Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 29, 2023

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 29, 2023

It’s time to look back on how my predictions for the year turned out.

On The Money

  • After being canceled in 2022 due to Mother Nature, the massive Oceans Calling Festival took place in late September in Ocean City in wet weather conditions, but the festival turned out to be a huge success and the largest special event the resort has ever hosted. Each day featured approximately 50,000 people and little problems aside from expected traffic and mass transit overload.
  • As I thought, the Town of Ocean City did pick up the sports complex concept as a priority in 2023 and did in fact host the Maryland Stadium Authority to discuss funding options. I was wrong, however, in claiming Ocean City would buy the property to the west of Decatur and proceed with the development. No site has officially been decided on at this time.
  • A new liquor distillery – Forgotten 50 – did open in Berlin.
  • NOAA did look past sportfishing industry opposition in imposing a 10-knot speed limit change to help the Atlantic right whale population.
  • The odds were in my favor when I predicted Ocean City would this year have fireworks on the Fourth of July after multiple years of cancellations.
  • As envisioned, Decatur’s Brycen Coleman did follow Luke Mergott in committing to play Division I football next year. Coleman will be playing in the SEC for Vanderbilt, while Mergott is a freshman linebacker at Duke.
  • Bunk Mann’s third book was published in 2023. It’s called Ocean City Chronicles.
  • Though debatable, I think I was right when I said no serious developments will occur with the offshore wind farm projects.
  • Nothing significant occurred with the Route 90 dualization project, but a multi-year study phase is continuing.
  • The typical pop-up rally weekend in Ocean City was once again uneventful, and it appears the non-event is done.
  • Stephen Decatur High School did unveil a grandiose new school board at the football stadium.

Off the Mark

  • I was wrong when I surmised only one charge – leaving the scene of a fatal accident — would be filed in the Gavin Knupp case. In fact, there were 17 charges filed in May against the alleged motorist before the case was dismissed in August after a judge said the charges were filed in the wrong court. The decision has been appealed with a ruling expected sometime next year.
  • Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan did not announce plans to run for president. I was also off with the thought Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would be the presumptive favorite heading into 2024.
  • A new beer brewery did not open in Berlin this year, but at least one has designs on opening sometime mid-year.
  • There was no substantive talk of a seasonal housing facility in West Ocean City. I predicted a public-private partnership would result in property tax credits being granted to a private landowner in exchange for favorable terms to build dormitory-style housing.
  • Retirements did not sweep through Ocean City government as much as I expected. It was specifically mentioned Police Chief Ross Buzzuro would retire in 2023. Buzzuro remains the resort’s top cop.
  • The county’s room tax rate was not increased as a result of legislation failing in Annapolis.
  • After months of discussions, the Berlin Town Council voted 3-2 to retain all of Heron Park and to not sell to a group led by developer Palmer Gillis.
  • I wrongly expected body camera footage in Ocean City to be released publicly in a high-profile case involving abuse allegations against Ocean City police officers.
  • Ocean Pines did not ban short-term rentals in a referendum vote.
  • Unsure why I thought a dead whale would wash ashore on a mid-day summer afternoon in Ocean City creating a stink, but nonetheless it did not happen.
  • It was suggested speed cameras would be authorized for two locations in Berlin after a study. It’s looking like three sites have been identified along Flower Street and Seahawk Road as of year’s end, but it’s not official.
  • It was thought the Worcester County Commissioners would increase the property tax rate by two cents to meet the increased burden associated with the new Blueprint for Maryland for schools. In fact, the commissioners held the tax rate and did not meet the school system’s funding request, opting for the same dollar level per pupil as the year before.
  • There were no repeats of the previous year on Assateague Island when old military ordnances were discovered and forced beach closures during the height of the summer season.
  • In the Super Bowl, it was not the Cincinnati Bengals who defeated the Philadelphia Eagles. It was the Kansas City Chiefs who knocked off the Eagles.

In Limbo

  • While reconstruction was chosen as the favored option for Buckingham Elementary this year, the project’s funding remains in question as the year closes. Without state funding, the County Commissioners have made it clear they will not authorize local funding.
  • Though it was right to say the proposed Margaritaville project on the Boardwalk would be mired in the legislative process for much of the year, it was incorrect to predict a groundbreaking ceremony would be scheduled for early 2024. No such event has been announced.

About The Author: Steven Green

Alternative Text

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.