Thoughts From The Publisher's Desk
It's been interesting to hear the general response to last week's dismissal of all criminal charges against Christy Freeman. Last week in this space I wrote that 'shock waves' reverberated through the community after word spread Freeman would not face any repercussions for keeping fetuses around her property after allegedly having 'four miscarriages over a period of five years,' a quote taken from a statement released by Christy Freeman and boyfriend Ray Godman. I regret the use of that phrase and I think it needs another look. I do not believe there was all that much surprise when the charges were dropped. It was a weak case, and I think most people realized that from the beginning (except for maybe Nancy Grace). However, the surprise element in the whole thing is that in Maryland it's perfectly legal to keep fetuses in and around your property so long as there is no 'life' that can be proved. In hindsight, there's a lot to be disturbed about in this case and how authorities handled it, but that's what gives me the most heartburn.
Ocean City is now 'coneland' once again. A couple years ago, the surface of southbound Coastal Highway in north to mid-Ocean City was milled and then replaced, causing lane closures and lots of headaches. At that time, this paper fielded some calls and received a few letters about vehicle tire damage and broken axels as a result of having to drive on the milled surface on the weekends. It will be interesting to see how the project is handled between 26th and 60th streets. Although this is a much smaller project, there will be the inevitable inconveniences in the coming months.
The two big events of last weekend, Sunfest and the Berlin Fiddlers Convention, enjoyed large crowds. At Sunfest, attendance was up about 5 percent from last year with an estimated 183,377 people attending the four-day event. The first day of the event, Thursday, has in the past been known as the quietest of the days, but not this year, as 46,000 attended opening day festivities. This year's annual rite of fall was not a record breaker, however. That honor belongs to the 2002 edition when 183,767 were counted. Over in Berlin, a new record was reportedly set, as the Fiddlers Convention attracted approximately 9,000 people. The opening concert on Friday night was widely attended, and town was packed on Saturday afternoon before a pair of torrential downpours sent some people home. Despite the rain, many folks hung around to watch the bluegrass competition and many returned on Sunday when the weather cooperated.
The inevitable is happening regarding the recent news that some of the property owned by the Trimper family was reassessed at a lower value, resulting therefore in lower taxes. Last week's letter to the editor expresses what many folks have been privately muttering. Of course, residential property owners are taking umbrage over what they think is the preferential treatment of a commercial landmark and well-known business and want to know what kind of break they can expect to receive. In a letter to the editor last week, Ocean Pines resident John Druhan expressed a sentiment that many have uttered of late. 'Now it's our turn, where do we get in line for our reduction in our assessments or do you think the politicians will take care of it for us?,' Druhan wrote.
A look at a couple recent polls on our website, mdcoastdispatch.com:
-- 'Open container violators should': be given a citation and a fine, 52 percent; not be charged at all, 37 percent; have a mandatory court appearance, 6 percent; be arrested and thrown in jail, 5 percent. There were 188 voters.
-- 'What September event is most appealing?': Sunfest, 41 percent; Bike Week, 32 percent; Wine Fest, 17 percent; Fiddlers Convention, 7 percent; and Sandcastle Home Tour, 3 percent. There were 228 votes cast.
-- 'Would you vacation in Ocean City if you knew it would rain the entire time?': no, 51 percent; yes, 29 percent; and depends on time of year, 20 percent. There were 186 votes.