By Greg Ellison
(April 15, 2021) The Berlin Town Council approved a number of community events and grant applications during its meeting on Monday.
Police vehicle grant
Berlin Police Chief Arnold Downing asked for approval to purse USDA funding to offset costs for a pair of replacement vehicles
“We started the process in January and were contacted in March and told we could possibly be refunded 55 percent,” he said. “We have to have a commitment from the mayor and council to move forward.”
Downing said both replacement vehicles are included in the FY22 draft budget for a total cost of $80,000.
“The Worcester County Commissioners have signed a letter of no conflict and in support of the action,” he said.
If approved, the USDA grant would cover up to 55 percent of costs for a maximum of $50,000, to replace patrol vehicles dating to 2006 and 2007 respectively.
Downing said the department retains 16 vehicles for 14 staff members, in addition to military surplus equipment, including a Hummer and fire tow truck.
The council voted unanimously to support the application.
Fair Housing Month
The council approved a proclamation designating April as Fair Housing Month in Berlin.
Deputy Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said the housing designation takes place annually.
“Fair Housing Month in April is actually a national event,” she said.
Bohlen said the designation would be required if Berlin opted to apply for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program administered by Department of Housing and Community Development.
“We have not applied in a number of years [because] we have not had an appropriate project,” she said.
Bohlen said community members with complaints about housing within town limits could contact Berlin officials.
“We will put them in touch with the appropriate resources,” she said.
Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells said a revised date would be required for the third annual Grace Center Motherhood Walk, initially slated for May 8 at Stephen Decatur Park.
Wells said the event would likely be held on either Sept. 11 or 25 at the same location.
“We will revisit later in the summer to confirm the exact date,” she said.
Wells said with the May date quickly approaching, organizers with the Grace Center for Maternal and Women’s Health worried that they had insufficient time to properly plan and promote its Motherhood Walk.
Wells said the event would primarily make use of the park’s walkways, with the pavilion area the only reserved space.
“We don’t have any events planned for the park,” she said.
Delmarva Fire Convention
Wells is also helping Berlin Fire Company President Dave Fitzgerald to coordinate plans to hold the Delmarva Fire Association’s Convention from April 28-May 3 at fire headquarters.
To back the effort, Wells said thank-you letters addressed to volunteer firefighters and auxiliary members are being solicited from the community
“The letters will be displayed in the Berlin Welcome Center window during the convention,” she said.
Additionally, numerous local businesses will also post fire-focused correspondence in shop windows.
Film festival/stage show
Wells also asked the council’s permission to provide electric service and porta-potties for a three-day film festival in mid-June produced by the Berlin Heritage Foundation outside the Taylor House Museum.
The “Sunday Evening at the Museum-Film Festival” is scheduled on June 11-13 from 5-9 p.m.
The affair will kick off on Friday June 11 with a guest speaker who was involved with filming the 2002 release “Tuck Everlasting,” which was set in several Maryland locales including Berlin. A screening of the movie is planned for Saturday.
On Sunday, another Berlin-based cinematic feature, “Runaway Bride,” released in 1999, will be shown outside on the museum lawn. Both film screenings are free to the public.
Wells also sought council approval for the Ocean Pines Players to stage a production about Clara Barton on Oct. 16 from 2-5 p.m. outside the Taylor House Museum.
“I commend Melissa Reid and board members for adding more of these entertainment-type events at the Taylor House Museum,” she said. “I’m 100 percent for approving these events.”
Berlin Clean-Up Week
Wells said in light of ongoing coronavirus restrictions the annual Clean Up Berlin Week for Earth Day, scheduled from April 17-24 would be left to individuals.
“People can do their own part and we will provide them trash bags and gloves at the Welcome Center,” she said.
To encourage participation, Wells said community members are asked to post pictures of their efforts on social media using #earthdayinberlin to take part in a prize contest.
“Many people don’t realize that we are a ‘Keep America Beautiful’ affiliate and we’re also … on the Maryland Green registry,” she said.