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Dispute drives county historians to stiff-arm Talbot Boys

EASTON — If the Talbot Boys statue is removed from the courthouse lawn, where will be its final resting place? The most obvious perch is in the hands of local historians — though none appears eager to house the controversial memorial for fear of being cloaked in its divisive aura.

The Talbot Historical Society, for one, is not interested in inserting itself in the debate and has wholly rejected the idea that the Confederate monument be added to its collection of more than 10,000 artifacts, says Larry Denton, the organization’s president.

For 65 years, the society has been a neutral source of county history. With Talbot County in the national spotlight for protecting one of the United States’ last known Confederate monuments on government-funded land, Denton said, the society’s agreeing to take in such a politically polarizing and high-profile item would put at risk that reputation.

“Our position is simply we don’t want to get in the middle of that,” he said. Denton acknowledged that housing the statue also likely would turn off donors on which the society relies as a private non-profit. “We have to stay as neutral as we possibly can.”

But the society is not the only group of historians stiff-arming the statue, according to Talbot County Council Member Frank Divilio, who has been trying to convince a few different organizations to be the Talbot Boys’ savior. Divilio declined to name the groups to protect them from public scrutiny.

Since Divilio sided with Council Vice President Chuck Callahan and Council Member Laura Price last month to keep the Confederate monument where it stands at the Talbot County Courthouse, he said he has faced a slew of criticism from people who took his vote against taking down the statue as a win for racism.

He has assured he’s not racist and that his vote was designed only to delay action on the statue in pursuit of a more open government process, as citizens — for coronavirus safety reasons — were denied in-person access to the council’s public hearing on the statue’s fate in July.

Despite what he called the public’s mischaracterization of him, he said he has continued working toward a solution to the issue. The controversy is too hot right now, though — and “nobody wants to even discuss” housing the statue for fear “they might be treated like me,” he said.

Divilio has suggested the Talbot Boys monument live somewhere people who want to see it can do so, but he acknowledged that until someone rolls out a welcome mat, the stalemate will persist and the memorial will continue to avoid eviction from its century-long home on the courthouse lawn.

“I’ve just got to get a group to say, ‘Yup. Bring it to us,’ but I have to work through the weeds of taking the heat off of it,” he said.

His preference for the statue’s resting place, he said, would be “whichever organization stepped up and said, ‘Our community’s comfortable with this, our base is comfortable with this, and we’ve found it to be a good private-public partnership for those who want to see it.’”

Denton agreed that the statue should be preserved. He suggested a military cemetery or organization should take it in and place it alongside other war memorials — such as a Vietnam War Memorial, which he noted commemorates a war that carries its own controversy.

“People don’t want to erase history. We ought to study and understand the Confederacy,” he said, though he declined the notion that it might be the society’s responsibility to be the statue’s keeper.

Denton couldn’t name any Confederate memorabilia in the society’s possession currently. “We must have some things in our collection,” he said.

He guessed there might be photos in the society’s stack of up to 70,000 images, which he said likely includes those of people who fought in both sides of the Civil War and their families — but nothing like the Talbot Boys.

As a preserver of the county’s history, the Talbot Historical Society’s only responsibility is to present the past in a “balanced and fair way, and in a way that we don’t offend any particular group,” Denton said.


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Back The Blue rally scheduled for Friday at Talbot County Courthouse

EASTON — A Back The Blue rally is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 18 at the Talbot County Courthouse.

The rally is in support of law enforcement with policing, police shooting incidents and race relations at the forefront of the national debate and presidential election. Some progressive activists have pushed for cutting or ‘defunding’ police departments’ budgets.

The pro-police event is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. and run until 7:30 p.m. at the courthouse in Easton.

The rally is being organized by Ashley Jo Strickland-Sard and her husband, Shawn Shard.

“This is just to show support and respect for law enforcement,” Strickland-Sard said.

The courthouse has seen a number of recent protests related to the Talbot Boys Confederate statue as well as the Black Lives Matter movement.

Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble said he and law enforcement personnel will be at the rally to make sure advocates can exercise their First Amendment rights.

“I’ll be there in an official capacity,” said Gamble who also has been at other protests to make sure events go smoothly.

Rallies at the courthouse require permits and law enforcement logistics from both Talbot County and the town of Easton, Gamble said. That is because the courthouse is under the county’s jurisdiction while surrounding areas come under the purview of the Easton Police Department.

Strickland-Sard said the proper permits have been obtained for the Friday event.

She was not sure how many people would attend the Back the Blue rally. A Facebook page for the event shows 66 persons have committed to attend and another 274 are interested as of Sept. 16.


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Binge drinking often starts in adolescence

Alcohol remains the most used and abused substance in teens, with binge drinking often starting in adolescence.

Commonly defined as having five or more drinks per occasion for men, and four for women, binge drinking often starts in adolescence. While young people may drink less often than adults, they tend to drink higher quantities each time. Underage binge drinking causes a wide range of problems, not the least of which is a higher risk of developing alcohol use disorder.

Binge drinking definitions for adolescents vary based upon age, weight and speed at which someone reaches a blood alcohol level of .08. In teens ages 14 or 15, for example, this typically happens after three drinks for girls and four for boys. A standard drink is defined as 12 ounces of beer with 5% alcohol content; 5 ounces of wine with 12%; or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits with 40% alcohol content, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

No matter which definition is used, research shows that people ages 12 through 20 drink about 11% of all alcohol consumed in the country. And, adolescents consume more than 90% of their alcohol by binge drinking.

Binge drinking often has dire consequences — excessive drinking kills more than 3,200 underage youth each year. In addition, the use of alcohol can damage a developing adolescent brain, causing lifelong changes that can affect things such as memory. Alcohol use, including binge drinking, also can lead to increase impulsivity and things like depression and anxiety.

There are signs of drinking, including staying out late; smelling of alcohol; slurred speech; missing or watered-down alcohol at your house; change in mood; change in friends; falling grades. If you notice these signs, or your gut tells you something is going on, have a talk with your child. Visit talbotgoespurple.org for more information.

If you think there is a need for intervention, there are resources available — the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is a great place to start. SAMHSA has a national 24-hour helpline and can provide information and treatment referrals: 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Maryland Coalition of Families also offers resources, including family peer support specialists who can help you navigate treatment, support and other services. Learn more at their website, mdcoalition.org.

Talbot Goes Purple is an educational and awareness prevention program that empowers our youth and our community to “Go Purple” as a sign of taking a stand against substance abuse. The purpose of the program is to promote the “new conversation” – one that includes prescription drugs, alcohol, marijuana and e-cigarettes. TGP focuses on educating students about the dangers of tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, and works toward preventing kids from beginning to use these substances in the first place.

An initiative from the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office and Tidewater Rotary, in partnership with Talbot County Public Schools, Saints Peter & Paul School and the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, Talbot Goes Purple empowers our youth and our community to “Go Purple” as a sign of taking a stand against substance abuse.

More information about Talbot Goes Purple is available at www.talbotgoespurple.org. Find us on Facebook @TalbotGoesPurple or contact us at talbotgoespurple@gmail.com.

Talbot Goes Purple is a component fund of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization – donations to which are tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.


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Jaramillo wins Oxford town commission seat

OXFORD — Jimmy Jaramillo has won a seat on the Oxford town commission.

Oxford held an election for one of its three commissioner seats on Tuesday.

Jaramillo won the race with 167 votes defeating Chris Kalinski and Freiderikos Franke.

Jaramillo said in an interview with The Star Democrat his main focus will be on maintaining Oxford’s community character and spirit. “We’re one big family,” Jaramillo said. He also said he will focus on bringing Oxford more grant money and funding from Annapolis and Washington D.C. for parks, infrastructure and other projects.

Kalinski received 96 votes in Tuesday’s election and Franke got 37 votes in the local election.

The election was for the commission seat currently held by Commissioner Gordon Graves.

The term for the seat ends June 30, 2023.

Jaramillo serves as vice chair of the Talbot County Republican Party and is chairman of the Mid-Shore Young Republicans. Jaramillo said he will be stepping down from the Central Committee post effective Oct. 1 to focus on his work for the town.

Jaramillo will officially take office Oct. 7. His first meeting on the town commission will be Oct. 13. He stressed his community ties throughout the campaign. “I have been a resident since 1997. I grew up here. We moved here from Philadelphia,” he said.

Oxford Town Clerk Cheryl Lewis said 50% of registered voters turned out for the election. She said the election was held outside the town building with social distancing measures and outdoor voting stations in place.