  

Popping streetlights was my specialty. Neighborhood streetlights consisted then of round scalloped reflectors and a large light bulb inserted in the center. Hitting it required patience, and, I would offer, skill – pitching about 10 rocks before I finally hit the bulb is a respectable score. When struck, the bulb would first hiss and crackle for about ten seconds, then after a brilliant flash, the street quickly went dark. While enjoying the rush that goes with being devious, I’d run gleefully into the empty lot on the corner and hide among the Sumac trees, keeping a sharp eye out for any adults who might have seen me and could be called as witnesses. I was never caught. Today I confess my misdeeds because anyone witnessing my perfidy is long dead.

Americans give hardly any thought to the existence of spirits and are especially skeptical about spirits of the dead. Yankees are pragmatic.  They don’t like thinking of themselves as superstitious. Yet ghost stories are as popular with kids as with adults.

Mexicans regard spirits with a special exuberance. Mexicans are fun loving people, real party animals especially while enjoying the company of the dead. About the time we’re celebrating a secular Halloween in the states, Mexico celebrates its favorite festival, Dia de Muertos, or The Day of the Dead. This is a time to gather with all your dead friends and relatives, dress up garishly, eat, drink and be merry. Families arrange picnics at the gravesites of loved ones and bring food and drink to share with those beyond the veil. The quick and the dead hang out together for three whole days, catching up. An all-day Irish wake with all the Jameson’s and Tullamore Dew mourners could drink would be small potatoes when compared to Mexico’s festive Dia de Muertos. It’s a party to die for Mexico’s tourist industry touts the event as “the world’s liveliest party given for the dead.”

Having never been to Mexico, I first became aware of the festival in a photograph taken by the celebrated Mexican photographer Manuel Alverez Bravo. It’s a haunting image, all the more evocative for the dark shadows lingering around a young girl, who is obviously happy and at ease. She’s holding the traditional white skull in her hand, the skulls made from sugar, one of the signature icons of the festival. Skulls appear everywhere in homes and on the street, and come in all sizes.

Nobody comes as they are. Costumes abound, even on the dead or what’s left of them. Everyone’s dressed to kill. Skeletons are displayed, arrayed in splendid raiment. I notice by the gowns that skeleton’s wear, that most are women. I’m not sure what that means since nothing about dying is sexist.

One of the three days is dedicated to deceased children, called the Day of Innocents. Here, families will leave toys and sweets and games by the grave. For adults, various native alcoholic beverages are placed in offering along with traditional Mexican dishes. The deceased are invited to indulge as they wish since drinking and driving are non-issues.

What’s party without flowers? Marigolds are the official flowers of The Day of the Dead.  Their rich colors and pungent scent Mexicans believe guide the souls of the departed to the party.

This festival, as it is today, has taken around twenty-eight hundred years to evolve in Mexico, but the central issue is the same; the dead may be out of sight, but not out of mind. Further, they can be enticed to return to the land of the living by the promise of a big party. Since special treats and dishes for the deceased are placed on home altars and gravesites, and since the dead remain incorporeal through the festivities, the food and drink doesn’t disappear as it might if eaten by a living soul. Mexicans believe the departed spirits consume the essential nutrients of the dishes, leaving the food or drink as it was, but without any nutrients left. Considering the number of guests at these affairs, the problem of what to do with leftovers must be daunting.

Occasionally I do dream about my mother and it is true that in some dreams she’s wagging her finger at me. Do you suppose that her spirit returns in my dreams to rebuke me? It makes me feel terrible, not so much for my offences, but that  her return wasn’t welcomed with a party

Do I believe in spirits of the dead? I surely do. Every one of us has been fashioned and shaped by all the spirits that have ever lived on earth. We are the heirs of eternity.

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.

Spy Eye: A Few Minutes with “Rocky” Filmmaker John Avildsen

It seemed like very good timing that the Chesapeake Film Festival decided to celebrate the life work of one of the cinema’s great directors of American culture during this critical election year. Filmmaker John Avildsen, who began his career with the independent film Joe in 1970, followed with films like Save the Tiger, RockyKarate Kid, and Lean on Me, was acknowledged this weekend for those remarkable achievements.

The Spy was lucky enough to have a short chat with Avildsen at the Bullitt House on Saturday afternoon to talks about those films, his approach to film directing, and a few political observations about some of the famous characters  the emerged from those productions, including the ranting factory worker Joe Curran in Joe, and boxer Rocky Balboa in Rocky and Rocky V. Spoiler alert; Bill is pretty sure that Joe would undoubtedly be siding with Donald Trump  and that Rocky would be in the Hillary column.

But Avildsen starts our chat will an appreciation of his father’s metal fabrication business, where he was able to see that the act of creating a film is no different from the process of producing a steel rod.  In both cases, it is a series of organized processes that must be done to create a well-crafted product.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about the Chesapeake Film Festival, which concludes today, please go here



Riverkeepers Host Book Signing with Jay Fleming during Waterfowl Festival

working-the-water-book-coverMidshore Riverkeeper Conservancy (MRC) will host a book signing with photographer Jay Fleming during Waterfowl Festival on Sunday, November 13 from 11am-2pm. Fleming will sign copies of his brand new coffee table book, Working the Water, which chronicles the production stages of Chesapeake Bay seafood. Working the Water is a collection of beautifully-curated photographs depicting seasoned watermen, scenic seascapes, weathered workboats and Bay bounty. The book is a visual narrative of the lives of individuals whose livelihood is directly dependent on the Chesapeake Bay. Fleming says, “I hope that giving my readers a glimpse into the lives of the watermen, boat builders and crab pickers who are behind the seafood on our plates, that there will be an increased appreciation for the work they do and, ultimately, an increased interest in the preservation of the Chesapeake Bay’s resources.”

Traveling thousands of miles around the Chesapeake’s watershed, Fleming spent three years documenting aspects of the fascinating and rapidly changing way of life of those who make their living from the Chesapeake’s resources. With the goal of documenting the full spectrum of the bay’s seafood industry, he photographed hundreds of individuals and dozens of fisheries—from underwater shots of watermen diving for oysters, to crabs shedding their shells, to poignant portraits of packing house workers.

Fleming will also appear as the special guest for MRC’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival, which takes place November 11 at 447 Gallery in Easton and November 18 at the Avalon Theatre in Easton.

Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the restoration, protection, and celebration of the waterways within the Choptank River, Eastern Bay, Miles River, and Wye River watersheds. The office is located at 24 N. Harrison Street in downtown Easton.

For more information, contact Sarah Boynton at (443) 385-0511 or

Just Released Delmarva Review with 36 Authors

The Delmarva Review announced publication of its ninth annual literary journal presenting original prose and poetry from thirty-six authors in 11 states. The review welcomes submissions from all writers.

delmarva-review-small“From almost 2,000 submissions, editors selected forty-seven poems, 10 essays and memoirs, eight short stories, and five books for reviews,” said Wilson Wyatt, executive editor.“They probe the human themes of love, loss, aging, addiction, physical and mental illness, personal identity, a sense of place, and, of course, death.”

The cover photograph, “Significant Other,” by George Merrill, of St. Michaels, Maryland, is suggestive of human relationships, depicted by two weathered picket gateposts (in Oxford, Maryland), with expressive “eyes,” bound together by a simple tether. The image invites one’s imagination.

In recognition of the 400th birthday of William Shakespeare, the Review features an essay and poems by actor James Keegan, from Milton, Delaware. The veteran actor describes how he draws human qualities from his Shakespearean roles to build characters in his poetry. Mythological undertones surface throughout much of the writing in this edition.

True to the regional namesake, the Delmarva Peninsula, this issue includes a special section listing 114 current books published by authors from the Chesapeake region. The new books cover most genres and show the diversity of creative writing by regional authors.

Published by the Eastern Shore Writer’s Association (ESWA), the Delmarva Review has printed the original literary work of 254 authors over a nine-year history. Some are newly discovered. In all, they have come from twenty-eight states, the District of Columbia, and nine other countries. Over half are from the Delmarva and Chesapeake region.

The Review’s published work has earned over 40 nominations for a Pushcart Prize, as well as notable mentions in published anthologies and critical journals.

For writers, the submission period is open from November 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017 for new poetry, short fiction, and creative nonfiction. Writing will be considered for the tenth annual edition in 2017. All submissions are made from the website’s guidelines page at

The journal produces print and digital editions. Both are available worldwide via and other online booksellers. It is downloadable in a digital format at Kindle for tablets, computers, smart phones, and other reading devices. Two-year subscriptions are available on the website.

It is sold regionally at the News Center, in Easton, Mystery Loves Company, in Oxford, The Writer’s Center, in Bethesda, and other bookstores for $10. The e-book edition is $3.99. It is also available at many public libraries in the region.

In addition to ESWA, publication is supported by individual tax-deductible contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council, with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council.

Information about the Review and the authors is available on the website: ESWA information is available at:

Celebrating Pro Bono Service to the Mid-Shore

Guests joined Mid-Shore Pro Bono staff, board members and volunteer attorneys for an open house at its offices on South West Street in Easton on October 26 in honor of National Celebrate Pro Bono Week. Among those attending were Judge Stephen Kehoe and Senator Addie Eckardt.


Sandy Brown, Executive Director of MSPB, Senator Addie Eckardt, Childlene Brooks, Board Member and Director of the Talbot Senior Center at Brookletts Place.

Executive Director Sandy Brown emphasized that, while events were happening nationwide to recognize pro bono service, “We live and breathe pro bono every day.”

The organization that began in 2005 with a limited mission as a lawyer referral agency has grown dramatically to encompass a wide range of services to low-income residents of the Mid-Shore community. “More and more clients were asking for help with foreclosures,” said Brown, “so we expanded to focus on that need. We recognized that seniors have unique legal concerns, but often are reluctant or unable to reach out to us, so we began taking our services to them. Whenever the community has asked for help, we have answered.”

With civil legal clinics now held in all five of Mid-Shore Pro Bono’s service counties, residents can obtain convenient free legal advice tailored to their individual situations. Homeowners facing foreclosure can receive advice and assistance at Foreclosure Prevention Clinics. Bankruptcy and Consumer Protection Clinics help those burdened with debt problems. Seniors can get help with wills, advance directives and other late-life legal concerns at Elder Law Clinics held at local senior centers.

Among other issues handled either through lawyer referrals or at its clinics are Family Law cases, out-of-court options for divorce and custody decisions, Community Conferencing to keep youths out of the juvenile justice system, and more.

With its many programs and clinics, Mid-Shore Pro Bono offers local attorneys a variety of opportunities to fulfill their court-recommended pro bono service hours.

“Mid-Shore Pro Bono has grown to be a trusted bridge between members of our community who are looking for answers to legal questions and can’t afford attorneys,” said Brown, “and the lawyers and community resources able to provide those answers. We celebrate that every day.”

Mid-Shore Pro Bono serves Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline, Talbot and Dorchester counties. For more information or to make a donation, call 410-690-8128 or visit

Model Boat Show Returns to OCC on Nov. 12

Visitors to the Oxford Community Center on Saturday, Nov. 12 will have a model day, as OCC’s Model Boat Show returns for its third year. The free event is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and features 30 model builders from throughout the region, model-making demonstrations, and kids’ activities.

boat-show-2015-5This year, the expanded model boat show and sale features model builders sharing their craft and history through an even more diverse selection of model boats, talks, and demonstrations. Visitors will enjoy the opportunity to talk with modelers, hear stories and ask questions.   Every model boat has a story to tell—you can learn about the history of original vessels, such as a crab scrape bateau, bugeye, dinky skiff, bar cat, drake tail and more, as well as boat-building techniques and maritime culture.Roughly 30 model builders will display diverse models, including half-hull models of Chesapeake Bay boats and classic yachts; scratch-built models of Tangier Sound workboats; tall ship rigging; early modern sailing ships; a local radio-controlled Laser fleet; workboats and sailing ships from members of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum model sailing club; and ships in bottles and Bay schooners.

Don Willey, from Fruitland, Md., will be among the modelers at the show. Willey started building models in 1980, with his first being a four-masted schooner. He has built more than 700 models since, which are included in collections around the world—France, Germany, England, Canada, Mexico, and Fiji. All the work Willey does in commissioned, and there is more than a year’s wait for him to start new work.

“I have been behind ever since I started and I am still behind, about a year, used to be two,” said Willey. “But people have seen my work and said they will wait. I have never had anyone dissatisfied, they have always given me great praise. Even personal boats that I have built from old photos, they say it looks just like it and are amazed by the details.”


im Wortman, Talbot St. Ship Shop

Willey will be bringing models of a skipjack, drake stern workboat, fishing skiff, ducking skiff, buyboat, and a tugboat, as well as doing knot-tying demonstrations.

There will also be an opportunity to visit a local shipwright’s boatshed and see boat building in progress.  Cutts & Case, Inc., the world-renowned wooden boat builders in Oxford, will be hosting an open house providing Model Boat Show visitors behind-the-scenes access to the world of wooden boat building. A short three minute drive through the historic town of Oxford will bring visitors to Cutts & Case for self-guided tours.

Visitors to OCC will be treated to a “Dock Sale,” will feature miscellaneous model-making tools, supplies, and kits for sale. An expanded kids’ corner provides several hands-on activities, including a chance for children to build their own boat models.New this year, there will be representatives from the Washington Ship Model Society.

Mystery Loves Company bookstore will be on hand with maritime books, art, and novelty items for sale. The show boasts things to do for all ages: there will be a kid’s activity area where children can make and race their own models and an ‘I SPY’ scavenger hunt.

The Model Boat Show is sponsored in part by a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council.

For more information on the Model Boat Show @ OCC, please call 410-226-5904, visit, or like their Facebook page at Oxford Community Center, Inc.

St. Michaels Rotary Club Lights New Support for Local Fireworks Tradition

When the well-established St. Michaels Fireworks Committee signaled a need for support by a well-established community organization, the St. Michaels Rotary Club raised its hand.

stmichaelsfwpicThe Fireworks Committee was formed by a small group of St. Michaels residents and business owners in 2009 after the Miles River Yacht Club announced that, for safety reasons, it could no longer host the annual Independence Day fireworks display on its grounds. For seven years now, the Committee has single-handedly raised the funds for and produced our community’s spectacular July 4th show—and most residents agree that each year has outshone the previous.

The Fireworks Committee recently expressed concern, though, around its ability to meet and exceed expectations over the long-term. In response, and after several months of discussions, the St. Michaels Rotary Club has designated five of its members to serve on the Committee and provide permanent organizational and administrative support.

“Can you imagine a Fourth of July weekend here in St. Michaels without fireworks?” asks St. Michaels Rotarian and Fireworks Committee Chairman Ted Doyle. “Neither could we, and now we won’t have to. Not for a long, long time.”

The St. Michaels Fireworks Committee will continue as a separate and independent organization. Its success will rely on Rotary volunteers and the continued and generous support of businesses and people in and around St. Michaels. The next Independence Day fireworks in St. Michaels will be held on the evening of Saturday, July 1, 2017. For more information, follow the Committee on Facebook at: Michaels-Fireworks-Fund- 129591967072325/.

The Rotary Club of St. Michaels is one of 34,000 Rotary Clubs worldwide and has been active in the St. Michaels and greater Bay Hundred community for 77 years. Living by the motto “service above self,” St. Michaels Rotary works locally and globally to promote peace, fight disease, support education, provide clean water and grow economies. Learn more at

UM Shore Regional Health Announces “Ask the Expert” Series Schedule

University of Maryland Shore Regional Health has announced several dates in November for its “Ask the Expert” series offered throughout the region. “Ask the Expert” offers area residents access to the most current information on relevant health care topics.

Upcoming events are:

Stroke Signs, Symptoms, Treatment and Recovery

Tuesday, November 1, 1pm
Jessica Fluharty, MSN, RN, FNE-A, Neuroscience Specialist and Stroke Coordinator,
UM Shore Medical Center at Easton
Dorchester County Family YMCA
201 Talbot Avenue, Cambridge

Steps for Gaining Control of Diabetes

Wednesday, November 2, 2pm
Doris Allen, BSN, RN, CDE, Lead Diabetes Educator, UM Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology
Caroline County Public Library, Small Meeting Room
100 Market Street, Denton

Wednesday, November 9, 2pm
Anna Antwi, CRNP-F, UM Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology
Kent County Public Library, Yellow Building
207 Calvert Street, Chestertown

Tuesday, November 15, 1pm
Bobbi Atkinson, CRNP-F, UM Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology
Dorchester County Family YMCA
201 Talbot Avenue, Cambridge

Evaluation and Treatment for Urinary Incontinence

Monday, November 7, 12pm
R. Duane Cespedes, MD, UM Community Medical Group – Continence & Pelvic Health
Heron Point of Chestertown, Barrett Conference Room
501 E. Campus Avenue, Chestertown

Living with COPD
Fernando C. DeLeon, MD, UM Community Medical Group – Pulmonary Care

Thursday, November 10, 1:30pm
Grasonville Senior Center
4802 Main Street, Grasonville, MD

Wednesday, November 16, 2pm
Caroline County Public Library, Small Meeting Room
100 Market Street, Denton, MD

Bridging Maryland’s Health Care: Expansion of PCI Program and EP Lab for Cardiology Needs on the Shore

Thursday, November 17, 12pm
Jeffrey Etherton, MD, FACC and Benjamin Remo, MD, FACC, UM Community Medical Group – Cardiology
UM Shore Medical Pavilion at Easton, Conference Room
500 Cadmus Lane, Easton

Attendees are asked to RSVP to Cathy Wright, 410-822-1000, ext. 5222, or e-mail

As part of the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), University of Maryland Shore Regional Health is the principal provider of comprehensive health care services for more than 170,000 residents of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. UM Shore Regional Health’s team of more than 2,500 employees, medical staff, board members and volunteers works with various community partners to fulfill the organization’s mission of Creating Healthier Communities Together.