The following letter was sent to the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors and the Bayside Gazette
It is with great joy, happiness and pleasure that I address all the directors of the yacht club and marina with the following circumstances occurring on July 1, 2017 at about 1:30 p.m.
My son and I had happened across four young men in need of assistance just off the route 90 bridge in the water. Unusually, there was a strong wind and current and they had jumped into the bay from their rented pontoon boat to retrieve a football.
As we crossed the bay we spotted the four in the water [at a] distance from the boat which was leaving them. We observed that one male had went under several times and another male was attempting to keep him above water. He was non-responsive and limp in the water. The two other males were trying to assist, but the current was to strong.
Our first attempt at a rescue failed due to wind and current, but my son did manage to get one life jacket to one of the males. The male with the drowning person both went under several times. As I turned the boat to approach from another angle they went under water again.
We managed, this time, to get close enough to them so my son, Patrick, could pull the unconscious victim from the water and drag him into our 24-foot boat. He got a line to two of the others still in the water and, one by one, pulled them into our boat. Patrick than rolled the drowning victim on his stomach, expelling the water from his lungs.
I declared an emergency with the coastguard and requested they have medical personal meet us at the Ocean Pines gas docks.
As we raced to the docks, Maryland Natural Recourses Police assisted. The real emergency assistance came when your gas dock hands went far beyond their duties in the following ways:
They helped to secure the boat recognizing that a true emergency was unfolding in front of them.
They guided the medic unit to the injured. They assisted with one of the victims as he vomited on the docks. They helped with the evacuation of the unconscious victim to the medic unit. They secured the area from other boat traffic.
They were so professional in calming me and my son with words like, “everyone is safe now” and “you guys did a great job.”
They helped us clean up after the injured were removed to Atlantic General Hospital. The manager of the facilities responded along with them and pitched [in]. They even provided some clothing for the two victims that did not require medical treatment.
Because of their emergency assistance, three of the four man were released from the hospital and the fourth is recovering from water in his lungs.
I have to take my hat off and bow to the professional men and one woman [employed] at the gas docks of Ocean Pines Marina and Yacht Club. And to the manager the same. Please note that they handled an emergency that saved lived lives with professionalism and compassion and I don’t even know their names.
Dr. Richard D. Phillips
Department of Graduate Programs in Education
Delaware State University
Questions facing Pines Board and GM
With the Ocean Pines election season in full swing, there are a number of questions and concerns that many of the residents have for both the sitting Board members and the new candidates. If you pay attention, you will hear and/or read conversations that include many of the following on various social media outlets and at many of the OP gathering places.
It has come to light that Brett Hill, the acting GM, had surveillance camera’s installed in his and two other offices. This was supposedly done without the BOD knowledge.
The BOD found out about it when one of the employees complained to a Board member about several conversations on the video. That video, which is now being discussed throughout the community, allegedly shows the AGM slandering various OP employees and Board members.
Those conversations include accusing a manager of having affairs, accusing Public Works employees of stealing, and accusing a fellow Board member of stealing. One has to wonder why, while in a closed session, a majority of the BOD voted not to look at the video. Did they not want to find out if the accusations were true or did they just not care?
Why does the Beach Club campus need close to a dozen new security cameras? Did the BOD approve these? Does the AGM really need to be able to view all the security feeds from his cell phone?
Why have several of the Board members not looked into the reason a large number of OP employees have either quit or been fired? At least one and maybe more employees complained to the Board President about current working conditions, including interaction with the AGM, but nothing was done.
When employees can’t get satisfaction from the Board President, and their immediate supervisor is the AGM who they have a problem with, why is it a problem when they go to other board members? Why is it a problem for any of the board members to look into concerns being raised by employees about the AGM? Isn’t this basically what Mr. Trendic was reprimanded by a majority of the Board for doing?
Why did a majority of the BOD vote to go into closed session to discuss that mater, but did not want to be in closed session several weeks earlier when the discussion was about Brett and his interaction with OP employees?
Does the BOD not have a duty to protect the finances of OPA? Would that not include trying to avoid lawsuits for slander and a hostile work environment that could cost OP tens of thousands of dollars?
Why does The Cove, or OP in general, need three different software programs? Why are they not working properly if the AGM, who purchased them without board approval, is supposedly a technology expert?
Why is the BOD not taking actions against the AGM for making nonessential and unbudgeted purchases without Board approval? Where is all the money coming from to pay for the technology upgrades that were not part of this year’s budget?
Why did the BOD agree to have a semi-permanent “band stand” structure placed along the most scenic section of the YC patio?
When questioned about the blocked view this will cause, the Board President said that the view from the upstairs balcony would be great. That’s true, but only for the few people the balcony will hold. Did anyone seek opinions from the various bands that play there to see if they like the idea?
Why is the AGM, who has no real restaurant experience, basically running the various OP restaurants and food concessions? Apparently none of the different venue managers are allowed to do anything without getting the AGM’s OK. When asked about a particular issue, the pat answer is “that is an upper management (AGM) decision.”
The Beach Club is not up to its previous standards. Most of the wait staff were not properly trained, the fountain drink guns were not working and the bar was a mess. Changes were made to the way customers order food and it is not working.
The food there used to be the best offered in any of the OP venues, but is now probably the worst. As a result of the multiple firings and staff resignations, it has become more and more difficult to hire good, experienced bar and wait staff at all of the OP venues. This has had a direct effect on the quality of service and ultimately, revenue.
A big concern for residents and several board members is the amount of money being lost at the Cove. The original business plan put forth when the new building went up was that the banquet business upstairs would offset any losses downstairs during the offseason.
For a period of time, that seemed to be working, but lately it appears that the banquet business has all but dried up. What happened? Are we still getting bookings for weddings and private parties?
The Clubs Committee has suggested numerous times that a happy hour should be added at The Cove as a way of bringing customers in and enticing them to stay for dinner.
A 20 percent discount across the board at all of the OP venues was never suggested. If this was not included in the current budget, why did the AGM not get Board approval?
Has the Board looked at the most recent figures to see how much the discount has cost the association? The Cove, Beach Club, Terns Tavern and the rest of the concessions have all lost money over last year’s numbers. Why has the BOD not done anything to correct this?
When the AGM proposed that the pirate ship playground be placed in its current location, many residents asked that another location be considered. The AGM claimed that the organization who donated the money for the playground wanted it placed at the YC and that there was no other location available.
If anyone had bothered to ask the organization’s spokesperson about this, they would have found out that they did not request that the playground be placed there. When asked if the playground meets Maryland playground safety codes, the AGM said that it “met all County requirements.”
When called, the County inspector said they only check to see that the finished product conforms to the plans submitted. They don’t check for safety issues, so the AGM was right, but not about safety concerns.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission has very specific guidelines, several of which the pirate ship does not meet. There is supposed to be a six-foot “buffer space” around all structures, including the fence, which is not there, and the mulch surface is supposed to be six inches deep.
It is only two-to-three inches (depending on how much the kids have thrown out of the fenced area), which causes the plastic “liner” to come up and cause a tripping hazard. Public Works has been out several times to put the plastic back under the mulch.
Several residents have raised these concerns, but most of the BOD has done nothing to follow-up on them. One Board member did ask if the OP insurance company had given their ok on the liability issues associated with the structure, but the AGM did not respond.
Why was the BOD not included in the decision by the AGM to open the adults-only pool to families on Sunday afternoons? It took a special meeting for the residents to voice their opposition to this idea, with several people raising safety concerns, before the BOD voted the idea down. Even after that huge outcry, the AGM was talking about changing the adult-only pool from the “Oasis” (YC) to the Swim & Racket pool.
One reason given was that the Oasis pool has easier access for smaller kids then at Swim & Racket. Ironically, having easier access into the pool was the same reason given by many of the older residents at that special meeting. That change of venue for the adult pool is apparently the reason the AGM applied for a liquor license at Swim & Racket.
After 25 years with no real discontent, why is the current AGM so intent on changing the adult-only pool into a family pool? Does he think that families are going to bring more business to the tiki bar then the adults-only crowd?
Would the BOD hire a new GM, who is going to have access to OP funds, knowing they had an outstanding $166,000 tax lien? Would that not raise some red flags?
Last year, when the Search Committee suggested that a background check be part of the BOD candidate criteria, several of the board members thought that was not needed since the board members don’t actually handle any funds. The GM does handle funds, so it seems even more important that a background check be part of that hiring process.
Is that part of the new GM search information? Was that done when the current AGM was put in office? Did the BOD know about his tax lien? Do they know it was paid off in March of this year, more than eight months after he was appointed acting GM?
Is it not a conflict of interest for a Board member to own a company that is seeking a contract with OP?
A board member has access to the bidding process, including how the RFP is worded and can see what bids come in. Does this not give them an advantage over any other firm that may submit a bid? Is it not an even bigger conflict if the GM has access to that same information?
Why are only two of the current Board members, Cheryl Jacobs and Slobodan Trendic, looking into these issues?
Ban use of tax dollars for horse slaughter
As constituents of the first congressional district of Maryland, which includes Harford County, Cecil County, parts of Carroll County and the Eastern Shore, our congressman, Andy Harris, is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
This committee is responsible for voting on the Agriculture Appropriations bill for each fiscal year. Since 2005, an amendment to this annual bill has prohibited federal taxpayer money from funding horse slaughter plant inspections, thereby preventing them from legally operating in the U.S. Horse slaughter plants have an infamous history of negatively impacting the nation’s economy and environment.
According to the Animal Law Coalition, our government spent approximately $5,000,000 of American taxpayer funds annually to conduct USDA inspections of the last three operating, foreign-owned horse slaughter plants before they closed in 2007.
Waste from horse slaughter plants polluted local waterways and overwhelmed community sewage plants. Surrounding communities suffered a serious decrease in property values.
The economic and environmental burdens that horse slaughter plants inflict far outweigh any perceived benefit. The methods used to slaughter horses are very cruel and painful.
Finally, if this funding is not blocked, the result will be the sale of horse meat for human consumption overseas in spite of the fact that, due to the drugs which horses are routinely given, horse meat is very unhealthy for human consumption.
I urge every constituent in Representative Harris’ district who opposes horse slaughter to make your voice heard.
Call or email his office at 202-225-5311, www.harris.house.gov/ contact/email and ask him to vote yes on the FY 2018 amendment to ban the use of our tax dollars for horse slaughter.
Jessica Summers, WCHS shelter manager and concerned volunteers and employees of Worcester County Humane Society