Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

A big commercial property of interest on Route 50 went on the selling block this week for $4 million.

It’s not a surprise to see the 68,115-square-foot Merial Select property located at the corner of Routes 50 and 818 (N. Main Street) up for sale, but the price is sure to turn some heads and should be a focal point of the county’s Economic Development office as this is a prime site for a manufacturer or some other sort of trade company. Properties like this near major highways do not come up for sale often.

Back in early 2013, Merial Select, a vaccine production company that employs more than 5,600 people in more than 150 countries, confirmed its intention to close the facility and terminate a majority of the 45 employees.

According to the listing, the property description reads, “Pharmaceutical grade facility. Current location of Merial Select used as an R&D and Manufacturing. There is 26,000 square foot finished office and R&D space, 30,000 SF of warehouse, production, and manufacturing area with the remaining areas being shop and maintenance space. The site contains a total of 22 acres with 9 buildings on-site. With city water/sewer now at the site and adjacent natural gas line the location lends itself to potential redevelopment such as an office or medical park, retail redevelopment, or a mixed use development. There is 765’+/- of highway frontage on US Rt 50 and 1,350′ on Main St. State and local incentives for this property are a HUB Zone, One Maryland County, and an Enterprise Zone, along with Job Creation Tax Credit (JCTC) and R&D Tax Credits.”

With all the fuss the last couple weeks about the post-Labor Day school start date, it was puzzling to hear proposed legislation mandating all school systems start after the summer holiday will likely not be introduced this year.

Maryland Tourism Development Board Chairman Greg Shockley serves on the task force that is currently charged with producing a report to the state on the topic. Last week, Worcester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jerry Wilson outlined his opposition to the change in the school year. Wilson is joined by every other superintendent in Maryland in opposing such a change.

“It doesn’t look like any legislation will be introduced this session,” Shockley said. “We are mandated to have a report by June 30, and that report will be turned over to whoever is governor next, and it will happen next year.”

Along with that news, it was also interesting to hear Shockley intimate the task force at worse hopes to keep schools from opening any earlier than the last week of August. This is the first time that sort of compromise measure has been discussed publicly.

“… hopefully we will get post labor day but realistically if we can get something in the week before that is good too because there is an arms race in education,” Shockley said. “If one superintendent starts on Aug. 18 and he sees a 10th of a tick increase on his test scores, then the superintendent in the next county will say ‘well if I start two days earlier I may get another 10th.’”

According to Shockley, 20 counties in Maryland start school two weeks before Labor Day weekend.

Congratulations to the Berlin Pedestrian Safety Committee. It did what I did not think was possible.

The committee, chaired by Patricia Dufendach, was able to convince the State Highway Administration to reduce the speed limit from 50 mph to 45 mph along Berlin’s stretch of Route 113, from roughly the intersection of Old Ocean City Blvd. to the S. Main Street intersection. The speed limit drop will be featured on a sign similar to those seen in Easton and Cambridge notifying motorists with a blinking yellow light.  Additionally, a crosswalk will be installed at the intersection of Bay Street and Route 113 where a young man was killed, among other safety improvements.

I did not think the state would reduce the speed limit for a variety of reasons, but I’m glad I was wrong, particularly if it’s successful in making the highway a safer place in general.