Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Last week on these pages a portion of The Baltimore Sun’s recent editorial calling out Ocean City for not being progressive enough and outlawing smoking on the beach was printed.

The opinion piece read in part, “The question is no longer whether tourist attractions are in danger of losing business if they ban smoking but whether they are in danger of losing attendance if they don’t. … Yet Ocean City remains badly behind the times. The town council has repeatedly considered similar far-reaching outdoor smoking bans in recent years but failed to adopt them. Ocean City does ban smoking in parks but asks visitors only to be courteous about smoking on the beach … That’s unfortunate because it’s contributed to an impression that Ocean City is not the family-friendly resort it claims to be but one that caters to smokers.”

While I look forward to hearing the Mayor and Council weigh in on whether to ban smoking on the beach in the coming weeks, I think this editorial went too far. Allowing smoking on the beach is not anti-family in my view. That’s a radical view. It may be unhealthy for those of us who do not smoke to breathe in the second-hand smoke and annoying for those of us who don’t like digging in the sand to find cigarette butts, but alleging that not banning smoking on the beach is anti-family is a stretch. It’s simply a reluctance on the town’s past elected officials to over restrict what vacationers can and can’t do while spending time in the resort. In the past, the smoking issue has been discussed by Ocean City officials on multiple occasions.

In 2012, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said, “It is time to take the next step. It is time to move forward progressively to attack this problem.” Then-Council President Jim Hall said, “The world has gone a long way to get rid of smoking in restaurants and bars … and I would hope one day we would try to develop at least very soon some areas that were smoke free.” The town did at that time ban smoking in public parks, but that’s largely a paper law with little, if any, enforcement taking place currently.

There is no question in my mind that eventually there will be no smoking allowed on Ocean City’s beaches as well as the Boardwalk. I am looking forward to hearing what the individual Mayor and Council members have to say on the topic. It was suggested this week that a referendum be held to gauge voter opinion on the topic. My prediction is the council will not go that route and will instead go ahead and outlaw it for this summer on the beach, not the Boardwalk.

I like the design of Ocean City’s “No Profanity Please” signs. The council unanimously approved the signs and they will be in place by summer along every block of the Boardwalk.

While the message the city is looking to send to families vacationing here is worthwhile, I just hope the signs survive the month of June unscathed. They are certainly ripe for vandalism and mocking, but I do agree with the Mayor and Council that overall the message will be received well by families look to have a wholesome time on the Boardwalk. The effort will be lauded, while the results will probably be less than desired.

It was 7:55 p.m. on Tuesday evening when my street was plowed for the first time in Berlin. It was still snowing extremely hard at that point, but I was impressed to see the crews out already.

Later, a little after 3 in the morning, I was awoken to hear the familiar reverse beeping of a town vehicle again plowing my street. By 5 a.m., the street was actually in fair shape, considering all the snow that had fallen over the course of the previous day.

Early Wednesday morning, while shoveling, I noticed a wire was hanging from the house on a tree. When the town was notified, employees were on the scene within 15 minutes, reporting to me the cable wire overnight was lying in the street and that they stapled it to my tree to keep it out of the road. The men said the cable company had been notified. Within a few hours, Comcast was out and fixed the wire.

While lots of hoopla surrounds Berlin’s coolness factor, thanks to the online poll victory over the winter, the unsung heroes — the town’s employees who work hard overnight during these storms to keep the power on and keep the streets save — should also be celebrated. They did a great job for the residents.