Watching And Noting
I am one of those people who enjoys watching our elected officials in action. Unscripted and speaking from the heart is local politics at its best.
So, for me it was a surreal moment during the Jan. 16 County Commissioners’ meeting when the commissioners began discussing the merits of encouraging more public input on issues affecting our lives and pocketbooks.
There I sat on one of the church-like pews as Commissioner Joseph Mitrecic uncharacteristically urged his colleagues to get the public more involved in the governing process. T
hen, totally unexpected, President Chip Bertino countered, saying his decades-long experience covering meetings as a reporter makes him question whether time would be wasted with little benefit by opening the floor to the public. Whew! Such thoughts from a former newsman!
I am amazed and grateful that a newspaper stood up and provoked this discussion in Worcester County, and that Ted Elder joined the other commissioners who supported getting more public input. The devil is in the details. But both Commissioner Mitrecic and President Bertino made some good points.
Establishing an “open microphone” could create an uncontrollable public forum where the special interest groups could preach or rant about topics unrelated to the meeting agenda or even to Worcester County’s policies or operations. One can imagine Ocean City sending busloads of soccer moms or homeless beach residents to Snow Hill to argue for a sports complex or sewers for Diakonia.
With the budget, growth, taxes, and the decades-old territorial disagreements with Ocean City looming on the horizon, the County Commissioners need more public input to show they review and debate what is good for all the people. Too often it appears the staff develops recommendations that impose costs on everyone but benefit only a few.
I think a good place for the commissioners to start is by exercising more self-discipline.
Far too often the agenda, staff briefing materials, and recommendations for discussion during the County Commissioners’ open meetings are not made available until the day of the meeting. This approach to informing does not work for working people who can’t take the day off with little notice to attend a meeting.
Unless emergency action is required, nothing should be scheduled for a presentation to or a decision by the commissioners without adequate public notice and the opportunity for meaningful public review of the details supporting a staff recommendation. Fourteen days’ notice is a requirement that should be followed.
I also think the cameras should be turned on for planning commission and board of zoning appeals meetings. The planning commission is where recommendations are developed, the board of zoning appeals is where rules are waived. The public should be able to view the discussions live and have an opportunity to speak.
Whether any public comments should be allowed other than those related to the agenda topics is a sticky issue, but what is wrong about letting the people communicate directly and publicly with those who ran for office and were elected to serve? Most of us do not get to have a private sit down with one or all of the county commissioners.
Yes, making it easier for more public involvement means sharing more information about the decisions being made by our elected officials and county managers. That would be a good thing. It is a step toward demonstrating our elected commissioners are interested in whether we are for or against a vote that under current procedures often appears to have been decided without us.
Millions of dollars were proposed to the City of Rehoboth, and Henlopen Acres.
Officials from these towns were at a meeting discussing that possible payout from US Wind. I had to fact check the information.
The company US Wind, based in Baltimore, is proposing a package of possible benefits to those two communities. US Wind, not owned by the United States, is the company planning over 100 offshore wind turbines that will be located in the Atlantic Ocean. The benefits would be $100,000 over 20 years for each town. Of course, there is a catch to all of this.
Seems that the towns would need to agree not to obstruct or delay development of the projects if the towns decided to agree to the offer by US Wind.
If I were offered cash for doing something someone proposed and had agreed to be silent with the results I agreed to, even before I knew what that someone would do in the future, does not sound like a great plan for any amount of money.
The leaders of the City of Rehoboth and Henlopen Acres have a difficult decision to make. Enjoy all the money that will flow to only their communities for 20 years and they will be free to decide where that money goes. Hopefully, they will think about their legacy. They exchanged cash for the sunrise.
Our sunrise in our forever horizon has a value to every single person, and it is priceless.
Generosity throughout Ocean City contributed to a successful shoebox gift collection season at drop-off locations for the Samaritan’s Purse project Operation Christmas Child.
Across the U.S., the project collected 10 million shoebox gifts in 2023. Combined with those collected from partnering countries in 2023, the ministry is now sending over 11.3 million shoebox gifts to children worldwide, including many who are suffering from war, poverty, disease and disaster.
Through shoeboxes — packed with fun toys, school supplies, and personal care items — Ocean City area volunteers brought joy to children in need around the world. Each gift-filled shoebox is a tangible expression of God’s love, and it is often the first gift these children have ever received.
Through the continued generosity of donors since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has collected and delivered more than 220 million gift-filled shoeboxes to children in more than 170 countries and territories.
Across Maryland, shoebox packers often shop for deals on shoebox items throughout the year, and many serve at a deeper level by becoming year-round volunteers.
Information about ways area participants can get involved year-round can also be found at samaritanspurse.org/occ or by calling 410-772-7360.
Although local drop‑off locations for shoebox gifts are closed until Nov. 18 – 25, anyone can still be a part of this life-changing project by conveniently packing a shoebox gift online in just a few simple clicks at samaritanspurse.org/buildonline.
These simple gifts, packed with love, send a message to children worldwide that they are loved and not forgotten.
I am writing as a concerned member of our community to advocate for full funding for K-12 Worcester County Public Schools (WCPS).
Education is a cornerstone of our society and plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of our children and the well-being of our community.
Investing in K-12 public schools is an investment in the future success of our community. By providing ample resources, we can attract and retain talented teachers, maintain manageable class sizes, and offer a well-rounded curriculum that includes not only core subjects but also extracurricular activities, arts, and sports. These advantages prepare them for the challenges and opportunities they will face in the future.
Unfortunately, last year’s approved budget was underfunded resulting in cutbacks for WCPS. If once again you do not fully fund the board of education’s request, cuts will continue and our schools are likely not to remain the top in the state. We are now at the bottom of the state for entry level salaries for teachers and teachers leaving the county for others that pay more. This has rarely happened before now.
In addition, these cuts disproportionately affect students in low-income communities, exacerbating educational inequalities. To bridge this gap, we must prioritize full funding for our schools to ensure that all students, regardless of zip code, have equal access to a high-quality education.
Well-educated individuals are more likely to become active, engaged citizens who contribute positively to our community. A strong public education system is essential for fostering innovation, economic growth, and social cohesion.
I urge the county commissioners to prioritize education as you decide on this year’s funding levels. Let us come together as a community to invest in the future of our children and the prosperity of our society.
Strong Schools Worcester County, team leader