July 2024 Ocean Pines Progress

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Tiffany Knupp charged with theft from foundation

The foundation that was established to honor the memory of 14-year-old Gavin Knupp of Ocean Pines killed in an alleged hit and run accident in July of 2022 now finds itself embroiled in allegations of financial mismanagement.

Tiffany Knupp, of Berlin, formerly of Ocean Pines, was issued a criminal summons on Tuesday, June 25, for a preliminary hearing in Worcester County District Court in Snow Hill for nine charges accusing her of embezzlement, theft and theft scheme.

She’s the president of the foundation created in her son’s name.

The charges are a mix five felonies and four misdemeanors. The alleged misuse of funds totals $12,625.

The preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 23.

Her attorney has issued a statement denying the charges and vows to fight them in court. ~ Page 34


Ocean Pines ............... Pages 1-35

OPA Finances ............ Page 36-38 Worcester County .......... Page 39 Lifestyles ..................... Page 40-43

Opinion ..................... Pages 45-47

Captain’s Cove ........ Pages 48-63

OPA, OPVFD in discussions for new Southside firehouse

AEfforts under way to rewrite ‘memo of understanding’ that governs financial relationship between them

fter discussions for a new Southside firehouse ran aground last year over ownership of the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department’s operational hub, talks have been revived, and there are indications that an agreement between the two parties is very close to happening, subject to approval by the OPVFD membership.

Ocean Pines Association President Rick Farr at a June 13 Board of Directors candidates forum announced that talks for a new firehouse, as opposed to a renovation, were under way. The previous month, OPVFD President Joe Enste disclosed during a presentation at an OPA Board meeting that discussions for a new building or renovation were under way.

When discussions between the two parties fell apart last year, the OPVFD announced that it was foregoing a

new building and instead would concentrate fund-raising efforts to help pay for a renovation.

Farr’s disclosure omitted any reference to a renovation, suggesting that the parties are working toward a common objective of building a new building, with one exception. It seems likely that the three existing apparatus bays will be retained at a substantial cost savings.

When asked to elaborate on the status of these discussions, Farr demurred.

“Joe [Enste] has to be able to sell any agreement we arrive at to his membership,” Farr said. “I don’t want to say anything” that might get in the way of that happening.

Farr’s disclosure about the ongoing discussions during the candidates forum was a response to a critique of Farr by former director and current Board candidate Amy Peck, who blamed Farr for the suspension

Southside firehouse

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of talks last year. She sniped at his comment that the OPVFD needed to have “skin in the game” as part of an agreement with the OPA.

“Skin in the game” was a reference to a building ownership issue in which the OPVFD would have had to give up ownership of the Southside firehouse as a way of benefitting from the OPA obtaining a mortgage for $3 million in construction costs.

That requirement did not sit well in a general membership meeting of the OPVFD last year that resulted in a suspension of talks between the OPA and OPVFD.

“Pride of ownership” is the way that Farr and others describe it now. The cost of a new firehouse has been estimated at $5 million or more, with the OPVFD in line for about $1.5 million in committed state grants. The OPVFD would contribute another $1 million or so from its own reserves to help pay for the new building, unless there’s been some change in this from last year.

The Progress has learned that the parties also have been negotiating terms of a new memo of understanding that governs their financial relationship.

The current MOU is at least two decades old, and it specifies that the OPA is obligated to pay 50 percent of the cost of any OPVFD equipment


That percentage is likely to be renegotiated, with the OPA taking on to perhaps 75 percent of apparatus costs in the future.

The OPA Board had a closed meeting scheduled for Monday, July 1, when the draft MOU was to be reviewed and likely approved.

If the Board approves the MOU, then the next step would be for Enste to take it to OPVFD membership for approval.

The Progress has also learned that the building ownership issue could be finessed in a compromise, with the OPVFD retaining ownership of the land upon which the Southside firehouse sits.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has a low interest loan program for new firehouses in rural areas, requires that entities to which it loans money own the underlying asset. The same is true with banks, which need a hard asset as security for any mortgage they issue.

That requirement would seem to suggest that the OPVFD membership would need to accept OPA ownership of the building as part of the deal because of the lender’s requirement and not because the OPA covets the asset or, as some have suggested, because it wants to get into the business of firefighting and directly providing emergency medical services.

OPA officials including Farr and General Manager John Viola have denied that the OPA is interested in taking on costly firefighting and EMT


“In the end, it’s not going to matter to most people who owns the building,” an informed source told the Progress recently. “Pride of ownership is important to OPVFD members. Perhaps continued ownership of the land will ease their concerns.”

In a related matter, sources are telling the Progress that, contrary to assertions on the oceanpinesforum Website, there is no legal obligation to conduct a referendum on the OPA’s expected $3 million contribution toward a new firehouse.

The legal rationale is that the OPA will be paying debt service on a $3 million mortgage rather than using its own funds to build the firehouse.

The cost to property owners would be about $35 per year on the assessment, according to a preliminary analysis, which equates to about $350,000 in debt service over ten years.

That $350,000 is well below the $1 million threshold that triggers a referendum in the OPA by-laws.

Section 5.13 (d) a. of the by-laws that specify Board powers says that “if the total estimated cost [of a capital expenditure], capitalized in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles, of any single capital expenditure exceeds $1 million, the proposed single capital expenditure shall require approval of the members

Ocean Pines

July 2024

Southside firehouse

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by a referendum.”

Section 5.13 (d) b references capital projects done in phases, and it has been interpreted to mean that if a project phase costs less than $1 million in any given year, no referendum is required.

“‘Single capital expenditure’ refers to the current phase, provided the Association is under no contractual obligation to undertake successive phases,” this subsection reads.

It would not seem to apply to the firehouse project, as there has been no discussion that a new fire station would be built in phases.

The Progress has been told that OPA attorney Bruce Bright reads Section 5.13 (d) to mean that, since annual debt service of about $350,000 is a “single capital expenditure” less than $1 million, no referendum is required. Testing that legal theory would probably require legal action by anyone opposed to it.

The source told the Progress that legal action by opponents seems unlikely, for the simple reason that providing up-to-date, modern facilities for the OPVFD, including a decontamination area and beds for emergency medical service personnel, is likely to be very popular with OPA members. “Why have a referendum on something where the outcome seems like a foregone conclusion,” the source said.

Ballots arrive; Farr spars with Peck, Clifford over MOC contract extension

Challengers say contract should be bid out for at least three proposals

Electronic ballots for those with valid email addresses on file with the Ocean Pines Association arrived in the inboxes of OPA members on June 20, and paper ballots were expected to begin arriving in more traditional mailboxes a week or so later.

The launch of the OPA Board of Directors election was thus earlier than has occurred in recent memory.

Ballots didn’t go out last year well into July, when there was no electronic voting, and the delay caused the Board of Directors to add two weeks to the balloting and to push back the annual meeting of the association two Saturdays from the second Saturday of August, the day it’s traditionally scheduled.

The Elections Committee was determined

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to avoid last year’s delay, and the Pittsburgh-based vendor handling the ballots for the OPA this year delivered, perhaps sooner than anyone anticipated. In any event, OPA members will have longer than usual to return paper ballots.

OPA members can return paper ballots by mail or delivery them to a drop-box at the Ocean Pines Police Department.

Members can vote online within seconds, with email confirmation arriving shortly after.

With the casting of ballots under way, the election is shaping up as a contest between two incumbents, OPA President Rick Farr and Director Jeff Heavner, and two challengers, Amy Peck and Sherrie Clifford.

Heavner all but endorsed for Farr for reelection during the June candidates forum, praisTo Page 6

From Page 4

ing his leadership on the Board since August of last year.

A fifth contender, Jerry Murphy, told the Progress recently that he thinks Farr and Heavner will run away with the election, admitting that he no longer had the “heart” to wage a campaign. But he said that since ballots have already been sent

out, dropping out of the race was not an option for him, he said.

There are quite a few issues separating the Clifford-Peck team from Farr and Heavner, the incumbents.

One is whether the OPA will negotiate a sole source contract extension with the Matt Ortt Companies to manage OPA’s three food and beverage venues, or whether the Board will authorize OPA General Manager John Viola to seek three bids from

other food service vendors.

Farr told the Progress in a recent interview that he is solidly in the camp of a simple extension for MOC, seeing no need to seek out competitive bids.

“MOC has led a turn-around of OPA food and beverage venues, particularly the Yacht Club and the [golf] Clubhouse Grille,” Farr said. “They continued to operate successfully during the covid pandemic. I

see no need to even open the possibility that MOC’s substantial investment in Ocean Pines operations is in jeopardy.”

General Manager John Viola can negotiate any tweaks to the contract he thinks are needed and any revisions can come back to the Board for approval, Farr said.

“Not sure any are needed,” he said.

The current contract earned MOC about $500,000 in 2023-24, the fiscal year that ended this past April 30.

The contract calls for a $200,000 management fee for three venues, and MOC earned another $300,000 in profit-sharing, General Manager John Viola told the Progress.

Under the current contract, MOC splits any profits in excess of a $190,000 threshold fifty-fifty with the association. The threshold for profit-sharing has remained the same for the last couple of years.

Peck and Clifford are taking the position that while they are not opposed to a contract extension for MOC, that shouldn’t be automatic.

Both said the food management contract should be put out to bid, with at least three vendors submitting proposals.

It’s not even necessarily the case that the OPA would accept the low bid if it turns out that MOC’s proposal isn’t the lowest, Peck told the Progress.

“Plenty of times we don’t go with the vendor with the lowest price,” Peck said, but she emphasized that the OPA should at least obtain proposals from other vendors before extending the MOC contract.

During the candidates forum last month, Peck was asked whether she supported MOC and Viola, with the questioner demanding a yes or no answer. Peck said she did in both cases. The question wasn’t put to Clifford.

In a text to the Progress after the forum, Farr said it’s a lie that Peck or Clifford support MOC’s role as the OPA’s food and service vendor.

He cited a petition on Clifford’s Resident Oversight Committee Facebook page during the height of the Justice for Gavin controversy two years ago. The petition called for MOC’s removal as the OPA food and beverage vendor.

Farr also said Clifford submitted the name of potential replacement vendor to Viola via email during that same period.

Clifford said the on-line petition did not include an exhortation for

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MOC contract

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visitors to sign it; nor did the ROC endorse it.

She said it was intended as a public service, to let people know there was an on-line petition they could sign if they wanted to.

She confirmed that she had given Viola the name of a vendor based in New Jersey.

“At the time it looked there might be sufficient public pressure to remove MOC [as the OPA vendor],”she said. “I was simply trying to give the OPA an option.”

Farr said that claim wasn’t plausible. He said that Clifford signed the petition and the neither she nor Peck can credibly deny they were working to encourage Viola and Board to replace MOC.

Clifford and Peck both are resisting what they say are Farr’s lies with respect to the MOC controversy.

“We weren’t supporting a boycott, never did and we aren’t now,” Clifford said. “I support MOC and a contract extension for Viola.”

Peck said that supporting MOC and a three-bid contract process are not incompatible.


Candidates politely spar with one another in forum

Three rounds of questions yield some competing narratives

The one and only Ocean Pines Board Candidate Forum was hosted by the Election Advisory Committee on June 13 at the Golf Clubhouse.

Ocean Pines residents filled the room to hear from the five candidates vying for two seats on the Board

of Directors. The candidates, in the order they appear on the ballot, are Sherrie Clifford, Jeff Heavner, Rick Farr, Amy Peck and Jerry Murphy. The two successful candidates will serve until 2027.

Steve Ransdell, the new chair of the Election Committee, hosted the forum, which allowed each candi-

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Rick Farr Jeff Heavner Amy Peck Sherrie Clifford Jerry Murphy

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date to provide opening and closing remarks and answer questions. In round one of the forum, candidates drew numbers for questions that were submitted by residents in advance. Round two allowed residents in the audience to ask questions of the candidates. Round three provided the opportunity for candidates to ask another candidate a question.

Questioning was for the most part respectful, but with some evidence of a charged dynamic between what has emerged as two candidate slates -- Farr and Heavner vs. Clifford and Peck.

Candidate Statements

Sherrie Clifford

Clifford commended the many successful developments by General Manager John Viola and his team.

Her priorities focus on revitalizing the volunteer advisory committees and supporting the Police and Fire Departments.

“Volunteer advisory committees provide a voice of reason and accountability,” Clifford said. “Eliminating our committees and excluding our volunteers is detrimental to everyone involved.”

“We need a Board which collaborates with all members of our community and not just a select few.”

She noted that the Board should never have to find itself in a position to have to restore a working relationship with the Fire Department or any essential asset, referring to the breakdown of discussions between the Board and the Fire Department after the Board asked for ownership of the South Station land and building in exchange for support for the expansion of the fire house.

“When entrusted with this position, my highest priority will be the safety and security of this community,” Clifford said.

She said she is committed to a code of ethics for the Board and open communications and transparency if elected.

“This election is very important and will determine whether home owners are included or excluded in all aspects of our community. All homeowners should have an equal opportunity to serve and should not be excluded for differences of opinions.”

“I am here to stand up for my community and offer my expertise in governance of Ocean Pines where facts, truth, transparency and ac-

countability are essential for the community’s continued growth and success.”

She highlighted her tech experience and her ability to collaborate as skills that would be valuable to the Board. Clifford runs the Ocean Pines Resident Oversight Committee Facebook page, which she said is very positive and promotes Ocean Pines events.

Jeff Heavner

Heavner, who is currently serving

on the Board, highlighted his experience in the U.S Navy as an intelligence officer and later at Exxonmobil in his remarks. He commended both Viola and Board President Rick Farr for their efforts. His vision for growth includes getting a deal done to build a new Southside firestation; securing a multi-year contract with General Manager Viola and starting succession planning for that position; signing a multi-year contract with the Matt Ortt Companies to continue to

run the food and beverage services at the Yacht, Beach and Golf Clubs; moving forward with the renovation of the Racquet Sports clubhouse; focusing on secondary drainage and beautifying the entrance to the Yacht Club. He also wanted to see a focus on CPI education to reduce violations.

Heavner came out swinging in his closing remarks, stating that there is only one oversight of this community and it lies within the u

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Candidates forum

From Page 11 Board of Directors,” clearly referring to the Ocean Pines Resident Oversight Community a news and media corporation that candidates Clifford and Peck run.

“Directorship is a job that requires the ability to work with others and bring the community together, with laser focus on our strategic priorities. This Board is performing effectively and efficiently,” he said.

Rick Farr

Farr, who is the current president of the OPA, outlined the successes of the Board under his leadership in his remarks.

“Success has provided a positive year to date variance of $1.2 million dollars. We are financially sound in the Ocean Pines community,” Farr said.

He highlighted the reduction in assessments during his tenure on the Board with all amenities well funded and the increase in salaries and retirement contributions for Ocean Pines Police. He recognized the OP Golf Course as a destination course with record play, along with the record sales at the new Tiki Bar at the Yacht Club since opening, and the refresh of the interior at the Beach Club. He also highlighted the aggressive efforts to address CPI violations which have recovered $80,000 in unpaid assessments and an increase in amenity memberships by more than $100,000 from last year.

He defended the 6-1 or 7-0 Board majority, which candidates Clifford and Peck have regularly raised as a concern, and said that the Ocean Pines residents voted for this Board and it is working in the best interest of Ocean Pines.

“We are functionally sound, our finances are in great shape, our amenities are in great shape, and this Board works very well with our general manager,” he said.

Farr noted his military career in the US Air Force in combat operations and his current position as the chief human resource officer for the town of Easton.

Amy Peck

Peck said that when she announced her candidacy, many people in the community told her she was brave to run for the Board of Directors.

“That is a sad commentary on today’s political climate and it targets the fact that I have been targeted for daring to disagree with some Board decisions and for asking questions.

“It’s not just bravery, but a passion for Ocean Pines and wanting the best that has me here today,” Peck said.

She is running for respectful open discussion, with multiple perspectives, ideas and solutions. She wants to see different viewpoints on the Board and collaboration.

“We need to restore relationships within the community, and that includes the Fire Department and the committees,” Peck said.

She raised concerns about the supermajority on the Board, where she said decisions are made behind closed doors without transparency, discussion or respect for the advisory committees.

“This Board does have a trend. If you don’t blindly agree with them or if you have a different idea or concern, they stomp you out, and that is wrong. They exclude and not include.

“That is not effective governance, it is not what is best for Ocean Pines.”

She wants a Board that is willing


Candidates forum

From Page 12

to hear other points of view and even criticism.

Peck recognized the financial successes over the past few years and said she was confident they would continue.

“I believe in smart conservative spending and not pet projects and three bids are always needed when spending HOA dollars.”

If elected, this would be Peck’s second stint on the Board, as she was appointed to a Board seat in October 2021 and served nine months until the next election, which she lost by a handful of votes.

Jerry Murphy

Murphy is making his second run for a position on the Board. He owned two McDonald’s franchises in the area and is currently a real estate agent and holds a position on an historical apartment building assoiciation in Baltimore, with ample reserves. He has the longest tenure in Ocean Pines of all the candidates, having been a builder of many of the

iconic round houses in the community, which were built in the 1970s.

He said he is running to expand on the current successes in Ocean Pines.

“I commit myself to transparency and integrity, a commitment to our property owners and all the residents.”


Clifford was asked her position on increasing the number of CPI inspectors to help better enforce violations that will help keep OP property values high.

“I am all for enforcement of our CPI and keeping our property values high,” she said.

She would like to see the DMA study conducted to ensure the OPA has proper funding in all areas. She did agree that having only two people covering 8,500 homes is probably too low, but she would want to look at the data before making a decision.

Farr asked Clifford about her Ocean Pines ROC podcast. He noted that one podcast had former Officer Chris Tarr on as a guest, whom he

said was ethically compromised as an officer in Ocean Pines regarding chain of custody of ammunition and firearms. “It was said on your podcast that you wished there were more Tarrs in our community.”

He asked Clifford why she would want more Chris Tarrs in the OPA police department?

Clifford responded that she did have Tarr and the former police chief on her podcast. “I am not a judge and at the time, his service was not compromised at that time until after he did the podcast. He had something to say and we gave him the platform to say it.”

“I believe in giving people a voice, so their side of the story can be heard,” she said.

Heavner was asked about whether the Board was complying with the OPA by-laws when making its decisions and how he would ensure that by-laws were followed.

He responded by saying that each member of the Board is an independent thinker and does his or her best to follow the rules and regulations.

“Most of the people on this Board have a common vision. A common vision that is shared with you all. A vision of exceptional safety, of financial value and quality of life. How we get there is investing in our amenities, infrastructure maintenance, safety and community beautification.

“We try to abide by our covenants and resolutions. If we don’t, we are open, we have big shoulders. We are able to take feedback and we will learn from it.”

Heavner was asked about expanding the width of Route 90 and if he would give his word that he would go to every affected homeowner and advise them on what is coming?

Heavner said he makes a point of talking to residents. He said he

thinks the possible widening of Route 90 is “a pipe dream” and believes it is a long way off.

But he said, “Yes, when the time comes it will be discussed thoroughly.”

Farr was asked if the OPA had any contingency plans for unexpected emergencies, such as natural disasters or major repairs.

Farr said OPA has reserves for disasters. He also noted that OPA can make claims on the association’s insurance before accessing reserves.

Farr was asked if he would be in favor of modifying the by-laws to require public posting of the annual budget including any redline changes 14 days prior to the budget vote.

Farr stated that he would. “It is important that they [homeowners] know where the funds are and where the budget is.” He also said that the Board would continue to work with the general manager to make sure the budget is correct.

Peck asked Farr about Board negotiations with the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department.

Farr said that they are currently in negotiations with the OPVFD regarding a new South Side firestation. “Our relationship with the Fire Department has increased immensely and once a decision is made it will be brought to the community. It is something that we want and we support.”

Peck was asked how she would prepare for monthly Board meetings. She advocated for the Board packet to be posted on the website far in advance to allow homeowners to review the package and determine whether they might want to provide public comments during the meeting. Peck said she is an avid researcher and gathers information from data, fellow Board mem-


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bers and experts. She wants to see dialogue on the issues done at the Board meetings.

“You, as a homeowner, have the right to know how these decisions are being made. Right now, it feels like six directors, in lock-step, are raising their hands, and you don’t know why.

“If elected, I am committed to asking those questions, to transparency and doing that behind the scenes research so that homeowners feel like they have a stake, that their concerns are being listened to and it is a transparent process.”

Peck was asked if she supported General Manager John Viola and the Matt Ortt Companies to run the Yacht Club.

Peck said, yes, she was proud to be on the Board that secured John Viola for the three year contract that he is on now.

She said she is a big supporter of amenities operating profitably, which lowers our HOA fees. She said she thought outsourcing the food and beverage was a fantastic

decision and she said she supported MOC continuing its contract.

Murphy asked Peck why she so often has been critical of the Board of Directors.

Peck responded that “asking questions, researching and having multiple perspectives is positive and how you come up with the best decisions.”

“We do not hear that from this Board of Directors. It is just hands up, yes. It should be a collaboration, it should not be just coming from one person. As an independent thinker, I would be asking those questions. And I could help with coming up with some solutions and it would improve transparency.”

Murphy was asked what he would do to ensure that the new contract with the Matt Ortt Companies would be more favorable for the property owners whose patronage keeps it in the black by providing net proceeds to OPA that pay for operations, fully fund depreciation and reduce the property owners subsidy.

Murphy commented that before Matt Ortt’s management, he would not have brought anyone to the Yacht Club even for chicken wings.

tion that attracts 1000 plus people to the Yacht Club,” Murphy said. “The Beach Club is doing well and I would like to see it continue.”

He did not think any property owner would have an issue with a $15 assessment increase to keep Matt on Board. “Ocean Pines is the benefactor of his positive operations.”

There has been no talk of raising the assessment to pay for a contract extention. MOC receives a flat management fee to manage three food and beverage venues and splits profits 50-50 with the OPA when the three venues produce $180,000 per year in positive variances to budget, Viola told the Progress recently.

“I have nothing negative to say about Matt Ortt and I hope his contract will continue,” Murphy said.

Heavner asked Murphy what the biggest changes that he has seen in Ocean Pines during his long tenure here.

Murphy said road signs and improved road conditions. He said he did like the old Yacht Club.

for Ocean Pines. Neighbors become friends, families are raised here in Ocean Pines. Things are going along fine and I want to see it continue. We are doing a great job and I hope we can continue.”

Clifford asked Murphy about a community survey and wondered what his commitment is to getting the survey out.

Murphy is a member of the Stragetic Planning Advisory Committee that has been working on a new survey.

Murphy said the survey was given out during the community event in April.

“We did not get as many [responses] as we had hoped,” he said.

He said the committee will analyze that and will get a community-wide survey out to the public as soon as it is available.

“Matt has put together an opera-

“The things that mean the most to me are what has been going on the last couple of years. It’s so positive

Property owners in good standing have the opportunity to vote for two candidates to fill the two open seats on the Board of Directors. On-line ballots were sent out on June 20 and paper ballots were arriving about a week later.

The deadline for returning ballots is Tuesday, August 6 by 4 pm.

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Tom Schwartz resigns from Elections Committee

There’s been another resignation from the Ocean Pines Association’s Elections Committee, with Tom Schwartz the latest to submit his resignation. Other recent departures include Tom Piatti, the former chair; and veteran members George Alston, Nancy Osborne and Schwartz.

The vacancies have been quickly filled, and the resignations do not appear to be coordinated,

At the end of May the committee was down to four members, Steve Ransdell, Fred Robinson, and new appointments Cheryl Jacobs and Patrick Lehnerd, the latter two of whom were appointed in June. Robinson had been appointed the month prior.

In a post on Ocean Pines Forum, Schwartz said he was not forced or encouraged to resign by the Board of Directors or Elections Committee.

“I did that after it was bought to my attention that I ‘liked’ a post by Kelly [Miller of the Oversight of ROC Facebook page] that mentioned a terse interaction with [Board of Directors candidate] Amy{Peck] at the end of a post which I didn’t read the first time.

“The first section of the post he [Miller] wrote about the positive relations in the community. I liked that section,” Schwartz wrote. “It was my error by not noticing the ‘see more’ icon that still had another part, at which point I unliked the post.”

He didn’t say what it was that he found disturbing by clicking the “see more” icon.

Schwartz in his forum post ex-

pressed pride in his actions on the Elections Committee.

“I stand by my actions on the ... committee and the model procedures developed over the last two years in which the committee members have had no direct hands-on activities counting ballots.

“The procedures establish timelines, contracts for mailing ballots to each lot owner (no more confusing weighted ballots), and ensuring a sole source operator for all ballot processes,” he said.

Schwartz called last summer’s election a reset, albeit with a mailing delay, “which in fact produced an increase in returned ballots. This year ... electronic balloting will be added back and the goal is to exceed last year’s ballot totals,” he said.

Schwartz said that because of his error “in failing to read the entire post by Kelly {Miller], I felt the need to resign to ensure continued unbiased efforts of the electiond committee and election of new Board members for 2024.”

A colleague of his on the committee, newly appointed Steve Ransdell, also ‘liked’ a post on Miller’s Facebook page that turned out to be controversial, but he did not resign.

The ‘like’ also didn’t prevent his subsequent appointment as chair of the committee.

Board member Monica Rakowski summed up her and and the Board’s reasoning: Too much


Top honors

The Worcester County Chamber of Commerce in Ocean Pines received top honors in the 2024 Chamber Challenge at the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 40th Maryland Small Business Awards Event” on June 6 at Martin’s West in Woodlawn, Md. Chamber President and CEO Kerrie Bunting received the award on behalf of the Chamber’s Board and partners. Accompanying Bunting to the event was Board Vice Chair Donna Frankowski. “Last year was our first time jumping into the statewide competition and we won 2 nd place. This year, our partners came out in full force and projected us to number one! We couldn’t be more grateful or honored to have the regions support.” The annual Chamber Challenge recognizes chambers across the state for their efforts in supporting Maryland’s small businesses. Chambers are voted on by their members throughout the month of March. The top three winners are announced as part of the annual awards event. In addition to the Worcester County Chamber in Ocean Pines being recognized as the 2024 statewide champion, while the Snow Hill Chamber was announced as second place winner.

attention is given to social media.

Director Jeff Heavner, a candidate for reelection to the Board, said that Ransdell had a free speech right

and had professionally hosted the committee’s recent candidate forum, with no indication of bias for or against any candidate.

Board appoints Steve Ransdell chair of the Elections Committee

Vote is 6-1; Jacobs once again is odd man out

Over the objection of Director Steve Jacobs, the Board of Directors on June 15 appointed Steve Ransdell as chairman of the Ocean Pines Association’s Elections Committee. The position opened up with the exit of former chair Tom Piatti, and Ransdell was endorsed by Piatti to take over the role.

Jacobs, who often is at odds with his six colleagues, said he values the volunteers who step forward to take on committee roles for the OPA, but that Ransdell was not the appropriate person to fill the seat of Elections Committee chairman. He cited Ransdell’s alleged engagement with an Ocean Pines focused Facebook page as the reason for his opposition.

Jacobs said the Facebook page purports to be a parody page and specifically focuses on three individual residents of Ocean Pines. “The

content is much closer to being insulting, demeaning, and generally repulsive,” he said. Jacobs said it has targeted some people running for seats on the Board in this summer’s election and Ransdell in the past has interacted on that Facebook page by liking certain posts or comments that Jacobs considered negative.

Because two or the three people targeted by the Facebook page are running for election and because Ransdell has “indicated his view of these people,” it would be inappropriate for him to now be appointed Elections Committee chairman, Jacobs argued.

The two individuals to whom Jacobs referred are Board candidates Amy Peck and Sherrie Clifford, and the Facebook Page to which he referred is called the Ocean Pines Oversight of the ROC (Residents Oversight Community). ROC is a

Facebook site administered by Clifford and Peck.

Jacobs said there is potential for a conflict of interest between Ransdell’s personal views and the OPA’s need to hold an election.

Jacobs said that Ransdell has only been a member of the Elections Committee for six or seven months, indicating that he isn’t qualified for the job of chair, and “a better course of action would be to find a different chair.”

He argued that the OPA’s last three elections have been mired in controversy for different reasons and this year the association needs to have a smooth election process.

“We can do better and we can find someone else that can step in, whether it’s a new member or an existing member of the committee, and we avoid the appearance of any particular conflict,” he said.

Other directors pushed back on

the idea that Ransdell would allow his personal views about certain candidates to influence the way he would run the Elections Committee.

“Mr. Ransdell, a professional, ran a great candidate forum just last night,” Director Stuart Lakernick said in response to Jacobs, adding that he would now allow content on social media “dictate the actions of the Board. I think your characterization of Mr. Ransdell is incorrect.”

Lakernick also said Jacobs is wrong about the conduct of the 2023 Board election and that it went rather smoothly. The election period just needed to be extended by two weeks to allow for proper roll-out of materials to members, he said.

Director Jeff Heavner said “everybody is entitled to their own opinion. We live in a free world,” in effect saying that Ransdell had the right to indicate a “like” on a Facebook page without it affecting a Board decision on an advisory committee appointment.

He agreed with Lakernick that Ransdell had “demonstrated character and professionalism at the candidate’s forum” held a few days prior to the meeting and deserves to be





appointed chairman of the Elections Committee. Director Monica Rakoswki said far too much credence is given to Facebook pages. She also said the election process in Ocean Pines is designed so that one individual cannot affect its outcome.

OPA President Rick Farr agreed and said he doesn’t know how Ransdell would be able as chairman to influence the election process, which is clearly laid out and is already well under way. The mailing out, return and counting of ballots is no longer directly handled by the Elections Committee, which in recent years has opted to hire outside contractors for that function.

Ransdell’s appointment as Elections Committee chair was eventually approved in a 6-1 vote. The Board also appointed Cheryl Jacobs and Pat Lehnerd for a first term to the Elections Committee.

Cheryl Jacobs is a former OPA director who has been a member of and has chaired various advisory committees over the years.

In addition to Steve Jacobs, Board candidates Peck and Clifford have opposed Ransdell’s appointment, with Clifford telling the Progress recently that Cheryl Jacobs would have been an obvious choice for committee chair.

Ocean Pines Forum’s Joe Reynolds also registered opposition to Ransdell’s appointment in recent commentaries, making the same arguments that Steve Jacobs did during the June 15 meeting. He called it one of the worst decisions ever made by a Board of Directors in his 20-plus years of observing and commenting on OPA affairs. He was critical of Miller, too, without actually naming him.

Miller responded to Reynolds in a June 19 post.

“Joe ….aka Reynolds Wrap continues his tirade with name calling after lambasting me for calling the hags…..well … hags,” Miller wrote. “The Wrap calls me an unhinged crackpot. I’m cool with that Wrap. I’m used to names. While in the delivery room each time during the birth of my three kids….somehow I was supposed to be the birthing coach, and I got called the meanest most vile names during the boat trip down the birth canal.”

Two days earlier, Miller used his page to com-

ment on Reynolds’s Website.

“It appears that Reynolds Wrap has updated his cover photo on his pearl clutching blog. He’s gone from looking 30 years old to using his license photo of 30 years ago. It appears that he’s always offended and his four regular responders are the same. Sanctimonious Joe,” Miller wrote.

“Joe appears not to like the aging process either. Come on Wrap ... Life is short but a good sense of humor will make it seem longer. Enjoy the ride and age like a fine wine, not a rotting banana,” he added.

On June 16, Miller responded to Reynolds’ assertion that Miller had demeaned Peck and Clifford on his site along with former director Josette Wheatley. He didn’t deny that allegation but instead said he hasn’t exclusively targeted women.

“Reynolds Wrap keeps heightening the myth that I have gone after three women in this community, two of whom are running for a Board seat and the other one, a former Board member who created so much drama two years ago at an event at one of the amenities,” Miller wrote. “I’ve spoken my opinion about several of the former male Board members, too.”

Miller recalled an incident at a Board meeting several years ago in which former OPA President and Director Larry Perrone was “barking loudly at a resident, prior to the beginning of the Board meeting, that if he said another word, he’d have him removed. It was beyond authoritarian.”

Miller also referenced a controversy of several

Flounder tournament

The Ocean Pines Anglers Club held its first annual iFlounder Tournament in June with 29 anglers participating. First place with a catch of 17 and 7/8th pounds was won by the team of Capt. Larry Wilkens (center), Ted Glick (left), and Judy Schaible (right). Placing second with a catch 17 and 3/4th pounds was the team of John Rakowski, Capt. Doug Eufemia, and Jim Ferguson. Third place with a catch of 17 and 5/8th pounds was the team of Ron Kuhar, Capt. Dave Szimanski, and Rick Kuhar.

years ago involving former Director Tom Janasek and Wheatley, well publicized at the time.

Miller wrote that former Director Frank Daly, Perrone and the Board majority tried to have Janasek banned from the food and beverage venues in Ocean Pines for “perceived [offensive[ behavior ... only to be shot down by the Worcester County [Circuit] Court.”

Miller wrote that he did not only have a problem with “the three woman from their self appointed position as Resident Oversight Committee Founders ... I, too, had a problem with the liberal men who ruled this community like they were the end all be all, and we had to behave. It’s the people like Perrone and Daly and their cohort [former OPA President and Director Colette] Horn that bestowed upon us the likes of Wheatley and Peck.”

Miller said that those who don’t like the language he uses on his page shouldn’t read it.

“I won’t apologize for my opinion, my thoughts or my language, and I certainly won’t sit back and let this cabal ... control the narrative in this community any longer. They had their chance. They were voted out,” he wrote.

Reynolds and Miller do agree on who they think OPA members should vote for in this summer’s election.

Reynolds recently endorsed incumbent directors Rick Farr, the OPA president, and Jeff Heavner for reelection, with Miller commending Reynolds for that.

Road closure announced for July 4 fireworks

Ocean Parkway from Manklin Creek Road to Offshore Lane will be free of traffic 60 minutes before launch

The Ocean Pines Recreation and Parks Department will once again host a Fourth of July fireworks celebration at Veterans Memorial Park on Route 589 and Cathell Road.

The event this year is scheduled from 4-8:45 p.m. on Thursday, July 4, with carnival games, dry slides and bounce houses for children, plus live music and food and drink vendors, face painting, jewelry and hair wrap and sand art.

Wristbands are $15 and are good for all slides and bounce houses, games, etc. Wristbands will be required for those attractions only. Cash and credit cards will be accepted for wristbands, and for glow-in-the-dark and light up products sold at the recreation area.

General admission is free and open to the public, for both the carnival and fireworks.

Fireworks are scheduled to start at roughly 9:15 p.m.

The fireworks will launch from the north side of the pond, by Cathell Road. Viewing will be available at Veterans Memorial Park.

There will be limited seating (chairs and blankets), along Ocean Parkway, from the South Fire Station to Manklin Creek Road. This area will be

controlled by Public Works and will not be available for vehicles.

Guests may bring lawn chairs and blankets for

seating at Veterans Memorial Park and Parkway pond viewing areas.

Registration at: oceanpineschambermaster.com/eventregistration/register/15244 Or Call 410-641-5306 for More Information

Ocean Pines PROGRESS July 2024

Road closure

From Page 24

Police will close Ocean Parkway from Manklin Creek Road to Offshore Lane about 60 minutes before the fireworks begin. That area will remain closed until all fireworks have been launched and the Fire Marshal deems it safe.

There will also be a “safe zone” marked by an orange fence, from Offshore Lane to the firehouse. No one may enter the marked area once the fireworks have started. This area will be monitored and controlled by Fire Police and Public Works. Pedestrian traffic will be allowed until one hour prior to the launch time. No vehicles will be allowed through the area during that time.

Public parking will be available in the Green Lot across from the Post Office. Parking will not be allowed along Ocean Parkway. Limited handicapped parking will be available at the library parking lot. A handicap-accessible shuttle will be available between the library and the event area.

Additionally, police will close the south end of Cathell Road from Ocean Parkway to the entrance of the Sports Core Pool at around noon,

IVoluntary water rationing ends in South Ocean Pines

n a June 21 announcement, the Worcester County Public Works Department asked all residents and visitors within South Ocean Pines and the Riddle Farm, a community south of Ocean Pines, to discontinue all non-essential outdoor and indoor water use until further notice.

The rationing didn’t last long. It was lifted on Monday, June 24.

Low water tables were cited as one reason for the call for voluntarily rationing.

“In addition to the low water levels, electrical issues caused two well pumps in Ocean Pines to fail, which has resulted in low or no water pressure in certain areas,” Public Works Director Dallas Baker said. “Repairs have been completed but we are now trying to catch up on water production.”

Baker said that at the outset conservation measures were voluntary.

“However, public safety, fire protection specifically, is our top priority in these communities, so we are prepared to implement mandatory water restrictions if the situation cannot be resolved quickly. Heavy demand by lawn irrigation is a concern,” Baker said.

“We are working with Worcester County Commissioner Chip Bertino and county public works crews to keep our residents informed,” Ocean Pines Association General Manager John Viola said in a press release.

Non-essential outdoor water uses include irrigating lawns and landscaping via sprinklers or automatic irrigation systems; washing vehicles, except in a commercial car wash or as necessary for operator safety; washing exterior building surfaces, parking lots, or driveways; and watering trees and athletic fields.

Anyone seeking additional information may contact 443-783-0039 (Ocean Pines) or 443-783-0041 (West Ocean City).

when the fireworks vendor is scheduled to arrive. The area will remain closed until the fireworks equipment is loaded, the area is cleared of debris, and the fire marshal deems it safe and clear for traffic.

Cathell Road will remain open from the Sports Core Pool to Route 589 for the entire day, for pool access and access to Veterans Memorial

The USCG Auxiliary performs free Vessel Safety Checks every Saturday and Sunday morning throughout the summer at the West Ocean City boat ramp from 8:00AM until noon. Vessels can be checked while on a trailer or in the water.

Vessels can also be inspected by appointment at private docks or marina slips. To arrange an inspection, E-mail at CGAUXOC@Gmail.com

Park. Public Works personnel will help with road closures and directing traffic throughout the day.

Please note that the road closures are for public safety and are required by the Fire Marshal’s Office.

The Police Department, Fire Department, Public Works and Neighborhood Watch will be directing traffic, and helping with parking

and crossover traffic from the Green Lot. Pedestrian traffic is encouraged, to help with traffic delays.

At the conclusion of the fireworks, pedestrians will have preference over motorists. Residents and guests should expect delays throughout the day. In case of inclement weather, the fireworks display will move to Friday, July 5.

For more information about other activities and joining the Auxiliary, visit our Website: http://www.a0541205.uscgaux.info Or follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/uscgauxocmd/ Or contact us directly, E-mail: FL1205HR@gmail.com

Phyllis East, Anna Foultz honored with plaques, framed articles

Community Center meeting rooms named after two women who gave decades of service to Ocean Pines

The Ocean Pines Association recently honored the legacy of two women who each gave three decades of service to the community.

Following up on an OPA Board directive from April, on a suggestion by Director Elaine Brady, a plaque was installed in the community center over the “Phyllis East Room,” honoring the late executive secretary who was known as a treasure trove of information about Ocean Pines.

The room was renamed in her honor in 2011, but was widely known as “The East Room,” causing some confusion as to whether it was simply the east-most room in the building.

Another room in the community center was renamed for longtime volunteer Anna Foultz in 2019, and a plaque was installed at that time.

Now, in each room, along with the plaques are framed articles describing East’s and Foultz’s immense contributions to the community.

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The text of each article follows.

The Phyllis East Room

Phyllis Clara East was the longtime Executive Secretary to the General Manager and Board of Directors of Ocean Pines.

Born in Chateauguay, New York, East was the youngest of 12 children. She met her husband, James (Jim) W. East, in 1962 and they married the same year. In 1980 the couple and their four children moved to the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

East was hired on Sept. 8, 1980 in the ECC Department as secretary to the general manager, at the time Art Warren. She was promoted to the position of Executive Secretary in 1984 and worked under nine different general managers: Warren, Tim Stoner, Ralph Lashley, Tom Cetola, Glen Duffy, Curt Allison, Dave Ferguson, Tom Olson, and Bob Thompson. She was among the first to organize, maintain and preserve Association records and information.

Ocean Pines Association dedicated the Phyllis East Room in the Community Center in 2011, in honor of her 30 years of service. She was named as a “Precious Gem” of

Worcester County by the Women’s Club of Ocean Pines in 2010.

In addition to their six children, East and her husband spent their leisure time doting on their grandchildren at a summer residence on the Nanticoke River. East was a member of the Berlin/Ocean City Moose Lodge and the American Legion Post #123 Women’s Auxiliary. She enjoyed reading, camping at Sandy Hill Campground, and spending time with family and friends.

According to those who knew her, East had a vast knowledge of the history of Ocean Pines, and many depended on her for information – from staff, to volunteers, Board members, and people throughout the community.

East passed away at her home on April 4, 2012. She was 72 years old.

The Anna Foultz Room

Anna Lucarello Foultz was a longtime Ocean Pines resident and tireless volunteer.

Foultz and her late husband, Carl, moved to the area during the 1990s. Carl was a World War II veteran who served in China, Burma and India, and the couple founded the Star Charities nonprofit in 2007 to give back to the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Also close to Foultz’s heart were the Girl Scouts, an organization she became involved with after her oldest daughter, Betty Anne, showed interest as a young girl. Foultz became a Scout leader and continued to advocate for the organization for more than a half century. In 1980, Foultz received a National Proclamation from President Jimmy Carter for organizing a massive weeklong event called “Girl Scouts in Action” at the Springfield Mall in Virginia. Thousands of Girl Scouts attended the event.

She was also a longtime member and past president of the Sons of Italy, and in 2016 was honored with the organization’s Ameritan Award during a gala in Hunt Valley, Maryland.

Anna Foultz Phyllis East

Skate park benches destroyed by vandals, will not be replaced

VPowerwashing, repairs in progress

andals have caused about $5,000 in damage at the Ocean Pines skateboard arena in White Horse Park, including destroying benches and a picnic table, and the Ocean Pines Association has no plans to replace them.

Debbie Donahue, recreation and parks director, addressed vandalism and repairs at the skateboard park during the June 15 Board of Directors meeting.

“It was continual damage that was taking place for quite some time,” she said. “We cannot continue to have thousands of dollars being damaged in the skate park and then keep replacing it.”

The issue of maintenance, seating, and cleaning of the facility was brought to the Board by skate park users during the Public Comments section at the May Board meeting. A trio of skate park supporters lobbied for safety improvements and sought enhancements, including seating, electrical outlets, powerwashing, and crack repairs.

During the May Board meeting, Stephen Jolly said he and his son visit the skate park every day. During those visits, he discovered

numerous problems like cracks that need to be repaired, trash and debris, and a lack of a safe place for spectators to sit.

Jolly said the metal coping or tubing at the top is damaged and needs repair so no one gets cut by it, the skateboard park needs to be powerwashed as there is algae growing on it in shaded areas by the tree line, and there is no convenient place to sit out of the way of skaters.

In response to the May Public Comments, General Manager John Viola said staff looked into the matter immediately.

Donahue said the person who built the skateboard park structure will be visiting and assessing it, and other companies have been contacted to evaluate the cracking and any other necessary repairs. She said it was powerwashed earlier in the season but it will be done again.

Viola showed the Board a photograph of the damage done to benches that were at the skate park.

The benches were broken and tossed onto the skate surface. He said that is why Donahue recommended not replacing the seating again.

Viola said he is disappointed about the vandalism at the skate

park, but the photo he showed was not the first time in happened.

“Unfortunately, due to that type of behavior we are not putting benches back in the park,” he said.

OPA President Rick Farr about

the cost to the OPA of the vandalism and if new cameras can be installed in a way that they can’t be vandalized.

Donahue said there was about $5,000 in damages. She said two cameras were damaged, at a cost of $1,500 each, a bench at $800 and picnic benches at $300 to $400 each. She said new cameras have already been installed higher and in different locations at the park. She said they record what occurs at the area and she can review the video.

Teach a kid to fish day

Over 60 youth plus parents and grandparents attended the Ocean Pines Anglers Club Teach A Kid To Fish day at the South Pond in Ocean Pines in June. Young aspiring anglers were introduced to tackle, bait selection, regulations, casting and safe environmental practices. Many young anglers tried out their newly acquired skills and were rewarded with several nice catches. A free drawing was held for a rod and reel, won by Elianna Fiori of Berlin.

Foultz’s memoir, “Two Steps Forward,” was published in 2017. She co-wrote the book with her other daughter, Shirley Isbell, and donated much of the proceeds to Star Charities.

Foultz was active up until her last days. She visited the Maryland State Capital in 2018 and received three standing ovations upon being introduced to the Maryland General Assembly.

In March of 2019 she toured the White House with a busload of local Girl Scouts. Foultz then took part in Ocean Pines’ National Night Out celebration in August 2019, again representing the Girl Scouts. On Aug. 16 she presented a $1,500 donation to Achilles of Maryland at Veterans Memorial Park in Ocean Pines.

Foultz passed away on Sept. 22, 2019. She was 93.

Anna Foultz


Martin promoted to director of business administration

Ocean Pines Association General Manager John Viola recently announced that Linda Martin has been promoted to director of business administration.

“In her new role, Linda will operate as the chief of staff for the GM office,” Viola said. “Please join me in congratulating Linda and wishing her well in this new role.”

Born and raised on the western shore of Maryland, Martin majored in accounting at Anne Arundel Community College and has held a variety of financial-related jobs in government, retail, medical and community-based organizations.

Martin moved to the Eastern Shore in 2006 and worked for the Public Works/CPI Department from 2006-2017 as an office coordinator. Viola recruited Martin to return to Ocean Pines as the Public Works office manager in 2021, and she later transitioned to the GM office as the senior executive office manager.

In May, Martin obtained a degree in business administration from Southern New Hampshire University and received the President’s Award for maintaining a 4.0 grade point average.

“I would like to thank John Viola for all the opportunities that he has provided me since I returned to Ocean Pines almost four years ago,” Martin said. “He inspired me to return to school to obtain my degree, and I am very appreciative of his support.”

Viola said by investing in the professional growth and development of its staff, OPA aims to continue providing results in customer service to the community. “Recognizing our staff continues to be one of my favorite parts of the job,” Viola said.

40th Annual Ocean Pines-Taylor Bank Golf Scramble

The Ocean Pines Golf Members’ Council will host the 40th annual Ocean Pines-Taylor Bank Golf Scramble at the Ocean Pines Golf Club on Wednesday, July 17, with a 9 a.m. shotgun start.

Players and sponsors are still needed, and the deadline for both is July 12.

The annual tournament benefits junior golf in the area by supporting junior golf clinics and an annual tournament for junior golfers.

The scramble also raises funds for scholarships for local high school seniors who have shown an interest in golf. In the last nine years, the Golf Members’ Council has raised almost $73,000 for local scholarships.

The public entry fee is $120 per person, which includes greens fee, cart, team prizes, men’s and ladies’ closestto-the-pin prizes, door prizes, on-course refreshments and lunch at the Clubhouse Bar and Grille following the tournament. Players may sign up individually or as a foursome. Individuals or incomplete teams will be paired.

Taylor Bank is the longtime event title sponsor. Platinum, gold, and silver level sponsorships are still available. Tee sponsorships are available for $60 for businesses and nonmembers, $40 for golf members.

Member says Beauchamp Road needs another exit lane

Asecond exit lane should be added on Beauchamp Road to allow vehicles to more easily exit onto Route 589 heading toward the Route 90 overpass, one Ocean Pines Association member told the Board of Directors during the June 15 monthly Board meeting.

“We have a serious problem,” Robert Merryman said during the Public Comments segment of the agenda. He said there are plans for 90 new homes along Beauchamp Road and the government is putting development ahead of infrastructure in the area. That is having a negative impact on Ocean Pines, he said.

While Beauchamp Road is not part of Ocean Pines, Merryman said traffic on that road affects residents of Ocean Pines, who use it to enter and exit the community, tow their boats, and go to work.

Beauchamp Road forms the northern boundary of Ocean Pines.

He said he has broached the issue of Beauchmap Road traffic with both Worcester County Commissioners who represent Ocean Pines, Chip Bertino and Jim Bunting, but that they responded that the road can’t be widened.

“All you need is three lanes,” Merryman said, adding there is an easement that could be used to add a second lane to separate left and right-turning traffic to Route 589. He asked Ocean Pines to study the issue and re-approach the county about improvements to the roads.

Bulkhead replacement expenditure approved

The Board of Directors on June 15 authorized a $900,000 contract with Fisher Marine for the 2024-25 fiscal year bulkhead replacement program.

Director Jeff Heavner asked if there is somewhere that residents can view a schedule so they know when their bulkhead is slated for replacement and plan accordingly.

Viola suggested asking people to contact the Ocean Pines Association via the info@oceanpines.org email address with any questions about the bulkhead replacement program and someone from staff will get back to them. He noted that the replacement schedule is “all mapped out for years.”

He said the project was approved as part of the budget process and will replace about 2,000 linear feet of bulkhead.

Police vehicle purchase approved

The Ocean Pines Police Department will be getting two new vehicles at a total cost of $132,000 fully equipped. The Board of Directors approved the purchase during the June 15 meeting.

The Board accepted a bid of $88,000, $44,000 per car, from Hertrich Fleet Services. The additional cost of $24,000 covers cages, emergency equipment and a geothermal printer, $10,000 for radios, $7,000 for computers, and $3,400 for lettering.

John Viola, general manager, said several years ago the Ocean Pines Association eliminated five vehicles from its fleet but has since added back three vehicles. Now with the OPPD hiring more officers it needs more vehicles so the other two are being added back into the fleet.

“We want exceptional safety here,” Director Jeff Heavner said. Therefore it is important for the OPPD to have the equipment needed.

Properties found in continuing violation

The Board of Directors voted unanimously during the June 15 meeting to suspend the voting rights and amenity use in 16 properties in Ocean Pines and to refer them for legal action. The properties with one outstanding violation are 97 Pinehurst Road, 124 Sandyhook Road, 38 Canal Road, 2 Waters Edge Court, 139 Windjammer Road, 90 Abbyshire Road, 2 Greenwood Lane, 15 Greenwood Lane, 35 Robin Hood Trail, 6 Leigh Drive, 59 Wood Duck Drive. Properties with two violations are 12 Admiral Avenue, 2 Bramblewood Drive, and 11 Tail of the Fox, and with four violations was 83 High Sheriff Trail.

Another three properties at 9 Yeoman Court, 104 Nottingham Lane, and 106 Nottingham Lane have continuing violations that will be address by a contractor hired by the Ocean Pines Associaiton.

Linda Martin, director of business administration, said first and second notices of the violations were sent to the owners of all of those properties and no one requested a hearing before the Board.

A property at 56 Cambridge Road was removed from the list for Board action at the meeting because the violation was resolved by the owner.

Policy for delinquent assessments approved

The Board of Directors approved an update to Resolution F-04, which establishes policy for the collection of delinquent annual changes during its June 15 meeting.

The changes are an effort to document the actions the Board can take for the collection of delinquent annual charges or assessments. The Declarations of Restrictions and Articles of Restatement authorize the Board to take such actions, including establishment of the annual rate of interest to be assessed on unpaid charges from the date of delinquency. The revised resolution accelerates the timeline for action by the Board and provides additional detail on the rights of property owners.

By July 1 during first year of delinquency, the OPA will send a letter notifying the member of delinquency with demand for payment, which will include interest calculated at the annual rate established each year by the Board. Staff will provide the Board by July 30 with a list by street address of all delinquent accounts and the Board will determine at that meeting whether to suspend the voting rights and amenity use rights of those delinquent owners. Members will still be able to request establishment of a plan for payment of assessments over time.

By August 15 if the delinquency continues, the OPA will send a letter notifying member that, if the account is not paid in full by Sept. 15, the account will be referred to OPA legal counsel for collection and associated attorney’s fees being added to account Any accounts in continuing delinquency status by Oct. 1, will be referred to OPA legal counsel for collection.

The treasurer, a member of the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee, the general manager, the director of finance and the assessment supervisor will meet by March to determine what, if any, further actions should be taken by the association, and then update the Board on the overall assessment status and to make any recommendations to improve or change the policy.

For property owners, in subsequent years of delinquency, the OPA may foreclose or place a lien on the property.

Historic group reprints Rogner history book

A history of Ocean Pines written by late resident Bud Rogner will get a reprinting thanks to the Historic Task Group. Director Elaine Brady, who is leading the group, made a motion during the June 15 meeting for the Ocean Pines Association to provide $2,500 to reprint the book containing the history of Ocean Pines that was written by Rogner.

The group would like to reprint 200 copies, at an approximate cost of $10 per book. Books will be sold at the merchandise areas in Ocean Pines and other locations for $20 per book. All proceeds will go to the OPA to offset the cost of printing the books.

Brady said the task group has met twice and one of the requests from members to reprint Rogner’s book, which covered Ocean Pines history through the late 1990s, because there are very few copies remaining. She said the book is not copyrighted so she has contacted OPA’s attorney to provide an opinion on the ability to reprint the material.

The Board of Directors approved the expenditure pf $2,500 to print copies of the book.

Board tables idea of adult-only pool party

A proposal from the Aquatics Advisory Committee for a Sunsets and Cocktails adult-only event at the Yacht Club swimming pool was tabled by


Memo of understanding next for South Gate pond project

Aproject to create a soft shoreline at the South Gate pond in a partnership of the Ocean Pines Association and the Maryland Coastal Bays Program will focus on five priorities, according to General Manager John Viola. He told the Board of Directors during the June 15 monthly Board meeting that the priorities for the project are to improve water quality, stop shoreline erosion, enhance fishing access, support pond edge wetlands, and improve the parking lot.

Viola said the OPA is working with MCBP and has received a grant of $150,000 for the project, including $50,000 for site work. He said the next step is to have a memorandum of understanding reviewed by legal counsel and then signed by both parties.

Vista Design will complete another site survey for the design plan. The OPA will likely schedule a community meeting on the project in July.

Recreation and Parks

The Recreation and Parks Department kicked off its annual summer camps and several summer programs in June.

“At the recreation department we are geared up, ready to go for the summer,” Debbie Donahue, recreation director, said when Viola turned over the microphone to her.

She said the summer camps started June 17, all counselor positions are filled, and the slots for youths to attend camp are full. She said the staff has completed all required training, including CPR, child protective services, and state training.

Recreation programs not running for the summer include Wednesday Family Fun Nights at the Yacht Club pool and Concerts in the Park on Thursdays in White Horse Park.

“We’re just excited to move into the summer and offer all of these great programs for the community, Donahue said.

Maintenance checklist tackled

Viola said maintenance has been completed at all OPA facilities to get them ready for the busy summer season. “The entire team has worked to get us ready for the season,” he said. “The amenities are in turn key, ready condition.”

Board meeting notes

From Page 32

the Board of Directors on June 15 pending a review by legal counsel.

Director Stuart Lakernick, liaison to the Aquatics Advisory Committee, presented the proposal for Board consideration. He said the committee suggested holding the event specifically for singles, couples and retirees on a night that doesn’t conflict with the weekly Family Fun Night at the Yacht Club pool.

The proposal was to charge a fee that would cover the cost of lifeguards and other staff while remaining cost effective for attendees. If the event is successful, future Sunsets and Cocktails could be offered on a regular basis at the pool to generate additional revenue throughout the summer. Working with the Matt Ortt Companies, the OPA could provide hor d’ouvres and specialty cocktails as well.

General Manager John Viola said this is not the first time such a proposal for an adults-only event has been submitted. However, the OPA’s legal counsel has recommended in the past not to hold adults-only events. “If we could do it, we would have been doing it already,” he said.

OPA Attorney Bruce Bright said he thinks his office looked at such a proposal last year and advised against it. “Federal law [with respect to age discrimination] applies to this kind of thing,” he said.

The Board asked Bright to revisit the issue and provide an updated opinion.

Director Steve Jacobs said, if the Board is going to consider the proposal at a future meeting, he would like to have cost and revenue estimates.

At the Beach Club, repairs were made to the showers in the bathrooms, the parking lot was cleaned up and grounds maintenance was finished. For aquatics, Donahue said the pools were all cleaned prior to Memorial Day weekend and there are daily inspections of any safety issues.

Playground equipment at the Bainbridge and Bridgewater parks will be powerwashed to remove oxidation as will the skate park. A shed was installed for the Pine’eer Craft Club and Public Works is replacing parts and adding borders to ADA ramps at OPA facilities.

At the Yacht Club, repairs were made to coolers and a television was being installed at the tiki bar, and at the Clubhouse repairs were made to the ice maker and a leaking closet.

Public Work planted spring and summer flowers throughout Ocean Pines and landscaping crews have begun mulching. Decorative banners were replaced at the North and South entrances.

Marina expands merchandise

Additional merchandise has been added at the Ocean Pines Marina at the Yacht Club. The new merchandise includes fishing tackle for flounder, rockfish, tog and sea bass, a new selection of shirts, and expansion of retail items like snacks, ice cream and beverages.

The marina is open daily 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and as of June 15 has the cheapest gas in the area at $5.06 a gallon. Fuel sales for the month of May totaled $79,041.

Viola said the OPA currently has a waiting list of 90 boats requesting boat slips. The marina once again has received Clean Marina Award from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Golf course irrigation

Phase 1 of a project to replace failing irrigation pipes at the golf course will begin soon, Viola said. The materials for replacement of the irrigation pipes from the pumping station have arrived.

Viola called the project a “big spend” hat will likely take four years to complete. The Board of Directors approved the golf course irrigation project in December 2023 at a total cost of $934,000.

He anticipated minimal interruption with the golf course operation during the work.


Denise Milko organized a “Trail Blazers” luncheon recently at the Atlantic Hotel in Berlin for some of the women who have been in the real estate profession for 35-45+ years. Shown are, front row, Terry Looney, Century 21 New Horizon; Denise Milko, Holiday Realty’ Kathy Panko, BHHS PenFed Realty; Charlotte Litzinger, Holiday Realty. Back row: Marlene Ott, BHHS PenFed Realty; Nanette Pavier, Holiday Realty; Candi Noyes, Coldwell Banker Realty; and Joanna Laslo, Beach Real Estate. The group talked and laughed about the old days and Milko presented a great quiz with historical questions.

Tiffany Knupp charged with stealing funds from foundation created to honor son killed in 2022

Her attorney responds that she’s innocent of all charges and will fight them in court ‘to restore her good name’

The foundation that was established to honor the memory of 14-year-old Gavin Knupp of Ocean Pines killed in an alleged hit and run accident in July of 2022 now finds itself embroiled in allegations of financial mismanagement that could threaten its continued existence.

Tiffany Knupp, of Berlin, formerly of Ocean Pines, was issued a criminal summons on Tuesday, June 25, for a preliminary hearing in Worcester County District Court in Snow Hill for nine charges accusing her of embezzlement, theft and theft scheme. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 23.

She’s the president of the Gavin Knupp Foundation.

The charges, which her attorney, Thomas Maronick of Baltimore vehemently denied in a June 26 statement posted on her personal Facebook page, are a mix of five felonies and four misdemeanors. The alleged misuse of funds totals $12,625, a relatively modest sum that nonetheless has put her in the cross-hairs of the criminal justice system.

The foundation, which according to its Website has had very little activity in recent months, has not been charged with any allegation of wrong-doing. Other than Tiffany, none of its directors have been implicated with allegations of wrong-doing.

It’s not clear from initial case-related documents who will be handling the prosecution of Tiffany Knupp for the state. Worcester County State’s Attorney Kris Heiser did not return several phone calls from the Progress asking for clarification. Her office did not issue a press release announcing the criminal summons.

The earliest disclosure appears to

have been on the Website of WBOC, a television outlet in Salisbury. Other media outlets quickly followed.

The investigation leading to Tiffany Knupp’s legal difficulties was conducted by a state police investigator, Sgt. Jonathan Pruitt, based out of the state police barracks in Princess Anne, the seat of Somerset County. It’s therefore possible that the prosecution of Tiffany Knupp will be conducted by the state’s attorney from Somerset County.

It would not be surprising if, to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest, Heiser’s office would not handle the prosecution of Tiffany Knupp. Heiser’s office is prosecuting Tyler Mailloux, the West Ocean City young man who has been charged with a variety of felonies and misdemeanors related to Gavin Knupp’s death in 2022.

In that role, Heiser has said she and her office would be seeking justice on behalf of the surviving Knupp family members, Ray Knupp, Tiffany’s former husband and vice-president of the foundation, and Summer Knupp, Gavin’s sister. There are also

well over 20,000 members of a “Justice for Gavin” Facebook site that have been following the slow-moving case against Mailloux.

The Mailloux case is awaiting a Worcester County Circuit Court trial date. The Maryland Supreme Court on June 18 denied an appeal motion from Mailloux’ attorney on the issue of the proper court venue for the allegations against Mailloux to be heard. The failed appeal means the case will resume in circuit court, probably sometime this year, but with any number of motions intact, including one for a change of venue. Another issue to be resolved is whether the defendant will request a jury trial.

With the possibility if not probability of the timeline in the cases overlapping, Heiser prosecuting Tiffany Knupp for allegations of misusing funds from the foundation that was established to honor Gavin’s memory could be politically awkward for her if not self-evidently conflicted.

That the investigation into the foundation’s finances was conducted by an agency other than Berlin state police barracks suggests a degree of sensitivity to the appearance of conflict of interest. The investigation that led to the arrest of Mailloux for allegedly leaving the scene of the accident that led to Gavin’s death was conducted out of the Berlin barracks.

The narrative that Sgt. Pruitt laid out in his charging document has been underreported in the local media.

The triggering event for the investigation was a December, 2023, hearing in the Circuit Court for nearby Wicomico County involving both Tiffany and Ray Knupp over an issue related to their divorce about five years ago. It was a so-called contempt hearing over Tiffany’s failure

to make a child support payment, Ray Knupp told the Progress. The judge in the December case ruled in his favor, he said, though he also said the nature of the case and its outcome did not directly relate to the legal jeopardy that now embroils his former wife.

This is the context that Sgt. Pruitt provided for the disclosure that led to the investigation.

“Tiffany Knupp, the mother of Gavin, played a crucial role as a founding member and president of the Foundation,” he wrote. “Raymond Knupp, Gavin’s father, was also a founding member and vice president of the Foundation.”

Pruitt said despite serving together on the foundation board, Tiffany and Gavin Knupp had gone “through a divorce and had a rather strained relationship.”

During the December court hearing, Sgt. Pruitt wrote, “it was revealed that Tiffany had utilized the Foundation’s funds to pay her personal attorney, Stephanie Scales-Sherrin,” of the Ocean City law firm, Scales Law, in the contempt and child support modifications cases.

How the investigation of Tiffany then ended up in Pruitt’s hands in not explained in his charging document.

Ray Knupp in a text to the Progress speculated that “maybe it was other people in the courtroom” who, based on the revelation that foundation funds had been used to pay the attorney, made a complaint to authorities.

He said it wasn’t him.

“For the record, I am not the one who contacted the state police ... Yes, I was called in for questioning and told them what I knew after the fact.

“I have no reason to make up ... allegations [about] my children’s mom to the police,” he added. “We have been divorced for close to five years now,” and he’s now in a relationship with a “beautiful girlfriend that I adore a lot” and “don’t need the drama in my life” that an investigation into his former wife would entail. “I have enough with the death of my son.”

A friend of Ray Knupp, Andrea Clymire of Ocean Pines, said in a telephone interview with the Progress that she recalls him telling her that he believed it was either a current or former director of the foundation who complained to authorities about the possible misuse of foundation funds.

Knupp didn’t confirm that but

Tiffany Knupp

said there’s been a lot of turmoil within the foundation.

He said that two directors resigned when Tiffany declined to produce data related to foundation finances, but that he and others remain on the foundation board. New directors apparently appointed by Tiffany have emerged within the past year.

Ray Knupp said he hasn’t attended any foundation board meeting for about a year and didn’t vote on the new directors. He told the Progress that Tiffany on some occasions did supply financial data but at other times did not.

Regardless of who precipitated the investigation and how it ended up in the hands of a Somerset County state police investigator, Sgt. Pruitt’s charging document said that he “acquired and thoroughly examined multiple banking accounts linked to the Foundation and Tiffany Knupp” which to him amounted to evidence of wrong-doing.

The foundation’s account is with Taylor Bank.

Sgt. Pruitt’s charging document showed two itemized payments to the Scales Law from this account: $2,500 on July 26 of last year and another in the form of a cashier’s check for $4,000.

In perhaps the most significant revelation in his narrative, he said “under oath” in a Dec. 14 interview that Tiffany Knupp “said she had obtained the Foundation’s authorization to compensate her for her personal lawyer for representing her” in the case involving her former husband.

Sgt. Pruitt’s document said he “conducted interviews with current and former members of the Foundation board which revealed that none of the board members had authorized any payment to Stephanie Scales-Sherrin for her representation” of Tiffany.

He then interviewed the lawyer, who “clarified that her representation was solely for Tiffany in a contempt case and a child support modification, and she did not act on behalf” of the foundation.

The charging document alleges two other instances of theft and embezzlement from the foundation’s bank account, one involving Shirts Fast LLC, a purveyor of promotional merchandize, and the other Shaka Pool Bar in Ocean City, pertaining to a fundraiser.

The charging document says that Shaka Pool had raised $3,200 in cash in a fundraiser, which accord-

Tiffany Knupp’s attorney rejects claim she stole from Knupp Foundation

Calls charges ‘completely bogus,

based on distortions of truth or blatant inaccuracies” and will fight them in court

The attorney for Tiffany Knupp, the president of the Gavin Knupp Foundation who has been accused of stealing $12,625 from the organization, is declaring his client innocent of all charges and vows to fight the charges in court.

Knupp’s attorney is Thomas Maronick of Baltimore. His first opportunity to fight the charges will be in a preliminary hearing July 23 in Worcester County District Court in Snow Hill.

Typically in preliminary hearing the defendant’s lawyer will ask for dismissal of the charges. Other motions could include a request for a jury trial, in which case the charges will be heard in Worcester County Circuit Court.

The June 26 statement from Maronick that appeared on Knupp’s personal Facebook page reads as follows:

“Ms. Knupp has been charged with embezzling money and related theft offenses from the Foundation she heads and for which she has fought vigorously to raise money for families that have lost loved ones as she has lost her son Gavin.

“These charges are completely bogus, based on distortions of the truth or blatant inaccuracies and we will fight these charges to the core.

“She is completely innocent of all charges and we await out day in court where we will be able to face these allegations head on and show the truth.

“Tiffany is a person who has stood up in her life for others. She has faced overwhelming pain and then more than a year of media attention following her son’s death while she’s worked to be the best mother she can be, a strong advocate for the community, a business owner and friend to many.

“Under Tiffany’s leaderhip the Foundation has donated thousands of dollars to families in need and continues to support local families of those who have lost children.

“She has had to deal with documented, continual harassment from her ex [former husband Ray], which has taken place over year, and led to the granting of multuple protective orders against him.

“We believe these present allegations have a connection to that strained relationship.

“We look very much forward to our day in court and what we believe will be the clearing of Ms. Knupp’s good name.”

In response to the statement, Ray Knupp called it “bull-****” and denied that a strained relationship with his former wife had anything to do with the allegations against her.

“I have no reason to make up ... allegations [about] my children’s mom to the police,” he added. “We have been divorced for close to five years now,” and he’s now in a relationship with a “beautiful girlfriend that I adore a lot” and “don’t need the drama in my life” that an investigation into his former wife would entail. “I have enough with the death of my son.”

ing to the WBOC account was to benefit the family of Carter Figgs, a 16-year-old Delmar football player killed in an October, 2023, car crash.

“The money was to be deposited into the foundation’s bank account,” Sgt. Pruitt wrote. “Tiffany stated [in the Dec. 14 interview] that she had deposited the money into the foundation’s account.”

But the investigator wrote that there were no cash deposits made into the foundation’s bank account in November and December of last year, and indeed no such deposit was made between May 19 of last year and Jan. 9 this year.

Here it gets a little confusing.

According to Sgt. Pruitt, Tiffany

“was meant to match Shaka Pool Bar, so the foundation was only supposed to receive $3,200. However, Tiffany wrote a check for $4,200, which was $1,000 more than agreed upon. The additional amount was to compensate for the discrepancy caused by the missing [cash] funds from Shaka Pool Bar for not being deposited into the foundation’s account.”

The investigator’s charging document didn’t say whether the check made its way into the foundation’s bank account after the fact, but in any event the $12,625 in alleged stolen funds includes $4,200 attributed to the Shaka Pool Bar fundraiser.

The charging document alleges that in January of last year, a $1,925 check from a shirt company, Shirts Fast LLC, was deposited in Tiffany Knupp’s personal account rather than the foundation’s.

The $1,925 was supposed to be the foundation’s percentage of proceds from promotional shirt sales, according to Sgt. Pruitt.

Summing up the three incidents of alleged theft, the investigator wrote that “Tiffany Knupp was entrusted with overseeing the Gavin Knupp Foundation, but it is clear she betrayed that trust.”

The statement from her lawyer strongly pushes back against that narrative.

OPA off to great start financially

Operating fund variance for the month is a positive $254,000

The Ocean Pines Association got off to a roaring start to 2024-25 with a positive operating fund variance of $253,808 in May, the first month of the fiscal year.

Revenues were over budget by $231,393 and total expenses were under budget by $22,416.

Driven both by annual assessment revenue and earnings from amenity operations, including membership sales, the OPA gener-

ated $6.922 million in net operating revenue against $6,668 million in expenses, resulting in the $253,808 positive variance.

Golf operations netted $437,958, netting $108,424, far and away the best performing amenity for the month.

On the revenue side, golf member dues exceeded budget by $54,951. Cart fees were ahead of budget by $39,318, green fees by $13,426 (paid by non-members), merchandise by $11,880 and the driving range by $4,864.


General Manager John Viola in remarks at the June 15 Board of Directors meeting said that golf operations are clearly the engine behind the OPA’s current financial success.

Beach parking has also gotten off to a good start, generating a $40,034 positive variance to budget on net operations of $375,238.

Aquatics generated $255,225 in net revenues, ahead of budget by $6,330.

Marinas was not far behind with $221,026 in net earnings, ahead of budget by $77.

The Yacht Club netted $20,808 for the month, missing its budget by a scant $426.

The Clubhouse Grille brought in $17,815 for the month, off its budget target by $1,503.

The Beach Club earned $9,336, ahead of budget by $20,098.

The three racquet sports were all in the black for the month, with pickleball netting $65,697, tennis $32,682 and platform tennis $12,130.

Tennis exceeded budget by $6,044 and platform tennis did too with a $1,836 positive variance.

Pickleball was actually under budget by $203.

Funded by both the assessment and program fees, the Parks and Recreation Department outperformed its budget for May by $19,823.

Reserve fund: Boosted by $1.58 million in assessment dollars, the OPA’s reserve fund balance as of May 31 was $9.795 million.

The replacement reserve contained $6.85 million, bulkhead/waterway had $1.279 million, roads $1.119 million, drainage $442,181 and new capital $104,357.

There was no balance sheet included with the May financial report.


May cash position at $19.2 million

The Ocean Pines Association’s cash and investment position increased about $400,000 from the end of April to the end of May, with about $19.2 million on hand on May 31. That compares to $18.7 million in cash as of April 30.

According to a report by OPA Treasurer Monica Rakowski at the June 15 Board of Directors meeting, cash increased $700,000 from the same time last year.

Of the cash on hand, $10.5 million was invested in CDARs, and $80,000 in interest income was recognized in May.

The remaining $8.7 million was invested in an insured cash sweep, treasury bills, money market and other operating accounts, diversified between two local banks.

Amenity membership growth ‘robust’

Viola reports a 17 percent increase in sales across all amenities

An Ocean Pines Association financial report on membership sales as of May 31, the first month of the 2024-25 fiscal year, shows robust growth in many amenities, with a total 17 percent increase in sales across all amenities.

Despite those increases, membership sales for all amenities except golf are still below fiscal year 2024-25 budget projections, which is not unexpected.

June traditionally has been an excellent month for membership sales, as summer residents arrive for the season.

General Manager John Viola during the June 15 monthly Board of Directors meeting said that memberships sales are going much better than last year.

“We’re up a good number,” he said.

There’s been a total increase in revenue of about $100,000 from $957,231 in May 2023 to $1,114,667 in May 2024, he said.

Driving that revenue increase are golf membership sales with about a $70,000 increase year over year, with Aquatics and beach parking also ahead of last year.

“Pretty much everything but tennis,” he said, calling tennis flat across the board for membership sales.

“We’re not done. We’re still selling memberships,” he said.

The membership report published with the May financials posted on the OPA Website indicates that as of May 31, total membership sales have reached 91 percent of budget, with 3,335 memberships across all amenities sold yielding $1,114,667 in revenue.

That compares to a total of 3,150 memberships through May of last year, and increase of 185

The budget total for the year is 4,098 memberships and revenue of $1,222,408.

The report shows that there’s only $107,741 needed to meet the budgeted goal for the year.

With June numbers yet to be counted, it’s not too unrealistic to expect that the overall goal will be reached by the end of June, when most of the annual and summer memberships will have been purchased for the year.

Viola referred to the golf course as “the economic powerhouse driving this engine, Ocean Pines” in his comments to the Board. He said two weeks prior on a Friday there were 250 golfers on the Ocean Pines course.

“The 15 to 20 years I’ve been here that’s the highest number I’ve ever heard for a day,”he said.

Golf membership sales increased in May 2024 to 137, up from 103 last year.

Individual and family memberships saw significant increases, with individual memberships growing to 67 from 53 last year and family mem-


Amenity memberships

From Page 37

berships from 25 from 17 in 2023.

Golf revenue was at $234,309 up from $172,350 last year, for a 36 percent increase, Viola said.

Overall, golf memberships have reached 125 percent of the budgeted amount of $186,750, according to the May 31 membership report.

Golf cart package sales also grew significantly, increasing to 204 from 160 in 2023.

Family cart package sales more than doubled from 8 in May 2023 to 17 in May 2024. Golf cart revenue also increased by 30 percent to $90,850 from $70,100 last year, Viola said. Revenue has reached 130 percent of the budgeted amount of $70,100.

The OPA membership report as of May 31 showed that overall racquet sports memberships increased to 413 in May 2024 from 377 last year.

Total racquet sports revenue for the first month of this fiscal year was $122,080, 92 percent of the budgeted amount of $132,300.

Pickleball memberships were up significantly at 261 as compared to

227 in 2023.

Pickleball revenue year-to-year increased 27 percent to $71,563 from $56,215 in 2023.

As of May 31, pickleball membership revenue was at 87 percent of the budgeted $82,540 for this year.

Platform tennis membership grew slightly to 66 from 63 last year.

In his monthly general manager’s report, Viola said as of June 15 that platform tennis revenue grew 13 percent to $15,275 in 2024 from $13,480 during the same period last year.

Membership revenue for this year has reached 97 percent of the budgeted $15,805 as of May 31.

Total racquet sports combination memberships were at 35 as compared to 27 last May.

The membership report shows revenue from combination memberships increased 49 percent to $19,757 from $13,456 last year. Combination membership revenue reached 140 percent of budgeted $14,130 by May 31.

Only tennis memberships were off, dropping to 51 from 60 for the same period in 2023.

Tennis membership revenue was also down year-to-year and compared to budget.

Revenue for dropped to $15,485 for this year as compared to $17,420 last year, or 11 percent.

Tennis membership sales only reached 78 percent of the budgeted $19.835 as of May 31.

Total Beach Club parking sales increased slightly to 1,869 from 1,828 in May 2023.

Sales of annual memberships increased by 30 from 690 last May to 720 this year. Revenue increased by 6 percent to $364,036 from $343,430, Viola said.

However, beach parking revenue only reached 79 percent of the budgeted goal of $462,670 as of May 31, suggesting that this membership category could be boosted by June arrivals.

Aquatics memberships grew to 849 in May 2024 from 785 for the same period last year.

The biggest increase was in summer couples’ memberships, which went from 265 last year to 300 this May.

Aquatics revenue was at $303,754 as of May 31, up from $270,780 last year, for 12 percent growth, Viola said.

Overall, however, aquatics membership revenue reached 82 percent of the budgeted $370,588 by month’s end.

County maintains tax rates in $261.9 million budget

TSpending to increase 11 percent year-over-year

he Worcester County Commis-

sioners on June 4 approved a fiscal year 2024-25 operating budget that holds the line on both property and income taxes in a 4-3 vote. The budget maintains the current property tax rate of $0.845 per $100 of assessed value and local income tax rate of 2.25 percent.

“This is a fiscally conservative budget that allocates funding to cover vital public services and needed capital projects without burdening property owners and taxpayers,” Commissioner President Chip Bertino said. “I want to thank our staff, agencies, and department heads on their partnership to ensure that taxpayer money is allocated judiciously.”

County law requires that the commissioners adopt an expense budget and tax rates on or before the first Tuesday in June. Worcester County has the lowest income tax rate and the third lowest real property tax rate as compared to all other counties in Maryland. The budget includes increased funding for education, public safety, and infrastructure.

The approved budget includes record funding for the Worcester County Board of Education at $105.4 million, an increase of $5.4 million over the current fiscal year. The funding is expected to allow for a salary step plus a 4 percent costof-living adjustment and to cover rising health insurance and salary related increases, including pension, FICA, and Other Post Employment Benefits.

In addition, the commissioners allocated $3.5 million in rate stabilization funds to reduce health insurance rates from 12.65 percent to 4.3 percent for county and BOE employees and to meet the required minimum in the rate stabilization fund.

The Commissioners accepted the Board of Education’s budget in a 4-3 vote. Commissioners Joe Mitrecic, Eric Fiori, and Diana Purnell were opposed to the school system budget, saying it was too little in funding.

Fiori, who originally supported cutting the school system budget,

opposed approving the Board of Education’s budget, which had been trimmed from its initial iteration. He now argues that the cuts are too deep and that the county will have to make up the difference in coming years.

Mitrecic opposed the county operating budget as well, saying both county and school system employees should receive six percent cost of living salary increases.

Grants to towns increased by $200,253, including a recreation grant increase of $20,000 to the Ocean Pines Association.

The coming year’s spending plan also includes a modest $95,807 increase in the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office budget. This budget includes money for continuing education, certifications, and capital equipment to replace outdated vehicles.

FY25 funding also includes $2.67 million in grants to county fire companies and $8.7 million in ambulance grants, which represents an increase of $1.5 million and includes supplemental funding for 10

EMS companies to assist with run and personnel costs.

This budget includes an increase of $5.6 million to the Health Department to comply with the 100 percent increase in the State Mandated Core Funding Match. It also eliminates the benefits account and realigns insurance and benefits costs within each county department and agency to remain consistent with the Annual Comprehensive Financial Report.

The approved budget includes an increase of $2.7 million to maintain a 15 percent Reserve Fund.

The State mandated Reserve Fund is a tool that is vital to the County’s emergency preparedness plans and plays a key role in the County’s fiscal health and stable bond rating of AA for Fitch, AA+ for Standard and Poor’s and Aa2 for Moody’s Investor Services.

This outstanding bond rating enables Worcester County Government to borrow money at low interest rates that save taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars for capital projects, like the upcoming Buckingham Elementary School re-

placement project.

There are also dozens of public, emergency, and education projects currently being funded with assigned reserve funds. These include but are not limited to $4.2 million to construct a new Pocomoke Branch Library, $2.2 million to replace the roof at Snow Hill Middle School and Cedar Chapel Special School, and $2 million to upgrade the radio system utilized by Worcester County Emergency Services and the ten volunteer fire companies.

The approved budget includes $14.6 million in increased property tax revenues. Income tax revenue increased by $7 million. Revenue from other local taxes increased by $3.3 million, including a $1.7 million increase in the recordation tax and a $1.5 million increase in the real estate transfer tax. It also allows a salary step plus four percent cost-of-living adjustment for county staff.

The FY25 budget increased by $26 million or 11 percent more than the FY24 budget. County departments and agencies original requests for FY25 totaled $270 million.

During budget reviews, the commissioners cut $8.2 million across all divisions to adopt a balanced budget. The commissioners adopted the final FY25 budget totaling $261,917,617 in a 4-3 vote, with Mitrecic, Fiori, and Purnell opposed.

County increases utility rates $8 per quarter

Customers in the Ocean Pines Water and Wastewater Service Area will be paying more for water and wastewater service next fiscal year as Worcester County is raising the quarterly rates for service by $8.

During a June 18 meeting the Worcester County Commissioners adopted the fiscal year 2024-25 operating budget for the enterprise fund, including an increase from $199 to $207 per equivalent dwelling unit per quarter for domestic water and wastewater service.

The commissioners adopted the water and wastewater enterprise fund operating budgets, assessments, user charges, and other charges for each of the 11 sanitary service areas, including the Ocean Pines Service Area, and sub-areas. As enterprise funds, each service

area has to fund its own expenses.

In addition to user fees, a debt service assessment is levied to repay bonds and loans for capital water and sewer infrastructure that is financed by the county, and all assessments are based per equivalent dwelling unit.

In Ocean Pines rates will increase from $199 to $207 per EDU per quarter domestic water and sewer base fee, and increase from $179.75 to $186.75 per EDU per quarter for the domestic sewer only flat charge. Additional domestic water and sewer charges will be levied at a rate of $1.60 per 1,000 gallons up to 10,000 gallons.

The base range fee for commercial water and sewer will increase from the current range of $256.46 to $2,143.60 based on total EDUs to $267.76 to $2,229.34 based on total EDUs. Standard assessments in the OPSA for debt service will remain

the same at $36 per EDU per quarter.

New Ocean Pines customers who have already paid the required equity contribution do not pay the standard assessment for debt service, but instead pay supplemental assessments for additional debt service established at $31 per EDU per quarter.

Accounts that are delinquent more than 30 days from the date of billing are subject to assessment of a $5 penalty plus 3 percent interest per quarter.

Overall, the requested OPSA operating budget for FY25 totals $9.16 million, an increase of $536,388 or 6.22 percent from the FY24 approved budget of $8.62 million. No one spoke during a June 4 public hearing before the commissioners on the proposed enterprise fund budgets. The budgets were unanimously approved at their June 18 meeting.

The ins and outs of Ocean Pines recyclables

Every week, most residents in Ocean Pines pull their blue recycling containers out to the street for pick up. But many of us have no idea what happens to the contents after that, or if they are properly sorting their trash.

Trash and recycling from Ocean Pines is picked up by Republic Services and delivered to the Worcester County Department of Public Works in Newark. Recycling heads to the recycling center where a team of 18 staff sort through the debris, dividing it up into recyclables and trash that is then sent to the landfill.

What is recyclable can be confusing, so Bob Keenan, the recycling manager and Ed Sargent, the recycling crew leader, make it a priority to speak to community groups and provide tours of the facility for anyone who might be interested.

We encourage groups and individuals to come out and see the recycling center, Sargent said.

A recent tour of the facility was an eye opening and educational experience. The facility was clean and well organized. The trucks that pick up the recycling, drop it here, where it is sorted into

cardboard, aluminum, bi-metal, plastic and paper. Then it is bailed and sold to five vendors for reuse.

Aluminum is the best seller on the market, which goes to brokers for resale. Mixed metals go to a local scrap yard for recycling. Plastics labeled one and two are the easiest to sell. Think milk jugs and soda or plastic water bottles. Cardboard gets bailed into 1500 pound bales for sale to vendors.

Surprisingly, there is no market for glass bottles, so Worcester County crushes the glass and uses it to help with drainage in its landfill. This saves the county money, as it would otherwise have to purchase stone for the same purpose.

Only thirty percent of what is thrown in the bins is recycled. Much of that is because people don’t understand what can be recycled. For instance, plastic bags, black containers from garden centers and other black plastic (even if it has a recycle symbol on it), PVC piping, vinyl siding, styrofoam, plastic liquor bottles, Arizona Ice Tea bottles, and glass windows and mirrors are not recyclable.

Employees pick through items on a conveyor belt, sorting recyclable items from trash, one item

at a time.

“We are blessed to have really good workers. Many stay until they retire,” Keenan said.

He also commends the leadership, including Director Dallas Baker, Deputy Director Chris Clasing and Superintendent David Candy for their support of the program.

Keenan, Sargent and the other employees clearly take pride in the work they are doing and their high level of customer service.

The facility collects even more recyclable items on site, most of which is free for Worcester County residents. Residents can drop off yard waste (no tree stumps), batteries, empty propane tanks ($10 charge), oil and antifreeze, oyster shells, tires ($3 for rimless car tires, $5 with the rim and $10 for tractor trailer tires) and even aluminum beach chairs. Laptops, computers and computer towers are also collected on site.

This is the second year that Keenan has been working with the Maryland Coastal Bays Program to collect oyster shells, which will be replanted in local waterways. Brush is ground up and used at the landfill to surface dirt roads leading to the landfill.

Keenan said even clothes and other textiles that are not nice enough to be donated can be recycled. He recommends taking these items to the clothing drop off boxes which can be found around the area, where they will also be recycled. There is a blue box in Ocean Pines at the recycling station next to the South Side Fire House.

Those in Ocean Pines that have not signed up for curbside pickup can bring recycling to the bins next door to the South Side Fire Station. A truck arrives weekly to empty the bins and bring the recycling to the Worcester County facility. Periodically, people dump other items, which causes the county to have to send another truck out to clean up the site. Fortunately, once a camera was installed at the Ocean Pines site, illegal dumping dropped to almost nothing, according to Sargent.

Anything that is not recyclable goes to the Worcester County Landfill next door to the recycling facility. There, trucks dump trash from all around the county. Once a site is full, it is capped and grass is planted. Water that leaches out of the sites are drained into tanks which are periodically emptied and taken to a water treatment facility.

The landfill is expected to last the county through 2051.

“We will be here for many years to come,” Keenan said.

Worcester hosts events throughout the year for special items, such as hazardous waste, which is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 26 at Central Site Lane. These events in local newspapers and on its website at www.co.worcester.md.us/departments/

Ed Sargent and Bob Keenan stand before material that will be sorted at the Worcester County Recycling Center.


If you come by the Newark facility, say hi to some of the local cats who have taken up residence. Keenan said some get caught in recycling bins and get hauled to the recycling center.

One little gray kitty follows Keenan and other workers around the site.

Keenan happily takes donations from groups and individuals of cat food for this small colony and works with Town Cats to get them spayed or neutered.

For a tour or questions about recycling, contact Bob Keenan at bkeenan@co.worcester.md.us or visit www.co.worcester.md.us/departments/publicworks/recycling.

The following is a list of items that can be recycled and those that can’t.


• Paper: loose leaf paper, newspaper, magazines, mail, hard and soft back covered books, shredded paper (put in paper bag)

• Glass: bottles and jars

• Plastics: Number 1-7 plastics

• Cardboard: brown cardboard boxes, cereal boxes and other food boxes that do not have a plastic coating. Take plastic bags and styrofoam out of boxes and throw it out in trash

• Cans: soda and beer cans, bi-metal cans, including soup, cat and dog food cans

• Electronics: laptops, computer towers, and computers.

Not recyclable:

• Paper: spiral notebooks, wax paper, pet food bags, paper towels, dryer sheets, napkins, plastic lined bags.

• Glass: window panes and tempered glass

• Plastics: plastic bags, baggies or plastic wrap, vinyl siding, buckets, milk crates, water hoses, flower pots, adirondack chairs, tarps, fencing, large water jugs, oil bottles, antifreeze, gas cans, potato chip bags, plastic

alcohol bottles, frosted bottles.

• Cardboard: boxes with wax coating, soiled pizza boxes or other soiled cardboard.

• Cans: aerosol, paint cans, oil cans, aluminum foil. Water based paint cans can be dried out and put in the trash. Oil based paint cans should be disposed of during hazardous waste drives.

• Electronics: TVs, radios, stereos, keyboards, monitors.


Park tree planting

AC Plant and Turf of Lewes, De.,in late April planted an oak tree in Pintail Park in Ocean Pines, to help commemorate Arbor Day. Arborist Terry Wooters said the tree, a willow oak, is native to the area and can handle salt spray from the nearby canal. “I wanted an oak tree, specifically, because they can root deeper and offer a lot of value to wildlife,” he said. That includes more than 450 species of caterpillars. He also said planting a younger tree will help it better establish a roots system. Wooters said the tree will eventually grow to roughly 30 feet tall. The nearby trees in the park were planted by the Ocean Pines Garden Club. Since 1991, the Garden Club has participated in Arbor Day by planting a tree in memory of family and friends who passed away during the prior year.

Tylesia Lewis and Bryce Gordy sort recycling on a conveyor belt.

6/24/24, 6:46 PM

Tom Rapsas offers a Wake Up Call to the challenges of daily living

Many of us wake up in the morning and before our feet even touch the ground, we are scanning through our phones, reading the news, watching videos, checking email and social media. We lose touch with ourselves and rarely take a moment during the day to make that connection.

Tom Rapsas can relate. He was a “regular guy, with a job, wife, kids.” Raised as a Catholic, he was “force fed religion during his youth.” He worked at an ad agency, jumped jobs, lived a good life, but he realized something was missing.

He refers to it as a “spiritual yearning.”

Then a friend of his referred him to In Search of the Warrior Spirit by Richard Strozzi Heckler, which changed everything.

He began reading everything he could find on Buddhism, Hinduism, the Jesus teachings he grew up on as well as spirituality books and self help columns.

Rappas is not against organized religion. “The church is kind of the middle man to something greater than yourself.” He quoted Richard Rohr, who said, “Religions should be understood as only the fingers that point to the moon, not the moon itself.”

“The ‘God’ word, it’s a loaded term. A lot of people have baggage attached to it. I do believe there is a greater power out there, it is up to you what you call it. You might call it God, or something else,” Rapsas said.

Now he has a book of his own that he hopes will touch others the way In Search of the Warrior Spirit touched him.

Wake Up Call is a compilation of 112 stories on inspiration, awareness, character, calling, practice, inner work and Christian contemplation.

In the book, Rapsas, a resident and homeowner in Ocean Pines, quotes from various spiritual authors and philosophers.

He weaves their wisdom into this one readable book to help others find their own spiritual path.

Wake Up Call provides step-bystep guidance on prayer, meditation, finding your true self, quieting the negative voice inside your head and

“I cover a lot of different paths and different approaches because the same path is not right for everybody. See what talks to you and then pursue it a little bit further. If you feel like something is missing in your life; if it is not being satisfied by traditional religion, I think this book will point you in the right direction.”

other practices.

The stories are drawn from his blog on Patheos.com/blog/wakeupcall, which he has been writing since 2012.

https://mail google com/mail/u/0/?tab=rm&ogbl#inbox?projector=1

In his blog, he looks for the most important ideas in the books he reads and expands that idea in a story. Because of that, his blog has been called a “spiritual Readers Digest.”

He advises readers to start their own spiritual practice.

“This practice doesn’t replace organized religion, it becomes your religion. It involves engaging in a series of regular activities that both enrich your spiritual awareness and feed your soul—and can be the difference between a satisfying life or one where it feels like something integral is missing.”

“You can call it a divine force, Mother Nature, The Force (StarWars reference). There is this beacon you can tap into for inspiration. You can use this source for guidance, inspiration and just everyday advice.”

Rapsas’ book is broken down into 16 chapters, with seven categories, one to focus on each day of the week. The reader can look at this as a class in spirituality, and read one story a day for 16 weeks.

Each story provides the reader guidance on how to practice a more spiritual and mindful lifestyle. But of course, the way the reader digests the book is up to each person.

Some of the key takeaways from the book include the following: Live by the golden rule: treat others as you would like them to treat you.

Continuously strive to be a better person than you were yesterday. Determine what life is asking of you and find your personal calling. Be present and give your full attention to your activities and others. Release your inner child.

Believe you can succeed and you will.

Rapsas is a big fan of meditation and mindfulness. He looks at meditation as a short term practice, an act for a specific period of time. He considers mindfulness a way of being that is carried throughout the day.

He encourages everyone to start the day with a few minutes of meditation, whether it is breathing exercises or “filling meditation.”

He describes filling meditation as “letting the world come to you.”

Here in Ocean Pines, he walks out to his backyard in the morning with his coffee, and spends a few minutes out in nature.

He suggests taking a walk, watching the waves on the beach or any other activity that centers and calms the mind.

Headshot Rapsas 2023 JPG

“Meditation, breathing exercises, anything that puts you in touch with something outside yourself” can help put you in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day.

“If you do not start your day in a good place, things can spiral throughout the day.”

When the day gets out of control, he suggests referring back to that morning meditation.

“You should start each day from a place of evenness. It helps you address the world better, and helps you with your relationships as well.”

“Mindfulness allows us a chance to reset and clear our head.”

The book provides many tips and exercises the reader can do to help create a spiritual path for themselves.

This book gives you the keys, it’s up to you to try the keys, said Rapsas.

“I cover a lot of different paths and different approaches because the same path is not right for everybody.

“See what talks to you and then pursue it a little bit further.

“If you feel like something is missing in your life; if it is not being satisfied by traditional religion, I think this book will point you in the right direction,” Rapsas said.

Wake Up Call can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, local book stores or at his website TomRapsas.com.

Rapsas will be doing a book signing at the Greyhound Independent Book Store, 9 South Main Street in Berlin, on July 14 during the Berlin Farmers Market.

Delmarva Chorus annual show July 13 in Ocean Pines

The Delmarva Chorus, a chapter of Sweet Adelines International and directed by Carol Ludwig, will be holding its annual chorus show on Saturday, July 13, at 7 p.m., in the Ocean Pines Community Center.

The theme this year will be the “Coffee, Tea and Jukebox Harmony.” The show will feature familiar tunes, free coffee, tea, homemade desserts, door prizes, 50/50 and raffles and more. The chorus invites attendees to dress up in 50’s garb.

Donation for the show is $15. For more information, call Elaine at 410-703-1262 or Candy at 610-506-7714 or on Facebook, Instagram or on the group’s website, www.delmarvachorus. org.

Kiwanis pancake breakfast

July 13 at Community Center

Saturday, July 13, is the date for this summer’s traditional Kiwanis Club of Ocean PinesOcean City Pancake Breakfast at the Ocean Pines Community Center’s Assateague Room.

The menu includes fresh scrambled eggs, sausages, coffee, tea and orange juice.

Children under 12 eat free. The cost is $9 for everyone else.

Hours are 8-11 a.m.

Advance tickets are available from Kiwanians. Attendees can also pay at the door, cash or credit.

Take-out will be available.

Indulge in a scrumptious breakfast of pancakes, fresh scrambled eggs and sausage for a delicious morning of food and community spirit

Children under 12 eat free. $9 per person over the age of 12. Don't miss out! Saturday, July 13, 2024

8 a.m - 11 a.m.

$9/adult; Children Under 12 Eat Free!

Ocean Pines Community Center

Assateague Room 235 Ocean Parkway, Ocean Pines, MD 21811

Tickets are available from: Your local Kiwanian neighbor/friend Or Pay At the Door (cash or credit) Take Out Available!

For More Info: www.kiwanisofopoc.org


Clifford-Peck vs. Rick Farr, dueling narratives

The following was circulating in Ocean Pines via email the week of June 24. Written by Amy Peck, it sets out the differences that she and her running mate Sherrie Clifford have with the current Board of Directors, particularly OPA President Rick Farr.

His response appears on this page

Sherrie Clifford-Amy Peck

Dear Ocean Pines Neighbor

Sherrie Clifford and Amy Peck are running for the Ocean Pines Board of Directors. You might recognize our names from the Ocean Pines ROC or the ROC BUZZ Podcast, or know us for our volunteer efforts and past service to the community.

To Ocean Pines residents

It has come to my attention that OPA Board candidates Amy Peck and Sherrie Clifford have sent a campaign email broadly to Ocean Pines members in recent days.

The email, apparently sent via members’ private email addresses used without their knowledge, contains distortions that I feel compelled to correct, so that voting members of OPA are not misled.

First, I want to address their claim that a unified Board working together and reaching consensus on matters of importance to OPA is a bad thing (their criticism of a

“super-majority” voting together. Our Board is the governing body of a private, non-stock corporation which also happens to be a large HOA with many members. It should strive to make decisions, as all corporate Boards should, in as business-like a fashion as possible, with as much agreement and consensus as can be reached, and with as little squabbling as possible (hopefully none).

We appreciate your support and encourage you to send your ballot as soon as you receive it by mail or vote electronically. Please let your OP neighbors know why we’ve earned your vote and why we are the better choice for OPA. If you are undecided or have never voted in this election before, take minute to understand why this election is crucial. A vote for Clifford/Peck is a vote for continued success in Ocean Pines.

Unfortunately, the composition of the Ocean Pines Board currently consists of a super-majority that votes 6-1, with minimal discussion or transparency. This lack of effective governance means that without your support, this super Board Majority will continue to rule without opposition or transparency for years to come. As homeowners, it’s crucial that we have a voice – one that is truly heard. Our Board requires diverse viewpoints, innovative ideas, practical solutions and enhanced collaboration – not Directors who blindly vote “yes” without thorough discussion, critical questions, or data to back their decisions.

The core values of integrity, accountability, respect, collaboration, and sustainability are paramount. We’ve been vocal about the need to listen to homeowners and why certain pet projects, such as a proposed $650,000 dedicated board room are wasteful expenditures. As fiscal conservatives, we recognize the distinction between wants and needs when it comes to spending your HOA dollars.

Safety remains our top priority. Unfortunately, our opponents’ handling of negotiations with the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department (OPVFD) has strained relationships, leaving the fate of the South Fire Station undecided. Unlike them, we understand that negotiations don’t occur over drinks at the Tiki Bar with a so-called gentleman’s agreement only involving select parties. Our skills lie in restoring relationships and we appreciate the significance of doing so.

Ms. Peck and Ms. Clifford may prefer public disagreement, debate, and dissension. But our currently-constituted Board of independent and responsible thinkers has a different preference – we prefer to reach agreement on governance matters as often and as expeditiously as possible, so that direction given to our incredible General Manager (John Viola) and his talented department heads and staff can be as prompt, clear and unified as possible; so that our governance of OPA will not be disrupted by unnecessary conflict; so that we hear and respond to the members in as collective and efficient a manner as we can; and so that our Board deliberations are focused on OPA business matters rather than personalities and drama.

The notion, as circulated by Ms. Peck and Ms. Clifford, that any of our currently constituted Board members “blindly” vote together on OPA matters or that they are “ruling” in a thoughtless way is, to be blunt, ridiculous. The OPA corporate Board, functioning properly as it does now, does not “rule” over anyone or anything, including when the vote is 6-1 or 7-0.

The OPA corporate Board,functioning properly as it does now, governs, coalesces, cooperates, and collaborates; and contrary to what is suggested by Ms. Peck and Ms. Clifford, this is a good thing for OPA, its management, and its members. The email by Ms. Peck and Ms. Clifford makes the false claim that our current Board’s governance approach lacks transparency and deliberation. They are wrong.

The current Board brings positivity and collaboration to the job and avoids dissension, as stated above. But the current members of the Board, who have varied and successful career backgrounds, analyze OPA issues with independence and thoroughness, always. Open discussion and transparency is fostered at all times. Avoidance of conflict whenever possible, contrary to what Ms. Peck and Ms. Clifford apparently think, does not equate to lack of diligent and independent thought.

The Peck/Clifford email also makes a claim about an allegedly planned “$650,000 dedicated board room” as a “pet project” of the current Board. This is patently false. There is no such plan and there has never been any such plan.

The Peck/Clifford email also makes the claim that the relationship between OPA and the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department (OPVFD) is “strained. ” What they are apparently unaware of is that negotiations are currently underway between the OPA and the OPVFD (which we have always deeply valued, respected, and admired) to arrive at a new agreed relationship construct that will solidify the important place that the OPVFD has had for decades in, and as a critical part of, our community. More to come on that, very soon.

Lastly, the email circulated by Ms. Peck and Ms. Clifford makes the baseless and irresponsible claim that OPA Board decision-making and negotiations with others occurs “over drinks at the Tiki Bar. ” Again, this currently constituted corporate Board takes its governance responsibilities seriously, with humility, and in a business-like manner, understanding the importance of people other than ourselves – Our General Manager, our Police Chief, the incredible and talented teams around them, and OPA members.

We make decisions and engage in negotiations responsibly, appropriately, and effectively, understanding completely what our role should be and what it should not be. But we do love the new Tiki Bar! Thanks for taking a minute to read this and, we hope, for voting to keep the currently-constituted board in places Rick Farr President, Ocean Pines Association Candidate for re-election and I appreciate your vote.

Rick Farr, Ocean Pines

The Clifford/Peck ticket works well together and has different approaches, ideas, and skills that we bring to the table:

We thank our supporters and remind them to spread the word and get those ballots in. If you have never voted before in Ocean Pines, please

take the time to do so. This election is important. We want a balanced and transparent Board that listens to the homeowners, collaborates, continues our financial successes, and prioritizes safety.

We are asking for your vote!


A very unorthodox OPA president

Rick Farr took a circuitous route to membership on the Board of Directors, fighting off a malicious Board majority on a bogus claim he was not a legitimate owner of property in Ocean Pines. He gained his seat only after spendng upwards of $40,000 on legal fees to win a resounding victory in Worcester County Circuit Court, confirming that ownership through a family trust conferred the same ownership legitimacy as a name on a deed.

He’s now a candidate for another three years on the Board.

Since August, he’s been serving as Ocean Pines Association president, handling those duties as well as anyone has in the history of Ocean Pines. Though allied with former OPA president Doug Parks in the latter’s final year on the Board -- they were in alignment on the issues -- Farr is no clone of Parks stylistically.

Indeed, Farr’s tenure as president has been somewhat unorthodox, as befits someone whose election to the Board was itself unorthodox.

Farr is someone who’s not afraid to speak his mind, sometimes shooting from the hip but always good for an on-the-record comment whenever asked. He’s not one who hides behind the mask of “anonymous source,” a leaker of information that is deemed worthy of public disclosure but without attribution.

Farr is reflexively transparent. When many of the long string of predecessor presidents played it close to the vest, the current OPA president says what he thinks, indifferent to those who may believe he overdoes it.

A case in point: Last month, Farr disclosed on the record and for attribution information from a closed meeting of the Board pertaining to the directors’ discussion of a leaked working document prepared by OPA attorney Bruce Bright and covered by attorney-client privilege. Farr disclosed that the Board had Director Steve Jacobs “on the carpet” as the presumative leaker, with some evidence to support the allegation. Farr accurately disclosed that Jacobs insisted that he was not the leaker, while noting that his colleagues were not convinced of Jacobs’s “innocence.”

The leaked working document never was sent, but here’s what the


An excursion through the curious by-ways and cul-de-sacs of Worcester County’s most densely populated community


As OPA president, Farr is authorized to say whatever he wants to say, on behalf of the Board and in his own behalf.

Board majority said in a statement issued in its stead:

“In particular, the Board is aware that Facebook commentary published on the “Ocean Pines ROC” Facebook page and elsewhere has either implicitly or explicitly accused sitting OPA Board members, without basis, of engaging in corruption, fraud, flim-flam and kickbacks.

“This type of baseless smearing of volunteer Board members, apart from being false and potentially defamatory, serves no constructive purpose, does not advance healthy public discourse or debate, discourages participation in governance by qualified and talented volunteers who might consider running for the Board, and cultivates an unpleasant and counter-productive atmosphere and dynamic within our community.

“We also wish to express our collective dismay and disappointment in regard to disclosures of confidential OPA information leaking improperly from this Board to members of the media and others, in an apparent attempt to disrupt and un-

dermine the legitimate deliberative processes of this corporate Board. We, the undersigned, take our fiduciary duties (owing to each other, OPA, and the membership), including our duty to maintain confidentiality when and where it properly applies.”

Six directors, sans Jacobs, signed the statement.

There the matter stands, though there are rumors to the effect that the Board majority was contemplating tossing Jacobs off the Board for an apparent attempt “to disrupt and undermine the legitimate deliberative processes” of the Board.

Jacobs remains on the Board, where he remains an outspoken, and lonely voice, on one issue after another in which he is the sole dissenter.

Circling back to Farr: His disclosure of information from a closed meeting was criticized as hypocritical by one local commentator, who said Farr committed the very same act of “leaking” that Jacobs was accused of.

This can include information from a closed meeting of the Board. It’s not a leak if he says it on the record, with full attribution.

True, there is a duty to maintain confidentiality when and where it properly applies, but there is nothing in any of the OPA governing documents that specifies that an OPA president cannot disclose information discussed in a closed meeting. In this instance, there was no need to keep the contents of this closed meeting secret.

Indeed, Farr’s disclosure was a refreshing example of transparency. He obviously felt there would be membership interest in the content of this closed meeting, and he let it fly. It provided needed context for the Board statement issued following the meeting.

Verbiage in the much maligned Board Resolution B-08, the so-called ethics resolution repealed in 2021, would have precluded Farr from providing that needed context. That repugnant resolution, that Jacobs

Rick Menard

Ransdell appointment not that controversial

All right, let’s say at the outset that had the Board of Directors wanted to avoid even a scintilla of criticism for appointing, in a 6-1 vote, Steve Ransdell as chairman of the Elections Committee, there was an obvious alternative, had she been willing to take on the job.

That alternative was Cheryl Jacobs, who was appointed to the committee last month. She was an OPA director and OPA vice-president from 2015 to 2018, and has served on numerous advisory committees over the years.

She was elected as a Worcester County Orphans Court in 2018, where she continues to serve. Her resume includes a tenure as an adjunct professor of Del Tech Community College in Georgetown.

Arguably, she’s over-qualified for the job of Elections Committee chair. Then again, why would she want it? The prescribed uniform for the job is a flak jacket with a target printed on the back. That she wasn’t appointed suggests that she didn’t want the job as chair, at least for now. That Ransdell was willing to accept it is commendable.

And Fred Robinson, a former mayor of Bowie, Md, and dad to Ocean Pines Police Chief Tim Robinson, no doubt could have handled the job even though a relative newcomer to Ocean Pines.

Ransdell had the edge over Fred Robinson because he’s a committee veteran and had the support of retiring chair Tom Piatti.

Ransdell’s appointment was vociferously opposed by Joe Reynolds of the Ocean Pines Forum Website, along with Board candidates Amy Peck and Sherrie Clifford.

Reynolds can be a dog who chews on a bone ‘til it crumbles to dust, and it’s possible that Ransdell was appointed in part as a subtextual message to Reynolds that his opinions don’t always resonate with the elected powers that be in Ocean Pines. That’s a polite way of saying it.

There are other, less polite ways of saying it, too. Here’s one: “Joe, take your opinion and insufferable sanctimony and fake outrage and

Life in the Pines

From Page 40

tried but failed to resurrect several months ago, contained language that would constrain the very transparency that Farr practices as OPA president.

Former OPA director and president Colette Horn championed that effort, too, when she was on the Board.

All the more reason to leave it dead and buried. There is an important distinction between Farr’s disclosure of information from a closed meeting and the document that got Jacobs in hot water with his colleagues.

The document at issue was a working document prepared by legal counsel, with the expec-

stuff it. We’re elected, you’re not, and you don’t get to dictate Board decisions.” *

Former member Tom Schwartz apparently was never really considered for chair. It turns out he wasn’t long for the committee, resigning abruptly last month because it he had “liked” a post on Kelly Miller’s Oversight of the Residents Oversight Community Facebook page.

That’s the page that has Reynolds’ panties all in a twist because Ransdell also committed the cardinal sin of “liking” a post that disparaged Peck and Clifford in graphic terms.

The post that Schwartz initially “liked” seemed inoccuous at first, but buried in it was a link that referenced Amy Peck, a candidate for the Board this summer, in an unflattering light.

Schwartz used that apparent taint on the appearance of fairness and objectivity as a pretext to depart the committee.

Cancel culture has arrived in Ocean Pines, in the guise of self-cancelation.

Ransdell has also “liked” content on Miller’s site, but unlike Schwartz he didn’t regard it as a cardinal, venial nor mortal sin.

Judging by comments of certain directors during the meeting Ransdell was appointed, liking something on Miller’s page was hardly a disqualifier that some think it should have been. Director Jeff Heavner in Ransdell’s defense said that the newly appointed chair has free speech rights, the right to personal opinions, and those opinions do not in any way suggest that he would use his role as committee chair to favor one candidate over another.

Ransdell’s flawless handling of the candidate’s forum was cited as evidence of that.

Director Monica Rakowski opined that there’s entirely too much attention given to social media. Her view: It shouldn’t drive Board policy or committee appointments.

As a practical matter, most of the rest of this election season is in the hands of an outside contractor, responsible for mailing out ballots, accepting them electronically or by mail prior to

tation that it would remain confidential. Bruce Bright, the OPA counsel, was reportedly livid that it had been leaked, regarding it as a violation of attorney-client privilege, or something akin to that.

Or as the Board statement said, there are situations in which confidentiality is “properly applied.”

Farr understands this distinction, even if his critics do not.

Yes, some perhaps some if not most of his predecessors would not have gone public with the closed meeting material. Farr’s action proves his unorthodoxy, and that is meant in a very good way.

We’re fortunate to have him on the Board and as OPA president.

counting, and then counting them in offices in Pittsburgh, where ballot tampering seems unlikely to occur.

The committee’s remaining role will be the adjudication of any questionable ballots on the day of the official vote count, accepting vote tallies by the vendor, and having those results ratified by the Board at the annual meeting of the association in August.

It’s not heavy lifting.

As for the sin of “liking” something that’s been posted on Kelly Miller’s page or another other page that may or may not be controversial, perhaps there can be a consensus that mere “likes” are not sufficient to torpedo someone’s volunteer service on an Ocean Pines committee.

As Scwartz noted, a “like” on first blush may seem inoffensive, only to be revealed later to be a tacit endorsement of a point of view that won’t win any awards for tact or simple decency.

Cancel culture is a noxious societal ill that is best left outside the confines of Ocean Pines.

Let free speech reign supreme.

As Kelly Miller has said on his site, if you don’t like the way he expresses himself, or pokes fun at those with whom he disagrees, sometimes obnoxiously, then the simple solution is not to read it.

The same goes for any other media in the area, including this one. - Tom Stauss

* But if you endorse some of us for reelection, we’ll forgive your rhetorical excesses. :-)

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



Birckhead, Leslie-Reece litigants await decisions on four contested issues

Plaintiffs voluntarily drop a contention that Stonewall Capital was delinquent in paying lot assessments to Captain’s Cove.

The parties to the Birckhead and Leslie-Reece lawsuits are awaiting rulings from Accomack County Circuit Court Judge Lynwood Lewis Jr. following a two-day trial on the merits of four issues that were debated June 11 and 12.

At the beginning of the two-day trial, there were five issues that were scheduled for presentations by the litigants, that include Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht and declarant CCG Note as defendants and seven directors of the Concerned Citizens of Captain’s Cove as plaintiffs.

A second lawsuit, heard concurrently by the court during the two-day trial, was filed by CCCC directors Bill Leslie and Linda Reece.

The plaintiffs are seeking a judgment that the CCG Note is responsible for building out roads in Captain’s Cove

One of those issues was voluntarily dismissed without prejudice by the plaintiffs early in the trial.

It involved a contention by the plaintiffs that a developer that has been active in Captain’s Cove had not paying assessments on lots sold to it by CCG Note, and whether this was a benefit to CCG Note.

Several months ago, the CCGYC Property Management Team verified that Stone Wall Capital had been delinquent in paying assessments but subsequently had paid them in their entirety.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers told the Court that his clients were no longer contesting this issue, and that left the number of outstanding issues to four.

Judge Lewis made no indication of how soon he might rule on these remaining issues.

The issues that were contested during the trial include:

• A dispute over whether CCG Note is required to service a loan mentioned in the 2012 settlement agreement between CCGYC and CCG

Note, but which the defendants assert was never executed by the Cove association Board of Directors at the time.

Short of a court order requiring CCG Note to write a check to the Cove association covering annual payments of $50,000, another possible outcome would be a court order requiring the association to sue CCG Note to recover the disputed annual payments.

CCG Note is seeking an outcome in which it is absolved of any responsibility for repaying a loan that it contends does not exist.

The declarant since 2012 has paid the debt service on three separate private loans used for road construction in Captain’s Cove, including build-out in Sections 12 and 13.

Should CCGYC decide it wants to proceed with building out additional roads, the declarant has said it will pay the debt service on any loan up to $50,000.

• whether CCG Note should have installed or could be ordered to install bulkheads on two lots it owns on Starboard Street.

• whether CCG Note is authorized in governing documents to convey building lots to the Greenbackville Volunteer Fire Department for possible use as a future site as an emergency medical satellite facility or firehouse.

This issue seems to be moot, as the declarant is no longer interested in having a facility built on numbered lots in Section 13 of Captain’s Cove. CCG Note is no longer party to the townhome project for which a proffer of land to GVFD was contingent on obtaining a conditional use permit for the property.

What is known as the Hastings/Mariner parcel was sold to R2JS of Edgewood, Md., last year.

That ownership group seems unlikely to have any interest in using Section 13 building lots that border Fleming Road as the site of an EMT building.

The Section 13 lots were part of the 2022 prof-

fer and technically this proffer has not been rescinded. Because it’s a site that is close to others within Accomack County served by the Greenbackville Fire Department, that organization is said to prefer it over the townhome location.

CCG Note’s attorney, Mark Baumgartner, told the Board of Supervisors during a public hearing on a conditional use permit for a townhome development that the facility more likely will be built on acreage to be donated by the developer within the 20-acre townhome complex, located at the east entrance into Captain’s Cove at State Line Road.

• whether Seaview Street has to be built by CCG Note or is the responsibility of the Cove POA to complete.

Currently it’s on a priority list that a working group on roads has assembled.

But it’s in a contested area that is awaiting a wetlands delineation from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before CCGYC Board of Directors can take action to pave this street.

The Leslie-Reece suit deals with the issue of whose responsibility it is to build out roads in Captain’s Cove, while the Birckhead suit is focused on Seaview Street.

Two other issues in the contentious litigation have already been addressed by the Court, one of them involving Aqua Virginia, the Cove’s water and wastewater treatment utility.

The judge in that case determined that a 2016 sale of about ten acres in Section 14 to Aqua Virginia by the Cove POA had been authorized by the State Corporation Commission.

He accepted a motion by Aqua Virginia attorney John Byrum to dismiss the complaint by the seven Birckhead plaintiffs seeking to enjoin future use of that acreage by Aqua to construct what are called rapid infiltration basins, or RIBs, on grounds that the Circuit Court lacked subject jurisdiction over the issue.

That action effectively removed Aqua as a defendant in the case, an outcome to which the plaintiffs didn’t object.

Aqua was removed as a defendant in the case, and this dispute is no longer an issue.

The other issue already addressed by the court concerns ownership of Captain’s Corridor and whether the Cove association can deny access to a planned townhome development from Captain’s Corridor.

The judge ruled that CCG Note owns both sides of Captain’s Corridor in the vicinity of the planned townhome project and that public access to Captain’s Cove can’t be denied.

The plaintiffs have publicly vowed to appeal this latter ruling.

New Homes Currently Under Construction

Lot 1106 Amidship Dr.

Pearl B C $324,990

Two-Story, 4 BR /2.5 BA 1680 sq ft., Open Concept, 2 Car Garage, SS Appliances, Kitchen Island, Granite Kitchen Countertops, White Painted Birch Cabinets in Kitchen

Lot 1111 Amidship Dr. Sussex B $384,990

Ranch 3 BR / 2 BA 1810 sq ft.,Open Concept, 2 Car Garage, SS Appliances, Kitchen Island, Granite Kitchen Countertops, White Painted Maple Cabinets in Kitchen, Gas Fireplace, Screen Porch

Lot 1113 Amidship Dr.

Topaz C $329,990

Two-Story, 4 BR /2.5 BA 1911 sq ft., Open Concept, 2 Car Garage, Bonus Room, SS Appliances, Kitchen Island, White Painted Birch Cabinets in Kitchen

Lot 480 Dry Dock Court

Topaz C $344,990

Two-Story, 4 BR /2.5 BA 1911 sq ft., Open Concept, 2 Car Garage, Bonus Room, Sunroom, Granite Kitchen Countertops, SS Appliances, Kitchen Island, White Painted Birch Cabinets in Kitchen

Lot 219 Navigator Dr. Golf Course Lot

Sussex B $399,990

Ranch 3 BR / 2 BA 1810 sq ft., Open Concept, 2 Car Garage w/ opener, SS Appliances, Deluxe Kitchen Island, Granite Kitchen Countertops, White Painted Maple Cabinets in Kitchen, Gas Fireplace, Upgraded Primary Venetian Bath, Screen Porch

Prices are subject to change without notice and photos may show upgraded features not included in price

Working group begins task of revising short-term rental rules

Occupancy limits concern members in first meeting

Awork work group formed to review and suggest changes to the short-term rental rules in effect in Captain’s Cove met June 20 and managed to work through the first six regulations that govern this activity.

If the first meeting is any indication, it’s going to be an arduous exercise to produce recommendations that the Board of Directors can then consider and act upon. Rule seven discussion was deferred until a scheduled meeting on July 11.

The work group spent much of its time debating rule 4 that pertains to occupancy limits for homes used for short-term rentals.

Local property manager Lance Stitcher joined by CCGYC Director Dave Felt suggested that occupancy limits might not be legal or enforceable. But the work group seemed amenable to changing this rule by defining the term “occupancy” more precisely.

There was consensus that the rules should be reformatted to include a section that pertains to members who rent out their homes short terms and the property managers who handle the rentals for members.

There were no real concerns expressed over the first two rules that are currently in place.

The first rule requires a member to submit a registration form and a copy of a county business license to the Property Management Team. The second rule reinforces rule one, mandating that all short-term rental property owners obtain a county business license.

Rule three, which requires homeowners to pay the county’s transient tax “per the terms of the county’s tax payment process,” may be revised or recommended for elimination.

CCGYC President Mark Majerus said this rule was included as a “courtesy” to the county and for informational purposes to CCGYC


He said the POA has no interest in enforcing this rule.

“The Cove isn’t getting involved in enforcement of this tax,” Majerus said.

It wasn’t clear whether the working group would recommend eliminating this rule, revamping it, or leaving it as is.

Rule 4 came in for some extended discussion and no consensus on how it might be revised.

It sets out a maximum occupancy limit per house, based on two persons per bedroom.

The rule says that the number of bedrooms associated with a given property “will be determined by the building records previously submitted and approved by Accomack County” and the CCGYC’s Environmental Control Committee.

Stitcher and Felt voiced reservations about the enforceability of a rule governing bedroom occupancy.

Majerus suggested a distinction between owner-occupied bedrooms and those occupied by transient guests.

That could be an issue because not all short-term rentals are wholehouse. Some Airbnb rentals are for rooms only, with the owners sharing space with the guest tenants.

It was suggested that adding the term “transient overnight guests” to the two-persons-per-bedroom rule, so if a family staying or living nearby were to come for dinner and stays overnight, it does not break the rule.

Another dilemma: work group members wondered whether infants or children who may not sleep in a bed would be considered an “occupant” under Rule 4.

Rule 5 currently says that members or authorized representative of members who are renting their homes out as short-term rentals are required to provide the names and contact information of transient

guests to the Association five business days in advance of a move-in.

This information is supposed to be provided on a form available on the Association’s member website.

Phillips said the rule needs to be adjusted so that the five-day required can be changed on a case-bycase basis.

Rule 6 established an annual special exception hearing for shortterm rental approval. “

“The Association reserves the right to require approval for an annual STR permit from the Association in a manner similar to what Accomack County requires for STR’s within the county’s jurisdiction,” the rules reads.

Phillips said the rule doesn’t apply to every short-term rental in Captain’s Cove, but only if there are “repetitive issues” with any particular rental.

Before the next meeting, Phillips said the PMT would check with the county to determine how it was enforcing occupancy rules. Work group members were also asked to read over Rule 7 and write down suggestions/thoughts about it prior to the next meeting that is set for July 11 at 10 a.m.

Rule 7 contains topics ranging from member and transient conduct, move-in and move-out details, trash collection, pets and pet waste removal, prohibited items, grilling and fireworks, among others.

Member Dave Gladysiewicz recently moved a bench to the Cove’s favortie fishing pond.





2034 Brigantine • $275,000


Nestled in the heart of Captains Cove and close to the main front entrance. Featuring 3 BR/2BA one story living that features hardwoods in Main living areas and new carpet in all bedrooms. Open Floor Plan with cathedral ceilings, kitchen overlooks main living area with kitchen bar, oversized back screen porch with access from main bedroom and dining area, cozy front porch. Two car garage. Plenty of storage over garage.

2247 Pike Drive • $315,000

Well Maintained home. First level has LVP flooring throughout main living area. Great Room boast vaulted ceilings & Pellet Stove. Kitchen includes Solid Surface countertops, gas stove and SS appliances updated in 2018. Primary BR is on first level, with vaulted ceilings. bath has soaking tub and walk-in shower & double sink. Second level has 2 BR’s and one full bath and walk-in storage. Three Season Room has plenty of windows and leads out to an open deck. Flowering plants throughout.

2221 Jolly Rodger • $360,000

Perfect for larger families or lots of entertaining. Two story home w/Master Suite on first level. Rooms have been enlarged from standard floor plan with a lot of extras. Living area offer circle top windows for more lighting, dining area enlarged with access to a private deck. Family Room that leads out to a Screen Porch, Master suite has been enlarged. Additional bedrooms upstairs w/bonus living space, office, Den or playroom. Two bay Garage was extended and widened 24x26 with plenty of room for a work area. Stone Font that is highlighted by landscaping wall along the property, Paved Drive with additional parking and 30AMP hookup, 2 sheds. ... Adjoining lot also available for sale.

37254 Dolphin Drive • $380,000

One of a kind custom built home. Great room with fireplace, dining area and formal sitting room all have hardwood floors. Kitchen features Corrian counter tops, 36” cabinets with pull out drawers, sitting bar and tile floors. First floor oversized Master BR has tray ceilings with his and hers closets. Master bath walk-in shower and Whirlpool tub. First level laundry room and half bath. Second level three bedrooms and full bath. Two additional areas can be finished off to add over 800 ft of living space. Oversized twocar garage. Screen porch and deck overlook the golf course.

$179,000 3/1443 High Sea Dr.

$125,000 3/1271 Captain’s Corridor


$11,500 2/445 Captains Corridor W&S

$22,500 2/281 Navigator Dr Cleared, Corner

$27,500 2/299 Navigator Dr Cleared

$35,000 2/287 Navigator Dr Cleared


$2,000 5/41 Wooded, Septic Approved

$2.000 5/2427 Wooded, Septic Approved

$2,000 5/81 Wooded, Septic Approved

$2,000 4/2330 Wooded, Septic Approved

$2,500 11/20 Wooded, Septic Approved

$2.995 3/1688 Wooded

$3,750 1/528 Wooded, W&S

$3,900 5/7 Wooded, Septic Approved

$4,000 4/2148 Wooded

$5,000 4/2028 Wooded, Septic Approved

$5,000 4/2033 Wooded, Septic Approved

$5,000 4/2207 Wooded, Septic Approved

$5,000 4/2364 Wooded, Corner

$5,000 6/85 Wooded, Septic Approved

$8.199 8/34 Cleared

$9,000 9/34 Cleared

$9,500 7/16 Cleared, Septic Approved

$10,000 4/1982 Wooded

$10,000 4/1984 Wooded

$10,000 4/1988 Wooded

$10,000 4/1991 Wooded

$10,000 4/1992 Wooded

$10,000 4/1994 Wooded

$10,000 4/1998 Wooded

$10,000 4/2001 Wooded

$10,000 4/2037 Wooded

$10,000 4/2040 Wooded

$10,000 4/2052Wooded

$10,000 4/2056 Wooded

$10,000 4/2096 Wooded

$11,000 4/1879 Wooded, Pond Front

$13,000 9/71 Cleared

$15,000 9/185 Cleared

$15,000 8/4 Cleared

$37,900 1/1148 Wooded, Pond View, W&S

Bulkhead inspections yield ‘about to fail’ situations

Wilder says notices will be sent to affected property owners first week of July

General Manager Justin Wilder has advised owners of bulkheaded properties in Captain’s Cove that they may soon receive notice of some unwelcome news: Their bulkhead below the water line may be failing.

During the Board of Directors June 24 month meeting, Wilder reported on the just completed annual inspection of bulkheads.

He said that unlike some prior years, this year the inspectors were able to get a look of the condition of bulkheads at low tide, well below the water line, and the result is that they were able to identify a number of “about-tofail” situations that owners will need to rectify.

Unlike some communities, responsibility for maintaining privately owned bulkheads rests with the property owner, not the property owners association, whose role it is to inform owners that their bulkheading is in need of attention.

Wilder said the Property Management Team would be reaching out the first week of July with notices to property owners.

“Quite a few people will be surprised” when they receive notices, Wilder


He did not mention the number of problem bulkheads identified during the inspection.

But he seemed to suggest that because of the more thorough inspection this year, at low tide, the result is more than in year’s prior.

21 new home applications approved

In a report on Environmental Control Committee activities so far this year, Wilder said there have been 92 applications filed, including 21 new homes. He said that 17 of them are incomplete, awaiting more documentation, or are under review.

Of the 92, three applications have been denied.

Wilder also reported that when an application for a new home or renovation project is approved, owners receive a permit that is supposed to be mounted on the home or property to signal that a project is under way.

The problem is that many property owners fail to do so.

“I have an idea on how to get people to be more pro-active,” he said, but he was not quite ready to unveil details. u

Declarant won’t fill an ECC vacancy

Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club President Mark Majerus, also a member of the ECC, announced that declarant CCG Note would not be appointing a replacement to a member who recently resigned.

Jim Silfee, a CCGYC director and CCG Note investor, confirmed Majerus’s statement and said that the declarant would like the association to appoint the replacement without involvement by the declarant.

The Board voted 5-0 with Silfee abstaining to begin the process of filling the vacancy.

The ECC normally has three members to review applications submitted by property owners.

Board applications available until Aug. 1

Property owners wishing to run for a seat on the Board of Directors this year are encouraged to fill out the application during the available window, which opened June 1 and will close Aug. 1, Wilder said.

Anyone interested can reach out to him for an application, he said. He encouraged property owners to file change of address forms with the association to ensure that election documents are sent to the proper location.

Lot swap, land offer approved

The Board of Directors during the June 24 meeting approved a lot swap in Section 7 and accepted an offer for a golf course lot purchased on Main Sail Court.

The owner of Section 3-Lot 16, unbuildable because it lacks a paved road, water or electric service, traded for a buildable Section 7-Lot 231. The vote of approval was 5-0 with one abstention.

The Board approved also by a 5-0-1 margin an offer of $13,000 for a golf course on Main Sail Circle. The lot had been offered for sale for $15,000 in the pilot lot sale program that has been ongoing for about nine months.

Majerus, Felt offer legal updates

Majerus reported that the Circuit Court judge who presided over the Birckhead and Leslie-Reece lawsuits the second week of June did

Board votes to expand sales program

The Board of Directors at its June 24 monthly voted to capitalize on a successful pilot program of selling lots owned by Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club to the public in the hopes of generating more dues-paying properties.

The pilot program, said CCGYC President Mark Majerus, resulted in the sale of five out of the 25 lots in the program. It’s been in place for about nine months, with Jonah Baker of Dockside Properties of Chin-

Board meeting

From Page 53

not make any decisions, but that all parties had ample opportunity to make their cases.

At the conclusion of the second day of trial, the judge said he was taking the case under advisement and would rule on the various issues.

He didn’t give a timetable on when a verdict might be rendered.

Director Dave Felt, the Board’s point person on the Troon litigation, said that the association’s counsel had forwarded the results of the forensic audit to Troon.

He declined to specify the amount that CCGYC is seeking to settle the suit, saying it was precluded by a non-disclosure agreement.

There has no discussion nor has there been any recommendation regarding any amount of compensation to settle the suit, Majerus told the Cove Currents recently.

With the forwarding the forensic report, it starts a 30-day count down time on possibly lifting the stay on the current suit, which could lead to settlement discussions.

Majerus said that the Richards case trial that had been scheduled for June 25 had been canceled, with the parties waiting for the Court to schedule a new date.

Service animal rules await action by counsel

Felt reported that there had been no progress on efforts to provide the directors with a recommended set of new regulations pertaining to service animals. The matter rests with legal counsel, who have been “tied

To solicit proposals from local real estate companies

coteague handling the sales.

CCGYC President Mark Majerus said that new home applications for the five lots sold have been submitted to the Environmental Control Committee for review, a good sign.

The Board votes 5-0 with one abstention to begin the process of soliciting proposals from local real estate companies to expand the number of lots in the program to 95, in Sections 4,5,6,8,9 and 11.

Majerus said the request for proposals from local real estate companies would go out July 1, as well as supporting advertising in local newspapers.

There would be a vendor meeting on July 16, with proposals due back on Aug. 9.

Proposals would be evaluated by the Property Management Team on Aug. 12, with Board action anticipated for Aug. 26 Board of Directors meeting.

The expanded program would then begin around Sept. 1.

Majerus said the request for proposals would be for six, nine or 12 months.

He said the Board would be particularly interested in proposals that show a robust marketing effort.

During the interim, the Board voted to extend the pilot program in place with Dockside Properties.

July 19, 7:30 - 10:30PM

Scan to make Reservations

Cove continues to focus on collecting delinquent dues

It’s a never-ending chore, collecting delinquent semi-annual dues from property owners who for a variety of reasons decline to pay or to pay on time.

Accounts receivables continue to be a topic at Property Management Team meetings. The June 17 meeting was no exception, with Senior General Manager Colby reporting on remaining delinquencies from the October, 2023 billing, and new delinquencies from the April, 2024, billing.

Numbers she presented do not include the 500 scofflaws who failure to pay is so consistent the revenue loss is included in the annual Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club budget.

The focus is on new delinquencies, those who stopped paying their assessments beginning with the October, 2023, billing.

Phillips said that 41 members still have not paid their assessments from October, the same number reported in May, with $40,430 in dues outstanding.

She said that 311 members as of May 1 had not paid their April dues, but that after 30-day and 60-day letters were sent out, 85 members have paid in full, leaving 226 members as of June 10 in arrears and $110,850 in outstanding balances.

In addition to the letters, the PMT makes phone calls after 90 days of delinquency and another round after 120 days.

Budget timeline

Phillips reported that 2024-25 budget preparation continues, with department reviews taking place from May 28 to June 7. A community budget work session is set for July 24, when it is possible that the PMT’s proposal for next year’s annual dues may be disclosed.

A final draft of the budget is due on Aug. 1 to the Board of Directors, with

approval likely at the Board’s August meeting.

Committee, workgroup updates

Phillips reported that the welcome packet work group recently met and discussed what new members would want to know about Captain’s Cove.

General Manager Justin Wilder disclosed that a work group to review the Environmental Control Committee’s architectural guidelines will be populated shortly, with seven or eight volunteer candidates submitting applications to serve. The working group will have three members and once the group is assembled, it will begin reviewing the guidelines, in accord with recent guidance by the Board of Directors.

Work groups for roads, playground and beautification are all scheduled to meet in late August, Phillips said.

Phillips’ general manager advisory group met recently to discuss core values for the community, along with a vision statement. The Board recently approved a mission statement proposed by SAG.

Bulkheads, Appfolio video

General Manager Justin Wilder announced that inspections of community bulkheads would be starting on June 18, and that a video providing instruction on how to use Appfolio functions on the CCGYC Website would be available for viewing by the end of June.

Security report

Security Team Leader John Fox reported that there were 72 calls to security in May, up from 53 in April, 46 in March, 17 in February and 26 in January. The increase is typical, as more CCGYC members arrive in the community as the weather warms up.

Golf report

Golf Manager Cole Scott reported 1,131 rounds of golf played in May, 112 racquet sports game played, eight rounds of fling golf, and pro shop sales of $13,407. There have been $1900 in golf memberships sold to date, bringing total golf sales for May to $15,307. That compares to the budgeted $10,000, Scott said.

CCGYC members, as part of their annual dues, can play the Cove golf course without having to purchase a membership or pay greens fees, a policy change that went into effect this year. Cart fees are assessed and are included in pro shop sales.

Farmers market

Phillips delivered an update from Community Relations Manager Julia Knopf, who Phillips said was out sick for a few days.

With respect to the farmers market, a new venture this year, Phillips said that “the first few weeks of the Captain’s Cove Farmers and Artisans Market have been a great success.

“Thanks go out to Market Committee Members Carol Pedrick, Ralph Burner, Michele Ragonese, and Carol Gardner. Together they have recruited 32 market vendors to date. Each week the market features a unique mix of these vendors. This Thursday, June 20th, we will see our largest market to date, with 20 vendors in attendance.

“Many thanks also to Susan Guthridge, who has taken the lead on the Children’s Corner, helping to set up crafts and market-centered activities. The Arts and Crafts League will also be hosting the corner including a fun project this week. Be sure to stop by each week, as different fruits and vegetables are coming into season, as well as vendors joining the market,” Phillips said.

The market runs every Thursday, until Sept. 19 , from 3-6 p.m., with no market on July 4 .

Cove Committees

The Potluck Committee wrapped up their season last month, Phillips said. This year saw the largest number of attendees, with many months reaching well over 100 people.

“Many thanks to Bernadette Polaski as she steps down from the Committee Chair position. Bernadette has helped to grow and perfect the Community potluck. Thank you Bernadette! The new season will begin in September and will once again run once a month through May,” Phillips reported, reading from Knopf’s prepared remarks.

Arts and Crafts League

The Cove’s Arts and Crafts League will be hosting activities for kids and families at upcoming Farmers Markets and Family Fun nights. Those interested in getting involved with the league, should contact Debbie Byars.

Members Party and buffet

Wristbands for the July 4 members party are now on sale at Reception. Wristbands are $15 for members and $20 for guests of members. The party will run from 4 to 8 p.m. DJ Donnie will be spinning tunes.

The buffet will once again be in the restaurant, and no restaurant access will be allowed until 4 p.m. The boat parade will take place at 6:45 p.m. with view from the tiki bar deck and Marina Club veranda.

Member Cards

Phillips reminded members to “always have your member card with you when accessing the amenities. Lanyards are available at Reception at no cost to members for easy access. If your card has no expiration date, an expired date or a sticker color other than green, prior to accessing amenities you will be asked to go to Reception to update your card.”

Captain's Cove Marina Restaurant

Eight months into the 2023-24 fiscal year Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club has recorded a $277,841 favorable variance to budget, despite a $96,000 unfavorable variance in June.

Entering the final four months of the fiscal year, CCGYC should fare well financially relative to budget as revenues at Cove amenities increase during the summer months, Comptroller Sara Shifflett said during a review of the May financial results during the June 24 meeting of the CCGYC Board of Directors.

“We’re still looking good despite the loss [in May],” she said.

Shifflett said the June’s results were partly driven by a higher cost of goods at the Marina Club and Town Center Grill. Payroll expense of $252,723 was another factor in

To Page 62

Source: Sara Shifflett, Controller, Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club

June, as it had been budgeted at $181,960.

She said that an extra pay period in the month caused the payroll number to be higher than it would have otherwise.

Repair and maintenance costs also missed budget in June, an issue of timing. R&M costs were $164,826 for the month compared to the bud-

get $46,607. The contributing factor there was $93,000 in road paving repairs, compared to the budgeted $46,607.

For the year so far, CCGYC has generated $4.403 million in revenue, under budget by $115.563.

But the association has more than offset that by cutting expenses where possible.

Operating expenses through the end of May were $2.988 million, compared to the budgeted $3.125

million, resulting in a favorable balance on the expense side of $137,281.

Through the end of May, CCGYC had $713,833 in net income compared to the budgeted $433,992, resulting in the $277,841 positive variance eight months into the 2023-24 fiscal year

Shifflett said that CCGYC has about $960,00 in accessible cash on hand, about $100,000 better than the same time last year.

CCGYC President Mark Majerus said that one of the cost-savings measures put in place by the Property Management Team is to delay purchase of new playground equipment, estimated at a cost of $50,000 to $80,000.

The new playground equipment has been a project that Senior General Manager Colby Phillips has championed.

Earlier this year, she presented a plan for new playground equipment that was much less expensive than earlier proposals.

But even then, the decision was made to delay purchasing the equipment for at least a year.

Majeris has said that there are 460 home in the Cove with liens on them for failure to pay annual dues.

Filing liens is one of thepreliminary steps that CCGYC can takeon the way to initiating foreclosure proceedings.

He lamented that there remain 200 property owners in arrears from the April billing, down from the 311 originally.

There also remains uncollected funds from the October, 2023, billing.

It has been said that if all of the delinquent accounts were brought up to date, the annual dues could be more lowered by $200 or more.

Board meeting

From Page 55

up” with higher priority matters, he said.

DMA study on agenda of July Board meeting

Majerus reported that there have been meetings with DMA Reserves over the recently completed Captain’s Cove reserve study, the results of which will be discussed at the Board’s July meeting.

The study outlines capital expenditure requirements in the coming years, based on the useful life of various CCGYC assets, he said.

The Board met for about a half hour in closed session to discuss four offers to clear up indebtedness related to unpaid annual dues and came back into open session to approve three of them, with the other one to be sent back to the owner with a counter offer.

The offers had been recommended for approval by legal counsel and they were approved on votes of 5-0 with one abstention by Director Jim Silfee.

Much more than a property owners association

Captain’s Cove can be described in numerous ways depending on the individual’s perspective. On the highest level, it is a Property Owners Association (POA), a group of lots and homes mixed with various amenities.

Digging further, one realizes that it represents much more than just a POA; it is home for some, a retreat for others; it may be viewed as a haven or merely a place to rest. No matter the perspective and how someone might view Captain’s Cove, it is at the very heart a community.

The word community elicits images of neighborhoods, towns, and groups gathering, but is also representative of a sense, a feeling of unity. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines community as “a unified group of individuals.”

In a world where we are told to be unique and express our individuality, sometimes it is harder to embrace that sense of community while

striving to stand out. When we take a moment, we realize that we are all, in fact, unified, even if the only common thread is Captain’s Cove.

A place like Captain’s Cove can act as a springboard, allowing microcosms to develop, where individuals can help nurture the community and enable it to thrive.

Individuals such as Vicky Keefer, Janette Crum, and Karen Lee use their unique talents and backgrounds to enhance the community spirit.

On June 1, Vicky led a beginner’s pickleball clinic for 24 members. She has been a leader in developing the game at the Cove. She has helped to build a community within the greater community thanks to her drive to bring people together for competition, fun, and fitness.

Much like Vicky, member Janette Crum uses her strength and training as a certified fitness trainer to encourage individuals to join as one, motivating one another as they strive for more excellent fitness. Ja-

nette now hosts “Crunched to the Core,” a free class on Tuesday mornings and evenings. After a session, participants can be heard reminding each other to “tighten those abs!”.

Through her monthly Book Club, members like Karen Lee help to grow an open, safe environment where individual differences are set aside in exchange for a healthy community discussion.

The Book Club meets monthly on Tuesday or Wednesday evening to discuss a preselected book. This club is a way for those more introverted members to gather.

Vicky, Janette, and Karen’s contributions are testaments to the fact that individuality plays a crucial role in building a vibrant community, as each person’s unique skills and interests contribute to the collective whole. This stance of unity through individuality is vitally important if the newly adopted mission statement is to prevail.

“The mission of Captain’s Cove is to promote a thriving communi-

ty by enriching the quality of life and interests of the owners while enhancing property values through the prudent use of resources for the benefit of all.”

The development of this statement through an eclectic group of residents, lot owners, and staff, and adopted by the Board of Directors, was an exercise in community in itself.

Lawsuits, political campaigns, negativity, and divisiveness were sidelined in the name of community progress.

Now more than ever, we must nurture and help grow the unique community that is Captain’s Cove. No matter your role, member, owner, guest, or staff, the burden is on each individual to contribute their part, helping to turn the mission statement into reality for the benefit of all.

Julia Knopf is the community relations manager of Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club. ,

Vicky Keefer leading a pickleball clinic in early June.

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