April 2024 Ocean Pines Progress

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Two incumbents running for OPA Board of Directors

No competition yet for Farr, Heavner

Contributing writer

Two seats are up for election this year for the Ocean Pines Board of Directors. Sitting directors Rick Farr and Jeff Heavner have already declared their candidacies. This would be an easy re-election for both of them if no other candidates file by the 4 p.m. Friday, May 10, deadline.

Residents will vote for the two open seats after ballots are mailed out in July. The annual meeting is currently scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 10, when election results usually are certified.

The Progress interviewed both candidates.

Farr, the current president of the Ocean Pines Association, has officially declared his candidacy for a seat on the board of directors.

In discussing his candidacy, Farr said he has always elevated the best interests of Ocean Pines first and foremost. Under his leadership he expects to continue to

Inspection reveals no mold at racquet sports clubhouse

The verdict is in: No mold has been found in the Racquet Sports complex despite concerns expressed at the March 23 Board of Directors meeting by a member and former member of the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee that it might be a problem, citing employees who were getting sick and leading to them quitting their jobs.

A statement issued late in the afternoon of Friday, March 29, by the Board and General Manager John Viola after a thorough vetting by OPA counsel Bruce Bright referenced an allegation by committee member Kathleen Russell during the Board meeting that the clubhouse “may not be safe” due to what was characterized as “potential mold/mildew issue behind the walls.”

This was part of the RSAC’s basis for advocating for a completely new building at the Racquet Sports Center, rather than renovations as is currently planned, the statement said.

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Rick Farr cultivate the “outstanding” partnership the board has with General Manager John Viola. He is committed to Jeff Heavner

Farr, Heavner candidacies

From Page 1

maintaining and enhancing the state of the art amenities and to continue the professional decorum exhibited during Board meetings.

Farr is proud of the Board’s accomplishments over the past year, during his tenure as president. He noted that in the past year the Board supported the hiring of a new police chief, Tim Roibinson, which he considers a “big win” for the Ocean Pines community.

“Tim has had an impeccable career,” Farr said.

In order to make the Ocean Pines Police Department competitive with other departments, the board approved a 7 percent match for its 401K, an increase in starting salaries to $63,500 and increases for seasoned officers. They also purchased two more vehicles.

Farr. Bright is experienced in Maryland HOA law and provides guidance on the bylaws and governing documents.

Farr is also proud of the beautification efforts around the Pines over the past year, including the new light fixtures, seasonal plantings and flags at the North Side bridge. Property violations have also been addressed more quickly, and thanks to Bright aggressively handling the process, violators are addressing the issues before OPA has to go to court.

People are providing positive feedback on the beautification efforts and violations, Farr said.

Farr is proud of the current Board, noting that they are cohesive, professional, transparent and when they disagree, they do it in a professional manner.

“We work for the best interests of our residents,” Farr said.

ence,” Farr said.

Some residents have complained that the Matt Ortt Company is not paying for the expansion, but Farr reminds them that Ortt is the vendor and Ocean Pines owns the facility and the expansion of the tiki bar is an improvement to the facility.

He also noted that the golf course irrigation project will start in November of this year. The project will take three to five years to complete.

He believes the time is right to open a new dialogue with the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department on the need for a new fire station. He knows drainage is a big issue in the community. According to Farr, Public Works has been surveying the neighborhood after big storms to identify problem areas to address.

“We are giving him the resources to be successful,” Farr said.

With the hiring of the law firm Ayers, Jenkins and Gordy, the board “stopped the legal bleed,” Farr said. The previous firm was more expensive and not local. Ayers Jenkins and Gordy is a local firm in Ocean City, which allows Bruce Bright, the lawyer who works with Ocean Pines, to attend all Board meetings. With a local presence, he can provide legal counsel to the board and answer any legal questions that might be asked by residents at the meetings, a big plus according to

For instance, the current board decreased the pool membership price to make it more affordable for families and after hearing from many members of the racquet club, the Board agreed to go back to the per sport pricing for this year. What he is most proud of is the ability of the board to decrease the assessment for property owners this year. “We have decreased the assessment while increasing the amenities experience.”

Looking forward, Farr is excited about the expansion of the tiki bar at the Yacht Club.

“This will be good for the customer experi-

As a board member of the Worcester County Veterans Memorial Foundation, he has been involved with the moving of the current gazebo, which will be placed at the community garden.

Another gazebo will be built for the dog park by Public Works. OPA and the Veterans Memorial will split the cost of a new much larger gazebo, similar to the one in White Horse Park, for the memorial. He said the gazebo will be installed before Veterans Day.

Besides his time as president of the Ocean Pines Association, Farr is the chief human resources officer for the Town of Easton. In his

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spare time, he participates in many community service efforts including local food, toy and coat drives to support the military, seniors and kids in and around the Ocean Pines community.

Farr is a veteran of the United States Air Force. He served in many military operations during his 20 plus years of service, including Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Enduring Freedom. He supports veterans groups and takes time to visit veterans at Walter Reed Hospital and veterans homes.

Farr has owned a home in Ocean Pines since 1999 and has lived here full time since 2020. He loves to boat in Ocean City, Assateague and Delaware. He is a father of two children (son and daughter) and a grandfather of two grandchildren.

Jeff Heavner won a seat on the Board last year to replace former board member Frank Daly, who moved out of the area. Because he was running to complete Daley’s term, he has to run again this year for a full term.

Heavner takes his Board position very seriously and said his 38 years in the U.S. Navy and ExxonMobile provided him with the leadership skills, a strong moral compass, and high ethical standards to be a good director.

He hopes the residents of Ocean Pines will elect him for a full term on the board of directors

this August.

There is nothing the Board will have to do that I have not dealt with in my professional life, Heavner said.

“The board is the policy maker and policy enforcer to support the community’s vision, mission and values,” Heavner said.

He considers Ocean Pines to be in a strong position due to quality governance and the presence of a talented general manager in John Viola. He also believes the community has a strong strategic plan.

“The Board has delivered a lot of results. We have been productive with no drama,” Heavner said.

“We are in a strong financial position. Our responsibility is to protect that for the next generation.”

Heavner is the board liaison for the Recreation and Parks and the Environment and Natural Assets advisory committees.

He said he fights for the interests of the committees if he believes they are important to Ocean Pines. He is proud of the work the committees are doing. The Rec and Parks committee members have made the safety of the trails and playgrounds a priority. The committee is drafting a charging document to encourage an OP staffer to be certified to inspect the playgrounds for safety issues, an effort Heavner endorses for the safety of the children and to protect the association. The committee walks trails every month and reports to Heavner any safety issues, which

he then relays to Viola.

He is also excited about the efforts of the Environment and Natural Assets Advisory Committee and its plans for shore restoration at the South Pond.

Heavner takes pride in the many accomplishments of the Board over the past year, including new pedestrian crosswalks like the ones at Racetrack and Manklin Creek roads that allow for safe passage to the shopping area, maintenance of walking trails, bulkhead replacement, and starting on the golf course irrigation.

Beautification efforts and enforcement of violations have been a top priority for the board.

Heavner thinks it helps to show people we are enforcing the restrictions and he predicts there will be less violations over time. He is an advocate of the beautification efforts and thinks OPA should be planting more trees in the neighborhood to replace aged and dying trees.

If re-elected he hopes to focus on a number of priority issues. With safety being a priority for Ocean Pines residents, he feels strongly that it’s time to re-engage with the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department on the efforts to build a new fire station.

“It needs to be at the top of our safety priorities. That’s our fire department and we need to act like it is and so do they,” Heavner said. “It’s a two way street.”

With so much rain over the past few months, drainage is also top of mind for Heavner. He be-

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COVER STOFarr, Heavner candidacies

From Page 5

lieves the OPA should identify high priority flood areas and look at the effectiveness of the drainage ditches.

He would love to see OPA re-evaluate the swim and racquet club tennis courts, which are not utilized. The site is beautiful overlooking the water, so he suggested some thought should be put into what can be done with that land.

He is eager to see the installation of the new electronic sign at the North side entrance. While he voted for the sign, it was not a top priority for him. He wants to see how it will work and whether it will help educate residents before considering additional signs.

Longer term, he has his own vision for the community center. He thinks the current community center has outgrown its purpose and believes there is room for expansion. He would love to see a “real community center” with pool tables, a bowling alley, a room for card games and other activities that would attract residents to the site.

Heavner has a busy schedule beyond his Board duties. He volunteers two days a week at Changing Fates, an equine rescue organization, where he and his wife take care of the horses and help maintain the facility.

He raises oysters at his home on the canal and has a plot in the community gardens in Ocean Pines. He bowls in an Ocean Pines league. He also

Meals on Wheels proclamation

Worcester County Commissioners Abbott, Bunting, Mitrecic, Bertino, Fiori, Elder, and Purnell recently presented a March For Meals proclamation to the Worcester Commission on Aging (WorCOA), which is responsible for the Meals On Wheels and Congregate Meals programs in Worcester County. Receiving the proclamation is Terrell Crosby, WorCOA’s Kitchen Assistant who helps with the production of over 700 meals per week. During her seven years with the Commission on Aging, she has helped carry the responsibility of providing over 200,000 Congregate and Home Delivered meals for residents of Worcester County.

enjoys boating in the St. Martin’s River, where he and his wife, Anne go almost every night in the summer to watch the sun set.

Heavner grew up in Dundalk, Md., and spent summers working at this family’s Ocean City Boardwalk business.

He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1983 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Resource Management with a focus on

leadership and engineering. He honorably served on the aircraft carrier, USS Midway, CV-41, home ported in Yokosuka, Japan as an intelligence officer for one of the last F-4, Phantom, fighter squadrons, VF-151, and as an instructor at the Navy and Marine Corps Intelligence Training Center in Virginia Beach. He was awarded a Navy Achievement Medal for his superior performance.

6 Ocean Pines PROGRESS April 2024 April 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 7

No mold reported at racquet center clubhouse

Farr suggests claims were part of a brazen effort to pressure the Board into abandoning renovation and instead proceeding with a new building

The verdict is in: No mold has been found in the Racquet Sports complex despite concerns expressed at the March 23 Board of Directors meeting by a member and former member of the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee that it might be a problem, citing employees who were getting sick and leading to them quitting their jobs.

A statement issued late in the afternoon of Friday, March 29, by the Board and General Manager John Viola after a thorough vetting by Ocean Pines Association counsel Bruce Bright referenced an allegation by committee member Kathleen Russell during the Board meeting that the clubhouse “may not be safe” because of what was characterized as “potential mold/mildew issue behind the walls.”

This was part of the RSAC’s basis for advocating for a completely new building at the Racquet

Sports Center, rather than renovations as is currently planned, the statement said.

“As a result of this assertion and the public health ramifications thereof, OPA management, with the full support of the Board, took immediate action to close and proactively inspect the facility, which involved destructive investigation behind walls and under carpeting, inspection by qualified outside professionals, and testing the air inside the building for ambient mold conditions,” the statement continued.

This was accomplished during the week of March 27 by ServPro of Hebron, Md., whose service area extends to Ocean Pines. Certification that the clubhouse was mold-free was issued late in the week, at what the statement said was “considerable cost to the Association.”

The Progress has been told that the cost might go as high as $10,000. In the meantime, the OPA in an April 1 press release announced that the clubhouse would reopen, effective immediately.


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Players are asked to check in on the left side of the building, following posted signs. Attendants have been moved to the lounge area, to streamline the process of check-in to allow for better monitoring of the courts.

The warming hut as of April 1 remained closed.

The earlier OPA announcement said the inspection work “was performed diligently, promptly, and with minimal disruption to Racquet Sports activities. Although a few very small areas of discoloration of indeterminate type were observed on the interior side of a wall, there was no discovery of any confirmed mold or similar condition or other indication that was sufficient to warrant further testing, inspection, or investigation,” according to the statement.

The statement then proceeded to make clear that the Board and Viola are not pleased with the committee’s role in triggering the building’s closure. Committee chair Cathy Noble told the Progress that committee member Suzanne Russell was not representing the committee in making her comments during the March 23 Board meeting.

But Noble also said she and her committee were aware that Russell was intending to advocate for a new building consistent with the committee’s recommendation adopted at its meeting earlier in the month.

The statement suggests that the Board isn’t buying the notion that the committee has several

8 Ocean Pines PROGRESS April 2024 April 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 9 OCEAN PINES
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degrees of separation from the Russell statement, which was completed by former committee member Karen Kapkan when Russell’s time at the podium expired.

“It is important to note that members of OPA advisory committees are appointed and reappointed by the Association president with the consent of the full Board, and therefore serve at the Board’s pleasure. Advisory committees exist under our governing documents to assist the Board, and they take direction from and report to the Board,” according to the statement.

members “are not permitted to interact with governmental entities on OPA matters without express authorization to do so from the OPA Board.” Here, too, there is the implication that the committee is in trouble for not having sought such authorization from the Board. But then the statement proceeds to castigate the committee for being “less than thorough in its own vetting of the purported mold concerns and may have made public assertions in that regard for purposes other than the performance of the committee’s legitimate role.”

That purpose mostly like would have been to promote the idea that a new building is preferable to a renovation.

Actually, the complex reopened the following Monday morning. The pro shop building remained closed, blocked off by the yellow tape, as Viola was working to hire a mold remediation company to investigate the mold claims.

“At the March 23 Board of Directors meeting, it was brought to the Board’s attention by Racquet Sports Advisory Committee members Karen Kaplan, Suzanne Russell, and Cathy Noble that there were significant concerns regarding suspected mold in the Racquet Sports building, and they made a claim that it made people sick and caused employees to quit,” the Board said in a March 24 statement.

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While the Board “generally welcomes constructive and properly communicate input from advisory committees on matters appropriately within their purview,” the statement went on to say that advisory committees “do not exist to advocate for particular groups within the community, lobby the Board on behalf of groups, or generate controversy or disputes between themselves and the Board or otherwise as to OPA matters.”

The implication: The Board feels the committee has done precisely that.

With respect to reports that committee members were in Snow Hill checking with county government officials on whether a new clubhouse could be built outside the footprint of the existing building, the statement said that committee

In what could be interpretated as a possible indication that the Board may soon suspend the committee, as a previous Board did to the former Clubs Advisory Committee, the statement said that the Board “will meet soon to discuss appropriate next steps in light of this situation.”

The statement followed a press release issued by the OPA after Russell and Kaplan made their comments.

“We are in full support of of our General Manager, John Viola, for his swift action in putting the health and safety of our community first,” the Board said in a press release hours after Viola announced in a press release that the racquet center would be “temporarily closed until further notice.”

“We take that concern very seriously, as well as the health and safety of our membership. It was decided to close the building to have a full inspection completed and have any issues resolved.”

Actually, Kaplan isn’t a committee member, but often attends meetings and is outspoken on racquet sports issues. Noble is the committee chair but didn’t speak at the March 23 Board meeting. Russell read her statement during the Public Comments segment of the meeting, and when her time expired after the allotted four minutes for public comments, Kaplan read the rest of it into the record.

The Board press release concluded by thanking the Racquet Sports Committee “for bringing this to our attention.”

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That was the official response, but a day earlier, shortly after Russell and Kaplan asserted there might be a mold problem in the building, OPA President Rick Farr was not so charitable.

In a text to the Progress he called their statement “very irresponsible and untrue.” He said that prior to their statement, there never has even been a hint of a mold problem

in the building. He called it a brazen attempt to pressure the Board into tearing down the building and building a new one.

“We have already spent $25,000 on repairing the building, and the entire Board approved another $150,000 for the rest of the renovations,” he said.

At the February meeting of the racquet sports committee, members voiced support for the renovation, but that had changed at the committee’s March meeting.

Farr said he understood Russell to say during the March committee meeting that it was she who contacted someone with Worcester County to determine if the OPA had to stay within the existing building footprint for any renovations or new construction.

to the building’s existing footprint, Farr said. “John Viola is aware.”



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Indeed, during his March 23 GM Report, Viola briefly mentioned that a committee member had been checking into the issue. Farr said that Russell taking on that chore on her own without OPA authorization was unacceptable.

“The committee works for the Board, and the Board never would have approved this,” Farr said.

Farr said he was unconvinced that there was any evidence of mold in the building but that because Russell and Kaplan made their comments in a public forum, the OPA had little choice but to check it out and temporarily close the building.

The OPA president also said he received a text from long-time racquet sports employee Tim McMullen about the claims of mold. “I have been employed at the Racquet Center since 2020. [I was] the director in 2020, the pandemic season. There is not one incident of worker illness” that could be tied to the building, McMullen wrote.

Panel opposes new clubhouse

In a discussion during the March 27 meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee, committee members perhaps with one exception were in general agreement that the Ocean Pines Association should continue with current plans to renovate the Racquet Sports complex clubhouse within the existing footprint.

If the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee wants to continue to press for a new building, on a larger footprint, it won’t have the influential B&F in its corner.

B&F committee members said the OPA had already invested $25,000 in prelimnary planning for a renovation, and another $125,000 has been budgeted for the renovation, which includes new bathrooms.

The committee’s former chairman, Dick Keiling, seemed to offer some encouragement for the idea of a new, larger building, but he was alone.

Two former OPA presidents who are now members of the committee spoke out against changing plans. The two were Doug Parks and Colette Horn.

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Racquet Sports committee members push for new racquet center clubhouse

Board unlikely to change plans to renovate

The Racquet Sports Advisory Committee is recommending holding off on renovation of the Ocean Pines Association’s racquet center in Manklin Meadows and investigating the option of constructing a new building instead.

Contending that Worcester County planning officials have told them there is space to do so, members of the RSAC asked the Board of Directors at a March 23 meeting to halt the planning process for a renovation of the racquet center and consider building a new, larger facility instead.

RSAC member Suzanne Russell spoke up during the Public Comments segment of the Board agenda. When she ran out of time, Karen Kaplan, a former committee member, jumped in to continue reading Russell’s prepared comments.

“We are dismayed by the Board’s decision to move forward with renovations to a building that is woefully undersized for our current growing membership and which no longer meets the needs of the racquet center members,” Russell said.

Russell said RSAC at its March 14 meeting voted to pursue constructing a larger racquet center rather than trying to stay within the existing footprint for a renovation. She said she wanted to make sure all Board members and residents understand why RSAC voted to halt racquet center renovations in favor of a “proper expansion of the building.”

By “proper expansion,” she mean demolishing the existing building and replacing it with new construction.

She argued that there has been discussion about the need for more space at the racquet center for years. So when General Manager John Viola in 2023 presented plans for a two-story building that would double the size of the racquet center, the committee endorsed those plans, according to Russell. Racquet members were very excited to be getting more room since membership numbers are growing, she added.

Then a few months later the committee was told that an expansion wasn’t possible, that the building would need to stay essentially within the existing footprint, and that adding a second floor would necessitate costly and space-consuming elevator and stairs, Russell said. At that point members felt they were stuck with building as is, she said.

Now, she said research on the potential use of the site at the county level and had “confirmed that permits to build beyond the footprint could be easily obtained for proper expansion.”

She said that since no drawings have been finalized and no permits have been issued, the $150,000 in funding that was approved by the Board for the project could be used for planning and studying the soundness of the existing building.

Russell said there is concern about the safety of the building and the potential for mold and mildew behind the walls, that it may be what made employees sick. She said RSAC is worried the OPA will find itself in a situation similar to that of the Golf Clubhouse, where a renovation was started but became impractical and turned into a costly tear-down and new construction.

Within days of the meeting, the racquet center clubhouse was surrounded by yellow caution tape and closed. The racquet center complex was closed for a day and then reopened.

Viola said the decision to shutter the building was made in response to RSAC’s concerns, especially references to mold.

Within the last year, the OPA has spent about $25,000 on maintenance to the racquet center including a new HVAC system, ice machine, office furniture, gutters, water fountains, dehumidifier, window repairs, lock changes, and painting inside building.

Russell argued that all of the equipment could be used in a new build-

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New clubhouse

From Page 14

is that the renovations currently approved by the Board do not address issues like the need for additional space. She argued the facility was originally built to serve a small tennis community but now there are five racquet sports being played at the center and they have almost 500 members.

“The building is no longer sufficient in size,” she said, adding that

club functions have to be held at the Community Center. Meetings at the racquet center require limits on the number of participants because of the small space, she said.

When OPA President Rick Farr, liaison to the RSAC, called an end to Russell’s four-minute speaking time, Kaplan continued reading her comments.

She cited a list of changes RSAC thinks need to be made to the racquet center, including “a proper

central HVCA system, a reconfigured registration area with windows so employees can see if someone doesn’t check in before proceeding to the courts, and cameras so members can check court conditions for safe play after inclement weather. She also called for “proper” shade structures or a permanent structure cantilevered from the building because the lack of shade “becomes a safety issue and a liability to the members.”

Kaplan, reading Russel’s pre-

pared comments, continued on to say the RSAC is concerned about the quality of work on the racquet center renovation since it is only being funded at $86 per square foot. She said that is not sufficient funding for a proper renovation that would include bathrooms, new floors, walls and possible mold remediation.

She argued that with proper expansion of the building, the OPA could increase revenue and make the racquet center self-sustaining by generating additional memberships, selling more merchandise from the pro shop, and holding additional tournaments.

Enlarging the showers and restrooms and adding changing rooms could encourage visitors who travel to Ocean Pines to play at the racquet center to stay and visit other OPA amenities or restaurants, and selling breakfast food and snacks at the racquet center could be another revenue generator, she said.

“The racquet center is an important amenity that increases the value of all our homes and is a reason people want to move to Ocean Pines,” Kaplan said, quoting Russell’s prepared comments.

She said it is the only center for miles with Har-tru, platform, and pickleball courts and the opportunity to play five different racquet sports all in one location.

“It is very important to us that the Board members whose purpose is to manage the affairs and business of the association which is made up of OPA residents hear the needs and voices of the 500 plus racquet center members,” Kaplan said.

During his March 23 general manager’s report, Viola said that all of the work that has been completed at the racquet center during the last few years was based on member input.

He said tables with umbrellas have been ordered for near the pickleball courts.

“That will help enhance the shade down there.” Viola said.

The OPA is also investigating use of tags for racquet sports players so they can be easily identified and to help mitigate problems with non-members accessing the facilities and not paying the required fee.

Per the request of RSAC, water fountains are being dewinterized earlier than normal.

Meanwhile, water bottles were placed on site until fountains can be turned on for the season, according to Viola.

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Russell ‘not speaking’ for committee during March 23 Board meeting, chair says

But committee members were aware that Russell was planning to address the Board

The chair of the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee says that member Suzanne Russell was not speaking on behalf of the committee when she and former member

Karen Kaplan raised concerns about the possibility of mold in the racquet center clubhouse during Public Comments at the Board of Directors meeting March 23.

The comments led to a decision by Ocean Pines Association General

Manager John Viola, backed by the Board, to close down the building so it could be thoroughly inspected for mold. The racquet center was closed for play on March 24, but reopened the following day.

Cathy Noble, the committee chair,

said that the committee was aware that Russell planned to speak at the Board meeting.

It was no surprise that Russell’s statement, completed by Kaplan when Russell’s time at the podium expeired, advocated for a new building, given the committee’s vote earlier in the month.

What perhaps was not expected, however, was her comment that the building could have a mold issue and that OPA employees were sickened as a result. Minutes of the committee’s March meeting do not reflect any reference to the possibility of mold.

Noble said she was happy that Viola took the concern raised by Russell seriously and closed the building. She said flooding has been a problem in the building in the past and that it is important for professional mold remediation experts to look at the building.

OPA released a statement on March 25 that said the building would remain closed and would be being inspected by Ocean Pines Public Works. An initial assessment did not find any instances of mold.

The OPA then brought in an environmental consultant to test the building for mold. ServPro’s verdict was the same as Public Works’: There was no evidence of mold behind walls or anywhere else.

Noble expressed the need for temporary ‘porta potties’ to be placed at the racquet center while the building is closed so players do not need to go all the way to the dog park to access facilities.

Players on the morning of March 25 were not concerned with the issues related to the building. “I just want to get out and enjoy the fresh air and play,” Beth Hastings said. She had not heard anything about possible mold issues.

“We come here to play,” said Kim Schalk.

The building was not important to Schalk or Hastings.  “It’s about the courts,” Schalk said. Both agreed that OPA did what they had to do after hearing concerns about mold. They were glad the courts were open for play while the mold concerns were being addressed.

Committee sets record straight on racquet rate recommendation

Panel says it never advocated a single rate for all three racquet sports

Minutes of the March 14 meeting of the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee set the record straight: Committee members never advocated a single combination rate for all three racquet sports before it was incorporated for a brief time in the 2024-25 Ocean Pines Association budget adopted by the Board of Directors. It may have been a misreading of the committee’s attitude toward a combindation rate that led to the single combination rate only option’s inclusion in the budget when it was adopted by the Board on Feb. 17.

When there was an outcry from racquet Sports members in opposition to it, the directors called a special meeting for Feb. 28 and approved an across-the-board ten per-

cent increase for all three racquet sports, killing the combination rate only idea for 2024-25.

The committee had advocated for an across-the-board increase of four percent.

How did the combination-rate-only option make it into the budget, albeit briefly?

Apparently because OPA President Rick Farr heard a reference to it at the committee’s February meeting and thought the committee supported that approach. Farr told the Progress at the time that General Manager John Viola also thought he had heard that.

Committee member Ron Kurtz, quoted in the March meeting minutes, said a local weekly, the Progress and Ocean Pines Forum all quoted Farr saying that “both John and I heard the committee tell us to

go with a combindation rate only.”

The March 14 minutes say that “Rick stated that he heard discussion on a single fee for all three sports.”

That led to his apparent belief that the idea was supported by the committee and the Board’s initial decision to adopt that approach in the budget approved Feb. 17.

According to the committee’s March meeting minutes, there had been a reference to a single fee by the committee chair, Cathy Noble at the committee’s February meeting “but it was dismissed as a topic.”

According to the minutes, “there was a brief talk about how difficult that would be due to the breakout of expenses that impact the individual fees. John Viola stated ‘music to my ears’ several times, and also noted he didn’t know how they would come up with the numbers” to support a

single combination rate.

There was no motion or further discussion at the February committee meeting concerning a combo three-racquet-sport only option, the minutes categorically stated.

When asked whether the Progress had misquoted him about the origins of the three-sport combo, Farr said possibly he had been but he wanted to check with the reporter who quoted him before making that assertion.

Because three local media outlets all reported the same thing, that Farr believed the committee had endorsed a single combination rate only for all racquet sport members, and it ended up in the budget albeit for a very short time.it seems likely Farr had not been misquoted.

The March 14 minutes report that former committee member Suzanne Russell, during the Feb. 28 special Board meeting when the combination-rate-only was effectively rescinded, made it clear that at the committee’s February meeting, committee members had unanimously voted to support a four percent in-

Another avid pickleball player, Ron Wildgust, noted that OPA used black mold as a reason for tearing down the Yacht Club and the Golf Club. “I trust that any evidence of mold in this building will be made public with professional inspection reports being provided as part of the public pronouncement,” he said.

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Elections Committee close to recommending East Coast vendor to handle 2024 election

Request for proposals sent out March 18, with four applicants quickly emerging

TPiatti said in a March 22 telephone interview.

Piatti said that changes in Board Resolution M-06 that the Board would be discussing at its March 23 monthly meeting will make it possible to proceed with the hybrid election.

To accomplish that, Piatti said that the committee sent out requests for proposals from East Coast-based vendors on Monday, March 18, with two responding promptly, one following suit shortly thereafter, and a fourth expected to submit a proposal by March 25. It’s not clear the fourth application arrived.

Piatti said he would be leaving Ocean Pines for about two weeks, returning April 3, after which he

hasn’t been given the opportunity to submit a proposal this year, Piatti said, “because we’ve been able to confirm that Ace can’t do both paper ballots and on-line voting in-house.”

would convene a meeting of his committee to consider the four proposals or any others that might be submitted.

Before the meeting, which he expects will occur sometime during the week of April 3, he will be pulling together elements of the proposals in a spreadsheet, which he will share with committee members.

“We’ll meet to make our decision on which company to hire, and we’ll forward that recommendation on to the Board for a final decision, Piatti said.

Ace Printing and Mailing, the Berlin firm that handled Ocean Pines elections for about 20 years until it was replaced last summer by a Washington state-based vendor,

To be able to do that is one of the core principles the committee has adopted in order to make the ballot mailing, return and counting as seamless as possible, he said, and committee members as far away as possible from handling ballots.

Tom Gulyas, owner of Ace Printing, told the Progress earlier in the month that he would be submitting a proposal to the OPA to resume its traditional role in OPA elections.

He said he would be able to handle on-line voting by partnering with another vendor, contending that there would be little difference between that scenario and a vendor with capabilities to handle paper ballots and on-line voting in-house, but Piatti said that wasn’t good enough.

“We’re looking for a vendor that can do it all,” he said.

Piatti also said he was still planning to resign his position as a committee member and chair in April,

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he Ocean Pines Association’s Elections Committee is moving ahead with plans to conduct this summer’s Board of Directors election as a hybrid including both paper ballots and on-line voting, outgoing Committee Chair Tom

but he also said that he didn’t have a settlement date for the sale of his Ocean Pines home.

That suggests at least the possibility that the resignation will be somewhat delayed.

Once he’s no longer an Ocean Pines property owner, his resignation is more or less automatic because he would be ineligible to serve on a committee.

Piatti said he’ll be recommending committee member Steve Ransdell as chairman to replace him.

Ransdell, a former member of the Aquatics Committee who resigned after making some critical remarks about a former Aquatics director that surfaced publicly, did not appear on the initial list of committee appointments at the March 23 Board meeting.

Piatti said it was possible that OPA President Rick Farr would amend the meeting agenda to include Ransdell.

That didn’t happen.

In a Feb. 12 interview with the

Progress, committee chairman Tom Piatti had said the committee is actively pursuing an East Coast vendor to replace Election Trust, a Washington state based company that handled last summer’s ballot count and even provided live stream adjudication of disputed ballots witnessed by several dozen residents watching a big screen in the Golf Clubhouse’s meeting room.

The reason for trying to find a vendor from the East Coast is to cut down on the time that paper ballots are sent to eligible voters and returned to the vendor that counts them, Piatti said.

Although in the end the Elections Committee was generally satisfied with Election Trust, the relationship got off to a very rocky start when ballots sent out from Bainbridge Island not far from Seattle arrived in Ocean Pines about a week later than they should have last July.

The delay caused the Board of Directors to allow an extra two weeks for ballots to be returned to the vendor for counting, which in turn delayed the annual meeting of the OPA by two weeks.

Board accepts M-06 election changes on first reading

Resolution likely to sail through on second reading in April

Changes to Resolution M-06, Elections and Referendum Procedures, seek to clarify Ocean Pines Association procedures including how duplicate ballots are handled, delegation of ballot counting, and what happens if the system fails to tabulate the ballots.

Director John Latham presented a first reading of the changes to the Board of Directors during a March 23 meeting. He said the changes are being requested by the Elections Committee to accurately articulate election and referendum procedures included in attachments to Resolution M-06.

Director Steve Jacobs asked about the timeline for the various steps in the election process, which are established based on the date of the annual meeting held in August. Based on delays in last year’s election process, he asked if language allowing the Board to adjust those dates, including the meeting in August if necessary, should be included in the revised Resolution M-06.

Tom Piatti, Elections Committee chairman, pointed out that the OPA’s governing documents establish the election timeline by specifying the date of the annual meeting. In order to change that timeline in any way, the bylaws would have to be amended, he said.

“We’re kinda trapped by the by-laws because it gives us the date of the annual meeting, which is the second Saturday in August,” Piatti said. He added that the committee uses that date to back up the election processes. For example, he said based on the date of the annual meeting this year, Aug. 10, candidates for the two open seats on the Board must submit their applications by May 10.

“There’s no reason to go and change the by-laws at this time,” he said.

Piatti said the Elections Committee is making an effort to notify all property owners earlier this year that the election is coming up, including reaching out to those whose voting rights have been suspended for non-payment of dues or property violations.

“We’ve already built that timeline in,” he said.

He said the committee will be informing those ineligible to vote,

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which is about 800 owners, that they have to address the issue if they want to vote in the election.

Last year, Piatti said 128 owners became eligible after they were notified of their ineligibility and rectified the issue that was keeping them from voting.

He said earlier in March the request for proposals for mailing and tabulating the election ballots was released to contractors. As of the March 23 meeting, he said three quotes were received. The committee will review the proposals and present at recommendation to the Board for a contractor to conduct this year’s election, including electronic voting.

“Every lot will get an envelope and you can either vote electronically or you can send it in manually,” Piatti said.

Changes to Attachment A of Resolution M-06 state that if an owner submits a paper ballot and also votes online, only the first-received ballot will be counted.

At the time designated as the deadline for return of ballots, the contractor conducting the election will make a final collection of ballot envelopes and prepare all ballots for counting instead of returning them to the committee.

Director Monica Rakowski noted that the document states that the committee “may” establish secure boxes at the association facilities where ballot envelops may be deposited during any election or referendum.

“It’s not mandatory?” she asked.

OPA Attorney Bruce Bright said that is an option, not a requirement as included in the first reading.

The updated M-06 attachment states the “committee may establish secure boxes at association facilities where ballot envelopes may be deposited without the need for return mailing. These ballot envelopes shall be collected by express mailed to the contractor.”

The changes state if a hand-count of ballots is performed, the committee will ensure that the ballot counting may be observed by any association member, either in person, remotely, or both. Although association members may witness the counting process remotely but will not be privy to vote totals during the counting process nor engage in any way with the ballot counting process, Election Committee, consultants, or association staff.

The ballot counting will be conducted in a room of sufficient size to accommodate the process and onsite or remote viewing of the process for association members. “If ballot counting is delegated to observe an independent contractor, and if that contractor can and is willing to provide an observable count, provisions will be made in the committee’s discretion for remote and/ or onsite observation by association members.”

The changes also specify that if the tabulating and reporting system fails or a re-count is required, a manual count will be performed under the direction of the Election Committee chairperson. Ballots ultimately rejected by the system will also be manually counted.

OPA drops corporate sponsorship of recently renamed Chamber

Season kick-off committee decouples Expo from long-time sponsor

Relations between the Ocean Pines Association and the recently renamed Worcester County Chamber of Commerce in Ocean Pines are not as mutually supportive as they once were.

The OPA recently decided not to renew its corporate sponsorship of the Chamber, OPA President Rick Farr confirmed, a response to the name change that the OPA opposed.

“We preferred the old name, Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce,” he said.

Several months ago, the Chamber announced that it was changing its name to Worcester County Chamber of Commerce, to reflect its membership base and in the hopes of attracting new members from outside of Ocean Pines.

When Worcester County Commissioner Chip Bertino and others objected, the Board of Directors of the Chamber decided to add the words “in Ocean Pines” to the name, a change that didn’t satisfy Bertino, Farr and other critics.

Dropping the corporate sponsorship means that the OPA logo will be dropped from e-mail blasts from the Chamber sent out periodically to members, once the annual sponsorship expires. In addition, the Chamber has been told that the certain fees associated with renting the Community Center for special events or taking up space at the Yacht Club marina for the annul flounder tournament will no longer be waived, said Chamber CEO and President Kerrie Bunting.

The additional costs of a couple hundred dollars per event probably won’t cause the Chamber to look elsewhere for revenues, but Bunting said “we’re a small Chamber that’s not exactly rolling in money.”

But she declined to criticize the OPA for its position, saying she wanted to keep to the “high road” and remain supportive of Ocean Pines and the OPA and the community.

But she said that for all those who thought the name name would result in a loss of membership, the opposite has occurred.

Since the name change occurred earlier this year, the Chamber has u

picked up about 20 new memberships.

One new corporate sponsor is the ROC media company, whose founder, Sherrie Clifford and former OPA director Amy Peck, conduct podcasts with local public figures and often has found itself at odds with OPA elected officials over policy.

Bunting also confirmed that the Chamber is no longer partnering with the volunteer group that is organizing a season kick-off event later this month for the Expo that is taking place in the Community Center.

She said that the Chamber has hosted what has been mostly a business Expo highlighting local businesses for the past five years or so. This year’s event was scheduled for late April, about the same time that the season kick-off organizers were anticipating for their event.

Bunting said she received a call from a committee member suggesting that the OPA and the Chamber combine forces for the Expo. She agreed, and it seemed liked a partnership was in place until Bunting received a call telling her that the committee would proceed with the Expo without the Chamber’s involvement.

“At that point, we could have objected and taken our event back, but we decided again to take the high road in the hopes that in the future” collaboration and mutual respect could return, she said.

She declined to say that the decoupling of the Chamber from the Expo was a reflection of continuing resentment over the name change.

“That would be speculation on my part,” she said.

An OPA source told the Progress that the OPA had no role in the decoupling of the Chamber from its own event.

“The OPA is not running the kick-off event,” he said. “It’s being run by a committee of volunteers,” with support from the Board of Directors. Gary Miller, the committee chair who summarized plans for the event during the March 23 Board of Directors meeting, said he believed the event would be mostly self-funding not requiring a subsidy from the OPA.

Bunting said that Chamber is trying to adjust to the new reality of fractured relations, includ-

Gary Miller summarizes plans for kick-off event

Revenue expected to pay for most of it

The Ocean Pines Association’s Season Kick-off event scheduled for April 20 will feature more than 60 participating organizations, clubs, and businesses. The event will give residents and visitors the opportunity to learn about the many Ocean Pines recreational amenities, activities, clubs, and dining experiences.

Touted as a way to promote the OPA’s amenities and share information about programs, events, resources, and activities available in Ocean Pines, the event is reminiscent of the Days in May celebration held in the community for decades.

“This is gonna be a huge event and it’s highlighting everything that Ocean Pines has to offer,” Gary Miller, chairman of Season Kick-off Committee, said during the Public Comments segment of the March 23 Board of Directors Meeting.

Miller said more than 60 groups, representing OPA amenities, clubs, and committees, as well as local organizations and businesses have signed up to participate in the Season Kick-off celebration to be held in White Horse Park from 3 to 7 p.m. There will also be a variety of food trucks and beer vendors.

“This will give everybody an opportunity to really learn about things you may not have known of,” Miller said.

For entertainment, DJ Rob, who will be playing music and emcee the event. There will be live performances by the Delmarva Chorus, the Pine Tones Chorus, and other groups, demonstrations by the Chesapeake Martial Art Academy showing off Tai Chi and the OPA Racquet Sports Club.

The Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department will have a truck on site for people to view.

Miller said the Season Kick-off event is being promoting weekly in the This Week in Ocean Pines e-newsletter. The OPA is also running full-page advertisements in local weekly newspapers.

The OPA created a new website, Oceanppineseasonkickoff.com, and a Facebook page to promote the event.

Everyone attending the Season Kick-off celebration will have an opportunity to win prizes too. Attendees can pick up an information card at tables for each of the four OPA sports ameu

ing the possibility of taking certain events out of Ocean Pines, but that for the most part the slate of events sponsored by the Chamber won’t be going anywhere, even if means new fees imposed.

The flounder tournament with 300 participants has been a fixture at the Yacht Club and has been a benefit to one of the Chamber members, the Matt Ortt Companies, that manages that facility for the OPA.

The Octoberfest event will remain in White Horse Park “because that’s the best place for it,” she said.

M-06 changes
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nities, and those cards can be used to win give-aways.

Miller said there will be information on the cards about what each of the amenities has to offer and people can check a box if they want to receive more information about a particular amenity.

Then they can turn in the completed cards at the Ocean Pines information booth to enter the prize drawings.

As of the March 23 meeting, Miller said the revenue generated from the sale of sponsorships, businesses, and the vendors “is expected to pay the majority of the cost for this event.”

He said that since the pandemic,

people have not really had the opportunity to learn about all Ocean Pines has to offer.

The Season Kick-off is an opportunity to celebrate and learn all about Ocean Pines has while enjoying music, demonstrations, and interactive exhibits, he said.

The Season Kick-off celebration is not just for residents, but for their guests and potential homeowners, Realtors, and others.

The rain date for the event is Saturday, April 27.

The idea for the Season Kick-off event first surfaced during a discussion about getting more people to participate in aquatics programs at an Aquatics Advisory Committee meeting.

It quickly evolved to include all of the OPA’s amenities.

Mailloux heading to trial in Circuit Court in 2022 death of Ocean Pines teen

Change of venue motion pending when case resumes, but it’s also possible an appeal will be filed

The West Ocean City man who had been charged in the death of Ocean Pines teen Gavin Knupp in July of 2022 only to have charges dismissed by a legal technicality could be heading to a trial in Worcester County Cicuit Court after all.

In a March 27 opinion, the Appellate Court of Maryland reversed the judgment of a Circuit Court judge who had dismissed the charges against Tyler Mailloux, the alleged driver of a vehicle involved in a purported hit and run incident that killed Knupp, because the charges were filed in Circuit Court rather than District Court.

The defendant has the option of filing an appeal with the Maryland Supreme Court.

As this edition of the Progress went to press in early April, there was no indication of whether the defense would file an appeal.

The high court has the option of accepting or rejecting an appeal application.

If a decision is made not to appeal, then the criminal case that was dismissed in August of last year would resume as it stood at the time.

There were a number of motions outstanding when the presiding judge, a retired visting judge from Dorcehster County, called a halt to the proceedings.

One open motion was the defendant’s request for a change in venue on grounds that a fair trial would be impossible to achieve in Worcester County because of all the adverse publicity surrounding the case.

The state has filed briefs objecting to a change of venue.

Other open motions concern the discovery process, including attempts by the defense to obtain access to the vehicle allegely driven by Mailloux on the night Gavin Knupp was killed on a service road that runs parallel to Route 50.

The defense wants to conduct its own forensic investigation of the vehicle with its own set of experts.

According to court documents obtained by the Progress, the defense also wants a so-called Brady hearing to determine whether the state turned over all exculpatory evidence in the case to the defense.

The Brady rule requires that the prosecution turn over all such evidence to the defendant in a criminal case. Exculpatory evidence is evidence that might tend to exonerate an defendant.

Another key issue to be determined is whether, if the trial takes place in Worcester County Circuit Court, Mailloux will opt for a jury trial or agree to have his fate decided by the presiding judge.

Meanwhile, though, the appellate court’s ruling overturning the dismissal was a clear-cut procedural victory for the prosecution.

Mailloux’s attorney had argued that District Court was the proper venue for the filing of charges and successfully persuaded a visiting judge in August of 2023 to that conclusion.

The state promptly appealed, oral arguments were heard in early

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Committee chairs express frustration over inability to communicate with staff

Farr suggests there will be no change in Board Resolution C-01

Contributing writer

Chairs and representatives of the Ocean Pines Association advisory committees met with OPA President Rick Farr to share highlights from the last year, recommendations for this year, and issues of concern on Thursday, March 28, at an executive committee meeting.

All representatives of the committees expressed frustration with the current chain of command and requested that there be ways for the committees to communicate with the staff without interfering with the management system.

Currently, the process is the chair provides questions to the board liaison, who delivers those to the president of the association, who then sends them to the general manager, who delivers them to the appropriate staff person. A response is delivered back in reverse.

OPA staff in general are not permitted to attend committee meetings, although Don McMullen, a member of the Golf Advisory Committee, said that Bob Beckelman, director of golf, regularly attends his committee’s meetings.

Linda Yurche, chair of the Communications Advisory Committee and a key organizer of the Season Kick-off and Expo event, said that her team had created logos and various marketing materials and a Facebook group at the same time the Ocean Pines marketing department was doing the same thing for the Expo.

If they could have communicated directly, that would not have happened, she said.

Farr said he would see what he could do to speed up the communications process.

He repeated several times that Board Resolution C-01 governs communication flow.

C-1 makes it clear that OPA policy precludes what the committee chairs seemed to be requesting.

In a text to the Progress the day after the meeting, Farr said that direct committee interactions with staff “is not going to happen.”

Farr and the Board will be hosting a volunteer appreciation dinner for committee members on April 11 at 7 p.m. at the Yacht Club.

The aquatics committee chair,

General Manager John Viola occasionally attends a committee meeting when asked or when he feels that delivering information in person will be beneficial.

Gary Miller, shared the fact that the lifeguard shortage of previous years seemed to have gone away last year.

The implementation of a couple’s membership was very popular last year and Miller reported that it brought in more membership money.

Safety issues have been a concern for the aquatics committee including narrow steps at the Swim and Racquet pool that are frequently used by small children as a “playground” which makes it difficult for older adults to enter and leave the pool. Metal ladders at the Yacht Club pool are slippery and should be replaced with plastic for better traction.

Miller also suggested that classes be offered at Mumford landing in the evening after the pool closes. This was requested last year, but according to Miller the Board rejected it due to a misunderstanding that the committee was requesting classes occur during normal operating hours.

Her committee is focused on the Ocean Pines Season Kick-off and Expo. The event will be held on April 20 from 3-7 p.m. at White Horse Park and showcase Ocean Pines amenities, clubs, organizations, and businesses that serve the community. Yurche reported that there are over 70 exhibitors who signed up. Music, live performances, interactive exhibits, health screenings and giveaways, as well as food and beverage trucks will be part of the celebration.

Tom Piatti, chair of the Elections Committee, reported that the team has interviewed four East Coast companies to manage the elections. Three have submitted proposals. The committee will review the proposals and make recommendations to the board. This year, the committee is tasked with bringing back online voting.

Mail-in voting will continue and there will be a drop box at the Police Station in Ocean Pines. Ballots from there will be sent overnight to the company hired to manage the elections.

Tim Peck, chair of the Environment and Natural Assets Advisory Committee highlighted the extensive research the committee did to address the erosion at the South Gate Pond.

The Maryland State Golf Association changed handicaps on four holes, which will be reflected on the new scorecards in May. He also noted the many successful charitable events that have been hosted at the golf course. McMullen said that overall, the course is getting “rave reviews.”

Donna McElroy, of the Marine Advisory Committee, said last year, the committee solicited input from residents regarding marine concerns, which allowed it to highlight and address numerous concerns such as safety items and repairs at Mumford and White Horse boat ramps, White Horse Park erosion and vandalism, and boater shower repairs at the marina.

The committee plans to work with the Assateague Coastal Trust on clean water issues this year and will be encouraging residents to test the waterways in Ocean Pines.

A water test kit costs $10. The data will be published in MyCoast APP, SwimGuide and WaterReporter, which provide residents with water quality results.

OPPD chief shares speed survey results

Says Ocean Pines is ‘highest paid’ law enforcement on Lower Eastern Shore

Ocean Pines Police Chief Tim Robinson on Saturday shared results of a recent speed survey.

Speaking at the Board of Directors monthly meeting, Robinson said speed surveys were conducted in February and March over a roughly threeweek period.

He said the surveys were done along Ocean Parkway at Briarcrest Drive, Sandyhook Road, Wareham Court, and the 300 block of Ocean Parkway. The posted speed limit on Ocean Parkway is 35 mph.

Results were:

• At Briarcrest over a three-day period, the average speed was 32 mph and 88 percent drove 39 mph or slower.

• At Sandyhook over eight days, the average speed was 33 mph and 96 percent drove 39 mph or slower.

• At Wareham over seven days, the average speed was 36 mph and 78 percent drove 39 mph or slower.

forcement,” he continued. “We are the highest paid law enforcement on the Lower Eastern Shore.”

From Page 26

March, and the appeal was granteddecided in the state’s favor.

The Appellate Court’s opinion stated that “when the state filed information in the circuit court to include offenses in counts 9 through 17, which undisputedly arose out of the same circumstances as the offenses charged in counts 1 through 8, the District Court was divested of exclusive original jurisdiction in the criminal case, and the Circuit Court was divested of exclusive original jurisdiction ... and the Circuit Court had exclusive original jurisdiction over all offenses charged in the 17 counts.”

The appellate court in reversing

the lower court judgment assessed the costs of the appeal filed by the state were to be paid by Mailloux.

In a statement responding to the Appellate Court’s decisio, Worcester County State’s Attorney Kris Heiser said that “while we were always confident that our arguments were correct and firmly grounded in statute and case law, we are grateful for the reported opinion of the Appellate Court.

“Their decision clearly confirms that when there is concurrent jurisdiction, prosecutors reain the discretion to choose where to file charges.

We intend, as we always have, to prosecute all charges against Mr. Mailloux in the Worcester County as soon as the case can be scheduled for trial.”

John Dilworth, the chair of the Architectural Review Committee shared that the committee was no longer in the business of managing violations, which is now being addressed by Bruce Bright, OPA’s legal counsel, and the Ocean Pines Department of Compliance, Permits and Inspections. He believes the process is working well.

The committee signed off on 450 permits last year.

The by-laws and resolutions chair, Laura Pangratz, underscored the process the committee has for reviewing bylaws and resolutions.

The committee maintains and updates the Governance Document Tracking Form on a monthly basis.

Yurche highlighted the communication’s committee’s advocacy of an electronic sign at the North Gate, which should be placed in the coming weeks. She also discussed the vote sign contest for adults and kids that the committee ran in an effort to highlight the board elections last year. The signs were then reproduced and used throughout the community.

The committee has developed relationships with local environmental groups including the Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP), Assateague Coastal Trust and the Lower Shore Land Trust. Thanks to these relationships, the committee worked with MCBP to obtain funding to address the erosion issues at the pond.

Peck raised concerns about an excessive number of trees being cut down on lots, which is a change from OPA policy. He suggested working with the Architectural Review Committee on tree cutting permits. The committee is also suggesting replacing trees that have been cut down in White Horse Park and said the state has initiatives for funding new trees that OPA might be able to access.

Don McMullen, of the Golf Advisory Committee, reported on the many improvements at the golf club over the past year, including the restoration of the gazebo, car path widening, new plantings at the first and seventh greens, five new fans to improve airflow on the course, and overall improved conditions on the course. He said membership has gone up for both men and women.

The committee was also involved in oyster gardening and is encouraging residents on canals to purchase oyster seedlings to raise and help clean the canals. Once mature, the oysters are placed in the St. Martin’s River.

Bill Barnard, chair of the Recreation and Parks Committee, reported that his group has completed assessments of OPA parks, playgrounds and recreational trails and provided the board with reports detailing current conditions, maintenance needs and recommendations for improvements.

Many of the recommendations have been addressed, including crosswalks and signage on trails and other safety issues.

The committee has also made recommendations for outdoor fitness equipment and trail fitness stations. The committee is also looking at the abandoned tennis courts at the Swim and Racquet Club and considering options for that area.

Patti Stevens, a member of the committee and representative of the biking community for the Maryland Commission on Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs (TRAIN), is leading a bike and pedestrian safety task force to look at ways to make roads safer in the Pines.

• At the 300 block of Ocean Parkway over seven days, the average speed was 33 mph and 85 percent drove 39 mph or slower.

Overall, Robinson said police clocked 48,112 total vehicles, with only 53 topping 50 mph.

“I will share I was very pleased,” he said. “We see the overall vast majority of people here in Ocean Pines … are obeying the speed limit.”

Robinson said the surveys would continue, next moving to the south side of Ocean Pines.

“We’re going to be moving to some residential streets where we’re getting some complaints … especially some of the longer ones with the longer straightaways,” he said. “And if anybody has an area where they would like something like this done, please let us know.”

Asked by a homeowner how to report reckless driving, Robinson said always call it in.

“If you have a vehicle description, that’s sometimes all we need,” he said. “If you say it’s like a little blue Mazda, we’ll go out there and try to find it.”

Robinson also announced new, higher entry-level salaries for Ocean Pines Police officers.

“I’ve got to give credit to our General Manager, Mr. John Viola, and the Board under the leadership of Mr. Rick Farr as President. We have raised the starting salary of the Ocean Pines Police Department, once they complete training, to $63,500,” Robinson said.

“That now puts us at the highest tier of law en-

Robinson said the department had struggled with hiring over the last six months. However, since raising the starting salary, “All of a sudden our phones are ringing off the hook.”

“If you know anybody who wants to get in law enforcement, this is a great community to work for,” he said. “It’s a great department to work for [and] we have great support here. I think it’s actually been the talk of the law enforcement community.”

For more information on the Ocean Pines Police Department, visit the new police website at oceanpinespolice.com, or call the non-emergency line at 410-641-7747.

OPPD announces new website

The Ocean Pines Police Department last month announced the launch of a brand-new website, oceanpinespolice.com.

The new site features an extensive FAQ on issues ranging from traffic rules and regulations, to noise complaints and how to make an anonymous tip.

There is also a contact field for nonemergency issues, a staff directory, and information about employment opportunities.

Police Chief Tim Robinson said funding for the website came from the Police Accountability, Community and Transparency Grant received last fall through the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.

He said a local vendor, Salt Water Media of Berlin, created the site.

Cathy Noble, the chair of the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee, made numerous recommendations to improve the vast racquet sports complex including additional shade structures to replace umbrellas, that can become projectiles on windy days, filtered water stations around the courts, recycling cans, lighting for night play, and porta potties at

the far ends of the complex for convenience and sanitary purposes.

Doug Parks, chair of the Budget and Finance Committee, reported that his committee had met with the new leadership of the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department to discuss budget needs. The committee conducted a twoday in-depth review of the proposed 2023-24 budget by department in January of 2023 and submitted a 12-page report to the Board of Directors and general manager.

30 Ocean Pines PROGRESS April 2024 OCEAN PINES April 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 31 OCEAN PINES
Mailloux u
Ocean Pines Chief of Police Tim Robinson

$1 million in county funding support

To assist with funding public safety services, infrastructure improvements, and amenities and events, the Ocean Pines Association is seeking nearly $1 million in special grants from Worcester County.

OPA President Rick Farr presented the association’s annual funding request in a letter reviewed by the Worcester County Commissioners on March 5 and asked for money to pay for police, roads and bridges, and tourism activities.

“The 8,482 properties within Ocean Pines include a year-round population of approximately 12,000 which represents a significant percentage of the overall county population.

In addition to the county residents that live and own property in Ocean Pines, the association shares the use of its physical assets with thousands of guests who come to the area to visit each year,” Farr’s letter said.

He said these physical assets include 82 miles of roads, bridges, five pools, a golf course, several restaurants, and numerous parks and playgrounds.

Additionally, the OPA provides public safety services and recreation programming that include classes for physical fitness and wellness, educational forums, along with children’s camps and other activities.

“We believe the commissioners and other members

of the leadership team recognize the association for the asset that it is to the county through its consideration of funding for this upcoming year,” Farr said.

To align with the county’s budget structure, the OPA’s requests fall into the categories of public safety, roads and bridges, and parks and recreation.

The county has consistently provided grant funding for the dedicated purpose of supporting the Ocean Pines Police Department and the OPA again asked for $550,000.

“We appreciate this financial support and request that the county continue to provide a level of funding commensurate with the importance of this public safety service,” Farr said.

The annual report submitted by the Ocean Pines Police Department shows the number of calls in 2023 for mutual aid and assisting other agencies, including joint agency operations, at 562 and a total number of calls for service at 9,807.

These service calls generated by citizens and police personnel in the field included both criminal and non-criminal incidents.

“Your help in providing much needed funding is imperative to meet the related and growing needs for recruitment, training, and time,” Farr told the commissioners.

In the area of roads and bridges, Farr asked for

$150,000 in funding and said the 82 miles of roads in Ocean Pines carry the traffic load for thousands of both resident and non-resident vehicles every day.

Along with the responsibility to maintain four bridges to comply with the appropriate safety standards, the OPA also has 387 drainage pipes that cross under existing roads.

As that infrastructure is more than 50 years old, much of it is in dire need of replacement.

Additionally, the OPA maintains each of the residential driveway pipes throughout our community.

“This past year Ocean Pines has taken a more aggressive approach in maintaining our roadways and repairing drainage pipes. Specific plans have been developed and work is being done in these areas in conjunction with those plans.

“If funding from the county were to be made available, these projects could continue, and we would be able to alleviate road and drainage problems that currently impact many of our property owners,” Farr said.

Farr argued in his funding request that the OPA’s Recreation and Parks Department operates seven days a week, year-round, to meet the needs of residents, visitors, and tourists.

“We offer many no-fee amenities and activities, including concerts and movies in the park, holiday events, basketball courts, soccer fields, playgrounds, a skate park, walking trails and other special event programs that are open to the public and well attended by residents and non-residents alike.”

However, Farr said, those come with considerable maintenance and operations costs associated with these “free” activities, most of which is borne by the residents of Ocean Pines.

To assist in continuing to execute high-quality events and programming for the community at-large and visiting guests the OPA asked for recreation and parks funding of $40,000.

In addition to those supplemental funding request, the OPA also annually receives county funding, passed through from the state, to help cover the cost of fire department and ambulance services in Ocean Pines.

Farr’s letter is similar to those drafted by other OPA presidents over the years.

Traditionally, county grant support comes in less than the amounts requested.

OPVFD president talks fire safety, fundraising drives

No target date for firehouse renovation

Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department President Joe Enste spoke at the March 23 Board of Directors meeting about fire safety and recent fundraising efforts for the Southside Firehouse renovation.

Addressing the Ocean Pines Board and a gathering of homeowners, Enste said staff and volunteers are working hard to raise funds to renovate the aging South Fire Station. He did not announced a target date for when that might happen.

Those efforts include a personalized brick fundraising campaign, where people can purchase a 4x8inch brick for $100, or an 8x8-inch brick for $200. The bricks will be used to build a feature at the new south fire station.

Additionally, donations of $1,000, $5,000, $10,000, and up will be recognized on plaques at the station.

Enste said OPVFD is also hosting a cash bingo on April 18, and less than 80 tickets remain.

“So please, quickly purchase your tickets if you’re interested,” he said. “We also recently launched a ‘Queen of Hearts’ raffle that allows our community members to purchase tickets for just $5 at a chance for winning the growing jackpot. We’re currently in week four and the jackpot is now $2,513.

“We also will continue our vehicle raffle, with a few updates that will now allow us to cover all the winner’s taxes, tags and title … anything associated with all raffle and event,” he continued.

“Tickets can be purchased through our website, opvfd.com. And you can always contact the Fire Department directly with any questions, or if you need any assistance with purchasing.”

Enste said the community experienced a serious house fire a week ago that saw one person transported to the hospital and claimed the life of several pets.

To Page 34

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Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department President Joe Enste.

Tiki bar expansion on track for Memorial Day

Expansion of the Yacht Club tiki bar is on schedule for completion by the start of the summer season. The project is designed to enhance the customer service at the tiki bar and increase sales revenue, John Viola, Ocean Pines Association general manager, said during a March 23 report to the Board of Directors.

“We are committed to get this done by Memorial Day. It is a big task,” he said.

With a construction permit received from Worcester County on March 14, work can begin on the project once the necessary materials arrive. Public Works completed some initial preparation for construction by removing dock boards for new power lines and removing pavers to allow for the tiki bar expansion.

The project will add 240 square feet of space that will be tied into the original structure, with 20 feet of additional rail service on each side of the tiki bar and customers will be able to access it from the pool and from the patio side of the Yacht Club.

It will also allow for the addition of registers and equipment to speed up service.

While early bids for the project were around $300,000, OPA opted to do some of the work in-house to keep costs down and to purchase materials for the project, including shutters and an awning, bringing the total estimated cost to $197,500. In December, the Board approved a $137,500 contract for the rest of the work with the firm of Whayland Company for the construction.


Viola highlighted previously announced promotions of two OPA employees, Michelle Hitchens, who was promoted to aquatics director effective March 1, and Terry Underkoffler, who was promoted to racquet sports director effective March 14.

He said Hitchens has already re-established swim lessons. She has also brought back many events that have not been held for several years like “Eggstravagansa” and “Santa Swim,” which was originally established in 2010.

Underkoffler has been involved in Ocean Pines Racquet Sports for roughly a decade, Viola said.

Electronic sign

The prep work for the installation of the OPA’s first electronic sign at the North Gate entrance is finished and now the association is just waiting for the sign to be delivered.

Viola said Worcester County approved the sign’s location, which had to be shifted six feet because the original sign was placed in an easement. Public Works reinstalled the sign as it new locations. created a patio walkway to it, and installed new landscaping. He said that is “all part of what we were instructed we had to do to be in compliance” with the county permitting process.

With the construction permit in hand, the OPA paid the deposit required to order the sign and is just waiting for it to be delivered and installed. “I


From Page 33

With that in mind, he stressed the importance of fire safety and having working smoke alarms.

“Fires can happen unexpectedly and spread rapidly, posing a significant threat to lives and property,” Enste said. “However, there’s a simple, yet powerful tool that can make a lifesaving difference. That’s a smoke alarm.

know there’s a lot of anticipation on that. We will definitely have it installed before the beginning of the season,” he said, adding that he is hoping it will be ready by the second or third week in April.

Public Relations is scheduled for training in March to learn how to operate and update the electronic sign.


The OPA is dressing up the North Gate bridge with seasonal flowers and banners that will swapped out at different times during the year to display seasonal messages. Viola said he has received positive feedback on initial banners that were placed on the bridge during the holidays.

The OPA plans to rotate the banners seasonally to promote golf and other amenities from Memorial Day to Labor Day, including the Yacht Club, Beach Club, marina and aquatics.

Holiday and seasonal flags will be displayed during the Christmas season.

Crews have planted spring flowers bulbs at the Ocean Pines entrances and spring flowers have been ordered and will be installed late April. Mulching around trees in the community will begin soon, Viola said.

Worcester County Tourism

A trio of OPA department heads are in a new Worcester County Tourism video, Viola said.

On March 14, Bob Beckelman, golf director, Michelle Hitchens, aquatics director, and Terry Underkoffer, racquet sports director, participated in a video shoot with Melanie Pursel, Worcester County tourism director. Each director talked about their department and what homeowners, residents, and visitors can expect at the amenities this spring and summer.

The video is scheduled for release on April 6 and be part of an upcoming Worcester County Tourism promotional efforts. Viola said he hasn’t seen the video yet but he’s glad that Ocean Pines was invited to be a part of it.

Golf Clubhouse lounge

Using furniture donated by a golfer, the OPA has created a make-shift golfers lounge at the Golf Clubhouse.

“To be competitive with other golf courses, we really needed a golfers’ lounge,” Viol said. He said staff “improvised” and put furniture and a television in the clubhouse meeting room to create a golfers’ lounge.

He said the project will be discussed more in the future as a way to make the space more inviting for the golf community. “We are committed to get a lounge here like we have at racquet sports for the golfers,” he said.

Veterans Memorial Pavilion

Viola said the OPA plans to have construction of a new pavilion at the Worcester County Veteran’s Memorial at Ocean Pines completed by Veterans Day.

“We are making adjustments to the initial plan for that pavilion,” he said. “It will match what’s there now.”

The Whayland Company, a preferred contractor that routinely does work for the OPA, has been hired to build the new pavilion. The OPA is meeting

with the company and Veterans Memorial representatives to review construction styles and options for the new pavilion.

Viola said the new pavilion will match as close as possible to the style of the existing Veterans Memorial structure, to include roof color and brick work.

The OPA will own the pavilion but the association and Veteran’s Memorial Foundation are splitting the $100,000 cost of building the new pavilion. The new share structure at the Veteran’s Memorial will replace the existing gazebo and resemble the one already located in White Horse Park.

Dog Park drainage

The OPA has received approval from Worcester County to add sand to low lying areas of the Dog Park to improve drainage. Viola said it is making a difference. “It is helping with the drainage,” he said.

Additionally, the fence at the dog park has been repaired and the OPA is investigating installing a rain shelter for Dog Park users.

South Gate pond shoreline

The OPA is currently seeking bids from contractors for installation of a soft shoreline at the South Gate pond.

“I’m big on this,” Viola told the Board. “I’m hoping one day that’s what you’ll look at around the pond there,” he said in showing the Board a photo similar to what the South Gate pond will look like following the shoreline project.

He said a request for proposals was sent to potential bidders on Feb. 21 with bids due by March 21. He said the OPA will review the bids received and create a summarized of them.

The OPA received grant of $150,000 from the Maryland Coastal Bays Program for the soft shoreline project at the South Gate pond. The project will address erosion and water quality at the pond.

He again said there will be openings in the coverage area for fishing.

Dashboard activity

The Compliance, Permits, and Inspections office started March with 140 outstanding violations and processed and additional 104 violations during the month. CPI was able to close out 61 violations, leaving 183 outstanding at the end of the month.

Of the new violations, 38 are for maintenance, trash, or debris, 4 for leaf placement, 16 for no permits, and 46 miscellaneous, including signs, stop work orders, trailers, unregistered/junk vehicles, and vehicle parking.

Linda Martin, senior executive office manager, said the OPA is experiencing an increase in the number of property owners installing metal fences. She said metal fences are not allowed in Ocean Pines.

She encouraged property owners to call the OPA if they have questions about a project before beginning work.

Public Works started March with 117 open work orders and received 96 new work orders during the month. During the month, crews closed out 98 work orders, leaving 115 open. New work orders were for 1 bulkhead, 29 drainage, 11 grounds maintenance, 5 roads, 4 signs, and 46 general maintenance.

The majority of the total work orders still open are for drainage issues at 76.

Underkoffler named racquet sports director

Former OPA tennis pro promoted to position with direct link to GM

Ocean Pines Association

General Manager John

Viola on March 15 announced that Terry Underkoffler has been named Director of Racquet Sports, effective immediately.

He replaces Tim Johnson, whose abbreviated tenure in Ocean Pines ended with his resignation Jan.17 amid complaints about the pace of improvements to the Racquet Sports Complex in South Ocean Pines.

Viola had announced Underkoffler as the facility’s pro during the General Manager’s Report at the Feb. 17 Board of Directors meeting. That role included oversight of instructors who provide lessons in the various sports offered at the facility.

That announcement still left the perception that racquet sports would be managed by committee for the foreseeable future.

Viola had appointed Ruth Ann Meyer, assessments and memberships manager for the OPA, to manage the front desk at the facility’s pro shop, Nobie Violante, promoted to deputy director of public works in early February, was appointed to manage facility maintenance.

Viola said that Recreation Director Debbie Donahue would continue her role in managing tournaments at the facility.

Ocean Pines Racquet Sports, he will report directly to General Manager John Viola.

“Terry answered the call when the GM and Ocean Pines had a need,” Viola said. “He’s a team player with the necessary skills, and we felt he was the ideal person to help bring us to the next level.”

Viola said Underkoffler would continue to have help from Meyer (finance and front-desk), Deputy Public Works Director Nobie Violante (facility maintenance), and Recreation and Parks Director Debbie Donahue (events).

Underkoffler said he’s excited for the new opportunity.

“These small devices are like silent guardians constantly monitoring the air for any signs of smoke,” he continued. “When they detect even the slightest hint of danger, they’ll sound the alarm and give us precious time to escape to safety.”

Enste said simply having a smoke alarm isn’t enough.

“I’s crucial to ensure they are in good working condition,” he said.

“Regularly test your smoke alarms to make sure that they’re func-

tioning properly. And remember, a smoke alarm with a dead battery is as good as not having an alarm at all.”

Enste said it’s also important to have an escape plan in place. He said everyone in the household should be aware of the details of the plan.

For more information on OPVFD, including details on fundraising and raffle campaigns, visit opvfd.com or call 410-641-8272.

“Know the quickest and safest way out of your home in case of fire, and practice your escape plan regularly,” he said. “Fire Safety is a shared responsibility. By taking a simple yet essential step like installing and maintaining smoke alarms and having an escape plan, we can better protect ourselves and our loved ones. Let’s work together to make Ocean Pines a safer place for everyone.”

On the customer service side of operations, the OPA received 142 contacts from residents in February via email at info@oceanpines.org or phone calls. Of those calls, 51 were related to amenities, 126 for CPI violations, 1 drainage, 54 general information, and 10 for public works.

Road paving set to begin first week of April

Weather permitting, paving of several roads in Ocean Pines should begin the first week of April.

Milling and patching that impacted traffic on several Ocean Pines streets began on that last week in March.

Affected streets included Battersea Road, Canal Road, Deerfield Court, Driftwood Lane, Moonraker Road, St. Martins Lane, Waters Edge Court and Wharf Court.

During the process of milling and repaving, flaggers were on site to help direct traffic. Plans are to always keep one lane open on each street.

The general manager had previously disclosed that lessons in the three racquet sports played at the facility most likely would be outsourced to private contractors, and that still will be true to some extent.

Underkoffler had been involved in Ocean Pines Racquet Sports for roughly a decade.

He was named tennis director in 2020 and split his time between Ocean Pines and Worcester Preparatory School, where he coached the sport. Underkoffler is a United States Tennis Association-licensed teacher and has been teaching and coaching since 1977.

As the department head of

“I’ve put a lot of my heart into the Racquet Center, between teaching and coaching, and playing there for almost ten years,” he said. “I love the variety that the Racquet Center provides and the kind of instruction that we have.

I think it’s just going to grow and it’s only going to get better.”

Underkoffler said a particular strength of the center is that it has many different sports geared toward all ages and skill levels.

“My vision is that we’re looked at as a premiere destination for pickleball, tennis, platform tennis, Timeless Tennis and Spec Tennis, and all kinds of recreation that families can enjoy,” he said.

He will be in place as renovations to the pro shop building will be made over the several months and as the OPA continues to work on barriers that will keep cheaters out of the complex.

34 Ocean Pines PROGRESS April 2024 OCEAN PINES April 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 35 OCEAN PINES
Terry Underkoffler

Board approves pipe liners, police cars

Two capital expenditure requests, one for the contract to replace failing drainage pipes in the community and another to purchase two new police vehicles, received unanimous approval from the Board of Directors during its March 23 monthly meeting.

Based on a staff recommendation, the Board approved a $210,634 contract with Pelican Underground for the replacement of 18 drainage pipes in the community with cured in place pipes. General Manager John Viola presented the request, saying Pelican Underground is a preferred vendor for the OPA and has been handling the pipe replacement using this method for several years.

Director Steve Jacobs asked for more information on what a cured-in-place pipe is and how that differs from the existing pipes that are scheduled for repair. Viola has provided that information previously.

The cured-in-place process involves inserting a liner into the existing drainage pipe, inflating the liner, and allowing it to harden inside the pipe, forming a new smooth surface.

Viola said many of the drainage pipes in Ocean Pines have been in place for decades and have rotted. Traditional pipe replacement process involves cutting the road to remove and replace pipes. He said the contractors “would have to rip up everything” using that process.

However, the cured-in-place pipe liner system does not necessitate making any road cuts. “It seals it and its basically a pipe within a pipe and its better than the pipe that’s there,” Viola said.

He added that the traditional pipe replacement process would be more expensive because there would be damage and repairs to the roads.

He estimated that it would likely cost about $200,000 just to replace two key pipes if road cuts were necessary.

Director Jeff Heavner asked whether thee contractors have ever encountered conditions in Ocean Pines where the cure-in-place process couldn’t be used to replace a pipe.

Viola responded that there was a special circumstance with pipe replacement in the Mumfords Landing area going into the Yacht Club. “He said the issue wasn’t with the pipe

structure but rather the amount of water flowing through it. He said a dam was built to catch the stormwater flow so the pipes could be lined and it cost an additional $20,000 to $25,000.

The contract with Pelican Underground includes replacement of 18 pipes ranging from 12 to 18 inches in diameter.

The pipes are located at 1221 and 1123 Carrollton, Golf Course, White Horse Drive, Capetown, 57 Ocean Parkway, 7 and 52 Pinehurst, 192 Teal Circle, 34, 44, 84 Lookout Point, 27 and 48 Seafarer, 28 Admiral, and 22 Harpoon.

The Board also approved an expenditure of $128,098 for two new Ocean Pines Police Department vehicles and the associated law enforcement package from Hertrich Fleet Services.

The vehicles cost $41,849 each and the law enforcement package that includes the cage, sirens, geothermal printer, radios computers and lettering of vehicles, costs $22,200 per vehicle.

Viola said the expenditure is slightly more than the budgeted amount for the two vehicles, which was $110,000.

He said the new vehicles will replace existing OPPD vehicles.

Latham presents changes to two ‘C’ resolutions

The Board of Directors held a first reading of changes to two governing documents, Resolution C-01, Committee General Policy, and Resolution C-03, Budget and Finance Advisory Committee, on March 23.

Director John Latham presented the revised document for Board consideration, saying it is an effort to accurately document the membership requirements and create a procedure for processing applications and approving committee membership.

Director Monica Rakowski asked about the ap-

plication process for candidates seeking membership on the Ocean Pines Association’s advisory committees.

Pines Administration office and can be downloaded from the OPA website.

Ocean Pines swimmers wrap up short-course season

Ocean Pines Swim Team wrapped up its USA short-course season during the month of March as 40 swimmers represented the team at six different meets.

Karis Bagley, Macie Groves, Finley Helfrich, John Parker, Bryn Wanner and Kate Wanner started the month-long championship season competing at the 14 and Under State Championship meet at St. Mary’s College where all achieved best times in their events and placements within the top 25. 17 swims were in the top 16.

Placements at this meet directly correlate to their placement within the entire state of Maryland for their respective age group.

John Paker achieved best times, broke team records and placed in the top 3 every single time he swam (17 swims in all including prelims and finals). His 1st place finishes included the 11/12 boys 50-yard fly (26.22), the 100-yard IM (1:01.40) and the 50-yard free (24.27). He is only the second swimmer in OPST history to win a state title and he won three.

Bryn Wanner was the first during the 2023 season in the 9/10 girls 100-yard breastroke. Her sister Kate Wanner took home a 7th place finish this year and broke a team record in the 13/14 girls 50-yard breastroke (32.51). Bagley and Groves also broke team records. Helfrich, earned a spot in the finals in the 11/12 girls 50-yard breastroke and it was her first time attending this meet.

The next weekend 20 OPST swimmers competed at the MD Junior Champs Meet in Stafford, VA. This is the most swimmers to have achieved

the qualifying times needed in OPST history.

Ewan Betz, Seamus Betz, Lilah Bianco, Luciana Bianco, Alice Brailko, Zoe David, Alex Dypsky, Emily Fink, Nate Fink, Sydney Fowler, Rylee Kessler, Ilya Karcheuski, Paul Kraeuter, Maisie Murphy, Patrick Murphy, Chase Ponton, Vincent Schicchi, Lily Sperry, Grant Trimper, and Madison Trimper all made an excellent showing.

Patrick Murphy finished in the top 8 for every single one of his events including a 1st place finish in the 9/10 boys 50-yard butterfly, setting a new team record (37.66).

Murphy also broke another team record that had been set way back in 2014 with his 100-yard butterfly (1:27.96). Chase Ponton captured 1st place in the 15-18 boys 50-yard backstroke (28.05) and Nate Fink took home 3rd place for his 15-18 boys 500-yard free (5:18.28).

E. Betz, S. Betz, Dypsky, E. Fink, Karcheuski and Schicchi also took home several award ribbons each for their 4th place finishes. Dypsky, Fink, Ponton and Schicchi broke a team record with their 400-yard medley relay (4:12.85) and Zoe David set a team record with her 50-yard breastroke (38.94).

Next up were the 11 and Over B Champs. Aiden Backoff, Aiden Collins, Bryce Gill, Parker Gill, Veronica Grigoryeva, Victoria Grigoryeva, Makenzie Harrington and Gabe Laizans represented the team. This marked the very first state championship meet for Makenzie, Veronica and Victoria.

To Page 38


Tunnels to Towers also purchase and renovate hotels, giving homeless veterans a place to live,” he said. “We talk a lot about people who make the ultimate sacrifice but, to me, these people who lose arms or legs or are seriously burned have to live with that every day for the rest of their lives, so they’re also making a tremendous sacrifice – even though they’re still alive. They all deserve our thanks and gratitude.”

secure children. For many, this may be the only food they have until they return to school,” he continued. “We believe in providing opportunities for young people, so they can live a better life by offering the resources they need.”

She noted that it says anyone interested in serving on a committee is encouraged to send a letter requesting membership.

“Is that not mandatory?” she asked.

OPA Attorney Bruce Bright said the language means that if a member is interested in joining a committee they are encouraged to apply but that they must meet the qualifications outlined for the specific committee.

“That’s my reading of that sentence,” he said.

Application forms are available at the Ocean

Members should include their name, address, telephone number, committee choice, reason, background, signature, and date of application.

The Board also held a first reading of changes to Resolution C-03, Budget and Finance Advisory Committee. Latham said a review by the Budget and Finance committee found that the sections of the resolution were numbered incorrectly. The updated document simply fixed that numbering of the sections of the resolution.

Approval of both resolutions on second reading is likely at the Board’s April meeting


Marine Corp League forms in Ocean Pines

Several former U.S. Marines recently started a new chapter of the Marine Corps League Peacemakers Detachment based in Ocean Pines. The group is part social club and part fundraising arm for the Tunnels to Towers Foundation that supports fallen first responders.

The Peacekeepers Detachment was first established in 1923 by Gen. John Lejeune.

“In 1937, the 75th Congress chartered the Marine Corps League and Franklin Roosevelt signed it,” Cpl. John Whitehead, the local junior vice commandant, said. “Today, we have over 1,000 detachments and over 45,000 members. “Our mission is about veterans and our community, as well as being a social organization to promote the idea and traditions of the United States Marine Corps,” he added.

Whitehead said the group was initially set up to help World War I veterans, “and then it morphed into a part social club and part charitable group.”

“We’ll get together, have social events, and collect money for charities in the area,” he said.

Whitehead said the Peacekeepers Detachment isn’t just for former Marines.

“We have veterans from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, and we also have some first responders in the detachment,” he said. “We basically look for any patriotic American that wants us to support what we do.”

He said the group is also not limited to military activity and the traditions of the U.S. Marine Corps. “We’re also a social organization,” he said. “We have breakfasts, we have dinners, cookouts, the Marine Corp ball, and we’ll attend car shows and the farmers market in Ocean Pines.”

He said the primary fundraising focus is Tunnels to Towers.

“Tunnels to Towers will help the families of any military or first responders who are killed or seriously wounded, by helping to pay their mortgage.

Whitehead said the group currently has about 40 members, and they’re always looking for more people to join and get involved. The detachment meets on the second Thursday of each month at 11 a.m. at the South Fire Station on 911 Ocean Parkway, in Ocean Pines. Marines, veterans, first responders and patriotic Americans are invited to participate.

For more information, contact Whitehead at 301-372-8993 or naphar@ aol.com.

Foundation seeks donations

Each year, the Mary Mac Foundation supports hundreds of low-income and homeless children and their families, thanks to the generous donations of local people.

The foundation funds summer camp scholarships for education and recreation programs, including Camp Ocean Pines locally, and Camp St. Vincent in Baltimore and Camp Barnes in Delaware.

Mary Mac also supports food banks and shelters such as Diakonia in West Ocean City, the Cricket Center and Cold Center in Ocean City, Mid Shore Meals in Cambridge, and the Bayside Shelter in Millsboro, Delaware. The nonprofit is named for Mary McMullen (1948-2012), a former special education instructor at Severna Park High School and Ruth Eason School in Millersville, Maryland. During the 1970s, she also helped establish the Ocean Pines Recreation and Parks Department. Tim McMullen said the foundation’s activities are inspired by his late wife, Mary.

Along with education and summer recreation programs, McMullen said food banks and area shelters became an added focus during the pandemic.

“We realized how many local families were being impacted,” he said. “In one of our programs, every Friday, teachers will take backpacks and fill them with food that the kids can take home.

“Backpack programs and food banks provide weekend food for food-in- u

Tax-deductible donations may be made to the Mary Mac Foundation at www.paypal.me/marymacfoundation or by sending a check payable to the Mary Mac Foundation, 174 Nottingham Lane, Ocean Pines, MD 21811.

“We thank you for your continued support and ask that, if it is within your means to donate, please consider doing so. No amount is too small,” McMullen said.

For more information on the Mary Mac Foundation, visit www.marymac. org.

BJ’s membership offer returns

BJ’s Wholesale Club is once again partnering with the Ocean Pines Association to bring a special membership offer, effective April 1-30, to benefit the Worcester County Veterans Memorial at Ocean Pines Foundation. With this offer, new members receive The Club Card Membership for 12-months for $20, or The Club+ Card Membership, which receives 5¢ off per gallon at BJ’s Gas every day and 2 percent back in rewards on most BJ’s purchases, for $60 with BJ’s Easy Renewal.

Existing members can purchase a 12-month renewal for The Club Card Membership for $50, or a 12-month renewal for The Club+ Card Membership for $100.

In addition to offering special membership discounts, BJ’s will donate $10 for each completed new BJ’s membership application, or $5 for each completed BJ’s renewal membership application received, to the Worcester County Veterans Memorial at Ocean Pines Foundation.

To take advantage of this special offer by phone, call 800-313-8887 and use promo code 100407. Phones are open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

BJ’s membership applications are also available at the Ocean Pines Association Administration Building at 239 Ocean Parkway and online at oceanpines.org. Applications must be returned with payment by April 30. Check and credit card payments will be accepted.

Applications may be dropped off at the administration building front desk or mailed to Ocean Pines Association, Attn: Marketing, 239 Ocean Parkway, Ocean Pines, MD 21811.

36 Ocean Pines PROGRESS April 2024 OCEAN PINES April 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 37 LIFESTYLES

Arbor Day ceremony April 11 in Ocean Pines

The Ocean Pines Garden Club will host its annual Arbor Day Memorial Ceremony on Thursday, April 11, at 10:30 a.m. at Pintail Park in Ocean Pines.

The club will plant a tree in the park to honor friends and family members who passed away in 2023. The ceremony will also include the Pine Tones choral group, bagpiper Mike Castoro, dignitary declarations, and poetry and historical readings. All are welcome.

In case of rain, the ceremony will be held in the Assateague Room of the Ocean Pines Community Center on 235 Ocean Parkway.

Additionally, the Garden Club will hold its annual Mother’s Day flower arrangement sale at the Ocean Pines Farmers Market on Saturday, May 11 in White Horse Park. Club members create very affordable, small-to-medium-size flower arrangements perfect for a Mother’s Day celebration.

Ocean Pines swimmers

From Page 37

Many of these swimmers experienced incredible time drops in the 2-15 second range. Top 8 finishes at this meet included Collins, B. Gill, P. Gill and Laizans. Backoff, along with Collins, B. Gill and P. Gill brought home a 4th place finish with their 200-yard free relay.

The next weekend saw the OPST’ very youngest and oldest swimmers competing in two different states. In Virginia, Daniel Karcheuski (18) made OPST proud as he became the first OPST swimmer ever to attend USA Swimming’s Eastern Zone Sectionals, a national level meet. Qualifying to attend this meet was a highlight of his eight years on the team.

Meanwhile back in Maryland, Rowan Aguillon, Jack Farr, Daniel Kauffman and Joey Kraeuter (ages 8-10) showed just what the youngest swimmers can do. Farr and Kauffman attended their very first state championship meet swimming a few new events for the first time while Kraeuter finished 8th out of 111 swimmers in the 100-yard free and Aguillon placed 11th out of 109 in the 25-yard free.

None of this would have been possible without the hard work, passion and dedication of coaches Tosh Zeller, Joy Fink, Daniel Karcheuski, Jen Kraeuter, Kathy Knupp and Kim Wanner, who gave up their March weekends so that every swimmer was given the opportunity to attend a championship meet if desired.

With 85 year-round swimmers ages 5-18, the Ocean Pines Swim Team is the only competitive swim club in Worcester County. The Hammerheads are a Level 1 and Safe Sport Certified team affiliated with Maryland Swimming and USA Swimming. For the past 49 years they have also participated in the summer Delmarva Swim Association (DSA) season which sees the team grow to over 150 members.

Anyone interested in being evaluated for the summer team on April 27 should email OPSThammerheads@gmail.com.


Norbert Violante retires from OPA

Norbert Violante finished his last official day of work for Ocean Pines on Friday, March 1. Like most days, he could be found at the Community Center doing many odd jobs and wearing his trademark smile.

Originally from Baltimore, Violante worked for Ocean Pines for 18 years. His son, Nobie, is the deputy director of Public Works and has been with the Association for 23 years.

On an average day, Violante would do a little bit of everything, from changing message boards along Ocean Parkway, to getting the community center ready for civic and social club meetings, to keeping the grounds neat and tidy.

“Up here [at the community center] it’s mostly setting up rooms and even taking care of the parks and leveling off the trails and cutting the grass. But I’ve been all over the place! I used to do tennis sometimes too,” he said. He’s also been a big part of events, like helping with the annual Hometown Christmas celebration at White Horse Park.

“I would do the decorating and light displays. I won’t have to climb up on the roof anymore!” he said with a laugh. Violante also drives a school bus for Worcester County Public Schools.

“ Altogether, I leave the house around 6 in the morning and I don’t get home until 7 in the evening,” he said. “I always got eight hours in here – or more.”

Asked what he will miss the most, Violante said, it’s “the people.

“I like working with people and helping people,” he said.

Violante said he plans to continue driving a school bus. “I’ll be busy,” he said. “[The bus] is probably a little louder than this place.”

Many Ocean Pines staffers said they will miss seeing Violante who, each day, provided a steady hand and a friendly smile.

Nobert’s son, Nobie, recently promoted to deputy public works director, said it’s been “really nice for me to be able to work with him all these years – almost two decades. Not everybody has that opportunity to work with their dad. And it’s wonderful that so many people appreciated what he did, each and every day he came into work. He’s a great role model.”

The Parke’s annual community annual driveway sale April 14

The Parke at Ocean Pines is holding its community sale on Saturday, April 13 -- rain date is Sunday, April 14 -- from 7:30 a.m. to 12 noon in the driveways of residents.

The Parke is an active 55+ adult community of 503 homes.

Parke residents are selling their treasures for others to enjoy.

There are clothes, lamps, artwork, household items, electronics, furniture and more.

On April 13, maps will be available at the main entrance of the Parke located at Central Parke West, located off of Ocean Parkway at the south entrance of Ocean Pines.

For additional information, contact the Parke Clubhouse Staff at 410-208-4994.

Fishing Flea Market April 6 in Ocean Pines

The Ocean Pines Anglers Club will host a Fishing Flea Market on Saturday, April 6, from 7 a.m. to noon at the Ocean Pines Community Center on 235 Ocean Parkway.

The event will allow local people to buy and sell fishing and boating gear, and other household items.

Entry is $2 and the event is open to the public. For community vendors, tables are $15 and include a 10’x10’ space.

Proceeds will help pay for Anglers Club events, including the upcoming Teach a Kid to Fish Day, June 22, and the Art Hansen Memorial Youth Fishing Contest, July 20. For more information and to reserve a table, contact Laura Leuters at 240-818-2864 or dorado1045@yahoo.com.

Golf scholarship deadline April 12

Members of the Ocean Pines Golf Club and the Ocean Pines Golf Members’ Council will award several scholarships to 2024 high school graduates in support of their college plans.

The Scholarship Committee of the Golf Members’ Council will begin meeting in mid-April to review scholarship applications. The committee will announce scholarship awards later in May.

“Those who have an application should return it to their school’s college guidance office by the April 12 deadline,” Scholarship Committee Chairperson Dave McGregor said.Students seeking an application may download one online from the Ocean Pines Association Website.

“These scholarships are intended for local 12th-grade students who have shown an interest in golf.

The Ocean Pines Golf Members’ Council has awarded more than $53,000 to local seniors over the last seven years.

For more information, contact McGregor at david.b.mcgregor@gmail.com.

McComas running for re-election to Ocean Pines school board seat

Elena McComas is running for re-election for the Worcester County Board of Education.

She spent 25 years as a public school science teacher in Maryland and California, with five years at the university level as a science education instructor and student teacher supervisor. She taught for six years in middle school and 19 years in high school, where she taught biology, life science, physical science, global science and biotechnology.

McComas lives in Ocean Pines. She moved here with her husband 11 years ago and became active in the community. She decided, with her background in education, she needed to use it.

“[Education] is my passion and love. I ran for the school board in 2016 and have been on it ever since.”

McComas considers herself a pragmatic conservative.

After COVID, McComas said the Worcester schools bounced back faster than most other counties. She gives full credit to the teachers and staff.

“We have smaller class sizes. That has been in place for years and years. It has been beneficial.”

When classes get too large, McComas believes teachers cannot reach every child.

She said those who are not educators might think it is not an issue to add a few more students to a classroom. But she said it becomes more difficult to deal with the child in the back of the room. “That is something I would fight for.”

McComas said for the most part, the school district has been good stewards of its money. “We have complied with everything the commissioners have asked of us.”

She believes in full transparency and said the budget is on the website as well as hundreds of pages of monthly expenditures.

The budget has been challenging for the Board of Education. McComas said Worcester is considered the state’s richest county, based on a formula the state uses, which then provides only 17 percent of the school systems budget. “For every dollar we send to the state, we get 35 cents back.”

That means reaching the goals of the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future is difficult, which requires the county to pay $60,000 to first year teachers.

Worcester County is a small school district consisting of 14 schools and a district office.  McComas said they are writing grants to make up for budget shortfalls. She reported that the total budget was $125 million last year with 94 percent being fixed, including salaries, budget contractors, and maintenance of  buildings. That leaves $8.9 million as far as finding places to save.

Recently, the commissioners agreed to use the 1.2 percent surplus the district must have each year for the summer school program. “Last year we asked to take that money and use it, and the commission said no.”

Primary Election ~ Tuesday, May 14

7 a.m. 8 p.m. county-wide

Top two finishers move on to General Electon in November.

Ocean Pines District 5-1 Polling Place: Showell Elementary School

Ocean Pines District 5-2 Polling Place:

Ocean Pines Community Center, Assateague Room

Early Voting: Thursday, May 2-9, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Ocean City Convention Hali 4001 Coastal Highway, Ocean City

This year, that has changed.

“We just really need to work together and get this done. If it means going into our surplus to fund summer academy, we are there,” she said.

One issue she sees as a significant challenge is that there is so little local control, which she said “stifles our flexibility.

“The state is in charge and they keep sending down bills and laws and we need to comply.”

An example of this is the Freedom to Read Act which is being considered at the state level. This legislation would establish a state policy that local school systems operate their school library media programs consistent with certain standards; requiring each local school system to develop a policy and procedures to review objections to materials; prohibiting a county board of education from dismissing, demoting, suspending, disciplining,

reassigning, transferring, or otherwise retaliating against certain school library media program personnel for performing their job duties consistent with certain standards.

“We were not trying to ban books, just making them age appropriate. Some of the books do have sexually explicit passages in them. That is what I am concerned about,” McComas said.

“We have had a process in place for the past 15 years. Parents can control the books kids check out. The process can be done online. We are partnering with them in the education of their children.

“Parents are the guardians and we need parents involved. I applaud parental involvement in any way shape or form.”

She believes it’s important to teach history.  “Our kids need to know” about the Holocaust, slavery and other issues. She recently visited the Harriet Tubman Visitors Center and believes the region has a rich history that should be taught.

McComas serves on the School Safety Task Force. She said the concern over school safety that was flagged by local law enforcement recent-

John E. Huber launches campaign for Ocean Pines school board seat u

This is John Huber’s first endeavor into the world of elected office as a candidate for the Worcester County Board of Education. He spent 30 years in the Baltimore County school system, the first 15 years as a music teacher and the second 15 as assistant principal. He has lived in Ocean Pines since 2011.

Since retiring from Baltimore County Schools in 2020, he founded Maryland K12, where he has been instrumental in shaping the discourse on school safety, school climate, and student discipline. He also reviews music lessons for special education students.

“My support for the arts has never left me,” Huber said.

He decided to run because he is passionate about education.

“I have seen the best and the worst in education and everything in between. I see a lot of dysfunction going on. I think I could bring some

experience and expertise to the table.”

School safety and the budget are Huber’s top priorities.

He is presenting sessions this summer at two conferences titled Navigating the Relationship Between the SRO (school resource officer) and the School Administration, and Writing, Implementing, and Enforcing the

MOU between Schools and Police.

In Worcester County, Huber believes that the state’s attorney and sheriff’s department have provided very reasonable recommendations to address school safety. Some of those include creating a chief of school safety, a sex offender registrant policy and protocols, implementing weap-

To Page

Elena McComas Norbert Violante

Dorothy Shelton Leslie jumps into Ocean Pines school board race

Contributing writer

Dorothy Shelton Leslie never intended to run for the Board of Education. But people kept telling her they needed her. She attended some Board meetings and felt she could help. She’s running for the District 5 seat that includes a large swath of Ocean Pines. The two finishers in the May non-partisan primary go on to compete in the November general election.

“I decided this is important. My whole life has been dedicated to education. I felt I needed to do this. I can make a difference,” Leslie said.

Leslie is a retired educator and sits on four boards. She has 14 grandchildren and expects a granddaughter, who is now two, to attend Worcester County schools in the near future.

“I want her to be in a good school and I only have three years to fix that,” Leslie said.

Leslie has lived in Worcester County since 2005. She was an elementary school teacher in Delaware, adult education teacher and an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware. In addition, she was a district curriculum and assessment administrator.

She has worked as a school consultant training teachers and even coached a cheerleading squad.

She is a published author of instructional text books.

“I just like working with kids.  When school was out, I went seeking other kids,” Leslie said.   If elected to the school board, she will have three priority issues.

First is education itself. She wants to look at how Worcester County schools are stacking up against not only other Maryland schools but all states.

“Are we graduating kids that can get jobs?  Every kid needs to graduate with the ability to read, write and do math.”

She also considers school safety to be a top priority.

“This should be one forever. We have to be right on top of school safety, especially today,” she said.

Special education is also a priority for her. She has two daughters-in-law who teach special education. It’s a difficult job, she said. “Helping those teachers in any way we can is really important.”

She sees boards through a team lens. “As a member of a board, you are part of a team. It’s not just your agenda. I am hoping the board will unite on an agenda.”

Leslie is a big believer that teachers, parents, district offices and the administration need to be involved in making schools safer.

“Parents need to make sure kids are coming to school. They need to respect the teachers and demonstrate that themselves. They need to make sure the kids have done their homework,” Leslie

said.  “This is step one.”

“Teachers need to make sure their kids know they really care about them. Kids will do anything for someone who they think cares about them.”

She is a firm believer in discipline in the classrooms. She said she taught at one of the toughest schools in Delaware. “My kids never gave me any trouble. They knew I loved them. But they also knew they better not cross the line. They need to know where that line is. Otherwise, they are always trying to find it.”

According to Leslie, there is a role for school administrators too. They need to support the teachers, be in the cafeterias, in the hallways. They need to make sure kids know that if they cross the line they will have to answer to them.

School resource officers or SROs also need to have relationships with the kids. “They need to be a person the kids know.”

District Offices need to have everybody’s back. Leslie used to be a hearing officer for schoolbased court.

“If children are endangering other children, we have to do something. It’s not alright. We have to protect the other children too. We are letting some stuff go that should not be let go. We really have to back up the teachers, administration, and parents.”

She commends Worcester County for having a code of conduct and thinks everyone needs to understand and abide by it.

Leslie believes it is also important to work well with the sheriff’s office, which she said plays an important role in the school district.

Regarding sex education, Leslie said, very young kids “don’t need to know everything at the beginning of their lives.” They might need to know the concept of certain things but not the details.

In high school, they need to be taught the details. “If we do’t explain then, someone else will. It should be taught in a kind, gentle, not crazy way. It needs to be tasteful.”

“My constituents don’t want sexually explicit books in the library,” Leslie said. She suggested considering a separate room to house these books and permission from parents to check them out. “There has to be a compromise. Kind of the same thing with bathrooms. We cannot let genetic boys go into girls’ locker rooms. The majority of kids feel threatened by it.”

She suggested building other bathrooms or using the nurse’s room as a compromise.

Leslie believes that the states need to stay out of the curriculum. She suggested local districts look at local issues. Here on the Eastern Shore, she suggested learning about regional issues.

“We should meet the needs of our area,” Leslie said. She suggested that factoring in the makeup of a community and focusing on the history of local ethnic backgrounds is important.

“Everything in our history needs to be ad-

Dorothy Shelton


dressed accurately. If we don’t teach, we will not learn from our mistakes. We cannot be biased, we have to be truthful,” she said.

Tackling the challenges of AI will be significant. “If done correctly, it could be wonderful, but incorrectly, it will be a nightmare.” She confessed that she does not know enough about it to say how to address the issue, but said from her experience, teachers can, in most cases, tell when a kid’s writing is their own and when it is copied.

If elected, “I will work hard to make sure that people are aware of the things our constituents are concerned about. I will do everything I can to make sure that we have safe schools, kids want to come to schools and they are learning. And the teachers are happy because if they love their job, they will be better at it. I want them to love kids


From Page 39

ly was based on data that was misinterpreted.

According to a task force presentation on school safety on March 1, 2024, the data reflects student disciplinary referrals, not crime. Office referrals include any violation of school rules or policies.

In 2022-23, the school system placed a renewed focus on reporting, leading to this year to year increase. The current projections for 2023-24 show office referrals are declining significantly. McComas said the schools have had 25 percent fewer incidences to date.

“Kids make bad mistakes, it is a given. Once that happens, that is when you look at how to deal with the child and the incident. In my classroom, my kids got three tries. Our rate of kids that do that more than once is pretty low.”

If the action is violent, McComas said you get the student into the office and start the consequences. But that does not always mean you hand them over to law enforcement.

“What we forget sometimes there is education law and criminal law. I want our kids to be safe, but I want to be fair with how we deal with our children who step out of line. With repeat offenders, obviously you have to take it one step further.”

McComas is proud of Worcester County schools. “Our school district is so phenomenal. We just want to maintain our school system in a way that is best for our kids,” McComas said.

Rakowski releases info on delinquent assessments

Interest rate set at 6 percent for past due accounts

About 9 percent of property owners are behind in paying their annual Ocean Pines Association assessments and owe $745,587 in dues, interest, and fees as of Feb. 29. Director Monica Rakowski, who serves as OPA treasurer, presented an update on the number of delinquent accounts to the Board of Directors during a March 23 meeting.

Rakowski said the OPA billed property owners for a total of $8,461,586 in annual assessment in 2023-2024. Currently, there are 197 open accounts with a balance due of $745,587.

Without the interest, fees, and liens, the total would be just $$147,306. The OPA has filed liens against 197 of the properties and wrote off $23,588 for last year.

The association’s Declarations of Restrictions and Articles of Restatement cite actions the Board is authorized to take for collection of delinquent annual assessments including the establishment of the annual rate of interest to be assessed on unpaid charges from the date of delinquency.


From Page 39

ons detections systems at each school, hardening targets, and increasing parental notification of incidents at school or on school buses.

One recommendation he does not think is reasonable is banning cellphones in school, because parents want their kids to carry phones.

Huber said the sheriff’s deputies are in the school system every day and see what is going on.

“The board needs to implement the sheriff’s recommendations and if not, they need to say why.

“Apparently, the lack of response by the board is what is causing a lot of the commotion. They are agreeing with the sheriff, but they have not done anything. They have been slow to react. This started in October and here we are closing in on the end of the school year and nothing has been accomplished.”

Huber is looking to find solutions. “We need a school board that is a little more conducive to having open communications with some of the other authorities in the area. We need to work on smoothing those relationships over.”

Huber sees the budget as a challenge. “The county values small class sizes so much here. As a former scheduler, I understand the value of that. In order to achieve that, you need more teachers for fewer kids.

“I don’t think there is any challenge trying to attract quality teachers here other than financial. Ours is one of the highest performing school systems in the state. People want to come here, it’s a budget issue.”

He says the issue is the wealth-based formula used in the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, which results in Worcester being considered the wealthiest county in the state and therefore receives the least amount of money from the state.

The million-dollar condos in Ocean City tilt the scales, according to Huber.

“Education has its own formula to determine

At the meeting, Rakowski asked for the Board members, who voted unanimously in favor, set that annual interest rate at 6 percent for delinquent accounts.

Across the board the numbers are down from the 2022-23 year, which saw billings of $8,511,831 with 210 open accounts with a delinquent balance of $763,156.51.

Director Steve Jacobs asked if the interest rate being established applies to delinquencies throughout all sections of Ocean Pines. He said he recalled some conversation from more than a year ago that different restrictions applied to some sections of the community.

Rakowski responded that it will apply to all lots included in every section of Ocean Pines.

Additionally, Rakowski said there are 61 cases pending with legal counsel because of delinquent accounts.

Twenty-seven of those cases are still active with the OPA former legal counsel, Lurch, Early and Brewer, and the remaining 54 accounts are being handled by OPA Attorney Bruce Bright of Ayres, Jenkins, Gordy, and Allmand.

Candidate forum April 30

The Worcester County Republican Central Committee is hosting a Board of Education candidate forum among the three District 5 candidates.

It is scheduled on Tuesday, April 30, at 6 p.m. at the Ocean Pines Library. All are welcome to attend. Candidates are Elena McComas, Dorothy Shelton-Leslie, and John Huber.

how much they will provide in assistance per pupil. Therefore, the local county, through the commissioners, is responsible for the rest. It’s a matter of convincing the commissioners to fund a higher percentage of the county budget for schools,” Huber said.

The blueprint requires schools to pay $60,000 in starting salaries to teachers by 2027.

“I think $60,000 is an appropriate salary, it is even on the low side.”

Meeting that goal will require the county to come up with the funding.

This year, cuts were originally made to the budget for summer and afterschool programs and materials for instruction. Later the county agreed to use the school surplus to fund these programs.

“I think it is unfortunate that these programs were not prioritized in the first place. I believe this speaks to the larger issue of open communications and productive relations with the county commissioners.

“These summer programs are irreplaceable for many of our own children; especially those with special needs. Without these programs they would need to be bussed to other locations to meet the ESY [Extended School Year] requirements of their IEPs [Individualized Educational Program]. These are the types of issues that I, as a lifelong educator and administrator in Maryland K12 schools, deeply understand more than most.” Huber sees “unfunded mandates” coming down from the state as a challenge.

“The Maryland State Board of Education has the ultimate authority. Our state delegates are hardworking but it is tough to compete with the Montgomery and Baltimore county delegations. They will look at that formula and believe we have the wealthiest region. It’s an uphill battle, for sure.”

Huber believes parents need to be informed on what is being taught in schools. For instance, the school has an identified curriculum for sex education. It needs to be available to parents and there needs to be an option to opt out.

“Sex education has been taught in schools for many decades. That is nothing new. Some controversial topics have been added and parents need to be made aware.”

“All of these topics need to be provided to the parents and we need to give them the option to not participate.”

The same goes with reading materials and other education topics such as race, and historical issues such as slavery and the Holocaust, according to Huber.

“Of course we need to talk about slavery and the Holocaust, but parents need to know what is being taught.”

Huber believes we cannot ignore Artificial Intelligence or AI in schools.

“It needs to be used as a tool.”

Huber has read a lot of articles in professional journals on the topic.

“It’s a hot topic on ways to use it productively in a school environment. There needs to be professional development on how to incorporate it into the classroom. It can be a great time saver, but it can also be a way to get around doing work.”

“We cannot ignore it. We need to learn how to incorporate it.”

Huber considers himself a pragmatic candidate who can bring experience and expertise to the school board. “As a candidate for the Board of Education, I am committed to leveraging my extensive experience, expertise, and passion to shape our educational future positively,” he said.

40 Ocean Pines PROGRESS April 2024 April 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 41 OPA FINANCES

OPA records a $48,000 positive operating fund variance in February

Positive variance for the year reaches $907,645


With only two months left in the 2023-24 fiscal year, Ocean Pines Association may be heading toward another $1 million operating fund surplus, more precisely defined as positive variances to budget. The string of ten consecutive positive variances for the year was boosted by a positive fund variance of $48,257 in February, with revenues over budget by $8,338 and expenses under budget by $39,919

The cumulative positive variance of $907,645 for the year was the result of revenues over budget by $752,630 and expenses under budget by $155,015, according to the February financial report posted on the OPA Website in mid-March by Controller/Director of Finance Steve Phillips.

Of the ten amenity departments listed on the “net operating” schedule in Phillips’s report, only one, beach parking, was in the black for the month.

But of these ten departments, all but the Beach Club, the Yacht Club and the Clubhouse Grille were ahead of budget for the month.

In the case of the Clubhouse Grille, the negative variance to budget was a minuscule $601, essentially break-even.

The seven departments that outperformed their budgets in February were tennis, pickleball, platform tennis, aquatics, golf operations, beach parking and marinas. Beach parking and marinas are closed for the season.

For the year through February, all but tennis and platform tennis are in the black.

Compared to budget, all but tennis and platform tennis and marinas have positive variances for the year.

Actual results for a month and cumulatively for the fiscal year, as well as results compared to budget, are the primary ways to measure financial performance.

For the year so far, beach parking is the top amenity performer,

fund balance of $8.08 million, down from $8.535 million in January and $8.7 million December.

The replacement reserve balance on February was $6.077 million, with bulkheads and waterways falling in an at $7576,02, roads at $1.119 million, drainage at $386,246, and new capital at $101,554.

Balance sheet -- The Feb. 29 balance sheet shows total assets of $38.92 million.

OPA Net Operating Results by Department - February 2024

Playing the mold card is a losing hand

It’s OK for an advisory committee to advocate for a position it holds dear. It’s OK for an advisory committee to change its collective mind when presented with new information. Working through its Board liaison, a committee can be a valuable resource in feeding important information to the Board of Directors and management to promote desirable outcomes.

What’s not OK is for an advisory committee through a current and former member to in effect yell “fire” in a crowded, darkened theater.



generating $518,580 in net revenue, ahead of budget by 51,51,833. Last year through January, beach parking was in the black by $509,202.

Golf operations, which had been the top producer among the amenities through December, slipped to second place in January and remains that way at February’s close, generating in $435,687 in net earnings, ahead of budget by $196,578.

Last year through February, golf had earned $373,333.

The Beach Club, closed for the season, racked up $222,149 in earnings through January, ahead of budget by $57,496.

Last year through February, the Beach Club’s net earnings were $218,230.

The Yacht Club was also in solidly in the black through February, generating $214,280 in net revenue. That’s $11,743 better than budget.

Last year through February, the Yacht Club had $246,730 in net earnings.

Marinas, also closed for the season, remain a top performer for the year, earning $205,639 through February but under budget by $28,477. At this time last year, marinas had recorded a $242,864 operating fund surplus. The Clubhouse Grille, open throughout the year, earned $99,230 through December, ahead of budget by $38,056.

Last year through February the operating net was $34,739, so the grille is clearly benefitting by its proximity to a popular golf course.

Aquatics remains in the black for the year so far, with $969,261 in net earnings and ahead of budget by $38,055.

At the same time the year prior, Aquatics had been ahead of budget by $173,333.

In combination, racquet sports are in the black for the year, led by racquet pride,’ Reserve summary -- The Feb. 29 reserve summary shows a total

February cash at $14 million

The Ocean Pines Association’s cash and investment position dropped about $900,000 from the end of January to the end of February, with about $14 million on hand on Feb. 29. That compares to $14.9 million as of Jan. 31.

According to a report by OPA Treasurer Monica Rakowski at the March 23 Board of Directors meeting, cash increased $1 million from the same time last year. Of the cash on hand, $10.4 million was invested in CDARs, and $46,000 in interest income was recognized in February.

The remaining $3.6 million was invested in an insured cash sweep, treasury bills, money market and other operating accounts held in two local banks.

That’s what happened at the Feb. 23 meeting of the Board of Directors when a member of the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee spoke during the Public Comments segment of the meeting to advocate for a new clubhouse at the Racquet Sports Complex. When her four minutes at the mic expired, a former member of the committee read the rest of the prepared statement, which urged the Board to abandon plans for a renovation of the existing clubhouse in favor of a new, larger building.

The chair of the committee later said that they weren’t representing the committee in making their presentation, but such a disclaimer seems disenguous at best. Short of a disavowal, the committee is inextricably tied to it.

The advocacy for a new building in itself was not too surprising, as the committee during its March meeting devoted considerable discussion time to push the idea. Indeed, members were able to nudge General Manger John Viola into conceding that county regulators have not precluded the possibility of a larger building. Because the existing building is surrounded by impervious surface -- concrete sidewalk - it would in theory be possible to expand the existing footprint without running afoul of nontidal wetland issues applicable to the site.

That still doesn’t mean county permit approval would be automatic. Parking requirements might be increased because of a larger building, as one example. That something might be in theory possible doesn’t mean it’s a good idea or worth the time and expense to try.

In any event, the committee has forfeited the right to be heard objectively on the topic because of its false claim that the building might be riddled with mold and has sickened employees who have resigned their positions because of it. Within a week of the mold card being played in public, word came back conclusively: There is no mold in the building. The ServPro pronouncement of an all-clear put the notion to bed that the OPA had a problem and had been covering it up all these years.

Moreover, the claim that employees have been sickened and quit because of mold also was proven false.

Long-time employee or contractor at the racquet sports complex, Tim McMullen, sent a text message to OPA President Rick Farr to the effect that the allegations were untrue.

Where these current and former members obtained their information might be worth asking. Were they fed bad information or did they make it up simply to apply pressure on the Board to change course and opt instead for a new clubhouse over renovation?

As a result of the poorly thought out tactic and underlying strategy, the committee shouldn’t be too surprised that its advocacy of a new building is not going to gain much traction with the current Board of Directors.

The performance at the March 23 Board meeting more or less guarantees that the planned renovation will continue as planned, though not because the Board and management aare acting out of spite.

The consensus is, and has been, that a slight outward expansion of the building to its overhang is all that’s warranted. Indeed, according to Farr, the committee’s Board liaison, the committee itself was supportive of the renovation concept not to many months prior to its 180-degree about-face.

This committee, as have other committees over the years, has forgotten that its role is advisory, not advocacy.

It’s not an independent actor. It works with and for the Board; it does not have the right to outwardly challenge Board positions, and in the case of a new vs. renovated building, the Board has already made up its collective mnd and has budgeted accordingly.

It’s way late in the game for the committee to be raising up new concerns and advocating for a course correction. It’s never acceptable to promote a false narrative about the possible presence of mold as a way of using it as cudgel to

force the Board to change course.

Like the suspended Clubs Committee from another era, the Racquet Sports Committee could use an extended time-out or even a long-term suspension for the sin of speculating out loudabout mold, with no basis in fact.

If a committee can’t be helpful, while violating all sorts of protocols about working through its Board liaison, then it really has no purpose or useful role to play.

42 Ocean Pines PROGRESS April 2024 April 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 43 The Ocean Pines Progress is a journal of news and commentary published monthly throughout the year. It is circulated in Ocean Pines and Captain’s Cove, Va. 127 Nottingham Lane Ocean Pines, Md 21811 PUBLISHER-EDITOR Tom Stauss stausstom@gmail.com 443-359-7527 ADVERTISING SALES Frank Bottone frankbottone@gmail.com 410-430-3660 CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rota L. Knott 443-880-3953 Cindy Hoffman 202-489-5587 OPINION COMMENTARY
MONTH MONTH YTD YTD YTD YTD BUDGET ACTUAL BUDGET $ VARIANCE ACTUAL BUDGET $ VARIANCE LAST YEAR LAST YEAR GENERAL ADMIN 23,797 10,400 13,397 5,814,907 5,768,052 46,855 5,927,040 5,916,112 MANAGER'S OFFICE (26,270) (29,413) 3,143 (302,160) (314,327) 12,167 (247,347) (244,015) FINANCE (70,458) (72,145) 1,688 (697,473) (743,232) 45,759 (653,603) (670,169) PUBLIC RELATIONS (14,626) (20,482) 5,856 (211,543) (234,741) 23,198 (216,064) (224,167) COMPLIANCE PERMITS (7,188) (2,411) (4,777) (67,937) (17,260) (50,677) (87,295) (54,512) GENERAL MAINT (65,317) (56,738) (8,578) (639,146) (591,943) (47,202) (541,399) (606,266) PUBLIC WORKS (146,822) (131,802) (15,020) (1,240,973) (1,436,513) 195,540 (1,150,423) (1,383,061)
EMS (84,076)
(84,076) (0) (840,764) (840,764) (0) (886,687) (886,687) POLICE (119,376) (158,921)
(843,892) (1,120,710)
(986,540) (1,102,276)
(1,872) (5,911) 4,039 (26,006) (13,763) (12,243) (8,654) (10,002) PICKLEBALL (3,291) (4,904) 1,614 57,995 54,241 3,754 55,518 37,794 PLATFORM TENNIS (3,079) (3,369) 290 (20,093) (7,513) (12,580) (1,883) (9,882) AQUATICS (29,690) (40,308) 10,618 69,261 6,974 62,287 173,171 38,671 GOLF OPS + MAINT (59,823) (70,161) 10,337 435,687 239,109 196,578 372,333 144,829 CLUBHOUSE GRILLE (8,530) (7,929) (601) 99,230 61,175 38,055 34,739 47,284 BEACH CLUB (5,729) (4,122) (1,606) 220,149 162,652 57,496 218,230 131,921 BEACH PARKING 11,210 10,549 661 518,580 466,697 51,883 509,202 485,987 YACHT CLUB (61,185) (51,465) (9,720) 214,280 202,546 11,734 246,730 165,732 MARINAS (3,092) (8,637) 5,545 205,639 234,116 (28,477) 242,864 209,933 NET OPERATING (736,069) (784,326) 48,257 2,378,707 1,471,062 907,645 2,672,182 1,559,436 OCEAN PINES ASSOCIATION NET OPERATING BY DEPARTMENT FEBRUARY 2024 3/18/2024
(60,652) (52,479) (8,173) (367,035) (403,735)
(327,750) (427,791) TENNIS

Professional Services


Army Corps of Engineers. The area where the road is planned contains “only large sandy areas where no road exists.,” according to the suit.

Other unbuilt roads in the plan include Davey Jones Boulevard.

Anew lawsuit filed against Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club by two Captain’s Cove residents, Linda Reece and Bill Leslie, in early March raises an issue that is also being litigated in the Birckhead case that is headed for trial in Accomack County Circuit Court in June.

The issue is who is responsible for the buildout of roads in Captain’s Cove - CCGYC or declarant/developer CCG Note.

Reece and Leslie, Board of Directors members of the advocacy group known as Captain’s Cove Concerned Citizens, are two of seven plaintiffs in the Birckhead litigation.

The plaintiffs are asking the Circuit Court to find that CCGYC governing documents, particularly the Declaration or association bylaws, do not authorize road construction. They contend that these documents only authorize the association to maintain and improve already existing roads.

They contend further that plans to apply tar and chip to areas “where no tar and chip road” exists constitutes building new roads, not improving or maintaining them.

The plaintiffs are asking the Court to enjoin the associatin from building new roads and from borrowing money or levying assessments against Cove property owners for new road construction.

Through their attorney, Douglas Kahle of Virginia Beach, Reece and Leslie are also asking the Court to charge the association for reasonable attorneys fees.

The suit references a document issued late in 2023 called the Road Improvement Plan that lists nine “unfinished road projects” which the plaintiffs contend show no evidence of any construction. A planned Mutiny Drive extension is an example of that.

The suit also cites Seaview Street, a proposed $1.2 million proposed road project that remains in a protracted permitting phase with the U.S.

The primary difference between the two lawsuits with respect to roads build-out is that the Birckhead litigation seeks to enjoin construction of Seaview Street with association funds, while the Reece-Leslie is more comprehensive, citing Seaview and other roads in the 2013 Road Improvement Plan.

But the overlap has been noted, with CCGYC President Mark Majerus the first to mention it during the March 25 Board of Directors meeting.

Cove directors who commented on the new lawsuit were critical of it, contending that it costs money to defend it in in the initial phases because expenses fall within the policy’s deductible. Majerus said that at some point the association risks losing its insurance coverage if members continue to file lawsuit, with devastating consequences.

No one will want to volunteer to serve on the Board if “errors and omissions” coverage is no longer offered, Director Dave Felt said, adding that major builders who could buy up unimproved lots in bulk may be discouraged from

To Page 47

44 Ocean Pines PROGRESS April 2024 April 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 45
Two Cove residents file suit to stop new road construction New case raises issue at contention in earlier Birckhead litigation
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Board votes to relax private party policy

Accepts Property Management Team recommendation

The Board of Directors voted 5-0 during a March 25 meeting with two abstentions to relax the Cove’s private party policy at the Marina Club restaurant, accepting a Property Management Team recommendation to allow the closure of the banquet room for parties with 75 or fewer people while keeping the bar area and surrounding tables open for member use.

The new policy will allow private parties on weekend evenings but will not be a return to the practice of hosting large-scale weddings that required the closure of the entire Marina Club to the membership, even intruding into the outdoor pool and tiki bar area on occasion.

work or parts to improve its operating condition, according to the PMT recommendation.

The PMT says that additional marketing efforts will be required to promote the idea that the association is againt accommodating

parties and small events, with the understanding that it will take to “build up interest and bookings.”

The PMT anticipates first year sales of $15,000 to $25,000, soaring to $50,000 to $75,000 the second and following years.

“Profit margin is dependent on time/day of event: If on a day the Marina Club is normally closed, additional staffing is required strictly for events,” according to the recommendation. “If on a day and time

Weekend evenings, particularly Fridays, are not a closure option with entertainment booked out for most of the rest of the year.

These private parties will be separated from the bar area by a retractable wall that may need some

doing so by too much litigation in Captain’s Cove. Directors also said lawsuits of this nature take up valuable staff time in preparing discovery documents.

They said they wished that the plaintiffs had taken the issue through the normal complaint process rather than resort to litigation.

During the Member’s Forum, CCGY member Larry Berger urged the Board simply to “concede” the complaint and join forces with Cove residents who want to force CCG Note to complete roads build-out.

No director seemed willing to go down that route, however.

The CCGYC and CCG Note position on roads build-out is that a former declarant/developer, First Charter, conveyed roads ownership in Sections 1-13 to the association, including the obligation to build them, back in the 1970s.

Since the 2012 Settlement Agreement, CCG Note has been paying the interest on private loans used to finance road construction in Captain’s Cove. Three loans have been executed thus far, at a carrying charge of 6 percent annually.

u 46 Ocean Pines PROGRESS April 2024 CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS April 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 47 CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS New lawuit From Page 45
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CURRENTS January 2022 2 Captain’s Cove CURRENTS January 2022 2 Captain’s Cove CURRENTS January 2022
Captain’s Cove CURRENTS January 2022
Captain’s Cove CURRENTS January 2022 Rehoboth • $303,990 Coastal II • $426,990 Raised Home on Pilings 4 BR/3 BA 2400 Sq Ft Two-Story Home 3 BR/2.5 BA 2180 Sq Ft 1st Floor Master • 2 Car Garage
2 Captain’s Cove CURRENTS January 2022
(fax) CINDY WELSH - REALTOR Inlet II • $386,990 Osprey • $401,990 Raised Home on Pilings 3 BR/2 BA 2152 Sq Ft Rehoboth • $303,990 Coastal II • $426,990 Raised Home on Pilings 4 BR/3 BA 2400 Sq Ft Canal • $376,990
• $261,990 Frankford • $294,990 Topaz • $275,990 Nottingham • $315,990
• $278,990 Sussex • $295,990 Ranch Style Home 3 BR/2 BA 1795 Sq Ft 2 Car Garage Ranch Style Home 3 BR/2 BA 1720 Sq Ft 2 Car Garage Ranch Style Home 3 BR/2 BA 1390 Sq Ft 2 Car Garage Two-Story Home 3 BR/2.5 BA 2180 Sq Ft 1st Floor Master • 2 Car Garage Two-Story Home 3 BR/2.5 BA 1979 Sq Ft 1st Floor Master • 2 Car Garage
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BA 1680 Sq Ft 2 Car Garage
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are subject to change without notice and photos may show upgraded features 2 Captain’s Cove CURRENTS January 2022
4 BR/2.5 BA 1680 Sq. Ft. 2-Car Garage
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Inlet II •

Planning Commission votes to extend townhome project’s conditional use permit

DeGeorges signals he’ll be a ‘no’ when the supervisors consider the matter in April or May

The Accomack County Planning Commission voted 6-3 after a public hearing March 13 to forward a favorable recommendation to the Board of Supervisors for a two-year extension of a conditional use permit for a planned townhome project at the 24-acre Hastings/Mariner property near Captain’s Cove’s east entrance off State Line road.

The extension, recommended by the county’s planning staff, was requested by R2JS, of Edgewood, Md. The existing permit, granted in April of 2022 to facilitate development of the Hastings/Mariner parcel into a 140-unit townhome community, expires in May of this year.

CCG Note, the Captain’s Cove declarant/developer, sold the property to R2JS in October of 2023.

Lee Pambid, Deputy County Administrator of Planning and Community Development, said the request for an extension preserved, except for one minor date change, all of the conditions and proffers of the 2022 condition use permit. He said media reports of changes in proffers were not verified in the actual application for an extension.

Private parties

Tim Hearn, R2JS’s local representative, told the Cove Currents that he had requested a meeting with Roger DeGeorges, elected last November to the Board of Supervisors from the district that includes Captain’s Cove, to discuss possible changes in proffers attached to the project.

DeGeorges opted not to take a meeting with Hearn and instead advised Hearn to work with the planning staff in making any changes in the proffers.

“The result is that we kept all of the conditions and proffers from 2022,” Hearn said. “There are no changes,” which is what Pambid said during his brief presentation.

Pambid did not make a detailed defense of the project, but did say it was consistent with the county’s desire for more higher density housing.

Commissioner members asked the status of two conditions that had been placed on the conditional use permit two years ago. One had to do with the ownership status of Captain’s Corridor and the other concerned the availability of water and wastewater treatment services to accommodate the project.

Mark Baumgartner, a Virginia

the March 25 Board meeting:

Beach lawyer representing R2JS, said a Circuit Court judge had issued a formal written order Feb. 1 declaring that Captain’s Corridor is developer-owned in the area of the Hastings/Mariner parcel, with ownership extending to the center line of the road. An access easement is granted to each party to transit the other’s half of the Captain’s Corridor, he said.

The same judge, Revell Lewis III, now retired, also said that any question about the availability of water and wastewater treatment services to serve the townhomes is a question for the State Corporation Commission to decide, and that the commission had approved rapid filtration basins for sections in Captain’s Cove as a way of expanding treamtne capaicity in the Captain’s Cove system, Baumgartner said.

Aqua Virginia, the Cove’s utility operator, has said there is adequate capacity in its systems to accommodate the townhome project when it’s built.

There were three opponents of the project who spoke during the public comments segment of the hearing, including DeGeorges, the District 2 supervisor whose constituents include residents in Captain’s

STEM golf tournament on Aug. 17.

Cove. He chose to speak on behalf of those constituents, he said, many of whom oppose the townhome project.

DeGeorges will be among the nine supervisors who will vote on the requested conditional use permit when it’s considered either in April or May. His comments signaled that his will be a no vote when the time comes.

The first opponent to speak was Bill Leslie, the vice-president of the Concerned Citizens of Captain’s Cove and one of seven plaintiff’s in the so-called Birckhead litigation that, among other objectives, is trying to stop the townhome project from ever being built.

He told the planning commission that water quality in the Cove is poor, and that his wife suffered rashes from showering and that he had to purchase a water treatment system for $8,000 to make the water drinkable.

He said the litigation involving the Captain’s Corridor issue is still active and that the plaintiffs would appeal Judge Lewis’ ruling after other issues are litigated in June.

He contended that locating a townhome project under a village overlay zoning so far away from services such as supermarkets and gas station is poor planning.

DeGeorges then said he was at the hearing not to argue but to “make clear that the residents of Captain’s Cove are opposed to the proposed townhomes” and that the residents “don’t understand” why the interests of developers “should take precedence over the views of residents.”

No immediate appeal of road ownership issue

Plaintiff Bill Leslie says it will come after June trial on remaining Birckhead suit issues

When Judge W. Revell Lewis III issued a written order Feb. 1 confirming his decision in Accomack County Circuit Court declaring that Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club does not own Captain’s Corridor adjacent to a planned townhome project at the east entrance into Captain’s Cove at State Line Road and that access to the 24-acre townhome parcel from Captain’s Corridor can’t be denied to the parcel’s owners and the public, there was speculation and interest in the question of whether that decision would be appealed to Virginia’s Court of Appeals.

Townhome project

From Page 48

He said that “problems with rentals” at the project will cause property values in Captain’s Cove to plummet.

From Page 47 u that the MC is open, on-site staffing can be leveraged to spport the events and thereby [improve] profitability.”

The PMT says that hosting large scale weddings would require closure of the restaurant on either a Friday or Saturday evening, “previously resolved as not being in the best interest” of the membership.

Additional expenditures for new plates, silver ware and stemware would be required.

Directors expressed support for the recommendation, citing a need to bring in additional revenue.

In other topics addressed during

• Cove President Mark Majerus commended the PMT for progress in collecting bad debts from those “missing the fall payment for the first time,” noting that the numberhad been reduced from 110 in December to 57 in March.

• The Board approved a lot swap that had been postponed from a month area. The former owner of Section 7-Lot 31, said to be unbuildable because of wetlands issues, has acquired Section 7-Lot 26.

• The Board waived amenity access fees for two charitable events, golf tournaments sponsored by the Greenback Volunteer Fire Department on Sept. 29 and a Cal Ripken/

• The directors approved a request from the PMT to allow fulltime military personnel renting in Captain’s Cove to use Cove amenities free of charge. The exception would be golf carts, which members also pay to use.

After discussion, the directors expanded the waiver to include first responders as well.

• Director Pat Pelino noted that the Greenbackville Volunteer Fire Department has not received the funding or personnel they were promised for 24/7 emergency services coverage.

According to the Director of Public Safety, the problem is staffing.

She suggested that Roger DeGeorges, elected last November to serve as the supervisor who represents Captain’s Cove, should press the county’s director of emergency services to bring about the promised 24-7 coverage.

• Director Dave Felt said that needed documentation related to the Troon audit is not yet in the hands of the Cove’s auditors.

Having just returned from a vacation, he said he would pursue the matter because the Troon audit results are needed to complete the 2022 audit report.

The BIC/Richards suit has been pushed back from March to June, Majerus said.

He suggested that the project will come back to the planning commission in another two years for another permit extension.

“That’s their opinion, not mine,” he concluded and asked the commission members to “find it in your heart” to deny the extension.

Resident Jeffrey Scott said his property backs up to the Mariner/ Hastings property. He questioned where all the sewage from the project will go for treatment, apparently unaware that Aqua Virginia has said it will be treated at its wastewater treatment plant in Captain’s Cove.

He also that roads in Captain’s Cove are “terrible, you can’t drink the water,” and that the commission should deny the extension.

There were no proponents of the project who spoke up during the public hearing.

With the favorable recommendation of the planning commission, the conditional use permit now goes to the Board of Supervisors, most of whose members were in office two years ago.

The Board of Supervisors had approved a rezoning of the property from R-1 residential to a village overlay zone in April of 2022, allowing for more flexible development, including some commercial uses. The rezoning is not up for renewal.

The conditional use permit had two caveats attached. One was that the issue of access to the property from Captain’s Corridor would be resolved and the other was that water and wastewater treatment services from Aqua Virginia’s facilities in Captain’s Cove were available to the townhome project.

When the issue comes before the Board of Supervisors in April or May, DeGeorges will be faced with the prospect of voting for or against a conditional use permit that many of his colleagues voted for two years ago.

cording to one of the seven litigants in a lawsuit of which the Captain’s Corridor ownership issue is just one of seven to be adjudicated. Bill Leslie, one of the plaintiffs suing to stop the project from being built, said during a public hearing at

It will be appealed eventually, ac-


New judge expected to preside over Birckhead litigation

Long-time state delegate and senator Lynwood Lewis Jr. has been appointed the new Circuit Court Judge for Accomack, Northhampton counties and Virginia Beach, replacing Revell Lewis III, who officially retired at the end of last year.

The appointment sets up the likelihood that he will preside over the pending Birckhead litigation, in which seven Captain’s Cove residents are suing Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club and the Captain’s Cove declarant/developer, CCG Note, over a number of contentious issues.

A trial date has been set for June 11-13 at the Circuit Courthouse in Accomac.

Lynwood Lewis, a former state delegate and senator with about 20 years of legislative service, is an Accomack County native. A Democrat, he was appointed by the Democrat-


Guthridge pleased with Town Hall meeting

ic-controlled Virginia General Assembly, defeating General District Court Judge Gordon S. Vincent, who announced his candidacy for the vacancy during a meeting of the Eastern Shore Bar Association last fall.

Vincent remains a general district court judge.

The bar association on Nov. 8 voted 29-3 to recommend the General Assembly appoint Vincent as circuit judge for Accomack and Northampton counties, but it was not enough to overcome to partisan allegiance of his former colleagues.

Lewis had announced he would not be running for the newly reconfigured Senate District 20 last November.

At least in theory, it’s possible that retired judge Revell Lewis III would be brought back to to preside over the case that he has handled thus far.

Retired judges are sometimes asked to return to service as a visiting judge, but there’s been no indication so far that Lynwood Lewis is not fully prepared to step up when the trial takes place in June.


From Page 49

Cites concerns with short-term rentals and assessment as the primary take-aways

One of the two Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht directors who set up and presided over a March 16 Town Hall meeting, George Guthridge, said his takeaway is that short-term rentals and budget issues, including the annual lot assessment, were and are the primary concerns of CCGYC members.

“I think the March 16th town hall was a great event that was well worth my time and effort. I appreciate the Members providing their thoughts, concerns, and recommendations. I enjoyed the dialog,” he said.

Guthridge submitted a summary of his thoughts on the town hall at the invitation of the Cove Currents.

Regarding short-term rentals, he noted that the issue evokes strong opinions on both sides.

“I am not a fan of STRs, but I respect the right of Members to rent their property on a short or long term basis,” he said. “My experience with STRs is like those shared by other members. Let’s just say they have not always been positive.”

Guthridge said a property manager [Lance Stitcher] attended the meeting and “he provided valuable input on the rentals which I found enlightening. Given the discussion, I believe we should hold the rental property managers responsible for the renters’ actions.”

He said he would continue to work with the Board of Directors to ensure that the STR rules are appropriate, that the Property Management Team (PMT) is enforcing the rules appropriately and adequately, and that the “members un-

derstand how to make a complaint when they have less than positive experiences with renters and/or fellow Members.”

Guthridge said the budget and associated dues increases is Captain’s Cove biggest issue.

“It dominated the discussion at the meeting,” he said. As a member [of the Cove assoication] since 2010, I appreciate the impact of the dues increases since 2012. Since being elected to the Board last November, my position has been no dues increases.”

At the meeting, members shared their thoughts on the budget and dues. Some offered specific areas to reduce to save funds.

Guthridge said he would be discussing the formation of the committee or workgroup with the Board and PMT, “examining cost reductions and potential increases in Golf and Food/Beverage income in the budget development process, and holding the dues at the current level.”

The PMT has already developed a recommendation on use of the Marina Club as a banquet facility, keeping to their core position that closing it down on a Friday or Saturday would be an unacceptable inconvenience to members.

The team has also said it is open to the idea of smaller events that could include closing off a section of

“One member challenged me to develop a budget which reduces dues $100 per year. I accepted the challenge. Given the discussion, I support forming a committee or workgroup of Members, PMT, and directors to support the Fiscal Year 2025 budget development,” he said.

To Page 53 the March 13 meeting of the Accomack County Planning Commission that the ownership issue would be appealed after a June hearing in Accomack County Circuit on other issues not yet decided by the Court.

“The litigation isn’t dead,” he said, nor is the issue over Captain’s Corridor ownership.

It’s a matter of when an appeal might be filed.

The judge’s written order of Feb. 1, which was again objected to by the lawyer for plaintiffs who are suing CCGYC and Captain’s Cove declarant/developer CCG Note, teed up a 30-day window in which the ruling could have been appealed to Virginia’s intermediate court, the Court of Appeals.

That it wasn’t apparently doesn’t mean this issue can’t be packaged with others in which the plaintiffs find themselves at odds with a Court ruling.

Under changes approved by the Virginia General Assembly in 2021, the Court of Appeals began hearing both criminal and civil appeals beginning in January of 2022, with the Court obligated to hear and decide every appeal filed.

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Captain’s Cove records $210,711 in net operating income in February

Ahead of budget by $107,752 for the year so far

Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club recorded $210,771 in net operating income in February, missing budget by $17,000, but for the year so far the association has recorded $1.01 million, ahead of budget by $107,751.

The results contradict reports that Cove finances are in disarray.

When other miscellaneous expenses are factored in, the picture is even better.

Other expenses include interest expense, credit car fees, depreciation, amortization, property taxes on CCGYC-owned lots, interest on the Marina Club note, and bad debt expense, which in both January and February were tamed when compared to unexpected additional expense that showed up in December,

In February. the association recouped some of that overage, ahead of the budgeted bad debt expense by $91,945.

For the year, bad debt expense, attributed to those property owners who are not current in their lot assessments, is $868,844, over budget by $268,111. This resulted from a change in accounting for bad debt on a 90-day schedule, rather than previous 270 days.

Even so, net income including these additional expense categories indicated that the Cove recorded $174,788 in net income in February, including both operating and non-operating expenses, ahead of budget by $66,879.

For the year through February, net income reached $140,733, behind budget by $160,358.

These results are contained in the Financial Records folder under the Public Documents on the CCGYC Website.

During the Board of Directors meeting March 25, an alternative format for presenting financial results was presented. The format, devised by Director George Guthridge, was first used in February to record January results.

The new simplified net operating income statement does not capture bad debt expense, but it does summarize typical budgetary compo-

nents such as administration, operations, maintenance and food and beverage.

WSummer Is Almost Here

Get Your Boat Serviced Before It Arrives! Phillips

ith the recent decision to discontinue the Operating Committee, a group consisting of a majority of members of the Board of Directors, Senior General Manager Colby Phillips has recreated a senior advisory group, comprised of 15 Captain’s Cove residents.

She announced the creation of the group during the Property Management Team meeting March 18.

Its first group task will be to improve the community culture, which she defined as too much negativity.

Phillips said that the genesis for this new working group can be traced back to the spring of 2021, when she was hired by the Board of Directors as senior GM.

“I spoke with Mr. Hearn {Tim Hearn, then president of Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club], and he was very supportive,” she said.

“This group of around 12 members along with certain staff would meet monthly and discuss thoughts on long term planning, issues, or concerns that the team had at the operating level, etc.

“Really it was an opportunity for the senior sStaff to meet with members and get feedback on areas where we needed guidance and where it might impact membership,” she said.

Phillips also said that just “having members involved was a critical part when making bigger decisions or just needing other ideas to tackle issues or produce solutions we may be going through that were not Board level.”

The group met monthly until the Operating Committee, was established last year.

It was chaired by current Captain’s Cove President Mark Majerus.

“When [the Operating Committee] was formed, the objective was to bring it to a broader level and more open to the membership.

“As we know, the Operating Committee is no longer, so I wanted to reengage in the senior advisory group because I felt it had been productive and we were getting somewhere” when it was meeting regularly,” she said.

As the PMT “got to know members within the group, we also formed smaller side work groups of

Confirms that Operating Committee is ‘no longer’ operating

certain members who were experienced in a specific topic.”

For example, “one of these side groups met separately on and designed the Town Center replacement project. We have started several work groups as everyone has seen on ideas that have come to us, and they have so far all been very productive.”

In contrast with these smaller work groups that are geared to specific topics, the senior advisory group is higher level, “where the team is bringing the topics based on needs we have. It is not a group to discuss individual issues.”

Phillips said “although the new group is geared towards issues the team presents, we always try to make ourselves available to meet with members based on their specific needs.”

She said that the group’s “first meeting will focus on the culture here in the Cove, which at times ... [has had a] negative impact on the team as well as I know several members.

“In my role I get to work closely with the team, the Board and the members of the community and I can see the passion and love for this community on all three sides,” she added, suggesting that ways need to be found to work more productively together.

“The longevity of so many of the team here shows just how much they truly care about this place and wanting to make a positive impact. The work behind the scenes the Board as volunteers puts in, shows they truly care. The members’ involvement and expressions of not only concerns but their love for this community truly shows.”

Phillips said she has been work-

ing in homeowner or property owner associations for 15 years and “I know that there will always be those who are not happy,” but she said she “strongly believes with all my heart we can all work towards a better, more positive culture in the Cove Community.

“I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts and ideas on that at our first meeting, so please start thinking about it,” she said. “Our focus will be forward...not the past. The rearview mirror is small and the windshield is large for a reason.”

Community parties

As for the smaller work groups with more specific purposes, she said the community party work group has had three meetings already and is planning an event for Sunday, May 26, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The free event will include a family pool party, ice cream, cotton candy, crafts and pool games.

The following day, Monday, May 27, at the Marina Club, from 1-5 p.m., a buffet will be held, with the outside tiki bar and inside bar open. A DJ will be on hand to spin tunes. Cost will be $15 for members and $20 for guests.

Additional community parties are planned for July 4 and Sept. 2. The work group will meet after the first party to assess pros and cons.

Playground equipment

Philips said the working group that has been working on new playground equipment has scaled back earlier cost estimates and has divided the project into phases. Phase I would take place in early June with removal of the old structure, which is in a state of disrepair.

The area would be graded and mulch added.

The cost is estimated at around $2,000 for wood and in-house payroll.

Previously, it had been projected at $15,635.

Phase 1 also includes installation of a new playground structure at an estimated cost of $33,762.

Phase II in the fall of this year would replace the old fence at a cost of $6,000 and expansion of the area to include a new toddler structure costing $6-8,000.

The new fence would include handicap access.

She said the phases would be presented to the Board of Directors for approval.

The savings from the original estimate are considerable.

The original replacement playground would have cost $89,495, with the structure alone carrying a price tag of $68,114.

Landscaping would have added $15,635 and the fence $5,746.

The revamped playground would cost $35,762, including $1,000 for landscaping.

She said the golf course irrigation system would be “up and running” soon with plenty of water in the ponds to facilitate that.

Net income

From Page 52

The Administration line item includes all income except food and beverage and golf. Expenses include payroll, insurances, legal, community events, and utilities.

The maintenance line item includes no income, with expenses including roads, waterfront, golf maintenance, and chemicals (pool and golf course).

Operations include security, the pro shop, and income from golf greens fees and cart fees.

Food and beverage includes restaurant operations at the Marina Club and Town Center Grille.

Year-through-February, administration is ahead of budget by $148,649. Operations are ahead of budget by $3,907. Maintenance is ahead of budget by $68,646.

Food and beverage operations are $106,000 in the red for the year through February, behind budget by $113,451.

Town hall

From Page 52

the banquet room for special private events while keeping the rest of the area open for dining.

Guthridge said he was “looking forward to my next opportunity to participate in a Town Hall.”

A thread about the townhall in the Members Forum section of the Cove Website yielded generally positive remarks.

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reengages senior advisory group
Account Name MTD Actual MTD Budget MTD $ Var. MTD % Var. YTD Actual YTD Budget YTD $ Var. YTD % Var. Annual Budget Income $556,345.14 $578,046.68 -$21,701.54 -3.8% $2,850,798.60 $2,926,214.40 -$75,415.80 -2.6% $7,481,518.04 Expense $345,633.99 $350,029.75 $4,395.76 1.3% $1,841,221.45 $2,024,388.95 $183,167.50 9.0% $5,178,146.04 Net $210,711.15 $228,016.93 -$17,305.78 -7.6% $1,009,577.15 $901,825.45 $107,751.70 11.9% $2,303,372.00 Account Name MTD Actual MTD Budget MTD $ Var. MTD % Var. YTD Actual YTD Budget YTD $ Var. YTD % Var. Annual Budget Income $483,782.32 $508,926.68 -$25,144.36 -4.9% $2,449,578.16 $2,490,194.40 -$40,616.24 -1.6% $6,051,648.04 Expense $182,475.20 $191,150.60 $8,675.40 4.5% $921,016.48 $1,110,282.00 $189,265.52 17.0% $2,731,818.04 Net $301,307.12 $317,776.08 -$16,468.96 -5.2% $1,528,561.68 $1,379,912.40 $148,649.28 10.8% $3,319,830.00 Account Name MTD Actual MTD Budget MTD $ Var. MTD % Var. YTD Actual YTD Budget YTD $ Var. YTD % Var. Annual Budget Income $3,860.94 $2,920.00 $940.94 32.2% $56,186.57 $39,120.00 $17,066.57 43.6% $151,270.00 Expense $22,609.25 $25,887.40 $3,278.15 12.7% $136,642.45 $123,483.20 -$13,159.25 -10.7% $296,789.00 Net -$18,748.31 -$22,967.40 $4,219.09 -18.4% -$80,455.88 -$84,363.20 $3,907.32 -4.6% -$145,519.00 Account Name MTD Actual MTD Budget MTD $ Var. MTD % Var. YTD Actual YTD Budget YTD $ Var. YTD % Var. Annual Budget Income $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 N/A $0.00 $0.00 $0.00 N/A $0.00 Expense $58,135.50 $70,401.75 $12,266.25 17.4% $332,632.78 $401,278.75 $68,645.97 17.1% $986,889.00 Net -$58,135.50 -$70,401.75 $12,266.25 -17.4% -$332,632.78 -$401,278.75 $68,645.97 -17.1% -$986,889.00 Account Name MTD Actual MTD Budget MTD $ Var. MTD % Var. YTD Actual YTD Budget YTD $ Var. YTD % Var. Annual Budget Income $68,701.88 $66,200.00 $2,501.88 3.8% $345,033.87 $396,900.00 -$51,866.13 -13.1% $1,278,600.00 Expense $82,414.04 $62,590.00 -$19,824.04 -31.7% $450,929.74 $389,345.00 -$61,584.74 -15.8% $1,162,650.00 Net -$13,712.16 $3,610.00 -$17,322.16 -479.8% -$105,895.87 $7,555.00 -$113,450.87 -1501.7% $115,950.00 CCG&YC, INC ADMIN OPERATIONS MAINTENANCE FOOD & BEVERAGE

Volunteers the ‘life force’ of Captain’s Cove

Acommunity’s life force comes from the hearts of the volunteers who support and sustain it. Volunteers are often at the forefront of activities and events but, even more often, in the background, quietly helping to keep the gears moving. With spring upon us, the volunteers of Captain’s Cove are awakening from their winter hibernation to bring beauty and birds to the community.

The Beautification Workgroup is utilizing their collective knowledge of native plants to help bring color to the landscape. Meanwhile, Luann Roche has gathered a group of amateur ornithologists to build and monitor bluebird houses. The group hopes to expand the colorful little birds’ presence by providing an inviting habitat.

Around 500 bright plastic eggs gave the indoor pool a blast of color. Volunteers, including Antionette Majerus, helped fill thousands of eggs for the Easter festivities. Antionette’s job was made possible by the donations of candy and prizes from many anonymous members. Once filled, a fuzzy rabbit, whose visit was arranged thanks to yet another volunteer, threw some of the filled eggs into the pool, for community children to dive down and retrieve.

The indoor pool is one of the more popular amenities that Captain’s Cove volunteers utilize to keep the members busy and fit. Volunteers Eileen Klinefelter and Colby Phillips host water exercise classes six days per week, with as many as ten classes held weekly. Eileen has taught water aerobics for the last four years, all at no additional cost to the membership. Three years ago, Eileen stepped up her game thanks to the addition of HydroCycles, a stationary bike that is ridden in the water. March saw the water fitness classes expanding thanks to Senior General Manager Colby Phillips, who began volunteering on her personal time to teach two classes a week.

Creative Volunteering is the preferred route for volunteers in the Arts and Crafts League (ACL). While some of the community volunteers share their love of fitness, others, including Debbie

Byars, Joann Mircelli, and Janice Gladysiewicz, volunteer by teaching arts and crafts classes. On March 23, just prior to the Easter Egg Pool Dive, the ladies hosted an Easter Kids Drop-In. Around 15 children “dropped by” to learn how to make washcloth bunnies, bunny baskets, and clothpin bunny figurines. The ACL volunteers plan to bring more classes to the membership this summer.

Other Crafty Cove volunteers, including a young teen, donated their custom fishing lures as prizes for the March 24 Family Bingo. Those wishing to contribute by sprucing up their own spaces donated other items that were given out as prizes. In all, around 100 individuals took part in the free family event, made possible by community volunteers and donations.

The next bingo will be held April 28, from 2-4 p.m. in the Marina Restaurant.

Dave Gladysiewicz continued the March volunteer theme of beautification and spring cleaning by painting the beloved Marina Restaurant rocking chairs. The chairs will undoubtedly see many restaurant patrons and members this spring and summer.

As summer quickly approaches, the Captain’s Cove Farmers & Artisans Market volunteers are kicking it into high gear. Group members, including Ralp Burner, Carol Gardner, Carol Pedrick, and Michele Ragonese, are busy collecting applications and reaching out to potential vendors. The group hopes to bring fresh produce, bread, arts, and crafts to the community, Thursdays through the summer.

Captain’s Cove could not thrive without the Volunteer life force. Each volunteer contributes to the greater community by painting furniture, acting as a parking attendant, building birdhouses, or participating in a workgroup.

As the community expands, the reliance on the volunteer force will grow. Anyone who has a hidden tal-

ent or just wants to be part of the community’s life force is encouraged to contact Captain’s Cove Reception. Only you know what you have to offer to help build a strong, vibrant community. Together, we will thrive!

Julia Knopf is the community relations manager of Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club.

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The Easter Bunny Watches as community children participate in the Pool Egg Dive on March 28.
56 Ocean Pines PROGRESS April 2024
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