Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – August 18, 2017

Even if it doesn’t rain anymore the rest of the month, which will not happen, it has been a rainy summer without question. Depending on the source and site, it looks like on average so far this summer the Ocean City area has experienced double the amount of normal rainfall for the months of June, July and August. There’s still two weeks left before September, of course, so that number will increase.

It’s always risky making a general statement about business in Ocean City, but I am confident most would agree it’s not been as busy this summer as last. What’s to blame? It’s likely several things, but in Ocean City the first place to look is the weather. Over the last month, there have been at least two Saturday washouts. They were forecasted ahead of time and surely kept the crowds lighter. It’s been noticeable at nearly every turn to me that it’s just lighter this summer.

The good news is there’s two more full weeks of summer left before Labor Day weekend and a cooperative September from a weather perspective can help tremendously. The bad news is for businesses dependent on outdoor dining and walk-in room reservations it’s nearly impossible to make up for a lost Saturday night, particularly when the weekends are depended on more than ever when Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are as slow as they have been in recent years.

With Worcester County Circuit Court Judges Thomas C. Groton, III and Richard R. Bloxom retiring this year, there will be two vacancies at the same time at the Circuit Court level for the first time in the county’s history.

As a result of the retirements, a public service announcement was released this week by the Trial Courts Judicial Nominating Commission for District 1 reporting nominations are now being accepted. Applicants have until Sept. 7 to submit their information with the vacancies to be filled by Gov. Larry Hogan’s appointment. The commission, chaired by John Phoebus, consists of a number of attorneys and three non-attorney professionals. The positions should be filled in the first quarter of 2018.

Although it’s unclear who the candidates will be, my guess is the two Circuit Court judicial openings will be filled through two internal promotions within the Worcester County court system. My prediction (as well as hope) is sitting Worcester County Master Mary Margaret “Peggy” Kent and District Administrative Judge Gerald Purnell will be appointed to the Circuit Court judicial posts. This assumes Kent and Purnell would be interested in the positions at this point in their respective careers.

Back in 2010, Kent was a finalist to replace retiring Circuit Court Judge Ted Eschenberg along with attorneys Brian Shockley, Regan Smith and Kathryn Westbrook. Then-Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, appointed Shockley. Kent has the respect of many in this community and is known for her fairness and toughness when dealing with complicated domestic matters as family magistrate for Worcester County.

Purnell, who has served as District Administrative Judge for Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties, was appointed in 2006. He was a well-respected attorney and has maintained a solid reputation while serving on the bench.

If the choice is made to promote from within, and there’s plenty of precedent for that in recent legal appointments across the state, there will be two more vacancies within the judicial branch that will need to be accounted for in the near future. What all this means is a lot of shake-ups are in store for the local legal profession.

Of all that’s been written about the White Marlin Open over the last 10 days or so, what’s most remarkable to me was how small the winning tuna was on the leaderboard. I guessed it was the smallest winner ever but some research proved I was wrong.

A 68.5-pound tuna won the division this year with a payout of more than $866,000 (or about $12640 per pound). Rounding out the tuna division money winners were catches of two 67-pounders, a 65.5-pounder, two 64-pounders, a 59-pounder and a 58-pounder.

Those small tuna are in stark comparison to the 236-pound big eye that won the division in 2016. In fact, looking back at the tourney’s archives, the last time a winning tuna was remotely this small was in 2010 when a 77..5-pound yellowfin won the division. Before that, it was a 113-pounder in 2002 and a 98-pounder in 1998. In 1991, a 61.25-pound tuna claimed the division’s top prize.

It just goes to show you never know what’s going to happen during White Marlin Open week. That’s what makes it so special around here.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.