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First winter storm of ‘17 brings foot of snow to county

Posted On: 1/12/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 12, 2017) Schoolchildren across the county had their prayers answered last weekend as the first snowfall of the New Year also brought about the first batch of school closings on Monday and Tuesday. Worcester County announced on Facebook that its offices would be open during normal hours on Monday, although the liberal leave policy was in effective for nonessential employees. Worcester County Public Information Officer Kim Moses said road crews started working on Saturday morning at 5 a.m. and worked to salt and plow the roads until late into the evening. “Sunday, they worked from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and spent all day pushing back windblown snowdrifts to make the roads passable,” she said on Tuesday. “Currently, icy road conditions continue, but all county roads are passable. Roads crews are looking forward to the warmer temperatures today to speed up the clearing of ice and snow.” County Emergency Services Director Fred Webster said snowfall totals var...
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‘Berlin Falls’ renaming effort causes clash

Posted On: 1/12/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 12, 2017) “Raucous” wouldn’t quite cover the tone of a Berlin Mayor and Council meeting Monday that seemed, at times, as if it were dangerously close to breaking out into a hockey game. After breezing through the meat of the meeting, which included approval of more than 30 town events and a summary of Berlin Youth Club activities, resident Bill Todd approached the council during public comments to pitch his petition, apparently signed by 300 people, to rename Berlin Falls park in honor of former local mailman James Tingle. An unusually large crowd in Town Hall had come in support of Todd and the renaming effort. He had previously talked about the idea extensively on social media, in at least two newspapers – including this one – and on the radio, where he has a regular role on Ocean 98. He did not, however, run the idea by Mayor Gee Williams before approaching the council, and Williams was quick to show his displeasure. Todd said he wanted to ...
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Pocomoke approves land swap deal

Posted On: 1/12/17
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Jan. 12, 2017) Pocomoke City and its fire company are scheduled to go to closing at the end of the month after the council approved a deal that gives the town all rights to the former fire company property, while the fire company gets to use the former VFW property for storage. After the contracts are signed at closing, the fire company will have 270 days, or about nine months, to remove its property from its former home. While the town owns the lot and main building of the former firehouse on Fifth Street, there is a storage shed located on the property constructed and owned by the fire company. The town had previously tried to secure a grant to demolish the building, but was unable to do so, in part because of objections from the Maryland Historical Trust. That shed is still in use by the company, but has agreed to swap the shed for the former VFW property off Dun Swamp Road, which can then be used for storage. It’s located between the town’s solar array and wastewate...
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Klump scholarship increases; 2017 nominations open

Posted On: 1/12/17
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Jan. 12, 2017) The people in charge of the Jesse Klump Memorial Scholarship want its namesake remembered for his altruism above all else, and so made that — rather than academic achievement or a specific program of study — the deciding factor in awarding the funds. Funds for the scholarship have increased this year, to a total of $15,000. “We’ve been giving $12,000 for the last five years, but when we look at the tuition bills they keep going up and up,” Ron Pilling, the fund’s treasurer, said. “We’ve never changed our offering.” Pilling said the memorial fund’s signature event, Jesse’s Paddle, was very successful this year, and along with the group’s other fundraising efforts the increased scholarship value shouldn’t overburden the organization. “By and large we’ve had a very gratifying year,” Pilling said. Choosing a member of the graduating class of Snow Hill High School each yea...
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Berlin A&E Committee becomes nonprofit

Posted On: 1/12/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 12, 2017) Looking to increase its fundraising capabilities, the Berlin Arts & Entertainment Committee recently applied for, and was granted, 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Treasurer Patty Gregorio said the move follows a statewide trend where arts and entertainment districts have been widely encouraged to become their own entities. “The state would eventually like to see each A&E district have its own paid staff and paid director,” she said. “Salisbury has already completed that process – they’re their own 501(c)(3) and they have their own executive director, and I believe Snow Hill is in the process. So there’s a general trend toward that, but the main reason we did it is because we needed to access funds.” The committee officially became an autonomous nonprofit on Nov. 29. “We are now recognized by the IRS as a tax-exempt entity,” Gregorio said. “It remains that Heather Layton is our president, Robin Tomasel...
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Soar with bald eagles at Pocomoke River

Posted On: 1/12/17
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Jan. 12, 2017) For the past several years, the Pocomoke River State Park, between Snow Hill and Pocomoke City along Route 113, has hosted Eagle Watches in January to better acquaint visitors and residents with the U.S. National Emblem. “People are seeing more and more bald eagles, and we want to give them a close-up look so they can learn some more,” park ranger Stephanie Venarchick said. “I hope it will also get people out to see our park — maybe they don’t even know it’s here.” There is a $10 fee per person to take part in the watch, with an optional, hour-long boat tour available for an additional $20 per person. Reservations are required, and can be made by contacting Venarchick at the park at 410-632-2566. The tour is limited to about ten people per outing, with three trips — at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. — on each of the next three Saturdays. Venarchick said the tours fill quickly. The watch is organized around a central...
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House burglarized in Snow Hill, $600 in rare coins stolen

Posted On: 1/12/17
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Jan. 12, 2017) A house at 303 W. Federal Street in Snow Hill was burglarized on Dec. 30 according to Police Chief Tom Davis. Numerous rare coins and silver dollar certificates were removed by an unknown suspect or suspects, according to police. The items are valued at about $600, and nothing else was stolen, Davis said. “The victim was on vacation, but left the house unlocked and the alarm off,” Davis said. Davis said there are currently no suspects, and the Snow Hill Police Department is investigating the crime. He cautioned homeowners to secure living spaces and vehicles when not in use. 
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Pocomoke, Snow Hill react to tax differential debate

Posted On: 1/12/17
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Jan. 12, 2017) As the ongoing debate between Ocean City and Worcester County over a tax differential to offset services duplicated by county and resort governments heats up once again, towns in the southern part of the county are of two minds on the subject. “I understand why they might want to do it, but I could never support it,” Pocomoke City Mayor Bruce Morrison said. “The county has been good to us.” Snow Hill councilman Mike Pruitt has similar feelings. “As a resident of Worcester County I would want to see the Ocean City taxpayers get some relief for duplicated services,” he said. “But as an elected official of Snow Hill, I would need to wait and see how it would affect us.” Snow Hill’s mayor, Charlie Dorman, declined to comment on the situation. Annually, the county collects taxes and then reimburses municipalities set amounts as unrestricted grants — money the towns can use as they see fit. Ocean City has, for a...
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Second annual Restaurant Week runs through Sun.

Posted On: 1/12/17
Written By: Kara Hallissey, Staff Writer

(Jan. 12, 2017) The second annual Berlin Restaurant Week began on Monday and runs until Sunday with more than a dozen restaurants offering special prices on select menu items. “The specials are so reasonably priced,” said local realtor Cam Bunting, creator and promoter of the event. “Restaurants are trying out new items that they may add to their menus, and the food is great.” Diners can check out a number of Berlin favorites who will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner options at a reduced price. Participating restaurants are: Main Street Deli, Maryland Wine Bar, Rayne’s Reef, On What Grounds, Drummer’s Café inside the Atlantic Hotel, Siculi, Baked Dessert Café, Blacksmith, Crush N Crab, Fins Ale House and Raw Bar, Brooklyn Baking Barons and The Globe. “Try out different places and food,” Bunting said. “Many use local ingredients and didn’t know until last minute what would appear on the menu. It’s rea...
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Drug courts provide alternative to prison

Posted On: 1/12/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Jan. 12, 2017) The first drug court in the United States was established in Florida in the late 1980’s, as prisons were becoming overcrowded with nonviolent drug offenders during the height of the crack-cocaine craze. By 2014, all 50 states and Washington, D.C. had their own versions in place. Locally, Worcester County established its drug court in December 2005 as an alternative to traditional court, provided an offender met the criteria of committing a nonviolent offense and having a clinical substance abuse disorder. According to Tracy Simpson, the drug court coordinator for the Worcester County Circuit and District Courts, the service is available “post-plea” or “post-disposition,” meaning an adult would have to plead guilty, or a juvenile would have to plead “involved” and agree to participate as a condition of their probation. “In the adult system the person is given an opportunity to complete the [drug court] program in lieu...
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