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Wheatley brings infrastructure expertise to table

By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer

Josette Wheatley

(July 28, 2022) It takes quite a bit of infrastructure to keep Ocean Pines running.

Roads, waterways, emergency services, stormwater management, erosion control and more all need constant attention from the Ocean Pines Board of Directors.

Josette Wheatley, who is running for the board, says these areas are right up her alley.

“I think where I come in, where every person on the board is important because we all bring something to the table that helps develop the community or at least give back, for me, it would be my background in civil engineering and structural engineering,” she said. “I understand it; I’ve been doing it for years, land development. I understand stormwater management, and we have issues with here. It’s all very much in my wheelhouse.”

Wheatley was born and raised in Moncton, New Brunswick in Canada and moved to the United States at 19 years old. She earned a technical degree in engineering and drafting, which she eventually used to start her own business — a drafting company.

“If you have an HVAC company and you need some drawings for a permit, you would call me. If you have raw land and want to build a house, then you would call me and I would help you out,” Wheatley said.

She and husband Bob moved to Ocean Pines in 2014. His parents live two doors down for them, a move that Wheatley said helps afford a life for his parents that they want.

“That was how I ended up here. Nothing more than that, just trying to do the right thing by guiding humans,” she said.

Looking at the job ahead, Wheatley spent some time discussing emergency services and specifically looking at options to help the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Department maximize its efficiency on calls.

“(I’d like to) open up the Ocean Parkway for firemen to go straight through,” Wheatley said. “The six-minute crawl would improve just by default because it’s six minutes as the crow flies now and it certainly would reduce it. Right now, they’re going around and it’s a lot of time. I just think it could help. A few minutes in a fire … it’s critical.”

Wheatley’s professional background includes working with the state on various projects, which she thinks would make her an asset in negotiations with the state for bringing improvements to the Pines.

“To be able to work with the state for certain things that we need, not specifically me but educating my colleagues on what the terminology means … What it is that they’re proposing to bring in and what I feel we could come back and say, ‘Well, this, you should be able to add this and that’ and negotiate with them,” Wheatley said. “I understand the process about public meetings and stuff like that. I think I would be a good ally for the community to make sure we get proper walkways.”

Wheatley did add that the association is doing a good job keeping up with infrastructure maintenance, especially regarding the roadways, but she’d like to see improvements made with stormwater management.

“That’s a very big one for me,” she said. “Anyone who’s been here after a big rainstorm knows that we do get some overflow and I think we should be promoting more (ideas like) people becoming oyster farmers, clearing our canals. Fifty gallons each per home, we could do a lovely job of cleaning St. Martin’s River.”

“I would ask the community to consider me on the board of directors. I think I would be good for the community and would help the community.”

This week and last week, Bayside Gazette is sitting down with the candidates for the Ocean Pines Board of Directors election that will be decided next month. To maintain consistency and fairness, all candidates answered the same questions.