Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 24, 2021

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 24, 2021

It’s that time of year to reflect on how wise, or unwise in many cases, I was with my predictions for 2021 in this space last year.

Right On The Money

  • Fortunately, it was the right call to predict the year would not include any government-required stay-at-home orders in Maryland.
  • COVID-19 vaccinations did become readily available in all pharmacies in the first half of the year.
  • Ocean City did not require masks on the Boardwalk last summer.
  • As expected, plans were announced to demolish the existing Phillips Beach Plaza Hotel and surrounding properties to make way for a large-scale development. It was learned in 2021 the project proposed was a massive Margaritaville resort complex. The proposal appears to be stalled at this time and it’s unknown whether plans will move forward next year.
  • It was the right prediction to expect more foreign student workers would be in Ocean City last summer as a result of President Biden lifting the previous administration’s travel ban.
  • Worcester County Public Schools did welcome all students back last winter before most other jurisdictions and were able to maintain in-person instruction ever since.
  • The Maryland General Assembly approved sports gambling legislation during its 2021 session. The first bets were waged at Ocean Downs Casino last week.
  • As I predicted and honestly hoped, serious crime was down in June and much improved over the June of 2020.
  • Despite concerns over lumber prices, Ocean City did move forward with its Boardwalk reconstruction project as planned this fall.
  • There were no annexations approved by the Berlin Mayor and Council this year.
  • A modified Springfest did occur in May in Ocean City, as predicted, but Sunfest was almost back to normal come September except for a headline act having to cancel at the last minute.
  • The BJ’s on the Water property did change hands in 2021 with the new operators renaming the business with grand plans to redevelopment the bayfront site.
  • Advanced optimism paid off, as the pop-up rally in late September was mild compared to previous years.
  • Berlin did bring back the popular Ice Ice event – borne out of the pandemic last year — on Black Friday to kick off the holiday season.
  • Public schools across the state did open in the fall providing a virtual learning option for students, but in most jurisdictions the numbers were low for digital learners. For instance, in Worcester County, less than 10% of the student body opted for virtual instruction.
  • Based on the sheer volume to review, I predicted the federal government would streamline forgiveness applications for the second round of PPP loans. In many cases, the forgiveness came within a day or two for smaller loans qualifying for the simpler review.

Way Off The Mark

  • Masks in public places were not required throughout the first half of 2021, as I thought they would be. However, facial coverings are now required in public schools.
  • The summer season of 2021 did not see restaurants having to adhere to capacity restrictions. Though bars were allowed to return to 2 a.m. closings, most operations opted for earlier closings due to staff concerns.
  • Wrong I was with my guess Berlin would not get a demolition grant from the state for the Heron Park property this calendar year. Word came last week the town had received $500,000 toward the demolition effort. However, I was correct when I predicted the new council would express an interest in selling parts of the property. Those efforts are underway.
  • Many predictions typically come from inside information or intuition. This was not one of those instances. I missed the mark with the claim a petition effort will be launched to raise the maximum number of vehicles on the Assateague OSV area from 145 to 170. Nothing of the sort happened, but Assateague did continue its pandemic surge in popularity throughout 2021.
  • A federal stimulus payment was never linked to vaccination status as I thought it might be.
  • The Town of Ocean City did not revert back to the ride-along model at Winterfest of Lights as I thought it would. I expected the city to offer a hybrid event of pedestrian and ride-along capabilities. The annual lights display returned as a walking event only.
  • The betting man in me was wrong as last winter did not feature a major snow storm. It’s been a couple years now since we have had a measurable snowfall.
  • Legislation was not passed allowing grocery stores and big box retailers to sell alcohol.
  • Though limited and later in the summer season, the riverboat in Snow Hill did begin operations this year.
  • As far as my Super Bowl prediction, the Kansas City Chiefs did not defeat the Green Bay Packers. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers crushed the Chiefs to the win the title.
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Still In Limbo

  • Gov. Larry Hogan did not announce this calendar year his intention to seek the presidency in 2024.
  • Current Maryland Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford has not announced an intention to seek the Republican nomination for governor in 2022.

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.