The Kent County News

Clippings from my internship with The Kent County News, summer of 2012, including hard news, features and profiles.

Once a week, Raymond Reinacher Jr. dons his famous white cowboy hat, heads to Waterman’s, and sings the night away for a bar full of local fans. Now, the 75-year-old Rock Hall resident has a new claim to fame: He’s the town’s newest millionaire.

Not even a blazing summer sun deterred local patriots from donning tricorn hats and petticoats during this year’s annual Tea Party festivities.

Between 3,500 and 4,500 locals and visitors honored their revolutionary forebears this Memorial Day weekend, according to Tea Party Committee Vice President Bill Arrowood.

More than 50 years after its construction, the College Heights Barbershop no longer boasts a laundromat or coin-operated televisions. It does, however, offer one amenity most customers can’t find anywhere else: A family legacy.

Cassidy Schirmer smiled as Prancer, one of her 14 cows, nuzzled her velvety nose against her owner’s hand. It was a milking day, but for this Kent County High School rising senior, playtime with her animals can be just as important as chores.
 It was Pfc. Michael Boehmer’s day off, but when he spotted a hungry goose, abandoned by its flock with a hook trapping its lower beak to its chest, he didn’t care that he wasn’t getting paid – he was on a mission.

More than 120 eighth-grade students last Thursday crowded into the gymnasium where they’d once played basketball, attended class and watched school plays. It was no ordinary school day for the Kent County Middle School class of 2012; the gymnasium was host to their “promotion” ceremony, a celebration of their matriculation into high school.

At a premiere screening of four movies last Friday, an audience of filmmakers and their families was transported to a beach, an airplane and the streets of Paris. They witnessed a daughter mourn her mother’s death, laughed at the antics of two troublemaking high school seniors and gripped their armrests in terror as a killer penguin stalked her innocent prey.

If they hadn’t known any better, viewers never would have guessed that the filmmakers were rookies to the world of camerawork and editing. And they certainly couldn’t have known they were a group of middle schoolers.

KENNEDYVILLE – In the spring of 2010, the Crow Farm planted the first seeds of what it hoped would blossom into its very own vineyard. Nine and a half acres and countless hours of pruning and harvesting later, the farmers are ready to showcase their finished product in a grand opening of their wine-tasting room.

Tucked away in a narrow building on Cross Street, The Collection doesn’t look like the place to find art of metropolitan distinction and variety, at least from the outside. But that’s just what Chestertown’s newest art gallery has to offer: Big city taste with a small town feel.

Just a month after graduating from Washington College, Amanda Whitaker boarded a plane taking her more than 1,500 miles away from her home near Chestertown. After only five weeks of training in Houston and a summer to get settled, she’ll be teaching a full classroom of middle school students this fall.

“It’s kind of surreal. I still feel like college was just a couple of days ago, and now I’m a teacher,” she said in a phone interview Sunday. “It hasn’t really hit me yet, but that’s what I am. I’m a teacher.”

ROCK HALL – Nearly 150 Kent County High School students strode across a stage last year, beaming in their golden caps and gowns as they embarked on a new chapter of their lives. Although it was a joyous day for the students earning their diplomas, the senior class was some students short.


GALENA – All that’s left of the Wright family’s guesthouse is a heap of rubble and branches. The four trees that slammed through the building lie beside the debris, evidence of the June 29 derecho that barreled through.

If it weren’t for two days of effort from a team of Home Depot volunteers, the house wouldn’t even be visible.

ROCK HALL – At first glance, the tracks at the edge of the water look like they lead to an underwater train station. They’re actually a traditional form of boat transport, and they’ve been in the Leary family for as long as Rock Hall Marine Railway Inc. has: five generations.

The Learys have been doing marine repairs, sales, storage and more since their business opened in 1928. Today, the waterside business on South Hawthorne Avenue is a staple in harbor life, serving hundreds of watermen and boaters each season.

CHESTERTOWN – Peach, s’mores, blueberry chip, cherry vanilla, apple caramel – ice cream lovers won’t find these flavors in the frozen foods aisle. They’re only available at Lockbriar Farms.

The Ice Cream Barn, on Worton Road, opened two weeks ago, and its list of fresh, colorful flavors is ever-growing.

Kent County public schools may not be perfect, but after 30 years “on the front lines” as a middle school teacher, Betty Weller knows the system inside and out. Although she’s working behind the scenes now, the recently elected president of the Maryland State Education Association is as dedicated to education reform as ever.

“It’s an opportunity to still help students by helping the people who work with them,” she said in an Aug. 8 interview. “I want to help people understand that educators are the experts in the classroom and our voices are important.”

Before this summer, my Kent County didn’t extend past the Chester Five. To be honest, most days, it didn’t even cross Washington Avenue.

Sure, I tried to patron the farmers market during school year weekends, but by the time my midterms at Washington College hit, Saturday mornings were reserved for catching up on sleep. I was an occasional Book Plate browser, and I purchased the rare milkshake from Stam’s to enjoy by the waterfront. Betterton, Galena, Worton – they were familiar names, but I’d never driven far enough down state Route 213 to actually discover them.


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