Prior to last Friday night’s Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Awards Gala, I had heard through the grapevine that Businessman of the Year honoree Bill Gibbs had been told to keep his remarks to approximately two minutes. All honorees were apparently asked to do the same. Gibbs had told some friends prior that would not be happening and he followed through on Friday. I don’t recall how long his speech was because it was a captivating one, but it’s safe to say it was well over two minutes.
With his blunt characterization of his career and his honest descriptions of his many local business ventures — many of which have been successful while a few not so much — his speech was the highlight of the night for me. He made the audience laugh a lot. He also made many of us think. He might have even made some of the more emotional types get choked up a bit because his sincerity was evident when he talked about his family, especially his wife, as well as his close business colleagues that he spoke of with respect and gratitude.
Not sure why, but I always find it charming when successful people reflect on their careers and acknowledge their missteps and document those times when they were unsuccessful. I would much rather hear the truth, even if it’s not always the most flattering of reflections.
Gibbs, owner of the Dough Roller Restaurants in Ocean City and currently expanded his operations to other locales, did this when he talked about the former Castaways business in mid-town Ocean City that he opened. He said he purchased the former Capt. Bob’s property and redeveloped it to try something different. He admitted it didn’t go well and the business eventually was forced to close.
“I screwed up. I failed again,” Gibbs said. However, he then acknowledged the property has now been turned around with the owners of Dead Freddies Island Grille making it a bustling business. By making it a successful operation, he acknowledged they were able to do what he could not on the property.
The gala is a long-winded affair, but the honorees’ speeches are usually the highlight, and Gibbs certainly did not disappoint with his infamous candor and his enlightening recap of his storied professional career.
Congratulations to all the honorees, who are pictured on pages 54 and 55.
Once again, a long-time elected official is stepping down and the seat will essentially just be handed over to the one person willing to seek it. This is disturbing to me, but it appears I am the only one appalled by the apathy.
Although it’s certainly no fault of his own, it bothers me that Berlin business owner and resident Thom Gulyas will essentially be given the council seat held by former Councilwoman Paula Lynch for the last 26 years. Once word spread that only one candidate filed this week, rumors started circulating that write-in campaigns were going to be orchestrated. That’s all well and good, but if a person truly wanted to be an elected official he or she should have filed for the seat prior to this week’s deadline and get his or her name officially on the ballot.
It’s disappointing to see all the goodwill and momentum Berlin has experienced the last couple years, capped off by this year’s Coolest Small Town designation, has not spilled over to interest among the citizens in holding public office. I was hoping it would translate into a more active citizenry. That did not happen and it wasn’t just in the at-large districts. Incumbents Dean Burrell and Troy Purnell were also not challenged.
Nonetheless what happened in Berlin this week with the departing Lynch’s seat is essentially the same thing that happened over in Ocean City where Ocean City Councilman Joe Mitrecic will succeed 16-year County Commissioner Louise Gulyas, who made it clear she would not be seeking re-election last year. Mitrecic filed for the seat early on and nobody opposed him. Therefore, his council seat will be up for grabs in this November’s election.
Although some businesses were pleased with the season in general, the demoflush crowd numbers for the summer suggest not as many people visited Ocean City as last year. As stated in the past, I have no idea if demoflush numbers are accurate indicators of how many people are in Ocean City, but they are valid as a comparison tool.
Specifically, August’s numbers were examined this week. The town’s monthly demoflush report found the daily average for August was down 3.5%. Most disturbing is the weekday average slipped by 18.3%, from 262,093 in 2013 to 214,093. This is not exactly surprising to those in the tourism business, as most will confirm the weekday doldrums continue to be a major problem in Ocean City every season.
For August, here’s a look at the daily average with 2013’s comparison noted in parenthesis. The report found for Monday, 253,204 in 2014 (260,966), 3% decline; Tuesday, 244,894 (253,516), a 4% drop; Wednesday, 246,739 (252,302), a 2% dip; Thursday, 244,131 (258,862), a 6% decrease; Friday, 205,199 (275,959), a 26% decline; Saturday, 227,112 (293,418), a 23% drop; and Sunday, 279,428 (288,512), a 3% decrease.