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Berlin financials look solid, auditor reports

Posted On: 12/4/14
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Dec. 4, 2014) Salisbury auditing firm PKS & Company gave Berlin high marks during a mayor and last Monday’s council meeting. Accounting and Auditing Partner Michael Kleger and Manager Leslie Michalik said Berlin’s financial status was unmodified from the previous fiscal year, saying it “had no material weaknesses.” Kleger gave the town the “highest level of assurance we can provide as auditors.” The general fund increased from $5,189,588 in 2013 to $5,193,211 in 2014, while expenditures decreased sharply from $5,240,306 to $4,401,742 during the same span. The majority of the general fund balance, 56 percent, came from property taxes. Intergovernmental revenues made up another 19 percent, service charges accounted for 12 percent and licenses and permits drew 3 percent. “This represents … a very healthy fund balance,” Michalik said. “The town is in good financial position.” Public safety was the biggest general...
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Pedestrian committee summarizes its efforts

Posted On: 12/4/14
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Dec. 4, 2014) One year after the formation of its Pedestrian Safety Committee, Berlin has a number of new safety measures in place and more on the way. The committee was created shortly after Nov. 8, 2013 when Maryland State Police Trooper Nicolas Hanger struck 16-year-old Tymeir Dennis and his then 17-year-old brother Tyheim Bowen on Route 113 in Berlin. Dennis died in the crash and Bowen lost one of his legs because of injuries. Town officials, including District 4 Councilmember Dean Burrell, District 2 Councilmember Lisa Hall and Town Administrator Laura Allen, joined community members Patricia Dufendach, Gabe Purnell and Roxie Dennis to form the committee. Dufendach updated the mayor and council on their progress during a meeting on Monday, Nov. 24. “Last year at this time, hundreds of people took the time to learn about the need to improve conditions for pedestrians and signed a petition,” she said. “The mayor and council listened and supported the forma...
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Bluegrass concert benefits land trust

Posted On: 12/4/14
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Dec. 4, 2014) From the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh to 1985’s Live Aid and Farm Aid, benefit concerts with a conscience have been used to raise awareness – and money – for political and social causes for decades. Hatched under a similar idea, the Lower Shore Land Trust’s “Get Bluegrass” concert is moving from Snow Hill to Berlin for its fourth annual event to be held Saturday from 6-11 p.m. “This is our big winter fundraiser for the Lower Shore Land Trust,” Executive Director Kate Patton said. “I’m thrilled that we’re moving it to Berlin and we’re excited to share in the America’s Coolest Small Town theme.” Patton said the fundraiser helps the Lower Shore Land Trust to expand programs that assist farmers and landowners. “It really helps us identify and implement management practices that will reduce our nutrient and sediment runoff,” she said. “We also conduct educational programs ...
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Main Street coordinator Houston stepping down

Posted On: 12/4/14
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Dec. 4, 2014) Just over a year after she took over as Main Street coordinator in Berlin, Megan Houston is moving on. New Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells will take on Main Street duties, and the town will look to fill Houston’s role as coordinator of the Visitor’s Center in the coming weeks. Houston, 25, began working as a part-time employee in Berlin last December. In July, the town hired her on a full time basis with benefits. The town’s previous Economic and Community Development Director, Michael Day, also acted as Main Street Coordinator before Houston was hired. “I think the role kind of evolved into its own thing,” she said. “It was so cool coming in and working under [Day]. I definitely came into Berlin at a really interesting time. My first project, honestly, was the Coolest Small Town thing, and that was awesome to jump right into. It got me really interested in the position and the job.” As tourism in t...
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State police get box of cocaine in traffic stop

Posted On: 12/4/14
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Dec. 4, 2014) Two troopers from the Berlin Barrack of the Maryland State Police made a “significant” drug trafficking arrest after pulling over a pair of Connecticut residents for speeding during routine traffic detail on Tuesday, Nov. 25. Allan Orville Tyson, 35, and Christopher H. Williams-Eason, 25, were driving a 2015 Chrysler 200 rental car with Connecticut plates on Route 13 near the Maryland-Virginia state line when police stopped them at approximately 8:39 a.m. After a K-9 scan of the vehicle produced positive results for a controlled dangerous substance (CDS), troopers searched the car and unearthed a shoebox inside of a suitcase in the truck containing close to a pound of cocaine. Police said the bulk uncut street value was $20,000, but the actual value could be as much as four times that amount. “Drug dealers try to stretch stuff to make more money, so they’ll cut something many, many times with an inexpensive agent that will make more and more w...
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Commissioners organize, and name new officers

Posted On: 12/4/14
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Staff Writer

(Dec. 4, 2014) For the first time in five years, J. Bud Church was not presiding over the County Commissioners meeting as president. District Six Commissioner M. Jim Bunting has taken over those responsibilities, with District One Commissioner Merrill Lockfaw Jr. retaining his position of vice president for another year. “It’s great to have the support of my fellow commissioners, and to follow in Bud Church’s footsteps. I hope to fill his shoes as best as I can and do as good a job as he did,” Bunting said. The returning vice president agreed. “I look forward to serving again as vice president and I think Jim Bunting will do a great job. I will be there to back him up, so the whole group can come together and do good,” Lockfaw said. The outgoing president had only kind words for the new leadership. “Jim Bunting will make an excellent president. I’m happy to see Merrill Lockfaw returning. After five years it’s time for change. ...
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Four new commissioners official join county board

Posted On: 12/4/14
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Staff Writer

(Dec. 4, 2014) Chip Bertino, Diana Purnell, Ted Elder and Joe Mitrecic were sworn in as County Commissioners Tuesday, replacing Judy Boggs, Jim Purnell, Virgil Shockley and Louise Gulyas respectively. The new commissioners said they were ready to cut their teeth on the county’s FY2016 budget, the formulation of which will take up a goodly portion of the first part of 2015. “Of course I’m humbled by the opportunity to serve the community of Ocean Pines, “ Chip Bertino said, “And I’m looking forward to the 2016 budget with very much interest. I want to ensure going forward we’re not budgeting on stabilization funds. I think we can balance without those funds.” Some were looking farther down the road while still remaining in the present. “We’re going to have a $12 million shortfall in three years,” Ted Elder said, “I’d like to address it early.” Elder said he wanted to start working on several thing...
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New phosphorous rules announced by ag dept.

Posted On: 12/4/14
Written By: Josh Davis, Staff Writer

(Dec. 4, 2014) After months of speculation and political intrigue, the Maryland Department of Agriculture announced proposed phosphorus management tool regulations on Monday, Dec. 1. The six-year phase-in of regulations carry a projected cost of $22.5 million, according to a study released last month by the Business Economic and Community Outreach Network at Salisbury University. The department published the proposal in the Maryland Register on Monday, triggering a mandatory 30-day public comment period that will end on Dec. 31. Agriculture Secretary Buddy Hance said the proposed regulations came “at the direction of Gov. Martin O’Malley.” “While Maryland farmers have met all of the nitrogen goals under the Watershed Implementation Plan [WIP], there are concerns with obtaining agriculture’s phosphorus goals,” he said in a statement on Monday. “The governor has been committed to adopting the regulations to fulfill Maryland’s commitme...
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County poultry farmers to be featured on MPT

Posted On: 12/4/14
Written By: Brian Gilliland, Staff Writer

(Dec. 4, 2014) True story: Minh Vihn and wife Kathryn Le moved from San Diego – he left a financial consulting job, she left four salons – to grow chickens in rural Worcester County. Rural, as in 20 minutes west of Snow Hill and navigating the unpaved Forest Road off Old Furnace Road for 20 minutes rural. “You don’t think of this as Snow Hill, do you?” Vihn asked, “It takes some getting used to. It’s a change but we adapted real quick and now we like it.” His brother-in-law turned him onto the idea of growing chickens a few years ago and now Vihn operates 10 chicken houses raising 480,000 birds per flock and turning over about five-and-one-half flocks per year. The most exciting thing to Vihn, he said, is that the technology to maintain this kind of volume has progressed so far in the past decade allows him to do “80 percent” of the work from a computer comfortably nestled next to the refrigerator in his house. Original...
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Purnell Museum will go Victorian for Christmas

Posted On: 12/4/14
Written By:

(Dec. 4, 2014) On Saturday, Dec. 6, the Julia A. Purnell Museum invites guests to leave the holiday stress of the 21st century behind and return to a more genteel time during the museum’s annual Victorian Christmas Celebration. Guests will sample old-fashioned treats and warm mulled cider to ward off the December chill.  Children will enjoy tasting lemon sticks, a soft peppermint stick stuck in a lemon half and used like a drinking straw. They will also create a traditional holiday craft to take home. The museum will be decked out in its holiday finery, and a Victorian Christmas exhibit will be on display to educate guests about the origins of many of today’s familiar holiday customs. The museum’s gift shop offers a chance to pick up holiday gifts and stocking stuffers, including local books, home décor items and the museum’s popular old-fashioned clothespin doll kits. The Victorian Christmas Celebration will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. All o...
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