A New Executive Director For RiverArts

Maria Wood

Chestertown RiverArts Board announces a new Executive Director. Maria Wood will step in to the position on September 1, upon Andy Goddard’s retirement on August 31. Andy has been RiverArts executive director for 3½ years. Pam White, Board president, happily made the announcement. “The Board is very pleased that Maria has accepted our offer. Her experience and vision will build in exciting ways upon the strong foundation that Andy has created.”

A native of the Eastern Shore and a graduate of Smith College, Maria brings a deep belief in and appreciation of the benefits of the arts in the community. She brings, as well, the organizational skills that RiverArts will need. She spent 20 years with the National Children’s Music Project, a non-profit organization with a mission to promote social, cultural, and academic arts education, first as the program director and then as president. More recently, she was Deputy Campaign Manager for the Jesse Colvin for Congress campaign. Currently, she is Education Manager for RiverArts.

“I am excited to take on this position,” said Maria. “RiverArts is a crucial part of the rich arts culture in Kent County and I look forward to working with the Board, staff, volunteers, and members to support the important work of connecting the arts with the community.”


An Evening of Opera and Italian Wine Dinner at Scossa

Simpatico, Italy’s Finest and Scossa Restaurant & Lounge have planned a unique offering in their series of wine dinners that will deliver not only a tasting delight but also an evening of wonderful Italian opera. Bobbi Parlett, owner of Simpatico, says: “We have teamed with MAGNVM OPVS to present an evening of fine wine, food, and music in a one-of-a-kind Tasting Concert.  This Tasting Concert draws inspiration from the great Italian opera classics, designed to heighten the experience in all of your senses. We are so excited about bringing this level of entertainment to the area and hope it will be the first of more in the future”. The event is on Friday, August 23rd, at 7:00 pm in the private dining area at Scossa. Seating is limited to 60 seats and reservations are required.

The evening will feature performers who travel nationwide to share their talent through a wide range of opera productions and they will be coming to Easton for this inaugural performance of “Voce e Vini” (Voice and Wine). 

The program features soprano April Martin and tenor Benjamin Werley, curated by operatic bass-baritone and wine educator Matthew Burns, accompanied by Justina Lee.  Enjoy a seven-course meal while Matthew guides you through seven different wines, chosen to highlight the parallels between what you taste and what you hear. A CD of the music and the wines tasted throughout the evening will be available for special purchase at the dinner through Simpatico, Italy’s Finest. 

April Martin trained as a member of the inaugural class of Resident Artists with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and apprenticed with Virginia Opera, Central City Opera, and the Aspen Music Festival. Recent operatic debuts include Opera in Williamsburg, New Jersey State Repertory Opera, New Amsterdam Opera, and Piedmont Opera. She has performed as a soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra as well as the Kansas City, Duke and Virginia Symphonies. 

Benjamin Werley was one of twenty singers nationwide selected to sing in the semi-finals of the 2012-2013 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in New York City. He has since participated in many prestigious young artist programs, including the Merola Opera Program, Santa Fe Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Virginia Opera, Opera Colorado, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, and Martina Arroyo’s Prelude to Performance. This season, Werley returned to Virginia Opera in their first ever production of Kurt Weil’s Street Scene as Lippo Fiorentino. He made his Cleveland Opera Theater and role debut as Alfredo in La Traviata this April, made his debut at Dayton Opera as Narraboth and Second Jew in their production of Salome, and made his debut this summer at Central City Opera as Red Whiskers in their production of Britten’s Billy Budd

Matthew Burns is an internationally renowned bass-baritone who has enjoyed a twenty-year career with featured performances at Los Angeles Opera, Utah Opera, Central City Opera, and Michigan Opera Theatre, among many others. Mr. Burns has a passion for wine and experience as a wine buyer, wine educator, and frequent imbiber. In 2016, he combined his love of wine and experience in opera to create Magnvm Opvs tasting concerts. A unique event combining an operatic recital and a wine tasting, Magnvm Opvs tasting concerts have been enjoyed by audiences in California, New York, Utah, and Virginia, with many more programs in the works.

Tickets for the evening are $150 per person, which includes tax and gratuity. For details on the program of wine, food and music, please visit www.simpaticostmichaels.com or contact Bobbi Parlett at 610-209-5409. Reservations can be made by calling Scossa at 410-822-2202.


Gardening: Unity Church Hill Nursery Tent Sale

Unity Church Hill Nursery is holding a tent sale all day Saturday, August 3, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Come early to take advantage of great bargains for your home or garden up to 75% off on selected items. Choose from nursery overstock or discontinued items including seeds and seed-starting supplies, organic mechanics potting mix and soil amendments, hammocks, select pottery and containers, select plants including conifers and crape myrtles, and much, much more. Take a selfie with the “Big Rooster” and check out the fresh produce and herbs for sale in the Roadside Stand.

Stroll through the grounds with a vast selection of unique outdoor pottery, sculpture, outdoor furniture, garden art and inspirational design ideas to enhance your home and garden. Need help in planning your garden or adding to your existing landscape? Nursery’s sister company Unity Landscape Design/Build, Inc. is conveniently located on-site at the nursery and its design staff will be on hand during the sale to discuss designing, permitting, installing and maintaining your landscaping projects.

Unity Church Hill Nursery is located at 3621 Church Hill Rd, Church Hill, MD. For more information, please call 410-556-6010 or visit https://www.unitychurchhillnursery.com/events/nursery-tent-sale/Church Hill, MD 21623


Op-Ed: Weary of Outrage But Not Ready to Give Up by Maria Grant

I wake up every morning outraged by the ways of the world.  Good people contract bad diseases and die. Crooks live long and prosperous lives.  Hard working people hold down two jobs and barely make ends meet. Bizarre hedge fund transactions enable others to amass obscene amounts of money with little effort.  Innocent children die from random gun shots. What kind of world is this? There’s more.

I am outraged by those who refute climate change despite all scientific evidence to the contrary.

I am outraged by our lack of progress regarding gun control laws and the banning of assault weapons.  

I am outraged when children are denied a decent education. 

I am outraged by the fact that Ford and Boeing knew about problems in their respective vehicles but did nothing about them, causing innocent people to die.  

I am outraged by how little progress we have made in conquering the disease of addiction.  

I am outraged by the inhumane conditions at the migrant holding facilities.

I am outraged by how long it takes to stop or prosecute those who sexually abuse others and by the humiliation the victims sometimes face. 

I am outraged by frauds such as Jeffrey Epstein who amass millions of dollars by using unscrupulous methods and developing nefarious ways to hide their ill-begotten financial treasure.

I am outraged that Congress has done virtually nothing about past and on-going Russian interference in U.S. elections.  

I am outraged by companies that put weird chemicals in food, fertilizers, and weed killers which cause cancer and other diseases.  

I’m outraged by the endless rationalizations and hypocrisy of the religious right in supporting positions and statements that are the antithesis of what they say they believe.   

If you think about all this too much, it can destroy you.  It can prevent you from sleeping. It can make you so angry that normal conversations with friends become impossible.  What can you do?  

My advice:  Don’t give up hope. Work hard to be a good friend.  Such friendships remind us that decency can survive despite the rest of the world going south.  Engage in civil dialogue whenever possible. Appeal to basic human decency and kindness. Search for signs of hope.  Keep an open mind, treating everyone with dignity and respect. Make your own individual efforts to make the world a better place—work at a soup kitchen, sign up for Habitat for Humanity, mentor or coach a student. 

Also think about Wordsworth’s sonnet, “The World Is Too Much With Us” and from time to time disengage from society’s incessant noise and seek beauty in nature, music, and literature.  

Among the actions I am taking is the writing of this editorial.  I am hopeful that by cataloging some things that trouble me, others also may be prompted to speak up and take their own actions to make things better. Many effective groups have mobilized to address these troublesome issues.  Become involved. Take a stand. Make a case.

We live in dark times.  But remember the sun also rises and it is darkest before the dawn.  

Maria Grant served as principal-in-charge of the Federal Human Capital practice with Deloitte Consulting where she advised several Federal agencies and major private sector corporations throughout the U.S.   Since her retirement from Deloitte, she has focused on reading, writing, music, travel, gardening and nature. She cherishes the hummingbirds that gather daily just outside her screened porch overlooking Island Creek. 



Climate Change and the Eastern Shore: Talbot Rising Presents “Before the Flood” July 22

Nothing is more precious than the earth we call home. Yet few of us fully grasp the extent of the climate challenges we face globally and locally.

Talbot Rising will host at the Talbot County Public Library 5:30-7:30 p.m., Monday, July 22, a showing of the award-winning Scorsese documentary “Before the Flood” narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The Los Angeles Times called the film “neither dull screed nor stat-heavy pamphlet, thanks largely to the questing intensity of its marquee guide.”

Mary Helen Gillen of Pickering Creek Audubon will walk us through how each of us can personally help mitigate what we are facing and start to build a local wave of commitment. This event will highlight not just our climate challenges but also offer a hopeful path toward meeting them.

 “This documentary is our wake-up call,” said Grace Soltis of Talbot Rising. “If we heed the science, and take decisive action now, we have the means to address climate change starting with personal action, then building community resolve to support climate solutions. Together we can do great things.” 

For more information, contact: Ridgely Ochs, Talbot Rising, 631-871-2172


Letter to Editor: Back to the Telephone Party Lines of the 1950s by Corey Pack

People who know me, realize that I seldom write a Letter to the Editor, in fact in the last 10 plus years on the Talbot County Council, I probably have submitted maybe one. This is because I believed that most issues would be worked out over the course of time or the topic just didn’t warrant a written reply. But recently, the Talbot County Council received an opinion from the Open Meetings Compliance Board (OMCB/the Board) that has such far reaching implications as to how elected officials can communicate with one another, that I simply cannot stay quiet. The Board’s over-reaching decision will “dramatically” harm the day to day operation of local governments across the State of Maryland. No one is objecting to transparency in government, but the question is at what expense to impede the legitimate operation of local governments?

The question arose with the OMCB about whether emails between elected officials in Talbot County constituted “a meeting” where a quorum of the Talbot County Council participated.  Members of the Talbot County Council over the course of two days had contacted each other to discuss a matter pending before the Maryland General Assembly. Those discussions were not in the form of a “group” email, but in fact were one on one, just as if the members had met over a cup of coffee. This is a practice which has happened countless times over the lifetime of the Talbot County Council and indeed happens every day throughout the State of Maryland and across the nation. For the OMCB to conclude that elected officials talking to each other “one on one” constitutes a meeting of the elected body is absolutely preposterous! 

Elected officials must have the freedom to speak to each other to flush out ideas and gather a better understanding of each member’s position. Since the creation of sub-categories of government – counties, cities and towns – it has been an understood practice to have independent deliberations of those elected officials. I can’t believe when the General Assembly created the Open Meetings Compliance Board, it could have imagined that the Board would be so far reaching as to consider communications between two elected officials as constituting a meeting of the elected body.  

In fact, in 2016 during its annual meeting, the Board discussed whether the Open Meetings Act should be amended by the General Assembly to address electronic communications. But instead of taking the matter before the proper authority, the OMCB chair “suggested” to the members of the Board that “the Board may discern whether the public body is using email as a means of conducting business and interpret the Act accordingly.” 

Open Meetings training has been presented at State and Municipal conventions for elected officials since this 2016 Board decision, but never has the Board communicated its intentions to consider electronic communications within its purview. Nor has the Board ever sought direction from the General Assembly as to whether the “suggestion” of the Board chair was in fact correct. I believe that the OMCB is using Talbot County in an attempt to further their own agenda to prevent the use of electronic communication by local elected officials. For the OMCB to use a made-up violation of the Act to further its own political agenda is shameful. If members felt so strongly about the use of electronic communication, then they should have gone to the General Assembly for a change in the law, as they started to do in 2016. In fact, in a 1996 Opinion of the Attorney General, it was ruled that the exchange of emails between members of a planning commission spanning over two days, were not simultaneous communication and thus not considered to be a meeting. 

In the Board’s most recent letter to the Talbot County Council, it did not stop with redefining a meeting and a quorum. The Board went further to state that a public body cannot assert its administrative function when independently discussing whether to give an opinion on matters before the General Assembly. This means that whenever a Council member picks up the phone to call one another to get their opinions on a piece of legislation, they must first announce that they are calling the other members of the Council and then invite them to listen in on the call. I think telephone party lines went out of style in the 1950s. The Board went further with its conclusions, stating that communications spanning over a 24-hour period constituted “near-simultaneous electronic discussions, among a quorum.” 

A decision of this kind will nearly cripple most elected bodies and will severely limit the free exchange of ideas and deliberations between members. Citizens trust public officials to gather the best information they can when making decisions about their welfare, whether this information is gathered in a public setting like a meeting, or with the public official talking with his or her colleagues to better understand an issue. Conducting business today is based on the convenience of the technologies available to us.  

The Talbot County Council has taken every precaution to make sure it is in compliance with the Open Meeting rules and procedures. The Council has already made adjustments to the announcement of its Closed Session agenda items to stay in compliance of the Act. The Council prepares signed Statements for Closing the Meeting of each Closed Session in accordance with the Open Meeting Act and as Council President, I assure that only those items stated on the Closed Session agenda are discussed. As required, the Council gives notice of their Closed Sessions and welcomes a member of the local press to sit in on the beginning of the Closed Session vote, to hear openly the items on the agenda to be discussed. The Council has also included a brief summary of the Closed Session deliberations at the end of the Open (public) Session minutes. In my 10 plus years as a member of the Talbot County Council, there has never been a deliberate attempt to evade the Open Meetings Act or to deceive the public trust. This Council, and Councils before, understand the importance of an open and transparent elected body and working with County staff have always taken steps to ensure we stayed in compliance with current law. 

This decision by the OMCB will not just negatively affect Talbot County, but every county and municipal body in the State of Maryland – we all will suffer from this gross over-reach. Clearly, this issue warrants further examination by the OMCB and the Maryland General Assembly if elected officials in our towns, cities and counties are to be able to do their jobs in an efficient manner. 

Corey Pack

Opinion: Theodore Roosevelt on the 4th of July

Leave it to historian David McCullough, author of “Mornings on Horseback,” to share remarks made by a very young Theodore Roosevelt in 1886, when he was a young rancher in the Dakota Badlands, about the importance of the 4th of July:

“I am peculiarly glad to have an opportunity of addressing you, my fellow citizens of Dakota, on the Fourth of July, because it always seems to me that those who dwell in a new territory, and whose actions, therefore, are peculiarly fruitful, for good and for bad alike, in shaping the future, have in consequence peculiar responsibilities. . . . Much has been given to us, and so, much will be expected of us; and we must take heed to use aright the gifts entrusted to our care.

The Declaration of Independence derived its peculiar importance, not on account of what America was, but because of what she was to become; she shared with other nations the present, and she yielded to them the past, but it was felt in return that to her, and to her especially, belonged the future. It is the same with us here. We, grangers and cowboys alike, have opened a new land; and we are the pioneers, and as we shape the course of the stream near its head, our efforts have infinitely more effect, in bending it in any given direction . . . In other words, the first comers in a land can, by their individual efforts, do far more to channel out the course in which its history is to run than can those who come after them; and their labors, whether exercised on the side of evil or on the side of good, are far more effective than if they had remained in old settled communities.

So it is peculiarly incumbent on us here today so to act throughout our lives as to leave our children a heritage, for which we will receive their blessing and not their curse. . . . If you fail to work in public life, as well as in private, for honesty and uprightness and virtue, if you condone vice because the vicious man is smart, or if you in any other way cast your weight into the scales in favor of evil, you are just so far corrupting and making less valuable the birthright of your children. . . .

“It is not what we have that will make us a great nation; it is the way in which we use it.

I do not undervalue for a moment our material prosperity; like all Americans, I like big things; big prairies, big forests and mountains, big wheat fields, railroads—and herds of cattle, too— big factories, steamboats, and everything else. But we must keep steadily in mind that no people were ever yet benefited by riches if their prosperity corrupted their virtue. It is of more importance that we should show ourselves honest, brave, truthful, and intelligent, than that we should own all the railways and grain elevators in the world. We have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune. Here we are not ruled over by others, as in the case of Europe; we rule ourselves. All American citizens, whether born here or elsewhere, whether of one creed or another, stand on the same footing; we welcome every honest immigrant no matter from what country he comes, provided only that he leaves off his former nationality, and remains neither Celt nor Saxon, neither Frenchman nor German, but becomes an American, desirous of fulfilling in good faith the duties of American citizenship”

“When we thus rule ourselves, we have the responsibilities of sovereigns, not of subjects. We must never exercise our rights either wickedly or thoughtlessly; we can continue to preserve them in but one possible way, by making the proper use of them. In a new portion of the country, especially here in the Far West, it is peculiarly important to do so; and on this day of all others we ought soberly to realize the weight of the responsibility that rests upon us. I am, myself, at heart as much a Westerner as an Easterner; I am proud, indeed, to be considered one of yourselves, and I address you in this rather solemn strain today, only because of my pride in you, and because your welfare, moral as well as material, is so near my heart.”

Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States from September 14, 1901 – March 4, 1909. Excerpt From: Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt by Simon & Schuster.


For the month of July The Trippe Gallery offers “The Art of the Plein Air Painter”

All’s Quiet” by Elise Phillips

For the month of July The Trippe Gallery will be presenting a show entitled “ The Art of the Plein Air Painter”. The gallery is home to numerous plein air painters who are competing in Plein Air Easton currently or have in past years.

The paintings reflect a wide diversity of style and approach to plein air painting. on Friday and Saturday July 19 and 20, the gallery will be hosting painting demonstrations by 4 of the 2019 Plein Air Easton artists as well as a reception to meet the artists and discuss their styles.

“Plein air painting is about leaving the four walls of your studio behind and experiencing painting and drawing in the landscape. The practice goes back for centuries but was truly made into an art form by the French Impressionists. Their desire to paint light and its changing, ephemeral qualities, coupled with the creation of transportable paint tubes and the box easel—the precursor to the plein air easels of today—allowed artists the freedom to paint “en plein air,” which is the French expression for “in the open air.”(Artists Network)
The exhibit features paintings by Elise Phillips, Len Mizerek, Zufar Bikbov, David Csont, Charlie Hunter, Jill Basham, Stephen Griffin, Patrick Saunders, Mark Shasha, Frank Hallinan Flood, Roberta Seger and Olena Babak. 
There will be an opening reception Friday July 5 from 5-8. In addition there will be other events at the gallery during Plein Air Easton! The Trippe Gallery is located at 23 N Harrison Street, Easton. 410-310-8727.

Letter to Editor: Harris Says Nay on Community-Based Healthcare and Spousal Impoverishment Protections

1st District Representative, Andy Harris, voted against the bi-partisan, healthcare bill H.R. 3253 (5 Republicans and 4 Democrat co-sponsors). This bill — the Empowering Beneficiaries, Ensuring Access, and Strengthening Accountability Act of 2019 — would extend a number of provisions within the Medicaid program that serve to make the program more effective.

This bill would extend the Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Demonstration (MFP), which helps states rebalance their Medicaid long-term care systems by transitioning people with chronic conditions and disabilities into community-based care, through FY 2024. In addition, this bill would clarify that state Medicaid fraud and abuse control units are authorized to investigate abuse and neglect of Medicaid patients in board and care facilities, as well as patients receiving Medicaid-funded care in non-institutional settings.

Additionally, this bill would extend spousal impoverishment protections for seniors who receive long-term care in their homes or community settings through March 31, 2024.
Finally, this bill would; extend the Community Mental Health Services Demonstration Program thru 2021, fund the Medicaid Improvement Fund, and prohibit drug manufacturers from blending drug prices, a practice which lowers rebates to consumers.

The vote was 371 YEA, and 46 NAY. Harris voted NAY.

For more information on H.R. 3253 go here

Christopher Koch

Spiritual Medium and Grief Specialist Roland Comtois Returns to Talbot County in June

Roland Comtois, Internationally acclaimed Spiritual Medium, Grief Specialist, best-selling Author, and Inspirational Speaker returns to the Eastern Shore after Sold Out Channeling events in years past here. He returns for a channeling event on June 21st at The St. Michaels Inn, St. Michaels and will be offering a new event at the Avalon/Stoltz Listening Room in Easton on June 22nd. All events are open to the public.

Roland is a gerontology nurse by profession who commits full time to his mission of healing and love. He has been sharing specific and meaningful messages now for over 45 years. Attendees to Roland’s events are truly touched by his abilities to connect with departed loved ones and share direct powerful messages that the attendees can understand. The messages truly change people’s lives. This is Roland’s 3rd year returning to the area, and his events are always anticipated with great enthusiasm from past attendees, who gain a greater understanding of the afterlife and communicating with your loved ones, and some received one of Roland’s signature Purple Papers.

Roland’s unique signature Purple Papers with documented messages he receives daily in meditation are pre-transcribed messages that bring peace and comfort beyond words to the recipients. The Purple Papers truly set Roland apart from others in his field. Examples of the Purple Papers are shown here:

For these June events, Roland will again be providing messages, address how to remain connected with your loved ones who have passed and overcoming grief, and the eternity of love. A new addition for the Avalon event includes Roland telling first-hand the story of his near-death experience, including an original musical score and songs, and then deliver poignant channeled messages from loved ones, including his Signature Purple Papers. Roland will deliver as many messages as possible as time permits, and some may also receive a Purple Paper. The events are such a compelling experience to help those who have suffered loss to find strength through the love they shared. Roland is dedicated to helping people recognize that life – and love – do not end when someone passes from this plane. Roland’s following includes a global audience of all faiths and ages who look to him for affirmations that love is eternal and heaven exists, and that spiritual connections are possible in every moment of time.

Roland is also the co-host with Bobbi Parlett, owner of Simpatico, Italy’s Finest, St. Michaels, MD for their annual St. Francis pilgrimage to Italy around St. Francis feast day in the late September/early October time frame. Bobbi met Roland in her own grief journey after her husband Ed Parlett passed in 2012. Bobbi says “Roland has helped me tremendously to gain a much better understanding about eternal love and connections that continue with our loved ones who have passed, including how to notice signs from them. I have received signs, messages and several Purple Papers over the years which are irrefutable evidence that our loved ones are with us always and that our spirits live on. The comfort and comprehension of

this realization helps people move forward with their lives and brings a new level of understanding of life and love everlasting.”
The events are open to the public and attendees must be 18 years of age. Tickets can be purchased through www.rolandcomtois.net for the St. Michaels event and the other events in the area or www.avalonfoundation.org for the Easton event.

For more information about Roland or to schedule a media interview visit www.rolandcomtois.net under Events or call Bobbi Parlett at 610-209-5409.

The schedule for all of Roland’s events in the area include:

June 21st – Channeling Event: The St. Michaels Inn, St. Michaels, MD 7 PM to 9 PM
June 22nd – “Through the Door’ and Channeling Event: Avalon/Stoltz Listening Room, “Through the Door” the story of Roland’s near-death experience and the second part is channeling of messages. 8 PM to 10 PM

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