Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – May 14, 2021

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – May 14, 2021

Gasoline was on the minds of many this week. All the panic over a gas shortage earlier in the week appears to be overblown, but those concerns were not allayed until it was announced the Colonial Pipeline would get back online today. Supply levels are expected to improve within days, but it’s unclear at this point if gallon prices will level off. AAA reported this week was the first time in seven years since the average gallon rate in the mid-Atlantic topped $3.

The governor addressed the “panic buying” that was taking place around the state during his press conference Wednesday. Acknowledging about 4% of gas stations in state did in fact run out of gas, he assured the public the supply would soon return to normal levels as well as reminding the Port of Baltimore is still receiving petroleum shipments. I personally witnessed an individual at the north Ocean City Wawa this week filling up storage containers with gasoline. She filled two half-full storage containers in her compact car’s trunk without a lid before driving off. After filling up her vehicle and the two storage containers, she had spent about $80 in gasoline. Later that day I noticed fueling stations had cones placed in front of some tanks to discourage this sort of behavior. I asked the merchant inside if he was out of fuel and he said, “no it’s just to stop the panicky types.”

On the Ocean City front, Communications and Marketing Director Jessica Waters said there are no major concerns on the resort’s front about the current situation.

“Governor Hogan stated yesterday that the supply chain is moving, and folks are advised that there is no need for panic buying or hoarding of gas,” she said. “Ocean City is very much open and welcoming visitors to our beach town for beautiful weather all weekend. We are not currently experiencing a gas shortage and, thankfully, we’re only a half a tank of gas away from many nearby cities. When you’re here, we’re very much a walkable destination with great public transportation that makes it easy to get around Ocean City.”

Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association Executive Director Susan Jones added, “We did briefly chat at our board meeting this morning about this topic. While there have been a handful of cancellations, I think the weather forecast and the pipeline reopening will push people here.”

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AAA-Mid-Atlantic Public and Government Affairs Manager Ragina Ali offered, “The restart of the pipeline is very positive news for motorists,” she said. “While an immediate impact won’t be seen and motorists in affected areas can expect to see a few more days of limited fuel supply, relief is coming. Station pumps will be full of fuel in several days. This is especially encouraging news ahead of the Memorial Day holiday.”

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It’s tough to let this week pass without some thoughts on the moving funeral service for Cpl. Keith A. Heacook. Though I don’t have any family members in law enforcement, I do have friends who are cops. I know their families. My kids are growing up with their kids. Therefore, it’s impossible not to understand what the Delmar community is going through.

There were many speakers at the funeral this week, but Heacook’s cousin, Larry Schwartz, a retired law enforcement officer, left a lasting memory for many. He was right to point out how different the narrative would have been if it was Heacook who killed the suspect. He was right to take the opportunity during his cousin’s live streamed funeral to bring the issue to light because it’s clear the majority of legislators in Maryland do not get it.

“… He responded alone. … He did not have a backup. I can’t imagine the feelings … When first responders arrived, they found their worst fears. They had to find the actor, that’s the bad guy. They had to save their brother. Everyone did their best. To all those first responders who tried to help Keith, my family thanks you from the bottom of our hearts. This caused a nightmare these first responders will have for the rest of their lives. But here we are today paying tribute to our hero, Cpl. Keith Heacook,” he said. “Now I don’t mean to be difficult. But what if the scenario were different. Cpl. Heacook had to take the actor’s life. What would have happened to his life? It would have been hell. The media would have been here in full force. Major news casts – unarmed this, unarmed that every night without fail. … Keith would have been placed on administrative leave while an investigation was conducted. That investigation would have taken weeks if not months to complete. During that time, Keith’s life would have been put under a microscope, as it’s easy for people who have no idea about police work. His family would be shunned. Even when Keith was cleared, that does not generate enough news for any real broadcast. Off the media goes to the next story. The damage you left behind with no consequences just fallout for the family, but at least we would have Keith.”

Schwartz then implored politicians in the room to ask a lot of tough questions and encouraged them to “stop listening to the loudest voices, listen to the people law enforcement protect. You will find they want the police.” He said, “FYI, do you know who hates bad police officers the most? The good cops out there doing the job every day of the week … Remember his name [spelling out his name] … let his name be a beginning, not an end. Good change can come from this, let it happen. Rest in peace cousin, your family loves you. Your brothers and sisters in law enforcement will take it from here with you in our hearts.”

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.