Wor. shows giving spirit
Posted On: 11/3/16
The giving season is underway, and that’s not referring to specific holidays. As is always the case when summer is over, school is back in session and the calendar moves toward its conclusion, and charities and other benevolent organizations launch their one last fund drive of the year. If there is one thing to be said about Worcester County, it is that it is one of the more generous areas anywhere, and that’s despite the economic differences between its districts. This week alone, three fund-raising events will be taking place: one in Pocomoke, one in Berlin and one by a countywide organization. In Pocomoke, the curtain will go up Saturday evening at the Mar-Va Theater for a fundraiser for that area’s Samaritan Shelter for the homeless. As unlikely as it might sound for anywhere on the Eastern Shore, the draw will be opera as performed by hometown soprano Brittany Lewis, who has packed them in before in previous charity performances. Also on Saturday, Victorian C...» Click here for the full story.
Getting out in front of it
Posted On: 10/27/16
No one would think that Pocomoke and Ocean Pines have much in common, separated as they are by a fair amount of distance, demographics and form of government. But it turns out this week that these two otherwise disparate communities share one thing: they both have had to confront legal problems over unmet financial obligations. In addition, both these debt situations resulted from mistakes or misunderstandings rather than malfeasance and both are dealing with them publicly and in a straightforward manner. In Pocomoke’s instance, it isn’t the town, but the Delmarva Discovery Center that found itself in trouble over an unpaid bill from the contractor that put together one of its exhibits. At dispute is the amount being charged, and perhaps the terms of the contract, but not the fact that the center will have to make good somehow. More interesting is that the center’s president, Stacey Weisner, made the story public in the interest of operational transparency. Gettin...» Click here for the full story.
Tried formula still truest
Posted On: 10/20/16
The search for a general manager in Ocean Pines is as much about finding the right person for the position as it is determining what kind of operation the Ocean Pines Association wants to be. All in all, the approach the community has followed over the years — a general manager and staff overseen by a board of directors — has worked out just fine, give or take the occasional political kerfuffle along the way. It’s also the simplest form of management there is, as compared to those in place in larger planned communities such as Columbia, Maryland and in the south and west, where some homeowners associations are so large that community subdivisions have their own management companies. Columbia also has multi-tiered management, with the Columbia Association responsible for certain operations and facilities, village associations enforcing covenants and creating master plans, and Howard County government handling essential services such as police, fire and trash collect...» Click here for the full story.
Nothing ado about much
Posted On: 10/13/16
The phone rang and the caller had just one question: “What’s going on?” The answer was simple: “Not much. It’s quiet on all fronts.” And that’s the way it is throughout the county at the moment, as governing authorities take care of business quietly and without controversy. In Ocean Pines, the board of directors continues to establish how it will function in the year ahead by assessing which aspects of the community’s operation need the most attention. It’s all being done in businesslike and logical fashion and suggests that this could turn out to be a good working group. Over in Berlin, the mayor and council officially brought to a close a stormy municipal election as it issued a cordial goodbye to a departing council member and prepared to welcome a new member to that body at the next meeting. No big changes on the horizon there. In Snow Hill, the biggest concern at the moment is whether the town can catch a break and pull off...» Click here for the full story.
Berlin progress confirmed
Posted On: 10/6/16
It can’t be said that the Berlin election suffered from a lack of interest, judging from the number of votes cast Tuesday in a contest that promised few surprises. In the case of Mayor Gee Williams, who won by a four-to-one margin, it wasn’t so much a vote to reelect him over challenger Lisa Hall, as it was an endorsement of his view of how the town ought to proceed. Although no one anywhere gets it right all the time, Williams’ ratio of balls to strikes has been far better than just average, as he has used his position to help continue the conversion of once somnolent Berlin into one of the most progressive communities on the Eastern Shore. As he has said numerous times, he didn’t do it by himself, but he did set the tone for an even more rapid push to rebuild the town’s reputation as a great place to live and work. The town’s decline from its glory days several decades back was not because of anything that occurred within its confines, but was ...» Click here for the full story.
On election endorsements
Posted On: 9/29/16
Endorsing Berlin Mayor Gee Williams for reelection is an easy call, given the burst of vitality the town has experienced during his tenure. Although the town had begun moving in the right direction before he took office in 2008, it was during the past eight years that Berlin completed one of the most stunning economic turnarounds of any town on the Eastern Shore. Years ago, Berlin had lapsed into a town that travelers passed by on the way to the beach, now it’s a destination. A great deal of that is the result of William’s creative energy and his ability to convince others to embrace his vision of a socially and economically vibrant community that offers something for everyone. Although some might argue that the town has progressed enough, there is no such thing as a successful community that simply maintains what it has. It either goes forward or backward, but never stays the same. We like going forward, wisely, and endorse Williams to continue that course. Endorseme...» Click here for the full story.
State, money made mess
Posted On: 9/22/16
Anyone who is surprised by this week’s court challenge to the state’s award of medical marijuana growing permits last month has forgotten one of the principles of the legalized pot industry: it’s about the money. High-minded motives (no pun intended), public opinion, political realities and medical research aside, the essence of the lawsuit filed in Baltimore City Circuit Court Monday by GTI Maryland against the Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission is about who is in line to get the big money and how they got there. Shore Natural RX, which received preliminary approval from the commission to grow marijuana in Worcester County still has to survive what the state calls a rigorous inspection of its production plans. It must now also deal with the revelation that it apparently got bumped up in the state’s rankings to ensure that this region got its share of this new industry’s revenue. According to multiple newspaper reports, Shore Natural RX finished wel...» Click here for the full story.
Onus now on OPA board
Posted On: 9/15/16
The Ocean Pines Board of Directors gave itself something last week that most politicians would rather not have: full responsibility for delivering on its members’ campaign promises. By elevating Doug Parks to the board because his thinking matched their own, the four-member majority that voted him into office has an unbeatable caucus that should be able to implement all the changes its members called for before and during last month’s election. Previously, when certain operations didn’t do well or decisions were delayed, former General Manager Bob Thompson or the usual divisiveness on the board could be blamed for the lack of progress. Not anymore, as this board finally got exactly what some members have sought for years, which is the ability to pursue its own agenda however it sees fit. In their defense of Parks, members asserted that even though he finished ninth in the 11-person race, he was the better choice than fourth-place finisher Frank Daly, because Park&...» Click here for the full story.
Schools would be impacted
Posted On: 9/8/16
Mainland residents of Worcester County should pay close attention to the tax differential discussions that will take place, again, this fall and winter between the Town of Ocean City and the Worcester County Commissioners. In essence, the differential, which Ocean City has been seeking for years, involves reducing the county property tax rate for Ocean City taxpayers to reflect county services they pay for with their tax dollars, but don’t use because resort government also provides them. One example of this duplication of services would be parks and recreation. Although the county’s facilities are available to everyone, Ocean City has its own and residents rarely cross the bay to use what the county provides. A part of Ocean City officials’ push for the split tax rate is their pledge to take their request for a differential to the General Assembly if the county doesn’t accede to their wishes. Either way, the problem for mainland residents is that they will ...» Click here for the full story.
Board showed disrespect
Posted On: 9/1/16
Let’s take a breath and reflect on how the dismissal of Ocean Pines Association General Manager Bob Thompson last week will affect the community’s property owners, who are, after all, the real stakeholders in this mess. How about not at all? Unless some unusually bizarre twist takes place — and no jokes about how bizarre that would have to be to qualify as “unusual” — property owners will experience about as much change as they did when Thompson took over for GM Tom Olson in 2010. Back then, Olson had been expected to work toward making the association’s amenities profitable. That didn’t happen, he was let go and life went on. Thompson was brought in to do the things that Olson didn’t or couldn’t do and that, apparently, didn’t happen either. Life will go on in this case as well. Community association managers, like city managers and county administrators, come and go relatively quickly in the scheme of things, and ra...» Click here for the full story.