Casino Revenue Up Slightly

BERLIN — The June figures for the Casino at Ocean Downs were released this week, revealing a continued pattern of gradual increase in the revenue taken in at the video gaming facility in Berlin.

The Casino at Ocean Downs grossed just under $3.8 million in June, up slightly from the $3.7 million the facility generated in May. Each month since the casino opened on Route 589 just south of Ocean Pines, the revenue has gradually increased from $3 million in January to $3.13 million in February, and from $3.25 million in March to $3.5 million in April to $3.7 million in May.

The average daily gross per machine for June came in at $168.35, up from the $158.61 in May and the $155.94 reported in April. Year-to-date, the Casino at Ocean Downs has now generated $20.4 million since opening in January.

A look at the breakdown of the revenue distribution for the casino for June shows $1.8 million dedicated to the Educational Trust Fund, the casino’s share for the month totaled $1.25 million, $265,156 was dedicated to the horseracing purse account, while local impact grants totaled just under $208,336. The Casino at Ocean Downs, along with the Hollywood Casino in Cecil County grossed $12.6 million combined in June.

Bay Bridge Toll Hike Hearing Set

OCEAN CITY — Worcester County and Lower Shore residents will get the opportunity to weigh in on the Maryland Transportation Authority’s plan to raise tolls on the Bay Bridge next with a scheduled public hearing at Stephen Decatur Middle School.

The Lower Shore public hearing will take place on Thursday, July 14, at Stephen Decatur Middle School in Berlin from 5:30-8 p.m. Nine other public hearings were already scheduled, including the only other one on the Eastern Shore, which was held in Kent County June. The 60-day public comment period began June 2 and will continue through Aug. 1.

According to the proposal, the toll at the Bay Bridge would double from the current $2.50 for a one-way passage to $5 as soon as this fall, with another increase to $8 by 2013, effectively doubling, then tripling the rate to cross the major conduit to the Eastern Shore and the resort area.

The toll increases are expected to generate $77 million in additional revenue in the first year alone for the MDTA, a self-supporting state agency that finances, owns, operates and maintains Maryland’s eight toll facilities.

Dew Tour Set-Up Ready to Begin

OCEAN CITY — The transformation of the downtown beach area to accommodate the arrival of the Dew Tour is scheduled to get underway early next Monday morning.

The set-up begins in the early morning hours of Monday, July 11 in Ocean City for the 2011 Dew Tour. The event will be held on the beach beginning north of the pier and up to Caroline Street, adjacent to the Boardwalk. Set-up will include a vert ramp, skateboard bowl and a BMX park along with a festival village.

 To lessen impact on Boardwalk foot traffic, equipment will be brought in for set up during the early morning hours beginning Monday, July 11 between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m. Venue construction will be during daytime hours leading up to the event.

The Dew Tour officially opens to the public on Thursday, July 21 and runs through Sunday, July 24, featuring extreme sports competition with the world’s top action sports athletes. Competitions include skateboarding and BMX events, which will be by ticketed admission. A festival village will be set up around the action sports venue and will be open to the public for free.

44 Take Retirement Incentive

SALISBURY — Wicomico County Executive Richard M. Pollitt, Jr. last week promised a continuation of quality services after 44 employees, including five department heads, officially retired on last week as part of an early retirement incentive plan offered by the county.

Pollitt said last week 44 county employees had begun what he termed a “well-earned retirement.” The departures were the result of a retirement incentive plan offered to employees with the appropriate service time and tenure earlier this spring. The county executive provided a seamless transition as many of the retirees are replaced.

“As I salute our retirees for their many years of dedicated service, I am committed to maintaining a level of quality county services reflective of the resources that are available to us,” he said. “However, our community must understand that four consecutive years of deep budget cuts totaling some $24 million cannot help but have a serious impact.”

Of the 44 retirees, five were department heads as of late last week, the positions had been filled with highly capable replacements. For example, Acting Director of Administration Sharon Morris has replaced Theodore E. Shea, Michelle Ennis has replaced S. Michael Thompson as Human Resources Director, Andrew Mackel has replaced Patricia Petersen as Director of Finance, pending County Council confirmation, David G. Shipley has replaced Sandra Silvia as Emergency Services Director, pending council confirmation, and Diana Reinoso-Parnell has replaced Linda Hardman was Director of the Local Management Board.

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.