Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – June 3, 2022

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – June 3, 2022

Over the last two weeks, hundreds of local high school students graduated from local public and private schools. The Class of 2022 has truly endured more than any group of graduates in recent history. It’s worth considering what exactly has taken place during their high school years.

The students’ sophomore year was essentially ended by a blindside the spring of 2020 with the pandemic resulting in the first iteration of online learning. For all students, their junior year began at home with more online learning and many were not back in person until the halfway point or later of their years. Masks were required for their entire junior year and sports and fine arts were extremely limited if they happened at all. There was much more normalcy in their senior year, but it was not without challenges including more masking for many months.

Though the experience was less than ideal for them, what these graduates learning in the way of grit and fortitude will serve them well moving ahead into their next chapters. The same can be said for those graduating from college in their own Class of 2022.

The Professional Bull Riders (PBR) tour will make its first-ever stop in Ocean City this weekend. A portion of the Inlet parking lot has been transformed into a dirt arena with enough seating for about 4,000 for each of the three shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

It’s been interesting to observe some of the comments on social media about the event. There seem to be three distinct camps – those who are excited to check out this first-time spectacle in Ocean City; those who have no interest; and those who are offended by the event because of animal rights concerns and the impact on the family resort.

Setting aside the last argument, attendance at the three-day event is what will be compelling to observe. Assuming Friday’s show will be the lightest, the real question will be how well ticket sales do on Saturday and Sunday. It’s been clear from the beginning attendance is the major concern about the first-time event. It’s why the Town of Ocean City was asked and agreed to provide $75,000 in seed money to essentially cover the tour’s initial investment of coming to the resort. The town council was unanimously in support of giving the funding to the event in exchange for a ticket sharing plan of $5 per seat or 10% of the entire ticket sales. The concept being the funding allocation would be diminished in future years as the event grows. It’s an approach the resort has utilized in the past with success to help new events gain a foundation.

Back in April, Triple Creek Events, promoter of the event, maintained a long-term relationship with Ocean City was the goal for this weekend.  “We’re committed to this venue for three years with professional bull riding coming. In addition to that, if we create an atmosphere here where we do bring in that demographic that is different than what is currently coming here, we’re already in discussion about bringing in other events like a full rodeo,” said Triple Creek Events representative Bobby Vesper.

It’s only fair for Berlin’s short-term rental change implementation date to be delayed until after this season. The town is not ready to enforce the new provisions. It’s that simple.

Approved by a 3-2 council vote in March, the town is looking to require short-term rentals in the R-1 and R-2 districts be located at the property owner’s primary residence. In other words, for example, an Airbnb listing for an apartment above a garage on a property owned by a year-round resident would be acceptable. What would be unacceptable is the majority of the current short-term rentals where single-family homes are rented for a weekend or more as a non-owner-occupied property. The change would go into effect July 1 as it stands now.

At last week’s council meeting, Berlin Planning Director Dave Engelhart reported it would be best for the town to delay the start date of the ordinance until Jan. 1, 2023 for two reasons – fairness and practicality. Existing short-term rental properties had bookings already in place prior to the town’s ordinance vote, resulting in lost revenue for them if they had to cancel the stays. Additionally, Engelhart said his office was not currently accepting short-term rental applications as he needed more time to schedule the required inspections outlined in the ordinance. It’s a no-brainer to push the implementation date back and allow the booked stays to take place through this season.

As a media outlet, it’s natural for many questions to be tossed this way about the shooting two weeks ago in Ocean City. One pointed question we got this week through a simple email read, “Soooo you post about a shooting in downtown Ocean City and then not a word about it since?” While not exactly accurate as there have been a couple follow-up stories about the incident in print and online, I understand the beef.

In this case, based on updates by police, the fact is the case appears cold. What is known is an 18-year-old male was shot and treated by paramedics on the scene and transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The victim was soon after released. The suspect fled the scene. Detectives reviewed nearby security footage, but it did not reveal much. Not much more to report other than that and the fact police are seeking the public’s help with information if anyone was in the area of Dorchester Street at 1:10 the morning of May 22. These sorts situation with no outcome or justice are unfortunate, but they happen.

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.