A Week In Business

Biz AThe Harrison Group held its 28th Annual Employee Prize Drawing last month with $15,000 in cash and other prizes awarded. Group employees were asked to save their paycheck stubs for a three-month period and turn them in for the random prize drawing. This year’s $5,000 winner was Teresa Juarez of the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites. Second prize of $3,000 was won by Tim Stahm of the Holiday Inn Oceanfront Pool Bar, and third prize, $2,000 went to Flores Rivera also of the Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites. Ten other employees won $500 each. They were, front from left, William “Sarge” Garlitz, Russell Parker, Tonya Scarborough, Thinh Klink, Michelle Thawlay and Edward Burger. The $500 winners not pictured were Ekaterina Kazakova, Iona Davidson, Tim Dennis and Rosen Petrov. Pictured, back from left, were G. Hale Harrison, Director of Operations; Stahm; Jim Luff, Hotel Operations Director; Juarez; and Mark Mayers, Restaurant Operations Director. Submitted Photo


Housing Market Update

BERLIN – Pending sales are still up and settlements are still down in the Tri-County area, according to the latest figures from the Coastal Association of REALTORS®.

Local housing statistics show that single family home settlements in September 2014, compared to September 2013, decreased in Wicomico and Somerset counties. Worcester County saw a slight increase.

In a continuing months-long trend, pending sales, or contracts, saw another upswing in Worcester and Somerset counties, and a slight decrease in Wicomico County.

Jamie Wetzelberger, a loan officer with SunTrust Mortgage in Ocean City, said she’s pleased to see contracts are on the upswing, but the decrease in actual settlement volume is largely due to delays with first time homebuyer products such as USDA Rural Housing program loans.

Once a USDA Rural Housing loan is approved by a mortgage company, it must go to the Maryland and Delaware USDA office for underwriting.

“It’s not unusual to get this type of loan approved within a 45-day timeframe, but most often when the loan gets to the state level for processing, it takes an additional 40 to 45 days for final signoff by the government program,” Wetzelberger said. “A timely settlement is typically critical to both buyers and sellers.”

The Coastal Association of REALTORS®, in partnership with the Mid Shore Board of REALTORS®, sent a letter to Acting Under Secretary Doug O’Brien in the USDA Rural Development Office in Washington, D.C. this summer expressing concern over these time delays. Recent procedural changes that resulted in a mandatory 30-day turn-around time for loans have caused various problems, including loss of locked-in interest rates, loss of contracts for REALTORS®, loss of homes for buyers, and increased costs for all parties. Processing prior to this change took about 11 days.

The three-fold increase in review time appears to be the result of an operational shift in staff resources in the Maryland and Delaware USDA office away from popular loan programs to underutilized programs with little demand.

“We’ve asked the Under Secretary to rededicate staffing resources and eliminate the 30-day processing period,” said Sheila Dodson, executive director of the Coastal Association of REALTORS®. “Our local housing statistics, in addition to feedback from our association members, prove that these turn times are impacting our industry, making it more difficult for our members to sell homes and more difficult for consumers to buy them.”

Coastal REALTORS® has not yet received a response from the Under Secretary. However Bill McGowan, state director for the Maryland and Delaware office, has indicated the turnaround time will shorten. He did not, however, specify when this would occur.

Wetzelberger said conventional mortgages on primary homes, second homes, and investor properties are processing relatively quickly – between 30 and 40 days – in spite of some of these changes. These types, she said, typically have larger down payment criteria.


Catherine Yeager-Achey

Catherine Yeager-Achey

New Account Executive

SALISBURY — a.s.a.p.r. Integrated Marketing announced this week that Catherine Yeager-Achey has been appointed account executive, working specifically with clients Allen Harim and McCready Foundation.

Yeager-Achey, currently working on a freelance basis, has previously worked with companies like Perdue Farms, GetNoticed PR and Cambridge International in various positions, such as assistant brand manager, communications specialist and copywriter and content manager.

“We’re so pleased to welcome Catherine onto our Allen Harim and McCready Foundation team. Her experience as a marketing communications specialist, in the chicken industry and otherwise, will prove to be invaluable as we move forward,” said Robbie Tarpley Raffish, president and founder of a.s.a.p.r. Integrated Marketing.

While serving as the Assistant Brand Manager at Perdue Farms in Salisbury, Yeager-Achey oversaw the partnerships of multiple departments, such as research, consumer relations, packaging, etc., in order to produce successful, timey product for market through well-established teamwork.

Yeager-Achey earned a Masters of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications at West Virginia University.


Timothy J. Swartz

Timothy J. Swartz

New COO Appointed

OCEWAN CITY — Insurance Management Group, Inc. has welcomed licensed insurance agent and broker Timothy J. Swartz as its Vice President and Chief Operating Officer.

Qualified to provide life, health, property, and casualty insurance, Swartz brings over 20 years of management and operations experience to the firm. Swartz excelled working for both insurance companies and agencies in the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

“I am excited to join Insurance Management Group, and I look forward to adding a personal touch, that is the hallmark of the agency, in the day-to-day management and operations. It’s all about building relationships with people in the community of Ocean City,” said Swartz.


High Marks For SU

SALISBURY — Salisbury University has been named among the nation’s 2015 Military Friendly® Schools for the sixth consecutive year.

According to Victory Media, SU is applauded for going “above and beyond to provide transitioning veterans the best possible experience in higher education.”

Salisbury is one of only 1,600 schools featured on MilitaryFriendly.com. The list was compiled from surveys of over 10,000 U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs-approved schools nationwide and more than 4,000 student veterans.

Criteria include supportive campus programs, academic credibility, percent of military students, credit and flexibility for service, tuition assistance, graduation and employment rates, and military spouse policies.


A Week In Business

Studio Ceremony Planned WEST OCEAN CITY — The Ocean Pines Chamber of Commerce will hold the grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony for Dana Marie Photography Studio on Oct. 15 at 4 p.m. The Dana Marie Photography Studio is located in the Teal Marsh Shopping Center as part of the Open Door Studio (upstairs next to the FOP lodge). The public … Continue reading

A Week In Business

Wesley Cox, a member of the Coastal Association of REALTORS® (CAR) and a REALTOR® for Sperry Van Ness-Miller Commercial Real Estate in Salisbury, was honored this month for his community service during the annual Maryland Association of REALTORS® (MAR) Conference & Expo in Ocean City. The award honors individual members who give unselfishly of their time to assist the communities … Continue reading

A Week In Business

Health Pavilion Planned OCEAN PINES — Peninsula Regional Medical Center (PRMC), in cooperation with Gillis Gilkerson, a Delmarva development firm, announced this week it will continue to expand and advance regional healthcare services in the Ocean Pines area. Gillis Gilkerson will break ground for a new medical complex, the Delmarva Health Pavilion Ocean Pines, on Route 589 near the North … Continue reading

A Week In Business

Housing Market Update BERLIN – The local housing market is slowly gaining momentum, as single-family home settlements appear to be increasing in comparison to this time last year. According to the latest figures from the Coastal Association of REALTORS®, single-family home settlements in August 2014, compared to August 2013, increased moderately in Wicomico and Somerset counties as well as Ocean … Continue reading

A Week In Business

City Employees Retire OCEAN CITY — Charles Bunting and Frank Marshall have retired after almost 70 years of combined employment with the Town of Ocean City. Marshall, who joined the town full-time in September of 1974, retires as the Construction Supervisor for the Public Works Department. Also leaving the department, Bunting will be finishing his last day in the maintenance … Continue reading

A Week In Business

Gillis Gilkerson received a proclamation from Salisbury Mayor James Ireton Jr. this week proclaiming Aug. 25, 2014 as “Gillis Gilkerson Day.” The proclamation was presented to Gillis Gilkerson in recognition and celebration of its Aug. 1 anniversary of 30-plus years in the business community. Pictured, from left, are Gillis Gilkerson CEO Palmer Gillis, Vice President JB Barnes, President Dwight Miller … Continue reading

A Week In Business

Top winners at the Coastal Association of REALTORS® Annual Awards ceremony last week were Joe Wilson, Rooki; P.J. Aldridge, Lifetime Achievement Award; Jamie Wetzelberger, Affiliate of the Year; Brandon Brittingham, REALTOR® of the Year; and Wes Cox, Community Service Award. Submitted Photo         OC Banker Graduates OCEAN CITY — The Bank of Delmarva President and CEO Edward … Continue reading

A Week In Business

Staff and administration at Atlantic General Hospital gathered recently outside the hospital to celebrate the 2014 Map Award for High Performance in Revenue Cycle. Submitted Photo           The Ocean Pines and Ocean City Chambers of Commerce jointly sponsored a ribbon cutting Aug. 8 at the Shore Bank offices on Stephen Decatur Highway in West Ocean City. … Continue reading

A Week In Business

Tax-Free Shopping Initiative Announced BERLIN – Comptroller Peter Franchot announced that his office is gearing up for Shop Maryland, the state’s tax-free week. Beginning Sunday, Aug. 10, consumers who buy clothing and shoes priced $100 or less will be spared the state’s 6 percent sales tax for one week, ending Saturday, Aug. 16. “Each year this initiative helps Maryland families … Continue reading