Voices From The Readers
Reverse Ad Agency Move
Now, let me see if I have this right. Ocean City has just enjoyed the most successful 'Crusin'' weekend in the event's history. We have just realized the biggest Memorial Day weekend crowd since 1993 and our visitor numbers are higher over last year since early April. Now, here's the part I don't get - we want to ditch our advertising agency? What's wrong with this picture?
Seven years ago I was on the Tourism Commission and, after all the presentations, I voted in favor of hiring MGH as our advertising agency. I think it was a unanimous decision. We brought our decision to the Council, they concurred and hired MGH. I voted for MGH because they were far and away the best of the bunch in terms of production creativity and they brought to the table some very exciting marketing strategies.
The mayor was right when he said, 'We have an excellent agency with a very favorable price, and people don't see all the free ads and the behind-the-scenes work that MGH does.' I certainly hope all members of the Council are aware of all the work MGH does behind the scenes. A lot of agencies charge for the type of work MGH does gratis. I think, with this group, we are getting a good bang for our buck. When MGH was hired, I believe our advertising budget was about $1.4 million - way less than Myrtle Beach and Virginia Beach. I was very impressed with their ad placement plans and how they wisely used the small budget they were working with.
They have created an ad campaign that has given Ocean City national prominence. The 'Come to Ocean City before the Sea Rises' campaign of last year is an example. As a radio advertising and marketing guy for over 30 years, I can tell you that we received tons of residual response from that campaign. The media response was astounding. When you get Fox, CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, major national radio stations and a host of national publications requesting interviews with the mayor to talk about the ad and Ocean City - well you can't buy that kind of advertising. All that residual stuff was free - we didn't spend a dime. Advertising takes time sometimes and we may be seeing the seeds that were sown with that campaign coming to fruition now.
The 'Rodney' campaign is right on target. They are taking something topical - the economy, people's hectic lives at work and at home -- and what does Rodney, the lifeguard, do? He rescues them and brings them to Ocean City. It positions Ocean City as their 'getaway from the everyday'. We ought to give this ad campaign time to do its work.
I admire the members of the Ocean City Council - I really do. Every one of them wants to do what's best for the town and they put lots of hours into achieving that goal. But, I disagree with their decision not to give MGH a 15-month contract extension and I hope that decision is reversed. The mayor said it best, 'The council made a very bad business decision'.
West Ocean City
(The writer is the past president of the Ocean City Chamber of Commerce and past member of the Ocean City Tourism Commission.)
Merge Vote Sets County
Back Three Decades
I'm writing this as a concerned citizen, resident and taxpayer in Worcester County.
Last Tuesday, May 26, the Worcester County Commissioners met in closed session to discuss 'personnel matters', which should be done in such a fashion in deference to the employee's privacy.
However, at the same closed meeting, the County Commissioners also voted 4-3 to consolidate the departments of Comprehensive Planning, Environmental Programs and Development Review and Permitting. Under the guise of 'fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer,' even though the budget had already been balanced without employee layoffs, this move appears to have little to do with saving taxpayers money, and everything to do with giving a small group of folks with special interests what they have always wanted; a one stop shop to get all the permits they need without the proper checks and balances these Departments formally provided.
With this move by the commissioners, 11 full time and fully competent employees found themselves out of work at the close of business on Friday, May 29.
The renowned Comprehensive Planning Department, charged with guiding development, working on water quality issues, land preservation and tracking growth in the County; the Environmental Programs Department, tasked with protecting our drinking water supply and wastewater disposal are now effectively gone, not even demoted to a 'section', they cease to exist. The checks and balances between these entities are also no more, making sure there is no cohesive way to do real land use planning and environmental protection.
As a tax payer, I, too, want to see the best use of my tax dollar, especially in these economic times. This move, however, is an affront to all citizens in the county, those who place real value in good governance, the need for effective checks and balances and environmental stewardship.
Four months ago my mom, Ilia Fehrer was honored posthumously at the federal, state and local level for her environmental awareness, advocacy and her desire to make this county a better place for all of its citizens. She had the foresight some 35-plus years ago to realize we ran the risk of losing what makes this area so special; clean waterways, broad swaths of farm and forest, small towns and a unique cultural identity, vs. the homogenous development patterns springing up all around.
When I accepted the special Environmental Award from the Worcester County Commissioners on her behalf, it was and continues to be the most poignant award received. After years of struggle, when even the word 'environmentalist' was taken to mean radical, after years of verbal abuse for speaking out in behalf of the natural world, after years of diligently working with and through the county's political system, this recognition, by Worcester County, was by far the most rewarding.
And now, with one vote, behind closed doors, removed from public purview, the County Commissioners have unilaterally set Worcester County, once the model for other counties to follow, back 30 years. I urge our elected officials to reconsider, and take the steps necessary to rectify this short-sighted move that ultimately benefits only a very few, well placed and moneyed special interest groups. As concerned citizens, we need to let our commissioners know how we feel about this arbitrary move, I know I will, now and when I go to the polls next year.
Joseph W. Fehrer Jr.
After-Prom Event Supporters
On behalf of the Stephen Decatur High School 2009 After Prom Committee, we would like to extend our sincere thanks to the parent and faculty volunteers who made the 2009 After Prom an enormous success with over 500 young adults in attendance.
Through generous gifts and donations from the following businesses, we were able to persuade a record number of students to stay for late night prize raffles, keeping them out of harms way throughout Prom night.
Thanks for helping to keep our kids entertained, well fed and safe: ABBA Bail Bonds, Action Island T's, Action Water Sports, Atlantic, Smith Cropper and Deeley, Ayers, Jenkins, Gordy and Almand, A Bagel And, Bank of Ocean City, Berlin Fire Department and Berlin Police Dept., Buckingham Presbyterian Church Deacons, Buzz and Rita Taylor, Candy Kitchen, Carousel Hotel, Castle in the Sand Hotel, Choptank Electric Trust, Claudia Nicholls -State Farm, Coca-Cola, Conner's Beach Café, Crabs to Go, Kimberly and Richard Davidson, Janet and Darren Davis, DeNovo's, Dippin' Dots Ice Cream, Domino's Pizza, Dough Roller Restaurants 41st and Division St., Dr. James and Marie Kramer, Dr.Unks, Dumser's Dairyland 49th St., Eming's BBQ, Eunice Sorin, Fager's Island, First Presbyterian Church of Ocean City, Fractured Prune, Fresco's, Friendship United Methodist Church, Green Turtle West, Hank Duncan of Key Impact Sales, Hansen Plumbing, Inc., Harborside, Harrison Apartments, Harrison Group, Mary Heilman, Hunan Restaurant, Jackie Ball, K-Coast Surf Shop, Karin Lertora, Kitty's Flowers, Lioness Club of Berlin, Lou Taylor, Dr. Tom and Mrs. Judy Lubeski, Beth and Keith Miller, Minit Market, Mione's, Mrs. Susan Sturgis, Nanette Pavier, Ocean City Elks Lodge #2645, Ocean City Knights of Columbus #9053, Ocean City Lioness Club, Ocean City/Berlin Optimists, Ocean City Parrot Head Club, Bill and Pam O'Donnell, Old Pro Golf, Park Place Hotel, Panera Bread, Parties Your Way, Pat Delawder and SDHS Band Boosters, Phillips Crab House, Pine Shore Golf, Piney Island Builders, Ponzetti's Pizza, Richard L. Ropp-State Farm, Rita's Desserts, Rob and Ruby Dillon, SADD, Seacrets, Seaside Driving Academy, Shelly Phillips, South Moon Under, Starbucks, Studio S, Sunspecs-Betty Bush, SubMarina, Susan and James Glenn, Jim Dougan/Sysco, T&G Builders, Taylor Bank-Debbie West, Terri Bell, The Beach Club Golf Links, The Bonfire, The Nottingham Family, Tony's Pizza, Town of Ocean City, Trimper's Rides, Walmart-Berlin, Waterman's Seafood, WaWa-W.O.C., Whiskers Baskets of Delaware, Kenneth and Linda Wood, Worcester County Board of Ed., Worcester County Commissioners, Worcester County Retired School Personnel Association, Cross Fit OC and the faculty of Stephen Decatur High School.
(The writers are the co-chairs of the 2009 SDHS After Prom Committee.)