Between The Lines

Berlin dedicates a lot of time and other resources promoting itself through special events and it seems to be working.

There was a time not too long ago when only the Berlin Fiddlers Convention attracted huge crowds to the historic town. That’s not the case any longer, as a number of events, thanks largely to the work of a rejuvenated Berlin Chamber of Commerce, now bring lots of people to town, including last weekend’s Jazz & Blues Bash, the New Year’s Eve ball drop, the Berlin Spring Celebration in April and the spring and fall Cruisin weekends.

This is a good thing because the merchants need the spike in sales associated with these successful events to make it, and they create a tremendous amount of goodwill amongst the citizens who call it home.

The efforts are paying off and as a Berlin I appreciate it very much.

Maryland righted a wrong this week when it restored financial scholarships for about 350 high school seniors who were told this week they would not be receiving the $3,000 in annual support for their high achievement.

The best and brightest students in Maryland annually receive Distinguished Scholar awards, which come with a $3,000 scholarship for students attending state universities. During the General Assembly session this year, the scholarships were cut to balance the budget.

While that’s deplorable in its own right, if you ask me, what made matters worse was the cut was never intended for this year’s graduating class and their four-year college commitment. It was reportedly supposed to go into effect next year with students not being able to even apply for the awards. Governor Martin O’Malley was quick to address the issue on Wednesday after a Baltimore Sun detailed the plight of some students and their families, making it clear this year’s seniors would still receive the $3,000 annual scholarship and that it was a state blunder.

While the mea culpa is welcomed, it’s deplorable that the situation ever happened in the first place. For weeks, these families were trying to figure out how to make up for the loss of the scholarship.

Communication breakdowns are inevitable in all lines of work, but for the state to goof like this is a true embarrassment, particularly at the same time it’s going to begin granting in-state tuition breaks to certain illegal immigrants.

Coastal Highway is often referred to as “eight lanes of hell” in the summer and it’s a well-deserved moniker.

With mopeds, bikes and pedestrians dashing through traffic with little concern for their own well-being (it reminds me of the old arcade game Frogger at times), it can be a dangerous strip. It’s going to be interesting to see what kind of impact scoot coupes will have this summer on the mix.

June will tell immediately whether the state legislature was right to allow these two-passenger, three-wheel vehicles on state-owned roads, like Coastal Highway. While the operator has pledged to be vigilant and ensure all renters follow current laws, we all know it’s what these folks do miles away from the business that’s the concern.

In a letter to the editor and at this week’s Mayor and Council meeting, local insurance company owner Reese Cropper made his feelings known about the scoot coupes. He thinks the town has the ability to restrict them on Coastal Highway, despite the fact the state legislature and the governor approved them on state roads. Cropper said the town enforces rules on the ocean and beach, even though it doesn’t own either.

Overall, he feels City Council members are taking a huge chance by simply throwing up their hands and pointing to the state’s decision to legalize scoot coupes, reminding them it’s on their conscious what happens in Ocean City and warning them hoping for the best is no way to lead.