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Ocean Pines Dir. Brett Hill resigns

Posted On: 9/21/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Sept. 21, 2017) Former interim general manager and political lightning rod Brett Hill resigned from the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors last Friday, leaving the directors to decide who will replace him just six weeks into the board’s new year.  Board President Doug Parks confirmed he received a letter of resignation from Hill last Friday and then on Monday acknowledged that a second association official, Finance Director John Viola, also has resigned. The CEO of FTS Fiber, Hill was elected in August 2016 and served as interim general manager of Ocean Pines from Aug. 26 of that year until Sept. 11 of this year, when new hire John Bailey was appointed to the position. “[Hill] sent a very professional letter to all the board citing his priorities with his family and his business, and that was it,” Parks said. “There was no blame. There was no finger-pointing … he considered his options and decided his time was better spent refocused. ...
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Report: Investigation occurred at OPA administration building

Posted On: 9/21/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Sept. 21, 2017) The Ocean Pines Police, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and the Worcester County Office of the State’s Attorney conducted an investigation of possible missing funds at the Ocean Pines Administration building last Thursday, multiple sources reported this week. Asked to comment, Lt. Edward C. Schreier with the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office sent the following email on Monday. “The County Bureau of Investigation has several ongoing investigations. As with any investigation it can cross several jurisdictions and touch several different areas. The County Bureau of Investigation will release information as soon as practical,” Schreier said. “We respectfully request that you please be patient and we will be forthcoming as soon as possible.”
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Open Paint opens up communities of east, west Berlin

Posted On: 9/21/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

 (Sept. 21, 2107) Close to 100 people attended a first-of-its-kind Open Paint and Community Potluck event, Saturday at the Germantown School Community Heritage Center in Berlin. Guests brought boxes of fried chicken, trays of fresh fruit, platefuls of baked goods and other goodies, and took turns painting on several panels that will eventually be hung outside of the Berlin Welcome Center on Main Street, downtown. Between painting and the feast, dozens gathered around a makeshift choir that sang hymns written by the late Rev. Dr. Charles Albert Tindley, a Berlin native. Barbara Purnell, who oversees the Germantown School, dubbed the event a success. “It was great,” she said. “Everybody enjoyed themselves and had a great time – they enjoyed everything from the painting, the food and the singing, and the fellowship was wonderful.” She said the choir was made of up representatives from the New Bethel, St. John’s, St. Paul’s and Tyree ...
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Pocomoke issues progress report on abandoned props.

Posted On: 9/21/17
Written By: Greg Ellison, Staff Writer

(Sept. 21, 2017) Code Enforcement Officer Jon Hill provided an update on violation notices sent to four vacated residences in early August during the Snow Hill Council meeting, last Monday. Since approving the Vacant and Blighted Building Registration ordinance in July, the town has identified more than 50 properties that fit the criteria. The first four targeted structures are: 206 Purnell Street, 300 Purnell Street, 228 East Martin Street and 412 Covington Street. Hill said the property owners at 300 Purnell Street acquired permits and plan on demolishing the home. The Martin Street property, along with two others, are owned by Snow Hill-based JFD Rentals and managed by Theresa Featham. “There are three properties in particular that are facing demolition by neglect,” he said. “She is in discussions to sell one of those properties and hopes to finance the demolition of the other two properties through that.” Hill said the owner of 412 Covington Street is...
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Early signs good for Pocomoke golf

Posted On: 9/21/17
Written By: Greg Ellison, Staff Writer

(Sept. 21, 2017) Although hard financial numbers are still forthcoming, early indicators appear positive for reviving the bottom line at Winter Quarters Golf Course in Pocomoke. The fate of the 45-acre course, in operation since 1934, was hotly debated prior to approval of Pocomoke’s fiscal year 2018 budget on June 19.   Although financial losses at the course were estimated at approximately $180,000 during the current fiscal year, the town opted to grant the municipal operation a six-month lease on life based on a suggestion from Councilman Dale Trotter. After Christmas, the council plans to examine the impact of revamped marketing efforts and may amend the current budget to permit the links to remain open. While a firm decision has yet been reached, Councilman George Tasker said, based on a recent uptick in course activity, he feels confident the more the 80-year-old town amenity would survive. “We’re not going to shut it down,” he said. “It&#...
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Anthony Tunnell convicted of murder

Posted On: 9/21/17
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Sept. 21, 2017) Following a two-day trial in Circuit Court in Snow Hill, a jury took less than an hour to find Anthony Tunnell, 37, guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of James Allen Jr. on Dec. 1, 2016 in Pocomoke City. Tunnell was acquitted of firearm possession with a felony conviction, and the prosecution did not pursue a felony charge of having a controlled dangerous substance while in the possession of a firearm. Sentencing for Tunnell awaits a pre-sentence investigation report. Assistant State’s Attorney Billy McDermott said the state is pursuing a life sentence without the possibility of parole. With the abolishment of the death penalty in the state in 2013, it’s the harshest possible sentence allowable. The Maryland State Police reported James Allen Jr., 26, of Pitts Circle in Pocomoke City, was pronounced dead at the scene in the area of Fourth and Market streets after suffering multiple gunshot wounds on the evening of Dec. 1. Shortly after...
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Ocean Pines GM John Bailey talks first week in new role

Posted On: 9/21/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Sept. 21, 2017) New Ocean Pines Association General Manager John Bailey was busy during his first week of work, getting to know many of the 160-plus association employees, meeting with the board of directors, touring the facilities and sitting in advisory committee meetings. On Monday, Bailey, also known as “JB,” took time out of his schedule for an interview with the Gazette. Bailey, 52, joked he was a “tax-deduction baby,” born on Dec. 31. He grew up in Roanoke, Virginia and attended Averett University, then called Averett College, in Danville, Virginia, where he majored in history and minored in music and religion. His father was a preacher. “I was raised a preacher’s kid and the original plan was to go to seminary and follow in my dad’s footsteps, working in the church,” Bailey said. “Other doors started opening that piqued my interest in politics and government, and I went in that direction for a while.” Bailey ...
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Snow Hill Briefs

Posted On: 9/21/17
Written By: Greg Ellison, Staff Writer

(Sept. 21, 2017) Snow Hill Town Council discussed the following items during a meeting last Monday at the Train Station on Belt Street. Community basketball   Snow Hill Councilwoman LaToya Purnell thanked Public Works Director Randy Barfield for the department’s assistance with the “Hooping at Byrd Park,” weekly pickup basketball game, held Sunday evenings. “Randy has been doing a lot for the basketball game at Byrd Park,” she said. Purnell asked if event participants had been leaving the park in good order. “Oh yeah,” Barfield said. “It’s a lot better than it used to be.” Purnell was pleased with community support for the event, started last month. “We had a back to school giveaway [and] all the students out there got an item for school,” she said. “It’s been amazing to see the community come out to play basketball.” Sylvester “Dawk” Bratten Sr., who helped launch the e...
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Berlin nursing center to help with hurricane relief

Posted On: 9/21/17
Written By:

(Sept. 21, 2017) The Berlin Nursing & Rehabilitation Center will donate cases of water to the local American Red Cross Chapter to send to Florida. To donate cases of water, drop off times are Monday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Berlin Nursing Home & Rehabilitation Center, 9715 Healthway Drive in Berlin. Collection runs until Friday, Sept. 29. For more information, call Angie Latham, activities director, at 410-629-6116.
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FTS senior advisor files civil suit against CEO Brett Hill

Posted On: 9/21/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Sept. 21, 2017) Former Ocean Pines Association Director Brett Hill is facing a lawsuit filed by a senior advisor to Hill’s company, FTS Fiber, that alleges Hill failed to repay a loan. Kenneth Lawhorn filed the suit in the Worcester County Circuit Court against Hill on Friday, alleging Hill did not pay back the balance of an $80,000 loan. Hill resigned from the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors last Friday. According to the complaint, Lawhorn extended the loan to Hill on June 9, 2016 for use as company capital. In the original promissory note, Hill was to repay the loan in full by Sept. 30, 2016 and transfer one share of FTS stock to Lawhorn by Oct. 21, 2016. On Sept. 30, however, Hill delivered an amended promissory note to Lawhorn that extended the deadline until Dec. 23, 2016 and promised him two additional shares of company stock. The suit contends that Hill did not pay Lawhorn anything until this year. The complaint states Hill made three payments of $11,5...
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