Crashbox Theatre Troupe to Offer Benefit Performance May 19

Join Crashbox Theatre Company for a free public performance, Sunday May 19 at 2pm, at Grace Lutheran Church, on the corner of Brookletts and Hanson Streets in downtown Easton. The afternoon will feature members of the selected “CRASHBOX THEATRE TROUPE” performing solos, duets, and full group numbers from some of Broadway’s favorite musicals.

Crashbox Theatre is a non-profit Educational Theatre group founded in 2012 by Executive Director, Richard A. Vitanovec. Some of the opportunities that Crashbox has provided are summer theatre intensives, Masterclasses with Actor’s Equity Association performers, collaboration with professionals such as William Berloni of Berloni Theatrical Animals, professional instruction in acting, music, and dance, community productions involving students from elementary school through college, student directed one-act plays and excursions to NYC to see professional theatre. The Crashbox Theatre Troupe is a selected and auditioned group of performers given extra opportunities in the
performing Arts to even further these performers’ skills and abilities. Some of these experiences have included Masterclasses, Nationally Accredited Performing Classes, excursions to Baltimore, Orlando, and Washington, D.C. to see professional Theatre and Receive professional instruction in the Performing Arts, and many performing opportunities. Last summer the Crashbox Theatre troupe was accepted to perform at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida. This summer they will be traveling to NYC to receive six Masterclasses with professional Broadway directors, choreographers, and actors—including cast members in HAMILTON, as well as seeing HAMILTON and CHICAGO. For
more information on Crashbox Theatre and the Crashbox Theatre Troupe visit

The performance on Sunday, May 19th is free. Donations will be accepted and all donations will benefit the Talbot Interfaith Shelter.

Profiles in Philanthropy: Oxford Community Center with Bonnie Richards & Susan Wheeler

It may be hard to believe, but The Oxford Community Center has served as a community resource for over 80 years.

First as a grammar school and then a high school and, for the last quarter century, as a cultural activities center and meeting place. The OCC, as it’s referred to locally, provides residents and visitors a full schedule of social, cultural, and recreational programs and events.

Last year alone, the OCC provided local programming almost every week, from children’s clubs, concerts, lectures, art workshops, and even their popular cars and coffee Saturday events. This level of accomplishment does not come easy.

With a small staff aided by dozens of volunteers, the OCC Board has done a remarkable job making the community center was one those most vibrant venues on the Eastern Shore, even though Oxford’s population is 617 full-time residents.

The Spy sat down with the OCC’s new Board president and vice president, Bonnie Richards & Susan Wheeler, to talk about their commitment to the organization’s mission, their special joy in community service, and their own going plans to continue to expand its offerings in the years ahead.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Oxford Community Center please go here.

Rallying Around Talbot County’s Flags for Heroes

Once again, the Rotary Club of Easton will be rallying around their highly successful “Flags For Heroes” campaign come this Memorial Day weekend. Inspired to not only remind the general public of the importance of the country’s service men and women who died in defending their country, the Flags for Heroes program raises almost $50,000 a year to help vet programs throughout Talbot County to serve those physically or mentally wounded as a result of their time in the Armed Services.

The Spy sat down with two of the Flags for Heroes lead volunteers, John Flohr, and Jackie Wilson, to talk about the upcoming campaign and the importance of the community giving back to our brave veterans.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. To donate to Flags for Heroes, please go here for more information

This Weekend in Easton – April 19 – 21, 2019

The Talbot Spy shares with its readers each week Discover Easton’s “This Weekend in Easton” events newsletter. Each edition takes a look at the community events going on in Easton for the coming weekend, and highlights Signature Events hosted by Discover Easton. From shows at the Avalon Theatre, fundraisers, art exhibits, in-store promotions, festivals, and more, there is always something to do in Easton, Maryland.


Encore Cinema Series – Destroyer
Thurs., April 18 | 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m.
Easton Premier Cinemas (210 Marlboro Ave)

As a result of the overwhelming response from our community, Triton Entertainment is proud to announce the continuation of the “Encore Cinema Series” film program. More Info

Dragonfly’s Eggstravaganza Sale
April 19 & 20
Dragonfly (21 Goldsborough St)

Shop at Dragonfly during their Eggstravaganza Sale and pick an egg for a chance to save up to 25% off your entire purchase! See store for details. More Info

Ladies’ Night
Fri., April 19 | 5 p.m.
Kiln Born Creations (1 S Washington Street)

Ladies 18+ receive 40% off created items (some exclusions). Please bring snacks or beverages. Book a spot now – it’s free to reserve! More Info

The Dirty Grass Players
Fri., April 19 | 8 p.m.
Stoltz Listening Room (40 E Dover Rd)

From Baltimore, The Dirty Grass Players have established themselves with one toe-tappin’ foot in traditional bluegrass & blazing musicianship that pushes boundaries. More Info

Farmers Market
Sat., April 20 | 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Public Lot; 100 Block of N. Harrison St

Fresh produce, nursery stock & bulbs, breads, pastries, handcrafted gifts, fresh cut flowers, local honey, pet treats, kombucha, rum, and prepared foods. Live music begins at 10:30 a.m. every Saturday. More Info

Easton’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt
Sat., April 20 | 10 a.m.
Talbot County Courthouse (11 N Washington St)

Over 5,000 Easter eggs, some include special prizes from our local businesses. Also enjoy free face painting and an appearance by the Easter Bunny. More Info

Jenn Grinels
Sat., April 20 | 8 p.m.
Avalon Theatre (40 E Dover Rd)

Fans of Eva Cassidy, Van Morrison, Brandi Carlile and just plain good singing will want to see Jenn when she returns to the Avalon stage to perform music from her upcoming studio album. More Info

Easter Sunday Grand Brunch Buffet
Sun., April 21 | 11 a.m. to 3:00 p.m
Tidewater Inn (101 E Dover St)

Celebrate Easter at the Tidewater Inn with friends and family for Easter brunch. Call ahead for reservations on the hour between 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. (410.822.4034). More Info

Easton was nominated for “Best Small Town Cultural Scene” in USA Today
Click Here to Vote for Easton


A Film Teaser by Kurt Kolaja for Those Wild Horses of Chincoteague

As readers of the Spy know, we have a special affection for the masterful short teaser films that encourage attendance to film festivals as well as other special screenings of independent film.  Sadly, these sometimes work of shear genius are rarely acknowledged enough.

One of the most recent came to the Spy’s attention by local filmmaker Kurt Kulia to drum up viewership for the upcoming broadcast on MTV of his speciatalor documentary The Wild Ponies of Chincoteague for Chesapeake Bay Week on April 22.

For more information please go here.

Letter to Editor: We Deserve Better From UMM Shore Regional Health

The self-dealing scandal involving 9 of 30 UMMS Board members continues to occupy headlines. Both the MD House of Delegates and the MD Senate have unanimously passed legislation to reform the Board, and are awaiting likely approval by Governor Hogan. Comptroller Franchot has asked the state prosecutor to investigate, and blasted the Board’s choice of consulting firm to investigate. To quote him: “The State Prosecutor, thank God, is involved. This independent consulting firm that’s been hired by the system from California, I mean, forgive me, take a look at that consulting companies client list and tell me that that is an independent look at anything.”

Meanwhile, there has been very little public discussion of this on the Eastern Shore, despite the fact that one of the self-dealers on the UMMS Board who resigned within a few days of Mayor Pugh, continues to serve on our local Easton hospital board. Indeed, despite the fact that Mr. John Dillon has received more than $150,000.00 per year from UMMS for “capital campaign and strategic planning” he continues to hold the position of Chairman of the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health (SRH) at Easton, a position he has held since 2013.

The merger of our local hospital in 2006 was done in hopes of gaining access to subspecialty care, and to financial resources that would aid us in building a new hospital. Of note, Mr. Dillon was one of the people instrumental in promoting that merger. In the last decade, UMMS has been acquiring hospitals at a rapid rate of speed. As a result, individual hospital visions get a little blurry, and their mission statements more generic. Decisions regarding care locally are no longer decided locally. Remote control of care structuring has often resulted in clinical situations that make it more difficult for healthcare providers to give what they consider optimal care.

The patients of the Eastern Shore deserve better.

The dedicated workers of Shore healthcare facilities deserve better.

We need to challenge the members of the our local Board to ask Mr. Dillon to step down, and, even more so, to focus on strengthening our regional health care delivery processes. We also need to let our legislators know that we expect a truly independent audit of the UMMS board, with any illegal activities reported to the State Attorney General’s office.

Eva M. Smorzaniuk, M.D.
Talbot County


Letter to Editor: No Sunshine In Talbot…Yet

As discussed in a short piece last week, on February 20th the Talbot County Council sent a letter to the legislature in Annapolis expressing the County’s position on certain bills. This was noteworthy not because of the issue and the County’s position, but because the County had taken that action in the dark, in complete disregard of procedure, with no public discussion or public vote. Citizens would have known nothing about it except that the “Talbot letter” was referred to in open meeting. But my charge remains only an accusation without proof.

Here is the update to the story.

On, February 25 when the matter first came to light, I sent a letter to Mr. Pack (copied to all other Council Members, the County Attorney and the County Manager), saying that “unless you and the County Attorney can confirm that the matter was properly handled in all material respects, we respectfully request” that the advisory letters be withdrawn. I expressed the reasons we suspected the matter had been mishandled—“please correct us if we are wrong”—and bulleted 10 question about how the letter came to be issued, followed by “If we are completely off base in our concerns about process, advise us of course.”

No reply. Nada. From anyone. Dawn’s light has not yet broken.

All we are trying to do here is get answers to a few simple questions about how the matter was handled, answers that are known at this very moment by Mr. Pack, Mr. Hollis, Mr. Kupersmith, and all the other participants.

On March 5th, I emailed the County Attorney requesting a factual reply, noting that “not being directed to the corporate entity, perhaps [the questions in my letter] were not taken seriously.” He replied, “as far as your inquiry to Mr. Pack is concerned, I obviously cannot speak for him. I will review your letter but am not promising a response.” The Public Information Act (PIA) regs were also cited—more on that below.

In frustration, I wrote Mr. Kupersmith asking that he just forget the original letter addressed to Mr. Pack, and instead “ let me simply ask you directly as the County Attorney these questions” (5) about how the letters to the legislature were authorized. I asked for no documents. Here is the meat of his answer:

“As you’re aware, the Office of Law provides legal advice to the Council, boards/commissions, and departments. In this instance, you have directed a request to one of this Office’s clients (Mr. Pack/County Council) [sic] and we may provide legal advice to the client in connection with the request. Therefore, I am not in a position, at least at the moment, to offer any comments on this beyond helping direct you to relevant County resources, such as the PIA policy I provided earlier. I realize this may not be satisfactory to you, but you must recognize that when you write a letter alleging that the Council did not act appropriately and making demands, you have put the matter in an adversarial posture that does not lend itself to casual responses.”

So, it appears the public will not—or at least I will not– be receiving any explanation. Accordingly, this morning I sent to the County a broadly drawn PIA request to obtain all of the documents related to this affair. From those we can surely deduce what unfolded, and obtain the simple answers to the simple question we started with: were the February 20th letters properly issued, or were they sent under the cover of darkness.

(I realize one of the other Council Members might be willing to provide the answer in full. But they all have known from the beginning what I am looking for. My sense is that if Mr. Pack, as the Council President, does not want to talk about it, then that is his message to others too. To lean hard on anyone else to step up and tell the story is perhaps unfair, as that might mean creating a bad relationship with Mr. Pack near the beginning of a long 4 years.)

But back to the PIA request. In the lead article of Sunday’s Edition, the Star Democrat reported on the unreasonably high cost per page for getting simple police reports in Maryland. But in cases like this, the “cost per page” for a copy of a document is almost beside the point. (To boot, we only want to inspect documents, and may want only a few copied.) Mr. Kupersmith described the issue thus:

The PIA policy also sets out the fees, which are not limited to copies. See section 1.10. They cover the time it takes staff to collect and review the records, including legal review for any applicable privilege / PIA exemption.

Indeed, Section 1.10(B)(3) of the County’s PIA Request Regulations say (emphasis added) that, apart from copying and such, “the fee to search, compile, review, prepare and otherwise respond to a request…is the cost calculated by multiplying the actual time spent by each individual employee involved in the response, including attorney review time, by his or her hourly salary, including benefits…” although there is no charge for the first two hours of work. Arguably this is all fair and reasonable. But it can also seem pretty intimidating, unlimited, and unknowable, and many citizens might not be a position to step up.

So in summary, this is how it works: since the Council President, Mr. Pack, (the addressee of a letter) does not wish to respond to questions because the letter sounds (let’s say is) adversarial, then the County Attorney also cannot provide answers—because the addressee is his client. But a citizen IS legally entitled to dig out the answers himself via a PIA request, so long as he or she agrees to pay the costs, whatever they turn out to be.

And I could be completely wrong. Maybe the County handled this properly but has refused to explain it just because someone is in a snit about the audacious allegation that they erred. If so, I am prepared (as always) to eat crow. In just measure, I find it a healthy component of the human diet.

So that is the status of things folks, here in Talbot County during Sunshine Week 2019. Update to follow.

(By the way, the letters to the legislature approved in public by the Council last night are a completely different than the matter above. It is confusing, but poor government can unfold both in the dark and right out in broad daylight.)

Dan Watson

The Lure of Certainty by Angela Rieck

I am a seeker. To that end, I have read and attempted to learn from some of the most profound spiritual thinkers of our day including Tolle, Rohr, Beckwith, Steindl-Rast, Chödrön, Beckwith, Thich Nhat Hanh, Young, Dali Lama, Osteen, Chittister, Ram Das, to name a few.  

Despite differing perspectives, most share of a set of common beliefs: connectedness, living in the now, importance of gratitude, universalism, abundant love, the negative impact of the ego, and spirituality. I am especially connected to spirituality since science and history have taught us that just because we can’t perceive or measure something, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist (e.g., the world is flat, elephants don’t have a language).

Religion offers similar constructs (a) life after death (in some form), (b) connectedness in worship, (c) all-embracing agape love, and (d) comfort and compassion in difficult times.

But what religion and spiritual leaders really offer us is certainty, and it is compelling. Despite believing that the other side is “unknowable”, I continue to be drawn to those who are convinced that they have an answer. I think that this explains why cults and semi-cults are able to attract people. All that a seeker needs to do is join and, she too, will get the answers.

If only it were that simple.

Angela Rieck was born and raised on a farm in Caroline County. After receiving her PhD in Mathematical Psychology from the University of Maryland, she worked as a scientist at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. Throughout her career, she held management jobs at AT&T, HP and Medco, finally retiring as a corporate executive for a large financial services company. Angela is also a wife, mother and an active volunteer serving on the Morris County School Board for 13 years and fostering and rehabilitating over 200 dogs. After the death of her husband, Dr. Rieck returned to the Eastern Shore to be with her siblings. With a daughter living and working in New York City, she and her dogs now split their time between Talbot County and Key West, FL.   

Breaking Takes by Al Sikes

Socialism at Its Worst

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in speaking to his supporters said “I went to the future and came back, and I saw that everything turned out fine.” Amusing and horrifying. Venezuela has suffered innumerable hardships under his despotic rule and he has run out of pledges affixed to a measurable future. Perhaps this will hasten his departure. When political leaders encapsulate themselves in a forward to the future capsule there is a need for a rocket stage that takes them to Mars where their stupidity will not find people.

Capitalism at Its Best

Jack Bogle died last week. Essentially he invented index funds and sold them to millions who profited from broad stock diversity while enjoying drastically lower transactional costs. Bogle himself was a tireless advocate for his investment approach and lived a relatively modest lifestyle. Thank you, for this contribution to your country. When investment is efficient and productive, capitalism has more friends.


Gridlock is the word; it attaches to polarization, most think. Indeed polarization often results in teeth-baring gridlock. But gridlock can also be associated with goals that are emotionally appealing but illogical.

It is now chanted on the left: “Medicare for All”. What does that mean? Medicare insureds begin paying for this benefit at the start of their work life and decades later begin to enjoy the benefits. It is now projected that the Medicare Trust Fund will run out of money by 2026. In short, it will need increasing allocations from current tax revenues to pay for claims. Is there anybody on the east side of the Potomac who might develop a rational future for US healthcare?

In our country of immigrants we have a President who pillories immigrants without articulating missional and operational alternatives. A subset of his base attacks him yelling amnesty over and over regardless of the details. He shrinks—some leadership.

I could of course go on—indeed maybe I will for another minute of your time. Elites are in love with a carbon tax. Those who live hand-to-mouth wonder where the additional money is going to come from to pay more for their home and automobile energy needs. If you think a carbon tax makes political sense, take a look at France where the Yellow Jackets revolt was first triggered by new carbon taxes.

My suggestion; work on the supply side. If the electric automobile, for example, is our future then alternative fuels to produce more electricity are essential. But, solar and wind solely are not up to the task. Incentivize next generation nuclear power plants. And in the course of our fuel transition, incentivize carbon recapture technologies on a worldwide basis because fossil fuels worldwide will dominate for at least another generation.


I am not a devoted NFL fan, but do watch some games played by my favorite teams. As my emotions took a seat in front of our living room TV last Sunday, I was treated to the Saints defeat by the Rams because of the most outrageous oversight perhaps in NFL history. If you are at all interested, you know what I am talking about. The NFL had much of America glued to their screens; they had four extraordinary football teams competing, yet seemed to have chosen some officials that would be hard put to make a good blizzard at a Dairy Queen. Too harsh, maybe, but I was rooting for the Saints.

Beyond the officiating, we have the puzzle of the over-time rules in which a flip of the coin determines who first receives the kick-off. If that team scores a touchdown they win. In the AFC game between the Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots, led by brilliant quarterbacks, it was clear that the coin toss winner would have a big advantage. Characteristic of over-time, both teams are tired. The offense initiates and the defense reacts; the latter is at a significant disadvantage.

I remember playing sandlot football; we had more logical rules.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

Op-Ed: The State of Shore Regional Health in 2018 by Ken Kozel

Looking back at 2018, I want t to share the great progress made by UM Shore Regional Health in realizing our Mission, Creating Healthier Communities Together, and our Vision, To Be the Region’s Leader in Patient Centered Health Care.

November and December were dominated by preparations for our successfully completed week-long accreditation visit from the Joint Commission, followed by the transition to EPIC, our new electronic medical records system, linking patient care information within and outside of Shore Regional Health and the entire University of Maryland Medical System. Both of these achievements required an enormous amount of preparation and work for team members at all levels and all locations of our organization. I am particularly proud that throughout these near-simultaneous events, patient care remained our priority in every aspect of our inpatient and outpatient programs.

2018 was marked by several other important milestones:

Our Cardiac Catheterization Center exceeded our expectations in the number of life-saving emergency percutaneous coronary intervention (STEMI / PCI) procedures – when a heart attack results from a critically blocked artery and time is heart muscle. We are approaching 60 since the designation as a Cardiac Intervention Center (CIC) by MIEMSS in February, 2018. The Center’s Electrophysiology Service is effectively migrating patients from various medications taken prior to ablation and improving their quality of life.

UM SRH programs earned recognition from several prestigious accrediting and certification organizations during 2018. Cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation programs in our three hospitals were recognized by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation (AACVPR). At UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, the Primary Stroke Center earned re-designation from MIEMSS, and the American Heart Association’s Gold Plus and Target Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus designations. Our Requard Center for Acute Rehabilitation earned re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).
Expanding access to care, a challenge for rural health care organizations such as ours, has been an ongoing focus for UM Shore Regional Health. 2018 saw considerable progress in this arena, as UM Community Medical Group added 18 new providers in primary care and several specialties. In palliative care and behavioral health, barriers to care formerly posed by geographic distance and travel times have been greatly diminished by telemedicine programs launched during the past year.

The Regional Opioid Task Force, formed in 2017 by UM SRH and including representatives from law enforcement, health departments, and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, accomplished its mission of creating a standard intervention for patients involved in an opioid overdose. Our four emergency departments now offer consistent interventions that include medical evaluation and stabilization, a voluntary behavioral health assessment, a standardized educational message, connection with treatment providers, and expedited referral to A.F. Whitsitt Center for continued treatment and rehabilitation.

Plans for improvements and additions to our physical facilities also moved forward during 2018. We filed a Certificate of Need (CON) application with the Maryland Health Care Commission in September for a new, six-story, 135-bed hospital to replace Shore Medical Center at Easton. Three other regulatory applications, known as Certificates of Exemption (COE), were filed in July, 2018. These detailed the proposed conversion of Shore Medical Center at Dorchester to a freestanding medical facility that will include a state of the art emergency department, observation beds, diagnostic services, primary and specialty care, outpatient services and ambulatory surgery. These applications include proposals to relocate the inpatient beds and the behavioral health inpatient unit from UM Shore Medical Center at Dorchester to the existing Easton hospital, with very minor renovations, possibly as early as spring 2021, when the freestanding medical facility campus is complete. Coming much sooner is our new Shore Medical Pavilion at Denton, slated to open in early February 2019, which will provide “close to home” care for residents of Caroline County. The new pavilion will house primary and specialty care providers, laboratory and imaging services, outpatient behavioral health and rehabilitation care, and a home health office. We look forward to a formal opening event in the spring.

The three volunteer Auxiliaries and Foundations associated with UM Shore Regional Health continue to play a key role in advancing the quality of care provided in our hospitals and our outpatient services. Auxiliary volunteers contributed more than 57,000 hours and thousands of dollars to their respective hospitals in 2018. Support from individual donors, local businesses and foundations enabled us to purchase upgraded medical equipment and life-saving technologies. We are so grateful for the support of the Auxiliaries and Foundations, and that of our UM Shore Regional Health Board members, who devote their time to our mission.

Our focus upon a service excellence culture has transformed the ways in which we provide care, how we interact with patients, family members and loved ones, and how we support each other throughout the organization. It is heartwarming to feel the positive energy, caring and compassion in our team, our physicians and advanced practice providers, and the many volunteers who support these efforts. I am grateful for the support of our communities and the dedication of UM Shore Regional Health team members – our board, our Foundations and Auxiliaries, our physicians and providers — in all locations throughout the five county region we serve. Shore Regional Health is Where the Health of the Eastern Shore Comes First and we are so proud to serve your needs.

Ken Kozel is the president and CEO of UM Shore Regional Health

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