The petition to referendum process is a valuable way to hold government accountable to the will of the people. In the case of the challenge in Berlin, the most recent petition effort seemed to be more about the general state of discord among town citizens than the specific annexation in question.
While the energy behind the petition was laudable, I’m personally glad to see it was unsuccessful because the property was going to be developed eventually even if the petition and subsequent referendum vote in a special election was successful. It would be the county getting all the property tax revenue if the property was not annexed by the town. With it being in town limits, Berlin gets the property tax dollars as well as the expenses for utility fees. Over the course of one year, that’s not big bucks, but it will be a benefit to the town’s budget for years to come.
When I casually asked a town resident why he had signed the petition recently, he admitted what I think many feel. He signed the petition to send a message to the decision makers in Berlin he is not happy. “I wanted to take as much power away from them as possible and send them a message they can’t do whatever they want in our town,” he said. It was an interesting conversation and it’s a point I think many share, especially after tax bills, representing the 18% property tax increase, arrived in mail boxes earlier this month.
Ocean City is looking into installing a “Goby Loves Plastic” receptacle. These sorts of plastic collection devices are more popular overseas than in the continental United States at this time, but they have been successful in some fashion.
Though the original concept was a mix of metal framing and mesh forming a transparent fish-shaped sculpture to collect plastic bottles, there have been spinoffs used around the world. For instance, on Derrynane Beach in Ireland, a smaller version of a “Goby Loves Plastic” creation features metal and netting used from a typical fishing net. It’s much more portable than the more permanent well-known one used at a beachfront resort in Bali.
If done right, the structure could serve as a type of public art. The concept has the support of Ocean City’s Green Team at least conceptually. There are a number of concerns to address beforehand, however, including the attraction of unwanted waste and littering, the maintenance of it, the smell associated with the waste collection and whether it can be portable for easy removal during the seasons.
Public Works Director Hal Adkins has been charged with further evaluating the concept and reporting back to the committee before it’s presented to the full council. I like the potential if all the issues can be addressed.
In other news, The Dispatch lost an important member of our team this week. Cindy Ward worked in this newspaper’s art department for more than 35 years, including the last 30-plus as our art director. In all those years, she never missed a week of work until this past Memorial Day when she was hospitalized at AGH and then PRMC. As it turns out, she would never leave PRMC after Memorial Day. She died there on Tuesday at 69 years of age.
A published children’s book author (Cookie’s Week), Cindy was a lover of cats and all animals, proper usage of grammar, creative writing, poetry, the television show “Monk,” happy meals from McDonalds, beautiful hand-written notes, pizza dates with her husband, people watching on the Boardwalk and this newspaper. Cindy passed away three months after her husband, Rodney, who died on Easter.
Cindy was the most anal-retentive person I ever met. There were times when this trait drove all of us at the newspaper crazy, but more often than not as a newspaper editor I was appreciative of her detailed ways, considering she was the last to see hundreds of thousands of our pages before they went to the printer. She didn’t like change much, but it’s because it was her nature to follow a routine and do what was expected. I had a ton of respect for her.
Cindy was not known to a lot of people in our community because of her introverted ways, but she was a wonderful person. Up until this past Memorial Day when her work career was cut shorter than she wished, she was my rock in the production department. I’ve known her since I was a young boy doing my homework in our office’s lunchroom after school. I worked with her during the summers in high school and college. We’ve spent the last 22 years working together closely on a daily basis. Several times throughout this past week. I have gotten emotional thinking about Cindy and how I introduced her to my first dog, then my second dog, then my wife, then my oldest son and then my youngest son. She’s been a constant in my life through a lot of life’s greatest changes.
It’s an understatement to say I am going to miss Cindy very much. It’s going to take some time to adjust to life at The Dispatch without her. As we continue through our transition, she will be remembered by all of us. I think she would take comfort in knowing she will be missed.