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Pocomoke approves election regs

Posted On: 11/24/16
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Nov. 24, 2016) After giving members two weeks to review the proposed changes to the charter, the Pocomoke City Council voted to approve a host of new election regulations on first reading during its regular meeting Monday night. The changes include requiring all elections to be conducted with paper ballots, barring citizens from mounting write-in candidacies from public office, the inclusion of two alternate positions on the Board of Elections and new provisions for tie votes and election certification. The additions were made to the town charter in response to the situation that developed after the contested election for city council between incumbent George Tasker and challenger Sheila Nelson. Blamed on an unspecified “mechanical error” with the antiquated mechanical voting machines, 127 votes were counted, but election records showed 132 people voted that day in April. The Pocomoke City Charter didn’t foresee this kind of difficulty, and provided little dir...
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Most Worcester Co. towns see windfall from state tax error

Posted On: 11/24/16
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Nov. 24, 2016) Peter Franchot, Maryland’s comptroller for the past decade, admitted last week that his office misdirected about $21.4 million worth of local income tax payments for years, and for most municipalities in Worcester, the outcome is favorable — except for Snow Hill, which ended up owing the state money. The error was initially believed to be confined to Montgomery County for $8.7 million, but another $12.7 million in misdirected funds was discovered later, according to published reports. Berlin will get the most back from the state, as Town Manager Laura Allen said she received notice from the state that the municipality is owed $134,779 in back tax revenues. Ocean City is next, but is only getting a little more than half of what Berlin is being refunded at $76,800, according to City Manager Doug Miller. Pocomoke City is getting back about $31,000 due to the error, according to City Manager/City Attorney Ernie Crofoot. Snow Hill, however, was found to o...
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Wor. GOLD kicks off holiday season with Giving Tuesday

Posted On: 11/24/16
Written By:

(Nov. 24, 2016) Giving Tuesday is an international effort to promote charitable giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. As part of this effort, Worcester GOLD will be in front of the Atlantic Hotel in Berlin on Nov. 29 collecting toys and donations for the Helping Hands for the Holidays program, which provides gifts for local children in need. There are several ways members of the community can participate. GOLD volunteers will be stationed in front of the Atlantic Hotel, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. collecting monetary donations and donations of new, unwrapped toys.   Members of the community are encouraged to stop by and get some refreshments and help GOLD stuff a miniature antique truck full of toys. Santa may even make an appearance. Raffle tickets will also be sold for the chance to win an American Girl doll gift package.   For those who can’t make it to Berlin on Nov. 29, monetary donations can be made through the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore̵...
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OPA mulls online accounts and in-house comp. survey

Posted On: 11/24/16
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Nov. 24, 2016) Ocean Pines homeowners – and possibly all residents – could soon have authenticated online accounts hosted by the association that would allow for payment of assessments and purchasing of memberships to the various amenities. That notion was floated last Thursday evening, when the OPA Board of Directors met with the Comprehensive Planning Committee to discuss the implementation of a survey it had been working on for the better part of a year. Committee Chairman Frank Daly said the group had been eyeing SurveyMonkey as an inexpensive, online tool to conduct the questionnaire. Interim General Manager Brett Hill, however, said Ocean Pines already had its own mechanism to conduct surveys, but that it had not flipped the “on” switch. Daly said the committee had been working on the survey as a means to inform a new comprehensive plan, and that he hoped to turn that document over to the general manager’s office for implementation. “T...
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Decatur teacher case moves to Wor. County Circuit Court

Posted On: 11/24/16
Written By: Brian Gilliland & Josh Davis, Associate Editors

Decatur teacher case moves to Wor. County Circuit Court (Nov. 24, 2016) During his initial appearance in Worcester County District Court on behalf of Stephen Decatur High School teacher Austin Martin, defense attorney John Phoebus on Monday revealed his client had been indicted by the grand jury and the matter will now be handled by the circuit court. Martin, 27, of Ocean Pines, had faced two charges — sex abuse of a minor and sexual solicitation of a minor — that could have carried maximum penalties of up to 35 years in jail and a $25,000 fine. Phoebus said, and the state’s attorney agreed, that the sexual solicitation charge would not be pursued by the prosecution. The maximum penalty for that charge is 10 years in jail and the fine. Martin still faces a potential 25-year sentence for his relationship with his 17-year-old teacher’s aide. The two allegedly had a relationship that spanned six months, dating back to April or May of this year, when the student “confided in Martin about her relationship”...
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State police release name of Berlin hit-and-run victim

Posted On: 11/24/16
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(Nov. 24, 2016) Maryland State Police investigators announced on Monday that the victim of an apparent fatal hit and run in Berlin on Nov. 11 has been identified as 49-year-old Carlos Enrique Morales Barrios of Ocean City. According to a press release on Monday, Barrios was found dead on the Route 50 roadside near GlenRiddle. He lived at the 200 block of South Philadelphia Avenue. During a phone interview on Monday, police spokesperson Elena Russo said the victim’s foreign nationality made it difficult to notify his family and resulted in a delay in the release of his name. “They had trouble identifying this guy – that’s why it took them about a week – because he had a passport with him and they had to go through the Mexican Consulate to get to his next of kin,” she said. “That was a little bit challenging for them.” No suspects were named and the case remains under investigation. Russo admitted that will be difficult, because polic...
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Stabbing suspect nabbed after three-day police search

Posted On: 11/24/16
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(Nov. 24, 2016) After eluding police for several days, Kimberly Hinkley, 50, of Ocean City was arrested early Sunday morning and charged with attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and possessing a dangerous weapon with intent to injure after an apparent altercation with her boyfriend, 53-year-old Mark James Bell in Ocean City on Nov. 15. The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office reported that Hinkley was at large on Friday, but that the trail had gone cold after she evaded a “large scale search” that include a K-9 unit and a Maryland State Police helicopter. A police deputy was traveling on Route 50 in West Ocean City on Friday afternoon when he spotted Hinkley and recognized her as a suspect in a stabbing incident. Police said Hinkley fled when she saw the deputy, triggering a search that included Worcester County Police, Maryland State Troopers and Ocean City Police. Police continued searching for Hinkley ...
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Snow Hill Road opens again after October washout

Posted On: 11/24/16
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Nov. 24, 2016) After more than one month of winding, weaving and exploring the back roads between Snow Hill and Salisbury, the most direct route between the towns, Snow Hill Road, was finally reopened to traffic this past Friday. Last month while most of the lower shore’s eyes were squarely focused on Hurricane Matthew, which ended up not having a great impact on the area, a line of strong storms struck Snow Hill, leaving some areas — particularly the north end of town — hip deep in the Pocomoke River. A few miles to the north a different kind of trouble was brewing, as a recently-paved section of Snow Hill Road near Mt. Olive Church Road was washed away by the deluge, leaving a canyon impassible to automobiles. Residents in the area between the washout and the town were all but stranded for a few days until the waters receded, or they ventured onto the back roads of the county. Charlie Gischlar, State Highway Administration spokesman, said at the time old infr...
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Lights out, then on in Snow Hill, Wednesday

Posted On: 11/24/16
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(Nov. 24, 2016) Not only will the town’s tree at Byrd Park be lit up during an event scheduled for Wednesday beginning at 5:15 p.m., but all of the town’s decorations, from the displays lining the loop of the park to the swans on the drawbridge to the snowflakes on the utility poles marking the route between them, will as well. Kicking off the event at the park and warming up the crowd will be Nick Haglich, who has been scheduled to play holiday favorites until about 5:30 p.m. when the event formally begins. Hot chocolate will be served, carols will be sun and spirits will be made light, first figuratively, then literally as the holiday displays are turned on for the season. “Both the Free Indeed Baptist Ministries choir and the Snow Hill Middle School choir will perform, and Snow Hill Elementary School teacher Connie West will read “T’was the Night Before Christmas,” Ann Gibb, event organizer, said. Mayor Charlie Dorman is scheduled to addres...
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Berlin to flip switch on town Christmas tree, Friday night

Posted On: 11/24/16
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

Berlin to flip switch on town Christmas tree, Friday night (Nov. 24, 2016) Berlin’s annual Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony serves as the kickoff to the holiday season in town and that is how it will be this year, as regular carriage rides will begin, along with visits from Santa and a Main Street decorated for the occasion. This year, Patty Falck of Ta Da decorated the official town tree, which will stand unlit on the patio of the Atlantic Hotel until Mayor Gee Williams throws the switch on Friday at 6 p.m. The Casino at Ocean Downs will sponsor the return of ice artist Erik Cantine, who will provide ice sculpture demonstrations. As a new feature this year, the town will also offer an interactive, ice sculpted corn-hole board. Carriage rides will start downtown during the event, and the town will sponsor free rides during weekends in December from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays. Berlin Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells said the tree lighting generally draws upwards of 1,000 people. Several-dozen d...
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