A good man known by many in the community passed away this week. Mr. Coates, the patriarch of a local family of well-known lawyers, died after a long illness on Sunday. It’s been a while since I last saw Mr. Coates and longer since we had a conversation, but I got to know him well over the years as we did a lot of business with the family law firm. After a property settlement with his son, Ray Jr., years ago, the “old man” asked if it would be too much trouble to drop off a paper each Friday morning to him at his Broad Street office. It seems the paper was not coming out early enough for him. He liked to pick up all the papers on his way into work early in the morning and read them on Friday. Of course, I acquiesced and began personally delivering papers to him each Friday morning. He seemed to really enjoy getting his paper and I obliged because I dreaded to think he would miss an issue. Of all his accomplishments, Mr. Coates seemed to most enjoy talking of his days playing ball and later his days as a coach. He was indeed quite the sportsman as well as an admired and accomplished lawyer. Although surely most known for his legal career, Coates also founded the Berlin Little League and organized football in the county. How proud he must have been watching his grandson, Christian, play sports at Worcester Prep from his car in recent years and particularly when he learned he would be attending and playing lacrosse at Harvard. Lots of people were sad to hear the news about Mr. Coates’ passing this week, but many were also relieved to realize the suffering had come to end. I was among the many.
The Berlin town election may be nine months away, but things got heated up officially last week when Mayor Tom Cardinale confirmed he would be seeking a second term in office. Now that Cardinale is officially out of the gate, it’s going to be interesting to see who will be challenging him. Word on the street is it’s not a question of whether he will be opposed in his re-election, but how many folks will run against him. It will be interesting to see what happens if Cardinale is challenged by more than one person. In a small town like Berlin, it would not take a lot of votes to decide the race. In 2004, in what was called a record turnout, 749 voters headed to the polls. Cardinale received 78 percent of the vote, or 578 votes, compared to incumbent Rex Hailey’s 171. Two names mentioned of late as possible mayoral candidates were Council members Ellen Lang and Gee Williams, who served as Cardinale’s campaign manager in 2004. Williams dispelled some rumors last week announcing he would not seek the mayor’s seat, while Lang was mum on her intentions so early on in the game. Others names have been mentioned as possible candidates, but it’s unknown who will actually make the commitment and sign on the dotted line. Public service is a thankless job, one most reasonable people would not even consider. That’s why I admire, to a degree, anyone willing to jump into the proverbial fish bowl and undertake public service, all while knowing they will be criticized by those of us on the sidelines. It will be interesting to see what transpires over the next nine months.
The smoking ban goes into effect today in Maryland. Surely, this will take some getting used to for smokers and those restaurants and bars that allowed smoking as of yesterday. To help with the transition, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is providing a tool kit on its website and a phone help line to assist business owners with the transition. Additionally, the tool kit has been mailed to almost 6,000 establishments in the state as required by law. The kits include a fact sheet on the new law, the required no smoking signs that must be posted and guidelines for filing a financial hardship waiver. I am anxious to see how many businesses try to claim a financial hardship from the smoking ban and how many of those actually are successful in proving their case. It will not many.
Here’s another Super Bowl XLII prediction: Patriots 31-Giants 24.