Cecil County Life Fall/Winter 2021 Edition

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Fall/Winter 2021

Cecil County Life

Magazine

Conowingo Models: On the Octoraro rails, in miniature Page 42

Inside: • Q & A with Juli Sebring of Appleton Equestrian • The Sonetta Community Market: New life for an old landmark • Cecil County author pens romance novel

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For organizations doing business in Cecil County who need a network of services and resources,

The Cecil County Chamber of Commerce

is a membership organization that supports, connects and advocates.

We Are Your County-wide Connection.

GROWING TOGETHER Event and meeting dates can be found at cecilchamber.com UPCOMING EVENTS & MEETINGS

Member Orientations Join us for Chamber Orientation to become familiar with all aspects of the Chamber and meet new members. Whether you’re a new or existing member, Member Orientation is a great way to connect with your Chamber.

Cecil County First Responders Appreciation Dinner Recognizing our Local Heroes Fri, November 19 Minker Banquet Hall Perryville $40 per person

4th Annual Wonderland of Wreaths

Nov — Dec 2021 Create a Customized Wreath. Bid on a Wreath!

Interested in local and State advocacy!? The Chamber’s Government Relations Committee meets virtually and provides a forum for chamber members to track, research and discuss important public policy or legislative issues.. Want to learn more? Reach out to Katie at the Chamber office.

216 E. Pulaski Hwy, Suite 120, Elkton, MD 21921 410-392-3833 • www.cecilchamber.com • info@cecilchamber.com www.cecilcountylife.com | Fall/Winter 2021 | Cecil County Life

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Cecil County Life Fall/Winter 2021

Cecil County Life Table of Contents 8 The Sonetta Community Market: A new life for an old landmark

18 The work of the Fair Hill Equine Rescue Ambulance 24

24 Cecil County goes back a long ways

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32 Mount America Foundation 42 Photo essay: Conowingo Models 48 Q & A: Juli Sebring of Appleton Equestrian

58 Local author pens romance novel 6

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Cecil County Life Fall/Winter 2021 Letter from the Editor:

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Welcome to the Fall/Winter edition of Cecil County Life. In his story, “A new life for an old landmark,” writer John Chambless takes a look at how the Sonetta Community Market adds a new chapter to the history of a well-known red barn in Cecil County. When you’re taking over a local institution, it’s best to keep what works and improve where you can. Nick and Sue Thrappas are doing just that with the landmark red barn on Jacob Tome Memorial Highway near Perryville, known by generations of bargain hunters as Hunter’s Sale Barn. It’s a bright new chapter for an auction and flea market business started by Norman and Carol Hunter in 1975 and run continuously until 2019. This edition also features a story about the Fair Hill Equine Rescue Ambulance. The force behind the organization is JoAnn Bashore, a retired Fair Hill Park ranger. During her time as a ranger, she was frequently called to respond to equine emergencies. Now, the Fair Hill Equine Rescue Ambulance plays a critical role in responding to equine emergencies in the area. Cecil County goes back a long ways. Writer Gene Pisasale offers a comprehensive look at the history of Cecil County, including how its heritage dates back many centuries. Writer Richard L. Gaw profiles George Turak, who along with his wife Michelle has created Mount America Foundation, a sanctuary for veterans and their families in Cecil County and beyond. In this edition’s photo essay by Moonloop Photography, we take you to Conowingo Models, where Chris Coarse has resurrected that bygone era in the form of his HO and O scale craftsman kits designed for those who have turned parts of their homes over to their passion for model railroading. In our Q & A, we talk with Juli Sebring of Appleton Equestrian. We also talk to Cecil County resident Susan W. Green about her new book. Before Green retired in late 2018, she spent 35 years in the banking industry. She worked hard to write her first book, a romance novel titled Crystal Lake Inn, which is now available on Amazon. We’re very pleased to be sharing the stories in this issue of Cecil County Life with you, and we hope you enjoy them as well. We always welcome your comments and suggestions for stories to be included in upcoming issues of the magazine. We’re already hard at work planning the next issue of Cecil County Life, which will arrive in the spring of 2022. Sincerely, Randy Lieberman, Publisher randyl@chestercounty.com, 610-869-5553 Steve Hoffman, Editor editor@chestercounty.com., 610-869-5553, Ext. 13

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Cover design: Tricia Hoadley Cover photo: Moonloop Photography www.cecilcountylife.com | Fall/Winter 2021 | Cecil County Life

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|Cecil County Business|

A new life for an old landmark The Sonetta Community Market adds a new chapter to the history of a well-known red barn By John Chambless Contributing Writer

W

hen you’re taking over a local institution, it’s best to keep what works and improve where you can. Nick and Sue Thrappas are doing just that with the landmark red barn on Jacob Tome Memorial Highway near Perryville, known by generations of bargain hunters as Hunter’s Sale Barn.

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All photos courtesy unless otherwise noted

The new Sonetta Community Market is open for business, with a new look and a new direction for the future.

There have been big changes there over the past year, and anyone driving past will see the bright banners, huge steel entrance gate and landscaping that is marking the debut of the Sonetta Community Market. It’s a bright new chapter for an auction and flea market business started by Norman and Carol Hunter in 1975 and run continuously until 2019. “We purchased it in October 2019,” Nick Thrappas said during an interview in the new lounge area

Cecil County Life | Fall/Winter 2021 | www.cecilcountylife.com

of the market. The Sonetta name is an amalgam of their daughters’ names, Sophia and Annette. Nick has decades of experience with his own businesses, both in commercial real estate and demolishing and removing materials from hundreds of industrial buildings and homes. So he knew how to renovate and he knew what to pick and resell, making the purchase of the Sale Barn a fairly easy decision. Then, just after the family took possession


ark New owners Nick and Sue Thrappas (left) with original owners Norman and Carol Hunter.

Photo by John Chambless

Unexpected finds like this large metal rooster are a big part of visiting the new market.

of the property in January 2020, COVID-19 shut down everything. “That allowed more time for cleaning the buildings and making renovations,” Nick said, putting a positive spin on what could have been a disaster for the fledgling business. “Fortunately, my other businesses thrived, so that money funded the takeover of the new building.” When Norman Hunter decided to

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The Sonetta Community Market Continued from Page 9

sell the business, he had marked decades of auctioneering and reselling “salvage goods” – items from stores with damaged packaging but still perfectly usable. Customers knew they could find a bargain, and always see something new at the flea market tables set up on the property. The Thrappas family wants to keep that atmosphere of “you never know what you’ll find,” but upgrade it to spotlight repurposed vintage items as well as new products from around the world. Since opening the doors in the spring of 2021, they have kept a garden shop on the lower level of the landmark red barn, filled the long market building behind it with an eclectic mix of salvaged furniture and industrial antiques, upcycled items, local crafts, new and used tools, and fun, unusual crafts and products sourced by Sue from fair trade companies. The bright, clean space has a coffee station, a

Continued on Page 12

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The front counter at the market is made from reclaimed wood from the Hunter’s Sale Barn outdoor tables, as well as a bowling alley.


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The Sonetta Community Market Continued from Page 10

comfortable lounge area with mid-century sofas and chairs, a section for faith-based items, a huge area with tools, a range of pet accessories, stone sculptures and garden items, military memorabilia, and another large room for used furnishings picked by Nick and others. General manager Keven Feser works side by side with Nick, finding unusual items to add to the constantly changing stock. “The front counter’s vertical boards are made from the outdoor tables that used to be in the flea

New and used furniture, some of it from estate cleanouts, is always available.

Flea market tables were set up this past summer and fall at the new Sonetta Community Market.

market area,” Nick said. “The countertop is part of a recycled bowling alley.” Inside, there are distinctive decorative features, such as a large wall made of tools welded together by retired local welder and blacksmith Jim Baldwin. Outdoors, visitors can find a fire pit Nick made from the shovel of a backhoe, and a huge steel sculpture combining two other buckets hanging over a boat that he salvaged. “I’m still running the demo business, overseeing it,” he said. “I’ve done that for 35 years.” Continued on Page 14

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Fresh produce is always in season at the Sonetta Community Market.

Photo by John Chambless On a recent afternoon, local singer/ songwriter Box Turtle Bob performed outdoors for customers at the market.

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The Sonetta Community Market Continued from Page 12

An Air Force veteran, he relishes “the thrill of doing demo and hazmat removal in all kinds of buildings” as far away as Virginia and Washington, D.C. “Now I get to stay here for the most part,” he said. But his skills and creativity are getting a chance to shine. “I have a passion for this,” Nick said. “We like local businesses and being an incubator for them. We want to build a relationship with people, with local makers.” Sue has enjoyed sourcing art and crafts from Haiti, Vietnam, Africa and elsewhere and showcasing it in Cecil County. Everyone involved with the new business adheres to a phrase repeated many times by Norman Hunter: “Buy it when you see it, because you might not see it again.” That philosophy sometimes resulted in some strange items. Like the thousands of rubber bands found by Nick that were being sold at $2 a bag. “Just recently, a guy came in and Crafts from around the world are a new bought them all,” Nick said, feature at the market. adding that he didn’t ask what the man intended to do with Retired local welder and blacksmith them all. Continued on Page 16

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Jim Baldwin with the wall of tools he built for the new market building.


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The Sonetta Community Market Continued from Page 14

With Hunter’s having a long history as a place to buy and sell, people come in to sell things, and the Sonetta team is always looking for quality consignments or antiques at estate buyouts. Nick and Sue are testing the waters by showcasing a wide range of stock – pottery, yard sculpture, military decorations, a range of products for dogs and cats – to see what people might want more of. There are plans to renovate another long building toward the rear of the 13-acre property and using it as a shop exclusively for local artists. And there’s plenty of space for new construction once permits are approved. “We want to do some major construction in the spring,” Nick said. “We’ve been operating here about six months and haven’t had a grand opening yet.” Nick pointed in the general direction of what will become the Great Wolf Lodge, just over five miles down the road in Perryville, as a magnet for future customers who will be looking for things to do in the area. “A lot of the traffic for Great Wolf will go right past here,” he said. “We’d like to be a place for families to visit while they’re here.” Photo by John Chambless

A towering sculpture made by Nick Thrappas stands in the middle of the market property, with a salvaged boat underneath.

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Projections call for some 800,000 visitors a year at the new resort, which will be the largest Great Wolf facility in the country when it opens in about two years. Nick foresees a snack bar being put into the main level of the signature red barn, while uses for some of the 40,000 square feet of building space on the property haven’t been determined yet. Sue is wearing several hats at the market, working a couple of days a week inside, but also constantly researching products, doing marketing, and building up vendor relationships. “We’d like to emphasize the ‘community’ in the name, not the flea market angle,” Nick said. “We want to be more of a maker’s market.” “Mr. Hunter ran this business for 44 years,” Nick said, “and it sure has a site identity. We still use the ‘at Hunter’s Sale Barn’ phrase so people will know where to find us. But we’re very excited to offer something new for people.” The Sonetta Community Market is at 2084 Jacob Tome Memorial Highway, Port Deposit, Md. For more information, call 410-6586400 or visit www.sonetta.net. Photo by John Chambless

A fire pit made from the shovel of a backhoe was made by Nick Thrappas.

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|Cecil County Spotlight|

To the rescue…

Team member Heather Miller works to stabilize a horse’s head during a rescue.

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Cecil County Life | Fall/Winter 2021 | www.cecilcountylife.com

All photos courtesy


A look at the good work of the Fair Hill Equine Rescue Ambulance By Marcella Peyre-Ferry Contributing Writer

said. “We got started in November 2019 as a separate division of the Equine Rescue Ambulance in Harford orse owners know that accidents County. That saved me a lot of steps can happen at any moment, and in setting up a non-profit organization. when they do, a fast and experienced “We started on November 1 and on response is needed. Whether it is a down November 2, we got our first call. At horse unable to stand, a horse involved in that time, we had no equipment other a traffic or riding accident, than a 30- foot tow or an emergency medistrap and a reach cal situation that needs pole. We managed transport, the volunteers at to get a very large Fair Hill Equine Rescue draft horse up and Ambulance are available on its feet within a to help. half hour.” The force behind the Since then, the Fair Hill Equine organization is JoAnn Rescue Ambulance Bashore, a retired Fair has responded to 23 Hill Park ranger. During her time as a ranger, she requests for assiswas frequently called to tance, an average of one each month. respond to equine emerVolunteers respond gencies. She also held to all kinds of emertwice-a-year training sessions in technical resgencies, including cue techniques for horse horse show acciowners. Even after her Team member Will Cain assisting with dents, or a horse removing a horse that had slipped off a retirement, she was getting bridge into a ravine at Fair Hill. that needs immedicalls to assist in equine ate .transport to the rescues. New Bolton Center One such incident took place in Grove in Chester County. The most common Point, where Bashore had to wait four hours emergency is a horse that is down. for rescue equipment and permission from In all cases, having assistance availFair Hill State Park to rescue a horse that had able nearby to respond promptly is fallen off a cliff and broken its leg. important. “At that point, I was still doing one-day “The magic window when you’re training sessions for Technical Emergency dealing with down horses is two hours. Animal Rescue for horse owners and barn Anything more and the internal organs owners to educate people on what to do in are compromised by the weight of the an emergency situation, and Equine Rescue animal,” Bashore said. “Usually large Ambulance in Harford County had sent some draft horses that have lameness issues Continued on Page 20 of their members to our training,” Bashore

H

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Fair Hill Equine Rescue Ambulance Continued from Page 19

get down and then have difficulty getting up. When a horse lays down on one side too long the muscles start to atrophy and go numb, similar to having your foot fall asleep when you are sitting in a chair too long. We have methods where we can roll them over and then stimulate the down side that is now the up side and try to assist them in standing.” Typically, a veterinarian is on the scene to provide sedation and medical assistance. “We are not trained in the veterinary field so it is very essential that we have a qualified veterinarian on site,” Bashore explained. Some cases are success stories while others end poorly. In February 2021, the unit responded to the scene of an accident on Appleton Road where a horse had been hit by two cars. The vet on scene thought the horse would have a chance of survival if transported to the New Bolton Center. With prompt attention from Fair Hill Equine Rescue Ambulance, the horse was home and healthy six weeks later.

A horse caught in a fence after rolling too close. The owner was able to extricate the horse by herself, utilizing training she had received from Fair Hill Equine Rescue Ambulance.

“The most complex rescue we have had was in July of last year,” Bashore said. “A horse slipped off a bridge at Fair Hill. We were on standby at an event at Fair Hill, and the park manager requested our assistance getting this horse out of the ravine. The unit had five people on the scene within 15 minutes. It took us approximately four hours to get it out. It had to be sedated and strapped to a rescue glide to haul it up the 10-foot deep ravine. It was a a complicated procedure. Once we got it up, it was moving fine. We have several success stories. The broken legs are usually not success stories.” Continued on Page 22

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Fair Hill Equine Rescue Ambulance Continued from Page 20

Although the unit provides emergency transport it is limited to real emergencies, not routine transportation. They may often be seen on site at major equestrian events such as the 5-Star at Fair Hill and the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup as stand-by responders. In addition to emergency responses, the unit also focuses on educating horse owners as well as emergency responders. There will be a threeday training session at Fair Hill Natural Resources Area November 12 through 14. Attending will be veterinarians, vet techs, emergency responders, horsemen and members of the unit’s own rescue team. “It’s essential for veterinarians and vet assistants to be aware of techniques that we use and how to do everything safely,” Bashore said. For this event, a three-horse trailer has been donated to be loaded with three 900-pound horse dummies then overturned to simulate a traffic accident. Firemen will work on the scene to learn proper techniques to extricate the equine dummies. Volunteers are needed in all capacities, not just as emergency responders. There is work to be done behind the scene and on social media. At this time, the unit has approximately 18 volunteers in a variety of ages, most with equine backgrounds. Representatives from the unit are also available to make presentations to groups or stables where learning emergency response techniques can save horse’s lives. “We’re available to help if we can educate horse owners on various techniques they may not need us,” Bashore said. “If there is a horse cast in a stall or down in a trailer you can get them out using technical rescue techniques.” Fair Hill Equine Rescue Ambulance is an all-volunteer unit that depends on community support. The group holds a wide range of fundraising activities throughout the year including a popular Thanksgiving Paper Chase at Fair Hill that has been expanded to two days this year, November 26 and 27. Donations can also be made through the website at www.equineambulance.org.

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|Cecil County History|

Paca House, Charlestown, Maryland. 24

Cecil County Life | Fall/Winter 2021 | www.cecilcountylife.com


Cecil County goes back a long ways

By Gene Pisasale Contributing Writer

L

ocated in the northeastern corner of Maryland, Cecil County’s heritage dates back many centuries. The Piscataway Indians traded with the Susquehannocks near present day Conowingo and the Nanticoke tribe near the Elk River, and Captain John Smith visited the area in 1608. An important trading center, the region currently known as Cecil County was previously part of Baltimore County. It was formally organized in 1674, named for Cecil Calvert, the second Baron Baltimore. The St. Francis Xavier Church in Warwick began as a Jesuit mission in 1704 and is one of Maryland’s oldest churches, and is today a museum. Principio Furnace begun in 1719 was an Continued on Page 26

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Cecil County History Continued from Page 25

important provider of pig iron for the colonies. West Nottingham Academy, formed by the Reverend Samuel Finley in 1744, is one of the oldest schools in the nation; two signers of the Declaration of Independence — Benjamin Rush and Richard Stockton - were educated there. Situated strategically between Philadelphia and Baltimore, Cecil County has been a crossroads over the years. Both General George Washington’s and British General William Howe’s armies passed through during the Revolutionary War. Bordering Pennsylvania and Delaware, Cecil County lies at the edge of the Chesapeake Bay. In the canal era, the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal crossed its territory when it was completed in 1829, later to become a thriving thoroughfare. The New Castle and Frenchtown Railroad started service in 1831. The Frenchtown portion was abandoned in 1859, but other sections are now run by Norfolk Southern. A different type of transportation also came through the region. The Underground Railroad ran through Cecil County; Frederick Douglass is reported to have come into the area on his escape to freedom. During the Civil War, Perryville was a critical staging ground for Union troops.

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Over the subsequent decades, Cecil County’s economic future was shaped by its proximity to major cities in the mid-Atlantic region like Washington, D.C. As highways were developed, the county was part of the heavily traveled northeast corridor. In June 1941, the final portion of Route 40 was completed; it was later dedicated as the Pulaski Highway, after the Revolutionary War hero Casimir Pulaski. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy dedicated and opened the Northeastern Expressway (Interstate 95), which brought an ongoing flow of traffic that benefited local businesses. Charlestown’s history goes back Continued on Page 28

Gerry House in Port Deposit, where Lafayette visited in 1824.

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Cecil County History Continued from Page 27

almost 270 years to 1742, when the town was named after Charles Calvert, 5th Lord Baron of Baltimore. Originally the county seat, Charlestown was a busy port and supply depot for the Continental Army. Benjamin Franklin and the artist Charles Willson Peale are known to have visited. The Charlestown Historic District has approximately 150 buildings dating back to the mid-18th century, including the Red Lyon Tavern, the Paca House, the Indian Queen Tavern and the Hamilton House. Chesapeake City is known to boating enthusiasts as a great place to take a scenic cruise and is situated on the southern bank of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Its beginnings date to October 17, 1829, when the hand-dug canal opened for traffic. Ten years later, the town got its name. The canal allows passage of nearly 40 percent of the ship traffic between Philadelphia and Baltimore and is the third busiest canal in the world, after the Panama and Suez Canals. Visitors enjoy the seafood and other specialties at the Chesapeake Inn, Schaeffer’s Canal House as well as the quaint 19th century homes; history buffs will appreciate the C&D Canal Museum.

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The Chesapeake Inn sits on the banks of the Chesapeake City waterfront.

Elkton today is known as the county seat, but its colorful history is linked to its place as a staging point for British General William Howe’s forces, who landed at what was called Head of Elk before marching north to confront George


The historic Indian Queen Tavern in Charlestown.

Washington at the Battle of the Brandywine. It was also famous as being a place for couples to get hitched. When many states passed restrictive marriage laws in the early 20th century, Maryland did not- and Elkton’s proximity to major cities prompted thousands of people to flock there to be married. Famous names who were betrothed in Elkton include Cornel Wilde, Joan Fontaine, Debbie Reynolds, Willie Mays and Pat Robertson.

The C & D Canal Museum in Chesapeake City.

When Captain John Smith sailed up Chesapeake Bay, he cruised up the Susquehanna River to the present location of Port Deposit. Its roots go back so far, the entire town was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. The Gerry House was built in 1812, hosting the Marquis de Lafayette on his tour of America in 1824. Locally mined Port Deposit granite

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Cecil County History Continued from Page 29

linked to the creation of the United (actually gneiss) has been used in buildStates, the early republic and our nation’s ing numerous homes in the region, economic history with its canal. With including portions of well-known 51 properties listed on the National structures: the U.S. Naval Academy, Register, it offers numerous places for Haverford College, Fort McHenry, Fort people to explore as well as fun spots Delaware, the Boston Public Library and nearby to have leisure activities. If you the U.S. Treasury Building. love seafood, sailing or history, Cecil Notable people who spent time in County is a place you’ll want to put on Cecil County include statesman William your “Must See” list. Paca, who signed the Declaration of Independence and was later the Gene Pisasale is an historian, Governor of Maryland. George Read Sign on the Chesapeake and Delaware (C&D) Canal. author and lecturer based in Kennett was a contemporary of Paca, who signed Square. His ten books focus mostboth the Declaration of Independence ly on American history, including the and the United States Constitution, was Chester County and Philadelphia area. His latest book later a U.S. Senator and Delaware State Chief Justice. is “Forgotten Founding Fathers: Pennsylvania and Robert Somers Brookings is known today as the founder Delaware in the American Revolution.” His books are of the think-tank Brookings Institution. David Davis, a available on his website at www.GenePisasale.com lawyer colleague of President Abraham Lincoln later and on www.Amazon.com. He can be reached at served as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court. Gene@GenePisasale.com. Cecil County today looks back on a rich heritage, one

Minihane’s 1853 Land & Sea You may recognize the name from the original Minihane’s Irish Pub & Restaurant, but Ingrid Minihane took time during the pandemic to reinvent the concept of her business. She has worked in the food industry for over 20 years and decided to open her own restaurant in 2013 in downtown Elkton. Originally, Minihane’s Irish Pub & Restaurant opened as an Irish pub in honor of Denis Minihane, Ingrid’s husband, who was born and raised in Cunnamore, Ireland. After a heartbreaking closing of the restaurant during the pandemic, Ingrid and Denis decided to reopen in April of this year with a new name and concept — Minihane’s 1853 Land & Sea. Incorporating the year the building was established was important to them in acknowledging the rich history behind the brick and stone walls and the terrazzo floor. Having grown up in Chile, Ingrid is no stranger to seafood and steak and is excited to share a little bit of her culture through her dishes. As the head chef and co-owner of the restaurant, Ingrid is determined to provide clean food and simple, yet sophisticated dishes to her guests.

Much of the new concept derives from Ingrid’s love for steak and seafood found in her country, but Minihane’s 1853 Land & Sea offers much more than that. The new eclectic menu offers items such as Portugese Mussels, Irish Shepherd’s Pie, Chilean ‘lomo a lo pobre’, and the classic American Perfect Burger. She’s proud of using fresh ingredients to cook and local suppliers. The new restaurant features local fresh oysters as well as crab cakes. The diverse menu also extends to the bar which now features classic cocktails such as the Perfect Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Cosmopolitan, Martinis, Champagne, and even fresh Margaritas. Not just that, but they also offer imported beers such as Guinness from Ireland, Peroni from Italy, and Rodenbach Grand Cru from Belgium. This diverse cuisine and cocktails adds a different ambiance with a refined decor, lounge background music, and candle light to the historic building, making it a sophisticated place for customers to enjoy an elegant meal. Ingrid would like to invite anyone with a sense of adventure looking to travel the world through each dish to come join her for dinner at Minihane’s 1853 Land & Sea.

101 West Main Street Elkton, MD reservations@1853landandsea.com | 410-620-1853 Thurs - Sat • 5pm – 10pm, Sun • 10am – 2pm, Mon - Wed • Closed

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|Cecil County Life Community|

On Turak’s hill In 1999, George and Michelle Turak purchased Gray Horse Farm, a stones’ throw from the Cecil County border. It’s now a sanctuary for veterans and their families, who travel there to reflect, talk, listen, honor and heal “If you are able, save for them a place inside of you and save one backward glance when you are leaving for the places they can no longer go. “Be not ashamed to say you loved them, though you may not have always. Take what they have taught you with their dying and keep it with your own. “And in that time when men decide and feel safe to call the war insane, take one moment to embrace those gentle heroes you left behind.” Inscribed on a plaque at Gray Horse Farm, the home of Mount America Foundation Written by Maj. Michael D. O’Donnell MIA/KIA. Cambodia, March 24, 1970 Interred at Arlington National Cemetery By Richard L. Gaw Staff Writer

I All photos by Richard L. Gaw

Mount America Foundation founder George Turak stands beside one of the seven Soldiers Cross statues that honor the fallen men and women of the U.S. military, at his Gray Horse Farm just north of Port Deposit.

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n the circuitous navigation that eventually leads to Gray Horse Farm just a few miles from Cecil County, its most crucial directions begin at the Rising Sun exit off of Route 1 southbound that leads to a gravel road that winds past forest-thick growth and creates the temporary illusion that the visitor is being led to the beginning of Nowhere. George Turak, who purchased the 127-acre property with his wife Michelle in 1999, greets the visitor with a grand welcome that is both kind and anticipatory, because he can’t wait to show the visitor where the magic of this property and the foundation that he began happens.


Mount American Foundation was founded in 2019.

All photos by Richard L. Gaw

Mount America Foundation founder George Turak, right, with foundation treasurer Bill Vosseler, center, and sculptor Andrew Chernak, whose sculptures adorn the foundation’s memorial site at Gray Horse Farm.

Turak tucks a basket of beverages into the back of a small terrain vehicle – he’s got a few members coming over soon from Mount America Foundation, the organization he and Michelle began two years ago that honors military and emergency service providers and their families – and the general plan for the afternoon is to crack open a few beers with his buddies, light up a few cigars and watch the day go by from a bridge that crosses the Octoraro River at the far edge of the property. It is a short but steep and bumpy ride to the top of the 390-foot hill, and when Turak shuts off the vehicle, he says nothing. He doesn’t have to, because suddenly and without warning and with the only sound that of the quiet wind, the grand sweep of emotions match that of the all-encompassing vista that takes in the northern reaches of Cecil County, and parts of Chester County and Lancaster County. Immediately, the visitor knows that he has arrived at sacred ground.

At the edge of the one-acre mowed field, seven bronze statues – called Soldier’s Crosses, each sculpted by friend and sculptor Andrew Chernak -- stand four feet in height and exactly 21 feet apart. Each one displays a raised bayonet protruding from a soldier’s boot and a helmet depicting the headgear of U.S. wars and conflicts. Beside the flagpole and beneath the American flag are plaques honoring Gold Star mothers – also sculpted by Chernak. Every Memorial Day, the Turaks welcome veterans and their families to the hill, where a ceremony is held. Three people stand at each cross. Each person then recites the names of three veterans and rings the helmet, that emits a bell-like sound. Twenty-one names are spoken in remembrance of their sacrifice for their country. Beside the Soldiers Cross statue honoring the American men and women of World War II, Turak removes a small knife from his pocket, and asks the visitor to say the name of his grandfather, who fought in World War II. After the name “George” is whispered, Turak taps the helmet with his knife, and the sound reverberates in soft echo. He then walks to the statue honoring those who fought in the Korean Conflict. “What was your father’s name?” Turak asks the visitor. “Donald.” Turak taps the helmet at the top of the statue, and the same sound happens, and the visitor begins to understand why hundreds of veterans and their families continue to Continued on Page 34 www.cecilcountylife.com | Fall/Winter 2021 | Cecil County Life

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make their pilgrimage to this one-acre patch of earth at the top of a hill at the tip of Cecil County. They come here to reflect, talk, listen, honor and heal, and it as if they are welcomed with the opened arms of those they have come to remember. ‘I was just trying to survive coming back from the war’

Mount America Foundation is located just north of Rising Sun.

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The seeds that became Turak’s mission to bring a memorial celebrating the fallen men and women of our nation’s armed forces to families throughout Cecil County and beyond were not planted at Gray Horse Farm. In fact, they first fell from Turak’s hand when he was an infantryman in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War in 1969-70. In the jungle one early morning at about 5 a.m., Turak was wounded during a battle with the Vietcong. After he recovered from his injuries and returned to the United States, Turak, a Wilmington native, became the owner of the Turak Gallery of American Art in Philadelphia in 1973, which specializes in the purchase and sale of 19th and 20th century American art. “I wasn’t thinking about forming a foundation back then,” Turak said. “I was just trying to survive coming back from the war and dealing with the issues that we all had to deal with. From time to time, I would go to this pub and see these people dancing and I would say to myself, ‘These people have no idea about what’s happening on the other side of the world. There are young guys over in Vietnam who are dying.’” Over the next several years, Turak struggled to apply proper words to his war

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experiences, and saw that he was not alone. He attended meetings of veterans at the Perry Point Veterans Administration Medical Center. At one gathering, he heard the story of a World War II veteran who wept openly about his experience on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day – the guilt survivor complex felt by those veterans who got to come home. Finally, “It was Michelle who told me that I ought to be proud of what I did in Vietnam, and she got me back involved with recognizing my military service, and subsequently, helping others just like me,” he said. While he was positioning the gallery to become one of the finest galleries of its kind in the Philadelphia area, Turak also began to champion the cause to honor the men and women of the U.S. military, and in 2008, began serving on the advisory council for the Campaign for the National Museum of the United States Army. He also became a volunteer for the Armed Services Council at the Union League in Philadelphia. In 2009 – ten yeas after first purchasing the farm - the Turaks hosted Robert Daniels, who was then the head of the Union League Armed Services Council and had assisted several Gold Star families. After admiring the expansive views from the farm, Daniels turned to Turak. “George, you’ve been back from the war for 40 years. Don’t you think it’s time to put up a flag?” Daniels asked. Soon, at the property’s highest elevation point, a 40-foot-tall flag pole proudly displayed the American flag, but the flag was merely the beginning.

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The foundation provides opportunities for veterans and their families to share their experiences together in a friendly and welcome environment.

On a visit to Washington, D.C., Turak met with a Colonel who had been involved with Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing at Walter Reed Hospital, an organization dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military personnel through fly fishing. “I told him, ‘We are surrounded by the Octoraro Creek, and I have always wanted to help veterans and their families,’” Turak said. “We began to stock


the river, and that got the whole idea of Mount America Foundation started.” A welcome sanctuary for veterans and their families Within weeks, veterans began arriving at the farm, equipped with fly fishing poles and their families. Eventually, the Turak farm became the home for a local U.S. Navy Sea Cadet Corps training area; and the site of Veterans Day and Memorial Day celebrations with visiting dignitaries and Gold Star families. Through the powerful network of military families and organizations, the word had gotten out: Gray Horse Farm was being transformed into a welcome sanctuary and ceremonial home for veterans and their families. “Chris Clemens, who was a chopper pilot for the Philadelphia Police Department, would bring his wife and three kids to our Memorial Day Sunday,” Turak said. “On one visit here in 2014, his sons created a drawing of the hill with the flag on it as part of a school art project. On the back of the paper, the kids wrote, ‘Mount America.’” For the Turaks, it was time to collate all of these separate events, collaborations and initiatives under one umbrella,

and in 2019, Mount America Foundation was formed. A nonprofit 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, the foundation serves veterans, active duty and National Guard/ Reserve service members, first responders and their families – as well as honors the families of those who paid the ultimate price. Through its efforts and partnerships with other organizations, the foundation provides programs that help reconcile the physical and emotional effects of combat to foster hope, understanding, and success. Conversations at the bridge There was a makeshift table, chairs and umbrella set up on the forlorn and crooked bridge over the Octoraro Creek at the Turak Farm, and it serves as a regular beer-andcigar klatch for anyone associated with Mount America Foundation to have a few laughs, cuss a little, and share a story or two about their service if they are inclined to do so. On a cloudy fall afternoon, Chernak – the sculptor – sat in a folding chair and mostly listened to Turak and Bill Vosseler of Garnet Valley – another Vietnam veteran – talk about the days when they first returned to the U.S. after Continued on Page 38

Rolling Hills Ranch

YEAR ROUND HORSEBACK RIDING LESSONS FOR EVERYONE Day Camps offered 4 weeks in the Summer & Holidays Home of Freedom Hills Therapeutic Riding Program for people with disabilities Bed and Breakfast at Rolling Hills Ranch Volunteer Opportunities Available

33 Rolling Hills Ranch La Port Deposit, MD Mount America Foundation also hosts fly fishing expeditions for veterans along the Octoraro Creek.

410-378-3817

www.rollinghillsranch.org • www.freedomhills.org www.cecilcountylife.com | Fall/Winter 2021 | Cecil County Life

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their service. All three are combat disabled Purple Heart recipients. Finally, Chernak recalled his own story that happened when he was 20 years old, after serving in the thicket of a triple canopy jungle near Saigon in 1970. “I took a flight to the McGuire Air Force base, spent the night at Fort Dix, and the next day, took a bus to Philadelphia in full military uniform,” Chernak said. “I hailed a cab, and as I was about to get in, and a police car cut in front of the cab. A policeman and got out of his vehicle and proceeded to arrest me, because I had a souvenir rifle from my time in Vietnam. He told me that he had gotten word that someone was walking around with a rifle. “They took me to the police station, and the entire police force treated me great – coffee, donuts. They asked to see my photo album, and they apologized to me and told me that there would be no record of my arrest. They then offered me a free ride home.” In the years that followed, Chernak followed the common practice of most veterans who return to civilian life. He attempted to make his memories disappear. “I tried to pick up life where I left off when I enlisted in the Army, but it wasn’t working out, so I became more and more reclusive,” he said. “I then discovered sculpting and that was great for me. It put me into a world that I found pleasant, in a world I could live in. “I really wanted nothing to do with talking or remembering.” Several years ago, Chernak – who had already designed and created his Soldiers Cross -- was giving a lecture about sculpture at the Philadelphia Union League, when he met Turak. “I saw that George had a miniature Purple Heart on his lapel, and I thought, ‘Here’s a guy I could relate to,’” he said. Soon after, Turak commissioned Chernak to sculpt a Soldiers Cross for the hill, then another and another and they have just kept coming. Over the last few years, Mount America Foundation has placed several of Chernak’s memorials at military bases, veterans cemeteries and parks, but to Chernak, every time he ventures up to the hill at Gray Horse Farm where the most of his Soldiers Crosses and several memorials reside, he is renewed. “Every time I go there it brings back memories, but the hill lets you handle those memories, whereas years ago, I wasn’t able to handle them well at all,” he said. “I know what Mount America is trying to do. I have seen many ceremonies, I have seen the healing reactions of people being there, and it gives validation to the work that I am able to do on behalf of the foundation.” 38

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‘It was time to shut up and go away’ On the bridge, Vosseler took a reflective puff of his cigar. He recalled the time he gave his girlfriend his Army brass medals, thinking she would wear them at college. She told Vosseler that she couldn’t wear them at school; it was something that just wasn’t acceptable. “I can remember wanting to talk about Vietnam, but I very quickly got the impression that this isn’t anything anybody wanted to talk about,” said Vosseler, who serves as Mount America’s treasurer. “The common belief was that ‘We just want to forget it is there. We want to forget it was going on.’ “In retrospect, I was looking for the adrenaline rush that I felt when I was in the infantry, and I couldn’t find it. We wanted to speak to someone but we didn’t. It was just something that we buried. It was time to shut up and go away.” As Turak and his wife continue to immerse themselves in the hard conversations about the war experience, Gray Horse Farm has become a forum for long-held truths to be told, both by veterans like Chernak and Vosseler, as well as for women.

Turak told the story of a young nurse, who when she first arrived at Gray Horse Farm was traumatized by the effects of the many soldiers she saw die in front of her on the operating table. While her trauma is still very real, Turak said that he and Michelle are delighted by the connection the nurse has made to the farms’ many cats. “She came to us in a shell, and to see her now, petting and talking to the cats, smiling and opening up to people, means the world to us,” Turak said. “Having been a wounded solider and in a hospital for three months, I understand what she has seen, felt and experienced.” Mount America Foundation is not just about honoring the past, but preparing young people for a bright future. Its collaboration with the U.S. Navy Sea Cadet Corps has allowed young people from tough, inner-city neighborhoods to enjoy the beauty of Gray Horse Farm, attend tours of museums and battlefields like Gettysburg, and gain an understanding of a larger world. “Their experiences here have given them a new perspective that they would never have had if they never left their Continued on Page 40

Beginning in the Spring of 2022, WNA will be revitalizing its competitive baseball and softball programs. All students who are admitted to play baseball or softball in the 2021-2022 Academic Year will be offered a discounted rate in tuition in the form of an athletic scholarship! Educating high school students since 1744, WNA remains the longest-standing day and boarding school in the country and an institution where students from around the world come to learn and experience our signature programs in art, STEM, and environmental sustainability. Situated in the rolling countryside of northeastern Maryland, just a few miles away from the headwaters of the Chesapeake Bay, our beautiful 100-acre campus provides our students a place for living and learning. 5 and 7-day boarding options are available to our students.

410.658.5556 | www.wna.org

To learn more about our baseball and softball programs and to apply, please visit https://wna.org/baseball-and-softball/ www.cecilcountylife.com | Fall/Winter 2021 | Cecil County Life

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two-block lives of their neighborhoods,” Turak said. “If we can move their lives a half-inch forward, then we will have achieved what Mount America Foundation is all about.” ‘The safe and quiet place’ One of the goals of the foundation is to collect soil from battlefields around the world, and sprinkle it among Chernak’s Soldiers Crosses and other memorials at the top of the hill at Gray Horse Farm. Currently, there is sand at the site that came from the beaches of Iwo Jima and Normandy. “The sand is almost like an anointing,” Vosseler said, “to recognize the parts of the world where people gave their lives for this country, and to give others – family and those who served in those conflicts – the ability to relate even more. “The hill is hallowed ground for people who haven’t been able to express their emotions for those who will never come back to their families, and those who have served who are no longer here,” he added. “For all of those who come here – whether they are a current service member, an ex-service member, a wounded veteran or inner-city children, this farm, this foundation -- is a safe and quiet place.” To learn more about Mount America Foundation and to make a contribution to the design, construction and placement of Soldiers Cross memorials, visit www.mountamerica.org. To contact Staff Writer Richard L. Gaw, email rgaw@chestercounty.com.

One of seven Soldiers Cross statues that grace the top of the hill at Gray Horse Farm, where ceremonies are held every Memorial Day to commemorate the service and memory of fallen U.S. veterans.

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|Cecil County Photo Essay| Text by Richard L. Gaw In 1865, the Philadelphia and Baltimore Central Railroad began building a line from Oxford to Rising Sun that would take passengers from Philadelphia and rural towns south of the city. The line reached Rising Sun in 1868 and with the demand for freight out of Baltimore, the railroad continued the line to the Columbia and Port Deposit Railroad line -- which ran from Perryville to Harrisburg -- at Octoraro. The railroad was a masterpiece of functionality, ingenuity and expansion, forging through the countryside, hauling passengers, soldiers to the Naval Training base at Bainbridge and freight to factories and mills throughout Cecil County and beyond. Continued on Page 44

Photos by Moonloop Photography

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On the Oc in m


Octoraro rails, miniature

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Conowingo Models Continued from Page 42

Just a short distance from where the Norfolk Southern Bridge crosses the Octoraro, Chris Coarse of Conowingo Models has resurrected that bygone era in the form of his HO and O scale craftsman kits designed for those who have turned parts of their homes over to their passion for model railroading, or those who are just starting the hobby. Each item – flatcars, cabooses, boxcars, train depots and homes and stores, all made of real wood – is created to illuminate its uniqueness and character. In fact, some of the items Coarse makes for his customers are similar in design to actual structures, such as the Pennsbury Mill. Two-and-a-half years after Coarse began his business, Conowingo Models now provides model railroad kits to customers as near as Cecil County and as far away as Australia, Switzerland and England. Continued on Page 46

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Conowingo Models Continued from Page 44

“I think our continued fascination with model railroading has to do with imagination,” Coarse said. “Most of those who begin to conceive of what they want in a model railroad have something in mind, and while it may appear cloudy to them, they have a vision, and Conowingo Models helps them get started on their way. “A lot of enthusiasts I’ve come to know start out with a model railroad when they are kids, and then give it up when they get to college or start a career because they liken it to playing with toys. When they get to having children of their own, however, many have expressed to me that their desire to get back to model railroading comes from seeing their kids’ enjoyment of it.” To learn more about Conowingo Models, visit www.conowingomodels.com, or check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

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|Cecil County Life Q&A|

Juli Sebring

Appleton Equestrian For the past 20 years, Juli Sebring has competed in national and international dressage and eventing. Cecil County Life recently talked with Juli about bringing that experience and passion to teaching others about the many joys of the equestrian life. 48

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Cecil County Life: We are speaking on the day before the start of the prestigious Maryland 5 Star at Fair Hill, one of only two 5 Star level events in the U.S. Normally, you would compete on your own, but this year, Oliver Townend, who is number one in the world on the Eventing World Athlete rankings, is competing for you. Describe the circumstances that led you to get Oliver to Fair Hill. Juli: It’s not everyday something like this happens. I imported Ulises in June, the second of three horses I brought over this summer for my side business, A-Team Imports. Ulises was previously piloted by Oli (from 2017-2019). It was pretty special for me to compete with a horse who’d won at the 4-star level, and even more spectacular to know he was already 5-star qualified with Oliver. So naturally when I found out I was pregnant, he was the first person I thought of. I didn’t actually think he’d say yes. I sent an email and I couldn’t believe he was on board. Continued on Page 50


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Juli Sebring Continued from Page 48

You bring more than 20 years of teaching qualifications and competition in national and international dressage and eventing to Appleton Equestrian. In terms of your teaching, what goals did you have when you and your husband Ian Sebring began the company in 2105? I’d say our goal was to become the best lesson barn in the area. It’s pretty amazing how it took off. I started with a handful of students and being the only instructor, and we grew to teaching 70-80 riders here a week with five instructors. Continued on Page 52

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Fall off the Bone Baby Back Ribs, Signature Crab Cakes, and Original and Creative Burgers



Juli Sebring Continued from Page 50

We recently read that you taught lessons at a barn during college, bought and sold horses, were a property manager, a certified life insurance sales agent, a freelance graphic designer, a writer and publisher, an au pair in Ireland and a social media and graphics specialist for a law firm. Take the readers of Cecil County Life back to the moment – or moments – that seemed to tell you that a life spent in the world of horses was what you simply had to do. It was always what I wanted to do. I graduated in 2012 and it was still very difficult to find jobs at that point. It’s possible if I’d been hired for the design job of my dreams, that none of this would have happened. Horses were always what I did, but also a fall back plan for during -- and after -- other things that didn’t work out. Continued on Page 54

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Juli Sebring Continued from Page 52

One of the premiere signatures of Appleton Equestrian is its exclusiveness in welcoming the entire community. For instance, not only do you offer summer camps for children ages 7 to 16, but a summer camp for adults called Ride & Wine. It’s about to head into its fourth year in 2022. What has made this so popular among those who attend, and for those who are interested in learning more, what activities await them? I think it has become so popular because there’s no other barn in the vicinity that offers this. We allow riders to use our horses or come and stable their own. It’s a unique experience and a fun getaway for adults! In addition to operating a 5-star rated equestrian facility, you are also the author of two novels, A Horse to Remember and A Horse to Treasure. How did you manage to fit in time for writing while also balancing teaching, running a farm and a business, competing and coordinating other activities and events?

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I never would have found the time! I wrote the first book when I was 14, and the second book I wrote upon graduating college. These days, I’m lucky to have any time at all to write, and sadly I do feel I’ve lost some creativity with age. For every individual who wishes to someday know the feeling of being one with a horse – whether it is dressage, eventing, show jumping or merely riding on a trail – there seems to be an equal number of reasons for not doing it, and fear seems to be at the top of that list. When teaching beginning students, what steps do you and your fellow instructors take to alleviate those fears? The first step is always getting comfortable with handling the horse at the ground. If you’re nervous around him, chances are you aren’t going to feel too good on his back! We offer lessons that split the ground work and the riding, and we do see those beginning students progress more rapidly than the others who only choose to ride. Continued on Page 56

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Juli Sebring Continued from Page 55

What is your favorite place in Cecil County? That is too easy. Fair Hill Training Center. Juli and Ian Sebring throw a dinner party. Who do you wish to see around that dinner table? Well, most recently, it was Oliver Townend! We invited him and his crew over for dinner during the Maryland 5 Star. What food or beverage can always be found in your refrigerator? Ha! We’re lucky if there’s anything. Keeping a stocked fridge is not one of our strong suits. To learn more about Appleton Equestrian, LLC, its camps for kids and adults and special events, visit www.appletonequestrian.com, or visit them on Facebook. Appleton Equestrian, LLC is located at 1966 Appleton Road, Elkton, Md. 21921. Tel: 410-398-1466. -- Richard L. Gaw

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|Cecil County People|

Local author Susan W. Green pens a captivating escape By Betsy Brewer Brantner Contributing Writer

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efore Susan W. Green retired in late 2018, she spent 35 years in the banking industry. She was an operations executive and certainly knew much about that subject and about effective leadership skills. Her peers might have expected Susan to write a book on leadership or operational effectiveness. “I reported to the CEO and ran operations for the deposit side of the business such as checking, savings, money market, fraud, and I managed complaints,” she explained. So, what happened to that book on leadership? “Well, it turned into a romance novel by the title of Crystal Lake Inn,” she laughed. Although, when one listens to the story of how she got from “there” to “here” you can see how her personal leadership qualities got her to being a published writer of a romance novel. Although she had done writing related to her profession, Green had never written a book before. After retirement, she started her own consulting business and traveled frequently because of it. Between the long hours and the pressure of the new business, Green began to plan out her future. But writing a book never completely left her mind. So, Green did what any confident woman would do: She took a class to learn the mechanics of how to write a novel. How hard could it be? Realizing quickly that she didn’t know enough to write an entire novel, she sought out courses and wound up taking one online at Cecil Community College. The class, titled “Writing, Publishing and Marketing Your Book,” was taught by Michele Chynoweth, another local author who had already published four books. Chynoweth offers her services to the public along with a 30-minute free consultation for potential clients. Continued on Page 60

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Susan W. Green Continued from Page 58

“In September of 2020, with the pandemic in full-bloom, I took the .the online course, but by then I had already written a chapter of what would become the book, and handed it in to Michele,” Green said. “She then told me that it needs work, but that it was god and that I should continue to write. “That was all the encouragement I needed. It only took me four-and-a-half months to complete the writing. It took another six months to get through the rounds of proofing and formatting. Then I hired Michele to help me get the book published.” Green explained some of the important assistance that Chynoweth provided. “She read the draft manuscript. She made changes, highlighted comments. She had me change some words for better flow and readability. I’m good at writing descriptions but I had to show people what I was trying to tell them. As a writer, I have to put words on paper that will help the reader actually see what’s in my head,” she explained. “I was fairly good at it, but Michele was an experienced writer and showed me several tricks of the trade. She would say, ‘that was good, but do you think you could go deeper?’” What brought Green to that particular book? She explained that people that knew her, knew she liked a happy ending. “I’m a glass half-full kind of person,” she said. “During the pandemic, I thought people needed to read something that would make them feel good. I just created my own world, one I wanted to see. The first person that read it said, “This is like a Hallmark movie.” It is the first book in a series. Each book can be read independently, but they all have a common tie.” Green said the fun part of writing was using her imagination to create a town for the setting of her story. “I came up with the title and created a fictitious lake which also needed a B & B-type of hotel,” she explained. “I thought Crystal Lake Inn sounded like a pretty place to stay. I described the lake meticulously and that was fun too. I anchored the setting in the state of Maine which has gorgeous lakes and is known for picturesque inns. I’ve vacationed in Maine several times and I could easily see my inn being located near the coastline. There is an art to creating characters and places. Creating the characters and what they looked like and who they would resemble as an actor. I gave them a whole profile, where they came from and who or what kind of person their potential love interest would be.” Again, Green’s book coach was great at helping her stay organized. “Michele taught me to write an outline, just a paragraph or Continued on Page 62

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Susan W. Green Continued from Page 60

two, of what each chapter will be about,” Green explained. “That may change as you go but having the outline will keep you on course when you start writing. You need to know where the dialogue is going. I was constantly coming up with new descriptive words to keep the story interesting. I had to convert my work vocabulary into writer’s talk.” Green said that she was dedicated to the class. She did all her homework and read everything the instructor suggested. After the class on various publishing options, Green chose to self-publish her book through Amazon. “Prior to the book coming out, I had created some marketing and social media buzz to build interest for the launch. I had people already waiting for Launch Day on Aug. 10 and sold over 80 books that first day. I had a few friends who read the book and suggested they knew who the characters were in real life. You always run the risk of people thinking your characters are real people in your life, but they weren’t. The book is pure fiction. No one in the book is a real person from my life,” she said. Books two and three are already in the works. “Book two is fully outlined and has a working title of Crystal Lake Gifts and book three is in my head and will be

focused on a holiday story so has a working title of Crystal Lake Christmas,” she explained. When asked if she always knew she would be a writer Green said, “Personally, I’m a bit surprised, but I have two sisters and they aren’t’ surprised. I was always an avid reader and writing a book report always came very easy to me.” Green said, “I was a professional for many years and I enjoyed that life. I also explored crafting and making quilts. However, I still have a quilt I haven’t finished since 1976. Several people in my family are crafters and we often get together at my house to work on projects and also volunteer projects like putting together toiletry bags for the homeless. But I’ll leave the detailed crafting to those with lots of patience.” Although that unfinished quilt crosses her mind now and then, Green is totally happy with her new love, writing books. “I have to admit it did surprise me that I wrote a book,” she said. “I think some books would be very difficult to write, like emotional memoirs. My original goal was just to finish a book, get it published and sell one copy. I worked on it a couple of days a week and honestly, my typing

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couldn’t keep up with my brain.” Green has always been a voracious reader. “I love listening to interviews with authors,” she said. “I used to laugh when authors said, ‘my characters tell me which way to take the story.’ It’s true. It’s scary— but true. I may think one thing will happen but then it changes. It is not a straight path. Just like the couple in my book. There were so many twists and turns, mystery, intrigue, humor and that’s what makes it more interesting.” Were her professional associates surprised that she had written a book? “Yes, they are,” Green said. “I didn’t say anything to them until the draft was completed. We would have virtual get togethers, coffee talks. I would listen to others talk about taking up yoga or learning how to cook. We would talk about what was going on in our lives. And one day I casually mentioned I was writing a book. I think it did surprise some people.” Green added, “Since I retired, I do live a different life. I’m not an executive. I had to learn to write at a different level and changed the words I use. I had to think about what the characters in my book would talk about.”

She wanted to be a published author and now she is, so maybe that leadership book should still be written. Certainly, her leadership skills were evident in her own life. She heard her calling and she went for it. And it doesn’t sound like she ever thought she wouldn’t finish her book. “I wanted to be published author,” she explained. “ I didn’t want to wait for years for a publisher to pick me up. I wasn’t writing for the money. I wanted to tell the story of Crystal Lake Inn, the innkeeper Cassidy Taylor, and her reclusive and secretive guest, Jack Burnett. And now I’m selling my book.” Green is enjoying the marketing of her book and moving forward on two others. She lives in Fair Hill, and feels blessed to be surrounded by beautiful scenery, ever-changing farmland views and oh, as an added perk, family next door. The book may have been an unlikely move during a pandemic, but her readers are thankful for giving them a welcome release from difficult times. And those would be writers out there, well, they are dreaming, too. You can purchase Susan Green’s book, Crystal Lake Inn, on Amazon.

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Cecil College athletics hosts Seahawk Turkey 5K Trot Cecil College Athletics will host the second annual Seahawk Turkey 5K Trot Walk/Run on Saturday, Nov. 20 to benefit student-athlete development at Cecil College, including tuition scholarships, book vouchers, and academic support services, equipment and transportation needs, and much more. This fall’s race will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on the North East campus. Participants move at their own pace along the terrain of the two, 1.5-mile Turkey Trot loops which are ideal for walking, jogging, or running and include a mixture of asphalt, packed gravel, and grass. The event will be socially distanced to ensure that members of a household are able to maintain six-feet of distance from other participants. No pets allowed. Due to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 situation,

there is a possibility that this event may be moved to a virtual event in which participants will be notified as early as possible. The registration fee is $20, with proceeds going to the Cecil College Foundation to fund student needs. Registration will close on Thursday, Nov. 18, at 11:59 p.m. Participants will receive a t-shirt at the event. This event will be held “light rain or shine,” but in the case of extreme weather conditions, the rain date will be Sunday, Nov. 21. Prizes will be awarded to top male and female finishers in the following age groups: age 13-29, age 30-49, age 50-69, age 70 and over. Registration can be done online, along with further information at www.cecil.edu/turkeytrot.

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Cecil County Life Magazine Fall/Winter 2021 www.cecilcountylife.com A Chester County Press Publication P.O. Box 150, Kelton, PA 19346 address corrections not required


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