County Council Watch: A Lakeside Resolution at Last?
You may have seen this resolution introduced by council member Lynn Mielke at the February 28 meeting. A public hearing will be held for Resolution 338 in the Bradley Meeting Room at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, April 11:
A RESOLUTION TO AMEND THE TALBOT COUNTY WATER AND SEWER PLAN FOR CONSISTENCY WITH DISCHARGE PERMIT NO. 19-DP-3460, ISSUED BY THE MARYLAND DEPARTMENT OF THE ENVIRONMENT ON OCTOBER 27, 2022, AND TO REQUIRE THAT ANY FUTURE EXPANSION OF THE NEW LAKESIDE WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT SHALL REQUIRE AN AMENDMENT TO THE CWSP.
We’ve heard of the CWSP (County Water and Sewer Plan), but what would we ever do without county engineer Ray Clarke? The plan’s mission includes the implementation of policies that “protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of Talbot County and neighboring jurisdictions by improving or maintaining sanitary conditions of water resources.” With pages of sewer extensions and funding projects, it surely couldn’t hurt to be reminded of Maryland Environmental Code for spray irrigation.
The county is the authority for wastewater treatment throughout the county, but Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has jurisdiction over counties. There may not be much going on with Lakeside, now that Permit 19-DP-3460 has been issued, but with pages of amendments that include reclassifying two parcels of property on Matthewstown Rd., Resolution 338 would seem similarly instructive.
County Attorney Patrick Thomas confirmed that Resolution 338 would incorporate provisions of the discharge permit issued into the CWSP, and noted that these “terms are actually a bit more restrictive than those currently in the plan.”
Helpful references to Maryland Environmental Code are provided throughout the narrative portion of Resolution 338, and Ms. Mielke summarized her decision to offer this resolution with a brief description of factors motivating her review of existing legislation: “There was a lot of controversy over Resolution 281. At one point the planning commission rescinded it. There were a lot of proposals for amendments, for changes to it; and as it turned out, when MDE issued the permit, it had listened to the concerns Talbot County citizens had over the nature and extent of the development and sewer plan. So it seemed to me, and to others that I spoke with, that doing an amendment to 281 that tracked the permit that MDE wrote, which was more restrictive, was the way to go.…I thought that that we should introduce this and track, as MDE will, how this development will go, as far as the sewer plan. And if it requires reining in at any point, the county will have the ability to have some input and control over protecting the environment and citizens of Talbot County…That’s it.”
Back in 2020 Ray Clarke reported to the council that Lakeside “is six times the size of the full buildout in Easton Village,” which began its build in 2006. “And how in the world can Trappe, being the small town that it is, have 2,501 homes built here?” Clarke asked in an interview. The Environmental Article of Maryland Annotated Code requires counties to be responsible for “overseeing the planning, financing, construction and operation of sewerage systems,” and the public must also be involved.
Conservative Voices: What Am I Not Being Told by David Reel
While serving as President, John F. Kennedy was asked, “How do you make good decisions when presented with huge amounts of information from your advisors who want you to approve their position on any given issue.” JFK’s answer was succinct and insightful. “I always ask, what am I not being told?”.
Two recent developments in Washington DC should be of deep concern to all Americans who care about transparency and openness in government and who are not getting answers to the question — what am I not being told?
One deeply concerning development was a decision by John Fetterman to voluntarily commit himself to a hospital to address chronic deep depression that he and others have publicly acknowledged is impacting the performance of his duties as a United States Senator from Pennsylvania. We now know depression has been a long-term issue for Senator Fetterman, made worse by a debilitating stroke he suffered on the campaign trail. We also know now that his inpatient hospital treatment may take up to a month without guarantee that it or other complications from his stroke may recur. Most concerning is the fact that he and many others, including his campaign staff, knew about his depression issues and stroke after- effects well before his election. Hiding truth simply to gain and keep power by intentional subterfuges is wrong and always will be.
The second deeply concerning development was the recent release of physical exam results for President Biden. That release did not include results from a cognitive examination or say if such an exam was even performed. We heard a much heralded “clean” bill of health for President Biden. But every president’s cognitive ability (or lack thereof) should also be a matter of transparency and openness.
Before I go any further, I want to address what I expect may be negative responses to this commentary.
I expect some may say I am insensitive to and uncaring about those who suffer from mental health issues. Not so. I spent nine long years watching my father slowly and steadily being ravaged by dementia. In his final years, he did not recognize me or remember me. As a result of his condition, I was forced to take his car from him and place him in an assisted living facility. Even toward the end of his life, he adamantly expressed his belief that he was doing fine and needed both his car and to stay in his home. It was challenging to stand firm in doing what was best for him; but it had to be done, and I did it, albeit with a very heavy heart.
I also expect some to say my concerns about Senator Fetterman and President Biden are driven by opposition to their political party affiliation and/or their progressive views on issues of the day. Not so. I had the same concerns with at least two conservative Republicans as well. One was Republican U.S. Senator Strom Thurmond. In his final years in the Senate, Thurmond was not in a condition physically or mentally to make good decisions.
The second was conservative icon and Republican President Ronald Reagan. In President Reagan’s twilight years in the White House, there was speculation (never fully confirmed) that he had early onset dementia. Regarding both men, I said then, as I say now, America is best served if any elected official or candidate who cannot perform well on a cognitive abilities test, should not run for office, or remain in office regardless of their political party affiliation, their popularity, or their positions on issues. What matters most is their ability to fully perform all the duties of the job they were elected to do.
I expect some may say I am advocating the premature removal from office of a President and/or a U.S. Senator. Not so. I am suggesting our political leaders have the courage to engage in candid dialogue and deliberations on these matters so they can make informed decisions for the good of America rather than decisions that maintain positions of power for certain elected officials.
Last, but not least, I expect some may say President Biden or Senator Fetterman leaving office before their term is up thwarts the will of the voters who voted for Democrat control of the U.S. Senate and the White House. Not so. The progressive Democrat governor of Pennsylvania would appoint another progressive Democrat to replace Senator Fetterman and progressive Democrat Vice President Harris would automatically replace progressive Democrat President Biden.
Now more than ever, we live in a “VUCA” world, one characterized by high levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. Accordingly, we need to confirm our President, our U.S. Senators, and all elected officials are at the very top of their game all day … every day. It bears repeating. Hiding the truth simply to keep power by intentional subterfuges is not right and never will be.
It is a time to get truthful and complete answers to the question — what am I not being told?
David Reel is a longtime observer of ever-changing events in the political arena. He is a public affairs/public relations consultant who serves as a trusted advisor on strategy, advocacy, and media matters.
The Hope for Rocket-Free Skies by Maria Wood
A few weeks ago when I spoke with my friend Vania, he was in the dark. His face floated, seemingly untethered in the middle of the otherwise black zoom screen. When I asked how he was, he said he was fine, and then elaborated: “Happy, but not very happy.”
Vania is in Lutsk, a small western Ukrainian city, about 50 miles from the Polish border, and I am in Chestertown, Maryland. We meet twice a week to chat via zoom. He’s improving his English skills, so our conversations move slowly, with occasional pauses to use Google translate—but these are less often now than when we first met. We repeat and rephrase frequently, echoing each other to reflect back what we’ve understood and ensure that the message received matches what we’ve tried to convey. We met through a program called ENGin (www.ENGinprogram.org), which matches Ukrainian English learners with conversation buddies who are fluent English speakers for one-on-one language practice and cross-cultural exchange.
That day, Vania explained that he was happy because he’d picked up his pay from a new, better-paid coding job he’d recently transitioned into. His unhappiness was because he was in the dark. Early in the winter, the Ukrainian government instituted scheduled power cuts to manage the damage being inflicted on the national power grid by Russian attacks. The purpose of the attacks was to freeze and isolate the civilian population during the short days of the cold winter. Rolling daily blackouts, four hours on/four hours off, reduced the demand for energy while allowing a modicum of predictability so people could plan their energy usage and organize their days.
I’m familiar with Wi-Fi frustrations caused by our occasional weather-related blackouts, so I was confused about how Vania’s internet connection remained strong and stable during a widespread power outage. Internet providers would have backup power sources, but home routers and modems need electricity too. When there is no electricity in the home, there is no internet. How was this meeting happening? Vania’s eyes lit up a little at the question, and he showed me a small white box that he had built: a power bank for his internet router. With this device and a charged-up laptop, he was able to meet with an American almost 5,000 miles away to practice English and compare notes on the World Cup, the darkness of war notwithstanding.
Based on what I’ve observed in twice-weekly zoom conversations, the reporting from western news sources about Ukrainians’ stalwart response to the blackouts is accurate. They’ve been ingenious and determined. There is no question of giving in to the darkness that’s trying to envelope their country from the east, not only destroying their cities and their power grid, but trying to crush their economy, their democracy, and indeed, their very identity. When an air raid alarm interrupted us a few weeks ago, Vania glanced at his phone to check that he was safe, then continued talking. Ukrainians are coping with daily crises while focusing on creating a future, with conviction and purpose, acknowledging moments of appreciation: such as for a paycheck and scheduled—as opposed to unscheduled—blackouts. Happy, but not very happy.
Slowly, aiming for extreme clarity, Vania and I can discuss complicated subjects and ideas, from covid vaccines to nuclear weapons, his PhD dissertation topic (I confess that I did not fully understand this conversation—not the fault of the language barrier but of my lack of knowledge of anything to do with advanced engineering and powder metallurgy), and whether Ukrainian children should learn Russian. Through forty-minute glimpses into each other’s lives, we’ve compare thoughts, exchanged ideas, and forged a connection. We’ve become friends.
A few weeks ago, I met another student who shows me a different way that Ukrainians are experiencing this war. For six months, Vladislava has been living in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, far from her family and her home city of Dnipro. She is a graphic designer and a stunningly accomplished artist with an impressive resume and a former member of the Ukrainian national rowing team. Since leaving Ukraine and her job at a print house in Dnipro, she’s been freelancing from Tenerife while looking for full-time work in Europe or perhaps the US. Vladislava and I don’t yet know each other well, but I already see her determination, her resourcefulness, and her bravery. She has allowed me to share the illustration above, which she posted on Instagram last April with this caption (translated automatically from Ukrainian by Instagram):
“I don’t want to write about pain. She is too much and getting bigger by the minute. In the second week of the war, while sitting in a asylum, I began to draw. I was slowly recovering from the shock. And this is my first job during the war. I have faith that the day will come when we all breathe and take a step. tip into a new bright and happy future. In which we will be even stronger, even kinder, even more united. And our soul will be filled with love and faith in the best. We will become a nation that only can be proud of! Together we are strong! Together we are Ukraine!”
A year ago, Ukraine was a vague, Russia-adjacent blur in the minds of many Americans. Today, even as we are collectively aghast at the wanton fury of Russian aggression carried out in full brazen view, public conversation in the US and elsewhere is riddled with questions about when the war will end and what compromise or settlement will wrap it up. Interviewers, pundits, and politicians plead for an exit strategy to make the barbarity end, and to quiet the fears that Putin stokes about nuclear weapons and further expansion of his aggression. They ask what Putin wants, as though the war itself is a negotiation strategy.
Ukrainians, from President Zelenskyy to my English student friends, echoed by historians, journalists, and diplomats with expertise in eastern Europe, tell us with unvarnished conviction and near unanimity that it’s not about a strategic agenda or a magic compromise. It is about the survival of a nation, a language, a culture, and an identity, and even more. It’s also about defining the worldwide political order in the 21st century, how we value human rights, and the strength of democratic principles.
The tragedy and pain of this war is too big for the mind to comprehend or the heart to hold, and yet human-scaled responses like conversations across oceans and borders and languages make a difference, to both sides. A filament of communication strung between individuals increases the measure of hope in the world, and diminishes fear. Acknowledgement, respect, and curiosity about Ukraine and its people are non-destructive armaments that anyone can wield in the battle against the erasure of a nation. That’s what I’m doing with Vania and Vladislava, and that’s why I’m writing about them.
You can see more of Vladislava’s art on her Instagram, at www.instagram.com/vladislava_pl/. When I asked Vania if there was anything he would like me to include in this article, he had an immediate response: “We Ukrainians respect your support from the USA and follow your democratic values, and our democracy will live on.”
After our conversation before the anniversary of the invasion, he texted me “See you on Friday then. I hope there will be no rockets)).” Let’s all hope for no more rockets, not just on Friday, but far into the future. Those of us who are safe outside Ukraine should understand, though, that as long as Russia harbors the ambition to wipe Ukraine out in the present, nullify its history, and deny it a future, the threat of rockets will hang over Ukrainian skies.
ENGin is actively seeking volunteers. Last month, they received a surge of thousands of new applications from Ukrainians seeking conversation partners. Volunteers need only be 14 or older, fluent English speakers, and able to commit one hour per week for a minimum 10-12 weeks, scheduled at the mutual convenience of the student and volunteer. I can’t recommend the organization and the experience highly enough. Information about the program and how it works is at https://www.enginprogram.org/.
Maria Wood traveled throughout the country as production and tour manager for award-winning musician David Grover, with whom she co-founded a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing education and fostering positive social change through music and music-making. She returned to school mid-career, earning a BA in American Studies and a Certificate in Ethnomusicology from Smith College. More recently, she has written and taught on the meaning and impact of the musical Hamilton, served as Deputy Campaign Manager for congressional candidate Jesse Colvin and was Executive Director of Chestertown RiverArts. She lives in a multigenerational human/feline household in Chestertown.
Oyster Farmers Breathe Hopeful Sigh after Conowingo Dam Decision by Scott Budden
Oyster aquaculture is a growing industry in the state of Maryland. Similar to watermen, these intrepid individuals and companies utilize the water column or bottom of the Bay to cultivate and harvest farmed oysters. The industry has achieved steady growth since the allowance for aquaculture leases in 2010. In turn, generating new jobs and economic multipliers.
One major contributor to pollution in the Bay and cause of subsequent harmful impact on its natural resources is the Conowingo Hydroelectric Dam (formerly owned by Exelon Generation Company, LLC, now Constellation Energy). Since beginning operations more than 90 years ago, the dam has blocked fish from traveling upstream to spawn and eels that carry the larvae of freshwater mussels. This has significantly reduced the millions of fish that once traveled up the Susquehanna River and impaired the filtration capability of freshwater mussel populations.
The dam’s reservoir, which once provided benefits by trapping sediments, is now full. And for the last 90 years, its operators have failed to maintain the reservoir or take responsibility for its maintenance. When there is overflow or the dam’s gates are opened, sediment is released, smothering underwater grasses and oyster beds. Nutrients attached to the sediment feed algae blooms, which create anoxic conditions and block sunlight. Furthermore, the artificial timing of the gate openings creates massive influxes of fresh water. The depressed salinity levels and their lingering effects hinder oyster growth and survival. As the farm in closest proximity to the dam (our Chester River site), we have witnessed these prolonged and artificial freshets. Debris piled up behind the dam is also sent downstream, which can damage gear used for recreation, commercial fishing, and oyster farming.
Despite Maryland’s commitments to restore the Bay’s health, in 2019, the Maryland Department of Environment agreed to largely absolve Exelon of any responsibility for the dam’s impacts on the Bay’s water quality. As a result of this deal, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decided to ignore a 2018 water quality certification from MDE. And grant a new 50-year license to operate, with insufficient action from Exelon. However, the 2018 certification (issued under the Clean Water Act) included (subsequently ignored) provisions that MDE deemed necessary to ensure water quality under the CWA.
In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that ignoring the 2018 certification violated the Clean Water Act and vacated (threw out) the license. This is a win for the Bay.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, a Constellation Energy spokesperson claimed that those who care about the Bay should not cheer this decision. This refutes recent findings from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: that the majority of the Bay states are not on track to meet the 2025 water quality restoration goals under the Chesapeake Bay Total Maximum Daily Load – a multi-state clean-up effort to restore the health of the Bay and its local streams, creeks, and rivers. A key-missing piece of those efforts is addressing the pollution which enters the Bay from the Conowingo Dam’s operations.
Oyster farmers and watermen, who experience the dam’s impacts almost every time there is significant rainfall in the region, are breathing a hopeful sigh of relief after the Court’s decision. Although Maryland and Exelon once touted the environmental benefits that might have been realized under their 2019 agreement, they likely would have amounted to little in terms of pollution reduction. And by decreasing instream flow in hot summer months, would have actually worsened conditions for some aquatic species. Compounding it all, the impacts felt today are primed to become even more severe with increasing frequencies and intensities of storm events as a result of climate change.
We must ensure that Constellation (a private utility profiting from a public resource) includes all appropriate water quality protections in their 50-year operating license. The new FERC license should uphold the 2018 certification, which would require Constellation to reduce nutrients and storm scour, and run the dam with operative flows for fish to survive below the dam. While the court’s decision is a win for the Bay, it is yet to be seen if the conditions of the original certification will impact the dam’s future operation. In the race against a thousand tiny cuts to the Bay’s health, this court decision represents triage for a major wound — it is still undecided if the resulting treatment will be sufficient to meet our collective public goals.
The writer is a partner at Orchard Point Oyster Co. and an Eastern Shore native. He currently serves on the boards of the Oyster Recovery Partnership, Maryland Sea Grant, Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s Chesapeake Oyster Alliance, and is treasurer of ShoreRivers. He is also a gubernatorial appointee to the Maryland Tidal Fish Advisory Commission and Maryland Aquaculture Coordinating Council.
County Council Watch: A Day of Peace and Civility
Talbot County Council President Chuck Callahan joined Easton Mayor Willey to greet Governor Wes Moore shortly after noon at Rise Up Coffee on Dover Rd. Having spent a fair amount of time on the Eastern Shore during his campaign and just enjoyed lunch at Out of the Fire on Valentine’s Day, he promised we’d be seeing a lot more of him.
At the council meeting that evening we were reminded of other reasons to appreciate Talbot County. County Health Officer Maria Maguire, MD, reminded us that our life expectancy is 79.4 years here and 78.6 in the rest of Maryland. 30% of our population is over age 65, versus 16% in the rest of Maryland.
We do have more smoking, higher rates of alcoholism and more car accidents, but case rates are down for Covid, Avian Flu and Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Approximately 30% of our residents have received the flu vaccine; an RSV vaccine is on its way. And Covid and flu vaccines will remain free as long as current supplies last.
Council member Dave Stepp noted that there doesn’t seem to be much activity at the Covid Center on Marlboro. He wondered if the facility is needed any longer.
Dr. Maguire noted that the center is funded by federal funds. It is also in the process of scaling back; and absent any change in current trends, will very likely close at the end of this fiscal year in June.
Questioned also as to whether vaccination rates are down due to side effects, Dr. Maguire explained that while there can be side effects, risk/benefit calculations are clear. Vaccination protects us from far worse “effects” suffered absent the vaccine.
On to Economic Development and Tourism with Director Cassandra Vanhooser. $3.23 million will be invested in 14 regional and 5 county projects, and $1.75 million has been allocated to broadband in Talbot County. “Councilman Pete Lesher led this effort.”
“Broadband is so important to the economic future of Talbot County,” and “councilwoman Keasha Haythe can tell us about small business assistance.” We were also informed of toolkits, surveys, monthly reports, manufacturing dashboards; and, perhaps not surprisingly, international recognition for these efforts.
A business resource fair is currently being planned, and Talbot County Tourism is launching a Frederick Douglass website. “We’re hoping it will be ready today, on his birthday.” And “this Saturday at 3 PM there will be a flag-raising and ribbon cutting for the Frederick Douglass mural.”
Council member Keasha Haythe appreciated their efforts, and fellow council members echoed this sentiment.
Dave Stepp also offered congratulations for the filing of Certificates of Need, and he had one question. Concerning the partnership formed with Mid-Shore Community Foundation in 2021 to award $50 gift cards for receiving vaccines, “Are there any plans for that in the future?”
Director Vanhooser said there were no plans for that. They partnered with Mid-Shore as a conduit to businesses. “We wanted to help our businesses,” and “something perceived as overly political wouldn’t be done.”
Council member Stepp replied, “Those decisions are between families and their physicians.”
Recognizing first and foremost that a parent’s permission is required, and was required, President Callahan cleared the air. He thanked Cassandra and suggested, “We need to stand and give her an applause.”
Then on to a legislative matter, the introduction of an administrative resolution to repeal a resolution adopted on August 25, 2020. Attorney Patrick Thomas explained that this resolution had been passed in support of the governor’s executive order to wear a face covering which has since “been rescinded and is no longer enforced in the state.”
Dave Stepp suggested this was “just a matter of good legislative hygiene.”
Pete Lesher observed, “This was a feckless piece of legislation that ceded very little.” The administrative resolution was passed unanimously, and the air may be cleared?
Several board and committee appointments were approved. A Department of Corrections’ request to replace HVAC condenser coils offered Chuck Callahan an opportunity to praise the department’s rehabilitation efforts. And council member Keasha Haythe offered assistance.
Concerning the approval of fee increases for Hog Neck golf course, council member Lynn Mielke requested a comparison of rates. She also requested information regarding the difference in lifespan for artificial slate versus real slate for reroofing portions of the Talbot County Courthouse.
Pete Lesher was familiar with 10-year-old equipment to be replaced in the Talbot County Free Library. Every request was approved this evening, and our county manager smiled and said, “The best part of my job is to work with such incredible department heads.”
Dave Stepp’s closing statement included his observation that “the council’s been busy,” and “a lot of great things are happening.”
Pete Lesher will be on Capitol Hill for Museum Advocacy Day, but should be back for the next meeting.
Chuck Callahan thanked everyone for “a really great meeting.” Lots of information. And “the hard work is appreciated.”
Lynn Mielke wished everyone a “Happy Valentine’s Day” and suggested, “Let’s go eat chocolate.”
Keasha Haythe responded, “I’ll second that!”
The meeting adjourned These are just highlights. The meeting video is available at talbotcountymd.gov.
Carol Voyles is a graphic designer/illustrator who retired to the Eastern Shore and became interested in politics. She serves as communications chair for the Talbot County Democratic Forum and lives in Easton.
Sharing the Story of Nathaniel “Nace” Hopkins
Frederick Douglass is by far Talbot County’s most famous native, and with good reason. But there’s another Talbot native who survived slavery and went on to make significant and lasting contributions to the citizens of the county that still have impact today.
The name Nathaniel “Nace” Hopkins might not be as familiar as Douglass’s, but he is a Talbot County legend. His story has been told occasionally through the decades — but it can never be told enough. What Frederick Douglass was for the Nation, Hopkins was for Talbot County. He was a well-respected, well liked man of his time who helped the county move forward in the post-Civil War era.
Nace Hopkins was born an enslaved person near Bellevue and enlisted in the Union Army on November 20, 1863, to serve in the newly formed United States Colored Troops (USCT). Whether he was still enslaved or a freeman at the time of his enlistment has remained uncertain. During that period, it was common to free enslaved persons in their early to mid-30’s. This may not be as altruistic as it seems, since Maryland law required slave owners to care for enslaved persons for the rest of their lives once they reached age 45 or at any earlier age if they became disabled or infirmed. This led to many emancipations while they were in their early 30’s and still able bodied and was a contributing reason why nearly half of Talbot County’s black population was free at the start of the Civil War.
Past written accounts of Nathaniel Hopkins record his birth year between 1830 and 1834. Reviewing Nace’s death certificate and tombstone however, place his date of birth as January 18, 1834. Additional research and consultation with local historian James Dawson leads to the belief that Nace was most likely enslaved at the time of his enlistment and was probably recruited when the Union was actively recruiting free and enslaved black men on the Eastern Shore.
Nace’s military career was short. He was released on furlough on January 4, 1864, for sickness and “varicose veins.” But sometime things happen for a reason, as the saying goes, and history had other plans for Nace. Those plans were soon to be revealed.
Although Nace was illiterate, he was a natural leader and orator. He was known for being a man of his word and his descendants described Nace as always trying to help people — black and white. Family members who knew him were quoted as saying, “He accomplished whatever he had to do for his people” and he “planted his feet solidly on the ground and walked tall and strait with a look of determination.”
His natural leadership abilities, along with the respect of Talbot County citizens that he received, can be seen in the retelling of a story about the arrangements Nace made with a local farmer. Seeing a large pile of corn in a farmer’s barn, Nace made an agreement that he and some men would husk that corn in exchange for a feast of ham, cakes, and some hard cider. The farmer agreed to have “Aunt Ruth” cook the ham and provide the meal and cider. Nace arrived early on the appointed date to begin husking corn but the men he invited never appeared. Later that evening he heard sounds of revelry across the creek in the direction of Aunt Ruth’s. Upon investigating, Nace found his invited guests making merry instead of fulfilling their commitment. After some choice words, he marched them over to the corn pile and kept them at it until the wee hours of the morning and the last ear was husked.
Nathanial Hopkins is credited for helping to establish the Talbot County school system’s first black school in Trappe in 1878. Specifically, he’s been noted for his assistance in procuring the land for the school. Nace was also instrumental in building another school in the black community of Barber, originally called the Manassas School, to which he received a nomination as trustee.
Hopkins was one of the original members to incorporate the Ashbury Methodist Episcopal Church with the cornerstone laid for the new building in 1869. The church is now the Scotts United Methodist Church in Trappe and is named for the Rev. Levi Scott, who was the presiding Bishop for the area.
After the Civil War, many black communities were established throughout Talbot, and Nathanial Hopkins did his part. He helped procure 23 acres approximately four miles southeast of Trappe to establish the community of Eastfield and worked with the county to establish a proper road to the new town. In 1888, Hopkins, along with three other black men — Daniel Joshua, James Nixon, and Robinson Sewell, were appointed Road Supervisors for the Trappe district by the Talbot County Commissioners. Nace and these men were essential to maintaining and upgrading the road system in the Trappe area.
Hopkins also contributed to Talbot County politics. Although he never ran for political office, Nace put his oratory and organizational skills to good use. Along with his friend Joe Gray (also a former enslaved person), he worked diligently to “get out the black vote.” Nace and Joe gave numerous speeches nearing election day and they are greatly credited for getting many Republicans elected to local positions during that period.
One of Nathanial Hopkins’s most celebrated accomplishments has had a lasting impact upon all Talbot citizens to this day. In the summer of 1867, Nace, along with friends Jeremiah Thomas and Morris Trippe, decided to celebrate the Emancipation of Maryland’s enslaved persons, which occurred on November 1, 1864, by organizing a parade and official celebration. Nace worked diligently towards the endeavor by training local boys and girls to drill with music provided from a drum, flute, accordion, and tambourine, borrowed from neighbors. He traveled throughout Talbot asking for and securing assistance.
The citizens of Talbot, both black and white, pitched in providing many needed items and money. Nace secured permission from the County Commissioners to use the streets of Trappe for his planned parade and celebration. November 1, 1867 was the designated day for the first celebration. That day, wagons with stoves and food arrived at sunrise. Some of Trappe’s town folks had placed kitchen stoves in their front yards to prepare meals for the visitors attending the celebration. The day began with a prayer service and an 11 o’clock church service.
The parade was led by Nathaniel Hopkins himself, with his Aunt Audy Nixon by his side carrying her bible. Nace was dressed in his Union uniform with gold epaulettes and sash, a Lincoln styled top hat and a sword from the Knights of Columbus. Behind Nace and Aunt Audy came the young drill team marching to the beat of the music played by Nace’s sons, Charles and Alexander and the sons of George Brummell playing the borrowed instruments. Next in line were men in uniform, men on horses, and finally colorfully decorated wagons. After the parade the celebrants gathered at the church to listen to speeches from many orators, including Nace. Then the fun began, with games and events for the kids, horse racing and, of course, good Eastern Shore cooking featuring the region’s bounty of food.
The celebration was so successful it became an annual tradition. Nathaniel Hopkins continued to plan and lead the parade with his Aunt Audy by his side until his death thirty-three years later. Eventually, the parade became known as the “Nace’s Day” parade and grew with bands and marchers coming from not just the Eastern Shore, but Baltimore, Delaware and New Jersey as well. The church services, good food and entertainment continued. After Nace’s death the celebration started including a prayer service at Nace’s gravesite and the playing of taps over his marker.
The parade and celebration continued every year until it was interrupted by World War I. The Maryland Emancipation celebration has, however, been held many times since, with the latest in 2019. Former members of The St Michaels High School Band recall marching in the Nace’s Day parades of the 1980’s. The 1976 celebration included the unveiling of a roadside marker on Route 50 commemorating Nathaniel Hopkins that reads: “Nathaniel (Nace) Hopkins, Leader of his People Who was Born a Slave circa 1830; Fought for Union in Civil War; Originated Annual Trappe Emancipation Day Celebration, 1867 and Headed it until his Death in 1900. One of the Founders of Scott’s Methodist Church. Helped Establish First “Colored Schools” at Trappe and Barber. Buried in Old Paradise Cemetery on this Site.
This celebration of Emancipation Day was considered the first and only in the State of Maryland, and one of the first in the United States. It was an incredible accomplishment for the time. The history of the citizens of Talbot, both black and white, coming together to organize and celebrate Emancipation Day, is something we all can be proud of.
I look forward to the next fall day where we again can come together in celebration of Maryland’s Emancipation Day and to celebrate our incredible Talbot ancestor who contributed so much during his life – and to enjoy more of that great Eastern Shore food!
Paul Callahan is a Talbot native, a graduate of Saints Peter & Paul High School and the Catholic University of America and served as an Officer in the United States Marine Corp.
Sources for this article include “Irregularities in Abundance – An Anecdotal History of Trappe District in Talbot Co Md” by James Dawson which incorporates various other sources, numerous past newspaper accounts to include Easton’s Star Democrat, The Baltimore Sun and The Times Daily (Salisbury Md)
Illustrations by John Raschka
County Council Watch: It Takes a County by Carol Voyles
The Reset Lakeside amendment to rescind Resolution 281 approving the housing development was not considered at the January 24 county council meeting, but with a scaled-down permit, and assurances that any additional permit would require amended content (therefore be subject to public scrutiny and county approval), there may be time to catch our breath.
It may also be an opportune time to review the past 20 years. Trappe voted to extend the town’s boundaries to hundreds of acres across Route 50 in 2003. The town needed tax revenue to improve wastewater treatment and pay down debt on its existing plant, and a development of 2,501 residences was proposed by Rocks Engineering and Rauch, Inc. of Easton.
We’ve since been reassured that growth shouldn’t be a problem, as Trappe’s population of just over 1,000 remained relatively steady as Easton’s population grew “40% larger since 2000.” With a modest occupancy rate of 2.0 per household the town could add 5,002 residents – in 10 years? Talbot County has added 3,731 residents since 2020; and Easton did become 40% larger, but at a growth rate averaging less than 2% annually.
Loss of rural character, environmental issues, the possibility of setting a precedent for rapid growth, and impact upon county services are all concerns, but we are currently focused upon questions concerning the powers of local government and accusations of mismanagement by state and local regulators. For starters, it’s good to be aware that Maryland towns and municipalities have their own comprehensive plans for development. Counties control development only in unincorporated areas, but are responsible for the planning and oversight of all wastewater and sewer systems.
Presented with Trappe’s proposal for annexation in 2004, the county council voted 5-0 to deny an amendment for land purchased by the town of Trappe to be incorporated. Ruling that it did not meet state regulations and wasn’t consistent with the county’s water and sewer comprehensive plan, “Trappe East” would remain under the jurisdiction of the county.
Then on August 11, 2020, having been found by the planning commission to be compliant with the county’s 2016 comprehensive plan, Resolution 281 approving the Lakeside development at Trappe was passed 4-1 by the council.
One year later due to wastewater treatment concerns and issues of compliance brought to his attention, Resolution 308 to rescind Resolution 281 was introduced by Pete Lesher, the council’s vice president, on August 24, 2021.
Having requested an opportunity months earlier, Dan Watson would speak briefly at the October 12, 2021, council meeting. Due to public interest, Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) held a public hearing at the community center on October 28. Having found connecting Lakeside homes to Trappe’s underperforming plant inconsistent with our comprehensive plan, on November 3 the planning commission rescinded its earlier certification of Resolution 281. And finally, having submitted a 15-page report accompanied by supporting documents prior to his presentation at the December 13. 2021 meeting, Dan Watson expressed his hope that the meeting would go smoothly.
Failing to receive a vote in seven months, Resolution 308 to rescind Resolution 281 was withdrawn on March 8, 2022. Resolution 313 requiring state-of-the-art wastewater treatment for Lakeside’s first 120 homes, as required for new development by our comprehensive plan, was also voted down. Pete Lesher reminded fellow council members, “I’ve heard from constituents and been asked to do something about this. They have concerns about the health of La Trappe Creek, as well as broader concerns…People want improvements in water quality in Trappe.”
On May 27, 2022, concerned citizens joined the Talbot Integrity Project (TIP) to file suit regarding the issuance of a permit despite the planning commission’s withdrawal of its required certification of compliance with our comprehensive plan. A hearing is scheduled.
The Reset Lakeside amendment didn’t receive a vote at the January 24, 2023, council meeting. With the advice of legal staff, Maryland Department of the Environment and others; Pete was advised that “because infrastructure has been partially constructed, it seems quite clear that the project has vested interests and can’t be rescinded.”
A ruling of Maryland’s highest court shared since confirmed that “the governing body of a local government has the right to reconsider its actions and ordinances” and “rescind previously adopted actions before the rights of third parties have been vested.” The legal opinion offered also states that such a ruling “must be made by a court, not the County.” And that ‘Resolution 308 would rescind Resolution 281.”
A possibly helpful public comment was offered at the January 24 meeting: The county might consider adopting an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance. Our Talbot County Comprehensive Plan describes what is allowed, but a “roadmap for ensuring that proposed or planned growth proceeds in a timely manner that does not unduly strain public facilities” would seem be a good idea. Dozens of Maryland counties and municipalities have them.
There could still be a vote to rescind R281, with legal advice concerning the likelihood of action by third party interests, of course. Or, recognizing the likelihood that some development will take place, appropriate oversight could be exercised moving forward. A plan could save everyone some time.
Carol Voyles is a graphic designer/illustrator who retired to the Eastern Shore and became interested in politics. She serves as communications chair for the Talbot County Democratic Forum and lives in Easton.
Age is just a Number—Or Is It? By Maria Grant
Aging gracefully is difficult. Knowing when to stay and when to go is complicated. There are no easy answers. I have been thinking about this a lot lately, perhaps because I’ve been watching two ageing quarterbacks—Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Tom Brady.
I find myself rooting for both of them, although neither quarterback made it to the final playoff games this year. We need not feel sorry for them. Both have accolades galore. Brady is often called the GOAT—Greatest of All Times. And both quarterbacks had some spectacular games–even this season. It is not yet clear what either quarterback will do next season. I find myself hoping they both will return.
I worked for a consulting firm that required partners to take mandatory retirement. After I retired, I felt I still had a lot of gas in the tank and took several temporary positions. I still am on the lookout for interesting work and continue to participate in volunteer activities.
There is a lot of talk about age in the press recently given Biden’s probable decision to run for reelection. Certainly, Congress is chock full of aging members. In an article in last Sunday’s NY Times, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told Maureen Dowd that it bugged her that people kept asking her if she would move on from Congress given her age—82. Yet no one was asking Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that same question who is also age 82. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) are both 89. Hal Rogers (R-KY) is 84. Maxine Waters (D-CA) is 83. Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is 82. Today the average age in the Senate is 63.9 and in the House it’s 57.5. Today the youngest member of the House is 25-year-old Maxwell Frost (D-FL). The second youngest is AOC (D-NY) who is 33. The youngest senator is 35-year-old Jon Ossoff (D-GA). Interesting.
Some older authors are my favorites. Elizabeth Strout is 67. She won a Pulitzer Prize for Olive Kitteridge and her more recent novel Oh William, which made the shortlist for the 2022 Booker Prize, was followed by the excellent Lucy by the Sea. Frank McCourt was 66 when his Pulitzer Prize winning book Angela’s Ashes was published. Laura Ingalls Wilder published Little House on the Prairie when she was 65.
Some of my favorite actors are “old.” Clint Eastwood is 92. Robert Redford is 86. Dustin Hoffman is 85. Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, and Al Pacino are 82. Harrison Ford is 80. Morgan Freeman and Robert De Niro are 79. Meryl Streep is 73. I am grateful that they continue to seek interesting roles. All are magnificent.
In college, I authored a paper about Grandma Moses who began painting in earnest at age 78. She painted almost until her death when she was 101. Matisse created his famous cutouts when he began losing his eyesight. Some of his best cutouts were created the year before he died at age 83. Georgia O’Keeffe kept painting until the end of her days. She died when she was 98.
Scientists who are still making amazing discoveries include Richard Attenborough and Jane Goodell–both are 88. Businessman Warren Buffett is still going strong at 92.
Commercial airline pilots have a mandatory retirement age of 65, although, given the pilot shortage, it may soon be extended until age 67. In 2009, Sully Sullenberger ditched a US airways flight in the Hudson River after both engines were disabled by a bird strike. All 155 passengers survived. “Sully” was 58 years old at the time. Many attributed his many years of experience as the reason he landed the plane safely.
This month I went to a classical concert featuring classical pianist Emanuel Ax. It was one of the best concerts I have heard in my lifetime. At age 73, Ax played Beethoven’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No. 3 in C Minor, Op. 37 flawlessly with no music in front of him. It was spectacular.
The other side of the coin is what happens when you stay too long. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a case in point. A hero to many, still even some of her most ardent advocates wish she would have retired when she was 80 and Obama was president. If she had, perhaps we could have avoided at least some of the current Supreme Court nightmare and the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
By 2050, one of every six people in the world will be over age 65. All kinds of articles give advice on aging gracefully. Many involve maintaining healthy relationships, keeping a sense of humor, staying active, meditating, appreciating all the good things life has to offer, eating a healthy diet, and getting plenty of exercise.
The actress Ingrid Bergman once said, “Getting old is like climbing a mountain, you get a little out of breath, but the view is much better.” Like I said, it’s complicated.
Maria Grant was principal-in-charge of a federal human capital practice at an international consulting firm. While on the Eastern Shore, she focuses on writing, reading, gardening, piano, and nature.
County Council Watch: Its One Way and Another With Talbot County Council
The Talbot County Comprehensive Plan’s mission is to “preserve the rural and agricultural character of the area while promoting economic development and protecting the environment in natural resources so that the special quality of life we enjoy remains intact.”
Spray wastewater technology for 54 residences on 480 acres having been in and out of compliance over the past two decades, Talbot County is taking over spray wastewater treatment for the Preserve at Wye Mills. And so it’s hardly any wonder that Lakeside’s proposal for 2,500 residences on 865 acres concerns us.
Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) shares these concerns, having approved 100,000 gallons per day of sprayed wastewater serving approximately 400 homes in Lakeside, as opposed to the 540,000 gallons requested to serve 2,500 residences.
With hopes that a Reset Lakeside Resolution would be introduced at the county council meeting on Tuesday, a rally was held at the courthouse on Saturday, January 21. The resolution offered logically proposed that since the planning commission’s certification is required for a resolution to be passed by the council and their certification has been rescinded, Resolution 281 should also be rescinded.
Had their rescission occurred before Resolution 281 was passed by the council, there would be no problem. But having initially found Resolution 281 to be compliant with Talbot County’s Comprehensive Plan, it was passed by the council on August 11, 2020. Presented with additional information, the planning commission rescinded its certification on December 13, 2021. A year and a half may be nothing in a 20-year saga, but having granted rights for legal decisions and actions complicates matters.
The January 24 county council meeting included the introduction of new Board of Elections Director Tammy Stafford, a presentation by the Bellevue Passage Museum, requests for architectural and engineering services for the public safety complex, and retirement benefits for county EMTs, all followed by public comments in support of Reset Lakeside and the closing statements of our county council.
James Smullen shared comments submitted by supporters, mentioned a Reset Lakeside rally scheduled for February 4, and summarized by suggesting we “do the right thing.”
Having grown up on a farm in Trappe, William Turner recalled the east side of Route 50 being reserved for farming. That may have contributed to objections to the Lakeside development beginning two decades ago, but the town of Trappe’s current wastewater treatment concerns him now.
Retired development planning executive Tom Dennis politely insisted that the county must “get on with the business of planning.” With concerns for schools, the medical community, and public safety, he recommended the adoption of an Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance.
Susan DuPont suggested that Reset Lakeside presented opportunities to work with the Town of Trappe, and a resident of St. Michaels was concerned by Wye Mills’ record of noncompliance and years of pollution.
Chuck Powers, retired hydraulic engineer and resident of Talbot County, is concerned not only “where the water is going, but where it is coming from,” and some questionable data reported.
Bob Flowers’ commentary would be “short and sweet.” He suggested that 2,500 residences is “simply insane.” Closing statements from the council followed.
Council member Dave Stepp reported meeting with the Board of Education, Board of Elections, Parks and Recreation, and Community Center. Ice rink repairs are nearing completion, and “we should have ice this week.”
Keasha Haythe cited community efforts in support of the recent Martin Luther King Basketball Classic and Business Resources Fair and expressed concerns regarding Reset Lakeside communications.
Having sought legal counsel and MDE’s guidance, Vice President Pete Lesher has been advised that the planning commission’s rescission of its certification of Resolution 281 should have been made before the council’s approval. Likewise, Lakeside’s current permit cannot be rescinded now. But Lakeside has been delivered a setback, and we must recognize what can still be accomplished.
Lynn Mielke concurred that “our glass may be half full,” but MDE’s permit is “a win for slowing Lakeside’s progress.” The council is committed to keeping an eye on this development and exploring options.
Council President Chuck Callahan commended Vice President Lesher for his efforts and reminded us that we’re going to have a new comprehensive plan. “This council is going to take care of the county and do the best we can.”
Three phases of development are planned, but Lakeside has been put on a short leash, at least for now. 400 of 505 homes planned for phase one are currently permitted, but MDE has confirmed that further development requires permit modification and additional public scrutiny is welcomed.
The county must also approve additional wastewater treatment plans, as the County Water and Sewer Plan must be amended for change in land classification in order to become eligible for connection to a wastewater treatment plant.
Resolution 281 states, “Before the County Council may adopt the proposed amendment, the Talbot County Planning Commission must certify that the amendment is consistent with the 2016 Talbot County Comprehensive Plan.”
The 2016 comprehensive plan requires state of the art wastewater treatment for new development in Talbot County. As the passage of time can make a difference, the amendment submitted for the rescission of Resolution 281 by Talbot Integrity Project will not be considered. But resolutions the council could pass and support of our comprehensive plan are always welcomed.
Carol Voyles is a graphic designer/illustrator who retired to the Eastern Shore and became interested in politics. She serves as communications chair for the Talbot County Democratic Forum and lives in Easton.