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OPA budget draft: assessments flat

Posted On: 1/19/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 19, 2017) If Brett Hill gets his way, homeowners in Ocean Pines will not see an increase in assessments or membership fees during the next fiscal year. Hill, the interim general manager, presented his first budget draft during public meetings last week. That document was also posted online as of Jan. 9. The total proposed budget for fiscal year 2017-18 includes $13.5 million in total revenues against $13.5 million in total expenses, a decrease of more than $985,000 in both columns. Basic assessment rates would stay at $921, while the waterfront rate would remain at $1,367. The proposed budget eliminates the controversial “five-year funding plan,” which was renamed “legacy funding” in 2015. That component, established eight years ago to fund major capital replacements, was deemed no longer necessary according to Hill, who said all of the projects it addressed had either been completed or were undergoing renovations. The elimination of that portion of ...
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Coffee house gone, but not forgotten as old friends meet

Posted On: 1/19/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 19, 2017) On an unseasonably warm Thursday last week, a small group of about a dozen old friends gathered at Crush N Crab in Berlin over coffee and breakfast. They sat together in a booth with a handful of extra chairs pulled to the side of the table. The sun was still coming up and beaming brightly through the window, facing Route 113, and the weekend of snow had just melted, as one patron said, as if it had been painted over by a single brush stroke overnight. The meeting was familiar to many of them, although this time was different. The venue, for one, had changed. When Berlin Coffee House closed last month many of them suddenly had nowhere to go, including former owner Peggy Hagy. “I miss it dearly – not the aggravation, but the people. But retirement is nice,” Hagy said. She said she has been working on finishing closing the store, and is devoting much more time to her artwork. Mike Wiley is the ringleader of the group, which he affectionately du...
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Discovery Center celebrates culture

Posted On: 1/19/17
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Jan. 19, 2017) This year, the Winter Waterman’s Festival is scheduled a little later than normal, moving from December to January to give both the participants and audience a little time to breathe. “There [were] too many things already going on in December. People are jammed up with things to do,” Delmarva Discovery Center President and CEO Stacey Weisner said. “Moving the event worked out for the watermen too.” This year’s offering will be similar to those of years past, but with the obvious addition of Mac and Tuck, the center’s river otters, and a few new activities for children. “There will be lots of kids activities, like making a float for Mac and Tuck,” Weisner said. Face painting and other hands-on activities should keep the children entertained, while the center is also offering in-depth looks at how watermen do what they do. Interactive exhibits, demonstrations and local seafood will also be available. “A ...
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Citizens gather during Snow Hill Fire info session

Posted On: 1/19/17
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Jan. 19, 2017) More than three-dozen affected citizens, town residents and local officials attended an information session hosted by the Snow Hill Fire Company last Wednesday concerning the addition of another station north of town. “The big thing we’re looking for is to get the ball rolling. We’re looking for land anyone is willing to sell or lease to us,” Fire Chief Trey Heiser said. The fire company had a list of 10 properties Heiser said they were already interested in, in the Nassawango Hills area — preferably between Iron Furnace and Millville roads. Fire Co. member Jeff Page said the department envisioned a two-bay station featuring a pull-through design with a small bunk room and living quarters. The plan calls for a 4,800-square-foot footprint. Heiser said he expects the new facility to cost about $335,000 plus the cost of the land, site work and associated fees, and the company would seek donations and perhaps a loan to finance the develop...
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Food Rite expands, upgrades local and organic offerings

Posted On: 1/19/17
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Jan. 19, 2017) About a year ago TJ Patel began the process of upgrading Snow Hill’s grocery store, the Food Rite — though still known colloquially as the IGA — to include a host of new goods including gluten-free, organic and non-GMO products. On the other side of the health craze, Patel said he recently added Krispy Kreme donuts as well. “It took almost four years to get Krispy Kreme to come,” he said. “I’m trying to get a Redbox too, but they look at the ZIP code 21863 and see 1,250 people.” Larger, national brands often have their own measurements indicating the probability for success in a given area. Those metrics keep popular stores away from Worcester communities partly because of population, and partly because of the seasonal nature of the county’s economy. Still, Patel has even more improvements in mind. “I’d like to do seafood in the back — no one has it around here,” he said. “The wa...
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Pines unable to avoid NYE ‘disaster’

Posted On: 1/19/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 19, 2017) “Everything that could go wrong did” at the Ocean Pines Association Yacht Club on New Year’s Eve, according to interim General Manager Brett Hill. That apparently set off a chain reaction within the association and sped up a major rebranding effort that began early 2017. Hill, speaking during a public meeting with the budget and finance committee last Wednesday, said he was called into the club on Dec. 31, a date when half the staff was apparently “day laborers” – not official employees of Ocean Pines. Yacht Club Manager Jerry Lewis had been fired the day before, which was at least partially responsible for the additional workers being called in, Hill said. “When I found out we did not have the staff to run the event we reached out everywhere possible to get people in there,” he said. “I knew the event was a disaster going into it and I did the absolute best possible [job] to turn it around and try to pull it ...
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Water-main break leaves dozens in OP without water

Posted On: 1/19/17
Written By:

(Jan. 19, 2017) A water main broke late Tuesday morning at the intersection of St. Martins Lane and Ocean Parkway, leaving many homes without running water for about an hour. The Worcester County Water and Wastewater Division were on scene working to repair the break. It is unclear what caused the disruption.
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Heroin among big issues being dealt with by Pines PD

Posted On: 1/19/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 19, 2017) “Police work is different in every community – you police to the nature of your community,” Ocean Pines Association Police Chief David Massey said during budget meetings last week. Ocean Pines, he said, is the largest residential community in Worcester County and statistics show it is one of the safest in the state. According to SafeWise.com, Ocean Pines is the sixth-safest community in Maryland. SafeWise.com’s mission is to help potential customers make home security decisions. It released a report in August 2016 naming the ten safest cities in Maryland. Ocean Pines placed sixth. It placed ninth on the same list last year. Massey formerly served with the Ocean City Police Department. “Having been in Ocean City, I can tell you it’s two different environments,” he said. “Ocean City is a transient tourist community where a lot of people come and go. There’s not a lot of year-round residents.” Police in O...
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Berlin Briefs

Posted On: 1/19/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 19, 2017) The Berlin Mayor and Council discussed the following items during a public meeting at town hall on Monday, Jan. 9. Berlin Youth Club Amanda Chaffee from Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services provided the council with an end-of-year update on activities of the Berlin Youth Club. An annual grant from the town helps support the activities of the club. In 2016, Chaffee said children in the program went on a number of field trips, often aided by members of the Berlin Police Department, Robin Tomaselli from Baked Dessert Café and others. Outings included Jolly Roger in Ocean City, Stratosphere Trampoline Park in Fruitland and the Salisbury Zoo. Chef Phil Cropper from the Worcester Technical High School also surprised the children by decorating the “Ray” room at Worcester Youth in Berlin and throwing them a Mexican fiesta. Thirteen children from the program participated in the Berlin Christmas Parade, and several were involved in the United Spi...
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Deadline extended on equal protection claim

Posted On: 1/19/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 19, 2017) The deadline to settle an alleged equal protection claim against the Town of Berlin has been pushed to the end of the month. Luke Rommel, a Salisbury attorney representing complainant Ronshell Shockley, said talks are continuing with an attorney for the town’s insurance company. A Jan. 15 deadline had been set on whether to file a case in federal court. Shockley contends she was forced to leave a public park – under threat of arrest – after an officer with the Berlin Police Department found her sitting on top of a picnic table at William Henry Park on June 30. Shockley is African-American and the officer was white. “We had a fairly good discussion with the attorney handling the case on Friday,” Rommel said. “In light of that, we’ve agreed to wait until the end of the month to see if the case could be resolved.” Rommel said both sides have presented settlement offers. “There’s a lot of work to be done to c...
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