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Berlin Wind Turbine Back On Track

BERLIN — A few technical setbacks have delayed the construction of Berlin’s first wind turbine but all bugs have been eliminated and blades should be spinning this November.
The snag came this summer while testing materials that would be used in the turbine, according to Doug Richard, owner of DDU Magnetics. However, there was a silver lining as a probe into the malfunctions led to new discoveries.
“We were developing the wind turbine by doing reliability testing in Chicago and we had some failures of some of the components, and we’ve worked those issues out and the result of our research resulted in another US patent,” he told the Town Council Monday.
All “technical setbacks” have since been resolved, added Richard. Luckily, they were caught pretty early which is why component testing is done before any construction begins, he said, since it can be much more difficult to address problems once the 50kw turbine is built.
“It’s a lot easier to test those components before you put it up in the sky. We did not want to have a failure after we’d installed it,” Richard said. “But the testing did result in a new discovery.”
Final tests should wrap up in short order, he continued, at which point installation and construction can begin.
“So sometime this fall we should have an operable wind turbine at the Berlin property?” Mayor Gee Williams asked.
Richard confirmed that by November the turbine should be fully operational and supplying electricity to the town. And while it’s unfortunate that there was a delay due to component failure, the results of the tests have produced a better turbine, he said.
“What we discovered was that we could remove some of the moving parts, some of the rotating parts and replace those with diodes and we’ve reduced the points of failure by more than half,” Richard said. “We reduced the components that were causing the points of failure by more than half. It is much more reliable now.”
The council was happy to have a timeline on the turbine.
“I’m just glad this is moving forward … it’s progress,” said Councilwoman Lisa Hall. “We’re almost there.”
Williams asked that Richard keep Utilities Director Tim Lawrence in the loop so that he can provide ongoing reports to the council.

Berlin Council Reduces Fire Company Funds To $200K; Tough Decision Ahead, BFC Reports

Berlin Council

BERLIN — A little more than a year after cutting all financial support to the Berlin Fire Company (BFC), the Mayor and Council voted unanimously Monday to restore $200,000 out of the $537,000 that was withdrawn.
There doesn’t appear to be a clear winner in the dispute at this time, with the BFC vocal about its fear that lower funding could impact service, the town still upset over the soured relationship and legal actions from disgruntled BFC employees brewing.
Though it’s a rough start, Mayor Gee Williams said that Monday’s decision to return partial funding to the BFC should be seen as a positive step forward.
“The Mayor and Council believe that tonight marks the beginning of the end of the ongoing dispute between the town of Berlin and the Berlin Fire Company,” said Williams.
The last year has marked a dark chapter in the relationship between the town and the company. In the summer of 2012, the council voted to sever ties with the BFC, due to an ongoing dispute over allegations of harassment by employees and some head-butting over how much the town should try to manage the company’s day-to-day operations.
The loss of funding, about $537,000 annually, was a hard blow, according to David Fitzgerald, the BFC president. Even the restoration of $200,000 of that Monday after a year without funding could come to impact service, he warned, though he clarified that the company is not threatening the town when he says that.
“We have not threatened the town or the taxpayers to stop responding. We have merely stated, factually and directly, that the fire company will have to consider which services that may need to be reduced to mirror the reduction in funding,” Fitzgerald said. “These are not decisions that we want to make. We are being forced to make them.”
With the cost of outfitting a new volunteer member around $10,000 including training and equipment and the constant need for maintenance and replacement of vehicles and gear, $200,000 a year from the town could go quickly, Fitzgerald said. After that, the BFC might need to cut services or coverage or training, he continued, and any diminishment of operation could jeopardize everything from resident safety to home insurance premiums.
The town did not dispute the point, but did question whether BFC finances are in that bad of a spot right now. John Stern, an independent auditor from PKS and Company, reviewed company finances and noted that the BFC is in “a very strong financial position,” with about $2.2 million in reserves as of December 2012. Stern noted the importance of keeping those reserves up but opined that the company should be able to draw from that stockpile for the time being and remain sound fiscally.
The mayor agreed, saying, “I don’t think that the fire company is in a position, based on the information we’ve received, based on the review Mr. Stern made, is certainly not impoverished nor is it on the brink of insolvency.”
The BFC is in a good spot currently, acknowledged Fitzgerald, but the loss in funding from the town threatens that in the long run.
“That $2.2 million, when we start picking away at these capital funds, will disappear very, very quickly,” he said.
Additionally, whenever money is donated to the company, donors usually have an expectation of how it will be used, further tying management’s hands, said Fitzgerald. Money promised for a new firehouse or ladder truck can’t be used on an electric bill as that would “violate [donor’s] trust,” he told the council.
Fire Company Assistant Chief Logan Helmuth further elaborated on how the cost of modern equipment is always in flux and that his firefighters already have to make do with decades old vehicles and gear that is tolerable but could be much better.
That may be but the BFC needs to learn to prioritize so service isn’t impacted, replied Councilman Troy Purnell, even if that means waiting to expand with new stations or cutting back on non-essentials.
“You have the money to do that and our accountant is saying that. Don’t tell me you don’t have the money for that,” he told Helmuth.
Helmuth responded that he was only trying to lay out the challenges the diminished funding represented and that the council should trust the BFC to make those judgment calls.
“We run our business and you run your business. We don’t go by McDonalds and tell them to buy a new fryer,” he said.
However, the council has made it clear that it does intend to take a more active role in reviewing how the BFC budgets. The town will make any future funding contingent upon an annual audit of the company’s finances. This could be a good thing, said Stern, who suggested that the town and BFC approach financial planning together.
Even if the company can get by on $200,000 in funding from the town for the time being, BFC accountant Jay Bergey argued that it is entitled to more. About 58 percent of the BFC’s annual EMS service calls come from Berlin. Because EMS is a roughly $1 million annual cost, that means Berlin is getting about $600,000 worth of benefit despite only paying $200,000 and that $200,000 is actually split between funding EMS and fire service, he said.
“The town of Berlin has never paid its fair share in paying for what the town of Berlin uses,” Bergey said.
Williams promised that the town would like to restore more funding than this year’s initial $200,000 to the company in the future dependent upon those audits and the level of cooperation with the BFC.
“It is not our intention or our desire to keep funding at this level,” said the mayor.
At this point, the meeting nearly wrapped. However, both the town and BFC were reminded of the origins of their dispute when Jeff Dean, a former EMT with the town of Berlin, made a statement imploring the council not to return any funding to the BFC at this time. It was allegations of harassment made by Dean and his colleague Zack Tyndall last year that led the town to investigate the BFC, the first link in a chain reaction that caused funding to be withdrawn and metaphorical fences built.
“You have called for public comment to guide you as you consider returning the funding you withheld last year from the Berlin Fire Company after Zack Tyndall and I and several others disclosed evidence of racial and sexual harassment, sexual assault, retaliation and corruption within the Berlin Fire Company,” said Dean.
Dean’s remarks were vocally objected to by the audience, which included a full house of fire company members and supporters who had been silent up until that point. Several audience members asked Williams to stop Dean while others complained that his harassment allegations were off topic for the meeting, which revolved around funding. Joe Moore, attorney for the BFC, echoed that opinion.
“Respectfully, we were told that tonight was in regard to our funding and not to discuss pending potential litigation or otherwise,” he reminded the council.
Williams agreed that Dean’s comments were not germane to the matter at hand and asked that he only focus on numbers. Dean obliged, and questioned the BFC’s fiscal responsibility, citing alleged expenses like chrome wheels on the chief’s vehicle and “$70,000 on an unwarranted security system.” Purnell spoke up at this juncture and assured Dean that the council had “every expenditure and every check” that the BFC has made recently and are aware of all of the finances.
Fitzgerald seconded Purnell’s comment.
“They have the checkbook for three years … we’re as transparent as we can be,” said the BFC president.
Dean refrained from finishing his remarks, but did make a written statement available to the media. In it, he further accuses the company of misconduct in the treatment of himself and Tyndall. He also references a car accident that was investigated by the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) this winter, blaming the BFC for the fatality.
However, it should be noted that the MIEMSS investigation found pre-hospital emergency services and transportation were up to par and the company was not at fault in that fatality, though they did find “significant, underlying tensions surrounding the delivery of medical services in Berlin.”
Dean also alleged that MIEMSS urged the Berlin council to take care of its own EMS service instead of relying on the BFC, with the state agency even offering to help facilitate the transition. But Williams flatly denied Dean’s claim and said that in neither written nor verbal correspondence did MIEMSS ever suggest that the town take over EMS services and definitely did not offer to help make that a reality.
Though Dean’s allegations didn’t gain traction at Monday’s meeting they are expected to turn up again in court, with Dean filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Should the EEOC support his claims, it will almost certainly lead to a lawsuit. Tyndall is further along that track and has an $8 million lawsuit pending against the BFC.
For its part, the BFC has publically promised in a letter to residents not to use town funding for legal defense with the pending lawsuit but will instead take care of that with insurance. Williams said this week that he’s ready to take the company on its word in that regard and imagines the public backlash should that not be the case would be harsh.

New Berlin Exhibit Features Painter, Photographer

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BERLIN — Two unique perspectives will meet Friday when the Worcester County Arts Council (WCAC) hosts a joint gallery displaying paintings from Jim Adcock and photography from Ron Michaels.
Though approaches will be different, both artists will seek to capture “Views of the Eastern Shore” through their own media.
The one-night event will take place on Friday, Sept. 13 from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Arts Council gallery in Berlin on Jefferson Street. Pieces from both artists will be on display along with live music and light refreshments.
“I can see a lot of possibilities … I think there’s no doubt that it’s going to be very well attended and successful,” said WCAC Executive Director Anna Mullis.
The gallery showing will coincide with a judged art contest also being held at the WCAC building that night as well as one of Berlin’s traditional Friday Night Art Strolls. Priscilla Zytkowicz, one of the event’s organizers, said that the hope is for all three events to synch and spotlight the arts community in town this week.
“It’s a big event. So then it’s all going to flow from our art show to over there … It’s the Berlin Art Stroll that day so all over town there will be artistic renderings,” she said.
As far as the actual “Views of the Eastern Shore” showing, the artists have a lot of flexibility to operate around that common theme and exactly how many pieces each will contribute is still unknown. Both believe that the unique pairing of art and paint will make an impression with everyone who attends, however.
“Jim, being an artist with paint, he has a perspective,” said Michaels. “He has an eye for certain things. And his eye and my eye are kind of related, which is why we’re doing this collaboration.”
Both artists are well entrenched in Berlin and the local atmosphere.
“Basically, they’re my paintings and his photography,” said Adcock. “My paintings are local, local scenes. Sometimes I call it ‘beach culture’ so it’s pop but also the beach.”
Adcock’s work will often focus on the coastline or familiar cityscapes from Berlin and the surrounding areas. Michaels looks to similar subjects for inspiration for his photography. The ponies on Assateague Island are a special draw, he said, though the best thing about the area is its geographical diversity.
“That’s the beauty of the Eastern Shore,” Michaels said. “There are so many things to do.”
Adcock hails from Baltimore originally and studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) but has been painting on the shore for more than 30 years. While Adcock started out on an art track, Michaels spent three decades teaching and naturally found photography through that.
“I taught special needs children for 30 years and was always looking for ways to engage them in learning and in looking at things in new and different ways,” said Michaels.
The event will also feature entertainment by Bruce Lukorkie and, depending on its success, might be the first of many joint galleries showcasing different mediums at WCAC, according to Mullis. Along with upcoming events like a plein air art contest at the end of the month, Mullis confirmed that WCAC is looking to reinvigorate the arts community in Berlin with help from the town, the artists and residents.
“We are actively working together to bring more arts to this area,” she said.
Pieces will be available for purchase during the event. For more information, call 410-726-2440 or 484-467-2465.

Berlin Battered By Storm Winds

Berlin

BERLIN — A brief but intense storm rolled through Berlin on Sunday, damaging trees throughout town and causing extensive damage to Stephen Decatur Park’s pavilion.
The localized hit to the park was unexpected but should be cleared up quickly, according to Mayor Gee Williams, who added the rest of Berlin saw little impact.
“At least to my knowledge, any property damage was limited to the public property in the park, which, in the overall scheme of things, is probably as good as we could have hoped,” Williams said.
The bluster that struck the park Sunday tore down numerous branches and damaged a number of trees, some seriously. Outside of the park on the edge of Route 113, crews noticed that at least one tree seems to have been uprooted.
The park’s pavilion also took a beating from the storm and now sports a few holes, some roughly a foot or more in diameter, in its roof. Williams was at the park Tuesday to survey the damage and expects a report from public works at the Town Council’s meeting next week. He estimated that the gazebo repairs could have a four-figure price tag but confirmed that the town plans ahead for such situations.
“Whatever it is, I anticipate that it’s a few thousand dollars and some repairs are always budgeted into anything we own so we would proceed immediately, I’m sure,” said the mayor.
Williams expects the structure will be restored in the near future.
“It’s not going to be a question of whether we fix the gazebo, it’s just how quickly and what’s the proper way of going about it,” he said.
Crews were out at the park early this week cleaning up scattered limbs and debris. Williams praised the job they did in quickly removing the signs of the storm.
“They really love what they do and they take a lot of pride in it,” he said.
Aside from the park, Williams reported that the rest of the town was spared significant damage.
“It looked like a wind shear. It was very narrow, very intense but not very long,” he said. “So even though we got some pretty good winds throughout the town, apparently the most intense were [at the park].”
The storm also brought minor flooding to a few areas, which is par for the course in Berlin. However, Williams said that the town’s early efforts to address storm water seem to be bearing fruit, with a few rain gardens that have been established in Berlin offering their surroundings a degree of protection.
“It’s encouraging. Nobody really doubted them but it’s nice to see that they work,” he said.

New Snow Hill High Scores Final Approval

SNOW HILL — It’s official — Snow Hill is getting a new high school.
The Worcester County Commissioners gave the project final approval this week and groundbreaking is expected to be this January with construction potentially completed by fall of 2016.
It has been nearly a decade since the ball first started to roll on a renovated Snow Hill High School (SHHS).
“As you are well aware, planning for the renovation of Snow Hill High began with a feasibility study in 2004,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson told the commissioners Tuesday. “Nine years later, we’ve completed the design, secured full state construction funding and executed a very successful bid process.”
The total cost of the project will be roughly $49,639,958 after items such as furniture and electronics are factored in. Construction cost will be an estimated $39,709,978 with the state contributing $4,667,000 total. Construction costs looked to be a little closer to $40,000,000 when the Board of Education gave their approval to the project in August. However, the commissioners eliminated $265,500 worth of construction alternates Tuesday.
Commissioner Virgil Shockley pointed out that three of the 17 bid alternates that the school board requested were not part of the recent Pocomoke High School (PHS) renovation project, which the commission has been using as a benchmark for Snow Hill.
“We made a promise to a lot of people that we would build a school in Snow Hill as good as the one we built in Pocomoke,” said Shockley.
The three alternatives that were not in place at PHS were quartz vinyl tile in corridors, a tuckpoint, clean and sealing of all existing exterior brick and a polyurethane running track system. Shockley suggested the commission remove those items from the project, which they did so unanimously.
Additionally, Judy Boggs questioned the use of terrazzo tile in SHHS in areas like the commons, the lobby and the cafeteria.
“I have a concern because we still are in the mode to get the very best we can but at the very best price, also,” she said. “And when I think terrazzo tile, I think that’s way top of the line.”
The terrazzo tile that will be placed in SHHS is not the most expensive or highest quality, however, but falls more toward the middle of the spectrum, according to the school board. Boggs did not suggest removing or changing the tile material after being assured by the board that they used moderation when selecting the tile.
After the removal of the three alternate items that Shockley noted, the commission voted unanimously to give the project the okay. The renovation and addition will approximately double the size of SHHS to 124,000 square feet. There will be new classrooms, a new media center, gym, labs, athletic complex and more. The renovated school will also feature geothermal heating, motion activated lights, a science wing and new cafeteria.
“We believe that a renovated school, which offers enhanced learning opportunities for our students, will be a tremendous asset,” said Tom Davis, SHHS principal. “Although we will have to make adjustments due to construction on-site, our students and teachers are ready because, at the end of the day, they need a new facility. They have been patient and are excited that this day is finally here, the day we’ve received the final green light to move forward. We are thankful.”
While work is being done, the 323 SHHS students will remain in school and make use of 13 portable classrooms and four temporary structures to handle any disruption or overflow.

State Postpones Implementation Of Changes Limiting Phosphorous Loading

SNOW HILL — Polarizing amendments to Maryland’s phosphorus pollution regulations will be supported by Gov. Martin O’Malley’s administration and submitted for final adoption in the next month but implementation on the changes will be delayed for the time being.
State conservation groups like Assateague Coastal Trust (ACT) are praising the amendments but are unhappy with stalling implementation. But the Worcester County Commission and many area farmers believe the new regulations are too hard on agriculture and vow to pushback against the amendments.
The proposed Phosphorus Management Tool (PMT) would change the way farmers apply some fertilizers and in what amounts. The overall goal of the tool is to work to limit the amount of phosphorus pollution heading into rivers, streams and the Chesapeake Bay from fields. Kathy Phillips, executive director of ACT, admitted that the PMT will be tough for some farmers but is a necessary reaction to protect Maryland’s waters.
“Adopting these new regulations will be painful, but the time has come to face the reality that Delmarva cannot sustain a growing poultry, corn and soybean industry without doing significant damage to our waterways,” Phillips said. “The state has already mandated phosphorus control to lawn fertilizers and laundry detergents. The time has passed to bring these same pollution controls to the agricultural industry in this state.”
Other conservation groups agreed with Phillips and underlined the dangers of letting excess phosphorus runoff from fields. Karla Raettig, executive director of Maryland League of Conservation Voters, praised the O’Malley administration and Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) for promising to move forward with the new PMT.
“The administration is responding to the concerns of both the environmental and agricultural communities,” wrote Raettig. “Current research makes it clear that we need to significantly reduce pollution from farm fields, but we also need to help farmers in their efforts to better manage the manure they cannot place on fields.”
While environmental groups may be happy with the direction the state is heading, the Worcester County Commission voted unanimously last week to send a letter to Annapolis asking MDA to slow down so more research can be done.
Commissioner Virgil Shockley, who is also a poultry farmer, has taken point on the issue for the commission and is aggressively against the changes.
“The Department of Agriculture’s job is to defend agriculture. The Secretary of Agriculture’s job is to defend agriculture,” said Shockley. “It is not to put restrictions in place that will hamper or penalize the farmers who are out here trying to make a living.”
With the new regulations, fields that are considered high-risk won’t be able to apply phosphorus rich manure while fields that are considered medium-risk will only be allowed reduced applications. Along with other changes, this represents a huge financial burden to farmers, according to Shockley.
“Farming is a business and if you don’t make money, you go out of business,” he said.
Shockley also remains unsatisfied with the science behind the PMT alterations, noting that the regulations are based on 391 soil samples taken from across the state. It’s too small of a number to base such far-reaching legislation on, he argued.
But the science is sound, according to supporters. And the need for better phosphorus management is something that’s been obvious for years, said Josh Tulkin, executive director for the Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club. He added that he is upset that implementation on the regulations will be delayed but glad to see the PMT handled intelligently.
“We are disappointed about the delay. But what is most important is to get this tool right,” he wrote. “We are pleased that the agricultural department will be revising it as we proposed to protect water quality.”
Tulkin added that it is time for “farmers as responsible stewards to embrace” the new regulations and limits on phosphorus.
But Shockley restated his disagreement with the entire process and criticized the way the state has handled PMT discussion so far, including considering it to emergency legislation earlier this month before deciding on the delay.
“I’ve never seen so many people in state government not know that the other person was not doing,” he said.
The commission is expecting an update on the impact of the phosphorous regulations at their meeting next Tuesday. Though he isn’t sure on an exact timeline, Shockley said that the delayed implementation will give farmers a chance to pushback against more regulation and that his constituents, many of whom are involved in agriculture in some way, “are furious” and ready to fight.
“We didn’t win the fight by a long-shot. The fight has yet to be fought,” he said. “I’m not saying that we’re going to win it, but at least now the spotlight got shined on what they were doing.”
However, supporters of the new regulations are also passionate and while they may disagree with the delay, they expect the changes sooner rather than later.
“Phosphorus loadings from farm fields are a problem for waterways like Newport Bay and the St. Martin River, and Chincoteague Bay. They continue to decline in overall health as result,” said Phillips. “The agricultural community has been aware of the Phosphorus Management Tool and its likely impacts since 2010 when it was clearly identified in the state WIP. Their comments on it last February reflected this recognition. We are frustrated that Maryland will now be four years late on implementation.”

Meningitis Vaccine Will Be Mandatory Soon For Middle School Students In Md.

BERLIN — Maryland will be joining 15 other states in mandatory seventh grade meningitis vaccinations starting next year.
The state already requires vaccinations for all college students in Maryland, but middle schoolers are especially susceptible to the meningococcal disease, according to Dr. Neal Halsey, infectious disease pediatrician, John Hopkins professor and director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety.
“Adolescence is a time of increased risk. It has been well documented in the United States as well as other countries,” he said. “So it is important to protect adolescents.”
Making vaccinations mandatory in seventh grade starting in September 2014 is in keeping with Maryland’s approach to fighting the disease so far, said Greg Reed, program manager for the Maryland Center for Immunization.
“Maryland was the very first state in the country, back in 2000, to pass a college vaccination requirement that if someone lived in on-campus housing at any of Maryland’s colleges or universities, you had to get vaccinated against meningococcal disease or sign a waiver. Maryland has been at the forefront of this, looking at this issue, going all the way back to 2000,” he said.
Meningococcal disease is definitely a disease worth looking at, said Halsey.
“The disease can be devastating. I’ve cared for a number of children who have died or who have lost limbs,” he said. “It causes an overwhelming and rapidly progressing infection throughout the bloodstream.”
According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 10 to 14 percent of meningococcal disease cases are fatal with another 11 to 19 percent of survivors suffering permanent hearing loss, brain injury, loss of limbs or other serious effects. The disease is also able to kill within hours.
“It’s not an infection where you can assume that we have antibiotics that are effective and if somebody gets sick we can treat them and they’ll get better. This infection moves very fast and there isn’t time,” said Halsey.
Because the disease shuts off the blood supply to extremities, Halsey noted it results in a loss of limb far too often.
“I’ve had one child who lost both legs at the knee and both hands, one just below the elbow and one at the elbow,” he said.
Despite the potential consequences of meningitis and the meningococcal disease, Halsey said that a lot of people outside the medical field barely understand it. The parents of adolescents who contract the disease tend to be baffled.
“Almost to a person they say, ‘we had no idea this could happen to our child.’ And so it is underappreciated and there are misunderstandings about the ability to easily treat bacterial infections,” he said. “This one is not easy to treat. It’s hard.”
Because of the difficulty of effective treatment, vaccination is the best option, said both Halsey and Reed. The cost for the mandatory program should be covered by almost all insurance, furthered Reed, and for some extreme cases low-cost or no-cost vaccinations will be available.
Making any kind of medical treatment mandatory always runs the risk of upsetting some parents but so far Reed said there has been no pushback. That could be, at least partially, because the new vaccination rules aren’t yet widely known, he admitted.
“We have not really begun to promote this new requirement yet, so we’re not really sure how much information is out there in the public in regards to this new vaccination requirement because, again, it doesn’t start for another year,” said Reed. “So as a result we haven’t heard anything coming in from parents or anything like that.”

Atlantic Physical Therapy Planning For 6th Location

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BERLIN — Atlantic Physical Therapy (APT) will be expanding this year with a new location in Salisbury set to open on Dec. 1.
That will be the sixth APT location, a huge leap from when owner Robert Hammond opened his first site in 1998 on Cathell Road in Berlin. But no matter how big Atlantic grows, Hammond promised it will always be a community-oriented business.
APT, which has locations in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania, started out small 15 years ago with a single, therapy center on Cathell Road, which was later moved slightly and upgraded in 2006. A former boxer, Hammond spent several years in the medical equipment industry before opening APT. Over the last decade and a half, he’s made it a point to build the organization into something unique with services that are uncommon among the competition.
“We do a lot of stuff here where other places don’t have the equipment,” he said.
Besides the traditional services like physical and occupational therapy and trauma rehabilitation, APT offers aquatic therapy, soft-tissue mobilization and fall risk prevention at all locations. The Biodex Fall Risk program, a disk that charts balance and is often used on athletes after concussions, “improves balance, gait, strength and flexibility,” according to APT. Physical therapists at APT are also knowledgeable in the Graston technique. It is instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization that has therapists treating areas displaying signs of fibrosis or chronic inflammation with the application of stainless steel instruments.
One of the pieces of equipment that Hammond is most proud of is the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill. The machine is able to simulate weightlessness via air pressure manipulation. It’s easy on joints and a great injury recuperation tool, said Kim Adams, a physical therapist at APT.
“Just walking in there is a benefit,” she said.
The anti-gravity treadmill is also popular among athletes, Adams added, including those who are recovering from injuries and others who simply want to train in a low-impact environment.
“I’m training in there,” she said. “It’s good for both.”
Hammond is a big advocate of fitness as part of physical therapy, which is why he includes a free month membership to APT’s onsite gym at his Berlin location at the end of therapy programs.
“In order for you to maintain [recovery], you need to keep exercising,” he said. “That is the key.”
Another thing that sets APT apart, Hammond continued, is rate of recovery.
“We’re going to get you to full-functional capacity as quickly as we can. We’ll get you back to your doctor, get rid of you and let you go on to your own lifestyle,” he said. “That’s why I offer the free month in the gym for patients when they’re done. No one else does that.”
Atlantic doesn’t want to make visitors “patients for life,” said Hammond, though he does hope to encourage them into better lifelong habits and convenient exercises that can be performed at home to avoid future problems.
In addition to all of the equipment, APT has a number of unique therapists like Sally Hawkins, who is one of only about 5,600 certified hand therapists in the world and the only one in the immediate area, according to Hammond.
It isn’t only the service and equipment that defines Atlantic, he added, but the people and attitude.
“I like to think that I’m a community oriented guy. I like to think I do a lot for the community and I’m proud to say that I do,” said Hammond.
APT is involved with area schools with its Tough Guy Awards for athletes, participates in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and conducts an annual donation of bikes to the Ocean City Police Department’s Christmas Toy Drive, among other events.
Hammond compared APT to the bar in Cheers where everyone knows everyone else’s name. No matter how many locations Atlantic expands to in the future, Hammond said he is committed to keeping a “mom and pop” feel and not just becoming some physical therapy franchise. This is reflected in part in the design of his therapy centers, especially the corporate headquarters in Maryland, which avoids a stale clinical look and instead features large open spaces and classic architectural highlights.
“I made everything in marble and granite. I did it like Rome,” Hammond explained. “We’re here to stay. We built it to stay.”
Whatever success APT has, Hammond contributes to hard work but especially a sense that he’s been blessed both personally and professionally. A spiritual guy, Hammond doesn’t believe in luck but is a firm believer in the adage that God helps those who help themselves.
Hammond owns Atlantic along with his wife Jessica. He has five children, ages 26 to just 7 months old. Several of his children have taken steps to enter the medical and physical therapy field along with their father, including Hammond’s oldest son Bobby Hammond, III, who already runs the APT locations in Philadelphia and will become an even larger part of the operation in the future.

Meningitis Vaccine Will Be Mandatory Soon For Middle School Students In Md.

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BERLIN — Maryland will be joining 15 other states in mandatory seventh grade meningitis vaccinations starting next year.

The state already requires vaccinations for all college students in Maryland, but middle schoolers are especially susceptible to the meningococcal disease, according to Dr. Neal Halsey, infectious disease pediatrician, John Hopkins professor and director of the Institute for Vaccine Safety.

“Adolescence is a time of increased risk. It has been well documented in the United States as well as other countries,” he said. “So it is important to protect adolescents.”

Making vaccinations mandatory in seventh grade starting in September 2014 is in keeping with Maryland’s approach to fighting the disease so far, said Greg Reed, program manager for the Maryland Center for Immunization.

“Maryland was the very first state in the country, back in 2000, to pass a college vaccination requirement that if someone lived in on-campus housing at any of Maryland’s colleges or universities, you had to get vaccinated against meningococcal disease or sign a waiver. Maryland has been at the forefront of this, looking at this issue, going all the way back to 2000,” he said.

Meningococcal disease is definitely a disease worth looking at, said Halsey.

“The disease can be devastating. I’ve cared for a number of children who have died or who have lost limbs,” he said. “It causes an overwhelming and rapidly progressing infection throughout the bloodstream.”

According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 10 to 14 percent of meningococcal disease cases are fatal with another 11 to 19 percent of survivors suffering permanent hearing loss, brain injury, loss of limbs or other serious effects. The disease is also able to kill within hours.

“It’s not an infection where you can assume that we have antibiotics that are effective and if somebody gets sick we can treat them and they’ll get better. This infection moves very fast and there isn’t time,” said Halsey.

Because the disease shuts off the blood supply to extremities, Halsey noted it results in a loss of limb far too often.

“I’ve had one child who lost both legs at the knee and both hands, one just below the elbow and one at the elbow,” he said.

Despite the potential consequences of meningitis and the meningococcal disease, Halsey said that a lot of people outside the medical field barely understand it. The parents of adolescents who contract the disease tend to be baffled.

“Almost to a person they say, ‘we had no idea this could happen to our child.’ And so it is underappreciated and there are misunderstandings about the ability to easily treat bacterial infections,” he said. “This one is not easy to treat. It’s hard.”

Because of the difficulty of effective treatment, vaccination is the best option, said both Halsey and Reed. The cost for the mandatory program should be covered by almost all insurance, furthered Reed, and for some extreme cases low-cost or no-cost vaccinations will be available.

Making any kind of medical treatment mandatory always runs the risk of upsetting some parents but so far Reed said there has been no pushback. That could be, at least partially, because the new vaccination rules aren’t yet widely known, he admitted.

“We have not really begun to promote this new requirement yet, so we’re not really sure how much information is out there in the public in regards to this new vaccination requirement because, again, it doesn’t start for another year,” said Reed. “So as a result we haven’t heard anything coming in from parents or anything like that.”

 

Abbey Burger Comes To OC, Offering Variety Of Burgers, Craft Beer

Abbey

OCEAN CITY — Boasting thousands of burger combinations and more than 100 beers, the Abbey Burger Bistro in Ocean City is a destination for the serious foodie and the casual diner alike.
The original Abbey Burger is located in Baltimore and has developed a reputation as an outside-of-the-box burger joint that specializes in eclectic meats and tons of toppings. The Ocean City Abbey at 12601 Coastal Highway opened in late-June and continues the original bistro’s emphasis on great burgers. The new building is much, much larger, however, than the Baltimore location and is looking to develop its own reputation in the resort, said managing partner Brendon Smith.
“There are plenty of places in town where you can go get a burger and there are probably two or three where you can go get 50 toppings on your burger just like here. But we have different kinds of meats,” he said. “We have, like, 14 different kinds of meats. We have kangaroo, wild boar, ground turkey, ground chicken, [and] Kobe beef. Our black angus is aged for 14 days. There are steakhouses in town that don’t even do that with their steaks.”
Besides the exotic list of meats, topping choices range from peanut butter to crab dip to white truffle oil. There are vegetarian options as well, like fried green tomato and roasted portabella mushroom burgers. Carnivores can look forward to more than just burgers, with appetizers like crab mac-n-cheese, Abbey’s buffalo wings and “alligator bites,” which are exactly what they sound like.
Many of the meats are ground in-house, said Smith, and many of the signature sauces are made at the Abbey as well.
To complement the food, the bistro offers more than 100 varieties of beer, about a quarter of which are on draft. Besides Natural Bohemian (Natty Boh), which is Baltimore’s “official beer,” all beers on tap at Abbey are craft.
“Everything else is a craft beer. We try to really keep it local,” said Smith.
Besides the beer, Abbey is also famous for its spiked ice cream shakes like the Berger Shake with Berger cookies and Godiva liqueur and the Cinnamon Toast Milk Shake with cinnamon whiskey and RumChata.
Abbey puts a lot of effort into being family friendly, said Smith, and all of the shakes are also available non-alcoholic. Likewise, the bistro’s atmosphere keeps a good balance between dining and the bar and is big enough to accommodate families as well as the sports crowd, which is a demographic Smith hopes to see more of coming into the fall.
“We’re really trying to pull from the sports crowd, which goes well with burgers and beer. In November and December, we have a market to pull from with the festival of lights outside,” he said. “We’ll have a crowd out there and it’ll be our job to get them in here.”
The summer has been successful for the Ocean City Abbey Burger and the plan is to stay open for most or all of the off-season.
“We’re kind of up in the air between Jan. 2 and March 15 whether we’re going to close down or we’re just going to do weekends,” said Smith. “We’re going to play it by ear. If the business is here, we’ll stay open.”
Smith has a history with the Abbey in Baltimore, working there for four years but commuting from his home in Ocean City every weekend. It’s a welcome relief for him to cut down on his work commute drastically with the new Abbey, which he wants to see become as successful as the smaller sister restaurant in Baltimore.
“I’ve worked at the Abbey for the past four years and I think it’s one of the most consistent places I’ve worked in. And it does definitely have a niche,” he said.