Decatur Girls Rout Washington, 75-44

Decatur’s Lexie VanKirk pulls up a jumper during the first half of a 75-44 win over Washington on Tuesday. VanKirk finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Photo by Shawn Soper

BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s girls’ varsity basketball team stayed on a big roll this week with a couple of conference wins, including a 75-44 rout of Washington at home on Tuesday.

The Seahawks cruised past Crisfield, 64-18, last Thursday, showing little signs of a letdown after a big win over rival Pocomoke earlier in the week. Back in action on Tuesday at home against Washington, the Decatur girls kept the pedal to the metal, routing the Jaguars, 75-44.

Decatur jumped out to a big early lead, but Washington hung in the game through much of the first half. The Seahawks led 41-20 at the half and 59-30 after three quarters before pulling away for the 75-44 win. Dayona Godwin was one of three Seahawks with a double-double, scoring a remarkable 39 points while grabbing 17 rebounds. Amaya Mumford scored 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, while Lexie VanKirk scored 15 and grabbed 13 rebounds.

The win was the eighth straight for the Seahawks, their last loss coming during the Governor’s Challenge over the holiday break. Decatur is now 13-3 overall, their only other loss coming to rival Pocomoke back on December 21. The Seahawks avenged that loss last week with a 51-42 win over the Warriors. The Seahawks face Bennett at home next Tuesday, followed by another home game against Mardela.

Atlantic General Hospital Junior Auxiliary Group Holds Annual Membership Meeting And Installation Of Officers

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The Atlantic General Hospital Junior Auxiliary Group (JAG) recently held their annual membership meeting and installation of officers at the home of Susan Curtis-Dypsky. Pictured, from left, are incoming President Jill Ferrante; Toni Keiser, Vice President of Public Relations; and outgoing President Rebecca Taylor. Rounding out the Executive Committee are Vice President Bridget Desaulniers; Treasurer Susan Curtis-Dypsky; Secretary Dawn Hodge; Welcoming Committee Chairman Jennifer Klepper; Membership Chairman Sandy Gillis; Social Committee Chairman Patricia Ilczuk-Lavanceau; and Fundraising Committee Co-Chairmen Rebecca Taylor and Ashley Furbay.

In 3-2 Vote, Historic Commission Approves Home’s Windows

In

BERLIN – After a lengthy discussion over the merits of wood windows, the Berlin Historic District Commission agreed to allow composite windows in a home on Broad Street.

The commission voted 3-2, with members Carol Rose and Betty Tustin opposed, to permit the installation of composite windows — made of an acrylic blend — at the historic home at 26 Broad St.

“I have no problem with the quality of the windows,” commission member Mary Moore said. “If we get so nitpicky trying to meet state and federal standards, what does that say to people? In this day and age if someone wants to take a derelict home, one that was never a fine home, and fix it up I’m thrilled.”

Berlin residents Cate and Ryan Nellans purchased the long vacant home at 26 Broad St. last summer. They’ve spent the ensuing months working to restore the circa 1900 home.

Cate Nellans approached the historic district commission this week seeking approval to replace the home’s existing windows with composite windows from Interstate Window and Door Co. She said that though they’d planned to install wood windows, they’d received inaccurate information on pricing and realized they couldn’t afford to have new wood windows built. Instead, she proposed using the composite windows created by Interstate Window and Door Co. Company representative Rich Capece showed commission members two sample windows. He explained that the composite material was developed to look like wood.

“Our goal was to do exactly what needed to be done to match a wood window,” he said, adding that the product was made with a little PVC as well as acrylic. “It matches milled lumber to the T.”

Capece stressed that the windows were stable and came with lifetime warranties. They’re able to be painted and are custom made for each home.

“We’ve done everything but cut a tree down to make this window,” he said.

Commission member Joel Todd said he was concerned that the window frame, which was to be white, would appear glossy.

“This looks a little shiny to me,” he said. “The white looks plastic.”

Capece replied that a flat paint could be used to prevent the finish from appearing shiny.

Carol Rose, chair of the commission, said she could not support the installation of a non-wood window.

“I’ve been on the board 12 years,” she said. “Any single-family home we’ve always required wooden windows. If we let you do it, we’re setting a precedent.”

Todd pointed out that the commission had allowed vinyl windows on a number of buildings downtown, including the Atlantic Hotel and a home on Jefferson Street.

“Another thing in my mind is this house was an eyesore for years,” he said. “Whatever is going to be done is an improvement.”

He added that he might refrain from permitting vinyl windows on a home if it was of particular historic significance.

“It appears they tried to meet us halfway with composite,” he added.

Dave Engelhart, the town’s planning director, told the commission he’d been in the window business for years and complimented the product Capece presented.

“Windows like the Atlantic Hotel did,” Engelhart said, “they’re square, stock vinyl. The least expensive way of doing it. This is about the best you can do.”

When the commission asked for comments from the public, Barb Stack, a member of the town’s planning commission, said it wasn’t clear what standards the historic district commission was following.

“Berlin’s historic district has guidelines but they seem to use them sometimes and not other times,” she said.

She pointed out that last month, the commission approved plans for vinyl windows at Taylor Bank and the Atlantic Hotel.

“You’re being very inconsistent,” she said.

Stack’s husband, Rick, resigned from the historic district commission last month, citing the board’s inconsistency on the issue of vinyl windows as his reason for doing so.

Moore thanked Stack for her comment but said that each situation was different.

“There is no perfection in the world,” she said. “Each case is different.”

Todd made a motion to approve the composite windows as long as they were painted a flat white. The motion passed 3-2.

OC Arsonist Sentenced

Social Issues & Government

SNOW HILL — An Easton man, charged in August with first-degree arson and reckless endangerment after purposely starting a fire at a downtown Ocean City apartment complex, pleaded guilty this week and was sentenced to seven years in jail, most of which was suspended in favor of a fine and probation.

Luke Vincent Howard III, 18, was charged in August with first-degree arson and reckless endangerment after law enforcement was able to connect him to an early morning apartment building fire on Lark Lane last Aug. 2. On Monday, Howard pleaded guilty to first-degree arson and was sentenced to seven years, all but 18 months of which were then suspended.

He was also placed on probation for 30 months and fined $500. Howard was also ordered to pay $135 in restitution to the victim, the Bay Colony West Apartment owners on Lark Lane.

On Sunday, Aug. 2, an unknown suspect later identified as Howard poured gasoline on the porch of a two-story, six-unit apartment building on Lark Lane and lit it on fire. Occupants of the ground-floor units noticed the odor of gasoline, and after discovering the fuel had been lit, extinguished the flames prior to notifying authorities. At the time of the fire, the building was occupied by over 30 individuals, most of whom were asleep.

An investigation by the Ocean City Fire Marshal’s Office, with assistance from the Ocean City Police Criminal Investigation Division and the Worcester County State’s Attorney’s Office, found the fire was incendiary in nature and purposely set. Investigators identified Howard as the suspect. While Howard is from Easton, he was a seasonal worker in Ocean City and his address on court documents is listed as the Phillips’ dormitory on 21st Street.

Howard was charged with first- and second-degree arson, malicious burning, malicious destruction of property and reckless endangerment. No injuries were reported in the incident.

 

Crash Leads To Arrest

BERLIN — A Delaware woman faces drunk-driving and other charges this week after allegedly running a stop sign in Berlin last weekend and colliding with another vehicle.

Around 4:25 p.m. last Saturday, Maryland State Police troopers responded to the area of Route 610 and Route 346 in Berlin for a reported motor vehicle collision. The investigation revealed a Toyota Corolla operated by Jonni Wolksee, 40, of Dover, was traveling northbound on Route 610 and failed to stop at a stop sign line before colliding with a vehicle driving eastbound on Route 346.

While interviewing Wolskee, trooper detected a strong odor of alcoholic beverage. After a battery of field sobriety tests were administered, Wolskee was placed under arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. Wolskee was not injured as a result of the collision, but the driver of the other vehicle was transported to PRMC in Salisbury for injuries sustained in the crash.

 

Assaults Over Loud Music

SALISBURY — An apparent dispute over inappropriately loud music in a public park resulted in the serious altercation after which two local men were charged with first-degree assault last weekend.

Shortly before 5 p.m. last Sunday, Salisbury Police responded to the Boundless Playground on Broad Street for a reported fight in progress. Upon arrival, officers met with several witnesses as well as the two suspects involved in the fight. The initial investigation revealed the two combatants, Charles Preston Smith, 48, and Kendal Lee Smiley, 18, were involved in a mutual assault that started in the playground and eventually spilled over into the roadway on Broad Street. Smith is a James M. Bennett Middle School teacher.

According to police reports, Smith confronted a group of juveniles in the park who were reportedly playing loud, inappropriate music. When Smith confronted the group of juveniles, Smiley interceded and stepped in between Smith and the group. A verbal argument between Smith and Smiley ensued, which escalated into a physical altercation.

According to police reports, the argument turned physical when Smith allegedly began swinging a golf club at Smiley, striking him in the head and upper torso. Smiley then armed himself with a large stick and began striking Smith in the head and upper torso.

According to police reports, Smiley and the juvenile attempted to leave the park area and were followed by Smith. A second confrontation began in the street, where Smiley and Smith continued to assault each other with their respective weapons.

Smith and Smiley were ultimately transported to PRMC where they were treated for serious, but not life-threatening injuries and were later released. Upon release, Smith and Smiley were transported to the Wicomico County Detention Center where they were being held pending bond reviews as of mid-week. Smith and Smiley were each charged with first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, affray, disorderly conduct, and possession of a dangerous weapon.

 

Safe Swipers Sentenced

POCOMOKE — Two local men, arrested last August on burglary and other charges after attempting to steal the safe from a Pocomoke restaurant, each pleaded guilty this week to second-degree burglary and each was sentenced to 18 months in jail and ordered to pay restitution.

Last Aug. 28, the Worcester County Bureau of Investigations was contacted to assist the Pocomoke Police Department with a burglary that had occurred sometime overnight at the Friendly’s restaurant. The investigation revealed Friendly’s closed on Friday night with all doors secured by the night manager.

Sometime after the restaurant closed, suspects broke into the restaurant and stole a safe containing an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspects used a rear door to exit the restaurant and stole a hand cart to wheel the safe off the property. A significant amount of damage was caused by the suspects to the inside of the restaurant prior to leaving.

Maryland State Police crime scene detectives responded to collect evidence and assist with the investigation. Investigators quickly identified the suspects as Dylan Sedgwick, 21, and Michael Hernandez, 21, both of Pocomoke. With the assistance of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office K-9 Unit, the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office Patrol Unit, the Pocomoke Police Department and WCBI, Sedgwick and Hernandez were taken into custody in Pocomoke without incident. The safe was recovered with damage, but was still intact and had not been opened.

This week, Sedgwick and Hernandez each pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary. Hernandez was sentenced to eight years with all but 18 months suspended, and was placed on probation for two years and fined $500. Sedgwick was sentenced to five years will all but eight months suspended, with two years of probation and a $500 fine. Both defendants were ordered to jointly pay $4,500 in restitution to the restaurant.

 

Waterman’s License Revoked

SALISBURY — A Wicomico County waterman convicted on multiple poaching violations this week was permanently banned from fishing commercially in Maryland waters by an administrative law judge.

Adam Rodney Antes, 33, of Tyaskin, was found guilty in District Court in multiple cases over a two-year period of taking oysters from protected waters, overharvesting and harvesting undersized oysters. Consequently, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) assessed 60 points on Antes’ tidal fishing license, or nearly double what is required to trigger a revocation. Administrative Law Judge Michael Burns said the revocation was reasonable given the extent of Antes’ actions.

“The licensee’s transgressions endanger a unique Maryland resource,” the judge said. “I can find no reason not to uphold the rational decision of the DNR to revoke this licensee’s tidal fishing license.”

On January 11, Antes was charged with eight new counts of oyster poaching by NRP officers. Acting on a tip, NRP officers set up surveillance on the vessel “Kimberly Dawn,” which was tied up near Bivalve Harbor in Wicomico. On board they saw piles of oysters on the boat’s deck. Antes admitted dredging the oysters just outside the harbor on the previous night.

NRP officers gathered the oysters in five bushel baskets and measured them, finding four bushels containing as high as 55 percent undersized oysters. Antes was charged with four counts of harvesting undersized oysters, violating harvest hours, possessing oysters two hours after sunset and before sunrise, failing to cull oysters and failing to tag oysters and place them in approved containers. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $1,000 fine.

Voices From The Readers

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Mayor Comments On Utility Situation

Editor:

A local newspaper article published Jan. 29 accurately reported the circumstances which resulted in the Town of Berlin’s Electric Utility being charged this year with an additional $435,876 for purchased power cost because the town was not advised by the town’s electric utility consultants to generate power on a severely cold day in February 2015. The consultants were immediately contacted by the Berlin Electric Utility Director and asked if we should operate the town’s power plant because of the unusually high electric demand we were experiencing that day.

Clearly, the advice from Booth and Associates, Inc. was a gross misjudgment that is being addressed in the form of seeking a yet undetermined level of financial compensation to the town’s electric utility. These ongoing negotiations are expected to continue through communications that began in December between the Town Administrator and the electric utility consultants. Any proposed agreement, when reached, will require a majority vote of the Town Council.

There are two statements in the article implying that I and the Town Administrator purposely kept from providing this information to the council until the town’s first council meeting in January, a month after the Public Service Commission hearing. These statements disregard the unfortunate circumstances that caused there to be no Berlin Mayor and Council Meeting to be held in December 2015.

I was given an opportunity by the newspaper to address the explanation for the additional purchased power cost. I am writing this letter to the editor because I was not contacted by the newspaper regarding the allegations made by council members Lisa Hall and Thom Gulyas that they and other members of the town council were purposely not informed of this information in a timely manner.

A town council meeting, with both executive and regular sessions, was scheduled for Dec. 14 and notifications and packets were sent to all council members, as is the normal pre-meeting process. The media also received advanced notice of the regular session agenda. The original meeting of Dec. 14, and subsequent efforts to reschedule this meeting (with the same agenda) on Monday, Dec. 21, and when this was not possible, then a third effort were made by the Town Administrator and me to schedule a meeting on Monday, Dec. 28. These multiple efforts and the circumstances surrounding them have apparently been forgotten by the two council members who say they do not understand why they were not informed about the electric utility purchased power issue until the executive session of Jan. 11.

A Public Service Commission Hearing Update was on the Executive Agenda for the Monday, Dec. 14th meeting that was prepared and distributed to all council members prior to the meeting. Before the meeting could be held; I received a phone call from Councilman Gulyas informing me his mother had taken a significant turn for the worse regarding longstanding health issues she had been experiencing. We both agreed that it was best he not attend the council meeting so he could focus on care for his mom.

Two other council members also indicated they could not attend, both for personal reasons, so a quorum, which requires a minimum of three council members, could not be mustered for the meeting. I made the decision to postpone the Dec. 14th meeting because I felt it would be pointless to call a meeting to order only to have the meeting disbanded after the opening prayer and pledge of allegiance due to a lack of quorum. The local press was notified of the cancelation.

The town administrator and I then immediately began contacting council members to seek approval to reschedule the meeting for the following Monday, Dec. 21. Before the meeting could be formally announced, most regrettably Council Member Gulyas’ mother passed away. After contacting some council members, it immediately became obvious, that once again, a quorum would not be possible, and ironically it was because a slightly different alignment of council members would not be able to attend. I made the judgment that under the circumstances we would not seek to convene a council meeting on Dec. 21st, but instead begin working to see if the December meeting could be held on Dec. 28. In November, the Berlin Mayor and Council had voted to cancel the Dec. 28 meeting in order to allow town employees and the council to make arrangements for those who wished to enjoy out-of-town travel to visit family and friends between the Christmas and New Year holidays.

I proposed that we reinstate the town meeting for Dec. 28, but then another very unfortunate situation occurred, Council Member Troy Purnell’s mother passed away and a quorum was once again not possible because of her death along with yet another alignment of scheduling conflicts among two of the four remaining council members. I decided that the only reasonable response, under the circumstances, would be to simply wait until the next regularly scheduled meeting on Jan. 11, and there was no disagreement expressed by the council when they were notified by email.

The town’s legal counsel for our electric utility advised the Town Administrator and myself, in early December, that any discussion about the missed peak shaving generation on one day in February 2015 should be presented to the council in person in executive session because of the potential for litigation if the town should not come to an agreement for satisfactory financial restitution with the consulting firm. In the meantime, the town is looking at all of our options and will be considering hiring a legal expert in electric utility related contracts as one of those options at a future executive session.

Being aware of the extreme displeasure both Council members Hall and Gulyas stated to the newspaper last week about not receiving the information until the executive session of Jan. 11, I think it is appropriate for everyone to know that I would make the same decisions, in the same manner, for the same reasons, if called upon to do it all again.

I also believe that the statements made to the newspaper that imply that the town administrator and myself, as Mayor, did not have the authority to immediately seek a plan for mitigation that would need to be approved by the Public Service Commission public hearing of Dec. 8 is absolutely false. It has been more than implied before by Council Member Hall, regarding other matters, that neither the town administrator, nor myself, have the executive authority to make decisions regarding the administrative decisions of the operation of the Town of Berlin, without the approval of the town council.

I absolutely disagree. The immediate response to proactively make operational decisions “IS” the job of the heads of the executive department of Berlin’s municipal government under our town’s code. I wish to remind both council members the Town of Berlin is a traditional municipality under Maryland law, and is “NOT” the form of government operated by either the Ocean Pines Association or the County Commissioners, where there is no “elected executive” on either board.

The five members of the town council fulfill the role of legislative responsibility for Berlin. They have the right, and obligation, to cast votes on matters before the town council. As mayor, I have no vote unless there is a 2-2 tie, which is extraordinarily rare. In the eight years I have been mayor, I have had to cast one tie-breaking vote, on a procedural matter, nothing involving expenditures or the authority of the town government.

This leads me to address another related matter of Berlin town government that I have sought to look the other way on for the past several months. Since late spring/early summer, Council Member Hall has told anyone and everyone who would listen that she is “going to be the next mayor of Berlin.” I can only assume in her own way this means she will be filing for election for the office in the town election of Tuesday, Oct. 4.

Unfortunately, the way she has presented this message, repeated during her multiple visits to Town Hall nearly every week for months, has given some Berlin employees the false impression that I will not be seeking re-election. Council Member Hall’s Town Hall campaigning along with repeated interrogations of town employees demanding they tell her “what’s really going on” strongly implying that there must be some political dirt they can share. As a result, the town administrator, the managing director and some department heads have been dealing with a measurable drop in morale among many town employees.

In respect for the longstanding tradition of our town elections, I will not be making an official announcement to file for re-election until sometime this summer during the formal filing period, but let there be no doubt, I have every intention to do so at the appropriate time.

Gee Williams

(The writer is the Town of Berlin’s Mayor.)

 

Event Support Recognized

Editor:

Birds have economic value and this was on display again last weekend with the enormous success of the first ever Winter Delmarva Birding Weekend. We would like to thank all of the local businesses, chambers, and conservation groups for their tremendous support.

It certainly paid off with visitors from all over the US descending on Worcester and Sussex counties to watch birds. While most of us know the inherent value of wild things, it’s important to remember the billions of dollars spent in the country every year from both bird watching and wildfowl hunting. The modicum of investment we put into protecting land and water pays huge economic dividends.

Thanks especially to our sponsors, Southern Delaware Tourism, the Atlantic Sands Hotel and Conference Center, Worcester County Tourism, the Howard Johnson’s Oceanfront Plaza Hotel, Days Inn Ocean City, the Boardwalk Hotel Group, Fager’s Lighthouse, the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays, the Delmarva Almanac, Town of Snow Hill, the Atlantic Hotel in Berlin, Hodges Taylor Art Consultancy, Somerset County Tourism, The Avenue Inn, and the Breakers Hotel and Suites.

We’ll see you in three months for the spring Delmarva Birding Weekend April 21-24.

Dave Wilson Jr.

(The writer is the former director of the Maryland Coastal Bays Program and the current co-owner of Conservation Community Consulting.)

 

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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Worcester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson gave his one year’s notice this week. Actually it was more like 16 months.

While the news did not come as a surprise Tuesday to the Board of Education, it was not expected among the majority of the school system. It’s disappointing that Wilson is retiring after just one term, and I question whether the Board of Education would have overlooked him if they were armed with the knowledge he would be done after one term. Of course, he probably didn’t know he was going to retire four years ago and even if he was planning it he most likely wouldn’t have disclosed it. It is a shame, however, because school systems need stability at the top.

Along with other unique educational issues at that time, such as the introduction of the Common Core curriculum, Wilson came here in an unenviable position, replacing long-time Superintendent Dr. Jon Andes, who was beloved and appreciated by many in the school system. He was inevitably going to be compared to the affable Andes, who gained the respect of many in his 16 years at the head of schools.

With Wilson’s announcement this week, the school board made it clear it will conduct another national search to find his replacement. Some in the community privately questioned that move, suggesting vocally in some cases that Lou Taylor, who currently serves as Chief Operating Officer and was the former 17-year principal at Stephen Decatur High School, would be the logical choice to replace Wilson. Taylor was after all one of the four finalists in the last superintendent search, along with current Somerset Superintendent John Gaddis, an Ohio superintendent and Wilson.

While it’s yet to be determined if Taylor would even be interested again in the post, what is clear is there will be no internal promotion without a national search evidently. In other words, there will not be anything new on this front for about a year most likely. Personally, I like the idea of Taylor, or someone of a similar ilk, becoming the next superintendent. Wilson’s replacement has to be a collaborative-type of individual who understands this unique school system’s numerous strengths and its areas of shortcomings as well as the current dynamics between the Board of Education and the County Commissioners. It’s this last point that I could see Taylor making some headway in. It’s no secret relations between these two boards has never been worse. There’s a level of distrust currently among the two bodies that is unhealthy and that does not appear to be changing anytime soon.

 

I like to think I learn something from every question-and-answer interview we publish. That has perhaps never been truer than with this week’s interview with Michelle Freeman. I encourage our readers to give it a read and even better listen to the conversation through our podcast on our website.

The most charming thing about Freeman is her openness. For someone of her stature, she does not shy away from talking about the ups and downs she has experienced in her life. She acknowledges the grief she went through when her husband and later her new beau tragically died in accidents. She is an inspiration and a role model to many because of the way she carried herself through those sad times and credits her faith with giving her that strength.

“When I think about the last 10 years, what I think is that on any given day after a tragedy, you have a choice to either let the tragedy define you, or who you have become after the tragedy define you. That is literally a choice. I think that I live that on a daily basis, and there are days, especially since Matt’s (Haley) death, where without the faith that I have without the belief that I’m here for a reason, it all would have been overwhelming. And quite honestly, there were days in the last 10 years, and in the time post Matt’s death, which has been almost two years, people say ‘you’ve had two tragedies, how do you come out of that?’ I say, you wake up in the morning, you ask God for strength, you ask God to help you continue to find purpose and then you walk the walk. I think that is the most defining thing,” she said. “What grief does is stop you short of living. You can stay in grief so much that a part of you dies, and what grief can do is keep you from moving forward.”

 

 

OC Seeks Property Damage Reports

OCEAN CITY — The Town of Ocean City is encouraging residents and businesses affected by last month’s coastal storm Jonas to contact the Office of Emergency Management.

More specifically, information regarding the type and extent of loss experienced as a direct result of the weather incident, including losses in business revenue due to closures, is requested. Any information collected by the town will be forwarded to Maryland Emergency Management Agency to be used to determine areas that may require assistance in the recovery process.

“The Town of Ocean City suffered various damages from winter storm Jonas, which was a dangerous coastal/winter storm that impacted our entire region and state,” said Ocean City Emergency Services Director Joe Theobald. “We are asking our business and property owners to assess damages that may have occurred during this weather incident and report them to us to ensure we have a clear and comprehensive picture of the impact in Ocean City.”

Residents and business owners can contact their local Emergency Management Office at 410-723-6616 or the Planning and Community Development Department at 410-289-8942 with an estimate and amount of loss, as well as information on their insurance coverage, if any.

The deadline for reporting information is March 4.

Adventures Of Fatherhood

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We took the kids on their first ski vacation last week, and I’m happy to report there were no injuries.

Thanks to forecasted blizzard conditions along our five-hour route to Deep Creek Lake from here, we made our trip a nine-day excursion rather than seven, and I’m so glad we did.

About 20 minutes after we arrived at our home away from home last Friday, it started snowing and it didn’t stop for 40 hours. In the end, more than three feet of snow fell, laying the foundation for a great ski vacation.

Neither of the kids had ever skied before so we were cautiously optimistic about their abilities to pick it up in short order. Fortunately, Wisp Resort has a great ski school and the boys loved being there. That allowed their parents time to ski without having to worry about teaching them or taking turns being with them while the other skied.

For the record, Pam is a graceful skier while I’m a wreck on the mountain, but it was still fun for this proverbial fish out of water since I’m a beach guy.

Both kids ended up being better skiers than me by week’s end with Beckett getting so comfortable that by the last day he was skiing backwards and pulling off parallel stops, or what he called “hockey stops.” When I tried one of those, it wasn’t pretty.

Carson, for his part, did a great job as well, improving drastically over the week, although I do think sledding remains his preferred way to go down a hill. By our last day, he had graduated from the ski school hill to the bunny hills with the magic carpets.

Some other highlights included:

•Being relegated by the weather to inside for two days with my children, who each possess a high energy level whenever their eyes are open, normally would be my idea of a nightmare.

Although there were some temporary moments of insanity, that was not the case while away on vacation in our friends’ mountain home.

The fact it was a blizzard outside for two straight days sort of took all the options off the table anyway and the boys embraced an all-day snack session, movies, video games, puzzles, board games and cards.

At one point, Carson was getting particularly antsy, so I carried him outside into the wind and snow, and he quickly realized how much nicer it was inside and started crying as the snow hit him in the face.

There were no more requests on that day to go play in the snow from that point on.

•There is something to be said for going in a hot tub and your hair literally freezing from the cold air.

That was a first for my kids who got a huge kick out of it along with the fact we were sitting in a hot tub as snow fell on us.

It was great fun, so much so on the few days it wasn’t bitter cold and their hair did not freeze in the hot tub they both resorted to whining.

•Hide and seek was a popular game during our snowbound time. It usually goes Beckett against Carson and me.

Carson hasn’t quite gotten the hang of the game because wherever he hides he makes noises so we can find him easily. Therefore, we hide together and make Beckett work for it.

During one of what seemed like hundreds of rounds, Carson and I hid in a shower. He was doing a good job listening to me and keeping quiet. I was so focused on making sure he didn’t make any loud sounds to give away our location that I didn’t realize what he was doing with his hands. I should have known better.

I soon found out what he was up to when he turned the shower faucet on. The cold water made both of us shriek, giving away to Beckett where we were and drenching us in the process.

In this case, I didn’t heed the advice we always give to people with Carson — expect the unexpected.

•A day after the big storm, we went outside the house to do some sledding down the front hill. We quickly realized that would not be an easy task, as three feet of powder doesn’t equate to great sledding without a lot of work.

Instead, what happened was we simply dropped in the snow and went nowhere. While we did our best to make tracks up and down the hill, a lost boot and glove quickly ruined it for me.

Then there was Pam who was stuck at the bottom of the hill with Carson, who was crying because it was too difficult to walk back up the hill in more than three feet of snow. It was understandable. Meanwhile, while I was rushing down the hill to carry him back up, Beckett threw a fit about not being to get his feet in the snowboard he was trying to use. When I showed him he would simply sink to his waist in the fresh snow, he too threw a fit.

Fortunately, the entire vacation did not consist of that sort of nonsense.

What’s Your Sign?

horoscopes new

ARIES (March 21 to April 19): A gracious Lamb can learn more about a problem-filled situation than one who is openly suspicious of what could be happening. A friend might offer some well-directed advice.

TAURUS (April 20 to May 20): Getting adjusted to an unexpected change might be difficult for the Bovine who prefers things to go according to plan. But help could come from a most welcome source.

GEMINI (May 21 to June 20): This could be a good time to get a head start on those career-related plans. The sooner you check out the pluses and minuses, the sooner you can act on your information.

CANCER (June 21 to July 22): A personal situation you thought would no longer present a problem suddenly could produce some surprises. Try to sort things out with the help of trusted colleagues.

LEO (July 23 to Aug. 22): An upcoming move holds both anticipation and anxiety for Leos and Leonas who have some big decisions to make. Advice is plentiful, but it’s up to you to decide which way you want to go.

VIRGO (Aug. 23 to Sept. 22): Someone from a previous project could provide valuable guidance on how to handle a current problem, especially where it might involve a legal matter.

LIBRA (Sept. 23 to Oct. 22): A business situation presents some unexpected complications. But rather than try to handle them all at once, it would be best to deal with them one at a time.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23 to Nov. 21): You just might get what you want, despite the odds against it. In any event, be sure to thank all those people involved who believed in you and went to bat for you.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22 to Dec. 21): Before you even hint at an accusation, remember that you’ll have to prove what you say. So be sure you have what you need to back up your comments.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22 to Jan. 19): A romantic situation takes an unexpected turn that favors some Sea Goats, but causes others to reassess how they’ve been handling the relationship.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20 to Feb. 18): A surprise turn of events could unsettle the Water Bearer. But it also might help open up an entirely different way of working out an important matter.

PISCES (Feb. 19 to March 20): A smoothly running operation could bump up against an obstacle. This is where your ability to assess situations and make adjustments can restore things to normal.

BORN THIS WEEK: Your kindness is legendary, and so is your strong sense of responsibility.

(c) 2016 King Features Synd., Inc.