Preliminary Whale Necropsy Shows Vessel Strike InjuriesBY BETHANY HOOPER STAFF WRITER
ASSATEAGUE – A preliminary examination of a dead whale found on Assateague this week shows injuries consistent with blunt force trauma, though more information is being collected to determine if the incident occurred before or after the mammal’s death.
On Tuesday, staff members with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the National Aquarium made their way to Assateague Island to conduct a necropsy on a 33-footlong female humpback whale that was discovered in the Maryland oversand vehicle (OSV) area early Monday morning.
Preliminary results from that examination revealed a hemorrhage that could
have resulted in the whale’s death, officials said.
“Examination of the whale was limited by decomposition,” a statement from stranding team partners reads. “However, findings included that it was a subadult female of 33.8 feet in length with an area of hemorrhage along the left side of the whale. This hemorrhage could be consistent with suspect blunt force trauma (vessel strike). Samples were collected to determine if those lesions occurred before or after death.”
On Monday, a deceased whale was discovered along Assateague Island’s OSV area, although it is unknown as to how long the whale has been dead or whether it washed ashore on Monday or sometime earlier over the weekend. One citizen said he drove the entire OSV area on Saturday and the whale was not
on the beach at that time.
National Park Service staff at Assateague Island National Seashore immediately contacted the Maryland DNR’s Stranding Response Program, the lead
agency for stranding response in the state of Maryland, and the area of beach at the 21.8-kilometer mark was closed to allow the whale to be dealt with safely.
DNR consults with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and partners with other agencies such as the National Aquarium and Smithsonian Institution. And on Tuesday, staff members with the National Aquarium assisted Maryland DNR in handling the exam and necropsy of the dead whale.
As a land manager, Assateague Island National Seashore is responsible for carcass retrieval and, ultimately, disposal.
“NPS staff at Assateague Island National Seashore will use heavy equipment to move the whale to the upper part of the beach,” Assateague Island National Seashore shared in a news release Tuesday. “After the necropsy is completed, it will be moved into the dunes and allowed to dry out prior to its eventual burial. All parts of the animal are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act.”
Staff at Assateague Island National Seashore are reminding visitors who come across the whale to keep their distance and keep any dogs leashed.
“The carcass will smell for a while, but previous experience shows that the smell will not be a problem more than 50 yards or so from the actual location,” a statement reads. “All marine mammals, alive or dead, are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and collection of any parts is prohibited.”
Officials also encourage visitors to contact the local stranding network if they observe any marine mammal or sea turtle washed ashore. Depending on the location, visitors can call the Maryland Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Response Program at 1-800-6289944 or the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center Stranding Response Program at 757-385-7575.
This week’s discovery on Assateague Island follows a slew of whale deaths in recent weeks along the coasts of New Jersey and New York.
In a meeting Tuesday, Worcester County Commissioner Joe Mitrecic acknowledged the recent events and made a motion to send a letter of concern to relevant state officials.
“There have been quite a few whales that have washed up on the East Coast,” he said. “In light of the fact that they want to reduce the speed limit or they have reduced the speed limit to save the right whales, I think we need to send a letter of concern due to seismic testing we’re having done off the coast for the wind farms. I’d like to ask the commissioners to send a letter to [Congressman Andy] Harris and whoever else the administration feels would be pertinent.”
He continued, “I know whales die of old age but the amount that have washed up on the East Coast during this seismic testing is concerning.”
Mitrecic’s motion to send a letter passed unanimously.
More Questions Than Answers On Recent Whale DeathsBY SHAWN J. SOPER MANAGING EDITOR
ASSATEAGUE – A rash of dead whales washing up on beaches around the mid-Atlantic region over the last few weeks, including a 33-foot humpback on the Maryland side of Assateague early Monday, had sides pointing fingers at each other this week but there will likely be no answers until necropsies on the deceased marine mammals are completed.
A total of six whales washed up along beaches in New Jersey and New York over a roughly one-month period beginning in early December. In each case but one, no outward sign of traumatic injury was noted. Early Monday morning, Maryland joined the growing list when a 33foot humpback was discovered on the beach at Assateague on the Maryland side of the oversand vehicle area around mile marker 21.8.
As the whale deaths continued around the region over the last few weeks, including the humpback on Assateague on Monday, it generated a lot of interest in various local and national news outlets and on social media posts, and subsequently, a lot of finger-pointing. The spike in marine mammal mortality has been linked by more than a few to increased surveying and pre-construction activity off the mid-Atlantic coast by the offshore wind industry.
A total of four offshore wind energy farms are planned off the coast of Maryland and Delaware in lease areas held by two companies. Those projects are in various stages of the approval process and geotechnical ocean bottom surveying, including the use of sonar, has been utilized at different times.
There has also been speculation the rash of deceased whales has been linked to vessel strikes, but again, just one of the now seven in the last month has shown pre-death outward physical trauma. Of course, a third school of thought is the spike in whale mortality could be just a part of a natural phenomenon made more alarming because if the volume of deceased whales in a concentrated area. In any case, no immediate correlation can be made and won’t likely to be made until the science offers some clarity.
Nonetheless, local governments and environmental advocacy groups are already firing off letters to President Biden’s administration asking for a temporary halt on all offshore wind-related activity until a cause can be determined.
On Tuesday, the Worcester County Commissioners voted unanimously to draft a letter to federal officials seeking a temporary halt to offshore wind industry-related activity.
Taking it a step further was Cindy Zipf, executive director of the Clean Ocean Action organization, who pointed the finger directly at offshore wind industry activity in the region for the sudden
Petition Signature Count ChallengedBY SHAWN J. SOPER MANAGING EDITOR
OCEAN CITY – The organizer of a successful petition drive aimed at reversing an ordinance conveying an abandoned portion of right-of-way along Baltimore Avenue continues to challenge the verified signature count.
Last year, local resident and former councilperson Margaret Pillas launched an effort to petition to referendum an ordinance passed by the Mayor and Council to abandon and convey a narrow strip along Baltimore Avenue between 13th and 14th streets to accommodate the proposed Margaritaville project’s planned overlay district designation. As part of the redevelopment of Baltimore Avenue from North Division Street to 15th Street, the town will convey the entirety of the long-abandoned narrow strip of right-of-way to the adjacent property owners. Margaritaville was the first applicant.
Pillas’ petition drive was verified by the Board of Elections Supervisors with the requisite number of signatures to successfully petition the approved ordinance to referendum. The successful petition left the Mayor and Council with a decision to hold a special election for that single issue, or put the referendum question off until the next municipal election in 2024.
Last week, the council voted to simply rescind the ordinance that would have allowed for the conveyance of the right-of-way between 13th and 14th streets, opting instead to begin a blanket approach of conveying the right-ofway to all of the property owners along the corridor in the project area. The move ended the question of a special election or other accommodations for the successful petition drive.
However, Pillas continues to question the section of the code related to the number of signatures needed to successfully petition for referendum. Resort officials’ position has been –and it appears the charter reads the same way – that the signatures of 40% of those who voted in the last election in November 2020 were needed for the verification of a successful petition.
The town charter reads: “If an approved petition is filed within the prescribed time period, with the City Clerk containing the signatures of not less than forty per centum (40%) of the number of voters at the most recent general election and requesting that the ordinance, or any part thereof, be submitted to a vote of the registered voters of the town for their approval or disapproval, the Council shall have the ordinance, or the part thereof requested for referendum submitted to a vote of the registered voters of the town at the next regular town election or, in the Council's discretion, at a special election occurring before the next regular election.”
In December, the Board of Elections Supervisors confirmed the petition included 199 pages containing 825 signatures. With 1,528 voters in the 2020
election, the 40% minimum standard would have been 612. Instead, the board verified 639 signatures, which was more than enough to move the petition for referendum forward.
The point is somewhat moot, at least for now, because the council rescinded the ordinance that was the subject of the petition drive. However, Pillas said this week her research of the charter and the specifics of the language it includes suggests 40% of the town’s entire electorate should be the standard, regardless of whether or not they voted in 2020. She concludes the entire 825 signatures included on the submitted petition should have been included.
“I’m ready to move forward with this,” she said. “I’m concerned about nearly 190 signatures pulled off the list. The town’s position is if you didn’t vote in the last election, you can’t sign the petition.”
Pillas contends the charter suggests 40% of the town’s electorate is needed to successfully petition for referendum. For that reason, she believes the 186 signatures that were pulled from the list should have remained on the petition.
“So, what their position is, if I didn’t vote in 2020, I can’t sign the petition, even if I voted in prior elections,” she said. “I am taking it as two different sentences. Somewhere in there, the word ‘registered’ was either added or removed. I could have voted in five prior elections but missed 2020 for a variety of reasons and that would disqualify me from signing the petition.”
With the need for a special election avoided for now, Pillas or others could presumably launch a petition drive to bring to referendum future ordinances related to the Baltimore Avenue rightof-way abandonment and conveyance to the adjacent property owners. With the council rescinding the original ordinance, the process has begun anew to convey the narrow strip to all the eligible property owners. The process includes letters sent to property owners, potential in-person meetings with property owners and ample opportunities for public comment and public hearings.
By way of background, the town in recent years has been in the process of planning a major redevelopment of the Baltimore Avenue corridor from North Division Street to 15th Street including the undergrounding of unsightly utilities, widening sidewalks and an overall streetscaping. The $40 million Baltimore Avenue redevelopment project is not without its complexities.
For example, deeds platted decades ago show the Baltimore Avenue right-of-way at 75 feet, but the current roadway utilizes just 45 feet from curb to curb, creating a narrow strip of property not needed for the corridor. Over the years, adjacent property owners have steadily encroached on the no man’s land of sorts with signs, parking, driveways and landscaping, for example.
Officials Proceed With Replacement Plans At Buckingham ElementaryBY CHARLENE SHARPE STAFF WRITER
NEWARK – Plans for a new Buckingham Elementary School moved closer to reality this week with the school board’s acceptance of a feasibility study for a new building.
Just weeks after the completion of an addition at Stephen Decatur Middle School, the Worcester County Board of Education was presented with a feasibility study for the aging Buckingham Elementary School.
“It’s great to be here finishing one great project and hopefully seeing the start of another here soon,” said Becker Morgan Group’s Brad Hastings.
Buckingham Elementary School was built in 1978 as a 49,000-square-foot facility on a 15-acre site. As student population increased, portable classrooms —there are now five—were added behind the school. Becker Morgan representatives said the school was now at 125% of its local rated capacity and 94% of state rated capacity. It’s roof and building systems are also beyond their life expectancies.
The school’s interior layout is no longer ideal, as it’s made up of pods that each contain four classrooms with very few walls, leading to acoustical and security concerns. There are ADA issues as well and the school lacks sufficient bathrooms and features an undersized cafeteria, according to Becker Morgan officials. They said they met with every single staff member at Buckingham to discuss the school’s future needs.
The Becker Morgan team developed two options for the school, both of which are detailed in the feasibility report available on the school system’s website. The first option is a renovation/addition that would increase the school’s size to 125,000 square feet. It would include two classroom wing additions, a food service area addition, a gym renovation and complete demolition and renovation of the interior of the existing building. During construction, vehicle circulation improvements would be made and the entrance would be moved to a more central location.
Becker Morgan representatives said there were some inefficiencies with the layout and students would have to be moved multiple times during construction.
The second option, the one recommended by Becker Morgan Group, is a complete replacement school. The new facility, which would total 102,000 square feet, would be located in front of where the building sits now so the existing school could continue to be used during construction. The floorplan, which includes a two-story section, features different wings for different grades as well as an entirely new traffic pattern.
Buses would enter the property off Main Street while cars would come in from West Street.
Officials stressed that neither option was a final design but that both had been created the way they had to ensure the school could meet educational requirements on its current site.
“Everyone felt very comfortable with moving the second, third and fourth grade up to the second floor,” a Becker Morgan representative said, adding that school officials preferred that to moving to another site.
Superintendent Lou Taylor told the board that Town of Berlin officials had contacted him a year ago to talk about the way the school was a vital part of the community.
“The purpose of the meeting was to reiterate to us how important it was that Buckingham stay in their town,” Taylor said.
As far as pricing, officials said the renovation/addition was the more expensive option. Project costs are estimated at $68 million, but by the time escalation is taken into account, the total project cost is estimated at $82 million. The maximum state allocation would be $17 million, leaving the local cost of the renovation at about $65.6 million.
A new school is expected to cost $73 million with escalation of 4.75% included. With the maximum state allocation, the local share of the project would be $55.9 million.
While there’s still a long way to go on the project, as this is still the conceptual planning stage, officials said the targeted construction start date was December 2026.
Todd Ferrante, president of the school board, said he clearly liked the new school option but questioned the layout, as much of the property is devoted to traffic circulation.
Joe Price, the school system’s facilities planner, said that was a great point but that this was a preliminary proposal. He reminded officials that the initial drawings of the recently completed Showell Elementary School looked far different than the final product.
“We just started with something to get conversation going,” he said. “That’s kind of what this is.”
School board member Bill Gordy, referencing the pictures of the interior of the existing school, complimented the school system’s maintenance staff on the condition of the decades-old facility.
“Maintenance should be commended for condition of the schools,” he said. “We’re talking about these dinosaurs we’re going to tear down and they look great.”
The school board voted 6-0, with Elena McComas absent, to approve the feasibility study and proceed with the replacement school option.
OCEAN PINES – Discussions on wage increases, a new business license fee and department spending plans highlighted a budget review session in Ocean Pines this week.
On Wednesday, the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors held its annual budget review with General Manager John Viola and department leaders. The coming year’s budget – which proposes revenues and operating expenses of $14.45 million, bulkhead replacement expenses of $1.15 million and capital expen-
ditures of $1.02 million – will take effect on May 1.
“I want to thank John and his team for all the work they did in preparing this budget and getting it to this point …,” said Association President Doug Parks. “At the same time, I want to thank the budget and finance committee for the work they’ve done and the input they’ve given us.”
Late last month, Viola presented the association with the preliminary proposed budget for fiscal year 2023-2024. He told board members this week the revised spending plan featured an $892 assessment for non-waterfront lots and wage increases for association staff.
Review Proposed Budget
“We have a recommended budget now of $892, which does include a true-up component, factoring in prior year realized favorability …,” he said. “It also incorporates wage inflation, statutory minimum wage increases and what we call mark-tomarket, where we had to make adjustments for different components of the salaries to keep up with the market.”
Under the general administration department, Finance Director Steve Phillips said officials have budgeted $650,000 in surplus transfers, $450,000 in casino funds and $200,000 in interest income. Under expenses, the association has budgeted $140,000 for legal fees, $195,900 for contract services and $50,000 for bad debt.
“That’s way down from a few hundred thousand a few years ago,” he said.
Officials this week also discussed a new license fee of $75 for businesses doing work on homes in Ocean Pines. Director Colette Horn said the fee was recommended by the association’s architectural review committee (ARC).
“The ARC guideline is that you be license and bonded to work in Ocean Pines …,” she explained. “These contractors will say they have a license but when an application is reviewed, they are bogus numbers. One of the benefits is to have this registry.”
Parks, however, said he had concerns about the proposed fee. Board members ultimately agreed to discuss it at their next meeting.
“If we’re adding a layer of administra-
tive oversight, you are going to have to convince me that’s a benefit to the organization,” he said.
The board this week also reviewed budgets from recreation and parks, public works and the police department.
Under police department revenues, Phillips said the association has budgeted $550,000 in county grants and $3,400 in state grants. On the expense side, officials have budgeted $65,000 for overtime, $1.2 million for payroll and $495,000 in payroll costs.
“We did give pay increases this year to get them up to where they needed to be …,” he explained. “We’re doing everything to get them to be competitive with everyone else.”
Officials say they have also proposed wage increases within the association’s aquatics department.
“Looking at payroll expenses, it’s up about 23% over the year before,” Director Stuart Lakernick said. “That’s huge.”
Viola acknowledged the proposed increase was an effort to fill vacant lifeguard positions within the department.
“We will increase the amount of money we will pay,” he explained. “We are trying to chase down lifeguards and this is a big part of it. A big part of it is the payroll increase you are seeing.”
Board members this week reviewed proposed budgets for each of the departments ahead of the spending plan’s eventual adoption. The association’s fiscal year begins on May 1 of each year and ends on April 30 of the next calendar year.
Fenwick Hearing Highlights Parking Ratio ConcernsBY BETHANY HOOPER STAFF WRITER
FENWICK ISLAND – Concerns over commercial parking ratios highlighted a public hearing this week in Fenwick Island.
On Wednesday, the Fenwick Island Town Council held a public hearing on an ordinance amendment pertaining to offstreet parking in the commercial district.
While town officials spent the better part of last year working through the details of new parking ratios and parking requirements, concerns from Fenwick’s
business owners prompted three significant changes to the legislation, which was brought back as a first reading last month.
“I think this represents a good compromise,” Mayor Natalie Magdeburger said at the time.
This week, several business owners and those representing commercial properties in Fenwick Island, came before the town council opposing the proposed parking ratios. As written, the proposed ordinance amendment would change, among other things, restaurant parking ratios from one parking space per 100 square
feet of patron area to one per 50 square feet of patron area, and retail parking ratios from one per 300 square feet of floor area to one per 250 square feet of floor area.
“I truly do not believe one formula fits all,” said Southern Exposure owner Tim Collins.
During Wednesday’s public hearing, Collins told council members the proposed parking ratios not only disregarded the different types of restaurant operations but hampered redevelopment. He highlighted a real estate company’s effort to redevelop the former Dairy Queen property to drive home his point.
“It’s a building that is sitting on three commercial lots that’s been there for what I would say 75 years …,” he said. “When you can’t take three commercial properties and a building of that size and do what little they want to do with it, there’s something wrong with this ordinance.”
Joe Balsamo Jr., representative of Balsamo Real Estate, said the company purchased the commercial property with plans to construct a second story and bring a new business to town. He told officials this week the proposed legislation would make it harder for redeveloped properties to meet the new parking ratios.
“Any successful small town or city has a balance between its commercial and residential districts …,” he said. “I feel that if this draconian ordinance passes, it will destroy the commercial district of Fenwick Island.”
Balsamo encouraged the town council to vote against the ordinance and to conduct a parking study, which would determine parking needs in Fenwick Island.
“What do we have to lose to get a parking study done?” he said.
Eric Wahl, landscape architect hired by the Balsamo family, also shared his concerns regarding the parking ratios. Like Collins, he argued the same restaurant ratio could not be applied to every carryout establishment and sit-down eatery.
“By indirectly restricting what restaurants and dining establishments can be developed, they are devaluing property within the town limits and discouraging business opportunities,” he said.
Attorney Richard Abbott, representing
Balsamo Real Estate, agreed.
“This parking ordinance is effectively a ban on new full-service, sit-down restaurants,” he said. “There will never be another one to locate in the town of Fenwick Island again.”
For his part, Villages of Fenwick coowner Chuck Shorley said he was most concerned that the proposed ordinance did not address parking ratios for multiuse facilities such as his.
“I still feel there’s an oversimplification of this ordinance …,” he said. “In my opinion that’s where this ordinance is lacking strength at the moment, There is no differentiation of properties.”
Several business owners told council members this week the proposed ordinance did nothing to solve current parking problems, as the parking ratios would only apply to new or redeveloped businesses. Commercial property owner Jim Parker said the construction of sidewalks, the development of a shared commercial parking plan and a study of side street parking could address the town’s existing issues.
“Everything you are wanting to do today with this ratio is not going to solve the problem,” he said.
From the outset, town officials have argued the new parking ratios would address a growing parking problem in Fenwick. Magdeburger noted that changes made in 2013 had eroded the town’s parking space requirements to the point they no longer met the needs of the business community. The proposed ordinance, she said, was meant to restore some of those parking requirements.
As originally written, the proposed ordinance would not only change parking ratios, but would require designated delivery zones for commercial buildings and prohibit parking in setbacks. Citing business concerns, however, the town council last month introduced new legislation featuring significant changes.
The ordinance would no longer restrict parking in the commercial setbacks or require designated delivery zones, and would include accommodations for shared parking.
With a public hearing now concluded, the ordinance amendment is expected to advance to a second reading at a future town council meeting.
Early Ocean City Union Contract Extension Called ‘Historic’BY SHAWN J. SOPER MANAGING EDITOR
OCEAN CITY – After negotiations called “historic,” resort officials this week inked an amended contract that improves wages and benefits for its firefighter-paramedic union and extends it out three years.
The current International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) Local 4269 labor agreement was set to expire on June 30, 2024. The looming deadline would have set in motion lengthy negotiations through the collective bargaining process between the union, the Mayor and Council and their attorneys.
However, in a break from tradition, IAFF Local 4269 President Ryan Whittington approached City Manager Terry McGean and the Mayor and Council a-
New Signed Agreement Bypasses Formal Collective Bargaining Process
bout a somewhat informal process to engage in a non-binding limited reopening of the agreement to negotiate an extension.
Traditionally, collective bargaining labor agreement negotiations can become acrimonious with battles over the finer points. With the extension approved on Monday, the somewhat informal negotiations were described as harmonious. The Mayor and Council agreed to sit down at the table with the IAFF lead-
ership to work out the details of the extension in an informal setting while taking a deeper dive into some of the issues. The result was the document signed by IAFF leaders and the council and city manager on Monday.
“Some time ago, President Whittington approached the Mayor and Council and the city manager about amending the existing IAFF contract,” said McGean. “We all decided the best approach was to look at it a little more informally
instead of locking ourselves in the conference room with two lawyers.”
The agreement signed on Monday extends the existing IAFF contract through June 2027. Typically, the town and the union collectively bargain for a new IAFF contract in three-year cycles, but the informal extension reached this week bypasses that process, according to McGean.
“This amendment, if approved, means we’re going to skip an entire collective bargaining cycle,” he said. “This will take us through 2027. It includes step increases, additional benefits for those hired after 2013 and the pension fund is assured to be in good shape.”
The Mayor and Council agreed to negotiate an extension with the stipulation the only issues that would be discussed were wages, health and welfare and pension plans. In one fairly recent collective bargaining cycle between the Mayor and Council, for example, resort officials argued for and got an amended shift schedule that rankled the firefighterparamedics and threatened to derail the negotiations.
This time around in a more informal setting, there was no such tension. The agreement inked on Monday includes pay increases, increases contributions to the pension plan by IAFF members, provides a Deferred Retirement Option Plan (DROP) and extends retiree healthcare benefits to those hired after 2013, among other things.
Whittington said union membership thanked the town’s negotiation team and would gladly sign the document.
“Your firefighter-paramedics and fire marshals are pleased to sign this agreement,” he said. “I would say the conversations were historic. It came out of a shared purpose. It was historic.”
Whittington the 49 voting union members voted to approve the amended IAFF contract.
“It was unanimous,” he said. “I think we’ve proven to improve service delivery through a cooperative and productive relationship. I promise to keep those relationships going.”
Whittington said by negotiating in good faith, the union team and town officials were successful in bypassing the laborious collective bargaining process, resulting in what will be a better delivery of emergency services for residents and visitors.
“Our fire department benefits from productive partnerships between our government leaders and its employees,” he said. “This partnership has been promoted by our current council, the city manager and the fire chief. The cooperation leads to more effective and efficient delivery of emergency services. It comes from, and continues, an increasingly harmonious relationship between all of those charged with keeping residents and visitors safe. This cooperation arises from a union that steadfastly works to identify the most pressing issues for its membership and to identify solutions to those issues.”
LDC Plans Special Meeting With Berlin On LEOPS RequestBY CHARLENE SHARPE STAFF WRITER
SNOW HILL – The committee tasked with reviewing local municipalities’ use of casino revenue is exploring whether Berlin can use its funding to enroll in a law enforcement pension program.
Members of the Local Development Council (LDC) for Ocean Downs Casino this week discussed the Town of Berlin’s plan to use casino revenue to fund enrollment in the Law Enforcement Officers Pension System (LEOPS). Town officials believe LEOPS will help with police recruitment and retention.
“Our job isn’t to decide the best use, it’s to decide if it’s an allowable use,” said Pat Schrawder, Sen. Mary Beth Carozza’s representative at the meeting. “We still don’t know if it’s allowed.”
Last week, the Berlin Town Council approved a motion supporting the future use of its local impact grant (annual casino revenue) to cover the costs of funding LEOPS for the town’s police officers. In the wake of that approved motion, Mayor Zack Tyndall wrote the LDC a letter outlining the town’s plans to use a portion of its local impact grant to fund LEOPS beginning July 1. He said the LEOPS study that’s currently underway should be ready soon and that it would be provided to the LDC at that point. Tyndall also wrote that the Town of Perryville uses its grant to cover the cost of two police officers and their benefits.
Cam Bunting, chair of the LDC, said that since receiving the letter she’d reached out to various state officials in an effort to determine if casino revenue could be used for LEOPS. According to state law, the grants are to be used for improvements in communities in immediate proximity to video lottery facilities. Grants can be used for infrastructure improvements, facilities, public safety, sanitation, economic and community development and other public services.
Bunting said she wasn’t sure LEOPS, which is expected to cost the town more than $200,000 a year, was an appropriate use of casino revenue. She added that once the town enrolled, it would have to fund LEOPS every year, whether it used casino revenue or not.
“LEOPS, it’s a forever,” she said. “Once you’re in LEOPS, you cannot get out.”
Bunting said the town’s water and sewer fees were higher than those of neighboring towns. She said the town had a 15-person police force.
“There are things this money could be used for, for all 3,000 people (in Berlin), not just 15,” she said.
Schrawder pointed out that the language in the town’s motion was not consistent with the language in Tyndall’s letter. She said it wasn’t clear if the town wanted to use all of its casino revenue on LEOPS or not.
“I’d like to know what Berlin’s plan is,” she said, adding that the town should
have a backup plan for LEOPS funding in case casino revenue ever decreased.
Matt Gordon, vice chair of the LDC, pointed out that the body was one that made recommendations. He said that if the town didn’t agree with the LDC recommendation, a public hearing would be held to gauge views of citizens. Roscoe Leslie, the county attorney, agreed that a public hearing could be held but said there was no mechanism for withholding the town’s grant if the municipality and the LDC were not in agreement.
Bobbi Sample, Ocean Downs Casino’s representative on the development
council, suggested the LDC reach out to its peers across the state to see if they’d entertained requests similar to the one made by Berlin.
“We need to find out the details of what’s been requested in this vein,” she said.
LDC members agreed to schedule a special meeting once the Town of Berlin submitted its LEOPS study as well as its multi-year plan for using the casino revenue. Previously, the town used its casino revenue — which recently has exceeded $400,000 a year — to pay for its new police station on Decatur Street.
Berlin Agency Seeks Youth Mentors
6 Worcester Students On WaitlistBY BETHANY HOOPER STAFF WRITER
BERLIN – A local agency is seeking volunteers for a youth mentoring program.
As Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services continues to assist local children and teens through its Worcester Connects program, it is also seeking volunteers to serve as youth mentors.
Worcester Connects Director Kayla Figueroa said the program supports struggling students by pairing them with adults who match with their interests and needs.
“When children enter our program, it’s a year-long program,” she said. “The hope is to have a mentor that we can pair with kids to give them a oneon-one experience, which has been difficult.”
Roughly three years ago, Worcester Youth and Family launched Worcester Connects, a youth mentoring program designed to help students who need a positive role model in their lives. Kids in grades 1-12 are referred to the program, matched with a volunteer mentor,
and participate in both individual and group mentor activities.
“Most of these kids, you’ll find, have their own niche,” Figueroa explained. “One of our mentors plays basketball with her kid because that’s the only thing the mentee wants to do … Or we partner with the Ocean City Art League. They have been fantastic and offer free events there.”
But Figueroa said Worcester Connects is in need of volunteers – particularly men – to participate in its youth mentoring program. Of the 22 students who have been referred to the program, six teen boys are currently waiting to be paired with a mentor.
“I think there’s a fear or stigma that comes along with it,” she acknowledged.
“We only ask the mentors to meet with the kids at least twice a month. It’s not that big of a commitment, but it can be scary to pair with a kid that’s not yours and hang out with them.”
Figueroa said participation is simple. Mentors must be at least 18 years old and must complete a background check and online training.
“We say it takes about two hours, but it can be done faster and is selfpaced,” she explained. “It pretty much explains how to connect with the family and how to set boundaries, different tools you don’t think you need until you need them.”
Once a volunteer has been screened, they are paired with a Worcester County student, focusing on their strengths and interests through twice-monthly meetings.
Figueroa said these outings can take place anywhere – with a guardian’s permission – and can take however long is needed. Worcester Connects also directs mentors to free community events and offers free monthly activities, such as bowling nights, Shorebirds games and movie theater outings.
“It gives them a few experiences they might not have otherwise,” she explained. “It also gets them out of the house.”
Figueroa said mentors are asked to commit to the program for at least one year.
She said those interested in volunteering can attend Worcester Connects’ next movie night, held Feb. 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services office in Berlin.
“I tell people if they are interested but aren’t sure, come and hang out and see how not scary it is,” she said.
For more information on Worcester Connects, or to volunteer to become a mentor, visit gowoyo.org/worcesterconnects, or contact Kayla Figueroa at 410-641-4598 ext. 112 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
BERLIN – Town officials discussed the possibility of adding pickleball courts to Berlin’s recreational opportunities at a parks commission meeting this month.
Public Works Director Jimmy Charles told the Berlin Parks Commission last week he’d been conducting some preliminary research regarding adding pickleball courts to Stephen Decatur Park. While commission members liked the concept, several said they didn’t want the courts to take the place of the existing tennis courts.
“We have invested a lot into those courts,” commission member Patricia Dufendach said. “With the lights and everything, I’m not really in favor of switching over.”
Town Administrator Mary Bohlen said residents started expressing interest in pickleball right around the time the Stephen Decatur Park tennis court renovation was completed in 2018.
In recent months, Charles has reviewed pickleball courts elsewhere and considered how they might be installed in Berlin. He said he thought the best way to add the new courts would be to convert two of the existing tennis courts into pickleball courts. That would leave two tennis courts and add six pickleball courts.
“If we were to want to get it, we'd want to start thinking about budget,” he said.
Charles added that he wasn’t sure how much use the tennis courts got but that he had seen the popularity of pickleball growing, particularly in Ocean Pines.
Bohlen said she was reluctant to give up two tennis courts and ask if there was a way to just convert one tennis court to a pickleball court. Charles said that was likely possible but that it would only provide space for two or three pickleball courts.
“I don’t want to take away those beautiful tennis courts right now,” Dufendach said.
She said she’d like to see feedback from citizens regarding their interests.
Bohlen added that one of the handball courts could be converted instead of a tennis court. Several commission members agreed, noting that the handball courts tended to be a space for graffiti and smoking.
“I’ve never seen anyone there except for kids who look like they’re up to no good,” commission member Laura Stearns said.
Bohlen pointed out that the tennis court renovation had involved grant funding so she would need to reach out to the granting agency regarding whether the courts could be converted. Charles said he would measure the handball courts and look into the possibly of installing pickleball infrastructure there.
Process Begins To Increase Local Room Tax CapBY CHARLENE SHARPE STAFF WRITER
SNOW HILL – Worcester County is continuing efforts to seek enabling legislation that would allow for an increase in the room tax.
The Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to send a letter to other code counties seeking their support for legislation to increase the room tax cap. Legislation at the state level to increase the room tax cap is required before Ocean City can increase the rate from its current 5%.
“A little over a year ago we received a letter from Ocean City looking to raise the cap,” Chief Administrative Officer Weston Young said. “It requires legislation at the state level to do so.”
Last year, the commissioners, at the request of the Town of Ocean City, began working with the Eastern Shore Delegation to get enabling legislation from the Maryland General Assembly that would allow the county to raise its room tax threshold from 5% to 6%. Officials discovered, however, that the Maryland State Constitution required Worcester to obtain approval from the other code “home rule” counties on the Eastern Shore—Caroline, Kent and Queen Anne’s counties. According to the state’s website, code “home rule” empowers counties with broad legislative authority and limits the General Assembly’s local legislative powers.
“Given the time and effort necessary to coordinate support from these other code counties, we opted to wait until the following legislative session to pursue this effort,” Young wrote in a memo to the commissioners. “Recently, I have informally discussed this with my counterparts in the other Eastern Shore code counties, who understand that enabling legislation is not a mandate to raise the room tax 1% beyond the current cap, and they have not voiced any concerns from their commissioners.”
Young presented the commissioners Tuesday with the draft of a letter to formally request the code counties on the Eastern Shore support Worcester County’s endeavor. It cites the fact that hotel room tax revenues provide a dedicated source to fund tourism and tourism related activities.
Commissioner Jim Bunting asked if an actual room tax increase in Worcester County would still be subject to commissioners’ approval if the enabling legislation was passed. Young said that was correct and that even if the cap was increased to 6% a unanimous vote of the commissioners would still be required to actually increase the room tax rate in Worcester County.
The commissioners voted unanimously to send the letter to the other code counties seeking their support for increasing the room tax threshold.
Coastal Bays Grant Funding AvailableBY BETHANY HOOPER STAFF WRITER
OCEAN CITY – Maryland Coastal Bays Program representatives say individuals and organizations will have an opportunity to receive grant funding through two new programs.
This week, the Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP) announced it will be accepting proposals for its mini-grant program and research grant program through March 1.
Officials say the two grant funding opportunities will support education, restoration and protection projects, as well as research, in Maryland’s coastal bays region. MCBP Science Coordinator Roman Jesien said grant money is being provided by the Environmental Protection Agency through Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding.
“Infusion of new money through BIL funding will certainly help us achieve our monitoring goals in light or reduced state funding over the years,” he said.
Officials say the MCBP’s community stewardship mini-grants will be available to any individual, school, organization, service youth or civic groups for projects that will raise awareness about the challenges and solutions to restore the coastal bays, engage citizens in communitybased restoration and protection projects or educate students about the coastal bays.
“With the mini-grant program funds, we are hoping to provide a diverse range of local organizations with the opportunity to complete projects that will enhance community resources and, overall, improve natural resources,” said Education Program Manager Chandler Joiner. “The goal of the mini-grant program is to invest in the health and resiliency of our local community by giving diverse organizations access to funding for projects that will protect and enhance our natural resources.”
MCBP will also be accepting applications for its research grant program. Funds are available to the agency’s partners to assist in responding to research needs identified in the Maryland Coastal Bays Program.
“Opportunities include reachable scientific goals and the most effective means for implementing them,” a news release reads. “Existing and ongoing projects that seek to augment or add an additional element to an existing scope of work may also be considered for funding.”
The agency says both programs seek to support watershed-based community, science, and educational initiatives that align with action items in its Maryland Coastal Bays Management Plan, or CCMP. MCBP reports applicants for the community stewardship mini-grants can request up to $5,000 for their project. Applicants for scientific research grants may request up to $25,000.
For more information, visit mdcoastalbays.org/funding-opportunities. The proposal submission deadline for both funding opportunities is March 1.
Seven Rescued 30 Miles Off Resort’s CoastBY SHAWN J. SOPER MANAGING EDITOR
OCEAN CITY – Seven people were hoisted from a disabled tugboat adrift about 30 miles off the coast of Ocean City early Saturday morning.
Around 3:30 a.m. on Saturday, a crewmember aboard the tugboat Legacy notified watch-standers at the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capital Region that while towing a 290-foot barge from New Jersey to Guyana, a 1,000-foot towing line became entangled and fouled the vessel’s starboard propeller. The tugboat continued to make way on one engine when the towline snapped, according to reports.
The crew attempted to regain tow of
the barge, but the line became entangled in the port propeller, disabling the vessel. The tug’s crewmember advised the Coast Guard the Legacy was inoperable and that the crew was making preparations to abandon the ship, according to reports.
The 154 Coast Guard cutter Lawrence Lawson, home-based in Cape May, was already underway and diverted to the incident to help. Once on the scene, the cutter’s crew was unable to get near the disabled tug or barge because of on-scene weather and concern that the loose tow line beneath the water’s surface would foul its vessel’s propellers. The Coast Guard cutter Lawrence Lawson maintained its station and provided critical assistance to responding units and ensured the safety
of the tugboat’s seven crewmembers.
Coast Guard Sector Maryland-National Capitol Region then launched an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Coast Guard Station Atlantic City and an MH-60 Jayhawk crew from Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City in North Carolina to hoist the seven crewmembers from the vessel.
After all seven crewmembers were safely hoisted, the air crews transported them to the Ocean City Municipal Airport and no injuries were reported. The tug’s crew activated the vessel’s emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) and the Coast Guard MH-60 deployed a self-locating data marker buoy for Coast Guard watch-standers to track the tug and barge while awaiting commercial salvage efforts.
North Ocean City Land Swap Project Progress Remains StalledBY SHAWN J. SOPER MANAGING EDITOR
OCEAN CITY – Red tape continues to stall a proposed uptown energy storage system on a parcel of land swapped from the town to Delmarva Power, resort officials learned this week.
Last spring, the Mayor and Council passed a pair of ordinances that will facilitate a land swap in the area of 100th Street between the town of Ocean City and Delmarva Power and Light (DPL.) The two parcels are adjacent and identical in size, and simply swapping them provides a mutual benefit to the town and DPL.
Last winter, the Planning Commission
held a marathon public hearing on DPL’s proposed use for the parcel it will receive in the exchange. DPL applied for, and eventually gained approval for, the conditional use on the site to develop a battery energy storage system, or BESS, on the lot it is acquiring.
A BESS provides a fallback energy source in the resort for DPL during times of peak energy use on the barrier island. It’s part of DPL’s larger plan to improve and ensure reliability at peak times. In 2019, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) initiated the Maryland Energy Storage Pilot Program. The intent of the program is to explore the efficiency of deploying utility-scale energy storage
throughout the state including Ocean City.
During the planning commission’s public hearing on the BESS project, uptown residents lined up to voice their concerns, which ranged from aesthetic impacts on their properties from the vast aboveground battery field and potential health risks to concerns about the potential impact on the bayside viewshed.
By the time the Mayor and Council held their public hearing, most of those concerns had been allayed. Uptown resident Martin Branigan broached the subject again during the public comment period on Monday. He said there has been little or no mention of the proposed BESS project since the ordinances authorizing the land
swap were passed last spring.
“We were told there would be more discussions in the fall,” he said. “That hasn’t happened. There are just some concerns among residents since the project hasn’t been discussed again.”
City Solicitor Heather Stansbury said there were multiple moving parts with the project that were being worked through by the town, DPL and Worcester County.
“It’s a fair question,” she said. “We are hitting a delay. Right now, we’re waiting on two entities that are beyond our control. It’s high on the list. It has to work its way through the county government. I feel like late spring would be the earliest.”
Sailboat Operation In QuestionBY CHARLENE SHARPE STAFF WRITER
SNOW HILL – Operators of a West Ocean City sailboat say its season is in jeopardy following the news that their lease is being canceled.
Connections of the Alyosha, a sailboat that docked at the West Ocean City Commercial Harbor, said the boat’s future in the resort is unclear following last week’s decision by the Worcester County Commissioners to cancel the boat’s lease. While the boat has gotten lots of public support, the commissioners haven’t agreed to reconsider the issue.
“I’m very thankful for the support,” said Alyosha’s Steve Butz. “It gives me a little hope.”
In 2019, the commissioners approved a five-year lease with the Alyosha that allowed the sailboat to dock in a 64-foot space that runs along the bulkhead at the county boat ramp. Butz, who’d previously used the boat to circumnavigate the world with his family, charters the boat to give patrons the chance to experience open-ocean sailing. Last week, however, the commissioners voted 5-2 to give the boat’s connections 90 days notice that they were canceling the lease. Commissioner Jim Bunting, who proposed the lease be canceled, said the dock was better used by residents unloading their boats at the county ramp.
Butz said he’s heard no complaints about the boat and had no idea the lease was even going to be a topic at the meeting last week. He said there was no mention of the economic benefit the Alyosha brings to Ocean City. According to Butz, the Alyosha experience attracted more than 2,300 people last year—people who patronized local bars and restaurants after visiting the boat.
“The other thing that wasn’t mentioned at all was the value of having the Worcester County brand and logo (which was on the Alyosha) in front of hundreds of thousands of beachgoers,” he said.
Butz said the boat’s customers and
supporters had reached out to the commissioners regarding last week’s decision but that they weren’t getting a response. He’s not sure if he’ll be able to have the boat in Ocean City this summer, as it took him a long time to find the dock space at the harbor.
“It’s a spot that allows the boat to be protected in a strong west wind,” Butz said. “It’s not possible anywhere else.”
At this week’s meeting of the commissioners, Commissioner Joe Mitrecic told his peers he felt they’d made a mistake canceling the lease. He said the boat’s annual payment of $8,500 was more than other boats paid for slips in the harbor and that the Alyosha had flown the Maryland’s Coast logo during the hundreds of trips it made.
“I don’t think we can look at it as an $8,500 contribution to the county,” he said. “I think it goes well beyond that. I think the commissioners made a mistake. Many commissioners asked for more information this week. I could say something snarky about that but I’ll just close with that.”
Though there was no other discussion at Tuesday’s meeting, when contacted afterward Commissioner Eric Fiori, who represents District 3 where the harbor is located, said he wanted the Alyosha to find a dock that worked but didn’t believe the boat should compromise the space near the boat ramp.
He added that in 2019, the lease hadn’t gone through the bidding process the county typically used.
“The process in which the contract was written was not fair,” he said.
He stressed that the commissioners weren’t opposed to the boat but rather the way the lease had been done.
“Government can’t pick and choose favorite businesses,” he said.
As for whether the issue will come up before the commissioners again, Butz said the agenda was set by the president of the board, Commissioner Chip Bertino.
“I don’t see it coming before the commissioners a second time,” Bertino said when asked for a comment this week.
OCEAN CITY – In a somewhat refreshing twist, at least two of the bids opened for electrical work for the downtown recreation complex renovation project came in under what was budgeted.
In recent years, town officials have been planning for a major redevelopment of the downtown recreation and parks complex along the bayside between 3rd and 4th streets. The large open swath of open space in an otherwise densely developed downtown area has served many purposes over the years but is showing its age and is in need of a major revamp.
Last July, town officials opened bids for the construction phase of the downtown recreation complex renovation, and they came in significantly higher than the $2.2 million budgeted. As a result, the town tossed out those bids and rebid that phase of the project. The second batch of bids opened late last year came in closer to what was budgeted.
Last week, the Mayor and Council voted to award the bid to the successful bidder for the construction element of the first phase of the project at $2.7 million, or about $500,000 higher than what was initially budgeted. The council
could live with the higher bid because it would be offset with anticipated grant funding.
During the Jan. 10 work session, bids were opened for the electrical work at the downtown recreation complex. City Manager Terry McGean told the Mayor and Council that segment was budgeted at an estimated $478,000. The low bid came in at just over $401,000, and the second lowest came in at around $471,000, both under the budgeted estimate. A third bid came in at over $690,000. With no discussion, the council voted to acknowledge the bids and remand them to staff for a recommendation.
The park redevelopment will eventually be done in phases, with the first phase covering the infrastructure for both the east and west sections. Included in the first phase will be paths, utilities, stormwater management, landscaping, lighting, the relocation of the basketball courts, the expansion of the Ocean Bowl skate park and the construction of a new skate park office and restroom.
The second phase includes a new playground in the northwest corner of the complex on the west side of St. Louis Avenue. The third phase includes new tennis and pickleball courts and new restrooms on the western portion of the complex. The fourth and final
phase includes another playground on the western portion of the complex, along with exercise equipment.
For the east section, the plan includes an expanded skate park, relocating the existing basketball courts in the area of the park closest to Philadelphia Avenue and an improved inclusive playground area. The east section would be connected to the west section via the raised pedestrian walkway across St. Louis Avenue. There was some early discussion about closing that portion of St. Louis Avenue, but that idea got little traction.
The section to the west would be less developed and more passive. It includes a vast flexible lawn in the center surrounded by trees for pick-up sports and other events, a playground area, a spot for a pavilion or future temporary band stage for future special events and new restrooms for the entire complex. The recreational fishing areas along the bulkhead would also be retained.
A key element in the overall park complex redevelopment is the expansion of the decades-old Ocean Bowl skate park. The plan calls for an upgrade of the existing facility along with the addition of popular street-skate elements. The expansion will take the skate park from its existing 10,000 square feet to 17,000 square feet.
Resort Council Approves Updated Remote Work PolicyBY SHAWN J. SOPER MANAGING EDITOR
OCEAN CITY – Working from home for many employees has become part of the post-pandemic landscape, but resort officials have approved a revised policy clearly defining the requirements.
During COVID, many non-essential employees were not only allowed to, but required to, work from home. Private sector telework policies proved to be effective with little or no decline in productivity and many continue to do so even though the pandemic has waned. Ocean City Human Relations Director Katie Callan last Tuesday presented an updated employee handbook, which includes a revised work-at-home policy.
Callan said it is not a significant issue for the town, but the written policy borne out of the pandemic has been updated and revised. She said there is only one full-time town employee currently working remotely as a health accommodation. Four others have regular schedules that include telework to varying degrees throughout the week. A total of 17 employees from four different departments have signed agreements in the event of a special circumstance, but do not regularly work from home. In addition, two departments have signed agreements and employees work from home occasionally, but not regularly.
“The policy was drafted in 2020 because of COVID and updated again in 2021,” she said. “In 2022, it was updated further. We wanted to put some parameters around the policy.”
The town’s revised telework policy covers a lot of ground about expectations, reporting of hours, the use and condition of home work spaces and the use of company equipment for work purposes, for example. Councilman John Gehrig voiced concern the telework policy might not be defined enough.
“I have some concerns,” he said. “Do department heads make the decisions on this? It can be beneficial, but it can be a concern, especially with so many employees in a government situation.”
Gehrig questioned the apparent arbitrariness in the work-from-home decision-making process. Each request is handled differently, and for different reasons, and there are times when working from home can be more efficient, and times when it simply isn’t practical because of the nature of the position.
“I think that everybody should have the same opportunities,” he said. “I’m not comfortable with it at all. I’m concerned about the loss of productivity. I know there are emergency situations.”
Gehrig said human resources advised they were monitoring the limited cases of town employees working from home. He asked if there had been any exam-
ples of a decline in productivity, and Callan said she could only think of one example, and it was a minor one and had been addressed.
City Manager Terry McGean said it was difficult to create a blanket policy for town employees working from home, either full-time or part-time.
“It differs from department to department,” he said. “The positions in town vary so greatly. For example, we have an IT department where it has been effective. It wouldn’t work for police officers or public works employees necessarily. There are some gray areas and some simply wouldn’t work out.”
Gehrig said the town has around 800 employees at its peak and he could envision a scenario when a large majority could apply to work from home.
“Suddenly, we’ll have 500 applications to work from home and the department heads will have to decide which to allow and which to not allow,” he said.
Callan said there had to be some flexibility worked into the policy. She said for some potential town employees, the lack of a defined work-from-home policy has been a deal-breaker.
“We have to have some discretionary judgment,” she said. “We have lost interviewees before potential employment because of the remote work possibility.”
Mayor Rick Meehan asked if there were any distance restrictions included
in the remote work policy.
“Is there a distance defined?” he said. “We could have somebody working from the town from some remote location in Ohio, for example. We would like to have them be able to report if need be.”
Gehrig said there are clear examples when allowing an employee to work remotely from home was beneficial to the employee and the town, but suggested the policy as presented did not cover all of the examples.
“If we have an existing remote work situation, that’s great,” he said. “If we have a policy about emergencies, that’s great too. Maybe we need some type of hybrid.”
As far as Meehan’s point about a distance restriction, McGean said the department heads monitor that and there had been no examples of employees working remotely from great distances.
“The option to do it is up to the department heads,” he said. “I don’t know of any department head that would have somebody that wanted to work remotely from Ohio. I’m comfortable with this.”
Council Secretary Tony DeLuca made a motion to approve the updated employee handbook and the amended work-from-home policy for town employees. The motion carried 5-2 with Gehrig and Councilperson Carol Proctor opposed.
For BusinessesBY MARK McCLESKY
OCEAN CITY – What is a HVAC / building tune-up?
Just like an automotive tune-up for a car, a building tune-up is a systematic process for fine-tuning your facility’s HVAC, mechanical and control systems so they operate at an optimal efficiency.
It starts with a unitary HVAC tune-up service that can fine-tune existing HVAC equipment by cleaning and replacing filters for all your rooftop and split units as well as hotel PTAC units and return equipment to its proper operational state, reduce future maintenance and repair costs that focus on no-cost-tocustomer measures. This energy service is available to all commercial businesses at no cost.
The Small and Full Building Tuneups is available to all commercial businesses with a monthly energy demand greater than 60kW over the last 12 months. This service can fine-tune existing equipment throughout a building
by optimizing the life of existing equipment. Increase operational energy and demand savings via a multistep process monitoring-based commissioning, maximize potential incentives with a deeper dive into your building’s overall performance, monitor and identify cost savings opportunities, benefit from a continuous process to improve comfort and optimize energy usage.MARK McCLESKY
Work with Chesapeake Smart Energy Solutions, an approved service provider, to reduce energy consumption, save with a lower capital investment than replacing equipment and maximize the operational efficiency of your building.
A building tune-up is the process of monitoring, troubleshooting and adjusting systems in existing buildings to optimize energy performance. Typically,
the energy incentive will fully fund the entire job with zero capital investment to the customers as well as significantly reduce your overall energy consumption and optimizing your equipment. Because today’s control systems are highly interactive, proper system integration is critical. The presence of sophisticated equipment and control systems results in a trickle-down effect on operations. That means small problems can have big impacts on performance and energy use.
How can a building tune-up help you? It can reduce energy use and save money, reduce maintenance, and repair costs, return equipment to its proper operational state and extend equipment service life, improve occupant comfort, and reduce complaints, improve outside air control and indoor air quality, rebalance air handling systems, adjust and correct equipment operating schedules and reduce com-
pressed air system leaks.
What to expect from a building tuneup? A walk-through energy assessment and development of an action plan, calibration of your building’s systems and controls, replacement of your equipment filters, cleaning your evaporator and condenser coils, sealing any compressed air leaks and rebalancing your air handling system.
How to get started and take advantage of these incentives? You must be a Maryland Delmarva Power customer with a commercial electric account. You will be provided with an account executive from Chesapeake Smart Energy Solutions, who will be your main point of contact throughout the program. The account executive can assist you in meeting the eligibility requirements, completing applications, service and install the energy measures and navigating the program requirements. Visit www.hvac-tuneup.com for more information.
For more information, call Mark McCleskey, Ocean City representative, at 410-956-5050.
Motor Vehicle Theft Charges
OCEAN CITY – A Maryland man has been charged with motor vehicle theft and other counts after allegedly taking his girlfriend’s car without her consent.
Around 5:35 p.m. last Sunday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer was dispatched to a hotel at 21st Street for a reported unauthorized use of a motor vehicle. Ocean City Communications advised it was the second time officers had responded to the same complainant for the same issue, the first being on Dec. 26.
The OCPD officer met with the female complainant, who advised she had been staying at the hotel with her four-year-old child and her boyfriend, whom she identified as Isaiah Bowden, 27, of Galena, Md. The victim reportedly told police she and Bowden had gotten into an argument on Dec. 26 and Bowden took her vehicle. The victim called police, but Bowden had returned, and she did not want him charged at that time, according to police reports.
The victim reportedly told police she and Bowden had again argued last Sunday and Bowden got out of her vehicle at 15th Street. The victim locked the vehicle and returned to the hotel at 21st Street, according to police reports. The victim told officers while she was checking into the hotel, Bowden had entered and left the hotel lobby multiple times.
The victim reportedly told police she had left her vehicle in a 15-minute parking space in front of the hotel with a
spare key in the cup holder. She said she was away from the vehicle for about 10 minutes while checking in, and she observed Bowden enter the hotel lobby and leave again.
The victim reportedly told officers after she checked in, she went back out of the hotel lobby and both Bowden and her vehicle were gone, according to police reports. The victim reportedly told police her wallet containing her driver’s license and money was in the vehicle at the time it was taken.
Ocean City Communications provided a lookout broadcast for the vehicle to the Maryland State Police, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office and Salisbury Police. OCPD officers searched the area around the hotel to no avail.
Around 9 p.m. last Sunday, the victim called OCPD officers and advised she had finally heard from Bowden and he told her he had taken the vehicle to Salisbury and parked it near her mother’s house, according to police reports.
Salisbury Police were contacted and searched for the vehicle, but it was not located.
Based on the evidence and testi-
mony, OCPD officers filed for charges against Bowden including unlawful removal of the motor vehicle and theft, along with various traffic charges including driving without a license.
Uptown Domestic Assault
OCEAN CITY – A Delaware man was arrested last weekend after allegedly striking his girlfriend in the head with a beer bottle and grabbing her by the neck during a domestic incident at an uptown hotel.
Around 10:25 a.m. last Sunday, Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officers responded to a hotel at 118th Street for a reported assault that had allegedly occurred. Officers met with a female victim, who reportedly had red marks and scrapes on the front and sides of her neck. The victim also had a raised bump on her forehead above her left eye, according to police reports.
The victim reportedly told officers she was staying in the hotel with her daughter and her daughter’s father, identified as Donniel Murray, 38, of Delmar, Del. The victim reportedly told officers she was lying in bed with her daughter around 9:30 a.m. last Sunday while Murray was still consuming alcoholic beverages from the night before.
The victim said an argument ensued when Murray accused her of trapping him in a relationship when she became pregnant with her daughter, according to police reports. Because Murray was yelling at the victim in front of her child, she wanted to check out of the hotel, according to police reports.
The victim reportedly told officers Murray was not happy with the idea of her checking out and picked up a beer bottle and struck her in the forehead with it, although the bottle did not break. The victim reportedly told officers she then turned to walk away from Murray when he grabbed her by the neck, wrapping his hands around her throat although she was still able to breathe.
The victim told officers once she was able to get away from Murray, she grabbed her daughter and attempted to grab her belongings to leave, but Murray stood in the passage of the only exit to the hotel room and would not let them leave, according to police reports. The victim reportedly told officers she felt “trapped” in the room and feared if she attempted to leave, he would hit her again.
When Murray went to the opposite side of the room, the victim was able to grab her daughter and her bag and had the opportunity to sneak out. The victim told officers she went down to the lobby
and attempted to check out, but when hotel staff saw her injuries, they called the police.
The victim reportedly told officers moments before they arrived, Murray entered the lobby and snatched her car keys from her and left. OCPD officers located Murray in the vehicle, and he was detained. He reportedly admitted being in an argument with the victim. Based on the victim’s injuries and testimony, Murray was arrested and charged with second-degree assault and false imprisonment.
Bar Tab Scofflaw Arrested
OCEAN CITY – A Willards, Md., man was arrested last week after resort police were able to connect him to a theft last summer when he allegedy ran out on a bar tab.
Around 7 p.m. last July 26, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer received a call from an employee at a bar at 8th Street about a theft that had occurred. The employee reportedly told the officer on July 11 around 6 p.m., an unidentified male had walked out on his tab for $25.86 without paying. The employee said the establishment did not contact police at that time because the bill was not excessively large, according to police reports.
However, the employee told police he was calling officers now because he had recently learned of a similar incident at a restaurant and bar on 22nd Street. In that case, the establishment was able to post a still shot of the suspect, later identified as Jason Heil, 44, of Willards, Md., and a bartender recognized him and identified him to police.
The employee at the bar at 8th Street learned of the incident at the other establishment and was able to compare screen shots taken from his place of employment to the pictures posted on social media by the other establishment. OCPD officers were allegedly able to identify Heil as the suspect in the screen shots through prior interactions with the suspect, according to police reports. Heil was served with an arrest warrant last week for one count of theft. He was held initially on a $1,500 bond before being released.
Phone Scam Warning
BERLIN – The Worcester County Sheriff’s Office this week is reminding the community to be aware of a phone scam circulating.
The sheriff’s office has had several calls from community residents advising they have received suspicious calls from an “officer” informing them they had outstanding warrants and needed to send money to have the warrants taken care of. The sheriff’s office is reminding residents and visitors no police agency will ever call them over the phone to have warrants taken care of. Community members are advised if they ever receive a call suspicious in nature to not give out any personal information and call any police agency to report the incident.
SNOW HILL – Officials highlighted the impact of future development on local fire and EMS companies at a meeting this month.
At this month’s meeting of the Worcester County Planning Commission, commission member Mary Knight said she wanted to make sure fire companies, which provide emergency response for residents, were aware of upcoming large scale development projects.
“For planning, the fire departments need to know we’re going to have so many new people,” Knight said.
After a meeting in which a 34-lot addition to a manufactured home park in West Ocean City was approved and a 90-lot subdivision near Ocean Pines was considered, Knight said she was concerned about the impact they’d have on emergency services. She pointed out that in the West Ocean City project that was approved, the new homes would be occupied by people over 50 years old. She said things like the number of new residences and the potential demographics associated with them were items local fire companies needed to know.
“I’m looking for coordination,” she said.
Jerry Barbierri, chair of the commission, said the fire marshal reviewed all of the development plans before they got to the commission.
Knight said nevertheless, she wanted to make sure fire companies had the chance to weigh in as well. Other commission members agreed that more communication and coordination couldn’t hurt.
“It’s good to have that awareness,” commission member Marlene Ott said.
When contacted this week, Berlin Fire Company President David Fitzgerald confirmed that emergency response companies had to be made aware of potential changes to local population and demographics.
“The importance for fire, rescue, and emergency medical services to be aware of developments allows the fire, rescue, and emergency medical organizations the opportunity to provide an analysis of the impact the development would put on the services provided,” he said. “Both an operational and financial impact.”
He said the Worcester County Department of Development Review and Permitting regularly provided notices to local fire companies regarding zoning changes and large developments, and any other pertinent issues. Fitzgerald said that provided the fire companies the chance to comment as needed.
“The fire marshal's office also notifies us if they are aware of construction that we may want to comment on,” he said.
He added that the Berlin Fire Company, which serves county homes as well as those within Berlin town limits, had included in its contract with the town the need for notification regarding upcoming development.
“It is in our current contracts with the Town of Berlin to be notified now prior to approvals as we had no notice or opportunity to provide an analysis in the past,” he said.
People in Society
by Charlene Sharpe Featuring Those Helping Causes In The Resort Area
News In Photos
SALISBURY – Dr. Ray Hoy, president of Wor-Wic Community College, announced last Tuesday that he plans to retire at the end of the current fiscal year on Friday, June 30.
Hoy has led the college for 23 years and is one of only two presidents in the college’s history.
“It has truly been an honor and privilege to serve as president of Wor-Wic as we grew to meet the education and training needs of the citizens and businesses of the Lower Eastern Shore,” Hoy said at a meeting of all employees. “Wor-Wic’s impact goes beyond the lives of the students and graduates who gained skills, licensures, certifications and degrees. Certainly, these were life-altering experiences for our students, but the impact of Wor-Wic and our students’ success extends to everyone in the community who has benefited from the trained workforce that the college has produced. I am very proud to have been a part of this indispensable responsibility and look forward to witnessing the continued growth of the institution.”
“Wor-Wic has experienced tremendous growth and success under the steadfast and trusted leadership of Dr. Hoy,” said Kimberly C. Gillis, chairperson of the board of trustees. “Leading the college for more than 22 years, he has been at the helm during many great achievements, and has helped navigate many challenges – including the COVID-19 pandemic –and he always led with an unwavering commitment to the students, faculty and staff. Dr. Hoy’s dedication to fulfilling the college’s mission and strengthening the community through education and training has undoubtedly helped improve the quality of life on the Lower Eastern Shore. To say that we will miss Dr. Hoy is quite an understatement, but we are incredibly grateful for his many years of service and proud of the legacy he will leave at WorWic Community College.”
Hoy was named president by WorWic’s board of trustees in 2000. During his tenure, Wor-Wic grew along with its community’s needs, adding many academic and career programs as well as new buildings to house them. Hoy oversaw enrollment growth and a 132% increase in the number of graduates. He was instrumental in efforts to make community college free, including establishing the Wicomico Economic Impact Scholarship and the Somerset Economic Impact Scholarship,
And Real Estate News
both precursors to the state of Maryland's Community College Promise Scholarship.
The college has become an economic force in the community under Hoy, with Wor-Wic making a $106.6 million economic impact and supporting 425 full- and part-time employees. The college’s Foundation resources have grown from $1.9 million to over $33 million.
Hoy oversaw the creation of new programs in communications, construction, culinary arts, electro-mechanical technologies, elementary and secondary education transfer, emergency medical services and fire science, forensic science, HVACR, metal fabrication, occupational therapy assistant, physical therapist assistant, social media, STEM, truck driver training and welding. He also helped bring about dual enrollment programs with local high schools, and the expansion of programs vital to the community such as nursing and radiologic technology.
The campus grew also with Hoy at the helm, with new facilities including Guerrieri Hall, housing the Eastern Shore Criminal Justice Academy; the Hazel Center with food service operations and student services; the Jordan Center with child care services; Fulton-Owen Hall, a workforce development center; Shockley Hall, an allied health building; and the soon-tobe completed Patricia and Alan Guerrieri Technology Center, which will add 50,000 square feet of technology classrooms, industrial laboratories and more.
A search for Hoy’s successor will begin immediately.
Town Creates New Logo
SNOW HILL – After a rigorous design process, the Town of Snow Hill is proud to adopt it’s new logo.
With a goal to represent the multifaceted aspects of Snow Hill’s character to its residents and visitors, the town spent an extended amount of time weighing options from design companies as well as local artist submissions. The Mayor and Council endorsed a design by Snow Hill resident Julia Allinder which speaks to the
rich history and natural assets of Snow Hill.
Allinder is a Salisbury University graduate, with a degree in graphic design, who loves the small-town feel of Snow Hill and the beauty and tranquility of the nearby waters. She entered the logo contest because it is a rare opportunity to be able to design a town’s logo.
“I thought it would be pretty neat to design something that could potentially be around for a lifetime – especially the mark of the town that I live in,” she said. “I think that’s pretty special.”
The logo depicts the Pocomoke River and iconic cypress trees, while paying homage to its history and status as the Worcester County seat with a prominent display of the Worcester County Circuit Court cupola in the center. After researching other town logos, she sketched many iterations highlighting the most iconic features of Snow Hill until the right design was formulated.
Allinder describes the opportunity as being “humbling and a blessing to be a small part of the history of Snow Hill – the town that seems to be coming more and more alive each day.”
The Town of Snow Hill sends a warm thank you to Allinder and all of the artists who submitted renderings. We are excited to have a new logo that captures the charm of the town in one image to promote all we have to offer.
New Store To Open In Berlin
BERLIN – Harbor Freight Tools will officially open its new store in Berlin on Saturday, Jan. 28 at 8 a.m. The Berlin store, located at 10716 Ocean Gateway, will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Over 40 million customers, from professional contractors and technicians to homeowners and hobbyists, come to Harbor Freight to find the tools and equipment they need to get the job done. The company has assembled a worldclass team of engineers and experts in all tool categories to ensure that its tools meet or
exceed industry standards and deliver unsurpassed value.
The store will stock a full selection of tools and equipment in categories including automotive, air and power tools, storage, outdoor power equipment, generators, welding supplies, shop equipment, hand tools and much more. The stores are smaller and much easier to shop than the huge home centers.
This new store is the 16th Harbor Freight Tools store in Maryland. The company, which hires locally, has brought between 25-30 new jobs to the surrounding community.
“Our team is ready to serve and deliver value to customers in Berlin and all of Worcester County,” said Christopher Hitchens, Store Manager. “At Harbor Freight, we recognize that now, more than ever, our customers depend on us for the tools they need to get the job done at an affordable price.”
SALISBURY – John W. Breda, President and CEO of The Bank of Delmarva, recently announced that W. Trent Pusey has joined the bank as its SVP – Business Development Officer / Relationship Manager.
Pusey joins the bank with more than 23 years of banking experience, specializing in business banking and commercial lending on the Delmarva Peninsula. He will be responsible for business development and establishing new banking relationships, as well as assisting the bank’s clients in meeting their financial needs.
Pusey’s experience in banking includes leadership positions such as Branch Manager and Business Development Officer. Most recently, he worked as Chief Lending Officer at a local community bank, where he was responsible for the institution’s commercial banking.
Pusey is a graduate of Florida State University and holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance, as well as the University of Maryland Banking School and the National Commercial Lending School at Southern Methodist University.
In addition to his banking career, Pusey has been an active volunteer in the community. At the Life Crisis Center, Pusey has been a board member and past president. He was also a member and past president of the Wicomico Rotary Club.
SPORTS In The News
Seahawks Excel At War On The Shore
Two Mallards Sign National Letters Of IntentBY SHAWN J. SOPER MANAGING EDITOR
BERLIN – Stephen Decatur’s varsity wrestling team excelled in the War on the Shore tournament they hosted last weekend, finishing fourth overall among some of the best high school programs in the mid-Atlantic region.
The Seahawks finished fourth overall in the War on the Shore at Decatur last weekend and placed seven wrestlers including two first-place finishes. Mount St. Joseph was first, Sussex Central was second and Xavier was third. The tournament featured 75 state-ranked wrestlers among the hundreds of wrestlers participating in the event from Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsyl-
vania, Connecticut and the District of Columbia.
From Decatur, Logan Intrieri finished first at 132, and Gavin Solito finished first at 152. Elijah Collick was second at 106, and Reid Caimi was third at 126. Parker Intrieri was fifth at 170, while Nate McDaniel finished eighth at 182 and Juan Hinojosa finished eighth at 113.
The Decatur girls also excelled at the War on the Shore last weekend with several wrestlers placing including three first-place finishes. Madeline Reed finished first in 105-109, Azariyah Johnson finished first at 171-185, and Chaniah Bernier finished first at 204-215. Finishing in second place for the Seahawks were Jenna Danner at 110-117 and Rachel Plata at 124-125.
Seahawks Edge Rams, Remain UnbeatenBY SHAWN J. SOPER MANAGING EDITOR
BERLIN – Stephen Decatur’s girls’ varsity basketball team edged Bayside South rival Parkside, 44-40, last week to remain unbeaten in the regular season.
The Seahawks are now a perfect 10-0 in the regular season although they did drop a pair during the Governor’s Challenge over the holiday break.
Since then, the Decatur girls have reeled off five straight in impressive fashion to remain unbeaten outside of tournament play.
Against Parkside last Thursday, Decatur led 14-11 after one quarter and 24-20 at the half. The two teams played fairly even in the second half, but the Seahawks held on for the 4440 win. Shelby Rosemond led the Decatur scorers with 16 points, while Mayah Garner added 13 in the win.BY SHAWN J. SOPER MANAGING EDITOR
BERLIN – Two Worcester Prep student-athletes last week signed national letters of intent to continue their academic and athletic careers at Division III schools next year.
Senior Caitlyn Hoen signed a national letter of intent to play college lacrosse at the Division III Mary Washington University next year. Hoen is a two-time All Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference (ESIAC) player from Worcester’s girls’ varsity lacrosse team. Hoen is also an accomplished cross-country runner and basketball player at Worcester.
She was the Mallards MVP in crosscountry three times and was named to the ESIAC All-Conference team four times including the ESIAC 2020 Runner of the Year. She is also a long-time equestrian for 10 years and has competed in various local, state and regional events. She also excels in the class-
room as a member of the Charles R. Jenkins chapter of the National Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society.
Also signing a national letter of intent last week was senior Isabella Borsoni, who transferred to Worcester this year from Archbishop Spalding in Severn, Md., where she competed in various sports and clubs. Upon arriving at Worcester, Borsoni signed up to be the team manager for the Mallards’ varsity volleyball team. She is now gearing up to play on Worcester’s girls’ varsity lacrosse team this spring.
Borsoni also serves as the captain of the East Coast Select 2023 Woman’s Lacrosse Team. Last week, she signed a national letter of intent to continue her collegiate career at Division III St. Mary’s-Notre Dame in Indiana. Borsoni also excels in the classroom and is a member of the National Honor Society and chose to take the most rigorous curriculum available in her high school career.
Worcester Prep’s Isabella Borsoni last week signed a national letter of intent to continue her lacrosse and academic career next year at St. Mary’s-Notre
in Division III.
Things I Like...By Steve Green
An easy IT fix
vanishing vanishing OCEAN CITY
In the 1950s, a new town known as Ocean Beach was being promoted on the northern end of Assateague Island about five miles south of Ocean City.
The development faced several problems, however, including access — there was no bridge to Assateague in those days and the small ferry could only carry three cars. Another problem was the situation with mosquitoes and greenhead flies on a west wind that could make life unbearable.
At its peak, Ocean Beach boasted several miles of paved roads with street signs and power lines in place. By 1961, several hundred lots had been sold and at least 40 homes had been built. This all ended abruptly when a powerful storm in March 1962 left most of the lots under water and destroyed much of the infrastructure. The development of Assateague ended forever when President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill on Sept. 21, 1965 making Assateague a “national seashore.”
Today wild ponies graze on the remnants of Ocean Beach.
To purchase one of Bunk Mann's books, click over to www.vanishingoc.com.
Photo from National Park Service courtesy of Allen Sklar
ARIES (March 21 to April 19): Shutting people out to avoid distractions, even under a deadline, can cause hurt feelings. Instead, return calls and emails, and explain why you need a zone of privacy for now.
TAURUS (April 20 to May 20): Although your keen Bull's eyes usually can discern what's fact from what's faux, that upcoming decision will need really solid data before you can risk a commitment.
GEMINI (May 21 to June 20): As your confidence grows, you should be able to work toward your goals with more enthusiasm. Open your mind to suggestions. Some of them might even work for you.
CANCER (June 21 to July 22): Reconnecting with someone from your past stirs up that old sense of adventure. But before you do anything else, be sure to get answers to any lingering questions.
LEO (July 23 to Aug. 22): Some people might resent the way you plan to resolve a difficult situation. But your commitment to making tough but fair decisions soon wins you their respect and support.
VIRGO (Aug. 23 to Sept. 22): Mixed signals could be causing that vexing workplace problem. Before you choose to leave the project, ask for a meeting so that you can get things out in the open.
LIBRA (Sept. 23 to Oct. 22): Your
good intentions could backfire if you're not careful with other people's feelings. Try using persuasion, not pressure, to get others to see your side of the situation.
SCORPIO (Oct. 23 to Nov. 21): Your dedication to finishing the task at hand is laudable. But be careful not to overdo the midnight oil bit. Take time for relaxation with someone very special.
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 to Dec. 21): Although your intuition will help you make some tough choices in the first half of the month, you'll need more facts to back up your actions later on.
CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 to Jan. 19): All that hard work and research in the workplace finally pays off as you hoped it would. Ignore comments from jealous types who are out to get the Goat riled up.
AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 to Feb. 18): An unfair decision creates unnecessary problems. But avoid anger and move carefully as you work this out. Expect to get support from an unlikely source.
PISCES (Feb. 19 to March 20): A fuzzy financial vista persists until the end of the month, when things begin to clear up. You'll also gain a better perspective on how to handle pesky personal problems.
BORN THIS WEEK: You have a wonderful way of being there for those who need your help in difficult times.
… Definitive Answers Elusive In Recent Whale Deaths
FROM PAGE 6
spike in mortality rates.
“The wave of dead whales is the ocean sounding the alarm,” she said. “We must heed the warning. These tragic multiple deaths of mostly young, endangered whales are of no apparent cause, however, the only new activity in the ocean is the unprecedented concurrent industrial activity by over 11 companies in the region’s ocean, which allows for the harassment and harm to tens of thousands of marine mammals. Moreover, federal and state agencies have been reckless fast-tracking offshore wind development projects.”
Clean Ocean Action fired off a letter to Biden this week calling for the president to take immediate action.
“We write to you to demand an immediate investigation into the marine mammal mortalities from Cape May, New Jersey to Montauk Point, New York or beyond be conducted by qualified scientists including those of the National Marine Fisheries Service, but most importantly overseen by a truly independent team of marine mammal scientists who are experts in marine mammal physiology, biology and behavior,” the letter reads. “Independent international experts should also be consulted. The investigation must be fully transparent to the public, including investigation status, the activities of the investigation and the reports.”
The Clean Ocean Action letter urges the administration to halt all offshore wind industry activity off the coast until the cause of the mortality spike can be determined.
“We write to you today to demand a halt to all current lessees’ offshore wind energy development activity in the Atlantic Ocean from Cape May, New Jersey to Montauk Point, N.Y., including assessment, characterization, and construction-related activities until an assessment, including required monitoring activities, of the cause of there marine mammal deaths is determined,” the letter to Biden reads. “If offshore wind energy activities are deemed a cause, the moratorium should continue until stringent protection measures are established.”
The offshore wind industry this week was dismissing any connection to the whale mortality and their activities off the coast, including US Wind, one of two companies with offshore wind farm projects in the pipeline off the Maryland coast. Senior Director of Environmental Affairs Laurie Jodziewicz said this week there is no correlation between the whale mortality spike and the company’s activities.
“US Wind feels very strongly that the recent whale strandings are not in any way related to US Wind’s survey activities, given that we have not conducted geophysical surveys, or surveys that map the ocean floor, since May 2022,” she said.
Jodziewicz said the company’s activities off the coast are closely monitored by third-party, independent observers and
scientists and pointed her finger back in the direction of the fishing industries.
“When US Wind conducted these surveys in 2021 and early 2022, we, like other offshore wind developers, used third-party Protected Species observers, who are trained and approved by NOAA to detect protected species like whales,” she said. “As NOAA Fisheries has noted, mortality risks to whales are primarily caused by commercial fishing gear entanglements and vessel strikes. There is no evidence that the whale strandings have anything to do with current offshore wind activity off the coast.”
Ørsted also has wind farm projects in the works off the mid-Atlantic coast. Ørsted Deputy Head of Government Affairs and Marketing Strategy Maddy Voytek said offshore wind energy is one of the most scrutinized with layers of re-
view and protections in place.
“Ørsted prioritizes coexistence with our communities and marine wildlife,” she said. “The offshore wind industry is subject to the most stringent level of protections for marine mammals and protected species. Every aspect of our surveys, construction, and operations are reviewed by multiple agencies and subject to protective conditions, including vessel speeds, time of year restrictions for construction activities and mandatory protected species observers.”
Voytek said Ørsted is not currently conducting any survey work in its lease areas, and when it was last spring, it saw no adverse interactions with marine life.
“Ørsted is not conducting survey activity for Skipjack Wind at this time,” she said. “Ørsted-contracted vessels con-
cluded surveys off the Delaware coast in the spring of 2022 and did not experience any marine mammal strikes during their activities. It’s important for all ocean users to continue working with state and federal officials to further advance science-based, smart policies that protect critical wildlife while addressing climate change.”
Marine Mammal Stranding Center Director Sheila Dean said after all of the finger-pointing, the recent spike could be just part of the natural circle of life.
“It just comes in cycles,” she said, noting that the number of whales that have washed ashore in the last few weeks is not out of the norm for high mortality years. “It depends on how many whales are in the area, and I’m going to attribute it to that. There are a lot of whales in our area now.”
Phone: 410-641-4563 • Fax: 410-641-0966 Email: email@example.com Mail: P.O. Box 467, Berlin MD 21811
Maryland EMT/Firefighter I - Berlin Fire Company/EMS
Berlin Fire Company/EMS is accepting application packets for two full time with benefits Maryland EMT/Firefighter I position. Requires Class B noncommercial drivers license or ability to obtain within six months from date of hire. Submit resume, copy of driver's license, three year non-certified driving record, copies of all fire and EMS certifications and training by Friday, January 27th at 2:00 pm to: BERLIN FIRE COMPANY EMS
ATTN: Employment, P.O. Box 382, Berlin, MD 21811
No phone calls or visits to the station. All questions will be answered during the interview process.
Also accepting resumes with copies of certifications to update our part-time/on-call/as-needed paramedic and EMT lists. Please mail to same address as above. Please use USPS Express or Priority Mail so you can track your application packet to ensure timely delivery.
ROOM FOR RENT
Fully furnished Room for rent in a beautiful home to share in South Ocean Pines. Full house privileges, all utilities included.
Only $600 mo + sec dep Year-round. No smoking. No pets. Call John 443-880-2317
1321 MT. HERMON ROAD, SUITE B SALISBURY, MD 21804
NOTICE OF APPOINTMENT
the notice. A claim not presented or filed on or before that date, or any extension provided by law, is unenforceable thereafter. Claim forms may be obtained from the Register of Wills.
Name of Newspaper: Maryland Coast Dispatch Date of Publication JANUARY 13, 2023
To all persons interested in the estate of THOMAS GLEN CASALASPRO,Estate No.19521. Notice is given that JESSICA BUEDE, 187 REVOLUTIONARY ROAD, CHARLES TOWN, WV 25414, was on JANUARY 9, 2023, appointed Personal Representative of the estate of THOMAS GLEN CASALASPRO who died on NOVEMBER 9, 2022, without a will.
Further information can be obtained by reviewing the estate file in the office of the Register of Wills or by contacting the personal representative or the attorney.
All persons having any objection to the appointment (or to the probate of the decedent's will) shall file their objections with the Register of Wills on or before the 9th day of JULY, 2023.
Any person having a claim against the decedent must present the claim to the undersigned personal representative or file it with the Register of Wills with a copy to the undersigned on or before the earlier of the following dates: Six months from the date of the decedent's death; or (2) Two months after the personal representative mails or otherwise delivers to the creditor a copy of this published notice or other written notice, notifying the creditor that the claim will be barred unless the creditor presents the claims within two months from the mailing or other delivery of
TERRI WESTCOTT, Register of Wills for Worcester County ONE W MARKET STREET ROOM 102 COURT HOUSE SNOW HILL, MD 21863-1074 3x 1-13, 1-20, 1-27
REGAN J. R. SMITH, ESQ. WILLIAMS, MOORE, SHOCKLEY & HARRISON, LLP 3509 COASTAL HIGHWAY OCEAN CITY, MD 21842
To all persons interested in the estate of GERALD A. DELANEY,Estate No.19514. Notice is given that LILLIAN R. CAWLEY, 134 8TH AVENUE, NORTH, TWIN FALLS, ID 83301, was on JANUARY 5, 2023, appointed Personal Representative of the estate of GERALD A. DELANEY, who died on DECEMBER 4, 2022, with a will.
Further information can be obtained by reviewing the estate file in the office of the Register of Wills or by contacting the personal representative or the attorney. All
The Dispatch Legal Notices
Legal advertising rate is $7 per column inch. The deadline for all legal advertising is Tuesday at noon. For more information call 410-641-4563 or fax 410-641-0966.
jection to the appointment (or to the probate of the decedent's will) shall file their objections with the Register of Wills on or before the 5th day of JULY, 2023.
Any person having a claim against the decedent must present the claim to the undersigned personal representative or file it with the Register of Wills with a copy to the undersigned on or before the earlier of the following dates: Six months from the date of the decedent's death; or (2) Two months after the personal representative mails or otherwise delivers to the creditor a copy of this published notice or other written notice, notifying the creditor that the claim will be barred unless the creditor presents the claims within two months from the mailing or other delivery of the notice. A claim not presented or filed on or before that date, or any extension provided by law, is unenforceable thereafter. Claim forms may be obtained from the Register of Wills.
Name of Newspaper: Maryland Coast Dispatch Date of Publication
JANUARY 13, 2023
LILLIAN R. CAWLEY Personal Representative True Test Copy
TERRI WESTCOTT, Register of Wills for Worcester County
ONE W MARKET STREET ROOM 102 COURT HOUSE SNOW HILL, MD 21863-1074 3x 1-13, 1-20, 1-27
ROBERT A. EATON, ESQ. ROBERT A. EATON, PA 121 EAST MARKET STREET PO BOX 41 SALISBURY, MD 218030041
NOTICE OF APPOINTMENT NOTICE TO CREDITORS NOTICE TO UNKNOWN HEIRS ESTATE NO.
To all persons interested in the estate of LORRAINE E. SMULLEN AKA: LORRAINE E. SMULLIN,Estate No.19526. Notice is given that RONALD G. AYERS, 901 WINDING WAY, SALISBURY, MD 21804 and ROBERT A. EATON, 121 EAST MARKET STREET, SALISBURY, MD 21801, were on JANUARY 11, 2023, appointed Personal Representatives of the estate of LORRAINE E. SMULLEN, who died on JANUARY 09, 2023, with a will.
Further information can be obtained by reviewing the estate file in the office of the Register of Wills or by contacting the personal representative or the attorney.
All persons having any objection to the appointment (or to the probate of the decedent's will) shall file their objections with the Register of Wills on or before the 11th day of JULY, 2023.
Any person having a claim against the decedent must present the claim to the undersigned personal representative or file it with the Register of Wills with a copy to the undersigned on or before the earlier of the follow-
ing dates: Six months from the date of the decedent's death; or (2) Two months after the personal representative mails or otherwise delivers to the creditor a copy of this published notice or other written notice, notifying the creditor that the claim will be barred unless the creditor presents the claims within two months from the mailing or other delivery of the notice. A claim not presented or filed on or before that date, or any extension provided by law, is unenforceable thereafter. Claim forms may be obtained from the Register of Wills.
Name of Newspaper: Maryland Coast Dispatch Date of Publication JANUARY 20, 2023RONALD G. AYERS ROBERT A. EATON
Personal Representative True Test Copy
TERRI WESTCOTT, Register of Wills for Worcester County ONE W MARKET STREET ROOM 102 COURT HOUSE SNOW HILL, MD 21863-1074 3x 1-20, 1-27, 2-03
NOTICE TO UNKNOWN HEIRS ESTATE NO. 19532
To all persons interested in the estate of JAMES G. WHERRY,Estate No.19532. Notice is given that DONNA HENNESSY, 11 OSPREY LANE, OCEAN VIEW, DE 19970, was on JANUARY 13, 2023, appointed Personal Representatives of the estate of JAMES G. WHERRY, who died on DECEMBER 15, 2022, with a will.
Further information can be obtained by reviewing the estate file in the office of the Register of Wills or by contacting the personal representative or the attorney. All persons having any objection to the appointment (or to the probate of the decedent's will) shall file
Phone: 410-641-4563 • Fax: 410-641-0966 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Mail: P.O. Box 467, Berlin MD 21811
their objections with the Register of Wills on or before the 13th day of JULY, 2023.
Any person having a claim against the decedent must present the claim to the undersigned personal representative or file it with the Register of Wills with a copy to the undersigned on or before the earlier of the following dates: Six months from the date of the decedent's death; or (2) Two months after the personal representative mails or otherwise delivers to the creditor a copy of this published notice or other written notice, notifying the creditor that the claim will be barred unless the creditor presents the claims within two months from the mailing or other delivery of the notice. A claim not pre-
sented or filed on or before that date, or any extension provided by law, is unenforceable thereafter. Claim forms may be obtained from the Register of Wills.
Name of Newspaper: Maryland Coast Dispatch Date of Publication
JANUARY 20, 2023
DONNA HENNESSY Personal Representative True Test Copy
TERRI WESTCOTT, Register of Wills for Worcester County ONE W MARKET STREET ROOM 102 COURT HOUSE SNOW HILL, MD 21863-1074 3x 1-20, 1-27, 2-03
REENA J. PATEL, ESQ. 1321 MT. HERMAN ROAD SUITE B SALISBURY, MD 21804
NOTICE OF APPOINTMENT NOTICE TO CREDITORS
Louise Barbara Myers
NEWARK – Louise Barbara Myers of Newark went to be with the Lord Saturday, Jan. 14 2023, surrounded by family.
She was born in Baltimore and was the daughter of the late Earl Meek Sr and Agnes Meek.
Early on she gave her life to the Lord and was a missionary for Grace and Hope Mission out of Baltimore.
Louise married her beloved late husband, Allen Wade Myers. Together they had a daughter, Angela Rush (Robert Rush) of Newark. She is preceded in death by her beloved grandson, Jacob Allen Rush. She adored her two granddaughters Brandi (Christian Rodden) and Alana (Brian Sterling). Louise had pride and joy, which came later in life, her great grandson, Rhett Jacob Sterling, and a bonus great granddaughter, Levin Sterling. She enjoyed every moment she had with her grandchildren. Louise always enjoyed her sweets and candies. She also liked to go to the casino and watch murder mystery movies.
She is survived by her beloved sister, Mary Lou Draper (Ken Draper) of Bel Air, and many nieces and nephews. She is preceded in death by her brothers, Earl (Sonny) Meek Jr, Robert Meek Sr., Albert (Buddy) Meek and Eddie Meek, as well as her beloved sister in law, Barbara (Bobbi) Meek.
A viewing will be held at 10 a.m. followed by a funeral service on Saturday Jan. 21, 2023 at Rucks Funeral Home in Towson.
Lakelyn Ashley Draheim
BISHOPVILLE – Lakelyn Ashley Draheim passed away peacefully at her home in Bishopville on Jan. 13, 2023 after a yearlong battle with DIPG, an aggressive form of pediatric brain cancer.
Lakelyn was born in Salisbury on June 28, 2017 to her parents Lauren and Lance Draheim. To her family, friends and teachers, Lakelyn was known as a passionate, creative, and loving little girl who loved to dance, paint, camp, ride four-wheelers, go to school, cook with her Daddy, bake with her Mommy and play with her brothers, Lawson “Bubba” and Levyn Beau “L.B.”. She often said that when she grew up, she wanted to be a dancer/ballerina/4-wheeler rider/deer hunter/hairdresser, a list which was constantly growing.
When Lakelyn wasn’t cheering on Lawson in sports, she enjoyed going camping in Williamsburg, Va., Disney World and at Jellystone Campground in Lincoln, Del. Some of her family’s favorite memories are of making S’Mores and playing Charades around a campfire. At home, she loved to work on puzzles, read, play school and watch her favorite shows, including Sleeping Beauty and Bluey.
Lakelyn was kind, intelligent and a beacon of light to everyone she encountered. She would often style her friends’ hair, do their makeup, paint their nails and always wanted people to feel better when they left her. Her infectious smile drew people in, her giggle would bring in-
stant joy to everyone she met and her touch would soothe any broken heart.
She is survived by her parents, Lance and Lauren; her brothers, Lawson and Levyn Beau; her grandparents, Eugene MaGee, Eddie and Sally Draheim; her aunts and uncles, Robbie “Bobo” Draheim, Brian and Rebecca “Boppy” Benson, Lenny and Kelsy Draheim, Hunter and Shannon Draheim; and her cousins, Tripp Benson, Sterling, Amelia, Paxleigh and Brook Draheim. Lakelyn was preceded in death by her mom mom Dolly MaGee and her great-grandparents, Carlton and Dollie MaGee.
In lieu of flowers, the Draheims are asking that you consider donating to The Cure Starts Now, an organization dedicated to putting an end to Childhood Brain Cancer, in Lakelyn’s Honor using the link https://p2p.thecurestartsnow.org/1846
A viewing and visitation are planned for Friday, Jan. 20, 2023, from 6-8 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Showell Elementary School. Funeral services will begin at Showell Elementary School on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 1 p.m.
Condolences may be sent by visiting www.bishophastingsfh.com.
Sandra C. Mitchell
OCEAN PINES – Sandra C. Mitchell, age 88, passed away on Jan. 12 of kidney failure at the Stansell House in Ocean Pines, MD.
Born in Baltimore in 1934, she was the daughter of the late Mitchell Downes Clogg and Dorothy Gore Clogg, and the sister of the late Judith C. Mitchell.
Raised in Roland Park, she graduated from Bryn Mawr School and went on to attend Goucher College. For Sandra, summertime meant beach time. During the summer, she and her family lived in Ocean City aboard their 80-foot, reconditioned P/T boat, docking it at their property on 5th Street.
In 1955 at age 20, she married the late Walter B. Mitchell, a Johns Hopkins University lacrosse star. Sandra and Walt had two children, Kimberleigh and Walter (Mitch). Soon after Mitch was born, they moved to Overland Park, Kan., where they raised their children. Summer vacation in Kansas meant driving across the country back to Ocean City to get together with family and spend time on the beach.
In the 1980s, Sandra and Walt moved back to Ocean City for good. Sandra’s intellect, organizational skills, wit, humor, and ability to talk to anyone translated into a successful real estate career. But she found her true calling once she retired from real estate and began volunteering for the Worcester County Humane Society (WCHS).
Until she died, Sandra fought for animals. She stayed up countless nights feeding newborn kittens who’d lost their mother. She made countless trips to veterinary specialists in Annapolis and Baltimore for broken hips, heart problems, kidney problems, cancer care, etc. If an
animal couldn’t stay at the WCHS for some reason, they’d have a comfortable home with Sandra. She went to court to testify against animal abusers. When potential adopters came to the humane society, she’d check all references and would only place an animal in a home if she knew for certain that the animal would be treated well and have a good life. “They’d been through so much already,” she’d say.
Sandra is survived by a brother Mitchell D. Clogg of Mendocino, Calif.; her daughter, Kimberleigh Mitchell-Paulin and her husband Russell Paulin of Salisbury, MD; her son, Walter B. Mitchell Jr. (Mitch) and his wife Jenifer AdamsMitchell of Frankford, Del.; as well as many loving nieces, nephews and a host of long time friends.
A Celebration of Life will be held later this year. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in her memory to the Worcester County (no-kill) Animal Shelter.
David Kilgour Johnstone Jr.
OCEAN CITY – David Kilgour Johnstone Jr., 84, died Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022.
He was born on April 18, 1938 in Norristown, Pa. to the late David Kilgour Johnstone Sr. and Myrtle Tees Johnstone.
He is survived by his wife, Patricia Mary Johnstone; brother, William Tees Johnstone (Judy); children, David Kilgour Johnstone III (Talara) and Margaret “Peggy” Johnstone Burkett (Steve); grandchildren, Austin William, Hannah Dorothea (Jenni), Tessa Magill and Campbell Kilgour; and two great grandchildren, Otto and Bryce. He is also survived by Pat’s children, Janet Karick (Bob), Ruth Benzin (Mark), Anne Benedict (Glenn), and Jim Ireton (Ryan); stepgrandchildren Mary, Robert, Matthew, and Cate; and step-great grandchild, Bradly. He is also survived by cousins Richard (Rebecca), Robert (Denise), Bruce (Janet), Peter, John and Jay. He was preceded in death by sister, Jean MacDonald Johnstone.
David loved his family and loved his work. He made a career working in engineering for McLean Contracting and most recently Whitman Requardt & Associates from 1984 to his retirement in 2009. He worked in conjunction with The Town of Ocean City on several major infrastructure projects, including water towers, the water treatment plant, and the bio solids processing plant, to name a few. While he quietly operated behind the scenes, his work ensured that the residents and visitors to the town that he loved would have the best possible experience.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations to be made in Dave’s name to St. Peter’s Open Door Feeding Ministry, 10301 Coastal Hwy., Ocean City, Md. 21842.
A memorial service will be held on April 29, 2023, at 11 a.m. at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 10301 Coastal Hwy.,
Ocean City, Md, 21842.
Mitchell Brian Horine
OCEAN CITY – Mitchell Brian Horine, of Ocean City passed away suddenly at his home on Dec. 17, 2022. He was 64 years old.
Mitch was born June 2, 1958 in Baltimore. He was the second child and only son of Kate Long and Randolph M. Horine. Raised in East Moline, Ill. his childhood years were spent happily with his family and many good friends. Mitch returned to Maryland as a young adult to live in Ocean City where he would grow his roots and spend the remainder of his years. He loved the action and excitement of the Boardwalk and would spend many days working or socializing with the locals and tourists and riding the waves on his jet ski.
Mitch enjoyed walking his dogs on the beach, watching the Baltimore Ravens win football games and having friends over for hard shell crabs and BBQ chicken. Mitch was a talented painter and opened his own small painting business, which would turn into a successful lifelong career.
Mitch is survived by his mother, Kate Long, Ocean City; his sister, Karen (Steve) Hanna, Riverdale, Iowa; and his best friend, John, who was like a brother to him. He was preceded in death by his father, Randolph M. Horine, Moline, Ill., and his beloved dog, Maggie.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
WEST OCEAN CITY – Lawrence “Larry” Weems, age 65, passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family at his home in West Ocean City on Jan. 6, 2023. He fought a long battle but succumbed to his illness.
Born in Philadelphia, Pa. and raised in Wenonah, N.J. to the late Don B. Weems Jr and Marianne (Atwell) Rogers of Seattle, Wash. He was preceded in death by his older brother Don B. Weems III, and a son, Robert W. Haberle Jr.
Larry worked many years as a machinist at Mobil Research & Development in Paulsboro, N.J. After an early retirement from Mobil, he ran his own ice cream business, obtained his CDL license and worked as a school bus driver in West Deptford, N.J.
His love of traveling in his RV led him to camp and work at Castaways campground in Ocean City. This also led him to eventually move from “Jersey” to Ocean City permanently 10 years ago. He thoroughly enjoyed his time as bus driver at the campground and made many friends. He was also a shuttle driver for the Commander Hotel in Ocean City and thought highly of his coworkers there. He loved his four-legged girls, Emma and Jenny, and spent many hours walking them at the beach. He was an active member of the Elks Lodge #2708 for many years. He was also an enthusiast of NASCAR and enjoyed going to the races, and of course, loved Eagles foot-
ball and following politics.
He is survived by his wife and best friend, Theresa “Terry” Weems; his son Scott Weems (Nichole) of Swedesboro, N.J.; his daughter Tammy Desiderio (Joseph) of Logan Twp, N.J.; and his son Adam Haberle (Michelle) of Sicklerville, N.J. Additionally, he is survived by his five grandchildren, Jordan and Cash Weems, Joey and Brooklyn Desiderio, and Dylan Haberle.
A memorial service will be held in the near future at Smith Funeral Services in Mantua, N.J. A Celebration of Life is planned on Feb. 4, 2023, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Coastal Smokehouse, West Ocean City.
Letters of condolence can be sent to the family via smithfhmantua.com and/or easternshorecremation.com.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: Elks Lodge #2708 Deptford, N.J. (elks.org) and/or Worcester County Humane Society, 12330 Eagles Nest Rd Berlin, Md. 21811 (email@example.com).
Gerda Marlene Stover
BERLIN – Gerda Marlene Stover passed away peacefully after a short illness on Jan. 2, 2023, at her residence at Gull Creek Senior Living in Berlin.
Gerda was born on May 9, 1930 and was the daughter of the late George and Edith Oman. Toward the end of World War II, she, her mother, sister and two brothers escaped from Berlin during the Russian invasion of the city. They eventually found themselves safely in territory occupied by the American army. She had written a very poignant story of what she, as a 15-yearold, had experienced during that time and gave a presentation of it at her residence and at her son’s neighborhood. The family was eventually re-united with her father, who had previously been forced to join the German Army. The family resettled in what was East Berlin at the time. They subsequently relocated to Frankfurt, Germany. Gerda resumed her education and, following graduation from school, she was employed by Reuters News Agency for several years before meeting her future husband, Charles Ackerson, an American soldier. Her son, Robert, was born in Germany in 1950 and the family came to the United States in 1955, settling briefly in Ohio before moving to southern California.
Gerda and her husband had two more children, a son David (who had tragically passed away in a drowning accident at 12 years old) and another son, Stephen. Gerda and Charles had eventually divorced and she later married Dennis Stover and they lived happily in Highland, Calif. for many years. Gerda then began a second career as an accountant and was employed in this capacity for several years. She and Dennis traveled extensively, preferring luxury travel on cruise lines and visiting many exotic ports of call. They were married over 30 years when Dennis passed away in 2012. Shortly thereafter, Gerda moved to
Berlin to be closer to family. Her hobbies were singing, knitting and creating beautiful creations in counted cross stitch. She was very active during her nine years at Gull Creek Senior Living with participating in their choir and helping the staff with many of their social activities. She appeared in a few of her residence’s TV commercials and ended them by saying, “I live at Gull Creek.” She had also volunteered for the town of Berlin’s visitor center, marched in the annual Berlin Christmas parade, as well as the Ocean City St. Patrick’s Day parade (dressed as a leprechaun). She was an avid walker and took great pride in that she could walk the parades the whole way without assistance. She will be remembered for being a fashion plate and prided herself in always looking her best.
Gerda is survived by her son Robert Ackerson and his wife, Janet, of Frankford, Del., and her son Stephen Ackerson and his companion, Hong Liu, of Suquamish, Wash. as well as many other family members and friends. We wish to
thank the employees of her residence as well as Coastal Hospice for the care they provided. She will be missed by all who knew her. As Gerda had requested, a service will not be held.
Cynthia Ann Burbage
SALISBURY – Cynthia Ann Burbage “Cindy,” age 57, passed away Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at Tidal Health Peninsula Regional in Salisbury.
Born in Salisbury, Maryland, she was the daughter of the late James Richard Burbage, Jr. and Patricia Kelly Burbage. She is survived by her daughter, Alice Sophia Burbage of Salisbury; four sisters, Deborah McCabe (Ricky), Patricia “Trish” Brittingham, Theresa “Terry” Gill (Sam) and Katherine “Kelly” Johnson; a brother, James Richard Burbage, III; and a much loved and devoted friend, Mark Briggs of New York City. There are also numerous nieces and
Cindy was a graduate of Stephen Decatur High School, Class of 1983, and was a graduate of Davidson Elkins College in West Virginia. She had professionally studied and trained as an actress in New York City. Having a lifelong passion for acting, she worked in London, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, New York City, and California. She starred in a onewoman show in New York “Alice’s Dream and Me”, in 2017. She had an enormous passion for living and people. She had the most remarkable spirit.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Thursday, January 19, 2023, at St. Frances de Sales Catholic Church, 535 Riverside Drive, Salisbury, Md. 21801. Rev. Ed Aigner officiated. Inurnment will be private for the family. Donations may be made to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation 28 West 44th St. New York, N.Y. 10036. Letters of Condolence can be sent to the family via www.burbagefuneralhome.com. Arrangements are in the care of The Burbage Funeral Home.
Hebron Savings Bank Coming To BerlinBY CHARLENE SHARPE STAFF WRITER
BERLIN – A new branch of Hebron Savings Bank is expected to come to the corner of Route 50 and Route 818 in Berlin.
The Berlin Planning Commission this week approved a site plan for a Hebron Savings Bank set to be built on Route 818, or North Main Street, at its intersection with Route 50. Years ago, the site was home to a gas station.
“Their intent is to have a nice-looking bank,” said Chris Carbaugh of The Atlantic Group. “It should be a great addition for the town.”
Atlantic Group representatives said the 1.5-acre site was zoned B-2 and Hebron Savings Bank planned to erect a new 1,800-square-foot facility that would feature 32 parking spaces and three drive thru lanes. They said the Maryland State
Highway Administration was limiting access to a right in, right out on the Route 818 side of the property.
“I know it’ll be nice to have something on that corner,” commission member Austin Purnell said.
When asked about the possibility of an interparcel connector between the bank and the nearby Main Place development, Carbaugh said the connections of the other project were not interested in granting the bank a connection.
Carbaugh said a bank was a good use for the site because, with the current popularity of mobile banking, there wouldn’t be a huge amount of traffic to the property. He said the proposed facility would look like the Hebron Savings Bank’s Cambridge location.
Purnell said he didn’t particularly like the 18-foot sign proposed for the project. Planning Director Dave Engelhart pointed
out that the maximum height for signs in the town code was 25 feet. While commission member Matt Stoehr said he didn’t really want to see an electronic sign, other commission members said they were becoming the norm.
“I don’t have any heartburn about it,” commission member Pete Cosby said. “Anything will look better than it does right now.”
In addition to approving the site plan for the bank, the commission on Wednesday also approved a change to the site plan for West View, a 28-unit townhouse project on Old Ocean City Boulevard adjacent to Purnell Crossing. Attorney Mark Cropper said the developers simply wanted to remove the single car garage shown on each house in the original site plan.
A representative of building company D.R. Horton said the change was being made to keep costs down.
County Audit Reveals OPEB ImprovementsBY CHARLENE SHARPE STAFF WRITER
SNOW HILL – Higher than expected revenues and improvements in the county’s ability to provide retiree benefits highlighted an annual financial report.
The Worcester County Annual Comprehensive Financial Report showed an $11 million surplus and improvements in the county’s ability to fund retiree health care benefits. Chris Hall of UHY said the county’s financial statements presented fairly.
“That’s a clean, unmodified opinion, the highest level of assurance an independent accounting firm can give,” he said.
Finance Officer Phil Thompson told the Worcester County Commissioners this week the annual report, which is filed with federal, state and bond agencies, provided an overview of the county’s finances in fiscal year 2022. He said the biggest takeaway from this year’s document was the improvements related to OPEB—other post-employment benefits.
“OPEB equates to long-term retiree health care benefits,” Thompson said.
Because of recent benefits adjustments combined with an increased level of funding, the county’s OPEB liability has decreased. Thompson said the liability had decreased by more than $22 million and effectively became an asset of $13 million in fiscal year 2022.
Similarly, the board of education OPEB liability decreased from $448 million to $151 million. Staff attribute the positive changes Worcester County has seen to two things—the commissioners’ increased investment in OPEB accounts and benefit adjustments, primarily ensuring insurance bills Medicare for retirees over 65 before billing OPEB.
“In total our OPEB liability decreased by almost $300 million in fiscal year 22, making our long-term funding goals more realistic and more attainable than ever before,” Thompson said.
Hall praised county staff for working closely with his team throughout the audit. He said the county’s financial statements presented fairly and went on to refer officials to general fund figures.
In fiscal year 2022 revenues exceeded budgeted amounts, particularly in the area of taxes, as the county budgeted $195 million and actually took in $202 million.
“We all know what the last couple years have been like in the market,” he said. “That’s reflected here.”
Commissioner Chip Bertino, referencing Commissioner Joe Mitrecic’s focus on improving the OPEB liability a few years ago, said those efforts appeared to be bearing fruit and asked if that would continue.
Thompson said in the short term continued improvements would be seen but that the bottom line depended on “what happens out there in the benefits world.”
Three Charged In OC Home InvasionBY SHAWN J. SOPER MANAGING EDITOR
OCEAN CITY – Three Maryland men were arrested this week after allegedly breaking into a residence following a dispute over a cellphone.
but Jenkins pushed past him through the unit’s closed door and into the living room as Crawford and Sawyer followed.
Crawford and Sawyer reportedly threatened the other two victims, who were inside. The first victim attempted to get the three suspects to leave by offering them money in the form of $200 in cash. Jenkins continued to threaten the victims, saying, “I’d kill you,” and “I know where you live,” according to police reports.JOSHUA SAWYER
Around 1:10 a.m. on Wednesday, an Ocean City Police Department (OCPD) officer was dispatched to a residence at 78th Street for a reported burglary. The officer arrived and met with the unit’s three residents, who advised they had been at a downtown bar and one of them had mistakenly picked up a phone that did not belong to them.
When they got back to their residence at 78th Street, the phone rang and one of them answered and realized then he had picked up someone else’s phone, according to police reports. When the phone was answered, a group on the other end angrily asked where they were and where was the phone, according to police reports.
The three victims told the angry group on the other end it was an accident and provided information about where they were so arrangements could be made to get it back. The reportedly angry group, including Dwayne Jenkins, 31, of Frederick, Md., James Crawford, 36, of Baltimore, and Joshua Sawyer, 34, of Essex, Md., arrived a short time later at the residence at 78th Street.
One of the victims reportedly handed the phone to Jenkins, who was the owner,
A Birthday Wish
I know this day belongs to you
For upon this day you were born
But being apart on your special day Leaves my heart shattered and torn
I wanted to give you a special gift One that would surely last Something to put a song in my heart And dry away the tears
I thought perhaps balloons or flowers To put upon your grave But I knew that eventually They would just wither away
I thought about it long and hard What gift would surely last Something that you’ve never had On your birthday in the past
I realized that such a gift Couldn’t come close to compare
To the grand celebration
That you must be having up there
Jenkins then followed a victim into his bedroom and threw him against a wall, according to police reports. Jenkins then reportedly threw the victim’s television from the dresser to the floor, smashing it, and did the same to the victim’s Xbox gaming system. The victim took $200 out of a drawer and handed it to Jenkins, who then reached into the drawer and took an additional $500 in cash from the victim, according to police reports.CRAWFORD
The three suspects then reportedly drove south on Coastal Highway and west over the Route 50 Bridge. The group was located at a convenience store in West Ocean City.
Each was ultimately arrested and charged with home invasion, breaking and entering, first-degree burglary, breaking and entering with intent to commit an act of violence, theft and other serious counts.
I n Loving Memory Of Angel o R usso
So I’m sending you a birthday wish
From the bottom of my heart
To give me strength and courage Every day that we’re apart
I know you’re happy in Heaven with no sorrow, tears or pain
But sometimes I’m so lonesome
My tears fall like rain
So on your special day My wish I send to you Is someday I’ll be with you
When my chores on earth are through
And as I tarry on through the years Hold my wish close to your heart For God will come and take me home
As long as I do my part
For now I must travel through life alone
For He isn’t ready for me yet But what a glorious reunion we’ll have When your smiling face I see
So on your birthday this year My wish I send to you Keep looking for me, don’t give up
For someday I’ll be there, too
Dad, Lisa, Tony, Tina, Chels ea And Jeffr ey
Forever In Memory
Of Our Founder, Dick Lohmeyer (May 25, 1927-May 5, 2005)
The Dispatch, Serving Greater Ocean City Since 1984, Is Published By Maryland Coast Dispatch Inc. Weekly
On Friday Mornings
MAILING ADDRESS: P.O. Box 467, Berlin, Md. 21811
PHYSICAL ADDRESS: 10012 Old Ocean City Blvd. Berlin, Md. 21811 PHONE: 410-641-4561 FAX: 410-641-0966
ONLINE WEBSITES: mdcoastdispatch.com facebook.com/thedispatchoc twitter.com/thedispatchocmd instagram.com/thedispatchocmd
J. STEVEN GREEN
SHAWN J. SOPER
Managing Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff Writer/Copy Editor email@example.com
Staff Writer/Copy Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
CHRIS PARYPA Photographer
Account Executive Entertainment Editor email@example.com
Art Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Graphic Artist email@example.com
Graphic Artist/Webmaster firstname.lastname@example.org
Bookkeeper/Classifieds Manager email@example.com
The Maryland Coast Dispatch (USPS #015125) is an official and legal newspaper for Worcester County. Periodical postage paid at Berlin, Maryland, and additional mailing offices. The Maryland Coast Dispatch, 10012 Old Ocean City Blvd., Berlin, Md. 21811, is published weekly on Friday mornings, 52 weeks a year. Subscription rates are $260 per year.
POSTMASTER: Please send change of address to Maryland Coast Dispatch, P.O. Box 467, Berlin, Maryland 21811. Maryland Coast Dispatch offices are located at Route 346 and Graham Avenue, Berlin, Maryland.
How We See It
Overall, A Job Well Done By Hogan Administration
Leadership of the state changed hands this week and only time will tell if it’s a good thing for Marylanders, most specifically Eastern Shore residents.
In reflecting on the tenure of two-term Gov. Larry Hogan, there’s a lot to boast about. Hogan did so this week in his farewell address. The first two-term Republican since Gov. Theodore McKeldin (19511959), Hogan governed Maryland well through the pandemic. Weekly press conferences kept Marylanders informed on the state’s metrics as well as health safety changes being made on public space usage and mask wearing.
Leaders often measure themselves by comparing the present to the past. In Maryland’s case, Hogan should feel confident and proud about his two terms, as Maryland is surely in a better place today than it was eight years ago. Tax reductions, fee eliminations and funding sup-
port for education, public safety, health care and the environment are among the highlights.
What separated Hogan, however, was not his specific policy initiatives. It was his ability to work with Republicans and Democrats to impact his version of change. He had finesse when he needed it while providing a steady hand of strength and resolve to provide bipartisan leadership. Additionally, Hogan was a visible and involved governor on the Eastern Shore, guiding to passage local project funding initiatives, speaking at numerous regional events, improving relations between the state and local counties and immersing himself in several specific elections (notably then-Delegate Mary Beth Carozza’s campaign to unseat Democratic Senator Jim Mathias in 2018).
For Wes Moore, a political novice like Hogan when he came into office, there’s
much to learn from Hogan. It’s clear his policies will be different as Moore is a Democrat and Hogan a Republican. We hope Moore has watched and learned from Hogan though, as governing from a moderate position should be the goal. It’s the sauce that unites and builds collaboration toward a mutual goal.
Hogan reached across the aisle time and time again with much success, earning him respect from both extremes representing Marylanders in Annapolis. He left office this week with an overall job approval rating of 77%, according to a poll by Gonzalez Research & Media Services. It was a job well done by Hogan and his administration during his eight years. The leadership has been handed off to Moore, and we hope he governs with a perspective of what worked for Hogan and what has not been successful for other governors in the past.
Letters To The Editor
Justice Delayed, Justice Denied
A tale of two incomes.
I work with a man. A nice guy. Hard worker. Supports his family. Even though he earns something well south of the Great American income divide, he gets by. In other words, he is poor.
He got stopped by OCPD. Seems his license was expired. A fairly routine stop. Got a ticket and a court date. They let him go. So far, so good.
Well, he missed the date. Had, had, to work. Uh oh. Judge issued a FTA (failure to appear), an arrestable offense. Lock him up. Get him off the street. Swift justice. No delays here. A man of character, he turned himself in. He had made a mistake. Knew the consequences. Off he goes to spend four days in the Worcester County Jail. Lost four shifts. Now he has late rent, late bills and lost the ability to enjoy his labor, as in the enjoyment of a once-a-week pizza with his family.
What a difference, if only he had money. He could have afforded to keep a lawyer on retainer. Someone who could call the court. Maybe speak to the judge. Quash the FTA. “Sorry your honor, my client made a mistake, he's a very busy man,” “You understand, I’m sure, Thank you, sir. See you at the bar association meeting, Friday. Good. Good. Let me know if you need a ride home.” “Wink Wink, harharhar.” Where would this money have come from? His business. One, with say, 400 employees. Kicks out plenty of cash. Enough to throw at a problem.
Now say, maybe someone he knows has run over a human being, a child? Leaves the scene. A much bigger problem. What to do? Should be a no-brainer. It would be if he had any “character” left but with all that money, he’s lost his soul and become amoral.
Instead, let’s hide the car (obstruction?) Then wash the car, again and again (to destroy evidence?) Next, hire
some fine, expensive, legal talent. Only the best. Let the manipulation begin. Manipulation that only the rich can afford. To shield. To blur. To avoid accountability.
Now what? Well hell, might as well be comfortable. Let’s head south. Sun and sand. The warm surf. Look for a yacht club. Go to happy hour. Check out the babes. Spend our spare time rationalizing. Ain’t money great.
Too bad. What a sad mess. For one family, the pain continues. No resolution in sight. The other family, apparently, is trying to diminish their culpability. Unaware of or incapable of empathy. I go with the latter. Is getting away with it, the hoped for outcome? Instead of standing tall. Facing judgment. Accepting deserved consequences and easing the pain of those left behind. I guess some people are just too weak to answer for their sins.
Justice for Gavin. Justice delayed Is Justice denied. My opinion.James R. Hughlett Ocean City
Yes To Universal Healthcare Editor:
Recently, Governor-Elect Wes Moore published a video on his social media that told the story of how his father died because he couldn’t get the healthcare he needed. I express my condolences for Governor Moore and his family over this tragedy. I hope his father’s memory remains a blessing and he finds joy in the times they spent together. Governor Moore’s story of loss highlights something we all already know, the American healthcare system is broken and immoral.
Our healthcare system is broken and immoral because it leaves people behind, resulting in millions of Americans having gone bankrupt, unable to afford the medical care they needed, and even the loss of loved ones because they couldn’t get the care they needed to survive like Governor Moore’s father. This has all occurred while every other indus-
trialized nation on earth has achieved universal coverage and solved the issues listed above.
Meanwhile, here in America we have millions underinsured or uninsured and unable to afford the care they need. Here in Maryland, 6% of our state’s population remains uninsured and Marylanders living in or near poverty are almost three times as likely to be uninsured. In addition, rural areas like the Eastern Shore have a dangerous lack of access to vital health services resulting in most of us traveling more than two hours to a metropolitan area or to a different state for care.
The Lower Shore Progressive Caucus was proud to support Wes Moore because he ran on addressing these issues by leaving no one behind. We now ask that our new Governor extend his Leave No One Behind approach to healthcare by embracing the Commission on Universal Health Care bill sponsored by Delegate Sheila Ruth.
Del. Sheila Ruth’s Commission on Universal Health Care bill would establish a Kirwan-like commission to develop a plan for our state to finally achieve universal healthcare coverage and would be a significant victory for the Eastern Shore and the entire state.
The path to Universal Healthcare coverage in Maryland is possible and this commission will show us the path to do it. We know that providing health care coverage to all Marylanders will drastically lower costs for the state through more efficient investment in preventive care and providing better health outcomes in our communities. That is why we ask Governor Moore to join us in supporting Del. Sheila Ruth’s Commission on Universal Health Care bill so we can finally get this vital bill over the finish line.Jared Schablein Pittsville (The writer is the chair of the Lower Shore Progressive Caucus.)
Letters To The Editor
Shameful Coaching Display
Upon reviewing the local paper, I stumbled across an item in the sports section that I first thought must have been a misprint. This was the score of the Jan. 10, 2023 girls basketball played between Stephen Decatur and Mardela. The final score of this game was 59-2. I decided to investigate this a bit more and am absolutely irate with what I discovered.
Let me first say that I have a bank of experience with children’s athletics. I played the full circuit of baseball, football and basketball as a youngster and lacrosse as I got older. I had both good coaches and a few who lacked in the skills department. In adulthood, I would move on to coach girls’ softball for many years and also be a Director of the league. It was an enriching and enjoyable experience. As a Coach and a Director you can really play a tremendous role in the development of kids. I have seen firsthand how a kid can change from making bad choices and be headed for doom to becoming a leader and respected among their peers thanks to intramural sports. A decent coach garners respect from the kids and makes friends with the parents who entrust their kids to you as a decision maker. A Coach really can be a life changer.
As I investigated the 59-2 victory of Stephen Decatur over Mardela, I became incensed as to what I learned. Coach Scott Kurtz was interviewed after the game and made some statements that should upset many and open the eyes of all in the community. Among the many cringe worthy statements were how the members of his team “…just get robotic when plays breakdown”, “we try to get our Guards to attack when there’s openings and be aggressive”, “we need to push them in practice to get them to be more aggressive”. You have got to be kidding me. I reviewed other scores from earlier in the season and see he has racked up victories including scores of 50-15, 57-30, 56-13, 71-37 and 62-10.
It is my belief that Coach Scott Kurtz is not a Coach at all. It seems to me that anyone who has won a game by a score of 59-2 is nothing but a loser himself. The two points scored by Mardela were from the foul line, meaning not a single basket was scored the entire game from the floor. And these two points were also in the first half meaning they pitched a shutout in the second half. Yet, Coach Kurtz is upset about a lack of aggressiveness and robotic play?
I am not some snowflake woke person who thinks everyone deserves a trophy. I admire and respect hard work and think those that work hard deserve to reap the rewards that their success brings them. Congratulations to the girls who won the game. However, Coach Kurtz had numerous options to make this 59-2 situation a learning experience and one that comes with sportsmanship. Perhaps his girls could have not taken a shot until a couple of minutes wound down on the clock on each possession. Maybe they could have just played zone with hands held high for defense. Maybe those starters could have sat much of the game and let the subs
play more minutes. Maybe he could have even elected to play 4 kids on the court. But instead of doing anything that would resemble good sportsmanship, Kurtz demands more aggressiveness and less robotics.
I think that Coach Kurtz needs to be admonished for his totally unacceptable behavior. Principal Thomas Sites needs to let the community know if he is comfortable with a Coach displaying such poor sportsmanship. Superintendent Louis Taylor should let the citizens of the school district know if he believes a 59-2 rout over Mardela is something that is good for the players involved. There must be accountability for such bad behavior. I see that on Feb. 14 these same two teams play again. If Coach Kurtz is still employed, will he once again demonstrate such egregious behavior? This is, of course, if the girls from Mardela even opt to keep playing. Shame on you Coach Kurtz. You are an embarrassment to the coaching world and need to change your ways. And anyone that would advocate such abusive behavior needs to do a gut check on their own values.M. Scott Chismar Ocean City
State Bills To Watch
I am writing to inform your readers of some pending legislation in Maryland which may be of concern.
The first Bill is HB119 Primary and Secondary Education-Health Education Framework-Established. This bill would require all counties in Maryland to create an “age-appropriate” curriculum that is consistent with the Comprehensive Health Education Framework. The framework requires that seventh grade students be able to “identify solo, vaginal, anal, and oral sex along with possible outcomes of each”. In addition, the framework requires that students in Kindergarten through second grade “recognize” and “identify a range of ways people identify and express their gender,” Frankly, the thought that my 11 or 12-year-old would be required to describe these sex acts is abhorrent. The bill sponsor is Vanessa.Atterbeary@house.state.md.us.
The other bill of concern is SB1-Criminal Law-Wearing, Carrying, or Transporting Firearms-Restrictions (Gun Safety Act of 2023). This bill, if passed, would prohibit a concealed carry license holder from carrying a firearm on or near any public accommodation. This would pretty much negate the carrying of firearms anywhere except on the owner’s own property. The bill sponsors are firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
If you disagree with these proposed bills, please contact the sponsors as soon as possible and be sure to copy our senator, Marybeth.Carozza@senate.state.md.us and our delegates, Wayne.Hartman@house.state.md.us and Charles.Otto@house.state.md.us.
The full text and status of these bills can be read at mgaleg.maryland.gov.Carol Frazier Ocean Pines
Between The Linesby Publisher/Editor Steve Green
Buckingham Elementary School is next up on the major project list for the Worcester County school system. This will be a massive and expensive undertaking, costing about $73 million for the chosen direction – a new school with the current one demolished. This was a huge decision by the Worcester County Board of Education.
The replacement plan was favored over an addition/renovation concept that would have cost $82 million but resulted in a larger school space, about 125,000 square feet. The new replacement school would total 102,000 square feet and include a two-story section. Construction likely will not begin until 2027.
Between now and when ground is broken, much could change as far as the project details. One aspect that certainly deserves a deeper dive is the proposed bus loop, student dropoff and parking areas. Under the current plan buses would use a loop off Main Street, while parents would access the school from West Street through roads built in the long field at the back of the school. It’s a strange layout but officials seem convinced there’s plenty of time for changes.
Ocean City is making the right call with reinstating the ride option at Winterfest of Lights. The pivot to the pedestrian concept in 2020 was wise as a result of the pandemic and largely embraced by many at the time and even this past holiday season.
However, by not offering the trams, the event is largely alienating an older segment of society unable physically or just unwilling to walk through the display. My group of six went to Winterfest on an evening in December. Two members of our group in their 70s did not walk through the event because one had a bad back at the time and the other lacked the stamina to walk beyond short distances.
A hybrid Winterfest of Lights will hit well with all segments of society. It will likely restore the participant volume to previous levels before the pandemic. This year’s attendance of 104,000 was impacted by weather but rivals what was seen in 2018. History shows Winterfest had larger draws in 2017, 106,067; 2016, 111,052; and 2015, 127,000.
Instating a hybrid model with a ¾-mile tram ride and a half-mile walking path will be cheered by attendees. It will surely bring in larger paid attendance and offer something for everyone, from senior citizens to the youngest patrons. A good formula for the future seems to be in place with offering the two modes of enjoyment of the lights and plans for a larger tented area with new activities.
Seven whale deaths in recent weeks in the mid-Atlantic is reason for concern. Is it just the natural cycle of life or are other factors at play? Marine Mammal Stranding Center Director Sheila Dean called this year a highmortality year but not unprecedented. She said, “It just comes in cycles. It depends on how many whales are in the area, and I’m going to attribute it to that. There are a lot of whales in our area now.”
I don’t think it’s that simple, but it would be unfair to place the blame squarely on wind farm companies as well. Reached this week, both US Wind and Ørsted said they have not conducted ocean surveys since the spring of 2022. US Wind Senior Director of Environmental Affairs Laurie Jodziewicz said, “When US Wind conducted these surveys in 2021 and early 2022, we, like other offshore wind developers, used third-party Protected Species observers, who are trained and approved by NOAA to detect protected species like whales. … There is no evidence that the whale strandings have anything to do with current offshore wind activity off the coast.” Ørsted Deputy Head of Government Affairs and Marketing Strategy Maddy Voytek said, “Ørsted is not conducting survey activity for Skipjack Wind at this time. Ørsted-contracted vessels concluded surveys off the Delaware coast in the spring of 2022 and did not experience any marine mammal strikes during their activities. It’s important for all ocean users to continue working with state and federal officials to further advance science-based, smart policies that protect critical wildlife while addressing climate change.”
The fact is nobody knows yet what is causing these deaths. Nonetheless, the sensitivities expressed this week are understandable, especially considering there is a right whale speed reduction mandate currently being reviewed by NOAA.
Grief hit the local community once again last weekend with the passing of 5-year-old Lakelyn Draheim from an aggressive brain cancer. Schools around the county honored Lakelyn this week by wearing her favorite color, pink, on selected days. Over the last year since her diagnosis, the community has rallied around the little girl and the entire Draheim family as her battle stayed on the minds of many.
Her passing confirms the significance of the Stephen Decatur High School student body recognizing her as homecoming princess last fall. Also recognized as homecoming king was Josh Alton, who passed away in November after an extended battle with Metastatic Ewing’s Sarcoma. On that night when Alton and Draheim were honored, there was a recognition of their difficult health journeys. It seemed to be known their time was limited. The realities played out as expected. Alton would pass seven weeks later. Draheim died three months later. The little girl’s services will be held at Showell Elementary tonight and tomorrow.
PUZZLE ON PAGE 36
The Adventures of Fatherhoodby Steve Green
For the second consecutive year, Beckett and I did the AGH Penguin Swim together on New Year’s Day.
The word “together” should really be used in the loosest fashion possible. It was more like we attended the event and along with more than 900 people jumped in the same ocean.
After driving to Ocean City, my 14year-old bolted to immediately look for friends. When it was time to head to the beach and jump in the ocean, he was nowhere to be found. It turns out he was just 10 feet away hiding. When I ordered him to come closer to me, lovingly so, the kid and his friends would not stand with me. Instead, they put a group of strangers in between us. When I would approach my son and his friends the conversation stopped abruptly. I eventually gave up and may or may not have been a bit hot under collar.
When the countdown began, he came over toward me. Once the buzzer went off, he sprinted to the ocean out of my sight amid hundreds of other nearby crazy souls. I never saw him again until he was looking for a towel and his clothes, before taking off again with friends out of sight.
About an hour later, he popped up next to the stage I was standing on during the awards presentation. A few minutes later, he showed up again during a television interview several of us associated with the hospital were taking part in. A few minutes later, he showed himself again, asking if it was time to go yet.
On the way home, I thanked him for coming with me. I was joking but he didn’t get it. He said, “of course this is our dad and son New Year’s tradition.” I found the comment funny. He then reminded me to send him any pictures. I was surprised he looked at the event in a special way. Evidently, he looked at it as a bonding experience, though we were not together for any of it.
It was good to know he enjoyed the
penguin swim, however. andom.
It’s the best way to describe communication with our son at boarding school.
I am convinced I will never get used to this new normal for our family, but each time I speak with him and hear he’s happy I realize we did the right thing.
It was about a year ago when Beckett first came to us with the concept of doing something different for school. He loves his home and this area, but he seemed to be wanting more. Pam and I didn’t know specifically what it was he was craving and/or needed, but it became clear it was the new school after a couple visits.
Boarding school for my kid was the most difficult decision in my life. The easiest, but most selfish, thing would have been to tell him he could not go, and we would not pay for it. After months of prayer and discussion, we agreed this sacrifice was best for him. We decided to take each year as it comes and stay involved in all aspects of his life, despite him sleeping three hours from home. He still very much needs his parents.
It was recently time to commit to next year. We talked with Beckett a lot over the holiday break about what he wanted to do for his sophomore year. When we first discussed it, we told him to think deeply about it and we would huddle again. A few days later, he told us he wanted to continue at boarding school, though admitting he wished it was closer to home at times.
Communicating with Beckett while at school is interesting. It can be frustrating at times because of his age, but it’s always entertaining and usually involves some laughter. Most of our conversations are simple check-ins while others are about needs and wants. We talk or text multiple times each day. These chats are good for the heart and soul. Oftentimes these are short talks about this or that. I need to talk to him each day, even if it’s meaningless and just sharing a sports
clip with him. I think Pam feels the same way (minus the sports part).
Though there are heavy parenting conversations from time to time, recent text threads show the randomness of our conversations.
Him: Dad, something is the matter with my phone. I can’t Facetime, it won’t load.
Me: Okay but it’s 2 p.m. and you’re in class. Give your phone a restart and let’s talk about it later.
I immediately saw the familiar three dots and then nothing until he Facetimed me at 8 p.m. with a red hat on and three heart-shaped sunglasses.
Him: Dad, we are all so hungry we are just eating peanut butter out of the jar with spoons.
Me: I love peanut butter. I guess Facetime is working.
Him: Yeah, it was broken, now it’s fine.
Me: Where did you get all those heart glasses?
Him: What glasses?
A day later, he reached out.
Him: The weekend you all are here we have an indoor soccer tournament. Coach wants me to play, okay with you all?
Me: Let me know the details, like where and when?
Him: I need some new indoor shoes.
Me: I think you should just wear regular shoes; we just got you new basketball shoes.
Him: Ok, I will play in high tops. I’m not going to play as well though.
Me: Cool, where is the tournament?
Him: (Four hours later) not sure.
Me: Let us know when you know.
Him: It’s here, I think.
Me: Find out for sure please.
I am still waiting on that as of press time.
(The writer is the publisher and editor of The Dispatch. He and his wife, Pamela, are proud parents of two boys. This weekly column examines their transition into parenthood and all that goes along with it. E-mail any thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Every Monday: TOPS Meeting
5-6:30 p.m. Atlantic General Hospital, Berlin. Take Off Pounds Sensibly is a support group promoting weight loss and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Call Rose 443-880-8444.
Every Monday: Acapella Chorus
All ladies who love to sing are invited to the Delmarva Woman’s Acapella Chorus, Ocean Pines Community Center, 239 Ocean Parkway, 6-8 p.m. Contact Mary 410-629-9383 or Carol 302-2427062.
Every Monday: Bridge Games
Are you interested in joining others for a game of Bridge at the Ocean City 50+ Senior Center? If so, please call or text Tish at 410-804-3971.
Every Tuesday: TOPS Meeting
Take Off Pounds Sensibly is a weekly support and education group promoting weight loss and a healthy lifestyle. Meetings are held at the Worcester County Berlin Health Department at 9730 Healthway Drive, Berlin from 3:30-4:30 p.m. every Tuesday. 410-289-4725.
Every Tuesday: Dancing
The Delmarva Hand Dance Club holds dancing at the Selbyville Elks Lodge 2173 from 5:30-9 p.m. delmarvhanddancing.com.
Every Tuesday: Beach Cleanup
Beach Heroes, a volunteer Ocean City group, holds cleanups 9-10 a.m. yearround. Trash bags, grippers and gloves provided. Check the Facebook page "Beach Heroes-OC" for weekly meeting locations. All are welcome.
Every Wednesday: Bingo Elks Lodge 2645, corner of Sinepuxent Avenue and 138th Street in Ocean City. Has bingo all year. Doors open 4:30 p.m. with first game sharply at 6:30 p.m. Kitchen open for light fare. 410-250-2645.
Every Thursday: Beach Singles
Join the club, 55 plus, at Harpoon Hanna’s in Fenwick Island, 4-6 p.m. 302-4369577 or BeachSingles.org.
2nd and 4th Thursdays: Caregiver Support Meeting
The Caregiver Support Group will continue to meet on the second and fourth Thursdays in the Ocean Pines Library. Meetings will run from 3-4:30 p.m. The meetings are private and confidential.
Things To Do
Jan. 20: Fish Fry
Bowen UMC in Newark is having a fish fry beginning 4:30 pm. Platters are $10 and include flounder filet, macaroni and cheese, green beans, cornbread & dessert. For those who eat in it also includes beverage. Carryouts available.
Jan. 21: Fried Chicken Dinner
All you can eat includes vegetables, beverage and dessert from 11 a.m. until at New Hope United Methodist Church in Willards. Cost is $15 for adults. Carryout available. 410-543-8244 or 410-7132468.
Jan. 25: Monthly Meeting
The First State Detachment of the Marine Corps League meets the fourth Wednesday each month at the Ocean City American Legion Post 166 on 23rd Street and Coastal Highway at noon. Any Marines and Navy Corpsman who have served in our Corps, living in Worcester and Sussex counties, are welcome to join us to meet their fellow veterans and consider joining the Detachment and support our mission for community service through camaraderie and volunteerism. You can contact us by phone at 410-4307181 or email email@example.com.
Jan. 27-28: Theatre Performance
During Fire & Ice Festival weekend, make sure the Dickens Parlour Theatre is on your to-do list, as the performance team will spotlight Judy Garland and the Wizard of Oz through song and story. The theatre proudly presents “Judy’s Road To Oz With Ruby Rakos and John Fricke.” Ruby Rakos made her Broadway debut at age 12 in Billy Elliot and has been in love with performing since. She is currently starring in Chasing Rainbows, a biomusical based on the early life of Judy Garland.
Widely acknowledged as the preeminent Judy Garland and Wizard of Oz author/historian, John Fricke received an Emmy Award as co-producer of the twohour PBS-TV “American Masters” program, Judy Garland: By Myself. This was his second recognition by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; he won
similar honors as coproducer and cowriter of the A&E “Biography” special, Judy: Beyond the Rainbow, based on his book, Judy Garland: World's Greatest Entertainer.
David Libby received his M.M. in Jazz Studies from Rutgers University, where he studied with jazz piano legend Kenny Barron. He is currently arranging songs from the MGM catalog made popular by Judy Garland for the new musical "Chasing Rainbows."
The dining room and bar open at 5 p.m. Theatre doors open at 6:45 p.m. Shows starts at 7 p.m. Tickets available at www.dickensparlourtheatre.com.
Jan. 28: Breakfast Buffet
All-you-can-eat breakfast buffet at the Whaleyville United Methodist Church located at 11716 Sheppards Crossing Road in Whaleyville. Cost is $8/adult and $4/child from 7-10 a.m. Buffet will include pancakes, bacon, sausage, scrapple, scrambled eggs, chipped beef, hash brown potatoes, toast, fruit and assorted beverages.
Feb. 3-5: Wool, Fiber Expo
A show to promote the fiber industry through vendors, classes and art at the Ocean City convention center. Admission $4. Hours are Friday, Feb. 3, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 4, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 5, 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Feb. 7-9: Safe Boating Course
It’s never too early to plan for boating season. The first class of 2023 will be held virtually, making it possible for anyone to attend from anywhere. The virtual course is taught by the same US Coast Guard Aux. instructors as the in-person class. All the required material is covered along with time for questions. Classes are 6-9 p.m. The Maryland Boating Safety Education Act requires that anyone born after July 1, 1972 must possess a Maryland Basic Boating Safety Certificate to operate a boat in the state of Maryland. Those attending the class and passing the test will receive a Maryland Boating Certificate which is NASBLA approved and valid in all states. A fee of $20 covers the cost of the course and materi-
als. Checks should be made payable to USGCAUX 12-05 and mailed to PO Box 1682 Berlin, Md. 21811. Payment via PayPal is also accepted. For more information or to register contact Barry Cohen at 410-935-4807 or email CGAUXOC@Gmail.com.
11: Valentine's Day Dinner
Sons of the American Legion, Squadron 166, 23rd St. & Philadelphia Ave., Ocean City, will host, featuring steak, shrimp, baked potato, salad and cake. Choice of one complimentary beer or wine. Four seatings at 4, 5, 6 or 7 p.m. $25 per person. Tickets available at the post.
Feb. 11: Q&A For Vets
The Department of Veterans Affairs will be at the Berlin library from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Do you have questions about your VA claim or your benefits or need assistance with filing a VA claim? VA personnel will provide one-on-one assistance. Unable to attend? Register for phone appointments by accessing the Visitor Engagement Reporting Application (VERA) at https://vets.force.com. 410-641-0650.
Feb. 15: Trivia Contest
Trivia with Jim Meckley, “Snowfall & Valentines” at the Ocean Pines library branch at 3 p.m. Test your knowledge in this seasonally themed trivia contest. Prizes awarded to the top three teams and refreshments are provided by the Friends of the Ocean Pines Library. 410208-4014.
Feb 17-19: Seaside Boat Show
Over 350 boats and associated dealers will be on hand for the 40th annual event at the Ocean City convention center. Admission. Adults $10; under 14, $1; and weekend pass $15. Hours are Friday and Saturday, Feb. 17-18, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. ocboatshow.com.
March 1, 8, 15, 22: Square Dance Lessons
Free square dance lessons from 7-8:45 p.m. at the Ocean Pines Community Center.
March 25: Carryout Dinner
The Bishopville Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary will be holding a chicken and dumpling carryout from noon-2 p.m. at the main station. Chicken, dumplings, green beans and sweet potatoes. $15 per dinner. Extra pint of dumplings is $8 per pint. Call 619-922-9950 to reserve your dinner and pint before March 20.
SALES ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE
The Dispatch, a weekly newspaper since 1984, is seeking a full-time account executive to manage existing advertising sales accounts, seek new business and be a team player in a busy office setting. Previous newspaper experience will be rewarded with offer. Sales experience a must. Salary plus commissions, individual health insurance, two weeks paid vacation each year. Work week: Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Email resume to Steve Green’s attention at firstname.lastname@example.org