Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – January 13, 2023

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – January 13, 2023

Wednesday marked the six-month anniversary of 14-year-old Gavin Knupp’s death in a hit-and-run collision on Grey’s Corner Road. Officially, there is nothing to report aside from the case remains an active investigation and no charges have been filed. Meanwhile, arrests continue to surface around the state after similar incidents. The aggravation with the pace of the process is understandable and mysterious.

Signs of patience wearing thin are evident throughout the community. Gavin’s mom, Tiffany, was on Ocean 98.1 WOCM Tuesday morning discussing the Do It For Gavin Foundation as well as making another plea for witnesses with knowledge about her son’s death to do the right thing and come forward. “There are people in this community who absolutely know. There are eyewitnesses who have not come forward that just won’t speak. I don’t know why. I just want them to come forward and we are begging them to come forward,” she said. “… I am not backing down … I am ready for justice for my son. … We do get briefed on the case. Every two weeks our attorney gets briefed by the State’s Attorney’s Office. He talks to us about it. It’s progressing. We do trust in the system and the process. It’s just my patience is done. I’ve had enough. It’s six months. I’m done. We are ready for some movement. I want an arrest. I want this justice. We should not be fighting this hard for justice.”

Summer Knupp, Gavin’s older sister, was driving Gavin the night her brother was struck and killed as a pedestrian. “Patience is gone. It feels like it’s yesterday but when you do realize it’s been six months …,” she said. “We’ve been waiting for six months. I’ve been told since July 12, the day after, he would be arrested soon and six months later I’m still waiting. It’s getting tiring.”

While privately the anguish must be intolerable, the family continues to publicly show tremendous grace and patience. As more time passes, it’s impossible to not wonder what justice will ultimately look like in this case. Faith and trust in the process is important, but it’s understandable for examples of expired patience to surface from time to time among the family and supporters.

The Worcester County Commissioners continued this week to undo previous decisions made by the former leadership led by Commissioner Joe Mitrecic and specifically efforts spearheaded by former tourism and economic development head Tom Perlozzo, who is now employed by Ocean City.

Last month it was the sports complex process that was officially ended as far as the county is concerned. The vote last month assures no county dollars will be spent on the sports complex effort for at least four years. This week orders to sell the synthetic ice rink and end a lease at the West Ocean City harbor with a private sailboat were approved. The separate decisions stem from the new board majority’s feelings these are not valuable uses of public funds. Commissioners Chip Bertino and Jim Bunting had previously opposed the measures. With Bertino and Bunting now leading the commission as a result of last year’s elections, changes are happening and philosophical approaches and changes in direction are evident at every meeting.

Mitrecic understands this significant shift, as he’s now going to fall on the losing vote of many decisions. Mitrecic still continues to stress the county needs economic development as a revenue generator to stave off what he perceives as an inevitability due to mounting education expenses – increased taxes. During what was clearly a moment of frustration after the Alyosha lease in West Ocean City was canceled, Mitrecic said, “To be honest with you, if we’re going to spend the next months or whatever undoing what the previous board of commissioners did and what Mr. Perlozzo brought to us, I’m out. Call me when we want to do some real business.”

If you spent anytime on the beach in Ocean City last summer, you most likely saw the Aloysha sailboat cruising with the Maryland’s Coast logo on it. The advertising was part of a deal with the county giving the boat a home in the West Ocean City harbor for $8,500 a year. The county paid the boat $5,500 for the advertising, leaving the slip to cost about $3,000 for the boat operator.

As a result of Tuesday’s vote to end the five-year lease early, connections to Alyosha are encouraging supporters to reach out to their elected officials, specifically new Commissioner Eric Fiori, who voted for ending the lease, saying, “I think the detriment that we’re having to our recreational boaters is far greater than the $8,500, and if you add the advertising, considerably less than that. I think it’s a disservice to constituents of the county.”

In the “We Need Your Help To Save Alyosha” appeal spread far and wide this week, an email read, “last summer it treated more than 2,300 OC residents and visitors to an experience unlike any other in OC. The reasoning behind the decision to cancel Alyosha’s agreement is difficult for us to understand: we have never heard a complaint about Alyosha since arriving in 2019 … It does appear clear that a newly elected set of commissioners – led by the two commissioners who have always been against our presence – made this decision quite suddenly and without any input from the public. If you’re an Alyosha fan and you don’t want to see this beautiful boat … removed from West OC then we need you to speak up and let the county know how you feel.  … we urge you to consider contacting any of the commissioners you might know, or even those you don’t, and ask them to reconsider.  The only chance we have to rectify this situation is to loudly voice our displeasure.  We need your help.”

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.