Route 50 Bridge Repair Project Completed

OCEAN CITY — State Highway Administration (SHA) crews this week put the finishing touches on a major repair project on the Route 50 bridge in an effort to avoid a repeat of last summer’s major breakdown.

“The crews are finalizing the repairs stemming from the project last month to ensure the smooth operation of the draw span,” said SHA Public Information Officer Charlie Gischlar this week.

Around 3 p.m. last July 26, the drawbridge got stuck in the up position following a routine opening and closing. The malfunctioning bridge almost immediately caused heavy resort traffic on a busy Saturday afternoon in late July to back up along Route 50 and the dominoes toppled backward as motorists attempted to find alternative routes into the resort, essentially causing gridlock across much of northern Worcester County.

The bridge remained stuck in the open position for about five hours until the decision was made to hand-crank the bridge into the closed position to begin allowing vehicles to access the bridge in and out of the resort. SHA’s engineers determined the problem was caused by a cracked mount on the drawbridge’s drive shaft that would not allow the span to be lowered completely. The bridge was fixed temporarily and worked throughout the rest of the summer before the long-term fix that wrapped up this week.

In other news related to the bridges heading into and out of Ocean City, SHA crews on Monday will begin a significant milling and repaving project on Route 90 between the St. Martin’s River Bridge and the Assawoman Bay Bridge. The resurfacing work was to start earlier this week but was delayed by weather. It will now begin on Monday and is expected to be completed by next Thursday. The work will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

During the project, there will be single-lane closures guided by flaggers. SHA will use flaggers, variable message signs, cones, arrow panels and barrels to guide motorists through the work zone and some delays are expected. The intent is to improve safety and overall pavement conditions on Route 90 in both directions. The $225,000 repaving project will be performed by American Infrastructure MD, Inc. of Fallston.


Thousands Turn Out For Komen Race

Nick Barkley of Dover (left) edged local Bobby Hammond (right) in the Susan Komen Maryland Race for the Cure last Sunday. Pictured above, the two front-runners shared a moment after the finish.

Photo by Chris Parypa

OCEAN CITY- Thousands of runners from all over the region descended on the resort last weekend for the 4th Annual Susan Komen Maryland Race for the Cure in Ocean City, turning the downtown area into a sea of pink on Sunday morning.

While thousands of individual runners and team runners competed, thousands more family, friends and supporters piled into the Inlet area for the festivities. While the race was competitive, the real winner was the Susan Komen of Maryland Foundation with hundreds of thousands of dollars raised for breast cancer awareness and research.

For the record, Nick Barkley of Dover edged two-time defending champion Bobby Hammond of Selbyville to win the overall championship. Barkley and Hammond ran neck and neck for most of the race before Barkley pulled away. Jonathan Velasquez of Milton, Del. was third, Thomas Johnson of Berlin was fourth and Denise Knickman of Baltimore was fifth overall and the top female finisher.

Perhaps more importantly, 16 female cancer survivors from all over the state competed in the annual race last Sunday. Among the top local finishers in the survivor race were Susie Shockley of Ocean City (1st), Nancy Moore of Bishopville (3rd), Laura Powell of Berlin (4th), Sheryl Mitrecic of Ocean City (6th), Brandi Mellinger of Berlin (8th), and Jennifer Neeb of Berlin (13th).

Local runners were all over the leaderboard in almost every age and gender group including many who finished in the top three of their respective categories. In the male 10-14 group, Tristan McDonough of Whaleyville was third. In the female 10-14 group, Lily Figgs of Ocean City was first and Gabriella Bounds of Pittsville was second.

In the male 15-19 group, John Ford of Ocean City was first and Colin Green of Whaleyville was third. In the female 15-19 group, Brigitte Ardis of Berlin was first and Maggie Bunting of Ocean City was second. In the male 20-24 group, Gavin Aquino of Berlin was second. In the female 20-24 group, In the male 25-29 group, Andrew Blizzard of Berlin was first, Lap Nguyen of Pocomoke was second and Ryan Wilde of Ocean City was third. In the female 25-29 group, Naquelle Jacobs of Whaleyville was second.

In the male 30-34 group, Edwin Blanco of Berlin was second and Brian Patey of Berlin was third. In the female 30-34 group, Tabita Enciu of Pittsville was first, Kelly Zimmerman of Selbyville was second and Jennifer Kukel of Berlin was third. In the male 35-39 group, Steven Green of Berlin was third.

In the male 40-44 group, David Pouchan of Ocean City was second. In the female 40-44 group, Christine Figgs of Ocean City was first. In the male 45-49 group, Thomas Johnson of Berlin was first and Bob Thompson of Ocean Pines was third. In the male 50-54 group, Charles Curran of Ocean City was third. In the female 50-54 group, Susie Shockley of Ocean City was second.

In the male 55-59 group, Rex Palmer of Salisbury was third. In the female 55-59 group, Dawn Rogers of Ocean City was first. In the male 60 and over group, Doug Purcell of Ocean View was first, Jimmy Bacco of Berlin was fourth, and Rob Azbell of Berlin was eighth. In the female 60 and over group, Mary Lou McCurdy of Ocean City was third, Barbara Patey of Salisbury was fourth.

New Ownership Clarifies Lazy Lizard’s New Direction; Veteran Team Aims To Redesign Downtown Site

Among the new management team at de Lazy Lizard are, from left, General Managers Ben Vatayuk and Jen Robins and Executive Chef Mitch Cook. Photo by Shawn Soper

OCEAN CITY — With a clearer vision and a firmer concept, the new ownership and management team at de Lazy Lizard is rapidly preparing for the upcoming summer season at the iconic spot on the bay at First Street.

Last week, the Worcester County Board of License Commissioners agreed to lift the liquor license suspension placed on de Lazy Lizard’s old ownership group, opening the door for the planned takeover by the Dead Freddies ownership team. For years, Dead Freddies has owned and operated a successful restaurant and bar on the bayside at 64th Street and previously maintained thriving operations in the Baltimore area.

With a seasoned, veteran management team in place, the Dead Freddies owners are now hanging on to some of the things de Lazy Lizard did best, jettisoning some of those that created issues in the past and putting their own creative spin on the new project. The plan is not so much a complete makeover, rather a rebranding to make the space more functional and practical while appealing to a wide audience from families with young children to adults with some clear separation of the space.

“We’re redesigning the concept to better define the areas,” said Stephen Carullo, one of the Dead Freddies owners. “The north side will remain the family destination it has been. On the south side, we’re redoing the tiki bar to make it more functional and better serve the guests needs.”

Carullo said one of the first orders of business has been to redesign the space to eliminate some of the many access points to the property. In the past, there have been multiple ways to enter and exit the property and de Lazy Lizard over the years has had several underage infractions. Carullo said the plan is to have a main single point of entry to eliminate some of the issues in the past.

Cognizant of some of de Lazy Lizard’s infractions in the past, the liquor board’s vote of approval last week signals a nod to Dead Freddies’ spotless record in Ocean City and beyond.

“We’re thankful to the liquor board for the faith they have put in us,” Carullo said. “We’re also thankful to the Town of Ocean City for being supportive as we go through these changes.”

Acquiring de Lazy Lizard is just one of Dead Freddies’ expansion projects this spring. The company has also acquired the strip that was notably home to the old Hooters property in north Ocean City on 123rd Street bayside, and while the vision for that location is largely conceptual at this point, the plan is to create high-end dining on the inside and a more family-oriented space on the outside. Carullo said the Dead Freddies’ crew is just now starting to explore the options for the property and the plan is for an opening sometime in June, but they won’t know for sure until they get in there and find out what needs to be done.

In terms of de Lazy Lizard, Dead Freddies is bringing in Corporate Executive Chef Mitch Cook to oversee the food operation and design the menu. Joining Carullo and Cook and de Lazy Lizard management team are General Managers Jen Robins and Ben Vatavuk. Carullo said the plan from the beginning has been to retain de Lazy Lizard name and basic concept while improving it and adding its own creative changes.

“We love the Lizard brand and with Mitch’s expertise and Jen’s and Ben’s management, we are certain we can improve on the vision and finish the project,” he said.

That vision includes creating an appeal to a broader audience. Families with young children will be able to enjoy the north side of the property with its play areas and kid-friendly amenities. The huge tiki bar on the south side of the site is not going away, contrary to some reports, and is getting a makeover of sorts to appeal to an adult clientele. Essentially, de Lazy Lizard plans on retaining the same clientele that has made it successful in the past while reaching out to a new audience.

“The bar side will be for those 21 and older and we want to have that distinct separation,” said Carullo. “We’re looking forward to a great season and we welcome back all patrons.”

Robins is a holdover from last year’s management crew and brings an understanding of what worked and what didn’t work. She said there will be plenty of familiar faces working at the Lizard that will provide a link to the recent past while embracing the changes made by the Dead Freddies’ management and ownership crew.

“I’m excited to be working with them,” she said. “The local clientele is going to be extremely happy with the improvements.”

Vatavuk said beyond the obvious physical changes to the space is Cook’s creative kitchen skills and menu planning.

“With Mitch’s concepts, we’re going to bring more great food to Ocean City,” he said. “It’s fun when you’re proud to serve everything that comes out of the kitchen.”

For his part, Cook said he is applying many of the same creative concepts that have made Dead Freddies so popular over the years. For example, some of the specials he has created for Dead Freddies will become fixtures on de Lazy Lizard’s regular menu.

“It’s exciting to be opening this place and we have a lot of collaboration,” he said. “We’re going to bring the same quality we have at Freddies. We’re up to the challenge and we have a really great crew behind us. We’re going to make it happen and I look forward to serving really great food in Ocean City.”


No Significant Damage Reported After Boat Strikes Route 50 Bridge

-Desmond Tate

OCEAN CITY — The Route 50 Bridge is none the worse for wear this week after being struck by a vessel that broke free from its moorings near the Inlet on Monday night.

Around 10:30 p.m. on Monday, Coast Guard Station Ocean City was notified a 57-foot trawler-style recreational yacht and struck the Harry Kelley Bridge on the south side. According to Coast Guard Petty Officer Kyle Wood, the vessel was not based in the area, but rather was a transient recreational boat passing through the area on Monday on its way north. The vessel dropped anchor in the Inlet area south of the bridge near the channel on Monday night but its anchor did not hold and it drifted toward the bridge.

“The anchor kept dragging and the current was coming through there pretty fast,” said Wood on Monday. “They kept drifting north on the current and attempted to pull up the anchor, but the current kept pushing them north and eventually they struck the bridge.”

The Coast Guard launched its 47-foot rescue boat and responded to the scene as did Tow Boat US. The Coast Guard and Tow Boat US worked together to attempt to free the vessel, which had settled in against the bridge in a parallel position. Wood said the Coast Guard and Tow Boat US worked to free the vessel for about an hour to no avail.

“After about an hour, a decision was made to just cut the anchor chain,” he said. “After that, we brought the vessel alongside our rescue boat for a tow. There were two people on board and nobody was hurt. There was no major damage to the boat. The rub rails were messed up where they continually hit the bridge, but otherwise, there was no major damage.”

The vessel did leave a little souvenir from the incident, however.

“We had to cut the anchor chain to free the boat and we couldn’t recover the anchor or the chain,” said Wood. “They are on the bottom on the south side of the bridge, but they are no threat to navigation because it is in an area away from the channels.”

On Monday, the State Highway Administration (SHA) sent crews from its private engineering firm Covington to make sure there was no structural damage to the span. SHA public information officer Charlie Gischlar said on Tuesday the boat had drifted into the bridge about 100 yards from the bridge tender house, but there was no damage to the bridge other than a few scratches.