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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Herrick, Jacobs elected to OPA board

(Aug. 13, 2015) While Ocean Pines leadership provided an update on projects affecting the short and long-term safety and financial stability of the community, most of the 112 property owners who attended the annual meeting on Saturday came for the election results, as Tom Herrick and Cheryl Jacobs were elected to three-year terms on the OPA Board of Directors.
Herrick received 1,669 votes to finish first in the pool of seven candidates, while Jacobs finished second with 1,480 votes.
“I feel great,” Herrick, a retired police officer, said after the results were announced at the end of the 90-minute meeting. “I tried my best. I hoped my platform resonated with the people and I think it did.”
Jacobs, an assistant state’s attorney in Baltimore City, sat in the front row with her husband, Harry, and their 11-year-old son Aiden during the meeting.
“I’m overwhelmed,” she said. “I’m so appreciative of the help I got and I’m going to work so hard to make this an even better community than it is already.”
Slobodan Trendic finished third with 1,195 votes followed by former board member Terri Mohr (873), Carol Ludwig (651), and former board members Bill Zawacki (620) and Ray Unger (219).
Next on the board’s agenda will be an organizational meeting during the next two weeks when the seven-member board elects its officers.
Earlier in the meeting, Frank Creamer was honored with the Sam Wilkinson Volunteer Award, named after an 8-year-old Ocean Pines boy who lost his life following an accident at North Side Park in Ocean City.
Stevens said the award was established to honor the memory of Sam and the Wilkinson family, as well as to, “recognize other outstanding individuals who dedicate their time and talents to help others.”
Creamer grew up in Montgomery County and bought a “weekend getaway” house in Ocean Pines in 1999, moving permanently to the area in 2005, according to Stevens.
He became involved in tennis, platform tennis and Ping-Pong, eventually cofounding the Ocean Pines Pickleball Club. Creamer is also a member of the Racquet Sports Advisory Committee.
“Frank became a very popular volunteer,” Stevens said. “He began teaching pickleball clinics and giving free lessons to help build up the growing racquet presence in Ocean Pines.”
Stevens said Creamer also volunteered as a costume contest judge at the fall Halloween festival, helped with “Hometown Christmas,” and volunteered to help hide “hundreds of Easter eggs” at the Spring Festival.
“Some have never been found,” Stevens said, adding, “Frank said helping is just his way of giving back to this great community, which has given him and his wife a wonderful place to live and lots of great friends.”
In other business, attorney Joe Moore reviewed the association’s year from a legal perspective.
While Moore said it was largely uneventful, one case did have some significance.
During the last fiscal year, Moore’s office filed nine cases in Worcester County Circuit Court on behalf of the OPA seeking enforcement of the declaration of restrictions for the Architectural Review Committee guidelines.
“In all of those cases, injunctions were either issued or the case was settled by virtue of compliance by the respective property owners,” Moore said.
One matter went to court in Dorchester County regarding a departed Ocean Pines police officer.
Police officer candidates in Ocean Pines, Moore said, are required to serve for three years following the completion of certification, paid for by the association. If an officer leaves before serving for three years, a penalty covering the cost of training is levied.
“In one instance … a police officer remained in the employ of Ocean Pines for only a 10-month period, after which time he accepted employment with the sheriff’s department in Dorchester County,” Moore said.
Moore said the officer, through his attorney, “declined to comply with the requirement of the employment contract” with Ocean Pines, adding that a judge later ruled in favor of Ocean Pines “in the full amount owed.”
“The significance of this action is that Ocean Pines Association now has a judicial precedent for the enforcement of its employment contract with its police officers,” Moore said.
Chris Hall provided a brief auditor’s report, saying the association once again received an “unmodified” grade, the highest possible assurance provided by his firm, Trice, Geary and Myers LLC.
“The association still remains in a healthy position,” Hall said, adding that the OPA, as of April 30, had $8.4 million in cash, up $1 million over last year.
The overall operating fund balance increased $1.5 million, while reserved reserves were up $1 million, Hall said.
Stevens provided a president’s report highlighting, “a few of the things that preoccupied the board – and the press – during the past year.”
He reiterated that General Manager Bob Thompson was asked to restart negotiations with Sandpiper Energy on a new contract and a conversation from propane to natural gas, but also underscored, “at no time … did this board – or the board that preceded us – walk away from the table or refuse to continue the discussion.”
On the change in golf management, Stevens said the board appointed a work group to consider all possibilities after continued financial losses and declining membership forced the issue to the forefront.
Three companies, including then acting management Billy Casper Golf, bid to manage the course. Stevens said while Casper focused on outside play – and particularly package play –another company, Landscapes Unlimited, offered a different approach.
“They said that a community the size of Ocean Pines should be able to support its own golf course,” he said. “[Landscape] were focusing on bringing back, not just the members of the course, but the members of the association that live or vacation here in Ocean Pines.”
That argument, Stevens said, led to the board’s selection of Landscapes.
Stevens briefly touched on the new yacht club, saying growing pains were expected, and praising Thompson on management changes that provided “encouraging” results so far in 2015.
A hike in assessment fees that stemmed from this year’s budget debate, Stevens said, was tied to a need for improved emergency services in Ocean Pines.
“The net impact … is that the fire department will be able to make multiple, simultaneous calls,” he said. “Basically, it makes Ocean Pines a safer place to live.”
Stevens also touched on the so-called “three-legged stool” of the financial reserves study, comprehensive plan and capital improvement plan.
The board recently approved a $31,800 contract with Design Management Associates to study its financial reserve needs, while earlier in the year $16,500 was earmarked for a comprehensive study overseen by Salisbury University group BEACON.
A committee of Ocean Pines residents, led by Facilities Manager Jerry Aveeta and Ted Maroney, is creating the capital improvement plan.
Stevens called the reserve study a “necessary precursor the to capital improvement plan,” but said it was not sufficient on its own.
“The need to replace infrastructure won’t go away by pretending it isn’t there,” Stevens added.
In the year ahead, Stevens said the board would focus on maintenance and infrastructure needs, singling out bridges, along with roads, drainage and information technology as top priorities.
Stevens said the board would, “focus on our needs first – what’s required – while looking to see how we can make things better at the same time.”
Finally, Thompson presented a general manager’s report.
Improvements in aquatics included base repairs to the Mumford’s Landing Pool and the Swim and Racquet Club Pool, Thompson said, adding that the new snack bar addition at the Swim and Racquet Club has already exceeded budget estimates for the year.
The White Horse Park Boat Ramp was upgraded, along with the fuel pumps at the yacht club marina.
Upcoming projects include the new Manklin Meadows Complex that would include several new courts for tennis and pickleball, and improvements to the Sports Core Pool, all due next year.
Thompson said the association was recognized by several groups as one of the safest communities in the state, with a 40 percent reduction in major crimes.  
“They’re keeping us safe, folks,” Thompson, adding that Ocean Pines Police responded to more than 12,000 calls for service during the last fiscal year. “Those safety reports in keeping us as safe as we are actually adds to [the] value of each of our homes.
Thompson said the Maryland Parks and Recreation Association recognized Ocean Pines’ parks department with awards for best website, best social media site and best photo, ironically of a goose swimming in one of the community ponds.  
“For those to be recognized like that is a pretty big deal,” he said.