Thoughts From The Publisher's Desk
It seems there are lists compiled and rankings released each week that Ocean City appears on. Cleanest beach, top Boardwalk, best beach, best amusements and the list goes on and on. This week, The Daily Beast, a popular online magazine operated by some well-known media folks, released its compilation of the 20 Most Popular U.S. Beaches.
Whenever Ocean City appears on one of these lists, I wonder how it came about, but a little bit of investigation revealed this week’s ranking seems to stem from a legitimate source.
Apparently, the folks at The Daily Beast contacted the United States Lifesaving Association to garner figures about total beach attendance for more than 200 beaches across the country. Using the beach attendance figure (for instance, four million for Ocean City) and comparing it to resident population (slightly under 7,000 for Ocean City), it determined overall rank. According to The Daily Best, “total visitors and a metric of visitors divided by residents were weighted equally to determine the overall rank.”
The Top 20 List goes like this: Jacksonsville, Fla.; Ocean City, Md.; Miami Beach, Fla.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Belmar, N.J.; Laguna Beach, Calif.; Newport Beach, Calif.; Ocean City, N.J.; Huntington Beach, Calif.; Del Mar, Calif.; San Diego, Calif.; Coronado, Calif.; Encinitas, Calif.; Daytona Beach, Fla.; Clearwater, Fla.; Honolulu, Hawaii; Nags Head, N.C.; Imperial Beach, Calif.; Santa Rosa, Fla.; and Oceanside, Calif.
It was a relief to hear this week that Worcester County public schools are not considering charging a fee for after-school activities, and my hope is Wicomico does not go down that path as appears to be planned.
Facing massive budget cuts, some school systems, such as Queen Anne’s and Prince George’s counties in Maryland, are charging fees to participate in sports, drama and clubs. Wicomico has proposed a $45 fee for football and $40 for other sports. Queen Anne’s now requires $100 per activity or a maximum of $140 for more than one activity. Prince George’s County, which has a massive school system with 198 schools, more than 125,000 students and spends $1.6 billion each year, opted for a flat one-time fee of $50 to cover a student’s after-school expenses.
This is a sad turn of events and a disturbing trend. The so-called “pay-to-play” policy, while nominal in many jurisdictions across the country, sends the wrong message to families and students. Sure, the money is a factor, but the fact is it will not likely keep most kids sidelined.
However, to me this is a perception thing. These new fees (or taxes) come at a time when colleges are demanding extracurricular activities on high school transcripts to confirm students are well-rounded. It seems inconsistent to make participating in any of these required activities fee-based at a time when participation is more important than ever.
The nature of a newspaperman is to be a little on the nosey side. Consequently, that means I am always listening, particularly when around strangers who I believe to be vacationers. Here are a couple comments I overheard this week that gave me pause:
“Yeah, it stinks, but at least it’s not Emily.” Referring to the cloudy skies on Wednesday afternoon and the tropical storm to the south, that’s what one visitor said to a friend as they walked out of the Food Lion in Berlin with multiple bags of ice, steaks, charcoal and a Styrofoam cooler. I later saw them at Cheers! stocking up on numerous cases of beer. They seemed to be making the best of the weather to me.
“No matter what, I have to see them both every day I’m on vacation.” While waiting on a few breakfast sandwiches at Anthony’s Carryout last Saturday morning, that’s what I heard a woman tell her husband. After some more eavesdropping, I was able to figure out she was talking about the daily sunrises and sunsets and that she was from Dallas, Pa.