Power struggle between Berlin Fire Co. and town
Posted On: 9/5/13
The recent ramping up of the power struggle between the Berlin Fire Company and the town serves no purpose other than to try to heighten the concerns of residents who so far have refrained from looking at the issue from an emotional standpoint. By calling for a show of resident support at the upcoming council meeting, the fire company is putting the town in a difficult position. The town managed to avoid being included in a recently filed lawsuit by having taken corrective action once grievances were brought to their attention. However, now restoring funding without any action being taken by the fire company on personnel named in the suit could leave the town running the risk of being a party to any fire company actions. Additional questions will certainly be raised on whether taxpayer funds should be used to defend the fire company in the lawsuit and if any of those funds are also being used to defend the individuals themselves. Certainly, it is in everyone’s...» Click here for the full story.
Lawsuit could answer all community's questions
Posted On: 8/29/13
The lawsuit filed this week by a former Berlin Fire Company employee will now bring to full light allegations made against members of the fire company, with a federal court helping the community to decide if the rift between the town and the company warranted its defunding. While there is no question the continued deadlock between the town council and the company needs to get resolved, making that happen without clear resolution of the allegations has made that almost impossible. The community, to its credit, has remained mostly silent on the issue, refusing to embrace the rumor and hyperbole that ensued after the allegations were made. Certainly there has to be a concern by many that a continuation of the dispute could lead to a risk of public safety, especially after further questions were raised at an accident scene earlier this year. The deeper issue still be left to be resolved is the matter of on-going accountability. This is not unique to Berlin, but also one...» Click here for the full story.
Number of justifications for restructuring calendar
Posted On: 8/22/13
At some point over the years, state education officials changed the way the world works for public school students. There was a time, after all, when August was still a full month of vacation, because school didn’t start until after Labor Day. There are, without a doubt, any number of justifications for the restructuring of the school calendar, with the trend in the past decade ending the spring term earlier in June and bringing students back to schoo just before the end-of-summer holiday. But those justifications aside, this makes poor economic sense for a number of reasons and most notably in Worcester County, where the lifeblood of the economy is tourism, where extending the summer through the full month of August can have huge impact on the financial success of the region for businesses large and small. Not only are tourism dollars affected, but also businesses that rely on student labor are now scrambling to fill part-time jobs as students leave in droves t...» Click here for the full story.
Building downtown Berlin area and doing it right
Posted On: 8/8/13
It’s obvious from the numbers that Berlin is doing all the right things. Since 2008, 62 new businesses have opened with a turnover of only 27, a low number considering the challenging economic conditions the past five years. Even better news is that included in the 27 were owners who retired or those who businesses are still in operation but relocated outside of the downtown business district. Certainly there were also some that did not succeed due to underfunding or an idea that just didn’t work in the marketplace, but overall Berlin continues to shine as an example of how to thrive as a business hub. Much of this has been due to the work of an excellent economic development office along with a business friendly mayor and council, in addition to the business owners themselves, who cooperatively work together to bolster the town’s image and support each other’s efforts. The popularity of the ever-increasing list of events along with enhan...» Click here for the full story.
Letters to the Editor
Posted On: 8/8/13
Editor, My wife and I go to Berlin quite often to enjoy ‘small town America.’ It reminds me of the old 1950s TV shows when all was right with the world. When Berlin hosts their special events we will meet our friends, and always enjoy ourselves. When we attend these events you will look around and see smiles on everyone’s faces, both young and old. The town and the merchants go out of their way to assure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience. There is nothing else more “small town America” than Little League baseball. Now, thanks to the area merchants, the Berlin Little League will travel to Connecticut in style to enjoy an experience of a lifetime, and represent Berlin as the Maryland State Champion. Thanks to the area families, businesses, fraternal organizations and all who gave donations, it represents Berlin in a very positive way. And best of all, it takes me back to the 1950s, when life was “small town America....» Click here for the full story.
Casino funds will aid small business
Posted On: 5/9/13
The recent announcement that the Maryland Board of Public Works has designated Worcester County one of three fund managers to oversee distribution of casino monies set aside to provide loans to small, minority and woman-owned businesses, is great news for small businesses locally that have had trouble getting traditional loans to expand or modernize in recent years. Approximately $430,000 in annual loan funding will be available for companies with fewer than 500 employees and revenues averaging less than $35 million over three years. Fifty percent of the funding must be lent to businesses located within a 10-mile radius of Ocean Downs. These monies will be available for up to five years, with a total estimate of more than $2 million to be allocated over that period. Regardless of which side of the casino fence you sit, this is a real boon to our local economy, as small businesses make up the largest segment of the marketplace, and more importantly provide area residents with t...» Click here for the full story.
EDITORIAL: Wait until MIEMMS reports its findings
Posted On: 1/10/13
Written By: EDITORIAL
The story on Page 1 this week concerning who did or did not do what at the scene of a Dec. 26 accident at routes 818 and 50 comes after a week of sorting through rumors, speculation and conjecture in search of facts. Although what was written was documented and double-checked, facts are at a premium at this point, which is why the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems has been asked to look into the situation. Its panel of reviewers will determine the facts of the case and respond accordingly. That’s as it should be, since any dispute between two community institutions — in this case, town government and the volunteer fire company — is bound to be fraught with emotion and driven by personal opinion. As is the case in just about any disagreement, people will pick sides and support positions based on who they know and what they want to believe. That’s much different than waiting to see the hard evidence as collected by dispassionate and imp...» Click here for the full story.
With Main St. filling up with businesses, is Flower St. next?
Posted On: 7/19/12
The innumerable amount of people walking through the streets of downtown Berlin this season gives a hint at how profitable the area has become for businesses. As Berlin grows, so does the area around it, and thus the search for the next center of prosperity in town begins. When talks began to institute a major renovation project for Dr. William Henry Park on Flower Street, the community got excited thinking about invigorating what is now not a prosperous area for businesses. The park will likely feature improvements such as a new basketball court, an additional pavilion and additional landscaping, but people around the community also hope the new park project will bring a special interest to the area surrounding it. For at least 20 years, community organizers have staged basketball tournaments that routinely brought large crowds to Henry Park. About five years ago, the tournaments stopped because of the community’s waning interest in the event. When the project is ...» Click here for the full story.
The Mayor isn't at the Heart of the Atlantic Hotel Windows Issue
Posted On: 3/17/11
At this week’s Berlin Town Council meeting there was an amount of ire, some of it deserved, directed at Gee Williams for his decision to ignore calls to force the Atlantic Hotel ownership to tear out the windows installed without the permission of the historic district commission. The question isn’t whether Williams overstepped his bounds, he did. He also said as much during the meeting. Contrary to what Councilwoman Lisa Hall and several other commenters said, the hotel windows, not the mayor are what is at issue; losing focus of this important point is a recipe for continued anger and disaffection. The controversy settles simply on the fact that the historic commission felt that excusing the unapproved remolding was beyond their authority. To be clear, they didn’t really decide against the improvement so much as they blamed their decision on state rules. Williams said from the beginning he hoped that this could foster a conversation about the application of h...» Click here for the full story.
OPA Board Should Re-Think Assessment Increase
Posted On: 2/24/11
Written By: Tony Russo
Although the reason is suspect, it’s a good thing the OPA board of directors caved to the pressure of budget meeting attendees by deciding to re-think the $45 assessment increase. However, rather than focus too intently on reducing the operating costs the directors should consider cutting the contribution to reserves. While the operational increase is something that may or may not be used if deemed necessary by the general manager, the fact that a group of people can so thoroughly unhinge the board as to make them double back on months worth of work is in itself the best argument against building the reserves beyond necessary maintenance items. The most reliable fact about the OPA board of directors over the years, that doesn’t change with personnel, is that they can be induced into anything with the right amount of pressure from a small group of property owners. Given the ease with which a vocal minority can historically influence decision making, the board ...» Click here for the full story.