Archives for June 2017

Spy Eye: Tom Blair is Back at It on St. Michaels Road

Like many people who travel on Route 33 frequently, the Spy was very disappointed that homeowner Tom Blair, with a sizeable amount of frontage on the St. Michaels Road, had discontinued the practice of using his long fence as a theoretical backdrop to what can only be referred to as highway theater.

For several years, Mr. Blair had constructed humorous and elaborate sets with life-sized Air Force jets, mannequins, and other exotic props to entertain motorists making their way to and from St. Michaels. But for reasons not completely understood, these masterpieces of road art disappeared last year, and many in the community were greatly saddened that this great tradition had come to an end.

But, low and behold, the Blair show is back on. The Spy spotted his newest production yesterday on Route 33 and sent back this reconnaissance video of a well-known politician and his wife preparing for a Fourth of July address while his motorcade must cope with a flat tire.

This video is approximately one minute in length

Food Friday: Summer Squash for Everyone

The Fourth of July has snuck up on us again. It is a four-day weekend this year, and everyone in the Spy Test Kitchens is poised to flee the office early, and get on the road to dream destinations. There is no better time to be celebrating with all the squash in your arsenal at picnics, family reunions, neighborhood potlucks, parades and fireworks festivals you will be attending. It is time to unload all your spare squash.

This is an excellent opportunity to use all that squash that is starting to crowd your humble garden beds. That one packet of squash seeds you planted can probably take care of a family of four from now until next planting season. The prospects are daunting. But do you want to be the former-favorite aunt who brings zucchini ginger cupcakes to the picnic at the lake? Not if you want those kids taking care of you in your old age! They never forget so-called “gourmet” baking experiments, or deliberate kid slights.

This zucchini salad requires time in the kitchen, which is not my favorite place to be these hot summer days: Be warned!

But roasting vegetables can be swift and painless – you can do it in the morning, before you go off to the parade: And if you are going to be hanging with your in-laws, it never hurts to look impressive.

Bon Appétit stops the squash dead in its tracks with this pretty ricotta-stuffed squash blossom:

You can tiptoe out the back door and pick the blossoms early in the morning, before the rest of the house is stirring. Squash blossoms always look so summery and pretty, a natural progression from putting garden nasturtiums in your salads.
For a seasonal appetizer Bon Appétit also suggest a Grilled Summer Squash Baba Ghanoush, which is worth preparing if only for the delight in rolling “Baba Ghanoush” around on your tongue.

Here is a conversation starter for the neighborhood picnic: squash pickles. You can hand out goodie bags of squash with printed recipe cards, and rid yourself, ahem, redistribute, that surplus squash: So creative! Be sure to use recyclable bags! Be that neighbor!

Or you can serve an elegant cool gazpacho, and never get near a stove, oven, or grill. You can entertain the fantasy of floating around in cool, wrinkle-free linen, while tossing witty bons mot to your admiring and sycophantic guests. Or you can have a nice cool soup, and get in all your veggies for the day, for once: Or, depending on how annoying in-laws and neighbors’ children are, pour the gazpacho in a tall glass, add a shot of vodka and a straw and go about your buzzy business…

If our fecund squash plants are any indication of the manifest destiny of summer squash, you had best have a rotation of squash recipes lined up: breakfast, lunch and dinner. You are going to be working on a veritable squash assembly line. And you will look back fondly on these wacky summer squash follies when you are scraping ice off your windshield come February. Honest.

“The trouble is, you cannot grow just one zucchini. Minutes after you plant a single seed, hundreds of zucchini will barge out of the ground and sprawl around the garden, menacing the other vegetables. At night, you will be able to hear the ground quake as more and more zucchinis erupt.”
-Dave Barry

Talbot Historical Society Project Rewind: Takes to the Field

This Talbot Historical Society H. Robins Hollyday Collection photo of the old baseball field between Federal and Bay Streets gives an excellent view of that whole area back in c. 1930’s ! Wonder what the smoke and possible excavation is on what is probably Port Street? Enjoy comparing now and then!

Contact: Cathy Hill to share your old photos. Comment, Like our page and join THS!


Maryland and Virginia Move to Trim Bay Crab Harvest

Crabbers in Maryland and Virginia face new harvest restrictions, a move that managers in both states have said is necessary because of the Chesapeake Bay’s low population of juvenile crustaceans.

Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced Tuesday that the commercial crab season will close Nov. 20, ten days earlier than it did last year. The state’s crabbers also face a cutback in the number of adult female crabs they can harvest. Those who fish 300 pots will be able to keep five bushels of females, as opposed to nine last year; those with a 600-pot license can keep 10, as opposed to 13 last year; and those with a 900-pot license can keep 15, as opposed to 30 last year.

The Virginia Marine Resources Commission (VMRC) voted Tuesday to close its crabbing season Nov. 30 — twenty days earlier than last year. Virginia also instituted reduced bushel limits for its license holders for all of November. It will open its 2018 spring season March 17, instead of March 1 this year.

VMRC board chairman John M.R. Bull called the commission’s decision “prudent management of this species” and said the crabbers recognized they were taking a necessary step. “Crab management issues are always difficult, but we’ve seen tremendous improvements in the species over the past seven or eight years,” he said. “We have the largest number of adult female crabs. We have to protect the juveniles, though. This year’s babies are next year’s mamas.”

The harvest cuts come after the latest winter dredge survey results, released in April, showed that the highest number of female crabs in the 28-year history of the annual count. The tally for females was 254 million, a 31 percent increase over last year.

But the Baywide survey, which counts the crabs in more than 1,000 locations as they burrow in the mud, showed a marked decrease in young crabs. It estimated that there were 125 million juveniles in the Chesapeake — a 54 percent decrease from the 271 million found in 2016. That is the lowest tally since 2013 (a year when crabbers also had their catch curtailed) and one of the five lowest estimates since 1990, managers said.

Catches of the Chesapeake’s most valuable seafood are being curtailed later in the year in an effort to protect the smaller population of juvenile crabs as they reach market size, so that they will be around to reproduce next year.

Maryland DNR’s Blue Crab Industry Advisory Committee and Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission approved the cuts in votes this week, DNR officials said. The DNR’s announcement came a day after the Chesapeake Bay Stock Assessment Committee, made up of federal and state fisheries officials, warned both states to take a “cautious, risk-averse approach” to managing blue crabs.

Billy Rice, chairman of the DNR Tidal Fisheries Advisory Commission and a Southern Maryland crabber, said the department was doing just that with this decision.

“We’re taking a conservative approach. We’re not going whole hog. We tried to make the changes as liberal as possible, but we felt there had had to be a response,” he said. Other options included a shorter season and less of a bushel cut; Rice said it’s better for the population and the markets to have a longer season with a higher bushel limit.

By law, the Virginia commission must annually consider reopening that state’s winter dredge fishery for crabs, which would allow crabbers to take pregnant females that spend the cold months burrowed in the mud. The dredge fishery in Virginia closed a decade ago, a move researchers have credited with helping the Bay’s crab population recover from a crisis in 2008. This year, Bull said, no one asked for the fishery to be reopened.

Not every crab scientist approves of how management has reacted to the year-over-year changes in the notoriously boom-and-bust blue crab species. Tom Miller, a crab specialist who directs the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, said it’s hard to evaluate the population’s long-term stability and the harvest it can withstand if management reacts seasonally. Crabs live between one and three years and can reproduce furiously, or not much at all. After being spawned near the mouth of the Bay, their offspring hitch a ride on ocean currents back into the Chesapeake. Some years, many return; some years, many don’t.

“I am not convinced that we need to change management,” Miller told the Bay Journal in May. “One of my concerns has been that managers have been too responsive to individual winter dredge survey results. The reference points are meant to be long-term responses of the crab population under constant conditions — and as a result, frequent changes to the management regime makes evaluation of this problematical.”

No Maryland DNR fisheries managers were available to answer questions about the state’s new harvest limits, a department spokesman said.

In the past, the DNR’s longtime blue crab manager, Brenda Davis, would have explained changes in management to both the public and crabbers But Davis, a 28-year employee, lost her job in February after several Dorchester County watermen held a private meeting with Gov. Larry Hogan Jr. and his deputy chief of staff, Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio, an Eastern Shore native who is close to many watermen.

They accused Davis of not being flexible enough about rules on the legal size of crabs. Those rules have not been changed, though a small group of crabbers continue to push for it.

“When you fire your expert,” Billy Rice said, “it’s pretty tough [to provide information].”

By Rona Kobell

Bay Journal staff writer Rona Kobell is a former reporter for the Baltimore Sun.

TCPS Gifted and Talented Program Holds STEM Olympics

Students in the Talbot County Public Schools Elementary Gifted and Talented Program participated in the 2nd Annual STEM Olympics at Easton Elementary School-Moton Building. Students were also able to showcase their projects from the school year.

Throughout the year these students explored units in Natural Disasters, Biomedical Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering.  During the Stem Olympics, students worked in teams to solve the “Super Typhoon Engineering Challenge” applying engineering design process skills. Each grade was given a different type of problem.  Third grade teams worked on Spatial Reasoning; 4th grade tackled Biomedical Engineering; and the 5th grade challenge involved Oceanography.  Medals were awarded for the teams that created the most effective solutions.

The mission of the TCPS gifted and talented program is to provide accelerated educational opportunities that recognize the unique intellectual, academic, social and emotional needs of gifted students.  Teachers provide differentiated educational experiences to challenge students and accommodate different learning styles.  The program is currently offered in grades 3, 4, 5, and 6.

Senior Nation Minute: It’s Lunchtime at the Talbot Senior Center

While the Talbot Senior Center serves a variety of purposes, including classes, workshops and physical exercise programs, its most popular is the extremely affordable ($2.50) lunch served Monday through Thursday. Dozens of senior citizens find their way to Brookletts Place during the week to enjoy a warm meal, but more importantly, the social interaction that comes with it.

The social component of the Senior Center’s lunch program is essential since many seniors find themselves isolated as a result of physical ailments or lacking  transportation. Brookletts Place has become an important outlet to interact with others, catch up on news, and learn of other resources, public and private, that can make their lives easier and more enjoyable during these golden years.

The Spy checked on the lunch program this week to witness this important community service.

This video is one minute in length. For more information please click here

Inside the Sprout Kitchen: The Milkman Cometh

Editor’s Note: The Spy is pleased to continue our special food coverage by partnering with Sprout’s Kitchen on a series of educational programs related to food and the special backstories of  their ingredients and partnership with local producers. Sprouts’ owners, Emily and Ryan Groll, the two entrepreneurs behind the Mid-Shore’s innovative food delivery service using locally sourced products, have strong opinions and experience in what makes food so special.

First up for Sprout’s Kitchen when they started a year ago was finding the right milk guy. For most culinary enterprises the need to purchase milk is simply a matter of checking off how many gallons they need on their food distributors order forms. In most cases, they have no idea where that milk comes from, what the conditions of of dairy farm is or how well the animals are treated.

That was not good enough for Sprout’s Kitchen. Owners Emily and Ryan Groll, had made it part of their mission to find and develop a long-term relationship with a local farm who shared their high standards for their milk, yogurt and butter. That’s when Nice Farms Creamery came into the picture.

Located a few miles from Federalsburg, Nice Farms is now on its third generation of family farmers who have bred their 40 dairy cows specifically for grazing. maintain annual and perennial pastures, supplementing the cows diet with quality hay, hydroponic fodder, and almost zero grain.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For information about the Sprout’s Kitchen and their meal plans please go here


Foundation of Hope Holds Certificate Ceremony

The Foundation of HOPE, Inc., held a certificate ceremony at the Talbot County Library for girls in sixth grade who completed the Economic Development and Empowerment Program at Easton Middle School.. The Economic Development and Empowerment Program is a 16 week afterschool program that delivers a new topic each week such as: self-esteem, how to deal with bullying, leading a healthy lifestyle, saying no to drugs and alcohol, the importance of community service, workforce development which includes; how to fill out a job application, how to interview, what to wear and the importance of a good personal record; economic and community development, social media, financial literacy, leadership, public speaking and entrepreneurship where they learn the tools to develop a business plan. The program provides for students to meet once a week after school to receive training. They spend the first hour focused on homework assistance and the remaining hour is spent learning the training program topics. Each week the participants are provided a hot meal, this year a local restaurant provided food each week.

The Foundation of H.O.P.E., was founded by Keasha Haythe, CEcD, a 16 year economic development veteran who is a certified economic development professional, Maryland Economic Development Association (MEDA) Board of Directors Immediate Past President and President of The MEDA Foundation, Inc.. She continues her passion for economic development by serving as President and Founder of the foundation and launching the Economic Development and Empowerment Program. Haythe stated “As an economic development professional the common theme heard from business leaders is that adults are not prepared with the soft skills needed to fill positions. This program focuses on soft skills at an age where the young girls are transitioning and preparing for work in two years.The young ladies completing the program are receiving the necessary skills and tools to be self-sufficient and great leaders in their community,” said Haythe

Girls who received a certificate of completion were: Amorie Blake, Lilyanna Cook, Maya Hawkins-Bailey, Ashley Vargas, Maretta Walker and Ja’Kyra Ware. Without the support of our sponsors and many partners we would not be able to offer this program. We are grateful for the partnership with Talbot County Public Schools. The Foundation of H.O.P.E. Board of Directors is preparing for their Annual Fundraiser to be held at the Milestone in Easton, MD on Wednesday December 6, 2017 from 6pm-8pm.

About the Foundation of HOPE

Our mission is to help young girls lead productive lives in their communities by providing cultural, social and educational development. For more information like us on Facebook and visit our website at

St Michaels to Celebrate An Old Fashioned Independence Day

Join the festivities at St. Michaels Museum on Tuesday, July 4 at 10am in Historic St Mary’s Square in St Michaels.  Events begin with a Children’s Parade.  Patriotically dressed entrants are encouraged to bring decked-out bicycles, tricycles, wagons, and pets. Parade participants are asked to arrive at 9:30.

Uncle Sam leads the parade, followed by Maggie, an antique fire engine supplied by the St Michaels Fire Department.  Cars will be re-routed away from the five-block parade route through town.

Back at St. Michaels Museum the program will begin at 11am.  Boy Scouts from Troop 741 will raise the flag and lead the Pledge of Allegiance.  Following a benediction, patriotic and folk songs will be performed by the Royal Oak Musicians.   Guest speaker, Pete Lesher, Chesapeake Maritime Museum Curator, will speak on “Independence and America’s Open Door”.  After we close the program, Magician John Dodge will perform, and the Phillips Wharf Fishmobile will be on hand to show the kids many of the creatures that live in around the bay.  The St Michaels Museum will be open free of charge, and refreshments will be available from the St Michaels Fire Department and the Highland Creamery.

For more information call 410-745-0530

UMCES Invites Everyone to Report Dolphin Sightings in Chesapeake Bay

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science invites everyone who spends time on or near the Chesapeake Bay to report dolphin sightings with a new online tracking system. Chesapeake DolphinWatch allows users to mark the location of their dolphin sightings on a map of the Chesapeake and its tributaries so scientists can better understand where the dolphins are and where they go. The online tracker is accessible at .

“We’d like to increase people’s awareness of the dolphins and collect data at the same time,” said Helen Bailey, a scientist at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. She specializes in studying the movements of marine mammals.“Whether you’re at home, whether you have a community pier, you live near the water, or you go out on the water, we need your eyes on the sea telling us where are the dolphins.”

Bottlenose dolphins are frequently spotted in the Chesapeake Bay during the summer with reports of them leaping in the air or bow riding boats. However, very little is known about how often dolphins actually come into the Bay, how long they spend there, what areas of the Bay they are using and why.

“Right now we have such scarce information. This is really the first time we are systematically recording this,” said Bailey. “We are hearing anecdotally that dolphins are becoming more frequent visitors to the Chesapeake Bay, but we really don’t have much information at all about where they are going and when. The more eyes we have on the water the better to report dolphin sightings. We think that citizens can make very good citizen scientists,” she said.

The online tracker has four main sections. There is a map page where users can see all of the reported sightings and tap to report their own sighting. Users can either enter the location where they saw the dolphins or have the device use the current location to mark the sighting. Users will be able to view how many users are accessing the tracker and the dolphin sightings in real time. There is also an information page with responsible wildlife viewing guidelines and to learn more about dolphins and the Chesapeake Bay.

“We are excited to be using new technology that will enable everyone to help us understand more about dolphins,” said Tom Miller, director of UMCES’ Chesapeake Biological Laboratory. “Citizen science, such as the DolphinWatch tracker, is becoming more and more important and helps connect everyone to our work to protect, restore, and sustain the Bay.”

Bailey notes that changes in climate, improvements in water quality, and improvements in fish stocks upon which dolphins feed could be factors in a surge in dolphin sightings. She already has a few underwater microphones in the Patuxent and Potomac Rivers where they meet the Chesapeake Bay listening for the echolocation click sounds dolphins make. The data collected through Chesapeake DolphinWatch will help inform where to put more devices to help understand where the dolphins are going and where are feeding.

“People have been really excited to tell us about their sightings, but there was no easy way to report them before,” said Bailey. “Dolphins are very iconic, and they are in our backyard.”

More information on the DolphinWatch program is available on the UMCES website at Tag your photos of dolphins to @dolphinwatch_cb on Instagram.

Funding for was provided by the Chesapeake Bay Trust.


The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science leads the way toward better management of Maryland’s natural resources and the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. From a network of laboratories located across the state, UMCES scientists provide sound advice to help state and national leaders manage the environment, and prepare future scientists to meet the global challenges of the 21st century.