Impressed With Paper
My wife came home from a recent visit to Ocean City with a copy of the Sept. 4 edition of The Dispatch. I sat down at my kitchen table this morning and read it (since my Baltimore Sun wasn’t delivered again). Wow, your paper is chocked full of well written and informative stories and great photographs, all produced by a local staff. I didn’t think a paper like The Dispatch existed any more.
Your banner has it right — a product like The Dispatch is “Priceless” to a free society.
The large metropolitan dailies should study how The Dispatch is produced. They would learn a thing or two.
Berlin Leaders Thanked
(The following letter was addressed to the Berlin Mayor and Council.)
The people of Walnut Hill would like to thank Town officials for their prompt resolution of two issues here in our neighborhood. Some sections of our sidewalk were heaving due to roots from the street trees, creating a walking and biking hazard. Also, some of our lovely street trees were getting large enough to interfere with the street sweeper. There had been some confusion about who had the responsibility to maintain the sidewalk and the trees, but the Town quickly acknowledged that these areas are in the Town’s deeded right-of-way. In short order, the Town crews, along with the masonry contractor, got to work to correct the problems.
We’d especially like to thank Jeff Fleetwood for getting the ball rolling and seeing it to completion, Dave Wheaton, Alan Parkinson and their crews for doing a great job in a very timely manner. Everyone was great to work with.
Residents Advised To Form Voting Plan
My friend Melissa’s sister just passed away. When she learned of her terminal cancer, Diane, who lived here on the Eastern Shore, told her doctor that her No. 1 goal was to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election. She did not get to cast her vote. Diane’s wish underscores how precious our right to vote is. This year because of COVID-19, we can vote in person or by mail-in ballot, also called “absentee ballot.”
Option 1. Vote In Person. Even with COVID-19 precautions, voting in person in Worcester County should feel mostly like it always has. Vote early at Ocean City Convention Center, 4001 Coastal Hwy from Monday, Oct. 26 through Monday, Nov. 2, 7 a.m.-8 p.m. Or vote on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 7 a.m.- 8 p.m. at Pocomoke Community Center, 1410 Market Street in Pocomoke; Snow Hill Middle School, 522 Coulbourne Lane in Snow Hill; Stephen Decatur Middle School, 9815 Seahawk Road in Berlin; or the Ocean City Convention Center.
Option 2. Vote By Mail-in Ballot. I am voting by mail-in ballot out of concern that a family health event could prevent me from voting in person. You may also.
Step 1. If you have not received a request form in the mail, request a mail-in ballot pnline at https://elections.maryland.gov/voting/absentee.html; or by texting VBM (English) or VPC (Spanish) to 777-88 if you have a Maryland Drivers License or other MVA ID Card; in person at Worcester County Board of Elections, 201 Belt Street, Suite C in Snow Hill; and by mail-in form from https://elections.maryland.gov/voting/absentee.html or picked up at Worcester County Board of Elections.
If you are not able, someone else, 18 years old and not a candidate, can pick up and return your ballot for you. In that case, complete a Designation of Agent form from the Board or https://elections.maryland.gov/voting/absentee.html.
Step 2. Follow up online https://voterservices.elections.maryland.gov/VoterSearch or at the Worcester County Board of Elections (410-632-1320) if you do not receive your ballot within three weeks of your request, or by Oct. 13 at the latest.
Step 3. Complete and submit your mail-in ballot, preferably as soon as you receive it. In person at a drop box at Board of Elections in Snow Hill or Ocean City Convention Center. By mail to Worcester County Board of Elections, 201 Belt Street, Suite C, Snow Hill, MD 21863. You may also hand-deliver your mail-in ballot to the poll during Early or Election Day Voting (See locations under “Option 1.”).
Register to Vote. If unregistered, register to vote when you vote in person or when you request a mail-in ballot by Oct. 15. Have proof that you are a U.S. citizen, a Maryland resident, and at least 18 by Nov. 3. If you have been convicted of a felony, register to vote after release from prison even if you registered before.
Dr. Roxie Dennis-Acholonu, Democratic Central Committee of Worcester County chair, urges you to make a plan to vote and implement it as soon as possible. The rest of the DCCWC and I join her.
Teri Simpson Lojewski
(The writer is a member of the Democratic Central Committee of Worcester County.)
Capital Project Planning Costing City Millions
In January of 2018, the Mayor & City Council of Ocean City (M&CC) held a bond sale of $25.8 million. The bond sale was to finance the town’s portion of both the Campus Plan at 65th Street and the current expansion of the Convention Center, as well as to fully fund the new Public Works South Facility, designed to house the boardwalk trams and beach cleaning equipment.
In reference to the Campus Plan, Hal Adkins, Director of Public Works, wrote the following in a memo dated Aug. 24, 2016, which appeared in the Council agenda packet on Aug. 30, 2016, “It should be noted that it is our intent to have formal bids in hand by June/July 2017 thus allowing us to proceed to the Bond Market with ‘hard numbers’, not estimates.”
Contrary to Hal’s sound advice, the M&CC proceeded to the bond market without hard numbers, only estimates. The bids for the Campus Plan were opened just a few days before the bond sale. What was estimated to cost a total of $25.4 million came in at $35.8 million, over 40% higher. Why would the M&CC go to the bond market without hard numbers?
In April of 2019, well over a year after our bond sale, the Maryland General Assembly authorized the sale of State bonds for their portion of the Convention Center expansion. It took another six months before the Maryland Board of Public Works authorized the Stadium Authority to issue bonds for the State’s portion of the expansion. It was nearly two years before the final bids were approved by the state to proceed with construction. The original estimate for the expansion was estimated to cost a total of $34 million. Following the two years delay, the cost had increased to $37.5 million, up over 10.2%. Why would the M&CC go to the bond market before they knew the State had finalized the approval of their portion?
By the time the contract was awarded to build the Public Works South Facility, nine months after our bond sale, the cost increased from an estimated $3 million to $3.85 million, up over 28%. This does not even take into account that the M&CC paid $2 million for land acquisition to construct this facility, which was $220,000 more than the property’s appraised value. Again, why would the M&CC go to the bond market without hard numbers?
The combined result of opening bids at or well after our bond sale for these three capital projects revealed an overall increase of $14.7 million over original estimates. The M&CC continue to establish textbook cases of how not to plan, fund and build capital projects.
Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.