Gilbert Byron Day to Celebrate the Chesapeake Bay

Local author and poet Gilbert and his wife Edna Byron are pictured here with the original one room cabin at Old House Cove near St. Michaels in August 1942. This year, the annual birthday celebration in Gilbert Byron’s honor will be held on July 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Pickering Creek Audubon Center in Easton where the cabin is now located. Friends will gather to do readings and share stories about Byron, who lived from 1903 to 1991.

Local author and poet Gilbert and his wife Edna Byron are pictured here with the original one room cabin at Old House Cove near St. Michaels in August 1942. This year, the annual birthday celebration in Gilbert Byron’s honor will be held on July 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Pickering Creek Audubon Center in Easton where the cabin is now located. Friends will gather to do readings and share stories about Byron, who lived from 1903 to 1991.

According to Jacques “Jack” T. Baker, Jr., who wrote the book, “Gilbert Byron: A Life Worth Examining,” local author and poet Gilbert Byron had much in common with the writer Henry Thoreau. Known as “The Chesapeake Thoreau,” not only did Byron live in a house on a wooded cove, delighting in the simple life, but he also shared a birthday with the acclaimed writer – the two were born on July 12. This year, the annual birthday celebration in Gilbert Byron’s honor will be held on July 9 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Pickering Creek Audubon Center in Easton. Friends will gather to do readings and share stories about Byron, who lived from 1903 to 1991.

In addition to tours of the Gilbert Byron House, Jack Baker of the Gilbert Byron Society will provide a brief talk on the significance of Gilbert’s life, particularly in how he has preserved the culture of the Eastern Shore’s native waterman culture in his writing. Jack Baker comments, “Gilbert always said that if he didn’t think it was worthwhile, he wouldn’t have done it. That includes taking Thoreau’s philosophy to heart and living a simple minimalist life.”

There will be a formal poetry reading with guest readers including: Jim Dawson of Unicorn Bookshop; Nancy Andrew of Habitat for Humanity; Dave Harper, Associate Professor of English, at Chesapeake College; and Kelley Malone, retired Easton Town Council member, poet and friend of Gilbert Byron. There will be a showing of a DVD about Byron’s life and a period for questions and answers. Refreshments will be served.

This coming fall, the Gilbert Byron Society will also sponsor the First Annual Gilbert Byron Poetry Contest for middle school students from Talbot County. The contest’s purpose is to keep alive Gilbert’s passion for teaching poetry to children as a visiting poet in many Maryland public schools. Further information will be forthcoming.

For further information about the event, visit gilbertbyron.org or email Jack Baker at airmail4@gilbertbyron.org.

The Gilbert Byron Society is a nonprofit organization working through the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. Individuals interested in making a donation to the Society or contributing to the cash prizes for the upcoming Poetry Contest can visit mscf.org or call 410-820-8175. Donations may also be sent to The Gilbert Byron Society, c/o The Mid-Shore Community Foundation, 102 East Dover Street, Easton, MD 21601.

Recovery: A Mother Redefines Her Daughter’s Memory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donations to Mariah’s Mission Fund are tax-deductible and can be made by contacting the Mid-Shore Community Foundation at 410.820.8175  or by visitingwww.mscf.org. For further information about helping with the spring silent auction for the Fund, contact Valerie Albee at mariahsmission2014@gmail.com. For parent resources in dealing with teen substance abuse, visit the Talbot County Parent Coalition at parentscoalitionoftalbotpartnership.org.

 

Poem

by Mariah Albee

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

 

When I was little my dreams were so bright.

I never imagined my life wouldn’t be alright.

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

Taught to always live by the rules.

My mind was filled with dreams and hope.

Unaware of the nightmare of dope.

Somehow, somewhere, my dreams went up in smoke.

With real life I could no longer cope.

With drugs and danger I began to flirt.

After all, who could I hurt?

Whenever there was pain or anger to feel.

It was stopped and stifled with little pills.

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

I found stronger drugs to get me high.

My dreams turned to hallucination.

My world was empty of imagination.

If my visions were to become real

There was always another pill.

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

My morals and values were tossed aside

As I deserted my hopes and dreams

My childhood lullabies were replaced by bent spoons

I woke to the nightmare of looking through bars

I knew I could no longer reach for the stars

I finally had to face a scary reality

No one could change this situation but me.

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

To go through life without the needle

Now I can reach for the stars.

ONE DAY AT A TIME!

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

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Academy Art Museum February Exhibitions Feature Artists with Ties to Eastern Shore

On February 16, 2013, the Academy Art Museum will open three new exhibitions featuring artists with ties to the Eastern Shore. The Art of Greg Mort: Selections from the Hickman Bequest, will be on display February 16 through March 31, 2013.  In 2011, David H. Hickman, an Easton-born, Washington DC resident, generously donated over 30 paintings by Greg Mort to the Museum to make it the largest public repository of the artist’s work. This exhibition, which includes a selection of paintings and drawings, draws from the Hickman gift as well as some preliminary drawings that were donated by Greg Mort to enhance the collection. Greg Mort an internationally acclaimed, self-taught artist hikes the rugged coast of Maine and travels the rural trails of Maryland with his brushes, paints and canvases. Drawing and painting since childhood, Mort’s professional art career star began to rise at an early age with his first museum show at 18. His watercolor, oil and pastel images are in notable collections around the world.

Greg Mort, Lemon Tea, 2004, watercolor, Gift of David H. Hickman, AAM 2011.002.19.

Greg Mort, Lemon Tea, 2004, watercolor, Gift of David H. Hickman, AAM 2011.002.19.

The second exhibition, Contemporary Realists: The Art of David and James Plumb, will be on display February 16 through April 28, 2013. David G. Plumb graduated from the University of Virginia with a BFA (1968). He moved to Talbot County, MD, to teach drawing and painting at the Academy Art Museum, previously known as the Academy of the Arts, while winning top awards in the Annual Juried Show (1970, 1982), exhibiting in the Maryland Biennial, Baltimore Museum (1976, 1978, 1980), and in group shows in New York City. He has been affiliated with the George Ciscle Gallery in Baltimore and Hollis Taggart and David Adamson Galleries in Washington, DC. James Plumb received his BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art and graduated with an MFA from Brooklyn College (1984). He was one of 20 individuals selected from worldwide applications, to attend the prestigious postgraduate studies at the Amsterdam-Maastricht Summer University (2001). James draws on the visual heri­tage of illusion and symbolism of the Old Masters of European painting. He feels that many of the concepts expressed through the visual relationships are just as valid today as they were back then. James Plumb served as curator of the Academy of the Arts in Easton (1978 – 1982). He serves as full professor in studio and art history courses at Chesapeake College. He has been represented by the David Adamson Gallery in DC, the Leslie Levy Fine Arts in Scottsdale, AZ, and had a one-man show at the South Street Gallery in Easton (2011).

David Plumb, Fall Flowers, Oil, 2009, collection of the artist.

David Plumb, Fall Flowers, Oil, 2009, collection of the artist.

 

James Plumb, Floral with Peaches, Grapes and Harvest Figure, Oil, 2010, collection of the artist.

James Plumb, Floral with Peaches, Grapes and Harvest Figure, Oil, 2010, collection of the artist.

 

The third exhibition, Katherine K. Allen Meditation on Nature in Paint and Stitch, will be on display February 16 through March 31, 2013.  Allen loves talking to nature and her colorful artworks bring that conversation visually to life. With a vocabulary of lively gestural marks, abstracted botanical shapes and subtle textural stitching on cloth, Allen brings the outside inside. Her “soft paintings” are steeped in personal experience and the remembered atmosphere of the natural world, evoking landscapes that feel recognizable yet imaginary. In her studio gardens, surrounding woods and nearby wetlands, Allen grows and gathers the botanical materials used in her creative process.  She holds a BFA from the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, and an MFA, from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI. She worked as a graphic designer, registrar, curator, art instructor and has worked since 1996 as a full-time professional studio artist. Her career has taken her all over the United States. From 1990 to the present, Allen has exhib­ited in solo and group exhibitions from Easton, MD, Pittsburgh, PA, to Stanford, CA. She regularly works on site-specific commissions and has artwork in public and many private collections. For her exhibition at the Academy Art Museum, she specially created a set of The Four Seasons, as well as a large vertical “soft painting” spanning over two floors in the Atrium Gallery. Also included will be the mythological themed Icarus, from her early career, as well as a number of recent fiber creations. She resides in Easton and Florida, with her husband David.

Katherine K. Allen, Autumn Apples, 2001 Acrylic pigments on cotton, Collection of the artist.

Katherine K. Allen, Autumn Apples, 2001 Acrylic pigments on cotton, Collection of the artist.

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Talbot Problem-Solving Court Help Transform Lives

With drug and alcohol issues at the root of many crimes in Talbot County, two and half years ago Judge Bo Earnest of the Talbot County Circuit Court established a unique program called the “Problem-Solving Court.” While there are between 30 and 35 Drug Courts in the State of Maryland, this year-long program has a broader scope in helping address the substance abuse and mental health issues of residents of Talbot County. Most of the participants in the program have been charged with possession of drugs or have related drug charges in Circuit Court. The Problem-Solving Court helps to keep them from falling back into their bad behaviors. According to Judger Earnest, the program is working in transforming lives.

Dewayne Camper of Trappe, a 37-year old father who recently graduated from the Problem-Solving Court, found that he had turned to drugs to deal with his problems.  He comments, “There are rules to follow in life.  We are raised to know these rules, but sometimes our attitudes can get in the way. This program taught me to follow directions in order not to face more serious consequences in my life. I realized I wanted to turn my life around for myself and for my 10-year old daughter.  I needed to be together to be a better father to her.”

Camper credits the Problem-Solving Court with turning his life around.  He comments, “At first I didn’t want to do it. It required doing extra work to prove to them that I was serious.”  He adds, “I soon realized this was a help system and not a court.”

Judge Earnest comments, “The program is designed to help people in these circumstances – making it more of a therapeutic court.  It is very difficult to deal with these addictions. A majority of the people with substance abuse issues have mental health issues as well, so the program determines what each individual needs and includes psychological treatment.”

Participants of the Problem-Solving Court must sign a written contract to be in the program for a minimum of one year. The first step is getting people into a substance abuse treatment program through the Talbot County Addictions Program or Shore Behavioral Health.  This program, which can last from 30 days to one year, requires the participant to submit to random drug testing three times a week. The results are reviewed with the participant in the Problem-Solving Court every two weeks. In addition, they must meet every two weeks to review their progress with Judge Earnest and his team, which includes the State’s Attorney, Public Defender, Division of Parole and Probation, Talbot County Addictions Program, Shore Behavioral Health, Talbot County Detention Center, and Mid-Shore Mental Health Services. Participants must also attend a meeting of either Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous twice a week, perform a minimum of 40 hours of community service with local charities, and write essays to express themselves and their journey. The program also addresses education and employment issues, working to link participants with employment services provided by the Workforce Investment Board and educational offerings.

For Dewayne Camper, Problem-Solving Court gave him the opportunity to attend Chesapeake College where he is studying Human Services.  He hopes to get into counseling one day himself.  He states, “I ignored the help offered to me throughout my life.  I didn’t feel people would understand my problems. Sometimes you just need to talk to someone to deal with your problems.  I have realized that through participating in the program and am totally taking advantage of the help now offered to me.”

Judge Earnest adds that in addition to the Problem-Solving Court, Talbot County is working to establish another groundbreaking court – Re-Entry Court, which assists people returning from jail and prison. While it has been approved by Talbot County, it is awaiting approval by the State of Maryland. He states, “Most of these people, who also have substance abuse and mental health issues are woefully unprepared to return to society from prison. When they come back from prison, the results are entirely predictable with the majority re-arrested and being sent back to prison.”

According to Judge Earnest, the purpose of the Re-Entry Court is to figure out who the good candidates are for rehabilitation – those who are not a public safety threat – and have them serve the last six months of their sentence in the Talbot County Detention Center to prepare them for their return to the community.

He adds, “We are not coddling criminals. Whether we like it or not, these people are coming back into our county.  Some of their problems can’t be treated effectively in prison and there is science-based evidence that we can lower the recidivism rates by doing this.”

The Re-Entry Court will re-acquaint the participants with their families and address their addictions, utilizing such programs as the Fatherhood Program with the Talbot County Detention Center, Mid-Shore Mediation Program, Mid-Shore Mental Health Services, Fresh Start Housing, Talbot County Addictions Program, Shore Behavioral Health, and the Division of Parole and Probation.  The participants will transition into Talbot County’s Problem-Solving Court to continue their transition back into the community.

For Dewayne Camper, Talbot County’s approach is working. He concludes, “The more you do right, the scope of life gets bigger. Other people are watching me now and it helps me stay grounded and to stay on track.  It is not easy when you complete the program, because the issues in our lives don’t go away. It means you still need to keep working to make progress.”

Pictured left to right are Judge Bo Earnest of the Talbot County Circuit Court with Dewayne Camper of Trappe, a 37-year old father who recently graduated from Talbot County’s Problem-Solving Court. Camper credits the Problem-Solving Court with turning his life around.

Pictured left to right are Judge Bo Earnest of the Talbot County Circuit Court with Dewayne Camper of Trappe, a 37-year old father who recently graduated from Talbot County’s Problem-Solving Court. Camper credits the Problem-Solving Court with turning his life around.

 

 

For further information on Talbot County’s Problem-Solving Court, contact the Program at 410-770-6823.

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Hill’s Electric Motor Service Celebrates Fiftieth Anniversary

Pictured are Pat and Larry Hill of East New Market, owners of Hill’s Electric Motor Service, with a clock and plaque given to them by their children and their employees at the company’s recent 50th anniversary celebration in Linkwood, MD.

In 1962 at age 23, Larry Hill had a dream. He was working for an electric motor business in Salisbury and decided to approach his boss, Al Meilhammer, about helping to make his business turn a profit. With a challenge from his boss to make that happen, Hill purchased the business for $1,800, with a loan from his best friend and the rest is history. Hill’s Electric Motor Service in Linkwood, MD, has grown from two employees in 1962 to 25 employees, plus family members, today. The business just celebrated its 50th anniversary, with family, friends and employees honoring the vision Larry and his wife, Pat, had when creating the family-owned company.

Larry Hill sat with his best friend, Tommy Wade, at the recent celebration, reflecting on his friend’s generosity in loaning him the $1,800 to start the business. He comments, “I was so young and had so few assets that it was impossible to get a loan to buy the business. I was turned down by three banks. My best friend Tommy Wade offered me the loan, without interest, and through my wife’s encouragement, we took it.”

Wade’s version of the story is that he had grown up with Hill in Salisbury and knew his friend’s work ethic. Wade comments, “He was a worker and knew what he was doing in repairing electric motors. I believed in him.”

Hill credits his wife and three sons with providing the support over the years to grow the business. He comments, “When I first got into this, my thoughts were about having a job, paying my bills, and supporting my family.”

Pat Hill echoes her husband, stating, “Neither one of us had any idea what it would grow to be. We never dreamed our sons would also work in the business.”

The Hills’ three sons, David, Mark and Steve, have been with the business since they were young teens, working first a half-day and progressing to full day employment, learning about repairing electric motors on the job. The sons serve as vice presidents for Hill’s Electric Motor Service. David Hill quotes the motor repairs and manages the company’s accounting functions; Mark Hill handles the invoicing, motor controls work, and outside sales; and Steve Hill provides the vibration analysis and manages the company’s East Coast Supply Division which they bought in December 2011.

Over the last 20 years, Hill’s company has found a niche in the electric motor business, focusing on the poultry industry, including processing plants and feed mills, as well as the wastewater business. The company’s territory includes Maryland, Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Virginia, as well as western Virginia. As the company needed space to expand, it moved from Salisbury to Cambridge, MD, then to Linkwood in 2004, which is the business’s current location. Since then, the business has grown considerably, adding a machine shop on the property in 2005, adding on a warehouse in 2007, and building a new warehouse in 2011. The business has permits for future expansion.

David Hill comments, “Through it all, my dad has worked in the shop every day. He is the first one here and the last one to leave.”

Larry Hill credits his sons with bringing technology into the business and recognizing the trend toward selling new electric motors in addition to repairing them. This new direction prompted the business to build its new warehouse this year to accommodate the motor sales division. Mark Hill adds, “The biggest change over the years has been society’s perception of the repair business. Repairs take time and some people don’t want to wait. We are now growing our motor sales business along with the repair business and are having great success.”

Larry Hill is humble when he talks about his accomplishments over the last 50 years, deriving pleasure from the long term employees who continue to work with him, many with over 20 years of service. He states, “It’s all about the people who work for you. I also credit the customers who have been with us for 50 years: Dorchester Lumber, John W. Tieder, and Friel Canning Company.” He adds, “I have been very fortunate and have had a lot of breaks.”

Even so, David Hill comments about his father’s success, “It is a momentous occasion today. Not many businesses survive 50 years.”

Hill’s Electric Motor Service is located at 3901 Vincent Road in Linkwood. For further information, contact them at 410-228-4447 or visit hillselectric.com.

By Amy Blades Steward
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