Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 27, 2019

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 27, 2019

It’s that time of year to look back on the predictions I made this time last year for 2019. As is typically the case, I whiffed on some and nailed some.

On The Mark

  • I was right when I predicted governments in Berlin and Ocean Pines would both lose their top appointed officials this year. Berlin fired Town Administrator Laura Allen in September “due to multiple issues,” according to Mayor Gee Williams. The Ocean Pines Association Board of Directors and former General Manager John Bailey agreed to part ways in February. At this point, both Berlin and Ocean Pines appear satisfied with promoting from within to fill their vacancies.
  • As is usually the case in the first budget after an election year, the Worcester County Commissioners approved increases to the property and income tax rates. The property tax rate increased by a penny and the income tax rate jumped by half of a percent.
  • Ocean City did exhaust all legal options in the Rapoport Boardwalk property case, asking the Maryland Court of Appeals to hear the case. The high court ultimately did not decide to review the Court of Special Appeals verdict, which ruled for the family.
  • After a stormy 2018 on the geese front in Ocean Pines, there was little news at all to report during this calendar year. Last year hundreds of geese routinely seen around the Ocean Pines North Gate area were euthanized.
  • As I thought, the petition effort, which was underway at the end of 2018, fell short of the required signature mark to put Ocean City’s 67th Street land buy to referendum.
  • It was predicted the Town of Berlin would not pursue a potential YMCA study for the new Heron Park. That was true, but I had no idea there would be a chemical spill in the year that would leave the entire outlook for the park’s future in doubt.
  • Historian Bunk Mann’s second book, “Ghosts in the Surf,” was released this calendar year.
  • As I predicted, two Worcester County public schools earned five-star ratings in the second year of the Maryland Report Card accountability system.
  • I was right when I surmised Ocean City Elementary would be named a National Blue Ribbon School for the second time.
  • As expected, Worcester County Commissioner Joe Mitrecic did replace Diana Purnell as board president before year’s end.
  • The year came and went without any plans being announced for the property at the corner of Talbot Street and Baltimore Avenue in Ocean City.
  • Though they didn’t like the news, Ocean City officials were told there are no funds available in the immediate future to continue the median fence project. I figured that project would not get further state funding for many years. I suspect now it may never happen.

What Was I Thinking?

  • Ground was not broken on a new convenience store across from the Casino at Ocean Downs. I thought it would happen after the County Commissioners allowed the properties to be rezoned commercial. It might still happen, but no indications at this point.
  • Worcester County did fill its vacant economic development director post, naming Kathryn Gordon to the post in June. In my defense, it did take 18 months to fill the vacancy left when Merry Mears joined a private sector firm.
  • Though there were some minor delays with retrofitting the space, the Flagship Cinema operation in West Ocean City opened in early summer. I though construction delays might slow it until mid-summer.
  • In summing up the early Democratic challengers to President Trump in 2020, I wrongly predicted Beto O’Rourke of Texas would be the Democratic frontrunner. It would seem that honor goes to former Vice President Joe Biden. O’Rourke dropped out in November.
  • Unlike what I predicted – paid parking would be added to Main Street – the first phase of the study on Berlin’s parking situation resulted in no significant changes.
  • The first Jellyfish Festival in Ocean City was able to land “at least one national act” despite a date conflict with Firefly Festival in Dover. The concert’s most well-known act was arguably Styx.
  • Berlin did not annex property at the intersection of Routes 50 and 346 for a future redevelopment project. However, the town did agree to annex property near the Routes 50 and 818 intersection for a mixed-use project.
  • I thought the Alamo Motel in West Ocean City would follow the same wrecking ball fate as the Sands Motel in Fenwick Island. The motel was open and operating this summer with a new lease on life in the restaurant and bar along Route 50.
  • I thought it would be the Ravens beating the Saints in the Super Bowl. It was actually the Patriots winning over the Rams.

Still Unclear

  • It’s unknown at this point whether my prediction a U.S. District Court judge would rule for the Town of Ocean City in the topless battle will be correct. The case has not been decided at year’s end.

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.