Coastal Style Magazine en-US Mon, 01 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 FOSTERING HOPE Mon, 01 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 Jonathan Westman “She’s a beautiful soul,” Tina Hitchens said of her 8-year-old daughter, Jaydyn, as she watched her ride her bike down a side street outside of...]]> “She’s a beautiful soul,” Tina Hitchens said of her 8-year-old daughter, Jaydyn, as she watched her ride her bike down a side street outside of their Bishopville home. The Hitchens family has a story, and it reads like the all-American novel: Its main characters, Tina and Keith, are loving, hardworking, churchgoing parents who are raising their talented children, Nicholas, 10, and Jaydyn, in a rural, middle-class section of Worcester County. There’s even Bella, a 3-year-old rescue dog, who faithfully watches over them — Jaydyn especially. 

This idyllic setting takes place at the conclusion of their book — a happy ending that continues to play out each day. A turn of the pages in reverse, however, takes the family back in time to a scenario that could have changed the dynamic of their existence, and young Jaydyn’s life, forever.    

“I told Jayden her story just this morning,” Tina said. “Jaydyn knows she was in foster care and knows she was adopted, but she’s still too young to know the details of her circumstances.” 

Jaydyn’s story, unfortunately, is not an uncommon one locally. Her biological mother was just 17 when she had her, and both of Jaydyn’s biological parents were drug addicts. Officials with Maryland’s Department of Social Services immediately placed her in foster care.

Back then, Tina was working as a substitute teacher at local elementary schools and volunteering with Worcester Youth & Family Counseling Services (WYFCS) as a CASA — a Court Appointed Special Advocate. Her responsibilities included a monthly visit to the home of the foster child she was assigned by the judge or magistrate, an assessment of the child’s surroundings and wellbeing, and to report back to WYFCS. 

Jayden, even as an infant, had her own CASA, too, a woman named Lou Spock — a caring and dedicated volunteer with years of experience and training. About that same time, Keith and Tina were interested in adding another child to their family. Unable to have children of their own and without the resources to afford the substantial price of private adoption, as they had previously incurred with Nicholas, Tina contacted WYFCS about adopting a child in need of a good home. To be considered, she had to forgo being a CASA, and the couple had to become foster parents.

Five months later, beautiful baby Jaydyn was placed in their care. Tina and Keith had the daughter they always wanted, and Nicholas quickly became attached to his younger sister. Spock made regular visits to their home and consistently found the family and Jaydyn to be an ideal fit. But foster families with their hearts set on adoption are often leery of the potential for reunification with one or both of the child’s biological parents — which is the obligation of social services and the court, barring mitigating circumstances. After two years of raising Jaydyn, those fears became very real for the Hitchens family, as Jaydyn’s biological father wanted her back. He was even enrolled in a substance-abuse prevention program, and state officials ordered her returned to his custody following the completion of treatment.

“It was a situation we always knew in the back of our minds could take place,” Tina said. “That didn’t make it any easier. I was her mother; Keith was her father, and Nicholas was her big brother. We spent two years raising her.”

As the transition grew closer, now within a matter of weeks, Spock was still serving diligently as Jaydyn’s CASA, and she knew something wasn’t right. Through her investigation, Spock discovered that Jaydyn’s biological father was still using illegal drugs, despite the court order and the appearance of sobriety. Her subsequent court reports stated that being placed in his care was not in Jaydyn’s best interests. 

“Jaydyn’s CASA volunteer literally changed the direction of where her case was heading,” Tina said. “Her CASA saved her. Lou advocated for Jaydyn, and she literally saved her. 

“Social services is so inundated with cases, and their job is to reunite the child and the parents in the home. I get that. My job is to care,” Tina continued. “Judges are human; social-services employees are human; we all make mistakes. God stepped in, and here we are.” 

When Tina and Keith officially signed their adoption agreement to become Jaydyn’s parents, they included a clause that provided visitation rights (one week twice a year and one weekend a month) with one set of biological grandparents. They had always played an active role her in life and continue to do so to this day.  

“They were unable to care for her full-time and always said, ‘You’re her mom and dad, but we still want to be her grandparents.’ It’s an amazing relationship, and Nicholas is very close with them, too. It’s worked beautifully for all of us,” Tina said.

Today, Jaydyn is a thriving second-grade student at Showell Elementary who loves music and singing. Nicholas does, too, and the siblings play in the Mini Rockers band at the Academy of Musical Performance (AMP) in Salisbury under the direction Gino and Susan Bailey. And so begins the next chapter in the book of the Hitchens family.


“Imagine what it would be like to lose your parents, not because of something you did, but because they can’t — or won’t — take care of you,” said Worcester Youth & Family Counseling Services CASA program director Brigitte Southworth. “In an overburdened social-welfare system, abused and neglected children often slip through the cracks. Into these vulnerable children’s lives come dozens of strangers: police, foster parents, therapists, social workers, judges, lawyers and more. Hopefully, one of these strangers is a CASA volunteer, because they provide that one constant person that a child needs in order to thrive.”

Janet Balbo has been a CASA in Worcester County for 10 years. After retiring from the federal government in 2003, Janet relocated to the Shore, and while she was very active socially, something was missing in her life. She wanted to connect with her community and truly make a difference. Over the past decade, Janet has been actively involved as a CASA volunteer and achieved credits from educational training programs focused on alcohol-and-drug abuse and suicide. Her desire to help children is further fueled by her grandson’s addiction to drugs.

Janet’s most recent case lasted more than six years. She was the CASA for a young girl who was abused by her father and brother. Placed in foster care by social services, she recalled the unimaginable circumstances faced by a child so young in life.

“This poor child ran the gamut of issues,” Janet recalled. “She hoarded and hid food because she didn’t know when her next meal would come, and she had all sorts of behavioral problems. We had so many family interventions with her, and she spent time in two different treatment facilities — but I was there for her. Even late at night, if there was a problem, I did whatever I could to be there.”

Janet’s journeys with the child have covered thousands of miles across Maryland -— from Berlin to St. Vincent’s Villa Therapeutic Group Home in Timonium, Sheppard Pratt Health System in Baltimore and placement in an adoptive foster home in Anne Arundel County, which ultimately did not work out.

“This particular child has had several different foster parents, different therapists, different caseworkers with social services, but one CASA, in Janet, and that is so important,” Brigitte said. “The child knew that beyond all of the changes in her life, there was one element that was going to be a constant — and that was her CASA.”

The child, who turned 15 in May, was successfully adopted last December and is doing well in high school.

“I fully expect this child to continue her education at the next level,” Janet said. “It’s very gratifying to see where she is today. I have made an impact, and I truly believe that, but we’re a team. There are a number of people on our team who didn’t give up on her.”

More than 1,500 children are served by Maryland CASA each year — approximately 50 of them in Worcester County. Currently, there are 40 CASA volunteers, 35 of whom are assigned to active cases, so the need for additional support is real. Should the number of cases exceed the number of CASAs, the child is placed on a waiting list until a volunteer is available. 

“Our goal is simple: to speak up for every child’s right to a safe and permanent home,” Brigitte said. “CASAs passionately advocate for abused and neglected children who are caught up in the court-and-child-welfare maze because they are unable to live safely at home. We’ll do whatever we can to be there for them.”



On Friday, May 19, Worcester Youth & Family Counseling Services will host its 9th annual Pirate Party on the docks at Sunset Grille in West Ocean City, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Co-chaired by Joe Kendall of Kendall Furniture and Buddy Trala of Sunset Grille, the event will feature live music, a buffet-style dinner, happy-hour drink prices and gift auctions.

Local residents volunteer to serve as “pirates” and seek donations (a minimum of $500 each) from the community. A host of local businesses also sponsor the event, as well. Attendees are encouraged to come dressed in their best pirate garb and celebrate their efforts to “keeping children afloat.” 

“There are many great causes in Worcester County, but this is one that especially touches my heart,” said Kendall. “I’m asking the residents of our community, and beyond, to join us at this year’s party, to support Worcester Youth & Family Counseling Services and its CASA program. There are children in our very own backyards who need us, and we need to come together to help them.”

All proceeds benefit Worcester Youth & Family Counseling Services’ CASA and youth programs.

For additional information or to become a CASA volunteer or Pirate Party sponsor, call Brigitte Southworth, at 410-641-4598 or email her at


> 74d73f8963284b944e55bebadfb5d7a2 OUTWARD BOUND ]]>
BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY Mon, 01 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 Nick Brandi When Barry Ziehl was growing up in Bowie, Md., he looked forward to one day having a great wife, wonderful kids and nice middle-class life in...]]> When Barry Ziehl was growing up in Bowie, Md., he looked forward to one day having a great wife, wonderful kids and nice middle-class life in mid-Atlantic America. He got the wife and the kids, but his vocational calling was to the opposite of side the country, to the bright lights of LA and the glitter of Tinseltown, where he currently resides as the senior vice president, Public Affairs and Strategic Initiatives, for Warner Bros. Entertainment. CSM caught up with Ziehl recently, following a speech he gave to the students and selected guests at SU’s Perdue School of Business, to congratulate him on his high-profile job and find out just what makes this local boy from Bowie tick.

Coastal Style Magazine: You went to college at Salisbury University, correct?
Barry Ziehl: That’s correct. I got a BA in communications. When I addressed the students at the Perdue School of Business in March, I’d joked that the business school wouldn’t let me in, and I didn’t really know what else I wanted to do, so I did what any clever young student does who doesn’t know what he wants to do: I majored in communications.

CSM: What year did you graduate?
BZ: 1991… it feels so long ago.

CSM: Do you ever get back home for visits?
BZ: I get home at least once a year. It starts with a drive from the DC area, through Bowie and ending up in the Outer Banks, in North Carolina. It’s a family tradition that we’ve kept for 17 of the last 18 years. It was a promise I’d made to my mother after she’d learned that I’d be whisking her young grandchildren off to Los Angeles. Until recently, I hadn’t a chance to get back to Salisbury. One of my passions was, and is, surfing, so I’d always go through Salisbury and wind up in Ocean City, though I haven’t been back to Ocean City since ’99, when we moved
to California.

CSM: Do you still surf?
I do.

CSM: When was the last time you surfed?
Yesterday. I surf regularly. It’s much cheaper than therapy.

CSM: When you do swing through the area, is there anybody you see or rituals you have?
Well, when I was back recently, I drove down Route 50, where I’d gotten so many speeding tickets in years past, on the way to go surfing, took the 90 bridge and met one of my dearest friends, Danny Windon, who owns a bunch of Fractured Prunes. Then I went to one of my favorite places, on 48th Street, and walked up the little access road, over what’s not really much of a dune anymore, to look at the Atlantic. It brought back all those fond memories of surfing 48th Street and Eighth Street, Indian River Inlet and Assateague. We also stopped by K-Coast and had lunch on the bay at Fager’s, overlooking Assawoman Bay, which was amazing. 

CSM: Do you feel your upbringing in this part of the country has instilled traits or characteristics in you that influence the way you live your life and do your job in California?
Absolutely, but not just for the movie industry. It served me well when I worked in DC, for the U.S. Postal Service. I had a wonderful middle-class upbringing – appreciating hard work and everyone, whether they were blue-collar or white-collar. My dad was more of a blue-collar guy, whereas my mom was more white-collar, and that taught me to not make distinctions among people. It taught me to be appreciative and to not take anything for granted. I learned that even if you’re maybe not the smartest person in the room, you could be the hardest-working person in the room. My upbringing also taught me to never get too big for my britches and never to look down on anybody. 

CSM: What position had you held when you left?
I was a manager of marketing communications for the stamp program. Among other things, I launched portions of the U.S. Stamp Program — the legendary coaches, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, Alfred Hitchcock, the Bugs Bunny stamp, which ultimately created my connection with Warner Bros. I realize the U.S. Postal Service is much maligned, but the truth is, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my entire career. I use skills I acquired at the U.S. Postal Service every single day.

CSM: How did you make the leap to Hollywood?
It was literally being in the right place at the right time doing the right job in front of an executive at the studio who needed someone to do that job for them on their team. She was working with me on the Bugs Bunny stamp on the Warner Bros.’ side, and I was on the Postal Service side. She saw the work and invited me to entertain an opportunity as director of International Public Relations for Warner Bros. Consumer Products. 

CSM: Was the transition difficult?
Well, it’s not the cheapest place in the world to live. But we made a decision to get a place in the suburbs of Los Angeles, in Simi Valley, because it was the suburbs that had formed us as kids, so we wanted to have that kind of life again while we were raising our kids.

CSM: Sounds like it worked out well for everyone.
Oh, you just can’t beat this place – I don’t care where in the world you are. Sure, there is a price to pay: It’s expensive, and the traffic is crazy, but it’s really worth it.

CSM: Other than Finnegan’s Wake, your job description may just be the most difficult thing I’ve ever read. Would you like to try to take a stab at explaining it to us Earthlings?
[Laughs] The current job is definitely multifaceted. On the public-affairs side, it’s government relations; it’s philanthropy — how we as a company contribute to causes and support social issues and nonprofits; it’s sustainability — how we as a company are impacting the environment, whether it’s how our productions are produced, how our lot is run, how our employees recycle. It’s community relations — how we as a company treat your community when we are filming in your community. My team makes sure that when we are in your community that we are contributing in a meaningful way.
On the strategic initiatives side, it’s a number of things, including corporate marketing and cross-divisional activities. It’s a bit of a utility position. 

CSM: Where do you see the American movie industry in five or ten years, and do you think technology is going to be driving that evolution?
Oh, without question. Direct-to-consumer distribution of content is huge; the way consumers are consuming content these days is changing faster than ever. You have to be on all platforms all the time. At the end of the day, though, content is the root of entertainment; that has not changed. It’s just a matter of figuring out the distribution models and how they’re changing based on consumers. All of the entertainment companies are focused on delivering the entertainment that people want, when they want it and where they want it.

CSM: Your boss is very famous [Dee Dee Myers was the press secretary during the first two years of Clinton administration and was first female and second-youngest person to hold that position. She was also the inspiration of The West Wing character C.J. Cregg, played by Allison Janney].
She is just an amazing executive. It’s a privilege to work alongside Dee Dee. You don’t get a chance in your career very often to work for someone who is aspirational, and she certainly is that.

CSM: What’s coming down the pike for Warner Bros. that you’re excited about?
All of the TV shows based on the DC characters are amazing — Arrow, The Flash among them and Wonder Woman is coming out in June, which we’re all excited about, and Justice League later in the year. So it’s gonna be a big year!

CSM: Is there a crowning achievement of your career?
Over 26 years, it’s hard to pick one thing. But something recent that stands out is that I had the opportunity to be part of launching a brand-new franchise for the company called DC Superhero Girls, and it’s the first property or franchise of its kind created specifically for girls. As a father to a daughter, it’s wonderful to create something specifically for girls, especially in this age of female empowerment.

CSM: What’s your favorite thing about your job?
It’s the diversity of the things I work on. I do a little bit of everything. I feel very lucky to be in a job like this for a company like this. I pinch myself every day. I bleed Warner Bros. blue, and I’ll stay as long as they’ll have me.   


> caf3e7dfcab6997f7434c5ba58537843 IN PROFILE ]]>
CENTER OF ATTENTION Mon, 01 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 Jonathan Westman There are certain special waterfront properties on the Eastern Shore that are vastly different from their counterparts. These are the hidden gems, the...]]> There are certain special waterfront properties on the Eastern Shore that are vastly different from their counterparts. These are the hidden gems, the serene and surreal settings that provoke thoughts of being at a private, boutique resort or on a secluded island sanctuary.  

One such property is discreetly hidden in West Ocean City. With unobstructed, panoramic views of the Assawoman Bay, Ocean City skyline and vast stretches of undisturbed wetlands, it is the ideal getaway for the owners of the property. And when it was time to transform the property, to maximize its outdoor entertaining and relaxation potential, the owners and project designer Christopher Pattey of Becker Morgan knew Bryan LeCompte of Yard Designs was the only choice to spearhead the effort. 

“When we design a waterfront home, the views should always be the focal point,” said LeCompte, who has owned and operated Yard Designs for more than 30 years. “In this case, being surrounded by water made it easy, because it feels like you are on your own island. The homeowners were great clients to work with, and because they work in the construction industry, they had a mutual understanding of the design-and-build process.” 

The homeowners initially engaged Pattey in 2015, to design a backyard extravaganza that included patios, walkways, a dining area, an outdoor kitchen, barbecue area, grand fireplace, a large hot tub and water fountains with majestic statues.

“This is a special property, much like an estate, in that it has a formality to it with a rather large existing home,” Pattey said. “Our job was to marry their wish list within the criteria we were allowed to work with, because we were dealing with critical area setbacks and impervious surfaces.”

The approach to the home was underutilized and had a poor flow, which often resulted in bottlenecks, according to Pattey, who proposed an expanded oval drive court that would provide the necessary space for the continuous and smooth movement of traffic.

“When we started this project, we studied the architecture to determine what natural materials we would use,” LeCompte said. “Of course, our selections were timeless, and after considering the exterior finishes of the home, each material chosen complements the existing theme, in terms of color tones and features. This project allowed us to use the highest-quality products, to bring true luxury suited to their lifestyle.

“I enjoy building relationships with our clients and expressing our vision through our work,” LeCompte continued. “Many projects become challenging, in that the clients want to somehow experience the vision before its completion. It was just the opposite with these homeowners. They expressed their desires and then trusted us to transform that vision and provide them a setting that is perfectly suited for friends and family to enjoy one another and their surroundings.”

An impressively handsome fireplace is one of the backyard’s focal points. It serves as one of the main conversation areas during gatherings but also offers a quiet, romantic setting for the homeowners when they’re alone. Custom lanterns made in South Carolina specifically for the tops of the fireplace’s flanking pillars adorn each strategically.

The plan also called for a spacious 14-person custom spa — one so large that a custom cover had to be made. Two substantial yet aesthetic fountains, one in the front of the property and one in the back, were also a part of the design. Pool Tech of Salisbury was responsible for the creation of the project’s water features.

“Even though were working with the same application, this was an exciting departure from our traditional yet diverse swimming-pool creations,” said Jaime Toner, vice president of Pool Tech. “The homeowners knew what they liked, and we were able to turn their creative visions into a reality. Inspiration for the water features can be attributed to the stunning statues that seem to come to life from them. Everything else was organic in the design,” Toner said.

Made by the Randolph Rose Collection of Yonkers, NY, two breathtaking bronze statues, a marlin in the main driveway fountain and a team of sailfish in the back fountain, are substantial points of interest on the property, paying tribute to the homeowners’ passion for sport fishing.

“After attending the Philadelphia Flower Show, we met and worked with Jordan Rose. He was delightful to work with, and the statues celebrate our personalities and interests,” the homeowner said.

Robert Parker, Yard Designs’ lead electrician, outfitted the homeowners with the power to control the property’s substantial exterior lighting package with just the simple touches of a few buttons. At their desire, through a mobile device, the vibe of the property can change with different light colors, moods and effects — even the lights and hydraulics in the water features. “Automation is just as important outdoors today as it is indoors,” Pattey said.

“It really is impressive how the setting and mood change based upon the time of day,” the homeowner said. “The bar and grilling areas are fun during the day, and so, too, is the spa in the afternoon. At night, the property transforms for quaint and cozy outdoor living. It really is amazing.”

The tone of the property, both inside of the residence and out, is an upscale yet relaxed Tommy Bahama-style. A seamless transition is made from every room when stepping onto any one of the many decks and private balconies the home features. Furniture selection was key to unifying the theme, and the couple selected handsome — and substantial — Tommy Bahama furniture in the Black Sands and Island Lanai collections. The selections are aesthetically welcoming, incredibly fashionable and comfortable, and will withstand the occasionally unpredictable elements along the coast.

“My impression is that the space has an extremely welcoming feel to it, which is not only attributed to the layout but the lighting effects and the warmth of the fire features,” Pattey said. “It is so relaxing and enjoyable, it truly makes you want to stay awhile.”

“It is a stunning setting,” the homeowner said. “It reminds us of having our own little private Caribbean Sandals. We are very pleased.”





> a498a75cf0d2c0c58af7928f739e188a COVER STORY ]]>
FULL SPEED AHEAD Mon, 01 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 Brian Shane What propels boat salesman Bill Forenski’s philosophy on customer service and easy buying? It starts at the car dealership. That’s right: the car...]]> What propels boat salesman Bill Forenski’s philosophy on customer service and easy buying? It starts at the car dealership. That’s right: the car dealership. Why is that, you ask? Well, it’s because Forenski hates the process. For him, car shopping is a tedious, all-day event. 

As a hugely successful pontoon-boat retailer at WMF Watercraft in Millsboro, Forenski has found a better way. “I try to make it really easy to buy boats,” he says, “because I don’t like buying cars.”

Pontoon boats certainly navigated their way from the boxy party barges of decades past. You’re not stuck with dull aluminum or grandma-green carpet as options any longer. They’ve evolved for the 21st-century customer, from materials and upholstery to the motor and electronics. They handle more like real boats, and they’re just as fast or faster. While the average price of a pontoon is $30,000, some high-end models sold by WMF are priced between $150,000 and $180,000. 

Once your WMF boat arrives, “We’ll take you out, and we’ll show you how to do things,” Forenski said. “We’ll bring it to your dock; we’ll get it out on the water; we’ll show you everything.”

Today, Forenski and WMF Watercraft are honored annually as one of the Top-10 retailers of Avalon and Tahoe brand pontoon boats. But success didn’t come overnight. In fact, he didn’t even want to be a boat salesman — he fought it tooth and nail. For years before the business took off, Forenski was content being a Delmarva Power meter reader who happened to fix Jet Skis on the side.

“My parents had a beach house in Pot-Nets,” he recalled as a 14-year-old growing up in Wilmington, “and my dad bought these Jet Skis — and they broke. I said, ‘I want to fix them myself.’ I had no idea what I was doing. I blew up a lot of motors, but I learned. Then, people on the beach started coming to me and asking if I could fix their Jet Skis.”

This went on for years. As a young man, he would read meters all day, then come home and fix Jet Skis into the evening. He found himself making house calls in his little Ford Escort to fix Jet Skis. He started doing repairs from a marina, then out of a little shed on Route 1. The business grew. Finally, in 2004, he had a chance to buy property in Millsboro, to open a bona fide repair shop. He later bought another shop down the road, where he and a crew took on boat repairs.

Five years ago, Avalon and Tahoe pontoons came to him with an offer. They wanted him to start selling their boats. 

“I told them no!” Forenski says. “I was scared of the boats. I was scared of floor plans. I didn’t know pontoons, and I didn’t want to get involved in the business.”

The next year, though, he capitulated. Avalon let him dip his toes in the water, so to speak, and sent him five boats to sell. He sold them all in three weeks, “and I was hooked,” he recalled. “So I started ordering boats from them like crazy.”

“I was selling a lifestyle, families out there enjoying themselves. It was neat. It was no longer a broken Jet Skis. It was like selling a dream to somebody. I really enjoyed that,” he says.

Having stopped fixing Jet Skis altogether, he became No. 8 in sales by his second full year as a boat salesman. For 2015 and 2016, he was Avalon Tahoe’s No. 3 salesman in the country. Today, Forenski says WMF Watercraft has grown 500 percent over the last three years, with locations in Millsboro and Oak Orchard, and a staff of 10. They service every boat they sell, and when customers upgrade to a new boat, WMF sells your old boat on consignment.

Most weekends these days, you can find Forenski on the water with customers, over at Paradise Grill in Pot-Nets. He’s on his pontoon, hanging out on the sandbar or maybe giving rides on fancy demo boats from the manufacturer.

Most important to him, though, is that WMF Watercraft is a massively customer-based business. If there’s a problem, he handles it personally. And Forenski is proud to say that his customers buy boats from him, “not some sales guy.”

“The biggest part about selling a boat is taking care of the customer after you sell it,” he says. “That’s more important than anything else.”




> b0d538fd2286f8967aae1ebee5567bfc THE GREAT OUTDOORS ]]>
THE GOLD STANDARD Mon, 01 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 Nick Brandi What turns an organization into an institution? Or an edifice into a landmark? The answer? It’s the people. But not just any people. It’s people...]]> What turns an organization into an institution? Or an edifice into a landmark? The answer? It’s the people. But not just any people. It’s people with a mission — you might even say a calling. People who spend practically every waking moment contemplating how to do their jobs better, how to make a difference, how to leave a legacy. There are such people among us, those who inspire others to rise to the limits of their potential and to make the world a better place for their efforts. For more than 46 years, the faculty, staff and administration of Worcester Preparatory School in Berlin have been such people, and the community they serve is the better for it. This is true not only for the advanced, state-of-the-art educational techniques and resources they provide each pupil from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade but also by creating the environment of a real family, one that nurtures and supports all of its members equally. The result is a veritable pillar of the community that sees 100 percent of its graduates go on to attend a four-year college or university, including such elite institutions as Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Stanford, Northwestern, MIT, Duke and George Washington University.

A prime exponent of this unwavering philosophy is WPS’ retiring Head of Lower School, Celeste Bunting, who has tirelessly dedicated 44 years of her life to educating the minds and molding the characters of Delmarva’s youth. She began her career in 1973 as a first-grade teacher, a position she held for 27 years. sWith a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master’s of Education degree from Salisbury University, Celeste has dedicated every day of her exemplary career to making her students feel loved. Whether it was by standing outside every day, no matter the weather, and personally greeting her students and their parents with smiles and hugs, developing a top-flight science curriculum or creating the WPS Children’s Garden and Bird Sanctuary, Celeste has found a way to enhance the lives of literally thousands of future leaders of the community. A Fulbright Scholar, Celeste has been recognized with many national and regional awards, including Elementary Science Teacher of the Year by the Chemical Educators Association and Maryland Conservation Teacher of the Year, in addition to commendations from both Apple and Microsoft. Her Lower School Chess Club, which Celeste launched 12 years ago, has flourished over the years, with impressive tournament wins that run from Salisbury to the states of Maryland and Delaware.

“It is hard to capture in words the special legacy that Celeste is leaving behind,” declared WPS’ longtime headmaster, Dr. Barry Tull. “Over the years, she has helped to create a highly nurturing and joyful environment. Her commitment to making sure our students are well educated and well cared for has resulted in an exceptional academic program with talented and supportive faculty. Since day one, her wisdom, kindness and grace have been a blessing to the school community.”

With Celeste at the helm since 2000, WPS’ Lower School establishes a firm academic foundation that begins in pre-K and continues through Grade 5, emphasizing the development and nurturing of critical-thinking and study skills intended to last a lifetime. The Lower School classrooms are self-contained and provide the right amount of structure. Kindergarten students study the solar system and videoconference with NASA each year, while WPS’ accelerated math program has students working a year ahead, with mastery of multiplication tables by the end of second grade. Structured to be a deliberately challenging, yet stimulating, environment, Lower School students do science investigations at the earliest levels, as well as simple coding and robotics, emphasizing math, reading, writing and technology throughout. 

Such academic rigor may make the Lower School students excel, but it doesn’t make them well-rounded people. That’s why WPS emphasizes character building throughout the students’ academic careers. Students are taught both directly, and by example, to understand, care about and respect not only one another but also the environment and their community. They are also taught to give back and help those in need.  

This strong emphasis on academic excellence and citizenry continues into the Middle School, which sees all students groom themselves for higher education by taking comprehensive semester exams beginning in the sixth grade, in addition to three years of Latin. Once in the Upper School, students are exposed to a variety of college-prep courses, with a diverse selection of electives and honors courses. WPS also offers Advanced Placement in English literature, English language, American history, calculus AB, calculus BC, biology, chemistry and physics. Significantly, WPS is the only school on the Eastern Shore that has a chapter of the Cum Laude Society, which provides the equivalent of collegiate Phi Beta Kappa recognition to high school students. This doesn’t even include the diverse roster of clubs and sports programs that WPS offers, to further help their students self-actualize.



> e92ed1864bafe0c027a8b3a9b88db1f1 EDUCATION ]]>
A DISTINGUISHED HERITAGE Mon, 01 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 Nick Brandi One of the key indicators of a community’s success is the kind and quality of the people and businesses it attracts. As we all know, the Eastern...]]> One of the key indicators of a community’s success is the kind and quality of the people and businesses it attracts.

As we all know, the Eastern Shore has greeted the 21st century as an emerging hotspot in both respects. Not only does the Shore draw tourists and visitors year-round from all over the world, we enjoy thriving art and food scenes, constantly evolving state-of-the-art healthcare, robust residential and commercial development, and a rich roster of talented entrepreneurs and professionals who continue to set up shop here every year. Now, with the imminent arrival of Heritage Financial Consultants, LLC, to Worcester County, the Eastern Shore is attracting big players from the world of finance and wealth management, too.

One of the INC. 500/5000 fast-growing companies in America four years running, Heritage Financial Consultants is currently trusted to oversee approximately $3.5 billion in client-invested assets. It has not only been listed among the top investment advisory and financial planning companies in the Baltimore area by the Baltimore Business Journal, Heritage Financial Consultants has clients in all 50 states and serves as the financial planning company for not one but several Fortune 500 companies. Heritage Financial Partner John McCarthy III has the proud distinction of having been recognized as a Five Star Wealth Advisor in Baltimore Magazine   and was recently interviewed by Smart CEO for a recent book release about the best-run firms in the Baltimore-DC area. McCarthy grew up in Europe and came to the U.S. for college, ending up in Chestertown at Washington College, where he was first exposed to the Eastern Shore. He likes to give the lion’s share of credit for his firm’s success not only to what he refers to as his “outstandingly talented team of planners and advisors” but also to Heritage Financial’s relationship with his broker-dealer, Lincoln Financial Advisors, for which nine of Heritage’s advisors, including McCarthy, were named to its Top 200 Advisors list in the U.S. for 2016. McCarthy also has the honor of sitting on Lincoln Financial’s Investment Committee of the Resource Group, perhaps the most elite committee to belong to within Lincoln’s ranks.

“It is no small feat that Heritage is part of the Lincoln Financial Advisors family,” said McCarthy, referring to his firm’s sponsor organization. “It represents an imprimatur, a touchstone of trustworthiness, reliability and stability that is extremely difficult to achieve, given Lincoln’s very well-known and rigorous vetting process in selecting its member firms. The planners are privileged to be affiliated with LFA.”

Lincoln Financial Advisors (a subsidiary of what is now Lincoln National Corporation) has emerged as a titan of the financial world, with in excess of $228 billion in assets under management. Lincoln National Corporation, founded in 1905 with the full endorsement of none other than Robert Todd Lincoln himself, ranks currently as the world’s fourth-largest life insurer by revenue, no. 25 by assets on the Fortune 500 list and gets top-five, and higher, rankings in financial strength by A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s and Fitch. In other words, it is simply one of the most financially strong and stable companies in global history — and Heritage Financial is one in its galaxy of shining stars and the largest firm whose planners are affiliated with the company. 

For the sake of full disclosure, Heritage Financial is not completely new to the Eastern Shore. It opened a branch in Preston, MD, not too long ago but now has its eyes on Worcester County as the site of its newest location. Part of the thanks for that no doubt goes to Heritage Financial Consultants’ Financial Planner/Associate John “JD” Donaghy. An almost 50-year patron of the Shore, JD spent spring breaks and summers in Ocean City with his family throughout his childhood and up into his college years at Virginia’s Lynchburg College, from which he graduated with a BA in international relations.  In 2005, JD purchased a house in Ocean Pines, and his wife, Duka, and son, Ben, completed the picture in 2010.

As have so many others, JD and Duka fell in love with the Eastern Shore and have successfully entrenched themselves in their adopted community. Duka worked for Halloway and Marvel and Perdue’s Agri-business; Ben attended Most Blessed Sacrament in Berlin and played Little League baseball and soccer; JD played softball on the Greene Turtle and Blue Ox teams, and has sponsored many events and local organizations over the years, of which the Art League of Ocean City falls the closest to his heart. 

“At this point, Duka and I no longer consider the Eastern Shore our home away from home; it’s just our home,” said JD, who has been active with a variety of local civic organizations and currently sits on the board of the American Red Cross of the Lower Eastern Shore. “It’s our favorite place to be and the place that feels most natural to us, because it has such a real sense of community. What you see is what you get here. Everything is so transparent, and that is both refreshing and reassuring to us.”

The appreciation of transparency is a major reason that JD enjoys working at Heritage Financial so much, because transparency is a mantra there, according to both Donaghy and McCarthy. They say that their status as an independent financial-services firm under the aegis of Lincoln Financial gives them the autonomy and flexibility to be, as John put it, results-driven, rather than products-driven.

“We’re not beholden to push or move the products of any financial-services company,” emphasized JD. “We can create and develop any financial instruments, packages or portfolios we want, based on the understanding and articulated goals and priorities of each individual client. Servicing the needs of our clients is our absolute, top priority.”

“Now, any firm can say that, but we can prove it — and we do every day through our objectivity and planning,” added JD, who includes risk management and the esoteric financial considerations peculiar to agribusiness as specialties. “Our independent status is a particular advantage to clients in a highly regulated environment, as is the case currently. The result is that we can offer strategies and products to the residents of the Shore that will seem completely unique to them and fit specifically within their personal plan.”

“We like to think of ourselves as the quarterbacks of our clients’ professional team that they have assembled over time,” said John, who is soon to become a resident of GlenRiddle in Berlin. “We have the staff, expertise and overview to coordinate all the components that compose a family’s assets and finances. From the lawyers and CPAs to the insurance agents and bankers, our Client Relationship Managers, all of whom are Series 7, are outstandingly trained and qualified to be the point person to integrate on an administrative level with the whole team, leaving the planner to act as the quarterback on a strategic level, working toward the financial health and security of the client.

The ultimate goal, say McCarthy and Donaghy, is to create a one-stop shop for all things related to assets, finance and wealth management through detailed and comprehensive planning processes. And again, that means transparency, which is a driving force behind why Heritage Financial charges its clients on a fee basis on assets it oversees. This aligns them on the same side of the table with the client, further enhancing objectivity. It’s the kind of straightforward business philosophy that they say made Heritage what it is today and an extensive service model they have designed for their clients unique in their industry. Heritage Financial has an impeccable track record and $3.5 billion in client-invested assets to its credit; their business model not only serves their client roster best but also attests most elegantly to the confidence they have in the skill and integrity of their company.



> 39360dd175df25d2c5b43a257c5902d0 MONEY MATTERS ]]>
LITERARY LIONS Mon, 01 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 Nick Brandi When we at Coastal Style learned about Cat & Mouse Press’ Rehoboth Beach Reads series a few years back, we knew publisher Nancy Sakaduski was on...]]> When we at Coastal Style learned about Cat & Mouse Press’ Rehoboth Beach Reads series a few years back, we knew publisher Nancy Sakaduski was on to something good. Nancy knew that there was a pool of legit writing talent in the region and that residents of the Shore would be eager to explore what that pool had to say — very much the literary counterpart of the booming fine-art scene the Eastern Shore is so rightfully proud of. The editors of Coastal Style share these views, which is why we’ve supported Nancy’s good work whenever we could, as we, along with Nancy, feel it is part of our public-service mandate to the community to do what is within our power to promote the arts and creativity on the Shore, wherever it may dwell.

So we are naturally excited at the advent of the fourth book in Cat & Mouse Press’ Rehoboth Beach Reads series, Beach Nights, featuring 23 eclectic anthologies, culled from around the country, that range from mystery and romance to humor and historical fiction. As with previous Reads-series installments, the selections that appear in Beach Nights are a compilation of winning entries carefully selected by a panel of Shore-based literary judges, following a several-month-long competition, based on literary merit and themes that have some connection to the Rehoboth Beach area.

Beach Nights launches with “Good Vibrations,” a funny and romantic story involving a high-school prom, and continues through tales that involve a mermaid’s moon, a “Vampire Surf Club,” senior disco queens, a seemingly haunted Funland ride, murder at a Rehoboth hotel, a moonlit sea-turtle rescue and a kid who sneaks into a James Brown concert and meets the Godfather of Soul himself.

“The Rehoboth Beach Reads books are hugely popular,” says Susan Kehoe, manager of Browseabout Books, the contest’s sponsor. “Residents and visitors alike love the clever stories, high-quality writing and local settings. The books just fly off the shelves from the moment they are published and are among our top-selling books each year.”

For our part, we are not going to pick winners among the literary lot represented in this fourth series installment, as each of the writers is already a winner by virtue of their placement within it. Besides, when you’re talking about an anthology of well-written and assiduously selected texts by knowledgeable and discriminating judges, who is ultimately to say which are the best of them? It’s all a matter of personal preference at that point.

The deadline for manuscript submission for the fifth outing of the Rehoboth Beach Reads series is July 1. The fee to enter is $10, and each writer can submit up to three stories. Entries are judged on creativity, quality of writing, suitability as a beach read, and fit with the local theme. Contest information is posted on the Cat & Mouse Press website ( and on the contest Facebook page. 

> a7d3e465668fe1ee7463f11e2a13b542 BOOK SMART ]]>
THE DIVINE FEMININE Mon, 01 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 Robbie Tarpley Raffish Deborah Rolig is exhausted. “Sometimes I think I bit off more than I can chew,” said the organizer of the new interactive art exhibit The Divine...]]> Deborah Rolig is exhausted. “Sometimes I think I bit off more than I can chew,” said the organizer of the new interactive art exhibit The Divine Feminine, opening at the Art League of Ocean City this May. “But even if our vision sometimes exceeds our abilities, we have to reach for the stars, right?”

The Divine Feminine seeks to “empower women through artistic expression,” and Rolig is quick to point out that it is not a “typical art show, where you walk in, hit the food trough and wine bar, then stand in the middle of the room and criticize the art. It’s a very different experience.”

The month-long exhibit includes a number of interactive pieces, such as a 360-degree installation by Katie Armstrong that visitors walk through, experiencing animation, music, birdsong and Armstrong’s own singing. There’s a selfie corner with a throne, stocked with boas, tiaras and a frame with the title “I Am Divine,” so visitors can represent their inner goddesses, and an altar piece at which people can light a candle to the Divine Mother.

“We want people to come in and constantly be looking around and saying ‘What is that? What’s happening over there?’” said Rolig.

Quilter Maryellen Bradley has a piece in the show, as does Rolig’s sister, Diane Gray, who is showing an “assemblage” piece. Photographer Selina Mellot will debut a slide show of images from the recent Women’s March on Washington.

The exhibit also includes what Rolig calls a “neglected art in the gallery scene”: writing. The Divine Feminine — An Anthology has been curated by author Kathleen Martens, who pulled together a group of 27 female writers from Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach. It includes prose, poetry and short stories, and 100% of the profits from the sale of the book will benefit local women’s causes.

On opening night, May 5, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., even the food and drink will be part of the show. “I don’t want to give away too much, because it is part of the experience, but think pink!” said Rolig. That night includes a Women’s Marketplace, at which local artisans will exhibit and sell their jewelry and fine crafts. It will also be open May 6, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Another way for women to participate will be through a series of events to be held throughout May at the Art League. A “Sound Bath” workshop led by Chrissy Earhart of Zenna Wellness will feature the healing tones of Tibetan singing bowls. A Tuesday-night series will offer speakers such as clinical psychologist Dr. Judith Pearson, discussing how to “step into the embrace of the Divine.” Seminars led by Rolig and Gray will teach how to use art and writing to tap into empowerment. 

“This is really out-of-the-box, and the inspiration came from my being frustrated because there was no real venue here for us to show in,” said Rolig. “Nothing against plein-air painters and traditional artists, but people are fed a steady diet of it, and it’s time to update the diet and spark the imagination. It’s my duty as an artist for myself and others. We want to be accepted in the art community as valued artists… it’s time to give people a new approach and something to think about.”

Guests will even leave with a little gift: a hot-pink wristband imprinted with “Empower Women.” 

The exhibit is free through the month of May at the Art League of Ocean City. For more information, visit  

> f92702fe9349deccbeaeba4c0906dc68 ARTISTICALLY SPEAKING ]]>
"TOUGH" KID Mon, 01 May 2017 00:00:00 -0400 Robbie Tarpley Raffish It’s the fourth day of the International Home & Housewares Show (IHHS) in Chicago, and R.J. Batts of Salisbury figures he’s walked “a...]]> It’s the fourth day of the International Home & Housewares Show (IHHS) in Chicago, and R.J. Batts of Salisbury figures he’s walked “a million miles.” A four-day trade show is long for anyone, but it’s an endurance test for a 14-year-old — the youngest exhibitor ever in the show. Yet, he gamely welcomes two more visitors to his tiny booth in the “Inventor’s Corner,” to demonstrate his brainchild, the Tip Tough Finger Guard. 

Statistics say 1 in 14 professional chefs, line cooks and kitchen workers will visit the emergency room this year, each with a knife cut severe enough to warrant stitches — resulting in lost wages, lost product and workers’ compensation claims. Batts’ dad, Bob, currently a chef at the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel in Ocean City, cut himself several years ago — severely enough to be one of the above-referenced statistics. 

“I was 12 when my dad cut himself, and I got so upset,” said R.J. to the prospects. “No one should get hurt doing what they love. I became consumed with finding a way to protect his hand, so it couldn’t happen again.”

While playing around with a plastic container, R.J. had an inspiration. If he could encase a chef’s four fingers in a box, then tuck their thumb around the back, the knife would never reach the fingers. 

R.J.’s mom, Lori Batts — a former teacher and high-school principal who currently works for Wicomico County Public Schools, training guidance counselors — realized early that her son was a different type of learner. 

“He’s a doer, and he was hungry to get out to do this. He wanted to develop the idea, obtain a patent and bring it to market. Bob and I agreed that this was a tremendous opportunity, and we had to encourage it,” she said.

R.J. developed the design and had it rendered through 3D printing. Serendipitously, about the same time he had the plans in hand, he was accepted into the first class of the region’s Young Entrepreneur’s Academy (YEA!), sponsored by the Salisbury Area Chamber of Commerce. 

YEA! is a year-long program that provides professional mentors, speakers and field trips. It culminates in a serious “pitch presentation,” which puts the kids in front of business people, or “cohorts,” who may be willing to invest. Between 15 and 20 middle- and high-school students are accepted to each cohort, all of them serious about bringing a product or service to market. 

“We would not be here without YEA!,” said Lori. “YEA! mentors taught him how to write a business plan, market the product, raise money and obtain patents and trademarks. It was an amazing educational opportunity.”

R.J. named his company Picklehead, LLC. “It seemed fitting,” he said. “My dad used to call me that as a little kid, and I was doing this to protect him and other chefs.”

Back at the IHHS booth, R.J., with professional aplomb, explained to the guests (who, it turns out, are buyers for a major chain store) how the Tip Tough works. 

“See these baby carrots? They normally roll around and are a pain to cut. But the Tip Tough not only protects your fingers, these little prongs hold down the carrot so, it stays in place. Line it up, and you can get very thin cuts you could never get otherwise without cutting yourself. And,” he paused, smiling, “It’s totally dishwasher-safe.”

He stepped back and invited the reps to try it out. They asked if they could buy it now, and he told them they could get the hand-assembled stainless-steel version at He explained that the first manufacturing run of the stainless-steel Tip Tough Professional Chef would be available in June and that he is raising money to create the molds for the plastic “Home Chef” version, which he hopes to have in stores for this coming holiday season.

“I’m super-excited about the Tip Tough Home Chef because it comes in three sizes: medium and large for adults, and small, to protect kids’ hands. This means kids can learn to cook with less risk. Because what is it that keeps kids from cooking most?” he asked. “Knives. Everyone’s afraid of giving kids knives. Tip Tough makes it much easier and safer.”

R.J. won $15,000 at Salisbury University’s Shore Hatchery Competition last fall, taking second place in a pool of 30 adults. He’s received a $6,000 investment from TEDC, a Maryland-based innovation program, for the development of the stainless-steel molds. He was also just nominated for a Small Business Administration Rising Star Award.

At IHHS, he participated in a program called “Pitch to the Pros” — a group of industry professionals who come to give the inventors feedback on their products, Shark Tank-style. Nearly every one of the 15 judges he saw in the three rounds said R.J. “had something” and encouraged him to continue to push the envelope, refine the packaging and expand the reach of his social network. 

A longtime host on the Home Shopping Network visited R.J. at his booth after one of the sessions and told him “you’re TV” — meaning that he had the potential to reach the same heights as one of R.J.’s own idols, Scrub Daddy’s Aaron Krause. 

“That was so cool,” said R.J., who had the opportunity to speak with Krause — a source of inspiration to R.J since his Shark Tank debut. “I think I have watched every episode of that show, and I knew Scrub Daddy was going to be a hit. To meet Aaron and get some wisdom from him was amazing, and to hear I might be just like him one day, even better.”

Packing up the last day of the show, R.J. and Lori were tired but victorious. “This was so validating,” said Lori. “Several times during the show I thought I was going to cry, because each time someone in the industry praised him, I realized this was going to be a success. His dream is going to come true.”


> a27cd3108e2bcbc17e95b56fa96e6db9 IN PROFILE ]]>
THE REHOBOTH FOODIE: BREAKING CHEWS Wed, 01 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 The Rehoboth Foodie A Big Chill is coming to the southeast beach at the base of the Indian River Inlet Bridge! LaVida Hospitality and the DE State Parks are developing...]]> A Big Chill is coming to the southeast beach at the base of the Indian River Inlet Bridge! LaVida Hospitality and the DE State Parks are developing the Big Chill Beach Club restaurant and event venue right smack on the sand! 

OC’s Liquid Assets is expanding their reach into Delaware — specifically Fenwick Island, where the old Claddagh used to be. Now we don’t have to drive all the way to 94th St. 

Sad to report that the delightful Zen Saigon Vietnamese joint in Bethany is no more. We already miss Kenny’s amazing Pho. 

The spirits are active at Dogfish Head Distilling in Milton as they expand their lineup to include a brand-new whiskey.

Meals on Wheels Lewes-Rehoboth’s annual Top Chef of the Culinary Coast event is at Rehoboth Beach Country Club this year! Over 20 local chefs compete — and the proceeds help feed our homebound neighbors! Tickets on sale now at 

By the time you read this, Joe & Chris’ new Blue Hen restaurant will be open in the lobby of The Avenue Inn in Rehoboth. The boys are well known for their wildly popular Henlopen City Oyster House

Construction is underway for the new 240-seat Bluecoast Seafood Grill at Gateway Center in Rehoboth near the new Fresh Market. The perpetually long lines at Bethany’s Bluecoast suggest that this will be yet another slam-dunk for SoDel Concepts.

Bowl a game, play Laser Tag, drop a few quarters in great arcade games — and get some surprisingly good lunches, dinners and late-nite fare at the new Lefty’s Alley & Eats in Lewes. Y’gotta see this place to believe it. ‘Nuff said. 

Touch of Italy is expanding northward! The stately old First National Bank building in downtown Milford will soon host those amazing wood-fired pizzas and all the deli delights for which TOI is so well known. And they’re already clearing the land for TOI’s brand-new trattoria/salumeria/pasticceria in Christiana. These guys must be doing something right!

Keep an eye on for the latest news & reviews here on the Culinary Coast. And stay in-the-know with the Rehoboth In My Pocket travel app — everything you need to know about the Rehoboth Beach resort area. Available at The App Store & Google Play.


> 092a1b44ccad9c5fe26eeb4ffeca3d2e FLAVORS ]]>
FOODIE ON THE ROAD: Bon Appétit Restaurant Wed, 01 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 The Rehoboth Foodie One of the sections in the Rehoboth In My Pocket travel app (available for iPhone, iPad and Android, by the way) is titled Hidden Gems. And one of...]]> One of the sections in the Rehoboth In My Pocket travel app (available for iPhone, iPad and Android, by the way) is titled Hidden Gems. And one of those gems is none other than Bon Appétit restaurant, cleverly hidden in downtown Seaford. Few things surprise me after 10 years of doing what I do, but my visit to Bon Appétit was quite a surprise. After all, the delightfully quaint burg of Seaford isn’t the first place one would immediately expect to find such a well-run fine-dining French eatery. From the moment we arrived to the moment co-owner Karen Pedemonte handed us our coats, everything was perfectly executed.

Karen and her husband, Chino, met on the job at a restaurant in New York. They purchased Bon Appétit in 1991, and their tireless dedication, skill, patience and an uncanny focus on customer service has made this comfortable spot one of the go-to eateries in Sussex and Worcester Counties alike. Though the theme is decidedly French, Chef Chino blends German, Incan, Chinese, Japanese and Swiss influences into his cuisine. He works only with the assistance of his sous chef, and if he isn’t able to work, the restaurant closes down. A guarantee of consistency if there ever was one.

Karen’s bailiwick is front of house, and she’s all about the details. From the fresh flowers to the crisp napkins to keeping water glasses and bread baskets filled, she works seamlessly alongside her seasoned waitstaff. And wait ‘til you see the vintage French prints and pin-ups that gently decorate this understated bistro.

I knew things were going to be interesting when carved butter flowers arrived at the table. And it just got better from there. Bon Appétit features a prix fixe deal of five courses for only $45. These aren’t “tasting” portions or a few selected low-cost items: The package deal includes the specials du jour along with pretty much every full-portion item on the menu. Quite a bargain!

We started with artichoke crostini:  Artichoke hearts, perched on toasted French bread and enrobed in warm Parmesan cheese sauce. At the risk of gushing, they were simply amazing. Ditto for the poached mussels in white wine with shallots, garlic and cream followed. Bracingly spicy with a gentle creaminess. I will not gush. I will not gush. I will not...

The chicken empanadas appetizer reminded us that it’s not all francophilic there at 312 High Street in Seaford. But rather than the traditional fried version, Bon Appétit’s are encased in a light and flaky puff pastry. We thought we were finished — until the entrées arrived: a perfectly grilled-to-temperature Black Angus New York strip slathered with roasted garlic butter; veal scaloppini sautéed in lemon butter laced with capers, and crispy, slow-roasted duckling topped with warm cherries. All three were top notch and something I would expect in any big-city eatery. 

The Pedemontes have been operating Bon Appétit for over 25 years, and it’s no mystery that what they’re doing keeps guests coming back year after year. Needless to say, reservations are a must. It’s well worth the drive.

Bon Appétit

> 772a28fcf51d32543cedb5b8095aa5e8 FLAVORS ]]>
THE REVIEW: PIG & PUBLICAN, LEWES Wed, 01 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 The Rehoboth Foodie In the beginning there was the Pig & Fish Restaurant Company in downtown Rehoboth Beach. And, under the control of partners Doug & Lisa...]]> In the beginning there was the Pig & Fish Restaurant Company in downtown Rehoboth Beach. And, under the control of partners Doug & Lisa Frampton and Mike & Denise Stiglitz, it was good. So good, in fact, that they opened a second location called the Pickled Pig Pub. It was also good. Both restaurants offered well-prepared, upscale bistro grub — and lots of craft beers in a casual setting; Pig & Fish a bit more entrée-oriented, while Pickled Pig Pub excelled with overstuffed sandwiches, appetizers and happy-hour noshes at the bar. After a while, Chef Stigz and Ben Muse (his beer guru, aka Ben 1.0) decided to leave the beach behind and take their act northward to create what is now multiple locations of Two Stones Pub and their 2SP Brewery (home of the delicious Delco Lager).

Undeterred, the Framptons kept both restaurants running smoothly with the help of Corporate Chef Ian Mangin and yet another beer-lovin’ Ben (2.0 to be exact). Ben Cowell keeps the craft programs rotating at both locations.

You’d think that would be enough to keep these talented people busy, but it was not. A couple of months ago they opened the Pig & Publican, just east of the drawbridge in the Beacon Motel on Savannah Road in Lewes. (Remember the Beach Deli that used to be in there?) The Pig & Publican is similar in concept to the other two popular pigs but with a number of special international twists and turns.

Open at 11 for lunch and dinner year-round, the Pig & Publican has approximately 80 seats, as well as an outdoor patio that seats 20. Doug, Lisa, Ben, Ian and the crew offer casual yet surprisingly upscale offerings with a focus on Belgian recipes and craft beers. From the appetizers to the soups, sandwiches, salads and entrees, there’s always a polite nod to Belgian influences.

Opening night was a blast, with the able assistance of gatekeeper Lisa Frampton, GM Zach Rempfer, our enthusiastic server Kyle, bartender Eddie Pardocchi and the rest of the Pickled/Pig/Fish/Publican crew. So let’s take a look at the menu: One of the don’t-miss dishes on is the Bitterballen appetizer. These couldn’t be more different from Italian meatballs. Laced with crispy kale and a creamy demi, each one has a surprise cheese curd buried inside. They are generously portioned and can be easily shared.

The chicken and waffles entree with the fried egg gives an entirely new dimension to comfort food. It’s not breakfasty at all — it’s quite savory, in fact, with a dark gravy over crispy fried chicken (schnitzel, if you must) resting on a warm, slightly sweet waffle. Another tasty entree is the Machine Gun sandwich. A spiced Muerguez sausage is lovingly encased in a soft roll and topped with cheddar, sautéed onions and frites. A polite slather of mayo with harissa (a spicy blend of peppers) is the crowning touch. You will not be hungry for a while after you tackle this one.

Brussel sprout aficionados will love the little crispy orbs sprinkled with melted parmesan and basking in caramelized onion horseradish aioli. Of course, we had to pay homage to the Pickled Pig Pub by ordering the Poutine. Simple, to the point and filling: Sausage gravy overtop of warm fries and melty cheese curds. Viva Canada! Leave your diet at home for this one.

The dinner menu offers five varieties of mussels, paired with little gastronomic exclamation marks like ginger, bacon/gorgonzola, that Muerguez sausage, parmesan or bratwurst. The fries (call them “Beach Frites”) also come in eight varieties, in half or full orders. Nice touch.

Pig & Publican offers a huge selection of crafts in bottles and cans, including offerings from Allagash, Goose Island, Rodenbach, Ommegangs, Oskar Blues and even a couple of Trappist varieties. They have eight tap handles, and Ben 2.0 keeps the selections rotating seasonally. Get ready for the Captain’s Reserve Bottles. These include some brews you will not find elsewhere.


> 2b91103f7e252ca772fb2d1dc746f5df FLAVORS ]]>
NEW ADDITION Wed, 01 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Nick Brandi Charlie and Katrina Collier have a great home in Hebron that has been in Charlie’s family for about four decades. When the decision was made to have...]]> Charlie and Katrina Collier have a great home in Hebron that has been in Charlie’s family for about four decades. When the decision was made to have Charlie’s father come live with him and Katrina, certain modifications needed to be made to the 2,000 sq. ft. home. Fortunately, Katrina does decorating and staging professionally and knows all the players in the industry. So when it came time to set the wheels in motion for a major home improvement, she called Will Tyler of Tyler Building Company.

“I’m familiar with essentially all of the subcontractors in the area,” said Katrina, “and they all said pretty much the same thing: When it comes to quality, efficiency and reliability, Tyler Building is the one. In this industry, it’s the subcontractors who really know what’s what more than anybody else, so I value their opinionsthe highest, and they said to go withWill Tyler.”

The Colliers’ home has a rustic cabin-style motif, inside and out, so they wanted to extend that theme to the 800 sq. ft. addition the skillful Tyler was commissioned to make. The home boasts the ever-popular open floor plan, with exposed beams, tongue-and-groove ceiling and an enormous 20’x 36’ great room, with a second-floor balcony that overlooks the entire first-level interior space.

The 32’ x 26’ living space that Tyler Building created for Charlie’s dad sports many amenities, including an incredible 20’ vaulted ceiling with trusses, which were specially treated by Tyler’s craftsmen with a decorative application of faux wood to simulate rustic walnut. The result is an earthy and authentic-looking support structure that is both lighter and cheaper than installing actual 18” x 6” x 6” beams. To complete the look, Katrina — who, naturally, orchestrated the décor scheme — had all the trim treated with a complementary provincial stain over a variegated frisé in earth tones. 

The space includes a kitchen and washer-dryer setup, as well as a luxurious bathroom with amenities such as double vanity sinks with upscale fixtures, a frameless glass shower door and high-quality wood-simulated floor tile in grays and browns, sans grout lines, capturing the aesthetics of seamlessness. But what is arguably the star of the show is the sitting room, with its high banks of top-quality Andersen windows. With a 16’ bank in the front and a 6’ bank on the side, Charlie’s dad has the perfect perch for him and his guests to enjoy idyllic views of beautiful sunsets, migrating geese and the horse farm next door. 

“We are extremely pleased with the work Tyler Building Company did,” said Katrina of the roughly five-month job. “He used mostly his own on-staff team, which I respect, and they exceeded our expectations, which were pretty high. Now, Will Tyler has one more local subcontractor to sing his praises — me!”


> e6877f4ec48b872e586a493801ecaca7 RIGHT AT HOME ]]>
NO BOUNDARIES Wed, 01 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Nick Brandi In key ways, the porch, patio, fences, railings and decks, are to the final look of the house what that perfect tie is to that great suit. They are...]]> In key ways, the porch, patio, fences, railings and decks, are to the final look of the house what that perfect tie is to that great suit. They are the finishing touches, the cherry on the sundae, the capstones that bring everything else together for the look you always dreamed of when you’d first conceived the home you would create for your family.

Bob Douglas of Eastern Shore Porch & Patio knew this when he launched his business back in 1992. That’s why he assembled the most talented staff and uses only industry-leading materials in the crafting of state-of-the-art appurtenances that consistency enhance the form, function and enjoyment factor of every home his company works on.

Douglas launched Eastern Shore Porch & Patio from scratch, under the most modest of circumstances. “I started the business about 25 years ago, literally from my mother’s garage,” Douglas shared. “From the time I was a kid, I was always a go-getter. I guess you could say I only have one gear: full speed ahead. I’m really not big on idle time.”

Back then, he built his company’s momentum installing EZ Breeze porch enclosures all across the Eastern Shore, a service he continues to provide today. By the new millennium, he had expanded the operation to include fencing, essentially establishing his company as the regional go-to source for all things fencing both residentially and commercially.

These are not just any fences, though. All of Eastern Shore Porch & Patio’s fences — as well as it railings, pergolas, shower enclosures, trellises, landscape accents and other vinyl systems — are fabricated on-site in its 20,000 sq. ft. office/production complex in Selbyville, using 100% virgin vinyl guaranteed not to crack, fade or peel. The fences include aluminum reinforcement on the bottom rails (the same is true of its railings, which also include top-rail aluminum reinforcement), and, unlike big-box competitors, ESP&P doesn’t glue the pickets to the face of the rail or mount them to the posts. Instead, the pickets go through the rail and are routed into the posts, for far superior structural integrity and durability. Further, aluminum fences are powder coated to last even longer, while their wood fences are fabricated with western red cedar, to increase their lifespan while retaining a natural look and feel.

Meanwhile, the PVC and composite materials Eastern Shore Porch & Patio employs have taken the residential deck to a whole new level both structurally and aesthetically. ESP&P uses materials from Rhinodeck and Geodeck, with hidden fasteners to create a custom-crafted product that can endure the variable and sometimes severe weather conditions of the Eastern Shore. The same meticulous standards are also applied to every enclosure and screen room ESP&P does, seamlessly integrating them as though they were part of the original structure.

“Some folks underestimate the value of getting the fencing, railing and decks done right the first time,” Douglas said. “They opt for quick and cheap alternatives — and that usually doesn’t turn out well in the long run. They wind up either looking bad, not lasting or both. But these appurtenances matter, to the point that they wind up affecting the overall value of your home’s market value. It’s really not the area to go bargain-basement on.”

“We could not be happier with Eastern Shore Porch and Patio,” said customer Lynn Cattafi. “We needed privacy from our busy road, but we had grading that made the fencing a challenge, and I wanted it to look beautiful. They custom-made the gates to match the grading, and the quality is really top-notch. The price was significantly lower than Lowe’s or anyone else we priced. They were on time, true to quote and provided excellent customer service. We recommend them very highly.”

Big into the whole DIY thing? That’s what Eastern Shore Vinyl Products is for. The sister company of Eastern Shore Porch & Patio, Eastern Shore Vinyl Products is the wholesale/retail division that operates out of the same three-acre complex in Selbyville, where you can get completely custom fabrication and purchase all the materials you need. “Having everything together under one roof allows us to maintain two great companies while providing one great experience,” said Mike Phoebus, director of operations for ESVP.

Though Eastern Shore Porch & Patio continues their longstanding collaboration with such elite regional homebuilders as Schell Brothers, Ryan Homes and Lennar, Douglas emphasized that ESP&P views no job and no customer as too small. On the contrary, Douglas reports that their private residential work has been an especially robust growth market for the company in recent years. “That’s why I employ at least 35 people year-round,” said Douglas, “so that we’re prepared to handle any kind of job at any time.”


> 5b3ec98d68db157e1853461e4f6c477b RIGHT AT HOME ]]>
THE CENTER OF IT ALL Wed, 01 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Nick Brandi In the highly competitive world that is the home-improvement industry, lasting for nearly 55 years is a major milestone. Continuing to expand...]]> In the highly competitive world that is the home-improvement industry, lasting for nearly 55 years is a major milestone. Continuing to expand throughout that time, despite sometimes stagnant, even abysmal, economies is practically a miracle. But that’s exactly what Delaware’s Bath, Kitchen & Tile Center has done — even to today.

The three-generation family-owned company was launched back in 1963, with a single location on Lancaster Avenue in Wilmington. Three more locations have been added since then, culminating with the Bel Air facility, in 2015.

One reason for this success is that BKT is a full-service remodeler that also functions as a one-stop shop for its clients’ home-improvement needs, including turnkey remodeling for your kitchen, bathroom, home office, built-ins and more. You can get your cabinetry there, have your countertops fabricated there, find your tile and plumbing fixtures there, even your appliances. Their client base spans all segments of the community, from huge builders and general contractors to local subcontractors who operate out of a single pickup truck to the homeowners themselves — a market that BKT Retail Sales Manager Jodi McElwee says is on the rise.

Another reason for BKT’s enduring success is its people. By always remaining loyal to the vision, mission and business ethics of the family that created it more than a half-century earlier, BKT is today more than 100 employees strong. The team includes veteran estimators and installers, master craftsmen and certified designers, all unified in their single-minded determination to exceed even the most discriminating customer expectations. That’s why BKT has not only won several awards from the National Kitchen and Bath Association but has also made the prestigious Qualified Remodeler Top-500 list (#193) and been named a 2017 Best of Houzz winner for client satisfaction.

“For many people, home remodeling is an expensive, complicated and stressful experience,” said McElwee. “One of the foundations of our long-term success is that we have consistently earned the trust of our customers, who then share those experiences with their family, friends, acquaintances and coworkers, who in turn seek us out themselves, because they want the same experience for their own homes.”

Perhaps the most exciting news in the BKT world recently is the radical remodel of their Harbeson showroom, in the Lewes area. They opened the location some 15 years ago, to accommodate the onslaught of builders who had descended on the Eastern Shore to develop it into the national hotspot it is today. But, McElwee said, now is the time for the location to take the next step in the continuation of the impeccable reputation for service and products BKT established so long ago. This spring, BKT will splash six brand-new kitchen vignettes, a full-bathroom vignette, a home-office vignette and even a wet-bar vignette over 2,500 gleaming square feet, providing a more representative panorama of the options the company offers its clients. “We’re really looking to wow people with this new showroom,” McElwee said. “There’s going to be so much here for them to experience, which will not only display the options but will also kindle their imaginations, so they can more easily envision all the possibilities.”

One of the things BKT is especially eager to show off is its line of quartz surfaces from Cambria. Quartz is the hot thing in upscale countertops and other surfaces these days, and McElwee says BKT has the best selection in the region. 

“Make no mistake,” said McElwee, “quartz is not some bargain-basement alternative to marble, granite or Corian. This is, for many people, their replacement surface. We’re currently stocking some of the most beautiful quartz surfaces you can find in any home, and they’re all non-porous, non-staining and no maintenance. You simply install them, and you’re done forever. And they will always stay looking just as good as they did the very first day.”

BKT’s showroom features cabinetry by Yorktowne, Decora and Timberlake, as well as eight diverse styles of granite and quartz, a large selection of decorative hardware, several options for vanity tops and a tile-selection center. For those who don’t live here year-round but are sun and beach worshippers, BKT says it has your back, with beach-influenced concepts that epitomize why people flock to the Eastern Shore from all over the world.  

McElwee suggests staying tuned for the official announcement of the grand reopening of the showroom, which is scheduled to occur this spring.


> 020e472e26a5182d52d02f304fa6f06a RIGHT AT HOME ]]>
CUTTING-EDGE CREATIVITY Wed, 01 Mar 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Jonathan Westman Berlin native Jordan Pippin recently came across a photo that took him back in time to his first memory, at age 4, of his desire to work with his...]]> Berlin native Jordan Pippin recently came across a photo that took him back in time to his first memory, at age 4, of his desire to work with his hands. The image, taken by his mother, Karen, shows Jordan completely captivated by a project of his imagination, using metal and wood to make something special.

Today, 29 years later, it’s his customers who are captivated by his metal-and-wood creations made in his 2,400 sq. ft. studio in the heart of Berlin’s historic district, just four miles from where that photo was taken. Pippin’s Steel N Glory specializes in custom-made metal-and-wood furniture and promotional pieces for businesses, as well as home décor and custom fabrication. From business-brand signage and corporate conference tables to one-of-a-kind handrails accented with custom-milled red- wood-and-steel door faces that symbolize the homeowners’ love for the state of Maryland, Pippin has made it.

“I pride myself on being unique,” Jordan said. “Creating eclectic, rustic pieces that will stand the test of the time — that’s what inspires me.”

Pippin was introduced to welding through his purchase of a 1968 Triumph motorcycle. After he and a friend made some minor modifications to their bikes, Jordan fell in love with the trade. 

He purchased a welder and graduated to bodywork on a Toyota pickup. “I enjoyed it more and more, and realized it was something I wanted to do professionally,” Pippin said.

Jordan attended Keen Welding School in Wilmington, to hone his talents, then took a leap of faith when he transitioned his full-time work as a plumbing contractor to open Steel N Glory in 2016.

“The town has really embraced me,” said Pippin, whose various works are on display at Bruder Hill, Gilbert’s Provisions and Heart of Gold Kids in Berlin and Hair Repair in Ocean City, to name a few. Jordan is currently in discussions with the town of Berlin to create bike racks that would be used throughout its arts-and-entertainment district.

Pippin’s works are gaining him more than referrals; his efforts are being rewarded with acclaim, as he was recently named Artist of the Year by the Berlin Chamber of Commerce.  

“I’m very honored to receive this award, blown away to be honest,” Pippin said. “This town has some seriously talented artists. To be among them is honor enough, but to be recognized and receive the award is incredible.”

Steel N Glory can manufacturer just about any idea, thanks to Jordan’s acquisition of a large CNC plasma cutter. The machine, which is outfitted with scribe, engraving and routing attachments, allows Jordan to transfer his computer-generated designs through CAD-like software to the plasma cutter, which executes the plan with razor-sharp precision.

“We can literally make a customer’s vision into a reality,” Pippin said.

The Steel N Glory showroom, inside unit 3 at 305 Washington Street, features examples of different furniture pieces and artwork, as well as a host of metal and wood finishes.



> 130acfce056c0c61d169956b5d296ebf ARTISTICALLY SPEAKING ]]>
FIELD OF DREAMS Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Robbie Tarpley Raffish She may be the former Delaware first lady by the time this article is published, but Carla Markell is likely to be the first lady of Delaware Botanic...]]> She may be the former Delaware first lady by the time this article is published, but Carla Markell is likely to be the first lady of Delaware Botanic Gardens for far longer. She has been a major supporter of the DBG, donating her time as chair of the Advisory Council. Here, she answers a few questions about where her passion for gardens comes from and where she sees the DBG headed. 

When did your interest for gardens develop? 

It's hard to say where my passion for gardens came from, but I know as a child I spent a lot of time outside in nature. My parents were very knowledgeable about the names of certain flowers and bushes and trees, so we would talk a lot about them. One particular memory I have is staying in a home that had an orchid room. I took on the job of spraying them, to make sure I kept the humidity level in the room up to a certain level. I loved that job!

What has gardening taught you?

One lesson I have learned is that you just have to jump in and try to not worry about making it perfect. In gardening, as in life, there is no such thing. The beauty is in the process and results. I get a thrill out of putting seeds in the ground and seeing them flourish. I take great pleasure when spring comes around, and I get to choose which plants to place in my outdoor pots.  It doesn't take long before the greenery fills the patio and doorways, signaling summer is here.  

How do you describe your own relationship with gardening today? 

I don't personally know a lot about gardening, other than I know what I like when I see it, and I appreciate the talent of professionals and those who have a real knack for it. I'm more of a “hack” gardener. When our children were little, we put in a vegetable garden. I was fortunate to have a neighbor who knew a lot about gardens, so he helped me dig and organize it. The kids loved going outside to pick fresh lettuces, raspberries, blueberries and snow peas. It made all the work worthwhile to see them so excited to go out and pick in the morning when they got up. 

How did you come to your role at DBG, and what are your hopes for the project?

This project has been very exciting for me to be a part of, particularly because there is such a dynamic team of wonderful people who are deeply committed. I'm more of a champion and an advocate, as the board and the executive director, Sheryl Swed, are driven and determined to make great progress!


> 8bd271f3d6582df11bfa0aacc6cb8696 10 MINUTES WITH... ]]>
CARVING A LEGACY Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Brian Shane In a room filled with a century of decoys under glass, one in particular stands out: a family of ducks, including a drake, a hen with her wings...]]> In a room filled with a century of decoys under glass, one in particular stands out: a family of ducks, including a drake, a hen with her wings extended and their six adorable ducklings. 

What makes these decoys special is that they were never meant for the water but were crafted as a Christmas gift in 1920 from father to daughter. It’s a remarkable step in the evolution of duck decoys, from practical tools to today’s modern interpretations wildfowl carvings.

“The people making these tools were regular people, living their lives,” said Lora Bottinelli, executive director of the Ward Museum of Waterfowl Art, Salisbury University. “He used his skills as a decoy maker and made a sculpture — a decorative work of art. They help show, as we move through the museum, what happens next.”

You can see this mallard family by famed carver Ira Hudson on display at the Ward Museum. It’s just one of thousands of decoys among their permanent collection, as well as many more pieces on loan from collectors.

The Ward Museum offers a storyline to the visitor, telling them how the working decoy of the 19th century proved a crucial tool for early relationships between the land and the water. Over time, however, these simple wood decoys became increasingly elaborate. The collection follows those storylines to today’s modernist interpretations of duck carvings, thanks in part to robust international carving competitions sponsored by the Ward Foundation, itself an Eastern Shore institution that’s helped keep the craft alive for generations of carving families. 

Founded in 1968, the foundation would hold carving contests to see who could create the best tool. Over time, it evolved from a simple contest to judge working decoys to adding new competitions for the best artistic interpretation of wildfowl.  

“The tool starts getting fancier because it’s trying to impress people rather than do the job the tool was meant to do,” Bottinelli said. “In our competition format, there started to be a break between people who were still making the traditional tool and the people making it fancier.”

Held annually on the last weekend in April, the World Wildfowl Carving competition today brings hundreds of artists and photographers from around the world to Ocean City’s convention center.


The Brothers Ward

Born at the turn of the 20th century, Stephen and Lemuel Ward were, like their father, barbers by trade who took a keen interest in carving. Neither was formally trained in art. Yet, their innate skills, aptitude and execution for carving and painting decoys earned them a reputation for creating what came to be known as “counterfeit nature.” 

Lem and Steve spent their lives in Crisfield and produced an estimated 25,000 pieces in their five-decade career, from working decoys in the 1920s and ’30s, to highly decorative life-size pieces into the 1960s. Lem had a hand deformity on his left side, and it was one of the reasons his family pushed him toward the arts instead of working on the water, Bottinelli said. Working through this handicap, Lem often would have difficulty painting the underside of a decoy because he wasn’t able to hold it cleanly. 

As a result, many of Lem’s birds were unfinished on the undersides of their bills. For historians and collectors, this has become Lem Ward’s “tell,” or his giveaway for authentication purposes, according to Bottinelli.


The Eskimo Curlew

One of the oldest pieces in the museum’s collection arrived this summer, when a major collection was gifted to the museum by former Maryland legislator C.A. “Porter” Hopkins and his wife, Patricia. The Porter Hopkins collection, as it’s known, contains more than 900 pieces. While only a few were accepted into the museum’s permanent collection, the remainder will be sold off to benefit the museum’s acquisitions fund. The decoy of an Eskimo curlew dates to the 1830s. Constructed from canvas, it’s a crude, rough-hewn design with little detail, one that by comparison stands in stark contrast to future generations of intricately detailed and lifelike decoys. As a shorebird decoy, it was stuck in the sand on wooden legs, instead of floated like a duck.  

Another museum piece harks back to ancient times. It’s a reed-and-feather replica of a canvasback decoy (the original is in the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington) that was believed to be a ceremonial object. Bottinelli says it shows that civilized tribes at that point in history were able to create decoys for more than practical uses.


The Show Goose

Another of the museum’s signature pieces is a Canada goose carved by Lem and Steve Ward. The life-size goose is positioned like it would be on the water, its head slightly tilted, its detailed wings pushed back against its body. Because an image of this bird’s graceful head for years had been used as the museum's logo, Bottinelli said they call it their “show goose.” 

The Wards carved it in 1965 for Charlie Bounds, one of the founders of the Ward Foundation. Bounds later gifted this bird to the museum’s permanent collection, and eventually it took on iconic status as the symbol for the foundation and the museum. 


Decoys For Dollars

The concept of the decoy as a collector’s item isn’t new. In fact, there’s one decoy in the collection that “kind of gives you a sense of who they are and why they’re important,” Bottinelli said.

In 1952, Lem Ward carved a Mallard drake decoy for his family physician, Dr. Amarosa, as payment for wife Thelma’s gall bladder surgery. Over the years, the Wards would create many decoys and carvings and then use them as barter payment for Dr. Amarosa’s medical services. The good doctor eventually amassed quite a collection and ultimately made a gift of it to the museum.


A World of Realism

The museum’s showcase gallery is anchored by several pieces created by the Pennsylvania carver Larry Barth. “His work is just exemplary,” Bottinelli said. “It’s realism, but there’s a way he’s able to construct his pieces that is extremely artful, but true to nature.”

One such masterwork is a snowy owl, peering back while perched on a log, a culled seagull in its clutch. It was the 1985 winner for Best In World among Decorative Life-Size Wildfowl. “You can see some of these lines he’s able to carry, how the snowy owl is true to its species but also a perfectly artful rendition of this scene,” Bottinelli said.


A New Sensation

More breaks were to come in the carving community, as the artistic branch once again split into an interpretive division of explorative carvings, ones not based in realism but better-suited for a sculpture gallery. The latest push into the interpretive division is a duck carving worthy of Picasso. Starting from the head and traditional sky-blue beak of a ruddy duck, the body explodes into blocks, patterns, and crystalline design elements. The cubist carving by Daniel Montano was the 2016 winner for Best In World Interpretive Wood Sculpture. 

“I didn’t think the World Championship was ready for this,” Bottinelli said. “This guy completely went out of the box, but there’s no boundary in the interpretive division.”


Youth Movement

The future of the carving community will come from today’s young carvers and artists, and that’s why the museum will soon open a gallery exclusively for emerging artists. The anchor of the youth gallery will be a 2014 carving of a Marvellous Spatuletail hummingbird, perched on an orchid, by Louisiana carver Matthew Birdsall. The 17-year-old won best in show for the youth category, and as a result, the museum would display his carving for a year, then return it. But rather than give it back, the museum instead decided to raise funds and acquire the piece for the permanent collection. 

“It was so impressive,” Bottinelli said. “There's nothing in the museum’s collection that shows the highest level of achievement for young working artists, so we can always have something to exhibit that's a signature piece by a young artist.”


The Director Extraordinaire 

Lora Bottinelli is entering her 15th year with the Ward Museum, the last decade as executive director. She came aboard in 2002 as curator.

“I was their first paid curator, so that was substantial,” she said. “We had just affiliated with Salisbury University in 2000. We were still working out how that relationship would work. When I came onboard, the real integration was starting to happen, coordinating with all the
campus agencies.”

Bottinelli was hired to launch the museum’s folklife program, called Lower Shore Traditions, which does all the research and documentation on the history and customs of the Eastern Shore. Her ethnographic research took her to all corners of the Peninsula.

Bottinelli’s educational background is in American studies with a focus on folk arts. Her experience there set her on a path that led to Ward. She guided the museum in her first two years to several national initiatives, including bringing a maritime exhibit on Crisfield to the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2004.
That exposure earned the museum national visibility and opportunities. 


A Center of Wonder

The Ward Foundation established its brick-and-mortar museum in 1976 and in 1991 moved into its current facility off Beaglin Park Drive in Salisbury. Today, they’re growing into the future with a 2,200 sq. ft., $1.6 million expansion of the facility, including increased classroom space for school field trips. Construction is more than 90 percent complete. A grand opening will be scheduled for sometime in early 2017.

Formally it will be known as the John A. Luetkemeyer Sr. and Thomas F. Mullan Jr. Legacy Center. Two chief donors, who gave a combined gift of $400,000, asked that the new facility be named for each of their late fathers. The museum also was the recipient of a $300,000 state grant for the project, as well as generous funding from the Richard A. Henson Foundation.

In addition to needing the new facility, the museum had been in need of major renovations for years. With a $2.2 million goal, its most recent capital campaign includes not only the Legacy Center but renovations to two other classrooms and gallery renovations, as well as upgrades to the lobby, gift shop and grounds.

Salisbury University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach said the Ward Museum has much to offer the community.

“The Legacy Center and other improvements will position the museum to support and serve our area with a new level of excellence for years to come,” she said. “It is an exciting time for the museum and the university. We look forward to the…incredible positive impact it will have on our community.”


> 89b00da4f0c07201edb92ee822f3025c HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ]]>
GARDENS OF INSPIRATION Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Robbie Tarpley Raffish The first clue something big was happening was the wait to park, as this is not usually an issue in the more rural areas of Sussex County. Yet on a...]]> The first clue something big was happening was the wait to park, as this is not usually an issue in the more rural areas of Sussex County. Yet on a crisp, clear morning in early December, the line stretched hundreds of yards out from what had been a nondescript soybean field to Piney Neck Road, where the entrance of the new Delaware Botanic Gardens (DBG) is marked by a construction sign.

Nearly 200 people came out for the formal groundbreaking ceremony of the DBG. Most felt a personal connection — donor and fundraiser, board member and neighbor, volunteer and benefactor. Located on a 37.5-acre piece of land fronting 1,000 feet of Pepper Creek, the project will put, as one speaker said, “Dagsboro on the map,” with a world-class botanical garden that will grow not only plants but tourism and pride.

Central to the event were the participation of former Delaware First Lady Carla Markell — who, it is hoped, as State Senator Gerald Hocker remarked, will remain “first lady of the Garden” — and former Governor Jack Markell, both of whom have been major supporters of the project. 

“I’ll never forget our first meeting,” Gov. Markell recalled when he learned of the DBG through project leaders. “You had a very compelling vision,” he told them, “and I did not fully appreciate how persistent you would be! I think a lot of people in the beginning said it was not going to be an easy challenge…to meet, and the fact that [you] exceeded the goal, many months in advance, is pretty commendable.” 

Markell was referring to the $1.3 million the organization has raised, including a $750,000 grant with a $500,000 match requirement from Longwood Foundation. Foundation president Thère du Pont said the foundation was “pleased to be able to provide a grant that not only provided startup funds” but, through the matching grant, allowed the organization to raise even more. 

The DBG has a long-term lease on the property, 297 years, from the Sussex County Land Trust, at the very affordable rate of $1 per year. Speaking at the event, Dennis Forney, chair of the Sussex County Land Trust, noted that the location is in the “sweet spot” of the county and the Delmarva Peninsula. 

Obtaining the land was just the start. The project, which has a 10-year horizon, will take a great deal of work, but the effort will be worth it, according to Delaware House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf. “Tourism is in our lifeblood, and we in Sussex County will continue to work together in a bipartisan way to make sure things get done.” Schwarzkopf also noted that every member of the Sussex County delegation contributed to the project, in a gesture of solidarity. 

Phase One of the gardens is expected to open in 2019 with leadership from some major names in the world of botanic gardens. The “Meadow” is being designed by Piet Oudolf, considered one of the finest designers of naturalistic meadows in the world. His designs may be found in the High Line and Battery Park Gardens in NYC, the rooftop Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Millennium Park, and across Europe. 

The environmentally acclaimed architecture firm Lake/Flato (designers of the Naples Botanical Gardens and the historic Porto San Fernando park in San Antonio, among other projects) have signed on to design the Visitor Center. Rodney Robinson, FSLSA, renowned Delaware landscape architect and founder of Robinson Anderson Summers, Inc., is also on board. His firm, which has tremendous experience in historic and botanical parks, served as the principal designer responsible for the complete renovation of exhibits and collections at the Conservatory of the U.S. Botanical Gardens. 

Supporters George Robbins and his husband, Ron Bass of Rehoboth Beach, attended the event with high hopes for the facility. “Very few public gardens get to start from scratch,” said Robbins. “This will be Southern Delaware’s from the get-go.” 

Readying the “shovel line” — the ceremonial moment when key members of the project turn over the first shovels of dirt for the project — DBG Executive Director Sheryl Swed and board president Susan Ryan were both visibly moved by the moment. So was board VP Ray Sander, who said, “This project is a marathon, and there’s been some appropriate baton passing,” drawing attention to the contributions of past board members. 

Leading a tour of the property after the ceremonies, board member Janet Point highlighted the many features currently in development — such as the testing of native plantings and the creation of giant twig and branch “nests” on the property — and of things to come, including a visitors’ center, pond and amphitheater. When complete, the DBG will include different “environments” such as a 25-acre uplands plateau (which will include Oudolf’s meadow and a freshwater pond), the tidal wetlands of Pepper Creek and a 12.5-acre woodland with freshwater wetlands and a meandering walking trail.

Looking around near the close of the event, Point reflected the feelings of many in attendance that day, saying, “This is really going to be so cool, don’t you think? It’s the start of something wonderful.”


> 58a3d069ae47c8e9852237f7bef22928 THE GREAT OUTDOORS ]]>
CARE & COMPASSION Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Jonathan Westman As it has been for many decades, cancer continues to be the second-leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 590,000...]]> As it has been for many decades, cancer continues to be the second-leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for more than 590,000 deaths in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Maryland and Delaware, the incidences of cancer are actually higher than the national average. Even more concerning, the mortality rate for Worcester County and Somerset County residents diagnosed with cancer is nearly 10% higher than the Maryland statewide rate, and more than 750 new cancer cases are diagnosed in Worcester, Somerset and southeast Sussex Counties every year. 

One such diagnosis was given to Jim Taylor of Ocean Pines. Taylor is an accomplished man: He defended our country while in U.S. Navy; battled blazes as a Washington, D.C., firefighter; and helped families find their ideal homes as a Realtor and real-estate developer. He also raised five successful children and is grandfather to seven thriving youngsters.

But when this Montgomery County native was diagnosed with a bevy of cancerous tumors last February, it never crossed his mind to leave the Shore to seek treatment at the major healthcare facilities in either D.C. or Baltimore. Taylor has lived in Worcester County for the past 19 years and considers this his home — and he sought treatment from the cancer experts at his hometown hospital, Atlantic General.

“People will say that because we live on the Eastern Shore, we don’t receive the best care, but that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Taylor said. “I am totally impressed with the care I have received from Dr. [Rabinda] Paul and his staff. 

“I had confidence in AGH from the very beginning,” Taylor continued. “They had my protocol spelled out, and they have been very communicative about my situation. Going elsewhere for treatment was not an option for me.”

Taylor, a lifelong outdoorsman, said his cancer could have resulted from a combination of factors, including cigarette smoking from years ago, inhalation of smoke and chemicals while fighting fires, sun exposure, recent incidences of melanoma, and more. Regardless of the cause or causes, he’s in for the fight of his life.

“Following a PET scan [at 21st Century Oncology], it was determined that cancer was affecting my neck, chest, abdomen, ribs, pubic bones, femur, scapula, sacrum, spine and pelvis. I think they left my ears out,” the 83-year-old Taylor said with his trademark charm. “Needless to say, that wasn’t good news.”

Taylor, who was given an initial prognosis of 12 to 18 months, receives infusions of immunotherapy and monthly injections for his bone cancer at the Regional Cancer Care Center, inside the James G. Barrett Medical Office Building on the AGH campus in Berlin. At press time, Taylor had undergone two rounds of radiation.

In his stressful and frightening situation, Taylor, who is also a man of faith, has been impressed with the open lines of communication among doctors, nurses and the patient.

“Everyone is very personable and extremely knowledgeable and responsive. I cannot speak highly enough of the entire team there,” Taylor said. “I told them, and they agreed, that I am going to have a hand in the way we go, treatment-wise. I want quality of life, and if the medications are adversely affecting that quality over a certain length of time, then we’re going to moderate them or do something different.

“I also have an after-care nurse who visits my home,” Taylor added. “If she has any questions about my treatments or medications, she makes one phone call, and she has her answers immediately.”

To express his gratitude, Taylor frequently brings the nursing staff cookies and candies and even writes personal sentiments on small sticky notes — all of which have been posted by the staff on the center’s refrigerator.

“When you have a serious illness, it’s comforting to know you are getting quality care with a little TLC, too. I want them to know how much they’re appreciated.” 

Taylor recently received positive news regarding his lastest round of treatments.

“I had a second PET scan, and the doctors said I had shown marked improvement,” Taylor said. “I am not naive enough to think I’m cured, but I do think that the cancer could be arrested. Now, we’ll see from here.”

Taylor had additional appointments with 21st Century Oncology and Dr. Paul scheduled for late December (after our to-press date) to determine his status.


For years, AGH’s Regional Cancer Care Center has been providing treatment to community residents afflicted with various types of the disease. In direct response to the urgent need to continue to this mission, a new, state-of-the-art facility, named the John H. “Jack” Burbage, Jr. Regional Cancer Care Center, will open in 2018 on the AGH campus.

We asked prominent members of the hospital and its various boards about the need for this center, why their belief is so strong in cancer care at Atlantic General and how the new center will benefit the community.


The subjects: 

Michael Franklin, President and CEO of Atlantic General Hospital

Dr. Rabindra Paul, Regional Cancer Care Center 

Dr. Roopa Gupta, Regional Cancer Care Center

Jack Burbage, co-chair of the Atlantic General Campaign for the Future

Michelle Fager, co-chair of the Atlantic General Campaign for the Future




Serving Worcester, Wicomico, Sussex and Somerset Counties, the single-floor, 18,000 sq. ft. facility, to be located in front of the Berlin Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (at the intersection of Route 113 and Old Ocean City Boulevard), will be an all-in-one treatment center for cancer and blood-disorder patients.

“It is critical that the cancer-care needs of our fellow residents be addressed locally, right along with the other community healthcare services AGH has continuously provided since its founding in 1993,” said Fager. “Cancer is a disease that as touched us all in some way. As we speak, there is someone you know, whether it’s a family member, neighbor, coworker, loved one or maybe even yourself, dealing with this disease and the physical, psychological and financial struggles and challenges that accompany it. Having compassionate care, minutes from home, with every phase of care under one roof, combined with access through telemedicine to the finest oncology specialists in the country, is a dream come true for local families dealing with this disease.” 

”We are reminded every single day by our patients and their families how grateful they are to not have to drive three hours for care that can be easily given locally by well-trained, board-certified physicians,” Dr. Gupta said. 

“As a community cancer center, we provide high-quality, compassionate care; keep up on the latest advances; and offer many patients options, including seeking consultation from experts in other academic centers and planning treatments with all relevant specialists,” Dr. Paul said. “Patients do not have to travel farther and wait longer to receive treatment. The wait time between diagnosis and initial chemotherapy visit is significantly shorter at our Regional Cancer Care Center. We also offer same-day or next-day appointments for individuals who have just received a cancer diagnosis.”




“This new facility will have the ability to provide chemotherapy and radiation treatments that we haven’t been able to provide before,” said Franklin. “Along with that, we’ll have opportunities for support activities and involvement from local support groups.”

“AGH provides various diagnostic, treatments and support services, and promotes cancer prevention and early detection through education and responsible individual health choices, as well as the development of efficient and accessible screening services, like mammography, colonoscopy, CT scans for lung cancer, cervical cancer and many more,” Dr. Paul said.

“We are trained and equipped to provide any chemotherapy and immunotherapy that is FDA-approved right here in our infusion center,” Dr. Gupta said. “We are in an era of personalized medicine and targeted therapy in oncology.

We are excited that we bring our community every advancement available today for oncology. We also coordinate with pathologists, who provide advanced testing, especially molecular testing, on patients’ tumors, to tailor regimens that provide more personalized medicine and care.”

“In addition to existing medical oncology, hematology and chemotherapy-infusion services, the new cancer center will provide radiation-oncology services, a mobile PET scan, laboratory services and telemedicine technology that will allow patients and their physicians to consult with University of Maryland Medical Center’s Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center,” Dr. Paul said. “This will allow us to provide treatment remotely for more complex cancer diagnoses. The center is a National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center. We’re really excited to offer this because our patients will be able to receive treatment and guidance from subspecialists without leaving the Shore. It is important to note that the telemedicine care and ancillary services are new services to Worcester County, not just a repackaging of services that already exist here.”




“AGH’s staff, physicians and board members live here and are part of this community, and we share a common goal to provide access to the healthcare services our friends and neighbors need,” Burbage said. “Comprehensive cancer care and access to nationally recognized cancer specialists through telemedicine here, close to home, are very much needed. With our longstanding relationship with the community, AGH is the right hospital to provide those services.” 

“This project, like everything else AGH has done, is truly by and for the local community,” Fager said. “It involves us all; it will benefit us all; it is the right direction to head in for the good of us all. I encourage every community member to partner with us to help in reaching our goal for the Campaign for the Future. It’s truly a campaign that will bestow countless blessings in many ways.”

“Cancer causes extreme distress, fear and anxiety in not just the patient but also their loved ones,” Dr. Gupta said. “There are financial, emotional and physical toxicities that these patients have to endure. This center will help them, by minimizing the need to go back and forth to different places. This is going to be a wonderful treatment facility and a healing place for all our patients. We are excited for our patients and staff to have this new facility, which is designed specifically with the cancer patient in mind.”  

“Significant improvements in cancer diagnosis, treatments and care have been made over the past decade, and many cancers can be controlled and managed for long periods of time -— so much so that many of these cancers are now considered chronic conditions rather than the potential or probable diagnosis of death,” Dr. Paul said.

“Cancer survivors require ongoing therapy to control their conditions — much like people with diabetes or high blood pressure. This, however, requires patients to be monitored by a physician on a regular basis,” Dr. Paul continued. “Cancer care here locally allows our patients to continue their normal life, and they don’t have to leave town every time for their treatments, follow-up visits and diagnostic tests. It’s less of a disruption. This equates to less travel time to see cancer specialists or to receive treatments and will provide more time with their families and less interruption of daily lives, less stress and fewer ER visits.”




“Cancer usually develops in older people; 86% of all cancers in the U.S. are diagnosed in people 50 years of age and older,” Dr. Paul said. “Aging of the population will cause the number of cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. to nearly double over the next decade. Cancer care is a growing need for our aging population in Worcester County and surrounding counties. 

“The residents of this region, particularly over the age of 65, deserve to have the appropriate cancer care available close to home,” Dr. Paul continued. “It is bad enough to have a cancer diagnosis, but to have to travel long distances to receive treatments for cancer can create additional stress for the patient and their caregivers.”




“My personal philosophy as an oncologist is to deliver quality, cutting-edge care in a very personalized and compassionate manner. It is extremely important to me that I be able to provide this to all my patients,” Dr. Gupta said. “My philosophy aligns with what AGH stands for, and that is the reason why I chose AGH and moved to the Eastern Shore from the D.C. area. I would say patients and providers should choose AGH for that very reason.”

“Our interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers and other professionals collaborate to meet the physical, emotional and social needs of patients and their families,” Dr. Paul said. “Our staff and nurses are sensitive to each patient’s emotional and mental state, in addition to the needs and wishes of family members and other caregivers. Our oncology care, compassion for patients and dedication will improve cancer care in this community.”

“What sets us apart is not just our advanced specialized training and experience but also the most personalized and most compassionate care we give,” Dr. Gupta said. “Both Dr. Paul and I feel very confident in our training and in our team, and we’re making a positive impact in our patients’ and their loved ones’ lives.”




“The fact that my name will be on the beautiful new Regional Cancer Care Center brought a tear to my eye because I just wish it was here for my mom when she so dearly needed it and suffered so much,” Burbage said. “It’s incredibly important to me that the very latest in cancer treatment be delivered by Atlantic General Hospital, and it’s something I hope our whole community will support. Atlantic General was built by and for our community. Establishing our own hospital here in Worcester County was a hard-won battle, and the resulting 23-year relationship with Atlantic General has saved so many lives and improved the health of countless others. It only makes sense that they be the ones to help guide those who receive a cancer diagnosis — and their loves ones — through the life-changing process of treatment and recovery right here at home.” 




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LET THE SUNSHINE IN Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Nick Brandi Not so long ago, solar power was the hot, new trend, something upscale homeowners could do to be forward-thinking yet environmentally responsible. But...]]> Not so long ago, solar power was the hot, new trend, something upscale homeowners could do to be forward-thinking yet environmentally responsible. But today, solar power as an alternative-energy source has genuine momentum, making it an inevitable wave not of the future but of today.

Green Street Solar in Selbyville has been on the cutting edge of this technology and the industry’s leading purveyor of residential and commercial solar-energy systems in the region. They recently set up homeowner Dale Wilson with a 44-panel roof-mounted system on his 3,600 sq. ft. Rehoboth Beach residence.

“Green Street Solar and [sales/installation manager] Russell Pfaller were extremely polite, professional and patient, walking us through the entire process one step at a time,” shared Wilson, a retired engineering manager in the aerospace industry. “I actually spoke with three different providers before choosing Green Street, because I felt they were the most professional and made the process so friendly. My system was installed about six months ago, and I know now more than ever that I made the right decision letting Green Street install my home’s system.”

Wilson, who said he was motivated to go solar in large part due to his two new grandchildren, who had caused him to start thinking more about the future of the planet, also offered that the Green Street Solar technicians had the job done in just two and a half days. He also praised the financial prudence of the conversion, stating that his $30K job was reduced to about $12,000 once grants and tax incentives were applied, and that at the rate he’s going, his system will likely have paid for itself in less than six years. “Right now, I’m producing more energy than I’m consuming,” Wilson shared, “and in Delaware you can sell that excess energy to utility companies, which further reduces the cost of the system.”

That’s what Salisbury resident Walter Conway did, too, for his 3,300 sq. ft. home. Conway had Green Street Solar install 84 solar panels on his roof, which now supply more than 100% of his power needs. “My system cost approximately $40,000,” said Conway, a former electrician, “and between the 30 percent credit I received from the federal government and what Delmarva Power pays me for my excess energy production, my system will have paid for itself in seven years or less. Now, if you think that I really like having Delmarva Power pay me instead of me paying them, you’re absolutely right. All I pay now is $8.30 per month for the meter.”

Conway went on to say that he thinks the state of Maryland needs to step up its game when it comes to providing tax incentives to homeowners (the state currently offers only a $1,000 rebate, whereas Delaware offers $3,000), adding that it has fallen woefully behind places like Massachusetts and Washington, DC. His feelings about Green Street Solar, however, couldn’t be more to the contrary.

“Our Green Street rep was Russell Pfaller, and he was just excellent from beginning to end. Not only is he a really nice guy, he is a straight shooter, which I really respect. There’s no salesmanship with him, just good old customer service and integrity. Great bunch of guys… I used to bring them pizza and sodas while they were installing my system, which only took about a week.” 

A big reason Pfaller is such a hit with the clients is because his background is on the tech-and-installation side, not sales. This makes him not only more knowledgeable but low-pressure, as well. “Russell is our guy at Green Street — not just before the sale but also during the installation and after the job was complete,” said Gary Smith, a retired economic-development executive who had Green Street install an array of 80 solar panels in the backyard of his home in the Lewes area. Having gone solar in September of 2015, Smith hasn’t paid an electric bill since April, saving about $6K a year, and now sells some of his energy back to the Delaware Electric Cooperative.

“I consulted with about ten solar-energy companies before picking Green Street,” said Smith, “and it was definitely because of their knowledge base and low-stress approach. I recommend them to everyone.”

Though some have expressed concern that the new presidential administration may attempt to repeal the federal solar-energy tax incentive for homeowners, Pfaller says the current 30% rebate is set to remain in effect for at least the next couple of years, then gradually decline thereafter.



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THE WORLD IS HIS OYSTER Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Nick Brandi There is a woman on the Eastern Shore who owns a sculpture of a pelican, which she’s named Happy. When asked why she choose that name, she replied,...]]> There is a woman on the Eastern Shore who owns a sculpture of a pelican, which she’s named Happy. When asked why she choose that name, she replied, “Because every time I walk past it, I smile.”

Flashback to some years earlier, when David Janni was walking on the beach one day and happened upon an oyster shell in the sand. Where many would have viewed it as something to sidestep, the retired construction executive with a background in mechanical engineering instead saw an opportunity. “The shell resembled the webbed foot of a bird,” explained Janni, “and I’d said to myself, I think I can do something with that.

Five years later, Janni finds himself with a new passion and a gainful second career. He is now a very in-demand oyster-shell sculptor (you read correctly) who can’t hang on to anything he creates for very long. On the same October afternoon we visited with the Eastern Shore artist, he’d just completed his 100th sculpture — all of which have been sold to patrons awaiting them as eagerly as a hatchling does a worm from its mother.

To create these hot properties, Janni begins by collecting oyster shells of all stripes (though not Bay oyster shells, as Janni says they are too thick to work with easily). He then meticulously, painstakingly grinds them into typically teardrop-shaped pieces he can use to form the bodies of the subjects, which consist mostly of waterfowl and sea life, including seagulls, blue herons, white egrets, eagles, seahorses, turtles, blowfish and, of course, pelicans. He then hand-carves and paints the beaks and toes from wood, using steel for the legs (except for pelicans’ legs, which are also made from wood) and shark eye (a snail-like gastropod) for the eyes.

Most sculptures take between one and two weeks to make, depending on the size, which varies from inches to several feet in length or height. His work has been universally well received. In addition to a first-place finish at a 2015 competition sponsored by the Art League of Ocean City, he has an annual exhibit at Arts Alive in OC and is on year-round display at Huckleberry Fine Arts in Rockville and at Red Queen Gallery in Onancock. Though each sculpture is individually priced, most run three to four figures — which is conspicuously fine with the regional art-buying public, who continue to clamor for his latest creations.

Janni remains philosophical about his post-career success as an artist, steadfastly refusing to succumb to the cynicism that commercial success in the art world often engenders. “The work I create and the response I’ve received not only gives me pleasure, obviously, it actually humbles me,” shared Janni, who maintains a studio in his beach-cottage residence in Chance, Md., which he shares with his wife of 33 years, Eve. “The idea that I can take something made of a raw material that most people are inclined to discard and use it to make something of beauty that people not only want to keep but are even willing to pay for is an honor and a privilege I can’t adequately describe. That I can do this using only my hands, imagination and creativity brings me a joy the likes of which I’ve never known before.”

Those interested in learning more about David Janni’s artistic works may contact him by email, at

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FOUR'S THE CHARM Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Nick Brandi Easton-based novelist Gerald Sweeney knows about many things. He knows about the American military and the Korean War. He knows about the national...]]> Easton-based novelist Gerald Sweeney knows about many things. He knows about the American military and the Korean War. He knows about the national zeitgeist of the 1950s and beyond. And he knows about love, great love, and the all-consuming inferno that comes with it. These are the messages the resound from the newly released Book 4 of his Columbiad series, A Tournament of a Distinguished White Order.

Jim Mahoney is what was commonly known as a malcontent — someone dissatisfied with and alienated by the current or prevailing condition. Jim’s beef is with the American government in particular. He is a reluctant private in the U.S. Army during the Korean War who resists signing his loyalty oath. But as it becomes crystal clear that he faces not only the stockade but Leavenworth for refusing, he affixes the document with the name “Dwight D. Eisenhower.”

His recalcitrance combined with his ethical stances get him branded a communist by some in his unit. He even gets beat up for it. But the fact is, Jim is not a communist; he is a proud socialist, a diehard iconoclast and a devout Catholic — clearly a young man who was meant more for the world that would follow than the one fresh off a conflict that saw an entire world at war. Fortunately, Jim has friends in his unit. There is Gooden, an inductee from Mahoney’s hometown and an undervalued high-school acquaintance who proves a good and loyal friend. There is also Cassandro, who, while not being quite in sync temperamentally with Gooden, is more sophisticated intellectually and philosophically than Jim and therefore valuable as Jim continues to probe the intricacies and vicissitudes of life in his time. The friends often challenge each other, as males are wont to do, but at the end of the day, they have one another’s backs.

Back in New York, Jim’s girlfriend, Fawn Evans, is a rising star who fills a room with her breathtaking beauty and scintillating charisma. As Sweeney put it so eloquently, “She was a little too Irish to be beautiful, though she photographed as well as any star. Cameras were her friends. And glamour her mother.” She seems almost too much to be possessed by any one man, yet she considers Jim her world. Though their circumstances prevent the couple from uniting anywhere near as often as they’d like, when they do come together, the chemistry is incandescent, and world around them soon melts away. Eventually, Jim gets discharged from the Army and becomes a writer, while Fawn takes her place on the stage during Broadway’s Golden Age, with productions of South Pacific, Kiss Me, Kate, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes setting the tone. It is time abuzz with possibility yet rife with potential peril.

As a novelist, Sweeney demands the attention of his reader. His erudition is conspicuous, but he prefers to wield it like a bunt down the third-base line rather than a grand slam. He is not a fan of short, punchy Hemingwayesque prose nor is he given to a plethora of purple-prose parlor tricks. Instead, he is thoughtful, introspective and philosophical — and thus, so are his characters. Fans looking for a ringing endorsement of the Old Glory status quo are likely to come away disappointed, though, as Sweeney eschews the sacred cows of the age. He’d much rather play the harbinger for the incipient cultural revolution that was beginning to coalesce.

But at his heart, Sweeney is a true romantic, as evidenced by the way he tenderly nurtures the love story between Jim and Fawn, the most compelling subplot of the story. He understands, for example, that there is, however elusive it may be, a level of joy that can arise from love that will drive an otherwise stable, rational person to tears of disbelief. It is one of the rarest human emotions, but it does exist, and Sweeney seems to have experienced it, up close and personal. In the end, Sweeney emerges as a deep thinker, a good writer and a proud exponent of the Eastern Shore’s evolving class of literati.


The Columbiad — Book 4
By Gerald F. Sweeney (2016)
490 pages (paperback)

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CRUSHIN' CANCER Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Robbie Tarpley Raffish First-grade teacher Emily Murray spends her days chasing children — which, it turns out, is excellent training to build the stamina needed to crush...]]> First-grade teacher Emily Murray spends her days chasing children — which, it turns out, is excellent training to build the stamina needed to crush fundraising goals. Murray, the leader of team “Crushin’ Orange,” chased down $130,000 in just 10 weeks, resulting in Murray being named the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) “Woman of the Year — Eastern Shore” for 2016.

“Our LLS team is made up of really committed people,” said Murray. “My nana, Beverley Bunce, had a very rare type of blood cancer, called small cell cancer. She was alive when my Uncle Tom began the team in 2015, and she was very proud of all of us.”

Murray, her mom, brother and sister have been on the team since its inception, along with several other family members and friends. The first year, under Tom Bunce’s direction, the team raised $38,000, and Tom was named “Man of the Year — Eastern Shore” for his efforts.  The “Man/Woman of the Year” awards are based solely on amount of funds raised. Every dollar donated to a team represents a ‘vote’ for the team leader. 

Murray set a goal of $50,000 and began marshalling resources. The window to raise funds runs from April 1 to mid-June, when the awards are given. Set-up time begins nearly as soon as the previous award ceremony ends.  During the two-in-a-half-month donation period, the team coordinated three events, including a bar crawl in downtown Annapolis, a family event at Old Bowie Town Grille and a 1980s-themed beach party. 

“Our plan was to spread the events out geographically, so we could reach as many people as possible,” explained Murray. “We also established a Facebook page for information and a fundraising page where people who could not attend could donate.”

Drawings, 50/50 raffles, sports memorabilia, live auctions, silent auctions and ticket sales drove in donations. The events were very well attended and the donation page was very active. Murray received an added boost from “the other side of my family, my dad’s dad, who runs the Murray Foundation.” (Each family member has the opportunity to direct a donation to a charity each year.)

“I emailed ‘Murrays’ from all over the world to ask for donations — people I had never met,” added Murray, and more donations poured in. 

Of the $476,800 total funds raised in the region, Crushin’ Orange was responsible for nearly 30 percent. 

“The funds raised and donated from team Crushin’ Orange will have a direct impact on blood cancer research,” said Jennifer Veil, campaign manager, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “LLS funds only the best and most promising researchers and projects, and we are working toward funding the next round of breakthroughs through these bright researchers. We can then work toward translating these breakthroughs into new safe and effective treatments and therapies, to provide better outcomes for patients. Large funds such as this will also contribute to better collaboration among scientists and doctors, as well as enable partnerships with biotech companies, to advance the clinical trial process faster, thus putting treatments into the hands of patients quicker.”

Teams that raise $50,000 or more may direct where its funding is allocated. Crushin’ Orange directed its funds toward research about, and a cure for, chronic myeloid leukemia, a cancer of the bone marrow and blood.

Sadly, as the team was organizing its 2016 campaign, Murray’s beloved Nana passed away. 

“She was the strongest person I’d ever known, and she fought hard for two long years,” said Murray. “We have such good memories of her though: playing Scrabble, teaching my sister and me to make doll clothes, her Hungarian goulash recipe and her birthday celebrations.” 

Planning for the Crushin’ Orange 2017 campaign is well underway. “I had no idea what I was getting into when I started, but I would do it over and over again,” said Murray. “The campaign only takes 10 weeks of my time, and it helps people who deal with [these diseases] all of their lives.”

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WORTH THE WAIT Sun, 01 Jan 2017 00:00:00 -0500 Brian Shane The jaw-dropping new clubhouse at The Peninsula on the Indian River Bay has finally arrived. “At long last, the residents of The Peninsula have a...]]> The jaw-dropping new clubhouse at The Peninsula on the Indian River Bay has finally arrived.

“At long last, the residents of The Peninsula have a brand-new and beautiful clubhouse,” said Preston Schell, CEO of Ocean Atlantic Companies, the developer of The Peninsula.  “The clubhouse ties in with our first-class Peninsula lifestyle and sits on the highest point in the community, providing magnificent views of our golf course and the Indian River Bay, with the iconic bridge in the distance.”

The Peninsula celebrated the grand opening of the 33,000 sq. ft. facility on Dec. 17, 2016.  Designed to take advantage of the striking views of the surrounding environment, the clubhouse features an awe-inspiring architectural design that embodies the gracious character of The Peninsula.

Inside, residents and their guests can enjoy a grand dining area, banquet spaces, a card room and a billiards room. There are views to be enjoyed from every angle, thanks to dramatic windows and balconies incorporated into the clubhouse composition. A grand veranda wraps around the building and flows into an outdoor seating area, with an event lawn that can accommodate up to 800 guests. 

Matty Adler, clubhouse designer, said recurring themes include blue-gray tones and nautical-star details, among others. “We wanted to create a space that ties in with the current amenities but still has its own style,” he said. “I like to refer to it as casual elegance. We look forward to creating more great amenities at The Peninsula that homeowners can enjoy for years to come.”

The dining room alone is special. Anchored by an oval-shaped center bar, the space includes grand fireplaces that flank both ends of the clubhouse and a wood-burning pizza oven. The clubhouse also features a wine room, where homeowners may keep their own bottles in private reserve. Created with a European wine cellar in mind, it has a barrel brick ceiling and grout that “make you feel like the space has been here 100 years,” Adler said. The clubhouse also serves as a locker room for the community’s 18-hole, 7,200-yard Troon-managed course, where one can also find a premier pro shop and club storage space. For duffers who like to tinker with their swings all year long, the clubhouse also comes with a high-definition interactive golf simulator.

General Manager Donald DeMasters said his entire Peninsula team put a lot of heart and soul into the clubhouse. “Throughout the entire building process, our number-one goal was to have a clubhouse that is second to none in terms of quality, appearance and overall experience for the homeowners,” he said. “With this new clubhouse, we have far exceeded those expectations.”

Located in Millsboro, The Peninsula is a one-of-a-kind resort that offers beautifully designed new homes — single–family, villas, townhomes and custom series homes — from the $300s to more than $3 million.

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