Talbot County Honors Community Impact Leaders

Talbot County business leaders gathered on Friday, May 3 for the 11th Annual Talbot County Business Appreciation Breakfast, an event that celebrates the strength and resiliency of the area’s businesses.

Hosted by the Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism in partnership with the Talbot County Economic Development Commission, the program included comments by Councilwoman Laura Price and a keynote address by Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly M. Schulz.

A total of six Community Impact Awards were presented to businesses, organizations, and individuals who positively impacted the Talbot County community over the past year. Each award recipient received an engraved pewter tray, handcrafted in Easton by Salisbury Pewter. Winners included:

Frederick Douglass 200 Committee: Talbot County found itself in the spotlight in 2018 when the world marked the 200th birthday of the great abolitionist, orator, and writer Frederick Douglass. Harriette Lowry of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society pulled together more than 45 local organizations to form the Frederick Douglass 200 Committee. The group created a year-long series of events designed to honor the life and legacy of Talbot County’s most famous native son.

Events included a wreath laying at Douglass statue at the County Courthouse, a February 14 birthday celebration on the banks of the Tuckahoe, a speaker series at the Talbot County Free Library, performances by reenactors throughout the year, and the annual Frederick Douglass Day celebration. These events laid the groundwork for future efforts to create tourism products to tell the story of Douglass’ youth and to attract visitors looking for Frederick Douglass.

Kelley Phillips Cox: A native of Tilghman Island, Cox is the founder and executive director of Phillips Wharf Environmental Center, a non-profit organization that provides hands-on experiences and education with the animals and plants that inhabit the Chesapeake Bay region. She launched her own aquaculture farm and oyster brand, appropriately named Fisherman’s Daughter. She also operates an aquaculture training program to educate a new generation of watermen.

Kelley is actively involved with numerous regional organizations, including the Maryland Association of Outdoor and Environmental Educators, Mid-Atlantic Marine Educators Association, National Marine Educators Association, National Science Teachers Association, and Maryland Oyster Advisory Commission. She is the recipient of the 2014 Robert Finton Maryland Environmental Educator of the Year Award from Maryland Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education.

Out of the Fire Restaurant: For 19 years. Restaurateur Amy Haines has brought not only fine food, but jobs to Talbot County. High school students get their first work experience at Out of the Fire. Gifted chefs show their talents with food locally sourced food. Haines has created an oasis of excellent, locally sourced food in a congenial atmosphere. Her support of farmers, artists, and community projects is a source of inspiration, as is the excellent work environment she has created for employees. The business motto at Out of the Fire is “Eat well. Be well. Give back.”

RAUCH inc.: This engineering company has provided innovative development concepts and cost-effective design services to its clients for more than 30 years. Local projects include the ongoing renovation of the Historic Avalon Theatre, the current expansion of Easton Premier Cinemas, the renovation of the Tred Avon Shopping Center, and the development of The Easton Club and Chesapeake del Webb. Rauch inc. recently announced that it will begin development of the Lakeside Community in Trappe that will feature a range of housing options.

The company has also partnered with Talbot County Public Schools and Junior Achievement to provide internship and career path programs and has been active in the ACE mentoring program for both engineering and architecture.  RAUCH inc. is currently partnering with Chesapeake College to develop coursework for paths in skilled trades. In 2018, it partnered with the Bryan Foundation to raise $20,000 for their “Building Dreams for Youth” campaign.

Talbot Mentors: Executive Director Gerson Martinez believes that one-on-one mentoring can change lives. The non-profit organization connects young people with adult role models who reinforce the positive values and standards that will help them achieve their full potential. Over the years, hundreds of Talbot County youth have been mentored and more than 100 Talbot County kids are paired with mentors this year.

Wylder Hotel Tilghman Island: Opened in April 2018, this property is the rebirth of an original 1898 boarding house where waterman ran the docks and crabs were piled high on picnic tables. The hotel sits on 9 acres and features 54 newly designed guest rooms, a restaurant, a crab shack, two bars,1,100 feet of waterfront, 25 boat slips on two docks, and a state-of-the-art saltwater heated pool with a pool deck. A New Yorker by birth, owner John Flannigan visited Tilghman often during his college days and fell in love with the island’s rustic beauty and charm.

Photography by Tom McCall

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

Short-Term Rental Properties Licenses Required in Talbot County

If you have ever rented a home for a weekend or even a week, you have stayed in a short-term rental (STR). STRs are advertised on sites such as VRBO, HomeAway, Airbnb and other rental sites. For homeowners who rent their homes on a short-term basis, it’s important to know whether the city, town or county where it is located permits STRs, and if so, whether there are rules and regulations to abide by.

In Talbot County, a home can be rented short-term to visitors for a minimum three-night stay and the maximum stay cannot exceed 14 weeks. To lease a home on a short-term basis, homeowners are required to obtain a STR license through the Department of Planning and Zoning and pay the Talbot County Public Accommodations Tax; unlicensed short-term rentals are prohibited.

Talbot County recently contracted with STR Helper™ to monitor compliance in the County. Each week, a sweep of local and national online rental listing sites is conducted to identify property owners that are listing STRs. The sweep helps to identify listings that are advertising without a license. Even if an advertisement has been discontinued and moved to another site, the STR Helper™ system will track both the live and discontinued advertisements. County Code Enforcement staff are notified of the violation and enforcement actions are pursued.

In 2018, Talbot County updated the regulations for STRs as part of the update to Chapter 190 of the Talbot County Code (Zoning, Subdivision and Land Development). The updated regulations provided a six-month grace period for homeowners advertising and renting their homes on a short-term basis without a license to comply with the updated regulations.

The six-month grace period is ending soon. For current homeowners advertising and operating a STR without a license, it’s imperative that you obtain additional information on the program and apply for a license; anyone operating or advertising an unlicensed short-term rental (STR) after May 10, 2019, is subject to a fine of not less than $500. In addition, you cannot apply for a license for a period of 12 months from the date of the violation.

There are many steps involved with applying for a STR license, including notification to surrounding property owners, obtaining a satisfactory water quality report, and providing to-scale site and floor plans. Once the application is submitted, the home will be inspected for compliance with zoning requirements as well as compliance with safety requirements related to smoke alarm and fire extinguisher locations, emergency escape and rescue openings, and means of egress. If the home is on septic, the Talbot County Health Department will also inspect the property regarding the adequacy of the system. Once all the required materials have been submitted, and the inspections have been completed, the license application is scheduled for review by the County’s Short-Term Rental Review Board at a public hearing.

Information on the process and the license application can be found on the Planning and Zoning Department webpage located at www.talbotcountymd.gov. New licenses are eligible to be accepted in the upcoming months of July and August. In the meantime, you should not operate or advertise your STR until your license is approved. STRs operating or advertising without license approval are subject to penalties.

Further information or assistance may be obtained during normal business hours by calling the Planning Office at 410-770-8030.

Mourners gather in Annapolis to honor Michael Busch

Members of the Maryland General Assembly on Monday solemnly lined up outside the State House, as bagpipes played and state troopers carried in the casket of the late House Speaker Michael Busch, followed by his family.

Politicians, dignitaries and the general public gathered in the Maryland State House to pay their respects to the longtime speaker of the House.

Busch, D-Anne Arundel, died April 7, just one day before the last day of the legislative session — known as Sine Die — while being treated for pneumonia. He was 72.

A Maryland State Police procession escorted Busch’s casket — draped in a Maryland flag — and his family through a windy downtown Annapolis before stopping in the rotunda of the State House to lie in repose.

The members of the General Assembly filed in after the procession, while the public made their way through the opposite entrance of the building. Others filled the sidewalks and the grassy area outside the State House.

Several dignitaries, including Gov. Larry Hogan, R, gave remarks before the public visitation.

“Few have served Maryland with as much passion and dedication as Mike Busch did,” Hogan said early Monday afternoon. “And few will leave this earth as well-loved and esteemed as he was.”

Former United States Sen. Barbara Mikulski referred to Busch as “coach,” and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, lauded his commitment to Maryland over the years.

Delegate Maggie McIntosh, D-Baltimore, teared up while speaking, calling Busch a “leader” and “friend.”

After the remarks, members of the General Assembly walked past Busch’s casket, some closing their eyes to say a prayer, and briefly speaking with Busch’s family before exiting the State House.

Another public visitation is scheduled for Tuesday before a procession escorting the casket for the funeral service. Following the service, Hogan is expected to present Busch’s family — his wife, Cindy, and daughters Erin and Megan — with the Maryland state flag from Busch’s casket.

According to a spokeswoman for Hogan, the governor has not yet received a request to call a special session to vote for a new House speaker.

By Daniel Oyefusi


John Dillon Resigns From UM Shore Regional Health Board Of Directors

John Dillon, chairman of the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health Board of Directors, has announced his resignation from the Board, effective immediately.

Dillon, whose tenure on the Board was set to end on June 30, 2019, notified the Board of his resignationApril 9, citing his belief that leaving the Board at this time is in the best interest of UM Shore Regional Health to minimize the distraction caused by current discussions regarding University of Maryland Medical System Board relationships.

“With regret, the Board of Directors has accepted John Dillon’s resignation, effective immediately,” says Board Vice Chairman Richard Loeffler. “ We are grateful to John for his years of service to UM Shore Regional Health and appreciate that his decision to step down is in an effort to allow the organization’s Board and leadership to remain singularly focused on our mission to create healthier communities together.”

Richard Loeffler, UM SRH Vice Chair, of Cambridge, will serve as Acting UM SRH Board Chair until July 1, 2019 when new officers are confirmed.


KKK Rears Ugly Head in St. Michaels

Maryland State Police are investigating the distribution of racist literature found in a Talbot County community over the weekend.

On the morning of March 31, 2019, a resident of St. Michaels contacted the Easton Barrack and reported racist literature had been found distributed in driveways in the community. A trooper responded and his subsequent investigation found that the material had been left at residences predominantly in the area of Riverview Terrace and Cove Road in St. Michaels.

The printed material indicates it is produced by the Ku Klux Klan. It espouses racist views towardAfrican Americans, Jewish people, American Indians, and others. The material also solicits people to join the KKK. The flyers were found in clear plastic baggies. The bags also contained birdseed, which provides weight, enabling the package to be thrown into a driveway and remain there.

The trooper forwarded information from his investigation to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, the state’s fusion center, where local, state and federal authorities, including the FBI, were made aware of the incident. Information was also provided to the Eastern Shore Information Center, which is a local multi-jurisdictional task force of law enforcement agencies in the region.

This is being documented as a hate/bias incident as per the Maryland Public Safety Article Title 2-307.

However, the investigation has not established evidence that a crime has been committed. Troopers and allied law enforcement agencies will continue to document incidents like this and investigate them thoroughly. If elements of a crime are found, immediate action will be taken in cooperation with the
local state’s attorney’s office.

Any hate/bias incident, to include literature distributed in this way, should be reported to local law enforcement. In addition, the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center tips line is always available at 1-800-492-TIPS(8477), where citizens can report suspicious activity possibly related to terrorism or
violent crime. The information will then be communicated to the appropriate local, state or federal law enforcement agency for follow-up.


Governor Hughes by Howard Freedlander

Governor Harry Hughes

The death of former Gov. Harry R. Hughes on Wednesday at 92 leaves a void in Maryland’s political landscape. He represented honor and humility. He was a gentleman who treasured his Eastern Shore roots.

I last saw Gov. Hughes on November 13 when I was invited to join his former staffers to celebrate his 92d birthday at a lunch at his home outside Denton overlooking the Choptank River. Though perhaps he didn’t hear all the chatter, he seemed to enjoy the good cheer and stories about past political battles. I was impressed by how loyal his former staffers remained to a person whom they clearly liked and greatly admired.

This Denton native served as governor from 1978 to 1986. He beat all odds and some derision to win the Democratic primary and then the gubernatorial election by 400,000 votes. He determined at the outset to restore integrity to the State House after his two predecessors, Spiro Agnew and Marvin Mandel, had faced legal charges for their behavior in office.

In recent years, I had seen more of Harry (as he was wont to be called) at lunches in Easton with former staffers and, not so happily, at Shore Medical Center in Easton. He grappled with pneumonia as he aged and found himself frequently sitting in a hospital bed awaiting friends bringing him unhealthy but welcomed food.

Whenever I visited Harry in the hospital, he was typically low-key and reserved. He expected no special treatment from the nursing staff. He was always friendly and down-to-earth.

As a member of the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy’s board of directors, I learned how beloved the former governor was in the land preservation community. He was a longtime friend and former chair of ESLC.

A few years ago, the organization named its conference room in honor of Gov. Hughes. He was pleased and honored. He harbored no sense of entitlement.

During his two terms as governor, Harry Hughes became particularly known for his environmental record. He brought together the states of Pennsylvania and Virginia and the District of Columbia, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator, to establish a regional program focused on the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay. This compact still exists.

In a controversial but beneficial decision, he placed a moratorium in 1985 on the harvesting of rockfish. Commercial fishermen were furious. Science proved Harry right. The moratorium remained in place until 1990 when the species bounced back enough to allow a limited harvest.

Harry Hughes practiced politics with class and civility. He inspired a return of integrity to the Maryland State House.He extolled a workmanlike approach to governing our small but complicated state. He forswore showmanship.

You will be missed, Harry. You made a difference. You sought to build a legacy based on results and ethics.

And you did.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland. Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer. In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.



A Conversation with Easton Council President John Ford

As a result of feedback from Spy readers over the last few months, we begin today a series of interviews over the next year with Talbot County and town council presidents. By providing a platform to highlight particular issues and opportunities through these conversations, it is hoped this new format will encourage more civic engagement.

We continue our new series with a discussion with John Ford, president of the Easton Town Council.  In our first conversation, John talks about Easton’s economic development (including prospects for a downtown grocery store), zoning for Easton Point (a critical part of the Port Street projet), multiculturalism, and filling the Council vacancy of Pete Lesher, who recently won an election for the Talbot County Council, among other topics.

This video is approximately eighteen minutes in length. For more information on the Easton Town Council please go here

A Conversation with Talbot County Council President Corey Pack

As a result of feedback from Spy readers over the last few months, we begin today a series of interviews over the next year with Talbot County and town council presidents. By providing a platform to highlight particular issues and opportunities through these conversations, it is hoped this new format will encourage more civic engagement.

We continue our new series with a discussion with Cory Pack, president of the Talbot County Council.  In the case of Talbot, it must be said that they have started the year with a jam-packed agenda. That is one reason our first chat with Corey lasts more than 20 minutes. The Spy is committed to making these updates as brief as possible, but in our first one with President Pack, we thought it best to have an extended version.

In our first conversation, our talk ranges from the extension of sewers, the Frederick Douglass Park, short-term rentals, dredging in Tilghman, the St. Michaels Family YMCA, and other topics that should have a real interest to county residents.

This video is approximately twenty-two minutes in length. For more information on the Talbot County Council please go here

Easton Business Alliance Moves forward on Arts & Entertainment District

The Easton Business Alliance is currently working with the Town of Easton to pursue a Maryland Arts & Entertainment District for a 113-acre section of town in and around Easton’s historic downtown. The district will offer tax benefits to qualified-residing artists, arts and entertainment enterprises, and developers renovating or building new construction for arts organizations.

“This state designation is something that we’ve been piecing together for quite some time,” Easton Business Alliance director Ross Benincasa said. “To know that we are finally in the home stretch is a great feeling.”

Benincasa presented to the Easton Town Council during a working session the evening of February 18, focusing on the benefits of obtaining the Arts & Entertainment District designation and what it can do for areas in need around Easton’s downtown.

“Overall, the designation comes at a low cost to the Town, while supporting the development of new arts programs and enterprises in Easton,” Benincasa said. “We see the tremendous economic impact the arts have in Easton and Talbot County, both through businesses and events, and it’s time for us to formalize a plan to continue that growth into the future.”

The proposed Easton Arts District would include income tax benefits to qualified-residing artists who create and sell their work in A&E districts, as well as property tax abatements to developers who renovate or build new spaces for arts and entertainment enterprises, including affordable live-and-work environments.

If passed, the Easton Arts District would fill a void in Talbot County, currently the only county on the Eastern Shore without a designated Arts & Entertainment District. According to Benincasa, the high-interest development areas within the proposed district include mixed-use locations along Dover Street and in the East End community, as well as along Brookletts Avenue.

To learn more about the proposed Easton Arts District, please visit www.discovereaston.com/arts-proposal

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

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

Sign up here.