Between The Lines

The proposed “free gas” promotion that has made the media rounds over the last two weeks has its admirers and detractors.

There are certainly two clear camps here, each with its own strong opinion. Those in support are adamant about the need for something new to spruce up Ocean City’s marketing campaign, which they say does not have the appeal it needs. They say people are not bored and in need of a rescue by Rodney, as the town’s marketing messages are currently directed. They are poor and in search of financial help to make a vacation more likely, advocates allege.

On the other spectrum, some are extremely agitated by the mere idea of a free gas promotion because it contradicts what the resort has been saying about being within a half tank of gas from millions of potential visitors in nearby metropolitan areas for years. Additionally, it has reportedly upset the thousands of people who have already made their lodging reservations for the summer, leading to calls from people wondering if they are going to get the offer.

Either way, it looks like Ocean City Councilman Brent Ashley, a supporter last week of designating $1 million of the town’s advertising budget toward some sort of “come here and we will give you free gas” marketing plan, will call for a vote next week and it will be interesting to see how the council votes.

Ashley said this week he understands the concerns with the $1 million figure and instead is suggesting a different approach seeking less money.

I’m feeling a little risky this week. No matter what form this promotion takes, I predict it will fail with Council President Jim Hall and Council members Doug Cymek, Mary Knight and Lloyd Martin voting against. It’s worth noting my record on predictions is about as poor as it gets.

Ocean City filled its Sunfest entertainment vacancy this week with the announcement that country music icon Kenny Rogers will fill the spot formerly dedicated to rocker Bret Michaels.

Rogers was tapped to perform on Saturday night of the town’s annual fall festival after it was announced last week Michaels had to be bumped from this year’s Sunfest due to the former Poison lead man already being booked for another gig elsewhere.

While that mishap seems entirely ridiculous and inexcusable on behalf of the parties involved with the entertainer’s booking process, Michaels will perform at the 2012 Sunfest and Rogers has now been tapped for Ocean City.

Rogers is no stranger to Ocean City, as he was a regular at the convention center for a number of summers and a huge hit with many segments.

No matter your musical tastes, there’s no question the town went the complete opposite direction from Michaels when it tapped Rogers to fill his spot. Either way, both are going to sell out either way, and that’s the goal with whoever is booked.

The Salisbury Superfresh was not one of the 12 Maryland stores that received a bid this week and appears doomed for a mid-July closure.

Either way, the store was more than likely going to be closed down this summer. The uncertainty was whether it would re-open as some other sort of grocery store under a different name, such as stores in Baltimore, Parkville, Arnold, White Oak, Lutherville-Timonium, Cambridge, Chestertown, Brunswick and Washington. Those outlets have agreements in place to be purchased by other grocery companies.

The big unknown in this entire Superfresh situation is the employees. With this week’s announcement, 1,500 employees will reportedly lose their jobs unless the new owners can make arrangements to keep them on.

At this point, the store in Ocean City on 94th Street and the West Ocean City location are safe from closure, but the Gold Coast Mall store shut its doors earlier this year and remains vacant today.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.