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Annual meeting in Ocean Pines does not lack in drama

(Aug. 17, 2017) Saturday’s annual meeting of the Ocean Pines Association was not without its moments. It saw Doug Parks and Dr. Colette Horn elected to the association board of directors, featured the removal of one man by police, another attempt to remove interim General Manager Brett Hill from that position, and the farewell of longtime director and outgoing Board President Dave Stevens.
Stevens called the meeting to order at about 10 a.m., but the clock ticked away until a quorum of homeowners signed in, as the expected heavy turnout failed to materialize on schedule, possibly because of the torrential rains.
About 10 minutes into the meeting, resident Ted Aranow proposed that a motion to remove Hill be added to the agenda.
Director Slobodan Trendic attempted to add a similar motion to the agenda of a regular board meeting last month.
Stevens said Aranow could make a motion from the floor at the appropriate time, but that it could not be officially added to the agenda.
“I would point out that those motions from the floor are in no way binding on the board of directors,” Stevens said.
Aranow disagreed and asked to see where, in the bylaws, he was prohibited from adding a motion. Stevens replied that he would show him after the meeting.
“No, not after the meeting. Right now,” Aranow said.
Attorney Jeremy Tucker, named parliamentarian during the meeting, sided with Stevens.
“Even if your motion could be made and was added to the agenda, the item would be out of order because the power to remove a general manager rests with the board of directors,” Tucker said.
“No it doesn’t,” Aranow said.
“Under the bylaws it does,” Tucker said.
Several members of the audience objected.
“I’m just telling you what the bylaws say,” Tucker said. “That power rests with the board of directors.”
“This is not a question about the bylaws. If you want to change the bylaws, there’s provisions how to do it — and you have to learn what they are,” Stevens said sharply.
About a half hour into the meeting, a man came in dripping wet from the pouring rain.
“Hold the phone, folks,” he said loudly. “Everybody’s getting flooded out and you assholes are worried about french fries at the yacht club. People’s homes are getting flooded out, out there. I’m sick of it.
“I tried to deal with it and nobody listens. I’m not taking my turn,” he continued. “Let’s go. There’s people getting flooded.”
Ocean Pines Police Lt. Greg Schoepf escorted the man from the building, and in the process a large slide projector was knocked over and thudded loudly against the tile floor.
Stevens, during president’s remarks, thanked several people he said were helpful to Ocean Pines.
The meeting likely marked Stevens’ last after serving on the board for nine years and during three separate terms.
He thanked Glenn Duffy, who once served as interim general manager, and former Board President Tom Herrick, who resigned from that role last month and recommended Stevens take his place.
Stevens also singled out Hill, adding, “no one in Ocean Pines’ 50-year history has over a single year sacrificed personal, family and business life to the extent that Brett Hill has done.”
“When he agreed to take the job, he had no idea the search for a new general manager would take so long. I want to thank Brett on behalf of the Ocean Pines Association for the countless, unpaid hours that he has put in, on our behalf,” Stevens said.
Since the last annual meeting, Steven said, the board hired a new general manager, John Bailey, and new chief financial officer. Bailey will take over on Sept. 11.
Stevens said the departing board faced serious and unexpected issues at all five of its facilities, including the beach club, yacht club and country club. Because of those issues, the beach club bathrooms were renovated, the interior of the yacht club was overhauled to make it more like the welcoming, community-gathering space it was originally intended to be, and mold, a leaking roof and several other issues were addressed at the country club, he said.
Stevens added two bridges were repaired, playgrounds were renovated or replaced, and several new racquet-sports courts were added. He also said working groups were formed to address information technology, reserves and capital planning.
“I think OPA is on the right track and will continue to get better. And, since this is the last of my nine years on the board, I want to thank everyone who has helped and encouraged me along the way,” Stevens said.
Hill, during the annual general manager’s report, said membership rates for golf, the beach club, and for nonmembers were restructured under his watch. He said an information technology professional was hired, filling a nearly five-year void, and that several 30-year-old software systems had been updated.
He also touted the hiring of Denise Sawyer and the promotion of Julie Malinowski in the marketing department.
Hill admitted there had been communication issues between the board and the general manager’s office.
“We had a very good run for a long time where there was very good communications there, and we’ve had some struggles now, of late,” Hill said. “I hope to bring into this new board a kind of refreshed look at those communications and I the hope that we can support Mr. Bailey … and come to compromise in solutions for the community, rather than infighting and disagreements.”
Also during the meeting, Carol Ludwig was presented the Sam Wilkinson Volunteer Award.
Recreation and parks program supervisor Debbie Donahue said Ludwig was a prolific volunteer, serving during Christmas, Easter and Halloween events and singing the National Anthem during many Ocean Pines events. Ludwig is the director of the Delmarva Chorus and ran for the board of directors last year, and she currently serves on the 50th anniversary planning committee.
“This lady is a true asset to our recreation and parks department. I know I can call on her for many things and she will be right there to help — as long as she’s not on vacation, bless her heart,” Donahue said with a laugh. “She’s is always willing to help me in any possible way she can and is one of the most pleasant and funny people I have the l have the pleasure to work with.”