Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 31, 2021

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 31, 2021

It’s that time of year to offer some predictions for what will make news in the year ahead.

  • Worcester County Public Schools will not go virtual next week, as some expected might happen due to rising positivity metrics.
  • Saturday mail service will be dropped by the U.S. Postal Service to reduce expenses.
  • Democrat Peter Franchot – current comptroller of Maryland – will easily cruise to the governor’s mansion next November over Republican nominee Kelly Schulz.
  • During spring budget sessions, the Worcester County Commissioners will reduce the property tax rate for two reasons – a huge influx of tax revenue due to booming property values and it’s an election year.
  • Margaritaville plans in Ocean City will return for conversation after stalling earlier this month.
  • Major changes will be imminent at the south intersection of Route 50 and Main Street in Berlin with the proposed Athena Plaza – featuring a hotel and other uses – kicking into gear on the west side and the long-vacant former gas station site being sold.
  • Forgoing a national search, an internal department head will be promoted as the new city manager of Ocean City early in the year.
  • Two new faces will join the Ocean City Mayor and Council after next fall’s election. After 20 years in office, Councilman Lloyd Martin will opt against another term. Martin won a fifth term in 2018 by a four-vote margin over Emily Nock.
  • A major snowstorm will occur in late February, representing the first significant snow in three years.
  • One new face will be elected to Berlin’s town council next October.
  • Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will not seek the presidency, opting instead to announce plans to represent the state in the U.S. Senate in 2024.
  • Caused by long-time Commissioner Bud Church not running for another term, the vacancy for District 3 (West Ocean City and part of Berlin) will attract four candidates, three of which will be Republican.
  • Former County Commissioner Virgil Shockley will try again to regain his seat from incumbent Ted Elder. This will be the fifth time Shockley and Elder have faced off for the District 4 commissioner seat with each winning twice. It will be interesting to see in the 2022 showdown if Shockley switching his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican after Biden’s election in 2020 makes a difference.
  • For the third consecutive election, Worcester County Commissioner Joe Mitrecic will run unopposed for District 7 (Ocean City).
  • Two more COVID variants will surface in 2022, resulting in a cycle of spikes and low periods, as happened with the Delta and Omicron in 2021.
  • Though work will not begin in 2022, Ocean City will finalize the specifics of its major Baltimore Avenue reconstruction project. Construction is expected to start in 2023.
  • In announcing he will seek re-election, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan will state it will be his final term. He has now served as an elected official in Ocean City since 1985 – 21 years as a councilman and 15 years as mayor.
  • The Maryland General Assembly will approve legislation continuing to increase minimum wage once the current rate scaling expires in 2025. The state is currently increasing minimum wage each year – it will become $12.50 on Saturday with phased increases leading to $15 effective Jan. 1, 2025. The legislature will approve a measure adding more augmenting phases, resulting in a $20/hour minimum wage by 2032.
  • A nice influx of new tax revenue from the booming property assessments results in the Town of Berlin’s elected officials retaining the same property tax rate as last year.
  • A local developer will submit a purchase offer for Heron Park, disclosing a mixed-use project plan to redevelop the southern portion of the property along Old Ocean City Boulevard.
  • In a bold move, Ocean City officials will opt to hold Sunfest the last weekend of September, potentially conflicting with the pop-up rally menace. It’s unusual a date has not yet been announced for the 2022 event.
  • Berlin and Ocean Pines will both pass short-term rental ordinances before the summer season,
  • The most significant progress on the sports complex discussion for north Worcester County will be the purchase of land along Route 50.
  • Redevelopment continues to be a major trend throughout the year, as two new hotel plans are reviewed in the north end – one on Route 589 another on eastbound Route 50.
  • A new Royal Farms will open on Route 589 next to Walgreens, making that seven Royal Farms stores within 30 miles of each other in the tri-county area.
  • State Senator Mary Beth Carozza and Delegate Wayne Hartman will cruise through their primary elections unopposed but each face Democratic challengers in November’s general election.
  • As a result of increased traffic, speeding and safety concerns, the state will initiate conversations with the Town of Berlin to make Main
  • There will be no signs of the Big Wheel returning to Ocean City during the summer.
  • The Green Bay Packers will defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl.

About The Author: Steven Green

Alternative Text

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.