The beach photography business in Ocean City has been hurting for many years as a result of increased use of digital cameras and cell phones to capture vacation memories. There will come a time when Ocean City will no longer have this franchise. It’s a question of when, not if, in my opinion.
When the bids for four-year contracts for the two beach photography franchises were opened this week, the Mayor and Council learned only one bid was received, and it was only for one franchise as opposed to the two being offered for contract. The bid came in at $152,500, slightly over the $150,000 minimum bid. The other contract – the least desirable geographically — brought no interest.
Clearly, this business is hurting. Eight years ago, the minimum bid was cut in half from $300,000 because the revenue was simply not there any longer. Back in 2010, when only one bid was received, the two franchises were awarded for $220,000 and $175,000 to the same company. This year only one franchise, presumably the southern end, was even bid on and it was down considerably.
The business is on life support. My guess is once the longtime franchise holder decides he has had enough of the industry this franchise will fold. There is just no interest in it any longer.
Three of the seven Worcester County Commissioners sworn in this week were unopposed in this year’s election. Commissioners Jim Bunting, Joe Mitrecic and Diana Purnell all were essentially re-elected back when the filing deadline passed by virtue of nobody challenging them.
It’s always sad to me when elected officials run unopposed. People should always have a choice on who their representatives should be. Nonetheless, people can’t be forced to run for office and the fact is most qualified people are too busy working, raising families and meeting other obligations. They simply do not have the flexibility in their lives and schedules to allow for public service. Serving in elected office is also a largely thankless job with a small financial stipend.
“I had the fortune of being unopposed this time as with last time. I guess that says I’m either doing a great job or nobody else is dumb enough to do the job,” said Mitrecic, who was handed Ocean City’s seat by virtue of being unopposed in 2014 to replace long-time Commissioner Louise Gulyas.
I think the answer is probably a bit of both, but has more to do with most talented people simply not having the free time and ability to be away from their jobs and personal responsibilities.
It’s early but for the first time there seems to be some concrete, collaborative efforts underway to help homeless individuals in Ocean City.
Resort law enforcement and elected officials have been struggling with addressing the convergence of homeless people at the Caroline Street Comfort Station, the downtown bus depot, Sunset Park and other locales for several years. It’s a challenging problem, especially when efforts to help these homeless individuals have routinely been rebuked with passionate animosity.
Earlier this year, a partnership between the health department, social services, police, Diakonia and Atlantic General Hospital, among others, formed a grassroots homeless outreach team. The volunteer efforts thus far have involved bi-weekly meet and greets with homeless people in Ocean City with information on food pantries, shelters and other resources as well as offers to help them secure proof of identification if needed.
Since it was launched earlier this year, it was reported this week six people have gone from living on the streets of Ocean City to having housing. Diakonia Executive Director Claudia Nagle said there is no quick fix to reducing homelessness, but she said the volunteers are committed over time to addressing the problem. She said it requires patience from the community and dedication from the volunteers on the front lines meeting these homeless folks. She said the six individuals relocated from the streets to housing took some time to convince and required trust building.
“We kept going out and working together,” she said. “It was over time. After doing it for a few months we had some takers. I think they’d seen us for a while and knew who we were.”
Congratulations and thank you to this group on their early success stories.
Like most, I was following George H.W. Bush’s funeral service on Wednesday. Bush was president when I was in high school so I remember a lot about him from just personal recollection rather than the history books.
While there were many moving moments and speeches at the funeral, especially from President George W. Bush, former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson had the line of the day in my opinion about hatred.
‘‘Humor is the universal solvent against the abrasive elements of life,’’ Simpson said. ‘‘He never hated anyone. He knew what his mother and my mother always knew: Hatred corrodes the container it’s carried in.’’