June 2024 Ocean Pines Progress

Page 1

Two incumbents, one former director, two others file for OPA Board

Clifford and Peck to run as a team in opposition to Farr, Heavner,

When for weeks it looked as though incumbents Rick Farr and Jeff Heavner might be reelected to the Board of Directors in this summer’s election without opposition, three additional candidates for the two seats to be contested filed just before the May 10 deadline.

Two of the late-filing candidates, Amy Peck and Sherrie Clifford, have been frequent critics of Board policies in recent weeks and months. So the election is also ready shaping up as a contest between what has been a cohesive Board majority of six directors since last August and two challengers running in tandem who are interested in disrupting the status quo.


accused of leaking confidential Board information

A special closed meeting of the Board of Directors May 9 dealt largely with accusations that Director Steve Jacobs had been the source of confidential information leaked to members of the local media, particularly Joe Reynolds of Ocean Pines Forum.

The meeting, held in closed session, also dealt with a draft statement by the Board regarding potentially defamatory material targeted at the Board or individual directors accusing them of immoral and illegal activity.

Page 6

Progress hires new distributors


Peck is a former appointed director who narrowly lost an election bid in 2022. She and Clifford jointly manage a Facebook page called Ocean Pines Residents Oversight Community (ROC), known for podcasts with local personalities.

The fifth candidate, Jerry Murphy, was a candidate last summer, finishing fourth with 1,460 votes behind the winners, Elaine Brady, John Latham and Heavner, the latter of whom was elected to fill the remaining year of former director Frank Daly’s three-year term.

This edition of the Progress features profiles of the latest candidates, Peck, Clifford and Murphy.

Farr and Heavner were profiled in the April edition of the Progress after announcing their candidacies [www.

To Page 3

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To make a “do drop” request if you’ve been missed or if you prefer not to receive driveway delivery, please email us at oceanpinesprogress@gmail. com.

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OPA election

From Page 1


Peck and Clifford told the Progress in separate interviews that despite a commentary on Ocean Pines Forum suggesting that their candidacies were triggered by a draft cease and desist letter alleging defamatory material on the ROC Facebook page, the primary motivation was to give Ocean Pines Association members a choice in the election.

No cease and desist letter was sent out. Instead, the Board majority issued a statement opposing what they said was defamatory material on the ROC page, expressing the hope that such material would not appear on the site in the future. {See article on Page 6 for details.]

Neither Peck nor Clifford were singled out for having written allegedly defamatory materials themselves. Rather, the site was targeted for allowing certain material to be posted.

Clifford, the sites’ founder, declined to comment on the Board statement.

Both Peck and Clifford said they did not want Farr or Heavner to have three-year Board terms handed to them because no one was willing to step up to offer some competition. They also said there are issues in which they disagree with the Board majority of six directors.

The election campaign may turn into a behind-the-scenes competition between two dueling Facebook pages, the one administered by Clifford and Peck, Ocean Pines ROC, and Ocean Pines Get Involved, administered by Esther Diller, wife of OPA Director Stuart Lakernick.

“We haven’t made any endorsement decision,” Diller said in a May 27 telephone interview.

So the Get Involved vs. ROC narrative promoted on Ocean Pines Forum might prove to be more hype than real, depending on Diller’s decision on whether to endorse, and how the ROC page engages.

If neither site endorses, then campaign season will unfold much like it has in year’s past.

Diller said she works very hard to keep her site positive, promoting charitable events, community involvement by OPA members and

taking down any overtly negative commentaries.

Clifford said she manages her site in the same way.

If a decision is made by Get Involved to endorse, Farr and Heavner would seem to be the preferred candidates.

Murphy is a family friend, according to a recent post by Lakernick, but that is not likely to translate into a formal endorsement should Get Involved go the endorsement route, an informed source told the Progress not for attribution.

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To Page 4
Rick Farr Jeff Heavner Amy Peck Sherrie Clifford Jerry Murphy

OPA election

From Page 3

There are some indications that the competition for two Board seats will be fought in part on social media sites other than Get Involved and ROC. Some of the early commentary has been more at opposing certain candidates than supporting others. It’s unclear how influential any of this social media content will be on the election outcome.

Farr has been targeted as have Clifford and Peck. Heavner and Murphy haven’t been.

In the end, candidate biographies included as part of election materials sent to OPA members and the candidate forum, scheduled for June 13 in the Golf Clubhouse meeting room at 6 p.m., may prove to be more dispositive, as would any direct mail promoting candidacies sent to non-resident property owners.

Traditionally, candidates who have sent direct mail promotional material to non-resident owners have fared well in OPA Board elections. It’s expensive. Some candidates conclude that spending close to five figures in printing and mailing expense for a volunteer position on an HOA board of directors is not a good use of finances.

Door-to-door campaigning and campaign events also are likely to be factors in the outcome. But even a month or more before ballots are sent out there is an indication that social media will allow supporters and critics of the candidates

to express themselves.

According to social media posts obtained by the Progress, in the Peck-Clifford camp are former OPA Director Josette Wheatley and a more recent critic of Farr and the Board majority, Angi Long. The grandmother of Ocean Pines teenager Gavin Knupp who died in an alleged hit and run accident also recently posted an anti-Farr barb that appeared on Wheatley’s Ocean Pines Neighbor Facebook page.

In the anti-Peck and Clifford camp is Kelly Miller, whose “Oversight of the ROC” Facebook page consistently maligns these two candidates. Miller says his page is a parody site and he makes no apologies for labeling Peck and Clifford “hags” at the same time he bashes them for their political opinions, including what he maintains is their support for boycotting or replacing the Matt Ortt Companies, the OPA’s food and beverage contractor.

The vitriol goes both ways. Wheatley, a former appointed OPA director who unsuccessfully ran for the Board in 2022, recently reposted on her site a barb directed at Farr that first appeared on the Justice For Gavin Facebook page.

The message by the grandmother of Knupp opined that “Farr says no to Gavin [skateboard park] plaque but erects one for himself promoting more DUIs. Do not re-elect Farr in Ocean Pines.”

The plaque alleged to be promoting DUIs was the plaque erected at the site of the expanded Yacht Club tiki bar in late May. It listed all seven

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Clifford, Peck, Murphy profiles ~ Pages 34-35

OPA directors and OPA General Manager John Viola, who were responsible for the tiki bar’s expansion.

Although the topic of a plaque honoring Gavin Knupp was discussed two years ago, from the OPA’s point of view it was in the context that the foundation created in his name would make a donation to improve the park, with a plaque possible if not likely as a result.

Those discussions devolved into acrimony between Gavin Knupp’s mother, Tiffany, and no donation from the foundation was ever made. There was no plaque, either.

Farr said if this is an example of what his critics will do in opposition to his candidacy for reelection, the coming campaign season will be nasty and low brow.

He blamed Peck and Clifford for fomenting the social media attacks, citing “our behind the scenes partners” as the source for his belief that Peck and Clifford are responsible, “having Wheatley and a few others push out the dirty tricks.”

Clifford denied any involvement at all in pushing the anti-Farr narrative.

Farr said that Angi Long, a newcomer to the social media wars, recently posted a lengthy attack on Diller, the Get Involved administrator, which he described as “the nastiness towards Es-

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Jacobs accused of leaking draft of cease and desist letter never sent

Board issues statement decrying posting of defamatory materials

Aspecial closed meeting of the Board of Directors May 9 dealt largely with accusations that Director Steve Jacobs had been the source of confidential information leaked to members of the local media, particularly Joe Reynolds of Ocean Pines Forum.

The meeting, held in closed session, also dealt with a draft state-

ment by the Board regarding potentially defamatory material targeted at the Board or individual directors accusing them of immoral and illegal activity.

Before agreeing on the draft statement, six of the seven directors agreed not to send a cease and desist letter to the Ocean Pines Residents Oversight Community Facebook page regarding the posting of alleged defamatory materials.

Instead, the six directors, with Jacobs the notable exception, agreed to send out a statement in lieu of the cease and desist letter.

This implicitly acknowledged that some allegedly defamatory material appeared on sites other than the ROC Facebook page and that a Facebook site administrator might not always be in the position to curate content on a page as soon its posted.

Informed sources also told the Progress that Sherrie Clifford and Amy Peck, the ROC site administrators, were not the ones who directly posted the defamatory material.

The six majority directors were convinced that Jacobs leaked the draft of the cease and desist letter to Reynolds and possibly others.

OPA President Rick Farr told the Progress that evidence that Jacobs was the source of the leak to Reynolds was verified by the IP addresses of emails that were linked to Jacobs.

Farr acknowledged that Jacobs during the May 9 closed meeting consistently denied that he was the source of the leak of the cease and desist letter draft.

“He got caught and continued to deny it,” Farr said, adding that Jacobs had admitted to being the source for other leaked material.

Asked by the Progress to comment, Jacobs confirmed that he told his colleagues he wasn’t the source of the leaked cease and desist letter and that he stands by that.

He also said he opposed the re-

To Page 9

OPA election

From Page 4 ther.”

All of this unfolded in May, more than a month before ballots are mailed to OPA members.

Meanwhile, more pedestrian election-related events are unfolding as they have in past years.

The candidate draw was held May 31 at 2 p.m. in the Blue Room of the Administration Building, to determine ballot order and seating during a candidate forum hosted by the Elections Committee.

The ballot order as a result of the draw is as follows: Clifford, Heavner, Farr, Peck and Murphy.

The candidate forum was set for June 13 in the Golf Clubhouse meeting room at 6 p.m.

All five candidates are likely to attend.

The voter eligibility deadline is Tuesday, July 2.

The deadline for returning paper ballots or voting on-line is Tuesday, Aug. 6, by 4 p.m.

Ballots will be counted and totals announced on Thursday, Aug. 8 Election results are scheduled to be certified at the annual meeting of the association on Saturday, Aug. 10, if there’s a quorum present. The Elections Committee is asking homeowners to submit questions for the candidates forum at elections@ oceanpines.org.

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Jacobs accused

From Page 6

lease of the Board’s May 10 statement.

Without naming Jacobs, it addressed the disclosure of confidential information leaked “improperly from this Board to members of the media and others, in an apparent attempt to disrupt and undermine the legitimate deliberative process of this corporation Board.”

Contrary to rumors that he might be resigning from the Board because of frayed relations with colleagues, Jacobs said he had no intention of doing so.

Farr said that there is no consensus among the directors to remove Jacobs from the Board for cause because of what six directors believe was Jacobs’s decision to leak the cease and desist letter.

“An apology and a promise not to do it again, and the whole thing might not” be an issue, Farr said.

Leaking confidential information is not explicitly mentioned in the Ocean Pines Association governing documents as a reason to remove a director, although somewhat ironically leaking confidential material was specified as an unethical practice in an ethics resolution, B-08, rejected by the Board earlier this year.

Jacobs was the only director to support adoption of the rejected ethics B-08 resolution, which had been repealed in June of 2021 after several failed attempts to remove directors under its provisions.

Jacobs had introduced a revised version of B-08 for first reading but failed to get any support from his colleagues to discuss it on a second reading.

Reynolds, responding to a Progress inquiry, denied that he had obtained an email copy of the draft cease and letter from Jacobs. He said a source that he declined to identify had informed him of the draft by telephone.

He said the supposed proof cited by Farr that Jacobs was the source of the leaked draft was not definitive.

The May 10 statement signed by six directors was as follows.

“Preliminarily, we emphasize that the OPA Board fully appreciates and supports appropriate public discourse and even robust debate and free expressions of opinions, by and among the OPA membership as to all matters of public interest in Ocean Pines. This statement is not to be read as an attempt to discour-

age, chill or eliminate appropriate discourse, debate or expression of opinion, all of which the Board welcomes and encourages.

“Also, in serving on the Board in an official governance capacity, we accept that some OPA members may disagree with our policies or decisions, and any member has the right to do so in an appropriate way, even forcefully, including in public forums.

“However, certain public comments have unfortunately, in our

view, gone beyond the limits of appropriate discourse, debate or expression of opinion.

“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 im-


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Jacobs accused From Page 9

properly from this Board to members of the media and others, in an apprent attempt to disrupt and undermine the legimate deliberative processes of this corporate Board. We, the undersigned, take our fiduciary duties (owing to each other other, OPA and the membership), including our duty to maintain confidentiality when and where it properly applies.”

“We have decided to release this public expression of our views in this regard, not to engage in some back-and-forth with a few vocal critics casting baseless accusations (which would be a waste of time), but in the hope that public and baseless smearing of Board members and/or OPA administration might stop, and public discussion might become more uniformly thouightful, responsible, balanced and issue-oriented.

“Our focus as elected Board members will continue to be on helping to build the very best community we can have in Ocean Pines, advancing the fiscal health of the OPA, supporting the incredible work that our General Manager, Department heads and other employees are doing, and otherwise serving in good faith the interests of the OPA membership.”

Directors Farr, Stuart Lakernick, Monica Rakowski, Elaine Brady, John Latham, and Jeff Heavner were the signatories, with Jacobs the notable exception.

As election season kicks into high gear, Elections Committee hit by resignations

Ransdell is the likely choice to replace Piatti as committee chairman

Just as the Ocean Pines Association election season kicks into high gear, with a candidate forum likely to be June 13 at 6 p.m. in the Golf Clubhouse and election materials to be assembled and sent to the OPA’s new election vendor for printing a week or so later, the committee that deals with those issues has been hit with vacancies.

One of them, the resignation of committee chair Tom Piatti, has been known for some time. He made it official during a committee meeting May 14, as of that day, at the same time announcing the resignation of member George Alston, which the Progress has learned is for health reasons.

Piatti has sold his home in the Parke section of Ocean Pines and he’s moving to South


But Alston’s resignation was unexpected.

Piatti said he’d be around Ocean Pines until the end of the month, and perhaps after that, because the buyers of his home are acquiring the home’s furnishings and apparently aren’t planning an immediate move-in.

Piatti, who attended the candidate draw meeting May 31, as of June 1 was still listed on the OPA Website as committee chairman but Alston is no longer listed.

Then another unexpected resignation occurred, a couple days after the May 14 meeting. Member Nancy Osborne informed colleagues she was resigning, for personal reasons.

Of the three vacancies, one has already been filled. The Board of Directors at its May 18 monthly meeting appointed Fred Robinson to u

June 2024 OceanPines PROGRESS 11

Elections Committee

From Page 11

the committee, leaving two openings. It’s not clear how soon the other vacancies will be filled. The OPA recently sent out a press release soliciting volunteers to serve on the committee.

Robinson is the father of Ocean Pines Chief of Police Tim Robinson. Retired to Ocean Pines, the elder Robinson is a former mayor of Bowie, Md, and is a candidate to chair the committee, according to OPA President Rick Farr.

Also in the running for the chairmanship is the current committee vice chair, Steve Ransdell, who told the Progress in a recent telephone interview that he’s willing to step up but is aware there is some opposition in the community to that happening.

The other committee member is Tom Schwartz.

Indications are that Ransdell is the likely choice to head up the committee when the Board formally decides the appointment, which could happen at the Board’s June monthly meeting.

Leading the opposition to Ransdell’s appointment is Ocean Pines Forum administrator Joe Reynolds, who in a recent commentary said Ransdell’s had indicated approval with a Facebook “like” of disparaging personal comments about two OPA members, Amy Peck and Sherrie Clifford, on a social media site he declined to name, apparently not wanting to give the site publicity.

The Facebook page is run by Ocean Pines resident Kelly Miller, and it’s called “Ocean Pines Oversight of the ROC.” ROC, or Residents Oversight Community is a Facebook and media site founded by Clifford, assisted by Peck. Together they conduct periodic podcasts with local personalities.

Miller’s commentary makes it clear he’s no fan of Reynolds, Peck or Clifford.

Peck and Clifford were late entries as candidates to this summer’s Board of Directors election, and they’re running as a team. They’ve been critics of the Board of Directors under Farr’s presidency.

Ransdell told the Progress he’s well aware that Reynolds, Clifford and Peck don’t want him to assume the committee’s chairmanship.

But he’s unsure how extensive beyond those three the opposition is to his taking on the chairmanship.

He said he’s willing to step up regardless of the slings and arrows he expects in opposition.

Piatti, who named him the committee’s vice chair, is supporting Ransdell’s promotion.

John Latham, the Board laison to the committee, told the Progress that Ransdell will be appointed chairman at the Board’s June meeting. While OPA President Rick Farr earlier in May said that Robinson would be appointed, Latham said on further deliberation a consensus has emerged that Ransdell, as a veteran member of the committee, would be the better choice.

“We’ll be criticized either way,” he said, anticipating the contuinued opposition of Peck and Clifford to Ransdell’s promotion. “If we appointed Fred Robinson, we’d be criticised for appointing someone too new” to understand the committee’s many tasks and challenges.” Also weighing on the directors

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From Page 12

was Piatti’s endorsement of Ransdell.

“Tom and his committee did an excellent job getting us to where we are now,” Latham said. The directors are not inclined to disregard the opinion of Piatti, someone who is held in high esteem, Latham said.

A video of the committee’s May 14 meeting, lasting about a half hour, is posted on the OPA Website under Election Committee.

It was the first open meeting of the committee in months, sparesely attended by OPA members in person or remotely. Attending remotely were Peck and Clifford.

Piatti said that meetings had not been publicized in recent months as the committeee assumed an overt operational role in soliciting and evaluating proposals from various East Coast vendors to handle this summer’s Board election.

These meetings were not open to the membership.

The successful applicant, MK Election Services out of Pittsburgh,

Pa., has been tasked with mailing out election materials and ballots to eligible OPA members and then processing and counting returned ballots, which this year will be a hybrid election with both paper ballots and on-line voting.

Extensive hands-on involvement by the committee in selecting the election vendor occurred last summer as well, with a company based outside Seattle, Washington, chosen after committee vetting and final approval by the Board of Directors.

Prior to last year, the election vendor was Ace Printing and Mailing of Berlin, with the contract more or less automatically renewed every year.

That relationship fell apart last summer.

This year, the committee decided that it wanted a vendor based on the East Coast.

Most of the May 14 meeting concerned preparations for the coming Board election.

Piatti said letters to OPA members currently ineligible to vote because they’ve not paid their assessments for this year or have

outstanding compliance violations would be sent out earlier this year, noting that last year 128 property owners were able to cast ballots after curing their issues with the OPA.

Piatti spoke approvingly of the committee’s commitment to on-line voting this year. It wasn’t used last summer, but in 2022 there were 833 on-line votes, he said.

He’s hoping for more this year, as there are cost savings when OPA members vote that way, he said, primarily because the OPA doesn’t have to pay for the return of ballots by mail.

Because there’s no way to know in advance how many OPA members will vote by paper ballot or online, Piatti said a final election cost can’t be calculated until after the election is complete and the number of return ballots, postage for which is paid by the OPA, is known.

Piatti said that this year’s candidate forum most likely will be held the third week of June, at the Golf Clubhouse meeting room beginning at 6 p.m. The challenge is to find a date that is convenient to all five candidates running for the Board this year, he said.

With the candidates drawing for ballot position May 31, Piatti said it may be possible then for all the candidates to agree on a date convenient to all five. That’s apparently what happened.

According to an OPA press release, issued after the drawing, the date for the forum is June 13, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Golf Clubhouse meeting room,

Committee members during their May 14 meeting also discussed the date for when election materials need to be sent to the vendor, MK Election Services, for printing.

It’s expected to be no later than June 19, which should give the ven-

dor ample time to arrange for the printing and mailing of election materials.

During an April 24 special meeting, the Board had voted 6-1, with Director Steve Jacobs opposed, to award the contract to MK Election Services for $26,335, which includes the cost of an observable count.

He said the company’s proposal was very detailed and it offered the observable count as part of its base price.

It’s not an exact price, because the number of return paper ballots by mail is unknown at this time, Piatti said.

Piatti during the May 14 meeting opined that there need to be more changes to the OPA governing documents, specifically the by-laws and Board Resolution M-06, with respect to OPA elections.

Changes to M-06 have occurred the past three election cycles, including this year. Board resolutions can be changed by majority vote of the directors.

Piatti said the requirement that there be at least two more candidates than the number of vacancies to be filled in an election year should be abolished.

He didn’t say why, but it probably had to do with the fact that, until a day or two before the May 10 filing deadline, it looked like incumbents Farr and Jeff Heavner might be running for the Board unopposed.

Changing by-laws in Ocean Pines isn’t easy. It requires a referendum of OPA members, with a majority of those voting needed for approval.

The OPA conducted a referendum of about 25 by-laws changes several years ago, and all passed.

It’s not clear whether the Board and By-laws and Resolutions Advisory Committee are ready for another round of by-laws changes.

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OPVFD president offers hint that he’s open to new firehouse

Renovation remains on the table as talks with OPA resume over Southside

Since talks broke down last year between the Ocean Pines Association and the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department over planning for a new Southside firehouse, the official OPVFD position has been that it will renovate the existing building rather than replace it.

At the May 18 OPA Board of Directors meeting, there was a suggestion that the OPVFD, which more recently has been engaged with informal discussions with OPA officials, might be willing to reconsider the replacement option.

The suggestion, or hint, was made by OPVFD President Joe Enste, who in remarks during the meeting said that the department is continuing its fundraising efforts “to renovate

or replace” the South station.

It fell well short of an announcement of a significant course correction, but it does indicate that a new building is at least something the OPVFD would consider. OPA President Rick Farr recently told the Progress that he hopes the OPVFD would reconsider the renovation option in favor of a new building, which might in fact retain some of the 1980s-era facility, especially the three apparatus bays which may not need total replacement.

There have been indications that the OPVFD would like to add two new bays to the three that are there now.

The difference between renovation versus replacement would probably be mostly focused on the existing administrative-meeting areas of the building. Renovation suggests

that the existing structure and footprint could be retained. When the building was constructed back in the 1980s, it was built with a reinforced roof that at the time was said to be able to accommodate a second floor.

The replacement option most likely wouldn’t involve an attempt to salvage the existing administrative/meeting areas and might expand beyond the building’s existing footprint.

Talks over a new building broke down last year over the OPA’s insistence that ownership of the building and the land upon which it sits would need to be transferred to the OPA. That insistence was at least in part driven by the assumption that a mortgage to fund the new building would be taken out by the OPA, as state grants that have been

promised, while significant, are not thought to be large enough to cover the entire cost of a new building.

Some members of the department were not pleased that Farr at the time was quoted as saying that the department would need “skin in the game” for the OPA to be willing to contribute to the cost of the building. The “skin in the game” was ceding ownership of the building, which many OPVFD members opposed. It is generally assumed that any local bank offering a mortage would require the mortgagee to own the facility for which a mortgage had been established.

Should the OPVFD obtain the mortage, either through a local bank or a federal agency, then the ownership issue might no longer be an issue.

The OPVFD obtained a low interest mortgage from the defunct Farmer Home Administration in the 1980s, with the OPA handling debt service. The low interest loan program exists today under another federal agency.

In any event, Enste at the May 18

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meeting only mentioned replacement in passing, with renovation still on the table, but his remarks were focused on the department’s recent fundraising efforts.

He said there are a few notable changes to the Fire Department’s annual truck raffle that, this year, features a 2024 Ford F-150 valued at $54,045.

“We’ve raised the ticket prices to $100. However, with that increase in price, we’re going to end up covering all the expenses that go along with winning that vehicle,” he said.

That includes taxes and tags – a potential savings of $18,000 for the winner.

“The increased ticket amount will not only help us raise more money, but will also help us cover those expenses associated with actually winning something,” he said.

For more information on the truck raffle, visit opvfd.com/f-150.

Enste said OPVFD has introduced a new fundraiser with its “Queen of Hearts” game, similar to games played at local Elks Lodges or VFWs.

“The way that our game works is we are doing a raffle drawing every Tuesday night at 5:30 p.m.,” he said. “It’s a virtual drawing. Tickets are $5, and you can purchase as many tickets as you want, each week.”

Winners will receive 60 percent of the jackpot each week. The week-13 jackpot is current $8,301.

For more information, visit opvfd. com/queen-of-hearts.

Enste then said the Fire Department is continuing fundraising efforts “to renovate or replace” the South Station.

Whether most people noticed the reference to replacement is hard to gauge.

“We also have our brick fundraiser for the South Station renovation project, and it’s still ongoing,” Enste added. “We’re selling bricks for $100 or $200 and we’re going to use that for some kind of memorial or feature at the renovated or new station.”

He said larger donations of $1,000 to $5,000 are accepted, and those will be recognized on a plaque at the South Station.

Enste also spoke briefly about fire safety efforts.

“As we all know, we’ve had a lot of reported fires this year,” he said. “The last time we were at [a Board meeting], we had to leave because of a fire.”

Enste said community members can visit the OPVFD website for fire safety tips, located under the “resources” tab, including information on smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and fire escape planning.

He also spoke about marina safety.

“We actually do have several incidents around boats every single summer, whether it be small fires, or people getting their fingers stuck in the lifts and things like that,” he said. “So, just be careful. Look at our resources and if you all need anything else or have other questions about how you can keep yourself, your family, your friends safe in the community, please don’t hesitate to ever reach out to us.”

For more information on OPVFD, visit opvfd.com or call 410-641-8272.

Leslie outpolls McComas in school board primary

Both to advance to general election in November

The race for the District 5 Worcester County Board of Education seat up for grabs in the Nov. 5 General Election has been narrowed to two candidates, top vote-getter Dorothy Shelton-Leslie and incumbent Elena McComas. District 5 includes a large portion of Ocean Pines.

Leslie garnered 733 votes, 42.74 percent, of the 1,715 votes cast in the non-partisan May 14 primary election. Incumbent McComas received 700 votes, or 40.82 percent of those cast. As the two candidates receiving the most votes in the primary election, Leslie and McComas will face off in the General Election this fall.

Leslie is a retired educator who has lived in Worcester County since 2005. She taught at the elementary school level in Delaware, and taught adult education teacher and as an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware. She also served as a district curriculum and assessment administrator.

McComas has lived in Ocean Pines for 11 years, and was a science teacher in Maryland and California public schools, including five years at the university level as a science education instructor and student teacher supervisor. She also taught in middle school for six year and in high school for 19 years. The third candidate in the primary election, John E. Huber, IV, received 282 votes, or 16.44 percent.

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June 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 19 u

Expanded Yacht Club tiki bar open for business

Project completed a week before deadline

Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors members and General Manager John Viola on Sunday, May 19, celebrated the opening of the new, expanded Yacht Club tiki bar with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The Board approved building the new tiki bar in December, with contractor Whayland Construction and Ocean Pines Public Works sharing construction duties.

“I’d like to thank everybody that worked on this tiki bar, especially the people of Ocean Pines [and] the team that put this together: Whayland, the Board, and everybody involved,” Viola said during the ceremony.

“I want to thank John Viola, his team, the entire Board here, [and] everybody who has participated in making this a wonderful event [and] expanding our tiki bar for the great customer experience that we have here,” OPA President Rick Farr said. “We want everybody to enjoy today – and this entire summer.”

Viola, at the May 18 Board meeting, said the Board had challenged him and staff to expand the tiki bar ahead of Memorial Day.

“We expect a big summer [and] we’ve seen that we can improve customer service,” Viola said.

Viola credited a can-do attitude by staff to not only get the tiki bar open by Memorial Day, but a full week early.

“I’m excited about it. I know everybody is,” he said. “It was a challenge –– and I mean that in a positive way … I’m proud of the team.”

The Ocean Pines Yacht Club is currently open seven days a week.

Officially, the Viola and the Board’s position is that the expanded tiki bar won’t necessarily bring in more revenue, but is designed to improve customer experiences by reducing wait time for service. Whether that translates into more volume of alcohol sold at the facility is possible of course.

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Participants in the May 19 ribbon-cutting were Doug Parks, chair of the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee; Ocean Pines directors Elaine Brady and John Latham; General Manager John Viola, OPA Director Jeff Heavner, OPA President Rick Farr, OPA Treasurer Monica Rakowski, OPA Vice-President Stuart Lakernick. Cindy Hoffman photo

More Board action taken against owners of properties with ongoing violations

Eleven OPA members cited with voting and amenity privileges suspended

As part of its ongoing effort to clean-up the community, the Board of Directors agreed to suspend the voting rights and amenities privileges and take legal action against the owners of 11 properties with ongoing violations of the Ocean Pines Association’s governing documents.

Linda Martin, senior executive office manager, presented the properties for action during the May 18 Board of Directors meeting. She said the property owners were all sent first and second notices of the violations and none of them responded with a request for a hearing before the Board.

The properties subject to action were 240 Ocean Parkway with six violations; 5 Windjammer Road, 10 Windjammer Road, and 16 Footbridge Trail with two violations each; and 2 Mates Court, 13 Riverside Court, 43 Tail of the Fox Drive, 85 Martinique Circle, 1 Brandywine Drive, 1350 Ocean Parkway, and 44 Brandywine Drive all for a single vi-


Two properties, 12 Southwind Court, which has two violations, and 26 Morning Mist Drive, were removed from the agenda because they have new owners. Martin said the violation process will begin anew with notifications to the new owners.

Director John Latham also said the Board has received messages from property owners who feel they are being targeted by the Compliance, Permits and Inspections Department for violations. He said that no one is targeted.

In fact, much of the enforcement of governing documents in Ocean Pines is complaint-driven, the result of complaints made by neighbors. CPI inspectors do not generally canvass Ocean Pines looking for violations, although some are discovered when inspectors are out and about responding to complaints.

Latham said the Board spent a lot of time during the last year updating its documents and “getting language correct” to be able to take action on violations. Now property

Board to fine-tune procedures for collecting overdue accounts

Second reading on revised Resolution F-04 set for June meeting

With more than $80,000 in delinquent property assessments having been collected last year by the Ocean Pines Association’s legal counsel, the Board of Directors is considering an update to Resolution F-04, which establishes policy for the collection of delinquent annual charges.

Director Monica Rakowski, who serves as the OPA treasurer, presented a first reading of the proposed changes for revisions to Resolution F-04 during a May 18 meeting. As background, she said the changes are an effort to document the actions the Board can take for the collection of delinquent annual charges or assessments.

The association’s 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

owners are starting to see the results of that effort as enforcement picks up, he said.

Bruce Bright, OPA legal counsel, pointed out that 170 active violations were closed out last month. “It important for the members to know that 170 people or owners out of compliance and now in compliance,” he said. “That’s an enormous number.”

Director Elaine Brady, Board liaison to the Architectural Review Committee, said the OPA is “now finally caught up” on processing violations, and at one point had a backlog of more than 100 cases that were given to its attorney for legal action. Now that the backlog has been cleared up, new violations will be processed and “you’ll see this as a regular thing,” she said. She encouraged property owners to be a good neighbors and take care of their properties.

Brady said enhanced enforcement of the restrictive covenants and ARC guidelines has been prioritized by the Board at the behest of property owners. She said there has been an

initial “ramp up” period necessary for the OPA to update its governing documents in compliance with state regulations.

“You put us here and asked us to do this, so that’s what we’re doing,” Director Stuart Lakernick said of community members who pushed for more action by the OPA on violations.

Director Monica Rakowski said she witnessed an irate property owner berating an OPA employee about CPI enforcement. She said the employee was professional in response, but she noted that some people are very upset to be notified of violations.

Brady said after the Board updated its documents to comply with state law, it had to re-notify all property owners with outstanding violations.

She said it takes about 90 days from the first notice of violation sent to property owners to when a case can be sent for legal action.

She said most of those property owners with violations couldn’t care less about having their amenity privileges and voting rights suspended, but it’s one of the tools the Board can use to try to encourage compliance.

“Each step along the way you get a certain number of people complying,” she said.

notifying the member of delinquency with demand for payment, which will include interest calculated at the annual rate established each year by the Board. The letter will also provide notice that continued non-payment could result in suspension of voting rights and rights to use amenities and referral to legal counsel for collection and associated attorney’s fees being added to account.

Staff will provide the Board by July 30 with a list by street address, but without owner names, of all delinquent accounts. The Board will determine at that meeting whether to suspend the voting rights and amenity use rights of those delinquent owners, and provide notice of the suspension to the members. According to the bylaws, members whose voting rights are suspended, and who have not paid in full all dues and charges owing to OPA at least 35 days prior to the election voting deadline, will be ineligible to vote in the election.

Members will still be able to request establishment of a plan for payment of assessments over time. The resolution, states, “Although compliance with an approved payment plan may (in the discretion of the Board) allow a member to avoid suspension of amenity use rights and/or may (in the discretion of the GM and/or the Board) delay foreclosure of a lien, it will not alter the process of establishing a lien for non-payment, nor will it render a member eligible to vote.”

By Aug. 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. Legal counsel will send to the owners a notice of intent to claim a lien and proceed to establish a lien against the property.

June 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 21 OCEAN PINES

Skateboard park needs repairs and upgrades, supporters contend

Ask for power washing, cracks to be sealed, and seating

Atrio of skate park supporters spoke up to lobby for safety improvements and seek enhancements to the Ocean Pines Association’s skateboard park amenity in White Horse Park during the Public Comments segment of the Board of Directors’ May 18 meeting.

Stephen Jolly said he and his son visit the skate park every day, so far going there 231 days in a row. 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. He said the skate park needs to be powerwashed as there is algae growing on it in shaded areas by the tree line.

One safety issue Jolly brought to the Board’s attention is the need for a safe seating area. He said there is a rail at the backside of the facility and that’s where everybody sits.

“It’s kind of dangerous because if somebody’s coming up there to do a trick, the kids don’t know to move,” Jolly said.

The addition of electrical outlets would be helpful as well. Currently he said there is nowhere for people to charge their cell phones.

By keeping the amenity cleaner, nicer and safer, the OPA can make it more inviting for locals and visitors to use, Jolly said. He encouraged the Board to think about expanding the facility, including adding a pump track.

Jolly said he tries to educate the youths using the skate park about keeping it clean, using appropriate language, and skate etiquette. He said he is trying to instill in the youths that “if we take care of it they’ll take care of it.”

Director Stuart Lakernick thanked Jolly for bringing the needs of the skate park to the Board’s attention. He said that unless some-


From Page 21

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 1 to review the process to determine the effectiveness of the

one brings an issue like repairs needed at the skate park, {administration and management] don’t know there is an issue.

Michael Hahn also spoke during Public Comments to lobby for skate park improvements. He said he likes to exercise there and thanked the Board for having the facility and allowing skateboards, BMXers, and scooters to use it.

Hahn agreed there are needed repairs, also noting jagged edges on the coping and chips in the concrete. He agreed that the OPA should consider expanding the amenity to accommo-

date additional users and to provide for additional space for those who already frequent the skate park.

Vernon Zweifel thanked the Board for allowing BMX bikers to use the facility. He said it is the first year they have been allowed there and it means a lot to them to be able to use the skatepark.

Also during Public Comments, Lisa Foster asked about the OPA’s wait list system for boat slips at the marinas and to ask if there are any plans for expansion.

She said she has been on the waitlist since 2021 and was told it would take about three years for a slip to open up for her. She said she started at number 86 on the list and dropped to 63 after the first year and then 36 the following year. This year, she is still at 36th place. She said she hasn’t received any responses to email inquiries.

General Manager John Viola said the OPA has 96 boat slips and its prices are very good so there is a lot of demand. He said he is looking into options to increase the number of boat slips but has not yet presented a proposal to the Board for consideration.

association’s current assessment collections strategy.

The goal is for the group 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 subse-

quent years of delinquency, the OPA’s legal counsel will foreclose on the properties, except for any where the association considers it in OPA’s interest not to do so. That decision will be made by the Board in consultation with the general manager and legal counsel.

For owners who continue to be delinquent from a prior year, and

their arrearages increase based on non-payment of assessments in subsequent years, legal counsel will send updated notices of intent to claim a lien and updated liens can be filed and recorded in the county land records.

The Board agreed to move forward with the revisions and hold a second reading at its June meeting.

22 Ocean Pines PROGRESS June 2024 OCEAN PINES
Recent activity at the Ocean Pines skateboard park, which users say is in need of repairs and upgrades. Cindy Hoffman photo
June 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 23

Scammers continue to target Ocean Pines advisory committees

Gift card hoaxes are among those most frequently reported

For the third year in a row, Ma-

ria Lawrence has been the target of a scam. She received an email from what appeared to be the chair of the Aquatics Advisory Committee, Gary Miller, asking her to purchase some gift cards. The email said he was away at a conference and would reimburse her for the cards when he returned.

But Lawrence knew that Miller was not at a conference when the email arrived. Since Lawence had been on the receiving end of a scam like this before, she did not fall for it.

Last year, she reported the scam to the Ocean Pines Police Department and the State’s Attorney’s office.

Members of the Elections Committee were also on the receiving end of a similar email scam, requesting gift cards be purchased for Veterans at Hospice, according to Tom Piatti, the chair of the committee. Linda Yurche also reported receiving a similar email as head of the Communications Advisory Committee about 18 months ago.

“In my case, after two hours on the phone with Apple, they refunded the $300 I’d spent on gift cards requested by the scammer. I was fortunate that some of the communication from the scammer raised red flags for me before I’d given them anything,” Yurche said.

“This situation has happened to me in the past on many occasions while I was on the board,” former OPA Board President Doug Parks said. “Being in the information technology field for 30+ years, I recognized the tactic, and both ignored the scam and reported it to the OPA technology team so they were aware of the incidents.”

Dave Allen, the chair of the Marine Activities Advisory Committee, also heard from one of his committee members that she received an email from him requesting gift cards. “She was wise enough to ignore the request.”

Current Ocean Pines Association Board members have also received these solicitations, according to OPA President Rick Farr. The OPA Information Technology department has told them to erase the emails and not to reply.

This is a common scam, according to Ocean Pines Police Chief Tim Robinson. In fact, he has been on the receiving end of these types of phishing efforts in the past himself.

“Most of these originate outside of the continental United States,” Robinson said. “Honestly, there is not a lot we can do.”

Robinson said he planned to reach out to the chairs of the various Ocean Pines advisory committees to alert them to this recent situation.

A 2022 survey conducted by AARP found that one in three adults said they or someone they know had been asked at some point to purchase a gift card to pay a bill, fee or some other debt or obligation or to claim a prize.

Some frequent scams include a call saying a grandchild needs bail money or is facing a financial emergency. Tech scams include a pop-up screen that announces your computer has been infected with a virus and to call a number for Microsoft support. IRS claiming you have an unpaid tax bill, and a warrant is out for your arrest.

Others say the target’s social security number has been stolen and


Ttheir benefits will end unless they pay a fee.

Impostor scams — including romance scams — were the most common type reported in 2023, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Only scammers will tell you to buy a gift card and give them the numbers off the back of the card. No government agency or business will ever ask you for payment in gift cards.

Never purchase gift cards for anyone as payment.

It’s amazing how sophisticated scammers have become, Robinson said. With AI, scammers can even imitate someone’s voice.

AARP has a toll-free helpline: 877-908-3360.

You can also report fraud to the Federal Trade Commission at reportfraud.ftc.gov.

The site states, “We can’t resolve your individual report, but we use reports to investigate and bring cases against fraud, scams, and bad business practices.”

If you are buying a gift card for a legitimate reason, make sure the protective stickers are on the card and check that the PIN number on the back is not showing. Keep a copy of the gift card and the store receipt. The number on the gift card and store receipt will help you file a report with the gift card company if you lose the gift card or if you need to report fraud.

Work group tackles history of Ocean Pines

Ten people volunteer to serve on work group headed by OPA Director Elaine Brady

en Ocean Pines Association members have joined a special work group formed to collect, catalog, and determine how to best display history items related to Ocean Pines. Director Elaine Brady proposed the task group in April as a way to preserve and showcase the history of the community. Following that discussion, the Board of Directors asked for volunteers to help with the effort.

“A whole lot of people reached out. I was so excited about it. You never know who is going to respond to be on a group,” Brady, who is leading the group, said in comments during the May 18 Board of Directors meeting.

Many of the people who responded have never previously been active on Ocean Pines Association committees, she said.

The group recently had its first organizational and get-to-know-eachother meeting, Brady said, adding that part of the initial process is learning what role the members want to play in the effort to collect and archive Ocean Pines historical materials.

“The great thing is that we have a really terrific mix of folks who came out for this task group. We’ve got folks who were here from day one who have such inherent information and history…” she said. The group is brainstorming ideas for moving forward.

Ultimately, Brady said she expects the work group to morph into a historical society led by a group of volunteers as the community continues to age.

Capital requests for vehicle approved

The Board of Directors on May 18 voted to accept a bid from Hertrich Ford for a new vehicle for Public Works. At a cost of $42,740, the 2023 Ford SUV 4WD 2 door truck will replace a 10-year-old vehicle used by the department.

General Manager John Viola said the Public Works fleet of vehicles was reduced by five a few years ago and three were repurposed for police vehicles. He said even with the purchase of the new truck, which is available and on the dealer’s lot, the department will still be down two vehicles.

Board approves appointments

The Board of Directors made two appointments to advisory commitTo Page 26

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Mailloux case appealed to Maryland Supreme Court

State asks high court not to deny the appeal, that would leave Appellate Court ruling in place

The dueling attorneys in the case involving the death of Ocean Pines teen Gavin Knupp in July of 2022 are awaiting a decision by the Maryland Supreme Court over whether it will grant a writ of certiorari in a jurisdictional dispute over whether the District Court or the Circuit Court in Worcester County should have been the venue where the case was originally heard.

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

The defendant through his attorney George Psoras filed a petition for a writ of certiorari of the Appellate Court’s reversal with the Maryland Supreme Court. The Supreme Court can accept or decide not to hear the appeal.

If the latter occurs, then the Appellate Court’s ruling stands.

Both the state, which seeks to prosecute Mailloux in Circuit Court for various charges related to the alleged hit and run, and the attorney for Mailloux have filed competing briefs with the Supreme Court that largely reprise arguments made earlier in the case.

Mailloux had the assistance of the Maryland Public Defenders Office during the appellate court hearing, but the appeal to the Supreme Court is being handled entirely by Psoras. A decision on whether the Supreme Court will consider the appeal could come down at any time.

If the Supreme Court denies the writ of certiorari, affirming the appellate court ruling, then the combination of misdemeanor and felony charges dismissed by the Circuit Court will be reinstated and the case will pick up where it left off in the Circuit Court, with a lot of pending motions to be resolved, including a change of venue request filed by Psoras.

If the Supreme Court accepts the appeal, then the case could drag on for many additional months as the parties file their dueling arguments in the form of briefs. Another round of oral arguments could also be scheduled.

In his appeal to the Supreme Court, Psoras argued that the Appellate Court erred by ruling that the Circuit Court had “concurrent original jurisdiction over the filing” of charges against Mailloux when Section 4-301(b) grants the District Court exclusive original jurisdiction for the filing of serious traffic charges.

“The Appellate Court’s Opinion failed to apply the express language of the statute, and effectively re-writes 4-301(b) by deleting the legis-

May 18 Board meeting

From Page 24

tees during a May 18 meeting. Kevin Middleton was appointed chair of the Architectural Review Committee and G. Frederick Robinson was appointed for first term on the Elections Committee.

Director Steve Jacobs supported the appointments but noted that Middleton is not a full-time resident and didn’t list an Ocean Pines address. He noted that Middleton has been a property owner for 27 years.

However, he asked that Middleton’s Ocean Pines property address be added to his application.

Although Jacobs didn’t question Middleton’s fitness to serve as ARC chairman, Director Elaine Brady launched into a speech about what a great committee member he has been.

Brady, who serves as liaison to the ARC, said Middleton is very active on the committee even though he does not live in Ocean Pines full time and he attends 99 percent of meetings in person.

“Part of what people don’t realize with the ARC committee is that they actually take time prior to a meeting going out and visiting the sites, making

lature’s grant of “exclusive” original jurisdiction to the District Court when an individual is charged with the violation of subsection 20-102 of the Transportation Article.

“The Appellate Court’s Opinion also conflates the term of ‘concurrent’ jurisdiction, because jurisdiction can be of several types including those pertaining to initiation of charges, the trial of charges, and appellate jurisdiction.

In a brief responding to Psoras, the state wrote that there are exception clauses in the law that override Psoras and the Circuit Court judge’s determination that the original charges should have been filed in District Court.

“We disagree that the definitions of ‘exclusive’ and ‘original jurisdiction’ override the exception clauses in subsection 4-301(a) and (b). Nor does the plain language of the statutes support an interpretation that concurrent jurisdiction is only applicable for trying offenses but not for charging them... We reject such a forced interpretation as it contradicts the established principles of statutory construction to which this Court is bound.”

The appellate court’s ruling overturning the Circuit Court’s dismissal was a clear-cut procedural victory for the prosecution.

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

The state promptly appealed, oral arguments were heard in early March, and the appeal was decided in the state’s favor.

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

The appellate court in reversing the lower court judgment ruled that the costs of the appeal filed by the state were to be paid by Mailloux.

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

“Their decision clearly confirms that when there is concurrent jurisdiction, prosecutors retain the discretion to choose where to file charges. We intend, as we always have, to prosecute all charges against Mr. Mailloux in Worcester County as soon as the case can be scheduled for trial.”

sure that they truly understand what a property looks like where they’re asking for a variation…” Brady said. “They work very, very hard.”

New Beach Club bathroom process

Starting May 25, a new process is in place for use of the Beach Club restrooms.

With the new system, the attendant will allow entrance to the bathrooms only after customers show either an Ocean Pines membership card, receipt of purchase for a pool pass, receipt (or picture of) a Beach Club parking pass, or receipt for a food/beverage purchase at the Beach Club.

A camera system has also been installed to monitor the bathrooms when an attendant is not available, and customers will need to show the camera any of the above to allow entrance.

Upon verification, the pool front desk will remotely open the door for customers to use the bathrooms.

This system was installed to allow for better monitoring of the bathrooms and to provide ongoing service to Ocean Pines members and their guests.

The bathrooms are not intended to be open to the general public.

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OPPD welcomes another new officer

Staffing climbs to ten, with more on the way

Ocean Pines Police on Saturday, May 18, welcomed a new officer, Michael Ebersole, to staff.

Ebersole comes to Ocean Pines following a career with the York, Pennsylvania Police Department. More recently, he worked in private security and with the Princess Anne Police Department.

Ocean Pines Association President Rick Farr swore in Ebersole during a ceremony during the

Board of Directors’ May 18 monthly meeting.

“We are honored to have Michael Ebersole … be sworn in as one of our next police officers in Ocean Pines,” Farr said.

Police Chief Tim Robinson said the hiring continues a recent positive trend within the department.

“I want to congratulate our officer, Mike Ebersole, for making the decision to join our department,” said. “With his hiring … that brings up 10 officers.”

Robinson said three more potential officers are slated to attend the police academy as Ocean Pines recruits on July 1 with graduation just before Christmas. Te department is now staffed up to 10 officers. Robinson said the OPPD is still seeking additional officers and is receiving regular outreach from people interested in applying to work for the department.

“The academy class will graduate just before Christmas,” he said. “We are still looking for additional officers, [but] I’m very excited. We’re getting contacted regularly by individuals who are seeking employment here with the Ocean Pines Police Department.”

In other police news, Robinson said Ocean Pines Police arrested an out-of-state fugitive last Thursday in the area of Mumford’s Landing.

“We had a tip of a wanted fugitive from the state of Pennsylvania that was here in Ocean Pines – and we were waiting for him,” Robinson said. “We had a low-speed pursuit at about 25 miles an hour when he decided to try to go back to this house, at which point he was taken into custody without incident.”

The suspect, John Pasquariello, was transported to the Ocean Pines Police Department, where he was processed and then brought before the District Court Commissioner for an initial appearance. Following that, Pasquariello was detained without bond pending extradition back to Pennsylvania.

Robinson said the Police Department aims to “provide outstanding customer service ...That’s one of the reasons why I come to every Board meeting, so you can hear directly from me,” he said.

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Repaired mailboxes need second cleaning

While the Ocean Pines Association still has more mailboxes and pedestals to replace, it is already having to go back and clean some that were recently repaired. The OPA received complaints about fliers being taped to and damaging mailboxes at site on Customs Way and Sandyhook Road, Linda Martin, senior executive office manager, said during the general manager’s report during the May 18 Board of Directors meeting.

The mailbox replacement project has 12 mailboxes and 23 pedestals remaining to be replaced.

Public Works was able to make repairs to some of the mailboxes throughout the community instead of replacing them, Martin said. The OPA also conducted an extensive effort to clean the mailboxes, but recently received complaints that two of them, Customs Way and Sandyhook Road, have already been damaged again.

Martin said the mailbox at Customs Way was cleaned by Public Works, but the one at Sandyhook Road will need to be power washed again to get the tape off. She reminded residents that the mailboxes are private property and cannot be used for personal displays such as fliers.

Tailwinds and headwinds

General Manager John Viola updated the Board of the “headwinds” and “tailwinds” affecting the OPA, including preparations for the summer season, during the May 18 Board meeting

As tailwinds, he cited the condition of OPA amenities, all of which are prepared and “looking good” for the busy season ahead and he said the OPA has motivated staff.

He listed the OPA’s reserve study initiated in 2017-2018 as tailwinds. While the State of Maryland has since legislated requirements for similar studies for homeowners associations, the OPA was ahead of that movement in conducting its initial study. An update to the reserve study is planned for later this year and staff is preparing the information needed by the consultants that will complete the revised document.

“We are positioned better than we were back then and the numbers show that,” Viola said of the OPA’s fiscal preparations for replacement of its infrastructure and equipment.

As headwinds, Viola listed the cost of infrastructure and the increased cost to maintain the OPA’s amenities and salary increases. He said the OPA is offering more competitive salaries than it has in the past but he also noted that the statutory hourly rates have increased as well. “I believe we’re way more competitive than we were six years ago”

PinesCast podcast debuts

A new podcast all about the Ocean Pines Association has made its debut featuring conversations with Police Chief Tim Robinson and Golf

Pro Bob Beckelman. Local podcaster Tony Russo hosts the series for the OPA.

Viola said a podcast has been in discussions for some time but until now there wasn’t a feasible way to offer it to the community. He said the effort was led by Josh Davis and the public relations team. The inaugural podcast was released May 7.

“I think we found an excellent individual,” Viola said of Russo. “That planning, all that comes out of the GM office, with our Public Relations team led by Josh Davis.”

Viola said the first episode was very well received, and homeowners can look for future episodes on ocean pines.org or on their favorite podcast site.

South Gate pond shoreline

Viola said a scheduled kickoff meeting on the Soft Shoreline project at the South Gate Pond was rescheduled in May because of a covid case.

“I just wanted to let everybody know that we are working on that, [and] we have a team in place,” he said. “We hope to have more on that next time.”

Beautification updates

Viola said new flowers and plantings have gone up all around Ocean Pines. That includes palm trees at the Yacht Club, Racquet Center, and North Gate, and at the Beach Club in Ocean City

“I’m pretty excited about that,” he said.

Aquatics programs

All of the OPA’s swimming pools opened as scheduled on May 25. The pools had been cleaned, building repairs like painting have been completed, and the pool furniture is out and waiting for members.

The OPA is fully staffed with lifeguards but as of May 18 was still in the process of hiring employees to monitor Beach Club parking and to man the front desk at the pools. Lifeguard orientation is scheduled for June when all of the season’s lifeguards are on staff, but the OPA was planning to conduct front desk staff training in May.

New aquatics classes for the summer include bike/tramp and water volleyball. There will be a School’s Out Splash Party on June 15 and Family Splash Nights on July 6, Aug. 3 and Aug. 31.

Beach Club deck replacement

Viola noted that questions have arisen about the condition and potential need to replace the Beach Club decking. He said the deck is included in the OPA’s reserve study for replacement in about 2 years. However, he said staff monitors and maintains the deck every year, making repairs are necessary in order to extend its useful life.

Director Stuart Lakernick asked if, even though the reserve study says the decking is to be replaced in two years, it could be put off if it is in good shape.

Viola said that sometimes replacement if infrastructure is pushed out a little longer. “I’m hoping that we can extend it a little. That’s a big one. That’s a big number.”

North Gate fountains

A proliferation of algae caused the North Gate pond foundations to be temporarily taken out of service.

Viola said the “green stuff in the pond” was excessive this year kept clogging the fountains. That overgrowth of algae caused the fountains to stop working.

He said the fountains were down for longer than expected because the OPA had to engage an outside company to treat the pond for the algae.

Public Works restored service to both fountains. The pond was treated on May 6 and the fountains were back on by May 9.

Park sign upgrades

Improvements have been made to the signage at the racquet center and community gardens, and communication signs for non-verbal people have been installed at Bainbridge, Manklin and White Horse parks.

The updated maps contain a QR code that members and visitors can scan with their smartphone to access maps and trail information.

Road paving

The OPA’s annual roads rehabilitation program wrapped up for the season, with about three miles of Ocean Pines 84 miles of roadway repaved this year. Paving contractor Asphalt Maintenance LLC completed the work at cost of $356,618.

Roads repaved this year were Battersea Road, Canal Road, Deerfield Court, Driftwood Lane, Moonraker Road, St. Martins Lane, Waters Edge Court and Wharf Court.

Maintenance updates

Viola said recent maintenance efforts included resurfaced clay courts at the Racquet Center, and a contractor is scheduled to evaluate cracks in the pickleball courts in June.

He said maintenance also focused on the Beach Club, where parts of the deck and railings were replaced as needed, the deck was painted, and all other checklist items were addressed ahead of the summer reopening on Memorial Day Weekend.

Recreation and Parks updates

Martin said the May 11 Community Bike Ride was a big success, with Recreation and Parks staff also assisting with the Bay Day event on Sunday. She said there are plans to upgrade signs


Season Kickoff a ‘success,’ may be handed off next year to communications committee

Brady to find out whether committee members are up to the challenge of organizing an event that this year was handled by an ad-hoc committee

With a successful Season Kickoff and Expo event under its belt, the Ocean Pines Association wants to turn the one-off activity into an annual affair. During the May 18 Board of Directors meeting, Director Monica Rakowski congratulated the ad hoc committee that organized the Season Kickoff and Expo and suggested establishing a formal committee to host it in the future.

The first Season Kickoff and Expo, reminiscent of the Days in May even put on for many years at the start of the summer season, was held in White Horse Park on April 20. The event was designed to launch the 2024 season by showcasing OPA amenities, and the many clubs, organizations and businesses that serve the community. Local restaurants brought food trucks to provide a variety of food and beverage options. Attendees were able to sign up for amenity memberships and lessons while enjoying music and demonstrations.

“I would like to thank the co-chairs, the committee members and the OP A staff. Without the amazing efforts of the volunteers the event would not have happened,” Rakowski said. “I would like the Board to consider forming a formal committee and make the Season Kickoff and Expo an annual event.”

Director Elaine Brady immediately suggested giving the job to the Communications Advisory Committee. She said there is no need to create a new committee when the Season Kickoff falls in line with the objectives of the Communications Advisory Committee.

“Communications is what this has been all

From Page 29

at Ocean Pines’ parks and playgrounds with QR codes that link to important information on oceanpines.org.

Many new programs are being offered, including yoga, chair yoga, injury prevention classes, and girl’s flag football. Visit www.oceanpines.org/ web/pages/recreation-parks for more information on upcoming Recreation and Parks programs.

Dashboard data

As of April 1, there were 218 outstanding property violations outstanding with the Compliance, Permits, and Inspections office. Another 246 violations were initiated in April, including 65 maintenance, trash or debris; 4 leaf placement, 19 no

about,” she said of the event. She said the goal of the Season Kickoff was communicating to OPA members about amenities and activities in the community. “Throwing it over to the communications committee may be the way to go.”

Brady, Board liaison to that Committee, pointed out that Linda Yurche is chair of that committee. Yurche and Gary Miller, chair of the Aquatics Advisory Committee, led this year’s Season Kickoff ad hoc committee.

Rakowski agreed that the event seems to fit naturally with the Communications Advisory Committee and said she doesn’t think it’s necessary to create a whole new committee just focused on the Season Kickoff.

Director John Latham supported giving it to an already existing committee and said he too was thinking about ways to “repurpose an advisory committee do this.”

Director Steve Jacobs also said it would probably be a good fit for that committee. “It was a great day and hopefully the next several years will be even better,” he said, but adding there were problems with parking to accommodate all of the people who attended.

However, he wanted to make it clear that the Season Kickoff should continue to be held at no cost to the OPA. “This was done essentially at no expense, and I think that in addition to the goals of what the day represents, that has to be continued emphasis,” he said. There should not be a point where the committee says the OPA will just write out a check to cover the associated costs of the event, he said.

The committee was able to acquire a revenue

permit, 86 signs, and 72 miscellaneous, such as parking, stop work orders, trailers, and junk vehicles.

CPI closed out 170 violations during the month, but there were still 294 remaining as of April 30, including 100 maintenance, trash and debris, four leaf placement, 44 no permit, 46 signs, and 100 miscellaneous.

Public Works had 170 open work orders as of April 1 and received 132 new work orders during the month. It closed out 114 work orders, leaving 188 open at end of the month. Martin said most of those open work orders are for drainage issues and they will be contracted out in order to resolve them more quickly.

The OPA had 149 customer service contacts in April, including 25 for amenities, 37 for CPI, 3 for drainage, 66 in general questions or comments, and 18 public works.

source for the event by essentially taking over the Expo from the Worcester County Chamber of Commerce in Ocean Pines.

The Chamber initially was approached by the ad hoc committee to partner with the OPA in coordinating the event, but then was told that the committee was taking over the Expo.

The take-over, which Chamber of Commerce President Carrie Bunting took the chamber by surprise, was not challenged.

“We decided to take the high road,” she said recently, but whether that same acquiescence will be in place next year remain to be seen.

Rakowsi said the event was led by volunteers this year with limited OPA staff support. She said the event received positive feedback from participants as well as groups and organizations that already want to sign up for next year.

“If we had a parking problem ,thank goodness,” Director Stuart Lakernick said in response to Jacobs’s comment. “I hope we have a parking problem next year, too.”

Lakernick said he was amazed at the number of participating organizations including some he didn’t even know existed. He likened Ocean Pines to a cruise ship, saying “You can be as active as you want or as inactive as you want. There’s stuff going on all the time.”

OPA President Rick Farr wrapped up the conversation saying an official ask should be made of the Communications Advisory Committee to take on the Season Kickoff in the future.

As the committee’s liaison, Brady volunteered to bring it up at its next meeting and report back to the Board.

Get Involved collecting items for scholarships

Ocean Pines Get Involved and Worcester County GOLD are teaming up to help collect supplies for local at-risk children attending summer camps on scholarship.

Worcester County GOLD is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit providing emergency financial assistance and basic needs items for Worcester County residents living with low income. This year, the nonprofit will supply scholarships for around 100 children to attend summer camps.

They are asking for donations of towels, sunglasses, sunblock, sandals, swimwear, cinch bags, socks, hats, shorts, t-shirts, water bottles and bug spray, new, unused items only.

Items may be dropped off in a donation box in the Ocean Pines Administration Building lobby on 239 Ocean Parkway.

For more information on the donation drive, contact organizer Esther Diller at esmatt4@aol.com.

Summer camp scholarships are available to Worcester County residents living on a low income.

For more information, email contact@ worcestergold.org.

30 Ocean Pines PROGRESS June 2024 OCEAN PINES

Underkoffler focusing on racquet sports programming, site check-in security

New procedures have already caught a dozen cheaters

With a new team structure in place to support operations and communications at the Ocean Pines Association’s Racquet Sports Center, Director Terry Underkoffler is focusing on expanding programming and improving site check-in security infrastructure.

“If you can’t tell, I’m very excited about what’s going on,” he told the Board of Directors while reviewing initiatives for the 2024 season during the May 18 monthly meeting.

Underkoffler credited OPA General Manager John Viola with establishing the team-oriented approach to managing the racquet sports amenities. “He set up a team structure that really works,” he said of Viola.

In addition to Underkoffler, that team assigned to work specifically on racquet sports includes OPA staff from Public Works, Recreation and Parks and Administration. The Public Works team member, Nobie Violante, deputy director of public works, focuses on the maintenance and upkeep of facilities. The administrative person, Senior Manager Ruth Ann Meyer, formerly assessments and membership manager, handles finances and bookkeeping.

The recreation and parks member, Director Debbie Donahue, helps develop programming, special events and tournaments.

He said the team approach has been helpful as it provides him with a direct contact in the support departments when a question, problem, or opportunity arises. He can reach out directly to the appropriate team member to quickly resolve the issue.

Underkoffler said he has been striving to enhance communications with the presidents of the racquet sports playing clubs and is holding monthly meetings with them.

“I meet with all three presidents. We sit down. We talk about their needs or what initiatives we’re doing, any questions and concerns they have,” he said. “Because of the team structure set up I know exactly who contact with those questions.”

He said this approach to working with the club presidents has fostered a positive environment in working with the clubs already.

This mechanism replaces the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee recently dismantled by the Board of Directors.

Infrastructure improvements also topped Underkoffler’s list of immediate priorities, with a focus on stopping people from playing without paying. The OPA has had problems with people bypassing the check-in station and even scaling fences to play at the courts without forking over the funds required to do so.

“We were alerted that there was a check-in problem,”

To Page 34

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OPA records a $168,000 positive operating fund variance in April

Year ends on high note

With a $167,564 positive variance to budget in April, the final month in the 2023-24 fiscal year, the Ocean Pines Association ended up the year with an actual operating fund surplus of $1,223,480, slightly lower than a “flash estimate” of $1.24 million released prior to the May 18 Board of Directors meeting.

The difference was a nominal $16,574, barely a rounding error.

Viola discussed the implications of the fourth consecutive year of $1 million-plus surpluses during the May 18 Board meeting. [See article on Page 41 for details.]

The general manager lately hasn’t wanted to refer to the positive variance to budget as a surplus, but if it’s described as an operating fund surplus -- the OPA has operated a fund-based accounting system literally for decades -- then that would seem to be a reasonably accurate term for what the OPA has accomplished under Viola’s leadership.

It’s also reasonably accurate because the final results are always relative to the balanced “zero” budget routinely approved every year, in which revenues and expenses perfectly match.

Regardless of what it’s called, the OPA ended the fiscal year on a high note.

The $167,564 positive variance to budget in April resulted from revenues over budget by $131,277 and expenses under budget by $36,287, according to a financial report released by OPA Director of Finance Steve Phillips.

For the year, the positive variance to budget of $1,233,480 resulted from revenues over budget by $928,621 and expenses under budget by $249,859.

The positive variance for the month seems to have been bolstered by positive variances in general administration, Public Works, Police and Parks and Recreation, and less so in the amenities.

Of the ten amenity departments listed on the “net operating” schedule in Phillips reports, three were in the black for month. Golf operations, the Clubhouse Grille, and Beach Parking recorded positive results for the month.

The more accurate measure of success is performance relative to budget.

Of these ten departments, all three racquet sports missed their budgets for the month, as did beach parking and the Beach Club. Neither beach parking nor the Beach Club were open during April.

The six departments that outperformed their budgets for the month were aquatics, golf, Clubhoue Grille, the Yacht Club and Marinas.

- APRIL 2024

For the fiscal year that ended April 30, all but tennis and platform tennis were in the black. All but tennis, platform tennis and marinas outperformed their budgets for the year.

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

For the year, beach parking reigns as the top amenity performer, generating $537,815 in net revenue, ahead of budget by $28,046. Last year, beach parking netted $527,770 for the OPA.

Golf operations including maintenance was the second best performer, generating $410,667 in net earnings for the year, ahead of budget by $224,110.

It was far and away the best performer relative to budget of any of the ten amenity departments.

Last year, golf earned $319,594 for the OPA.

The Beach Club is the next best perfomer, recording $208,294 in net earnings for the year, ahead of budget by $53,992.

Last year, the Beach Club’s net earnings were $205,096.

Marinas remain a cash cow for the OPA, recording revenues of $197,798 for the year but under budgdet by $17,606, the result of poor weekend weather.

Last year, marinas earned $229,856 for the OPA.

The Yacht Club remains a top performer, earning $190,726 for the year and exceeding budget by $34,469.

That’s slightly ahead of last year’s net earnings of $188,079.

The Clubhouse Grille, a year-round operatio, earned $114,479 for the year, ahead of budget by $45,460.

That’s up significantly from the prior year’s $46,751 net earnings.

Aquatics squeezed out positive earnings of $11,160 for the year, ahead of budget by $112,242.

But that should be regarded as a triumph, because the department, which had been plagued with lifeguard and support staff shortages in prior years, was back to full strength in 2023-34.

That in turn meant that payroll expenses were higher than they had been.

But that’s off from the prior year’s $70,572 in net earnings,

In combination, the three racquet sports were in the red for the year, with perennial financial stalwart pickleball’s positive net earnings not enough to dwarf losses in tennis and platform tennis.

Pickleball earned $48,105 for the year, behind budget by $402. The year prior, pickleball’s net earnings were $51,203.

Platform tennis lost $26,390 for the year, under budget by $14,562. The prior year’s loss was $6,672.

Tennis was the amenity with the worst result financially, with $51,049 in red ink for the year, under budget by $13,725.

The prior’s loss was $38,173, so the trend doesn’t seem to be in a positive direction for this particular sport.

Reserve summary -- The April 30 reserve u

32 Ocean Pines PROGRESS June 2024 OPA FINANCES
MONTH MONTH YTD YTD YTD YTD BUDGET ACTUAL BUDGET $ VARIANCE ACTUAL BUDGET $ VARIANCE LAST YEAR LAST YEAR GENERAL ADMIN 90,293 (843) 91,136 5,900,319 5,763,407 136,912 5,929,699 5,927,381 MANAGER'S OFFICE (37,068) (29,093) (7,974) (374,084) (372,489) (1,595) (323,102) (300,161) FINANCE (70,386) (68,872) (1,514) (839,801) (892,688) 52,887 (844,095) (821,890) PUBLIC RELATIONS 13,736 (19,877) 33,613 (228,730) (283,433) 54,703 (279,566) (279,976) COMPLIANCE / PERMITS (18,340) 934 (19,274) (84,264) (19,027) (65,238) (106,388) (71,163) GENERAL MAINT (75,536) (50,085) (25,452) (786,954) (700,581) (86,372) (702,270) (730,303) PUBLIC WORKS (96,052) (156,956) 60,905 (1,436,794) (1,714,160) 277,366 (1,351,371) (1,677,283) FIRE / EMS (84,076) (84,076) (0) (1,008,917) (1,008,917) (0) (1,064,024) (1,064,024) POLICE (119,706) (160,437) 40,732 (1,080,850) (1,441,951) 361,101 (1,291,196) (1,453,287) RECREATION / PARKS (53,931) (74,676) 20,745 (452,411) (520,752) 68,341 (446,033) (509,453) TENNIS (17,612) (10,940) (6,672) (50,948) (37,324) (13,624) (38,173) (36,466) PICKLEBALL (9,487) (3,078) (6,409) 48,105 48,508 (402) 51,203 31,508 PLATFORM TENNIS (4,863) (2,168) (2,695) (26,546) (11,829) (14,718) (6,672) (14,246) AQUATICS (35,667) (46,452) 10,785 12,077 (100,083) 112,160 70,572 (57,286) GOLF OPS + MAINT 15,186 (1,418) 16,604 412,085 186,567 225,518 319,594 52,392 CLUBHOUSE GRILLE 18,544 10,582 7,963 114,479 69,019 45,460 46,751 62,906 BEACH CLUB (7,579) (4,093) (3,486) 208,294 154,302 53,992 205,096 123,883 BEACH PARKING 8,025 32,524 (24,499) 537,815 509,769 28,046 527,770 507,959 YACHT CLUB (54,568) (33,155) (21,413) 162,806 156,257 6,549 188,979 104,411 MARINAS (5,009) (9,478) 4,470 197,798 215,404 (17,606) 229,856 205,097 NET OPERATING (544,096) (711,659) 167,564 1,223,480 0 1,223,480 1,116,630 0 OCEAN PINES ASSOCIATION NET OPERATING BY DEPARTMENT APRIL 2024 5/23/2024 OPA NET OPERATING RESULTS BY DEPARTMENT
Source; Ocean Pines Association Finance Department

OPA ends fiscal year with $1.2 million positive variance to budget

Viola says OPA ‘on track’ to give back some of it back in lower

The unaudited forecast estimate for fiscal year 2023-2024 showed Ocean Pines with a positive variance to budget of just over $1.24 million.

The results mark the sixth consec-

Treasurer’s report shows cash increase

The Ocean Pines Association’s cash and short term investment position increased from the end of March to the end of April, with about $18.7 million on hand on April 30. That compares to $15 million in cash as of March 31.

According to a report by PA Treasurer Monica Rakowski t the May 18 Board of Directors meeting, cash increased $40,000 from the same time last year and $3.8 million from March 2024.

Of the cash on hand, $10.5 million was invested in CDARs, and $470,000 in interest income was recognized in March.

The remaining $8.2 million was invested in an insured cash sweep, treasury bills, money market and other operating accounts, diversified between two local banks.

April financials

From Page 40

summary shows a total fund balance of $7.124 million, down from $7.83 million in March, down from $8.08 million in February, $8.535 million in January and $8.7 million in December.

The replacement reserve balance on April 30 was $5.55million, with bulkheads and waterways at $322.111, roads at $760,265, drainage at $390,561, and new capital at $103,226.

Balance sheet -- The April 30 balance sheet shows total assets of $47.29 million, compared to $45.89 million the year prior.

utive year with a positive variance to budget, and the fourth-straight year with a favorability greater than $1 million.

What OPA General Manager

John Violas sometimes calls a “flash estimate” was released prior to the Board of Directors May 18 monthly meeting.

Later in the month, OPA Director of Finance Steve Phillips released a report indicating that the positive variance to budget, or what until recently has been referred to as an operating fund surplus, was slightly lower at $1.22 million.

The actual difference between the flash estimate and the actual result was $16,574.

The April financial report is subject to additional tweaking as part of the annual audit, although in recent years the unaudited April results and audited results have not differed significantly, although adjustments are always possible.

In recent years, General Manager John Viola has executed a policy of giving back some of the prior year’s

lot assessments

operating fund surplus to OPA members in the form of lower annual lot assessment.

In response to a Progress inquiry, Viola said that will be true again in the 2025-26 budget to be developed later this year.

“We’re ‘on track’ for that,” he said, with the caveat that state regulators may be mandating that homeowner associations set aside more in reserves than is commonly done throughout the state.

At the same time, Viola has said that the OPA has prepared for that and already has reserves as a percentage of replacement asset values that exceed other HOAs in the state.

Viola said nearly half of the positive variance to budget was based on the positive performance of amenities, including Golf favorable to budget by $224,100 and Aquatics favorable by $111,242.

He said the $45,460 favorability at the Clubhouse Grille was a function of the Golf Club’s success, with compliments to the food and beverage grill team.

OPA also lowered the assessment, and increased spending on public safety, maintenance, and drainage, among other areas, he said.

Viola discussed the financial results further during the regular May 18 Board of Directors meeting.

“This is on top of a budget where we had a decreased assessment, as well as more spending” on items like maintenance and drainage, Viola said. “It’s not just that we cut [spending].”

Viola said there are positive and negative factors – what he called headwinds and tailwinds – effecting Ocean Pines financials for the next fiscal year.

Headwinds, or impeding factors, include the increased costs to maintain infrastructure and amenities, statutory minimum wage increases and the need for competitive salaries, and unknowns related to the upcoming reserve study.

Tailwinds, or favorable factors, include the good overall conditions of Ocean Pines’ amenities, a motivated staff, and work already done on the prior reserve study.

“This Association, the team, the Budget and Finance [Committee] ... back in 2017-18 we initiated a reserve study, and that put us ahead of the curve with everybody else,” he said. “We are positioned better than we were back then, and the numbers show that.”

Viola said work on the new reserve study is scheduled to start at the end of this year.

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Peck, Clifford seek seats on OPA Board


Amy Peck is making her second run for the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors. She has been involved at every level in Ocean Pines, from an employee checking people in at the pool, to Board member and volunteer.

As a volunteer, she has been involved with numerous events, including the Easter pancake breakfast, the Christmas tree lighting, helping kids pick out gifts for their loved ones at the Reindeer Lane Gift Shop, the haunted house, Teach a Kid to Fish Day, Arts in the Park and Bay Day. She is not the only active member in her family. Her husband Tim is the current chair of the Environment and Natural Assets Advisory Committee.

“I have a lot of perspective on Ocean Pines and have always been a very active volunteer here,” she said.

Peck has lived in Ocean Pines since 2002. She and her husband originally purchased their property for a vacation home. She was an educator, so every year she packed up her two boys and they moved to their house in Ocean Pines for the summer. Her husband joined them on weekends. She spent many a summer day at the Sports Corp Pool and the skate park with her boys.

“My boys were basically raised here. It has always been our happy place. When COVID came around, I retired and Tim was able to work from home,” Peck said.

They sold their home in Baltimore and became full time residents of Ocean Pines.

Peck was an educator back in Baltimore. She was the director for education programs through Baltimore County Rec and Parks. She owned her own licensed day care center and taught two, three and four year olds. She was also a paralegal and has a love for research.

“When I was on the board, I was researching everything. That is just what I do.”

Peck was appointed to a board seat in October 2021 and served nine months until the next election. In her first two weeks, the board was taking a vote on changing the employee sick leave policy. Peck said she researched the heck out of it.

“I came to the board meeting, gave out my research and asked [General Manager] John Viola some questions.” She voted against the policy in a one to six vote.

While her research did not sway others, all the directors came up to her after the vote and said, “Well, you were prepared,” Peck said.

“I had the data. I asked the questions.”

Peck is a strong believer in research, data and listening to the residents.

To Page 36

Racquet sports

From Page 31

Underkoffler said, adding people were “excited to play or didn’t want to part with money in their wallet” so they were not checking in with the staff.

The OPA has installed fencing to block every entry except for the main entrance, which is visible to staff.

“For them to come into the site they have to come through now and go past where we check in,” he said.

Other changes to improve check-in included moving the check-in desk to an area of the players’ lounge so it faces large windows. That allows staff to view the entire entry area and watch for people trying to get in without paying.

“We’ve already caught a dozen people trying to get in past the checking in procedure, so it’s working,” Underkoffler said.

After Memorial Day, the racquet sports center will be very busy for the rest of the season, so a second check-in computer will be used to help handle the crowd and verify memberships. During busier times, court monitors will also walk around and verify that members have checked in to play.

Sherrie Clifford is embarking on her first ever campaign as a candidate for the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors. Before now, “I have never been in the political arena,” she said.

Clifford moved to Ocean Pines in 2020. She purchased a home as a summer house, spending a lot of time rehabbing it and making it her own. She got to dreading the drive back to New Jersey so two years ago she decided to make it her full-time home.

Clifford has spent her career in the technology sector. She worked her way up from keypunch operator to computer operator and programmer analyst. She joined the Philadelphia Stock Exchange as a project manager and later founded her own data management and software development company with clients including Bloomberg, US Options Exchange and various banks. She has adult children and grandchildren nearby, whom she loves to bring to Ocean Pines parks and events.

She considers herself a high energy, get-things-done type of person.

“I try to be a helping hand,” she said.

She saw a need for factual information in Ocean Pines, so in 2021, she launched the Ocean Pines Residents Oversight Committee or ROC Facebook page. Her goal was to bring the community together around factual information. Clifford and Amy Peck, who is also running for the board, attend or watch OPA meetings and pass the information they learn on to the community. The page gives members a platform to discuss community issues.

The Facebook page currently has 3300 members. In 2023, she introduced a podcast, which has covered issues such as elections, local nonprofits, current events and other issues that impact the Ocean Pines community.

She is also about to launch a newspaper to expand the ROC’s reach. She expects the paper to start out online and then move on to hard copy. She does not plan to have it delivered to driveways but will have certain distribution points. The newspaper will be called ROC News. She expects to continue to manage these sites if she is voted onto the Board.

Clifford is heavily engaged in the Ocean Pines community. She was on the election search committee in 2022. She is a member of the Ocean Pines Women’s Golf League and two Ocean Pines bowling leagues. She supported the Ocean Pines Season Kick-off Expo with a table at the event and she and Peck interviewed organizers Gary Miller and Linda Yurche on the ROC podcast. They promoted the event heavily on social media.

She regularly purchases ad space in the OPA quarterly newsletter, donates to the Rec and Park for Halloween, gifts for seniors for the holidays and last year, the ROC purchased a tree for the Ocean Pines tree lighting holiday event. She even organized donations for a local family that lost their home to a fire back in 2022.

To Page 36

Underkoffler said the goal is to emphasize to the people playing at the racquet sports center “that we mean business. This is how you start your play day.”

In addition to court maintenance, Underkoffler said he has undertaken a beautification initiative at the center. He said he wanted to make it more attractive to people coming to play, and was able to acquire a half dozen palm trees, planters, and flowers to make it “more cheery.”

The plantings were surplus items maintained by the Public Works department.

Underkoffler said he wants to expand program offerings and the quality of programming. He said he values training and certification in instructors and wants to ensure licensed and insured instructors are available at the racquet center. He has been busy hiring contractors who know how to safely and professionally provide instruction.

“So our staff is offering more and we’re excited about the kinds of programs we can offer people,” he said.

Underkoffler, himself an instructor over many years, said he expects to continue to teach some of the classes.

Peck Clifford

Murphy to ‘try again’ for OPA Board seat

Candidate says he’s not out to beat Farr, Heavner

Jerry Murphy is once again throwing his hat in the race for the Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors. Murphy ran for the Board last year, finishing fourth with 1,460 votes behind winners Elaine Brady with 2,287 votes, John Latham with 2,231 votes, and Jeff Heavner with 1,842 votes.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try try again!” Murphy said.

He also has plenty of yard signs in his garage. “I have been looking at those signs and decided to give this another try.”

Murphy has already made a mark on Ocean Pines. He was the builder of the round houses that can be seen throughout the community.

Now he wants to make his mark in another way, as a candidate for the Ocean Pines Board of Directors.

Murphy moved to Ocean Pines in the early 1970s as a builder. He became a full-time resident in the 1990s. His family purchased the former Boise Cascade office, located on Widows Watch Court and in 1990, he took full ownership of the property.

“I constructed a custom home on the site and have since enjoyed wonderful memories with family and friends,” Murphy said.

“My desire to give back to the community is very important to me.”

Murphy has experience serving on boards. He currently serves on the board of directors for an historic condominium building in Baltimore.

“I can bring those skills,” he said, noting that his board did reserve studies before they were required of homeowners associations in the state.

He also served on the liquor board of Baltimore representing the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association.

“My ability to listen and debate with an open mind and practical point of view has served me well,” Murphy said.

Murphy likes the direction that the Ocean Pines Association’s Board of Directors and general manager are taking both financially and structurally.

“I like everything that I have seen over the past year. The budget, the Yacht Club, the food service, the golf course. Everything has been so positive. If I can be a part of that and continue that in any way, that is why I am here.

“I am not out to beat Rick Farr or Jeff Heavner. I want to keep my name in front of the voters of Ocean Pines,” he said.

In a five-person race for two seats on the Board, it’s possible he will draw votes that otherwise would have gone to Farr or Heavner, in which he could be a factor should Farr or Heavner or both be defeated by Amy Peck or Sherrie Clifford.

Murphy says he has great respect for General Manager John Viola, a position that is held by all five candidates running for the Board this summer.

“Social media is calling him the million-dollar man. In 50 years, I don’t remember ever seeing anything so positive [in Ocean Pines]. Everything is so positive under John’s leadership. We don’t want to lose him,” Murphy said.

He is currently a member of the OPA Strategic Planning Advisory Committee. During the Ocean Pines Expo event in April that committee asked residents to complete a short eight question survey.

He is currently a member of the OPA Strategic Planning Advisory Committee. During the Ocean Pines Expo event in April that committee asked residents to complete a short five-question survey.

According to Rob Keesling, the chair of the strategic planning committee, 38 surveys were filled out at the Expo and about 10 were turned in after the Expo.

He expects to get a final report on the survey results at the next committee meeting.

Murphy lived in Washington, D.C., where he launched Shamrock Marketing.

He sold that business in 2006 to partner with his wife, Julie Canard, in the real estate business.

They were top producers with the Bethesda Gateway Long and Foster office and recognized for their expertise in Baltimore, Eastern Shore and Ocean Pines.

He continues to sell real estate in Maryland, Delaware and D.C.

He hopes that residents will vote for him due to his experience and longevity in Ocean Pines.

“I think I can be an asset to the Bboard and the community,” Murphy said.

Last year, as a candidate, he supported an increase in funding for police recruitment and the Southside Fire Station. He expects with recent increases in salary and benefits for new hires, the police department will be able to recruit more officers.

Indeed, that is precisely the objective of Chief of Police Tim Robinson, who has been adding new hires to replenish the ranks depleted during the tenure of his predecessor.

Murphy personally supports the truck raffle and Queen of Hearts fundraising efforts by the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department. He said he is not privy to what is going on with the Board and the fire department but believes they are in talks and will work out a plan that is favorable to both parties.

He continues to believe that drainage is an issue in Ocean Pines. One of his neighbors had ducks swimming around in their front yard after a recent rainstorm, he said.

But he believes Ocean Pines is working to solve the drainage issue.

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Amy Peck

From Page 34

“When you do that, I think you come up with better decisions.”

“I know I don’t know everything. But I am going to do my best to research it and find out what the homeowners want and make my decision that way.”

Peck is concerned about the six to one supermajority on the current board and does not believe that it is best for the governance of Ocean Pines. It limits open discussion, multiple ideas and perspectives on solutions. That is one of the reasons she is running for a seat on the board. “I did not want to see an unopposed election.”

Peck expects to focus on a number of issues if she is elected, including restoring the relationship with Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department, the various advisory committees and the Chamber of Commerce, launching a new community wide survey, transparency in decision making, and keeping the OPA on a secure financial track.

“We need a partnership with the Fire Department. That is very important to me. I was very upset when those negotiations shut down,” Peck said. She was also upset with a statement made by President Rick Farr that the Fire Department needed “skin in the game.”

“They do have skin in the game. And their skin is not safe because they don’t have a decontamination station. Getting the fire department what they need is a top priority.”

She believes the two sides need to sit down. And not just the president of the Board, but the whole Board. “Negotiations cannot start from a point where OPA says we need the land and the building. I say we need to sit down and work this out.

“We have an aging population. The needs of the fire department are going to continue to grow. We have rising costs for apparatus that the fire department cannot cover through fundraising. That is just a financial fact.”

She noted that in the last community survey conducted in 2021, residents said that safety was the top priority. Regarding surveys, she believes the community needs to do a new community-wide survey.

“You cannot listen to homeowners if you don’t have data on what the homeowners are saying. You get that data through a survey. That survey was supposed to go out in October.”

She said the Strategic Planning Committee has developed an updated survey. The new Board came in last year and said it wanted to wait until a new chair was appointed to the committee, which was done. But no survey has been launched.

She also sees the value of the various advisory committees in providing information and expertise to the board.

“The committees are really important to me. I see the value of committee expertise and listening to homeowners.”

While she said she understands why the Board chose to eliminate the Racquet committee, she thinks the committee is important.

“The Board members are not experts at what it takes to run the racquet center.”

Peck is a strong believer in transparency, another priority highlighted by residents in the previous survey. While on the Board she fought for hybrid meetings so those not living full time in the Pines can see the meetings. She believes that all committee meetings should be videotaped including the budget and finance committee. She also believes the budget should be on the website before the board votes.

“Anyone should be able to find the information online.”

Peck is a supporter of General Manager John Viola.

“I think he has offered excellent leadership. He has made wise investments in golf. He has continued some things that were put in place before him, like outsourcing food and beverage. I think homeowners are very pleased with the direction the association is going financially.”

Peck wants to keep Ocean Pines on the same financial track and ensure that the community has sufficient reserves. “We have fantastic leadership and our employees are our best asset.”

Peck believes the food and beverage should be outsourced, as it currently is with the Matt Ortt Company. She said she did not boycott the Yacht Club but understood why some people did, due to the controversy surrounding the Matt Ortt Company, when a Yacht Club employee, Tyler Mailloux, who was associated with Ortt’s partner, Ralph DeAngleus was accused of being

Sherrie Clifford

From Page 34

She is also a member of the Worcester County Chamber of Commerce in Ocean Pines, and the ROC is a corporate sponsor.

“I am running for the Ocean Pines Board of Directors because I see that our community is in desperate need of individuals who will work together as a team, one that includes the input and consideration from all seven board members. A Board that is responsive to all community members and treats everyone with respect and consideration.

“A 6-1 or 7-0 super board majority that has shown they will rule our community with NO homeowner or committee input is not good for anyone and there should never be a line drawn in the sand that says you are either with us or you’re out.”

“There is a need for real leadership, one with the experience and skills to negotiate and lead the community efficiently and effectively.

“I believe in a Code of Ethics and Conduct along with accountability, transparency and integrity and believe there is no room on the board for arrogance, egos or self-serving individuals,” she said.

With Clifford’s background in technology and running her own business, she believes she can be of “great assistance in negotiations, reviewing documents, asking questions and getting to the bottom of the issues at hand.”

If she is given a seat on the Board, her goals will include focusing on being responsive to homeowners, restoring relationships between the Board and committees and the fire department, broader engagement for and with homeowners and more transparency in Board decisions.

I will be listening and being responsive to homeowners,” Clifford said.

“There is no room for keeping information like books and records from homeowners. If a homeowner calls for an audit or has questions, the board should be an open book outside of any attorney client privileged materials. There should be nothing to hide.

“There is a need for the board to listen to the homeowners and we need to unify the community and restore trust and civility. There is a need for real leadership, one with the experience and skills to negotiate, lead and communicate efficiently and effectively,” she said.

She believes it is important to restore relations between the board and the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department to ensure their safety and needs are met.

“The Fire Department and the Police are very vital to our community. We cannot afford to have any division between our lifeline groups.”

She believes the advisory committees play an important role in OPA. “We need to review and restore all committees and ensure that our committee members are not working in vain, that their recommendations are being heard and that meetings are well documented, recorded and published on a timely basis.

“Our committees are very important to the community, and they need to be taken seriously and members should not be degraded, belittled or destroyed when they bring issues of concern to the board,” she said.

She would like to see homeowners be able to make public comments virtually during Board meetings. Currently, residents have to attend the Board meeting in person to provide comments.

Clifford believes that General Manager John Viola is doing an “amazing job.

“I think John works well with people. I respect people who know how to work and get the job done. We all can be very proud of our general manager and his team and what they have accomplished over the past few years,” she said.

There was considerable controversy around the Matt Ortt Company, which manages the food and beverage contract in Ocean Pines, when a yacht club employee, Tyler Mailloux, who was associated with Ortt’s partner, Ralph DeAngelus was suspected of being the driver in a hit and run incident that killed Gavin Knupp, a 14-year- old resident of Ocean Pines in July 2022. The case is currently in the court system.

Clifford said she did not boycott the Matt Ortt Company and does not have a problem with Matt Ortt. She said the ROC did not advocate for the boycott.

She was accused of signing an online petition advocating for the contract with Matt Ortt Company to be terminated. Clifford said she did not sign the

To Page 38 To Page 38 36 Ocean Pines PROGRESS June 2024 BOARD CANDIDATE PROFILES
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Pine Tones Chorus to celebrate anniversary with June 9 concert

On Sunday, June 9 at 3 p.m., the Pine Tones Chorus will celebrate its 40th anniversary by presenting a Spring Concert at the Community Church at Ocean Pines, near the intersection of Route 589 and Beauchamp Road.

Admission is $20 payable at the door, cash or check.

The concert is titled “Gershwin and Friends” and features several medleys of Gershwin songs, with each segment reflecting its own musical theme. One medley, for example, combines lively songs such as Fascinating Rhythm and I Got Rhythm.

Another weaves together My Love is Here to Stay, Embraceable You and other Gershwin songs with soft, gentle themes.

Soloists, familiar to local audiences, will include soprano Evonne Lee singing Summertime, and tenor Paul Yannuzzi singing I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’.

Both songs are from Gershwin’s folk opera Porgy and Bess.

The notable Broadway and cho-

From Page 36

Anderson. The chorus has been entertaining local audiences in the Ocean Pines and Ocean City areas since 1984.

For additional information, call

ral musician, Mac Huff, arranged this Gershwin series of medleys. He has also preserved the decades-long favorites of so many fans of Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.

Additional variety in the program is provided with other selections such as Second Hand Rose,

a favorite from Streisand, You’ve Gotta Have Heart and Route 66 from Manhattan Transfer, among others.

The chorus includes about 35 singers from Ocean Pines, Ocean City, and nearby areas.

The chorus is under the direction of Jenny Anderson and Pete

Chorus President Dave Holloway, at 410-641-5672, or Jenny Anderson, 443-655-5636.

Funding for the chorus has come from admissions, sponsorships and grants from the Worcester County Arts Council, Maryland State Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

the driver in a hit and run incident that killed Gavin Knupp, a 14-year-old resident of Ocean Pines in July 2022. The case is currently in the court system.

Peck said she is a full supporter of the OPA amenities. She currently partners with Sherrie Clifford, another Board candidate on the Ocean Pines ROC (Resident Oversight Committee) Facebook page and the ROC Buzz Podcast. The stated purpose of both of these platforms is to inform members about what is happening in the community.

She sees both platforms as opportunities for conversation and immediate feedback and a way to notify people about issues they might not otherwise know about. The ROC regularly promotes OPA events, amenities and local charities.

Peck admitted that she has a big target on her back because of her vocal criticism of some Board decisions. She cites as examples the idea of building a boardroom for $650,000 or the electronic sign that was installed at the north entrance even though there was vocal opposition to the expense.

“You need to listen to the community and weigh these decisions carefully. You cannot have pet projects,” she said.

She hopes OPA residents will vote for her because the “consequences for how people are going to vote in this election are going to stick around for many years. Right now we have a 6-1 majority and there are rumors of a 7-0. That is not effective governance. It is not transparent and it is not what is best for Ocean Pines. It offers no room for new ideas, energy or perspective.

Voters might see Peck/Clifford yard signs during the campaign.

“We work very well together,” she said.

Peck said she and Clifford are both independent thinkers who do not believe in silencing an opinion that is not their own.

“My ultimate goal is to keep Ocean Pines attractive, affordable and safe. I can do that while restoring transparency and restoring relationships,” she added.

Sherrie Clifford

From Page 36

petition herself, but when she went to the site, her name was automatically added. She said she even saw the names of some Board members. That does not mean they signed the petition either, as she said it would have been easy for anyone to add someone’s name to the petition.

Clifford said she has been blocked from the Ocean Pines Yacht Club Facebook site. Because of that, she cannot see or promote any Yacht Club posts. If someone posts something on the ROC page from the Yacht Club, she cannot see it, so she has no way to approve it and has to delete it.

“I cannot allow something [on the ROC site] that I cannot see,” she said.

“We have to heal this community. A good start would be to unblock us,” Clifford said.

She is a supporter of the Gavin Knupp Foundation and provided donations for fundraisers, including a bike and financial support.

“I lost my daughter; I know the pain. I am a giving person. Giving to the foundation was very important to me,” Clifford said. “I love Ocean Pines, I love the community and I want to be involved, participate and contribute.”

She said that the Ocean Pines Board needs “independent and collaborative thinking individuals that will work together to accomplish a common goal that will benefit everyone that lives in our community.

“The Clifford and Peck ticket urges all eligible voters to participate and respectfully requests your vote,” Clifford said. “We need your vote to bring back and create a more balanced and effective board for our community. I thank you all in advance for your vote and would be honored to serve this great community we all love and call home.”

38 Ocean Pines PROGRESS June 2024 LIFESTYLES
Amy Peck In rehearsal for the June 9 “Gershwin and Friends” concert.

Saving the waterways, one oyster at a time

Sue Challis has been oyster gardening for three years, two in Ocean Pines. John LaRue has been caring for oysters off his dock in Ocean Pines for two years now and his brother-in-law, Dave Allen (chairman of the Marine Advisory Committee in Ocean ines) is on year four.

In all, about 100 people are oyster gardening in Ocean Pines through a program run by Joe Jankowski of the Protectors of the St. Martin’s River.

The St. Martin is a salt water estuary that should be suitable for wild oysters. However, excess nutrients and slow natural water flow creates dead organic muck on the bottom that doesn’t support wild oysters, according to Jankowski.

He got interested in raising oysters in 2014 through a friend. He started out just doing it himself but found that his best option to get seed oysters was in bulk quantities, so he reached out to others to join him.

He started out with 16 people in 2019. His list of oyster gardeners continues to grow every year. This year, he received a lot of interest at the Ocean Pines Expo and Bay Day, so he expects his 100 gardeners to continue to grow.

Last year, they donated 1,500 grown oysters to the Maryland Coastal Bays Program (MCBP)for its oyster reef projects in the coastal bays. Jankowski donates the mature oysters from his program to MCBP usually twice per year.

“This is a testament to Joe’s work that so many people are drawn to do this,” Challis said.

She has lived on or near the water in Anne Arundel County and here in the Pines for a total of 30 years.

“Growing oysters seemed like a natural thing to do,” said Challis.

One three inch oyster filters about 50 gallons a day

“Everyone on the water should do it,” LaRue said. “It’s low maintenance for a lot of benefit.”

LaRue has a steady current along his section of the canal in Ocean Pines, so his oysters get larger than Allen’s, who lives at the end of a canal. LaRue likes to fish for flounder and rockfish and likes the idea of contributing to the recovery of the St. Martin’s River.

Jankowski makes the cages for all of his oyster gardeners. They

seem simple, with PVC piping and plastic netting, but he said it took a lot of trial and error to get to his current design. He wanted to make sure to create a cage that one person could manage.

Wannabe oyster gardeners can get cages from Jankowski for $30.80 a cage.

“We get seed oysters, about one inch from the Hoopers Island Oyster company. We put 60-75 oysters in each cage at a cost of about $5 per cage,” Jankowski said.

The investment for the first year is about $36, with an annual investment of $5 to get new oysters each year.

Maryland has a tax credit for Aquaculture Oyster Floats of $5000 so the net cost to each grower should be zero, according to Jankowski.

Maintenance of the oysters is fairly easy. Every 14-21 days, the gardener needs to pull the cage out of the water and get all the muck off the oysters, which is easily done with a hose or power washer. Once the oysters get bigger, it helps to separate them into two cages so it is easier to pull the cages out of the water.

After about a year, they are ready to be donated to MCBP for planting in the St. Martin River and in other

coastal bays.

“This is something we can do to help improve our water quality. When you live near the water, you should do everything you can to protect it,” Challis said.

Challis lives across from the Ocean Pines boat ramp and can see the changes over the past few years, with more grasses and wildlife along the coastline.

TAllen encourages all canal owners to participate in this project. He commented that we take the waterways around here for granted. He said, “Let’s cherish it and not let it erode.”

Those interested in growing oysters off their dock or bulkhead can contact the Protectors of the St. Martin River at protectorsstmartinriver@yahoo.com.

Invasive species fishing tournament

he Worcester County Chamber of Commerce in Ocean Pines will host an Invasive Species Fishing Tournament on the Pocomoke River on June 22 with the weigh-in and after party at Bryd Park in Snow Hill.

Snakehead fish, now called chesapeake channa, and blue catfish have invaded local waterways and are devastating indigenous species. They are extremely prolific and insatiable eaters. Efforts are under way in the Department of Natural Resources and across the state to educate anglers and encourage the removal of these species. The Maryland Department of Agriculture is marketing of wild-caught Chesapeake blue catfish to chefs, consumers, restaurants, grocery stores, and distributors to encourage more people to buy, eat, and sell the fish.

The weigh-in after party will feature local environmental organizations and state agencies as well as locally caught and prepared blue cat and Chesapeake Channa and beverages. The public is welcome. Entry into the tournament is $25 per angler 16 and over, $15 for any angler under 16, and calcuttas are $15 each. Cash prizes for winners with a separate category for junior anglers.

Sponsorship opportunities are available.

To register or snag an sponsorship level, visit the Chamber’s Website.

June 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 39 LIFESTYLES
Sue Challis John LaRue

Forgotten cemetery off Admiral Avenue

MVolunteers rescue Jones family plot from Mother Nature

ost residents don’t know that there is a small family cemetery in Ocean Pines, not far from the North Gate.

Susan Mohler was one of those residents.

She learned of the cemetery’s existence from Real Estate Agent Marlene Ott at the Ocean Pines Kick-off event on April 20.

Ott was sharing records on the original costs of lots in Ocean Pines at the event when she told Mohler about the cemetery.

Mohler was intrigued and went to find the cemetery but failed the first time. She posted about the cemetery on Ocean Pines Get Involved Facebook page saying, “I was excited to [hear about] these 200-year-old headstones. To my dismay, I couldn’t find them. I believe they are hidden under a lot [of] brush and brambles. Why is this? These headstones and the family buried there are a part of Ocean Pines history. This should be cleaned up with a fence placed around it. The [Get Involved] article states that Ocean Pines is responsible for its upkeep.”

After reading the late Bud Rogner’s “History of Ocean Pines” about the cemetery, she was able to find it behind the mailboxes on Admiral Avenue. A little staircase leads one to a tree covered cemetery. This area too needed a lot of attention, so she updated her post sharing the location and some pictures.

That caught the attention of Becky and Kathy Vail.

“Kathy saw the post on Facebook and we thought, why not? We are retired. Let’s go take a look at it,” Becky Vail said.

They went with their weed wacker and a blower and got to work clearing a circular walking path to the gravestones.

While there, they met Denise McDermott, who has lived in Ocean Pines since 2005. Early on, she wondered where the steps behind the mailboxes went and stumbled on the cemetery. She took it upon herself to care for it. Her neighbor, Jim Neal, who has since moved, also helped.

“I think it came to me naturally. My grandfather was a caretaker of the New Cathedral Cemetery [in Baltimore]. They lived inside the cemetery. My father was born in the house at the cemetery,” McDermott said.

But her efforts ended in 2020 when she just did not have the ability to care for the grounds anymore because of mobility issues. Mother Nature once again took over the cemetery.

She was overjoyed to see the Vails taking action, clearing away the fallen debris and cutting paths for easy access to the headstones.

“I am so excited these girls stepped up and just did it.”

“Both of us are retired educators. We have done some of our own heritage work lately. It’s a hobby,” Kathy Vail said.

That has caused them to visit a number of grave sites. “Whenever we get to one that is not

cared for, it bugs us. We feel like all grave sites should be cared for. Here is one in our own neighborhood that we should take care of,” Kathy Veil said.

After clearing the site, they called Ocean Pines Association about the pile of brush they gathered to ask Public Works to carry it away.

“We are hoping that with a little visibility, that they [OPA] will start taking care of it,” Kathy Veil said.

Josh Davis, the director of public relations and marketing for OPA, met with the women on site and took pictures and asked what they think is needed at the site. The women suggested some signage and regular maintenance of the property.

According to the “History of Ocean Pines,” OPA owns the lot on which the cemetery is located. OPA cannot dispose of it and must maintain it, according to the Boise Cascade Turnover Agreement from the 1970s.

The site was a plot for the William Jones family and others born in the mid-1800s who died around the turn of the century. The weathered headstones mark the lives of the Jones family as well as Rozena Massey, who died in 1904 and baby George C Rickords, who died at two years and five months and 12 days in 1831. Another headstone shows the name Warner.

According to the Rogner history, “In 1995, people living in the area called on the Burbage

Funeral Home to restore the gravestones and rehabilitate the surface of the graves. James Brasure, a stone cutter, who lives in Ocean Pines and works for the Burbage firm recut and seated the stones.”

“What are the odds of an old forgotten cemetery in Ocean Pines?” Becky Vail said.

The site was clearly cared for at one time. There are daffodil bulbs that bloom every year there, according to McDermott.

“The fact that Denise has been taking care of it for so many years is a real gift to the community,” Kathy Veil said.

“If you think about what a community is all about, everyone sees this as a resort destination, but really we are a community,” Becky Veil said. “What Denise has done speaks volumes about what this community is about.”

She encourages people who visit the cemetery to help pick up limbs and put them in a central pile so Public Works can pick up the brush and debris.

She said the site is still a little overgrown, and it could use some signage to help identify what’s back there.

Both women suggested the area could be further researched by the Historical Task Force recently established by the Ocean Pines Association Board, with perhaps another volunteer group like the Ocean Pines Garden Club adopting the site and sprucing it up further with new plantings.

40 Ocean Pines PROGRESS June 2024 LIFESTYLES
Volunteers Susan Mohler, Kathy Vail, Denise McDermott, and Becky Vail.


Golf Director Bob Beckelman Chief of Police Tim Robinson

Ocean Pines launched a new avenue to communicate with its residents and beyond: “The PinesCast” is hosted by veteran journalist and podcaster Tony Russo.

According to a press release, PinesCast will celebrate the region, the amenities and, most of all, the people who make and keep Ocean Pines a special place to live.

The first PinesCast featured an interview with Ocean Pines Director of Golf Operations, Bob Beckelman, who shared his own personal story and what makes the Ocean Pines Golf Course such a special place.

Beckelman’s parents retired in Ocean Pines in the early 1980’s and he enjoyed golfing at the Pines golf course when he would visit during breaks from Penn State, where he was majoring in aerospace engineering.

Playing at Ocean Pines started Beckelman on his golf career.

He always enjoyed playing the course.

“I took up golf and became interested in getting into the golf business,” Beckelman said.

After he played for about two years, an assistant named Brett Marshall invited Beckelman to play with him and other assistants in the area and he started talking to them about getting into the golf business.

Eventually, an opportunity opened for an assistant to Buddy Sass here at Ocean Pines and he has been in the golf business ever since.

“Buddy is one of the best golf pros in the world,” Beckelman said.

Beckelman went to PGA school and mentored for three years under a PGA head professional.

When Sass left Ocean Pines for Deer Run, a local course that is no longer in business, Beckleman followed and worked there for three years after being turned down for the head pro job in Ocean Pines.

He reapplied as the head pro at Ocean Pines in 2000 and got the job, staying until 2007. He was hired back again in 2022.

“When Buddy was here, we had such good staff and a huge membership. It felt like one big happy family,” Beckelman said.

He wanted to get back to that.

Beckelman puts a lot of stock in building relationships with players, both residents and those from out of town.

“If they like you, they are more likely to come back,” he said.

Ocean Pines had 700-800 members during Sass’s tenure. Today, Beckelman said there are about 170 members.

The club is now more revenue driven by outside play.

“My biggest goal is to take care of everybody. We want to make them feel at home, whether they are members or non-members,” Beckelman said.

There are benefits to joining a club, like getting to know the members, staff, the restaurant. “If you are playing a lot, it makes financial sense to join.”

The fact that the course was designed by Robert Trent Jones is a draw for some people. He is considered one of the top golf course architects and is world renowned, according to Beckelman.

He designs courses that are challenging but playable for any golfer.

Conditions were always pretty good on the course, but they are even better today.

“When the course is in good condition, and a great atmosphere of enjoyment, it draws the residents, public and packages back,” Beckelman said.

The amenity features a new clubhouse, with a bar and restaurant, managed by the Matt Ortt Company, fire pit and lounge area outside and a pro shop. Last year, Beckelman brought another local back to the course: Matt Ruggiere. Ruggiere Golf Academy provides clinics for adult and junior golfers and private lessons. Brian Davis also offers small clinics and individual lessons; John O’Connor does club fitting and individual lessons and Beckelman also does club fitting.

The golf business has been very good in Ocean Pines. Beckelman hopes to get more members and attract more residents to the course.

“We should have at least 1200 golfers in Ocean Pines, we want all of those golfers to play here,” he said. For membership, golf cart and course rates call 410-641-6057 or visit https://www.oceanpinesgolf.org.

The second PineCast interview by local podcaster Tony Russo featured Ocean Pines Police Chief Tim Robinson, who joined the Ocean Pines Police Department in August of 2023. Robinson grew up in Bowie, Md., and went to Salisbury State University.

“I fell in love with the area,” Robinson said.

“I always wanted to be in law enforcement. My father was in law enforcement. I modeled a lot of what I wanted to do in my career by watching him.”

His first law enforcement job was as a summer police officer in Rehoboth Beach. He then moved to the Delmar Police Department after graduating from college. He later moved to the Wicomico County Sheriff’s office, where he spent the majority of his career. “My career has kind of come full circle now,” Robinson said, of his current position in Ocean Pines.

He learned a lot about customer service and doing the right job in the right way as a summer officer in Rehoboth.

He met his wife while working in Rehoboth, and they have been married for almost 30 years. They lived in Salisbury, where they raised their family. They recently purchased a home in Ocean Pines.

Working in Delmar was very different from the boardwalk of Rehoboth. It was a small town and he learned a lot about law enforcement. “You have to be self-sufficient as a police officer in a small town, taking an investigation all the way through,” he said.

In 1996, he moved to the Sheriff’s office. He worked in every facet there, as a deputy, supervisor and commander. He was not looking to be a police chief, but the more he looked at the opportunity in Ocean Pines, the more attractive it became.

His parents live in the community and he had been coming to the Beach Club and events at the Veterans Memorial, so he was not a stranger to Ocean Pines.

Robinson was familiar with the administrative responsibilities and grant writing that comes with the chief’s position. He was used to working with local communities and town councils to address their needs.

His first day on the job was Aug. 1, which also happened to be National Night Out. “I was introduced to the community at large on my first day.”

“How this community has welcomed me, everywhere I go, it’s been so heartwarming. ... The folks here in Ocean Pines are going to see me out and about. I do believe in being visible and checking on people and letting them know that I am there, to the point where I am approachable.”

Robinson started out with an understaffed Police Department when he came to Ocean Pines last year. He has been able to recruit officers ever since. He hired two certified officers who are out on patrol now. All officers go through a state mandated minimum training period. He also has three people lined up to go to the Police Academy starting July 1. He expects to be fully staffed by next year. In filling additional vacancies, he is looking for people who understand customer service and going the extra mile, but hat at certain times, they have to be a police officer.

With the support of General Manager John Viola and the OPA Board, he has been able to raise salaries significantly, making Ocean Pines competitive with other police departments. “We are paying people a very good rate to come here, which will allow me to attract the best. It will also allow me to be selective to make sure I am bringing in the best on board here.

“This is someplace special. In terms of our amenities, and the folks here, and just how active this community is. There is a community vibe here, everywhere you go. It’s something you may not feel in other places. As a result of that, officers come here and say this is a special place and I want to be a part of this. I want to get in on the ground floor of this rebuild,” he said.

Robinson attends Board meetings regularly, to provide a report and talk to people. His priorities including bringing back a full-time investigator, which he considers very important. He is also bringing on board technology that is “second to none.” He rolled out body cameras for all police officers.

“They are the greatest things and are an impartial arbitrator of the facts,” he said. He is modernizing and computerizing many processes including how the department tracks property and evidence.He has also launched a new free standing website.

June 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 41 LIFESTYLES


Excising defamation from the public arena

Elsewhere on this page is the text of the May 10 statement issued by six of the Ocean Pines Association’s seven directors regarding what they regard as inflammatory, defamatory (potentially, at least), inappropriate, non-constructive and unnecessary political commentary published in local social media.

What crossed the line and then some for these directors were accusations that they are a bunch of reprobates, engaging in “corruption, fraud, flim-flam and kickbacks.”

The statement said this material was “published” on the Ocean Pines Residents Oversight Community Facebook Page. It would have been more accurate to say it appeared on the ROC page, for a time at least, before it was taken down by site administrators. That sort of afterthe-fact excising of inappropriate material is routine on social media and on Websites containing news and commentary.

Joe Reynolds of Ocean Pines Forum notoriety does it all the time. Esther Diller of Ocean Pines Get Involved does, too. The OPA carefully curates postings on its various social media. According to Sherrie Clifford of the ROC page, she’s blocked entirely from the Yacht Club Facebook page, and it’s doubtful she would post anything that crosses the line into defamation on the site she administers.

The difference between “publishing” and initially accepting and then taking down offensive material is not trivial. Legacy publishers of print publications know better than to allow defamatory material to appear in their pages, and they have the time and ability to preemptively stay out of hot water that way.

Social media administrators, on the other hand, do not always monitor content on their sites as soon it arrives.

So it takes a little longer for them to delete material that crosses the line.

Even with that caveat, the Board supermajority was entirely within its rights to react as it did to the outrageously offensive material that has appeared on social media from time to time. Some of this material is not just potentially defamatory; it indeed is defamatory on its face. The statement is altogether too polite to say “potentially.”

While the administrator of a social media site where it appears may not be personally liable for what some of their visitors post -- there’s legitimate debate about the degree of culpability -- the person accusing others of criminal wrong-doing can be successfully sued when there is no basis of fact to support the false allegations. Reckless disregard for the truth is one standard for measuring defamation, and some of the detractors of Rick Farr et al are engaging in it.

The directors are entitled to call out this assault on civil discourse, whenever and wherever it manifests in the public arena.

The statement was by far the better approach

The May 10 statement signed by six directors was as follows.

“Preliminarily, we emphasize that the OPA Board fully appreciates and supports appropriate public discourse and even robust debate and free expressions of opinions, by and among the OPA membership as to all matters of public interest in Ocean Pines. This statement is not to be read as an attempt to discourage, chill or eliminate appropriate discourse, debate or expression of opinion, all of which the Board welcomes and encourages.

“Also, in serving on the Board in an official governance capacity, we accept that some OPA members may disagree with our policies or decisions, and any member has the right to do so in an appropriate way, even forcefully, including in public forums.

“However, certain public comments have unfortunately, in our view, gone beyond the limits of appropriate discourse, debate or expression of opinion.

“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 undermine 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.”

“We have decided to release this public expression of our views in this regard, not to engage in some back-and-forth with a few vocal critics casting baseless accusations (which would be a waste of time), but in the hope that public and baseless smearing of Board members and/or OPA administration might stop, and public discussion might become more uniformly thouightful, responsible, balanced and issue-oriented.

“Our focus as elected Board members will continue to be on helping to build the very best community we can have in Ocean Pines, advancing the fiscal health of the OPA, supporting the incredible work that our General Manager, Department heads and other employees are doing, and otherwise serving in good faith the interests of the OPA membership.”

Directors Rick Farr, Stuart Lakernick, John Latham, Monica Rakowsi, Elaine Brady and Jeff Heavner

than the cease and desist letter the Board was considering sending to the ROC administrators. Targeting just one site for offensive material seems ill-advised, and apparently that’s what the six directors concluded.

What’s more important is the content itself, not where it appeared for a time before a site administrator got wise to it and got rid of it.

The statement issued on May 9 also included an expression of “collective dismay and disappointment” over the leak of the draft cease and desist letter to unnamed media and others, “in an apprent attempt to disrupt and undermine the legimate deliberative processes of this corporate Board.”

Removal or resignation of a certain OPA director to follow? Time will tell, but probably not.

The absence of Director Steve Jacobs’ signature to the statement suggested to those who monitor Board actions that it was Jacobs who allegedly leaked the draft of the cease and desist letter.

Evidence that proves conclusively that Jacobs leaked the draft to Reynolds of Ocean Pines Fo-

The Ocean Pines Progress is a journal of news and commentary published monthly throughout the year. It is circulated in Ocean Pines and Captain’s Cove, Va. 127 Nottingham Lane, Ocean Pines, Md 21811

PUBLISHER-EDITOR Tom Stauss stausstom@gmail.com 443-359-7527

42 Ocean Pines PROGRESS June 2024 OPINION u
ADVERTISING SALES Frank Bottone frankbottone@gmail.com 410-430-3660 CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rota L. Knott 443-880-3953 Cindy Hoffman 202-489-5587

It’s campaign circus time in Ocean Pines

You know it’s campaign season in Ocean Pines when the circus comes to town.

Circus as in a social media clown show.

Posters bashing one candidate for the Board of Director or the other.

And not always in an intelligent way. Usually not in fact. Often mean-spirited, nasty, reaching for a new low.

Are the candidates themselves responsible?

In many cases, probably not. Folks are gonna write what they feel like writing and won’t be checking in with the candidates they favor before letting it fly.

On the other hand, if a particular post bashing an opponent of a candidate is offensive, well over the line of acceptable discourse, then perhaps it behooves the candidate to disavow it.

Short of an explicit disavowal, there may be an implicit acquiescence in the message, no matter how offensive or inarticulate it happens to be.

There are First Amendment protections for offensive speech, up to a point.

Life may too short to issue disavowals for every bit of offensive material that shows up under the circus tent.

The screenshot of a recent anti-Rick Farr post on social media that is reproduced elsewhere on this page is just one example of what supporters of Board candidates Amy


From Page 38


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

Peck and Sherrie Clifford are capable of.

Candidate Rick Farr told the Progress recently that he believes that Peck and Clifford are behind it, but they say they were not.

Unless one is prepared to accuse Peck and Clifford of lying, the disclaimer needs to be respected.

Objectively, it’s going to be difficult to prove one way or the other. Running for a volunteer position on the Board of Directors isn’t for the thin-skinned.

Candidates need to be prepared for dirty tricks, for mud-slinging. The mud thrown is hardly one directional.

At least one opponent of Peck and Clifford with a Facebook page, Kelly Miller, takes the low road in his incessant attacks on these two women. Check out his Oversight of the Ocean Pines ROC (Residents Oversight Community) Facebook page -he describes it as a parody page, not to be taken too seriously.

Suffice it to say it’s not going to win any prizes for Kindness or Niceness.

Some find it humorous, some anti-women. Well, not anti all-women. Anti these two women in particular, and a certain former OPA director, Josette Wheatley.

rum was presented in a closed executive session of the Board on May 9, according to OPA President Rick Farr, who also said that Jacobs vehemently and categorically denied he was the source of the leak during the meeting.

So no admission of guilt, no mea culpa -- just a situation that will fester or will fade in significance over time.

There’s been speculation that Jacobs will resign from the Board, having lost the respect and comeraderie of his colleagues, but he recently told the Progress that he has no intention of resigning. Given that two potential allies are running for the Board this summer -- that’s Amy Peck and Sherrie Clifford -- it’s hardly surprising that he wouldn’t.

Help may be on its way, as it were.

There’s also been speculation that the Board supermajority at a time of its choosing will vote to remove Jacobs from the Board for cause,

Kelly Miller won’t be supporting their campaigns for OPA Board.

That goes without saying.

Miller recently posted that he’d been advised to dial back some of his more outrageous descriptions of Peck and Clifford, advice he seems to be ignoring.

His defense: He’s never used the c-word. Congrats on that. Such self-restraint is commendable.

Hags and pigs and jockstrap-wearing are only marginally less offensive, and he makes no apologies for those.

No one forces anyone to read his musings, so deal with it seems to be his subtext.

Here’s the point of all this.

Both political factions in Ocean Pines that oppose certain candidates have their adherents who are vocal on social media.

OPA members are free to ignore or obsess over this content.

If you want to hear directly what the candidates are for, more positive messages about positions and preferred policies, attend the candidates forum later this month.

The Progress has published five profiles on all five candidates.

There’s plenty to chew on for those who will take the time to do so.

As for the anti-Farr post that

which in this case would be leaking of confidential material and then not owning up to it.

Under this scenario, Jacobs would be removed after ballots are printed and in the mail, with the Board empowered to fill the vacancy. It might not occur until after the election.

Jacobs would have the ability to defend himself in a hearing, closed or open, presumably, before such action would occur. Smoking gun evidence that he was the source of the leaked cease and desist letter would need to be produced before expulsion could be justified.

Wisely, as the Board election season is kicking into high gear, the director have been in no hurry to take action to remove their colleague.

It would be extremely divisive, handing Peck and Clifford a ready-made cudgel against Farr and Jeff Heavner throughout the summer election season.

Does leaking confidential material rise to level of justifying removal of a director?

Given the role that “leaks” of “confidential” Board information has played over the years

appeared over the on-line transom, here’s why it’s laughable, just one act under the circus tent.

It should be obvious to anyone with a modicum of band-with that the current Board of Directors is not in favor of people drinking and driving. This includes Farr.

Advocating, funding and taking a victory lap over an extension of the Yacht Club tiki bar hardly constitutes advocacy of drunk driving.

The Board of Directors two years ago were not prepared at the time to erect a plaque at the Ocean Pines skateboard park in honor of the late Gavin Knupp, whose tragic death still resonates.

Such a plaque might have been a natural, unforced result had the Gavin Knupp Foundation made a sizable donation to upgrade the facility.

It’s in need of repairs, and as some skateboard aficionados at the most recent Board meeting suggested, it would greatly benefit from seating. Too bad the foundation, which seems now to be an inactive status after an early spate of fund-raising, couldn’t strike an agreement with the OPA.

What was all that cash raised from well-meaning individuals used for anyway?

Talks between OPA management and Gavin’s mom Tiffany ended in acrimony, and with that any chance for a plaque in Gavin’s honor all but disappeared. Blaming that on Rick Farr is misguided at best.

and decades in Ocean Pines, probably not. What might be the tipping point that leads to removal is Jacobs’ insistence that he did not do what his colleagues believe he did do and insist they have the evidence to prove.

As the saying goes, it’s not the crime but the cover-up.

So removal could be easily avoided by simply owning up and saying “sorry.”

A few months ago, Jacobs was pushing the Board to adopt a resurrected B-08 ethics resolution that, among other provisions, called out the leaking of confidential Board information as unethical.

Here he is, weeks later, accused of doing that which the resolution he was promoting explicitly condemned.

Ironic? Yes indeed.

Inconsistency, or even hypocrisy, is embedded in human DNA.

Does it justify removal from the Board?

Again, probably not, but it’s a judgment call, to be sure. And it’s not over. -- Tom Stauss

June 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 43 OPINION

CAPTAIN’S COVE Supervisors vote 7-2 to extend townhome project conditional use


change in ownership, with R2JS the entity requesting the extension.

Representing the owners, attorney Mark Baumgartner of the Virginia Beach law firm of Pender and Coward, said that some of the issues in the litigation referred to by Pambid have been resolved at the Circuit Court level in the favor of the developer.

DeGeorges, three Cove residents don’t sway Board majority

The Accomack County Board of Supervisors voted 7-2 on May 15 to extend by two years a conditional use permit for the planned Hastings/Mariner townhome project, overriding the objections of District 2 Supervisor Roger DeGeorges and three Captain Captain’s Cove residents who spoke out against the project in a public hearing that preceded the vote.

The planned 140-unit townhome project is in DeGeorge’s district that includes Captain’s Cove and the community of Atlantic as its major population centers. The 20-acre site is located at the east entrance to Captain’s Cove off Stateline Road.

The Board’s majority accepted the planning and zoning staff recommendation and the recommendation of the county’s Planning Commission in voting for the extension. An initial two-year conditional use permit was granted by the supervisors effective in May of 2022.

R2JS of Edgewood, Md., as the owners of the property where the townhome project is planned requested the extension. CCG Note, the Captain’s Cove declarant/developer, sold the property to R2JS in October of last year.

Lee Pambid, deputy county administrator of planning and community development, outlined the staff rationale for recommending the extension. He told the supervisors that very little had changed since they

approved the original conditional use permit two years ago.

Pambid said that litigation intended to impede the townhome project was in the process of being worked through, there continues to be a demand for higher density development in Accomack County, and

the Planning Commission endorsed the extension in a 6-3 vote on March 3.

He said the rationale for supporting the extension was the same as it was in 2022. Except for some minor tweaks, the permit is the same as it was then. Among the changes is the

One issue pertained to the availability of adequate public water and wastewater treatment services to serve the townhomes. Aqua Virginia, which owns and operates Captain’s Cove water and sewer utility, has said that adequate capacity exists.

The Circuit Court judge who presided over a hearing last summer determined that it’s an issue to be dealt by the State Corporation Comu

Opening Day

Ralph Burner, a member of the Farmers Market work group, greeted visitors on the first Thursday farmers and artisans market in Captain’s Cove. There were more than 300 visitors and 20 vendors, with six more signed up the week following the successful debut.

44 Ocean Pines PROGRESS June 2024


Baumgartner said another issue, ownership of Captain’s Corridor in the vicinity of the townhome project and access to it, has also been resolved in the developer’s favor. The litigants, Theresa Birckhead, Bill Leslie and five other Cove residents, have vowed to appeal that decision.

The attorney in response to a question said that the townhomes “could be rented or sold to homeowners.”

That seemed to be a response to those who contend that the project would become a community of renters that would bring down property values in Captain’s Cove.

Although the conditional use permit contains a proffer for a future site of an emergency medical facility to be operated by the Greenbackville Fire Department on Fleming Road in Section 13 of Captain’s Cove, Baumgartner said a more likely location would be a commercial parcel within the Hastings/Mariner property.

The three Captain’s Cove resident speaking against the conditional use permit were Leslie, Birckhead and Larry Berger.

Leslie accused R2JS’s local representative, former Cove President and director Tim Hearn, of making false and defamatory comments about the litigants.

He also said that Captain’s Cove is only 30 percent built out and that developers and the county should focus on building out Captain’s Cove rather than on townhomes. He also complained about water quality in Captain’s Cove.

Leslie said the Circuit Court decision on Captain’s Corridor access would be appealed after the June 11-13 trial on remaining issues.

“The [county’s} focus on new housing should be in areas that already have infrastructure and access to resources,” he concluded.

Birckhead said the Aqua issue was not a priority of the litigants, that the utility became a defendant in the case only because the judge insisted. Later, Aqua was removed as a defendant, and Birckhead said she didn’t have a problem with that.

But she said she and her colleagues continue to have an issue with the 2016 sale of acreage for Rapid Infiltration Basins in Section 14, in which the utility acquired about ten acres that, if and when needed, could be used for disposing of treated wastewater from Aqua’s wastewater treatment plant in Captain’s Cove.

Although the conditional use permit contains a proffer for a future site of an emergency medical facility to be operated by the Greenbackville Fire Department on Fleming Road in Section 13 of Captain’s Cove, Baumgartner said a more likely location would be a commercial parcel within the Hastings/Mariner property.

Judge Revell Lewis III last October in a court proceeding accepted a motion by Aqua Virginia attorney John Byrum to dismiss the complaint by the Birckhead plaintiffs seeking to enjoin future use of that acreage by Aqua, on grounds that the Circuit Court lacked subject jurisdiction over the issue.

“I will grant the request [for dismissal] subject to the SCC,” he said, which seemed to suggest that the plaintiffs could seek redress with the SCC if they want to revisit the issue.

The SCC has extensive regulatory authority over utilities in Virginia.

He seemed to leave open the possibility that the plaintiffs could oppose Aqua’s providing of water and wastewater treatment services to the planned townhome project, if that ever issue comes before the SSC for a ruling.

Birckhead said during the May 15 public hearing that the plaintiff’s issue with RIBs is that there are some areas of Captain’s Cove that don’t have access to utilities or even to roads.

She said that the current and former declarant/developers have failed to complete build-out of Captain’s Cove.

She echoed Leslie’s assertion that the issue of access to Captain’s Corridor would be appealed whatever the outcome of the June 11-13 trial on the remaining issues in the case.

“We are adamant,” she said. “We will be fighting another two years to get the case through the appeal process.”

Berger’s argument was that a large number of Captain’s Cove residents oppose the townhome project and that the supervisors should base their decision on that.

“We had an election,” he said. “A 20-year politician was defeated by a novice [DeGeorges],” with former supervisor Ron Wolff defeated because of his support for the townhome project. “It was an earthquake.”

Berger contended that not even one Cove resident has come forward

to support the townhome project.

Actually, that’s not quite true. Members of the Board of Directors Captain’s Cove property owners association, Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club, have been supportive. Several are full-time residents of Captain’s Cove.

Hearn, a property owner but not a Cove resident, has said he believes that among the entire 2,500 or so dues-paying members of the Cove POA, support or at least acquiescence to the project is significant.

Previously, he has said that opposition to any new development is hardly novel in his experience in the building/development business. Once a project is completed and the worst fears unrealized, opposition tends to fade, he has noticed.

In any event, a majority of supervisors did not seem amenable to basing their vote on the level of discontent in Captain’s Cove about what R2JS wants to develop.

When the public hearing concluded and the supervisors were ready to vote, DeGeorges made it clear that what he called the “outcry” against the townhomes decided the issue for him and also contributed to his decision “to come out of retirement” to run for the District 2 supervisor’s seat.

He also said that he didn’t appreciate being “called out by Mr. Hearn” in a recent newspaper article.

Hearn had said he asked for a face-to-face meeting with DeGeorges to discuss various proffers associated with the conditional use permit, but that DeGeorges declined, directing Hearn to staff instead.

After DeGeorges commended staff for their hard work on the permit, even though he said he disagreed with their conclusions, the supervisors proceeded to vote on it.

In addition to DeGeorges, Supervisor Donald Hart voted against it.

The proffers approved along with the conditional use permit included a promise by the new owners that they will deliver a pad-ready site to the Greenbackville Volunteer Fire Department, of approximately 1.5

acres, for a new emergency medical service station.

In addition, the developer has agreed to provide up to $430,000 for the cost of a new ambulance and toward the cost of the new EMS station. The 2022 proffer is conditioned on the developer proceeding to build out the project.

The 2022 proffer included two potential sites for the new EMS station, one directly fronting on Fleming Road in Section 13, and the other a site within the Hastings/ Mariner project.

While the GVFD prefers the Fleming Road site because it would enable faster emergency response times in other areas of the county, that option has been opposed by some within Captain’s Cove.

As a result, CCG Note had concluded that it would be prudent to proceed with planning for a pad site within the townhome project.

In addition, the proffer indicates that the property developer will coordinate with the Captain’s Cove property owners association for the design, installation and payment for a new entrance into Captain’s Cove. While the new entrance will be deemed a private road to be owned by the Cove POA, the proffer says the new entrance will be unrestricted in use, that is, open to the general public.

The proffer says the owner/developer will not rent out units in the new subdivision for daily, weekly or seasonal rentals, “so long as the CCG Note retains ownership of the Mariner project.”

That provision may no longer be applicable because CCG Note no longer owns the property, but it’s also possible that R2JS won’t want to rock the boat and change any proffer from 2022.

Another proffer indicates that the owner will make a $10,000 donation to the Ripken Foundation’s STEM funding in Accomack County schools, prior to the issuance of a building permit for any townhome or commercial building or EMS building on the Hastings/Mariner site.

The 2022 proffer says the developer will be responsible for landscape maintenance, with dense shrubbery designed to screen parts of the development from the view of motorists on Stateline Road.

The businesses that would be added to the project would be restricted to retail, office and childcare services.


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Five issues in the Birckhead case heading to a June 11-13 trial

Two issues have already been addressed by the Circuit Court, but one of those will be appealed by the plaintiffs

The five legal issues in the Birckhead litigation that have not yet been addressed by the Accomack County Circuit Court are headed for a trial June 11-13 at the county courthouse, with recently appointed Judge Lynwood Lewis Jr. presiding.

He replaces Revel Lewis III, who presided over earlier proceedings in the case, in which seven Captain’s Cove residents, all officers in the Concerned Citizens of Captain’s Cove advocacy group, are suing the Cove property owners association and the Cove declarant/developer.

The plaintiffs in the case include Teresa Birckhead, the CCCC president, and Bill Leslie, the CCCC vice-president, and five others.

The defendants are Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club, the Cove’s POA, and CCG Note, the declarant/ developer.

The Cove Currents has learned that a related case filed by Leslie and CCCC director Linda Reece will be heard concurrently with the primary litigation. The issue in this suit is who is responsible for building roads in Sections 1-13 of Captain’s Cove, the declarant/developer CCG Note or CCGYC.

Two 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. Judge Lewis 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 defen-

dant 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.

Judge Lewis has ruled and then reaffirmed that Captain’s Corridor in the vicinity of the planned townhome project is developer-owned, and that the Cove association has no control over ingress and egress to Captain’s Corridor in that area.

Both Birckhead and Leslie have said on a number of occasions that CCCC will be appealing the ownership decision once the other issues are adjudicated in the Circuit Court.

The five remaining issues to be addressed during the June 11-13 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.

• 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 developer is no longer interested in having a facility built on numbered lots in Captain’s Cove. CCG Note is no longer party to the townhome project for which a proffer of land to GVFD was contingent.

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 a developer, Stonewall Capital, hasn’t been paying assessments on lots sold to it by CCG Note, and whether this was a benefit to CCG Note. The Cove’s Property Management Team some months ago verified that Stonewall Capital had been delinquent but since had

Greg Butler, Agent 1508 Market Street Pocomoke, MD 21851 Bus: 410-957-3585 greg.butler.gbe9@statefarm.com

paid its past due assessments in their entirety.

• 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 established.

Plaintiffs interpret Article 2, Paragraph 2 of the Articles of Incorporation as requiring the developer, not the Cove POA, to build out roads, with the association having the responsibility for maintaining them once built.

The applicable language in the Articles of Incorporation says that the Cove POA has the responsibility “to repair, maintain, rebuild and/or beautify all streets and their rights of way.”

There is similar language in the restrictive covenants, often called the Declaration, but the plaintiffs and defendants interpret the language differently.

The plaintiffs contend that the language says that the association is responsible for maintenance only.

The defendants cite the long history of the Cove POA building roads in Captain’s Cove once the original u

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First Farmers Market draws 325 visitors

Senior General Manager Colby Phillips is elated with the first Farmers Market held May 23 in Captain’s Cove.

The event drew 325 visitors to the Marina Club parking lot, the event venue, and several of those had never before been to Captain’s Cove, she said.

There were 20 vendors who set up booths, and Phillips said she only expects that number to grow.

In fact, six new vendors were signed up the week following the first event.

Phillips said that the event was first suggested to her two years ago by then Cove President Tim Hearn.

“We finally got it up and running and it’s a huge success,” she said.

The Property Mananagement Team was assisted by a working group of volunteers set up for that purpose.

“We could not have pulled this off without them” she said. “What an amazing group of volunteers. This is what Captain’s Cove is all about.”

One of those volunteers and now the manager of the farmer’s market is Carol Pedrick.

“If you thought the farmers and artisans market got off to a good start, wait ‘til you see what we’ve added,” she wrote on Facebook. “We have truck loads of local produce, free range eggs, fresh cut flower bouquets, even more baked goods, new artisans and crafters, and much, much more.”

New at the second market will be a children’s corner “with fun activities your little ones can enjoy while you shop,” she added.

Popular among the vendors are those who sell live crabs and clams to visitors.

Pedrick recommended visitors allow enough time to stop in the nearby Marina Club for a beverage, appetizer or meal. It opens at 3 p.m.

Hours for the market are 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

They’re scheduled for every Thursday except for Fourth of July week through Sept. 19.

Vendor applications continue to be available at www.captscove.com/ ccfam or by emailing captscovemarket@gmail.com.

More than 300 visitors enjoyed checking out the vendors in the first Farmers Market held in Captain’s Cove May 23. The market continues Thursdays except July 4th through Sept. 19.

Birckhead trial

From Page 47

developer vacated Captain’s Cove and argue that the plaintiffs live along roads built by the association and want to deny others the same opportunity.

According to CCG Note local consultant Tim Hearn in a recent email to the Cove Currents, Cal Burns, Captain’s Cove original developer/

declarant, “deeded all road right of ways to CCGYC several decades ago.

“These excluded the roads in Sections 14-18. When he did so, there was no further requirement that the Declarant construct roads.

“The Declarations have always required CCGYC to maintain and improve streets (even when it did not own them),” Hearn said.

This deeding of the rights-of-way

is akin to an easement, rather than a conveyance of ownership. The section in the Declaration that refers to the improvement and maintenance of streets is 12E.

The deed conveying the roads to the POA in the 1970s “is readily available in the land records for anyone who wishes to review it,”

Hearn said in a recent post on the Cove’s Member Forum

“The basis for the 2012 Settle-

ment Agreement affirmed that detail and was stipulated by the board members who approved and executed the 2012 agreement,” Hearn said.

He said that the plaintiffs in the suit have produced no document that shows that the developer is responsible for road construction.

“If such a document even exists, it would still be negated by the deeding of the road right-of-ways to the POA in the 1970’s,” he said.

Member and Artisan Dee Brua sells her creations Vendor Anne Taylor in her booth with friends.

CCGYC waiting for wetlands determination

Chris McCabe of Coastal Compliance Solutions delivered an update on his attempts to obtain a determination from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on where wetlands impact Captain’s Cove, a preliminary step needed before the Cove property owners association can obtain permits to build roads and property owners know whether

their lots are buildable.

McCabe was the guest speaker at the May 28 meeting of the Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club Board of Directors meeting. He seemed neither overly optimistic or pessimistic on obtaining what he called a “jurisdictional determination” from the federal agency but rather delivered a matter-of-fact descriptions of challenges.

He said he’s working with his

third regulator on obtaining the needed determination, and there’s a chance he will be working with a fourth if the JD isn’t obtained soon. He also mentioned that as a result of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, the Army Corps has “the leeway not to issue the JD” without first obtaining approval from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The good news is that all the paperwork needed to obtain the juris-

diction determination was filed back in December of last year, and now it’s just a matter of waiting as the Army Corps works through a backlog of applications.

Another positive development is that a local mitigation site has been identified because the agency has determined that wetland impacts in Captain’s Cove are what he called cumulative, requiring mitigation.

“Through discussions, options to do that are available,” he said.

Without a JD, Captain’s Cove can’t obtain a permit for building out roads in Captain’s Cove, including Seaview Street in Section 1.

CCGYC President Mark Majerus struck a hopeful note as McCabe concluded his remarks.

“Hopefully we’ll get a JD soon so we get moving” on a number of projects that have been delayed, he said.

ECC update

General Manager Justin Wilder updated the Board on the status of Environmental Control Committee activity.

There have been 79 applications handled by the ECC this past year, two denied and seven remaining unapproved.

Since Jan. 1 there have been 386 notices of violations of governing documents, with 104 corrected. Most are siding violations, Wilder said.

There have been 40 hearing notices sent out year to date, with 33 hearings held and seven cured before the hearing.

Eight property owners were fined for continuing violations, with three maxed out in the fines that can be imposed in a calendar year.

Board applications

Property owners who want to run for the CCGYC Board of Directors this year can pick up applications as of June 1, with the filing deadline closing Aug. 1

Lot swap

The Board approved 5-0 with two abstentions a lot swap.

An unbuildable lot, Section 1377, was traded for Section 10, Lot 4, on Captain’s Corridor and Dreadnaught Drive.

The Board also approved by the same margin a release of utility easements for lots 278 and 289 in


Section 2 to allow a home to be built on the two lots, one of which is oddly shaped, requiring utility easements to be relocated. Aqua Virginia and CCG Note had already approved the releases.

Lot sale program

After a pilot program resulted in the sale of five CCGYC-owned lots, the Board discussed an expansion of the program to 95 lots in Sections 4,5,6,8, 9 and 11.

The Board voted 5-0 with two abstentions to task the Property Management Team with coming up with a new program of lot sales, this time

with more aggressive marketing. The team would be meeting with local Realtors and marketers to come up with a program the Board might be able to vote on at its June 24 meeting.

Majerus said the 20 lots in the pilot program were not “actively marketed,” and he’s hoping the expanded program will result in CCGYC selling more lots that will then become dues-paying.

Mission statement

The Board in a 4-1 vote with two abstentions approved a mission statement for CCGYC that was

drafted by s working group set up by Senior General Manager Colby Phillips.

The statement reads as follows: “Captain’s Cove promotes a thriving community 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.”

Majerus, the lone dissenter, said that “we don’t have anything to do with enhancing property values,” but other directors were more positive.

Director Dave Felt said that while “it’s not perfect,” it never will be even

after more tweaking, and he offered a motion to accept it.

Reserve study

A 300-page reserve study by DMA Reserves that provides an inventory of CCGYC assets and their useful life and replacement costs is under review by the PMT and the Board.

Majerus said there would be a full presentation of the study at the June Board meeting.

Complainant a no-show

Property owner John Ward was expected for a complaint hearing at

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the Board meeting but didn’t show.

“Don’t see John here or on-line,” Majerus said. “No presentation, no ruling.

Costs of litigation

Majerus said there are real costs associated with lawsuits against the association filed by members, and he outlined them after providing a brief recap of the status of litigation.

He said the lawsuits consume a lot of staff time responding to discovery requests, many people won’t buy in the Cove because of the litigation, and national and regional builders won’t commit to the Cove for the same reason.

Majerus also said that insurance costs have doubled and the deductible that the association must pay before insurance takes over has increased in recent years from $5,000 to $50,000 a direct result of the litigation.

He said his remarks weren’t intended to “divide neighbors” from one another but “simple hard, cold facts.

Service animal rules

Majerus had been hoping for a vote on a new formal policy accommodating service animals at CCGYC amenities and public spaces, but the directors weren’t ready.

“Maybe by the June meeting we’ll be able to formally adopt them [policy],” he said.

There was no discussion of the proposed rules, which appear on the Cove Website as part of he meeting materials for the May 28 meeting.

Majerus said there is an informal rule at the Town Center pertaining to service animals, but that a more detailed policy is needed.

Cove finances

CCGYC Controller Sara Shifflett delivered a detailed summary of Cove finances as of the end of April.

Majerus said that Shifflett will take over this particular task in coming months.

A graphic she presented indicated that the association netted $128,733 in April, compared to the budgeted negative $31,479.

For the fiscal year through April, the association had netted $808,157,

compared to the budgeted $335,411, for a positive variance of $472,746.

A summary of financial results that Director George Guthridge has provided in recent months was not part of Shifflett’s presentation. Nor is it included in the meeting slides.

Shifflett said she prefers her graphic showing revenues and expenses for the association, in part because it’s not compiled by broad category, including a separate break-

out for food and beverage options.

She said Guthridge’s format made it appear that Food and Beverage Manager Charlie Getz was not performing well, when the opposite is true.

“I want to protect [department] directors [from unfair or uninformed criticism],” she said in remarks. “I don’t need a target on my directors.”

The Guthridge format had com-

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Page 51
Executive Summary Financials - April 2024 - Month 7 of Fiscal Year 2024

Cove continues to work on collections

Focus continues to be on properties whose owners stayed current on dues until this year

Captain Cove Golf and Yacht Club Senior General Manager Colby Phillips at the May 20 Property Management Team meeting provided an update on efforts to collect delinquent dues from members whose past due accounts date back to the October, 2023, billing in the second half billing that occurred this past April.

Another 500 or more property owners are chronic in their delinquencies and were not the focus of the May 20 update, though they continue to be a concern to PMT and the Board of Directors.

According to Phillips, 41 first-time members had not paid their October 2023 dues, and 311 members as of May 1 had not paid April dues. Thirty-day letters were sent out May 6, and since then 25 members have paid in full, leaving 286 members that were delinquent as of May 16.

Collection efforts continue. A 60-day letter went out June 1, and after 90 and 120 days another round of phone calls will occur.

The dollar amount owed by first-time delinquents was $40,430 for the

Board meeting

From Page 51

piled revenues and expenses for food and beverage in recent months, and the category showed a loss.

But there were reasons for that, including the decision to keep Fri-

day night live entertainment at the Marina Club throughout the winter months.

Food and beverage operations always improve during the summer months when more CCGYC members are in the community, spending money at the Marina Club.

October dues, and $190,052 for the April dues, with $38,506 collected after the 30-day letter went out, Phillips said.

While Captain’s Cove financial results continue to exceed budget for the year, collecting these arrearages would have a very positive impact on the Cove’s balance sheet and cash holdings.

Phillips said payment plans can be set up to accommodate some hardship situations, and that anyone who needs that sort of help should reach out to her or General Manager Justin Wilder.

Budget timeline

Phillips confirmed that the PMT is adhering to the budget timeline for the 2024-25 fiscal year. Department reviews are scheduled for May 28 through June 7, and a community budget work session is scheduled for July 24/

A final budget draft is due to the Board of Directors July 24, with approval scheduled at the Board’s August meeting, date not set.

Pool hours set

With the arrival of Memorial Day weekend, Phillips announced Marina Club and Town Center pool hours.

Marina Club pool hours starting May 25 are seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with member-only access from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.. DAILY.

Town Center pool hours are seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday exercise and lap swim is scheduled from 9-11 a.m. Family Fun Nights are scheduled for Mondays beginning June 24 from 5-7 p.m. u


Weather could affect these times.

Toast purchase order system

Well aware that computer software that drives Captain’s Cove financial operations fly under the radar for most CCGYC members, Phillips nonetheless took some time during the May 20 PMT meeting to laud the virtues of the association’s purchase order system, called Toast.

She said the software does a great job in breaking out data related to sales of food and alcoholic beverages at the Marina Club and Town Center. It also tracks merchandise sales, the times that guests utilize food and beverage facilities, while providing a summary of sales.

The software also tracks play at the Cove’s golf course and sales at the pro shop.

Toast also assists in conducting an inventory on the first of every month. Phillips presented a chart of beer, wine and liquor sales through May 15 the Marina Club for Fiscal Year 2022, 2023, and so far for this year (202324).

It showed that sales this year are doing well against the two prior years, especially wine sales, which totaled $21,977 through May 15, with the rest of May and all the months through September likely to boost that number significantly.

In response to a suggestion, Phillips said that next month she could include a chart that shows year-to-date results for all three fiscal years, which might be a better gauge of how well sales are doing compared to previous years.

Mosquito control methods

In a presentation during the May 20 PMT meeting, county Mosquito Control Commissioner Dave Gladysiewicz summarized mosquito control methods used in Captain’s Cove.

He said that the primary goal of the commission is to reduce the mosquito population so they don’t transmit diseases or cause significant an-


Funding for the commission comes from a tax of 1.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation of property. This is a reduction from prior years, when the rate was 2.5 cents. The commission’s net position at the end of 2023 was about $115,000, with estimated tax revenue for the commission this year estimated at $56,000.

Gladysiewicz said there is room for another reduction in the tax rate year depending on the commission’s cash position at the end of this year.

He said that Captain’s Cove is sprayed three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, from 4-7 a.m.

The commission contributes the cost of chemicals, $7,863 last year, while the Captain’s Cove Maintenance Department does the spraying and covers labor and equipment cost.

Aerial spraying also occurs when the mosquitoes become unbearable, Gladysiewicz said.

There were three aerial sprays in 2023, four each in 2021 and 2022.

Cost of these sprays, borne by the commission, is $11,190, including $4,950 for the plane rental and $6,240 in chemical costs.

He said that aerial spraying is more effective in non-wooded areas.

Homeowners can also do their own mosquito control by applying larvicides, called dunks, in standing or stagnant water to kill larvae before they become adult mosquitoes.

The dunks, that normally cost $900, are available free to Captain’s Cove residents by calling 757-824-5264.

Security report

Security Team Leader John Fox reported that there were 53 calls for security in April, up from 46 in March, 17 in February and 26 in January. He expects the number to increase during the peak summer season.

Remaining dates for golf cart inspections are June 8, 22 and 29 at the Marina Club from 9-11 a.m.

They can also be arranged by emailing jcostello@captscove.com.

Golf round-up

Golf Manager Cole Scott reported on April golf statistics.

There were 801 rounds played, with sales of $6,938 compared to the budgeted $7,500, with weather affecting results.

Golf memberships year-to-date have brought in $37,700, compared to the budgeted $40,000.

For the year through April, total sales are $70,000 actual compared to the budgeted $65,400, a seven percent positive variance.

Member cards

Community Manager Julia Knopf reported that the campaign to replace the old membership card continues, and that the Town Center pool is accessible only by producing the card.

“It’s card only, no money,” she said.

This new policy also applies to season amenity passes for guests.

The cards include photos, so the cards can’t be passed to those who haven’t paid for the cards.

Phillips praised Knopf for her efforts to get the card program up and running in time for the launch of the summer season.

Knopf also provided reports on the farmers market, Cove committees, the Feud Between Friends events, the members party, and the community yard sale.

Member rewards program

Food and beverage manager Charlie Getz reported on the new members rewards program at the Marina Club.

Signing up for the program nets the member 50 points, and points are earned for every dollar spent at the club.

Every 100 points earns the member $5 in discounts, which can be spent in increments of $100 or saved up for later use.

Member cards must be produced to the wait staff for points to be earned.

Getz said the program doesn’t extend to the Town Center.

He also reminded members of the new Marina Club menu that he believes should be well received in the community.



Numbers increased dramatically during May

May is a month of numbers at Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club: an increase in the number of hours the club is open, a sharp incline in guests and party goers, and boats in the canals. As the temperature rises, so do other numbers at Captain’s Cove; guest passes tend to fly out. Reception sold 263 guest passes for the month compared to 68 in April.

A new number this year is 325 visitors to the opening day, May 23, of the Captain’s Cove Farmers and Artisans Market.

After three years of waiting, the market opened with ten vendors and jumped to 20 in week two. The product variety also grew between the first and second weeks, including adding additional consumable vendors and more produce. The market will run into September, each Thursday, from 3-6 p.m. in the Marina Club Parking Lot.

May 23 also saw the first Feud with Friends, a game show-style team challenge hosted by Captain’s Cove member Eileen Kleinfelter.

The first evening saw 14 teams battling it out. Team Polaski/Poloski brought home the title of Feud Champion. The next Feud with Friends will occur on Wednesday, June 19, starting at 7 p.m. in the Marina Restaurant. Advanced signup is recommended but not required.

Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer, kicked off on Sunday, May 26, with a kid’s pool party. The Town Center Pool hosted 65 kids, 200 popsicles, and a slew of parents. The next kid-centered event will be the start of Family Fun Nights, Mondays at the Town Center Pool, starting June 24.

Members purchased 222 tickets for the member party on Memorial Day Monday. The party was initially planned for the Marina Club Pool and Tiki Bar but was moved inside because of the foul weather.

Ticket holders enjoyed a buffet of barbecue favorites while DJ Donnie spun tunes for four hours. The next Members Party is planned for July 4th.

Our new Marina Restaurant and Tiki Bar Loyalty Program, specifically for members, has been a hit, with 460 members already taking advantage. This program started

accepting members on May 9 and allowed members to accumulate points on May 25.

The loyalty program is a special perk for our valued members, offering them $5 off the restaurant in the month of their birthday, a 50 points bonus upon signing up, and for every 100 points earned, $5 off of their bill. Any members who haven’t signed up are encouraged to visit the reception desk.

Although May wasn’t the warmest month, members and public players played 1,473 rounds of golf on the Captain’s Cove Golf Course.

On Monday, May 27, the annual Memorial Day Golf Tournament brought out 15 teams consisting of 60 players. Winning the 1st flight were Phil Ryan, Brooks Bayliss, Jim Covington, and Mark Rew.

The 2nd flight was won by Rocky and Angie Parise and teammates Richard and Laura Casaletto. The next golf tournament is the monthly

members on June 8, with a 9 a.m. shotgun start for teams of four. The tournament is open to members as well as the public.

What is a quiet community in the off-season transitions into a bustling little village through September. The growth of the community is particularly evident in the summer.

With increases in numbers across the board, members, guests, visitors, and the public will take advantage of the added activities throughout the next few months.

Knopf is the Community Relations Director of Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club.

summer Kids Kick-off party at the Town Center pool. Young swimmer cools off with a popsicle at the kids kick-off pool party. Members George and Lorrie Ballantine, Greg Polaski, Tom Poloski, Becky Poloski, and Bernadette Polaski sit together after their meal. Julia Member Dylan Maldonado-Ortiz, his grandmother Linda Maldonado, and son at the Memorial Day Member party.
56 Ocean Pines PROGRESS June 2024

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