October 2022 Ocean Pines Progress

Page 1

PROGRESS

COVER STORY

Vote recount confirms winners in OPA election, but votes of some owners were not counted

Earlier discrepancies were resolved by second of two recounts conducted by the Elections Committee, but issues remain and some OPA directors are unhappy with way the process unfolded

Though hardly anyone who has delved into the results of this summer’s Board of Directors election is convinced that vote totals conclusively reflect the will of the voters, it appears that a hand recount of votes that occurred Sept. 30 will be the final word on the 2022 balloting.

Steve Jacobs, Stuart Lakernick and Monica Rakowski after the recount by the Elections Committee remain as the top three finishers in the contest, thereby winning three-year terms on the Board.

The results are fraught with oddities, with 920 fewer votes counted in the Sept. 30 recount than had been cast in the scanner-assisted count of paper ballots in early August. [See sidebar elsewhere on this page.]

Unless an aggrieved owner of multiple properties or unsuccessful candidate decides to take the OPA to

court, challenging the latest results and asking for a new election, these recounted ballots will be the official revised election results. Even if a court challenge is filed, and there is no indication it will be, there’s no guarantee or even a likelihood that a court would order a new round of voting.

The basis of a lawsuit should someone want to spend the money to hire an attorney would be the emerging, unchallenged fact that owners of multiple lots who received a paper ballot and filled it out for one, two or three candidates did not have those ballots “weighted” to reflect the number of lots owned.

To have the opportunity to cast multiple ballots, these owners would have needed to request multiple ballots, and some did, but apparently there’s no information available on the number of additional paper ballots that were issued.

To Page 5

Final dueling arguments in Janasek case

Some oddities in the Sept. 30 vote recount

Something very odd happened in the hand recount of ballots from the 2022 Board of Directors election conducted by the Elections Committee Sept. 30.

There were a staggering 920 fewer votes counted in the recount than were counted in the scanner-assisted count in August, a reduction from 9,053 to 8,133 total votes cast. The initial explanation given for the huge disparity in votes cast was machine error, errant programming in the scanning software used to count paper ballots.

In contrast, there has been no indication that the off-site software used to count electronic votes in this year’s hybrid voting system malfunctioned.

“This hand count ... verified that the tabulation program needs to be investigated to identify the reason for the reporting an excess of votes, above the maximum number of paper ballots, that were scanned on Aug. 11,” said Carol Ludwig, committee chair, in a report posted on the Ocean Pines Association Website Oct. 1

“The failure to verify the information generated by the tabulation program resulted in an inaccurate report of results by the Elections Committee chair,” she said.

To Page 3

INSIDE THIS EDITION

Ocean Pines ............. Pages 1-33

OPA Finances ........... Pages 34-35

Worcester County .. Pages 36-38

Lifestyles .................... Pages 39-41

Opinion ...................... Pages 43-44

Captain’s Cove ......... Pages 45-63

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Election oddities

From Page 1

One candidate, Steve Jacobs, actually garnered more votes in the recount than he had in the original count, but the other five candidates had fewer votes, some by significant margins. Jacobs’s tally increased from 1,867 votes in August to 1,894 in September, a difference of 27 votes.

While there was a 152 vote difference between Monica Rakowski and Amy Peck in the August vote, that separation was reduced to a mere 15 votes in the recount tally.

Rakowski still won a seat on the Board by placing third in the election, but Peck can make a credible claim that she had a shot of being the third place finisher with a change of just a few votes.

Had the votes of owners of multiple properties who submitted a paper ballots had their votes tallied corresponding to the number of properties owned, many more votes would have been in play. It’s impossible to know whether it would have the outcome of the election.

Second place finisher Stu Lakernick had 1,802 votes in the August count but saw that reduced to 1,682 in the September recount, a drop of 120 votes.

Third place finisher Rakowski had 1,603 votes in August and 1,363 in September, a reduction of 240 votes.

Fourth place finisher Peck’s August total of 1,451 decreased to 1,348 in September, a reduction of 130 votes.

Josette Wheatley, who placed fifth with 1,303 votes in the August count, saw the most significant decrease in the Sept. 30 count, with 990 votes, a reduction of 313 votes.

Paula Gray’s August total of 1,027 votes decreased to 856 in September, a 171-vote reduction.

The election committee report on the Ocean Pines Association Website said the hand count revealed that 2,095 paper ballots and 811 on-line bal-

lots were voted, for a total of 2906. It was a low turn-out election, with about 34 percent of the platted lots in Ocean Pines .

There was no reference in the report to the primary criticism of this year’s election process, the failure to send multiple paper ballots to owners of multiple properties, unless requested.

The failure to do so was one of the issues that roiled local social media in the two weeks prior to the decision by the committee to conduct the Sept. 30 recount.

The cover letter in election materials recommended that owners of multiple properties in Ocean Pines vote electronically, but there’s no indication that option was widely used. Nor was there any instructions given in the cover letter to multiple-lot owners who preferred to vote by paper ballot.

Only late in the process did the committee issue guidance that these owners could request multiple ballots, but with no acknowledgement that their votes would not be weighted reflecting the number of lots owned if they chose not to obtain multiple ballots.

According to the committee report, “the Elections Committee will review our process, investigate glitches in the current tabulation/scanner programs, working for the delivery of accurate information.

“We offer our sincere apologies for two weeks of uncertainty as we moved cautiously towards what was the most immediate resolution - to provide for the current results,” Ludwig said in her report.

However, the Progress has learned that the Board may soon be considering replacing Ludwig because the glitches and disenfranchisement happened on her watch. Pines resident Tom Piatti has been mentioned as a possible replacement.

Both OPA President Doug Parks and Vice President Rick Farr told the Progress recently that a solution to this year’s problems may be to ensure that a ballot is sent to every lot in Ocean Pines. That would overturn the current practice in which a single ballot is sent to owners of record.

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Election recount

From Page 1

But those who didn’t ask, perhaps under the mistaken belief that their ballots would be count ed in a manner reflecting the number of lots owned, had their ballot treated the same way as an owner of a single property owners. That effec tively disenfranchised them.

The Elections Committee apparently has no idea how many owners of multiple properties had their ballots inaccurately counted. A revised elec tion report reflecting the Sept. 30 hand recount did not include that information.

Meanwhile, the candidate who in the revised count narrowly lost her bid for a Board seat by only 15 votes, has no interest in challenging the outcome in court or asking the Board to conduct a new election

“God no, I won’t be suing the association for a new election, even though I think if all the ballots had been counted properly, I might have won,” said Amy Peck, an appointed director running for election this summer who finished fourth behind Jacobs, Lakernick and Rakowski.

Peck said a new election would make Ocean Pines look even more ridiculous elsewhere in the county, and mounting a legal challenge against the OPA is expensive. She said a new election would not be in the interest of the association, which she said needs to move on from what was an unfortunate electoral debacle.

A majority of OPA directors apparently agree that there is no authority in OPA governing doc uments to conduct a new election or to decertify a previously ratified election. While respected for mer chair and member of the By-laws and Res olutions Advisory Committee recently said in an online post an election could be unvalidated if internal vote totals suggest more votes cast than possible by the number of submitted ballots, the Sept. 20 hand recount seems not to have had that as an issue.

The August results, however, surely did.

“It’s over,” said Rick Farr, the Board’s liaison to the Elections Committee, after the hand recount.

“We as a Board and community need to accept that the election is over, new officers have been selected, even if some have questions about the outcome.”

He said the antidote to this year’s debacle is to reform the process so that, next year, one ballot will be issued for each lot in good standing, elim inating the possibility of skewed results from the disenfranchisement of some owners of multiple properties.

The new vote totals in the Sept. 30 hand re count differed substantially from the August pa per ballot results, which relied on a scanner to count the ballots and allocate votes to candidates.

At the very least, the results suggest defects in the scanning equipment used to count paper bal lots, which still constitute the lion’s share of votes cast.

Board and other critics of this years election process say that the committee negligently ig nored language in Board Resolution M-06, Ad dendum A, which in two separate locations says that multiple ballots should be sent to owners of multiple properties.

The cover letter sent to all OPA members with election materials this past July encouraged such owners to avail themselves of the electronic vot ing options used for the first time this year.

The electronic option was set up to allow ac cess to the voting site using an exclusive code, by all indications properly weighted for those with multiple properties.

But there was no methodology set up for own ers of multiple owners who opted to vote using a paper ballot. So an owner who owned five prop erties or ten only could only vote once, disenfran chised for the other properties owned.

These voters had to call to obtain additional ballots, but the cover letter did not include this instruction.

It was only belatedly publicized late in the election cycle after a prominent Ocean Pines res ident, Realtor Marlene Ott, complained about the lack of multiple ballots in her election package.

The Sept. 30 hand recount was actually the second recount of this election cycle.

The week prior, the committee counted the number of ballots cast in a failed attempt to fer ret out a discrepancy that surfaced in the August

Page

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Election recount

From Page 5

totals as reported in the committee’s belated election report posted on the OPA Website on or about Sept. 9.

The recount of the ballots con firmed the number of ballots and votes counted in August but did resolve the discrepancy as first re ported on oceanpinesforum.com by an individual, identified as Chris Radman, who was later outed as us ing a pseudonym and removed from the site by forum administrator Joe Reynolds.

According to Radman, citing the vote totals from the August count, there were 9,053 votes cast in the election for all six candidates, but that’s about 500 more than could have been voted based on the num ber of lots that cast valid ballots in the election.

The math is straightforward, based on 2,839 properties that the Elections Committee has indicated cast valid votes in the election.

Assuming every valid lot voted contained a vote for three candi dates, the highest possible num ber of total votes for all candidates

would be 8517 (2,839 x 3). Yet the elections report says 9053 candidate votes were cast.

The difference was 546 votes, but it could have been much more, if enough property owners opted to vote for one or two candidates rath er than all three.

That discrepancy had much of the social media in Ocean Pines in an uproar.

Board member Frank Daly post ed a message on oceanpinesforum. com urging an independent audit of the election, but that idea didn’t gain traction with his colleagues.

With the reported exception of Colette Horn, who is said to have argued that the Board has no au thority to direct the committee, the directors were in agreement that the committee needed to recount the votes. The hand recount on Sept. 30 occurred after a press release issued by OPA President Doug Parks indi cated that the Board had ordered it.

There was no formal vote for that action, but there was a Board con sensus in favor of the recount, which eliminated the discrepancy that had had social media in an uproar.

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Jeremy Goetzinger of Ocean Pines Aquatics pres ents a $1,550 check to rep resentatives of the Worcester County Hu mane Society. Proceeds were raised during the annual Doggie Swim event, held Sept. 10 at the Sports Core Pool in Ocean Pines. Also pictured are Worcester County Humane Society Man ager Jessica Summers, left, dog care giver Gabrielle Belka, and Moo the dog.

October 2022 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 7COVER STORY

Peck suggests improvements to OPA voting process

Says committee’s published election report lacked sufficient detail

Amy Peck, a former Ocean Pines Association director and a candidate for the Board of Directors this past summer, wants the OPA to do a much better job next year in conducting its annual Board election.

She favored a recount and audit of ballots cast. A handcount by the Elections Committee occurred Sept. 30, and earlier discrepancies that surfaced after an election report by the committee was posted online Sept. 9 seem to have been resolved.

But Peck says much needs to be done to ensure that this year’s is sues don’t recur next year.

She has proposed specific reforms in the process used by the OPA Elec tions Committee to count votes, in cluding a form to be used to provide detailed information about the elec tion.

She made those suggestions in a recent email to the directors.

“I greatly appreciate the Election Committee and their hard work; however, the election report for 2022 has data gaps,” Peck wrote. “I do not see any number for duplicate bal lots -- meaning the number of voters that tried to vote both electronically and by mail and so their ballot was rejected.

“I find it hard to believe that the committee didn’t at least receive one

where the husband mailed the bal lot without telling the wife and the wife voted electronically -- it almost happened in my household LOL.”

Peck said such data is critical in building trust for electronic voting, which she supported in her stint as an appointed director this past year.

“There was much discussion with the Board and the Committee that there would be safeguards to elim inate such an occurrence from hap pening...and yet that data is not in the report,” she said. “I also note that this election report uses “du plicate’ ballots when referring to “replacement” ballots. It notes 811 votes were received online when it should say 811 ballots were received online, etc.”

Peck said her review of prior com mittee reports revealed that there is no set form used to report election information.

She suggested the committee de sign a set form including such infor mation as number of eligible voters, ballots mailed, ballots scanned, bal lots manually counted, letters sent to ineligible voters, replacement ballots requested, [ballot] return percentage, total ballots declared invalid and rejected because they were duplicates (owners trying to vote twice) or missing information, bad copying, or no envelope.

She also said the form should in clude the number of ballots that had

no box marked, that voted for more than the allowed number of candi dates, attempted to write-in a candi date, or were submitted late.

She also suggested that the elec tion report include the cost of con ducting the election, including deta ails on the cost of electronic voting and posting expense incurred.

“Having a set form will ensure homeowners receive all information needed,” she said.

Peck also said the election report must be completed prior to the an nual meeting so that defeated candi dates can evaluate whether there is a basis to ask for a recount.

“Under the current system, a candidate or a homeowner cannot possibly make an informed decision regarding whether to request [a re count as provided in governing doc uments],” she said. “Had I had the information I now have seen in this election report, I obviously would have requested a recount,” she said.

Peck wondered whether there were 500 more votes than possible with the number of ballots because duplicate ballots were not eliminat ed.

“Are the number of ballots count ed incorrect? Are the vote totals incorrect? The only information I had was how many votes I received. Without such a [timely] report, I would have to advise every candi date to demand a recount with the

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reason being “something might pos sibly show up in the election report that doesn’t add up correctly and if I don’t demand a recount now I can’t later. That seems ridiculous.

“My goal is to have every vote counted correctly and have home owners trust the election process and electronic voting. Transparency is critical,” she said.

She made similar comments at the Sept. 24 Board meeting.

“Simply put, this is a mess. My suggestion is a complete audit and policies and procedures put in place to make sure this never happens again. As you know, [as a director] I was a crusader for electronic voting; and this mess is sure to hurt voter’s confidence[in electronic voting] and that is upsetting to me. I am not happy with how this is being han dled thus far.”

Peck criticized the committee’s Sept. 23 recount, calling it “a secret meeting to recount ballots [that] made a bad situation worse.”

It was actually not so much a re count of actual votes but a tallying of ballots in an attempt to nail down the number of paper ballots that went through the scanning equip ment during the August count.

OPA President Doug Parks at the Sept. 24 Board meeting said the review was not “secret” because the door to the room where counting took place was open.

There was no OPA announcement that the Sept. 23 review would oc cur, at what time, and where. There was also no video recording of the meeting.

The Sept. 30 recount was live streamed but with no audio.

Peck said Parks’s defense of the Sept. 23 review “is preposterous and gives me little confidence that the promised transparency is actu ally even being considered.

“From this ‘secret’ meeting, it has been confirmed that the num ber of ballots reported in the elec tion report is correct....which means the voting totals are wrong. Does this mean the outcome of the elec tion is wrong? Not necessarily, but the counts are wrong, and an audit has to happen to discover why,” she wrote.

While there was no independent audit conducted, the hand recount conducted by the committee Sept. 30

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seems to have resolved the discrepancies at issue.

Peck offered some “simple math” to explain the situation before the hand recount.

“[There were] 2028 paper ballots recounted and the number stays the same for a total of 2028 paper ballots and 811 electronic ballots for a total of 2,839 ballots. If every single voter voted their allowance of 3 votes per ballot there are 8517 maximum possible votes yet the election report total is 9053 or an extra 537 votes,” she said.

“Using past election reports the historical votes per ballot range from 2.2 - 2.6 votes per ballot. Using the best case scenario of 2.6 we have 7381 votes possible (2839 x 2.6 = 7381). Reported votes of 9053-7381 means we now have 1632 extra votes. This equals out to 643 households voting twice (1672 divided by 2.6 for 643 ballots).,” she said.

She wondered whether there were duplicate ballots cast in the election.

“The election report makes no mention of duplicate ballots at all. Were ballots run through the scanner twice? Was there an issue with weighted ballots? The election report makes mention of the vote tabulating system crashing several times -- could this be the problem?” she said.

Peck also took exception to a comment calling her a “sore loser” made as she was making her presentation to the Board during the Public Comments segment of the Sept. 24 meeting.

“I hope that Mark Thomas’ very rude heckling of ‘sore loser’ during my public comments is one man’s immature and uninformed opinion and all voters in Ocean Pines have the desire to see that their vote is counted correctly and our election process going forward is smooth and above reproach. Only time will tell how I will be treated by bringing this matter {to the Board],” she said.

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Viola sets out timeline for hiring firehouse consultant

Request for proposals issued in late September, due back by Oct. 31

Awork group formed by the Ocean Pines Association wants to conduct a feasibility study for a capital campaign to help fund construction of a new Southside Firehouse.

General Manager John Viola during his Sept. 24 monthly report to the Board of Directors said the work group has prepared a request for proposals that will be circulated seeking to hire a consultant to con duct a feasibility study for a capital campaign.

The RFP was sent out in late Sep tember. Responses to the RFP are due back to the OPA by Oct. 31. Vi ola hopes to have a proposal before the Board for approval in November and for the consultant to begin work around the end of the year. “We’re going to issue an RFP,” Viola said.

Organizations considering con ducting a capital campaign typical ly conduct a feasibility study prior to embarking on that fundraising strategy to determine issues such as the level of community support and the anticipated financial raise from a campaign.

Viola said the work group in cludes himself and OPA Public Re lations Director Josh Davis, Ocean Pines Public Works Director Eddie Wells, Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department President David Van Gasbeck, and Ocean Pines residents Ted Maroney, Frank Brown, Pete Gomsack, and Marvin Steen.

An additional resident, Marty Clarke, may also join the team, Vi ola said.

The RFP states that the OPA is seeking a consultant experienced with planning and conducting a fundraising feasibility study and is familiar with the homeowners asso ciation and community funding en vironment.

“The plan should assess our cur rent situation and potential fund raising capacity for a campaign and make recommendations on a strate gy to maximize our fundraising ef forts. A project budget, timeline, and action items should be clearly iden tified,” according to the RFP.

The feasibility study will address areas like the OPA and OPVFD’s real and perceived strengths and weaknesses in fundraising, the community’s perception of OPA and OPVFD, identification of po

tential leaders in the fundraising effort, names of potential major donors/funders and what their in terests might be, determination of the amount of money that can be reasonably raised, feedback on the preliminary case for support to identify strengths and weaknesses, other major fundraising campaigns in the area that might compete for

the same donors, and possible alter natives for raising funds needed to complete the project.

It will also address the roles and responsibilities of OPA and OPVFD Board members, staff, and volun teers in a campaign, and the ap propriate time frame for both the campaign planning study and the fundraising itself.

Proposals should include the proposed work schedule, timeline, and deliverables resulting from the feasibility study. The contract is ex pected to begin in late November and should ideally be completed by Feb. 28, 2023. Required deliverables include a findings summary with a list of key donor prospects and

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14 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022

Southside fire station FAQ a little light on hard answers

Afrequently asked questions (FAQ) document drafted by a work group studying the opportunities for funding construction of a new Southside Fire Station and posted to the Ocean Pines Association’s Website last month raised more questions than it answered.

The FAQ indicates an apparent skepticism on the part of the Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Department about the likely success of a capital campaign to help fund the cost of the proposed project, but the OPA has put out a request for proposals for a fundraising feasibility study.

OPA officials have expressed optimism about a campaign’s likely success.

With the RFP for the feasibility study distributed in late September, the FAQ says work on the study would start in mid-November and be completed by Feb. 28, 2023.

“The feasibility study will help determine if a capital campaign run by an outside consultant is the path forward, or if we would be better served having the fire department

Firehouse consultant

From Page 13

their potential interest, including giving range, key areas of the case for support that resonate or hinder, and a presentation of findings to the Board of Directors and key staff.

The next step following the feasibility study will be to circulate an RFP for a consultant to assist the OPA and OPVFD with the actual fundraising effort, Viola said. He added that OPVFD has already secured $1.3 million in grants as well as $300,000 of its own funding designated for the project. The OPVFD has another year and a half to act on those grants, and once work has been initiated it will have seven years to draw on the money.

Viola said if a capital campaign gets under way in about six months that timing would work with the grant timeline, giving the organizations another year to raise all of the necessary construction funds.

In addition to drafting the RFP, the work group has drafted an FAQ on the new south side fire station that is posted on the OPA’s website at oceanpines.org. Viola called the FAQ a “fluid document,” saying it will be updated as new information on the project is gathered.

raise funds on their own, or whether a local coordinator of events is the best path forward.”

The estimated cost for the feasibility study is $20,000. Based on the results of the feasibility study, the work group anticipates having a consultant on board in May 2023 to initiate fundraising efforts. “The cost of a capital campaign will be a fixed amount, which must be offset

against funds raised. That is one of many reasons to conduct a feasibility study as the precursor to launching a full-blown campaign,” the FAQ says.

The OPFVD seems less than optimistic about being able to raise funds for the new south side fire department by reaching out to the community for gifts to support a capital campaign.

“In reviewing other fire department fund raising we are seeing long time frames (five years) and, frankly, limited results. Therefore, it is critical we proceed with the feasibility study as soon as possible,” the FAQ states.

The FAQ didn’t give any specific information about the proposed size of the new fire station or the esti-

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Public Works crew transforms North Gate Bridge

Improvements include new lighting, removal of old lights, power washing and replacement of damaged materials

Ocean Pines Public Works worked through the night, Thursday into Friday morning, Sept. 22 through Sept. 23, on a series of improvements to the North Gate Bridge.

The improvements were transformative, the most significant since the old guardhouse was removed this past winter.

Although there’s still work to be done, improvements to the iconic structure are at last taking shape.

Public Works Director Eddie Wells said his crew installed new lights and removed the 1970’s-era globe lights and light poles.

“And we were finally able to do the repairs from that car accident that happened about a year ago, because those materials finally arrived,” Wells said.

The bridge was also power washed, removing decades of wearand-tear.

“It just looks cleaner overall,” he said.

Wells said next steps in bridge rehabilitation would include metal guardrails installed at the approaches, which are mandated by Maryland State Highway Administration.

That will likely be part of the next budget, with construction potentially starting next spring.

General Manager John Viola said the bridge looked “clean, neat, crisp and streamlined” after the work.

Viola said he’s working on additional bridge rehabilitation ideas with different workgroups, including one with former Ocean Pines Board of Directors member Frank Brown, who owned and operated a contracting business for four decades.

“We will discuss those ideas with the Board, to see what they think,” Viola said. “But what Public Works has done so far is just awesome. I’m

The new North Gate bridge lights recently installed by Public Works.

excited. It looks great!”

He later told the Progress that one of the ideas under review in-

volve bridge railings, not to be confused with the state-mandated approach guardrails.

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Lakernick, Daly state opposition to North Gate electronic signage

Parks joins Horn and Jacobs in supporting a Town Hall presentation by Communications Advisory Committee on latest proposal

Arecommendation from the Communications Advisory Committee to replace the North Gate messaging sign with an electronic sign received a lukewarm reception from the Ocean Pines Association’s Board of Directors during the Sept. 24 monthly meeting.

Two directors went on record in opposition.

Director Frank Daly called the proposal “an expenditure in search of a mission.” He said he doesn’t see installation of an electronic sign as necessary at this time. “It looks like it’s nothing more than we don’t like the old and we want something new,” he said of the committee’s nearly

$21,000 proposal.

He said currently it takes one person to change the sign weekly at minimal cost. And it would take years to recoup the investment in an electronic sign.

Daly said the OPA has other projects it could spend that money on.

“That’s the bottom line for this,” he said.

In a split within the ranks of a voting bloc on the Board, Director Colette Horn took issue with Daly’s analysis.

She contended that the existing wooden marquee signs like that at the North Gate are heavy and awkward for staff to open and hand change the messages. She added that the existing sign of-

ten has old messages on it. On an electronic sign, messages could be changed more frequently, she said.

Horn suggested holding a Town Hall meeting to allow residents input on whether or not the OPA should install an electronic sign at the North Gate. OPA President Doug Parks said he

Firehouse FAQ

From Page 15 mated cost based on any identified square footage.

Instead of directly answsering, it simply said the square footage will be identified when the final design is developed.

It noted that similar fire stations average approximately $420 per square foot, but the actual cost of the new OPVFD building will be identified when plans and specifications are developed.

The document further declined to give any pricing breakdown for site work/utilities, foundation, shell, electrical, plumbing, or other facets of the project.

“That is not available at this point in time. When the final design is generated and approved, that data is expected to be available,” according to the FAQ.

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Mother asks Board to rename skatepark for late son Gavin

Tiffany Knupp says foundation will help fund improvements

The mother of a teenager who was killed in a hit and run in cident this summer is asking the Board of Directors to name the Ocean Pines skatepark in honor of her son.

During the Public Comments seg ment of the Sept. 24 monthly Board meeting, Tiffany Knupp approached the Board with a request to rename the skatepark as the Gavin Knupp Skate Park.

Gavin Knupp, 14, was killed in a hit and run incident in July. Now his friends and family plan to cre ate a lasting legacy for him by doing good in the community through the Gavin Knupp Foundation.

“We have started a foundation, the Gavin Knupp Foundation, and

we plan on doing amazing things here,” Tiffany Knupp told the Board. She said the family is working with an attorney to establish the founda tion and one of its priorities will be to fund improvements at the skate park where Gavin enjoyed spending time with his friends.

Knupp said those improvements could include landscaping, installa tion of solar powered phone charging stations, and extra seating.

OPA President Doug Parks ac knowledged Knupp’s request and said the Board will discuss it at a future meeting.

During his public comments, OPA member Mark Thomas sup ported Knupp’s request to rename the skate park for Gavin, calling it a gesture that would be appreciated by friends and family of Gavin.

Thomas then raised concerns about swimming pool staffing and closures this summer. He said he understands that it has been chal lenging for the OPA to hire life guards but called aquatics “a mess.”

He said he purchased a swim membership for his family but when he would go to the pools they weren’t open.

“I actually canceled my member ship this year because [closures are] not fair,” he said.

He said the businesses and oth er communities that were willing to pay more had lifeguards at their pools this summer.

OPA General Manager has pub licly defended the OPA’s handling of staff shortages this summer, saying pool closures were well publicized in e-blasts to members and residents.

The two most popular pools, the Yacht Club and Beach Club, were never closed, Viola said, adding that staffing shortages at pools have been occurring nationwide.

Jack Levering asked the Board to support improvements at the Ocean Pines dog park. He said he dog park has existed for several years and is becoming increasingly popular.

He asked the Board to invest in building an agility course to in crease interest for dogs using the dog park. He said it is a low budget item. “We don’t ask for much,” he said, adding it is the first request for the dog park in ten years.

Bill Pulket queried the Board

about contractors doing work in the Triple Crown Estates subdivi sion, using King Richard Road for access. He said the community was told King Richard Road would not to be used as a construction entrance, yet he has seen concrete mixers and other heavy equipment using that road.

“I’m concerned about it,” Pulket said, adding that the road was just repaved after waterline extensions about two years.

Parks said he would look into it and would be in touch soon with a response.

Another member asked why the OPA is planning to replace golf carts when its existing fleet is still in good condition. He said the OPA would save money by keeping the existing golf carts for a few more years since they will be fully depreciated at the end of this year.

Amy Peck, former OPA director, chastised the Board for failing to respond to her queries about the results of the recent Board of Di rectors election and ballot recounts. Peck said she had written directors and the chairman of the Election Committee two times without the courtesy of a reply.

Peck alleged there were “more votes than possible given the num ber of ballots.”

She said a recount was done with out the knowledge of the full Board and in a secret meeting. [See articles elsewhere for more details.]

Parks responded that on advice from counsel there was a recount of paper ballots. He said it was done immediately in an open process. He said that recount found that the pa per ballots accurately reflected the count reported at the OPA’s annual meeting.

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Beckelman returns as director of golf

Har tshorne promoted to director of golf maintenance

The Ocean Pines Association has announced the return of Bob Beckelman to the Ocean Pines Golf Club as the new Director of Golf and golf pro

He replaces John Malinowski.

In confirming Malinowski’s pending departure in mid-September, General Manager John Vi ola told the Progress that Malinowski had been in the role of Ocean Pines golf pro for about ten years, working for management companies who ran the golf course for the OPA and also direct ly for the OPA after the OPA resumed in-house management of the course.

“John told me after ten years in Ocean Pines he was in need of a new challenge,” Viola said, adding that he was appreciative of the profes sional manner in which Makinowski performed his duties as golf pro and director of golf.

Malinowski is leaving a golf operation perhaps in the best condition it’s been in Ocean Pines’ 50-plus-year history. It’s in the black operation ally. The course golf itself has green and fairway conditions that make it fun to play, having sur vived what often is a brutal August with innova tive green turf that has defy the brownouts of the

past. Golfers have a new clubhouse to congregate in after a round, with the depressing and moldy Country Club of years past a distant memory.

Beckelman inherits an inviting environment for golf that was simply not present when he left Ocean Pines in 2007, moving to the now closed Deer Run golf course outside Berlin and more recently the head pro at River Run golf course in the planned community just north of Ocean Pines.

In a telephone interview Sept. 27, his first day on the job, Beckelman said he had not yet had an opportunity to tour the Ocean Pines golf course, but he said everyone he’s talked has raved about its condition.

By all accounts Justin Hartshorne, the golf course superintendent and recently promoted to director of golf maintenance, has a mastery of the fine art of maintaining a golf course in a challeng ing environment, Beckelman said.

Viola said he believes Beckelman and Harts horne “hit it off” when they were introduced to one another.

As department directors, both directly report to Viola, a change in a previous management structure when the superintendent was a direct report to the director of golf.

Beckelman said his first task will be to meet and acclimate himself to a new setting, including getting to know staff and learning the computer systems and software that manage the golf oper ation. He said he also is awaiting direction from Viola and the Board of Directors on what kinds of changes or improvements they would like him to pursue as the newly minted director of golf. He also is looking forward to meeting regularly

Page

thru Oct. 27

Bob Beckelman, newly hired director of golf.
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Beckelman returns

with members of the Golf Advisory Committee, whose members have been known to make suggestions to whomever will listen.

According to the minutes of the panel’s August meeting, members identified some areas of concern.

The area in front of gold tee box on hole #9 had wet/soggy conditions and a drainage cover was broken.

The area across cart path on hole #11 was wet, with tire tracks and high grass.

“Fairways in general” was cited as a third area of concern, suggest ing that there will be challenges fac ing both Beckelman and Hartshorne in the months ahead.

“You have to be careful about making a lot of changes, especially when the operation has been work ing as well as it has,” Beckelman said. But he said he believes it’s al ways good to strive to make the golf experience even better for the golf membership and those who play the course without benefit of a member

ship.

Malinowski was known for not necessarily trying to build the mem bership base, which has been hover ing in the 100 range for a number of years. The argument was that the profitability of the course depend ed not so much on prepaid annual memberships as play by OPA mem bers who pay greens and cart fees on a per-round basis. Package play and retail play by those who don’t own property or live in Ocean Pines also is a part of the Malinowski’s formula for success.

Beckelman said he doesn’t dis agree with the need to cater to all segments of the golf population, adding that he is open to coming up with ways to promote pre-paid annual memberships, which in de cades past had participation more than ten times current membership.

The local golf environment began changing in the 1990s, when many new courses opened in the area and Ocean Pines golfers migrated away from playing exclusively in Ocean Pines. That in turn resulted in a loss of revenue and a decline in the

course’s reputation, which literally took two decades or more to reverse itself.

Viola’s strategy for success was to make necessary expenditures to improve the golfing experience in Ocean Pines.

Beckelman grew up in Annapo lis, Maryland and West Chester, Pa., and studied aerospace engineering at Penn State University. He’s been a Professional Golfers’ Association member for 25 years and has lived on the Eastern Shore for the last 35 years. He lives in nearby Berlin.

Beckelman started his profes sional golf career at the Ocean Pines Golf Club, first from 1992 to 1997, and then returning from 2000 to 2007.

“I was hired here originally as an assistant under Buddy Sass, and then left to help build the Deer Run Golf Club, has been at River Run in recent years, and he then came back as the head golf professional in Ocean Pines,” he said.

Beckelman said “a phone call” brought him back to Ocean Pines for a third time.

“Honestly, when I first got into the golf business, I loved it and I enjoyed it so much,” he said. “I had been around Ocean Pines for a while already. When I was in college, I was working summers at the club, and waited tables and I bartended. I just got to know the people and really loved the community, and I had a lot of friends and built a lot of relation ships here.

“Once I started at the Ocean Pines Golf Club, I enjoyed the golf commu nity so much, I planned on working my way up the ladder and eventual ly finishing my career here,” Beckel man continued. “There’s been some changes along the way, but it’s still my plan – I started here, and I want to finish here.”

Viola said he’s happy to have Beckelman back.

“I reached out to the Golf Adviso ry Committee and the golf commu nity, and they all told me this was the right guy for the job,” Viola said. “He obviously knows the club, and he knows the community. I think he’s going to be a great addition to the team.”

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Board approves trio of capital projects

Gas line pumps, roads, Admin building improvements get funding

Atrio of capital projects for road repairs, marina gas link extension, and renovation of the Ocean Pines Association administration building were approved by the Board of Directors during a Sept. 24 meeting. General Manager John Viola provided an overview of the projects during his monthly general manager’s report and then asked for bid ap provals later in the same meeting.

Marina gas pump line

Despite faulty lines that forced the OPA to shut down a few of its pumps at the Yacht Club marina this summer, Viola said the facility was still able to meet boaters’ demand for fuel all summer. “I don’t believe we lost any customers. We had a very good year,” he said.

Now that the boating season is winding down, the OPA plans to replace the gas lines and fuel dispensers to include a fuel management system on C dock at the Yacht Club. The Board voted unanimously to award a $169,520 contract to Petrol Supply Inc. for the work.

Viola said there was a fuel leak at the Yacht Club marina this summer, but the leak was quickly contained. As a result of the leak, the OPA had to shut down some of its pipelines and take off line a few fuel dispensers.

He said the new gas pump and fuel management system will comply with recently updated Maryland regulations and a plan will be submitted to Maryland Department of the Environment 60 days prior to the contrac tor beginning the work.

Viola pointed out that the OPA knew the fuel pipes needed to be replaced as far back as 2012-2013 and they are included in a replacement study.

OPA President Doug Parks noted that the project was not included in the OPA’s budget for the year, but the funding will come from replacement reserves.

Viola added that this project does not include replacement of the marina docks. C dock is included in the replacement study and he said he will be bringing that project to the Board separately for approval.

Secondary roads rehabilitation

The Board awarded a $363,122 contract to Asphalt Maintenance LLC for the annual secondary roads rehabilitation project. The project includes resurfacing about 3 miles of roads, including Barnacle Court, Beach Court, Birdnest Drive, Fosse Grange, Garrett Drive, Ivanhoe Court, Liberty Bell Court, Little John Court, Moonshell Drive, Rabbit Run Lane, Surfers way, Watergreen Lane and Willow Way. The work will be funded through the OPA’s roads reserve fund.

Director Steve Jacobs asked why the unit price for paving is different street by street and also asked why one bidder included an affidavit but others did not. Viola didn’t have an answer to either question, saying he doesn’t get “that far down” into the unit pricing for the repairs. As for the affidavits, he said the OPA asks for it, and sometimes contractors provided but sometimes they don’t.

Administration building

At an estimated cost of $125,000, renovations to the OPA’s administra tion building will be completed in-house with the assistance of a contractor for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and plumbing, Viola said. He added that work will begin in October and be completed by February

“Everything is pretty much up for replacement,” Viola said the adminis tration building. He said the work will include replacing the HVAC, floors, ceilings, and painting the entire building.

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Aquatics communication plan

Viola acknowledged that the aquatics program struggled with staffing the swimming pools throughout the summer season and that necessitated periodic closures of the amenities. He said the OPA communicated those closures using signage, phone messages, its weekly e-blast, and posting the online.

Despite the staffing problems, Viola said the pools has 57,295 guest visits in 2022 through mid-August, with 21,780 of those visit from swim club members. In 2021, the pools had 58,824 visits with 16,908 being swim members. He credited the increase in member usage to the designated members only swim times this season. “It was another successful season as far as I’m concerned”

Viola said that data will be reviewed and assessed during the next budget process, as will membership numbers and the possibility of lifeguard shortages again next year. He said the OPA will try to increase pay for lifeguards next year. “Everybody throughout the country is going through this,” he said of the staffing shortages.

Racquet sports

Construction of four new pickleball courts at the Manklin Meadows recreation complex was completed in August and renovation of existing courts is under way.

The contractor power washed courts and started repairing cracks in mid-September Viola said the total time for the repairs, which he called “major,” about 15 days, weather permitting. He said it will cost about $75,000 for the repairs but, “It’s badly needed.”

Due to the court closure for repairs, the gym at the Community Center is available from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays or portable nets can be taken to Swim and Racquet Club for pickleball play.

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Mailbox repairs

Replacement of faulty pedestals and mailboxes at cluster box locations throughout Ocean Pines began in July. As of the Board meeting, 31 pedestals and 11 mailbox clusters have been replaced, but there are still 56 pedestals and 6 mailbox pedestals scheduled for replacement in high priority locations.

All of the replacement work is being completed in-house by the OPA’s public works maintenance team. Cleaning of mailbox locations is also ongoing. “We’ve made some good progress,” Viola said.

Road restriping

Crews have begun restriping Ocean Pines’ roadways using reflective pain, Viola said. In July the Board awarded a contract for $19,398 to contractor Alpha Space Control Co. for the restriping.

In preparation for the project, OPA Public Works crews were busy edging the road to prepare for line striping.

Residents are asked not to park along several roadsides in Ocean Pines through the first week of October because of anticipated line painting.

Public Works Director Eddie Wells said a contractor hired to do the work could start by the end of the last week of September, weather permitting.

The list of streets scheduled for new line painting includes: Ocean Parkway, Cathell Road (the east side of 589, from Taylor Bank to Ocean Parkway), St. Martins Lane, Mumford’s Landing Road, Yacht Club Drive, Carrollton Lane, Central Parke East and West, Hatteras Street, Federal Hill, Fort Sumter South, Columbia Avenue, and Potomac Avenue.

Drainage work

In August, contractor Pelican Underground began drainage work that includes pipe replacement throughout Ocean Pines. The total project cost is $423,371 for replacement of 19 pipes.

Phase 1 is Juneway Lane, Seagrave Lane, Cannon Drive, Southwind Court, Drawbridge Road and Ocean Parkway at a cost of $187,971. Phase 2 includes Mumford’s Landing Road, Fairway Lane, Whisper Court, Newport Drive and Beaumont Court at a cost of $235,399.

“This is a proven process. We did it last year. We were very successful,” Viola said of the pipe replacement process which involves pushing them underground instead of digging through the road beds. He said the OPA has replaced 30-plus pipes on major roads over the last two years.

Good Samaritans

Melanie Moulden, a resident of The Parke community in Ocean Pines, was assisted by two good Samaritans after a bicycle accident in early September.

Moulden and her husband, Bob, were bike riding along Ocean Parkway on the south side of Ocean Pinewhen her bike skidded on a patch of pine needles. “I fell off the bike and hit the asphalt hard,” she said. “I was lying face first on the parkway when a gentleman in a white truck stopped and helped my husband pick me up. He also rendered first aid to my knee, which I greatly appreciated.”She said a family in an SUV also stopped to help.

“They loaded my bike in the back of their car and drove me home, where my husband met me and took me to [the] Atlantic General Hospital emergency room,” she said. “[AGH] did x-rays on my knee and a CT scan on my head and, although I have bruises and abrasions from head to toe, there are no broken bones. I can’t remember the names of any of the good Samaritans, but I wanted to thank them for their kindness and assistance. There are truly wonderful people in the world.”

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Viola touts success of Sunday football at Clubhouse Grille

General Manager John Viola said in remarks at the Sept. 24 Board of Directors meeting that Sunday football games at the Clubhouse Grille are going well, with jumbo flatscreen TVs and food available inside and outside on the patio.

“The place has been packed the last two weeks,” he said. Two additional televisions are being added so the club can broadcast all of the available football games.

The club broadcasts all the 1 p.m. kick-off games.

“We’re in week three and it’s looking good,” Clubhouse Bar and Grille Manager Judie Scott said in a Sept. 22 press release. “On Sundays, every body is a member when they come in, because it’s member pricing from 12:20 to close. So, we have drinks, food, giveaways and fun times - you can’t get much better than that.

Special pricing on drinks incluces $2.50 Clubhouse Lager, Miller Lite and Yuengling draft beers, $3 domestic cans, $5 import cans, $9 domestic pitchers, and $13.75 import pitchers.

Food specials include $10 for a plate of wings, $10 fish tacos, $11 shrimp tacos. $11 load tots, and $14 for the “Four-Way Sampler” featuring mozzare alla sticks, wings, jalapeno poppers and onion rings.

“We think the Clubhouse, with the great atmosphere, convenient location and the food and drink specials, is the perfect place to watch football, espe cially if you live in the neighborhood,” Viola said. “There’s are plenty of big screens at the bar, and there’s nothing like watching the game outside by the fire pit and under our covered patio.”

Parks welcomes new directors

In brief remarks delivered at the beginning of the Sept. 24 Board of Di rectors meeting, OPA President Doug Parks welcomed the two newly elect ed Board members, Stuart Lakernick and Monica Rakowski, as they and their colleagues “claw their way” through the Board’s to-do list in coming months.

He did not make any reference to the candidates, including two former directors, who did not make it to this summer’s winner’s circle in the annu al Board election. In past years, former directors have been cited and even given parting gifts in a Board meeting soon after the election and Board reorganization.

It’s not clear that this will happen this year.

Board approves revised gas golf cart contract

A motion was offered by OPA President Doug Parks at the Sept. 24 Board of Directors meeting to authorize a change in the previously approved con tract agreement to purchase new Yamaha gas golf carts from Golf Car Spe cialties of Gloucester City, N.J., and Pottstown, Pa.

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Golf carts

From Page 29

According to General Manager John Viola, the vendor has indicated that costs have changed with respect to the price of the carts and the trade-in value of the existing fleet.

The directors didn’t seem particularly bothered by the changes, as Parks noted that they “net out at the original purchase value and expense asso ciated with the contract remains the same as stated in the original agree

ment. The motion as stated is to recognize and document the updates in the original agreement.”

The original deal called for 76 new 2022 Yamaha gas golf carts. The re vised contract specifies that the new carts will be 2023 models, at a cost of $6,395 each or a total of $486,0209.

The revised contract calls for the existing fleet of 76 carts to be traded in at a value of $2,962 each, or a total value of $225,112.

The net price after trade-in is $260,908, the same as it was earlier this year when the board approved the purchase.

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Attorneys file final arguments in Janasek litigation

Decision on the merits is now in the hands of Circuit Court Judge Beau Oglesby

Attorneys for the opposing sides in the Tom Janasek vs. Ocean Pines Association et al. amenity suspension case traded closing arguments in the case in mid-September.

The case, in which the OPA and certain former and current directors are attempting to obtain Court permission to suspend Janasek from accessing restaurant and bar amenities for 90 days, is now in the hands of Worcester County Circuit Court Judge Beau Oglesby to decide.

The case stems from a much publicized incident earlier this year involving a verbal altercation between Janasek, a former OPA director, and then director Josette Wheatley at the Yacht Club. A Board majority voted to suspend Janasek for 90 days because of the incident.

He sued, and obtained a temporary restraining order (TRO) to block enforcement of the suspension pending a decision by the Court on the merits. The TRO was subsequently extended prior to a once-postponed evidentiary hearing in August and remains in effect pending a decision by Judge Oglesby.

Janasek attorney Bruce Bright, of the Ayres, Jenkins, Gordy and Almand law firm of Ocean City, filed a detailed closing argument against the Board’s authority to impose a suspension in early September. The Progress published a detailed account of Bright’s filing in a special

edition that is available at www.issuu.com/oceanpinesprogress.

Bright’s main thesis is that OPA governing documents don’t give the OPA the authority to ban an Association member from OPA amenities for reasons other than non-payment of annual lot assessments or “active violation” of restrictive covenants as determined by the Board of Directors.

But he goes beyond that, citing language in the OPA charter that he says handcuffs the OPA from taking action to restrict access to amenities except for the two specified reasons.

Quoting Section 9 of the charter that reads “there shall be no other preferences, limitation or restriction with respect to the relative rights of the members,” Bright in effect said the Board, in acting as it did in June three weeks after the Yacht Club incident, was acting contrary to the charter’s clear limitations on Board authority.

The attorney for the OPA’s insurance company, Megan Mantazavinos, of the Marks, O’Neill, O’Brien, Doherty and Kelly law firm of Towson, Md., filed a response to Bright’s detailed closing arguments in mid-September, and Bright followed suit with a rebuttal shortly thereafter.

Mantazavinos’s filing offers perhaps the first comprehensive look at the OPA’s defense, although there have been broad indications of its main features prior to this filing.

The argument says that:

• Defendants have authority to selectively impose the suspension on Janasek based on general language in the governing documents empowering the OPA and the Board to “do all lawful things” in furtherance of the “general welfare” of Ocean Pines.

• Since the OPA general manager has authority under Resolution M-02 to suspend amenity use, as delegated by the Board, the Board must have that same authority (which Defendants characterize as unlimited).

• Under what Defendants characterize as Plaintiff’s line of argument -- Bright says it’s a mis-characterization -- no OPA member could ever be barred or removed from the food and beverage facilities, no matter how repetitive or egregious the conduct.

• The business judgment rule insulates the Board’s decision to ban Plaintiff, even if it was incorrect/un-

authorized by the OPA’s governing documents.

• Individual defendants (Board members Colette Horn and Frank Daly and former directors Amy Peck and Josette Wheatley, have immunity under section 5-422 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article.

• The balance of harm weighs in Defendants’ favor because of the “harmful precedent” that would be set if the Court rules for Plaintiff.

• A preliminary injunction will not serve the public interest, because a new state law, H.B. 615, that will prohibit the type of action taken by the Board against Janasek), does not become operative until October 2022. The new law requires extensive due process, including appeals, before an HOA member’s rights to use amenities can be curtailed.

• Plaintiff will not suffer irreparable injury, because he can go to other local food and beverage venues (outside Ocean Pines) during the 90-day suspension.

In his rebuttal, Bright argues that none of his opponent’s arguments “hold water.”

Mantazavinos argues that because the powers and responsibili-

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Closing arguments

From Page

ties to own, operate, and manage the amenities come from the Charter, the Board cannot completely dele gate them to the GM.

“Because the Bylaws reserve to the Board the responsibility to em ploy and supervise the GM, “it is clear that the Board has the ability to override his decisions, and sup plant them with its own, provided that it exercise this ability consis tent with the Charter, Declaration and Bylaws she wrote.

Moreover, “the Board is entitled to exercise its own judgment in interpreting the governing docu ments, even if its interpretation is later found to be incorrect, so long as it does so in good faith,” she said.

Bright in his closing memoran dum took issue with the proposition that the Board may unilaterally reg ulate and deny access to patrons of the public amenities who are also OPA members.

“Relying on principles of contract interpretation, Janasek argues that because he is an OPA member, his status as a patron of the public

amenities is elevated over that of patrons who are not OPA members. As such, he claims that his access to the amenities can only be limited consistent with his rights as a prop erty owner under the OPA govern ing documents. This argument rests upon an interpretation of the gov erning documents which highlights the tensions between the OPA’s role as homeowners association and its responsibilities as the owner and operator of restaurants and bars, but makes no effort to resolve those tensions.,” she wrote.

“A proper application of the very principles upon which Janasek re lies, however, does not lead to the result he seeks. Where, as here, the language of a contract is open to multiple interpretations, the rea sonableness of the result of any giv en interpretation is properly consid ered. An interpretation which would lead to an absurd result is disfa vored,” she continued.

According to Mantazavinos, OPA’s governing documents are subject to multiple interpretations in that they establish dual roles and potentially conflicting obligations for the OPA Board.

“On one hand, the governing doc uments define limited circumstanc es under which an OPA member’s amenities access can be revoked or suspended. These relate primarily to situations where the member con sistently fails to abide by his obliga tions as a homeowner, e.g. failure to pay assessments, or consistent fail ure to abide by the restrictive cov enants.

“On the other hand, the govern ing documents give OPA, through the Board of Directors and the Gen eral Manager, broad discretion in the operation and management of the OPA amenities, particularly those amenities which are open to the public and revenue-generating,” she wrote.

The attorney argues that Janasek’s interpretation of the gov erning documents “which, when it comes to the conduct of members patronizing the public amenities, would completely disregard OPA’s role as a restaurant owner, and its associated duties to the public. Tak en to its logical conclusion, Janasek could not be denied access to a pub lic amenity, no matter how offensive or dangerous his conduct was, un less and until the Board found and declared that he had previously vi olated a provision of the governing documents.”

set forth in the Declarations, Char ter, and Bylaws.

In addition, Bright contends that Board Resolution M-02 “clearly and expressly limits the GM’s suspen sion authority to situations where the member has violated rules, reg ulations, or policies of the Associa tion.“Even if Resolution M-02 con trolled over the OPA Declarations, Charter, and By-Laws (it does not), and even if the GM’s purported au thority in Resolution M-02 could be selectively and arbitrarily usurped and enforced by the Board (it can not), defendants have presented zero evidence (or even argument) of any violation by Mr. Janasek of any stated and adopted rule, regulation, or policy of the Association.

“Indeed, Defendants, even at this late juncture, have presented no ‘rule,’ ‘regulation,’ or ‘policy’” of the Association, the Yacht Club, the Beach Club, the Golf Club, or any other venue that exists, much less has been violated (and/or deemed to have been violated) by Mr. Janasek.” Bright wrote.

He also noted that neither Gen eral Manager John Viola nor any club manager took action to suspend Janasek.

Mon.

p.m.

Berlin ptical

According to this line of reason ing, “he could not even be escorted off the premises in order to break up a physical altercation, or for any other reason, unless he was already found to be in violation of the gov erning documents. Such a result would clearly impede both the Board and the GM from running the pub lic amenities in a businesslike and profitable manner, and result in an untenable, absurd state of affairs.”

Not surprisngly, Bright in his re buttal takes exception to every ar gument made by Mantazavinos.

On the claim that the Board re tains certain rights even after dele gating authority to the GM, Bright says the Board cannot delegate – to the GM or anyone else – authority that it does not have under the Dec larations, Charter, and Bylaws.

He argues the Board cannot cre ate power that it lacks (under the Declarations, Charter, and Bylaws), by adoption of a Board resolution, and purported delegation within that resolution to the GM. Conse quently, no Board resolution, includ ing Resolution M-02, can properly be read as creating Board (or GM) authority that is beyond the scope of explicit limitations on Board powers

Bright also took aim at the argu ment that not being able to suspend Janasek for his behavior means the OPA is handcuffed in the future should some sort of similar conduct occur.

“The Ocean Pines Police can take action against bad actors violating laws and causing mayhem at Ocean Pines venues. The local Courts can take action against bad actors vio lating laws and causing mayhem at Ocean Pines venues. No doubt, bar managers have, throughout the his tory of Ocean Pines, dealt effective ly with rowdy behavior, without the OPA Board ever becoming involved and without action being taken against members’ contractual ease ment amenity rights.

He also said the defendants can’t take refuge in the business judg ment rule, which he wrote does not protect the defendants in this in stance.

“When, as plainly demonstrat ed in this case, the Board of a nonstock corporation such as the OPA acts arbitrarily, inconsistently with its own governing documents, and beyond the scope of its powers, its actions – for obvious reasons – are not legitimate and do not enjoy the protection of the business judgment rule (including as codified in the Maryland Code),” he said.

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OPA notches a $161,000 surplus in August

Positive operating fund variance for the year approaching $700,000

The Ocean Pines Association recorded a $161,413 operating fund surplus by de partment in August, bringing the cumula tive surplus for the first four months of the 202223 fiscal year to $693.518.

According to a financial report by Controller/ Director of Finance Steve Phillips, the August positive variance to budget resulted from reve nues over budget by $231,369 and expenses over budget by $69,956.

The positive operating fund surplus for the year through August resulted from revenues over budget by $728,360 and total expenses over bud get by $354,842.

In August all amenity departments except for tennis and platform tennis were in the black.

All amenity departments except for tennis, pickleball and the Clubhouse Grille had positive variances.

For the first four months of the fiscal year, all amenity departments were in the black, many by sizable amounts, and all but one, the Clubhouse Grille, were ahead of budget.

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‘Historic’ transfer of surplus funds approved

$350,000 to go to roads reserve, rest goes to pickleball and cluster box refurbishment

The Board of Directors has formally approved a $575,000 transfer out of the flush operating fund surplus for purposes previously identified by General Manager John Viola.

The unanimous approval of the Board occurred during its Sept. 24 monthly meeting.

Of the $575,000, $150,000 will go to cluster mailbox refurbishment, $75,000 will go for pickleball court improvements, and $350,000 will be a direct transfer to the roads reserve, bringing it much close to $1 million balance long sought by the Budget and Finance Advisory Com mittee.

After Viola formally requested board approval of the transfer, Direc

Operating surplus

From Page 34

The Yacht Club was the top pro ducer among the amenities in Au gust, with a $132,807 operating sur plus.

The Yacht Club also was the amenity with the largest positive variance to budget ($35,079).

For the year through August, the Yacht Club has netted $298,532 with a positive variance to budget of $113,970.

A year ago through August, the Yacht Club had netted $503,726 in earnings.

This year’s modest decline is at tributed to the fact that the OPA has begun accruing for the Matt Ortt Companies profit-sharing earlier than usual, OPA General Manager John Viola said during the Sept. 24 Board of Directors meeting.

The Beach Club concluded its busy season with a $91,667 oper ating surplus, ahead of budget by $33.386.

For the year through August, the Beach Club has netted $225,727, ahead of budget by $73,513.

A year ago through August, the Beach Club had netted $203.327.

Similarly, beach parking is hit ting it out of the park for the year, helped by a $7,373 operating sur plus in August and a positive vari ance over budget of $8,970.

Through August, beach parking netted $447,981, ahead of budget by $18,453.

A year ago through August, beach parking had netted $412,641.

Golf operations continue to be a top producer, netting $35,697 in Au gust and generating a $32,738 posi tive variance to budget.

For the year through August,

golf operations are in the black by $486,116, the OPA’S leading ameni ty department by that measure.

Golf had an cumulative posi tive variance through August of $159,618, also the leading amenity department by that measure.

A year ago, golf had generated $430,227 in net earnings.

Aquatics continues to out-per form, recording a $9,573 operating surplus in August and a $15,601 positive variance to budget.

For the year through August, Aquatics was in the black by $350,010, with a positive variance to budget of $114,642.

Aquatics is ahead of year’s last’s net by about $100,000.

Last year’s Aquatics net at the

tor Colette Horn said it was made possible by the outstanding perfor mance of the Ocean Pines Association’s management team and particu larly Ocean Pines amenities. “It’s historic,” she said.

OPA President Doug Parks called the transfer a “great example of applying an [operating fund] surplus in a practical way.” He said the budget and finance committee has been recommending “beefing up the roads reserve” for quite sometime and this makes it happen.

Director Frank Daly said “it’s a lot more fun dealing with a surplus” than it is dealing with a huge deficit, as he and the Board were facing when he first became a director more than three years ago. He said ame nities during that time moved from mostly deficit operations to surplus.

He said care would need to be taken to ensure that “we don’t go back ward” in amenity operations.

end of August was $249,676.

Despite having some gas pumps out of commission because of a gas leak, the Marina Club appears not to have to lost any revenue, Viola said during the Sept. 24 board meet ing.

Marinas netted $19,355 in Au gust, ahead of budget by $5,385.

For the year through August, ma rinas netted $267,736, ahead of bud get by $17,156.

A year ago through August, ma rinas had netted $269,296 for the OPA.

All three Racquet sports are ahead of budget through the end of August.

Pickleball is the leader, with $58,872 in net earnings and a pos

itive variance to budget of $16,564.

A year ago through August, pick elball had netted $43.760 for the OPA.

All assessment departments with the exception of compliance/permits have positive variances to budget through August.

Reserve summary -- The Aug. 31 reserve summary indicates to tal reserves of $8.513 million, down from $9.159 million in July, $9.385 million in June and $9.624 million at the end of May.

The replacement reserve balance as of Aug. 31 was $6.1 million, with bulkheads and waterways at $1.369 million, roads at $703,201, drainage at $360,532, and new capital at a negative $19,676.

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October 2022 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 35OPA FINANCES

Commissioners vote to give themselves more time to buy land for sports complex

Bertino, Bunting continue to oppose project that may gain some backing from the Maryland Sports Authority

While Ocean Pines’ rep resentatives continue to oppose the project, a majority of Worcester County Com missioners is pushing forward with planning for a new sports complex near Stephen Decatur High School in Berlin and voted to extend the closing date for their $7.5 million contract to purchase the land. In an other 4-3 vote, the commissioners on Sept. 20 agreed to extend the settle ment date to Jan. 31, 2023.

County attorney Roscoe Leslie presented the property purchase settlement extension, saying the commissioners need to identify a funding source for the proposed pur chase of property for the sports com plex. That appears unlikely to occur before the current proposed settle ment date of Sept. 29, 2022.

So he drafted a contract extension that was agreed to by the property’s owners Helen F. Faucette, Hale Har rison, and John Henry Harrison.

“My understanding is the sellers are amenable to this date or poten tially other dates,” Leslie said.

Commissioner Josh Nordstrom made the motion to approve the con tract extension, with Bud Church offering a second, and Joe Mitrecic and Diana Purnell in support. Com missioner Chip Bertino, Jim Bun ting, and Ted Elder were opposed.

Bunting asked about a news ar ticle he read that indicated the Maryland Stadium Authority was performing a study for a new field complex in Ocean City.

Mitrecic said the Maryland Stadi um Authority is doing a study at the request of the Town of Ocean City. As part of that effort, MSA will con sider how much funding they may be able to contribute to the county’s proposed sports complex project, he said

“If Ocean City is intending on do ing it in Ocean City, then there’s no need to even extend the contract” on the Berlin land, Bunting said.

But Mitrecic said the Ocean City

isn’t considering an in-town project but is simply paying for the MSA study in support of the county’s sports complex project. He said the study will provide a recommenda tion for the size and scope of a new facility as well as cost estimates. MSA will also indicate how much money it could contribute to the project, he said.

“We were accused of rushing this through in the beginning, and now everybody’s wondering why we ar en’t moving,” Mitrecic said.

Bertino wanted to know what the procedure would be for securing that funding and whether it would be a grant or a loan to the county. “Do we know any of that? How does this work?”

He also asked if the study process takes longer than January 2023 whether the Berlin property would still be available to the county.

“If they don’t sell it to us, I don’t believe they’re going to sell it,” Mi trecic said of the property owners. He said the only reason they are interested in selling the property is because it would be used for the sports complex.

In a Sept. 28 letter to Leslie, Vince Gisriel, chairperson of People for Fiscal Responsibility, maintained a position that in order to purchase the land the commissioners must pass a resolution or bill.

“I submit that a land purchase which facilitates a major capital project requires a resolution or bill, to be voted upon, and only after proper advanced, advertised notice; and thus, subject to referendum by the people.” A majority of the com missioners voting to enter into a contract for the land acquisition fol lowing a public hearing doesn’t meet that criteria.

Gisriel also argued that the ac tual contract of sale, which was not seen by all commissioners before its signing, should be signed only after a separate resolution or bill is ad opted. “Again, in my opinion, a sim ple voice vote is not sufficient.”

He also questioned why the coun

ty signed a contract to purchase the land for $7.15 million, when the cap ital improvement plan showed land projected at $2.38 million.

In August, the commissioners voted to spend $28,000 to study ac cess to Route 50. Bunting and Berti no, along with Elder, were again the minority dissenters during an Aug. 2 meeting when the commissioners voted 4-3 to sign a contract for the highway access study.

Mitrecic and Church, along with Purnell and Nordstrom, continued to push the project forward.

During the meeting Weston Young, chief administrative officer, presented a proposal of $28,523.62 from Wallace Montgomery for engi neering services for a Route 50 ac cess evaluation of the 95.521-acre parcel located west of SDHS that is under contract by the county as the site for a sports complex.

“Given the location and given the rural nature of Flower Street to the south we are interested in identify ing the best access points onto Route 50. We’ve identified an engineering firm that is frequently utilized by Maryland Department of Transpor tation and State Highway Admin istration specifically. And we feel they’d be the ideal firm to look at potential access points,” Young said.

He said the objective is to funnel the bulk of traffic accessing the site away from Flower Street and onto Route 50.

Bunting asked how ingress and egress from Route 50 could be de termined before a site plan has been developed that identifies the lay out of the proposed sports complex. “How are they determining what they’re going to do without an actual site plan?” he asked.

Bunting said the county staff should simply reach out to the State Highway Administration to discuss the is-sues instead of having the county spend money on a consul tant.

“For this kind of money, we don’t own the property. We don’t know what the situation is going to be

with the property. Simple phone calls and communications with the State Highway will tell you wheth er you’re going to be able to get an access f of Route 50 or not,” he said, adding “I can tell you the plats for Route 50 only show one spot on the whole property where there was allowed access to the property and that appeared to be just for farming equipment.”

He said because there is a merge lane from Route 50 into the high school, it will be very difficult to have any type of entrance off of the highway for a sports complex.

“I just wonder if it would make more sense to talk the State Highway,” Bunting said, adding that SHA officials could provide input on the likelihood of the state granting an access point on Route 50 without the county spending any money.

Young acknowledged “there are a lot of unknowns” and the county wants to coordinate with the local SHA district office. But, he said, the decision about Route 50 access will be made by officials in Baltimore. The study will help the county com municate information to those ap proving officials in Baltimore.

He stated that Wallace Montgom ery will develop a concept plan that the county can share with the Town of Berlin and can take to the State Highway Administration office in Baltimore to request access to the property from Route 50.

“Have we had any conversations, meetings with Town of Berlin over this piece of property?” Bertino asked. Young responded “not yet.”

“At some point, are we going to have conversations with the Town of Berlin?” Bertino then asked.

There was no indication when that might happen.

Bertino supported Bunting’s rec ommendation of contacting officials at the local SHA office to discuss the issue before hiring an engineer.

“We’re looking at spending $28,000 for a scope of work, a pro posal when we could just pick up the phone and call someone at SHA and say ‘hey is this possible or not?’ At least that would give us a guide-line before spending this money,” he said.

Since no one has had any conver sations with Berlin, the county does not own the property, it does not know what it can develop on the site, how a sports complex would be con figured, or how the county is going to pay for it, Bertino was loathe to spend any funds on an access study.

36 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022 WORCESTER COUNTY
To Page 38
October 2022 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 37

Ratepayers escape $60 flush tax

Service area reserve will pay the state $540,000 after accident sends nitrogen levels above the maximum limit allowed

Even though the Ocean Pines wastewater treat ment plant’s failure to meet nutrient removal guidelines was the result of negligence by a Worcester County worker, the Ocean Pines Service Area will pay the more than $540,000 in bay resto ration fees to the State of Maryland.

While Ocean Pines ratepayers will not directly have to shell out the $60 per equivalent dwelling unit fee from which they typically receive a waiv er, the money will be taken from the OPSA reserve fund. That reserve fund is in turn funded by the same rate payers to help cover the cost of future capital expenses.

The Worcester County Commissioners on Sept. 6 voted 5-2, with only Chip Bertino and Jim Bunting in opposition, to fund the full payment for the bay restoration fund from the OPSA reserve fund.

Bertino said the county, not the residents of Ocean Pines should be required to pay the bay restoration fee since the circumstance that lead to the Ocean Pines treatment plant failing to meet the discharge permit limit was caused by a member of county staff rather than a natural occurrence or equipment fail ure.

“I don’t think it’s fair at all for the service area to pay for this because it was a government screw up,” Bertino said. He argued that the county holds rate payers responsible and makes them pay for prob lems caused by their negligence and “so too I think the government needs to step up and take responsi bility for this.”

Bertino called the motion grossly unfair. “A gov ernment employee did not report this and as a re sult a multimillion dollar facility was put in harm’s way and as a result we lost our rating.”

Dallas Baker, county director of public works, requested commissioner approval for an intergov ernmental grant for approximately $540,000 from the General Fund to the OPSA to pay the lump sum fee since the failure to meet the nutrient load re quirements was caused by county staff negligence. If the BRF is not paid in a lump sum, then MDE will charge every user in the Ocean Pines sewer district $60 for the year.

Baker said he was asking for grant “because it was something that was the fault of the personnel within the department and shouldn’t be passed on to the rate payers because of an issue that was cause from internal operations.”

But a majority of commissioners balked at Bak er’s suggestion. Instead Elder made motion that the funding be withdraw from the OPSA reserve fund. “Basically because of the good job that is normal ly done, they’re getting a discount from the state of that $60 a year,” Elder said. “Because everybody else in the county’s paying that. Including the people with septic systems.”

Baker said that is correct.

“I certainly understand my colleagues feeling the way they do,” Bertino said. But the problem that occurred was as a result of the irresponsibility of a public works worker…” That person didn’t report the problem resulting in the failure to meet nutrient requirements.

Elder said it would not be fair to county tax pay ers to pay the fees for the OPSA. “Every home that’s in my district pays that $60.” They should not be ex pected to pay for Ocean Pines’ discount too, he said.

“If I have a slip up with my septic tank or my drain field, the government’s not stepping in and paying to repair that. It’s all going to be on me,” he said.

The Maryland Department of the Environment assesses the BRF annually to treatment plants that have accepted federal or state dollars or that have not met their discharge permit limits and the fee is passed along to all rate payers in the service area. The fee is also paid by septic system owners where the systems do not meet stringent nutrient guide lines. OPSA rate payers have never been subject to the fee because the treatment plant has always meet or exceeded those nutrient load requirements until 2021.

The OPSA treatment plant did not meet its an nual average nitrogen limit for calendar year 2021. Ocean Pines has an annual average nitrogen limit of 3.0 mg/L, but in 2021 the plant’s annual average was 4.3 mg/L.

Baker explained that on January 10, 2021, it was discovered that a rake head had fallen into a treat ment unit, that it had clogged a pipe, and the entire treatment unit had to be drained to clear the clog. “Operators typically keep rakes on top of the treat ment units to dislodge any floating debris that might get caught up on the clarifier arms,” Baker said. “We suspect that the head fell off the rake, got into the pipe, and clogged it up.”

In response to the issue, the 2-piece rakes previ ously used at the facility have been replaced with rakes that have the head and handle fabricated as 1-piece. “In addition, it has been reinforced to staff to report incidents such as this immediately. Time ly notification can help prevent a problem before it starts,” he said.

The Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors discussed the issue briefly at its Sept. 24 meeting but didn’t have a clear understanding of what had transpired at the commissioners’ level. Director Monica Rawkoski said the county had approved a “grant” to cover the lump sum cost of the BRF so ratepayers wouldn’t have to pay the fees.

General Manager John Viola said the county has indicated that the fee would not be part of any rate increase to customers of the OPSA. Instead, he said they indicated some type of billing to the Glen Rid dle Service Area for wastewater treated through the Ocean Pines plant could cover the cost.

That scenario was not discussed at the most re cent commissioner meeting.

Sports complex

From Page 36

“Because we haven’t figured all that stuff out yet,” he suggested someone make a few phone calls “in stead of spending $28,000 for some thing that may or may not come to fruition.”

Nordstrom, made the motion to move forward with the study, sup ported by Church, Mitrecic, and Purnell, and opposed by Bertino, Bunting, and Elder, to accept the proposal from Wallace Montgomery for engineering services.

Calling the study and important part of the evaluation process, Nord strom said “I think we need to move for-ward with this as soon as possi ble.”

Young also provided an update on the results of the phase I envi ronmental site assessment (ESA) of the sports complex property. “It’s a high level study but it looks at prior uses of the site and digs into what they call where there any known recognized environment conditions. It provided a wonderful 150 pages to read.”

John D. Hynes & Associates, Inc. performed the ESA that iden tifies existing or potential envi ronmental contamination liabilities and is considered due diligence be fore executing a contract to acquire the property.

RECs are defined as the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products in, on, or at a property that could pose a threat.

If a study identifies significant ar eas of concern, a Phase 2 ESA can be pursued to evaluate subsurface evaluations to detect the potential contamination and offer remedia tion alternatives.

The evaluation determined the site does not have any recognized environmental conditions, but there are vague reports of potential RECs on other parcels that neighbor this site. Therefore, the environmental engineers that evaluated the site recommended that soil borings be completed on areas of the property that abut these areas.

Should the commissioners wish to move forward with closing on the contract on the property, a funding source must be determined.

Further, the costs of design and construction of this project were to be funded by a general obligation bond that is subject to a ballot ques tion on the November general elec tion ballot.

38 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022 WORCESTER COUNTY

Jeremy Goetzinger:

Aquatics front de sk staffer and a top paracycling athlete

Since 2017, Jeremy Goetzinger has been a friendly and helpful presence at the front desk for Ocean Pines Aquatics. He also hap pens to be one of the top paracycling athletes in the U.S.

Goetzinger was born in Washington, D.C., grew up in Waldorf, Md., and later lived and worked in Las Vegas as a project manager and electrician.

In his 20s, he was diagnosed with a rare con dition called Buerger’s disease that affects blood vessels in the body, most commonly in the arms and legs. That led to the amputation of both legs and several fingers.

“It’s something that only happens to one in 800,000 men in their 20s, and it basically it cuts the circulation off to your fingers and toes,” he said. “I went through seven or eight amputa tion surgeries and of course it became difficult to maintain the construction job, so I kind of did a 180 with my health.”

He said that included eating better and play ing sports.

“I started doing some of the things that we al ways say we’re going to do as far as my health and athletics,” he said. “I played wheelchair bas

ketball for three years and won a national cham pionship in 2011 for the NWBA (National Wheel chair Basketball Association), and then right after that is when I met Katie.”

Katie and Jeremy are now married. She also grew up in Waldorf and worked as a summer camp counselor in Ocean Pines while in college. That connection led the couple back to the com munity in 2013. They have a 10-year-old daugh ter, Paisley, and another child on the way.

“We moved here so Katie could work here and so we could raise our kids here,” Goetzinger said. “She had always wanted to live here, and her old boss said she would love to have Katie as an employee. We came down, house hunted for two weeks and bought a house, and she started work ing right away.”

Katie became the program supervisor for the Ocean Pines Recreation and Parks Department, and Goetzinger stayed at home with Paisley until she was old enough for school. He worked at the Ocean Pines Racquet Sports Center for two sum mers and then took a job with Ocean Pines Aquat ics, where he’s worked for the last five years.

At Aquatics, Goetzinger handles reservations and guest check-ins. He’s also been instrumental in the department’s adoption of the NorthStar

software systems.

During the summer, the front desk role can be a busy one, with scores of swimmers coming to the use the pools. Despite the rush, Goetzinger is a dependably calm and smiling face at the front desk.

“The things that I’ve gone through with my health and surgeries just gave me a love for life,” he said. “I just have the attitude that it’s easier to be nice to everybody. I love talking to people and helping them any way I can.

“I also just love Ocean Pines,” he continued. “Even today, I spent my whole morning running from place to place in Ocean Pines helping peo ple.”

Goetzinger said there aren’t enough people in the area to play adaptive team sports, so he switched to handcycling, essentially a threewheeled bicycle powered by the arms rather than the legs.

He also became involved in nonprofit work with Achilles International of Maryland, an orga nization that promotes disabled athletes.

“I just knew that there was a need on the shore to help people with disabilities get out there and participate,” he said. “We basically helped anyone

Jeremy Goetzinger with his paracycle and at work in Ocean Pines.
October 2022 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 39LIFESTYLES
u

Goetzinger

From Page 39

with any physical disability participate in main stream sports.”

For two years, funds from the Freedom 5K event hosted by Ocean Pines Recreation and Parks helped to sponsor food and snacks for the roughly 100 paracyclists who participated in the annual Marine Corps Marathon.

“For almost 100 people, Ocean Pines basically sponsored their pizza parties and all of their Ga torades and peanuts,” he said.

Because of his involvement in veterans’ groups, Goetzinger also worked with the late Anna Foul tz and her Star Charities nonprofit. Foultz pre sented a $1,500 check to Goetzinger and Achillies International in October 2019, one month before she passed away.

“Her charity helped us out and, me not being a veteran, I took all that money and we sponsored another dinner at the Marine Corps Marathon, and then we helped two local veterans buy equip ment,” Goetzinger said.

Goetzinger said his Achilles International chapter closed during the pandemic, in part be cause there just were not enough local people taking advantage of the funding.

“It was hard to get that handful of people out of the house to participate, and I didn’t want to collect funds through a nonprofit just for myself,” he said. “But we would always do it again if we could.”

Goetzinger, however, continues to compete and excel in both regional and national competitions.

He finished second in the Mid-Atlantic Pa ra-Cycling Series in 2018, and first in 2019, 2021 and 2022. He’s also placed near the top in the New York City Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon.

“Next year, the goal is to try to win the Mid-At lantic region again, and that has six-to-eight rac es each year. I also hope to win the New York City Marathon,” he said. “I’ve gotten as high as fifth place in that event.”

Goetzinger started a GoFundMe to raise mon ey for entry fees and related expenses. For more information or to donate, visit https://www.go fundme.com/f/2023-race-season.

Goetzinger credited the Aquatics Department’s recent financial success to the management of Aquatics Director Kathleen Cook.

“Kathleen has used the staff in a more mean ingful way than in years past, and that helped minimize some of the expenses that weren’t cre ating great revenue,” he said. “It’s really worked out in the department’s favor. She has Michelle [Hitchens] that’s handling all the classes and swim lessons, and then she’s used myself and an other front desk staff member to help keep things running smoothly.”

Goetzinger said both he and Katie “just love working for Ocean Pines.”

“I look forward to every summer and offseason to seeing two groups of Aquatics members and guests. I also love working the birthday parties there and going the extra mile to make sure all the residents and guests that come there are happy,” he said. “I think Katie takes the same ap

‘Santa Claus elf’ sends letters to local children and beyond

Captain’s Cove senior general manager has offered free service for more than ten years

For more than a decade, Captain’s Cove Senior General Manager Colby Phillips has partnered with the North Pole to help send letters from Santa Claus to local children. and children all over the United States.

Eleven years ago, Phillips said she went on line to look for a service that would deliver a holiday letter to her two daughters, then 10 and 5 years old.

“There were plenty out there, but they cost upwards of $15. That seemed high for a letter I could probably write myself, with Santa’s help,” Phillips said. “So, Santa and I came up with a fun letter and offered the same service to a few friends, and it’s just grown over the years.”

Each year, Philips sends letters from San ta to 1,000 children in the Worcester County area and beyond. She starts in October to keep up with the high demand, and said she’s used enough glitter over the years to fill several large warehouses.

“My house glistens for a few months, and I usually have someone tell me I have glitter on my face at some point,” she said.

Phillips became acquainted with St. Nicho las when she was just a little girl. “Because I have always believed in him, he trusts me to help him carry out this important tradition,” she said. “He truly is a jolly person! And his sweet tooth is as big as mine, so we enjoy dis cussing letters over sweets!”

Along with getting to know Father Christ mas, Phillips said she’s also met with his lov able, furry sidekicks.

“The reindeer are wonderful!” she said. “Last year, our story focused on a reindeer named Peppermint was born into the family and Santa sent a picture in his letters to all the children. This year, he will talk about Gum drop the elf! She is super cute and sweet, and I think the children will love reading about her. We will be sending a coloring book again, and I can’t thank Thom Gulyas and Emily enough at Ace Printing for printing these coloring books.”

Community donations over the years have helped cover the cost of sending the letters, and neither the North Pole nor Phillips has ever charged for the service. If anyone would like to contribute towards postage or material, they can venmo at @santaphillips or mail a check to “Santa” at Ace Printing in Berlin.

Richard Ludwick of Captain’s Cove drew this illus tration for this year’s letter to local children from Santa. He is also drawing the inserts of the color ing book that’s sent with the letter to local chil dren.

clude the child’s name and address.

“If children write a letter to Santa -- he loves those! -- they can drop them off at the Ocean Pines post office or the Captain’s Cove Marina Club front desk, as I also receive those,” Phil lips said. “A personalized letter will be sent

To receive a letter from Santa, simply email santaphillips@yahoo.com by Nov. 15 and in u

proach to her job and her programs.

“We love it here, and we plan to be here for as long as Ocean Pines will have us. We always just try to be positive, and to encourage people

to come and participate in all the things that we have,” he continued. “And, of course, we’re both really looking forward to welcoming the new baby in April.”

40 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022 LIFESTYLES

To those caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s and dementia: ‘You are not alone’

Support group meets twice a month in Ocean Pines

For several years, Billie Cham bers struggled to cope with each new symptom of her hus band’s dementia.

“In the beginning, his symptoms were intermittent: sometimes sur prising, annoying, quirky, but man ageable,” she said. “Near the end, his symptoms were increasingly debili tating, sadly predictable, frighten ing, and nearly impossible for one person to manage.”

For those struggling to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or de mentia, Chambers’ message is sim ple: ou are not alone.

The MAC Alzheimer’s/Relat ed Dementia Caregivers Support Group meets twice each month at the Ocean Pines Library, offering caregivers professional support, access to resources, and encourage ment from others in similar situ ations. Meetings are held on the second and fourth Thursday of each month, from 3-4 p.m.

“Dementia is an ugly disease, and increasingly common. It can suck the life out of those who have it as well as the people who care for them at home,” Chambers said. “Through out the years of Paul’s dementia, we were blessed with the support of family and friends, for which I’m forever grateful. And yet, as with most life changing events, until you are actually living it, you can’t truly understand it.

“And that is the value of being part of our local dementia/Alzhei mer’s support group,” she continued. “Everyone is being affected by some stage of the disease. Each person can offer help and insights that only ex perience brings. For me, taking part in the group educated me, calmed me, sometimes made me laugh, and gave me hope that I could handle both our present life and what the future might hold.”

“If you have questions, need help, or just need to vent a little, this is a great place to start,” Chambers said.

Margaret White has run the

meetings in Ocean Pines for about a year and a half. She is the director of the Life Bridges program for MAC Inc., a Salisbury-based group creat ed to help older adults live with dig nity and thrive in their homes and community. MAC is one of the old est agencies on aging in the United States.

“In the Ocean Pines communi ty and surrounding area, we know that there is a need, and we need to make sure people are aware this is available to them,” she said. “We really have an interest in how we can reach the community and let them know we are holding these meetings, and that we are there for them,” she said.

Mark Bender, an Ocean Pines resident, has cared for his wife, who has Alzheimer’s, for eight years. He’s been going to support meetings for six years.

“It’s basically a group of people that has the same issues, and you can talk about your problems and try to help each other,” he said. “It helps just to hear other people tell their stories and hear their sugges tions.”

He said those, like himself, who

have been caring for someone for an extended period are able to share their knowledge.

“You let people know what the journey is going to be like, especially for those in the first year or the sec ond year,” he said. “It can certainly help to hear other stories. And you don’t even have to share – you can just listen.”

For many, White said caring for a partner with Alzheimer’s or de mentia can be one of the biggest challenges of their lives. That’s why the help, support and experiences of others is so important.

“Some people are a little tentative at first, but most realize the support, the friendships, the information that they receive is so helpful,” she said. “Having the opportunity as a caregiver to step away for a few mo ments each month and be able to be with others who are going through similar situations – they can be un derstood and they can get that sup port they so greatly need.

“They also build a bond,” she con tinued. “Most of the time, the facili tators stay quiet. We’re there to sup port and we will answer questions.”

Bender said there are many in

Ocean Pines who could benefit from the support group.

“It’s definitely helpful, especially for new people going through this,” Bender said. “It can be so over whelming in the first couple years.”

For more information on the MAC Alzheimer’s/Related Dementia Caregivers Support Group, contact White at 410-742-0505, ext. 128 or mwhite@macinc.org.

No reservations are needed to at tend support group meetings.

Letters from Santa

From Page 40

back to the children at one address. Santa mentions a bunch of stuff he has been doing and adds some fun details in the letter, too.

“And, don’t worry, Santa does not promise anything, especially pup pies or iPhones, even when asked!” she added.

For Phillips, continuing the tra dition is a wonderful way to stay in touch with an old friend, who just so happens to be made of pure Christ mas magic. It also warms her heart to help share good tidings each year with hundreds of area kids.

“I love the innocence of children,” Phillips said. “Children really teach us about faith, believing in some thing they don’t actually see with their own eyes, like Santa coming into their house at night. I feel that, in this day and age, if we can keep them believing in the miracle of Christmas and bring a smile to their face, then I have accomplished what I set out to do.”

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COMMENTARY

Election snafu was easily avoidable

All of the recent sound and fury over this summer’s Board election could have been avoided so easily, had the Elections Com mittee read and carefully implemented Board Resolution M-06, Attachment A, with regard to the way ballots are to be distributed to eligible Ocean Pines Association members.

One sensed something was off -- portents of a pending catastrophe perhaps? -- when the chair of the Elections Committee at the annual meet ing of OPA members in August failed to give the usual detailed summary of election results. She confined her “report” such as it was to naming the candidates who won, with no vote totals or supplemental information such as total ballots sent in and counted, disqualified ballots, or a breakdown on the number of ballots cast elec tronically or by slow mail.

The omissions were glaring. Detailed informa tion on the election has been routinely provided by her predecessors during the annual meeting. There was no explanation for the omissions. The committee chair doesn’t return reporter’s phone calls, apparently.

Not until Sept. 9 or thereabouts was a more detailed report posted on the OPA Website, with no announcement by the committee that the re port was available for review. That’s when a dis crepancy was uncovered by an alert OPA member with advanced skill in arithmetic. He posted it on the Ocean Pines Forum Website, and it was off to the races with days and days of digital discourse.

The committee chair also had acted somewhat cavalierly and -- let’s not sugarcoat it -- oddly on the actual day of the vote count, declining to tell candidates and others in the room at the conclu sion of the count what the results were.

Interested parties were told to await the OPA press release, which to his credit, Marketing and Public Relations Director Josh Davis sent out soon after the committee ended its labors for the day.

The problem with this summer’s election, de tailed elsewhere in this edition of the Progress, has much to do with the committee’s failure to implement Board Resolution M-06, particularly Attachment A.

Attachment A to Board Resolution M-06 deals with voting procedures in Board elections and referendums.

Paragraph 2 of the attachment references vot ing by mail.

Subsection (a) of Paragraph 2 says “Only a sin gle voting package is sent for each lot or unit eligible to vote. This applies to all joint owners of a lot or unit, including co-tenants, joint tenants by the entireties.”

There is no section referencing voting elec tronically in Attachment A, an oversight that needs to be remedied before next year’s elec tion. This Board and any future Board needs to take care that changes in procedures are reflect ed in governing documents.

Note there is a clear instruction in Paragraph 2 to send a voting package to each lot or unit or lot eligible to vote.

By all accounts, this was NOT DONE in this summer’s election, and true in recent summers as well.

Those who’ve been in Ocean Pines for some time remember when ballots were mailed to each lot owned. Owners of multiple lots received multiple ballots.

To avoid a repeat of this year’s snafu, the OPA should return to a practice that worked so well over the years: Send a separate ballot to each and every lot in Ocean Pines.

The OPA will also need to develop a compara ble approach for those who vote electronically. Even ballots voted electronically and presumably weighted when the holder of an access code owns multiple lots might not have been properly counted by the vendor. There’s no evidence prov ing that, but still.

If there is an exclusive code sent for each lot owned by multiple lot owners, there would be less room for error and more reason to feel con fident in reported election results.

Also of relevance is Paragraph 6(b) of Attach ment A as follows:

“The Committee chairperson shall be respon sible for delivering to the [mailing] Contractor the information necessary to mail voting pack ages to eligible members ... The information [necessary to mail voting packages to eligible members] shall be in a form that supports the mailing of Ballots to a member who owns multi ple properties. The Committee shall retain a copy of the mailing information delivered to the Con tractor.”

Were this summer’s election materials in a form that supports the mailing of ballots to a member who owns multiple properties? There’s some indication that this “form” was deficient, contributing to the discrepancy in vote counts.

As the committee is obligated to retain a copy of the mailing information delivered to the con tractor, it should be made public immediately on the OPA Web site. Then OPA members can assess for themselves whether the mailing of ballots to owners of multiple properties was adequately supported.

Language in Paragraph 6(b) refers to the “mailing of ballots” -- plural -- to a member who owns multiple ballots, not the single ballot mailed to these members this year.

The cover letter to the membership in the election materials this summer encouraged own ers of multiple properties to vote electronically, leaving unsaid how their ballots would be count ed if they opted instead for paper ballots. When OPA member Marlene Ott complained that she had not received ballots for each of the lots she owns, she was told to obtain multiple ballots from the committee or the OPA Administration.

What about all those other owners of multiple properties who did not receive ballots for each of the properties they own?

Discrepancies in vote counts that have been at issue in the latter part of September might suggest their weighted paper ballots were not counted properly.

The Sept. 30 recount of ballots by the com mittee produced unexpectes results, a dramat ic reduction in the number of tallied up votes. Earlier discrepancies were reconciled. The three winning candidates were confirmed, albeit with changed vote totals.

According to an informed source who’s done some checking, no owner of multiple properties remembers receiving an outer envelope contain ing a paper ballot that designated the number of ballots to which that owner was entitled.

Nor was there any indication on the single ballot received that the ballot was entitled to be voted consistent with the number of lots owned.

While there’s no evidence to suggest these de fects in the election process were the result of malign motives by the committee, non-adher ence to and omissions in Attachment A were at the root of this summer’s election snafu.

Steps to safeguard the voting interests of owners of multiple properties were not taken.

Although an unkown number of owners did not have all of the votes to which they were en titled counted, any calls to invalidate or decerti fy the election and holding a new one absent a Court order should be rejected.

Board candidate Amy Peck, who came within 15 votes of winning a Board seat according to new Sept. 30 totals, perhaps has the best case to make for a mishandled election.

To her credit, she has no interest in taking the matter to court.

Other than taking remedial steps to update and clarify Attachment A of Board Resolution M-06, the less involvement of the Board in this snafu going forward the better. There is no au thority in the OPA’s governing documents for a new election after it’s been duly certified, either one called by the Board or the Elections Com mittee.

A recent on-line post by former By-laws and Resolutions member and chair Jim Trummel sug gests he believes otherwise, should the commit tee be unable to reconcile conflicting numbers, but his conclusion is not based on any explicit language in the governing documents.

As those conflicts have been reconciled, there is no immediate need to consider the implica tions of Trummel’s views.

Perhaps Attachment A (and governing docu ments) could be amended to specify conditions under which a certified election could be decer tified, who would make that determination, and remedies, including a new election, could be au

October 2022 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 43OPINION
u

Naming the skatepark after Gavin Knupp

At the Sept. 24 monthly meeting of the Board of Directors, the mother of the late Gavin Knupp appealed to Ocean Pines elected leaders to name Ocean Pines’ skatepark in White Horse Park after her son.

It was a heartfelt appeal, a follow-up on an earlier meeting with OPA President Doug Parks and others.

Parks says she told the mother of the 14-year-old victim of a hit-andrun this past June that the Board would carefully consider her request.

The OPA doesn’t really have any published criteria for such appeals, and actually there is relatively little naming of OPA amenities or administrative facilities after Ocean Pines residents.

There are two within the confines of Ocean Pines, and one other on county-owned property administrative offices.

Perhaps there should be a published criteria, but the lack thereof should not work against the campaign to name the skateboard park after Gavin.

Parks says she told Tiffany Knupp that evidence of volunteer service work at Gavin’s school or elsewhere would make it easier for the Board to say yes to the request, and according to Parks she understands and will be working to supply the requested information.

But as Parks acknowledges, a

Editorial

From Page 43

LIFE IN THE PINES

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

14-year-old with a passion for outdoor sports may not have had a track record of selfless community service as, say, the late Anna Foultz, whose Star Charities was a fixture in Ocean Pines’s non-profit environment for many years before her passing in 2019.

Foultz had the former Marlin Room in the Community Center named after her, whereas the late Phyllis East, a long-time executive secretary for the OPA whose career spanned a series of general managers without her staying power, has a room in the Community Hall named after her as well.

She was a popular, beloved, grandmotherly fixture, but with all due respect didn’t have the charitable resume of an Anna Foultz.

Phyllis East had the room named after her because of years of loyal, professional service to the OPA.

The OPA at the annual meeting of property owners bestows an a volunteer of the year award named after Sam Wilkinson, an Ocean Pines teenager who died decades ago in a tragic boating accident.

Not too many present-day Ocean Pines residents and elected leaders can recall the outpouring of community support for the family who had

lost a beloved son.

Simply put, they weren’t around back then, and so Sam Wilkinson is a person who gets a mention once a year in a kind of memory void. The focus as it should be is on the volunteer being honored.

If the Board is looking for a precedent in its decision whether to name the skatepark after Gavin, then Sam Wilkinson is it.

There’s another building in Ocean Pines that’s named after a former resident and volunteer, and that’s the Ernie Armstrong administrative building on the site of the county-operated Ocean Pines wastewater treatment plant.

He was an original member and the first chairman of the water and wastewater advisory board created by the county after the water and wastewater system went from private to public ownership.

There’s a sign in front of the building that honors his volunteer service.

That’s it -- only three buildings or parts of buildings named after an Ocean Pines resident who passed, not much to go on.

There’s a mounted plaque in the Yacht Club citing those involved in its construction some years ago,

but there’s never been any effort to name the Yacht Club after a single individual.

If it turns out that Gavin did not have an extensive record of volunteer service, that is hardly a disqualifier given his age.

What may be far more relevant is the creation of a foundation in his name.

According to Tiffany Knupp, Gavin’s mom, the foundation will be raising money that in turn will be donated to worthy local causes, including improvements to the skatepark -- such as improved lighting and seating -- that Gavin would have appreciated.

Of course those improvements need to be worked out in close association with the OPA and its Parks and Recreation Department in particular, but Tiffany Knupp seems sincere in her desire to do something practical and lasting to honor the memory of her late son.

This should be an easy decision for the Board to make. It would be a kind gesture and should help the family heal.

Justice for Gavin has not been swift, but a simple gesture such as naming a skatepark after him should happen much quicker.

thorized. Not this year, of course; that ship has sailed.

There would probably have to be amendments to by-laws and other governing documents as well, as Board resolutions by their very nature are low on the governance totem pole in Ocean Pines.

Until then, without explicit authority, the Board’s hands are tied were there any credible calls for a new election. Boards find themselves in trouble when they deviate from explicit language in the governing documents.

In some recent exchange of emails among the directors, Former OPA president and current director Colette Horn seemed to get it, having learned from bruising experience in the Slobodan Trendic, Rick Farr and (soon to be delivered) Tom Janasek litigation. She advised against any involvement by the Board in pressuring the Elections Committee from conducting a hand recount of ballots.

Even so, there’s little to be gained by quibbling with actions on the margins taken thus far by the Board or

OPA President Doug Parks -- it was a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. Parks issued a press release indicating that the Board had instructed the Elections Committee to conduct a hand count of the ballots, action conducted on Sept. 30.

Apparently six of the seven directors supported the Board call for a recount, with Horn in principled opposition.

It would have been better had that action been taken in public, at a special meeting, as two newly elected directors, Monica Rakowski and Stuart Lakernick, suggested. Technically, the Board can vote by email only if all seven directors agree to do it that way.

Going forward, the Board should refrain from issuing any more instructions to the Elections Committee about the 2022 election, if indeed they were instructions and not mere suggestions. Now that the election is over, there should be no danger of that.

When it comes to M-06, though, the Board is well within its authority to insist that it be followed to the letter. If Addendum A lacks clarity, then amend it so it does. Next summer, one ballot should be sent to every lot of record in Ocean Pines.~ Tom Stauss

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

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

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44 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022 OPINION

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Cove selects Gillis-Gilkerson

as consultant to assist in bid solicitations

Venerable Salisbury contrac tor Gills-Gilkerson has been selected to assist Captain’s Cove in obtaining good, solid bids for construction contracts, a problem area because of the community’s rel atively remote location on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

Senior General Manager Colby

Phillips made the announcement after the Cove’s Sept. 26 property management team meeting, when Director of Operations John Costel lo announced that a consultant had been hired.

At the most recent meeting of the Board of Directors, Cove President Tim Hearn announced the effort to retain a consultant because of the difficulty in obtaining bids for some

recent projects.

Costello said the consultant will “help us in finding good contrac tors,” some of whom probably will be sub-contractors with long-es tablished relationships with Gil lis-Gilkerson.

Costello also provided an update on securing bids for the Marina Club roof repair and replacement project.

There’s one bid already received,

with at least two more expected, he said.

Lifeguard shout-out -- Senior Genera Manager Colby Phillips gave an after-summer shout-out to the nine lifeguards on staff at the Cover pool. She said there had been 12 rescues at the pools this summer. She also mentioned that the man agement team is discussing ways to improve the experience at the pools for non-resident owners.

Speed bumps -- Phillips said the management team is aware of com plaints about the speed bumps on Captain’s Corridor at Scimitar and Blackbeard.

The bumps will be shaved down, but the contractor can’t get to the

Sailor’s Court canal, photo by Tracy Hunter
October 2022 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 47 CAPTAIN’S

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48 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022 CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS

Speed bumps

From Page 47

Cove until Oct. 28 to

she said.

the

New golf course superintendent -- Tammy Baldwin has stepped up as Captain’s Cove interim golf course superintendent, after the former superintendent left abruptly without giving notice, Phillips said. She was very complimentary about Baldwin’s willingness to step up and her can-do attitude.

Phillips said plans are under way to bring the course greens “back in shape,” as the summer has been rough on them.

Lake Ernie -- A take-away from a recent Lake Ernie working group meeting: Phillips will be pursuing grant funding to help with the expense of dealing with the lake’s receding water level.

Also under consideration is applying for a ground-water withdrawal permit as a way of obtaining an alternative water source for the lake, which is now dependent on stormwater.

Lake Ernie is both a stormwater retention pond and recreational asset for residents who live around it. Even with its relatively large size, many Cove residents are unaware of its existence, in part because there is no public access. Some of the infrastructure that supports levels in the lake are no longer functioning, contributing to the declining water levels pictured below.

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COVE CURRENTS

Lake Ernie

From Page 49

Although currently there is no public access to Lake Ernie, Phillips said there is interest in making the lake more of a community amenity by adding a kayaak launch.

Cove Board and working group member Mark Majerus is assem bling the accumulated information about Lake Ernie to help the work ing group in its efforts, Phillips said.

Accounts receivable working group -- Phillips said the accounts receivable working group during its meetings are tackling groups of about 65 delinquent properties at one time, with the most recent batch including homes and unimproved lots on Captain’s Corridor and in Section 3.

The working group is tasked with helping Cove management to jump start its collections efforts, which include scheduling more frequent foreclosure auctions to whittle down the list of property owners who don’t pay their annual assessments.

The working group focuses on properties that owe more than $1000 in delinquent dues for more than 270 days.

$5,000 for STEM -- The recent golf outing and silent auction on be half of Accomack County STEM pro grams in the schools raised $5,000, Community Marketing and Events Management Julia Knopf an nounced. As of last month, the total stood at about $3,500, so the silent auction yielded a lot more dollars.

She discussed recent effort to improve the detail on the calendar posted on the Cove Website, and said there would be a form added to assist clubs and other groups to request a space for a community event.

Nov. 11 events -- Nov. 11 will be a busy day in Captain’s Cove, Phillips said, citing both the annual meeting of the Cove association and a Veter an’s Day celebration. Results of the annual Board of Directors election will be announced during the annu al meeting.

Cell service -- During the Pub lic Comments segment of the meet ing, General Manager Justin Wilder fielded a suggestion about contact ing Verizon for the possible use of the Cove water tower to add equip ment on the tower to improve cell phone reception.

Admitting to his own frustration in dealing with service degradation in Captain’s Cove, Wilder said the watertown sits on land owned by the

Cove developer, CCG Note, and that Verizon would have to deal with the developer if it wanted to add repeat er or other equipment to aid with cell phone reception.

He said improving cell phone cov erage would be a great project for the Digital Technology Committee, which has been focused on brining high speed Internet services to Cap tain’s Cove.

One Cove resident suggested that T-Mobile or other Verizon compet itors could be invited in to provide reliable cell phone services if Veri zon decides not to upgrade its equip ment.

Return to sender -- During Public Comments, Wilder acknowl edged that the Cove’s assessment delinquency challenge is exacerbat ed by the fact that there are many out-of-date addresses in the Cove’s database, resulting in many assess ment notices going to property own ers who may have moved or are de ceased.

But he said there is new locater software available that might result in more accurate mailings and the ability of the Cove and its attorneys, Pender and Coward, to reduce delin quencies.

“I’ve been working with P&C to work out a better way of reaching out,” Wilder said.

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Library reorganized

The Captain’s Cove library in the Marina Club recently underwent a reorgani zation, with some of the shelfs removed to open up the room. Some shelving has been relocated to the wall near the door to the room.

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October at the Marina Club

52 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022 CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS

Halloween at Captain’s Cove

October 2022 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 53CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS

Activities for Adults

54 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022 CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS

Activities for Kids

October 2022 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 55CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS

Captain’s Cove Aquatics

56 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022 CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS

Second foreclosure auction in four months goes well, another likely by year’s end

Cove continues aggressive collections effort

The Captain’s Cove property owners associa tion, through its law firm Pender and Cow ard of Virginia Beach, conducted a fore closure auction of delinquent properties in the community on Thursday, Sept. 23, in the Marina Club banquet room beginning at 10 a.m.

Cove association President Tim Hearn said the auction went well, with many properties selling for above the price needed for the Cove to secure its lien rights. Initially scheduled with 21 proper

ties for sale, it was the second foreclosure sched uled in Captain’s Cove in four months, the previ ous one held in June.

Hearn said that with the management team’s foreclosure work group, about 65 properties are addressed together, with roughly of the proper ties likely to settle their delinquencies before they go to auction.

He said it’s possible another auction will be scheduled by the end of year, evidence of a previ ously announced quickening of the pace in which foreclosures occur.

The quickening pace of foreclosure auctions will continue, Cove Director Mark Majerus told the Cove Currents in a recent interview, with the objective of significantly reducing bad debt ac counts in Captain’s Cove.

The Sept. 23 auction included mostly unim proved lots but also what appear to be homes, including those assessed at $316,600, $200,700, $204,900 and $195,600.

“We’re getting more aggressive on collecting bad debts,” Majerus said of the Cove association. When conventional efforts fail, the process even tually leads to foreclosure, he said, a process that can take up to three years to complete.

Sometimes there are no bidders for individual properties in a foreclosure auction, in which case the Cove bids to protect its lien interests and eventually obtains title to the property.

Majerus said the association would much pre fer if property owners clear their delinquencies, especially within a year after they first appear because it’s easier to work out payment plans. Af

To Page 59

Preparing for Halloween in Captain’s Cove: Dave and Sandy Amos, Peggy and Walt Anthony, and Victoria Chiu, all owners in the Cove.
October 2022 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 57CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS

Captain’s Cove Aquatics

CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS58 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022

COVE CURRENTS

Phillips issues budget clarification

Since the recent Board of Directors vote raising the 2022-23 lot assess ment to $1500, a number of questions and concerns have been received by Cove Senior General Manager Colby Phillips.

In response, she reminded association members that all the budget meet ings leading up to the decision were held in the open, allowing for both remote and in-person participation.

At each budget session, the budget was reviewed line by line and ques tions were asked and answers for each general topic, she said.

The latest budget draft includes a legal fee item that covers costs for the Birckhead et all lawsuit against the association, with copies of the suit

Foreclosures

From Page 57

ter a year, properties are turned over to attorneys for collections, liens are imposed, and it’s more difficult to work out arrangements, he said.

A factor contributing to the accelerating pace of collections activity in cluding foreclosure sales is new internal software that better tracks pay ment of dues.

“As data gets populated into the software, we’re able to track who’s cur rent, who’s late, and whether the delinquent property is a home or unim proved lot,” Majerus said.

available for review on the Cove Website.

Seven members of the Captain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club have filed a lawsuit against both the Cove association and CCG Note, the developer/ declarant.

“As a named defendant, [the Cove association] is required to mount a vig orous defense,” Phillips said. “This defense is the specific legal fee items in the operational budget.” Cove President Tim Hearn has asked the plaintiffs to drop the Cove association as a defendant in the case, as a way of saving legal fees, but to date that has not occurred.

Phillips also said capital expenditures discussed at the last proper ty management team meeting are not part of the operational budget and therefore were not a factor in determining the $1,500 assessment.

“Most are indicated place-holder,” she said, indicating that costs are un known, until such time as design work and bid packages are completed and released. “Only after bids are received, reviewed and evaluated, does a motion [for an ewxpenditure] move from the management team to the Board,” she said.

Deadline for requesting ballot passes

The deadline for requesting a replacement ballot in this fall’s Board of Directors election is now passed. The deadline was Oct. 1. Requests needed to be in writing, needed to include a reason for requesting the replacement, and the requester’s name as it appears on a property deed.

Sportfishing
October 2022 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 59CAPTAIN’S
on Chincoteague Bay

Captain’s Cove Organizations

60 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022 CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS

Board evaluating

‘legal options’ in Berger incident

Hearn confirms Cove Security moves adjacent to Phillips’s office in Marina Club

While an Accomack County District Court judge in late August lifted a pro tective order that had banned Cove resident resident Larry Berger from the close proximity of Senior Gener al Manager Colby Phillips, the mat ter is not yet over as far as the Cap tain’s Cove Golf and Yacht Club’s Board of Directors is concerned.

That comes from Cove association President Tim Hearn, who in a Sept. 25 telephone interview said that the Board is evaluating its legal options, and is retaining the option of sched uling a hearing before the Board in

which Berger’s use of Cove ameni ties could be at risk.

“It’s not over,” Hearn said. “The Board will decide the next step,” adding that in the meantime mea sures have been taken to provide better protection for Phillips in the event of an unpleasant encounter with a property owner.

Hearn said that the Security de partment has moved to an office adjacent to Phillips’s in the Marina Club.

The Aug. 31 hearing in the Dis trict Court and security changes in theory could have ended the matter, and it still might. Previously, the possibility of a hearing before the

Board seemed assured, but Hearn’s comments suggest that the directors could decide that not much more can be gained by pursuing additional ac tion aimed at Berger/ Berger through his attorney Lyn wood Lewis had asked the court to reopen the case after the court is sued a protective order and extend ed it twice following an incident at a July 25 property management team meeting, during which Berger was seeking information about Cove as sociation advertising expenditures.

Dissatisfied with Phillips’s an swer, Berger advanced on the ta ble where Phillips was seated and, according to two Cove association

directors present, grabbed the mi crophone from her and continued to voice his opinion. The two directors are Mark Majerus and Pat Pelino, who after the Aug. 31 hearing did not back off what they said they saw at the July 25 meeting.

Berger and his supporters dis puted that version of the incident in court and in later comments to the Cove Currents. In particular they are contending that Berger didn’t grab the microphone from Phillips’s hand but rather from a microphone stand on the table in which Phillips was seated.

Pelino told the Cove Currents that the microphone was mounted on a stand on the table, and that Phil lips had the microphone in her hand when Berger grabbed it from her.

Phillips reportedly was given an opportunity to view a video of the incident presented in court during the Aug. 31 hearing and declined to retract or amend her recollection of what had occurred. She later said that both Pelino and Majerus said they saw Berger take the micro phone while her hands were on it.

Phillips regarded the incident as threatening to her and an invasion of her personal space.

October 2022 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 61CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS
62 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022 CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS
October 2022 Ocean Pines PROGRESS 63CAPTAIN’S COVE CURRENTS
64 Ocean Pines PROGRESS October 2022
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