view counter

Articles by Sandra Olivetti Martin

And to you, thanks to ­Chesapeake Bay Media

Two months ago, I told you that the story of Bay Weekly as we know it was coming to an end.
    Founders J. Alex Knoll, Bill Lambrecht and I — my family — had turned on a bright idea and poured 26 and one half years into keeping it powered. Exploring Chesapeake Country, weekly for 1,355 issues we have found new stories, met new characters and persuaded new advertisers that our paper could indeed help them prosper in their business. Week by week, we created our legacy.
    If this was the point at which it ended, we’d be joining the parade of 2,000 — the count is always changing — local newspapers that had fallen — since we entered this new century.
    If it stretched into an unanticipated future, well that might feel like Santa Claus had come to town.
    Santa keeps his own schedule, so we resolved to invest every last resource to keeping our door open until year’s end. In so many ways, you have strengthened our resolve and enriched our resources.
    Back in that Editor’s Letter on September 30 — which appeared in our annual Retirement Guide — I wrote that we hoped our ending would be “full of drama and with a good resolution of all that’s come before.” Until then, we’d give you the best papers we could make. I left you with the kind of ending that’s called a cliffhanger.

Santa Claus Has Come to Town

    Now I feel like a kid on Christmas morning telling you the just-made news that, come January 1, 2020, Bay Weekly will live on under the care of Chesapeake Bay Media. We’ll be the first print weekly to join the multi-media company famous as the publishers of Chesapeake Bay Magazine.
    That 48-year-old glossy sets the standard for Chesapeake Country journalism; we’ve read and looked up to it since before Bay Weekly was born.
    It’s both smart and beautiful, with stories a Bay-lover can’t resist reading — like John Page Williams’ recent tour of Eastern Shore rivers — and pages and photos that are works of art. Its journalists, artists — and yes, its ad salespeople — are professionals.
    Its geography is also encompassing, covering the whole Bay watershed.
    Chesapeake Bay Magazine is just one of the ways Chesapeake Bay Media tells the story of the Bay. Online, its Bay Bulletin is a full electronic weekly with news, features, columns and calendar. Breaking-news updates are reported as they happen with subscribers alerted by e-blast.
    Bay Bulletin uses its online identity smartly, in ways I’ve long believed help write the formula for 21st century success. It tells and delivers its stories in multiple media. So you can, for example, jump from a story to a video — all the work of multimedia journalist Cheryl Costello.
    And how about this: Most readers peruse Bay Bulletin on their phones, news director Meg ­Walburn Viviano tells me. I use my phone for a lot, but it’s not how I like to read my news.
    Of course since 1998 you’ve been able to read Bay Weekly online, though we don’t translate so well to phone format.
    Despite where you’re reading it, what you’re reading in Bay Bulletin — which like Bay Weekly is free (sign up at ChesapeakeBayMagazine.com) — sounds a lot like what you read in Bay Weekly, doesn’t it?
    Chesapeake Bay Media partners CEO John Martino and publisher John Stefancik saw another strength in Bay Weekly.
    “It’s the connection you have with your community that’s most appealing to John Martino and me,” Stefancik said. “It’s how you consistently published for many years with that deep connection. At the end of the day, everybody wants information about what’s closest around them. Local news is the news and information that matters the most.”
    I’m pretty proud to tell you that because of the link you have with us and we have with you, Bay Weekly will keep coming your way in 2020 and for many years to come.
    Local connection is where the expansive ­Chesapeake Bay Media — with its vast territory and resources — wants its next move.
    “We have many channels,” Stefancik continued, “but we don’t have one as local as you are. We want to connect people to the Chesapeake in every way possible, and we have not been able to do that as locally as you do.”
    As I’ve told you so often before, you make our Bay Weekly partnership sustainable. Without you reading, our stories and advertisers’ notices fall on deaf ears.
    Now you’ll have to help keep Bay Weekly’s local connection vital and renewed each week.
    “I want to hear what readers say. What they like and why they pick up Bay Weekly,” Viviano — who’ll be taking over in 2020 — told me as we pored over Bay Weekly together in my office.
    Email her your answers to those questions and your story ideas at ­[email protected]

In with the New — and the Old

    Yes, there will be some new names and faces bringing you Bay Weekly in 2020. But many of those you’ve known, worked with and depended on will also be making the move.
    What would happen to our staff has all along been as important to us as what would happen to Bay Weekly itself. Apparently, our friends at Chesapeake Bay Media hold them in the same high regard and have invited them to continue on this new chapter.
    I and soon-to-be-former general manager Alex Knoll will lend a hand long enough to ensure a smooth transition.
    But all that’s the future. ­December of 2019 remains ours to enjoy together.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
[email protected], www.sandraolivettimartin.com

But the breaking season — and Bay Weekly — are full of fall fun

If you’re so swept up by this busy world that you’ve got no time for more, please don’t read this week’s special Fall Fun Guide, 50 Ways to Leave Your Summer.
    There’s so much more here that you’d feel overwhelmed.
    But if you’re feeling early autumn’s invigoration — big breezes … the crisp relief of cool nights … the light, clear air of morning … the hurry-up call of mellowing light … the cicadas’ carpe diem urgency … the rush of school buses — then turn these pages.
    I don’t know about you, but I haven’t yet gotten too old to feel called to new possibilities each early September. That mood softens my regret at summer’s galloping speed and certain fading. I don’t really want to say goodbye, but as I must, well then bring on autumn.
    That’s the mood that led, way back in the last century, to our first issue of 50 Ways to Leave Your Summer. We liked what we found so much that it’s become an annual tradition. The goal is to fill your fall with so much fun that summer receeds as a fond memory. You might orchestrate it with the Beach Boys’ Summer Gone.
    We start by scouring dozens of calendars for adventures stretching from mid-September to Thanksgiving. Leading that six-weeks-long hunt is calendar editor and staff writer Kathy Knotts. Her range runs from Pasadena to St. Mary’s County, Shady Side to Riverdale. As Kathy develops her long list, we all lobby for our favorites. We can only choose 50, so the competition can get pushy. I always argue for the Great Jack O’ Lantern Campfire at Darnall’s Chance House Museum in Upper Marlboro, which you’ll see made the list again this year as No. 24.
    The final 50 Chesapeake champions of fall fun range from church suppers to mammoth productions like the nine-weekend Maryland Renaissance Festival, the two-week U.S. Boat Shows or the Anne Arundel and Calvert County Fairs. Every weekend fills with music festivals, art festivals, even more boat festivals, fall festivals, food truck festivals, harvest festivals, locavore festivals, Oktoberfests and African, Indian, Italian ethnic fests, oyster festivals, a pirate festival, a recycling green art fest, a retro festival and lots of spooky Halloween fests.
    In the roster of fetes, the U.S. Boats Shows are unique. All about boats, they’re the only ones not offering food and drink on site. Surrounding Annapolis restaurants fill that gap.
    All the others tempt you with such a range of good things to eat and drink, from apple-cidar donuts to oysters many ways to many-course dinners like the annual Dining in the Field. Specialty food trucks are a risen star, and many festivals boast a line of them. Craft beer has spread from Oktober fests almost universally. Local wine gets its day at the Twist and Stout festival at Quiet Waters Park and the Riverside WineFest.
    We’re also sharing plenty of more active ways to leave your summer and enjoy autumn’s appealing weather. You can hike, golf in the Bay-CSS tournament, bike up to 100 miles and run off pre-holiday calories.
    Less briskly, you can join the world’s shortest tug of war across water, find your way through a maze, wander a field to pick your pumpkin or an orchard to pick apples.
    In Annapolis Sketchcrawl, walk through the U.S. Naval Academy and nearby streets at a pace that gives you time to draw along the way. At Annmarie Garden’s Artsfest, tour arts and crafts booths along the quarter-mile wooded path. Or take a tour of Muddy Creek Artists Guild studios.
    For fun on the wilder side, Halloween supplies spook houses, hauntings, cemetery tours, scary concerts, cosplay and trick or treating.
    We’ll see you out and about all autumn. Show us where you’ve been: send your Fall Fun photos to [email protected]

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
[email protected], www.sandraolivettimartin.com

This week’s virtual tour will help you appreciate all we are

 

 

 

Unless your viewing technology has advanced beyond television, you know all about how friendly local visitors opening their arms, shops and cultures for happy travelers on riverboat cruises. Whether it’s all too good to be true is not today’s point (though I am curious). This week Bay Weekly invites you to tour equivalent of Chesapeake Country.

Yes, ours is a virtual tour — in one sense of the word. But at the same time it’s literal, as you’re likely to tour via the printed page rather than computer — though either medium will take you there. Either way, what I mean is that you’ll get the inside scoop, though, alas, not the riverboat or its amenities. 

Instead, you’ll travel on the ever-magic carpet of reading into the business district of the small-town Chesapeake village of Bay Weekly partners. Chesapeake Country is not Corfu, Greece; Bergen, Norway; Beri, Italy; or the towns and villages you remember from way back, where color, life and shops full of more than you could imagine crowd together in a package of excitement.

Chesapeake Country’s history endures in our pattern of settlement, remembering plantations that were fiefdoms in themselves, linked less to one another than to the rivers and Bay, where commerce streamed. We remain a mostly sprawled-out experience, with most shops and services their own little entities, others linked in twos and threes or little shopping centers. 

So you can visit this village only in Bay Weekly pages. 

Every week, advertising partners come together in our pages. But this week is different. Most weeks of the year, they appear in advertisements, which draw your attention like billboards, flashing their name and, typically, timely specials on offer. This week, the people behind 60-plus of those shops and services stand in their doorways and invite you in.

It’s as if they’ve taken on the roles of those Corfu bakers, Beri baristas and Bergen fishmongers. Come in, they say, and let us tell you about what we do and who we are. 

Most, you’ll learn, got into their business because it’s what they do best or love most. 

In the words of Bobby Jones, inventor and proprietor of two Chesapeake Country restaurants, The Point in Severna Park and Ketch-22 in North Beach-Rose Haven says, “I love this business, love making good food and being around great people.” 

Many are tied to their work by a family story. Thus Teresa Schrodel and brother Frank Radosevic grew up helping their father William and mother Annamaria in the art businesses that evolved into Medart Gallery in Dunkirk.

That’s also the case of the Tice family of En-Tice-Ment Farm, who continue a five-generation tradition of farming, adapting generation by generation to change and culture. 

It’s true, too, that Dan Mallonee of Bay Country Crabbing, learned his trade as a boy from his grandfather.  

Others, like Jones, figured out what they could do best. For Cynthia McBride of Main Street Gallery in Annapolis and Benfield Gallery in Severna Park, that was an art-based business that could move with her husband’s career. 

And you won’t be surprised to learn that Steven Graham of Independent Tree Care loves trees. 

Among the entrepreneurs you’ll meet are successes in other fields who reached out to see what they could do in a whole new environment. The Gregories, Jack, wife Dee and daughter Cassie, stretched from all the way from plumbing, CSA Plumbing in Calvert County, to dairy-free soft serve in opening Jango’s Frozen Treats in the real Chesapeake Country town of North Beach. 

Some of the people you’ll meet in the village of our business guide are old timers. Smyth Jewelers dates back to 1914, Essex Bank to 1920, Bowen’s Grocery to 1929 and Happy Harbor to 1933.

Two, Jesse Ramirez and Jayleen Fonseca, opened their restaurant, Jesse Jays in West River this year. 

We’ve listed them all from oldest to newest so you can enjoy, as we have, this history lesson in miniature. Our own small business, Bay Weekly, founded in 1993, has passed a quarter century.

Meeting all these business owners on their own terms, you’ll be impressed, perhaps awed, by their entrepreneurial imagination and daring. You’ll be rooting for them to keep right on. You’ll be forming ties that make shopping locally a commitment rather than a slogan. 

When we get to know one another, we appreciate our community as much as all those seemingly ideal places to which we travel.

Read on …

 

Sandra Olivetti Martin

Editor and publisher

[email protected], www.sandraolivettimartin.com

 


Introducing Mary Ann Jung; Remembering Valerie Lester

In this week’s packed paper, you’ll read about Mary Ann Jung, a woman of many faces. I won’t say introduce, because you’ve likely already met her. Actress Jung impersonates her history-making women far and wide. You might have seen her — and them — live in festivals, schools, libraries, museums, senior centers, conferences as well as in in-between stops at, say, the grocery or mall. Next week, she introduces a new character, Irish Pirate Queen Captain Grace O’ Malley at a Chatauqua event at Severn Library.
    I won’t tell you any more of Jung’s first person story, for I don’t want to steal her thunder or deprive you of the pleasure of reading her words for youself.
    It’s another woman of many faces I’ll introduce here. For some of you, it will be a re-introduction. Valerie Lester made her presence known with us in many ways during the years she and husband Jim lived in Annapolis Roads. Among those ways was as a Bay Weekly contributing writer, a role in which she flashed a new face in each appearance.
    If you watched the Annapolis Fourth of July parade during the last decade of the last century and the first of this century, you saw Val. She strutted and sweated in the parade along with instructor Lisa Malone’s Jazzercise class.
    “It is so much fun to dance down Main Street,” said Val, who called herself one of the Jazzercise group’s older members, interviewed for our 2002 feature Everybody Loves a Parade.
    “There’s no traffic, and you’ve got this great view from the top looking out over the water. Even in the rain it’s fun. In fact, it’s even better, because you’re cool.”
    I got to know the Val of another face, as we were drawn together by our love of words and stories. If memory serves me, we got together over her second book, Phiz, the Man Who Drew Dickens. Phiz — formally Hablot Knight Browne — was for 23 years the illustrator who brought Charles Dickens’ words to life. He was also Valerie Browne Lester’s great-great-grandfather, and dutifully and enthusiastically, she devoted eight years to bringing him back to life in her biography.
    Our July 2006 story introduced Phiz and Val the sleuth to Bay Weekly readers (www.tinyurl.com/Phiz-Val). But readers back then already knew her in the many other faces she revealed as a Bay Weekly contributing writer.
    A great listener, Val loved other people’s stories as much as her own. So I assigned her fascinating characters. One was astrophysicist Peter Perry of Harwood, who she introduced in the story Yes, It’s Rocket Science (www.tinyurl.com/yxm4ual2). Another was midshipman Stephanie Hoffman of the class of 2005, herself a woman of many faces. We chose her to profile because both Val and I had seen her extraordinary portrayal of Lady MacBeth in the Naval Academy Masqueraders’s steamy production
(www.tinyurl.com/y2qskf8m). When Val interviewed Stephanie, she was training as a Navy flyer.
    Val had her own flight stories to tell. She combined her experience as a Pan Am flight attendant in the early 1960s with her usual thoroughgoing research to write Fasten Your Seat Belts! History and Heroism in the Pan Am Cabin. But her interest in flight began in utero, she wrote and shaped her life, both broadly and specifically.
    England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland are island nations. The vast waters around them seem to call and certain of those islanders — or so I have observed — to leap into the wider world. Val’s parents were of that sort. She grew up in Jamaica, went to boarding school in England, signed on to fly internationally and traveled and lived comfortably around the world for the rest of her life. After she left Annapolis in 2009, we in her worldwide network of friends would hear from her in Italy, England, Singapore — who knew where.
    Val as the intrepid world traveler fascinated me — and occasionally set off spikes of envy — as I sat year after year at my same desk, producing issue after issue of the same paper. She was, I think, at home any place in the world.
    The specific consequence of her flight years was her husband. She met James Lester in the air, working his return flight from Mount Everest, where he’d talked his way into Base Camp as the first psychologist interacting on site with climbers.
    Encountering the Lesters in Annapolis, where they’d decided on something of a lark to retire after raising two children and living years in D.C., I couldn’t tell who to be more impressed with, Val or Jim. Like me a native St. Louisan, Jim had broken out into the wider world in ways as spectacular as his wife’s. He was also an author. As a psychologist, he’d worked with Timothy Leary about whom, late in life, he wrote a book. A musician as well, Jim had also had to his credit the Oxford University Press book Too Marvelous for Words: The Life & Genius of Art Tatum.
    I never could get Jim to write for Bay Weekly, but I ranked Val quite the catch.
    When Val decided to translate the French novel Le Grand Meaulnes as her third book and she became too busy for Bay Weekly features, she continued offering us shorts and reflections revealing many more of her faces.
    She might write in praise of local garden clubs (www.tinyurl.com/gardenclubs).
    Or in praise of kale, as in “The other day, I dashed into the supermarket and came to a screeching halt in front of the most dazzling display of kale …” (www.tinyurl.com/in-praise-of-kale)
    She might tell a ghost story in poetry (www.tinyurl.com/y4o67jtw).
    Complain about the foxes digging up her garden (www.tinyurl.com/fox-digging).
    Or describe the heroism of a young neighbor who’d snatched her Chihuahua from the claws of an eagle (www.tinyurl.com/snatched-Chihuahua).
    My favorite of her paeans to daily life stretched me far beyond my daily life. It was a little contribution to a What We Want for Christimas story, titled To Knit the Raveled Sheeve of Care (www.tinyurl.com/BW-christmas-2005).
    Val left Annapolis, with Jim, when ALS began to take away his independence. They had less than one more year together.
    Then Val took flight again, revealing many more faces as she delighted in life and created three more books each one so particular that no one but she could have imagined them: biographies of the type-designer Bodani, the botanist Clarence Bicknell and a historical novel, The West Indian.
    She came to the end of her many travels on June 7 in Hingham, Mass. Her children were at her side.
    With her death, the world is duller and many hearts heavier.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
[email protected], www.sandraolivettimartin.com


To Knit the Raveled Sheeve of Care

by Valerie Lester
bayweekly.com/old-site/year05/issuexiii50/leadxiii50_1.html

 

Links. Not sausage links. Not golf links. But links between people and places. I’ll tell you a story that illustrates what I mean.
    Recently, in the face of the enormity of the earthquake that struck Pakistan, Kashmir and northern India, with all the force of a nuclear explosion, I felt wretchedly impotent. What can a person do in the face of such horror? Send money, of course, and I intended to do that. But I became obsessed with the idea of actually participating in the effort to help.
    Reason, of course, intervened. A 66-year-old woman flying to Islamabad with packets of food and clothes tucked into bags and the interstices of her coat, demanding to be taken to the epicenter, might not exactly be General Musharraf’s idea of aid. But with a harsh winter approaching in the mountains of the region, the idea of contributing something real was persistent.
    Eventually, I dug out my bag of yarn and started crocheting a scarf of many colors. Shortly thereafter, I set off on a trip to England and crocheted my way across the Atlantic. (My crochet hook is short and discreet. It’s made of aluminum and doesn’t set off airport security alarms the way knitting needles sometimes do.)
    I finished the scarf in Shaftesbury (which is a lovely town in Thomas Hardy’s Dorset countryside). There’s an Oxfam shop on the main street, and I took my scarf there. The shop is staffed by delightful, very elderly ladies, who do a brisk trade in second-hand goods and holiday cards. Taking pride of place in the center of the counter was a collection box whose label announced Earthquake Appeal. Yes! I stuffed some money into it (priming the pump, as it were, for the reception of my somewhat dubious gift), then produced my somewhat raffish scarf, asking the ladies if there was a way to send it to the earthquake victims. They didn’t laugh, bless them.
    “Will Afghanistan do?” they asked. “Some volunteers are putting together shoe boxes and shipping them there?”
    Afghanistan. It’s cold and miserable in the mountains there too, so even though it wasn’t my first choice, Kashmir, I agreed. Then I looked around the shop and bought several boxes of Christmas cards. On a whim I asked if they had any donations of yarn. They had a crateful. I dug through it and found a dozen balls of excellent navy wool.
    There’s a chain here: Someone donated leftover yarn, Oxfam accepted it, I bought it and am now nearly three feet into an enormous scarf.
    This time I’m going to make sure it gets to an earthquake victim in Kashmir. Does anyone know how I might? That will forge another link, and that is what I want for Christmas.

 

It’s a heavy order, but you need to do it

       It’s a mouthful. But you probably need to swallow the draft Phase III Watershed Implementation’s lumpy title for the sake of knowing what Maryland planners have in store for our Chesapeake.

         What we’re talking about, in case that title doesn’t tell you, is what’s coming to help us reach the 2025 “ultimate restoration deadline” the EPA set back in 2010. In essence, each state has gone on a pollution diet to keep from surpassing its Total Maximum Daily Load of nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment. 

         Dieting is always a long-term business, so each state had to develop its diet — here comes another mouthful — through three phases of Watershed Implementation Plans.

         We’ve moved with some success through Phase One and Phase Two to Phase Three. The job now is to “identify the strategies, opportunities and challenges in not only meeting the 2025 Chesapeake Bay Restoration targets, but also sustaining restoration into the future.”

         If that sounds vague to you, you’ll have to bite into the document itself to find specifics to chew on. Log on, and you’ll find the full plan and its six appendices plus summary guides in the Executive Summary and FAQs. Lots of graphs try to help you understand what words can’t seem to say in plain English.

         There you’ll learn that Phase Three focuses on reducing nitrogen because we’re on track to meet phosphorus and sediment goals. Wastewater treatment plants and farm fields are targeted to make the needed reductions.

         Climate change and population growth get a bit of attention. The Conowingo Dam, holding back the upper Susquehanna River’s huge pollution dump, gets a full three-point strategic attack.

         We’re asked to read, digest and report back by June 7, so the final Phase Three WIP (that’s Watershed Implementation Plan, as I’m sure you remember) can be issued by August 9.

         Public participation is key, so be a good Bay citizen and eat your spinach: www.tinyurl.com/MDE-phase-3.

Killing AA Co's polystyrene ban puts us there

    Here in Chesapeake Country, we spend a lot of time living in the past.
    We celebrate our heritage not just back to 1634, when Lord Baltimore’s colonists sailed in to stay, but all the way back to native times. We love our historic buildings, tracing many back to those heroic days of Independence we celebrate this week. We retrace historic footsteps along the Capt. John Smith and Star-Spangled Banner trails.
    We say we try to preserve what’s best about our past as the foundation on which we build our future.
    We’re even acknowledging the sins of our past. Grappling with the monumental wrong with our slave-holding heritage, we’ve erected new monuments of reconciliation — the Alex Haley Passage — and recognition — the Thurgood Marshall statuary grouping.
    We say we reckon with the mistakes of our past so we can do better in the future.
    So in many ways we’re reckoning with the past rather than living there.
    This week, however, Anne Arundel County pretended that it’s cheaper to live in the past than reckon with the future. County Executive Steve Schuh joined the Anne Arundel County School Board in voting for our right to bury ourselves in an avalanche of polystyrene. That’s the ubiquitous and virtually indestructible synthetic hydrocarbon polymer we love to serve our food and drink in.
    Yuck!
    It’s bad enough that polystyrene makes an unappetizing plate and cup. It’s way worse that the brittle stuff is virtually indestructible except by fire. It breaks down, yes, but into ever-smaller particles that are now omnipresent in human fatty tissue and high-ranking as litter in oceans and on beaches.
    Our counties don’t recycle polystyrene. In other words, almost every bit of it is trash. Yet billions of pounds are produced every year — and that’s in America alone.
    So the Anne Arundel County Council had come down on the right side of environmental history when it banned polystyrene earlier this month. Our Council of seven pretty average Americans — men not too rich or too poor, mostly not flaming liberals or die-hard conservatives — decided by a vote of four to three that we’d contributed enough to the mountains of eternal waste under which we’re burying our beautiful Maryland.
    They voted to ban the use of polystyrene as food containers starting in 2020, giving restaurants and quick stops plenty of time to use up their stock.
    In doing so, they overruled the penny-wise-pound-foolish opposition of business and industry lobbyists, and even our own public schools, who’d argued that they just couldn’t afford to do the right thing.
    Apparently our education leaders don’t trust the students in their charge to be smart or inventive enough to devise a better cup or carry-out container.
    Perhaps the four councilmen on the right side of history had compared, to our disadvantage, our legacy of non-biodegradable white foam to the Indians’ oyster shell middens. Perhaps they were feeling shock waves from China, which has had enough at any price of being the world’s dump. Perhaps they just thought we, who are so proud of our past, can do better by our future than bury it under trash.
    The District of Columbia already made that move in 2015. Baltimore followed this year. Annapolis is considering the same resolution. Juisdictions like those, including many in California, are recognizing that we undercut our future by living short-term on the cheap.
    Now Steve Schuh — a county executive who prides himself on looking out for Anne Arundel’s future — has made just that cut. Instead of leading us into a sustainable future, he has pretended we can still live in a heedless past.
    In terms of managing the waste we make, we’re getting more leadership from Ronald McDonald. ­McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast food chain, will end its use of polystyrene by the end of this year — globally.
    Here at home, maybe you can get your own favorite restaurants to do the same.
    Maybe you can convince Mr. Schuh to move Anne Arundel County from the past into the future. If not, you can send him your message on November 6.


Sandra Olivetti Martin, Editor and publisher
email [email protected], www.sandraolivettimartin.com

As the reasons for marrying change, we just keep doing it

“You had to back then.”

That’s how Bill Burton — the esteemed outdoor writer who retired from Bay Weekly 16 years after retiring from a 30-plus-year career at the Baltimore Evening Sun — answered my inquiry about his many marriages. He allowed the legend of five — culminated by his long and happy marriage to Lois Burton — to stand. In fact it was only three, a truth outed by longtime friend Alan Doelph, appreciating Burton’s life after his death at 82 on August 10, 2009.

Our culture of marriage has changed since Burton’s time. The old reasons that upheld the institution over the ages — intimacy, sex and procreation — no longer apply with the same force. Yet marriage not only survives. It thrives. Nowadays people typically marry because they want to.

Just why is that?

That’s a tantalizing question in this favorite month of brides and grooms, one I married in once myself. All these years later, it’s the month I’ve sought ordination from the Universal Life Church so that I can officiate at my first wedding, the September union of Bay Weekly’s once-upon-a-time junior reporter Ariel Brumbaugh and Patrick Beall. It seems that newspaper editors share that authority with ships’ captains, at least for people who’ve been under their command. 

Bay Weekly’s annual Wedding Guide further sharpens my curiosity. In these pages, you’ll join me in sharing the wedding memories — and charming photos — of a couple of dozen Chesapeake Country couples who accepted our invitation to join us in this week’s paper. Their wedding dates range over 64 years, from 1954 to 2018, and while each memory is different, they all revolve around the theme of love.

Even in the 21st century, when love and marriage are no longer harnessed together like the horse and carriage of the 1955 song, love still runs the show.

That wasn’t always the case. Love of the romantic sort is a relatively recent condition for marriage. Over the millennia, lust has partnered with survival, standing, security, wealth, power and progeny in motivating marriage. But here in America, the general prosperity following World War II empowered love to make many a marriage. 

“I knew the moment I saw Sheila I wanted to marry her,” John Dorr writes of the conclusion of the couple’s long engagement, their marriage in 1959. She, granddaughter Audrey Broomfield tells us, felt the same way. 

Security, too, remains a factor that leads many a couple (even cohabiting couples) to marriage. That was an intangible factor in my eventual marriage (in May, not June) to husband Bill Lambrecht — as it was in Glenda Flores’ August 2017 marriage to Wilmer.

“I remember taking my father’s arm and taking the first steps into the church feeling so secure that at the end of the path I was going to be truly happy,” she wrote. 

We also marry for the fun of it. Twenty-first century weddings give the marrying couple what’s likely to be the biggest party of their lives.

Sixty-four years ago, Phyllis and William Conrad were content with tuna fish sandwiches at a hotel bar on the one night they had together before he returned to his assignment at the Army Security Agency School in Massachusetts and she to her job in the Pentagon.

Nowadays the wedding gives girls their chance to be princesses and guys princes — or at least cool and powerful dudes. And not only for a day, as engagement, bachelor, bachelorette and after parties, plus showers, stretch the celebration into many days. As you’ll see in our wedding directory, modern brides and grooms can get just about anything they want. Marriage is, as the convention goes, the time to make dreams come true.

As we cheer on each couple old or new, we’re hoping in our heart of hearts that another dream comes true for them. We hope that by marrying, each couple forms a more perfect union.

In their place of origin, the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States, here’s how those words continue: to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.

Not a bad plan for a nation — or for a marriage, is it?

 

Sandra Olivetti Martin

Editor and publisher

email [email protected], www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Rich or poor, Owensville ­Primary Care turns no one away

Over $10,000. That’s what the average American spent for health care in 2016, and up is where that number is heading.
     “My wife’s health insurance jumped 38.9 percent,” laments a friend recently retired. “My pension is disappearing.”
     Across the age spectrum, you hear endless variationa of the same story.
Last year, 11.9 percent of Anne Arundel County residents couldn’t afford to see a doctor, according to the county’s Report Card of Community Health Indicators. Seventeen percent didn’t have a primary care physician.
     In a culture where health and wealth are inextricably linked, Owensville Primary Care is a haven. It welcomes all with these words: This Health Center serves all patients regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.
     It is an oddly placed haven.
     If you wanted to show off southern Anne Arundel County’s pastoral ideal, you couldn’t do better than take a drive down Owensville Road, the east-west link between Rt. 2 and Galesville. Amid imposing white homes set back on yards rolling into farm fields, the modernistic stucco building might, if noticed, raise a question. 
     Its placement tells a truer story of Southern Maryland life than the scenery. It’s a story in many ways little changed since Owensville Primary Care was founded in 1974 to, in CEO Sylvia Jennings’ words, “address the needs of a very low-income, rural, minority population that did not have access to health care.”
     Over four decades, Jennings has seen need persist and — for many of those years — overseen Owensville Primary Care’s ability to deliver care regardless of race, age or income.
      “We pledge to provide quality health care to our entire, diverse community at a responsible cost,” Jennings says. “That’s our mission.”
     Since the Affordable Care Act was passed, that pledge has included helping people, patients or not, find qualified health care programs. Nowadays, people losing their subsidies are welcome for advice and alternatives.
 
A Melting Pot
     In the utilitarian waiting room, you find yourself in a microcosm of the larger Southern Anne Arundel County community, where homes — and with them wealth — run the full range from mansions to shanties. Here, your neighbors — black and white, young and old, more and less affluent — visit as they wait. You might find — as I did on this day — a kid sucking a lollipop. Two elderly women, black and white. A tattooed hipster with an ear gauge in his lobe. A workingman in an Orioles cap. Yourself.

Owensville Primary Care outgoing CEO Sylvia Jennings, retiring after more than 20 years.

       Owensville Primary Care has become, over the years, an American melting pot. 
     “I came in one morning to find a Jaguar in the parking lot next to a jalopy,” says Jennings, the white-topped dynamo who for two decades has been CEO of this federally qualified Community Health Center, one of 16 in Maryland and some 1,400 nationwide.
      The numbers support the impression of diversity. Of October’s 1,156 patient visits, 38 percent were paid by commercial insurance, 32 percent by Medicare and 28 percent by Medicaid, with two percent self-paid.
 
Walking Into a Nightmare
       Jennings, 82 and days from retirement, works behind the scenes, in an office stocked with tall jars of Hershey’s Kisses. Jolly, direct and demanding, she does not want a visit to her sanctum to feel like “a walk down the hall to the principal.”
      For the office she is now dismantling has been the scene of many hard decisions.
      “I walked into a nightmare,” Jennings recalls.
      In 1981, the well-intentioned, six-year-old South County Family Health had descended into bankruptcy. With $1.5 million owed, court administrators threatened to “nail doors shut and walk away,” Jennings remembers. That’s when she joined the board, deputized by her boss, Virginia Clagett, then South County’s councilwoman.
      Paying off that debt took eight years.
      A second round of troubles in the mid 1990s brought Jennings back on the board to captain “a sinking ship.” First she laughed at entreaties; finally she accepted. That was 1997. She spent the next two years cleaning up the mess.
 
The Team
      Jennings has been the force that kept Owensville Primary Care on track.
      But hers is not the face you’re likely to know if you happen to be one of its 3,400 patients, from birth to geriatrics. 
      First you meet the reception crew, who, Jennings says and experience proves, are “welcoming and treat you not as a stranger but as a friend.” 

photo by Wayne Bierbaum

Back, doctors Thomas Sheesley, Jonathan Hennessee and Wayne Bierbaum. Front, nurse practitioner Nancy Bryan, behavioral health director Dr. Jana Raup and physicians assistant Ann Hendon.

photo by Wayne Bierbaum

Rebecca Woolwine, Judy Bracken, Amber Snay and Billie Aisquith in back row. Keri Mahan and Brittany Galloway, seated.

      Many, like office manager Billie Aisquith, have been here as long as Jennings. Increasingly, they are “cross-trained in multiple functions,” like Vickie Payne, who is also a fire department EMT just certified as a medical assistant through Anne Arundel Community College’s online program.
       “When they expand their skills, they expand their incomes,” Jennings says.
       Next, you enter into the hands of nurses — among them nurse supervisor Vanessa Greenwell, Owensville Primary’s longest serving staffer at over 30 years — who’ll take your weight and height, blood pressure, temperature and blood oxygen readings.
       They turn you over to health care providers, who range from doctors to nurse practitioner Nancy Bryan, retired from the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, to physician assistant Ann Hendon.
       At 28 years in, chief medical officer Wayne Bierbaum calls his egalitarian work at Owensville Primary “what I’ve wanted to do since I decided to go into medicine: helping people manage in difficult circumstances.”
       Doctors Jonathan Hennessee and Thomas Sheesley are National Health Service Corps Scholars, who repay their medical education by working in communities with limited access to care, in their cases for a term of five years.
      Behavioral Health Director Jana Raup or Licensed Clinical Social Worker Jen Thornton offer counseling and therapy.
 
Right People for the Job
       From the bottom up and top down, salaries are a priority with Jennings, who brings her medical experience as a nurse along with administrative experience alongside a state legislator.
      “I really focused on getting people a decent wage,” she said. “Even then, $7 an hour for nurses was ridiculous.”
        “The money wasn’t there so it was a long process,” says Sharon Widemann, Jennings’ long-time colleague and now successor as CEO.
      Nowadays, Jennings calls “our salaries very competitive,” good enough to draw expertise from outside South County. 
       “Young physicians fresh out of school are paid a very good entry-level wage that appreciates the fact that family-care physicians are difficult to recruit,” she notes. 
      For five years, Jennings and Widemann, who came on in 1994 as an accountant, “got our hands dirty with work to make sure we had the right hiring.”
        Computerization brought the next challenge. 
      “When IT hit us all with electronic records, we were able to draw the best staff among community health centers, who are doing wonders for our record keeping,” Widemann says.
 
Finding Wherewithal
      Every step took money. 
      Community health centers are backed by tax dollars. Owensville Primary Care has a $4 million budget, with federal funding of about $1.5 million, supplemented by fees for service, donations from citizens and small government grants for targeted programs.
       Federal and private funding supported the construction of the building back in 1976, enabling Owensville Primary to move out of the old Owensville primary school. The building was county property until 2002, when it was surplussed to Owensville Primary. That same year, a state grant of $200,000 and a loan from the county paid for renovation. Later grants paid for better parking. This year, the behavioral health center moved into its own remodeled space, replacing the old post office that shared space with Owensville Primary.
      Grants enabled growth in services. In 2013 federal monies brought on behavioral health case managers, certified application counselors for Affordable Care and expanded Medicare, plus two more physicians. 
      A brand-new grant supports response to the opioid addiction crisis with mental health, public awareness and Narcan training.
      From Jennings’ years with Clagett as both councilwoman and delegate, she understood the levers of government. 
     “She has kept us in the minds of politicians who help our cause,” says chief medical officer Wayne Bierbaum.
      Jennings retires with Owensville Primary Care “in the black.” But not without a touch of uncertainty. Federal funding for community health centers expired September 30, and Congress has yet to reauthorize it.
 
‘A’ For Accountabiliity
     Recovery from a troubled past has made accountability part of each day’s work.
     “We hold ourselves accountable with committees for quality care, insurance and improvement,” Widemann says. “Once a month, a group of clinical and administrative staff review incidents and look at how our patients are doing. If one provider is doing a great job, we see how to share those best practices.”
     Patients have two ways to rate their satisfactions, and a sign on the reception desk invites complaints if you’ve waited more than 20 minutes to be seen. Quality measures are posted on the front door and the website.
      Accountability is one of the hallmarks of Jennings’ tenure, according to Bierbaum who has worked beside her the whole time.
     “Our goals have been continually strengthened through her vision of what we should become, so that everyone knows that we stand for service delivered with compassion, accountability and professionalism, always trying to do better in our mission,” he says.
     On January 2, Jennings passed on title and responsibility to Widemann. She leaves with satisfaction, relief and confidence, in a transition that, she promises, “will be seamless.” Preparing Widemann to continue the mission has been Jennings’ final achievement. 
     That, and revisiting 22 years of history, paper, electronic and human. 
     Amid the sorting, preserving and trashing, there was reflecting.
     Jennings already had reached retirement age when she was persuaded to come to the rescue of Owensville Primary Care.
     “I thought I’d do it a couple years and get it straightened out,” she recalls. 
      But day after day, year after year, she returned.
      “What I do every day of my life is so satisfying that it has allowed me to work till 82,” she says.
 

Outgoing CEO Sylvia Jennings, left, and her successor, Sharon Widemann.

      Now, 20 years in, she allows herself to be “very personally pleased with myself for the job I have done here. Some people will call me smug, but you have to have some personal reward. I’m not talking about money but about feeling I have contributed something to my neighbors and friends.”
      Widemann’s mission is continuing a success she helped create.
     “We have a very fully equipped and functioning federal community health center, a strong executive staff, strong providers and a growing behavioral health component,” the new CEO says.
      Her plan is to reach into the community to bring affordable health care to people still unserved. Growing the behavioral health unit is a particular goal.
      She steps comfortably into Jennings’ big shoes.
     “We’re not a one-woman show anymore,” Widemann says. “We’re a team effort. Plus, I know where Sylvia lives.”

My Favorite Stories of 2017

Together, we read a lot of stories over the course of a year. Many of them give you a moment’s insight or delight. Others tell you just what you need to know. Some stay in your mind, even after all those words have come between you and them all that time ago. So I can still recount stories we ran four, 14 or 24 years ago.
    Before I close the book on 2017 (yes, I really do have a large, heavy book labeled “2017 • Vol. XXV,” I like to reflect on what we’ve done in the 52 issues of our 25th volume.
    Following the pattern of this Best of the Bay edition, I’m awarding them categorical bests.


Best Bay Weekly Cover of 2016

Get Ready for the Great American Eclipse: Aug. 17