By Ally Lanasa, Staff Writer
(Jan. 14, 2021) The following took place during the Berlin Mayor and Council virtual meeting on Monday:
The Town of Berlin is hiring a superintendent for the Public Works Department, which handles maintenance, streets and sanitation, as Dave Wheaton is retiring.
“The game plan is to do paper screening [and] telephonic screening before staff begins the interview process,” said Town Administrator Jeff Fleetwood.
Fleetwood added that town staff hopes to have the new superintendent start March 1 to overlap with Wheaton for about 30 days.
Tim Lawrence, the town’s electric utility director, said the department has been working on several projects.
His staff installed the underground service, energized it and set all the meters at 2 Stevenson Lane behind Fins Ale House and Raw Bar.
“The only thing left we have to do there is install a streetlight,” Lawrence said.
For the SHA project at Maryland Route 376 and U.S. Route 113, the utility staff had to set the dead-end pole for Verizon. Lawrence said there is a new pole past the Dollar General on Decatur Street.
“State Highway asked that we go ahead and set that, so Verizon could start planning on their work,” he added.
The utility also received two new solar customers, 208 Henry Mills Drive and 201 Presidents Court.
“We just changed out the meters to net meters that record import/export power,” Lawrence said. “We have three other solar systems that are going to be coming online.”
In addition, Berlin’s electric utility is waiting on approval of a grant from the Maryland Energy Administration for a 49kW rooftop solar system at the electric facility on Schoolfield Street.
Lastly, all the Christmas lights and decorations have been removed from downtown.
Caleb Hunter, an electric lineman apprentice, is halfway through the four-year lineman training program, which provides hands-on experience and formal training.
“The town has invested in two lineman apprentices,” Fleetwood said, to replace lineman, who will be eligible to retire.
Fleetwood and Lawrence added that no other apprentices have made it this far in the program.
Berlin Police Department
With two new hires, the Berlin Police Department is fully staffed.
Patrolman First Class Avery Marshall, a six-year veteran, began working at the Berlin Police Department on Jan. 4. Recruit Ean Spencer started the police academy on Jan. 5. He has to complete six months of the police academy followed by field training.
“We’re proud to have those two starting,” said Chief Arnold Downing.
Jason Odegaard, who graduated from the police academy and was sworn into the police department at the end of 2020, should begin field training soon.
In addition, the Berlin Police Department played Secret Santa again last month, giving away a full training room of toys.
“What we did have left over we actually had two daycare providers come in and actually give them out to three different daycares,” Downing said. “We’re real proud of that and glad we had a good end to 2020.”
Natalie Saleh, the town’s finance director, has asked the town department heads to present their capital expenditure requests by Jan. 31.
“So, we’re going to be creating two separate lists,” she said. “One is what we would like to see in capital outlets, or capital purchases, for our next fiscal year, and then the items that we must have.”
A budget schedule will be uploaded online with work sessions to meet as posted.
In addition, Saleh will provide councilmembers with the six-month performance of the general fund budget soon.
“Also, I have exciting news. We had the most successful year to collect contributions to our electric energy fund,” she said. “All the citizens donated $5,500. The town will match the same, so this amount will go to SHORE UP! and will go to the low-income families to assist with electric bills.”
MLK Jr. Day project
Ivy Wells, the town’s economic and community development director, is working with Melissa Reid from Buckingham Elementary School on an art and writing project for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18.
“Kids are doing either a drawing or writing a paragraph called, ‘I Have a Dream,’” Wells said. “I did this a few years ago with Melissa, and it worked out really nicely.”
There is a drop-off box at the Berlin Welcome Center, 14 S. Main St.
The artwork will be displayed in the windows of the Welcome Center and downtown businesses.
As an incentive, five Island Creamery gift cards will be randomly drawn.
Bee City designation
Berlin’s Bee City designation is up for renewal in February, said Kelsey Jensen, administrative manager, who is working on the application.
“They are aware that with covid, we weren’t really able to have any activities that were related to the bees, because we weren’t really having outdoor gatherings or really any gatherings of sorts this year,” Jensen said.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
Most Berlin Town offices will be closed on Jan. 18 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Recycling collection normally scheduled for Monday will be collected on Tuesday along with regular Tuesday trash collection, said Deputy Town Administrator Mary Bohlen.