Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

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It’s that time of year to look into the crystal ball and make some predictions about the year ahead for the area.
• After edging out Attorney General Doug Gansler in the June primary, Anthony Brown will be elected Maryland’s next governor in November.
• Martin O’Malley will by year’s end have announced his intention to run for president in 2016.
• Atlantic General Hospital’s bid for an exemption from the town’s stormwater fees by the court will be denied initially before being appealed to a higher court.
• Former Ocean City Councilman Vince Gisriel will replace Louise Gulyas as Ocean City’s representative on the County Commission.
• Incumbent Ocean City Council member Margaret Pillas will not seek re-election.
• After flirting with a run at County Commissioner, Councilman Brent Ashley will seek re-election to the City Council.
• Big political waves between the Town of Ocean City and the Worcester County Commission will be made when an effort is launched to create a separate West Ocean City Fire/EMS division. Ocean City officials will want it, while the county will not support it due to funding concerns.
• A major snow storm will dump a foot of snow on the lower shore in February.
• Three new faces will join the Worcester County Commission after the November election.
• Ocean City will stop holding its annual Mayor and Council Open House every year and instead opt for every other year to encourage higher attendance.
• One incumbent Worcester County Commissioner seeking re-election will be unseated.
• The cost of a gallon of unleaded gasoline will stay above $3 all year but below $4.
• News will break that a new Worcester County Humane Society shelter will be built on West Ocean City land donated by a local couple. The building will be constructed after a major fundraising campaign spearheaded by a sizable donation from local benefactors.
• The Town of Berlin and the Berlin Fire Company will reach an agreement that will significantly increase current funding levels for the town’s EMS operation.
• Salisbury will institute a new stormwater utility fee, and Wicomico County will seek an exemption for its schools located within municipal limits.
• Despite a heavy outpouring of criticism online, Ocean City will use the same $50 fee approach for parking at the Inlet on the 4th of July. As was the case in 2013, the lot will again fill up before noon.
• Three national chain restaurants will announce intentions to open on Route 50 in front of the Wal-Mart and Home Depot.
• Once signs announcing the restaurants are erected, “Buy Local” supporters will stage a casual protest along Route 50.
• Steven Taylor, former executive director of the Md. Coastal Bays Program and co-owner of Ayers Creek Adventures, will officially be named the new executive director of Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services.
• For the second year in a row, there will be no tropical activity impacting Ocean City.
• The Dew Tour will return to Ocean City the same weekend as 2013 — the third weekend in June.
• The speed limit on the portion of Route 113 that runs through Berlin will not be reduced.
• Crosswalks featuring countdown clocks will be added at two Berlin intersections — Route 113 and Old Ocean City Blvd. and Route 113 and Bay Street.
• Maryland’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation will make news after an internal investigation finds a major uptick in unemployment fraud cases. The probe discovers that many people collecting unemployment are working “under the table” jobs while collecting jobless benefits. As a result, the state vows to add more investigators to the unemployment division to evaluate current claims.
• A new iPhone 6 will be unveiled by Apple that can remotely start your car with a certain permission code.
• After the county again rejects tax differential, Ocean City will discuss publicly the possibility of annexing a large portion of West Ocean City, including Route 50 west to Herring Creek and Route 611 south to Assateague Road.
• A new tractor supply store will move into the old Ames storefront that has been vacant for years in the shopping center off Old Ocean City Blvd.
• Legislation will be introduced in Annapolis allowing Berlin to have a “to-go” liquor retail operation.
• Maryland will add another dollar to the state’s cigarette tax.
• The Casino at Ocean Downs will celebrate the opening of its expanded operation, including table games, in the middle of the summer.
• An effort will be launched in Berlin to build a skate park on the old Tyson plant. No significant movement on the initiative will take place, but the Mayor and Council expresses support for it in general.
• The Orioles will win the World Series next October in a seven-game series over the Dodgers.
• In an odd low-scoring affair impacted heavily by gusting winds and freezing rain, the Seahawks will defeat the Patriots in the Super Bowl.

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