March 2024 Ocean Pines Progress

Page 1

Elections Committee wants to return to on-line voting

The Ocean Pines Association’s Elections Committee is looking for changes in Board Resolution M-06 that will make it easier for the OPA to allow for electronic online voting in annual elections to the Board of Directors, successfully deployed in 2022 but abandoned last year.

The committee wants to return to e-voting in this year’s Board election, while retaining the paper ballot option for those who prefer it.

The committee is actively pursuing an East Coast vendor to replace Election Trust, a Washington state based company that handled last summer’s ballot count. ~ Page 11

Six directors oppose rewrite of ethics/ conduct policy

Although all of his peers had already said they will not support it, Director Steve Jacobs has introduced a new version of Resolution B-08 to establish a code of conduct for the Board of Directors. Jacobs presented the draft for a first reading during the Feb. 17 Board meeting.

It didn’t go well. All six of his colleagues said they don’t want the proposed policy to come up for a second reading. ~ Page 16


Board approves 2024-25 budget with lower assessment

The Board of Directors approved an $18.513 million 2024-25 Ocean Pines Association budget during its Feb. 17 monthly meeting, with the bottom line unchanged from the second iteration of the budget that emerged after review sessions conducted by the Board and Budget and Finance Advisory Committee.

The budget passed 6-1, with Director Steve Jacobs in opposition.

Operating revenue and expense is budgeted at $15.26 million, bulkhead expense at $1,177,213, and other capital expenses, including general replacement reserve spending, roads, drainage and new capital, budgeted at $2,076,916.

Interest and assessment allocations to reserves is projected at $3,409,002.

There was no change in lot assessments from the two earlier iterations of the budget, which lowered it from

To Page 4

Jacobs votes against 2024-25 OPA budget Board approves it it


The Ocean Pines Association should raise some amenities fees in the fiscal year that launches April 1, Director Steve Jacobs argued during a Jan. 17 discussion about the fiscal year 2024-25 budget.

Jacobs, the lone dissenter in a 6-1 vote to approve the budget, said the OPA should increase aquatics fees and raise rates for boat slip rentals. “I’m not sure this is as good as we could do,” he said of the budget. He said aquatics fees aren’t paying the bills for that amenity and Yacht Club boat slips are underpriced.

Last year, the OPA was able to attract a full complement of lifeguards to work at the pools, but that coupled with an increase in the minimum wage, resulted in increased expenses. “We were spending more money for lifeguards, and we had more lifeguards,” Jacobs said.

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Last-minute changes to racquet sport membership fees ~ Page 7

Fun is Fun is


Breakfast with the Easter Bunny

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny Ocean Pines Community Center

Sat., March 23 Sat., March 23 | 8am-11am | 8am-11am

The Easter Bunny will arrive at The Easter Bunny will arrive at approximately 8:15am. Menu will consist of approximately 8:15am. Menu will consist of pancakes, sausage, eggs, pastries, fruit, pancakes, sausage, eggs, pastries, fruit, juice, milk & coffee. juice, milk & coffee. All ages welcome. All ages welcome. Breakfast is Breakfast is FREE for ages 3 & under! FREE for ages 3 & under!

Ages 4-10 Ages 4-10 $6 $6 Ages 11 & older Ages 11 & older $10 $10

Purchase photos with Easter Bunny for Purchase photos with Easter Bunny for $5 donation to OP Recreation $5 donation to OP Recreation

Easter/Spring Easter/Spring

Celebration & Celebration & Easter Egg Hunt Easter Egg Hunt

White Horse Park Pavilion

Sat., March 30 Sat., March 30 | 11am-2pm | 11am-2pm

Come celebrate Easter & spring in Come celebrate Easter & spring in White Horse Park. Enjoy Carnival White Horse Park. Enjoy Carnival games, a petting zoo & food! games, a petting zoo & food!

Volunteers are needed. If interested please call 410.641.7052

Easter Egg Hunt Easter Egg Hunt

Kids (10 & under) can join Bugsy O’Hare Kids (10 & under) can join Bugsy O’Hare in a hunt for Easter eggs. in a hunt for Easter eggs.

Egg hunt times: Egg hunt times: ages 1-3: 11:30 am, ages ages 1-3: 11:30 am, ages 4-6: 12pm, ages 7-10: 12:30pm. 4-6: 12pm, ages 7-10: 12:30pm.

Easter Bonnet Parade Contest Easter Bonnet Parade Contest 1pm 1pm

Kids (10 & under) can bring their Kids (10 & under) can bring their decorated Easter bonnet for a chance decorated Easter bonnet for a chance to win a prize bag of Easter goodies! to win a prize bag of Easter goodies! All ages. FREE EVENT. All ages. FREE EVENT.

Easter Egg Hunt Easter Egg Hunt & Pool Party & Pool Party

Sports Core Pool

Sat., March 23 Sat., March 23 | 12pm-3pm | 12pm-3pm

Who knew the Easter Bunny likes to Who knew the Easter Bunny likes to swim? Well, he does! Splash on in & swim? Well, he does! Splash on in & gather up as many Easter eggs as you gather up as many Easter eggs as you can - treasures inside! can - treasures inside! Ages 12 & under Ages 12 & under Non-residents: Non-residents: $15 $15 Residents: Residents: $10 $10 Swim Member: Swim Member: $6 $6 Non-swimmer Non-swimmer $2 $2

Easter Saturday Easter Saturday

Egg-stended Swim Egg-stended Swim

Sports Core Pool

Sat., March 30 Sat., March 30 | Open 10am-6pm | Open 10am-6pm

Get your egg-stra hour of swim on Get your egg-stra hour of swim on Saturday before Easter Sunday. Sports Saturday before Easter Sunday. Sports Core Pool will be open for recreational Core Pool will be open for recreational swim until 6pm! swim until 6pm!

Fee: Fee: 10am-5pm regular 10am-5pm regular daily fees apply daily fees apply 4:45pm-6pm only: 4:45pm-6pm only: Non-Resident Non-Resident $4 $4 OP Residents OP Residents $6 $6

For more information: For more information:

OP Recreation & Parks: 410-641-7052

OP Recreation & Parks: 410-641-7052

Sports Core Pool: 410-641-5255

Sports Core Pool: 410-641-5255

2 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024
in Ocean Pines! in Ocean Pines!

Lone dissenter

From Page 1

This year based on the budget projection, aquatics will not be profitable, he said, adding the budget calls for a 3 percent increase in fees only for winter and summer seasonal memberships. He argued that 3 percent increased should be applied uniformly across all aquatics memberships, daily use passes, and class fees, but that may still not cover the anticipated shortfall in the aquatics budget. “Everyone should share the burden equally,” he said.

Jacobs said it is irresponsible for the Board not to have a reasonable increase in fees at any amenity for several years. Skipping regular fee increases just means the OPA will need to make larger fee hikes of 15 to 20 percent in a single year in the future. “So that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me,” he said.

“Last year when we considered the budget we did not increase amenity fees at all. I supported that,” Jacobs said, adding at that time because of the impact of the pandemic and inflation there were a lot of uncertainties. It made sense at that time not to raise amenities until there was a clearer idea of the economy and the baseline from which to the OPA would need to operate.

But, he said, that meant the Board ignored the requirements of its governing documents, which require that the amenities self-fund. He said that

“they should when possible bring in enough revenue to cover their expenses.”

He acknowledged that doesn’t happen all the time and said he is not suggesting the OPA shut down amenities if assessment dollars are needed to subsidize them. However, he said, the Board should have taken the advice of staff and the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee and included additional fee increases in the coming year’s budget.

As an example, he said the recommended fee increase for boat slip rentals was 14 percent. Even with a 14 percent increase in slip rental fees, the OPA’s rates will still be less than everyone else in the market, he said.

“We have a waiting list about 100 people waiting to use our boat slips. We are currently underpriced at all comparable boat slips in the area,” Jacobs said, adding “There’s no economic reason that we should not be increasing the boat slips…”

He said the OPA did not raise boat slip rental fees in two of the last five years, and in the other three years there was only a 4 percent increase that, at best covers, inflation and minor maintenance of the facilities.

He also took issue with not increasing Beach parking pass fees when a decline in revenue of more than $50,000 was predicted in the budget.

“I hear you. Expenses have gone up. We’ve maintained a flat effect toward our amenities,” Director Stuart Lakernick told Jacobs. But, he

said, overall the association is generating a significant amount of money organically, and golf is making an “enormous amount.”

He said there is no reason to raise amenity fees when the OPA is expecting close to a $1 million budget surplus this year. “Why should we increase these amenity fees to our members when we don’t have to?” he asked.

Director Elaine Brady agreed with Lakernick. She said the Board shouldn’t just raise fees because it can.

Lakernick said the OPA can maintain a reduced annual property assessment, deposits into its reserve account at a high rate, and world class services without charging more.

Jacobs reiterated his two reasons for increasing amenity fees despite the OPA’s surplus of funds already contributed by property owners. First, he said, the governing documents tell the Board to ensure the amenities are self-funding. Second, he said that anticipated surplus hasn’t been realized yet. “Right now it’s not a surplus. It’s just a projection.”

He argued that the Board can still do all of the things cited by Lakernick and still comply with its governing documents by eliminating the subsidy to the amenities. He said there is no justifica-


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Page 4

Lower assessment

From Page 1

the prior year.

The base assessment is set at $850, a decrease of $36, and the waterfront rate with the $615 wa terfront differential is $1,465.

The new, lower base assessment is paid for by a reduction in the operating fund resulting from a prior year’s realized operating surplus. The re duction is made possible even though expenses in the approved budget are $722,749 higher than es timated expenditures for the current fiscal year.

Amenity membership dues, except for racquet sports, have not been changed from earlier itera tions of the budget.

The vote was 6-1, with Director Steve Jacobs voting no.

Lone dissenter

From Page 3

tion for the Board not taking the staff recommen dation for amenity fee increases.

If the Board does not address the issue now, the subsidies to the amenities will be even great er in the future, he said. “At some point we’re gon na have to pay the piper.”

Lakernick said the Board did adopt Budget and Finance Advisory Committee’s recommen dations as part of the budget. He said those in cluded the 3 percent fee increase for some aquat ics memberships. So, he said, he’s not sure what Jacobs is talking about when he said the Board ignored recommendations.

“I never supported those increases,” Jacobs responded, saying all Budget and Finance Advi sory Committee does is make recommendations and the Board needs to look at the full financial picture. “As a policy this is the wrong way to pro ceed,” he said.

General Manager John Viola said there were fee increases in all of the areas mentioned by Ja cobs.

However, he noted, those rate hikes were not at the level originally proposed in all cases by staff in the draft budget. He said he thinks that’s where there is confusion about the amount of the proposed fees increases.

He said the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee recommended lesser increases than


4 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024
Assessment Rates
Fiscal Year 2024-24
OPA Finance Deparment
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6 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024

Board tweaks racquet sports membership dues

After agreeing on Feb. 17 to adopt a three-sport combo rate while eliminating pickleball, tennis and platform tennis options, the directors in a special meeting Feb. 28 decided to restore individual racquet sports memberships

The Board of Directors during its Feb. 17 monthly meeting voted for a 2024-25 budget that differed very little from earlier versions. The only significant change was a decision by the Board, not discussed during the meeting, to adopt a combination three-sport membership for individuals and families, eliminating an afternoon only tennis option and eliminating options for separate memberships for tennis, platform tennis and pickleball.

But that decision was subsequently rescinded by the Board in a Feb. 28 special meeting and replaced with a dues structure that included separate restored memberships for tennis, platform tennis and pickleball, while continuing to offer a three-sport combo rate.

Also at that special meeting, the Board in a 6-1 vote, with Director Steve Jacobs opposed, adopted a revised dues structure for all racquet sports, increasing membership rates across the board by roughly 10 percent.

Jacobs argued that the issue that needed to be resolved was restoration of the one-sport option,

and it was. But he said he was opposed to the ten per cent increase in tennis and platform tennis, fearing it will lose members and revenue.

In the original proposed budget for 2024-25, General Manager John Viola recommended raising pickleball rates by 11 percent, with no rate increase for platform tennis and tennis.

The Board received about ten emails after the Feb. 17 meeting expressing discontent with the elimination of separate memberships in each of the racquet sports.

Under the new rate structure approved at the Feb. 2u meeting, pickleball memberships for families will cost $325, compared to $295 currently. Individual rates have been increased from the current $180 to $198.

Tennis memberships for families have risen from $420 to $465, while the after 12 p.m. (afternoon) rate has risen from $175 to $195.

There had been some discussion about eliminating the afternoon tennis membership because of enforcement issues, but it’s retained in the final membership package approved by the Board.

The individual tennis rate has been increased from $265 to $295, with the individual afternoon

rate rising from $110 to $121.

Platform tennis will cost families $325, up from the current $295. Individuals will pay $198, up from the current $180.

The Board also adopted daily drop-in rates at the Racquet Sports on Manklin Creek Road, from $7 to $8 per person for pickleball, and from $10 to $11 in the two other sports, the same as had been proposed in earlier versions of the budget.

The Board made no other changes in amenity fees during the Feb. 28 special meeting.

The rescinded decision to go with a single combination rate for all three sports was the result of a consensus of members of the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee, according to OPA President Rick Farr, who told the Progress that both he and Viola attended the committee’s February meeting.

“The take-away from that meeting was that individual rates should be eliminated in favor of a single combination rate,” Farr said. “It turns out that many racquet sports members preferred the individual sport option, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

March 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 7 COVER STORY To Page 9
8 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024

Racquet sports

From Page 7

The minutes from the committee’s February meeting don’t reflect Viola and Farr’s take-away, but Farr said those minutes were in error. No audio or video of that meeting exists.

“Both John and I heard the committee tell us to go with a combination rate only,” Farr said.

The new rate structure with increases in each of the three racquet sports was a response to complaints from some pickleball players at a budget town meeting Feb. 7 objecting to an 11 percent increase in their proposed dues while the other two racquet sports were exempt from any increase.

These pickleball members wanted a uniform rate of increase across all three racquet sports.

The multi-sport membership also approved during the meeting sets a three-sport combination membership at $690 for families and $440 for individuals, up from the two-sport rate in the current year of $655 and $420, respectively. That was a five percent increase.

Under the combination rate approved during the Feb. 17 Board meeting and then rescinded, racquet sport members would have paid $475 for a family and $325 for individual memberships.

It would have been a bargain had it survived the budget process. In the original budget draft, there was a proposed combination racquet sports rate of $655 for families and $420 for individuals, no change from current rates.

Staff-recommended rate structure for racquet sports membership was adopted by the Board in a Feb. 28 special meeting, except for the multi-sport membership. The directors went with the five percent increase shown in yellow.


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10 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024

Elections Committee looking for vendor that can handle on-line voting

Asks for change in Board Resolution M-06

The Ocean Pines Association’s Elections Committee is looking for changes in Board Resolution M-06 that will make it easier for the OPA to allow for electronic online voting in annual elections to the Board of Directors, successfully deployed in 2022 but abandoned last year.

The committee wants to return to e-voting in this year’s Board election, while retaining the paper ballot option for those who prefer it as well as the popular police station dropbox option for those who want it.

In a Feb. 12 interview with the Progress, committee chairman Tom Piatti said the committee is actively pursuing an East Coast vendor to replace Election Trust, a Washington state based compa-

ny that handled last summer’s ballot count and even provided live stream adjudication of disputed ballots witnessed by several dozen residents watching a big screen in the Golf Clubhouse’s meeting room.

The reason for trying to find a vendor from the East Coast is to cut down on the time that paper ballots are sent to eligible voters and returned to the vendor that counts them, Piatti said. Although in the end the Elections Committee was generally satisfied with Election Trust, the relationship got off to a very rocky start when ballots sent out from Bainbridge Island not far from Seattle arrived in Ocean Pines about a week later than they should have last July.

A sub-contractor of Election Trust was blamed for the mishap, and a very significant election held in the area at the same as OPA ballots were

to be mailed out was given as a possible excuse.

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

By hiring an East Coast vendor this year that can handle electronic voting, Piatti said the committee believes that chances of a similar glitch happening this summer will be greatly reduced if not eliminated.

The committee is also hoping to find a vendor that can allow for live adjudication of disputed ballots as occurred last summer.

All but abandoned is any expectation that the committee will be able to witness the opening and counting of paper ballots, which Piatti said is a largely automated process that takes place over many days.

As for votes cast electronically, there also is no practical way to remotely view a vendor processing these votes, Piatti said, although Election Trust proved that it’s possible to inform voters that their e-vote had been received and counted via an active email addressed provided by the OPA to the vendor.

That happened last year, despite a not uncommon occurrence of emails bouncing back because their addresses were no longer used by the property owner.

March 2024 OceanPines PROGRESS 11 OCEAN PINES u

From Page 11

In a meeting with the By-laws and Resolutions Advisory Committee Feb. 9, Piatti said that without amending M-06, the Elections Committee and OPA would have no choice but to return to hiring Ace Printing and Mailing of Berlin to handle the mailing, return and counting of paper ballots in a process that at least in theory could be observed remotely by committee and OPA members.

Ace handled paper ballot process-

ing for about 20 years prior to last year, when the Elections Committee hired Election Trust after some apparent communication difficulties with Ace Printing and Mailing’s owner Tom Gulyas.

While he said that Ace Printing would be given an opportunity to bid on this summer’s election, the request for proposals would be for a vendor that can handle paper ballots and on-line voting in one shop.

“I’m not sure Ace will qualify,” he said.

In 2022, when Ace handled bal-

lot mailing and receiving of ballots, the counting of paper ballots was an arduous hands-on event conducted by the Elections Committee, while an outside vendor was hired to process e-votes. There was controversy over whether votes cast by owners of multiple properties were all counted, with some degree of disenfranchisement likely to have occurred.

remedied in last year’s election, when a ballot was sent to the owner of record of every lot entitled to vote, with owners of multiple lots receiving a ballot for every lot owned.

Piatti said that this remedy will be continued this summer and in every election henceforth.


“There also was a lot of complex interaction between Ace and the online vendor,” Piatti said. “We don’t want to go back to that.”

The multiple lot owner issue was


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The initial paper ballot count in 2022 was a disaster, resulting in an over-count apparently traced to bleed-through on thin paper and software that did not play well with the scanning equipment used that year and an old model computer that the vendor said would also result in calamity, according to Piatti.

That committee resigned en masse, with a new panel headed by Piatti taking over after the former committee had completed a hand recount of ballots.

One consequence of that experience is that the committee determined never to return to the practice of counting the ballots in-house, Piatti said.

He told the Progress that the committee is very much looking to find an East Coast vendor able to handle both the mailing and processing of paper ballots and electronic voting, saying he and his colleagues would like to hire a vendor that can do it all, eliminating direct Elections Committee involvement in the count.

The section of M-06 that the committee would like to amend is Attachment A, Paragraph 9, that says “it is the responsibility of the Committee to count the ballots either by the Committee itself or the Committee may delegate this responsibility to an independent contractor ...

“The ballot counting operation may be observed remotely by any association member. Association members may witness the ballot counting process remotely but will not be privy to vote totals during the counting process nor engage in any way with the ballot counting process, Election Committee, consultants, or Association staff.

“The ballot counting will be conducted in a room of sufficient size to accommodate the process and remote viewing of the process for Association Members wishing to observe the count, said room shall be properly equipped to allow clear remote viewing for Association members wishing to observe the count. The Committee may request the assistance of a computer consultant and designated Association staff.”

Piatti told the Progress that this

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Elections Committee

From Page 13 provision will be rewritten and simplified into two separate paragraphs setting out two options for counting ballots.

Option A will state that if it’s done by the committee, an unlikely scenario, the hand count may be observed by OPA members.

Option B will say if the ballot count is delegated to an outside vendor, the preferred scenario, then provisions may be made for on-site or remote viewing.

But Piatti said as a practical matter it would be unlikely that any on-site or remote viewing of the counting of ballot under Option B would occur.

“Putting a camera in a room somewhere off-site is kind of dumb,” he said, while on-line adjudication of questionable ballots, as occurred last summer, might be more achievable.

Last year, under Election Trust, the ballot count did not provide for remote viewing of the ballot count, except for the adjudication of disputed ballots requiring human intervention.

That was the extent of remote viewing, despite language in Paragraph 9 requiring remote viewing of the actual count.

Electronic voting was authorized by an amendment to M-06 approved by the Board in 2022.

The applicable provision is Section 2 (f) of M-06, Authority, which cites Maryland Homeowners Association Act law which defines

electronic voting as a process that “creates a record that ... may be retained, retrieved, and reviewed by a recipient of the communication; and may be reproduced directly in paper form by a recipient through an automated process.”

The paper trail provision is one that Piatti and the committee hopes can be clarified.

Piatti told the By-laws and Resolutions committee at its Dec. 12 meeting that his panel would like to amend M-06 to continue an “observable process but done by an independent contractor,” acknowledging that very few vendors offer that option affordably. He said his committee had concluded that “it would be best if it were all outsourced.”

But he also made it clear that the committee would not be recommending a return to a West Coast vendor.

He later told the Progress that electronic voting and off-site counting of paper ballots as a practical matter almost definitely would not be “an observable process.”

The B&R panel agreed to work on a suggested amendment to M-06 that would set up the two options for counting ballots, the in-house option that the current Elections Committee has renounced and outsourcing, with both options defined in separate paragraphs.

The intent is to present an amended M-06 to the Board for a first reading in March and then approval in April. Piatti said he’s been working with his Board liaison, John Latham, on the proposed text change and expects that the sought-after changes to M-06 will be approved.

Essay contest

The Republican Women of Worcester County Literacy Committee has initiated an essay contest open to all 8th grade students in Worcester County. This Essay Contest is a pilot program intended to develop and enrich young minds to prepare for their future success. The essy topic is “Americanism” with a specific question on the 1st Amendment and a free press. There are four judges, all members of the RWWC. Winners will be announced in March. Pictured left to right are Susan Ostrowski, RWWC literacy chair, and Jennie Allen, essay judge. Other judges are Yvonne Babcock, Barbara Pryzblyski and Nina Willet.

14 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024 OCEAN PINES

OPA Board election process gets under way

The Ocean Pines Association Elections Committee has announced important dates for the 2024 election process, including filing and voting deadlines.

The seven-member volunteer board is the governing body of Ocean Pines. Terms for elected directors are three years.

This year, two seats on the Board of Directors will be up for election, those currently held by directors Rick Farr and Jeff Heavner.

Both directors are expected to announce their candidacies for re-election, fortified by what they believe is a solid of record of accomplishment during the current Board term, with a solid super majority of six directors working well together.

Two directors whose second three-year terms expired in August of last year would be eligible to file candidacies for the Board because of their one-year layoff.

One of those, former OPA President Doug Parks, is currently serving as chairman of the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee and would likely be supporting Farr and Heavner should they, as expected, file for reelection.

ing to serve. With an insufficient number of volunteers stepping up, the committee hasn’t been filled, and candidates have emerged nonetheless.

“I’ll ask the rest of the Board what they would like to do,” he said.

Important upcoming election

dates include:

• Eligible candidate draw and workshop (to determine ballot order and seating during the candidate forum) – Friday, June 7

• Voter eligibility deadline –Tuesday, July 2

• Candidate Forum – TBD

The other is another former OPA president, Colette Horn, serving as a member of the committee.

The deadline to file is by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8.

“We encourage anyone who is thinking about running to do their homework, read up on the Association’s governing documents, attend the regular meetings, and volunteer,” Elections Committee Chairperson Tom Piatti said. “Volunteers have helped make this community what it is today, and there’s no better way to give back than to serve on our Board of Directors.”

Applications are available at the administration building or on the Ocean Pines Website.

Farr told the Progress that he isn’t sure whether there will be a Search Committee established to help find candidates for the Board, as is allowed under OPA governing documents.

If established, its members are supposed to be appointed in February.

In recent years, there hasn’t been a Search Committee although there has been an effort to find those will-

• Ballot deadline – Tuesday, Aug. 6 by 4 p.m.

• Ballots counted and vote totals announced – Thursday, Aug 8

• Annual Meeting – Saturday, Aug. 10

For questions about the election, contact

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Farr handing off Search Committee decision to other directors

all of his peers had already said they will not

it, Director Steve Jacobs has introduced a new version of Resolution B-08

establish a code of

for the Board of Directors. Jacobs presented the draft resolution, a hold-over from last year’s Board, for a first reading during a Feb. 17 meeting.

“This is a matter of good practice,” he said regarding having a code of conduct for the Board, which is standard for homeowners associations and other corporations. “This is nothing more than a starting point using last year’s text to initiate the process.” He said the draft presented for first reading address-

es the need for such a resolution while avoiding the prior concerns relating to enforcement of a code of ethics.

Jacobs said the issue of a code of conduct has been before the Board for a number of years and last year the Board opted to hold off on a second reading of a resolution because it was close to the annual election. The last resolution was rescinded in May of 2021.

Last year’s Board felt new members should be involved in the discussion about any resolution. But those new members aren’t interested, and they have legal counsel on their side.

Jacobs asked his fellow directors for feedback on the draft resolution so he can incorporate it for a sec-

ond reading in about two months. If they don’t like the final language presented for second reason, directors can still vote against it then, he said.

All six of his fellow directors contend that the code of conduct is unnecessary as the governing documents and state law already cover that topic.

OPA President Rick Farr said the Board is going to take the advice of its legal counsel which recommended against Resolution B-08.

“He has huge concerns from a legal perspective about this,” he said of attorney Bruce Bright. Farr said legal counsel has determined a revised B-08 is unnecessary because ethics are already covered in the bylaws and governing documents.

“This Board will always take advice of counsel, always take advice of counsel,” Farr said.

He said that a revised Resolution B-08 would be redundant, as the bylaws, resolutions B-05 on conflicts of interest, B-02 rules of order for Board meetings, B-03 meetings of association members, and state law all speak to the same items included in Jacobs’ proposed resolution.

Spencer Cropper, an attorney sitting in for Bright, reinforced Farr’s position on the resolution.

“To be clear the firm’s positions are strictly legal and not at all related to policy or anything else of that nature. Again just legal concerns,” Cropper said.

He agreed that there are other OPA governing documents that address many of the points listed in the proposed B-08. He said his firm was concerned about that redundancy and potential conflicts of B-08 with those other governing documents if changes are made in the future. Also, he said there are State of Maryland statutes and common law that addresses the same issues.

He acknowledged there are some homeowners associations that do u

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Writer Although

have provisions similar to those provided in draft B-08, but they can be inconsistent with other areas of governance or what the state statute provides.

Cropper also said the language included in the revised B-08 is vague and includes many undefined terms. That leaves it open to interpretation as to how those terms would be defined should there be a challenge of some kind made under provisions of the resolution.

Since are other resolutions that cover issues related to the code of conflict already, Cropper suggested the Board review those documents to determine if any changes are necessary to cover new provisions proposed in B-08.

“Perhaps take a look at those resolutions covering those issues rather than making a new resolution that is repetitious,” he said.

Director Jeff Heavner said the OPA’s governing documents already have important ethics issues written into them. “We have taken a lot of opportunities to streamline our policies and to streamline the way we enforce or policies. This attempt to introduce this ill-fated resolution is 180 degrees out of faith with our ef-

forts,” he said.

Heavner pointed out that since the sitting Board took office last fall there has been none of the bickering that plagued previous boards. “There’s been no drama,” he said. “This attempt again to introduce [B-08] gives the illusion of drama.”

He said he is a person with high ethical standards and with a strong moral compass and “I do not want to be treated as a child.”

Director Elaine Brady said the purpose of the draft resolution B-08 really has nothing to do with ethics.

“I think we need to be clear about that. It becomes a behavioral document,” she said, adding adults don’t need to be monitored for their behavior.

As for past and future Boards, she said some people with always be “more passionate about things and they may also choose to be disrespectful.” She said the Board should not focus on that but rather should stay focused on doing the business of the association.

Brady had more specific concerns with the language in the document, including that it would allow directors to be removed by the Board in a subjective manner and that it takes

away the rights of members who have elected specific people to the Board.

“Everyone one of us sitting here today, somebody could find a reason to decide to remove us,” she said. She called the resolution a waste of time and said she doesn’t want the document to move forward.

Director Monica Rakowski agreed that the resolution has provisions that would allow for subjective enforcement. She also said it was thoroughly vetted by legal counsel who rejected it.

Director Stuart Lakernick agreed, saying the OPA has legal counsel for a reason, including to vet any documents and motions that go before the Board. He said every time the Board deviates from its legal counsel’s advice “we’ve wound up in a lawsuit that’s costed Ocean Pines money.”

“I don’t know why you would bring something like this forward when you know there are six of us that will not support it,” he told Jacobs. “Was it just to say something?”

Director John Latham also said the Board needs to listen to its legal counsel.

“We don’t want to get ourselves in

a pickle [by rejecting legal advice],” he added.

He said there are already other resolutions and by-laws in place to address ethical issues and the OPA uses them every day. “It’s not needed and I will not support it.”

Lakernick said previous Boards have opted not to have such a resolution because “it can be used as a weapon to have people removed from their seats. We’re not gonna play that game here.”

However, Jacobs said the controversial provision about enforcement of the code of conflict will all be removed by the draft Resolution B-08.

He also said it would require a two-thirds vote of the Board to remove a director.

Near the end of the discussion, Jacobs continued to insist that he wanted to bring up the resolution for a second reading, and before that he would be willing to consider any proposed revisions on his draft from his colleagues.

Farr indicated he was not interested in pursuing the matter any further, and he advised the By-laws and Resolutions Advisory Committee not to spend any more of its time

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Hitchens promoted to Aquatics director


From Page 17

on B-08.

Jacobs is the Board liaison to the committee, and in theory could continue to work on revisions contrary to Farr’s instruction.

But should he do that and attempt to bring the revised resolution to a future Board meeting for a

Ocean Pines Association General Manager John Viola on Feb. 29 announced that Aquatics Manager Michelle Hitchens will be promoted to Aquatics Director, effective March 1.

Hitchens has over a decade of experience in the Aquatics Department. She was promoted to Aquatics Manager in September and reported to Senior Executive Office Manager Linda Martin.

As a director, she will report directly to General Manager John Viola.

“Michelle has taken on a leadership role in the Aquatics Department

second reading, there is no guarantee it will make the agenda.

Meeting agendas are set up by the OPA president, Farr, and secretary, Latham, and there’s no guarantee that a second reading would be included on a future meeting agenda because of the solid opposition of six directors. If he attempts to amend the agenda to include it at the start of the meeting, he could be voted down.

and stepped up accordingly,” Viola said. “Credit to her, and credit to Linda for helping to develop her skillset as a director.”

Martin mentored Hitchens over the last five months, helping with budget development and financial accounting, among other things.

Experience in drafting a department budget is considered a must before a manager can be promoted to director, which carries with it a direct report to the general manager.

“Michelle has been a dedicated Aquatics employee for many years, and we’re excited to see her take on this new role,” Martin said.

It’s actually more than ten. She started out as a contract swimming instructor, under several Aquatics directors.

Among those were Colby Phillips, who brought many special events to the Ocean Pines pools that Hitchens has already reintroduced.

Among those were Easter egg hunts at the Sports Core pool, which

is scheduled this year for Saturday, March 23, from noon to 3 p.m.

The Easter bunny will be splashing in the pool, but won’t be competing for treats hidden in the eggs.

Hitchens said she is looking forward to new challenges and new opportunities in her expanded role.

“I am very thankful and excited for everything between the position and what we are trying to bring to the Aquatic Department,” she said. “We want everything to run as smoothly as possible, so everyone has a fun and relaxing time at the pools.”

Viola said Hitchens stepped up in September and was looking for more responsibility, and Ocean Pines had a need in Aquatics.

“Michelle has earned this and, as I structure the organization to meet the needs of the coming year, I hope to be able to make a few more announcements like this down the road,” he said.

“Please join me in wishing Michelle continued success.”

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Underkoffler returns as racquet center pro

OPA may not hire a new racquet sports director to replace Johnson

After the Jan. 17 resignation of Racquet Sports Director Tim Johnson, there was some uncertainty about who would be providing management of the Ocean Pines Racquet Sports Complex on Manklin Creek Road.

It wasn’t a void, exactly, more like management by committee. General Manager named Controller/Finance Director Steve Phillips as the individual overseeing the complex, assisted by Ruth Ann Meyer, the Ocean Pines Association’s membership and assessment supervisor, recently promoted to senior manager.

At the time, Viola said the situation would be reevaluated, and the results of that were announced during the the General Manager’s report at the Feb. 17 meeting of the Board of Directors, where Viola announced several recent changes at the complex.

It still appears to be management by committee, with no one individual replacing Johnson with the title of racquet sports manager or director. Johnson held both titles during his relatively brief tenure at the complex.

Phillips was not mentioned by Viola during the Feb. 17 meeting, suggesting that he no longer has

an oversight role.

Viola said that Meyer will manage the front desk and pro shop at the complex, probably not in person, according to one OPA source. Her primary office remains at the Administration Building in White Horse Park.

Nobie Violante, promoted to deputy director of public works in early February, will manage facility maintenance.

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

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

But Viola announced that Terry Underkoffler, who has had various roles at the facility over the years, would be returning to the complex to oversee instructors for lessons and had also agreed to serve as the Racquet Center pro.

It’s a return to a role he has held previously. It no doubt will include some lesson instruction.

A source told the Progress that a long-time racquet sports colleague of Underkoffler’s, Tim

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Terry Underkoffler

From Page 19

McMullen would be returning to assist Underkoffler.

“[Underkoffler] will put together a team to make sure pickleball and platform tennis, as well as tennis, are covered,” Viola said.

With respect to a maintenance and security issue, Viola said staff continues to work on a fencing solution to help prevent trespassers at the center from playing on the courts without paying.

That was a festering issue with Johnson, who cited it as one reason he resigned from the position of director.

“We put up this orange prototype fence to give everybody down there an opportunity to give us feedback,” Viola said. “Hopefully, this will help.”

Johnson said a previous fencing product was easily scalable, and it was discarded.

The “orange prototype” appears to be the new solution.

At the Feb. 8 meeting of the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee, Viola was in attendance to field questions about the pro shop building renovation.

When he asked the committee members whether they agreed that the plans should be changed to switch the pro shop with the pro’s private office, they agreed because it places the pro shop closer to the reception counter.

Resident unaware of OPA leaf policy incensed by CPI enforcer

Member offers thanks for new racquet combo membership, Peck pushes discussion on ethics policy

Aproperty owner cited by the Compliance, Permits and Inspections Department for inappropriate placement of yard leaves has chastised the Ocean Pines Association for sending him “nasty letters.”

“I maintain my property very well. I take pride in it. And I was insulted by it, to get a nasty letter…” Tommy Taylor, the property owner, said. He read aloud parts of the letter stating that no material should be placed or permitted to remain in a way that would damage or interfere with installation, maintenance of utilities, change drainage channels or obstruct flow of water.

“I don’t have any more leaves in front of my house than anybody else does,” he said.

Taylor was particularly incensed by conversations with CPI’s chief inspector Josh Vickers, who he repeatedly referred to as “that boy.” Vickers told him the OPA no longer collects roadside leaves using the vacuum truck as it had in years past.

“I could tell he was a young boy and didn’t know what he was talking about,” Taylor said of Vickers.

Actually, Vickers was articulating Ocean Pines Association policy that asks homeowners to u

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Hill, Aquatics staff one

Hill anticipates two-week closure in late summer for project’s final phase

Wavoid raking leaves into drainage ditches and the roadside for collection, which no longer occurs. The Board and OPA General Manager John Viola have gone to considerable pains in recent months to broadcast this new policy, including newsletter articles and posts on the OPA Website.

Clearly, Taylor had not gotten the message.

ith the inclusion of $225,000 in the 2017-18 capital budget for an addition to the indoor Sports Core swimming pool enclosure, Acting General Manager Brett Hill and the Aquatics Department are a step closer to making the project a reality.

He said he asked Vickers why the OPA was no longer vacuuming leaves removed from the ditches as it has in the past and was told that people were abusing that process by raking other leaves to the roadside. Taylor said CPI should send nasty letter to those people, not him.

Aquatics Director Colby Phillips persuaded Acting General Manager Brett Hill to include the proposed addition in his draft budget, and Hill in turn was able to defend the project in budget review discussions in January and February. No director raised objections against the proposal, and the proposed expenditure made it into the final capital budget approved by the board in February.

He also pointed out the OPA invested money in the vacuum truck and it was an asset to the community. Now, if it’s not being used it is a liability. “You could collect those leaves and help other people out,” he said, adding “that’s our money that they’re using to do things and it should be spent wisely…”

In Ocean Pines’ two-step process for capital expenditures, budgetary approval simply gives the general manager the authority to solicit bid proposals for various projects. Once staff recommends a particular proposal from among the minimum of three bids that are supposed to be obtained, the board has final authority over whether to authorize the spending.

Vickers reportedly informed Taylor that the change to the leaf collection process was publicized in the OPA’s quarterly newsletter, which is mailed to property owners and available on-line.

But Taylor didn’t read it and said he doesn’t have a computer. Instead, Taylor said he received “two harassing letters” that demand removal of the leaves from an easement area.

Taylor took issue with Vickers on where that easement area is located, as well. He said he asked the chief inspector how far the easement goes on his property and was told 25 feet. But, he said, its only 60 feet to his house from the roadside.

“Whoever hired that boy, he raised his voice to me and said ‘do you know who you’re talking to?’” Taylor alleged of his conversation

with Vickers, who told him he is the chief inspector. Taylor questioned Vickers’ credentials to be the chief inspector, and said that employees should be nicer to people who live in Ocean Pines.

If the bids exceed the budgeted amount, or for any other reason, the directors are not obligated to authorize the project’s go-ahead.

Hill said he is hopeful the board will authorize the Sports Core expansion. The addition is to include a new party/ training room and enclosed space for possible future expansion of the existing pool, but in the short term some of the space will be used to store equipment such as aqua bikes, trampolines and other equipment that Phillips and her

“I don’t want any more harassment,” Taylor said referring to the letters from CPI.

OPA President Richard Farr told Taylor the Board would take a look at his property and the alleged violation for leaf placement. Later in the meeting the Board agreed to pull the property from a list of eight being sent to legal counsel for further action.

Wstaff uses for aquatics-related programming.

community and a new effort to create consistent signage on OPA-owned properties.

“I think that the beautification initiative with the new signage is going to really elevate the look of the community,” she said, adding that she hopes it trickles down to the racquet center.

A New-England based company, Structures Unlimited, built the Sports Core pool enclosure roughly ten years ago for a little over $1 million. Hill said he and his staff are determining whether the addition would require the same company to do the expansion, or whether some other contractor can accomplish it. He said the goal is to accomplish the work this summer, at the same time the pool would be closed for its semi-annu-

Peck said a section of the draft resolution that had been weaponized against directors in the past has been removed and important language regarding confidentiality has been added.

al closure for cleaning and water replacement in late August or September. He envisions a two-week closure, with Ocean Pines’ four outdoor pools available for use during that period.

She encouraged the Board to at least have a public discussion as to why directors do not want to have a code of conduct.

During initial phases of construction of the addition, the pool would not need to be closed, Hill said. Once the addition is completed, the wall between the existing enclosure and the new structure will be removed. “For safety reasons, this final phase will require the pool to be closed,” he said.

Board okays indoor, outdoor fees for pickleball players

Actually, Steve Jacobs is the sole director who does want an ethics policy, with the other six accepting legal counsel advice that it’s not necessary.

Club members predict loss of membership revenue from two-tier fee structure

Also during Public Comments, Karen Kaplan, president of the spec tennis and platform tennis club, thanked the Board for included a combination membership for the racquet sports in the 2024-25 budget. She had spoken up during Public Comments at past Board meetings to lobby for the availability of a twosport membership.

Former Board member Amy Peck spoke during public comments about a proposed Resolution B-08 to establish a code of conduct for the Board of Directors. She said most homeowner associations have a code of conduct, including the Parke at Ocean Pines, GlenRiddle, and the Columbia Association, the largest in Maryland.

ith pickleball club members predicting a loss of membership revenue, the Board of Directors has approved a two-tiered system for assessing pickleball players for the privilege of playing their favored sport in Ocean Pines.

General Manage Brett Hill in his draft budget in January. It’s $100 for individual resident and property owners of Ocean Pines and $175 for families.

There are other Board resolutions that cover ethics, including one pertaining to conflicts of interest.

needs two weeks of constant 60-degree weather to do the work. The hope is that April weather will cooperate, he said.

Anglers Club sponsoring fishing flea market

TThe drop-in rate for play at the Community Center gymnasium is $3 for residents and $5 for those who don’t live or own property in Ocean Pines.

he Ocean Pines Anglers Club is sponsoring a fishing flea market on Saturday, April 6, from 7 a.m. to noon in the Community Center gymnasium in White Horse Park.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the board decision to levy dropin fees on top of membership fees will affect membership, as pickleball club officers predict.

Fishing, boating and other household items will be on sale at the flea market.

Annual memberships that cover the use of pickleball courts at the Manklin Meadows complex were set during a board meeting Feb. 23 and were the same as had been proposed by Acting

She said a two-sport reduced price membership will attract people who want to play more than one racquet sport at the club.

Actually, the combination membership approved by the Board in the new budget is for all three racquet sports -- pickleball, tennis and platform tennis. The option to purchase memberships in each of these three racquet sports separately was eliminated in the approved budget but subsequently restored.

The new three-sport combination membership was not mentioned during the Board meeting prior to a 6-1 vote approving the budget. Kaplan was not advised that her request for a two-sport membership had been taken to the next level, a three-sport membership.

Kaplan also expressed appreciation for the efforts to beautify the

As of the first week March, the pickleball courts planned for the Manklin Meadows racquet sports complex are not yet ready for play.

Table cost is $15 for a 10 by 10 space.

Admission is $2. Parking is free.

Hill told the Progress that the contractor that is restriping two tennis courts for pickleball, American Tennis,

For information and to reserve a table, contact Laura Leuters at 240818-2864 or

Club officers have suggested that the board update board resolution M-02 to list pickleball as an annual fee-based amenity. M-02 states the capital cost for amenities, such as the Community Center, are born by all OPA members

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step away from Sports Core pool addition
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Viola forming work group for standardizing signage on OPA-owned property

OPA preps for installation of North Gate digital sign

As part of an ongoing effort to dress up the community, the Ocean Pines Association plans to standardize signage on its properties. General Manager John Viola told the Board of Directors during a Feb. 17 meeting that he has formed a work group to study the existing signs around the community and develop a set of standards for signage on all OPA-owned properties.

Viola said creation of the work group to study and develop sign standards for OPA properties is part of a larger beautification effort in Ocean Pines that goes beyond landscaping. He said there is currently a plethora of sign styles, sizes, and designs located throughout Ocean Pines. The work group will help the OPA be more consistent and streamline its signing system.

The work group will evaluate all of the current signage located in the community and list each sign by category and make recommendations for

improvements. He said the work group includes the police chief and representatives from Public Works, but still needs a Board liaison.

The work group will review the signs to determine which markers are mandated by state or local regulations and which are installed strictly under the authority of the OPA. For those that fall under some other regulatory authority, the work group will collect information on the specific requirements from the state or county. If any of the signs need to be replaced, the work group will gather information of the requirements for doing so and if any permits would be needed.

Viola said once that work is done, the team will present a recommendation to the Board.

“I think you’ll see some nice changes coming at some point,” Director Elaine Brady said. She said the Board has been committed to ensuring that property owners maintain their lots and the OPA should do its part to make the community look more cohesive. Currently, she said just driv-

ing down Ocean Parkway there is a hodge podge of different colors and types of signs.

Viola also reported that preparations are being made for the installation of the OPA’s first electronic sign at the North Gate.

The electronic sign will replace the existing stationary message sign at the North Gate but will be fitted into a wooden housing, maintaining the general appearance of the sign while enhancing its capabilities.

Public Works crews have moved over the existing sign about six feet to satisfy Worcester County permitting requirements because the old sign was reportedly in an easement area. The OPA sent photos of the new location to county staff for final approval.

Once permitting is completed, Viola said the vendor estimates it will take four to six weeks for receipt and installation of the electronic components of the sign.

In December, the Board approved the acquisition and installation of a single new electronic sign at the North Gate and voted to award a $22,118.06 contract to Phillips Signs for the one sign. Installation of the single sign will allow the OPA to gather community feedback, review lessons learned and then determine how or if to proceed with the installation of additional electronic signs as recommended by the Communications Advisory Committee.

Viola said the cost of additional signs is included in next year’s OPA budget.

Fewer CPI violations cited in January

Original list of eight whittled down to four by the Board

While a list of eight properties in violation of the Ocean Pines Associations governing documents was originally presented for consideration, the Board of Directors on Feb. 17 voted to send just four of them to legal counsel for action.

The violations on three of the other properties will be addressed inhouse by the OPA and the fourth was put on hold pending a Board review of the property violation.

The properties presented to the Board by the Compliance, Permits, and Inspections office for violations were 26 Carriage Lane, 147 Teal Circle, 268 Windjammer Road, 79 Crest Haven, 48 King Richard Road, 298 Ocean Parkway, 75 Ocean Parkway, and 29 Boston Drive.

Linda Martin, senior executive office manager, said in all cases CPI sent to the property owners both first and second notification letters regarding the need to address the violations per resolution M-01 Compliance Procedures. She said none of the property owners notified the OPA of a request for a hearing before the Board on the continuing violations.

While a motion was initially made by the Board to move all eight of the cases to legal counsel for future action, four were ultimately pulled from that list.

Director Elaine Brady asked that 26 Carriage Lane be removed from the list being sent to legal counsel because the violation was just a lack of a house number. Instead, she suggested the OPA just address the violation in-house by putting up a house number.

Brady also suggested suspending action on 75 Ocean Parkway for improper placement of leaves until the Board could visit the property and view the violation at the request of the owner. The irate property owner spoke during the Public Comments segment of the Board meeting, lam-

basting a CPI inspector he named Josh and the OPA for finding him in violation.

The CPI inspector should not be confused with Josh Davis, marketing and public relations director for the OPA.

The “Josh” complained about is CPI employee Josh Vickers.

Martin asked that 298 Ocean Parkway, which was also a leaf and maintenance violation, and 29 Boston Drive, a tree violation, be pulled from legal counsel. Instead, she said those violations can be resolved by the OPA retaining a contractor to complete the necessary work.

Corporate resolution changes

At its Feb. 17 monthly meeting, the Board of Directors updated its corporate resolutions to change the resident agent and signees on liquor licenses for the Ocean Pines Association.

The Board voted to for the removal of Colette Horn, Doug Parks, and Frank Daly as officers on the liquor licenses for the Ocean Pines Beach Club, Inc., Ocean Pines Golf & Country Club, Inc., and Ocean Pines International Yacht Club, Inc.

The Board also voted for the addition of Richard Farr, Stuart Lakemick, and John Latham as officers on all three of the liquor licenses, replacing the former directors being removed from the licenses.

Horn was removed at resident agent for the three liquor licenses and Farr was added instead.

Committee appointments

The Board of Directors made a series of appointments to standing advisory committee during its Feb. 17 meeting.

To Page 24

22 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024 OCEAN PINES
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Viola touts painted crosswalks and road edges for safety

New reflective striping and markings are aimed at improving the safety of the roads in Ocean Pines.

General Manager John Viola said during his monthly report to the Board of Directors on Feb. 17 that painted crosswalks and road edges have been completed as part of an ongoing road safety effort.

At the Manklin Meadows racquet center, a speed bump and painted lines have been installed. On Cathell Road at Ocean Parkway and at the Camelot Circle walking trail, white striped crosswalks have been added.

Viola said Ocean Pines Association staff is working with the Maryland Department of Transportation, which installed a crosswalk at Manklin Creek Road to determine how to best tie that crossing in with the community’s path system.

“Safety is a big, big thing here in Ocean Pines. It’s been a very safe place and we want to keep it like that,” Police Chief Tim Robinson said.

He is part of a pedestrian and bicycle safety work group initiated by the OPA to review and propose safety and connectivity-related improvements throughout the community.

Robinson said his department will be conducting “significant speed surveys” in Ocean Pines during the coming weeks. Some of those will be done remotely using electronic equipment but others will involve live officers.

He encouraged drivers to “please obey the speed limit.”

He didn’t say whether those who don’t will receive speeding tickets with fines attached, but he probably left his intentions somewhat ambiguous in the hopes that it would be more persuasive than threats.

Maintenance updates

“Everything now is about maintenance this time of the year,” Viola said prior to listing all of the maintenance projects that are under way at the OPA’s facilities and amenities in preparation for the 2024 summer season. “Obviously maintenance is one of our top priorities coming from the Board.”

He listed quite a few projects that Public Works has handled in recent weeks.

Crews addressed a drainage issue on the Ocean Parkway bridge that was causing erosion. Public Works responded to the scene immediately and was able to stabilize the area.

Thirty-five sections of ditches were cleaned during fiscal year 2023-2024, with most of the work occurring during the last eight months, Viola said. Much of the work was done by outside contractors at a cost of $102,210.

At the Yacht Club, crews completed a punch list provided by Matt Ortt Company that includes 17 items like painting, replacing tiles and ceiling tiles, fixing cracked drywall, repairing flooring, replacing signage, and repairing rotten walls.

At the Beach Club, in-house crews refinished the bar top and made repairs behind the bar in snack area.

Crews filled gaps in the gym floor at the Community Center. “We believe it’s a good floor. We will need more maintenance than we’ve been doing. We believe with that maintenance we should be OK,” Viola said of the floor repairs.

Also at the Community Center the floors will be refinished in the Marlin/ Foultz rooms. The restrooms are getting new countertops and stall doors are being sanded and painted. An outside cleaning company will address maintenance of the hallway indoor restrooms and kitchen. Next, Public Works will address White Horse Park maintenance projects.

At Pintail Park, the OPA has placed an additional kayak racks at the request of residents who lobbied for more storage space.

Public Works made repairs to the pool slide following a report of a potential safety hazard reported by a member of the Aquatics Advisory Committee. u

From Page 22

Don Bonafede was appointed for a second term on the Budget and Finance Advisory Committee. John Cacchio was appointed for a first term on the Marine Activities Advisory Committee. Connie Corbett and Cindy Hoffman were both appointed for a first term on the Communications Advisory Committee.

Former OPA Director Camilla Rogers was appointed for a first term on the By-laws and Resolutions Advisory Committee.

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Tiki Bar expansion

“We’re all excited about this tiki bar. We’ve heard a lot about it,” Viola said. He said the goal is to have the project completed prior to Memorial Day weekend.

The project will add 240 square feet of space that will be tied into original tiki bar, with 20 feet of additional rail service on each side of the tiki bar and customers will be able to access it from the pool and from the patio side of the Yacht Club. It will also allow for the addition of registers and equipment to speed up service.

He said the tiki bar was emptied in preparation for construction and Public Works is running conduit for new electrical service for the tiki bar extension. Choptank will install a new transformer.

Worcester County is reviewing plans for the tiki bar extension and the permit application will be submitted to the county after plan review.

To reduce the project cost, the OPA is ordering materials for the project. The contractor, Whayland Company from Laurel, DE, will do the actual construction work at a contract price of $137,500.

Veteran’s Memorial gazebo

OPA staff met with The Whayland Company, the contractor hired to build a new pavilion, for the Worcester County Veteran’s Memorial at Ocean Pines to review design options. Viola said the next step is to secure a building permit. He said the project should be completed by May 10.

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

Dashboard activity

The Compliance, Permits, and Inspections office started December 2023

Bay Day returns May 19

The fifth annual Bay Day event returns to White Horse Park in Ocean Pines on Sunday, May 19, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Bay Day is a collaboration between the Maryland Coastal Bays Program and Ocean Pines Association aimed to help improve the health of the waterways that shoulder the residential shores of Ocean Pines. This free event features hands-on activities, free boat tours, live music, food trucks, live animal exhibits, and more than 30 conservation partners. The first 200 attendees will receive a canvas bag, hand-painted by students from Worcester County Public Schools. The recycling station will be back this year. Community members can bring their alkaline batteries, old phones and more to drop off for recycling. Go Green OC will also collect compost.

with 140 outstanding violations and processed and additional 93 violations during the month. CPI was able to close out 197 violations, leaving 140 outstanding at the end of the month. Of the new violations, 10 are for maintenance, trash, or debris, 29 for leaf placement, 19 for no permit, and 35 for miscellaneous, which includes signs, stop work orders, unregisters and junk vehicles, and parking violations.

Public Works started December with 125 open work orders and received 98 new work orders during the month. During the month, crews closed out 106 work orders, leaving 117 open. Of the new work orders, 4 were for bulkheads, 40 drainage, 17 grounds or landscaping, 6 roads, 3 signs, and 28 general maintenance. Most of the open work orders are in drainage at 69.

On the customer service side of operations, the OPA received 109 contacts from residents in December via email at or phone calls. Of those calls, 29 were related to amenities, 11 for CPI violations, 1 drainage, 49 general information, and 19 for Public Works.

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ReStore waiting to open its doors in Ocean Pines

Donations, volunteers sought for new location in Manklin Station

Contributing writer

Ocean Pines is the new home for Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, in the Manklin Station Shopping Center at the intersection of Ocean Parkway and Manklin Creek Road.

The grand opening for the store had been set for March 1 but has been postponed because Worcester County had not yet issued an occupancy permit.

An on-line grand opening, however, was held at 10 a.m. on March 1, through the store’s Website. Pending receipt of the occupancy permit, no drop-offs are permitted.

“Ocean Pines is a great location for the ReStore because it’s convenient to our existing clientele and volunteers, many of whom live in the Pines,” Fawn Mete, the marketing director for Restore in Worcester County said.

“We are thrilled about the new location and the opportunities it

brings for us to better serve our community,” Andrea Bowland, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County, said.

“This move is a testament to the value of our organization to Worcester County and the generosity of

our supporters who contribute to our mission of building strength, stability, and self-reliance through shelter.”

ReStore offers new and gently used home improvement items such as furniture, appliances and build-

ing materials at a fraction of retail prices. Proceeds from the store provide funding to support Habitat for Humanity of Worcester County’s efforts to provide affordable housing solutions to families in need.

26 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024 LIFESTYLES u P r e v e n t / D e l a y O n s e t o f D i a b e t e s , H i g h B l o o d P r e s s u r e , H i g h C h o l e s t e r o l & O t h e r C h r o n i c D i s e a s e s ! E A T H E A L T H Y . B E A C T I V E . B A L A N C E Y O U R L I F E . 410-632-1100 Ext. 1113 T o R e g i s t e r , S c a n t h e Q R C o d e o r C a l l : T A K E C O N T R O L O F Y O U R H E A L T H : H e a l t h y L i f e s t y l e B a l a n c e P r o g r a m C L A S S I N F O R M A T I O N : B e g i n s : W e d . M a r c h 2 7 t h T i m e : 9 A M - 1 0 A M T h s a c t i v t y s s u p p o r t e d b y t h e M a r y l a n d D e p a r t m e n t o f H e a l t h ( M D H ) w i t h f u n d i n g f r o m t h e C D C / H H S a n d d o e s n o t n e c e s s a r i l y r e p r e s e n t t h e o f f c i a l v e w s o f n o r a n e n d o r s e m e n t b y , t h e U S G o v e r n m e n t O c e a n P i n e s L i b r a r y
Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore is awaiting an occupancy permit for its its new location in the Manklin Station Shopping Center in Ocean Pines.

Ocean Pines Swim Team member qualifies for national competition

Daniel Karcheuski will compete in sectional meet this month

The Ocean Pines Swim Team (OPST) will be sending a swimmer, Daniel Karcheuski, to the Eastern Zone Speedo Sectional Meet in Christiansburg, Va., this month.

This is a first tier meet in USA Swimming’s National Championship series and will be the highest-level meet that an OPST swimmer will have ever attended.

This meet provides elite-level racing opportunities for non-collegiate athletes who attain challenging qualifying times. Karcheuski, a senior at Stephen Decatur High School, qualified to attend this meet in late February 2023 while attending the MD State Senior Championships.

He is the son of Vadzim Karcheuski and Olga Bisultanava of Ocean Pines.

“Daniel is one of the most dedicated swimmers on our team and has worked hard for every accomplishment. He knows what it takes to reach a goal and goes the distance to succeed. It has been an honor to coach Daniel over the past couple of years and


From Page 26

The new location, formerly home to a gym and Coastal Drugs, which moved to a stand alone building across the street, was renovated for the ReStore showroom.

ReStore accepts donations, which must be approved and scheduled by emailing pictures of the items to to ensure that potential donation aligns with ReStore requirements.

“We are always in need of more ReStore volunteers! Volunteers can choose their own hours and roles. We need help with cashiers, customer service, merchandising, truck helper, and back of the house,” Mete said.

Volunteers enjoy 20 percent off on all purchases and $20 a month in ReStore cash to spend.

Anyone interested in volunteering should email

to watch him overcome and rise above any obstacles that came his way. I am so proud to have Daniel representing OPST at Sectionals, and I cannot wait to see how he competes at a higher level,” OPST Head Coach Tosh Zeller said.

Karcheuski qualified in three events, the 200-yard butterfly (1:57.96), the 100-yard butterfly (52.79) and the 100-yard breaststroke (1:01.45).

In addition to those three events, he will swim four more bonus events and two time-trials events over the course of the fourday competition.

He was only ten years of age

To Page 29

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Daniel Karcheuski Photo by Olga Bisultanava Karcheuski practicing at the Sports Core pool in Ocean Pines.
28 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024 Compliance


From Page 28

when he first joined OPST and has been a year-round member for eight years.

He holds several OPST team records, was selected as the team athlete representative and, before he became certified, had volunteered about 400 hours as a coach.

He has been on for the SDHS Swim Team for four years, where he received Rookie of the Year, was team captain, was recognized on the All-Bayside Conference honors team, holds a Bayside Conference record in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:03.05) and placed in the top eight at the MPSSAA state championships.

Besides being a top athlete, Karcheuski is also a top scholar. He will graduate from SDHS in the spring and was named an AP Scholar with Honors, a National Merit Scholarship Program Commended Student and College Board National Rural and Small-Town Recognition Scholar.

He is also a member of several national honors societies and received the Presidential Service Award three years in a row.

He plans to attend the University of Maryland at College Park and will major in Government and Politics while participating in the Honors College program with his sights set on enrolling in law school upon graduation.

While he will not be swimming on a varsity team in college, he will be joining UMD’s club team to stay connected to his love for swimming.

OPST is a diverse community of coaches, swimmers, and families dedicated to helping young athletes realize their full potential in and out of the pool. The team’s goal is to build character and dedication through teamwork and competition in a safe and positive environment.

With 76 year-round members ages 5-18, the team is the only competitive swim club in the county.

The Hammerheads are a Level 1 and Safe Sport Certified team affiliated with Maryland Swimming and USA Swimming. For the past 49 years they have also operated a summer Delaware Swim Association season which sees the team grow to over 150 members. The team will be celebrating its 50th anniversary next summer.

For more information, visit the team website at

Signature candles and special scents at Boho Bungalow

Ocean Pines storefront features Amber Baker’s Sandy Bottom Candles

Pass through the doors of Boho Bungalow in the Manklin Station Shopping Center and immerse yourself in the scents of Ocean Breeze, a mix of clean salt air with notes of citrus, honeydew and oak moss or Caribbean Teakwood, an aroma of tropical Caribbean breezes and weathered wood with scent notes of sandalwood, teakwood, and amber.

These are just some of the special scents Amber Baker mixes up for her signature candles she makes on site.

Baker opened her store in November. She lives in Ocean Pines and was thrilled to find a storefront in the community where she could make and ship her candles and provide a shop for customers to visit.

Baker sells her candles from the shop, special events at wineries and Burley Oak and boutiques from here to Annapolis.

She started making her candles in wine bottles. Some bottles had indents on the bottom, called punts, which made it difficult to place a candle so she started using sand for leveling.

That became a signature look for her candles and triggered the name of her candle company: Sandy Bottom Candles.

Now her candles are made in special jars, but the sand remains.

“The sand protects the vessel from getting too hot,” Baker said.

Baker uses local sand for her candles. Her candles are made of soy wax and are clean burning.

The crackling wood wick sounds like a little fireplace when lit.

“My scents are inspired by special moments and vacations,” Baker said.

Scents that are available this spring include Tan Lines, a mix of coconut, vanilla and rum, On

Island Time, featuring pineapple, mango and salt, Ocean Breeze and Caribbean Teakwood.  For fans of the famous Crush drinks, she makes Orange, Lemon and Grapefruit Crush candles.

You can almost taste the drinks when the candles are lit.   She also sells reed diffusers, sprays and soy wax melts in her special scents. She is happy to make special occasion candles for weddings or showers and can personalize them with names and dates.

In her store, she features products from local artisans and other small businesses. In the shop recently, there were photographs on the walls from Assateague, dec-

orative pillows, petite iridescent succulent pots, signs, pottery and other eclectic beach vibe products.   Baker believes in making her business as environmentally friendly as possible and that shows in her products and her packaging. She is alway willing to take back vessels after the candles burn out for reuse.

Just bring them back to the store.

Customers can visit her shop, Boho Bungalow, 11312 Manklin Creek Road, Unit B2, Thursdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. or check out her Website at or Facebook page at sandybottomcandles/.

March 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 29 LIFESTYLES
Amber Baker opened Boho Bungalow in Ocean Pines to see her signature candles and other hand made items and art from local crafters.

Making Ocean Pines more friendly for bikers and pedestrians

Patti Stevens working tirelessly to improve accessibility and connectivity

Ocean Pines is becoming more bike and pedestrian safe, one intersection and one crosswalk at a time. Recently, a new crosswalk was installed at the intersection of Manklin Creek and Race Track roads to provide bikers and pedestrians safer access to the Food Lion and other stores, banks, and restaurants. Crosswalks and signs have been installed on Camelot Circle to warn drivers to stay alert for bikers and pedestrians using the Robin Hood Trail.

But there is more to do to make Ocean Pines a bike and pedestrian friendly community, according to Patti Stevens, the representative of the biking community for the Maryland Commission on Transportation Revenue and Infrastructure Needs (TRAIN).

In October, Stevens met with Ocean Pines Association General Manager John Viola to discuss establishing an Ocean Pines Bike and Pedestrian Working Group. Viola agreed and the group was established. Viola designated Director of Public Works Eddie Wells and Police Chief Tim Robinson as OPA representatives.

The goal of the committee is to identify ways to improve safety and

accessibility for people to walk, bike and roll in and around Ocean Pines.

The working group plans to create a bike/pedestrian plan for Ocean Pines. Towns and communities with plans have obtained state grants and technical assistance.

“Right now, there is no sense of vision that this could be a walkable bikeable community,” Stevens said of Ocean Pines.

Stevens notes that there are many ways to make Ocean Pines more bike and pedestrian friendly.

Some of the problems the working group has identified include the narrow shoulder on Ocean Parkway that is frequently blocked by parked cars, trash cans, and yard debris or gravel from street repairs. There is also the issue of no safe route between the north and south side of the community, and a lack of signage and crosswalks where trails cross roadways.

Stevens also noted that kids cannot bike to Showell Elementary, Blessed Sacrament or Showell Park and many employees bike to Walmart, McDonalds and the casino, which requires them to travel down busy roadways.

She encourages businesses to provide reflective vests for their workers who walk or bike to work to improve their safety.

Patti Stevens walks along the new crosswalk on Camelot Circle in Ocean Pines. The crosswalk and signs were recently placed to alert drivers of cyclists and walkers using Robin Hood Trail, which crosses the street in two places.

Access to Route 90 and a bike lane on the bridge would allow people to bike to the Ocean Pines Beach Club, businesses, restaurants and jobs in Ocean City. This is being considered by the Maryland State Highway Administration.

There are studies that show that narrowing lanes is the number one thing that can be done to reduce bike and pedestrian crashes, according to Stevens. Painting a bike lane on Ocean Parkway would increase visibility and could discourage drivers from parking in the bike lane. This could be done in segments to reduce costs, Stevens said.

The working group is looking at the issue through the lens of education, engineering and enforcement. Options for education include bike and E-bike safety education programs. Engineering options include crosswalks, signs and other traffic calming measures and the creation of a shared use path along Route 589 to link north and south Ocean Pines with the schools and park. Enforcement includes speed cameras, warnings and ticketing.

Bikers can also take safety measures when hitting the road, including always riding with the flow of traffic and wearing a helmet and bright reflective clothing. After dark, lights on the front and back of the bike are important for visibility. The Ocean Pines Police Department provides free bike helmets for kids in its lobby.

Pedestrians are safer if they carry a flashlight, wear light or reflective clothing and walk against traffic, so

they can see oncoming cars.

Bike and pedestrian safety and infrastructure are important for Ocean Pines and to connect it to other towns and communities in Worcester County.

“What is lacking is a plan to connect communities to one another, allowing residents, tourists and workers to access parks, shopping centers and schools safely via bike or by walking,” Stevens said. Such a network of bike and pedestrian routes would also provide more recreational opportunities and health and wellness benefits.

Last fall, the Rural Maryland Economic Development Fund awarded $100,000 to the Lower Shore Land Trust to develop the first county-wide master plan for trails and greenways to identify routes to connect communities.

Worcester County is administering the grant, hiring the firm Meed and Hunt to manage the process.

A survey was open until March 8 to get input on possible trails and greenways in the county. There is also an option to identify destinations on a map and the routes one would take if there were safe paths or trails. Participants can mark dangerous areas that need attention.

A community meeting will be scheduled this Spring to allow for more input from the public.

To learn more about the county master plan, and provide input on the interactive map, visit: stories/post/worcester-county-trailsand-greenways-master-plan

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Chamber, ERA Martin Shamrock Division announce March 8-16 Restaurant Week

The Worcester County Chamber of Commerce in Ocean Pines and ERA Martin Shamrock Division have announcd the third annual Ocean Pines Restaurant Week to be held March 8-16.

The event as the name suggests is to encourage local dining at participating restaurants.

Residents are asked to dine in or carry out from three or more of the participating restaurants and return their stamped card to ERA Martin Shamrock Division at 11049 Racetrack by 11 a.m. on March 17 to be entered in to win gift cards from local restaurants.

Cards are available any of the participants restaurants.The event will also include a raffle, scheduled to

Aqua Care unveils new Website

Aquacare Physical Therapy, a locally owned, women-owned, and physical therapist-owned company delivering physical therapy and aquatic therapy services in Maryland and Delaware for 25 years, has launched redesigned Websites.

The sites, and, feature a modern, cohesive design, high-quality imagery and a user-friendly interface.

“They reflect “the brand’s commitment to delivering exceptional care both in person and online,” said Cara Konlian, CEO of the company.

“D3 has been our Website hosting company for over 16 years,” she said. “They have hosted and designed multiple websites for me in two vastly different industries, healthcare, and food services. Their design team

take place on March 18 at noon.

Participating restaurants include Serpone’s Pizzaria, Don’s Seafood and Chophouse, Paradise Grill, Oasis Nutrition, the Ocean Pines Yacht Club, the Ocean Pines Golf Clubhouse, Poseidon’s Pub at the Ocean Downs Racetrack and Casino, Hunan Garden, Plaza Tapatia, Taylor’s Neighborhood Restaurant, the Southgate Grill, Crabs to Go, Paul and Vinnie’s Pizzeria, and Playa Bowls.

The first Restaurant Week was launched in March of 2022 by Kerrie Bunting, CEO and executive director of the Chamber, and Kelly MacPherson, a Reactor with ERA Martin Shamrock Division.

has collaborated closely with us through the process of understanding our ideas and vision and developed a Website that surpasses our expectations.

“They respond to our requests for support within 24 hours,” she said. “We highly recommend D3 and are proud to partner with a local company,” she added.

Jay Bosley, D3 chief operating officer, returned the compliments.

“Over the years Aquacare Physical Therapy has added new locations and services which meant adding new pages of content to their website,” he said. “This was the perfect time for the company to invest in a redesign that provided a more cohesive, modern look to improve the user experience and consolidate all the information on the site.”

32 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024 BUSINESS Need Automotive, Body or Marine Repair? Visit One of our 2 Locations RACETRACK AUTO & TIRE CENTER 10436 Racetrack Rd., Berlin 10834 Ocean Gateway, Berlin 410-641-5262 410-641-3200 Boat Storage and Winterization (Call 410-641-3200)  Transmission Mechanical Repairs  Standard & Custom Exhaust Certified Technicians Marine Mechanics •• Auto Body  Racetrack Trailer Sales 10% OFF Exhaust Service All coupons must be presented before estimate. Most vehicles cannot combine coupons. Exp. 12/31/12 $64.95 Md. State Inspection All coupons must be presented before estimate. Most vehicles cannot combine coupons. Exp. 12/31/12 $20 OFF Any Brake Job All coupons must be presented before estimate. Most vehicles cannot combine coupons. Exp. 12/31/12 FREE Tire Rotation With Purchase of Oil, Lube & Filter Includes 10W30 or Sw30, up to 5 quarts of oil, other weights available at extra charge. Diesel oil & filter extra All coupons must be presented before estimate. Most vehicles cannot combine coupons. Exp. Exp. 12/31/12 ALIGNMENT Thrust Angle $4999 • 4 Wheel 5999 On rear wheel adjustable suspensions. Cost of shims & installation extra when required. Cars requiring Macphearson Strut correction extra. All coupons must be presented before estimate. Most vehicles cannot combine coupons. Exp Exp. 12/31/12 10% OFF Marine Service Up to $30 Discount All coupons must be presented before estimate. Exp 12/31/12 All coupons must be presented before estimate. Most vehicles cannot combine coupons. Exp. Exp 12/31/12 OIL CHANGE SPECIAL Excludes diesel & synthetics Includes most vehicles. Up to 5 qts. $2995 All coupons must be presented before estimate. Exp. 3/30/13 All coupons must be presented before estimate. Most vehicles cannot combine coupons. Exp. 3/30/13 All coupons must be presented before estimate. Most vehicles cannot combine coupons. 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OPA earns a $26,000 positive operating fund variance in January

Positive variance for the year reaches $859,000

With only three months left in the 202324 fiscal year, Ocean Pines Association is just shy of an $860,000 cumulative operating fund surplus. The string of eight consecutive operating fund surpluses for the year was boosted by a positive fund variance of $125,673 in January, with revenues over budget by $11,818 and expenses under budget by $13,845.

It was the smallest monthly operating fund surplus recorded so far in the fiscal year, but quite respectable for this time of year.

The cumulative surplus of $859,388 for the year was the result of revenues over budget by $744,292 and expenses under budget by $115,096, according to the January financial report posted on the OPA Website in mid-February by Controller/Director of Finance Steve Phillips.

Of the ten amenity departments listed on the “net operating” schedule in Phillips’s report, three - pickleball, platform and beach parking -were in the black for the month.

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

In the case of the Clubhouse Grille, the negative variance to budget was a minuscule $331, essentially break-even.

The seven departments that outperformed their budgets in January were pickleball, platform tennis, aquatics, golf operations, the Beach Club, beach parking and marinas. The latter

January cash position drops to $14.9 million

The Ocean Pines Association cash and investment position dropped about $800,000 from the end of December to the end of January, with about $14.9 million in various accounts as of Jan. 31. That compares to $15.7 million in cash at the end of December.

According to a report by OPA Treasurer Monica Rakowski at the Feb. 17 Board of Directors meeting, cash increased $1 million from the same time last year.

There was $53,000 in interest income recognized for the month.

Of the cash on hand, $10.4 million was invested in CDARs.

The remaining $4.5 million was invested in an insured cash sweep, treasury bills, money market and other operating accounts, diversified between two local banks.

three are closed for the season.

For the year through January, all but tennis and platform tennis are in the black. Compared to budget, all but tennis, platform tennis and marinas have positive variances.

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

For the year so far, beach parking is the top amenity performer, generating $507,370 in net revenue, ahead of budget by 51,222. Last year through January, beach parking was in the black by $498,213.

Golf operations, which had been the top producer among the amenities through December, slipped to second place in January, generating in $495,520 in net earnings, ahead of budget by $186,240. Last year through December, golf had earned $414,588

The Yacht Club was also in solidly in the black through January, generating $275,464 in net revenue. That’s $21,453 better than budget.

Last year through January, the Yacht Club had $301,816 in net earnings.

The Beach Club, closed for the season, racked up $225,887 in earnings through January, ahead of budget by $59,102. Last year through January, the Beach Club’s net earnings were $223,234.

Marinas, also closed for the season, remain a top performer for the year, earning $208.721 through January but under budget by $34,022 At this time last year, marinas had recorded a $247,354 operating surplus.

The Clubhouse Grille, open throughout the year, earned $107,760 through December, ahead of budget by $38,656.Last year through December the operating net was $45,679.

Aquatics remains in the black for the year so far, with $98,951 in net earnings and ahead of budget by $51,699.

At the same time the year prior, Aquatics had been ahead of budget by $200,785.

In combination, racquet sports are in the black for the year, led by pickleball, with $61,286 in net earnings through January, ahead of budget by $2,141. A year ago, the January cumulative net was $61,143.

Platform tennis was in the red by $17,014, under budget by $12,870. A year ago through January, the net was a positive $747 for the year so far.

Tennis lost $24,134 through January, with a negative variance to budget of $16,282. A year ago, tennis was in the red by $3,256.

Reserve summary -- The Jan. 31 reserve summary shows a total balance of $8.535 million, down from the $8.7 million December. This compares to the November balance of $8.87 million, the October balance of $8.992 million, the September balance of $9.13 million, $9.164 million in August, the July 31 total of $9.298 million, $9.9 million in June and $9.66 million in May.

The replacement reserve balance on Jan. 31 was $6.198 million, with bulkheads and waterways at $738,191, roads at $1.113 million, drainage at $384,236, and new capital at $101,554.

Balance sheet -- The Jan. 31 balance sheet shows total assets of $39.9 million, down from the $40.86 record on Dec. 31 of last year.

OPA Net Operating Results by Department - January 2024

(535,205) (38,624) (475,332) (549,539)

PUBLIC WORKS (158,952) (132,889) (26,063) (1,094,151) (1,304,710)

(1,046,227) (1,242,363)

FIRE / EMS (84,076) (84,076) (0) (756,688) (756,688) (0) (798,018) (798,018) POLICE (117,534) (153,546)

March 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 33 OPA FINANCES
Source: Ocean Pines Association Finance Department MONTH MONTH YTD YTD YTD YTD BUDGET ACTUAL BUDGET $ VARIANCE ACTUAL BUDGET $ VARIANCE LAST YEAR LAST YEAR GENERAL ADMIN (9,329) (4,528) (4,802) 5,791,110 5,757,652 33,458 5,914,728 5,910,728 MANAGER'S OFFICE (27,479) (29,018) 1,540 (275,890) (284,913) 9,024 (221,231) (220,531) FINANCE (66,331) (70,660) 4,328 (627,015) (671,087) 44,071 (586,874) (605,363) PUBLIC RELATIONS (24,477) (25,954) 1,478 (196,917) (214,259) 17,342 (201,534) (212,565) COMPLIANCE / PERMITS (9,958) (1,841) (8,117) (60,749) (14,849) (45,900) (75,023) (46,449) GENERAL MAINT (54,217) (59,008) 4,791 (573,829)
36,012 (724,516) (961,789) 237,273 (851,207) (948,993) RECREATION / PARKS (47,023) (46,507) (516) (306,383) (351,256) 44,873 (285,088) (380,893) TENNIS (8,144) (3,693) (4,451) (24,134) (7,852) (16,282) (3,256) (6,538) PICKLEBALL 214 (2,752) 2,966 61,286 59,145 2,141 61,143 40,595 PLATFORM TENNIS 787 (2,188) 2,975 (17,014) (4,144) (12,870) 747 (9,979) AQUATICS (37,435) (39,322) 1,887 98,951 47,282 51,669 200,785 62,757 GOLF OPS + MAINT (58,517) (74,051) 15,534 495,510 309,270 186,240 414,588 205,902 CLUBHOUSE GRILLE (8,530) (8,199) (331) 107,760 69,104 38,656 45,679 53,865 BEACH CLUB (3,662) (3,749) 87 225,877 166,775 59,102 223,234 135,428 BEACH PARKING 11,210 10,549 661 507,370 456,148 51,222 498,213 474,997 YACHT CLUB (57,583) (51,213) (6,370) 275,464 254,011 21,453 301,816 210,304 MARINAS (3,399) (7,464) 4,065 208,731 242,753 (34,022) 247,354 212,136 NET OPERATING (764,437) (790,110) 25,673 3,114,775 2,255,387 859,388 3,364,497 2,285,483 OCEAN PINES ASSOCIATION NET OPERATING BY DEPARTMENT JANUARY 2024 2/20/2024
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TElections Committee on a good path for 2024 election

he OPA Elections Committee is making good progress in setting up this summer’s Board of Directors election, improving on last summer’s efforts while addressing what went wrong.

There are some pending changes in the oft-amended Board Resolution M-06 that will facilitate these improvements. Expect some proposed language to be presented for first reading as early as the March Board meeting, according to chair Tom Piatti.

Piatti, who will be moving out of Ocean Pines for South Carolina prior to the heart of the election season, and committee member George Alston appeared before the By-laws and Resolutions Advisory Committee in February to pitch changes in M-06. There was general agreement during that meeting on what the contours of an amended M-06 should look like.

Since then, it appears that Piatti is forging ahead with his own draft changes, working with his Board liaison, John Latham, who has promised to present them to the Board as soon as possible. This seems like it might be bypassing By-laws and Resolutions committee, but Piatti could decide to send over to that committee his proposed draft language as a courtesy, while continuing to work with Latham to expedite Board consideration.

Without the change in M-06, Piatti said the OPA would have little choice but to rehire Ace Printing and Mailing of Berlin to handle a paper-ballot-only election. This option might then involve the Elections Committee in the messy business of counting ballots, or compiling them once Ace Printing has done the heavy lifting.

About this Piatti and his committee members are adamant: They do not want to return to the bad old days of committee members handling ballots, interacting with scanning equipment and trying to master software that may or may not play well with a personal computer and scanning equipment. Does anyone remember the “ballot bleed-through” fiasco of 2022 that produced wildly inaccurate election results and a committee that resigned in disgrace?

Hence the desire to amend M-06 to allow for a straightforward outsourcing of the election, allowing for paper ballots and online voting for those who prefer that method. Online voting is already allowed by M-06, resulting from an amendment back in 2022.

Piatti’s revised M-06 for an Option A will state that if the vote is handled by the committee, an unlikely scenario, given the committee’s aversion to even being in the same room with ballots, the hand count may be

observed by OPA members.

Option B will say if the ballot count is delegated to an outside vendor, the preferred scenario, then provisions may be made for on-site or remote viewing. “May” is a wiggle word. It’s not same as “shall,” and that means it could happen if the stars align and a magical genie appears and waves a wand.

Piatti said as a practical matter it would be unlikely that any on-site or remote viewing of the counting of ballots under Option B would occur.

“Putting a camera in a room somewhere offsite is kind of dumb,” he said, while on-line adjudication of questionable ballots, as occurred last summer, might be more achievable.

Clearly intending to hire an outside contractor to handle the mailing, collection and counting of ballots, Piatti said there is every expectation that the committee will recommend the hiring of an East Coast vendor for this summer’s election, one that can handle both paper ballots and on-line voting. Live streaming of adjudication of disputed ballots may again be part of the mix if the OPA is willing to pay for the privilege.

Hiring an East Coast vendor will speed up the mailing and return of ballots and make it less likely that a major snafu that occurred last summer with a West Coast vendor, Election Trust of Bainbridge Island, Washington state, will be repeated.

No doubt those who participated in last summer’s voting will recall that the arrival of ballots in mailboxes was belated, a week or more late, because an Election Trust subcontractor handling the printing and mailing of ballots was overloaded with work and the OPA apparently was not a top priority.

The late arrival of ballots prompted the Board to add two weeks to the deadline for returning ballots. That in turn postponed the annual meeting of the association and validation of election results by that same two weeks.

Other than that, according to Piatti, Election Trust performed well. But there still was the issue of slow mail, the fact that mail sent from the West Coast to the East Coast and back again can take five or more days, leaving a very short window for the election to take place without a hitch.

Piatti says there are some good East Coast vendors who can handle the election, and that’s excellent news.

The other primary objective of the committee this year is to give OPA members the option to vote on-line, an option that was executed without apparent mishap two years ago.

One objection is that this option does not allow for a hand recount, should one be sought by a losing candidate.

There is no credible reason to question the accuracy of online voting. In the event of a recount, a report could be generated that includes the number of on-line ballots submitted and the number of votes for candidates that were cast. That will have to suffice.

Hand-counts of paper ballots, of course, can be accommodated, in the event a losing candidate asks for one. The vendor would have to send back the ballots to Ocean Pines for that to occur, but it’s doable, if need be.

All in all, the early behind-the-scenes scrambling bodes well for this summer’s election.

And one final note: Piatti will be a hard act to follow. But if all goes well, his replacement will have a solid road map to follow. ~

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Revised ethics resolution an assault on free speech

The effort by a lone member of the Board of Directors to bring out a revised version of a B-08 ethics resolution was met with a clear, unambiguous, not-to-be revisited “no thank you” at the Board’s Feb. 17 monthly meeting.

Good riddance. Presented on a first reading by Director Steve Jacobs, it seems he would like to bring it back for a second reading at a future Board meeting, which probably won’t happen. Board agendas normally are determined by the OPA President and Secretary, Rick Farr and John Latham as it happens, neither of whom are interested in discussing this turkey of a board resolution any more than they already have.

When Jacobs continued to lobby for his draft and expressed his willingness to entertain amendments to it, the rejection was palpable. Farr in his capacity as president directed advisory committees not to spend anytime drafting any changes to it or even discussing it further.

Legal counsel Bruce Bright has weighed in on this proposal and delivered an unmistakable verdict: It’s unnecessary, as ethics provisions appear elsewhere in OPA governing documents and state law, and in the area of conflict of interest, it’s duplicative of what’s already in the governing docs. You don’t need an ethics resolution making reference to another resolution that already covers the subject at hand.

As directors noted during discussion, they didn’t hire Bruce Bright and his law firm as OPA legal counsel only to ignore his advice. Bright’s rationale for not adopting an ethics resolution was made available for Jacobs to consider, and the director apparently felt his judgment was superior to Bright’s.

His colleagues don’t agree, and Jacobs risks alienating his colleagues if he continues to insist on a path they don’t want to pursue.

No amount of cajoling or arm-twisting is going to change the reality. Jacobs has no allies on the Board for this resolution, and pursuing this quixotic adventure is only going to create an illusion of drama, in the acute observation of Director John Latham.

While the reasons proffered during public discussion at the Feb. 17 are sufficient to end further discussion, there’s another reason why this flawed resolution should be buried.

It goes out of its way to obsess over issues of Board confidentiality, in a way that intrudes on First Amendment rights of directors to discuss matters that have been discussed in closed session. While it certainly makes sense not to make personnel matters involving OPA employees fodder for public discussion, on a case by case basis it sometimes makes sense for a director to comment on subjects entertained in closed session, if only to make clear a new or adjusted policy.

According to Jacobs’ draft, protected from disclosure would be “any and all information received during closed meetings which are permissible under Section 11B-111(4) of the Homeown-

er Association Act, or discussed via hard copy, email or other electronic means before or after the meeting.”

New language would also protect from disclosure “other information obtained in hard-copy, electronic, or email from which may be designated by the source as confidential ...”

The revised B-08 presented by Jacobs would mandate that the “directors shall take reasonable steps to ensure that confidential information and/or documents contained in emails or obtained in hard copy shall remain inaccessible to discovery or disclosure in accordance with this provision during and following the end of their tenure as a director, unless such disclosure or discovery is authorized by legal counsel as part of legal action in which the information is designated as party [sic] of the discovery process.”

Yes, let’s bring in the lawyers. We haven’t had a tasty lawsuit on our plates for quite sometime.

If in his or her infinite wisdom an OPA president or Board member wants to selectively release so-called “confidential” information from a closed meeting, then they should have a right to do so, without fear that it might run afoul of a Board ethics resolution. As Director Elaine Brady noted, directors are not children.

They will be able to make intelligent distinctions between the kinds of “confidential information” that should remain out of the public domain and those than can be safely released for public consumption.

To be sure, local media that rely on “leaks” and not-for-attribution information about matters discussed in closed session will oppose this language, as it would infringe on the unfettered freedom of the press to report on affairs of the

OPA. This, too, is an assault on the First Amendment.

As Jacobs noted, certain noxious enforcement mechanisms that were so controversial in the years prior to B-08’s repeal in 2021 have been removed from the draft.

That’s an improvement, sure, but it paradoxically also leaves the proposed resolution a neutered, toothless collection of aspirational blather. Better to bury it, as a super majority of six directors has decided to do. ~

36 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024 OPINION 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 443-359-7527 ADVERTISING SALES Frank Bottone 410-430-3660 CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rota L. Knott 443-880-3953 Cindy Hoffman 202-489-5587 COMMENTARY
Rick Menard

A combo membership for racquet sports?

Some members of Ocean Pines’ pickleball club had a few problems with proposed membership rates for their sport during this year’s budget process.

At a town meeting on the budget in early February, they appeared to complain about the fact that while pickleball was slated for a healthy increase in dues, the other two racquet sports, tennis and platform tennis, were not.

Indeed, these two other sports had no increase at all proposed in the first two iterations of the 202425 budget.

These critics asked for uniformity and consistency in the three member rates.

Another criticism -- it was more like a suggestion -- was that there was no combination discount rate offered for those racquet sports members who wanted more than a single membership option.

This suggestion had the support of the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee, and it didn’t seem particularly controversial. It didn’t take a leap of logic to expect that when the Board voted on Feb. 17 for the new budget, some version of a combination membership for racquet sports would be included.

This is where it gets a little murky.

Apparently the Board, exchanging emails after the town meeting and the Board meeting, decided to up the ante on a combination membership, but instead of opting for a two-sport combo as had been sug-

Emergency exit


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

gested early on in the budget process the directors went for a threesport combination.

We know the reason why. OPA President Rick Farr and General Manager John Viola attended a meeting of the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee where the threesport combo rate was discussed and, they say, in the context of eliminating individual memberships. There’s no reason whatever to doubt their reporting and understanding of what transpired. It’s not been contradicted by anyone who was there, at least not so far.

The simplified rate structure was not reported in the minutes for that meeting, but that’s not particularly noteworthy. Some committees do a better job than others in posting accurate accounts of their meetings than others.

In a move that was not publicly discussed nor telegraphed in an way prior to the Board meeting, the directors by adopting the budget Feb. 17 voted to make the three-sport combo the only racquet sport membership option in 2024-25, eliminating separate memberships in pickleball, tennis and platform tennis.

The Board could have been more transparent in the way it handled this issue, such as announcing the new combo rate at the meeting, in-

So much has changed since moving into Ocean Pines Section 10 (Sherwood Forest) in 2001. I have seen the construction of The Park, The Point, The Woodlands, businesses in the Manklin Creek shopping area, new homes along Ocean Parkway, summer rental homes now occupied year round, and now the opening of the latest development of the Triple Crown Estates.

One thing all of these residents have in common is when we leave our homes in Ocean Pines we all need to exit by way of the four way stop at the intersection of Manklin Creek and Ocean Parkway.

I am very concerned about the chaos that would ensue if there was an emergency evacuation and we all tried to exit at the same time.

Over the years I have read that there have been discussions of an exit road that would lead residents out of Ocean Pines to Route 589 via

cluding it in the meeting materials or in a press release prior to the meeting that this combination-rate only option was part of the budget.

In any event, in the days following the budget approval on the 17th the inevitable complaints arrived in the inboxes of directors and management from racquet sport members who objected to the elimination of individual sport memberships.

This resulted in the perhaps inevitable decision to hold a special meeting Feb. 28 to revisit the fees.

The predictable result: The three-sport-combination-only membership was rescinded and options to purchase individual and family memberships in any of the three sports were restored, more or less the rate structure of prior years.

The three-sport combo option was retained, albeit with higher rates than when it was a stand-alone option.

All three racquet sports had their rates for 2024-25 increased 10 percent. The original proposed preliminary budget from last December had no increases in tennis and platform tennis but an 11 percent increase in pickleball dues.

So, for all the sound and fury over racquet sport rates, pickleballers get a very small decrease in their rates, but at the expense of tennis and


Gum Pt. Road. I think now is the time to really put that plan into effect and with the construction of homes in Triple Crown Estates this would make perfect sense. Not an exit for convenience but one for the safety of all the people who would be affected if an emergency would arise.

I urge the Ocean Pines Board of Directors to place this need at the top of its priority list and work with the county to get this road completed as soon as possible.

Madlyn Scott

Ocean Pines

Editor’s Note: An emergency exit out of South Ocean Pines might already be in existence. It currently is a dirt road that connects Triple Crown Estates with the parking lot behind the new Atlantic General Hospital medical facility on Route 589. The dirt road, at one time connecting directly to Route 589, now ends at the parking lot

platform tennis members, who went from a zero to a ten percent increase in a matter of days.

Was that bargain a good one? From the perspective of tennis and platform tennis members, not so much.

Here’s an idea that might end the internal rivalry among the various racquet sports, or at least some members who seem to thrive on stirring the pot.

No shame in pot-stirring inherently, but for those who don’t play any of the racquet sports, the continuing drama gets old.

Or in the memorable observation of Director John Latham, more like the illusion of drama.

In next year’s budget, simply merge the three separate departments into one - racquet sports.

Establish an individual and family rate that would entitle any member to play any of the three racquet sports in the Manklin Creek complex. It’s essentially the rate structure that almost passed this year.

Prior to the presentation of the new budget that contains this idea, announce it and thoroughly vet it in the racquet sports community. Identify pros and cons, convene a town meeting, collect viewpoints -- and if there is solid support for creating a new one-size-fits-all combo membership, or at least acquiescence, then what happened this year after the budget had been adopted probably won’t happen again.

The politics of pickleball. Whew. Who knew? ~ Tom

and is blocked off with traffic cones intended to discourage use by anyone trying to access Triple Crown Estate’s Phase II.

How that road could be reconfigured in a way that would make it usable as an emergency exit by Southside residents would require a lot of time, thought, coordination and agreement by affected parties.

The problem with a Gum Point Road exit from Triple Crown Estates is that it was precluded years ago as part of the approval process, with Gum Point Road residents in opposition. Land would need to be acquired to make such a road possible.

Impossible? Not at all.

But that dirt road that already is more or less connected to a way out of Ocean Pines during an emergency might be the more practical solution.

March 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 37 OPINION


R2JS asks for extension of conditional use permit for townhome project

Tim Hearn assembled new owners and will act as group’s on-site facilitator/manager

The owner of the 24-acre Hastings /Mariner property near Captain’s Cove east entrance off State Line Road, R2JS LLC, is requesting a two-year extension of the conditional use permit granted in April of 2022 to facilitate development of the parcel into a mixed-use townhome neighborhood.

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

Tim Hearn, CCG Note’s and R2JS’s local rep-

resentative, said the conditional use permit had a two-year window and is expiring in April of this year. The Accomack County Planning Commission has scheduled a hearing on the extension on March 13, with a recommendation on whether to grant it to be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors in April or May for a decision, Hearn said.

“The extension has the support of the planning staff,” he said.

The Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning of the property from R-1 residential to a village overlay zone in April of 2022, allowing for more flexible development, including some commercial

uses. The rezoning is not up for renewal.

The conditional use permit had two caveats attached. One was that the issue of access to the property from Captain’s Corridor would be resolved and the other was that water and wastewater treatment services from Aqua Virginia’s facilities in Captain’s Cove were available to the townhome project.

An Accomack County Circuit Court judge in October determined that both sides of Captain’s Corridor adjacent to the townhome parcel from the center line is developer-owned. At the time, CCG Note was the owner of the road west of the center line, with ownership rights now in the hands of R2JS.

The judge’s decision essentially said that the Captain’s Cove property owners association had no authority to deny public access to and use of Captain’s Corridor in the vicinity of the townhome project.

With respect to the issue of whether there is sufficient capacity in Aqua Virginia’s Captain’s Cove facility’s to accommodate the townhome project, the judge ruled 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 (SCC).

The acreage is set aside as a future site of so-called rapid infiltration basins, or RIBs, as a way of disposing of treated wastewater from the wastewater treatment plant in Captain’s Cove operated by Aqua. It’s a way for the utility to accommodate future growth in Captain’s Cove as it unfolds.

The Court accepted a motion by Aqua Virginia to dismiss a complaint by a group of Captain’s Cove plaintiffs seeking to enjoin future use of that acreage by Aqua, on grounds that the Circuit Court lacked subject jurisdiction over the issue.

Hearn said that with these issues addressed by the Court, it should be even easier for the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors to approve the permit extension.

Another factor that he said should make a difference to county officials on whether to approve the extension is a proffer by RCJS to make an acre within the site available for a 1.200 square foot emergency medical facility that would be operated by the Greenbackville Fire Department, Hearn said.

“Accommodating a facility that will help provide Captain’s Cove with 24-7 EMT service should matter to these boards,” Hearn said, “and should matter to the residents of Captain’s Cove.”

The proposed townhomes have a core of hardThe

38 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024 CAPTAIN’S COVE
To Page 41
original site plan for the townhome project planned at the east entrance into Captain’s Cove.
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Conditional use

From Page 38

core opponents in Captain’s Cove. When the issue comes before the Board of Supervisors in April or May, new District 2 supervisor Roger DeGeorges, a Captain’s Cove resident, will be faced with the prospect of voting for or against a conditional use permit that many of his colleagues voted for two years ago.

He ousted his predecessor, Ron Wolff, who had voted both for the rezoning and conditional use permit, in this past November’s election.

Hearn said he reached out to DeGeorge to discuss the extension application.

“He advised me to work with the planning staff” rather than agree to a one-on-one meeting, Hearn said.

He is well aware that there remains a core of Cove residents opposed to the townhome development, apparently some of them believing that CCG Note remains in control of the parcel.

“Not true,” Hearn said. “R2JS is the owner and will be the ones who develop the site.”

R2JS is a subsidiary of Scitech Services, a 30-year-old company that provides scientific, engineering and management solutions, primarily to government customers, according to its Website.

County land records show that the transaction for the Hastings/ Mariner closed the first week of October. The parcel, which has received zoning approval for a 142unit townhome development, sold for $725,000. CCG Note bought the property in November of 2021 from the Hastings/Mariner family for $250,000, according to land records.

“My relationship [with R2JS] is similar to my relationship with the investors in CCG Note,” Hearn said. “I work with developers, act as a broker, and will oversee a project as it develops.”

Hearn said CCG Note focused on the early phases of land development, including the initial land purchase and navigation through the rezoning, engineering and permitting processes, “which often involves controversy and opposition by some neighbors” and litigation.

With the recent rulings in Accomack County Circuit Court removing obstacles to the next phase of the planned townhome project, Hearn said CCG Note investors thought it was a good time to hand it off to an investment group experienced in construction and marketing.

He said the project could cost roughly $35 million to develop.

Hearn said that there have been some changes in plans for the townhome project from its initial conception and design.

Originally conceived as a rental development, which led some critics to complain that it would be a site for low-income housing, Hearn said the townhomes will be a mix of rental and owner-occupied units.

He said the townhomes will be reconfigured so that each unit will have some open space in front and back of units.

Originally, each property was going to be confined to the footprint of each unit, with land outside each unit defined as common area.

“This is the more traditional townhome concept,” Hearn said. “The original plan was more of a townhome/condo approach, where

all the open space is owned by the homeowners association.”

He said the presence of both a front and back yard would make each unit more appealing to buyers and renters. Another change is that there will be only one ingress/egress from Captain’s Corridor to the project, not two as originally envisioned. There would be another ingress/ egress site to the property from State Line Road.

March 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 41

Judge issues written order confirming Captain’s Corridor ownership decision

Plaintiff’s attorney contends judge committed eight specific errors in his ruling, teeing up a possible appeal

Judge W. Revell Lewis III issued a written order on Feb. 1 confirming his decision in Accomack County Circuit Court Dec. 12 declaring that Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club does not own Captain’s Corridor adjacent to a planned townhome project at the east entrance into Captain’s Cove at State Line Road and that access to

the 24-acre townhome parcel from Captain’s Corridor can’t be denied to the parcel’s owners and the public.

The Dec. 12 declaration was in turn an affirmation of a bench ruling last Oct. 2 by Judge Lewis that the portion of Captain’s Corridor in dispute is developer-owned, and authorized the attorney for the prevailing side to draft a written order to that effect. The Dec. 12 hearing was set to hear

objections to that written order by the attorney for the plaintiffs in the case.

The judge’s new written order of Feb. 1, which was again objected to by the lawyer for plaintiffs who are suing CCGYC and Captain’s Cove declarant/developer CCG Note, teed up a 30-day window in which the ruling could be appealed to Virginia’s intermediate court, the Court of Appeals.

Under changes approved by the Virginia General Assembly in 2021, the Court of Appeals began hearing both criminal and civil appeals beginning in January of 2022, with such appeals considered a matter of right. The 2022 changes mean that there will be a decision on the merits of an appeal by the Court of Appeals in the Captain’s Corridor ownership dispute, assuming one is filed.

The Cove Currents has been unable to determine whether an appeal had been filed prior to its March deadline. Eight specific objections to Judge Lewis’s order were attached to the written order by the plaintiffs’ attorney, Douglas Kahle of Virginia Beach, Va., all of which contend that the judge, who officially retired from the bench as of Dec. 31, made errors in law adversely affecting his clients. Any appeal would likely dovetail the objections listed by Kahle.

Kahle represents seven Captain’s Cove litigants, all of whom were officers of the advocacy

42 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024 CAPTAIN’S COVE CUR-


group known as Concerned Citizens of Captain’s Cove, whose president is Teresa Birckhead.

Under the written order, Judge Lewis determined that:

• The townhome parcel, known as the Hastings/Mariner property, is “bounded by what is known as Captain’s Corridor.”

• The portion of Captain’s Corridor in dispute “separates Section 14 of the Captain’s Cove subdivision from the Hastings/Mariner property, and it was formerly known as Virginia State Route 741.”

• “It is undisputed that Virginia State Route 741, which was a public road, was abandoned by the Accomack County Board of Supervisors back in the early 70s.”

• When it was abandoned, “the law prescribes that the owner of the adjoining or opposing properties on each side of the road, own to the center line of the right-of-way.

• “Such ownership is subject to right of ingress and egress by persons who had previously been using it.

• “Accordingly, the Court finds that the Hastings/Mariner property has a right-of-way over Captain’s Corridor, as was and is provided by law.”

Judge Lewis, citing the foregoing reasons and the Court record, then said that the plaintiffs’ claims in their amended complaint were dismissed with prejudice, which means that the litigants can’t refile the case in Accomack County Circuit Court at a later time.

As he did during a hearing Dec. 12 in which a proposed written draft order of an Oct. 2 bench order was considered, Kahle took an undisguised shot at the judge’s legal rationale, in eight specific instances contending that Judge Lewis had committed errors.

It contains more or less the same arguments that Kahle made at hearings in October and December and in various briefs filed with the Court. Alleged mistakes include:

• An error of law when it based its decree upon facts not alleged in a pleading.

• An error of law and fact when it ruled upon facts not entered into the record.

• An error of law when it rendered judgment upon a right which Defendant failed to claim.

• An error of law when it adjudicated appurtenant rights of property owned by a non-party. [Such rights run with the land and the

u March 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 43

Captain’s Corridor

From Page 43 non-party Kahle refers to here appears to be the owner of the Hastings/Mariner property, R2JS of Harford County, which acquired the parcel from CCG Note last year. CCG Note and CCGYC are the defendants in the case.]

• An error as a matter of law when it adjudicated the property rights of a non-party [again, most likely a reference to R2JS].

• An error as a matter of law when it granted relief upon “grounds other than those specifically stated” in the demurrer, which is an action that challenges the sufficiency or adequacy of another party’s pleadings. The demurrer motion was filed by the defendants in the case, among other points arguing that the plaintiffs could produce no deed or other evidence proving that the entirety of Captain’s Corridor is owned by CCGYC.

• An error as a matter of law “when it failed to take in favor of the Plaintiff all those facts which were expressly alleged, impliedly alleged, or fairly and justly inferred from the facts alleged.”

• An error of law when “it ruled that ‘the law prescribes’ that the owners of the adjoining properties on each side of the road own to the center line of the right-of-way upon its abandonment by the State.”

In the Oct. 2 hearing, Judge Lewis ruled from

Dredging unlikely to occur this year, Majerus says

‘Strong likelihood’ it won’t because of delays in repairing dredge boat

During the Feb. 26 Board of Directors meeting Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club President Mark Majerus said we “might not be dredging this year” because of delays in repairing the association’s dredge boat damaged in a incident last year that then President Tim Hearn labeled vandalism.

All the repairs have been done except for a custom coupler to be installed between the hydraulic motor and cutting head, Majerus said. That part somehow got waylaid on route to the machine shop where modifications to the custom coupler are under way.

It finally arrived, he said, but it will be another two or three weeks before the dredge boat will be in the water, which probably is too late to begin and finish a dredging program this year.

Majerus in a Feb. 27 telephone interview with the Cove Currents was even more pessimistic that dredging would launch this month.

He said that the missing part needs to be custom modified “to fit our dredge boat. It takes about ten days to that,” he said, and then the part needs to be installed. Most of the repairs are being done in-house at the CCGYC maintenance facility

“We ordinarily end the dredging program on March 15,” he said. “It probably doesn’t make sense to start” if the dredge boat is relaunched a week or so before then.

“There’s a strong likelihood that we will do not a dredging program this year,” he said, a stance more forceful than what he said during the Feb. 26 Board meeting.

While the delay is unfortunate, Majerus u


Marina Club roof repair completed

said that a dredging program could restart in November, sooner than is usually the case. By then, the dredge boat will be fully operational.

Repairs to date have cost the association about $8,000.

Tsaid, which provides some hope that the $8,000 to $10,000 in repair costs will be recovered.

Indoor pool to reopen during May 5-8 window

he said.

the building with the exception of the indoor pool reopened Feb. 24.

The project began in early February, and the pool closure lasted for up to 90 days as originally forecast.

Majerus earlier in the meeting had reported that lawyers for CCG Note and CCGYC have continued to exchange viewpoints about whether to make access to Treasure Island via a causeway, Treasure Island Drive, owned by CCG Note available to association crews who need to travel across it in order to access the dredging program’s spoil site.

Majerus asked the Property Management Team to mark the channels in Sailfish Canal, Swordfish Canal and Herring Passage to better direct boaters away from areas that may or may not be dredged this year.

he Marina Club roof repair project has been completed, Senior General Manager

Colby Phillips announced during the April 21 property management team meeting. The indoor pool will reopen to the membership during a May 5-8 window, according to Director of Operations John Costello during that same meeting.

The declarant/developer has withheld its permission for crews to access its property until such time as litigation filed by property owners against it are either withdrawn or resolved in court.

Costello said that Taylor Roofing, the contractor that handled the project for the Cove association, discovered during removal of much of the original roofing structure above the indoor pool that 90 percent of the affected plywood had rotted out because of poor ventilation.

There were some indications that a resolution was in sight at the previous Board meeting in January, but as of Feb. 26 the lawyers were still talking.

Neither side has filed a lawsuit in the dispute, which would not be decided in any event in time to affect this year’s program.

New layered sheathing has been added to create an air pocket between the ceiling above the pool and the roof, to avoid a similar problem in the future, he said, adding that materials and labor are fully warranteed so that even in the unlikely event of a problem, it will be fully covered.

“Taylor Roofing did a tremendous job for us,”

As for the insurance claim filed by the association to recoup costs associated with the repair, Majerus said there still is no answer from the insurance carrier that it will cover the expense. A refiled claim at least has not been rejected, he

The indoor pool ceiling and deck will be repainted, according to Phillips, and it the takes several days for the pool to refill.

Land swap put on hold

The Board of Directors approved two land swaps during the Feb. 26 meeting, while putting one on hold in part to address concerns raised by a property owner, Bill Leslie, during Members Comments.

Costello said the pool will reopen during a May 5-8 window.

The Board of Directors recently authorized corporate officers to execute a loan to pay for the project.

A swap in Section 15, Lot 85, for Section 7, Lot 7, was approved, as was Section 17, Lot 59, for Section 8, Lot 4.

Taylor Bank is carrying a $500,000 loan at an interest rate of 6.2 percent with a five-year term. The Board had authorized an interest rate of up to 6.75 percent.

However, a request by an owner to trade what he claims is an unbuildable Section 7, Lot 34, because of a wetlands designation and the lack of electric or a road remains in limbo.

While initially the plan had been to pay for the roof repair out of cash reserves, the Board switched gears in order not to draw down cash needed for operations.

The owner is asking the Board to swap the unbuildable lot for a buildable lot 26 also in Section 7.

Accounts receivable collections had not generated new cash as quickly as had been budgeted.

Interest payments will be about $20,000 for the balance of the fiscal year, with total amortization of about $60,000, within the approved capital

Meanwhile, General Manager Justin Wilder reaffirmed what he said the previous month. The association’s lot sale program is not adding any additional lots other than to replace those that are sold.

Gillis Gilkerson of Salisbury was the general contractor firm on the project, assisted by sub-contractors, including Taylor Roofing.

“We’re not adding lots to flood the market,” and reduced lot values, he said, although as a practical matter the list of 800 or more association-owned lots is available and any lot could be purchased even while it’s not technically part of the lot sale program, Wilder said.

The not-to-exceed cost of the project was $650,000, according to agreed upon contract language.

Concern averted over state law

An original cost estimate of $400,000 was for the roof only, and ancillary costs not included in the original estimate is the reason for the expected higher final cost.

The project included removal of all the HVAC equipment, gas lines and vents from the roof, using a crane, and then putting it all back.

Majerus had expressed some trepidation over the federal Corporate Transparency Act’s possible impact on Captain’s Cove, possibly a requirement that the association would have to file paper work to comply with the act, which went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year. Penalty for failure to register is up to two years in jail and $250,000 in fines.

It turns out that CCGYC is exempt from registering or filing paperwork indicating an exception, Majerus said. Among the exemptions applicable to CCGYC is the fact that it employs more than 20 full-time employees and has a gross income over $5 million.

During the estimated 22-day closure of the building, refrigeration trucks were moved on site to protect inventory from spoiling.

Adjustments were made to protect equipment with moisture control, with 50 to 60 percent humidity the target, along with a pool temperature of 82 degrees.

Felt reports progress on Troon

CCGYC Director Dave Felt reported that the association is just days away from receiving audited financial data that will help it close out the year 2022 when Troon Golf managed the associa-

With the scheduled reopening of the indoor pool in early May, regular classes and activities including pool volleyball, hydro-bikes and water aerobics have resumed, along with swimming lessons.

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Legal recap

From Page 45

tion for CCGYC.

“I’m hopeful,” he said, without mentioning how obtaining this information will affect pending litigation over unaccounted for funds.

Also in a summary of legal matters, Majerus said that the Birckhead litigation remains on the Accomack County Circuit Court dock June 11-13, and that the BIC Builders/Richards consolidated case is scheduled to be heard in the same court March 12, “unless it is delayed” for some reason.

Majerus cited a recent letter from a county official noting that the county continues to have jurisdiction over the height of homes in Captain’s Cove, while other zoning issues like setbacks and density are matters for the association.

The height of the Richards home - subject of a protracted stop work order - is any issue in the latter litigation.

Meeting extended to March 4

The Board of Directors meeting from Monday, Feb. 26, was suspended during executive session and will resume into executive session on Monday, March 4, at 3 p.m.

Upon conclusion of the executive session, the meeting will resume back into an open session to conclude the meeting.

Majerus told the Cove Currents that he is not expecting much to be announced after the open session resumes.

Guthridge identifies problems with investor owners not paying lot assessments

One delinquent account holder owes $90,322; one multiple lot owner owes $312,000 across 24 lots

There were some eye-popping numbers in a Jan. 30 post on the Captain’s Golf and Yacht Club Website’s Member Forum about the challenges facing the association on accounts receivables related to unpaid assessments.

The post by CCGYC Direct George Guthridge was a fulfillment of a promise by him to update members on the status of efforts to collect the receavables. Members were generally complimentary about his efforts to research the issue, which also is a top priority of the Cove’s Property Management Team.

According to Guthridge, the largest delinquent amount for one lot is $90,322.12, and the largest delinquent account by one member is $331,992, across 24 lots or 24 separate accounts. On the other end of the spectrum is a

12 cent delinquency.

He declined to identified by the name the parties who owe that much money to the association, citing privacy concerns.

Guthridge said that Pender and Coward, the Virginia Beach law firm working the AR issue for CCGYC, is spending collection time on 92 percent of the 382 delinquent accounts with balances greater than $5,000.

None the 313 delinquent accounts with balances less than $1,000 have been referred to Pender and Coward.

It appears only accounts with significant delinquent amounts are referred to legal for action, he said.

Guthridge identified the investor class of property owners as a significant driver of the association’s receivables problem.

“Of the 517 accounts with a delinquent u


amount of more than $1,000, 148 (29 percent) are held by 59 members with more than one non-adjacent lot. The number of lots held by one member varies from 2 to 24,” he said. “The total amount owed by this group of members is $2,031,261.97, which is 26 percent of the total delinquent amount of the 517 members with balances more than $1,000.”

Of those property owners of multiple properties, Guthridge said that some have made payments in the last year on one or more of their accounts but only three have made payments on all their accounts, noting that 120 or 81 percent of these 148 accounts have been referred to Pender and Coward.

Of these 120 accounts that have been turned over to Pender and Coward, all have made payments in the last year, he said.

“Once again, it appears using Pender and Coward is effective in collecting some outstanding amounts. A casual observation of the payment amounts and dates shows this group of[investor class] members is distributing payments across accounts, [paying] “a couple accounts last quarter, pay a couple accounts this quarter, but not pay[ing] the full balance or pay on all the accounts at any time.”

Guthridge said the data he was reporting on from Jan. 20 differed slightly from the data that Senior General Manager Colby Phillips cited in a report she made public in a Jan. 29 meeting, that Phillips was using updated numbers.

Guthridge repeated what Phillips and other Cove leaders have said -delinquent accounts are the equivalent of $350 on the lot assessment, also affecting the Cove’s income statement and balance. The assessment would be $1,350 if everyone paid in full and on time.

Guthridge suggested that negative impacts on the income statement and balance “will likely result in higher dues in the future. I’m very interested in understanding the issue and seeking ways to lower the impact on our dues,” he said.

Reporting on initial observations on the efforts of the association to collect the unpaid balance, he said they appear to be “inadequate given the number of accounts with significant delinquent amounts. It will take time and effort to improve this situation. The results of similar analysis of the delinquent accounts should be reported to the Board of Directors on a regular basis as we work to improve this situation.”

He took the implied sting out of that observation when he said that the property management team’s efforts have been “effective in collecting some delinquent amounts and reducing the number of accounts being referred to Pender and Coward.

“However, this analysis does not examine the cost of the PMT efforts and does not capture the accounts that are made current through the PMT’s efforts,” he said.

Guthridge wrote that the PMT is

using Pender and Coward “appropriately in that the most egregious accounts are referred to them with significant results. [These] efforts are effective in collecting some delinquent amounts.”

He again noted that his analysis did not examine “the cost of using [the firm] and does not capture the accounts that are resolved though negotiated settlement, litigation, etc. by [the firm’s] efforts.”

He then indicated there were

830 delinquent accounts totaling $8,027,707 as of Jan. 20.

“However, 313 of the 830 accounts have an amount due of less than $1,000 due. These 313 accounts total $112,983.12. None of these accounts have been referred to Pender and Coward,” he said.

Of those 313 accounts, 101 or 32 percent have made payments in the past year totaling $93,419.89.

“It appears that the PMT is some-

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Majerus again details growth in unpaid dues

It’s been an issues for years if not decades, and Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club President Mark Majerus again is raising the issue of how unpaid lot assessments are affecting the association’s finances. His comments were in synch with a recent post on the subject posted on the Cove association’s Member Forum by director George Guthridge..

Together, the importuning represents a concerted effort by the association to rally CCGYC

Unpaid annual dues

From Page 46

what effective in collecting outstanding amounts,” Guthridge said. “Note that the most effective PMT efforts do not appear in this analysis as the accounts aren’t delinquent and don’t appear in the data. Increased PMT efforts will likely result in additional funds being collected and prevent having to refer accounts to Pender and Coward.”

He noted that there 517 delinquent accounts with an amount due of more than $1,000, of which 383 or 74 percent have been referred to legal for collection.

Of those 383 accounts, 214 or 56 percent have made payment in the past year totaling $194,265.27,” he said.

members around the concept of paying their assessments. Lagging payments are already costing members about $350 per year in higher assessments than would be necessary if everyone paid in full.

After laying in details the steps the association takes in collecting receivables, Majerus recounted statistics showing some progress in collections but not nearly enough to solve it.

At the end of December, 2023, there were 817 current members delinquent, a number that had dropped t0 753 as of Feb . 23. But that’s still higher than the 500 delinquencies that have been typical in recent years and for which the association currently budgets.

When that number is missed, and missed by a lot, it affects bad debt expense and that makes Cove finances look a lot worse than they actually are.

According to Majerus, on Jan. 22 of this year there were 491 accounts that owed in excess of $1,500, which had dropped to 450 accounts on Feb. 23 totaling $7.2 million in moneys owed.

On that same date, there were 314 accounts that owed less than $1,500 totalling $124,000 in arrearages.

He noted that last year the association processed about 460 liens and that eventually that results in foreclosure sales. At the next auction, there could be up to six homes sold if the owners

don’t make good on what they owe, he said.

Acknowledging that the Property Management Team is “highly focused” on reducing the delinquencies, he said that without more progress the $350 in annual dues attributable to uncollected dues will have to be increased.

Already, at $1,700 per year, some association members are complaining dues are too high.

Majerus said that 92 accounts have not paid dues from the September 2023 billing, down from 130 the previous months “but still 92 too many.”

He said that $7.3 million is owed by current members and $1.2 million in receivables are owed by past members whose properties were forfeited in foreclosure. Majerus emphasized that a foreclosure does not release a former owner from what is owed from years prior to the foreclosure.

He reminded owners that a working group has been set up to come up with a strategy to collect from this group of former owners, noting it can be an “expensive” process to attach other property that the delinquent party owes.

Majerus said that year to date Pender and Coward, the association’s lawyers, has already collected $55,000 that has been paid to the association, with Pender and Coward paid $19,300 for that effort.

Majerus said he was disinterested in the root causes of why some people don’t pay their assess-

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ments, growing animated when he said that it’s an obligation that is basic to owning property.

He noted that in Sections 14 through 18 where there are no roads, water or power, owners owe the association $670,000, whereas in Section 4 that has all three the receivables are $1.3 million.

Felt said that some property owners have concluded that they owe more in past due assessments than the property is worth, and hence they make what for them seems like a rationale decision to stop paying, perhaps with the expectation that eventually they will lose the property in foreclosure.

Majerus seemed unconvinced.

“We’re coming after you [if you refuse to pay],” he said, no doubt meaning every word.

Part of the solution may be to take collection actions designed to intervene earlier in the process, to prevent very large balances from accumulating.

That seems to be part of the new collection strategy that the Property Management Team is pursuing, with some degree of success, according to recent financial reports.

New format for displaying finances shows $138,000 operating surplus

January produces $42,000 positive variance over budget

Anew format for presenting financial performance shows a much better result for Captain’s Golf and Yacht Club in January than the previous month, when unanticipated bad debt expense threw what would have been a solid December into disarray.

The new simplified net operating income statement does not capture bad debt expense, but it does summarize typical budgetary components such as administration, operations, maintenance and food and beverage.

The Administration line item includes all income except food and beverage and golf. Expenses include payroll, insurances, legal, community events, and utilities.

The maintenance line item includes no income, with expenses including roads, waterfront, golf maintenance, and chemicals (pool and golf course).

Operations include security, the pro shop, and income from golf greens fees and cart fees.

Those who want to see how the bad debt issues affects the way finances are reported can find a comprehensive January budget summary on the Cove Website, in the folder for the Feb. 26 Board of Directors meeting.

The new format, designed by Director George Guthridge working with Senior General Manager Colby Phillips, is an an attempt to provide summary detail by departments in a way that the traditional summary format does not.

The summary shows that CCGYC produced $235,263.14 in net income for January, which was $42,4908 better than budget.

For the four months of the 2023-24 fiscal year, the association has earned $812,229 through January, ahead of budget by $138,420.18.

The summary shows that year-to-date through January, administration is in the black and ahead of budget, operations are slightly in deficit but basically right on budget, and maintenance has a healthy $56,808 positive variance over budget.

Food and beverage service, which CCGYC continu

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New format

From Page 49

ues to provide along with weekend live entertainment during the colder months when losses are more or less inevitable, produced a $16,008 loss in January and missed budget by $19,528.

For the year through January, there’s been a loss of $91,559 in food and beverage operations, under budget by $95,504.

At least some of the deficit will be made up in the summer months, when non-resident owners flock

Financial Report

to Captain’s Cove, and the Marina Club restaurant and outdoor tiki bar are often packed.

As for that bad debt expense that drew so much attention in December, the detailed budget comparison document indicates there was a turnaround, with a positive variance of $125,584. Even so, for the year there continues to be a problem.

Bad debt expense for the year through January is $832,921, over budget by $352,295, and it’s not immediately clear how much of that can be made up in aggressive collection activity.

Jan. 2024 Net Operating by Category

Lots of love in the Cove during February events

February has long been associated with love: love for a spouse, love for family, and love for others. Captain’s Cove Members shared their love for community and friendly competition throughout the past month.

Team members Shannon Wright, Sarah Wright, and Jane Rosen’s love of puzzles was evident as they raced to assemble a 500-piece puzzle in 1 hour and 36 minutes on Feb. 4, beating nine other teams in the first Captain’s Cove Puzzle Race. Second-place winners Diane Vecchio and Liz Riggins will have the chance to steal the crown on April 7 during the next puzzle race.

On Feb. 18, 110 people showed their love for Bingo in the Marina Restaurant at the largest family bingo to date. Members and guests aged 3 to 90 tried their luck, with around 30 players taking home prizes, all donated by community members. The love for this game was so strong that two additional dates have been added, March 24 and April 2.

Many people show their love through cooking; 21 members did just that at the Chili and Chowder Cookoff hosted by the Potluck Committee on Feb. 20.

Around 100 members attended the Potluck dinner, where they tasted various recipes and voted for their favorites. The King of Chowder, Dave Gladysiewicz, placed first, followed by Joyce Almond and



Mark Lamberson. Chili Champion Chuck Shinski won the chili side of the contest, followed by Tom McCarty, Diane Vecchio, and Mary Joe DeLoe. Everyone else in attendance went home with full bellies and full hearts.

DJ Decibull loves Trivia and sharing it with the community. He returned to the Marina Club Restaurant on Feb. 1 for the first in a series of seven weekly Trivia contests.

Open to everyone, the Thursday night games will run through March 14 and are free to play.

Although February is now over, Members and guests alike are invited to continue sharing the love.

If you love competition, music, food, or golf, there is something in March at Captain’s Cove for you.

Easter festivities at Captain’s Cove will begin early this year on March 23, with a Pool Egg Dive and a visit from a very special busy bun-

At right are the winners of the first Captain’s Cove Puzzle Race, Shannon Wright, Sarah Wright and Jane Rosen, who beat out nine other teams. Far right, a competing team hard at work trying the find the right pieces for their puzzle.

The Potluck Committee hosted the Chili and Chowder Cookoff Feb. 20, with about 200 Cove residents tasting the competing chowder and chili entrees.

March 2024 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 51
52 Ocean Pines PROGRESS March 2024
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