About Dave Wheelan

The Power of Being Agile: Qlarant Embraces the Agile Manifesto

There’s a good chance that most people, even those running major businesses on the Mid-Shore, have never heard of the Agile Manifesto nor its twelve principles of project management but there is an equally good chance they will soon.

This project planning strategy, which was created in 1983 by software developers in a remote ski lodge over a long weekend, has been the go-to system for complex product development but rarely used beyond its intended silo. In most cases, upper management was pleased to get their products to market but didn’t pay too much attention to what system was used to create those products.

But in the last decade, all of that has changed dramatically. Hundreds of companies have now adopted this unique methodology and applied it to other functions like marketing, business administration, human resources, employee education, and countless other areas of a business.

The Agile approach has become so effective that companies are not only using it but in some cases will not even be able to bid on projects unless they are officially certified as an Agile-based business.

Easton-based Qlarant had been one of those companies who adopted the Agile principles early on in the development of their sophisticated software to uncover health insurance fraud and waste. So impressed with those results, management took the Agile model and has now used it in almost every part of the company’s mission. But more recently, the company took it to another level; they applied for and received approval to train and implement these techniques with their clients.

The reason is quite simple; the Agile method works exceptionally well. While a few large corporations have had some trouble in developing the cultural shift needed to successfully deploy the twelve principles, the vast majority of companies using Agile have shown remarkable success.

In fact, the enthusiasm for this simple approach has been so great that advocates demand that nonprofit organizations and schools to integrate its use while others have promoted its use to manage their family life

Needless to say, the Spy was intrigued by this new development and what it may mean for Qlarant  to be one of the first in the country to offer this as an important part of their tool chest. We sat down with Qlarant’s Ellen Evans and Andrew Welsh a few weeks ago to learn more. 

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Qlarant please go here.

Spy History: Adam Goodheart on Washington College and the Mid-Shore

Every year in February, the United States goes out of its way to celebrate George Washington’s birthday. And every year, Washington College uses this opportunity to remind the country that the first real monument to America’s founding father was the establishment of a liberal arts college in Chestertown in 1782.

It is a story worth telling. With Washington’s specific approval, accompanied by a significant donation, William Smith, the college’s first president, set out to create an entirely new curriculum dedicated to training its students to prepare for leadership and citizenship in a very new country. So new, in fact, that it had only completed its formal separation from Britain just months before Washington College opened its doors.

But what gets lost all to0 often in the narrative of the founding of Washington College is the fact that its genesis was much more the result of some of the country’s best and brightest living in Maryland making an extraordinary investment in what they considered to be an essential resource for the Eastern Shore.

With landowner names like Goldsborough, Lloyd, Paca, and Tilghman, many of whom served as Maryland governors, representatives to the Continental Congress, or signers of the Declaration of Independence, these families generously donated for the new college’s founding despite the considerable distance Chestertown was by land or water from their homes.

That is one of the many rich takeaways from the Spy’s recent conversation with historian and author Adam Goodheart, Washington College’s long-serving director of the Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience. In addition, Adam talks about the remarkable backgrounds of these Talbot and Queen Anne’s sponsors (who donated almost two-thirds of the funds needed to launch the college), their vision for the Shore, as well as frank discussion on their slaveholder past.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length. For more information on Washington College Starr Center please go here

Mid-Shore Food: Chesapeake Harvest Goes Online with Jordan Lloyd

Chesapeake Harvest, which has been incubated by the Easton Economic Development Corporation for the last several years, started out focused on preparing Eastern Shore farmers to expand their market reach by training them with best practices and food safety guidelines required for larger markets.

But from the very beginning, Chesapeake Harvest was also eager to help those farmers with marketing and sales strategies to satisfy not only wholesale demands, but develop creative new ways to open up retail and institutional opportunities.

One of those new opportunities has been the development of Chesapeake’s online farmers’ market. With the leadership of advisory board member Jordan Lloyd, his wife, Alice, Chesapeake Harvest’s Elizabeth Beggins, and EEDC director Tracy Ward, the team switched on their website a year ago to test the waters of this entirely new way to bring local food to local family tables.

Last week, the Spy sat down with Jordan at the Bullitt House in Easton to talk about this new program and its future.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Chesapeake Harvest and to access their website please go here.


ESLC’s Jim Bass Reports on Eastern Shore’s Preparedness for Rising Seas Levels

Given the nature of things – literally – it won’t be surprising for the Eastern Shore to have several studies prepared in the decades ahead that record and evaluate the dangers facing its rural communities as sea levels continue to rise throughout the century.

With the Delmarva Peninsula being one of the country’s most vulnerable landscapes for flooding and erosion as the result of global warming, there is an ever growing concern on the part of local government staff, conservation organizations, agricultural associations, and state agencies on what is being done, and what could be done, to prepare the Shore for this extraordinarily dramatic shift in climate.

One of the first of these has just been prepared by the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy with a new study to assist local governments to plan for the impacts of sea level rise. Titled “Mainstreaming Sea Level Rise Preparedness in Local Planning and Policy on Maryland’s Eastern Shore,” the study is centered on sea level rise projections for the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries in the years 2050 and 2100.

This report was written on behalf of the Eastern Shore Climate Adaptation Partnership  – a regional workgroup of local government staff, partners from the State of Maryland, academic institutions, and nonprofits for that very reason.

The ESCAP assists communities in reducing climate vulnerabilities and risks; collects and shares information among communities and decision makers; and educates members, residents, and elected leaders on risks and adaptation strategies. It also serves to raise the visibility and voice of the Eastern Shore and rural regions in conversations about adaptation and resilience.

The Spy sat down last week with Jim Bass, ESLC’s Coastal Resilience Specialist, who helped manage the study, last week to find out what the significant takeaways were and what must be done in the future to protect and defend the Mid-Shore from this dangerous new future we face.

This video is approximately six minutes in length. For more information regarding this study, ESCAP, or ESLC’s coastal resilience program, please contact ESLC Coastal Resilience Specialist Jim Bass at jbass@eslc.org.The study is available to view and download at www.eslc.org/resilience.

Building Legacies out of Wood with the Help of Bob Ortiz

Mid-Shore craftsman Bob Ortiz calls his program a “vacation workshop” but that might be a bit misleading for a few reasons.

The first is that while his workshop is indeed fun for the inspiring woodmaker, the “vacation” actually describes five, eight hour days working in Bob’s Chestertown woodshop to produce one piece of furniture during that time. The second is that while the word”workshop” may imply that you will have fellow students, the reality is that it only includes one pupil working side by side with this master craftsman to create an exquisite dinner or side table that the student can honestly say, “I made this.”

These are also perhaps the reasons why Bob’s workshops have grown in popularity since he started offering the program two years ago. From an NPR journalist to a top executive at Facebook, twenty-four students of all ages have now graduated with a legacy of craftsmanship that can be passed on for generations.

The Spy sat down with Bob at the Spy HQ in Chestertown to talk about this remarkable program.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about Robert Ortiz Studios and Vacation Workshops please go here



Op-Ed: It’s Time For 1st District’s Dr. No To Go by Michael Mcdowell And George Shivers

Congressman Andy Harris, R-Md.-1st, simply won’t restrain his extremist, far-beyond-the-mainstream behavior in Congress.

Just last week, the so-called “Freedom” Caucus Republican met infamous Holocaust denier and notorious white nationalist Chuck Johnson. There is a photo on the web of Harris and Johnson on Capitol Hill. Harris claims he met with this odious anti-Semite to discuss “DNA sequencing.”

This would be laughable, were it not so serious and part of a long-established pattern. A 30-second search on Google would have shown Harris — and his large staff, who no doubt he would like to blame — the nasty reputation of exactly who he was engaging with.

How encouraged Johnson must have been to win face-time and a public photograph, which went viral showing Harris and another hard-right congressman with Johnson at the Capitol.

Harris talked with Johnson literally one day after Harris had, at long last, joined in criticism of his good friend and longtime Freedom Caucus ally, Congressman Steve King of Iowa, by voting, with all other Republicans and Democrats, to condemn King’s latest outrageous bigoted remarks. Hardly a difficult call after King’s hateful comments.

But Andy Harris, in addition, showed how unfit he is to represent the people of District 1. The next day, after meeting Johnson, Harris voted to lift punitive U.S. sanctions on Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, Trump’s favorite strongman.

Tellingly, Republican House leaders voted with Democrats to keep the sanctions on Deripaska. Not our Congress member. Did he conveniently forget that the shady Deripaska had paid convicted felon and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, millions of dollars, which special counsel Robert Mueller investigated? But then Manafort gave money to one of Harris’s past campaigns.

We should hardly be surprised at these alarming associations, since Harris continues to vehemently back Hungarian strongman Viktor Orban, divisive prime minister of Hungary, rightly called a noted “neo-fascist” by the late Sen. John McCain. Orban, who used anti-Semitic tropes to win re-election, is another of Andy Harris’s tawdry heroes.

District 1 electors once had an honorable Republican congressman, former Marine Wayne Gilchrest, who represented them for a decade and, briefly, they had a moderate to center-right Democrat in Frank Kratovil. Were it not for the shameful gerrymander by Martin O’Malley of District 1 and Tea Party Harris’ nasty negative primary attacks on Wayne Gilchrest, Harris would not enjoy a majority of votes in each election.

It is less than two years till the next election, in November 2020. And it is high time this gerrymander was changed and the District 1 boundaries revised to provide a palatable democratic choice to voters.

Republican voters need to wake up to the fact that Harris, now in the minority in the Congress, never a committee chairman, and who never passed a law, does not and cannot serve their interests.

Harris, in the past two weeks, has voted down every attempt to get the government opened again. This loud-voiced onetime “deficit hawk” also voted against the latest farm bill, and he firmly supports the damaging agricultural sanctions that Trump has put on China and that provoked the Chinese to cancel wheat and soybean sales from Maryland farmers, which may drive some of them out of business.

It is time for Dr. No/Dr. Do Little to go. The evidence above, in just the last few weeks, shows that Andy Harris, extremist, never changes his spots. Republicans of District 1 need to stand up for democracy with a small “d.” We do not need Steve-King-Lite.

Michael McDowell is a former CBC and BBC journalist and project director at the Aspen Institute and Carnegie Endowment. George Shivers is professor emeritus at Washington College. They both live in Chestertown.

A Health Check Up with Shore Regional Health CEO Ken Kozel

While it is recommended that one should check in with their primary physician once a year, the Spy thought it might be a good idea to extend this strategy to include a annual chat with Ken Kozel, the president and CEO of the Mid-Shore’s largest healthcare provider, UM Shore Regional Health, to get a impression of the state of healthcare in its primary care communities of Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, and Talbot Counties.

With close to 2,000 square miles of health service to cover, with each county having their own needs, any CEO would have his/her challenges, but in the case of Ken, it is also important to note that these complexities come with extra dynamic of operating in the state of Maryland, with its exclusive waiver with the federal government to control its own health costs. It is safe to say he has had his hands full.

In his Spy interview, he talks about the impact of this difficult environment in which his organization must operate, and the successful completion of the first phase of a state-wide, long term strategic vision to keep the quality of health high, its costs low, and without compromising access. Ken also talks about Shore’s expansion plans, the impact of urgent care facilities, and the unique position of Kent County.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length. For more information about  UM Shore Regional Health please go here


Cecil Circuit Court Judge William Davis Talks Justice on the Eve of MLK Day

If there is a good example of what Martin Luther King Jr. was hoping for in America, it might be found with Cecil County Circuit Court Judge William W. Davis Jr. The product of a mostly white high school in Delaware, followed by a primarily black college experience at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and now as the first elected black judge in a county that is made up of 90% white residents, Davis understands first hand the importance of diversity, as well as how America has changed since Dr. King poetically asked that Americans be judged by the quality of their character and not the color of their skin.

Davis also understands the importance of fair justice.  And while he is the first to admit that the American legal system has a long way to go before “justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream,” he faithfully believes that he and his fellow judges in Cecil County are making that a reality on the Upper Shore.

As the judge prepares his remarks for his keynote address at the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Breakfast in Rock Hall next week, the Spy ran up to Elkton last week to talk to him between his court cases, about MLK, his thoughts on young people in the African-American community, and the mighty stream of justice in Maryland.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For information on the Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast please go here.



Memoir as Fiction: Vietnam Vet Jim Richardson Remembers a War Through a Novel

Unlike most authors who have been kind enough to sit down for an interview with the Spy to talk about a new book, Mid-Shore artist Jim Richardson’s recently released novel is almost sold out, is not available on Amazon, nor available at local stores. In fact, if you want to buy a copy (only 50 left in inventory), you’ll need to knock on his door in Claiborne with eighteen dollars in cash to get one or borrow it from a friend.

While the popularity of Middle Blue is indeed extremely comforting to Jim, it’s not without the knowledge that he only ordered 200 to be printed in the first place. His pleasure comes from successfully finding a way to tell his family and friends what it was like as a twenty-one year old drafted into the Vietnam War.

Disinclined to use the more traditional format of writing a memoir, Jim took his wartime experience and channeled it through the experience of three fictional characters who find friendship in the midst of the tragic and surreal last years of America’s attempt to win a war that could not win.

Jim sat down with the Spy to talk about the experience of writing the book (including the book’s illustrations), his goal of sharing his Vietnam experience with loved ones, and the therapeutic value that comes with memories rediscovered and documented.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. As noted, this is book is only available from the author. Jim’s email is designs@atlanticbb.net


The Road of Photographer Constance Stuart Larrabee: A Conversation with Author Peter Elliott

For those who remember Constance Stuart Larrabee, particularly those living on the Mid-Shore, it will always be gratifying to know that at the very end of her life Constance knew there was a high degree of attention paid to her photography.

While the native South African had been living on the Mid-Shore for more than forty years, she was intentionally reserved on talking about her work as a documentary photographer in the years before marrying a former military attache, Colonel Sterling Loop Larrabee, in 1949. If locals knew anything about Larrabee, it was for her reputation as a successful breeder of Norwich Terriers, not as South Africa’s first female World War Two correspondent. She clearly preferred it that way for reasons still not entirely known.

It was only when she was seventy that a close friend, Ed Maxcy, convinced her to share her portfolio of images from her visits to rural South African villages, the war, the streets of Johannesburg and, later, Tangier Island on the Chesapeake Bay. She began working with such distinguished institutions such as the Corcoran Gallery, Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Yale’s Center for British Art, Washington’s National Museum of Women in the Arts, as well as our own Washington College and Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, through much of the eighties and early nineties on several well received exhibitions. All of which gave Larrabee the certain knowledge that her lifetime contribution to photography had been well-noted before she died in 2000.

But for those who have never heard her name, or seen her stunning images, there is good news to be had. Almost twenty years after her passing, fellow South African and author Peter Elliott has just completed a new biography of Larrabee after two years of extensive research.

Elliott, retiring to the South of France after a distinguished career as a London-based corporate attorney, began his new vocation as a writer on history and art, and had stumbled on Larrabee’s war photography while researching South Africa’s role in World War II.

Awed by their composition and warmth, Peter has meticulously tracked down every one of Constance’s documentary projects as well as applied a critical appraisal of her work, including a few myths she created along the way on her technique, in the newly released Constances: One Road to Take: The Life and Photography of Constance Stuart Larrabee published by Cantaloup Press.

Through the wonders of technology, the Spy interviewed Peter via Skype from his home in Languedoc, France to talk about Constance, her photography, and the lasting legacy of her work.

This video is approximately twenty-eight minutes in length. Constance: One Road to Take: The Life and Photography of Constance Stuart Larrabee can be purchased at the Book Plate in Chestertown or on Amazon here.



We're glad you're enjoying The Talbot Spy.

Sign up for the the free email blast to see what's new in the Spy. It's delivered right to your inbox at 3PM sharp.

Sign up here.