Voices From The Readers

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Research Shows Need For Restructuring

Editor:

Since last month’s sudden resignation of Mike Noah from the position of Director of Tourism and Executive Director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, there has been considerable discussion among the power elite of Ocean City about finding the right replacement for him. But the discussion has centered not on the qualifications and experience that any search committee would look for in potential candidates, but instead on questions regarding the job description of the position itself. Town leaders are carefully considering whether this time of change might present an ideal opportunity to restructure existing positions and their duties.

Recently, I had the opportunity to discuss organizational structure within the tourism and convention industries with an employee of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association (BACVA). An institution overseen by the City of Baltimore, BACVA’s dual purposes are to bring tourists to Baltimore and to secure convention reservations for the Baltimore Convention Center. The woman explained to me that while her organization was charged with handling both duties, the personnel assigned to the tourism aspects of the organization were separate from those who handled convention sales and marketing. I mentioned to her that Ocean City’s head tourism position has for the last decade or so overseen both tourism and convention center marketing, and her response was, “Well, maybe you’re small enough that that you can get away with that.” When I told her that we draw roughly eight million visitors annually, she replied in no uncertain terms that we had grown much too much to have one person presiding over these two entities.

What I have discovered since has only served to support her statement. The three beach areas that comprise Wildwood, New Jersey provide perhaps the best comparison to Ocean City in terms of size (nine million annual visitors) and convention center space (260,000 square feet versus 182,200), with neither being a “fly-in” convention destination. And much like Ocean City’s working relationship with the Maryland Stadium Authority regarding the Roland E. Powell Convention Center, the State of New Jersey partners with the Greater Wildwoods Tourism Improvement and Development Authority to manage the Wildwood Convention Center. But Wildwood’s organizational structure is vastly different than that of Ocean City. A Director of Marketing and Public Relations is assisted by a Marketing Coordinator position to handle tourism requirements, while a Director of Sales and Entertainment is supported by a Convention Services Manager on the convention side. Each division is further supported by additional full-time staffers. The two divisions remain separate from one another except in the fact that they each answer to a single Executive Director/CFO position, ostensibly the counterpart to the position of City Manager in Ocean City.

The creation of such a structure results from recognizing that the two products — the goods and services produced by a tourism economy versus the services and facilities provided by a convention venue — are fundamentally different in nature. And not only are the products unrelated, but the target markets are completely separate. The one quality that these products share — that they both can be marketed as being part of Ocean City as a destination — certainly does not in itself provide justification for their strategic marketing to fall under one supervisory umbrella.

As an Ocean City businessman, I obviously have great interest in witnessing healthy economic performance in both the tourism and convention sectors. I urge the leaders of Ocean City to consider adopting an organizational model similar to those of Wildwood and other municipalities, as opposed to staying the course with a paradigm that is all-encompassing. In an era when product and occupational specialization is ever-increasing, now is the time to administer the type of structural change that will enable both the tourism and convention center institutions to grow fully to their potential. Should the two administrative responsibilities remain horizontally integrated, any growth experienced by one of the segments will likely come at the expense of insufficient attention being given to the other.

Joseph L. Kroart III

Ocean City

(The writer is the vice president of the Ocean Gallery Fine Art Centers, Inc.)

Noah Comments Offend

Editor:

I have just finished reading the article in your newspaper, "Business Community Seeks Role in Filling Vacancy Post".

I just had to voice my opinion regarding the story. I take great offense to the comments by Ruth Waters regarding Mike Noah. The reporter wrote that Waters said, "perhaps the right person for the job might need to have excellent people skills,” and then the reporter added, “which is a widely reported skill that Noah lacked, according to inside sources."

I have been a neighbor of Noah’s for more than 10 years and know him to be a very honorable and likeable person with wonderful people skills. I find it completely unnecessary to make such comments about someone when they are no longer around to defend themselves. Waters could discuss her opinion with her associates but it certainly was not necessary to publish her opinion. Shame on her.

Mary Miller

Berlin

GOP To Rise Again

Editor:

As a Republican, but more importantly, an American who is proud to be one, I have to rebut Alice Hanke’s theories on why the election was lost to the Democrats. Here goes:

1. Republicans believe in the Constitution of the United States which defines the government as "by the people, of the people and for the people". In other words, not so big that it stops serving the electorate and starts dictating every facet of its citizens lives.

2. We believe that free market capitalism, while not loved by everyone, provides more opportunity for wealth and success that socialism ever could. Socialism didn’t work in the 20th century and won’t work in the 21st. Don’t believe me, look it up!

3. In point of fact, if one works hard and is responsible for themselves, even in a down economy, one usually can feed and clothe the family,

4. Ever taken a look at the taxes the wealthy do pay? The amount would cause most of us to stagger backward if our taxes were ever calculated to owe those amounts! By the way, the "anointed one’s" definition of wealth has the goal line ever moving in a downward direction. The business of America is business, and not necessarily large corporations. Those "wealthy" folks Ms Hanke has her arrows aimed at are business owners who have been able to offer their employees healthcare, 401(k) savings, insurance plans. Tax them to death, and guess what? Unemployment rolls rise, healthcare, insurance and savings provisions go bye-bye.

As to Ms. Hanke’s claim that US healthcare is ranked so low in the world, when was the last time an American left this country seeking better medical care elsewhere? Seems to me, most delicate operations are performed here in the US and very often to the benefit of those from foreign countries. Remember, most research and development of advanced medical techniques is conducted in the US, and that costs money that other countries aren’t spending but are benefiting from the research done here.

I do agree with Ms. Hanke that children and the elderly should be cared for since they are the most defenseless in our society, but for those who are capable of taking responsibility and working, even in an economic downturn such as now, that has to be their way up – not someone else’s and not through government entitlement a/k/a socialism. Be careful what you wish for, an excess of socialism becomes communism. Save your conservative cloth coat, Ms. Hanke, Republicans will rise again.

Gail Schuler

Ocean City

Berlin Thanks All

Editor:

Attention art and car lovers. If you weren’t in Berlin on Friday or Saturday, May 8-9, or Saturday, May 16, we’re very sorry You definitely missed it.

The Town of Berlin, the Berlin Chamber of Commerce, the Berlin Main Street Program and the Worcester County Arts Council along with all the downtown merchants came together to create a wonderful weekend. Spring Arts Night on Friday, May 8, and the Berlin Jazz & Blues Bash on Saturday, May 9, filled the heart of downtown Berlin with wonderful art and music for both residents and visitors.

Many thanks go out to these organizations, with special thanks going to the three co-chairs Jennifer David, Steve Frene and Raquel Orsini. Raquel also deserves a special round of applause, as she volunteered many additional hours to make the weekend memorable and she even opened Friday night’s festivities by singing and playing her guitar of the porch of the Atlantic Hotel.

Then, on May 16, Bill Outten and the Berlin Chamber of Commerce brought the Cruisers back to downtown Berlin for an outstanding car show. This year’s show was much bigger and better thanks to Bill’s many hours of dedication to this event.

One unseen group that we can never praise or thank enough is the Public Works Department from the Town of Berlin. With all the events that take place in town, the Public Works Department works diligently from the sidelines making sure all set ups are done right and the streets are clean. Their professional work is greatly appreciated.

Thanks to all who came and participated during Spring Arts Night, the Jazz & Blues Bash and Cruiser’s Day. We look forward to seeing you again soon.

Terri Sexton

Berlin

(The writer is the chairman of the Berlin Main Street Program.)

Volutneers Needed

Editor:

The Ocean City Seasonal Workforce Committee needs volunteers.

Committee volunteers meet the Greyhound buses each day to greet the International Work and Travel Program students who come here to work and experience the American culture. Last year we had over 4,000 International Work & Travel program students working in Ocean City for the season. This is a wonderful opportunity to interact with the foreign students as you give them the informational booklet and a positive impression of our town. Buses arrive at West Ocean City Park and Ride at 3 p.m. and 8:25 p.m. daily.

Committee volunteers also assist on Friday mornings at the City Hall Community Room when Social Security Administration comes to Ocean City to distribute the Social Security cards to the students. This is another great opportunity to interact with these students.

If you would like to volunteer, please call me at 410-726-6171.

Madalaine How

Ocean City

(The writer is the chair of the Ocean City Seasonal Workforce Committee.)

Wear A Poppy To

Honor Nation’s Vets

Editor:

With Memorial Day just around the corner, I would like for our fellow Americans to give recognition to our veterans both here at home and overseas.

The poppies are made by our disabled veterans in hospitals all over America. This is very therapeutic physically and mentally and gives them a feeling of self-worth. The poppies are not sold, but given in exchange for a donation.

The public and our youth in particular must be kept fully aware of our armed forces and the sacrifices they have made.

So please wear a poppy to honor them. We need to keep our spirits right, and keep our country and our veterans in our prayers.

Thank you and God Bless America.

American Legion Post 123

Berlin

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