BERLIN — At this week’s Berlin Mayor and Council meeting school safety communication was discussed, a purchase power auction was authorized, reports of park vandalism were reviewed and the importance of volunteerism was recognized, among over items.
School Response Plan
An effort is currently underway to better unite various response plans in Worcester County in the event of a school shooting or emergency. The Berlin Police Department (BPD) is wrapping up its active shooter training and working on individual evaluations of area schools.
“We’ve actually had the SWAT team do assessments of three of the five local schools,” said BPD Chief Arnold Downing. “We’ve had the opportunity to go through the schools with the administrators and write down some suggestions and some thoughts.”
The department will be meeting with the county this spring to consolidate plans into an overreaching strategy with “common language and processes.” There will also be consideration of using schools for physical drills over the summer to better prepare officers in the event that they need to enter a facility to deal with an active shooter.
“That’s fantastic. That is so re-assuring and it’s great to see how everyone is working together,” said Mayor Gee Williams.
Berlin Approves Power
With the town’s current energy supply contract set to expire next May, the council will be looking to elicit bids for a new contract beginning this spring.
“To simplify a very complicated thing, basically the fall and the spring present the best times where the market offers the lowest power rates,” said Williams. “Historically, that has not changed in a long time and especially since de-regulation. And it just makes commonsense because power usage peaks in the summer because of heat and peaks in the winter because of cold.”
The mayor noted that this is only a preliminary auction. Once all of the bids come in the council will vote on whether to accept a new contract now or wait until next fall to hold another auction and to try for better prices. That would be cutting it a bit close to when the contract expires next year, however.
“But, like anything else, rather than wait until the last minute we want to test the market place,” said Williams.
Fair Housing Month Declared
Next month will officially be recognized by the town of Berlin as Fair Housing Month. It’s more than a hollow title, according to Williams.
“Many, many years ago back in the 70’s, Berlin, and most people have probably forgotten about it, was a leader in the Lower Shore on its whole fair housing issue and in making sure that sub-standard housing, it literally disappeared in Berlin first,” the mayor said.
The best part, Williams continued, was that the phase out of sub-standard housing was not forced in Berlin.
“Nobody was threatening to take anybody to court. Everybody just knew that it was the right thing to do,” he said. “And hopefully it’s part of our legacy that we can continue for a long, long time.”
Henry Park Fence Vandalized
A section of the fencing encompassing Henry Park recently sustained heavy damage through what the town has identified as an act of vandalism.
“There are also several areas of the iron fence around Henry Park that have been damaged,” said Mary Bohlen, deputy town administrator. “Those are a victim of vandalism and they are requesting a quote from the fence installer to see about getting those repaired.”
Councilwoman Paula Lynch was surprised by the severity of the damage inflicted.
“And that’s a shame. It almost looked like King Kong stood there,” she said.
Bohlen agreed that it “took some effort.” The mayor asked that Downing and his department keep an eye on the situation to see if this was an isolated incident or the beginning of continued offenses.
According to Downing, the probable explanation was that people just wanted to take a shortcut and found the fence to be in the way. If that’s the case, Williams suggested that Bohlen and the Parks Commission may want to discuss removing that section of fencing as opposed to repairing it if residents will likely continue to take the shortcut.
Town Supports Naming
Highway After Legislator
The Mayor and Council voted unanimously to send a letter of support for an effort being made by Delegate Norm Conway to have the stretch of Route 113 between Berlin and Snow Hill named in honor of the late State Delegate Bennett Bozman.
“Bennett was not only an outstanding representative for our town as an effective and dedicated member of the Maryland House of Delegates,” read the letter, “but also was a long-time Berlin Main Street pharmacist who himself served Berlin as a community leader and active member of the Berlin Fire Company.”