As local coverage wanes, residents become self-taught watchdogs

Kevin Hemstock, the longtime editor of the Kent County News, took his paper’s watchdog role literally.

From his office in downtown Chestertown, Maryland, he had a sweeping view of High Street, the main thoroughfare. One February day in 2010, he looked out his window, saw the three council members from the nearby town of Millington entering a lawyer’s office, and immediately sensed trouble.

Why, he wondered, was the entire Millington Town Council arriving for what looked like a closed-door meeting in the middle of the day? Hemstock, who long ago had memorized the Maryland Open Meetings Act and regularly scanned the council’s schedule, knew the meeting had not been announced in advance and believed that it violated Maryland law. Continue…