The Kent Pilot will cease publication July 2, 2021.

The decision was made not due to a lack of financial support or readership. Our advertising and readership grew steadily and we recently invested in a site upgrade.

The one area we were not able to grow is in our staff. The work-life balance for our news team, Dan Menefee and Stephen Meehan, became unsustainable.

While technology has made online publishing less complicated and free of the production costs of the Print Age, the stories don’t write themselves. Reporting beyond the surface requires extensive time following paper trails and scratching beyond the surface.

We appreciate the contributions of Arts Contributor Kate Meehan and her fellow Kent County History quizmasters Joan Horsey and Kevin Hemstock. We also thank Bill Minus, who came to Chestertown from Highlands, North Carolina to discover he was a storyteller.

Our Kent Pilot Fellow Susie Fordi, a rising junior at the New School of Journalism, contributed to the BLM coverage last summer and helped diligently with our Instagram campaign. Liz Janega, our copy editor, was a valuable addition.

We thank our sponsors. They were generous in their support and saw value in hyperlocal journalism. We thank our board members, David Bowering, Ashley Colen, and Steve Frohock for their generous support.

We delivered much news in our 16 months of operation.

The Kent Pilot launched in March of 2020, days before Gov. Larry Hogan enacted a state of emergency to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We jumped right into coverage on all aspects of the local pandemic response — from closures and masking orders to the ongoing story of Kent’s vaccination effort.

In May 2020 the heinous murder of George Floyd shocked the world and led Kent Countians to the streets of Chestertown to peacefully protest police reform to have a meaningful and peaceful conversation on race and reconciliation.

The Kent Pilot reported the efforts to create the Black Lives Matter murals, which were initially met with resistance from town leaders until wide public support prevailed and an honest conversation on Chestertown’s history began.

The Kent Pilot team first reported on Chestertown’s malapportioned voting districts that had persisted for decades, leading to the creation of a redistricting committee and passage of properly-apportioned voting districts this spring.

We have reported on Shore Regional Health’s effort to shut down the containment system at the Chestertown hospital — that keeps an old heating spill from threatening the town’s drinking water supply, including an unreported two-month shutdown that led to fines.

Chestertown Mayor David Foster has prioritized a comprehensive site survey to confirm for the first time in over 30 years the state of the oil spill before the containment system is turned off permanently. The Kent County Commissioners are helping with funding.

A story whose outcome we will not report is the future of the Ajax Basketball Court, a piece of Chestertown’s African American heritage.

Its roots date back to the 1950s when Jim Crow was the policy and black men and youth in Chestertown found a place to shoot hoops juxtaposed between the former Pennsylvania Railroad yard and the railroad tracks. Eventually a new court with two hoops was constructed just down the tracks in the early 1970s. Now the tracks are the Gilchrest Trail, prime public real estate along the recreation path that runs from Foxley Manor to Wilmer Park.

Will Ajax remain a lonely one-hoop court? Or will the town adopt the Ajax restoration plan that includes a two-hoop basketball court situated less than 300 yards from the proposed $250,000 playground at Wilmer Park?

We published many other enterprising stories. The Kent Pilot website will remain as an archive of our reporting in a time that presented epic social and economic challenges.

Thanks for reading.

Steve Meehan and Dan Menefee