Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – June 10, 2022

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – June 10, 2022

Though no attendance numbers were made available this week, there appeared to be strong support for last weekend’s first bull riding event in Ocean City.

Personal observations and discussions with attendees tell us the event was far over 70% occupancy for each of the three shows on Friday-Sunday. Friday appeared to be locals’ night, while Saturday and Sunday saw a mix of area residents and tourists. By Thursday, the arena had been broken down and the dirt and sand removed from the Inlet parking lot. It was as if it never occurred. It was what event organized promised during the approval process.

Even before the event was held, organizers stated a three-year commitment to bringing the professional bull riding event to Ocean City. Based on PBR Vice President and General Manager Robert Simpson’s comments, it would appear attendance was strong enough to build the event. He said, “With the support of great local partners, for the first time in history we brought the PBR to Ocean City, holding a three-day event that was met with great response by the local community. Looking forward, we hope to build upon our great inaugural year, building a staple event for the Ocean City community to look forward to …”

It can be argued Ocean City’s special events calendar has never been shaken up as much as it has for 2022. This is a good thing.

This month is a great example. While the biggest changes will come in the fall with Sunfest pushed to late October, the Oceans Calling Festival set for late September and a new adventure fest in mid-September, June has also undergone a significant transformation. The approach again appears to be to meet trouble spots on the calendar – the first few weeks of June due to senior week antics – with special events attracting the right kind of people to Ocean City. Last weekend saw three significant events – the Ravens convention and parade, the Jellyfish Festival and the bull riding event. This weekend brings the OC Air Show (which is typically held Father’s Day weekend) and the popular beach soccer tournament. These two events will pack the downtown area at the height of senior week celebrations. The firemen’s convention arrives in the resort next week followed by a dance competition the following weekend before another holiday weekend. Late June could use some more events, but changes have occurred.

September and October will see a significant transformation, but June is not too far behind it with big changes. It’s a solid approach because for many years there was a lull – one typically full of high-profile criminal incidents — after Cruisin and Memorial Day weekends until the air show. Replacing the crime news with high-drawing event coverage, like the bull riding event and air show, is a solid direction to continue to pursue.

Fishing stories are always entertaining, and this week’s catch and release of the season’s first white marlin was one to remember for the team of the Wrecker and Kevin Gibbs. The first catch will earn the boat $17,000 but the memories may be more lasting. It turns out it was the first deep sea fishing trip for Gibbs of the Dough Roller fame. The area’s first white marlin and a bunch of tuna have set the expectations high for future trips.

Of the experience, Gibbs, who took the traditional marina dip once back to shore, had this to say on the Ocean City Fishing Center’s Facebook page. “I’ve never caught a white marlin before and this is actually my first time ever going out deep in the first place,” Gibbs said. “The crew and the captain were outstanding and now looking back on it, it explains the reaction because the first couple tuna the reactions was excited, but it was a whole different vibe when they were telling me to reel, reel, reel, reel. … it was outstanding, it was really good.”

Atlantic General Hospital officially welcomed its new leader, Don Owrey, earlier this month. Owrey spent three decades working in the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center before moving to the Berlin area to lead Worcester County’s community hospital. In a sweeping interview this week, Owrey discussed the challenges facing the medical industry. It was no surprise to see him conclude the number one issue on the minds of every sector in the area – workforce.

“For this hospital, and the industry, it’s labor. It’s dealing with growing vacancies not only among professional staff – physicians, nurses, techs, what have you – but even in our essential support services. We need a lot of people to keep the environment clean. So we need housekeepers, we need folks in dietary that can feed our patients, all of those things. So labor is a real challenge,” he said. “The economic conditions globally are also a concern. You see higher costs of doing business. Supply costs are going up because the logistics aren’t in place to get them here, or there are shortages. All of those costs are borne by somebody. And for us, we don’t have the ability to raise our prices, so to speak. And we can’t do more volume to cover the cost. So we’re going to have to find more ways to be more efficient and innovative around some of those challenges. There’s also the social anxiety that still exists with COVID. Our staff deal with the effects of COVID every single day. … They can never escape the realities of COVID, and that wears on your mental psyche after a while. We need resiliency in our staff, so that concerns me. And we try to address it. We try to make our employees feel valued.”

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.