2023’s Top 5 Stories

2023’s Top 5 Stories

Selecting the top stories of any year can be challenging, but here’s our top five, taking into consideration the number of stories written over the year on the topics as well as the overall community impact. These stories have one thing in common – many articles were written about each of them throughout the year.

  • Drama Surrounds County School System: Throughout the year, there were many instances when the public school system was in the headlines. First came a budget battle with the Worcester County Commissioners, resulting in Maintenance of Effort funding for the schools. School officials and public school advocates argued retaining the same per-pupil spending from the previous year during inflationary times resulted in a funding reduction. Teacher pay raises were subsequently renegotiated at lower levels. The commissioners were not swayed.

Later in the year came high-profile sparring with the county Sheriff’s Office and State’s Attorney’s Office over concerns school officials were not taking public safety issues seriously. Additionally, throughout the year, there were attempts to get books banned within school libraries, as part of a national movement. After much dialogue this month, the school board opted to continue to utilize the current process and educate parents about their options.

  • Oceans Calling Festival A Hit: After being canceled last year due to weather, the much-anticipated, three-day music festival was held and widely successful. Ocean City proved it could manage its largest event ever, featuring 50,000 people each day. Early concerns over Boardwalk businesses being included in the festival footprint were nullified as most operators set new single-day sales records.
  • Decatur Wins First Football State Title: The community rallied behind the Seahawks football team throughout the season and celebrated their championship in several public displays. Decatur went undefeated in winning the state title.
  • Buckingham Elementary Push Is On: It was learned in the fall the state deemed the old elementary school reconstruction project was not worthy of state funding, jeopardizing the project essentially. A push is now on to convince the state to reconsider the decision. Clarity should come in early 2024 on the future of the dilapidated Berlin school.
  • Heron Park Sale Rejected: Following extensive deliberations, a controversial 3-2 council vote ended talks of selling the old chicken plant buildings a developer for $1.2 million.  Entering the new year, the town is focusing efforts on utilizing a state grant to demolish the unsafe buildings before considering next steps.

Honorable mentions: sports complex plans re-emerge; Margaritaville project staffs; AGH cyberattack; OC unveils new smile brand; fireworks do take place on fourth; offshore wind; and Route 90 planning continues.

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.