Easton named Maryland’s newest Arts & Entertainment District

Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly M. Schulz recently announced Easton as one of two new Arts and Entertainment Districts in Maryland. Easton will join 26 existing Districts in the state in offering marketing and tax-related incentives to help current and prospective artists, arts organizations, and other creative enterprises, incentives that are aimed at developing and promoting community involvement, tourism, and revitalization. 

“Maryland’s Arts and Entertainment Districts serve an important role in revitalizing communities across the state,” Secretary Schultz said. “This designation helps attract artists and creative businesses and gives counties and municipalities the ability to develop unique arts experiences that engage residents and attract visitors.”

Easton, Maryland, one of the State’s preeminent arts destinations, has long been known for its vibrant mix of fine art galleries, performance venues, museums and artists’ studios, as well as a burgeoning artisan scene. Now, the town hopes to build upon its already longstanding history with more opportunities for artists and arts organizations within the town’s borders. 

“I think the destination of Easton as an Arts and Entertainment District further adds to our reputation as a center for a variety of art projects,” Easton Mayor Robert Willey said. “I would hope that people will take advantage of the opportunities that the designation provides and help to build on an already familiar label.”

The Easton Arts District will encompass over 110 acres including Easton’s Historic District, East End Neighborhood, and outlying residential and commercial neighborhoods. Within this district, developers and arts organizations will benefit from a property tax abatement for artistic-related improvements to their structures, and qualified residing artists will receive an income tax subtraction from the State of Maryland for all art created and sold within an Arts and Entertainment District. 

In addition to the tax incentives, the newly-designated district will feature existing and new arts-related events, from the world-class Waterfowl Festival and Plein Air Easton, to the new Easton Arts District Culture Crossing, a monthly artisans market along the Easton Rails-to-Trails beginning July 13. 

Spearheaded by Discover Easton, the Easton Arts District has been discussed over the years as an integral part of growing the arts economy in and around downtown Easton.

“The Easton arts community is one of the most robust in Maryland, and becoming a designated Arts and Entertainment District will allow us to continue to promote growth in one of the most successful industries in Talbot County,” Discover Easton Executive Director Ross Benincasa said. “This collaborative effort among our office, the Town of Easton, Talbot County and the Talbot County Arts Council will ensure that the arts do not stagnate in Easton, but instead continue to flourish and expand with new offerings and events.”

To learn more about the Easton Arts District and arts-related events in Easton, head to www.artsineaston.com.

About Discover Easton: Discover Easton is a marketing, promotion and events 501(c)(3) non-profit organization operating as a member of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation.  The mission of Discover Easton is to enhance, promote and preserve the vitality of Easton’s business owners, residents and visitors; and to bring awareness to the Town’s historical roots and lifestyles.

For more information regarding Discover Easton and its events, please visit www.discovereaston.com or email welcome@discovereaston.com.

Image:  A Plein Air artist paints at the corner of Harrison and Dover Sts. in downtown Easton.
PDF: The newly-accredited Easton Arts District boundaries overlaid with the Historic District.

A Conversation with Easton Council Member (Ward 3) Ron Engle

As a result of feedback from Spy readers over the last few months, we began 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 Ron Engle, a member of the Easton Town Council for Ward 3. In our conversation, Ron talks about recruitment for both police officers and volunteer firefighters for the Town of Easton. He also talks about the town’s infrastructure needs, including sidewalks on Route 50, and the importance of Smoke and Fire detectors for residents.

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

Mid-Shore Culture: Celebrating Motors, Cars and Design at the Classic Motor Museum

While the Eastern Shore is well known as a maritime mecca of sorts, led by the venerable Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, a not particularly well-kept secret is that the region’s love for cars is almost equal in size to those that love their boats.

On virtually any back road on any given weekend, one can easily spot vintage and performance cars with one very happy driver in command. And in many cases, those happy drivers have quite a number of those remarkable machines.

One cultural institution has recently established itself to celebrates those kinds of cars. In the last few years, the Classic Motor Museum in St. Michaels has opened their barn door (literally) to car and truck collectors generously willing to loan the museum some of their most priceless autos for exhibition.

The Spy down with Anita Hulo Schneider, the new executive director of the Classic Motor Museum to get a better sense of the museum’s mission.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about the Classic Motor Museum, please go here

Catching Up on St. Michaels Plans with Commissioner Bill Boos: Summer 2019

In our ongoing interviews with Talbot County leaders at the county and local municipality level, we continue with a catch-up session for William (Bill) Boos who will be serving as the president of the Town of St. Michaels Commission unto 2020.

In this check-in session, the Spy gets an update on the town’s plans for street improvements, a new town commissioner, the status of the St. Michaels new town hall plans, and finally a discussion of transparency with Town of St. Michaels government and elected officials.

This video is approximately six minutes in length.

Eastern Shore Advocate and MD House Speaker Clayton Mitchell Dies at 83

The Baltimore Sun reports this morning that one of the Eastern Shore’s most powerful advocates has passed away at his home in Kennedyville, Maryland.

Read the full story here

A Community Unites to Remember John Cassidy

Over 500 residents of the Mid-Shore gathered in front of the Easton YMCA Sunday night for a candlelight vigil in honor of John Joseph Cassidy who is the victim of a horrific crime that took place at the Peachblossom Road branch last Thursday morning.

The service, led by Rabbi Peter Hyman from Temple B’nai Israel, and joined by Talbot County Council President Corey Pack, Father Nash of Saints Peter and Paul, the Rev. Dr. William T. Wallace of Union United Methodist Church in St. Michaels, and Pastor Craig Fadel of the Bay Area Community Church in Easton, all spoke of the common need for the greater YMCA family to honor John Cassidy’s life, and to begin the painful but necessary process of healing.

With a moving rendition of Amazing Grace by the Bay Area Community Church members Sarah Weidlewalt & Rachel Pletts, those in attendance wept, hugged, and lit candles to grieve alongside the Cassidy family and take comfort. 

The Spy was there to share some of those moments with our readers.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length

Easton Family YMCA to Host Community Candlelight Vigil

In the wake of the tragic events on Thursday June 6 at the Easton Family YMCA, our leadership team has elected to remain closed through the weekend as members of our staff, volunteers and community continue to grieve the loss of one of our beloved Y members Mr. John Cassidy. The Easton Family YMCA will open with regular hours on Monday June 10th at 4:45am. YMCA members are encouraged to utilize the Y @ Washington in Easton (8:00am – 6:00pm Saturday and Sunday) or the new Perkins Family YMCA in St. Michael’s (7:00am – 6:00pm Saturday, 11:00am – 6:00pm Sunday). The George Murphy Pool and Bay Hundred Community Pool will be open to Y members free of charge this weekend.

The YMCA will host a community candlelight vigil in honor of John Cassidy and the Cassidy family on the front steps of the Easton Family YMCA on Sunday, June 9th at 7:30 pm. The vigil will be held in the gymnasium in the event of inclement weather. Presiding over the vigil will be Rabbi Peter Hyman from Temple B’nai Israel, Rev. William T. Wallace from Union United Methodist Church and Father James Nash from Saints Peter and Paul Parish. All community members are invited to attend.

One Man Dead, Suspect Charged after YMCA Stabbing

The Star-Democrat reported on June 6 that one person is dead and another injured in a June 6 assault at the Easton Family YMCA at Peachblossom, and the facility is closed as police investigate.

Read the full  story here.


A 2nd Quarter Conversation with Talbot County Council President Corey Pack

As a result of feedback from Spy readers over the last few months, we continue 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 Corey Pack, president of the Talbot County Council.  In the case of Talbot, it must be said that it continues with a jam-packed agenda. That is one reason our first chat with Corey lasts more than 28 minutes. The Spy is committed to making these updates as brief as possible, but in our second one with President Pack, we thought it best to have an extended version.

In our second conversation, our talk ranges from the FY 2020 budget, the Talbot County Public School budget request, the extension of sewers in the Bay Hundred, an interesting project for far- raised salmon in Cordova, short-term rentals, transparency in Talbot County government, robots in Talbot County Public Schools, the passing of Talbot County Planning Commission Member Mike Sullivan, the retirement of Talbot County Director of Corrections Doug Devenyns, and other topics that should have a real interest to county residents.

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

Tornado Destroys Arena at Worthmore Equestrian Center by Marita Wilson

On the evening of May 29th, Pam Kuster had just come home from a Special Olympics meeting with her son Scott. Her husband Eric was home already, and as they began sorting the mail a thunderstorm rolled in.

For Pam, Eric and Scott, home is a special placethey share their property with the 44 horses of Worthmore Equestrian Center, a riding, boarding, and therapy center they started in 2003.

Worthmore and its facilities have withstood two hurricanes, constant high winds, and countless sudden thunderstorms. So when Wednesdays storm hit, Pam wasnt too concerned. In fact, the horses were all spending the night outside in the paddocks and pastures, as is normal in good weather.

And then a tree came down over her porch.

I turned around and looked out the back doorand Im watching our big honey locustJust so you have perspective, we have been here through two hurricanes. We were here for Isabel. We were here for Sandy. And Ive never seen that tree move like that.

The bushesIm surprised they actually stood back up because they were laying on the ground. And the rain came horizontal.

And I saw sheet metal fly.

Watching stunned from her kitchen window, Pam immediately assumed the roof was coming off the old barn, which has stood on the property for 80 years.

But when she opened the door to get a clearer picture, she received a total shock.

Their indoor arena was totally gone.

Eric yelled, Dont even think about going out there,’” Pam recalls. Of course, he knew she was thinking about the horses in the 10 paddocks downwind from the indoor, completely out of sight.

It was awfulknowing that the horses were out there in this mess.

Genna Kuster, Pams daughter who works and teaches at Worthmore, remembers getting a call.

Mom called me and she said, Genna, the indoor has gone down and I cant see the horses over the wreckage.And I pictured…” Genna gestures down an imaginary hill. “…dead horses. I thought that BP, Fancy, Musette, Byzwere gone.

When the winds eased after 5 agonizing minutes, Pam and Eric rushed out into the rain.

We have to go to the side paddocks, because we have horses out. And to come through that barn and to see that first paddock, and all the metal in that first paddockand there was no horse in the paddock.

There was so much metal, it was like, Okay, hes got to be dead under the metal.Where else are you going to go?

The horse they were looking for was Trojan Fan, a 12 year old gelding owned by a family in Tennessee.

Miraculously, Trojan had managed to escape the paddock and was several yards away, standing near the other horses.

He hadnt escaped without injuries, though.

Pam immediately called her vet, who made it to Worthmore in 5 minutes and spent three straight hours giving Trojan hundreds of stitches.

He was incredible. He just stood. You know, after 2 hours of suturing to then say he started to get a little dicy? Thats an amazing animal.

The first day we really werent sure if he was going to make it. [But] Im feeling really positive. Hes going to come through.


Worthmore isnt just home to Pam, Eric, Scott, and the horses. Its a second home for many others on the Eastern Shore as well.

Dozens of special-needs children from six local schools come to the barn weekly through the Kent Association of Riding Therapy (KART) program. Dozens more, both with and without disabilities, take private lessons as well. Disabled adults spend time with horses each summer through KARTs Easterseals Camp Fairlee. Bridges at Worthmore serves veterans and their families, at-risk youth, and children of incarcerated families. KART and Bridges also work in partnership to run programs for the Kent Center and local veterans. Kent County Parks and Recreation runs programs at Worthmore for kids that have never been around a horse. And for adults who havent been around horses, Worthmore serves as an Equine Discovery Center, which provides guided and supervised horse experiences.

And amidst all of these programs, countless people seek out Worthmores horses to ground themselves in the midst of a busy, sterile, technology-filled world.

All of those people and programs relied on the indoor arena.

The indoor arena is cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It allows programs to run rain or shine. It contained lighting, fans, a video security system, a ramp and lift to allow wheelchair-bound people to ride, and large mirrors on the walls to let riders evaluate their posture. Private horse owners and students of Worthmore alike used the arena constantly.

And while insurance will cover the replacement of the building, they wont cover many of those lost assets, nor the lost revenue from programs that wont be able to run while construction is underway.

Normally we do all of our sessions in the indoor,Pam said. That means that with the indoor down, theres no conceivable way they can run Camp Fairlee. As for their other summer camps and their regular lessons, theyre hoping to find a way to continue them.

But they will have to reimagine what that will look like without the indoor arena.

That building has changed more lives than I can even tell you,Pam says.

She doesnt have to tell youits easy to see. On Friday, people brought donuts, coffee, muffins, soup, and homemade lasagna all in the space of an hour. The wall outside the office is stacked with water bottles and iced tea. On Saturday, only two days after the news got out, people are chopping up felled trees, taking over horse chores, sharing the story on social media, and pooling their talents and connections for future plans. Volunteers are clearing debris with whatever they have, whether its their hands, their trucks, or a backhoe.

Avery, a Worthmore riding student whos on the spectrum, called Pam in hysterics, saying We have to rebuild. This has to happen. Nobody understands.She offered Pam her life savings$500 in a lock boxto help rebuild the arena.

I am honestly so thankful for the people Im surrounded by,Pam said with quiet honesty. Because it really was like a death, where youre kind of wandering. You cant really think about what you need.

By Saturday afternoon, people had donated over $5000 through Worthmores GoFundMe campaign. Worthmore is hoping to eventually raise up to $200,000, not only for the rebuilding costs that insurance wont cover, but also to keep the horses fed and cared until they can get their programs running again.

And, of course, to help pay for Trojans ongoing medical costs.

On Saturday, Trojan was bright-eyed and moving around his stall, looking to visitors for scratches and munching from a huge pile of hay. He seems to enjoy being the center of attention now that he lives in the stall closest to the office.

The worry at this point is that the numerous drugs in his system will ruin his appetite and his health will start to deteriorate.

In retrospect, one injury out of 44 animalsits a godsend. I chalk it up to God. I really honestly do. All I have to say is, Well, Im not exactly sure why. Its not important that I know why. But hes got something else going on.But seriouslyI always look at it for a higher reason. There has to be something. Why else are we here?

But that higher reason wont happen without continuing support.

We appreciate anythinganythinganybody can do. Whether its five dollars, whether its a donation of a mounting block, whether its a donation for a lesson for somebody, or a therapy session for somebody. Hands on deck are going to be really important over the coming weeks.

Worthmore will be posting updates and instructions on their Facebook page and website (www.worthmoreequestrian.com) for those looking to volunteer.

As for Scott, who has autism, it took him a while before he was able to process the big change.

Indoor arena X X,he told his mom on Friday morning.

To Scott, X X means destroyed.

Yes. Indoor arena X X,Pam replied. But were going to build a new one. Were going to fix it.

Indoor arena X Xfix it,he repeated.

And with the help of the community, they will.

For those looking to donate, please visit www.gofundme.com and search for Worthmore Equestrian Center,or make a check payable to Worthmore Equestrian Center and mail it to 11570 Still Pond Rd, Worton, MD 21678.

Links to their GoFundMe page and their Venmo can also be found on their Facebook page. 2Follow their progress on Facebook or at www.worthmoreequestrian.com.

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