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Ocean City

Outgoing commissioners tie bow on their service

(Nov. 21, 2014) The four departing County Commissioners, Virgil Shockley, Judy Boggs, Jim Purnell and Louise Gulyas, were each given a few minutes to sum up their experiences at Tuesday’s session while their respective successors, Ted Elder, Chip Bertino, Diana Purnell and Joe Metrecic, looked on.

Commissioner President J. Bud Church started at the far right of the dais with Virgil Shockley, who observed that he and fellow commissioner Louise Gulyas have hired “about one-third” of all current county employees. After marveling at the difference he’s seen in Worcester during his tenure, Shockley got straight to the point.

“Five things need to happen,” he said, “first, the commissioner’s meetings need to be videotaped and put on our website.”

Raising his packet binder, easily the size and weight of a couple phone books, Shockley said, “I love this thing.” The caveat, he continued, is that a tablet would be much simpler, easier and faster for the commissioners to handle.

Next, he urged the commissioners to reexamine the Route 50 corridor. “I want to see a Cabela’s and I want to see a Cracker Barrel,” he said. But, he continued, those stores “won’t look at us,” until the corridor can accommodate them.

Somewhere along the way, Shockley said, the fire chiefs have fallen by the wayside. He said he would like to see them return to the table because “we’ve got to have them.”

Finally on his list, Shockley reiterated his desire to see broadband in Worcester County.

“Technology is coming whether we want it or not,” he said.

Then he went off script.

“Our economy is tourism and ag[riculture], our economy is tourism and ag, our economy is tourism and ag. We need something else, but until then we need to protect it at all costs. The statement has to be made,” he said. It doesn’t matter how many trips to Annapolis it takes, he said, and it doesn’t matter who [the commissioners] anger in the process.

Judy Boggs began by marveling about how much she has learned during her tenure, especially about chickens and wastewater.

Having been around governments in both volunteer and elective capacities, Boggs said she is used to seeing departments “isolate themselves” into serving only what they see as their constituents.

“All departments realize all of the county is their constituent,” she said.

Boggs finished by promising she wasn’t going anywhere.

“This is my home,” she said, “but my day belongs to me and not my schedule.”

Boggs noted she no longer wears a wristwatch, despite spending a lot of time glancing at her bracelet. She hoped the habit is broken quickly.

Jim Purnell recalled how much other commissioners helped him when he was first elected, comparing himself to a “little baby.” Purnell noted he’s seen many of the county’s schools built or renovated, and he was able to provide input on the current commissioner’s chambers.

“I never once left this office angry,” despite some heated exchanges over the years, he said, “because it’s not in my hands, it’s in God’s hands and I put Him first in everything I do.”

Louise Gulyas offered advice near the beginning of her speech.

“Having a job you like will add five days to your week,” she said. “Except for my family, this is my most rewarding experience.”

Finding a way to compromise, pausing and looking at the entire county before making a decision and emphasizing smart growth were three ways for the new board to be successful, according to Gulyas.

“Please don’t ever think you’re not part of this team,” she said.

Gulyas explained her own bit of learning during her time on the board.

“I know more about wastewater than any human needs to know,” she noted before concluding, “What an awesome ride.”

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