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Communication issues linger for Berlin and BFC

Posted On: 5/18/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(May 18, 2017) Town of Berlin officials balked last year when the Berlin Fire Company requested more than $1 million in funding from the town, more than double what had been allocated during the two previous years.  Instead, the mayor and council kept its allocation to fire and EMS a flat $400,000, and said a lack of information made it difficult to justify such a drastic increase. This year, Mayor Gee Williams said the town is budgeting $250,000, plus an additional $150,000 if the fire company agrees to third-party funding study that would help determine future needs.  Williams said the study was discussed during a budget work session last May and that Fire Company President David Fitzgerald had initially agreed. “They agreed. They were there in person,” Williams said. “This year’s budget is identical to last year in both the amount of money and the contingency on the $150,000 … the budget is exactly the same and the conditions are exactly t...
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Town of Snow Hill approves fiscal year 2018 budget

Posted On: 5/18/17
Written By: Greg Ellison, Staff Writer

(May 18, 2017) The Snow Hill Council approved a $2.5 million fiscal year 2018 budget, which was balanced without raising property tax rates, during its meting last Tuesday. The budget passed by a 2-0 vote with Councilwoman Alison Cook not in attendance. Town Manager Kelly Pruitt noted the final budget remained unchanged from a version put forth during a first reading on April 11.  On the revenue side of the ledger, real estate taxes represent the single largest tally at $890,000. Additional revenue, a $450,000 grant from the county, has yet to be approved by the Worcester County Commissioners. That figure would match last year’s county contribution to Snow Hill. The budget also includes $110,000 in revenue from state income taxes and $105,000 in corporate personal property taxes.  Pruitt noted the tax levies of $0.86 per $100 of assessed value on real property and $1.82 per $100 of assessed value on corporate personal property are the same rates as the current fisc...
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Solving Pocomoke water problem

Posted On: 5/18/17
Written By: Greg Ellison, Staff Writer

(May 18, 2017) In an effort to remedy water quality issues that have plagued Pocomoke for decades, the city council approved an emergency expenditure of more than $100,000 for repairs at the water treatment plant during a budget work session on Friday. City Manager/City Attorney Ernie Crofoot said a recently commissioned report by Hungerford & Terry, a water treatment contractor, identified problems with the filtering media and water flow control valves at the treatment plant.    “Over the years the backwashing apparently has been at an inappropriate pressure, which has caused a significant amount of the filtering material to go down the drain,” he said. “There were also valves … not opening and closing at the right time.” In addition to replacing six water valves, Crofoot said the report also recommended changing the filter media in four water filters. “They say we should consider this as an emergency situation to repair and quite ...
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Winter Quarters Golf Course could get six-month trial run

Posted On: 5/18/17
Written By: Greg Ellison, Staff Writer

(May 18, 2017) Efforts to balance Pocomoke’s fiscal year 2018 budget while providing Winter Quarters Golf Course an opportunity to address its own financial challenges highlighted a City Council budget work session on Friday. City Manager/City Attorney Ernie Crofoot said despite removing all capital outlay items from the budget except approximately $79,000 to replace police radios and dispatch consoles, there is still a roughly $182,000 deficit. He said the vast majority of that, $154,000, was because of losses at the golf course. Councilman Dale Trotter suggested funding the golf course for the next six months to allow it a chance to rebound. “If it’s improved compared to previous years then approve it again for the following six months,” he said. This move would cut the net loss in half, which would total approximately $77,000, Crofoot said. He also noted that after six months the council would have to amend the budget if they wanted to keep the course ope...
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OPA Match Play Championship

Posted On: 5/18/17
Written By:

(May 18, 2017) Ocean Pines will host the annual Match Play Championship, beginning Thursday, June 1, at the Ocean Pines Golf Club.  This event is open to all men who are members of the Ocean Pines Association or the Ocean Pines Men’s Golf Association. The format is single elimination with players seeded by handicap. Players will have two weeks to complete each match. Competition will continue until a winner is declared.  Prizes will be awarded to the top three players. The cost is $15 per player, plus golf and cart fees. Application are available at the pro shop or contact Woody Gross at 410 641 8025 or woodygross@gmail.com. The deadline to register is May 28.
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Pines library needs repairs, Berlin library receives boost

Posted On: 5/18/17
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

(May 18, 2017) The water infiltration issues at the Ocean Pines Library may have gone beyond a simple leaky roof, and could have ramifications on an existing HVAC system that’s also beginning to act its age, as the county commissioners decided to invest about $71,000 in discovering the root cause during Tuesday’s meeting.  Commissioner Chip Bertino, representing Ocean Pines on the board, admitted he was “irritated” at reading the report on the situation prepared by John Tustin, public works director, which contained phrases like “improper construction,” “undersized,” and “lack of water shield.” Tustin said the facility was designed in the mid 1990s by an architect who has since retired, and constructed by a builder who has since retired, so there is no one for the county to go back to about the quality of the workmanship. Which might not be their fault anyway. “The builder is not necessarily responsible if they ...
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Allen: Town will not pursue Harrison Avenue land records

Posted On: 5/18/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(May 18, 2017) The Town of Berlin will not pursue land records confirming it owns part Harrison Avenue north of the Adkins Company, Town Administrator Laura Allen said last Thursday.  Representatives from the Adkins Company expressed concerns over a truck ban related to planned Baker Street repairs during a recent Town Council meeting. If Baker Street is closed to trucks, they said, it would affect the business because they believed the Harrison family owned a portion of Harrison Avenue. All but about 60 feet of Adkins land is next to Harrison Avenue and the company owns a part of the road, which it blocked from public use last June in a dispute with the town. Town officials, however, said the company has access in and out of the north end because the town owned that section.  “My sense was, from the meeting, that the council didn’t want the town attorney or town staff to dig into that any longer,” Allen said. “They’ve approved the ordinance ...
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Holland exit confirmed

Posted On: 5/18/17
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Associate Editor

  (May 18, 2017) Responding to a Public information Act request by Ocean City Today and the Bayside Gazette, the Town of Snow Hill has confirmed Erica Holland’s employment ended on April 25, the day she was escorted from Town Hall by police. Holland served as the town’s receptionist and was hired on Jan. 27, 2014, according to Kelly Pruitt, town manager.  While conflicting reports of Holland’s status were received from town and county officials, what is clear is that police removed Holland from her workspace during business hours. The response by Pruitt confirms Holland was also separated from her position on that day. No charges have been filed against Holland, but Mike Lupiwok of the county’s Criminal Bureau of Investigations confirmed an investigation is taking place. He declined to elaborate. Holland is married to Fulton Holland, assistant warden at the Worcester County Jail. Because of the recent death of Warden Garry Mumford, Fulton Holland,...
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Election dates for Board of Directors in OPA announced

Posted On: 5/18/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(May 18, 2017) Ballots for the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors election will be mailed on July 11. They are due back Aug. 10.  The Ocean Pines Elections Committee will count ballots on Aug. 11, for the first time during a public session, and announce the results on Aug. 12 during the annual meeting at 10 a.m. in the Assateague Room inside the community center.  Two seats are up for grabs this year, one that currently belongs to Doug Parks and one held by Dave Stevens. Stevens announced he would not run for reelection and Parks was appointed to the board after Pat Renaud resigned last year.  Board President Tom Herrick said this week eight people – four men and four women – had filled out applications for the two seats.  Committee Chairman Steve Tuttle, during a meeting Friday, said he would send a letter to board candidates informing them of upcoming election dates. He said the candidates would be asked to send a photo, a 200-word bio an...
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Bay Club redevelopment far from ‘done deal,’ officials say

Posted On: 5/11/17
Written By: Josh Davis, Associate Editor

(May 11, 2017) What, exactly, is going on with the proposed redevelopment of the Bay Club into a luxury campground is apparently a matter of some debate, but town officials said Monday there was no news and assured members of the public they would have a voice in any discussions. Residents Cam Bunting and Carol Rose asked for an update on the project during the public comments portion of the Town Council meeting. “I keep hearing that this is a done deal, which is really interesting,” Mayor Gee Williams said. Williams said he called attorney Hugh Cropper, who represents Bay Club owners the Carl M. Freeman Companies, on Monday. He joked that he asked Cropper if he had heard about this “done deal.” “He said, ‘what’?” Williams said. “The last time we talked to him was back in the first week of April.” Williams has said he spoke with Cropper in April and asked him to postpone a meeting with the Worcester County Board of Zon...
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