Archived entries for Worcester County Maryland

Upside Down…Let’s join together to right this!

Having just returned from a Thanksgiving visit with family at a small, beach town in North Carolina; some of the things witnessed there have set me to thinking more ‘right-side up!

On Friday after Thanksgiving, the weather changed; a cool, wet front had rapidly moved through.  No more fishing, pool, beach or boating – no visiting the skate park! This change subsequently caused four adults to confront head-on, four, active, healthy children between the ages of 7 and 12!  It became a more than YIKES moment!  The feast leftovers had been inhaled, Scrabble, Candyland and other board (or should that be spelled ‘bored’?) games had been quickly exhausted and although WII and accompanying electronic gadgets littered the floor, it was apparent that some form of physical diversion, namely exercise, was needed – quickly!  Not far from panic, my son remembered the Town’s sponsored Rec Center. Then, a quick call to Grammy and Mike (who had wisely retreated to a nearby condo), “Meet us behind the old Season’s Restaurant in 15 minutes.”  Done!

In short order, from various directions, we all pulled into a sizable, already partially filled, parking lot.   The Carolina Beach Recreation Center building looked very similar in size and appearance to Berlin’s own Tyson Plant on Rt. 346.  Upon entering, we were greeted by a pleasant man behind a counter to the right.  Beyond him one could see a vast office/storage area containing cubbyholes filled with ‘stuff’ to borrow…related to every type of indoor sports activity!  Our small ‘team’ had brought their own ‘stuff’, and so after signing in, we quickly moved into a huge room  – a double/quadruple basketball court… anyway it had six baskets!  The floor was not wood but some sort of waffled tile and there were pull-down bleachers all around.  The young boys rapidly found their ‘goal basket’ and the girls went off in search of something more interesting.   For more than three hours, the kids moved from basketball court to the ping-pong /foosball game room, on to the weights/exercise facilities, past the video game room and to the racquetball court where they had the most fun taking turns against the ‘old’ folks – Mike finally crying, ‘Senior Abuse’!   During our indoor journey we saw many rooms, even a second floor where an area had been fitted out for dance lessons.  Classrooms and meeting rooms were everywhere…lists and flyers announcing current and upcoming community oriented activities posted on bulletin boards throughout.  Have I mentioned that on this Black Friday the center was filled with people – young and old?  The annual cost for a resident family…$80.00!!! Not much when you figure the benefit.

Later, during Saturday’s long drive home I couldn’t shake the thought that something like this indoor recreation facility is sorely needed in Berlin!  We cite the need for outdoor parks filled with trees and other environmentally correct, native flora – we spend time and money to beautify our Town’s landscape.

I think we need to do more to improve our ‘peoples-scape’ – to fill the real need for healthy, communal, indoor activities consisting of active, indoor recreation and offering ongoing adult education.  At least equal focus on ‘do’ and ‘look’!

If there’s an underlying point to this story it’s that instead of increasing Berlin’s Police presence to deter criminal activity it might be time to do some ‘right-side’ thinking – by offering attractive, guided, yet ‘fun’ and safe activities for all ages in order to possibly effect the same result?  It’s been done before!

Our Town has suitable vacant land – we even have land with suitable structures – we have the need – now we need a plan… and the money…perhaps a joint venture with Worcester County?

If you’d like to see what one small town (very similar to Berlin) can do…dare to take a look at this page (click on the link below).  Scroll down to see all that’s offered!  There’s even a copy of the Master Parks Plan – Final Draft, showing how another small town went from discerning the need, through execution and on to fulfillment in a few short years.

Carolina Beach Recreation Center – http://www.carolinabeach.org/site_new/pages/parks_rec.html

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America’s Coolest Small Town – Budget Travel Contest!

Note: The voting in this contest ends on April 3rd at which time the votes will be counted and the top 10 will be selected as “America’s Coolest Small Town(s)”. Berlin, currently standing in 12th place (992 votes) probably won’t make the cut! Seems that our neighbor, Onancock VA – presently standing in 4th place with 4,019 votes and a population of less than half (1,525 vs. Berlin’s 3,491) has more folks willing to use their keyboards to cheer for their town. Have you voted yet? If not click the link below and get busy during this last week of voting!
OK, so it’s a bit gimmicky…but at the heart of this contest, it’s true – Berlin Maryland is one of America’s Coolest Small Towns! Recently an entry was posted on the Budget Travel Contest website making our town a contestant for this honor! The editors have narrowed it down to a mere 22 towns nationwide…! YOUR vote can take us to the top (where we already know we belong)!!! Here’s the link – please go cast your ballot TODAY! (No online registration necessary) Note: Ballots may be cast weekdays from 10 am until 8 pm.

http://www.budgettravel.com/bt-srv/coolestsamlltowns/

Our entry says…”Berlin Maryland is definitely one of America’s coolest small towns — there is something for everyone! Located at the heart of the mid-Atlantic coastal region, a mere 7 miles inland, time and nature have created a most perfect place to live…and a very exciting place to visit! From surfing, sunbathing and fishing at the acclaimed Assateague Island National Seashore, (located on one of the few remaining natural barrier islands) to canoeing the quiet, peat-blackened waters of the meandering Pocomoke River this area has much to offer any water enthusiast . Hiking, biking or driving is enjoyed along the nearby scenic, 63 mile long old Algonquin Indian “beach to bay” trail is also available for the land lubbers. And, viewing the famed Chincoteague Island ponies in their natural habitat or the endless variety of wild fowl stopping to rest here along the famed Atlantic Flyway is also within an easy drive from town. Within our towns’ small Main Street commercial district, along tree lined streets one may view not only lovely period historic homes but set forth on a journey of discovery to seek that special something within our myriad of unique shops and to view the works of the many resident artists and craftsmen of renown within their galleries. We must mention too the multi-acre Stephen Decatur Park, that includes a large nature pond and public tennis courts! Berlin was recently honored with the State’s much coveted “Arts & Entertainment District” designation. As for the “entertainment” portion of the honor — along with the usual eateries there is the fully restored, Globe Theater…serving trendy bar food along with a full menu of year round live musical performances. However, like any small town our civic pride forces focus towards our annual Chamber of Commerce sponsored festivals including the Spring Jazz and Blues Fest, the well loved Fall Fiddler’s Convention and caroling during our month-long Victorian Christmas celebration. Our Town museum — the Calvin B. Taylor House also sponsors a series of popular summertime Concerts on the Lawn. To enjoy a picture view of our very real, small town flavor, you may rent the now 10-year-old Paramount movie — Runaway Bride starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere — where you can experience see Berlin Maryland up close! You will see that we’re a very cool, small town and certainly are one of the best places to live or visit. Come join us anytime!”

Campaign NON-SENSE – give me your GOOD sense!

As a concerned Berlin MD rate and property taxpayer, I’ve listened closely to the many arguments and promises being made surrounding the upcoming election on December 16th for the District I Council seat – and as “town neighbors” feel somewhat familiar with all candidates.
First off are a couple of related issues that my spouse and I believe are very important…
While these guys are running to fill the District I seat vacancy their assessments will have impact – they will vote on issues that will affect all within the Town boundaries – every district. And too, we want this person to be current on every level – this means they attend most all of the meetings – not just the ones with high visibility! In a small town decisions made within the Historic District Commission, CDMA and other citizen-based committees, actually impact widely. I’m fully aware that many keep abreast of Berlin happenings via gossip (known politely as “shared information”) and local weekly tabloid articles but we all can “oh, so skillfully” practice slanting to confirm our opinions! There is no substitute to getting facts first hand and making good evaluations.
Which brings me to some of the campaign non-sense I’ve heard recently – specifically about Mr. Purnell. Yes, Troy makes his living by being one of those “filthy developer” guys. However, through his attention to his mostly successful business interests has learned, sometimes the long way – experience, about doing things the RIGHT way.  And, while not all appreciate the sometimes “-plastic” homes built, few of us can afford the luxury brick or stone mansions, especially these days. Furthermore, with his background in those basic living needs – utility and infrastructure services – Troy could serve us very well in the next two years (re-election for that seat comes in 21 months). It’s non-sense to believe that he would risk the intense public/political scrutiny to better his business interests over the interests of his town.
As for the second hopeful, Phil Cropper – while only a year long resident he is learning and he’s interested and if he continues asking those important questions and attending Town meetings he could be a fine representative in the near future – though perhaps not now when we need experience in the machinations of Berlin Town government and already proven expertise.
Third of the candidate trio is Rex Hailey. While former Mayor Hailey is to be commended for his many years of service to Berlin, he’s on my list of no-shows at many of the meetings mentioned earlier – perhaps relying too much on “shared information” – just doesn’t do it! Another thought here; in these times we all must work together to make current history – not live in the past.
Berlin has important issues which require immediate attention! Our water and sewer rates will rise with the plant upgrade (NOT expansion) to meet new State environmental standards. The Town just-released, audited budget for Berlin, while currently showing “in the black” numbers will be mightily impacted by blooming economic deficits nationwide – leaving the question of how will our Town Government accrue income? Through taxes – your money and mine. I want some very prudent fiscal management (skin-flint type) and judgment practiced here at least until reasonable growth can again take some of the burden…who best to do this? I want NO non-sense!

Again, Assateague Costal Trust sponsored an evening with the candidates on Tuesday, December 2nd, beginning at 7 pm at Stevenson Methodist Church on North Main…a very enlightening evening with candidate answers based on some no non-sense questions.
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Around Town…a busy week backwards and forwards

Above and below our usually placid surface (excepting Town Hall), the town of Berlin Maryland has been exhibiting some unusual activity recently. For three days over the weekend our Historic Main Street Commercial District became host to an estimated 9,000 visitors during the ever-popular Annual Fiddlers Convention with acoustic concerts and competitions providing the entertainment. Steve Frene, along with his band of merry citizen volunteers is to be highly commended for his expertise in producing this glorious showcase event for Berlin. Thank you Steve! Next up on our calendar of events is our always-magical Victorian Christmas holiday activity beginning with Arts Night on Friday, November 28th.
On Monday evening, with barely time to exhale, many concerned town citizens showed up at the Town government sponsored presentation by electrical engineering firm Booth and Associates, Inc. to examine on-going issues within the Town’s electric utility. This renewed focus has been caused by our recent increasingly, high electric rates. In my opinion, the guys from Booth along with a Maryland State Energy Administration representative gave us a strong basis of fact upon which the second public presentation, October 7th will build. At that time, we will hear a professional assessment outlining our options going forward. Several folks seemed disappointed that immediate resolutions were not already available.
On Wednesday morning, an out of area friend stopped by and commented on the political signs blooming all over town – overwhelming even the numerous For Sale signs – a phenomena which began late last week. It’s election time in Berlin and we currently have a couple of contests that may only be resolved with YOUR vote on October 14th. Primary of course there is the somewhat heated race for Mayor between acting Mayor Gee Williams and former Mayor Rex Hailey. Personally having spoken with both yet unable to define specifics from either my vote is still up in the air. No matter, it is apparent that both candidates have the best interests of Berlin citizens as a top priority.  Perhaps I’m expecting too much? Mr. Hailey did hand out a flyer to some (obtained a copy from a friend) stating his interests and intents however, for most of us, especially this year it will be vote by pocketbook. As for Mr. Williams, judging by his recent activities – he’s been too busy “doing” as interim Mayor to be “saying” much. However, I personally am disappointed that he has not found the time to fill the recent openings on two important Town Commissions. This is the Mayor’s duty.
The vote by pocketbook will again hold true for the three-way race in Council District II. To his credit, newcomer Jason Walter has lengthy professional technical expertise in the utility/energy industry that could benefit us greatly once a final determination is made relating to the Town owned electric company. He also makes claim to being a conservative – stating his goal as ensuring high quality services while trimming out excess expense. Another short term resident, but long-time local business owner, Thom Gulyas has also sent out a campaign letter to district II residents – the message contained therein is somewhat ambiguous, while not clearly stating specific goals he does offer a lengthy personal biography. The final applicant for our Council job is Lisa Hall, a long-term resident who yesterday took the time to visit personally. After a pretty intensive questioning by both my husband and me it’s apparent that Ms. Hall knows well the issues but perhaps not all of the specifics. In fairness to Ms. Hall, Mike and I attend most all of the major Town meetings regularly and would be hard to please by any of our current candidates!
Ultimately though, no matter the good intents put forth by any of our candidates they will certainly be held to the tough, realistic (OK, pretty cruel in today’s economy) standards of COST, VALUE and BENEFIT! What can we really afford? What is the overall value? What is the real benefit going forward?
Yes, it’s been an extraordinarily busy week here in town for everyone – even if the ongoing financial and political saga running concurrently on the national level had not demanded even more attention. It is only to be hoped that with a little time off for reflection we can meet our obligations and make some wise choices for our Town on October 14th and then again on November 4 for our Nation!
Please remember to VOTE (and then we can take down some of those signs!) New polling place – Buckingham Presbyterian Church, 20 S. Main Street. Polling hours – 7 am until 7 pm.
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The POWER of TRASH…energy for Worcester County

Literally, if you’re not already thinking “renewable energy” you soon will be! Faced with the ever increasing volume of trash collected throughout our area and the rising cost of electricity, some smart folks at the County have joined with a 60 year old Baltimore firm, Curtis Engine, and have put together one heck of a “recycling” program. The new Worcester County Methane Power Plant located at the Central Landfill in Newark got “turned on” last week. Seems our trash is now being transformed into power (electricity) – based on methane gas-to-energy technology – (methane being the gas produced in abundance from piled up garbage at our dump)! Additionally, the process benefits the environment…wherein the methane used is no longer being passively released, cutting harmful atmospheric emissions significantly! Here in Worcester County Maryland, this “renewable energy” source conversion will produce enough power to supply electricity to 2,700 area homes when fully implemented in the spring of 2009. Furthermore, any excess electricity produced be may be sold into the nationwide power “grid” creating income. Certainly a win-win for everyone! And, although we’re not the first methane-to-gas facility in Maryland, we are the second (Wicomico’s Naylor Mill Road plant opened in 2007) on the Eastern Shore. Just another reason I’m proud to be a resident of Berlin MD in Worcester County!



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