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YEAR IN REVIEW — INTERVIEWS

12/24/13 | By Sheila R. Cherry, Associate Editor

BERLIN/OCEAN PINES—We scored several exclusive interviews with some of the most influential community leaders and personalities on the Lower Eastern Shore this year. Here are a few of the highlights.

Our interview with Berlin Mayor William “Gee” Williams, led off the year. He had overcome an unexpected electoral “write-in” campaign challenge two months earlier and was charging full throttle to implement a stormwater utility department for the town by July. He said Berlin’s greatest success was its ability to set examples of how transformational a cooperative effort could help a community to achieve its common goals.

One of those goals, which Williams put at the top of his list, was the implementation of a stormwater utility to resolve some of the flooding issues property owners had experienced for decades. In contrast, he said he would have preferred to have taken more time in developing a formal relationship between the town and the Berlin Farmer’s Market that might have avoided a rift over the growing need for downtown parking.

In June we interviewed both outgoing Town Administrator Anthony Carson, who was vacating the position to take a city manager job in Ohio, and his incoming successor, who was moving to the area from California.

Bob Thompson described the process that goes into developing the Ocean Pines Association’s annual budget, along with discussions about the correlation between shut down procedures for the Yacht Club pool and an inability to file an insurance claim for flood damage after superstorm Sandy, plans for marketing the Golf Club once the greens improvement project was completed, and a policy approved by the Board of Directors to publishing the names of individuals with long-standing delinquencies.

Rep. Andy Harris (R) discussed the impact of federal action on the Lower Eastern Shore way of life and what he planned to do to protect and promote the interests of this region in the U.S. Congress. He said he planned to use his new role as a member of the House Appropriations Committee to ensure oversight of the Environmental Protection Agency, and other federal policies that could negatively impact agriculture, the poultry industry, and tourism, and expressed his concerns about the negative impact numerous parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare, could have on seniors.

As he was heading off on a family vacation after adjournment of the 2013 Maryland General Assembly, Delegate Norman Conway (D-38B), who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, talked about his reservations with the state’s newly enacted gun bill (too broad) and repeal of the death penalty (sometimes needed), and discussed his vision for improvements to education and transportation policy in 2014.

Carson said direction from the Mayor and Town Council, work of the professional staff, input of engaged town residents made the achievements during his tenure possible. “Being able to obtain almost $9 million of grant funding for the waste water treatment plant upgrade was a tremendous benefit to the residents of Berlin. He credited a great deal of hard work from many Berlin staff members and the leadership of the Mayor and Council.

Laura Allen, Carson’s successor, has family ties to the Eastern Shore. She told us during a separate interview it was hard to say goodbye to her friends and colleagues on the west coast. “But the timing was right for me to make this move.”

She said, “Spending time with family on the Eastern Shore gives me an appreciation for the way of life here, “and added,  “I believe that will help me better understand the community’s concerns.”

Legendary golfer Billy Casper stopped by the Ocean Pines Golf and Country Club this summer for a day-long visit to celebrate the reopening of its back nine greens after a major renovation project. His firm, Billy Casper Golf, manages the OP’s club and during the meet and greet event held a putting clinic for some of the 120 people who attended. “Whether there is a need to upgrade the golf course. Whether there is a need to develop a relationship with the people in the area in which the golf course exists. We want to make it more enjoyable for everyone who plays the game of golf,” Casper said.

As part of our observance of the Ocean Pines’ 45th Anniversary celebration, we [popped I on attorney Joseph Moore, a partner with Ocean City-based law firm Williams, Moore, Shockley & Harrison, who was a repository of local history as long-term legal counsel of the OPA. He shared a few of the most memorable experiences from his 30 years of representing the fastest growing community in Worcester County.

We interviewed Matt O’Hare as he said goodbye to the Eastern Shore to retire from Worcester Preparatory School’s athletic director and assistant headmaster after a 38 year career. In fact we pretty much interviewed the entire O’Hare family this year since we also managed to catch up with the O’Hare brothers Tom and Dan O’Hare, who shared a few of their memories on growing up in the Pines for our OPA anniversary coverage, and mom Sharyn O’Hare serves as vice president of the OPA Board of Directors.

While the gracious generosity of the O’Hare family was most appreciated, they can be comforted and assured that we shall aim for curbing family-wide coverage in the upcoming year.  

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