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Eastern Shore commemorates 9/11

EASTON — The Eastern Shore commemorated 9/11 on Friday and into the weekend. The Easton Volunteer Fire Department draped a large American flag on a ladder truck along Route 50 at the Easton Barrack of the Maryland State Police. Motorists honked their horns in support for Easton fire department’s commemoration. Some drivers took photos of the American flag and ladder truck.

On Friday, other flags were flown at half-staff to honor those lost on Sept. 11, 2001 per an order by President Donald Trump. There were 2,977 persons killed and more than 6,000 injured in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

“Today we remember the 3,000 Americans senselessly taken in an act of terror against our nation. This was attack on all we stand for — the liberties and institutions we have defended for centuries. The sacrifices made by so many on that day represent the very best of America, and today we again pledge to #neverforget,” said U.S. Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican representing the Eastern Shore, in a Facebook post.

“On this day, we fly our flags at half mast and remember those who passed away 19 years ago,” State Sen. Addie Eckardt, R-37-Mid-Shore said in a statement. “We honor all of those that lost their lives, not only in the attack, but also those who gave their lives to save another. We must never forget those lives and their bravery.”

A number of 9/11 events were canceled this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some local governments and organizations – including the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office and town of St. Michaels – did post Sept. 11 memorials on social media this week.

In Annapolis, Gov. Larry Hogan laid a wreath at the Maryland Fire-Rescue Services Memorial honoring those lost during the attacks. Hogan said 68 Marylanders lost their lives in the attacks. “I ask Marylanders to once again join us in praying for the victims of 9/11, for their families, and for the heroic first responders who didn’t hesitate to answer the call,” Hogan said in a statement on social media.

Reader responses 9/11

Reader responses 9/11

Readers around the Eastern Shore shared their memories of Sept. 11, 2001:

I remember the bewilderment of not comprehending what was happening. We all had no idea the impact of that day and all that followed would have on us personally and as a nation. - Jenny Griffin

I was in school. They instructed the teachers to stay calm and not alert us to what was happening. They sent us home early and when I got home we watched the news. - Kevin Bell

I remember being at home, my kids had already gotten on the bus and I was getting ready to leave for a class. The news was on about the first plane and as I watched, the second plane hit. I didn’t realize what was happening right then, it took a few minutes to understand and I just dropped into the chair, tears running down my face, and called my mom. - Judy Solverson

How blue the sky was — can still picture it in my mind — the beauty of nature was in sharp contrast to the horror that was unfolding. - Julie Steinbruck

I was running late for my 9 a.m. European Dictators class. I hadn’t checked my email that morning because I was running late. I got to class, found the room empty, the TV on, and saw the footage of the Towers. - Jennifer Mead

Deputy State Fire Marshal saves man's life with tourniquet

STEVENSVILLE — Brad Childress of Stevensville doesn’t think of himself as a hero and said he’s humbled by the fact people are calling him one.

Childress, a senior deputy state fire marshal, is being credited with saving a man’s life Thursday, Sept. 10, by rendering aid and applying an agency-issued tourniquet in a tree-cutting accident.

He had heard the sounds of a chainsaw being used when he arrived home. He was in his yard about to go off duty at 3 p.m. when the sounds of the chainsaw stopped and he heard a man screaming, “Help me.”

Childress, who is also a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician, jumped back into his vehicle and responded to the distress call. He found a 36-year-old man with a severed left hand and deep cut on his chest in the backyard of a neighbor’s house on the 400-block of Elm Street.

“I was pulling up as a neighbor was dialing 911,” Childress said.

He used a combat application tourniquet — one of several types of tourniquets he said he carries with him on his deputy state fire marshal’s vehicle — and applied pressure to stop the bleeding.

“It was a pretty traumatic injury,” Childress said. “When seconds count, you gotta act quickly.”

Childress used his portable radio to notify Queen Anne’s County Emergency Services as to the extent of the man’s injuries and also treated the man’s chest wound until paramedics from United Communities Volunteer Fire Department and county EMS arrived.

“I’m just glad I could help. He was bleeding pretty bad, so I put the tourniquet on. Then the ambulance got there and took over,” he said.

As a first responder, Childress said, “That’s what we do.”

All over the country everyday, first responders jump into action when emergencies happen, he said.

“God put me at the right place at the right time. I was outside in my yard or I wouldn’t have heard him,” Childress said. “I’m not looking for celebrity status. I was just happy to help him out.”

He said the collaborative efforts of everyone working together saved the man’s life, and he praised the swift response of the firefighters and paramedics. He called it “neighbors helping neighbors.”

Maryland State Police Medevac helicopters were grounded due to poor weather conditions Thursday afternoon, so United Communities VFD took the injured man by ambulance to Curtis National Hand Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore for treatment.

Childress said the man was a worker with either a tree cutting service or a landscaping business.

Paramedics credited Childress for providing life saving measures and mitigating the man’s injuries, the fire marshal’s office said in a news release.

“Childress’ professional demeanor and dedication to duty is a credit not only to himself but to all of the members of the Department of State Police,” said State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci in a statement. “His actions have demonstrated that he is truly an asset to this department and the entire community.”

Deputy state fire marshals and troopers are issued tourniquets and medical aid kits and are trained in the use of the life-saving devices.The Maryland State Police Education and Training Division offers training in CPR and the application of tourniquets on themselves and others for life threatening scenarios, the fire marshal’s office said.

The combat application tourniquet is one that he uses and trains with at the state police, Childress said. “We always keep them with us in our vehicles.”

The story became public when Childress called his boss that evening to request another tourniquet. His boss asked what happened to the other one, so Childress told him what had happened, and the fire marshal’s office issued a news release.

“It’s good to have training,” Childress said. “You just never know when you might need one (a tourniquet). You could be at a gas station; you could be at the mall. It’s a good tool to have to control bleeding. I’m just glad it all worked out.”

Childress was selected as the 2019 Deputy State Fire Marshal of the Year for the Upper Eastern Regional Office. He had to undergo open-heart surgery at Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C., in November 2019.

During his recovery at home, Childress suffered stomach complications that resulted in a major gastrointestinal bleed and was rushed to Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, where he received six units of blood and a unit of plasma. After recovering, he wanted to give back, so Childress and his wife began organizing regular blood drives at United Communities VFD, where he has been a volunteer for 17 years.

The heart surgery and g.i. bleed did not stop him.

“He was determined to recover and return to work as soon as possible. In fact, Deputy Childress returned to work four weeks earlier than anticipated with a stronger work ethic and passion for life. And, his actions today demonstrate that,” said Regional Commander and Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal Caryn McMahon on Thursday.

“People that serve do this type of stuff everyday,” Childress said. “God put me in the right spot. It feels good to help people. I’m somebody that just tries to do good in the world, that’s all.”

He added, “We’re very lucky to have the fire department and emergency personnel we have here. It’s a good system.”

Childress also is an instructor for fire investigation and arson awareness at the Maryland Fire Rescue Institute in Centreville and the local high school.

Both Childress and his wife Jenna are native Kent Islanders. She is a teacher in Talbot County. They have three elementary-age children: Hunter, Luke and Laney.

The Upper Eastern Regional Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal consists of Kent, Queen Anne’s, Caroline and Talbot counties.

Teen brains are wired for risk-taking

Teens are biologically wired to take risks, as the human brain develops and goes through great changes until the mid-20s.

During this time of adolescent brain growth, teens tend to take more risks, exhibit poor judgment and seek high-pleasure activities. Because of this, teens are at greater risk for substance use. In addition, the use of drugs during this time can permanently alter a brain – these defects can continue even after someone stops using a substance.

Along with the risks of using while a brain is still developing, the younger a person starts using drugs the more likely they are to develop a substance use disorder. In fact, research suggests that almost all, 90%, of people with a substance use disorder started using before the age of 18.

A teen/young adult’s brain lacks a fully developed prefrontal cortex, which is the part responsible for inhibiting risky behavior. This region isn’t fully developed until about the age of 25 – during this time, a brain is getting wired for behaviors and getting fine-tuned with experience. In the meantime, this developing brain is programmed to seek reward and pleasure, which can lead to drug use.

Generally, by the time they are seniors, almost 70% of high school students will have tried alcohol, half will have taken an illegal drug, nearly 40% will have smoked a cigarette, and more than 20% will have used a prescription drug for a nonmedical purpose, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Most teens do not develop a substance use disorder, but even experimentation is highly risky.

Parents and caregivers should communicate clearly that no use of e-cigs, tobacco, alcohol or other drugs is acceptable. In addition, parents also can try and provide safe, parent-supervised activities that provide the excitement a teen brain may crave. Outdoor activities like rock climbing can provide this fun, for example. Parents also should supervise teen interactions and activities and provide clear rules for peer interactions. The less time a teen has unsupervised and unstructured, the better.

Parents and caregivers also can set an example on how to deal with stress, difficult emotional situations and appropriate emotional responses. These opportunities for learning can help an adolescent develop and use those abilities as an adult. Since the developing brain is so adaptable, it poses opportunities along with its vulnerabilities. Essentially, this time period offers a chance to hard-wire positive stimuli.

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 Find us on Facebook @TalbotGoesPurple or contact us at

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.

Talbot County schools to reopen for some students

EASTON — Hundreds of students are set to return in small groups to classrooms across Talbot County’s eight schools starting Monday, Sept. 14 — a move in step with state and county health officials’ data-driven guidance on schooling amid the pandemic.

In a statement to The Star Democrat, Talbot County Public Schools said County Health Officer Dr. Fredia Wadley cleared the school system to proceed with its Monday reopening for special population groups, which include those with special needs, English Language Learners, homeless students and students who do not have internet access.

Roughly 200 students who meet those criteria will be among the first TCPS students to head into their respective school buildings for face-to-face instruction this academic year. The remaining students will continue learning online from a distance until at least October, when the district plans to enter the next phase of its reopening.

TCPS hosted its first day of classes this fall virtually last week on Sept. 8, which the school system reported 94% of students attended. About 275 students did not participate, according to Superintendent Dr. Kelly Griffith, who said internet connectivity issues were to blame.

Connectivity issues are also a challenge for other districts across the Eastern Shore, including Dorchester County Public Schools system, which has acquired and is deploying 700 internet hotspots to help areas that lack access.

To guide their gradual reopening, Talbot schools are relying on the advice of county health officials with whom Griffith is in contact daily reviewing local virus metrics as they pertain to the safety of students and staff, as well as the system’s plan to invite more children back for in-person education through the next several months.

Monday’s reopening development for TCPS comes on the heels of Gov. Larry Hogan’s and State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon’s urging students’ return to school buildings during an Aug. 27 press conference.

Hogan authorized every school district in Maryland to reopen for some in-person instruction, citing a new virus metric that tracks an area’s new case rate per 100,000 people. The governor said he wanted all districts to “try to get as many kids back into as many classrooms as we can in a safe way.”

TCPS was among 16 of the state’s 24 districts whose initial reopening plans offered some level of in-person learning for students this fall. The governor called it “unacceptable” that some jurisdictions wholly rejected inviting children back at any point during the 2020-2021 school year.

Talbot’s new case rate as of Thursday, Sept. 10, was 8.45 per 100,000, according to Maryland Department of Health data. The county’s case rate falls between the zero to 15 cases per 100,000 range set by MDH as a schools reopening benchmark.

School districts reporting fewer than or equal to 5 cases of the coronavirus per 100,000 people are clear to launch or expand in-person schooling, said Maryland Acting Deputy Secretary of Public Health Services Dr. Jinlene Chan during the Aug. 27 press conference with Hogan.

Jurisdictions reporting 15 or more cases per 100,000 people, Chan said, should limit face-to-face instruction. Those whose case rate lies in between, such as Talbot, qualify to launch hybrid or partially in-person schooling.

When asked whether TCPS was confident in its plan to reopen schools Monday, administrators responded in a joint statement that they would be relying on advice from Wadley to guide their decision-making. Future phases of the five-phase plan, they said, are amenable to change based on the COVID-19 pandemic’s status through the school year.

As for how the district plans to keep its schools open, TCPS pointed to strict adherence to safety protocols outlined in its reopening plan — such as health screenings and building-wide face coverings and social distancing mandates — as key to ensuring in-person attendees’ safety while the coronavirus threat lingers.

Talbot County has 508 COVID-19 cases and 8 deaths as of Sept. 12, according to the Maryland Department of Health. The state has 115,533 cases and 3,693 deaths as of Sept. 12.