Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – October 7, 2022

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – October 7, 2022

As soon as talk of a game changing concert festival began in Ocean City, there was tremendous excitement. I admit to initial skepticism about the concept of the Oceans Calling Festival until I researched the C3 Presents company, which was to handle booking of the bands. It was clear this event was going to be different than other attempts at music festivals here. Months later came the lineup and the advanced discussions and predictions played out – the Oceans Calling Festival was going to be a major draw with a huge economic impact for Ocean City and surrounding areas. Even without the festival and the terrible weather, business reports were strong from most in Ocean City area because crowds of concert-goers – many for the first time — still came to the area.

The concern from day one was the weather. All officials could do was hope Mother Nature would cooperate. Unfortunately, the nightmare scenario played out for the festival’s first year. It was unfortunate, but the right call to cancel the festival. Saturday turned out to be the best day of the weekend, but the winds were too high. Friday night was a washout and Sunday was a mess. The conditions on the beach would have been horrible for the artists, the attendees and the workers behind the scenes. As someone who had splurged for the platinum three-day passes, I was relieved to not endure the nasty weather and look forward to the refund. It would not have been worth it.

The decision turned out to be a no brainer, but I’m thinking there were things learned along the way as far as safe stage locations and properly securing equipment left behind. One criticism, seen online often over the past week, not warranting consideration is changing the date from the fall. The hurricane and its impacts were simply horrible luck and timing. Every other weekend in the month of September would have been ideal. While setup during the early part of this week would have been stalled by the storm conditions, this weekend looks fine as well. It was just bad luck and should not lead to officials considering the month of May, for example, as some have pushed online. Ocean City’s special event calendar in May is busy, and the promoter appears to already have several festivals and events on the calendar.

The good news is the festival is likely to return next year. The thought is the same today as it was when the topic was first broached – let’s just hope the weather cooperates. Such is life in our beachfront resort community.

As the temperatures cool and the fall turns to winter, it’s expected COVID-19 numbers will likely spike again. The flu will also play a role with illnesses as it does most years. The assumption is this is the new normal, but it’s been encouraging to see the progress organizations and school systems are making on this front.

For instance, when a cohort at a local school recently had three positive cases within two weeks, constituting an outbreak, the policy was for each kid to be sent home with a test kit. The parents were asked to test the child before returning to school. There was no negative test proof needed from the parents the next day, but the expectation was parents would be responsible and keep their kid at home if he or she tested positive or developed symptoms.

It’s anyone’s guess how many kids were tested, but it seems like a sound policy moving forward. The protocol speaks to the logic the virus, like the flu, is part of life and continuing to move forward in a responsible fashion is the only option.

For many years, Ocean City resisted the call from some to hold its municipal election on the same day as the November general election. Several years of low turnouts and some cost savings ultimately convinced city officials in 2012 to hold their election the same day, resulting in Ocean City citizens actually voting twice on election day, once for the municipal races and another time for the larger ballots. Though there was some initial confusion, the change worked, as turnout jumped significantly.

It might be time for Berlin to consider the change as well. Though it was an unusual election Tuesday, the voter turnout in the contested District 4 race was a paltry 8% — with just 72 of the 888 registered voters letting their voices be heard. This is a disappointing turnout. In 2020, on the heels of an 18% property tax increase, voter turnout hit a record 36%. There was robust interest in the election, thanks to citizens being upset about the tax increase, the mayor’s seat being open with five candidates and two contested council races.

Maybe it’s not something that has to be done in reaction to this week’s poor turnout, but a deeper dive on holding the town’s election on the general election date should be considered if another poor turnout is seen in 2024. It worked in Ocean City despite initial reluctance.

Fair or not, Worcester County needs to accept only one major road project will get the state’s attention at one time. Route 90 is currently the long-range focus. After the county ranked Route 90 as its top priority, followed by Routes 50 and 589, the state allocated $15 million to early Route 90 design work.

Questions were raised this week why Route 589 improvements have not been made after 20 years of requests. There was some tough talk from Commissioner Chip Bertino in defense of his constituents, but the state has clearly focused on Route 90. It will be years before major changes are made to Route 589.

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.