Thoughts From The Publisher's Desk
No matter what rag you pick up these days, from the national glossy magazines to any of our local competitors, there's some sort of inevitable year-in-review coverage, most of which is the result of a combination of short weeks to give employees off for the holidays and the fact governments maintain light schedules the last week of most years. This publication is no exception with its year-in-review, but it's our hope to do it in a way that does not bore you to tears like so many others do. That's where we get the most lame-brained criminals of the year pieces, the article remembering those who have passed and the top 10 stories of 2007.
In looking back at the year that was, it's easy to come to the general conclusion that it was a year of big stories. When putting together our top 10 stories of 2007, one thing was clear - it was a year full of noteworthy headlines, many of which will remain in the news for years to come.
Here's some of my thoughts on each of the stories on our top 10 list:
-- No. 1: Multiple Fetuses Recovered In OC: The resort area has never been more in the national spotlight than it was during those two days in August. In hindsight, as is the case with many stories these days, the national coverage was long on sensationalism and short on merit, at least as far as the law and criminal acts were concerned. After all, the charges were dropped and life is back to normal on Sunset Drive for all involved. Nonetheless, months after that grisly discovery of multiple fetuses being stashed away in an Ocean City home and a nearby mobile home, the initial shock remains. It's just become a topic these days most people don't want to talk about anymore.
-- No. 2: Taxes Jeopardize Trimper's Future: A situation many commercial and residential property owners face each year was taken to another level when the Trimper family warned it may shut down and be forced to either develop or sell its property as a result of booming property assessments. The amount of taxes the family pays has been skyrocketing in recent years, and it's made making a profit nearly impossible, jeopardizing the landmark amusement business. Public outrage and concern soon followed the Trimper warning, and it seems today relief is in sight in the form of an historic amusement tax district, which needs the Maryland General Assembly's approval.
-- No. 3: Adult Store Opens, Scares OC, County: Both Ocean City and Worcester County have been scrambling for the better part of the year to figure out how to keep the sex shop industry out of here. Each enacted moratoriums out of fear the one store that opened in north Ocean City will spark a surge in that particular industry. Each are now in the process of enacting strict laws limiting the businesses' possible locations. Approximately 25 stories appeared in this paper on the topic. All the concern could be for naught because I don't think there's much interest in the sex shop industry, but the elected officials were right to be cautious.
-- No. 4: Smoking Ban OK'd; To Start Next Year: Some folks think this is the best news to come out of 2007, while others blast it for being anti-American. No matter where you stand, smoking will be outlawed in most indoor bars and restaurants in about five weeks.
-- No. 5: Slots Referendum Passes: Vote In '08: Marylanders will finally make the call on slots, thanks to a handful of weak leaders in the legislature. In my mind, these legislators have given themselves a free pass. No matter what happens, if the referendum passes as expected, they have covered their butts for the future. If expanding gambling with slots is the panacea to the state's budget woes, they are the heroes. If slots prove not to be the savior of the state's financial crisis, which I believe will be the case, legislators can claim immunity from criticism. They will say we gave the people what they wanted. This year's special session addressing the budget deficit was leadership at its worst.
-- No. 6: Berlin Electric Sale Collapses After Vote: A majority of citizens supported the sale of the beleaguered electric plant, despite a groundswell of opposition against it. Months after the referendum, and hundreds of thousands of town dollars was spent trying to force a deal on the table through, the entire situation turned into a fiasco with the agreement falling apart and the town still owning its own electric system. The idea of selling the plant was ill conceived from the beginning, but the worse news of all is more than $300,000 of the town's coveted funds was wasted trying to make it happen.
-- No. 7: Boyfriend Slays Woman In West OC: The family of a local hospitality worker will never forget 2007 after a man killed Pamela Balk and beat her dog to death. There's not much else to say here. The man has had his day in jail and will be behind bars for years.
-- No. 8: State To Close Off Route 50 Bridge: What was most notable about this was the abrupt way in which it was reported at first by the State Highway Administration. It was during a ho-hum fall meeting review that the topic surfaced. The approximate 35-day closure will bring business in downtown Ocean City and parts of West Ocean City to a halt, but the state says the work to the drawbridge is critical.
-- No. 9: Father Dies Trying To Save His Kids: It's these types of heartbreaking stories that can only happen at a beach resort. A 38-year-old father died while trying to save his two sons, 10 and 13, caught in a rip current near the Inlet. The boys were rescued by a parasailing boat and the father was recovered unconscious and attempts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.
-- No. 10: Two Deer Rescued In OC's Downtown: There was some strange happenings with two deer in Ocean City, both of which ended with the deer being captured and taken west to greener pastures.