Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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It was difficult not to get upset this week driving eastbound on Route 50 when several miles of the highway was milled for a resurfacing project.

As my steering wheel throbbed in my hands, I found myself shaking my head, which was involuntary due to the road’s surface, over the timing of this project, which resulted in lane closures and backups this week. I understand it’s just a few weeks and is expected to be finished partially by today, but it’s difficult to believe there was not a better time in the shoulder seasons to execute this work than in early June. Certainly any work not completely finished will not take this place this weekend, but crews will have to be back out next week more than likely.

Although it may not always be practical, it seems to me the golden rule around these parts should be no major road projects between Memorial Day and Labor Day, no matter what days of the week. It just leaves us all with a bad taste and is inexplicable.

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Is there a public safety problem on Ocean City buses?

According to a report generated by the Ocean City Transportation Department this week, it does not appear to be thus far in the summer.

In an email this week to Mayor and Council members, as well as City Manager David Recor, who gets to work next week, Ocean City Councilman Joe Hall said he has been listening to the police scanner and has grown concerned about safety. He wrote, “the buses are out of control once again 7 pm to 3 am at least. I believe for public safety and driver safety that we must get some security on the buses during these hours. It’s just not safe! I suggest we poll council and authorize the hiring of at least twenty event security persons on a contract basis for the next two and half weeks. These would be the same kind of person you would see at a large concert or at the dew tour. wearing bright yellow shirt stating security. … I’m willing to support doing something now. I am open to other choices. I believe we will avoid expenses by putting some security support on our buses. Covering the cost by avoiding damages and lost personal.”

Since the press was included in this email chain that circulated throughout the week among the council and city staff members, it’s clear not everyone on the council is in agreement that further measures are needed to be taken. The specific point of disagreement at the heart of the issue is whether off-duty police officers should continue to be placed on buses or if it should be outsourced to a security firm.

Last year the city’s police department charged the transportation department $28,545 to have police officers on the buses compared to $21,408. In this year’s current budget, $26,000 has been budgeted to fund police overtime expenses. It’s unknown where the funds would come from if the security detail idea has the votes at next week’s meeting, but it would most likely come from that budget allocation.

Whatever the city decides it needs to use Ocean City Police Department staff to combat the issue. These officers are more than capable and I like the idea of them making some extra money, rather than outsourcing to an unknown entity.

Furthermore, police indicate the buses have been relatively tame thus far this year and a report included in all those emails this week confirms that.

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Berlin’s gateway from the north was finally cleaned up some this week, thankfully.

For the last 10 years, the former Bowden’s property, most recently a short-lived restaurant called Neon Moon, has been an embarrassing eyesore for Berlin, particularly when compared to the town’s beautiful entrance from the south (minus the shuttered Boomer’s restaurant).

With the threat of huge fines looming, the property owner razed the decaying building this week. Unfortunately, there are no plans for the property apparently, but at least it’s starting to look a little better today.

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