Longest Summer In Decades Worth Celebrating
School’s out for summer, and the Maryland Tourism Coalition (MTC) could not possibly be more excited for the longest summer seasons in decades – thanks in part to an extremely mild winter that allowed for earlier than normal school dismissal dates as well as the recent executive order by Governor Larry Hogan for Maryland public schools to start back after Labor Day.
A true bi-partisan effort, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, State Senator Jim Mathias, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan, and Ocean City business owners and community leaders championed this idea for years.
How will your family spend up to two extra weeks of summer? Schedule an extra beach vacation? Take in a weeknight ballgame at Camden Yards in Baltimore or to cheer on the Shore Birds? Maybe visit both beach vacation in Ocean City and a mountain getaway in Deep Creek to see how Maryland is indeed, America in Miniature? Or maybe your family will visit one of Maryland’s dozens of state parks to finally see if camping is your thing? A day visit to a Main Street business district to support locally owned businesses that you’ve always wanted to explore is a great idea. Or perhaps you can find a new favorite crab house or plan a tour of one of Maryland’s amazing craft breweries, wineries or distilleries. The possibilities are endless.
The post Labor Day start buoys an already burgeoning tourism industry, but this move most definitely benefits Ocean City the most, followed by Baltimore City and Deep Creek Lake, located in Garrett County. Ocean City’s mostly small, family-owned businesses are looking forward to an extra few weeks of family vacationers and increased sales in goods, food, drink and overnight accommodations.
According to the 2013 report, Economic Impact of A Post Labor Day Start Date for Maryland Public Schools, completed by the Bureau of Revenue Estimates at the Office of the Maryland Comptroller, a post-Labor Day school starting date would produce over 21,000 new trips to Ocean City. Ocean City’s economic activity would increase by nearly $15 million, accounting for 20.1% of the total new economic activity of more than $75 million statewide. Due to this increase in economic activity, over $930,000 in new wages would be generated in Ocean City and it should see a significant amount of new wages because of its large number of seasonal employees.
This additional local and state revenue will be reinvested in the Maryland state and local budgets to continue to grow our economy and advance in our public school system. In order to support our nationally recognized public schools, we need a strong, vibrant economy.
Many Marylanders do not realize that tourism is the 10th largest private sector employer in in the state with payroll topping $5.7 billion each year. Tourism revenue topped $17 billion in 2015 — an increase of 3.5 percent from the year before – generating nearly $2.3 billion in state and local tax revenues. More than 40.5 million people visited Maryland in 2015 — an increase of six percent from 2014.
Join MTC, its members and customers and celebrate the longest summer in decades. We look forward to sharing the economic impact data of this executive decision when the final numbers are tallied after Labor Day. So schedule that extra week of summer vacation and start making even more memories.
(The writer is the executive director of the Maryland Tourism Coalition.)
Council Not Interested In Citizens’ Opinions
I read in Editor Steve Green’s column entitled, “Between The Lines” in The Dispatch on May 19 that you appear to praise the Ocean City Mayor and City Council (M&CC) for allowing the citizens to speak for 38% of the time at a recent meeting. You convey the impression that this elected body is more than generous with allowing the public to have their say.
I do not agree. Too often, the elected officials cut off the speakers. They set time limits on most public comments and presentations; sometimes allowing just three minutes, and often just five minutes. Even when they allow speakers to go beyond the allotted time, one is handicapped to try and present their pertinent points within the time granted. Prior to a meeting, a speaker has to prepare their remarks to fit within the allowed time frame. He or she has to be prepared to be cut off abruptly. Thus, a presentation is already shortened prior to its start. Some topics simply need more time.
In reality, the M&CC do not want dialogue. They do not want to debate issues. While they may give the impression otherwise, they really do not want public input.
In your column, you make it sound like the M&CC are doing the public a favor by occasionally allowing an extended period for comments. As a publisher, editor and journalist, you among all people should appreciate our 1st Amendment rights as Americans to have the freedom of speech. Yet, local government stifles that expression by the way they conduct their meetings. In the past, it never used to be that way.
In an editorial in the Ocean City Today on Oct. 23, 2015, the author coined the title, “Keeping public at bay.” While the content of that editorial is not exactly on point, the title certainly fits the current M&CC policy and attitude on public dialogue and speech.
Vincent dePaul Gisriel, Jr.
Volunteering At Thrift Shop Is Rewarding
For five years, I have been an active volunteer at the Coastal Hospice Thrift Shop in Berlin. And I want to share with the community what a great place this is to volunteer.
When I was considering where to spend my volunteer time after I retired, I knew I wanted to help a local cause. Knowing the money the Thrift Shop raises is going to a local nonprofit — Coastal Hospice at the Ocean, a new hospice residence — makes the work I do important.
I volunteer four to five hours a week at the Thrift Shop, but also take sewing home, repairing by hand donated clothing so everything is in good condition when it hits the racks.
I worked in retail most of my life, including 20 years on the Boardwalk in a Trimper gift shop, but today, I love working at the Thrift Shop. I often hear people say how nice our store is, and I’m proud to be part of it.
The camaraderie among the Thrift Shop volunteers and staff is wonderful. I can’t say enough about all the ladies and men who work there. I love the little get-togethers we have, like the picnics, because you get to meet everybody. Everyone is super friendly, and we’re like a family. And we’re appreciated by the managers.
The flexibility of work hours makes volunteering there very easy. They let us do whatever interests us the most for as many hours as we want. I have a good feeling when I leave there that I’ve done a job that is good for people and that helps my neighbors on the Eastern Shore.
I would like to encourage others in the community to join me in volunteering at the Coastal Hospice Thrift Shop. Everybody who is capable of doing something should. It will make you feel really good!