Thoughts From The Publisher’s

Thoughts From The Publisher’s

I am skeptical of the proposal for a northern Worcester County arena, which would be home to a potential minor league ice hockey team as well as host other special events, for two reasons.

One, I just can’t see a demographics study of Worcester, Wicomico, Sussex and Accomack counties coming back favorable to being able to support this type of arena financially in our seasonal and rural area.

Secondly, as it has been mentioned before, if the new facility cannot compete with existing special event centers, such as the Roland E. Powell Convention Center and the Wicomico Civic Center, then there is no way it will be built.  The idea of the proposed venue not serving as a competitor to the existing host facilities has been stated multiple times.

Of the $47,600 examination, Worcester County Economic Development Director Merry Mears said, “The feasibility study is our way of doing due diligence. We’re doing this study to understand if such an arena would have an adverse effect. We don’t want that to happen.”

It’s hard to imagine it not, but it would be great if I’m wrong.

If Worcester County’s study on the complex tax differential issue mirrors what Ocean City’s recent evaluation concluded, there will be major financial ramifications for both governments. The good news is this issue, which has been ongoing for more than 20 years, is closer to being settled now than ever before.

Prior to this year, the county has been reluctant to allocate funds to study the issue extensively. County Commissioner Joe Mitrecic is to be credited for getting the county that far for the first time.

There is no doubt the two studies will have similar findings, leaving the question of how does the county address the matter. Ocean City last year outlined a decent phase-in approach to compensating the city’s taxpayers for the duplication of services, such as fire, police, recreation and parks and tourism.

Although the county did not accept that plan, the chances are that could be the direction the two bodies eventually go in the future. The issue will be trying to ease the problems these larger payments to the resort create for taxpayers outside the city.

An unfortunate part about this week was it started how last week ended on the school safety front. Last week there were robust feelings of fear, frustration and concern about the bomb threats. On Tuesday morning, those were replaced with anger. At least, that’s how I felt and I believe many others did.

Perhaps it was just a normal progression of emotions. There may have been some fear mixed in there for some this week, but most I have spoken with are eager for these baseless threats to stop. Once again, I was dropping my son off late at Ocean City Elementary School when I learned there was a local bomb threat. Unlike last week when it was at OCES, this Tuesday it was at Stephen Decatur High School, the third in a week at that school. To see my son’s teacher’s expression of frustration and concern was understandable, as she had a child at Decatur and was also bothered by all the disruptions for herself and her own students.

What is forgotten sometimes during these incidents, which have become all too regular across the country, is these teachers, who are responsible for educating our kids, have their own children to worry about as well. As any parent knows, there’s always reason to be concerned about something with your child. We all have our own individual issues, worries and fears. Adding these irresponsible actions only makes matters more difficult for everyone.

Staying with these ridiculous bomb threats, parent Eric Mitchell asked a question of the Worcester County Board of Education this week that represented what many have been wondering.

“How are we supposed to explain this to our children?” he said. “This is not anything any of us have been through.”

Clear communication was the general response he received. That was also the theme of an interview News Editor Bryan Russo did this week with Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Services Clinical Director and psychologist Dr. Jennifer Leggour. The interview can be found in the newspaper today, but I thought these comments hit home and were extremely appropriate.

“First and foremost, we are role models to our children. We have to be in check with our feelings and our thoughts about it. We have to address kids knowing that we have to be calm, cool and collected and be there for them. So, in that teaching moment, we are modeling the appropriate behavior and we are also listening, attending to all their fears, and we are addressing a safety issue that unfortunately, we never thought that we would have to address, and the state of the world,” she said. “So we use that as an opportunity to say, ‘you know, the world is an unsafe place sometimes, but I care about you and I love you and all of your teachers and staff at school are working together to make sure that you are safe.’ So, it’s about keeping your own feelings in check, modeling the behavior, listening and establishing a safety plan and network so kids can know that while terrible things can happen that are out of our control, we are always in control of our reaction.”