Dozens of local businesses and officials have reportedly reached out to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan for more guidance and insights on his intentions for this summer. Though the requests stem from various individuals, there seems to be a common theme from each – they are ready to offer services to the public in a safe and healthy way and want to when their day may come. A letter from the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association seeks the opportunity for a “community based approach to reopening.”
Another letter that caught my attention this week was from Trimper’s Rides. After a major investment in the park this offseason, ownership has grown weary of waiting for word on the state’s intentions with amusements without any insights. The letter was posted to the amusement park’s Facebook page on Wednesday and tagged the governor because he’s so active on social media.
“We are reaching out to you on Facebook as we don’t know how us to get our message heard. We’ve written every one of representatives, our congressman and women, our mayor, our city council, everyone we can think of. Governor we’ve played by the rules. We watched our city open up while we at Trimper’s Rides of Ocean City and Marty’s Playland have stayed closed. We applied for and received the PPP loan and used it to employ 102 Marylanders, half of the staff we need,” the letter reads. “We’ve cleaned, we’ve scrubbed, we’ve polished every ride car and animal in the amusement park. We took apart the skeeball and pinballs machines and scrubbed them clean. We’ve painted every surface and repaved the park with new blacktop. We’ve renovated our apts and replaced all the lightbulbs throughout the park with LED’s. When the SBA came out with new guidelines for seasonal businesses, we reapplied for new funds. However, the SBA left Ocean City small businesses out of the program by not allowing our seasonal businesses to use J1’s in the payroll calculations for 2019 even though in 2020 we are all ONLY hiring Americans as the economic disaster relief program was designed. In 2020, Trimper’s has not employed J1 students and pursuant to the goal and original intention of the PPP loan, Trimper’s has been putting Americans back to work! Governor, our PPP loan runs out this Friday and we’ve got nothing left to do! We drafted and submitted a thoughtful plan to reopen keeping both our employees and our guests safe.”
The letter continues, “Governor – we can do our part and help put smiles back on Marylander’s faces. I know it’s not much but perhaps it can help ease some of the unrest. The pandemic has been hard on everyone. Please help our 126-year-old historic iconic American amusement park stay open for business and not end up in the coronavirus graveyard.”
It took the possibility of Worcester County violating state law this week to get Atlantic General Hospital funding included in the county’s budget. Commissioner Bud Church stood his ground, insisting the hospital funds be included in the budget or he would not vote for it. Commissioner Josh Nordstrom was key in getting the dialogue going, saying, “I don’t want to speak for Commissioner Church however I believe if we did fund AGH at $100,000 this budget would pass.”
Nordstrom was mostly right on that assertion, motioning to include $100,000 in the budget for the hospital. After a lot of talk, the motion passed 4-3 (as well as did the subsequent budget vote by the same tally) because County Commission President Joe Mitrecic opted to see the greater good in the budget. Though Mitrecic was outspoken about not providing the hospital funding because, “They’re more concerned with fundraising and building buildings than they are with taking care of the people in this community,” he said, he opted to support giving the hospital the funds to ensure the budget passed at this week’s meeting as mandated by state law.
I applaud Church, Nordstrom, Mitrecic and Diana Purnell for their stances on the budget and hospital funding. Mitrecic explained changing his vote on the hospital was important to ensure a mostly solid budget in his opinion moves forward.
“There’s a lot of good that was done in this budget this year,” he said, spotlighting the county sending money to Ocean City to fund West Ocean City ambulance service. “Even some of the items that were added this morning I felt strongly about … I don’t support the grant to AGH. But with that said I’m not willing to hold up this entire budget for that. I would hope that somebody would reconsider. More than one of us could reconsider the vote on this.”
One month ago, it seemed implausible Delaware would be further along on its reopening plan than Maryland. It’s exactly the reality currently, as Delaware Gov. John Carney has led the first state through the pandemic well of late while Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has been inconsistent and aloof.
Delaware began its first phase of recovery on Monday with hotels able to open, restaurants and retail stores allowed indoor capacity of 30% and outdoors gatherings of up to 250 permitted. Two weeks later, on June 15, restaurants and retail stores will be allowed 60% capacity and personal care services will be opened at 30% allowance.
This is the sort of deliberate, phased reopening Hogan promised in Maryland.