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The news is pretty good.  There’s plenty to be thankful for, but there are several large issues which could become increasingly problematic.  You have to take the good with the bad, and that’s what the state of affairs is.

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The Marina is looking healthy and viable.  It is nearly ready for promotion and clients.  It could be a success.  We will see how it goes.  One would be hard pressed to criticize so much good work and effort that has been made to date.  We’ll keep our fingers crossed

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The hospital remains under long term threat of closure, but the current situation is not all bad.  It may be time that the oil issue is finally put to rest after decades of remediation for the spill

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There are a couple park improvements which are coming to pass this year which will be pleasing to citizens.  Many one to three day events are scheduled and they seem a perfect fit for the tourism Chestertown needs.  While there have been major commitments of renewal and construction from local powerhouse businesses such as La Motte and Dixon Valve, there is plenty of room for new employers and businesses here.  The movie theater is up and running.  Restaurants and bars are in the process of being constructed or opening shortly.  The Farmer’s Market has new guidelines meeting their needs.  The Sultana project has grown much larger and more viable.

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All in all, 2018 was a great year for Chestertown and 2019 looks like some very good things will continue to bloom here.  That’s all good news!  Hopefully, the County Commissioners will find a way to give Chestertown and Rock Hall the tax differential payments these places truly need to survive and prosper.

 
Phil has been active with this group as a leader and past President for the past 20 years.  He currently serves as Vice-President.   The Friends of the Refuge launched a letter writing and mass campaign to save the Refuge from being closed over the past two years.  It has been a successful pursuit.  The place is still open to the public and the friends of the Refuge have become a crucial element in keeping the place open and viable for tourism and those seeking a diversion from the busy character of life in urban environments.

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In theory, the Feds have a responsibility to fund and run refuges and parks for the benefit of all the public, but behind the scenes there are agendas which favor major preserves over minor ones.  Where most National Parks are well funded and not under any threat of closure, the minor public lands can easily find themselves targets of spending cuts, or suffering from a lack of increased funding as inflation silently erodes the level of available services.  Phil told us that when the Feds intended to close Eastern Neck they had 13 additional places in mind to discontinue funding also in mind.  After the campaign to preserve Eastern Neck, the other 13 places were closed.  Only Eastern Neck was saved for the enjoyment of the public.  Even so, without the efforts and funding provided by this private, not for profit entity, Eastern Neck would have virtually no staff and maintenance.  It is sort of a bittersweet win, but it is thankfully, not a loss.  Some things are worth preserving.  Some things are worth paying for.  The Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge is among those things that have real value not only to our natural world, but to the people who visit there.
 
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