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Berlin, MD 21811
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Editorial

Editorial - Articles


Hats off to Chamber, Water Resources team

Posted On: 7/23/15
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What can we say about last week’s Berlin Bathtub races, except that we came in second to the military-industrial-government complex of Berlin’s Water Resources department. While it is true that its entry was somewhat faster than ours, that’s what anyone would expect when word is that Water Resources called in favors from some of its contacts in the realm of government contractors. We can’t prove it, but it sure did look like the wheels on its highly specialized machine carried the logo of Lockheed Martin, whereas we, in the private sector, had to make do with over-the-counter materials. And although their cockpit might have looked like a washtub, we suspect it was a cleverly disguised “Stealth” washtub made of space age elements, while we had, well, a bunch of old newspapers. Of course, we’re just kidding. Water Resources won fair and square and did a fine job, as did all the other entries that turned out to make last week’s event one...
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OP politics embarrassing? No, and here’s why that is

Posted On: 7/16/15
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People who cringe at what they perceive to be the negative cloud that seems to float over Ocean Pines Association politics and government don’t realize how fortunate they are. The frequently unrestrained public discussions, disputes and assertions that are viewed by many as a source of embarrassment are actually refreshing as compared to the subtle knife-throwing that goes on in other communities. It’s a fact. Ocean City politics, for instance, have been notoriously, but quietly, vicious for decades, seasoned as they have been by all sorts of chicanery and deviousness. Even Berlin, where one might conclude that everyone loves everyone else and that competitors even vote for each other, has endured its share of political subterfuge over the years. But because these things happen mostly below the surface in these communities, the general public doesn’t see, hear or recognize the real nature of their local politics. Not so in Ocean Pines, where, for the lack of a be...
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With Bathtub Races, Berlin just having fun

Posted On: 7/9/15
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Ah yes, the annual Berlin Bathtub Races. It’s so nice to have something on which to expound besides local politics, even if it is plumbing related. This also one of the rare instances when we can talk about people pushing each other around without having to worry about a public backlash. That, after all, is what this event has been about for the past 25 years and will be again next Friday, when the 26th iteration of the event takes place. It’s goofiness for fun. One would think, given the strenuous nature of many of the area’s continuing debates, issues and discussions, that something more is going on than mere differences of opinion and that critical balances might be irrevocably upset. The bathtub races, however, put it all in perspective, because they’re just silly … in a good way. That’s one thing that Berlin has maintained throughout its growth and success that many other communities can only wish they had: a sense of humor and a great sens...
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Next time, try adding some substance to political forum

Posted On: 7/2/15
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The Ocean Pines Association election forum last Wednesday was an interesting exercise in … filling up the allotted time and letting the public see who was running. Beyond that, it offered no new revelations, few, if any, bold visions and no detailed plans for solving whatever problems were identified. That’s hardly the fault of the Elections Committee, which staged the event, but is just the way most politics are these days, whether that would be in a town, a city, a state or a property owners’ association. What candidates generally do everywhere is concentrate on what previous administrations did right or wrong and how their individual personal qualities will enable them to do a good job if they are elected. Little mention is made of exactly what they propose to do and how they will do it. In the OPA instance, the break between candidates at the forum seemed to be who supports General Manager Bob Thompson and who doesn’t. That, of course, has nothing to do...
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Better background checks

Posted On: 6/25/15
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In the aftermath of the Charleston, S.C. church massacre, the public’s focus has turned to the appropriateness of flying the Confederate battle flag at government institutions, rather than on the greater problem of how a deranged black-hating person like Dylaan Roof got a gun in the first place. Hauling down that flag at South Carolina’s capital and denying its use in other official instances there and elsewhere is a matter of showing respect for all residents of those regions and is clearly the right thing to do. Still, the national coverage that this symbolic gesture has engendered accomplishes little except to make some people feel that a colossal societal shift has somehow taken place when it has not. What it does is eliminate the perception that government condones a racist philosophy, while also wishing that the Civil War had turned out differently when it ended 150 years ago. But what it also does is misdirect the national discussion from the more important probl...
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To grow or not to grow: Berlin facing big decision

Posted On: 6/11/15
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 It’s far too early in the conversation about the possible development of the Bay Club outside Berlin for anyone to take a definitive position, other than to express a willingness to listen. The prospect of a project that would entail the construction of 300 or so luxury homes and, perhaps, the town’s annexation of that parcel, might sound like too much too soon for some people, because they imagine it happening all at once. That, of course, won’t happen. No builder puts up 300 homes at the same time, just as 300 buyers won’t show up overnight and then descend on the town en masse. Like everything else that has occurred in Berlin over the past decade, this would happen in steps. The greater issue in the discussions that will follow, however, is not necessarily whether the town should grow, but what could happen if it doesn’t. Although remaining the same might sound like a solid option, other Eastern Shore towns – and, no doubt, many communit...
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Sandpiper metaphor for larger things in Pines

Posted On: 6/4/15
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The question of whether the Ocean Pines Association should attempt to re-open contract discussions with natural gas supplier Sandpiper Energy is easy to answer: The OPA has nothing to lose by trying. That is the direction the OPA’s board of directors appeared to be heading as of mid-week, with a closed meeting set for Wednesday to discuss the situation and what might be done about it. One area of disagreement – aside from the contract itself – that appeared to divide the board was who should approach Sandpiper, General Manager Bob Thompson or possibly a delegation of board members? Judging from the conversation at the board’s last public meeting, the concerns of some members was that Thompson might not understand the various nuances of the board’s position and might, however improbable it sounds, somehow get the OPA involved in a bad deal. Although the importance of a new and equitable gas supply contract is indisputable, equally significant is the boa...
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OP directors right to want ‘just the facts’ in decision

Posted On: 5/28/15
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No matter how simple it might seem for the Board of Directors to establish a policy regarding community groups’ use of Ocean Pines Association facilities, the reality is that deciding who pays what is an exercise fraught with danger. Okay, maybe not real danger, but it is still an uncomfortable and awkward business of deciding which group is entitled to what level of accommodation at, say, the Yacht Club or other venue. In a way, it is like ranking groups in order of importance and that almost always causes hurt feelings, considering that few members of any group are willing to concede that their outfit or their cause may be a little less significant than some other organization’s. Add to that the likelihood that most local nonprofits don’t have much money in the treasury and therefore appreciate price breaks whenever they’re available, it has to be tough to come up with a way to govern the use of community facilities that will seem fair to everyone. That...
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Memorial becomes more than anyone could foresee

Posted On: 5/21/15
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Ten years ago, it was a nice gesture and a source of pride. After all, proponents and boosters had worked hard, raised some money and saw to the installation of a nice park area near the South Gate in Ocean Pines.  Now, the Worcester County Veterans Memorial is something else entirely. Since that comparatively inauspicious beginning, the memorial has become a powerful centerpiece, a patriotic symbol that is highly valued by veterans and their families, and an educational element for school children throughout the county. When families and friends unite at the memorial on Monday, they will not only pay their respects to those who have fallen as well as to those who did their duty and returned, but also, in a way, to the group of volunteers who undertook the mission to honor all those who have served. As Sharyn O’Hare, a founding member of the Worcester County Memorial Foundation, observed this week, the site initially was little more than “a hole in ground,” wh...
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Little spending to get stadium info worth it

Posted On: 5/7/15
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There’s something about the public funding of arenas, stadiums and other significant venues that seems just plain wrong, considering that private enterprise is often among the principle beneficiaries of these facilities. It is, in some cases, no different than erecting a building for any commercial operation and justifying it by saying the business it generates will echo throughout the community. That said, there is nothing wrong with taking a look at an idea, which is what the Worcester County Commissioners voted to do this week with the sports complex proposed by Hat Trick Consultants of Texas. Theoretically, the complex would be home base for a minor league hockey team as well as some other small market sports franchise and would provide for a variety of indoor sports activities for area residents. Although the county commissioners have stated that they have no intention of going into the stadium business, which they couldn’t do anyway given the facilities’ est...
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