Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk

In this industry, it doesn’t get any better than what happened this week regarding the fundraising effort for Caleb Conner, a 15-year-old sophomore at Stephen Decatur High School who is considered legally blind and suffers from retinopathy of prematurity. Caleb was born at 25 weeks and weighed under two pounds. He had a rough start, spending more than three months in the NICU and overcame several major health issues during that stint. The one he “couldn’t beat robbed him of his sight,” according to the family.

Last Tuesday the family established a Go Fund Me page with donations aimed at helping to purchase eSight glasses for Caleb. During a recent visit to Philadelphia, Caleb tried the high-tech glasses out and was able to see more than he ever could prior during the demonstration. The issue then became the new technology was not covered by health insurance and had a huge price tag. That’s when the family decided to enlist the community’s help.

The Go Fund Me page’s goal was $16,500. By last week’s end, the community had chipped in about $7,000 to the account in just a few days. On Monday, a little bit before noon, we posted a story detailing the fundraising effort and Caleb’s challenges, and it was amazing what happened next. Over the next 36 hours, the story read by more than 70,000 people, according to our website stats, and the goal was surpassed easily. Within a few hours of reaching the goal, the family had ordered the eSight glasses and the hope is for Caleb to have them within a month.

That is what this profession is all about to me. These sorts of stories come about a few times a year, but what made this so unique was the fact the fundraising goal was reached in such a short amount of time. A lot of that has to do with the family being admired by many and also having deep roots here, but the generosity of strangers and business owners who don’t even have kids or even know the family cannot be understated. It’s truly a remarkable place to live and the way people rallied around this cause immediately makes me proud to call this area home.

It was great for all of us at this newspaper to play a part in this process.

Although it went over like the proverbial lead balloon among members of the Ocean City Police Commission, I think the concept of extending the time period pets can be on the Boardwalk deserves further consideration.

In this case, the only way to truly know if allowing pets on the Boardwalk through May — specifically the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend rather than the current stop time of April 30 — is to try it one year. It’s understandable that it’s a little late in the calendar to give it a try this year, but I think next year it should be given an opportunity on a trial basis.

My guess is it will not be a problem at all. The only uncertainty would be on the weekends when an increased mix of bikes, pedestrians and pets could be an issue, but it’s impossible to predict that will be the case. It deserves a try in my mind.

If there was ever reason to justify an expansion, The Freeman Stage at Bayside got it this week. Thanks to a diverse line-up of headliners, the Selbyville venue’s popularity has reached a new high, confirming the Freeman Foundation’s hopes to grow the venue in the near future have merit.

It took just 45 minutes for the planned Hall and Oates show to sell out and less than 24 hours for Heart to go through all tickets for the 2,400-seat venue. It wasn’t a surprise for these two acts to sell out as well as some others that are nearing that point as of Thursday, but it was the speed that surprised many, particularly those who didn’t feel the urgency to jump online Monday morning at 10 when tickets became available to the public.

Joshua M. Freeman Foundation Marketing and Communications Manager Doug Phillips put it best in an interview this week.

“We knew we would have a good response our first week out, but we didn’t anticipate sell outs in the first couple days,” he said. “That far outreached our expectations. We knew we had a diverse lineup that appealed to multiple generations, but we didn’t anticipate that some would be so popular right out of the gate. We figured Hall and Oates would be our first sell out, but we certainly did not anticipate it being within the first 45 minutes. This is a welcome surprise to us. It’s a testament that we listened to our customers and are bringing them what they wanted.”

With little public discussion on the heels of much talk last week, the Worcester County Commissioners decided this week to advertise a 15-cent property tax increase as part of its requirements during budget season.

It will be interesting to see how this is received by the general public. For one thing, that type of increase will not happen this year. It will likely be about 6 cents, which is still a significant increase and would mean an increase in property taxes of about $200 a year for properties valued around $300,000.

Typically, the public budget hearing for the county set for May 5 at 7 p.m. at Snow Hill Middle School is dominated by public education proponents seeking school funds. It’s going to be interesting to see if advertising this sort of property tax increase will rile up residents to turn out more than in the past.