Tom Christopher to Present Sustainable Lawns—The Backyard Revolution Oct. 9 at AAM

TC-headshot-With new statewide restrictions on lawn fertilizer use going in to effect this October to help achieve Bay restoration goals, now is the perfect time to learn how to reduce fertilizer use and protect water quality while keeping your lawn productive and healthy. Join Tom Christopher, founder of Smart Lawn LLC, Oct. 9 for a discussion on creating locally adapted biodiverse lawns that positively impact our environmental future.

Residential lawns occupy almost 50,000 square miles of the U.S. landscape—an area larger than the state of Pennsylvania. As presently cultivated, many are resource hogs and major sources of fertilizer pollution. Yet in just a few weeks, with a modest investment of time and materials, homeowners can turn an eco-villain lawn into a sustainable, easy-to-maintain expanse that gives back far more than it takes and is beautiful as well.

Christopher will discuss grass mixes and techniques needed to create lawns that require no summertime irrigation, little mowing, and little to no fertilization. He also will provide contacts for locally focused advice and information that will enable concerned homeowners to create their own sustainable lawns. Your lawn can reduce your carbon footprint, prevent water pollution, and provide a new opportunity for landscape color—and it’s easy, once you know how.

Christopher is a graduate of the New York Botanical Garden School of Professional Horticulture. He has helped institutional and residential clients enhance their landscapes for more than 40 years. He is the author of ten books about gardening, and served as editor and a contributor to The New American Landscape, Timber Press’s guide to sustainable gardening that was hailed by the American Society of Landscape Architects as one of the 10 best books of 2011. His work with lawns has been featured in The Chicago Tribune and in Horticulture magazine.

Christopher’s talk is free and open to the public. It will be held Wed., Oct. 9 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Academy Art Museum, Easton. The program is offered by Adkins Arboretum in partnership with Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Advance registration is requested at or by calling 410.634.2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. Through its Campaign to Build a Green Legacy, it will build the W. Flaccus and Ruth B. Stifel Center at Adkins Arboretum and a “green” entranceway to broaden educational offerings and research initiatives promoting best practices in conservation and land stewardship. For additional information about Arboretum programs, or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.


Hometown Hero Explored at CBMM Sept. 19

On Thursday, September 19 beginning at 5:30pm at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, MD, join local historian Tom Stevenson as he explores the history of a Talbot County naval hero in “Samuel Hambleton: Hometown Hero in the Battle of Lake Erie.” In the presentation, Stevenson will explore Hambleton’s role in one of the largest and most significant battles of the War of 1812 and the first unqualified defeat of a British naval squadron. Participants will also learn about Hambleton’s role in the creation of one of the most inspiring battle flags in history, “Don’t Give Up the Ship.” Born in Talbot County in 1777, Samuel Hambleton was an officer in the United States Navy who served with distinction during the War of 1812. Seating is limited, with registration needed by contacting Debbie Collison at 410-745-4991 or

On Thursday, September 19 beginning at 5:30pm at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, MD, join local historian Tom Stevenson as he explores the history of a Talbot County naval hero in “Samuel Hambleton: Hometown Hero in the Battle of Lake Erie.” In the presentation, Stevenson will explore Hambleton’s role in one of the largest and most significant battles of the War of 1812 and the first unqualified defeat of a British naval squadron. Participants will also learn about Hambleton’s role in the creation of one of the most inspiring battle flags in history, “Don’t Give Up the Ship.” Born in Talbot County in 1777, Samuel Hambleton was an officer in the United States Navy who served with distinction during the War of 1812. Seating is limited, with registration needed by contacting Debbie Collison at 410-745-4991 or

This flag was procured by Talbot County naval hero Samuel Hambleton for use by Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie. Hambleton will be the topic of conversation this Thursday at CBMM, as local historian Tom Stevenson presents “Samuel Hambleton: Hometown Hero in the Battle of Lake Erie.” The program begins at 5:30pm in the Museum’s Bay History building, and is free with advanced registration, as seating is limited. To register, email Debbie Collison at Image courtesy United States Naval Academy Museum.

This flag was procured by Talbot County naval hero Samuel Hambleton for use by Oliver Hazard Perry in the Battle of Lake Erie. Hambleton will be the topic of conversation this Thursday at CBMM, as local historian Tom Stevenson presents “Samuel Hambleton: Hometown Hero in the Battle of Lake Erie.” The program begins at 5:30pm in the Museum’s Bay History building, and is free with advanced registration, as seating is limited. To register, email Debbie Collison at Image courtesy United States Naval Academy Museum.


18th Annual Jack Russell Races Oct. 20 in St. Michaels

terrier-racesThe 18th Annual Jack Russell Races may not be as fancy as the Royal Ascot or the Preakness, but this casual event held on the grounds of the Inn at Perry Cabin will feature Jack Russell Terriers showing off their athletic and social natures in a series of races.

The course runs the length of the Inn’s front lawn, and — while many of the participants take their races seriously — some just like to play, roll in the grass, and talk to their fellow racers. Race heats are divided by size in Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced levels. Jack Russells also invite other of their canine friends to compete — there will be a Dachshund Dash and a “So you always wanted to be a Jack Russell” race that is open to all breeds.

Humans do not need to have a dog in the race to enjoy the morning with their friends and neighbors. Donuts, coffee, Mimosas, and Bloody Marys will be available for purchase. There will be a raffle with several prizes for great dining experiences in the area.

All proceeds from the raffle, race registrations, parking, and food sales will be donated to the St. Michaels Food Bank, which serves the Bay Hundred region, and to Pet Pantries, which supports the pet food pantries in Talbot, Dorchester, and Caroline Counties.

Registration begins at 9 AM; post time for the first race is 11 AM. There is no fee to enjoy the races. There will be trackside play-by-play and analysis for each race; free parking is available on Route 33 and parking on the Perry Cabin lawn is available for $5 per car; and great memories are complimentary.

Racegoers are invited to bring the family for a fun weekend in St. Michaels, a quaint and historic waterfront town on the Chesapeake Bay that offers plenty of activities for everyone. Find pet-friendly hotels and inns at For more information about the races contact Flying Fred’s Pet Boutique at (410) 745-9601 or

Photo courtesy of Star Democrat


Analysis: Federal Audit Questions State Spending on Several Programs

An outside audit of how the state of Maryland spent almost $13 billion it got from the U.S. government found significant problems in some of the programs the state runs with federal dollars. frequently covers audit results published by the state’s Office of Legislative Audits. OLA’s audit work is similar to internal audits done in the private sector.

A different kind of audit—known as a “Single Audit” and equivalent to an external audit—covers all federal money spent by the state of Maryland. These annual audits are performed by an outside CPA firm hired by the state comptroller. After the comptroller accepts the audit report, it is sent to the federal government.

The latest audit report, performed by SB & Company LLC of Cockeysville,  covers $12.8 billion spent by the state during fiscal 2012 that originated from federal coffers. Audit results are used by federal agencies to monitor the state’s compliance and spending. By law, the federal government can respond to audit exceptions by requiring the state to return misspent money or money the auditors cannot find due to bad records.

Serious deficiencies in fiscal 2012 findings

The 2012 single audit found several significant deficiencies, defined by the federal government as “important enough to merit attention by those charged with governance.” The most serious deficiencies included:

1. Beneficiaries of Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) could not be verified to be eligible for assistance under the prevailing regulations. The auditor sampled 60 participant files and four files either couldn’t be located or the eligibility determinations were otherwise deficient (7% deficiency rate.) Medicaid and CHIP are administered by Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH), which is required to keep a file for each beneficiary that objectively demonstrates eligibility determinations and supervisory approvals.

2. Beneficiaries of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF — what used to be called “welfare”) could not be verified to be eligible for assistance under the prevailing regulations. The auditor sampled 60 participant files — 10 files couldn’t be located; and 50 files evidenced deficiencies with participant income verifications (100% deficiency rate.) This program is administered by Department of Human Resources (DHR).

The auditor found that the high number of missing files “prevented the audit of the requirement.” In other words, the audit firm could not do the work it was contracted to perform because of the department’s poor recordkeeping.

3. Beneficiaries of Adoption Assistance could not be verified to be eligible for assistance under the prevailing regulations. The auditor sampled 60 participant files and four files evidenced deficiencies regarding participants’ eligibility (7% deficiency rate.) This program is administered by the Department of Human Resources.

Problems at University of Baltimore and Coppin State

4. At the University of Baltimore, 23 out of 40 students sampled were incorrectly classified as enrolled part-time or full-time when in fact they had withdrawn from school (58% deficiency rate.) This inaccurate reporting went into a database used by the U.S. Department of Education for managing student loan repayment dates, grace periods, and deferments.

5. At Coppin State University, 40 out of 40 sampled students withdrew from classes and thus took zero credits, but 15 were incorrectly reported as attending half-time, 23 were incorrectly reported as attending full-time, and two were incorrectly reported as less than half-time (100% deficiency rate.) This inaccurate reporting was entered into the same federal database for loan administration described above. (The university system has appointed an interim president to revamp the administrative structure at Coppin after a task force found massive problems there.)

6. At Coppin State, 14 of 40 students received student loans or grants, but the university was unaware those students dropped or withdrew from class, causing the university to keep rather than return $20,000 to the U.S. Department of Education.

Unresolved findings from prior years

The state has longstanding difficulties with satisfying the auditor that program beneficiaries are in fact eligible for assistance. Shortcomings over the years cross multiple federal programs administered by several state agencies. This year’s single audit report describes a variety of unresolved findings, many repeated over several years and one of which dates back to fiscal 2004.

The findings correspond with questionable eligibility of beneficiaries for Medicaid, CHIP, TANF, Foster Care, Adoption Assistance, Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and student aid. These programs are administered by the departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Human Resources and by state universities. The auditors reported several types of problems: Files were lost or incomplete; files contained inaccurate information leading to improper assistance; and secondary approvals of initial eligibility determinations were absent.

Another longstanding problem area involves inadequate inventory control over food stocks provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture. This weakness has existed since at least 2010 without being resolved.  USDA delivers surplus food commodities to the control of DHR, which in turn offers foodstuffs through 22 organizations throughout the state. The auditor describes a concern for “abuse, including fraud” that can’t be detected due to lack of inventory control. The auditor seems to be worried about the possibility for theft by those who have physical custody of the food rather than beneficiaries. During fiscal 2012, this program involved $4.2 million of food distributions by DHR.

Another finding involves state scholarships under the TANF program that the state awarded under the rationale that “post-secondary educational attainment by State residents decreases the incidence of out-of-wedlock births by raising the ‘opportunity cost’ of having children outside of marriage. Studies also show that professional careers (often the product of higher education) delay fertility.” The auditor questioned this spending ($43 million) in its 2010 audit, and the finding is unresolved.

Federal aid to Maryland growing fast

Maryland’s recent budgets show a historical trajectory upwards. From 2007 to 2014, overall costs of operating Maryland government have increased 30% (or 3.5% compounded annually.) Revenues to pay for government come from many sources; primarily income taxes, sales taxes, lottery, borrowing, and the federal government. Taxpayers may be surprised to know the federal government is the state’s largest source of revenue—paying for almost 30% of the cost of Maryland’s operations.

It also may surprise some that state revenues from the federal government are rising at a much faster rate than any other revenue source. Federal aid to the state will rise from $6.5 billion to $9.8 billion in the eight years ended June 2014—increasing almost 51% (approximately 6.1% compounded annually.)

Some programs are clean, but some of the largest have longstanding problems

The audit did not detect any deficiencies in many large federal assistance programs being managed by the state, including programs relating to infrastructure and research & development. However, the programs where the state has had longstanding difficulties include some of the largest and most costly social programs in the state. Medicaid and TANF, for instance, were $4.1 billion and $222 million, respectively, in FY 2012.  It’s also important to note that the audit was not designed to determine the total dollars that were unsupported or misspent, and the state has no way to quantify this.

Longstanding problems in programs where the state must document participant eligibility determinations are not unique to Maryland. The more people who become eligible for assistance and the larger the programs get, the more cumbersome the programs are to administer and audit. And so a certain level of payment errors can be expected, in Maryland and across the country.

By Charlie Hayward


Charlie Hayward recently retired after 30 years’ experience with performance, IT, and financial auditing of a wide variety of government programs and activities. He can be reached at 




Plein Air-Easton! Complete Schedule July 15-21

The Plein Air–Easton! Competition & Arts Festival celebrates its ninth anniversary by continuing the vibrant dynamic that has made it America’s premier plein air festival and one of Easton’s main attractions. Plein Air–Easton! is at the forefront of the modern plein air movement. Artists, collectors, and art lovers alike have discovered that this event lives up to its motto of “Art for Everyone” by producing some of the best representational artwork in the country, along with events that appeal to a wide variety of art enthusiasts. Most events are free and open to the public. With hundreds of artists and a wealth of artwork to choose from, this weeklong artfest is one of the Mid-Atlantic region’s hottest art sales of the year, offering the art collector a unique opportunity to select from a huge inventory of reasonably priced paintings.

Friends of Plein Air–Easton! Opening Dinner & Paint-Out, Saturday, July 13, Hope House
Guests at the “Meet the Artists” Opening Dinner & Paint-Out will enjoy a lavish dinner party, meet the 2013 Plein Air–Easton! competition artists as they arrive and begin to paint, and have the opportunity to take home a fresh painting created that day. Hope House, one of the great Federal era estates of the Chesapeake, exists as a working farm with an evident commitment to environmentally sensitive land management. A special invitation to the “Meet the Artists” Opening Dinner is available only as a benefit to 2013 Friends of Plein Air–Easton! sponsors. Friends of Plein Air-Easton! is an active base of supporters and art collectors who strive for the sustainability and success of Plein Air–Easton! while promoting conservation and tourism through the arts.
A View from the Other Side of the Easel,” Thursday, July 18, 8pm, Talbot County Free Library Past and present and Plein Air–Easton! judges Peter Trippi and Tim Newton will present this fascinating program. Well known collector Tim Newton and prominent editor Peter Trippi join together to discuss the role of the collector in today’s art world. This “fireside chat” will specifically focus on Newton’s experiences and> strategies as an art collector since 1991. This promises to be a lively and engaging evening for both artists and art buyers alike. Free.
Collectors’ Preview Party, Friday, July 19 at 7pm, Academy Art Museum
Offers the first chance to view and purchase competition paintings. The pinnacle of the competition  comes when more than $20,000 in prizes are awarded at 7:45pm. The full $150 ticket price may be applied to any Plein Air–Easton! art purchase at the Academy Art Museum on July 19, 20, and 21
Local Color” Exhibit and Sale, Friday-Sunday, July 19-21, Tidewater Inn
A juried and judged show featuring the works of 32 of our best local artists. Throughout the show, Local Color will present painting demonstrations by accomplished national plein air painters. Free and open to the public.
Plein Air–Easton! Competition Gallery Exhibit & Sale, July 20 and 21, Academy Art Museum
As paintings sell, replacements will take their places, so that this exciting exhibit evolves throughout the weekend. Stop by several times to see and purchase new artwork. Free and open to the public.
National Quick Draw, Exhibit and Sale, Saturday, July 20, 10am-2pm, Downtown Easton
Long on excitement, short on time, this two‑hour paint-out, followed by an outdoor Exhibit and Sale, is one of Plein Air–Easton!’s most popular events. Spectators and art buyers flock to downtown Easton to watch nearly 200 artists paint within a six-block area, creating entire paintings in just two hours. Total cash prizes of more than $3,000. Open to any artist; registration information
Children’s Quick Draw, Saturday, July 20, 10am-12pmAcademy Art Museum Front Lawn
Free to young artists, ages 5-12. Supplies and basic instruction provided. No preregistration required. This event is sponsored by Ben Franklin Crafts.
Choosing a Winning Painting,” Saturday, July 20, 8-9 pm, Academy Art Museum
Competition Judge Don Demers will discuss the 2013 winning paintings and why he chose them. Always a standing room event, competing artists and savvy collectors pack the house. Free.
Out of Box” Art Exhibition & Sale, Saturday, July 20, 9am-4pm & Sunday, July 21, 10am-3pm
This invitational exhibit is designed for artists to showcase their process as well as their completed works of art and interact with visitors to the Plein Air-Easton! festival. The exhibition will highlight artists whose work falls outside the constraints of traditional plein air painting. The exhibition will be held outdoors near Harrison Street in downtown Easton.
Plein Air–Easton! The Next Generation, Sunday, July 21, 10:30am-3pm, Downtown Easton
Plein Air–Easton! The Next Generation is especially designed to offer high end arts training and experiences to young artists. The event is comprised of educational workshops for students in grades K-6, and a Quick Draw competition for artists under age 18. Registration on Harrison Street at 10am, no preregistration is required.  Exhibit & Sale will be held from 2-3pm, with awards announced at 2:30pm. The event is sponsored by Attraction magazine.
  • Workshops, DemosLectures, and More . . . Galore!: Monday through Sunday, July 15-21, check out the extensive schedule Free
    • Live Theatre Performance: July 19-21, Avalon Theatre, Wye Operetta Workshop (WOW!) returns for a 6th year to present Thornton Wilder’s beloved classic, “Our Town,” on this 75th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize winning drama. Professionally costumed and staged. Sponsored by the Wye Conservatory of Music. Tickets at the door: adults $10, children and students $5. For more information please contact 410-603-8361.
  • Sunday Brunch Gallery Walk: On the final day of this year’s Plein Air-Easton! Competition and Arts Festival, local art galleries will open their doors to artists and art lovers alike. Stroll Easton’s historic downtown while visiting multiple local galleries and enjoying a progressive Sunday Brunch. Maps locating local galleries are available at the galleries, Plein Air–Easton! Information Center, and Easton’s Welcome Center. Free
Plein Air–Easton! is the work of the Avalon Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide diversified arts and educational programs that improve the quality of life in the Mid-Shore region. The Academy Art Museum is the accredited museum venue for the competition exhibit.
Plein Air–Easton! is supported by various corporate, media, and community sponsors, including the Maryland State Arts Council, Talbot County Arts Council, Eastern Shore Land Conservancy, Star Democrat, and Attraction magazine. Donations from Friends of Plein Air–Easton! support the event while promoting conservation and tourism through the arts. Strong community support and sponsorships have helped make Plein Air–Easton! one of Easton’s biggest attractions and America’s premier plein air festival.
During the festival week, obtain official festival information, programs, artist locations, and more at the Plein Air–Easton! Information Center located at Red Hen Café, 1 Goldsborough St. in downtown Easton.
Latest information, including full itinerary, artists’ bios, ticket sales, galleries, and more, is available at Regular updates are also posted on Facebook and Twitter. The Plein Air–Easton! Hotline can be reached at 410.822.7297.

Hiu Lai Chong from Rockville MD is congratulated by Al Bond of the Avalon Foundation and Krystal Allen of PleinAir magazine. Chong’s “All Tucked In” was the winner of the 2012 Plein Air–Easton! Grand Prize Timothy E. Dills Memorial Award. The painting also received the Artists’ Choice Award. Chong returns to vie against 57 other artists for $20,000 in prizes during the 9th Annual Plein Air–Easton! Competition & Arts Festival, to be held July 15-21, 2013.  (photo courtesy of Attraction magazine.)

Thursday, July 11

Celebrate Tilghman Island! Artists enjoy a day of painting on beautiful Tilghman Island. At 8pm at Harrison’s Crab House, the first every pre-festival Artists Choice Award will be presented. The $500 award is sponsored by the Tilghman Watermen’s Museum.
Friday, July 12, 8:30am-7pm
Inn at Perry Cabin, St. Michaels. Artists may paint all day anywhere on the property’s gardens and waterfront during this pre-festival paint-out.
Saturday, July 13
Friends of Plein Air–Easton! Opening Dinner & Paint-Out at Hope House Estate. Meet competition artists as they arrive and begin to paint. This kick-off event is an exclusive benefit to members of Plein Air–Easton! Check out the “We Want it All” bundled ticket package, which includes two tickets to the Collectors’ Preview Party plus two tickets to the Opening Dinner & Paint-Out.
Saturday & Sunday, July 13 & 14
Competition Artists paint anywhere on the Delmarva Peninsula
Sunday, July 14, 8pm
Competition Artists paint during “The English Beat  concert, Avalon Theatre.
Monday & Tuesday, July 15 & 16
Artists paint throughout Talbot County
Various Demonstrations at Local Galleries
Wednesday, July 17, 8am-5pm
Artists paint at Londonderry Manor House, Easton
Wednesday & Thursday, July 17 & 18
Artists paint anywhere in Easton
Various Demonstrations at Local Galleries
Thursday, July 18, 8pm
A View from the Other Side of the Easel” with present and past and Plein Air–Easton! judges Peter Trippi and Tim Newton. Talbot County Free Library, 100 W. Dover St.
 Friday, July 19
Artists must turn in their competition paintings at the Academy Art Museum by 11am
Friday-Sunday, July 19-21
Various Demonstrations at Local Galleries
Friday, July 19, 7pm
Collectors’ Preview Party & Awards Announcement, Academy Art Museum. Tickets $150. Ticket price may be applied in full to any art purchase at the Academy Art Museum on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Check out the “We Want it All” bundled ticket package, which includes two tickets to the Collectors’ Preview Party plus two tickets to the Opening Dinner & Paint-Out.
Friday-Sunday, July 19-21
Local Color Exhibit & Sale, Tidewater Inn, featuring some of the best artists from the Delmarva Peninsula. Demonstrations by national artists throughout the weekend. Free admission.
 Friday-Sunday, July 19-21
On this 75th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize winning drama, the Wye Operetta Workshop (WOW!), presents a live performance of Thornton Wilder’s beloved classic, “Our Town” at the Avalon Theatre. Tickets at the door: adults $10, children and students $5.
 Saturday & Sunday July 20 & 21
Plein Air–Easton! Competition Gallery Exhibit & Sale, Academy Art Museum. As paintings sell, they will be replaced by hundreds of replacement paintings. This exhibit continuously evolves, stop by several times during the weekend to view and purchase more great art. Free and open to the public.
Saturday, July 20, 10am-2pm
Quick Draw Competition, Exhibit & Sale, Harrison Street, Downtown Easton. The Quick Draw attracts thousands of art enthusiasts to see nearly 200 artists complete an entire painting in just two hours. This is the most popular paint-out of the entire festival as art enthusiasts and savvy collectors gather to watch and vie for the best paintings.
Saturday, July 20, 10am-12Noon
Children’s Quick Draw, Academy Art Museum front lawn
Saturday, July 20, 8-9pm
Choosing a Winning Painting.” Competition Judge, Donald Demers, will discuss the 2013 winning paintings and why he chose them. Always a standing room event as competing artists and savvy collectors pack the house. Academy Art Museum. Free and open to the public.
Saturday & Sunday, July 20 & 21
Out of the Box Art Exhibit & Sale, an exhibition highlighting 8 artists whose work falls outside the constraints of traditional plein air painting. Harrison Street Parking Lot, Downtown Easton. Free.
Sunday, July 21, 10:30am-2pm
Plein Air–Easton! The Next Generation presents high quality art education comprised of rotating workshops, stations, along with a Quick Draw event for children and young adults on Harrison Street.
Sunday, July 21, 2:30pm
Peter Trippi, the editor of Fine Art Connoisseur and a noted expert in representational art, presents an illustrated lecture of recent works by leading American artists who create art in this style. He will analyze current trends in this sector of the art market and other issues of interest to collectors and fans of plein air painting. Seating is limited, preregistration is suggested by calling 410.822.2787. Tickets are available .
Sunday, July 21
Sunday Gallery Walk & Brunch, downtown Easton. Free admission.

Plein Air–Easton! Information Center at Red Hen Café, 1 Goldsborough Street, downtown Easton.

Visit for details, videos and BLOG entries


Six Gunston School Students Honored at National Honor Society Induction

(l-r): Mike Kaylor (NHS Advisor), Christie Grabis (Assistant Head of School), Trung Nguyen, Tabitha Lin, Kat Rhodes, Lexi Welch, Valerie Inglesby, Kent Shen, John Lewis (Headmaster)

(l-r): Mike Kaylor (NHS Advisor), Christie Grabis (Assistant Head of School), Trung Nguyen, Tabitha Lin, Kat Rhodes, Lexi Welch, Valerie Inglesby, Kent Shen, John Lewis (Headmaster)

On April 16, six students were inducted into the National Honor Society at The Gunston School. The National Honor Society (NHS) is a prestigious organization for juniors and seniors, which requires them to hold a grade point average of at least 88 and to exhibit four core values—leadership, character, service, and scholarship.

The morning began with the inductees and their parents, and current NHS members attending a breakfast at Headmaster John Lewis’ home. The induction ceremony followed in the field house featuring the keynote address delivered by Mr. Will Robinson. Using the core values of the National Honor Society, Mr. Robinson addressed the students on the importance of engagement in learning and participation on community. Mr. Robinson, Head of the Gunston’s history department, charged the students to inquire, to investigate, to think critically, and to remain engaged, both in school and in life. He closed by inviting all members of the audience to applaud the success of the NHS members and to strive by the ideals put forth by this organization.

To highlight the core values of NHS, four candles were lit by current members, as senior and NHS president Logan Leverage spoke about the meaning of each value. As inductees were called up one-by-one, they received a certificate, pin, and rose, and signed their names into the NHS registry. To make them official members of the society, current members pinned the inductees with a pin bearing the NHS logo and the pledge was recited, led by Logan Leverage. To conclude the ceremony, Mr. Michael Kaylor, the NHS advisor, shared words of wisdom and high praises to the students for their accomplishments. 

We congratulate this year’s NHS Chapter Officers and Inductees:


President: Logan Leverage

Vice President: Jay Wegner

Secretary: Kelly Dong

Treasurer: Shirley Liu

Parliamentarian: Dan Lohr

Historian:  Olivia Keene

Public Relations Officer: Maddie Clemens



Valerie Inglesby (Chestertown)

Tabitha Lin  (Chester)

Trung Nguyen (Annapolis)

Katherine Rhodes  (Chestertown)

Kent Shen  (Royal Oak)

Alexis Welch  (Queenstown)


Cool Outdoor Stuff: What Can We Learn From The Beaverkill?

Echo Hill Outdoor School’s Andrew McCown is back with another edition of Cool Outdoor Stuff with videographer Jack Elliott. This time, Andy reflects on a recent fishing trip to the Beaverkill River in the Catskill mountains. The Beaverkill today represents a remarkable success story for ecosystem conservation — nearly depleted after World War II due to over-fishing and bad water quality, the Beaverkill has been carefully managed to grow again into one of the best fisheries in the East. Following up on the Spy’s recent analysis of the Conowingo Dam issues, Andy asks, “What can we learn from the Beaverkill?”

The video is four minutes long.

Spreading the Word: Lindsay Lusby and the First Chestertown Type-In

Lindsay Lusby in her office at the Rose O'Neill Literary House

Lindsay Lusby in her office at the Rose O’Neill Literary House

Lindsay Lusby, Assistant Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House at Washington College, exuded positive enthusiasm from the first instant I met with her to talk about the Type-In she hosted at Evergrain on December 7th. Her bio on the Lit House website describes her as “a poet, letterpress printer, bookbinder, typewriter-enthusiast, small press advocate, and avid tea-drinker.” I didn’t see her drink any tea during our conversation, but everything else was confirmed.

Lusby developed the idea of the Type-In with her friend Annie Woodall, whom she describes as “passionate about letter writing.” Woodall runs her own letter-writing blog, Scribbling Glue.

Lindsay readily admitted that “this wasn’t the first type-in ever. We didn’t invent it. I did study a few different type-ins that have happened around the country. Obviously, they’re not taking the country by storm or anything. It’s just little indie events.”

Lusby and Woodall didn’t make any money from the event, nor did they intend to. In fact, they had to spend on supplies like paper and ink ribbons.

Hildegaard the typewriter.

Hildegaard the typewriter.

“It’s about spreading the love of typewriters and letter-writing,” she said.

Citing her previous job at the Kent County Public Library, where Annie Woodall also worked, Lindsay said, “Annie and I both really like community and bringing people together, just to learn something new or discover something you didn’t know that you had in common with someone else.”

Apparently, Lindsay “already had three typewriters at home,” and figured that would be a good place to start. Of course, I had to ask why she had three typewriters.

“I’m a writer. I’ve always been crazy about anything to do with books, with writing. When I was in college — I’m actually an alum of Washington College here — I took the letterpress printing workshops with Mike Kaylor. He really got me hooked on it. I actually have my own small press at home now. I learned about letterpress printing and bookbinding. I didn’t get my press until a couple of years ago. It doesn’t really seem feasible to go out and buy a printing press when you’ve just graduated from college. Plus, if you’re working all the time, there’s not much time to actually use it.”

Lindsay seems to trace her attraction to typewriters to their aesthetic as well as the augmented attention that one pays to the creative process due to the mechanics of the device. She found a book of letters between poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, and found the look of their letters to be inherently romantic. For Lindsay, progressing from a fascination with letterpress printing to typewriting “seemed like a natural step.”

Lindsay's homemade typewriter trading cards.

Lindsay’s homemade typewriter trading cards.

Good fortune with thrift stores and Kent Freecycle led to a collection of typewriters, each of which Lusby names. The typewriter in her office is named Hildegaard.

“I am a frequenter of thrift stores and every now and then I would come across one and think “fifteen dollars? I can’t leave that here.” It was kind of by accident that I started collecting them, but it felt kind of natural to me.”

Lusby and Woodall invited friends of theirs who owned typewriters and advertised that others should bring their own if they were willing to let other people use them as well. They managed to gather nine total for the event.

They chose Evergrain as the venue because Lindsay used to work there.

“We knew it would be a perfect place. Their atmosphere is very embracing. They like to have different kinds of events hosted there and I know the people really well and I knew that they would be excited about this idea, and they have this really long gorgeous table there that would be perfect for just setting up rows of typewriters on. We love that table.”

“The details just fell into place,” Lindsay said. They hosted the Type-In during the First Friday of December because they knew there would be more people around.

The Letter Art Table at the Type-In

The Underwood from the early 1900s.

“We created a Facebook event and then finally we sent out the actual invitations, which took us a long time to make because the invitations were really a coming-together of all of it. We typed them on the stationary using the typewriters, and we also made them into mail art. We thought we could do it in an evening and it ended up taking about twelve hours to get the invitations done.”

The hard work paid off, however, because a “guesstimated” seventy people attended the Type-In throughout the evening. “It got pretty packed at one point,” Lindsay said.

“The people that participated really seemed to have a lot of fun.” When I asked if anybody didn’t, she said that “there was one person that was particularly cranky. He found a problem with every single one that he stopped at, but I think it was just him.”

Annie had set up a letter-writing and mail art table, as well. People could take their letters over to the mail art table after typing them and “really jazz them up.”

“Mail art’s really a lot of fun. It’s more like a collage art. You use a lot of different kinds of ephemera, used stamps and stuff like that. It can really be a lot of fun once you get into it,” Lindsay said.

Lusby recalls that there were quite a few things that she didn’t anticipate during her careful planning.

“I ran out of ink ribbon a lot faster than I thought. When I’m typing at home, I’m not constantly typing for two hours. So I didn’t realize that that’s how fast you can get to the end of a ribbon. Luckily there is still a lot of ink left on a ribbon once it’s completely unwound. You can wind them back. I ended up doing that quite a lot. It was three hours, from five to eight, and they were going the whole time.”

100_3750Logistical hurdles are one thing, but what Lindsay didn’t expect is that many of the people who showed up didn’t know how to operate a typewriter.

“There were some basics, where they would assume that something’s not working right, but they didn’t know how to use it properly. Sometimes if I’m coming in after they’ve already created the problem, I can’t diagnose whether they’ve done something wrong or the machine is broken. It was really busy,” — laughs — “but I ended up figuring it out.”

An Underwood typewriter from the early 1900s was the most novel machine at the event. Lindsay said that “People seemed really fascinated with that,” largely because it was iron, not plastic.

“I wasn’t actually sure that it would work when I brought it in because when I tested it out at home it seemed to be sticking. In carrying it over, it seemed to jog something loose and it worked perfectly when I got there,” she laughed.

Lindsay deferred to the experts when I asked her whether she repairs typewriters. She laughed and replied, “Um, not well. I tinker with them. I try not to do anything extreme like take them apart. Once you take one apart it’s almost impossible to get it back together… I am an amateur, not a repair woman at all.”

She added that most basic repairs are easier to fix than one might think, “unless it looks like someone stepped on it or threw it across the room.” Ink ribbons can, somewhat unsurprisingly, be found on Amazon.

100_3658People’s reaction to the typewriters “was mostly a mix of fascination and warmth. It’s nostalgic for some people who actually grew up using typewriters. For younger people it was a novelty. It was something new, something fascinating.”

Regarding the one curmudgeon in the bunch, “he seemed particularly happy with word processing,” Lindsay laughed.

Tilly Pelczar, one of the participants at the Type-In, said, “the room was packed. I just wanted to keep typing, tap tap tap tap tap. I didn’t have anything to say. I just wanted to type so much because it was so much fun. [Lindsay] had so many different typewriters and they were all different ages and some of them kept breaking, and she was talking to twenty people at one time. She’s insane because she was giving away stamps from her stamp collection. I thought “what? I would just hoard these, and you’re giving them to people.” There was a table with stickers and stamps and all these little doodads for your letters. There were so many people. I hogged a typewriter because it was so much fun.”

The next local Type-In will be at the Chestertown Book Festival. Owen Bailey, who also works at the Literary House, has asked if she would host a mini-type-in or just bring typewriters for people to use as part of the exhibit.

Lusby and Woodall have tentative plans to take the show on the road. Lindsay told me that “we haven’t planned anything, but Annie’s sister lives in Frederick, and she talked it up quite a bit out there, and there seems to be some interest, so maybe we’ll travel and go out there to do it.”

Lindsay Lusby also runs a blog where she writes about her various interests.

by Jack Elliott


Chestertown Heroin Arrest Largest Ever in Kent County

Lee Allen Haas, 27

Lee Allen Haas, 27

The Chestertown Police Department showed the confiscated goods seized in Monday’s heroin bust, “the largest heroin arrest ever in Kent County,” according to CPD Deputy Chief William Dwyer.

CPD Chief Adrian Baker said Wednesday that “we are pleased to have made this [seizure], because it’s a substantial amount that is now not available.”

Lee Allen Haas, 27, was arrested at approximately 8:30 p.m on Monday at 300 South Mill Street, where he lived for the past year and a half. The house is at the end of South Mill Street, just off the rail trail. There were two other people in the home at the time of the arrest.

Dwyer told the Spy that heroin is in resurgence because laws on access to prescription pain medications have tightened. He said that heroin is available state-wide and that it’s affordable.

“It’s cheaper to go out and buy that much heroin than it is to get pain medication,” Dwyer said.

The officers suspect that heroin in Chestertown comes from Philadelpia, Wilmington, and many places in Delaware, such as Smyrna and Middletown.

Baker said that “we want to use this opportunity to get this message out for people to be aware of what’s going on around them and to help eliminate this stuff. This is serious stuff. People literally die from it.” He also emphasized that the frequency of crimes committed by addicts who need money for heroin are substantial.

“I think that we can relate a lot of our burglaries, our thefts…to heroin,” he said.

The Kent County Narcotics Task Force conducted the arrest after a month-long investigation. The Task Force was assisted by the Chestertown Police Department S.R.U Team, Chestertown Police Department uniformed officers, MD State Poice uniformed officers of the Centreville Barrack, and the Queen Anne’s County Drug Task Force.

Seized goods included 201 bags of heroin, weighing 72.4 grams, 10 pills of Oxycodone, .4 grams of marijuana, and a .22 caliber rifle.

Seized goods included 201 bags of heroin, weighing 72.4 grams, 10 pills of Oxycodone, .4 grams of marijuana, and a .22 caliber rifle, belonging to Haas’ grandfather.

Dwyer added that “it’s not easy for you to stop heroin without going through rehab. You get extremely sick — sick enough that people commit other crimes to get money to buy heroin, just so they can stay well.”

Lieutenant Steve Elliott, Commander of the Criminal Enforcement Division and Supervisor of the Task Force said that one problem is that “the nearest methadone clinics are in Salisbury and Elkton.” Elliott supervises eight narcotics task forces on the Eastern Shore.

The quantity of heroin that Haas seemed equipped to distribute was standard, according to Dwyer. Haas dealt about a “log” a week, meaning ten bundles of between eleven to thirteen bags. Each bag sells for about twenty dollars. That puts the value of the seized heroin at just over $4,000.

From left to right: Chief G. Adrian Baker, Lt. Steve Elliott, Lt. Fordman

From left to right: Chief G. Adrian Baker, Lt. Steve Elliott, Lt. Fordman

Elliott said that heroin use is not as easy to spot now as it once was. Now heroin has evolved to a point where it is easier to consume. Not everybody injects it, contrary to the common conception. This heroin would probably have been snorted or smoked, rather than injected.

Haas was charged with the possession of heroin with the intent to distribute, possession of heroin, possession of Oxycodone, possession of marijuana under ten grams, and the possession of paraphernalia. He is currently being held on $20,000 bond.

Anyone with any information on the illicit sale and/or possession of illegal narcotics is encouraged to contact the Kent County Task Force at 410-778-3744.


Election 2013: Candidates for Centreville Town Council Debate Growth, Taxes, and YMCA

Candidates for Centreville Town Council answered questions at a forum sponsored by League of Women Voters last Thursday at the Board of Education building on Chesterfield Avenue.

Jame Beauchamp, Rick Bowers, Royce Herman, and John Morony focused on building Centreville’s economic future without raising taxes on residents. The candidates also discussed their positions on a proposal to locate a YMCA across the street from Queen Anne’s County High School.

Below, you can watch their opening remarks and their answers to three major questions.

Opening Statements

Question One:  In your view, what is the role of Centreville’s Town Government in promoting growth and economic development for the town. What specific measures do you believe are  necessary to achieve these ends? 

Question Two: Now that the storm ordinance has been created, should be a fee structure be implemented?

Question Three: What is your position on the proposed YMCA in Centreville and what are the reasons for your position?