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Ocean City’s public housing agency reported Tuesday that it turned a $372,000 profit in fiscal 2020, solidifying a financial turnaround that began three years ago in the aftermath of an embezzlement scandal involving its former chief executive. The hiring of a new executive director, the appointment of new board members and a series of financial and operational reforms starting in 2017 are credited with helping to fix the Ocean City Housing Authority’s shaky existence.
Dennis Couch and his wife, LeAnne Beil, decided Sunday morning that they would jump in their car and make the three-hour drive from their home in Mechanicsburg, Pa., to Ocean City. They were anxious to see the Jersey Shore on a beautiful fall day, but actually their trip had more to do with treating the two other members of their family – their dogs Harley and Lily – to some new scenery. “This is their first time on the beach,” Beil explained as Harley and Lily wagged their tails and panted in excitement. Although dogs are banned on Ocean City’s beaches during the peak summer tourism season, they are allowed to romp on the sand from Oct. 1 to April 30 provided they are on a leash and their owners clean up any messes.
James Dambach recalls the time that surfers went zipping by in front of his Ocean City house. Another time, there were kids floating on inflatable rafts. Dambach, 67, a retired Philadelphia police lieutenant, doesn’t live in an oceanfront or bayfront home. His house at 14th Street and Haven Avenue is landlocked. Most of the time, it’s landlocked. During storms, Haven Avenue is swamped with floodwater – so much so that kids occasionally float by on rafts or surfers are pulled on their boards while tethered to pickup trucks driving down the street, he said. Dambach was among a dozen residents who attended an hour-long public meeting Saturday organized by Third Ward Councilman Jody Levchuk to discuss local issues. When Levchuk opened the floor to residents, they urged him and other city officials to solve the flooding problems that occur on Haven Avenue and West Avenue in the area between 14th and 17th streets.
The agency that oversees the five toll bridges connecting Cape May County’s seashore towns along the Ocean Drive approved a 2021 operating budget Thursday that does not include a fare increase for motorists. The Cape May County Bridge Commission has discussed the possibility of raising the $1.50 toll off and on for the past three years, but has held the line so far. In the past, the commission has indicated that a toll increase will be required at some point to help Cape May County finance a major capital construction program, including the possible replacement of the aging Townsends Inlet and Middle Thorofare bridges. However, Karen Coughlin, the commission’s executive director, explained during the monthly board meeting Thursday that the agency has not had any discussions recently about raising tolls for 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Democrats Liz Casey and Brendan Sciarra are pushing for change on a Cape May County freeholder board completely controlled by Republicans. Heading toward the Nov. 3 election, they have made that the central theme of their campaign while seeking the two open seats this year on the five-member body that oversees county government. They outline their priorities and campaign strategy in an interview.
City Council paid tribute Thursday night to the late Frank McCall, a former member of Ocean City’s governing body whose career in Cape May County politics and government service spanned more than 30 years. At the start of their meeting, the Council members bowed their heads to observe a minute of silence in McCall’s memory. McCall, 73, died Oct. 4 at his Ocean City home surrounded by family members, according to his obituary. He was remembered by the Council members as a consummate gentleman who distinguished himself in politics, government service and in athletics as a basketball player for Villanova University in the 1960s.
U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, heading into the final weeks of his re-election bid for his South Jersey district, is anxious for Congress to get a stimulus package approved to help the economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic. However, he is frustrated with what he calls the “political gamesmanship” being played by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “It’s important. We need one more traunch. We need one more time where we can help people, where we can help businesses, where we can make sure this economy survives,” Van Drew said of the proposed stimulus legislation. Van Drew also discusses an array of other topics in an interview with MediaWize, the publisher of OCNJDaily.com.
Ever since the Ocean City Life-Saving Station opened as a “living museum” in 2017, visitors have been treated to an authentic re-creation of what the building was like in its early 20th century heyday. But that is only on the first floor. The second floor of the architecturally striking yellow building, though, has been sealed off to the public, as if some great treasure more than 100 years old was locked behind the doors to protect it from prying eyes. Actually, it’s not that dramatic. The museum has been slowly going through a multiyear transformation that is about to enter its fourth and final phase – the renovation of the second floor.
One of the grand dames of Ocean City’s Historic District has seen better days. The three-story house at 615 Wesley Avenue has a weather-beaten exterior, overgrown vines creeping up its steps and a battered white fence. But this 118-year-old home dating to the Edwardian era is considered historically significant – so much so that the Ocean City Historic Preservation Commission wants to save it from demolition. In September, the commission rejected plans to demolish the house and is expected to formalize its action in a resolution at its Oct. 6 meeting.
The good-natured chants resounded through the Ocean City Farmers Market on Wednesday morning. “Four more weeks! Four more weeks!” the vendors at the popular summertime market called out in unison. Unfortunately, though, the farmers market closed out its rather unusual – but ultimately successful – season on Wednesday after a 14-week run amid the coronavirus pandemic. Fear not, market aficionados, it will return next summer. “All of the farmers did just as well this summer as last year. We had good crowds, too,” said Rose Savastano, special events coordinator for the Ocean City Regional Chamber of Commerce, the sponsor of the farmers market.