WYE MILLS — As President of Chesapeake College, Clifford Coppersmith is used to juggling a lot. When COVID-19 struck his community, things began to look dire. How do you shift from in-class learning to online learning in two weeks?
“Our faculty made the adjustment. In two weeks they pivoted on a dime to online teaching,” he said.
Coppersmith talked about the challenges facing the school.
“It’s been an exciting couple of years. Challenging times, but we have a solid budget. State and county has been flat funding,” he said. “In fact, we got a 2 percent increase from the county and the county commissioners, which we put into a modest salary increase.”
Coppersmith referred to 2019-2020 funding. The funding from Mid-Shore counties for the 2020-2021 school year was flat.
“We have actually saved money during COVID-19. We saved on utilities, travel and conferences,” Coppersmith added. “We anticipate next year will be a challenge.”
Coppersmith said school faculty is committed to ensuring students can continue their studies.
“We are anxious to keep students in the pipeline — nursing, paramedics and Certified Nursing Assistants,” he said.
He’s appreciative of the state’s response to COVID-19.
“We were excited about Maryland’s approach to COVID-19,” Coppersmith said. “It supported our tough decision to go off campus. It’s great to have a state that understands science and public health. We also had a science-based approach in coordination with public health departments. Queen Anne’s in particular.”
There are lots of challenges facing Chesapeake College. One big one is how to switch to online learning when not all students have internet access.
“We have connectivity issues, the long-term solution is broadband,” Coppersmith said, adding students were successful despite not having ideal technology. “We tried to pour it on over the summer. Some students had iPads, some had Chromebooks, but there were high marks for the students. They had the same passing rates (A,B,C,D) as the year before.”
The college has gone to extensive lengths to keep the virus off campus. There is a guard house that takes students’ temperatures upon entry. There is paper work students fill out to make sure they don’t have any symptoms. Anyone going on campus needs to print out a code to establish where they are going on campus. Masks and social distancing are expected. It is by appointment only for students on campus.
“We had one staff member who had the disease. She is OK now,” Coppersmith said. “My strategy is to keep COVID off campus.”
Another challenge facing the school is the money it takes to educate the community at a reasonable price. According to Chesapeake College literature it offers an education for 33 percent less than public universities. The average cost at Chesapeake College is $4,900 a year. Its operating budget for this fiscal year is $22 million.
“We are very good stewards of the resources we have been given. We have the same budget as 2015,” Coppersmith said. “The county gave us an increase. It is roughly 1/3, 1/3 and 1/3. The county gives us a third. Students’ tuition raises a third. And state funding rounds out the final third. We have canceled tuition increases to keep it affordable and competitive.”
“I would like to bring health medical technology to campus. They do blood work, urinalysis, and tissue exams,” he added.
Coppersmith said enrollment numbers continue to show the school’s strength.
“Enrollment is going great,” he said. “We have a 2,000 head count. A lot of dual-enrollment students, heavily loaded at high schools. If you can’t work or travel, you might as well keep going with your education.”
Aside from COVID-19, there are social dynamics playing out in our country. Chesapeake is a mirror of national trends.
“Black Lives Matter brings up issues of equity and access for minorities, veterans, LGBTQ. These are all communities that we want to serve,” Coppersmith said. “Education is the key to understanding the world we live in.”
Coppersmith and school faculty are continually working to ensure the Chesapeake can continue to meet the needs of students and the community.
“We are very deliberate to serve the people on campus,” he said. “We want health sciences back, skilled trades back, some level of general education to come back in October. The campus will be more vibrant in coming months.”
EASTON — After engaging in a nationwide search, attracting a significant number of top-level advertising and marketing leaders, APG Chesapeake announces William “Bill” Cotter as the new regional director of advertising.
“We are extremely fortunate to have recruited Bill to join our incredibly talented team of associates, as well as our valued advertising and marketing clients and partners across Maryland, the District of Columbia, Delaware and Virginia,” said APG Media of Chesapeake Regional President Jim Normandin. “He brings a vast amount of multi-dimensional knowledge of digital, social and print marketing experience to our talented team at APG Chesapeake.”
Cotter has excelled in executive level advertising and marketing leadership roles for the last 30 years in the Pittsburgh metro area. He currently leads Total Trib Media in Pittsburgh as director of advertising. Cotter earned his bachelor’s degree in communications at Clarion University of Pennsylvania and sits on the Pitt News Advisory Board at the University of Pittsburgh, among numerous other industry and community associations.
His move to the Eastern Shore will allow him to be closer to his brother, who lives in St. Michaels, and both his daughter and son who also live in neighboring cities to the APG Chesapeake footprint. He and his wife Jeanne Cotter are looking forward to moving to the Eastern Shore and becoming active throughout the Mid-Shore where they will reside.
In addition, APG Chesapeake announces the promotion of Betsy Griffin to Advertising Sales Director and Tyler Edwards to Digital and Marketing Sales Director, effective immediately.
For ten years, Griffin has excelled in key sales leadership roles throughout APG Chesapeake. She joined Chesapeake Publishing, now APG Chesapeake, as the Regional Sales Training Manager hailing from The News Virginian in Waynesboro, Virginia. Griffin earned her bachelor’s degree from Mary Baldwin College. She currently serves as chairwoman of the APG-wide Revenue Task Force Performance Committee, and serves on the APG-wide Executive Committee as well as the RTF Nationals Committee.
Griffin is a past president of the YMCA of the Chesapeake, a graduate of the Shore Leadership Program and a past board member of the Talbot Chamber of Commerce. She resides in Easton with her husband “Griff” and is the proud mother of August, an army medic in Colorado Springs, and Kate, a senior at Easton High School.
Edwards started at APG Chesapeake in 2014 as an IT and Digital Customer Care Specialist in the IT Department. After discovering a passion for digital marketing and advertising, he joined APG Chesapeake’s digital agency, NXC Media in 2017. Edwards’ success in spearheading the digital division led him to become the digital sales manager for APG Chesapeake earlier this year. His primary focus is the continual expansion and evolution of APG Chesapeake’s digital properties and platforms.
Growing up in Grasonville, Edwards has lived on the Eastern Shore of Maryland his entire life. He is inspired daily by his wife Diana, their son Samuel, and their daughter Rebecca.
EASTON — There are less than 70 days until Election Day, but Talbot County residents still have time to register to vote and request a mail-in ballot. Talbot County Election Board’s Election Director Jeri Cook wants voters to know their options for registering to vote and casting their ballot.
Marylanders can register to vote, update their address or check their registration online through Maryland’s State Board of Elections at elections.maryland.gov/. Cook said they can also call the Talbot County office at 410-770-8099.
“If they don’t have internet access, they can call our office to check their registration,” she said. “If they need to register to vote, we can mail them the application which they can return to our office by hand or mail back.”
Cook added once the voter registration application has been received by their office, voters should receive their voter registration cards in seven days.
According to the State Board of Elections, the close of voter registration is Tuesday, Oct. 13. Marylanders can also register in person during early voting and on Election Day at a polling place in the county they live in. To register in person, voters should bring proof of residency in the form of a MVA-issued license or ID card; or a paycheck, bank statement, utility bill, or other government document showing a name and address.
As election day nears, voters have different options to cast their ballot, mail-in voting, early voting, or voting in the general election. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is Tuesday, Oct. 20. Voters can request their ballot application online at the State Board of Elections website or by contacting the Talbot County Election Board. Cook said those who are interested in voting via mail-in ballot should act early to ensure they receive their ballot and are able to return it by the postmarked date.
“We are asking — because of the influx — as soon as they receive the ballot application in the mail to turn right around and get it back in the mail,” she said. “We don’t want to hold it up in any way, shape or form, because we get so many right at the end. We want to make sure that there’s plenty of time to get that ballot back to the voter, so that they have time to get that ballot back to us before the election.”
In addition to the traditional method of mailing ballots via the U.S. Postal Service, Maryland’s State Board of Elections is planning to distribute ballot boxes throughout the state — similar to the boxes that were distributed during the primary election.
On Wednesday, Aug. 19, the State Board of Elections voted to increase the number of ballot boxes that will be placed throughout the state. Local boards of elections will open ballot drop boxes soon after they are delivered. A schedule of drop box openings and drop box locations will be made available at a later date.
The board also voted to authorize local boards of elections to begin canvassing mail-in ballots no earlier than Thursday, Oct. 1. Results of canvassing will be embargoed until 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. The canvass is the official tally of votes for the election.
For voters who choose to vote in person, early voting begins Monday, Oct. 26, and goes through Monday, Nov. 2. Talbot County’s early voting center is located in the Bingo Hall at the Easton Fire House, 315 Leonard Rieck Drive (also known as 315 Aurora Park Drive), Easton, Maryland 21601. Early voting will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Pending State Board approval, voters can cast their ballot at any of the four polling places in Talbot County from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 3. The four approved polling places for Talbot County are:
Easton Fire House
315 Leonard Rieck Drive
AKA: 315 Aurora Park Drive
Easton, MD 21601
Easton High School
723 Mecklenburg Avenue
Easton, MD 21601
St. Michaels Middle-High School
200 Seymour Avenue
St. Michaels, MD 21663
Tilghman Fire House
5979 Tilghman Island Rd
Tilghman, MD 21671
Voters who have questions about their polling place can contact Talbot County’s Election Board or visit their website at talbotcountymd.gov/index.php?page=Election_Board.
Members of the Republican Central Committee of Talbot County (Talbot GOP) are committed to helping Talbot County residents cast their ballots in the upcoming election.
“What we want to do at the Central Committee — and I think this is true of almost everybody I talk to — is make sure the voters have full knowledge of what their options are,” said David Reel, chairman of the Talbot GOP. “We want to tell everybody, ‘Not voting is not an option.’ There’s just no reason not to vote. One of our core messages is ‘You need to vote in this election and every election.’ Elections are important.”
Reel said normal voter registration drives have been hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic, but Talbot GOP is looking at all options to help voters get registered and get to the polls. Those who are interested in volunteering or are looking for more information can visit their website at talbotgop.org.
On the other side of the aisle, members of the Talbot County Democratic Central Committee (Talbot Dems) are also committed to ensuring Talbot County residents can vote in the upcoming election.
“There’s never been a more important time to have a plan to vote, and that’s what we’re really focusing on,” said Patrick Firth, chairman of the Talbot Dems. “We’re doing a lot of voter education, not just ‘Are you registered to vote?’ but on the method, whether it’s vote by mail, or in-person early voting, or on Election Day.”
Firth said Talbot Dems is devoted to helping voters figure out a plan, from how they’ll be casting their ballots to how they’ll get to the polls if they choose to vote on Election Day. They’re inviting anyone who wants to volunteer for voter education to contact them through the website at talbotdems.org.
Another thing volunteers can do to help with the elections this year is volunteering with their local election boards. The State Board of Elections is still calling for additional election judges. A press release issued by the board reads, “The State Board of Elections also encouraged Marylanders to sign up to serve as election judges. Allegany County is looking for Democratic judges. Baltimore City and Baltimore, Montgomery, Prince Georges’, and Talbot Counties are looking for Republican judges. The majority of local boards report they can now staff all of their voting locations, but all counties still need substitute judges. To sign up to become an election judge, visit elections.maryland.gov.”