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Berlin bus drivers: unsung heroes

Posted On: 2/11/16
Written By: By Josh Davis, Staff Writer

For more than five decades each, Upshure Coard Jr. and John Dale Smack Jr. drove school buses in the Berlin area. James Purnell Jr., a former county commissioner, has driven for four decades and Glendola Bowen Whaley has driven since 1997. Combined, those three men and one woman steered Worcester County school children back and forth to school for more than a century and a half. All this time, none have ever been in an accident on the job, and none have ever seen a child in his or her care get seriously hurt. For many years, the bus driver demographic was exclusively made up of black men, starting with Charlie Hudson in the 1940s. Charles Henry, Charlie Forman and Upshure Coard Sr. were also among the first wave of drivers. Like postmen, they often drove through rain, sleet and snow, down the rough rural back roads of Worcester County, on the way to school each day. Coard, 83, remembers the days when buses drove through snowstorms with chains wrapped around the tires. Once, the...
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‘Robocall’ threats resume at Berlin, Snow Hill schools

Posted On: 2/11/16
Written By: By Brian Gilliland, Staff Writer

Stephen Decatur High, Stephen Decatur Middle and Snow Hill High schools were disrupted Tuesday afternoon after computer-generated phone calls making bomb threats resumed for the first time since late January. In a prepared statement, Superintendent Dr. Jerry Wilson said students had not been evacuated, as they had previously, but “secured in place.” “It is important to note that any threat received is individually evaluated to ensure our schools respond in the safest, most effective manner under the circumstances,” Wilson wrote. All three schools were cleared by law enforcement investigators about an hour later, according to time codes on school social media posts. In January, an increasing number of robocall threats culminated in a districtwide evacuation of all schools and the board of education office in Newark. The call warned of explosives placed in each school and the administration offices. Schools were closed early that day. In an apparent separ...
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After debate, payroll increase stays in Pines ‘17 budget draft

Posted On: 2/11/16
Written By: By Josh Davis, Staff Writer

Ocean Pines employees will likely be eligible for merit raises this year, following a lively debate on the subject during a public meeting last Friday. While discussing the next fiscal-year budget, Vice President Cheryl Jacobs suggested that the current economic climate might make such raises dubious. Director Tom Terry said he would “personally not support” removing all money for salary increases from the budget draft, and said he was certain Jacobs shared his view. Not so fast, she said. “You shouldn’t put words into my mouth,” she said. “I had a concern, from the beginning of this process, about giving raises in [these] economic times. “I understand that we need to allocate funds to keep our employees, and I understand that by putting this money there it doesn’t mean anybody gets a dime of it, but nobody can get anything unless the money is allocated,” Jacobs continued. “I had a concern about trying to keep the sala...
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Health Pavilion traffic issue brings crowd to OPA meeting

Posted On: 2/11/16
Written By: By Josh Davis, Staff Writer

The issue of traffic created by the new Delmarva Health Pavilion in Ocean Pines has been simmering since the facility opened last October. That simmer came to a boil Friday morning, as developer Palmer Gillis and officials with the Maryland State Highway Administration met with the public to talk about potential solutions. After circulating a blueprint showing a new road connecting the pavilion to Ocean Parkway, Gillis told the audience in the Assateague Room in the Ocean Pines Community Center that he was looking for suggestions. Currently, traffic can make right turns only in and out of the center, meaning illegal U-turns and other potentially problematic traffic occurrences are becoming prevalent. The situation is expected to get worse, as Gillis intends to build four additional medical buildings in the complex, giving it an eventual 90,000 square feet of office space. Director Dave Stevens said the problem dates back at least six years, when development of the property was fi...
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All options open, funding set at $15,000 for goose control

Posted On: 2/11/16
Written By: By Josh Davis, Staff Writer

Whether Ocean Pines will ever take lethal action against invasive Canada geese is still up in the air, although it came closer to allocating a specific dollar amount for mitigation of some kind. During a public budget meeting last Friday, Director Tom Terry suggested the board earmark $15,000 to deal with the issue. The belief is that certain types of geese are significantly adding to pollution of the ponds at the north and south gates. Director Bill Cordwell said the board had told “several people at several meetings” that lethal measures of Canada goose control would not be in the budget. “Why is this being thrown in at the end of [budget talks]?” he asked. Terry said the funds would have “nothing to do with killing” [the geese], but would instead be used for relocation purposes.  “Are we that naive?” Cordwell said. “I’m not, Bill,” Director Dave Stevens said. “The statement [that the board was no...
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Some Flower Street residents wary of Cannery

Posted On: 2/11/16
Written By: By Josh Davis, Staff Writer

Berlin’s new affordable housing complex Cannery Village has already had its share of setbacks, as move-in dates have been pushed back multiple times and by several months. Now, it looks like the development could have a problem with its neighbors on Flower Street. The first item for discussion during Monday’s Town Council meeting in Berlin was a request for fence around the development. Residents Barry Jarmon and D.J. Lockwood addressed the council. Lockwood said his property was particularly close to Cannery – he estimated 25 feet – and that he had security concerns. With 44 homes coming to the development, he said he expected more than 200 people, including nearly 100 children, all close to his back porch. During a recent open house at Cannery, he said several personal items had been upset on a paved basketball court in his yard. “To expect new residents to respect our properties – who we don’t even know – we don’t want ...
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Berlin Parks Commission BRIEFS

Posted On: 2/11/16
Written By: By Josh Davis, Staff Writer

The Berlin Parks Commission discussed the following items during a public meeting at Town Hall on Feb. 2. Summer Movie Nights For the second straight month, the commission talked about the upcoming Summer Movie Nights series, which it will host with the Berlin Arts and Entertainment District committee. A request for proposals for vendors will be issued this month, and the group compiled a list of films it will show in 2016. “Runaway Bride” and “Tuck Everlasting” will bookend the six planned screenings, and the public will be allowed to vote on the remaining four films. The commission also considered letting nonprofit groups sell refreshments during the events. A special event request will likely be brought to the Berlin Mayor and Council in March.   Clean-Up Day The committee planned for two related parks events, Clean-Up Day on April 16 and Take Pride in Berlin Week, April 16-23. Town Administrator Laura Allen suggested cleanup day focus o...
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BERLIN BRIEFS

Posted On: 2/11/16
Written By: By Josh Davis, Staff Writer

The Berlin Mayor and Council discussed the following items during a public meeting at town hall on Feb. 9. Co-op agreement The council unanimously approved a resolution to establish a cooperative agreement with The Nature Conservancy. The organization was granted access to 196 acres of land in Berlin along the Pocomoke River watershed, which it hopes to improve. Mike Dryden said the Conservancy’s work would enhance water quality, create a wildlife habitat and reduce flooding. Town Administrator Laura Allen reported that she contacted the Maryland Department of the Environment, which had no issues with the project. Rezoning Planning Director Dave Engelhart said two rezoning requests would come before the planning commission on Feb. 10, after press time. The town hopes to build a new police station at 109 Decatur Street. Engelhart said that parcel is currently zoned as a B-2 shopping district, and would need to be changed to R-1 residential.   A property at 15...
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Commissioner Bertino to hold town meeting, Feb. 27

Posted On: 2/11/16
Written By:

Chip Bertino, Worcester County Commissioner for the Ocean Pines district, will hold a town meeting on Saturday, Feb. 27 at the Ocean Pines library. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. Bertino will provide information on issues and developments occurring within the district and the county.   Worcester County State’s Attorney Beau Oglesby will be the guest speaker, and County Attorney Maureen Howarth will also be introduced. Bertino will be joined by Commissioner President Jim Bunting during the question and answer part of the program.   For more information, email cbertino@co.worcester.md.us.  
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During 2nd Friday, WCAC to present student art show

Posted On: 2/11/16
Written By: By Josh Davis, Staff Writer

Instead of the normal 2nd Friday fare in Berlin, the action on Feb. 12 will center on a youth art exhibition at the Worcester County Arts Council. Presented by the Berlin/Ocean City Optimist Club, the 10th annual High School Art Competition and Exhibit went up earlier this month and will remain on display throughout February.    The show features works created by students from the four high schools in the county. Previously, the exhibition was held in Ocean City for one weekend each year.  “For the first time, it’s going to be shown here at the arts council for the whole month,” WCAC Executive Director Anna Mullis said. “We thought that would allow for more exposure for the students’ work. “I am especially proud, because I am a member of the Optimist Club and it was a privilege to for me to take over the committee of the art contest and coordinate it this year,” she said. “They have a long history of supporting youth...
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