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Berlin, MD 21811
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Editorial

Editorial - Articles


Pines waters still murky

Posted On: 4/20/17
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Although many in the community came out Thursday evening to make their views clear on the issue of the Family Fun Day on Sundays at the adult pool during the summer, they also addressed the more important issue of how the decision process should work in such instances. In last year’s election, voters sent a pretty clear message they wanted more input and elected those who promised to do so. Most disappointing was the response by board member and acting General Manager Mr. Hill along with board President Herrick, who were voted onto the board with just that promise. Rather than hear the public outcry as one addressing a valid issue, Hill and Herrick instead chose to lash out publicly at other board members, who acted promptly when they learned of the decision made without their or the community’s input by calling for a public meeting to address those concerns. Their response of blaming the board for acting politically and revolting against them caused an unfortunate rift...
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OPA GM needs oversight

Posted On: 4/13/17
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In recent months a number of decisions have been made by acting Ocean Pines General Manager Brett Hill that have seemingly caught most board members – along with the community – by surprise. The latest example is opening up the previously adults-only Oasis/Yacht Club pool to families on Sunday afternoons during the summer season. The only notice to board members and the community was a note in the recently published Activities Guide under aquatics pool hours, which lists the pool as adult-only (except Sundays 2-6 p.m. June 4 – September 3). While this move certainly deserves further discussion on its own, more concerning is how one person can make changes of such impact in the community without input or oversight. The general manager of the organization, whether a permanent hire or acting in the role temporarily, should not have the authority to unilaterally make any substantial changes without consulting the board, which is elected by the community to approve th...
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Berlin’s ‘Field of Dreams’

Posted On: 4/6/17
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Youth interest in organized sports, especially baseball, has been fading so rapidly in recent years that even big league officials have taken notice. This, at least, is according to articles in the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Time, Forbes, The Atlantic and numerous other highly respected print and online journals. They say it’s the game’s slow pace as compared to football, basketball and, of course, tech games that has caused today’s kids to turn away from the traditional recreational pursuits of their parents and grandparents. And yet, there’s the Berlin Little League, which had more than 500 kids sign up for Little League baseball and softball this year. That’s astonishing, considering the hand-wringing going on about the apparent inability of youth sports organizers elsewhere to keep young ballplayers rounding the bases. Obviously, Berlin is doing something differently. Since there’s no way to know how other ...
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Don’t bet on towns to get cut of casino funds

Posted On: 3/30/17
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No one can blame Snow Hill and Pocomoke officials for seeking a tiny slice of the Ocean Downs Casino revenue pie, but they will be going against house odds to get it. It isn’t because those communities wouldn’t be able to make a reasonable argument for a share, because that wouldn’t be too difficult. Considering that Snow Hill Mayor Charlie Dorman and Pocomoke City Mayor Bruce Morrison are asking for just 1 percent of the total community impact grant that’s now divided between Worcester County, Ocean City, Berlin and Ocean Pines, they’re not talking about that much money — something in the low tens of thousands of dollars. A good case could be made that even though the casino is between a 30- to 45-minute drive away from those communities, and that the impact of gaming on them is therefore greatly reduced, some cost probably does exist. Further, if you’re looking at awards of somewhere in the $30,000 range, it’s not too tough to make ...
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Argument for fiber thin

Posted On: 3/23/17
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A push coming from ThinkBig Networks is encouraging the community to pressure the Ocean Pines Board of Directors to make a quick decision to allow an easement for fiber optic cable to be run in the community. Initially, the proposal looks like a no-brainer with no up-front cost to OPA to have the lines run, but there is much about this proposal that should make the board take pause. The original proposal to grant an easement came from FTS, the company that wishes to lay the infrastructure. FTS is owned by board member and acting GM, Brett Hill. FTS will make its money by leasing those lines to end-use providers, such as ThinkBig Networks. The proposal presented offered a several-year deal to provide free fiber optics to the OPA Police Department, which on the surface looks appealing. What is concerning is there was no information regarding future costs to the police department along with initial and on-going costs for service to other Ocean Pines facilities. Those costs could be sub...
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Pines gamble worthwhile

Posted On: 3/16/17
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The Ocean Pines Association search for a general manager to take over from interim operational chief Brett Hill is akin to the “Forrest Gump” box of chocolates observation: “You never know what you’re going to get.” Or, as Director Dave Stevens put it, “You pays your money and takes your chances.” That’s about the size of it, as no matter how good a search firm is, or how much its services cost, its recommendations are exactly that, rather than guarantees. No one can know how well even the most highly touted recruit will do until he or she has spent a fair amount of time on the job. The circumstances, expectations, personalities and support staff — everything is different from one job to another, so there’s no way to be certain whether someone who performed miracles in one place can do the same elsewhere. As almost any manager in public or private employ knows, the ability to deliver a good result is just as dependent on...
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Addressing gulf on golf

Posted On: 3/2/17
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Returning the Ocean Pines golf course to local control by ending the contract with Landscapes Unlimited was the right move for the Ocean Pines Board of Directors, who ascertained correctly that saving money in this instance is as good as making it. Even though Landscapes did make improvements in the operation, the course looks to be close to $100,000 off budget this year, thereby activating the $50,000 opt-out trigger in the original contract. Also per that agreement, which took effect in May 2015, the board was paying Landscapes close to $80,000 a year to run the course. By lopping off that bill, the board has taken a big step toward making up some budgetary ground. But even though this management change makes sense, it isn’t going to solve all the golf club’s problems, as some of them are tied to an industry that isn’t growing as it once did. As of 2016, the number of rounds played had been flat for five years, as Baby Boomers age out of the market and Millennia...
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Third time’s the charm?

Posted On: 2/23/17
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Don’t be too hasty in making judgments on the quality of the food and service at the yacht club, now rebranded as Mumford’s Landing, since the Ocean Pines restaurant and club is going through the same thing all new restaurants do. As veteran diners know — and Ocean Pines has plenty of them — the first few weeks of any food service operation are tough, and it’s even more difficult for Mumford’s Landing as a community-owned facility. It’s going to get more scrutiny than most other restaurants would, with a clientele drawn initially from a base that largely consists of stakeholders in the operation. No restaurant likes unhappy guests, but the one advantage private operations have is that the disappointed few can’t go to a board of directors to complain about it. No matter how much association members might want Mumford’s Landing to produce revenue quickly, the kitchen, the wait staff, the procurement people, the bus staff — ...
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Shoes off to Jesse Turner

Posted On: 2/16/17
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Now that Jesse Turner is moving on at the age of 86, thousands of people in the area will no doubt will be wondering, “Now what will we do?” Turner, who’s owned the Berlin Shoe Box for decades and seems to have worked there since the beginning of time, is one of those people out-of-towners might not have seen on a regular basis, but they knew where he was when you needed him. By “out-of-towners,” we mean Ocean Pines, Ocean City, West Ocean City and the surrounding area, because everyone who ever had a favorite pair of shoes or boots that were too good to give up, but too worn to wear knew exactly what to do — take them to the Shoe Box, where this exceptionally nice gentleman would bring them back to life. Berliners, of course, know Mr. Turner best. Besides his seemingly eternal business presence, he has involved himself in the community for decades. But alas, time passes and businesses like the Shoe Box are fading into history. We’re more i...
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Er on side of inclusion

Posted On: 2/9/17
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If local governments and community associations were marching bands, they would be moving to the beat of conundrums. A bad pun that may be, but it is a good way to describe how small government operations find themselves in an endless struggle to keep assessments at a politically acceptable level, while also ensuring that services and amenities are available to as many people as possible. In Ocean Pines this week, the discussion addressed a fundamental issue of this budget-balancing act: should amenities such as the gym aim to make a profit or strive only to break even? Reasonable arguments can be made to support either approach. Making a profit could, depending on the budgetary bent of the leadership, be applied against assessments, thus benefitting all property owners whether or not they use the facility. Conversely, a break-even approach would help to ensure that user fees for that amenity are within the financial reach of as many people as possible. It’s more of a philos...
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