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September 20 to 27
Professional pickleball came to Avalon this week, putting America’s fastest-growing sport on display. The borough’s new courts were completed just in time for the tournament. The New Jersey Open came to Avalon as part of the Association of Pickleball Players. The tiny borough competed with major venues like Philadelphia, Houston, and Daytona Beach for the ability to host the event.
Tracie Holmes, Avalon’s “Pickleball Ambassador,” said the borough has 1,500 pickleball players and Cape May County tops out at more than 5000. This tournament was broadcast live by CBS Sports. Organizers said it had a minimum economic impact on the local economy of $1.5 million.
Business Administrator Scott Wahl said talks are already underway to bring the tournament back next year. One factor in Avalon’s favor is that many professional players have second homes in the borough. “They approached us,” Wahl said.
Pickleball appeals to players across a variety of age groups. Its popularity has led to the growth of professional players. Top-tier pickleball players can take home a million dollars a year in appearance fees, prize money, and sponsorship deals. Others just entering the sport as professionals make considerably less.
Recently Avalon brokered an arrangement that pleased tennis enthusiasts who felt that pickleball was infringing on their turf. Three new tennis courts will be constructed at the 8th Street sports complex, providing the same number of tennis courts that the complex has always had.
Feds Rethinking Marijuana
After 50 years on the most restrictive federal drug list, marijuana is now being considered for a lower classification on the schedule of controlled substances. In October, President Joe Biden ordered a review of federal marijuana scheduling. The result was a letter from Health and Human Services (HSS) to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recommending that marijuana move down from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 3. One big difference in that schedule change should it occur is that marijuana would be recognized as having medical value. Thirty-eight states have recognized medical marijuana while twenty-three have legalized marijuana for adult recreational use. New Jersey has done both.
Retail cannabis is on its way in the county. Three county municipalities have passed ordinances allowing for the sale of cannabis for recreational use. Middle Township recently changed its ordinance to allow for two rather than just one retail establishment in the township.
A major problem for those seeking to participate in the emerging cannabis industry in New Jersey has been the federal classification. A number of financial institutions have withheld services from retail cannabis shops for fear of complications with the strict federal scheduling of the drug. That has made many retail cannabis shops cash-only businesses, creating another type of security problem.
Reclassifying marijuana to Schedule III would not make it legal at the federal level, but a move from Schedule I to III would represent a major concession and might offer support for moves in Congress toward decriminalization.
Historic Detroit Strike and EVs
Thousands of workers went on strike against the big three Detroit automakers in what many news sources are calling a historic work stoppage. It’s big, but why bring it up here?
The reason is what caused the strike. Sure wages are at the core of most labor strikes but this one has another factor less anticipated. It has to do with the energy transition and the move from fossil fuels to electricity. This massive technology change poses great risks for both the automakers and the unions, and both are seeking to isolate themselves as best they can.
The strike comes as the automakers invest billions in the development of electric vehicles while their revenues are still driven by gasoline-driven cars. The strike may determine the nature of the relationship between the automakers and the workers for years to come. That makes it more than the traditional strike over wages and benefits.
The carmakers are attempting to defend their profits and their place in the market in the face of the historic technological transformation.
We are all going to experience dislocations and disruptions as long as the state and federal governments continue to push the transition to electricity and the fuel of the future. This is just one of those dislocations that was possibly less anticipated than some others.
The unexpected and sudden death of Josephy Fiordaliso left a vacancy as President of the Board of Public Utilities. Governor Phil Murphy filled that vacancy with his former cabinet secretary and aide Christine Guhl-Sadovy.
Six protestors were arrested in Ocean City after they disrupted work on the Ocean Wind I cable route through the city.
Upper Township dealt with complaints concerning “Stop the Windmill” signs distributed by Jeff Van Drew by declaring them to not be political signs. At issue was a township ordinance on when political signs can be displayed.
Wildwood Crest reintroduced an ordinance prohibiting a hotel or motel room from being rented to the general public for more than 30 days in any one calendar year.
Avalon became the first town in the county to take advantage of an Atlantic City Electric program for the replacement of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) units at the borough’s community hall and police station. The program is funded by a surcharge that is part of everyone’s bill.
A demonstration outside of Ocean City High School was meant to show LGBTQ+ students they are welcome in Ocean City.
Murphy is refusing to sign a bill that would remove onerous regulations placed on state breweries because he wants a more comprehensive reform of the state’s liquor license laws. Instead, he has the ABC temporarily lift the regulations.
Crest Haven employees are rallying to oppose the privatization of the county-run nursing home. The union wants to discuss alternatives to privatization.
NOAA has set rules for how Orsted will deal with sea mammals as it moves forward the construction of the Ocean Wind I wind farm.
The Army Corps of Engineers has awarded the contract for the beachfill project in Cape May. Meanwhile, Upper Township said it will pay $1.3 million as its share of the cost for the beach fill in the township.
Oral arguments have been scheduled for early October in the litigation between Middle Township and an outdoor advertising firm seeking to put up large electronic billboards in the township.
Stone Harbor Administrator Manny Parada told the borough council that now was the time for a decision on what to do with a triplex bought by the borough as an affordable housing offset for a large beachfront subdivision.
Twelfth graders in the county Technical High School and Special Services School will get hands-on work experience in county departments under a pilot program approved by the Board of County Commissioners.
Spout Off of the Week
North Wildwood – I’m a taxpayer, I’m a taxpayer, get over it. Everyone pays taxes, it doesn’t make you special or more important. Like the old saying, death and taxes are two things no one can avoid. Stop complaining and enjoy this beautiful place we live.
Read more spouts at spoutoff.capemaycountyherald.com.