Another Kind of Financial Crisis: Junior Achievement Combats Shore Student Financial Illiteracy

Little did Junior Achievement know when it started nearly one hundred years ago that the financial education organization would be as timely in 2018 as it was when founded in 1919. J.A., as it’s known to millions of students and volunteers, continues a tradition of engaging young people in the fundamental basics of work readiness, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship at a time when those skill sets are in extremely high demand.

It should be a relief to many on the Mid-Shore that the J.A. has played an educational leadership role in the school districts of Caroline, Dorchester and Talbot County for decades now, as close to 450 volunteers descend on Eastern Shore public schools each year to teach its students such essential life skills as opening a bank account, balancing a checkbook, applying for loans, the dangers of credit card debt,  the importance of savings, or understanding what stocks and bonds are.

With the internet and smartphones now allowing a new generation to simply push a button or scan a thumbprint to almost instantaneously bring anything to one’s door, children of all ages are faced with unprecedented consumer choices, dishonest lenders, and scam artists as they plot their way into adulthood.

Given this under the radar crisis, the Spy sat down with Jayme Hayes, Jim Malena, and Talli Oxnam, three local leaders of Junior Achievement, to catch up on these very real challenges facing the youth in our community and what J.A. is doing locally to address them.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information on Junior Achievement on the Eastern Shore please go here.

Remembering George H. W. Bush: Talbot’s Craig Fuller on the Hill Network

Talbot County resident and Spy columnist drove over the bridge to be part of a panel discussion of the life and legacy of his former boss, George H.W. Bush on The Hill’s Rising program yesterday. The Spy was able to grab a link for our viewer’s interest.


First Night Talbot Turns 25 Years Old

It almost seems like ancient history when and where the first First Night in the country took place, but for the record, it was in Boston in 1975. And within a decade or so, the number of communities hosting such events grew to be 160 cities and towns. That’s the good news. The bad news is that by 2014, only 45 municipalities were continuing this remarkable tradition of celebrating local arts and culture.

Thankfully, one of the last remaining First Nights has been alive and well in Talbot County since 1993. For 25 years, First Night Talbot has been one of the regional highlights of the year, with young families arriving for “Crab Drop” at 9 pm while the adults can stick around for the formal drop at midnight, with another unique programming to go alongside.

The Spy spent some time with longtime First Night volunteer Marie U’Ren and Ross Benincasa of the Easton Business Alliance to recall some of the past and highlight the event’s 25th-anniversary activities this year.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about First Night Talbot please go here 



Spy Maryland Journal: 50 Years of Running for the Byrons at the JFK Challenge

Editor’s note: Even the Spy knows it can be a healthy thing to leave the Eastern Shore once in awhile to understand the unique character and personalities of the entire State of Maryland. We’ll therefore be periodically driving over the Bay Bridge to do just that to see what’s happening on the other side.

In many ways, Kimball Byron’s attempt last weekend to complete his 50th year running all 50 miles in the John F. Kennedy Memorial Challenge had very little to do with winning or finishing one of this country’s most grueling competitions. While that might have been his desired outcome, the passion for this run, named after the former president’s physical fitness challenge to complete a 50 mile trip in less than 12 hours, the real reason the Washington College graduate, and now a commercial airline pilot, makes run each year is all about honoring his family.

Starting in 1967, when his father Goodloe, then a Maryland State Senator, first ran the race, the Byron family has made the JFK Run a family tradition. This ritual began in 1968 when the father and son started running the race in 1968 when Kimball was only twelve years old.

Sadly, Goodloe Byron, then a US Congressman for Maryland’s 6th District, was the victim of a massive heart attack in 1978 at the age of 49 years old. The continuation of the racing tradition only grew stronger with his son over the next forty years, even to the point of getting special leave for a few days during the first Gulf War, where he was on active duty with the U.S. Air Force.

And over the years, Kimball also encouraged his own two sons (with wife Hannah serving as the support team) to join him on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail, and the oldest, Phillip, joined his father last week in Western Maryland to run with him for the 5oth anniversary.

The Spy talked to Kimball a month before the November race on running the punishing race as a boy, the challenges of JFK Run, and the subtle pride he has in keeping the Byrons in the Race.

This video is approximately four minutes in length.

St. Vincent de Paul is Growing and That’s Not a Good Thing: Checking in with SVdP President Alex Handy

Perhaps one of the most disappointing parts of Alex Handy’s job as president of Easton’s Society of St. Vincent de Paul is that his organization is still growing. Each year its customers, those seeking food assistance to feed themselves and their families, goes up, not down.

In fact, according to Alex, this has been the trend line since the region started to feel the impact of the recession in 2009. All of which has dramatically changed the size and scope of the Society’s mission since it opened its doors in 1979. That’s just one reason why their annual dining card campaign is so important this year.

The Spy sat down the Alex last week for a check in and to understand more fully the special needs in our community.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about St. Vincent de Paul please go here

Spy Moment: Easton Control Tower Turns 11 Years Old

The Control Tower at the Easton Airport is a simple enough structure. On a grey day, like the one Talbot County had on Wednesday, it stands off to the side, humble in design, functional, but hardly worthy of a birthday party.

But in many ways, the control tower is perhaps one of the most important symbols of economic development we have on the Mid-Shore. With its completion eleven years ago, it became one of only 500 such FAA facilities in the entire country; allowing the airport, and the county it serves, a competitive aviation hub for the entire region. The net result of which has meant millions of dollars to the area.

Mike Henry, the airport’s former manager, led the effort to build the tower in 2007, and so the small airport community of pilots, administrators and local fans gathered to acknowledge his leadership and the tower, outside its front door for some coffee and birthday cake.

The Spy caught a few moments with very high winds.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about the Easton Airport please go here

Mid-Shore Health: The Goal of Control at the End of Life

There is little doubt that one of the paramount issues for those facing the last phase of their lives is one of control. From such things as pain management to document the end of life wishes with family members, the patient is eager to control as much of the process as possible.

And one of their primary allies in maintaining that control is working with their local hospice as early as possible. That is the central message we received when talking to Talbot Hospice’s medical director, Mary DeShields, and its executive director, Vivian Dodge when talking to the Spy the other day.

With the national average hospice care period lasting only two to three weeks, the options and time for solid planning are minimal. That is why Mary and Vivian are strong advocates for patients and families to enter into hospice care almost immediately after a terminal diagnosis, which allows up to six months for them to prepare appropriately and guarantee the most comfortable end of life strategies possible.

This long-range approach also applies to palliative care which takes of those between acute care and end of life care. This stage for those with a chronic illness this is likely to result in death also requires a multidisciplinary management approach that, like hospice, is directed around the wishes of the patient and dramatically improve their day-to-day quality of life.

That is the primary reason that Talbot Hospice has been taking steps this year to strengthen their palliative care role with a new initiative to work more closely with community physicians and their patients.  By adding the local hospice team, both doctors and those under their care can greatly benefit patients with symptoms, and the emotional side of these serious chronic conditions.

The Spy sat down with Mary and Vivian at Talbot Hospice last week for a brief discussion of these issues.

This video is approximately seven minutes in length. For more information about Talbot Hospice please go here

Mid-Shore Careers: Mental Health Careers Found at Channel Marker

While the demand on the Mid-Shore to fill skilled job openings has never been higher, especially in such fields as cyber-security, healthcare, or a range of traditional trades from welding to culinary management, it was interesting for the Spy to note that there are still career openings for what is known as generalists. These well-educated, “jacks of all trades, masters of none” young people have demonstrated their ability to achieve in their coursework in education, but sometimes not with a clear vocation in mind when it’s completed.

But one option open to many that fall into this category is in the growing field of mental health, and that is indeed the case with Channel Marker, Inc. which serves the Mid-Shore region helping those suffering from a variety of these conditions.

The Spy sat down with two of Channel Marker’s staff who have found themselves in a profession they have not only grown to love but offers significant opportunities for career advancement. Heather Chance, a residential coordinator with the organization, and Kelly Holden, its HR and training director, to talk about their rewarding careers helping those with these afflictions navigate back into being productive citizens in the community, their professional growth, and the opportunities that await other to follow in their footsteps.

This video is approximately five minutes in length. For more information about Channel Marker and review the list of job openings go here


Mid-Shore Arts: Troika Gallery’s Laura Era on Starting Anew

The common Russian definition of the word “troika” refers to three horses abreast pulling a sleigh. That seemed to be the perfect name for Laura Era, her mother Dorothy, and their artist friend, Jennifer Heyd Wharton, when the trio opened their gallery in Talbottown twenty-one years ago. Since that time, the Troika Galley has become one of the great success stories of downtown Easton with their remarkable display of fine art from some of the country’s leading artists.

But like all things in life, let alone in the art gallery world, things do change, and the Troika Gallery was not spared that fate when Laura Era had to work through the almost simultaneous death of her mother and Jennifer’s decision to give up her share in the gallery since retiring to South Carolina. Within the span of less than two weeks, Troika had actually become a one-horse tarantass or a single horse-drawn carriage in Russian.

Nonetheless, with store manager Peg Fitzgerald at her side, Laura decided to keep Troika Gallery’s doors open. And, as she notes in our recent Spy interview, it was not a hard decision given what the three partners had achieved; a space of unique serenity, a remarkable collection of artists, and a gathering space for collectors and art lovers alike.

The Spy sat down with Laura this week to get an update.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. Troika will have a special anniversary group show opening and reception on November 9. For more information please go here


Preview: Chesapeake Music and Oxford Community Center Team Up on Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw

Community partnerships are essential in getting things done locally, but when two organizations come together in the name of jazz, it always will get the attention of the Talbot Spy.

That’s why we didn’t hesitate to ask Joe Fischer, president of the board of the Oxford Community Center and Al Sikes, chair of Chesapeake Music’s Jazz on the Chesapeake, to come over to the Bullitt House for a quick rundown of a unique project that centers on the music of jazz legends Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.

Produced and performed by twin brothers Will and Peter Anderson, who have been a favorite part of the Monty Alexander Jazz Festival for many years, and whom the New York Times calls the “virtuosos on clarinet and saxophone,” have planned an evening that shares the genius of these two giants along with a twenty piece band with strings.

In our short chat with Al and Joe, they talk about their partnership, the region’s passion for jazz, and a hint of what the audience should expect on December 1 at the OCC.

Catch Benny meets Artie with Strings on Saturday, December 1st at the Oxford Community Center. The performance is presented by Chesapeake Music’s Jazz on the Chesapeake in partnership with Oxford Community Center. Tickets are $50. Doors open at 7 p.m.; show at 7:30 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 410-819-0380.