Voices From The Readers
Four Ways To Resolve Fire Service Debate
To resolve the organizational structure of the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company (OCVFC) when it comes to their service to the taxpayers and visitors to Ocean City, a number of parties are planning to meet at the Convention Center on April 14 and 15, 2008. Unfortunately, once again certain Ocean City elected officials have agreed to close the most important meeting to the press and the public. According to City Council President Joseph Mitrecic, the public and the press will be locked-out of one of the meetings because he and others believe that they can 'get more done in a closed meeting.'
Since I believe certain Ocean City officials and employees still have a hidden agenda to subordinate the role OCVFD and will attempt to use the April meetings to advance their hidden agenda, I would like to put forth a four point framework that I believe would be useful to resolve the matter in the interest of the Ocean City taxpayers.
One, the career fire/EMS personnel will be responsible for controlling all calls for emergency medical services, such as a person having a heart attack.
Two, the OCVFC will be responsible for all other emergency situation. Under this approach the career/EMS personnel who initially respond will be responsible for carrying accepted procedures to start to contain any fire or any other non-medical emergency. Once an officer of the OCVFC arrives on the scene, the OCVFC officer will assume all responsibility and control over the situation. There is no reason this cannot be implemented because, as Mitrecic has publicly stated, the career fire/EMS personnel are 'our employees'.
Third, in any momentous disaster such as a major hurricane directly hitting Ocean City and causing wide-spread damage, the Incident Commander concept, as defined by U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety & Health Administration requirements, should be implemented. The Incident Commanders, who are designated in emergency planning documents, are responsible for all aspects of an emergency including managing all operations and all resources. Deputies are used to manage specified areas, such as handling all hurricane related matters in the areas of 1st to 12th streets.
Fourth, any agreement concerning the respective roles of OCVFC and career/EMS personnel shall be incorporated into any collective bargaining agreement between the career/EMS personal and Ocean City government and these provisions shall not be subject to negotiation by either party unless the OCVFD agrees to any change.
I believe the above four points serve as the framework to providing fire and medical service to Ocean City taxpayers and visitors in the most efficient, effective and economical manner.
Amazed At Support
Just when the future of Diakonia, Inc, a local, private non-profit organization was looking rather bleak, Franklin Lynch sent out a call to action. He put together an amazing committee that helped plan the Diakonia Fundraiser Brunch.
The community willingness to participate was outstanding. Within a few weeks the Diakonia event held at the Galaxy 66 Bar & Grille was sold out. Silent and live auctions not only kept the afternoon lively, but along with event sponsorships, they boosted the bottom line. As a special surprise, our own local philanthropist, Eunice Sorin, stepped up to the plate with an extremely generous donation.
Franklin Lynch's stellar committee includes Theresa Bruner, Chris Butler, Laura Jenkins, Father Michael Moyer, Deb Meinhardt, Christine Selzer and Gail Whaley.
Thank you to everyone that made this event such a huge success. Diakonia is truly blessed by our community. Our deepest gratitude goes out for this incredible support, without which, it would be impossible to give hope to so many people.
Diakonia, Inc. is the only provider of comprehensive emergency and transitional housing for men, women and families on the lower shore of Maryland and is recognized as an exceptional partner in the creation of affordable housing by the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust.
(The writer is the executive director of Diakonia, Inc.)
How Can Delaware Deny Beach Access?
This past weekend as I was driving up Route 1 towards Rehoboth something struck me. I've driven this route numerous times looking at all the gated communities and no beach access signs without once until Saturday realizing what an elitist class separation this actually is. If you don't have the funds to buy a property on the right side of the highway, you are not considered good enough to use 'their beach'. Where do these communities get off denying beach access to all? There are hundreds of people paying a lot of money for properties on the other side of the highway that must go to the small beach areas they are allowed to use. I find this to be class separation at its worst.
There was a question I thought of while driving. When the beach in front of those locked gates needs to be replenished who pays for it? Do the funds for that replenishment come from the average taxpayer or do these rich folks put up the monies themselves?
I'm betting we all know the answer to that question.
I realize now why the upper blocks in Ocean City are always so crowded during the summer. Numerous residents of Delaware who are denied access to the beach by these upper-class elitists come to Ocean City where we have a free open beach to enjoy the day.
I'm glad we have not started locking our beach off and not allowing any and all to enjoy the summer without having to be crammed into the small areas like Fenwick Park.
So when you are looking for somewhere to stay during the summer or somewhere to buy a condo or a summer house maybe this needs to be taken into consideration before running up and staying in Fenwick, Dewey Beach, Bethany or Rehoboth.
While you may be staying in a beach resort, you may have to resort to finding access to the beach somewhere else.
County Needs To Honor Commitment
(The following letter was addressed to County Commission President Virgil Shockley.)
The Worcester County Branch NAACP brings to your attention the failure of the County Commissioners to keep their promise to the voters. The commissioners promised to fund the Ombudsman positions, FY 07/08, for Snow Hill and Berlin. As a matter of record, this promise was made during last year's 'public hearing' held by the commissioners on the budget; the promise was not keep.
Then Commissioner President James Purnell stated that based upon the success of the Pocomoke demonstration model of the Ombudsman, and the commitment that was made when it was funded in FY 06/07 that '•€¦if the Pocomoke Ombudsman position was successful the commissioners would fund similar positions for Snow Hill and Berlin the following year.' The sitting commissioners agreed with Purnell. There was no dissent during the public meeting.
In spite of the public commitment, the Ombudsmen position was not funded. The reason given by commissioners to whom the NAACP spoke was that, 'the Commissioners put the money in the budget for the positions and the School Board elected not to fill the positions.' Further, they said that, '•€¦we cannot tell the School Board what to do with the money once we give it to them•€¦we can not micro-manage the School Board'. When we talked to the School Board, they said that, 'the money was not put in the budget.' Needless to say, we are confused and disappointed. This shell game (first you have it and then you don't) cannot be tolerated in making decision concerning our children's education.
To the credit of Dr. Jon Andes, Superintendent of Schools, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters, they worked very hard with the NAACP to develop a custom mentoring program for needy Worcester County students. The program engaged faculty and students from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Salisbury University, retired professional residents from the Ocean Pines and Ocean City and the faith based community in the County. The Board included the mentoring proposal in their FY 06/07 budget at a cost of only $21,000 and the County Commissioners failed to fund the project.
The Ombudsman and mentoring programs were designed to assist in closing the education gap that was identified in the 'Minority Achievement in Maryland: The State of the State', September 1998 report. The report concluded that African-American males trailed their white male student counterparts by 38 percent in academic subjects. For over 10 years, this branch has been committed to leadership and support roles in Worcester County to close the education gap, supporting other minorities and Free And Reduced Meals (FARM) students. While some marginal success has been achieved over this period, we still have a very long way to go.
Most disturbing to this effort of achieving a quality education for needy students, is the failure of the County Commissioners to examine the reports, data and recommendations of the array of professional educational consultants that have visited and/or provided recommendations regarding minority achievement in Worcester County.
The Board of Education and the Superintendent of Schools have again placed a request for funding the Ombudsmen positions and the mentoring program in their FY 08/09 budget. We call upon the County Commissioners to honor the commitment that was made to fund the Ombudsmen positions. Additionally, we ask that the Commissioners to fund the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring program. In order to improve the failure rate of our minority, FARM and disadvantaged students, a commitment from the commissioners is required.
The NAACP calls upon the County Commissioners to honor the promise made last year; and to make the level of commitment in this year's budget to the minority students that is sufficient to raise their grade to equal that of their peers in Worcester County.
Edward S. Lee
(The writer is the president of the Worcester County Branch of the NAACP.)