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Articles on this Page
- 10/15/15--12:27: _Annual Haunted Fore...
- 10/15/15--12:29: _Residents question ...
- 10/15/15--12:31: _OV continues looks ...
- 10/15/15--12:33: _Sheriff sales on th...
- 10/23/15--13:13: _Selbyville Hallowee...
- 10/23/15--13:47: _The fallen tree: Ma...
- 10/23/15--13:51: _Fenwick Island Town...
- 10/23/15--13:55: _New bypass plan get...
- 10/23/15--13:59: _Trunk or Treat offe...
- 10/23/15--14:00: _S. Bethany presents...
- 10/23/15--14:01: _Sussex County discu...
- 10/28/15--09:03: _BREAKING NEWS: Selb...
- 10/29/15--12:18: _Renaissance residen...
- 10/29/15--12:39: _Costumed kids ready...
- 10/29/15--12:45: _Popeyes Louisiana K...
- 10/30/15--12:25: _‘Rock star’ designe...
- 10/30/15--13:37: _Frankford Fall Fest...
- 10/30/15--13:39: _Bridge to the big t...
- 10/30/15--13:45: _OVPD invites Cops &...
- 10/30/15--13:46: _Fenwick considers l...
- 10/15/15--12:27: Annual Haunted Forest brings the scares to Roxana
- 10/15/15--12:29: Residents question South Bethany’s acquisition of boat, Humvee
- 10/15/15--12:31: OV continues looks at trash, truck traffic
- 10/15/15--12:33: Sheriff sales on the decrease in Sussex, Lee tells council
- 10/23/15--13:13: Selbyville Halloween Parade set to march on Oct. 28
- 10/23/15--13:51: Fenwick Island Town Council may put a limit on hotels
- 10/23/15--13:55: New bypass plan gets warmer response
- 10/23/15--13:59: Trunk or Treat offers safe fun at The River Wesleyan Church
- 10/23/15--14:00: S. Bethany presents a history of the society
- 10/23/15--14:01: Sussex County discusses extending land-use applications
- 10/29/15--12:18: Renaissance residents perk up with pizza party
- 10/29/15--12:39: Costumed kids ready for Halloween
- 10/29/15--12:45: Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen completed, now open in Millsboro
- 10/30/15--12:25: ‘Rock star’ designer coming to local botanical garden
- 10/30/15--13:37: Frankford Fall Festival offering family fun on Saturday
- 10/30/15--13:39: Bridge to the big time: Selbyville actress in Spielberg film
- 10/30/15--13:45: OVPD invites Cops & Goblins to first Halloween festival
- 10/30/15--13:46: Fenwick considers limited hotel expansion options
Children can enjoy Frightless Delights
Don’t go into the forest alone.
This October, the Haunted Forest will come alive at the Roxana Volunteer Fire Company on Friday and Saturday nights. But, new this year, young children can do Roxana’s Frightless Delight, as on Oct. 17 and 24, younger children can enjoy a tamer version of the forest from 5 to 6:30 p.m.
“They’ll be following the same path and going through the same buildings. It’s just turned down. Nobody’s going to be jumping out and scaring them,” said Michael Magee, committee chairman of the Haunted Forest.
It should still be thrilling for brave youngsters, he said.
Kids will get a complimentary trick-or-treat bag, and they’ll receive goodies from friendly creatures of the night. They can wear costumes and enter the costume contest, with prizes announced at 6:30 p.m.
The Frightless Delight is intended for children 12 or younger. Admission for kids costs $2 a head, and parents are admitted free of charge.
Scares for the big kids
After dusk, the regular Haunted Forest is dark and full of terrors. Creepy witches and clowns a “meat shop” are just a few of the horrors that older guests will see.
“I don’t want to give it all away,” Magee said.
“It’s a lot of work, but when a group comes through and they’re really scared, it’s fun … for the actors,” he said.
The Haunted Forest is open Oct 16, 17, 23, 24, 30 and 31. Tickets are sold from dusk until 10 p.m. Admission costs $12 per head.
Visitors should wear suitable clothes and footwear for the chilly and sometimes damp forest. The walking trail includes some crawling, but people can opt to walk around.
Snacks will be sold by the RVFC Ladies Auxiliary. They’re preparing a menu that will include hot chocolate, coffee and food.
The bonfire returns with s’mores and enough warmth to ease those chilly October nights.
“The fire company is here for the community, so we want to try to give back and do something for the community,” Magee said.
The Haunted Forest was a longtime tradition that had a 10-year hiatus, until 2013.
“A lot of people have told me through the years” that they remember the woods from when they were 16 and 17, he said. “Now they’re going through with their kids, and it brings back a lot of memories for them,” he said.
For more information, call (302) 436-2300 or visit www.Facebook.com/TheHauntedForestAtRoxana.
Got a spare recycling bin? Motorboat? Military-grade vehicle?
Through an overstock program, police departments are able to get free equipment that ranges from mundane to massive. But the Law Enforcement Liquidation Program moves so quickly that citizens said this week that they wanted more information on South Bethany’s recent acquisitions from the program.
The South Bethany Police Department recently acquired a Humvee, which carries a militaristic air when in use. But don’t think a SWAT team is hitting the streets, said Sgt. Lee Davis at the Oct. 9 town council meeting. The SBPD has desperately needed this type of vehicle in the past.
“We’ve had several occasions that we had storms … we could not get to people who needed help,” Davis said. “We had no vehicles that could get back in the bay side when it’s underwater.”
The Delaware Army National Guard isn’t deployed until the governor activates them. But during Hurricane Sandy, South Bethany was underwater long before the National Guard was allowed to hit the streets.
“We want to try to be as self-sufficient as we can,” Davis said. “We needed it then, and we didn’t have it.”
Some communities are getting rid of their Humvees, many of which were purchased in a flurry after Hurricane Sandy, and where the costs has been found to outweigh the benefits. So South Bethany had an opportunity to try the Humvee on for size.
The discussion of the program began when resident Mike Matera asked about the Town’s recent acquisition of a boat, which he said he understood will cost $300 to $500 annually for winterization and a spring tune-up.
The boat would help with regular bulkhead inspections, which must be done throughout town, said Town Manager Melvin Cusick. Plus, the police and Town Hall wouldn’t have to rent or borrow a resident’s boat during emergencies. That need could include pulling an intoxicated human or a dead deer from the canals.
“This is a brand new endeavor,” said Mayor Pat Voveris, adding that she supports the program that got South Bethany a free vessel. “We’re a waterfront community. We’re a boating community.”
“It’s going to be cheaper to rent a boat than to buy it,” Matera said.
“Well, it depends how many times we use the boat,” Voveris responded.
Although LESO is a free program, there are associated costs, such as insuring a new military vehicle or hauling a boat up the East Coast.
The town council does not vote on each individual acquisition. Police Chief Troy Crowson explained the program to the council in July, but the council took no action to either condone or forbid utilization of the program.
Since then, the Budget & Finance Committee has considered instituting a bit more oversight, or at least requiring more information about the Town’s needs and the potential cost.
“I have asked for a detailed report on the costs of acquisition and the cost of getting it in shape to utilize,” Councilman Tim Saxton said. “Both of [the vehicles] needed some work to get started. We are tracking the costs. … We are going to track all the way down to the mile.”
If the acquisitions don’t work out, LESO allows the Town to sell the boat after one year, but the Humvee would be sold back to the U.S. government.
no problems that
can’t be fixed
Major damage was sustained to the eastern face of South Bethany’s protective sand dunes during a nor’easter during the first few days of October. Instead of sloping gently down to the beach, the dunes now had an 8- to 10-foot drop, Cusick said.
A few pathways to the beach have been reopened, and 30,000 tons of sand was already moved out of one walkway. Sandpiper Pines seems to gain sand from the rest of town during storms, Cusick said.
When sand begins to naturally build up again, it will be moved with a bulldozer to help rebuild the dunes.
Overall, people remained safe in the storm, although there was flooding, a downed telephone pole and some boats that tried to float away, Cusick reported.
In other South Bethany news:
• The South Bethany Police Department is seeing more incidents of people driving under the influence. Most perpetrators are middle-aged, said Sgt. Lee Davis, with more of the drivers in their 30s, 40s or 50s, and not so much their late teens or 20s.
“It leads us to believe that everything that’s being done, it’s going the opposite of the way you’d like it to go,” in terms of preventative measures, Davis said.
• Davis was also congratulated for his promotion from master corporal to sergeant. He has served 24 years in South Bethany.
“This town is like a family to me. A lot of the homeowners I’ve known for years,” Davis said, so he and the rest of the department try hard to make people feel safe.
• Pam Smith was congratulated for her 10 years of service to the Town, having served as administrative assistant and FOIA coordinator. Voveris complimented Smith’s “dedication and ever-present positive attitude.”
• The South Bethany Women’s Club presented a $1,420 donation to the Baby Lowe Fund, which was matched by Voveris. Coleton Lowe is the son of a Fenwick Island police officer and suffered from a heart condition that required surgery soon after his birth. Fundraising for the family began even before he was born, but he has now arrived and successfully came through his first round of heart surgery.
• Many gutters and outdoor showers are still permitted to drain into the canals because they were connected before a ban was enacted. Resident Ed Nazarian asked why the town council won’t lift the grandfather clause regarding pipes that empty straight into the canals.
“This is a way that we could clean up this water so quickly,” Nazarian said.
“We haven’t seen any quantitative numbers in terms of the number of homes and what difference it could make,” Voveris said. Moreover, she said, the Town solicitor had advised council not to make such a change, due to the litigious nature of grandfathering.
Councilwoman Carol Stevenson asked how many pipes are still connected. She suggested the Canal Water Quality Committee go door-to-door to encourage people to disconnect them, as the Community Enhancement Committee did during a trash can project.
“It’s not hard to disconnect. All you have to do is let it go on the grass,” said Councilman George Junkin, which means it’s not expensive to disconnect, Councilman Wayne Schrader clarified.
• The council agreed to look into Phyllis Finger’s request to adjust the location of a “No Parking” sign on Ocean Drive, so that she and her neighbor’s guests can park in a small area between their houses without worry of being blocked in by a single car on the street. Currently, a single car can block that side yard, so guests’ cars can be trapped.
• An outside company is still expected to remove the air diffusers from the town’s canals, at a cost of $1,000. Junkin said the company has not yet found a buyer for the equipment.
• A town hearing board was appointed to hear the appeal of building permit fee by a property owner. Members include Wayne Schrader, Carol Stevenson and Sue Callaway.
• Having gotten feedback from the Town’s auditor, the council unanimously voted (with Frank Weisgerber absent) to amend the Capital Asset Replacement & Maintenance (ARM) Fund and Depreciation Policy by designating the Capital Asset Depreciation Fund as a committed fund.
• After a follow-up wetlands report, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC) has noted that some ponds in the town have been around since at least the 1930s, while others have grown since the 1990s. Living shorelines could help stabilize the wetlands and absorb the impact of storms, they noted. But otherwise, “There’s nothing we feel need to be concerned about,” Voveris concluded “The town manager didn’t feel we needed to take any action.”
• Oct. 16 is the deadline for returning the town survey. Voveris said she was pleased that 400 surveys had already been returned within the first week.
The town council’s next meeting is a workshop on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 2 p.m.
At its September workshop, the Ocean View Town Council discussed the possibility of a town-wide trash program.
“Essentially, we beat that one to death and said you can take another look to it,” said Mayor Walter Curran at Tuesday night’s meeting.
Councilman Tom Sheeran said he brought up the idea because he had concerns about safety and the maintenance of the Town’s roads.
“You have seven trucks running in and out of each neighborhood. I’m not saying it’s an HOA problem; it’s a Town problem, because you have one truck picking up Mrs. Smith, who’s an unincorporated lady on Muddy Neck Road, between all the rest of us who are incorporated. And he’s running up and down that road at 50, 60 miles an hour. We’ve got seven others maybe doing the same thing.
“In my neighborhood of 89, we do have seven different haulers in there on a weekly basis or more often… Seven o’clock in the morning, and they’re backing up, ‘Beep, beep, beep.’ You’ve got noise; you’ve got all these different vehicles tearing up your roads.
“They’re going fast. [It’s] summertime — all the grandkids are running out there. It’s one of the few places in the world people can come and ride their bicycles on flat land. There’s going to be a disaster eventually, if there hasn’t been one already, because these guys go flying down the road.”
Public Works Director Charles McMullen asked how the Town would enforce the program or keep the non-approved haulers off the road.
“The problem is they’re public roads, and the public includes trash haulers,” said Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader, adding it would be difficult to enforce the program just by knowing which homeowner was not using the Town-selected hauler.
“I don’t see the problem getting cured,” said Curran. “We already know we have one vociferous person objecting… I’ve already heard from three different HOAs that they don’t think it’ll work… They don’t think they’ll have cooperation from their own members,” he said. “Nobody wants to pay something for nothing. There are a number of homeowners in this town that take care of their own trash.”
Curran said everyone agrees that there is a concern with the truck traffic and safety; however, he’s not convinced addressing it through limiting trash haulers is the right approach.
“No one is denying your two basic premises as a problem,” he said.
“Then let’s look at the first two items at the list: safety and road repair. Are there some alternative ways to address these?” asked Sheeran.
Curran said that certainly the Town is actively addressing speeding with its patrols of the streets and deploying its speed cameras.
“As for the roads, quite frankly — and excuse the vernacular — the Town just has to suck it up, because they’re roads everybody uses… I honestly don’t know how to stop them. I’m more than willing to listen for ways, but I can’t figure out a way to stop it.”
The council decided to table the discussions of a mandatory trash program. No future date for discussion was set.
Victor Covey of The Reserves sent a petition to the Town last week, proposing heavy trucks — those heavier than 20,000 pounds — be banned from entering Woodland Avenue.
“Woodland Avenue is in crisis now,” reads the petition. “The additional truck traffic will create extreme safety issues and massive traffic problems unless sensible controls are temporarily imposed.”
The petition, signed by 21 people, also requested that the issue be added to the council’s next agenda for further discussion.
Covey, whose property is not in town limits, attended Tuesday’s meeting and told the council that 166 unincorporated lots in The Reserves will be under construction in the next few years, and residents have concerns about the heavy truck traffic and how that will impact their roads.
He added that many trucks have been using Woodland as a shortcut to other roads, including Muddy Neck.
Curran said the Town is unable to establish limits in terms of the weight of trucks. Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin agreed.
“As far as enforcement goes, Mr. Mayor, when you get into weight, you have to have scales. You have to be able to prove what the weight is,” he said. “The only outfit legally permitted to utilize truck scales in the state is the Delaware State Police.”
“If we said ‘trucks,’ what would that do?” asked Covey. “Could you do that or are you not allowed to do that?”
“Do you drive a Ford or a Chevy?” asked Schrader. “What about his Tundra pickup truck?”
Curran said that, forgetting that there are people who drive pickup trucks, the Town would also need to consider delivery trucks.
McLaughlin suggested, as the Town did with Josh Freeman when Bear Trap was being constructed, that Town officials meet with the developers of the communities and relay their concerns.
“When we sat down with Josh Freeman, who was the developer of that particular development, we made him aware of our concerns. He was able to effect dramatic change very rapidly.”
“I see absolutely no problem with that at all,” said Curran.
The council members all agreed, stating the Town would reach out to the developers to try to address the concerns.
In other Town news:
• The Town had its annual audit, conducted by Jefferson, Urian, Doane & Sterner P.A. The council voted unanimously to accept the 2015-fiscal-year report. The “clean and qualified” report will be available at the Town’s administrative offices and on its website.
• The Ocean View Police Department has a candidate at the Delaware State Police Academy who is training to fill the position of Cpl. Zach Spudis, who will be taking a position with the Delaware State Police. The candidate is expected to complete training in February.
• Trick-or-treating in the town will be held on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 5 to 8 p.m., immediately following the Ocean View Police Department’s Cops & Goblins event in John West Park. Those residents who wish to participate in trick-or-treating are being encouraged to turn their lights on.
• The Town will hold its annual Holiday in the Park event on Dec. 12, featuring Santa arriving by fire truck and a tree-lighting ceremony. There will be activities for kids, including balloon art and face painting.
At this week’s Sussex County Council meeting, Sheriff Robert Lee offered the council an update on his office. Stating the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office has taken a “team approach,” Lee said, noting that he and his staff were focusing on communication and teambuilding.
“It has been nine months… Nine months has gone by very quickly for us,” said Lee. “As far as the communications part of this, I can truly say that [County Administrator] Todd Lawson and I have had excellent communications.”
Lee said he and his staff are a team, having handled more than 11,000 documents and more than 606 sheriff sales thus far in his tenure.
“Which is down,” he said of the number of sheriff sales. “I’m not an economist — I’m just a retired policeman, but that tells me that maybe our economy is getting better in this county. Maybe all of us working together has made this a better place to live.”
He added that the office has brought in approximately $1.5 million in revenue since January.
“I think that’s tremendous.”
Lee said he and Chief Deputy Eric Swanson do the same jobs as road deputies.
“That way we know exactly what their job is. When they have a complaint, we can appreciate and initiate how to get it resolved.”
Under Lee, the sheriff’s office also has state constable status, which Lee said he believes is important.
“The State’s constable position gives us the protection that we need while we’re on duty… But it also makes us have certification in the things we carry… If litigations were to come about, we can say we were certified, we were trained in these particular areas. That’s very important,” he said, adding that they have also been involved in the in-house training the County has offered.
Lee said the office is also working on community relations, going to court every day, connecting with the hospitals in the county, and will be walking in the Sea Witch Parade next weekend, along with the sheriffs’ offices of Kent and New Castle counties.
Lee invited any member of council to visit the office and go on the road with a deputy to see what deputies do in person.
“I think we’re in good shape,” he said.
Ruth Beideman and Sally Beaumont, who serve on the advisory committee on Aging & Adults with Physical Disabilities, also spoke to the council Tuesday, about the upcoming Live Conference.
The conference will be held Oct. 21, from 9 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., with a theme focusing on transportation.
“The elephant in the room has always been transportation,” said Beaumont. “We are battling transportation this year.”
This year’s speakers include Scott Bogren, director of communications for the Community Transportation Association of America; Jerome R. Lewis of the University of Delaware School of Public Policy & Administration; and Rex Knowlton, former United We Ride Ambassador and former CTAA Board president.
“It is our goal, with your help and guidance, to offer Sussex County seniors and disabled the opportunity to have the best quality of life that they can, here in Sussex County,’ Beideman said. “So many of them don’t know what’s out there, what’s available, who they really want to turn to with any concerns or needs.”
Councilman Rob Arlett thanked Beideman and Beaumont, and the committee, for their work.
“It’s vital what you all are doing for our community,” he said. “This is the biggest demographic that is growing… We have to listen and learn how we can help more.”
Those who are interested in attending the conference can learn more by visiting, www.sussexcountyde.gov/news/moving-forward-sussex-county’s-’live-conference’-oct-21.
Continuing a more than 60-year tradition in Selbyville, the annual Lions Club Halloween parade will be held Wednesday evening, Oct. 28, beginning at 7 p.m. The event is jointly sponsored by the Fenwick Island Lions Club and the Town of Selbyville.
Once again the parade will extend the full length of Church Street — from Town Hall to the viewing stand in front of the PNC Bank. However, the costumed children will continue to meet in the Salem Methodist Church parking lot and will only march from there to the PNC Bank. All participants in the parade, with the exception of the children, are being asked to register and receive parade placement assignments at the registration desk at the corner of Dukes and Main Street, behind the PNC Bank, by 6 p.m.
While the primary thrust of this year’s parade is — as it has been in the past — children, costumes, bands and fun, the Lions Club has again chosen the theme of “Sight Night” for the annual event. Lions Clubs worldwide are known for their sight and vision work — whether it be providing glasses for those in need, administering a vision screening test for children to detect childhood vision disorders or raising funds to support vision research. Lions also address other sight issues — including cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, corneal transplants, river blindness and trachoma.
At this year’s parade, members of the Indian River High School Leo Club — a Lions Club-sponsored service organization that also emphasizes community service — will be collecting used eyeglasses. The eyeglasses are ultimately distributed to those in need in developing countries.
When considering costumes for this year, parade-goers are being encouraged to consider the “Sight Night” theme and to bring old eyeglasses for recycling.
As in the past, there will be a children’s costume contest. All children are to meet in the parking lot of the Salem Methodist Church by 6 p.m. Children will be divided into fie age groups (Age 1-4, Grades K & 1, Grades 2 & 3, Grades 4-6, Grades 7 & up, and family groups.) First-, second- and third-place ribbons will be awarded for the best, most original costumes in each group.
A number of high school bands have been invited to participate. This year, the school bands will assemble at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts parking lot on Hosier Street, be assigned a marching position and will line up on Dukes Street.
The parade will also include baton-twirlers, political candidates, neighboring fire companies, scout troops, Miss Delaware Junior Teen, farm equipment and more. Upon arrival, those groups will also register at the registration desk at the corner of Dukes and Main Street, behind the PNC Bank, by 6 p.m., then proceed to their assigned position on Dukes Street. The Selbyville Police Department has banned all motorized four-wheelers and ATVs for safety reasons. Almost anything else is permitted, unless it is judged to be unsafe.
The Lions Club will be selling hamburgers, hot dogs and both hot and cold drinks near the viewing stand in the parking lot of the PNC Bank. There may be other groups selling food items. However, due to new laws governing public events, all vendors (no exceptions) are required to complete a vendor registration form that will be sent to DEMA before the start of the event. Vendor application forms can be obtained only by contacting Fran Pretty at (302) 436-1773.
The Lions Club will also be offering a 50/50 raffle, with the winner getting 50 percent of the proceeds from the sale of tickets. Tickets will be offered by Lions Club members prior to the parade date and also at the parade. The raffle winner will be drawn at the end of the parade. The winner need not be present.
Handicapped parking will be available in the town parking lot behind the Georgia House restaurant on Main Street.
For more information, visit the website for the Town of Selbyville at www.townofselbyville.com or contact Lion Fran Pretty at (302) 436-1773 or Debbie McCabe at Selbyville Town Hall at (302) 436-8314.
What does a Delaware tree have in common with sharks, pirates and near-starvation? It’s just another setback that hasn’t prevented Victor Mooney from sailing from Africa to New York.
Residents near Bethany Beach were surprised to see a man in a wetsuit knocking on doors in the Water Side development on Oct. 8, seeking to borrow a chainsaw. But a tree had blocked the entire Assawoman Canal, and Mooney’s one-man rowboat could not pass.
Mooney is on the last leg of the Goree Challenge, a 5,000-mile Transatlantic journey that began in early 2014. He rowed himself to the Caribbean from the African coast, mirroring the route of Christopher Columbus.
The magnitude of that could take a moment to sink in.
Without a motor or sails, Mooney crossed the Atlantic Ocean, using only his arms and oars for power. The mission began in 2003, with several failed attempts over the past decade (including twice from Goree Island, Senegal). The current trip launched from the Canary Islands on Feb. 19, 2014.
By rowing the Atlantic, Mooney hopes to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS.
“This affects so many people,” Mooney said. “HIV/AIDS is not discriminatory,” affecting everyone from urbanites sharing needles to senior citizens in Florida having unprotected sex.
His interviews are a soundboard, encouraging everyone to get tested for the virus.
Mooney began this journey for “all those who died of AIDS, including my brother,” in 1983, he noted. He has another brother still fighting the disease.
This epic journey is no fundraiser, although people worldwide have donated money, food, water shoes and even a boat or two. International health organizations have cheered him on.
Logging time in Delaware
Mooney has worked his way up the East Coast, through North Carolina’s Dismal Swamp and Virginia’s uncharted marshes, grateful for an escort in rougher conditions. With the warnings of Hurricane Joaquin on the way and a nor’easter set to lash the coast, he took refuge in Ocean City, Md., from Sept. 22 to Oct. 6. That Thursday morning, Mooney waited for the sun to rise and illuminate his path from Fenwick Island through the marsh.
Perhaps it was a low bridge, Mooney first thought when he saw the blockage ahead of him. But when he realized a tree had fallen, he couldn’t stop laughing.
“It was surreal, because I faced many challenges,” he said, including pirates off the Haitian coast, a shark punching a hole in the boat and three previous attempts to row the Atlantic. “You plan for things to happen. You have a life-raft, but no one says, ‘Bring a chainsaw.’”
Born in Brooklyn, raised in Long Island and living in Flushing, N.Y., Mooney expected an immediate response to his Delaware doorbell ringing. But the quiet Water Side development didn’t hear those doorbells until Joanne Levy answered and got the ball rolling.
Since the Assawoman Canal is State-owned, Mooney and his hosts spent the day hoping the Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control would sail down with its own chainsaw.
“It’s interesting,” Bob Levy mused, staring at the boat that afternoon. “I think we’re probably going to have him as an overnight guest.”
“I’m praying someone will come and make a nice cut,” Mooney said, so he could continue his journey. “I want to get home and see the family, but I’m not rushing. … They were kind enough to open their doors to me.”
Mooney had already tried hoisting the deceptively heavy tree. Having fallen during the nor’easter, it rested beautifully over the Assawoman Canal — a tall, slender trunk, capped with a tuft of greenery. Dappled sunlight brushed the forest floor on either side of the canal.
“When I saw the [Assawoman] canal and the scenery, I thought, ‘I’m home again,’” Mooney said of the beauty and tranquility. “Maybe there’s some reason that the Father said, ‘Stop.’”
In the face of death
Having turned 50 on Oct. 19, the public affairs specialist had just spent his second birthday at sea. He never knows when he’ll come or go, but he might rest for a week in a place before continuing his travels.
It hasn’t been a completely sequential journey, either, and Mooney had plenty of opportunities to question God. That shark put a hole in his boat just as Mooney was entering the Caribbean.
Pirates hijacked the Spirit of Malabo on Oct. 30, 2014, off the coast of Haiti. Mooney had crossed the Atlantic, but the boat was stripped. He flew home for the holiday season, grateful, at least, to see his family for the first time in months. After straightening out the paperwork in Haiti, Mooney found a Floridian to perform pro bono repair work on the boat. The following spring, the Spirit of Malabo was sailing north again.
“All waters must be respected,” said Mooney, noting that he has learned three ways not to sail.
His first, homemade boat sank hours after launching in 2006, and in 2009, the water desalinator broke down. In 2011, his boat was damaged in transit, and despite repairs, it still took on water at sea. Mooney said he spent 14 days on a life-raft before a cargo ship took him to Brazil. On Day 2, another passing vessel had ignored him.
“I cried like a baby, because I didn’t want to die,” Mooney said.
Alone in the ocean, he seemed a long way from World AIDS Day in 2004, when he had met Pope John Paul II.
But he opened his “wet, soggy Bible” to Psalm 91, which speaks of God and angels protecting those in danger. Mooney was eventually recued, believing a guardian angel had remained at his side.
He learned early on never to row at night, unless under a full moon. He had also lost about 80 pounds, having mistaken amount of freeze-dried rations needed to fuel a grown man who must row all day. (He gratefully devoured a pizza after reaching the mainland.)
Mooney and his dad used to paddle in the Adirondacks, but that was nothing compared to the sky-high waves Mooney faced at sea.
His current boat, called the Spirit of Malabo, was built in Rio de Janeiro, with a smooth and streamlined wooden hull, reinforced with fiberglass. (Malabo is the capital of Equatorial Guinea, which sponsored the watercraft.) The Brazilian Navy approved its seaworthiness. Besides websites and hashtags, the boat is painted in the colors of the Brazilian flag and decorated with sigils of Equatorial Guinea and the United States of America.
The Spirit of Malabo is 24 feet long and 6 feet at the widest. Mooney sleeps in a tiny enclosed compartment. But at 1,500 pounds, the Spirit wasn’t exactly something Mooney could lift around a fallen tree in a Delaware canal.
“It’s been an incredible journey,” said Mooney, whose mission always points back to HIV/AIDS.
“Never give up,” he said, “because we all face challenges in life, and until we find a cure for this disease, HIV testing is a definitely a prerequisite in ending the scourge. We still face discrimination for folks living with the virus,” although diagnosis isn’t necessarily a death sentence.
Bringing down the tree
In the end, it was members of the Millville Volunteer Fire Company who were the heroes of the day.
“The team came in, cut the logs up, opened up a big space for me to get through,” Mooney said reported at day’s end. “Work still has to be done for local authorities, to cut more wood to make it more accessible.”
But Mooney said he was delighted for a hot shower and hospitality before continuing on to New Jersey.
“It was beautiful, so many folks that came on board,” Mooney said. “I will be leaving in the morning, catching the tide at noon.
“I’m sure I’ll revisit this community — not by boat, of course,” he quipped.
After rowing through the sheltered waters of Delaware, Mooney crossed the Delaware Bay to spend several days in Cape May, N.J. He’ll follow the winding New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway to Manasquan Inlet.
That leaves about 40 miles of ocean to New York Harbor, where Mooney has a delivery to make. He’ll donate the Spirit of Malabo for permanent display at the United Nations headquarters.
But, first, he wants a slice of Junior’s cheesecake when he reaches the Brooklyn Bridge.
Right now, Mooney’s trying to stay dry as autumn settles over the water, following the same advice all the way home: “Never give up … and don’t be afraid to fail.”
Updates on his journey are posted regularly on Facebook and Twitter and at www.GoreeChallenge.com Funding continues for the project and future book, at www.gofundme.com/spiritofmalabofund and www.gofundme.com/goreechallengebook.
When it comes to hotels, Fenwick Island is trying to find a way to make everyone happy.
The town council will consider a new ordinance on Oct. 23 that would allow the Sands Motel to have a higher density than it does now but limit any future hotels to the current, more restrictive code.
Members of the Charter & Ordinance Committee (COC) had discussed the issue for months, starting with the request of the Sands’ new owner to increase the allowed room density (currently one sleeping room per 1,000 square feet of land) to renovate to a more economically viable motel.
In September, the council approved the first reading of an ordinance change to limit the motel to one room per 600 square feet, with a maximum of 65 rooms. But some residents said they feared hotels could pop up on every corner, crowding the beaches and roadways.
On Oct. 6, the COC made a new proposal that keeps the 1,000-foot minimum for all hotels, but allows 600 for the town’s three original hotels: “Each motel/hotel existing prior to [probably 1987, or whenever last hotel was built] shall occupy a lot providing a minimum of 600 square feet of land for each sleeping room, not to exceed a total of 65 sleeping rooms …”
The proposal does not limit the number of hotels in town, and it doesn’t require a moratorium.
However, “I think the fact that any other hotel would have to have 1,000 square feet is going to limit anybody building more hotels because, economically, it’s not feasible,” said Mayor Gene Langan, stating that he liked the proposal.
An entrepreneur could still open a new hotel with 39 rooms.
Some residents still ask what the zoning change will do for Fenwick (although when council members cited the increased room tax revenue, residents also argued that the Town shouldn’t rely solely on motels to fill the Town’s coffers).
Neighbors said they are concerned about the potential for increased traffic on the side roads, should the State require a parking lot without highway entrances.
Fenwick Island could also consider creating a hotel zoning district, although the Town Council was recommended to do that through the Comprehensive Plan process, not through the C&O Committee. Officially, October’s changes would be made to the town code, Chapter 160-2B (Definitions) and Chapter 160-5C(5) (Area Regulations).
In Fenwick, all ordinances must undergo a first reading, public hearing and second reading before the council can vote that they become law.
A public hearing was originally scheduled to precede the Oct. 23 council meeting and a scheduled second reading. But because the proposed ordinance has significantly changed, the council is expected to withdraw last month’s first reading. Then they’ll re-start the process with a new first reading of the revised proposal.
A new public hearing would likely be held just before the November town council meeting and second reading.
The roads in Millsboro have worse congestion than a housekeeper with a dust allergy. Traffic practically crawls during rush hour and all summer long.
The Delaware Department of Transportation’s first proposal to improve that traffic — a brand new, 16.5-mile highway — was heartily shot down by the public in 2013. But DelDOT’s new ideas produced a more soothing effect at a public workshop on Oct. 14.
“We listened to what the public had to say two years ago at the public hearings, and we’re no longer pursuing the Blue Alternative, which is the eastern bypass,” said DelDOT Project Manager Bryan Behrens. “We’re focusing on on-alignment, which means remaining on where 113 is today and providing a third lane, and also providing” a connector between Routes 113 and 24.”
That proposal is called the “Modified Yellow Alternative,” hearkening back to the original on-alignment option.
It costs 85 percent less. It disturbs fewer bodies of water. It requires a fraction of the original relocations. But it is still expected to alleviate north-south traffic, as well as east-west traffic.
The concept has not changed since it was first introduced at an April public meeting.
North of Millsboro, the 2.75-mile connector bypass would begin on Route 113, just north of the Route 20 intersection, between Betts Pond and Sheep Pen Ditch.
Two new bridges would cross Millsboro Pond, still cutting the nose off Sweetwater Pointe, curving closer to Millsboro and meeting Hollyville Road and Route 24 as a four-way intersection.
Route 113 would expand to three lanes on each side, for about 3 miles, from the bypass north of Millsboro to the southern intersection at Dagsboro Road/Handy Road. DelDOT would adjust or eliminate some median crossovers not controlled by a traffic signal. Most of the median would be used to create that third lane on each side.
DelDOT would also do as-needed improvements from Millsboro to Selbyville.
There are no additional planned improvements for downtown Millsboro.
Public reactions to the Yellow Route
Public reaction to the new plan is already less heated than it was in 2013, when people worried about the impact of a four-lane, limited-access highway resembling Route 1 in Kent County. It would have followed a similar route to the new bypass, as well as continuing east of Millsboro, Dagsboro and Frankford before reconnecting to the existing highway in Selbyville.
Residents Mike and Karen Glancey said last week that the new project looked good, if ambitious. Currently using Betts Pond Road to access Route 24, they’d have a much easier time with a bypass.
“It’s crazy down here in summertime,” Karen Glancey said of the tourist season, which she said seems longer each year. “I think this is better.”
“It’s good they’re having all this discussion,” Mike Glancey said. “I think the town of Millsboro, it needs a bypass for sure.
She suggested that Millsboro design a village square for business owners who may be concerned about a potential loss of business due to a bypass. She suggested a central, downtown district with bricked streets. In her vision, parking would be at the outskirts of the pedestrian-friendly village square.
Industrial trucks that crawl through downtown Millsboro (like everyone else) wouldn’t be required to use the bypass, but DelDOT staff said they couldn’t imagine trucks opting for the slower route.
Officials in April estimated that 60 properties would be affected, with six relocations. However, the design is still in flux, especially where the bypass connects to Route 24.
The estimated total cost would be $100 million (of which the federal government would pay a significant portion), significantly less than the $800 million Blue Route.
DelDOT originally preferred the “Blue Alternative” published in September of 2013 in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). But the public and local legislators hammered the idea, so DelDOT reevaluated the plan with the federal government, which would have given the next round of approvals.
While Millsboro officials welcomed anything to alleviate traffic congestion, those from areas to the south vocally decried the Blue Route.
Old Blue Route maps weren’t even on display this month, as DelDOT distanced itself from the scrapped idea.
“We’re moving forward with what we think people want the most,” said Michael Simmons, DelDOT assistant director of Transportation Solutions “I just hope everyone gets the message that we had an alternative a couple years ago. It was pretty big. … We heard loud and clear what their concerns were.”
“I admit they had to do something,” said resident Linda Dolan, although she said she’s still concerned about the impact to Betts Pond wildlife. “I think they’ve done a good job. … They did listen to comments as much as they probably could.”
A loose timeline
Still working from aerial maps, DelDOT has a long way to go and no defined timeline. With many variables, construction could possibly begin in 10 years. The project could rate highly in safety and traffic efficiency, ranking it higher in DelDOT’s to-do list.
If the General Assembly votes to fund the project (which several legislators had vowed not to do for the Blue Route), detailed land surveys could begin in the 2017 fiscal year. Designs and land acquisitions could take another several years apiece.
DelDOT is still in the concept phase of the plan, although people are still being invited to comment. Possibly by the spring of 2016, DelDOT will have recorded all of the road impacts in a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement. Then, an official public hearing will be scheduled. The Federal Highway Administration must then approve the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and give a Record of Decision (ROD).
Then design could officially begin.
The Millsboro-South information can be found at www.deldot.gov/information/projects/us113. Information boards from the Oct. 14 public meeting were posted online, too.
DelDOT is encouraging anyone who lives, works or travels the Route 113 corridor to stay informed.
The public may submit comments until Nov. 30. Write to DelDOT Community Relations; P.O. Box 778; Dover, DE 19903, call (302) 760-2080 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For children who live in the rural areas of southeastern Sussex County, trick-or-treating can be a bit… well, tricky.
Karen Ennis, director of outreach at The River Wesleyan Church in Roxana, said that’s why she decided several years ago that the church should put on a “Trunk or Treat” event.
“It’s a fun and safe event for kids,” she said of the church’s fourth Trunk or Treat, set for Saturday, Oct. 24, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Children will be able to get plenty of treats from about 20 cars that will be parked in the gravel lot at the church, located at 35175 Roxana Road (Route 17). The cars will be decorated for holiday, and some of the owners will be in costume, as well, Ennis said. While the car owners decorate their own cars, all the candy given out has been donated for the event, she said.
After making their way through the “trunks,” families will be invited into the church for more fun. A giant “live” Candyland game, with candy-colored pathways leading to still more sweet confections for the lucky players, will be set up inside for the children to play. A hayride provides the perfect cap for an evening of autumn festivities.
Also during the Trunk or Treat event, free hot dogs and popcorn will be available for the little princesses and superheroes and their families, Ennis said.
The River’s Trunk or Treat has grown each year, with about 400 trunk-or treaters attending the event last year. Ennis said she hopes for even more participants this year.
“I’m not going to lie — it’s a lot of fun,” she said.
For more information, call Karen Ennis at (302) 436-8841.
South Bethany may be young for a local beach town, but residents still proudly study its heritage in the South Bethany Historical Society. Councilman George Junkin will give a talk on “History of the Society” at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29.
Formed in 2010, the SBHS came from the curious mind of Mary Suazo as she probed the knowledgeable mind of Carolyn Marcello, whose sister, May Felerski, was the first Town employee.
The goal of the group is to collect and preserve historical information, while encouraging interest in the history gleaned from those materials. Junkin’s presentation covers the history of the Historical Society, although that also encompasses everything they’ve learned so far.
The lecture touches on everything, including life and storms that shaped today’s South Bethany, the society’s 2014 book “The Best Little Beach in Delaware” and the future Coastal Towns Museum.
Town Hall still displays old photographs and T-shirts that remind visitors of quieter days, when beachgoers were first enchanted by South Bethany.
The lecture is free and hosted at Town Hall.
The Sussex County Council this week discussed how to address land-use application approvals scheduled to expire on Jan. 1, 2016, after the County’s staff had received fewer than 10 requests for extensions but with many more projects approved but not yet completed.
“We, as County staff … have been contacted by less than 10 developments or representatives of developments seeking an extension of what is to be the expiration of their current application,” said County Administrator Todd Lawson, noting that in prior years the Council had elected to extend some applications that were set to expire.
Lawson said the County’s legal staff was asked about the process and responded that, because time extension was granted by ordinance, only Sussex County Council has the authority to consider such request for extensions. Such requests should be directed to the council and be placed as an agenda item in an upcoming meeting.
Lawson said that if the council chose to extend any applications, it would be strictly on a case-by-case basis.
“It’s going to be up to county council if it should be granted and for how long,” he said.
Councilman George Cole asked if the requests could be made after the approvals expired.
“I think the best practice would be beforehand and not look at the issue after the fact… Anyone wanting that or needing that should apply now,” said County Solicitor J. Everett Moore.
Councilwoman Joan Deaver said she was concerned about granting such extensions, especially with the growth taking place in her district.
“I don’t want these units proposed to be built under old code,” she said. “If you want to let them do this, make them bring it up to code. There was a reason for the expiration. A good reason… As far as I’m concerned, this would be one of the worst things we could do.”
Councilman Rob Arlett queried as to how many applications staff was referring to, to which Planning & Zoning Director Lawrence Lank responded that there were more than 200.
“If there are 200-some applications out there, of those, how many are dormant?” asked Arlett.
“I would say probably 30 to 40 percent are totally dormant, with no activity,” responded Lank.
“We were not operating under the assumption that this would be a blanket extension for all applications set to expire,” clarified Lawson. “This would simply be by a case-by-case basis. [The requests received are] actively trying to be at the stage of final but they may or may not make it by the end of the year.”
Deaver said that, with the pace of development, she would like to see a way to better inform people who are looking to move to the area about upcoming development. Lank said those individuals are welcome to contact the County offices or visit the County’s website.
Moore noted that there has been “turmoil” recently regarding a court case involving the Delaware Natural Resources & Environmental Control and soil conservation standards.
“I’ve received calls from many attorneys who deal with land use that are concerned because they have clients that are in the pipeline with projects now, that are ready to get the approvals and are caught up in this and it’s going to cause some delays,” he explained. “We may see an influx of requests because certain projects getting caught up because of the new regulations. I just want to put this on the radar screen of council.
“There may be situations where, through no fault of their own because of this court battle and this agency approval, they may not be able to meet the deadline. Again, that would be something they would come in on a case-by-case basis and show council ‘here’s what happened and here’s why.’”
Lawson said those who apply for an extension, or to have the expiration suspended must provide the County with a number of items, including proof of agency approvals and timelines.
“People that are in this situation are aware that they’re in this situation and they see the end of the line coming. So they are actively reaching out to the County,” he added. “They’ll usually proffer they’re a certain amount of days, months out before they’re able to get final.”
Arlett said that, in the future, with such requests, he would hope the applicant would come before the council with their request. Moore said that, typically, the applicant or their legal counsel would do so, in order to answer any questions the council may have about the request.
Another issue addressed at Tuesday’s council meeting was that County Councilman Sam Wilson was in Christiana Hospital after suffering a stroke on Oct. 16.
“Councilman Wilson fell at home Friday and had a stroke,” said Council President Michael Vincent. “He’s in good spirits; I’ve talked to him…
“He’s in a great hospital with great doctors. He’s going to be doing some rehab and will be home as soon as he can… We ask the public to keep the Wilson family in your prayers.”
On other County news:
• Mark Isaacs, director of the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, presented an update to the council.
“On behalf of the University of Delaware, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the Council for their continued annual support of all of our programs out of the Carvel Research Center.”
Isaacs said that all money provided by the County stays in Sussex County. The monies granted are used to support the 4-H program, Master Gardener program, family consumer science programs, poultry research and crops research programs.
“That’s really important from the standpoint that a lot of the problems that are specific to Sussex County, as far as production agriculture, you can’t get grant funds to support those because they’re not bio-techy.”
• Sussex County Council will not meet next Tuesday, Oct. 27. The next council meeting is scheduled for Nov. 3 at 10 a.m.
At a meeting between the Fenwick Island Lions Club and the Town of Selbyville mid-week, organizers decided to cancel the Selbyville Halloween Parade scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 28, due to the likelihood of intermittent rain, fairly high winds and possible thunderstorms.
“Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the event — the required permitting, closure of roads, number of fire police and police officers involved and the number of groups involved — rescheduling the parade, on short notice, is simply not possible,” they said.
The winner of the Lions’ 50/50 raffle, scheduled to be drawn at the conclusion of the parade, will instead be drawn at the club’s luncheon meeting, to be held on Monday, Nov. 2, at Harpoon Hanna’s restaurant. The winner will be notified and will be posted on both the Town of Selbyville website and the Fenwick Island Lions Club website.
Every schoolchild knows that pizza day is the best. Senior citizens at Cadia Rehabilitation Renaissance nursing center still love pizza day, thanks to local volunteers and Grotto Pizza.
On pizza day in Millsboro, Oct. 6, there was excitement in the air, from the morning announcements until lunchtime itself, said nurse Jermel Vanderhorst, LPN.
“It’s something different from their regular [day],” Vanderhorst said. “Who doesn’t like pizza?”
Pizza is actually a rarity at Renaissance, staff said, but almost everyone gets a slice.
“It’s such a special day for them. They get to eat Grotto Pizza,” said Emily McIssac, Renaissance activity director, who sees “more smiles on a day like this.”
Cora Burgan, Jane McLaren and Eul Lee regularly visit with Renaissance residents, through the ombudsman program of Delaware Health & Social Services.
Since 2009, they’ve encouraged Grotto Pizza to donate lunch.
“Outside community groups — they really make an impact in nursing homes,” McIssac said. “It doesn’t have to be big like this. Just volunteering in general is helpful.”
Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church paid for part of the cost of the pizza, through the Rock of Ages senior outreach group. They try to ensure seniors have “no unfulfilled needs” at all nursing homes within a 12-mile radius of the church, said leader Elliott Workman. Burgan leads the Rock of Ages team at Renaissance.
Grotto Pizza cooked 20 large cheese pizzas (plus one gluten-free) in Long Neck, with coordination from its location in Bethany Beach. Bethany’s General Manager Sean Golden has known Burgan for a long time, and he’s following in his predecessor’s steps of supporting the pizza parties.
This is part of a corporate mission to “give back to the community that we’ve been in for 50 years,” Golden said.
“The party is put together with the help from the community. It all starts with Grotto Pizza,” Burgan stated.
Students at the Howard T. Ennis School (for those with specialized education needs) baked chocolate brownies and served them to the seniors.
Working as the Happy Café, the students learn life skills and job training, such as assembly line skills. They have cooked for Renaissance seniors many times, baking holiday desserts and prepping cold-cut subs.
“I am a big believer in community service,” said instructor Dawn Ciccanti. Bringing the students to Renaissance makes a good impact on everyone, she said.
“It makes a difference when they can see … the rewards of that effort because it’s a team effort,” Ciccanti said. “I know it make a difference for the students and residents, too. … They both look forward to it.”
Halloween is upon us, and no one is more excited that the children of southeastern Sussex County. The Coastal Point spoke with four youngsters at John M. Clayton Elementary School in Dagsboro this week to find out just who or what they are planning to be when they hit the streets in search of treats this weekend.
Second-grader Angelo Retzos is planning to dress up as a police officer. When asked why he wants to don the uniform of such a community superhero, he declared that “me and my friend always go trick-or-treating together and we always dress up as the same thing” — ever since they were little kids, in fact, added 7-year-old Retzos.
At the ripe old age of 10, fifth-grader Harold Toomey declared, “I don’t really trick-or-treat.”
“I’m just going to wear a mask and scare people,” he said, although he admitted that he and his scary mask might just find their way onto a front porch or two on Halloween night in search of candy. With all those years of Halloween fun behind him, Toomey said the year he was a zombie was probably his favorite.
William Retzos, 5, is very excited to put on his Wolverine costume for the night. He is quick to clarify he is going to be “Wolverine the superhero, not the animal.” The Clayton kindergarten student is looking forward to scooping up some major treats with those big long claws, so look out for him!
Jaxon Rickards, also 5, is looking forward to morphing into the ultimate Transformer, Optimus Prime. The best part of his Optimus outfit? “It has muscles!” the kindergartner said, eyes popping with excitement.
As far as candy goes, the boys at Clayton Elementary seem partial to anything chocolate — particularly the tried and true Hershey Bars. Reese’s Cups and Kit Kats also get thumbs up, as well as Skittles, and for fifth-grader Toomey, gum is also a big hit.
Not so popular with the boys? Lollipops. Keep that in mind as you’re filling your treat bowl Saturday afternoon. Oh, and Angelo Retzos’ worst candy ever? “Smooshed M&Ms.” No arguments there — that’s just wrong. Little brother William Retzos also wants everyone to know that he does not like nuts.
Even though he says “I like scary stuff,” Harold Toomey admits the time a neighbor ran around with a chainsaw (without the blade, but not without that sound!) on Halloween did freak him out a little.
So remember, keep the chocolate flowing, and keep the chainsaws at home on Halloween night, and all the little ghosts and goblins will be happy (and filled with sugar, of course).
General contracting and construction management firm Gillis Gilkerson announced this week the completion of the new Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen on Commerce Drive within Peninsula Crossing Shopping Center in Millsboro.
The 2,800-square-foot fast-food restaurant was a new construction project for Gillis Gilkerson. The interior décor and style are modeled after New Orleans, and the chain offers quick service and seating, accommodating 65 customers.
Owner Mike Abercrombie from CATO Oil LLC is a repeat customer of Gillis Gilkerson, after the company built 52nd Street Assawoman Ale Shoppe in Ocean City, Md., and completed several other renovations to other existing Popeye’s, Goose Creek and Subway stores across Delmarva.
“We are committed to building strong relationships with every one of our customers,” said Dwight Miller, president of Gillis Gilkerson. “When a repeat client continues to bring us new projects, that relationship very quickly turns into a partnership. It gives Gillis Gilkerson the opportunity to showcase different expertise and talents in the construction management business. We were happy we could again fulfill Mike’s vision for the new Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen in a different market and help him grow his business.”
“Gillis Gilkerson is always a pleasure to work with,” said Michael Abercrombie, Popeyes owner. “They assisted with the permitting process from the beginning and have a great reputation for being on time and on budget while delivering a quality product. Delaware is growing and Route 113 is a hotspot, making Millsboro the crossroads of Delmarva. We are excited to build a new business for locals and travelers alike.”
Project Manager Matt Esham and Superintendent Mike Hillman finished the project less than a month ago and Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is now open for business.
Considered a “rock star” of landscape design, Piet Oudolf has headlined in gardens worldwide. And he’s coming soon to Dagsboro.
With a thick shock of white hair, this Dutch master of meadows toured Delaware Botanic Gardens (DBG) the first time on Oct. 18. Located on Pepper Creek, the 37 acres of forest and former soybean fields are waiting to become a world-class public garden a mile east of Dagsboro. Plans call for the first phase to open in 2017.
Oudolf has agreed to transform about 1.5 acres into a colorful, rippling meadow.
“Oudolf is becoming recognized as one of the most transformative garden designers of our time,” stated landscape architect Rodney Robinson. “His influence spans an international scale. I can’t think of a better garden designer to launch the Delaware Botanic Gardens.”
Oudolf’s association with the garden will increase its visibility, said Holly Shimizu, former executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden.
“It’s wonderful to have someone as well known and as experienced as he is. … His work will bring large numbers of people to come,” Shimizu said.
“We want to build enthusiasm, build support,” Shimizu said. “[We’re trying] to get people excited about the natural beauty of Delaware.”
Oudolf liked the garden’s goal of using mostly native plants, which he’s aimed for in designing for the High Line in Manhattan, Millennium Park in Chicago, The Battery in Manhattan, Trentham Gardens in the U.K. and many more.
Oudolf said he was especially attracted to the public nature of DBG.
“My work is for sharing,” the designer said. It’s rare for a beautiful tract of land to have the resources to publicly become what the botanic board envisions, he noted.
But that’s why the Sussex County Land Trust leased the land to the garden for dirt-cheap ($1 annually for 99 years). The land will be used by those “who have a greater vision,” said Dennis Forney, head of SCLT.
But Oudolf said the people are just as important as the land, since they’re the ones who will maintain the garden in perpetuity.
Beauty in the meadow
Board member Diane Maddex was blown away when she first saw videos of Oudolf’s “ethereal” Vlinderhof butterfly garden waving in the wind.
“He takes native grasses, and he adds color in the most imaginative ways,” Maddex said of the Netherlands garden.
Oudolf has co-authored several books, which sit in the Annapolis office of landscape architect Meredith Beach.
“The way he puts plant combinations together are incredible … very inspired, very proactive and very colorful,” Beach said. “They’re meadows, but they’re very designed meadows, so they look natural but controlled, so lots of color, lots of activity and texture.”
When Forney, her father, allowed her to come to the garden for Oudolf’s visit, Beach was delighted to potentially see his entire gardening process from start to finish.
“Seeing sort of how his mind puts it all together … there’s so much complexity, so many layers come together to make a designed meadow,” Beach said. “He’s probably the most famous landscape designer that there is. So to have one of his creations [here] is unbelievable. … His designs are iconic. They’ll be landmarks, just like the High Line is.”
The garden will also become a place for landscape architects and designers to learn.
The artist at work
Pausing to look at plants and chat with guests, Oudolf moved through the gardens on his own timetable. While his hosts discussed a soil test, Oudolf walked slowly, snapping photos and just starting to understand the place. He wasn’t ready to announce any big plans yet.
“Do you have any idea when you come somewhere for the first time?” Oudolf said. “The fact is that it’s just impressions that you have. … I’m always sort of blank, open, don’t think too much the first time, just let it come.”
Eventually, his ideas will start to layer upon each other.
Oudolf said he wants people to “feel part of” his creations, although everyone feels something different.
“What does it do to people? Some people see it more as just a nice place, and other people see it as a very emotional place, some people see it as a very interesting place.”
“His work looks so effortless, but it’s so hard for anyone to recreate what he does, and that’s what separates him,” Beach said.
Hovering at the edges is filmmaker Thomas Piper, who is finishing a documentary on Oudolf.
“He lives up to this sort-of romantic notion of an artist. He works by himself, he has no office, he works in his studio alone,” Piper said. “But I think … this is just his outlet. He found his medium. It happened to be plants. To me, it’s no different than being a painter, sculptor or photographer.”
Piper had previously wrapped filming in February. But Oudolf thought the film could end with the start of Delaware’s garden.
“Maybe this is the end of the film and the beginning of something else,” Oudolf said.
“We just have attracted some wonderful people to this project, and it just continues,” said DBG Board of Directors Member Ray Sander.
Oudolf only learned about the project a few months ago. One DBGer was Facebook friends with Oudolf and broached the idea with him. After chatting with the board via Skype, Oudolf added a 24-hour detour to an existing U.S. trip.
After the more formal tour and introduction on Oct. 18, he enjoyed a second, more leisurely stroll the next morning.
Oudolf has informally agreed to work on the garden’s design, with the more official documents to be signed in the coming weeks. But it will cost some money to get a world-class designer involved.
“This signature Oudolf meadow presents a special naming opportunity for a donor who wants to support this central feature of the Delaware Botanic Gardens,” the board stated. “All contributions to making this meadow a reality in the next few years are equally welcome.”
Family fun can be had this Halloween by visiting Frankford for its revived Frankford Fall Festival.
Organized by the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company, the Town of Frankford and the Frankford Public Library, along with the United Methodist Church, Antioch AME Church, the Frankford Presbyterian Church and the Father’s House, the event was organized to bring people together in the town.
“I think it’s important for any small town to have events that bring everyone together and have an opportunity to have a good time as a group,” said Robbie Murray, president of the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company, who helped plan the event.
Held on Saturday, Oct. 31, the event will begin at Frankford Town Hall, with a costume contest. Registration will begin at 10:30 a.m., with the judging to be held at 11 a.m. The contest age groups are younger than 3, 3-6, 6-8 and 9-12. Prizes will be awarded for scariest costume, most original, most realistic and funniest.
“The fire company ladies’ auxiliary is handling the costume contest, along with members of the youth group of the United Methodist Church.”
Following the judging, the kids may participate in a parade down to the Frankford Town Park, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Festivities at the park will be held from noon to 4 p.m.
“We will have hay wagon rides. There will be pumpkin painting, tattoos, moon bounces and various games,” he said.
Murray said that, additionally, there will be hourly demonstrations from emergency services, including a smoke house.
“There will be a live demonstration from a K-9 officer and their dog. The Delaware State Police helicopter will be landing, and the fire company will have a vehicle extrication display,” he added.
“There will be a couple food vendors available, as well as a D.J. who will be playing some music and coordinating games.”
Following the conclusion of the fall festival, the Town will hold trick-or-treating for children 12 or younger, from 4 to 6 p.m.
The event, said Murray, will be a good precursor to the Town’s Christmas in the Park. A park/tree-lighting ceremony will be held Nov. 28 to kick off Christmas in the Park, which will be held on Wednesdays through the month of December and give area kids the chance to meet Santa before Christmas Eve.
Murray said the planning committee received a great deal of support during while organizing the event.
“Every time we turned around, someone else was wanting to jump in and participate, which was great. Everything really came together extremely well.”
All are being invited to attend the events for an afternoon of fellowship and holiday festivities.
“I think it’ll be received well and I think each year it will continue to get bigger, and certainly easier to organize in future years. We’re starting out small, and our hope is that each year, more and more people attend, and we can look for areas to improve and areas to gain more attention and increase participation.”
Frankford town hall is located at 5 Main Street in downtown Frankford.
A young Selbyville actress is starting her career with some of the best. At 9, Jillian Lebling has made her feature film debut in Steven Spielberg’s “Bridge of Spies,” released Oct. 16 and starring Tom Hanks.
In the film set in the fearfully uncertain Cold War era, Tom Hanks plays a Brooklyn insurance lawyer asked to defend a Soviet spy in court. Later, he must negotiate the trade for an American pilot.
Lebling plays Peggy Donovan, the youngest child of the characters played by Hanks and Amy Ryan. The historical drama thriller also features Alan Alda and Mark Rylance.
The live-action film is based on a true story from the late 1950s, dramatized in a script by Matt Charman and Ethan Coen and Joel Coen. The eponymous bridge refers to Germany’s Glienicke Bridge, where the 1962 trade took place.
When Lebling got the job, she was stunned. But that’s because she was tricked into thinking it was a regular callback.
“I thought this was all a callback. But it wasn’t,” said Lebling in a YouTube video she posted later. She was just reading lines cold from the cue cards. “It said, ‘I booked it.’ I was like, ‘I booked it? I booked it?’ I was totally in shock.
“I always liked acting, ever since I can remember. I liked putting on shows for my family and other people,” Lebling said.
Lebling said the mother of Quinn McColgan (Millsboro actress and fellow Worcester Preparatory School student) once remarked that Lebling looked like a young Quinn and suggested she consider acting on a professional level.
After a New York acting class, Lebling signed with a talent agent and was soon cast as the daughter in the Broadway musical “Once.”
She was 6 years old and worked for more than a year.
Over the past few months, Lebling was proud to see the New York screenings and Ocean City, Md., showings of “Bridge of Spies.”
“Actually, seeing my face in theaters was pretty awesome,” she said.
Lebling liked her character, too, “because she’s kinda like me, a sweet and playful child. She has a brother, which is like me. It’s just really fun to play her.”
So what’s it like working with people who have the phrase “Academy Award” in their bio?
“It was really cool to work them,” Lebling said, having seen a lot of their work. “They were really nice. I joked around with Amy Ryan and Tom Hanks behind the scenes. … We would always goof around backstage.”
She shot the film in Brooklyn for three weeks in October of 2014, catching the subway near her family’s apartment to the filming location.
Several months later, Spielberg sent her a swanky set of headphones.
Lebling has also appeared in two episodes of NBC’s award-winning “The Blacklist,” cast as a young Elizabeth Keen.
Lebling said she prefers moviemaking, noting, “You have a lot of days to do it, and if you mess up, it doesn’t matter,” Lebling said, “but on Broadway you only get only one chance.”
But she said she doesn’t get nervous often, and she wants to continue in the biz.
“But I would also like to explore other parts of the business, like casting and directing. … I kinda want to figure out the other stuff,” she said.
Someday, she hopes to work with director M. Night Shyamalan.
Right now, her next project is a secret, but Lebling said to keep a look out. Outside of school and acting, Lebling enjoys soccer, fishing, reading and performing card tricks.
Movie buffs can join Lebling for a Q&A at the Clayton Theatre on Sunday, Nov. 1. She’ll attend both showings of “Bridge of Spies,” at 2:30 and 7 p.m.
During Halloween weekend and the following week, “Bridge of Spies” will be shown locally at the Clayton Theatre, as well as the Movies at Midway, Fox Sun & Surf Cinema, Fox Gold Coast Theatre and Regal Salisbury Stadium. The film is rated PG-13.
This Saturday, the Ocean View Police Department is inviting the public to its inaugural Halloween festival, Cops & Goblins.
“We were just hoping to host a nice event for the kids in the area,” said Cpl. Rhys Bradshaw. “Unfortunately, we don’t get that much kids trick-or-treating around here, so we wanted to provide a nice, safe, family-friendly environment for children to come with their families, get some candy, see a magic show.”
The festival will take place on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 1 to 5 p.m. in Ocean View’s John West Park. During the free family-friendly event, children can trick-or-treat from vendor booth to vendor booth hosted by a number of area businesses and organizations.
“For example, Lord Baltimore will be handing out books and candy,” explained Bradshaw.
The Ocean View Police Department will also have a vendor table of their own, where children can take photos with the department’s officers in front of a police car cut-out and meet K-9 officer Hardy.
“We’ll have coloring books, candy, stickers that look like police badges and plastic police hats we’re going to be giving out,” he added.
The event is also a community outreach, to give local children the opportunity to meet the police officers.
“We want the kids to not be afraid to come up to us and talk to us when they see us,” Bradshaw said. “Hopefully, when they see us after this, they’ll know our names and feel comfortable to come up to us.”
The event will also have free hotdogs and hamburgers, provided by Charlie K’s BBQ, and a costume contest will be held for those 12 or younger, divided up into three age groups. Children will have the chance to take home a medal for Best Cop, Best Goblin and Best-All-Around costumes.
A free magic show will entertain attendees at 3 p.m. at the main pavilion, provided by Dickens Parlour Theatre. A D.J. will also be on-site to play music and provide entertainment.
Following the conclusion of the event, Ocean View Mayor Walter Curran will kick off trick-or-treating in Ocean View, which will go from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Participating residents are being encouraged to put their front lights on.
Bradshaw said the entire department is excited for the event and hopes the community will come out, meet the officers and have a great time.
“It’s our first year, so we’re just hoping it’s an event we can build on and grow bigger and better every year. We hope we have a lot of people who will come out in the community and have a good time.”
For more information about Cops & Goblins, call the Ocean View Police Department at (302) 539-1111. The event’s rain date is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 1, from 1 to 5 p.m. John West Park is located at the intersection of West and Oakwood Avenues.
The Fenwick Island Town Council has backed off its original proposal to increase permitted hotel room density in the town. On Oct. 23, they approved, 5-2, the first reading of an ordinance that allows only existing hotels to increase density, to one sleeping room per 600 square feet of land.
“All hotels that are built in the future would follow existing [code],” allowing one room per 1,000 square feet, which was enacted after Fenwick’s three existing hotels were built, said Councilman Bill Weistling Jr.
No hotel could exceed 65 rooms.
That particularly affects the Sands Motel, whose owners requested the change, because they hope to renovate the motel and build more than its existing 39 rooms on 39,000 square feet of land.
(According to the Charter & Ordinance Committee, the Seaside Inn has 61 rooms on 39,000 square feet, and the Fenwick Islander has 62 rooms on 22,500 feet. Those buildings average one room per 639 and 362 square feet, respectively.)
After residents complained that an influx of hotel visitors could flood the town, beaches and roadways, the council withdrew the original first reading of the ordinance (from September). They had received a dozen letters in opposition to the original proposed ordinance, said Councilwoman Julie Lee.
Lee asked whether, if a hotel is rebuilt, it would still be considered a hotel that was built before the ordinance.
That might depend on whether it’s demolished or fills the same footprint, said Town Solicitor Mary Schreider-Fox. But, after the meeting, she clarified that the “existing” hotels more relates to the property’s use as a hotel, not just when the specific building was constructed.
A public hearing on the revised ordinance was scheduled for Dec. 4, before the Town Council’s second and final vote the changes to the town code’s Chapter 160-2B (Definitions) and Chapter 160-5C(5) (Area Regulations).
A fourth hote
But the possibility of a fourth hotel surprised everyone, when hotelier Reid Cummings stood up to announce his plans to build in Fenwick. He said he was prepared to sign the final documents and build, but only under the previously proposed ordinance (65 rooms for anyone). But “I can’t pay what I’ve agreed to pay” if the council limits new hotels to a minimum of 1,000 square feet of property per room.
Although he wasn’t ready to share the exact location, he said it’s well situated and is approximately the size of the Sands property, so he could only build 39 rooms under the newly proposed regulation. The site is not currently a hotel but is zoned to allow that use.
“The fellow who’s gonna build this is known to most of you on the council. … I just want you all to know,” Cummings said. “I think I have right to build it if it comes through. I just don’t understand how you can limit it.”
He warned that the council could be “hindering the value of the property” if it limits hotel size, especially when the town’s precedent for maximum density for a hotel is less than 400 square feet per room, as the Fenwick Islander has 62 rooms on 22,500 square feet of land.
As the owner of the Atlantic Coast Inn on Route 54, just outside of town limits, Cummings said he had not wanted to announce his plans at the Oct. 23 meeting but didn’t want to later be accused of trying to hide his intent.
“It’s not a private beach. The beach belongs to everybody,” Cummings told the Coastal Point after the meeting. “The season here is literally three months,” so hotels need to fill as many rooms as possible to pay their mortgage, he said.
The public responds
During public comments, some residents and property owners still weren’t appeased by council’s change to the proposed ordinance. Some suggested that council was jumping to act when owner Spiro Buas had known what he was buying with the Sands Motel. Many of those people weren’t opposed to improvements being made to the motel, but they said they wanted the council to truly examine all impacts that it, and others, could have.
Richard Benn bluntly asked Mayor Gene Langan why he thinks increasing the number of hotel rooms is in Fenwick’s best interests.
“I think the thing needs to be rebuilt. I don’t see a downside,” Langan said. Asked what assurance the Town will get, Langan said, “What assurance do we have for any business or any homeowner? What do you want me to do?”
Benn said he wanted a letter of intent and building plans, but Langan said Fenwick doesn’t have those kind of requirements.
“Personally, I’m not opposed to redeveloping the property,” Benn said. “I’m just opposed to not addressing concerns of the immediate neighbors.”
Residential or commercial, architectural drawings have never been made publicly available before buildings were approved, although building and parking codes must be followed, Weistling said.
Dottie Lopez suggested that town business, such as public hearings, be delayed until more people are staying in town: “My biggest concern is 70 or 80 percent [of people] that make up Fenwick Island are non-residents, and you’re holding this public hearing in the dead of winter, December, when these people are gone. … We got in trouble last year when some things were passed or looked at without the majority of the people here. I’m hoping you will delay the decision until the people are here.”
Tim Collins rejected that idea, stating that the town council’s objective is to address issues as they arise: “Libby’s [restaurant] was vacant for years because there was no move to do anything or there was resistance to doing anything. When we don’t make an effort to change or better the town, these are the things we end up with,” said Collins.
He brought up the outdoor patio at Mancini’s restaurant, which people railed against because they didn’t want an outdoor party atmosphere, “And you know what? The guy did a great job with it,” Collins said. “I’m not saying this is the answer, but … it’s a negative presentation to leave [the Sands] as it is.”
The council was asked about a state law requiring 75 percent of town council to approve any zoning measure, if the measure is opposed by at least 20 percent of owners within a certain radius of the affected commercial zone.
Anyone truly dissatisfied may take the town council to court for any decisions it makes, Weistling said.
But the council should represent the people, said Ann Christ, so “Why would anybody have to go to court?”
“I’m saying anybody can appeal our decision,” Weistling said.
Baby on the mend
Police Chief William Boyden reported that Cpl. Stephen Lowe and his wife, Amanda, had their baby Oct. 7. The first operation to begin treating the baby’s congenital heart defect was successful.
But the second, seven-hour, operation had complications, including a blood clot in the baby’s leg, damage to his esophagus and a stroke during the procedure.
However, despite those complications, and most importantly, baby Coleton came home this week with his family.
“It’s going to be constant care. I think it’s going to be a tough year,” Boyden said. “Thank you so much. The amount of people that have stepped up and donated money has been incredible,” from a police retiree donating $500 to a child delivering $5 in quarters, he added.
Town survey coming to a mailbox near you
In a flurry of motions and seconds, the town council approved a town survey, to be mailed out in the final week of October.
“With new construction, if there is an 18- to 24-inch increase in the lowest floor to accommodate for freeboarding, should the owner be allowed to raise the overall height of the structure by 18 to 24 inches above the current 30-foot height limit?” the survey asks.
The options for answers are: yes, no or neutral.
The council agreed to include a freeboard fact sheet, published by FEMA, for people to draw their own conclusions about the definition and potential benefits of freeboard.
The survey was approved 6-1, with Councilman Roy Williams objecting because he wanted people to vote on the individual halves of the question separately. However, as Councilman Richard Mais pointed out, the increase in the building height limit was only ever discussed in the context of allowing freeboard.
Responses to the survey are due by Dec. 1.
In other Fenwick Island news:
• The council unanimously approved a weapons ban in municipal buildings and properties, such as the town parks. Chapter 116, Article III (Gun Ordinance), prohibits the open carry of firearms, but allows concealed carry, with a permit.
• Committees were named for the 2015-2016 council year, including the new ad hoc election committee led by Julie Lee.
“Anybody that submitted an application has been either included on a commission or on a board,” Langan said. “There’s nobody that’s been excluded whatsoever. In fact, there’s 22 new people [for a total of] 90 committee members. That’s pretty amazing for such a small town, that we get such a good [turnout].”
• Contractor George & Lynch was the low bidder, asking $109,000 for the 2016-fiscal-year street repairs, which will nearly complete years of heavy roadwork in Fenwick. Local legislators have contributed about half that cost, significantly reducing the Town’s payment. The council unanimously approved the bid.
• The beach services contract is up for bids, now for three years, plus one year’s renewal, for a concession to supply rental chairs and umbrellas at the State Line Beach.
• After the council agreed to sell 13 surplus wooden beachfront signs for $50 apiece, 13 audience and council members raised their hands to purchase all of them.
“I told you we should have done $100,” Weistling quipped of the antique signs, crafted by Shorty’s in Bethany Beach.
• Mary Ellen Langan will meet with someone from the State regarding beetle inspections around the town in late October.
• The Town received $1,400 from the American Lung Association for signage about tobacco use to be placed on lifeguard stands. On a related note, more than 1,200 cigarette butts and 21 cigars were found discarded on the beach this summer.
• Langan reported that the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company doesn’t intend to request a rate increase this year, leaving the annual fee for Fenwick Island homeowners at $53. “It’s our intent to approve the budget with the fire company when they present it to us in November,” Langan said of the area service members.
• The Fenwick Island Public Safety Building has closed for the winter, as usual. It will reopen in spring.
• Progress continues in work to develop a stronger Town website. New improvements may be presented as early as the Dec. 4 council meeting.
The next regular Fenwick Island Town Council meeting is Friday, Dec. 4, at 3:30 p.m., with the planned public hearing set to begin at 2:30 p.m.