Maryland 3.0: The Award Winning Inspiration of Plum Dragon Herbs

Sometimes, a challenging situation inspires innovative solutions. Such was the case for Lisa Ball CEO of Plum Dragon Herbs, Inc. of Chester, MD. Diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, she told by doctors there was no cure. Three weeks later, after intensive research, a change in diet, and the addition of supplements, she amazed her physicians by curing herself. This passion for research, natural healing and wellness combined with her entrepreneurial spirit, and in 2013 she purchased Plum Dragon from a friend.

Lisa Ball CEO of Plum Dragon Herbs

The company’s goal then and now was the manufacture and sale of a line of 100% herbal and natural topical analgesics for sports-related injuries, such as tendonitis, bruising, sprains, strains, fractures, etc. “The pain relief formulas are based on ancient Chinese remedies called ‘Dit Da Jow,’ which was the secret to the superior feats of strength, resilience, and rapid recovery of the famed Shaolin Monks and Samurai warriors,” says Ball. Plum Dragon acquired and translated these herbal formulas, keeping the traditional authenticity, the original method of preparation, and many of the original names.

They were originally marketed to Olympic athletes, martial artists, and fighters. But according to Ball, as word of mouth spread about the success of the analgesics, they began to be used by ‘everyday folks’ all over the world to treat their pain and injury. “In short, she says, “we are bringing powerful ancient healing secret formulas of the great warriors and martial artists of the Eastern world…”

These ancient mixtures, which are manufactured locally in Chester, MD, contain 15-30 powerful medical herbs in an alcohol base, which are aged for a minimum period of 6 months. In formulating these tinctures, Plum Dragon has had many advisors including acupuncturists, and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners, as well as nutraceutical chemists and FDA consultants.

Plum Dragon advertises that their top three best selling topical analgesics can help with nearly all types of pain or injury. The Ho Family Dit Da Jow is their number one best-selling formula for pain relief and used for muscle pain and injury, tendonitis, and nerve pain. The Bruise Juice is best for new injuries with bruising, redness, and/or swelling and for inflammatory conditions where inflammation is apparent. The Ancestor’s Advanced formula is best for arthritis, older injuries or fractures that are taking a long time to heal, and connective tissue injuries. The formulas are applied topically to the affected area a minimum of three times per day for an average period of 1 to 2 weeks (sometimes longer for more serious injuries).

Asked about the safety of these analgesics, Ball points out that the herbs used by Plum Dragon have thousands of years of recorded history of safe usage, and work with the body to support and enhance its natural healing processes. In contrast “many of the chemicals used in our competitor’s products, both topical and oral (including sports creams, NSAIDs, and opioids), have known and scientifically proven harmful side-effects, and relieve pain by circumventing or blocking the body’s natural healing functions.”

Pictured from left to right) RBI2 Mentor, Jack Schammel; Plum Dragon CEO, Lisa Ball; Director of Advisory Services, Anne Balduzzi

At the beginning of May, Plum Dragon received some promising news. The Maryland based Technology Development Corporation’s (TEDCO) Rural Business Innovation Initiative (RBI2) announced Plum Dragon as its first pre-seed funding recipient. RBI2 provides technical and business assistance to small companies and early-stage technology-based companies in rural Maryland counties. According to Ann Balduzzi, Director of Advisory Services, “We’re looking for start-ups with a really good idea, that is growing, and that has a strong team. Since we’re offering small pre-seed funding of $25,000, we are highly selective.” Plum Dragon fit all that criteria.

“Jack Schammel, the Upper Shore RBI2 mentor, had been working with Lisa Ball for some time. “The company, under Lisa’s leadership has grown rapidly.” Schammel says, “Lisa took full advantage of assistance opportunities, listened to mentors, hired capable people, sets goals, and made a solid business plan. We see a great future.”

Given today’s emphasis on wellness and Ball’s enthusiasm, RBI2 selection of Plum Dragon is apparent. According to Ball, the pre-seed investment provided by the program will give the company “an opportunity to improve product delivery mechanism and packaging, marketing, brand messaging, online sales funnels, and e-commerce functionality.”

Val Cavalheri is a recent transplant to the Eastern Shore, having lived in Northern Virginia for the past 20 years. She’s been a writer, editor and professional photographer for various publications, including the Washington Post.



Laura Johnson Steps Up Into Role as Vice President of Finance

Washington College President Kurt Landgraf announced today that Laura Johnson, who has served as Washington College’s chief budget officer for the past four years, will be promoted to Vice President of Finance.

Johnson, who before joining Washington College was the senior global financial analyst with the DuPont Company in Wilmington, Delaware, succeeds Rahel Rosner, who has accepted a position with St. Paul’s School in Baltimore.

“I am honored to continue to serve Washington College and excited for the opportunity to partner with Kurt, faculty, and senior leadership to ensure the sustainability of our future,” Johnson says. “We have some of the most talented and dedicated students, faculty, and staff and a board that is generous and insightful.  I look forward to the relationship with the community of Chestertown and to the exciting challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

In announcing the transition, Landgraf applauded the work of the Finance and Administration team, which is managing capital projects in various stages of development, from the construction of the Hodson Boathouse and Semans-Griswold Environmental Hall, to the upcoming renovation of the Cullen residential hall, the completion of a full facilities condition assessment, and a master plan update.

Less visible, he said, has been the team’s work on financial sustainability, budget modeling, and projections—areas of primary focus for Johnson. She has been the main liaison between both the Provost’s Office and the Office of Finance and the academic and administrative departments for matters related to resource allocation, financial planning, and approval of actions related to employees, major purchases, and capital projects. She serves on the Finance and Benefits Committee, the Planning Committee, the Donor Relations & Stewardship Committee, and as an adviser for the Washington College Veterans Association, helping lead the annual holiday drive to gather and send supplies and gifts to those deployed in the active military.

“Laura Johnson is an incredibly talented financial officer who has proven to be up to the challenge of maximizing the College’s resources,” says Landgraf. “She’s also totally committed to the welfare of this institution. I am delighted to be able to tap one of most our talented and committed employees for a position of greater responsibility.”

About Washington College

Founded in 1782, Washington College is the tenth oldest college in the nation and the first chartered under the new Republic. It enrolls approximately 1,450 undergraduates from more than 35 states and a dozen nations. With an emphasis on hands-on, experiential learning in the arts and sciences, and more than 40 multidisciplinary areas of study, the College is home to nationally recognized academic centers in the environment, history, and writing. Learn more at

Construction Starts at The Country School

Willow Construction, one of the largest and most trusted commercial construction firms on Delmarva, has begun work on The Country School, a private school in Easton, Maryland. Work began on Monday, April 23rd, and is expected to take 16 months to complete the project and be ready for the 2019-2020 school year. The project consists of three phases. Phase one includes construction of a new parking lot and drop off/pick up lanes and associated site work. Phase two consists of construction of a new, two story, 20,000 square foot brick building to house the upper school. The last phase of the project will include renovations of the existing Lower School. “Our team is beyond thrilled about this opportunity to not only enhance this prestigious institution but also to update the gateway to Downtown Easton. Additionally, we are proud that The Country School has put their trust in a locally owned and operated company, such as ours, to meet their construction needs” says Mike Hiner, President of Willow Construction. “We love these kinds of projects because we understand what it is going to mean to the people that will be benefiting from the upgraded facilities and supporting the communities we serve.”

Willow Construction has a long history of building educational facilities on the Delmarva Peninsula, including Chesapeake College’s Learning Resource Center, Mace’s Lane Middle School in Cambridge, and The Wye River Upper School in Centreville, Maryland.

Maryland 3.0: Checking in with KRM’s Bryan Matthews

Just a few years ago, the Dixon Valve & Coupling Company made a corporate decision that would have a significant impact on Kent County’s economy and yet very little was said about at the time. The company, faced with growing pains and stiff competition for their range of piping and fitting products, had to make a difficult choice to either expand their business locally in Chestertown or take advantage of lower production costs, larger workforce populations, and reduced taxes by moving operations to another state or perhaps even another country.

This kind of significant call is not an uncommon one for American manufacturing companies. And in most cases, these businesses very quickly conclude that their bottom line profits will improve dramatically by migrating to a more business-friendly location. But in the case of Dixon, which would impact close to 375 employees in Kent County, their final decision went against that popular trend. Dixon quickly made up their mind that they would stay put in Chestertown.

While most communities in America would have held parades or honored local politicians for saving a town’s anchor manufacturing business, the Dixon decision, like so much of the rest of the family-owned business culture, was a low-key affair. Once they concluded that Kent County would remain their home for the foreseeable future, Dixon leadership assigned the task of building facilities for that future growth to the company’s subsidiary, KRM Development, and thus began a complicated multi-year plan to move warehouse, production and administrative functions to new locations.

A good part of that job is now in the work portfolio of Bryan Matthews, who retired as Washington College’ athletic director and facilities manager after thirty years of service to his alma mater to join the KRM team two years ago. In his Spy interview, Matthews talks in detail about the intricate planning required for this kind of major undertaking as well as some of the vision behind Dixon’s plans for their North Chestertown campus.

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

Easton Velocity Plans System Upgrade

Easton Utilities received approval Monday evening to expend up to $12.5 million to upgrade its existing Velocity system utilized to deliver cable television, internet and voice services to the residents in the Town of Easton and surrounding communities. The plan includes constructing an extensive fiber optic network to provide gigabit capacity to all customers.

“As technology continues to improve and bandwidth consumption continues to increase, we must deliver fast and reliable service to our customers,” said Ted L. Book, Director of Cable and Communications for Easton Velocity, a service of Easton Utilities. The plant replacement design will enhance reliability and improve the ongoing maintenance of the system. This project is expected to be a multi-year endeavor with portions of the system completed as early as 2019.

The current system has been in service for 18 years and requires significant resources of both manpower and financial investments. In addition, the need to increase speeds to support growing customer demand requires upgrading to newer technologies. An upgrade of these existing facilities will provide capacity for gigabit speeds to residential customers. “We want to provide our customers with the same experience they can obtain in larger metropolitan areas, and this upgrade combined with our exceptional customer service will help to meet their expectations,” added Book. Gigabit speeds are currently available through special contract agreements.

Easton Velocity, a service of Easton Utilities, is committed to keeping our community connected and current with a variety of service offerings designed to meet the needs of both residential and commercial customers. Easton Utilities is a community-owned, not-for-profit utility and telecommunications company operating the Electric, Natural Gas, Water, Wastewater, Cable Television, and Internet services for the Town of Easton and portions of the surrounding area. Please visit or call 410-822-6110 to learn more.

Delmarva Power Expands Incentives for Electric Vehicle Shoppers

Nissan and BMW are offering Delmarva Power customers special incentives that can save them thousands of dollars on the cost of certain all-electric vehicle (EV) models. In addition to the manufacturer incentives, customers could also qualify for up to $7,500 in federal tax credits, as well of thousands of dollars in state rebates and tax incentives.

These offerings are part of Delmarva Power’s broader efforts to provide new and innovative services and options for customers across the company’s service area.

“We are seeing a growing interest from our customers in electric vehicles, clean technology and innovative transportation solutions,” said Gary Stockbridge, Delmarva Power region president. “As the electric company responsible for managing the energy grid across most of Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland, we play a critical role in supporting the growth of these new technologies to meet our customers’ evolving needs. These rebates and incentives are another step forward as we work with partners across the region to expand needed charging infrastructure, provide affordable energy services for electric vehicles, and position Delaware and Maryland as leaders in this rapidly growing market.”

Nissan is offering Delmarva Power customers a $3,000 rebate off the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) on the 2018 LEAF. This offer is available from Nissan North America Inc., through June 30, 2018, or while supplies last. To qualify for the savings, customers must bring a copy of this flyer and show their Delmarva Power bill to participating Nissan dealerships.

BMW is offering Delmarva Power customers $10,000 off the best negotiated purchase price of a new all-electric BMW i3 or BMW i3s through July 31, 2018. To redeem the offer, customers should bring their Delmarva Power bill and a completed Delmarva Power customer information form to their local dealership.

Delmarva Power is actively working to advance EV technology across Delaware and Maryland. In Delaware, the energy company has proposed an innovative program to the Delaware Public Service Commission that will help prepare Delaware for the growth of EVs and provide customers with reduced electric rates, credits, rebates, and other incentives to buy and own EVs.

In Maryland, Delmarva Power partnered with its Exelon sister companies Baltimore Gas and Electric and Pepco, as well as other energy companies and stakeholders, to file a proposal that would create the second largest EV charging network in the U.S. If approved, it would help energy companies meet customers’ needs in the state, where, according to a recent survey released this week by the Edison Electric Institute, an overwhelming majority of residents support expanding EV charging infrastructure.

Customers can learn more about EVs, available incentives, and the company’s ongoing efforts to support the growing interest in EVs here.

Maryland 3.0: A New Kind of Garage for the Car Lovers of the Mid-Shore

One relatively recent trend on the Mid-Shore that sometimes goes unnoticed in comparison to the region’s passion for such things as sailing and art, is the remarkable growth in historic cars and the collection of specialty automobiles. From the annual Ridgely Car Show to the fancier Concours d’Elegance, and more recently, the opening of the Classic Motor Museum in St. Michaels, the Shore is booming with car collectors.

To date, some 2,000 vehicles in the five-county area are considered “historic” by the Maryland DMV, and one can easily doubles that number if including the hundreds of performance and other rare cars that are not old enough for that designation.

The challenge for all those car owners is where to safely keep their pride and joys.

For the very wealthy, the answer is an easy one; simply build more garage space. And perhaps for those on the lower end of the scale, its simply replacing the family sedan with one’s beloved 1970 Volkswagen convertible for example.

But for a significant number of Mid-Shore car enthusiasts, there were very few options in-between for secure storage facilitates that would not only keep these unique museum quality automobiles safe but also well maintained.

That was until now.

Just a few months ago, Mike Kealy, owner of Bay Hundred Auto in St. Michaels which specializes in the maintenance and repair of rare cars, partnered with a customer and friend to solve this gap. Their solution is now open for business in the back of a nondescript commercial warehouse with the appropriate name of Prestige Auto Vault.

The concept is simple enough. Customers park their cars there until they feel the urge to drive them. But unlike many other storage facilities, the Vault takes a few extra steps to ensures the autos are not only secure but also frequently maintained.

Every month, each car in the Vault has a service check. All fluids are inspected, tires are properly inflated, batteries charged, all for the sake of making sure that the vintage car actually works when the client does have the impulse for a Sunday drive in a thirty or forty-year-old car.

The Spy talked to Mike last week to understand more about this entrepreneurial experiment.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Prestige Auto Vault please go here.

Habitat Choptank and Lowe’s to Host National Women Build Week

Next week, Habitat Choptank and Lowe’s will host the annual National Women Build Week from May 5-13 where women volunteers and Habitat homeowners will unite nationwide to build up their communities and gain skills in home construction.

National Women Build Week encourages women nationwide to devote at least one day to help build decent and affordable housing in our local communities. Women have the strength and determination necessary to build Habitat houses, addressing the problem of affordable housing in a concrete way so that families can achieve stability and independence through safe, decent and affordable homes.

Habitat Choptank will be offering the following build days for volunteers to get involved for a full day or a half day.  The build days will be hosted at one of the following locations in Talbot and Dorchester County: Tuesday, May 8th or Wednesday, May 9th in Cambridge; Friday, May 11th or Saturday May 12th in Easton; or Friday, May 11th or Saturday, May 12th in Hurlock.

“Since 2012, Habitat for Humanity Choptank has been uniting strong women volunteers of all experience levels in our Talbot and Dorchester Counties to build or repair homes alongside our hardworking, empowered Habitat homeowners,” said Habitat Choptank Executive Director JoAnn Hansen. “We would like to thank our local Lowe’s for partnering with us to educate, inspire and empower women to build up their communities.”

In fact, according to a 2018 national study by Lowe’s and Habitat for Humanity, more than nine-in-10 American women believe providing and advocating for access to affordable housing for women can benefit society. The survey also found:

• Nearly all women (98 percent) agree access to affordable housing helps women heads of household thrive.
• Having a safe, stable home is a source of pride (96 percent) that makes women feel more confident (98 percent) and independent (97 percent).
• Three-in-five (62 percent) women say they cannot afford to purchase a home that meets their family’s needs in the neighborhood where they want to live.

“Lowe’s is proud to sponsor National Women Build Week to educate, inspire and empower women to volunteer alongside other women in their community to address the critical issue of affordable housing. We know women working together are an unstoppable force for creating meaningful change in our communities,” said Colleen B. Penhall, Lowe’s vice president of corporate social responsibility. “At Lowe’s, we believe that a safe, stable home is an important source of strength, pride and security for families. Together with Habitat, our Lowe’s Heroes volunteers and women nationwide, National Women Build Week will provide valuable support to advance accessible housing in the communities where we all live and work.”

Lowe’s and Habitat Choptank share the vision that every woman, man and child have a decent place to lay their heads at night. Far too often, low-income families are faced with choosing between paying their housing costs and buying basic necessities like food and medical care to provide for their family. National Women Build Week recruits, educates and inspires women to build, and advocate for decent and affordable houses in their communities alongside their future neighbors—making a difference in their community, one nail at a time.

Lowe’s helped launch National Women Build Week in 2008 and has brought together more than 117,000 all-women construction volunteers to build or repair homes with nearly 5,000 families over the past 10 years. This year, Lowe’s donated $2 million to Habitat for Humanity to support the 2018 National Women Build Week, and provides how-to clinics at stores to help equip women volunteers for the builds. Since 2003, Lowe’s has committed over $30 million to Habitat for Humanity International and helped more than 6,500 Habitat families improve their living conditions.

Both women and men of all experience levels can participate by signing up to volunteer or by joining the conversation online. As part of National Women Build Week, Lowe’s and Habitat are activating a social movement to generate conversation about building one another up and sharing the message of women empowerment, positivity and action by using #BuildHer and #WomenBuild. To volunteer or to find out specific job site locations, please call Nora Skiver, Volunteer Coordinator at Habitat Choptank, at 410-476-3204.

About Habitat for Humanity Choptank

Since 1992, Habitat Choptank has made home ownership possible for 76 families and currently partners with 15 local home buyers. Income qualifying individuals and families are offered access to affordable mortgage financing in order to purchase a new construction or rehabbed home from the nonprofit’s inventory of durable and energy efficient houses.  After completing “sweat equity” hours, attending pre-homeownership classes, and meeting debt reduction and savings goals, these individuals and families will purchase homes that they helped construct and assume the full responsibilities of home ownership including maintaining their home, paying property taxes and repaying their mortgage over 30 to 33 years. Habitat accepts applications for its home ownership program throughout the year.  For more information, to make a donation or volunteer, call 410-476-3204 or visit

About Habitat for Humanity International

Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 as a grassroots effort on a community farm in southern Georgia. The Christian housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in nearly 1,400 communities throughout the U.S. and in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Habitat homeowners help build their own homes alongside volunteers and pay an affordable mortgage. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit

About Lowe’s in the Community

Lowe’s, a FORTUNE® 50 home improvement company, has a 60-year legacy of supporting the communities it serves through programs that focus on K-12 public education and community improvement projects. In the past decade, Lowe’s and the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation together have contributed nearly $300 million to these efforts, and for more than two decades Lowe’s Heroes volunteers have donated their time to make our communities better places to live. For the latest news, visit or follow @LowesMedia on Twitter.

Qlarant Expands National Presence Opening 3 Locations

Qlarant, Inc., a national leader in quality improvement and the fight against fraud, waste, and abuse is pleased to announce an expansion of its national presence with the opening of three new regional offices.

Following the recent Unified Program Integrity Contractor (UPIC) awards for the Southwestern and Western Jurisdictions, Qlarant has expanded its footprint coast to coast to a total of twelve cities. By creating a new Cerritos, California regional hub and relocating its Houston, Texas and Tampa, Florida offices into improved spaces, Qlarant has accommodated the increased workforce and improved on already award winning services.

Jaysen Eisengrein – Sr. VP Qlarant (left) and Scott Ward – Sr. VP Qlarant

“Our new office here in Cerritos puts us in an accessible, visible area that is ideal for working with our existing clients and creating relationships with new customers,” said Jaysen Eisengrein, Qlarant’s Sr. Vice President for the UPIC Western Jurisdiction. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead our experienced team into new areas.”

Workforce expansion and increased customer demand have also necessitated a new office location for Qlarant’s existing Houston staff. With offices also in Dallas and McAllen, Texas, Qlarant’s presence in the Lone Star state continues to grow.

“We’ve called Texas home for nearly a decade and I’m proud that we are continuing our relationship with the State,” said Scott Ward, Qlarant’s Sr. Vice for the UPIC Southwestern Jurisdiction. “The new offices will allow us to grow and continue to improve on the important work we do every day.”

Qlarant’s new offices are part of a long term plan to expand the brand across the entire country. The recent UPIC awards have afforded the company the ability to hire many new associates. For more information on open positions visit

About Qlarant

Qlarant is a not-for-profit nationally respected leader in fighting fraud, waste & abuse, improving program quality, and optimizing performance.  The company uses subject matter experts and innovative data science and technology to help organizations see risks, solve problems, and seize opportunities. Solutions are customized for health and human services organizations, government agencies, and financial and insurance companies. Qlarant employs nearly 500 people and has a 45-year record of accomplishment improving the performance of some of the Nation’s most important programs.

Shore United Bank Welcomes Kerry Nagle, Branch Manager

Shore United Bank, a member of Shore Bancshares community of companies, is pleased to announce that Kerry Nagle has joined the company as Branch Manager at our location in Stevensville, Maryland. Kerry joins Shore United Bank with several years of banking experience.

“We are thrilled to have Kerry on our team. Her knowledge of community banking will allow for her branch to excel under her leadership,” said Jennifer Joseph, Chief Retail Banking Officer of Shore United Bank.

“I am greatly looking forward to working in the community and assisting our customers with any financial needs they may have,” said Ms. Nagle.

Kerry is a volunteer for Junior Achievement, attends Centreville United Methodist Church and is a prior member of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce. Kerry resides in Church Hill, Maryland with her husband, Ralph and their two children, Kendall and Conlan.

For more information about Shore United Bank, visit