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Local nonprofits to host new community day events in Easton

EASTON — Local nonprofits will host a second CommUNITY Day on Saturday, May 15, in Easton with arts and crafts, live music and other events.

A coalition of nonprofits hosted a similar event in November to promote their causes as well as downtown Easton.

The Waterfowl Chesapeake led the community events effort in November and is also at the helm for the May events which will feature more local organizations and events.

“All our organizations, some who participated in the fall and many that have joined us for spring, wanted to collaborate again,” said Margaret Enloe, executive director of Waterfowl Chesapeake. “We all wanted to come together to celebrate spring and support our community as it is today — rich in diversity, art, nature and culture.”

Enloe is leading planning efforts for the May community day. Events will include arts activities, free carriage rides, live music, historical tours and cultural events.Most of the activities will take place in Easton outside the YMCA, the Talbot County Free Library, Waterfowl Building and Academy Art Museum.

The events run 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Seventeen local nonprofits and community groups are taking part in the May 15 events. Those include the Avalon Foundation, Academy Art Museum, Building African American Minds, Critchlow Adkins Children’s Centers, Easton Arts District, Easton Economic Development Corp., For All Seasons, Historical Society of Talbot County, Imagination Library, Talbot County Free Library, Talbot County Women’s Club, Talbot Hospice Talbot, Interfaith Shelter, The ARC of the Central Chesapeake Region, Waterfowl Chesapeake, and YMCA of the Chesapeake.

Local nonprofits have been challenged the by the pandemic and its economic upheavals. The events look to promote the nonprofits and their causes as well as bring residents and visitors to outdoor venues in Easton. The event will abide by COVID social distancing and other rules, organizers said.

More information can be found at www.EastonEDC.com/Community-Day.

CommUNITY Day Events —

Here is a sample of some of the events planned for May 15 in Easton:

• Free carriage rides

• Children’s Story Walk & Book Giveaway

• Grab & Go Kids Activity Bags

• Hummingbird Craft Kit

• Live Music

• Tours of historic Easton

• Waterfowl-themed arts and activities

3 things

1 On this date in history, on April 30, 1945, as Soviet troops approached his Berlin bunker, Adolf Hitler took his own life along with that of his wife of one day, Eva Braun. In 1975, the Vietnam War ended as the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon fell to Communist forces. In 1973, President Richard Nixon announced the resignations of top aides H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, Attorney General Richard G. Kleindienst and White House counsel John Dean, who was actually fired. Famous birthdays: Singer Willie Nelson is 88. Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas is 60. Actor Johnny Galecki (pictured far left) is 46. Actor Kirsten Dunst is 39. (More history on A4)

2 A Delaware police officer has died of injuries he suffered after responding to a fight at a home early Sunday, authorities said. Delaware State Police said Delmar police corporal Keith Heacook was pronounced dead at a Baltimore hospital Wednesday afternoon. Authorities said Heacook, 54, was attacked by Randon D. Wilkerson, 30, of Salisbury. (Story on A2)

3 State and federal health agencies will use a Walmart parking lot on the Eastern Shore as part of a new pilot project aimed at increasing COVID testing and engagement with “underserved communities.” The Maryland Department of Health, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will host COVID testing sites in Walmart parking lots. (Story on A10)

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Talbot County schools will offer summer learning to close pandemic-induced education gaps

EASTON — Talbot County Public Schools is planning to supplement learning loss suffered by some students during the COVID-19 pandemic with summer learning opportunities at schools across the district this summer.

Dr. Helga Einhorn, assistant superintendent for instruction, said the summer school programs will focus on social and emotional skills and seek to close academic gaps that may have formed as a result of learning interruptions during the past year.

For elementary students, there will be an element of social and emotional learning, arts and other programs, while middle schoolers will be able to take math, coding, foreign language and music courses, and join book clubs.

High school students will be given the opportunity to recover needed credits, get career and technology training, and take enrichment courses.

The programs are being developed in response to student needs that the district has been working to identify amid a turbulent year that left classrooms across the county forced to close on-and-off for several months starting in March 2020.

While some students in the district did well learning remotely while schools were closed, many struggled with online schooling due to internet connectivity issues, family troubles, a lack of in-person social interaction and a host of other variables.

The full impact of those struggles and their solutions will undoubtedly take more than a summer to uncover in most cases, but the programs that will be offered by TCPS this summer seek to start the recovery process.

The programs will be free to participating families, and will be operated from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning on June 21 through Aug. 12 with transportation, breakfast and lunch provided for students.

Einhorn said the first six weeks of the eight-week programs will be dedicated to academics. The last two weeks likely will serve as time for students who are moving from elementary to middle school or middle to high school to get oriented to their new schools.

The district is focusing on providing students “authentic learning experiences ... that give them meaningful opportunities to practice the skills that are most essential for when they return in the fall,” Einhorn said, pointing out that some students have been in a distance learning model for an entire year and might benefit from a transitional in-person summer learning program.

The programming also will be flexible so that parents can choose the duration for which they want their child to participate.

In order to ensure that the programs are available to students who would benefit most from them, there will be a priority registration system that makes slot available to those students first and then to students who might need or want to only take advantage of some parts of the programs.

Superintendent Dr. Kelly Griffith called the programs “a great way to extend” learning for students. Griffith shied away from refering to the programs as a way for students to “catch up.”

“Quite frankly,” Griffith said, “I think a lot of our kids have learned a lot this year — a lot more than we ever expected to be honest with you. But I think [summer learning] is a way to close some of those gaps.”

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Residents object to new Bay Bridge span, some push for a no-build option

STEVENSVILLE — More than 20 Mid-Shore residents and local leaders showed up to object to the new Bay Bridge route proposed by the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) at a April 22 hearing held at the American Legion Hall, with many raising traffic congestion and air pollution concerns and one transportation expert calling for a complete pause on the study.

The hearing was one of two held by MDTA, the other being in Annapolis on April 21, before the public comment period on the agency’s draft environmental impact study (DEIS) closes on May 10. After the period closes, MDTA will release a final version of the DEIS late this year or next.

MDTA kept the Stevensville hearing open for two hours, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and residents took more than an hour to protest the state’s preferred choice to build a new Bay Bridge over to Kent Island, near the existing bridge spans. Many cited worries about future traffic congestion with the state predicting a 22% increase in traffic flow by 2040.

“On the weekends you’re like a slave to your house,” said Wanda Walters of Stevensville. “If we have an emergency here, there’s only one way in and one way out. There should be other places in Maryland that they could put other bridges.”

David Humphreys, a former executive director for the Annapolis Regional Transportation Management Association, said he’s an experienced engineer who has “been all over the world” studying traffic and transportation.

Humphreys singled out the DEIS as flawed, saying there was “no analysis” of U.S. Route 50 in it. He alleged that MDTA has avoided studying the highway system around the current William Preston Lane Memorial Jr. Bay Bridge, which has become overburdened with beach traffic headed to Ocean City.

“A corridor is not (just) a bridge,” he said. “We’ve left this (traffic) problem exist for way too long. There is no regional plan that addresses the future.”

Humphreys also suggested that the three routes MDTA picked for consideration — Corridor 7 to Kent Island, Corridor 8 to St. Michaels and Corridor 6 north of Centreville — are “in effect one corridor.”

“There should be another corridor for comparison, well distant from this one,” he said. “We have a very immediate problem right now. That problem is congestion Thursday, Friday, Saturday — which takes up almost six months of the year, by the way. Kent Island is basically brought to a standstill every Sunday. ... There are horrendous situations that have to be addressed now.”

The transportation engineer called on MDTA to pause the Bay Bridge study and take “immediate action” to “study and implement” intelligent transportation systems, or advanced application and operational systems that help coordinate better traffic flow.

“You could literally do away with with that congestion with the right kind of fully operational, fully interactive system,” he said.

Corridor 7 would take a decade to build, and could be an eight or 12 lane bridge or bridge tunnel that would cost nearly $9 billion to construct.

The state originally studied 14 corridors and explored the idea of a bus, rail transit, or ferry system. All of those options were considered incapable of diverting enough traffic flow from the existing bridge spans, which are projected to reach daily vehicle capacity by 2025 and expire by 2065.

Besides the three corridors, the state could also choose the no-build option. But MDTA has previously said a no-build would not solve the traffic congestion or deal with the expiring bridge spans.

Jack Broderick, of Chester, spoke on behalf of the Kent Island Heritage Society, which called for the no-build option because Corridor 7 has about 13 historic sites along its route.

“Why doesn’t the state put the emphasis on maintaining those bridges or replacing those bridges and not put a whole new bridge in?” he asked. “Doing that, we take out a huge swath of Sandy Point (State Park) and precious land over on the Kent Island side. It would jeopardize historic Stevensville on the National Register of Historic Places, the Stevensville Cemetery — and basically the economic corridor of Kent Island. It would gut Kent Island.”

Fred Koch, of Kent Island, said a “third crossing here is not the way to go” because residents have already “had to bear the brunt of the traffic year after year after year.”

“There doesn’t seem to be any ability of ... state police or even local police to facilitate the traffic when we have had the heavy, heavy traffic on weekends,” he said. “It’s certainly not going to get any better with a third crossing. There’s not enough infrastructure here for that.”

Koch also raised a newfound point.

“I think three bridges in parallel is a very inviting target for terrorists,” he said. “If these folks ever decide to blow up three bridges, I think your port of Baltimore will be shut down for God knows how long. It’s a strong security issue.”

Other residents continued to raise concerns with heavy traffic and air pollution.

“Things have gotten really to the point where if there’s any need for an ambulance or fire department the back streets and side streets are clogged and there are safety concerns,” said Timothy Kelly of Stevensville. “It’s not fair for the local citizens of Queen Anne’s County and Anne Arundel County to bear the burden of all this overdevelopment. It would make sense to have another crossing at a location where we have smart zoning to limit development.”

Ron Walters, of Stevensville, said the pollution has gotten so bad he “can see the effects of carbon monoxide from all the traffic — it’s all over the siding of my house.”

“I’m breathing that stuff everyday,” he said. “How much more of that am I going to have to take?”