By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(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 require 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 that contributes to the development of the community or at least gives something back, for me it would be my background in civil engineering and structural engineering,” she said . “I get it; I’ve been doing this for years, land development. I understand stormwater management and we have problems here. It’s all very much in my wheelhouse.”
Born and raised in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, Wheatley moved to the United States at the age of 19. She earned a technical degree in engineering and drawing, which she eventually used to start her own business – a drawing company.
“If you have an HVAC business and need some drawings for approval, you would give me a call. If you have vacant land and you want to build a house, give me a call and I’ll help you,” Wheatley said.
She and her husband Bob moved to Ocean Pines in 2014. His parents live two houses down for her, a move Wheatley said will help give his parents the life they want.
“That’s how I ended up here. Nothing more than that, just trying to do the right thing by leading people,” she said.
With the task at hand in mind, Wheatley spent some time discussing emergency services and, in particular, researching options to help the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Department maximize their effectiveness on response.
“[I’d like to]open up the Ocean Parkway for firefighters to walk right through,” Wheatley said. “The six-minute crawl would just improve because it’s now six minutes as the crow flies, and it would certainly reduce it. Right now they’re going around and it’s a lot of time. I just think it might help. A few minutes in a fire…it’s critical.”
Wheatley’s professional background includes working with the state on various projects which she believes would be beneficial in negotiations with the state for improvements in the Pines.
“To be able to work with the state for specific things that we need, not me specifically, but to enlighten my colleagues on what the terminology means… What they’re proposing to bring in and what I think we could come back and say.” ‘Well, that, you should be able to add this and that’ and negotiate with them,” Wheatley said. “I understand the process with public gatherings and things like that. I think I would be a good ally for the community to make sure we get proper sidewalks.”
Wheatley added that the association is doing a good job of maintaining infrastructure, particularly in relation to the roads, but she would like to see improvements in stormwater management.
“This is a very big one for me,” she said. “Anyone who’s been here after a big rainstorm knows we’re overflowing and I think we should encourage more (ideas like) people becoming oyster farmers and cleaning our canals. With fifty gallons each per house, we could clean up the St. Martin’s River beautifully.”
“I would ask the community to consider me for the board. I think I would be good for the community and would help the community.”
This week and last week, the Bayside Gazette is sitting with the candidates for the Ocean Pines board of directors election, which will be decided next month. To ensure consistency and fairness, all candidates answered the same questions.