On this last day of 2009, a year many are happy to see go, I submit some developments I predict will take place locally and elsewhere in 2010:
— Ocean Downs will be the only site where slots are played in Maryland in 2010.
— The state’s Board of Public Works will approve funding for the expansion of the Roland E. Powell Convention Center, but physical work on the project will not begin until 2011.
— Rather than raise taxes in a critical election year, the County Commissioners will approve three furlough days for all county staff members, sans the school system and public safety personnel.
— Two more traffic lights will be erected on Route 589, while plans to dualize the road continue to simmer on the back burner.
— Handheld cell phone use will be banned in Maryland.
— The trial of the sex offender charged in the Parsonsburg abduction of an 11-year-old girl, Sarah Foxwell, will be moved to another county. Repeated delays will lead to the man not being tried until early 2011.
— Sarah’s Law will be approved by the Maryland General Assembly, outlining new compliance and sentencing regulations for sex offenders. The landmark law will mandate an independent judicial panel to hear cases involving repeat sex offenders and to specifically issue sentences.
— The General Assembly will approve a significant increase in the alcohol tax in a desperate effort to find new revenue to balance the state’s books.
— Every single toll on Maryland roads will be increased, including the Chesapeake Bay Bridge fare, which will be increased from $2.50 to $3. Legislators approve this measure to raise new revenue and justify it by saying it will encourage people to carpool and use mass transit.
— The Ocean City Mayor and Council will approve a $20 million bond to finance a multi-million Boardwalk reconstruction overhaul, which will begin in late 2011. The bond will include other smaller projects, delayed in the recent past, as well.
— Financing for the planned beach replenishment project will become an issue. Although all work will be completed, the town will need to move some money around to complete the job, leading to a one-cent increase in the property tax rate for town property owners.
— Delays will continue to plague the start of the Route 50 service road project.
— A traffic light will be placed at the intersection of Route 50 and Old Ocean City Blvd. in Berlin.
— Major news will break regarding the Liquor Control Board’s operations and its future.
— At least two of the seven County Commissioners will be defeated at the polls in their re-election bids in 2010.
— All of the incumbent candidates for the open Ocean City Mayor and Council seats will be re-elected in October. Mayor Rick Meehan will again run unopposed.
— The Republican Party will lose its hold on the lower shore’s state Senate seat, previously occupied by conservative stalwart Lowell Stoltzfus, who announced his retirement earlier this year.
— A Republican will be elected to one of the two local House of Delegates seats in the Assembly.
— A rare blizzard will close all schools for an entire week in February, pushing back the school year’s final days to mid June.
— Delegate Jim Mathias will introduce a statewide ban on salvia that mirrors legislation in other states. Contrary to last year, the Senate and House of Delegates will approve it.
— Slots will begin operating in fraternal clubs around Worcester after the General Assembly finally approves the local bill.
— The taxi industry in Ocean City will be franchised. Gripes will be heard far and wide when it’s proposed, but the City Council will vote unanimously for the new source of revenue.
— Although nobody understands the reason why, unleaded gasoline prices will spike over the $3 mark.
— The San Diego Chargers will defeat the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl.