Let me be clear – I have a tremendous amount of respect for teachers, and that’s why I am happy that being employed as one in Worcester County is not a bad gig. While surely many will contend they are still underpaid considering the tremendous role they play in the lives of children, there is no disputing the compensation package here in Worcester has come a long way. Compared to other jurisdictions in Maryland struggling with teacher shortages, the county has done excellent on that front in recent years and the compensation package has a lot to do with it. Making a life at the beach is not a bad attraction either. In the current education budget, teacher salaries increased by 7.5 percent from the year prior. That comes on the heels of last year’s 6.5-percent increase. That’s 14 percent in two years. Most in the private sector would be fortunate to see that kind of increase in five years. The 45 new teachers who last week received free Dell laptop computers, valued at $1,178 a pop ($53,000-plus in total county spending), are starting their careers making $40,390. Hypothetically, if a 7-percent increase is approved by the commissioners next year, that same new teacher will be making 43,217 in his or her second year. Add to the salary the best health insurance and retirement benefits available and it’s no wonder Worcester does not have a teacher shortage.
All is quiet on the Christy Freeman case these days while the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office reportedly continues to examine the fetuses recovered in Ocean City. Freeman is scheduled to be back in court in early October for a preliminary hearing unless she is indicted by a grand jury beforehand. Directly related to the case is the impact the charges have had on the Classic Taxi company Freeman and her boyfriend Ray Godman owned together. The company, which has been forced to scale back operations, is now operating under the name Flashback Taxi. Sources close to the case indicate a search warrant was recently issued on the Sunset Drive apartment Freeman and her family shared. For those keeping track, that’s at least six search warrants we are aware of in this case that have been executed. Word is authorities may have been looking for drugs, but it’s unknown if anything was recovered.
Picture-perfect weather helped produce a solid Labor Day weekend in Ocean City. Demoflush population estimates have this year’s holiday weekend on par with last year’s. Here’s a look at the numbers of the last five years: 277,581, 2007; 276, 582, 2006; 258,269, 2005; 256,326, 2004; and 280,633, 2003. Mixed reports were heard from the business community, but on Saturday, Sunday and Monday traffic seemed to be at its summertime peak most of the weekend and parking at its summertime scarcity.
“How’s the market?” If you live in this area, it’s a question you have inevitably been asked. It does not seem to matter if you have a real estate license or not, the coastal market is always something on the mind of visitors. A report from the Coastal Association of Realtors gives some insight on the real estate market through August. Here’s a look at some of the key numbers, according to the Automated Regional Information Systems, Inc. (ARIS):
— Ocean City Condominiums: At the end of August, total active listings are 1,681, a slight decrease from last year. Settlements year to date are 518, a 13.7-percent decline from 2006. Of the properties on the market, 37 percent are priced in the $300,000 to $399,999 range.
— Ocean City Single-Family Homes: As of the end of August, there are 121 active listings, a 16-percent increase over last year. There have been 44 settlements, which is only one off last year’s pace. Approximately 50 percent of the homes currently listed are either between $300,000 and $399,999 and $500,000 and $599,999.