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Berlin, MD 21811
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Editorial

Editorial - Articles


Ocean Pines Board has to hold Hill accountable

Posted On: 5/25/17
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No matter the right or wrong of it or who says what, Ocean Pines has a real mess on its hands, as senior management continues to leave the association’s employ. With the recent resignation of Chief Financial Officer Mary Bosack, allegedly because of work conditions, it’s obvious that something isn’t right and that the board of directors must correct the situation quickly. This is a case of where there’s smoke there’s fire, and there is no doubt that something is smoldering somewhere in operations under the supervision of director and interim General Manager Brett Hill. Whether the resignations and departures of these people were because of specific circumstances, petty grievances or general dissatisfaction with the conditions of their employment is beside the point. The fact is numerous people have left in less than a year, and it’s unlikely that all of them were bad hires, or were malcontents, or weren’t doing the job, or misunderstood how...
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Fix is – clearly – not in

Posted On: 5/11/17
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It doesn’t get more blunt than Berlin Mayor Gee Williams was Monday night, when he addressed rumors that a quiet deal had been reached between the Carl M. Freeman Companies and the town on the redevelopment of the Bay Club. “Whoever is saying that doesn’t know what the hell they’re talking about,” Williams said, leaving little for anyone to dig through in the hope of finding some deeper meaning in his words. He’s right for two reasons, the first of which is because of how the zoning processes work. Even if Berlin’s elected officials do have opinions on the possibility of converting the golf club into a campground, that would have nothing to do with the developer’s need to obtain a special exception for a campground from the county board of zoning appeals in a public meeting. In another public meeting, the owner then would have to produce a detailed development plan that would pass muster with the county planning commission. That undou...
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Blame sport – not town

Posted On: 5/4/17
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Winters Quarters Golf Course, a staple of the Pocomoke City landscape for more than 80 years, hasn’t failed the city and neither has the city failed the golf course. The sport’s lackluster growth in recent years along with the inevitable increase in expenses is the biggest problem here and in hundreds of other locations across the country. While the question of whether to continue to operate Winter Quarters and absorb some level of losses is a purely local matter, a multitude of cities, communities and private club owners have found themselves facing that same dilemma. “America’s Golf Courses are Burning” was the headline of an article last year by Bloomberg, which reported that more than 800 golf courses have closed in the last decade because of declining interest in the game and an eruption of competition in the late 1990s and early 2000s. That’s when golf seemingly hit its peak. As of 2005, for instance, golfers from or visiting Worcester Coun...
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Regs need reassessment

Posted On: 4/27/17
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The Worcester County Developmental Center, like every other vocational training center for adults with intellectual disabilities, is not necessarily looking forward to the future. Because of changes to federal regulations via a 2015 rule on “Home and Community-Based Services,” the developmental center and others like it will no longer be able to provide jobs for disabled people who may not be able to function in a traditional workplace. The revised regulations issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services focused on a couple of things: wages at in-house workshops that are below the minimum and the desire to integrate developmentally disabled adults into community workplace. States that fail to bring its centers into compliance face losing the federal money that supports these enterprises and other services. As the developmental center’s executive director, Jack Ferry, told the Berlin mayor and council this week, the center has about three years until it...
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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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