OC Mayor Honored With Helping People Award

Comptroller Peter Franchot presented Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan on Monday with a William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award. Pictured, from left, after the presentation are Commissioner Louise Gulyas, Senator Jim Mathias, Meehan, Sheriff Reggie Mason, Franchot, Buck Mann, Commissioner Bud Church and Ocean City Council members Mary Knight and Doug Cymek. Photo by Joanne Shriner

OCEAN CITY – Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan was the recipient this week of the 2014 William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for Worcester County.

Comptroller Peter Franchot along with local and state officials gathered outside the Ocean City Life Saving Station Museum on Monday morning to present Meehan with the award.

The comptroller created the award to honor the legacy of public service exemplified by former Governor, Comptroller and Baltimore City Mayor William Donald Schaefer. One winner is selected in each of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions each year.

Elected to the Ocean City Council in 1985 and as mayor in 2006, Meehan has represented Ocean City constituents for nearly 30 years as an elected official. He is also active in a number of civic organizations, including the Delmarva Irish-American Club, which sponsors the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival.

“The recipient of the 2014 William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for Worcester County is Mayor Rick Meehan. Boy, do we owe you Rick for not only being the mayor of Ocean City but for being Maryland’s mayor,” Franchot said. “This award is in William Donald Schaefer’s memory. He was a fabulous guy for all of you who knew him, very personal … and all things were about helping out the little guy, the underdog, the person needing a helping hand. That is the theme we give this award out in, and I want to thank Mayor Meehan for having generations of Maryland families come to this wonderful resort, and being the face of Maryland tourism.”

Franchot presented Meehan with a proclamation on behalf of the State of Maryland. The proclamation stated, “My congratulations for being awarded the 2014 William Donald Schaefer Helping People Award for Worcester County in recognition of your tireless service to the Ocean City community, steadfast commitment to providing a vibrant, safe, family-friendly destination for countless vacationers, with special appreciation to your outstanding contributions to the state’s tourism industry reputation as a great place to spend your vacation days.”

“I am extremely grateful and also very humbled by receiving this award,” Meehan said. “It is a great community, and I think we all thrive on the sense of community that we all have here. I moved here in 1971, and I knew this was going to be my home. Everybody here felt the same way. They all love the community, love to be part of it, and want to do good things … this is a wonderful community, and there are brighter days ahead as we all work together to make accomplishments happen. There is so many more things that we can yet do. When I look out here today, I am in full confidence that they will get done.”

Meehan thanked Franchot for being such an advocate for Ocean City and in working diligently with the town, including the initiative to start Maryland schools after Labor Day.

“To receive an honor that is in memory of William Donald Schaefer who loved Ocean City, and was committed to Ocean City with the Reach the Beach program, the beach replenishment project, and convention center expansion. Again, that was team work that derived from throughout the whole state, and the Senator [Jim Mathias] continues to work tirelessly for the Town of Ocean City and the State of Maryland in Annapolis, and we are very grateful for your service,” Meehan said.

After the presentation, the comptroller strolled the Ocean City Boardwalk, greeting vacationers, chatting with business owners and talking about the school start initiative.

“I really compliment Worcester County for getting ahead and starting this year with not going back to school before Labor Day. I can pretty much promise you that a lot more jurisdictions are going to follow that and it will be a great day for Maryland when all of that happens,” Franchot said.

In an economic study last summer, the Maryland Board of Revenue Estimates found a $74.3 million direct economic impact throughout the state including $3.7 million in new wages from public schools starting after Labor Day. State and local revenue also would see a $7.7 million benefit.

With a later start date, the study found that families with school-age children would take an additional day or overnight trip and could visit three of the state’s top destinations, such as Baltimore City, Deep Creek Lake and Ocean City, or spend time enjoying recreational activities closer to home.