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    Sussex Dance Academy of Rehoboth Beach has been a training ground in classical ballet and other dance forms since 2002. Sussex Ballet is a pre-professional ballet company comprising students from Sussex Dance Academy, under the artistic direction of Kate Downes Walker.

    Although it is in its 13th season, the upcoming Dec. 5 performance of “The Nutcracker” will be the company’s premier performance in Ocean City, Md. The show is considered appropriate for all ages and is often enjoyed as a way to start the holiday season. Audiences will have the opportunity to meet lead characters after the performances.

    “The Nutcracker” will be performed by Sussex Ballet on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the Ocean City Performing Arts Center at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center. There will be two performances, with curtain at 2 and 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at or at the box office.

    In its 12th annual production of this seasonal favorite, the Sussex Ballet, which comprises dancers ranging in ages from 7 to 18, has a holiday treat for every member of the family.

    The ballet will begin with a gala Christmas party at the home of the Stahlbaums. There, the mysterious Herr Drosselmeyer demonstrates his life-size dancing dolls. The high point of the party is the distribution of gifts to the children. Stahlbaum’s daughter, Clara, receives a beautiful nutcracker in the shape of a toy soldier. As the party ends, Clara falls asleep, and the rest of the ballet takes the form of her dreams.

    The Nutcracker comes magically to life when the Mouse King and his army of mice attack. They are defeated after a fierce battle with the wooden soldiers led by the Nutcracker, but Clara saves the day by striking the Mouse King with her shoe.

    The Nutcracker is then transformed into the Snow Prince, who conducts Clara through the Land of Snow, where they are entertained by the Snow Queen and her Cavalier, with their corps of dancing snowflakes.

    As the second act opens, Clara continues her dream journey into the Kingdom of Sweets, presided over by the Sugar Plum Fairy, her Cavalier and her ladies-in-waiting. The colorful divertissements dance to entertain her.

    For more information, contact Sussex Dance Academy at (302) 645-7855 or visit the website at

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    Christmas crafts and cookies will bespecial added sale features at the next St. Martha’s Episcopal Church used book sale on Dec. 5.

    The sale will be at the church in Bethany Beach, beginning at 9 a.m. and extended until 3 p.m.

    The Christmas Shop will offer unique decorations and a wide variety of lovely gift items. The popular used-book sale offers good-condition hardbound and paperback fiction and non-fiction, children’s reads, CDs, DVDs, puzzles and games.

    Proceeds from the sales benefit St. Martha’s community outreach programs. Items for the used book sale are always needed, and may be dropped off in the bin on the church’s front porch Wednesday through Friday mornings (No textbooks or reference books, please).

    For more information about the sale, call (302) 539-7444.

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    Coastal Point • File Photo: The annual Thanksgiving for Thousands event, put together by Mountaire, is always a festive occassion, marked by hard-working volunteers and some holiday spirit.Coastal Point • File Photo: The annual Thanksgiving for Thousands event, put together by Mountaire, is always a festive occassion, marked by hard-working volunteers and some holiday spirit.On Monday, Nov. 23, hundreds will gather in a Mountaire Farms packing facility in Selbyville so that thousands will have a filling Thanksgiving meal this year.

    For the 20th year, Mountaire is the driving force behind the Thanksgiving for Thousands event. Starting at 8:30 a.m., volunteers will line tables crowded with everything necessary for a proper Thanksgiving feast from cranberry sauce and stuffing to a Mountaire roaster, and brownie mix for dessert. Each box contains enough food for five people.

    This year, Mountaire will provide Thanksgiving dinner for 35,000 people throughout the county. After all the boxes are filled, they will be loaded on trucks and taken to the Dagsboro Church of God, where they will then be distributed to the churches and other organizations, which will in turn deliver them to the families they have identified during the course of the year.

    It’s hard to know exactly how many volunteers it takes to pull off such a feat, according to Mountaire Farms spokesperson Julee Fox. “They’re coming and going all day,” Fox said, finishing around 3 p.m. The warehouse fills with music and the atmosphere is festive as teams work assembly-line style to fill the boxes — yams, corn, gravy, and beans or peas top off each boxed feast.

    Fox said quite a few groups have participated in the event for many years, and that it has become a holiday tradition for volunteers as much as it is a needed and appreciated gift for needy residents of the Delmarva peninsula.

    This year, volunteers will include longtime participants from the American Legion and Ladies Auxiliary, as well as members of the Sussex Technical High School football team — who weren’t even born when the first Thanksgiving for Thousands event was held.

    Over the past 20 years, Thanksgiving for Thousands has lived up to its name many, many times over. Fox said more than 700,000 meals have been provided since the program’s beginnings, “and we’re looking to meet the goal of one million,” she added.

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    Plight of Syrian refugees must take a back seat to needs of Delawareans

    State Sen. Gerald Hocker (R-Ocean View) this week sent a letter to Gov. Jack Markell stating his “grave concern” over the Governor’s willingness to accept Syrian refugees, despite the federal government’s inadequate vetting procedures.

    “While the vast majority of refugees are good people simply seeking a better life away from their war-torn home, radical militant groups like ISIS have shown an ability to use migration as a tool to sneak their operatives into Western nations,” said Hocker.

    In addition, Hocker noted recent reports that indicate the federal government is ill-prepared to properly screen refugees to weed out those who would do us harm.

    “According to the Governor of Texas, the FBI director has stated that ‘the agency had no way of screening the migrants because they have no records of them in their databases,’” said Hocker. “Despite the federal government’s best efforts, it would be incredibly hard to accurately screen refugees from a war-torn nation like Syria.”

    The full text of Hocker’s letter is below:

    “Dear Governor Markell,

    “I write to you today with grave concern about your recent comments about accepting Syrian refugees here in Delaware. While we can all acknowledge the difficult situation these people face, it is crystal clear that relocating them into the state of Delaware is a grave risk to the safety and security of Delawareans.

    “While the vast majority of refugees are good people simply seeking a better life away from their war-torn home, radical militant groups like ISIS have shown an ability to use migration as a tool to sneak their operatives into Western nations. Reports suggest that militants involved in the recent attacks in Paris may have come into Europe with Syrian refugees. And it bears mention that the Boston bombers were also refugees.

    “Another recent report states that according to the Governor of Texas, the FBI director has stated that ‘the agency had no way of screening the migrants because they have no records of them in their databases.’ Despite the federal government’s best efforts, it would be incredibly hard to accurately screen refugees from a war-torn nation like Syria. The safety and security of our people simply aren’t worth the risk of a similar incident taking place here in Delaware.

    “The best way for America to help the Syrian refugees is to defeat ISIS in all its forms, so that the Syrian people can live where they want to — in Syria. My heart goes out to those affected, and I will pray for a day when they can return to their native soil.”

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    Fenwick Island’s new personnel program will help employees in need, starting with a town police officer and his baby boy.

    Town Council had a special meeting Nov. 5 just to consider and approve a Donated Leave Program.

    “A donated leave program is a program open to employees [suffering from] … an injury, or who are required to care for a family member who is suffering from an illness or injury,” said Merritt Burke IV.

    The requesting employee must have been with the town for six months; a doctor must have diagnosed the condition; and all of the vacation and sick leave must have been used.

    The first employee to benefit will be Cpl. Stephen Lowe. Fenwick’s absence of a donated leave program arose when Lowe’s own sick leave expired.

    Although he was unavailable for comment, Police Chief William Boyden has been a vocal supporter and fundraiser for the Lowe family since they discovered their baby had a neonatal heart defect. After Baby Coleton’s birth in mid-October, the first round of surgeries were tough, but successful.

    “They’re good doing great, considering the circumstances,” Burke reported.

    “He was gonna go without wages. This was a good time, I thought, for the council to consider” a donated leave program, Burke said. “Chief Boyden brought this to my attention, and I thought it was worthy of council’s attention … considering this is a standard type of leave program.”

    The State of Delaware already uses this paid-leave program.

    “It’s also a program that’s going to be able to assist an employee right away,” Burke said.

    Any employee may donate sick leave to another person.

    The donor must be an employee of at least five years to have accrued enough time to safely donate, without risk of being at a disadvantage if they fall ill. An individual can donate up to 80 hours per calendar year.

    Between two Fenwick employees, Lowe has received an additional four weeks to tend to his child.

    The measure passed unanimously on Nov. 5 with a quorum of four town councilmembers, although Burke said there was also support from council who were absent.

    On behalf of the employees and councilmembers, Burke thanked the community for their support.

    People can continue supporting the family and medical expenses by participating in the Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, proceeds of which will be donated to the family.

    Donations can also be delivered or mailed to PNC Bank; 1107 Coastal Hwy.; Fenwick Island, DE 19944 in the name of “Baby Lowe Account,” or to any PNC branch. Donations can be made online at

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    Slam Dunk to the Beach had a triumphant return to the local sports scene last year and organizers are planning even more great basketball for this year’s event, slated for Dec. 27-29.

    Delaware Sports Commission Chairman Matthew Robinson told the Sussex County Council on Tuesday, Nov. 17 that last year’s Slam Dunk tournament met organizers’ hopes for a great return. In addition to bringing some rising stars on the national scene to Sussex County, the tournament “was a great commercial for Sussex County,” Robinson said.

    The 2014 event hosted 16 teams from seven states, including four nationally ranked teams. Seventeen of the tournament’s 18 games were televised on ESPN3, meaning that 200 local advertisements had potential to reach the sports network’s 95 million subscribers. The tournament brought an estimated $1 million in revenue to local businesses, Robinson told the council.

    Surveys completed by participating teams after the event showed that it was a positive experience for players and their families. When they weren’t on the court, the teams seemed to enjoy the surrounding area, he said, with a whopping 94 percent reporting that they would recommend the area to their friends as a nice place to visit.

    Robinson said one of his favorite moments came when he was standing on the boardwalk in Rehoboth beach and a coach from Kansas pointed toward the beach and remarked “I hope you don’t take this for granted.”

    Organizers fully expect to sell more than the 10,000 game tickets that were sold last year, Robinson said. To add entertainment value to the tournament, a Kids Zone is planned as well as an on-court host and musical entertainment during breaks between games.

    Quality basketball, however, remains the main focus of the Slam Dunk organizers. This year, the tournament will feature three top-25 teams, nine players ranked in the top 50 in the nation and 3 of the nation’s top-10 players.

    The tournament’s rebirth, years after its founder Bobby Jacobs, was embroiled in a scandal involving tournament funds, got high marks from council members. “It’s tremendous,” said council member George Cole, adding that he applauds any organization that focuses on bringing attention to the beach area in the off-season. “We don’t need any more people here in the summertime,” Cole said.

    “I approve of all that you’re doing to put more of a highlight on what we have here,” council member Robert Arlett said. Council president Sam Vincent referenced the phoenix-like rebirth of the tournament from the ashes of the Jacobs scandal, saying “it’s a drastic improvement in what was a bad taste in people’s mouths.”

    Jacobs founded and ran the Slam Dunk to the Beach tournament from 1990 to 2003; the following year he abrubtly canceled it, citing health reasons. He disappeared for several years but was found in 2007. Eventually indicted in Kent County on theft and conspiracy charges, he was sentenced to two years in prison with one year suspended. Then, in 2009, Jacobs was again arrested, this time for allegedly stalking former Slam Dunk associates. He was sentenced to two more years in prison.

    The return of the Slam Dunk tournament was announced in September 2013, with the newly-formed Delaware Sports Commission at the helm. Position Sports, a nationwide sports event management company, was brought on board at that time.

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    With colder temperatures forecast for the coming week, organizers with Code Purple, a network of weather-driven shelters throughout the county, are gearing up to meet the needs of those in Sussex County who need a warm place to sleep.

    Susan Kent, executive director of Love Inc., the umbrella organization that coordinates Code Purple shelters in Sussex, said during last year’s coldest weather the shelters served up to 90 people. Kent made a presentation to Sussex County Council on Tuesday, Nov. 17, after which the council presented Love Inc. with a check for $10,000.

    Code Purple shelters can be set up across the county, in response to cold or inclement weather, Kent said. In eastern Sussex, however, shelters operate throughout the winter months regardless of weather.

    “Several years ago, we saw a spike (in the numbers of homeless people) and we were not able to find shelter for them,” she said. Love Inc., a network of area churches, had been formed “to help plug needy people in to services,” she said. Now, when the thermometer dips below 32 degrees, shelters open across the country, including locations in Bridgeville, Seaford, Milford, Georgetown and Laurel. In addition, shelters in Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach remain open regardless of weather conditions.

    As Code Purple shelters are readied for nasty weather, Love Inc. welcomes volunteers in a number of capacities, Kent said. Areas of need include volunteers to spend the night in the shelters, to help those seeking shelter with job skills, help with transportation, meal preparation and donation of food and supplies.

    Many of those in need of shelter are in that situation because of mental illness and drug addiction, often being released from rehabilitation facitilities or mental health programs into the cold with no where to go. Council member Robert Arlett thanked Kent and her organization for providing a much-needed service. “All of us are one decision away from being homeless, truly,” Arlett said.

    For more information, go to www.codepurplesussexcounty.

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    What do people see in Dagsboro’s future?

    Dagsboro could win grant money to create a truly thriving downtown. So now is the time to plan, with a new task force forming to write the Downtown Development District Plan.

    On Nov. 12, the Task Force started discussing a “mini comprehensive plan” for the downtown development area, said AECOM planner Debbie Pfeil.

    This plan “sets forth a vision, identifies opportunities and obstacles and tools to incentivize economic development, [plus] a priority project that could kick start development downtown,” said AECOM planner Lauren Good.

    The Town will prepare a district map and plan, including community events, natural resources, outreach, marketing and more.

    First proposed by Gov. Jack Markell in 2014, Downtown Development Districts get funding to stimulate growth in downtown areas, including housing and business. After the first three towns received state money, the program stalled for financial reasons.

    But Dagsboro should plan now for when the state is ready to give more funding.

    Now, AECOM is overseeing the process and doing the legwork of synthesizing data into a plan. But the residents, business and property owners need to share their vision for Dagsboro’s future.

    With state grant money, AECOM (formerly URS Corporation) is helping the Town of Dagsboro prepare a Downtown Development District Plan. AECOM hopes to be the consultant on any future projects, since the company applied for this grant for free. Money comes from the Neighborhood Building Blocks Fund, funded by settlement money JP Morgan Chase & Co. paid to remedy harm caused by the 2008-09 financial crisis.

    Dagsboro has already laid decent groundwork, Good said. The Comprehensive Plan encourages a more walkable community and economic development. The Town already has a larger town center zoning district and development design standards.

    It takes public and political will to make the Downtown Development District happen.

    What’s in a downtown?

    District size is based on population, so Dagsboro’s could be up to 85 acres. Currently at 33 acres, Dagsboro’s draft map has room to grow. A total of 49 parcels were identified on Main Street, all of which were pulled from the much larger Town Center zoning district.

    “We do want to have your input if you think there are properties that should be included … or should be removed,” said Pfeil.

    The Nov. 12 group reviewed stats, like parking, population, sidewalks, environment and building vacancies. From 2000 to 2010, the town population increased by nearly 200 people in ten years, 17 of whom joined the district boundaries.

    Dagsboro has a high rate homeowner-occupied houses, which Pfeil said is good because those people “should help direct how the district goes … people wanna live and invest here.”

    Look for the survey

    Next, the task force will learn what the public wants, to cater to the locals or really catch some of the beach traffic.

    AECOM will kick off its town survey at Dagsboro Fire Hall during the Christmas parade with a family photo booth and. The more surveys — from residents and out-of-towners — the stronger the final document will be.

    “If I had a business in downtown Dagsboro,” Pfeil said, “I’d definitely want to know what my customers think. Should I stay open late?”

    Challenges and opportunities

    One challenge is traffic. Dagsboro’s downtown Main Street funnels all the highway traffic from Route 113 to the beach. Residents talked about the difficulty of even exiting a driveway on Main Street. Despite crosswalks, Gayle Chandler said pedestrian walkways don’t feel safe.

    “I hope it stays small-town, not like Ocean City. It’s not a beach town,” Chandler said.

    “The appeal is that it is a small town. I want to raise my kids in this town,” said Chef Matt Kern.

    Kern has lived in Dagsboro for about five years, and he wants to work here, too. He and his wife dream of opening a restaurant, which would reduce Kern’s commute to a bike ride downtown.

    “The amount of traffic we see is why we jumped on this property,” Kern said of the beach traffic.

    He’d like Dagsboro to be more of “a destination place,” but not with paid parking. A few good businesses can attract more, like coffee, ice cream or bookshops.

    “I think the location is perfect for attracting business,” said business owner Kathy Lewis.

    However, Dagsboro is too small to be another Berlin, Md., although it could be “a lot more fun,” Lewis said. “Dagsboro is a though fare to the beach … it could be an on-the-way to the beach destination.”

    Welcome to the task force

    Dagsboro’s Task Force includes four planning commissioners, one town administrator and two volunteers who signed up Nov. 12. Any Dagsboro stakeholder is invited to participate, from residents to the owners of vacant lots.

    The ideal task force could have up to 20 members, so more residents and business owners are welcome to chime in. The more diversity of opinions, the better.

    The next meeting is in January. Anyone may submit comments if they can’t attend.

    The final downtown plans will be ready by March for public review, June for final approval.

    “The time commitment that we’re asking from people is three more meetings,” once monthly, said Pfeil.

    “The task force is very important to us because this is your plan … the Dagsboro plan,” Good said. “We need to know from you what local merchants need from you to succeed.”

    Through these meetings and a community survey, the team will discover Dagsboro’s strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats.

    “Every meeting, we’ll bring this board back and brainstorm,” said Pfeil, taking notes from the public conversation that day.

    For more information on the Downtown Development District Plan, contact Town Hall at (302) 732-3777 or AECOM’s Lauren Good at (302) 781-5906 or

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    South Bethany planned to review the first round of scientific results this week as it decides whether to appeal its flood insurance rate map (FIRM).

    Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) gave the Town until Jan. 20 to appeal maps that have been unpopular since they were first publicized in 2014.

    South Bethany Town Council has hired the Woods Hole Group (WHG) consulting firm to manage the appeal. The first WHG report of preliminary data was to be released publicly on Nov. 18 so residents could voice their opinions at the Nov. 19 workshop, where WHG would telephone to explain the results.

    Town Council requested this update, in case the data doesn’t even seem worth developing a plan of attack. If Town Council approves on Nov. 19, WHG will strategize the best way to file an appeal. In December, Town Council would vote on whether to submit that appeal to FEMA.

    By Nov. 19, South Bethany will have paid about $9,000 for scientific research and modeling. That day, Town Council will vote whether to pay about $3,800 for WHG to write the appeal. WHG will charge up to $10,600 for filing and additional support.

    In all, South Bethany could pay Woods Hole Group up to $23,360 total. Town Council agreed to fund and lead the appeal, using the environmental consultant that property owners had previously selected.

    Resident Tim Shaw said that some residents are concerned about the fuzzy line where council may not think the appeal is worth pursuing, but residents might think it is.

    “Stay vocal with them,” Mayor Pat Voveris told Shaw at the Nov. 13 Town Council meeting. “Everything done with this appeal is going to be done in a public session,” where the public can ask questions and comment before council votes.

    Councilmember Wayne Schrader asked if residents would want the option to appeal as individuals even if the council doesn’t move forward. Some might, but others aren’t prepared to pay that cost, Shaw said.

    But Saxton wanted a way for property owners to feel supported if they do move forward.

    If residents want to challenge FEMA’s future decision on the appeal, their names must be on some original paperwork.

    But “the Woods Hole Group would not entertain us adding [individual homeowners] to the contract,” Voveris said.

    Council suggested that people submit their own appeals (which must still be processed by the Town), but simply copy all the ideas from the Town paperwork. Basically, a person could submit her own FEMA appeal, citing all the information in the Town’s appeal for evidence.

    “We’re filing a document. Anyone can come in and file an appeal that incorporates by reference [that document],” Schrader said.

    Town Solicitor D. Barrett Edwards IV suggested running this idea by WHG, since they’re writing the document. But Schrader said this appeal document will belong to the Town.

    An appeal must show a legitimate technical basis for arguing that the calculations are not correct, Shaw said.

    If WHG can propose a methodology that would decrease the flood risk by even a few inches, it may be enough for FEMA to round down to 12 feet, or less.

    In a conference call earlier that day, WHG clarified some details with Shaw and several councilmembers.

    “Listening today, I think we’re going to get something,” Saxton said, and Voveris agreed.

    (Notes from this conference call are online at

    The Woods Hole Group picks their battles, so it “has surprisingly high rates of success,” Shaw noted in October.

    Resident Ed Bintz was frustrated that the residents no longer have primary control of the WHG contract. He said he’d encouraged WHG to remove the council check-ins from the contract.

    “How would you ever think we would take over an appeal [without having a say]?” Voveris said.

    “I don’t think there’s a real commitment to this,” Bintz concluded.

    “We’re gonna have to agree to disagree,” Councilmember Frank Weisgerber said.

    “I would say there’s nothing we’ve done where you should feel you should distrust your government … we were responding to what we [felt the people wanted],” Voveris said. “We govern for the town, and that’s our total interest.”

    Town council (Carol Stevenson absent) shot down suggestions for a formal appeal committee, due to time constraints and public meetings at every decision point in the process.

    After the meeting, Bintz’s concerns became a moot point. Bintz received full copies of the audio and written minutes, and he determined that he previously heard incomplete details about the October workshop.

    “I understand why the town did what it did,” Bintz concluded.

    The Oct. 22 minutes show that Shaw invited Town Council participation: “Mr. Shaw said since it would be the Town spending Town tax money obviously we expect the Town to supervise this. … he thinks the owners would ask that the process going forward even if managed by the city and the Council would be open and transparent.”

    In other Town Council news:

    • Charter and Code Committee may be reexamining permit fees to determine if the cost is adequate for the Town’s work, Schrader said.

    • Sue Callaway reported that the new Assawoman Canal Trail exceeded her own expectations. “It’s fabulous. I did it last week. I was surprised at … how nice it is.”

    • There is talk of a Town-sponsored art show at York Beach Mall, Callaway reported.

    • George Junkin will be petitioning the State to clean the Anchorage Canal forebay, collects Route 1 storm water runoff from northern South Bethany, Middlesex Beach, Sea Colony and the southern tip of Bethany Beach.

    Town Council’s next workshop is Thursday, Nov. 19, at 2 p.m.

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    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: New owners Rose O'Hanlan and Kim Warner are bringing even more of the creative arts to the Artful Bean.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: New owners Rose O'Hanlan and Kim Warner are bringing even more of the creative arts to the Artful Bean.It’s a coffeehouse, and it’s an art gallery. It’s a fine crafts gallery, and it’s a sandwich shop. It’s a stage for poetry readings, acoustic sets and art nights, a place to grab the morning paper, a place for locals, a place for tourists and a place for everyone.

    But even after taking over the Artful Bean Coffee Shop in Bethany Beach this past April, new owners Rose O’Hanlan and Kim Warner still plan on what has long been an area staple of art and culture becoming even more. And they’ve only just begun unwrapping their plans.

    “We want people to think about the Artful Bean not only as a coffee shop but as a place that they can go and be creative, and have a good time enjoying life for the moment that they’re in,” Warner said. “We just want to make every day an experience for the customers, the people that work here, and for ourselves.”

    Making every day an experience has been the mantra ever since making the move from Philadelphia last spring. With plans of leaving city life behind, and with O’Hanlan quitting her corporate gig as a day-trader on the exchange floor, turned number-crunching HR manager, she and Warner were looking for a community that they could embrace. And with Bethany Beach, they found one.

    “We fell in love with the pace and the people here in Bethany Beach,” Warner said of their new home. “One of our goals was to have an establishment that served the community. We wanted an opportunity that allowed us to get in with a close-knit community, and Bethany Beach is definitely that close-knit community.”

    “I love it here, I do. My life is measurably better,” added O’Hanlan. “We kind of came in and hit the ground running, but we had a great summer season. I think the place is meant for community, I definitely feel that.”

    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: The Artful Bean crew is all about customer service. Left to right, Courtney Herring, manager Charles Vandergrift, owner Rose O’Hanlan, owner Kim Warner, and in back, Sandy Guillott. The Artful Bean is more than just coffee, giving local artists another venue to show off their stuff.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: The Artful Bean crew is all about customer service. Left to right, Courtney Herring, manager Charles Vandergrift, owner Rose O’Hanlan, owner Kim Warner, and in back, Sandy Guillott. The Artful Bean is more than just coffee, giving local artists another venue to show off their stuff.But while they were taking to Bethany during their first summer in business, Bethany was taking to them, too. It didn’t take long for the town’s newest baristas to start learning names, faces, drinks and even stories. Warner still works a 9-to-5 during the week and jumps behind the counter on the weekends, but O’Hanlan has quickly become the face of the Bean — which Warner says is exactly where she’s meant to be.

    “Where you see Rose flourish is talking to people,” she explained. “From my point of view, that’s so rewarding, to be able to see that interaction, because she knows everybody who walks through that door. She didn’t have that before, handling numbers is a skill of hers, but you can learn that — you can’t learn what she has inside.”

    The customers can see that, too, including “Hot and Spicy Susie” — an Artful Bean regular who doesn’t even drink coffee.

    “Rose and Kim are a great combo. They’re good people to have here in town,” she said, having been dubbed with the nickname after always ordering her chai tea extra hot and extra spicy. “It’s just a feel-good place. They want to make you happy. They’ve definitely made me happy, and I don’t even drink coffee.”

    Coffee, tea, lattes, cappuccino and special drinks are, of course, always offered at the shop, for regulars and newcomers alike, but the barista board is always changing, depending on the season.

    “At the end of the day, you still have to have a good cup of coffee,” said O’Hanlan, noting that even without everything else about the shop, that coffee comes first. “We try to stay current… We had a ‘Love Wins’ after the Supreme Court marriage equality — that was a big hit. During the storm, we did the ‘Nor’Easter.’ We try and stay with some current themes. What I love about that is [the baristas] will come up with all kinds of crazy things, and then we get to try them.”

    To go along with the drink concoctions is the shop’s revamped breakfast and lunch menu. One of the major differences has been adding meats to the menu, but vegan and gluten-free options are still offered, and specialty sandwiches, including the “Cubano” and the “Goldie Lox,” with fresh salmon, capers, onion and cream cheese on a bagel, with the lox fresh from ACME in New York, steal the show.

    Specialty items, such as Taylor’s Toffee out of Fenwick Island, baked goods from Birch Tree Cafe, healthy options for kids and cooler drinks are also amongst some of the more frequent and popular items found on the menu, but with plans for renovations this winter to make the shop flow more efficiently, some new features, including soups, salads, and a “grab and go” counter for beachgoers are also in the works.

    “The changes are going to be gradual,” said Warner of the future plans for the shop. “Our ownership is going to be a progression of improvements. We want to continue to listen to our customers.”

    Other potential future changes and improvements on the way include hosting more events. As soon as this winter, the shop will start hosting poetry and reading nights on various topics, paint nights, spiritual guide and medium nights, mandala-coloring nights, and more — including an acoustic set featuring “Girls with Guitars” on Saturday, Nov. 28.

    “People love the fact that this is also like an art gallery, so we’re going to keep it that way and only make enhancements to it,” Warner said. “We have this unique thing. We’re not just a coffee shop, we’re a place that you walk in and feel like you want to hang out.”

    Whatever else becomes part of the vision for the Artful Bean, however, one thing that the new owners maintained would never change was how the treat their customers.

    “We have staff meetings pretty regularly. It’s always about customer service,” O’Hanlan noted. “For me, the most important thing is energy. You’ve gotta have good positive energy. That’s what we would like, and to be very inclusive. I want to have as much diversity as possible. We want people from everywhere.”

    The Artful Bean is located at 20 Pennsylvania Avenue in Bethany Beach. During current winter hours, the shop is open Sunday through Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Thursday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, a full menu, or list of upcoming events, visit

    The Artful Bean

    20 Pennsylvania Avenue, Bethany Beach

    Sun. - Tues., 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thurs. - Sat., 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    (302) 541-8160

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    Coastal Point • Submitted: Several ceramic pieces by artist Kim DoughtyCoastal Point • Submitted: Several ceramic pieces by artist Kim DoughtySussex County certainly has its fair share of venues to enjoy local art. But the only place to see that art while it unfolds is at the 21st Annual SouthEastern Delaware Artists Studio Tour (SEDAST) this Friday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 28.

    “The SEDAST tour is comprised of artists from the local area. What they do is they open their studios every year for two days,” explained Jeanne Mueller of Gallery One in Ocean View, a PR representative for the event. “You can go in and watch the artists work, view their artwork, ask them questions.

    “You can go to an art show and you can see an artist, meet an artist and see the art hanging on the wall, but to my knowledge this is the only event where you can go and see the artist actually work in their studio.”

    The two-day event will comprise 15 of the area’s top artists, some of them joining the tour for the first year and some of them the usual suspects. But Mueller said that even some of the returning artists will be breaking out some new kinds work that are far from usual — including Clarksville’s John Donato, who will be showing off some of his new wooden children’s toys.

    “You’ll not only see his paintings, but you’ll see new things that he’s doing — and that holds true with a lot of the artists,” Mueller explained. “There’s always something different for people to see.”

    The wide variety of art ranges from painting in various media to glass blowing, wood turning, pottery and even stained glass, with each artist bringing their own twist on their respective specialties.

    As a self-guided tour, those interested in checking it out are free to go to as many or as few stops as they’d like along the way, over one day or both, and to do it in any order that they chose, with studio locations from Bethany Beach and to Dagsboro. Gallery One, and other tour stops provide maps of the tour locations for patrons to plot their route.

    “We’ll have brochures on hand and things to help them out. The map will tell you exactly where the artists are located,” Mueller noted. “It’s a self-guided tour — you get in your car and go see whoever you want to see. The people can go however they want to go — some people start in Dagsboro and work their way to the beach; some people start at the beach and work their way to Dagsboro.”

    Whichever way you decide to go, you’re liable to see some familiar faces along the way.

    “Part of the fun is that you see some of the same people every year,” Mueller said. “It’s amazing how many people do this tour every single year. It’s just a fun thing for people to do.”

    Typically, SEDAST sees around 200 people along the tour, so considering its popularity, it’s no wonder that it’s one of the longest tenured events of its kind, at least according to what Mueller and Gallery One can gather.

    But while the focus of the festivities will all be on the artists on Friday and Saturday, Mueller said that the main focus of SEDAST remains on the tour’s beneficiary — art programs at local schools. Each year, participating artists raffle off some of their work with an “Art in the Hat raffle” in an effort to raise funds for the art programs throughout the Indian River School District to buy necessary items. And since the tour’s inception, SEDAST has raised more than $50,000 to do just that.

    “Not only is the tour about the art but the Art in the Hat Raffle,” said Mueller. “it’s a twofold thing: It’s the artists reaching out to show their art work and meet new people. But it’s also their way of giving back — if you buy a raffle ticket, you might get a free piece of artwork, and everything goes to the schools.”

    Mueller explained that the fundraising efforts are, of course, much-needed, as typically programs for art and music are the first to get cut when the school’s budget gets tight.

    “One of the first things to go in any education process are art and music,” she said. “I think it’s very important — it’s money that goes back into the community through the art department so the children have the ability to learn art. You need that for rounding/ Kids love art, they just do.”

    The 21st Annual Southern Delaware Artists Studio Tour kicks off this Friday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Nov. 28, at 10 a.m. each day, and spans until 4 p.m. There is no charge to attend. For more information on the event visit the website at

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    Finding direction in life is the subject of a major new work in oils that Delaware artist Ellen Rice will introduce, among others, as part of her kickoff of the Thanksgiving weekend 21st annual SouthEastern Delaware Artists Studio Tour (SEDAST), at her new gallery in Bethany Beach.

    “The Narrow Path,” Rice’s sixth “Strength of Woman” series painting, several smaller new oils and prints of the bay and ocean “in their different moods,” a Caribbean beach print debut, and a display of works in progress will give tour-goers an insight into what is behind the talent of the lifelong Delaware artist, as well as the chance to meet her and have her personalize prints for them or their gift recipients.

    Rice said her Strength of Woman series was born of prayerful searching for answers and that each has come to her in quiet times of listening. (The other five paintings in the series and other paintings with inspirational writings by Rice can be viewed at

    “All of the paintings in the series have come to me by quieting my thought and letting the ideas flow in,” said Rice. “I love painting children, wildlife, the ocean. This series seems more of a calling.

    “My approach to all of my paintings — even commissions — is similar, quieting my thought and finding a place of peace. I want my paintings to have the peace I feel when painting them and for the people who view them and bring them into their homes and offices to feel the same peace.”

    Rice will introduce archival giclée prints and proofs of “The Narrow Path,” a colorful scene of the back bay at sunset called “Evening Flight” and of a secluded cliffside beach in the Caribbean called “Sea Glass Beach,” at introductory prices, as a way of saying “thank you” to her many clients this Thanksgiving weekend.

    Rice was recently named coastal Delaware’s “2015 Best Artist” by Coastal Style magazine, was named PNC Bank’s “Artist of the Year” for 2014, was named one of Delaware’s “top 10 most collectible artists” by Delaware Beach Life magazine, has been featured on QVC, representing the state of Delaware, and has a following that stretches around the globe, including government and corporate collections, as well as thousands of homes and offices.

    Rice began painting as a small child, garnering a statewide award in elementary school and selling her first painting at 13, to a fellow art class student. She began painting professionally in the 1970s, doing realistic Old Masters-style oil portraits of children, dogs and horses; pen-and-inks and oils of historic buildings for fundraising projects; and “always the landscapes and seascapes I love” of the coastal region she has called home since the early 1960s.

    Rice’s studio tour kicks off Friday, Nov. 27, at 10 a.m. Tour hours are officially Friday and Saturday, Nov. 27 and 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., though Rice’s studio/gallery will remain open until its regular closing time of 5 p.m.

    The Ellen Rice Gallery is newly relocated at 98 Garfield Parkway, Suite 109, Bethany Beach, DE 19930, in the Blue Surf building, about a half-block from the ocean, on the south side of the Bethany bandstand area. Call (302) 539-3405 or visit for more information.

    The public is being invited to see Rice’s new work and discover the scope of one of Delaware’s most collected artists, while enjoying light holiday refreshments and cheerful seasonal music. “Dress comfortably, bring friends and family and plan to have fun,” invited the artist.

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    Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Volunteers at Justin’s Beach House received thanks for another season of helping families suffering from cancer enjoy a respite week at the beach.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Volunteers at Justin’s Beach House received thanks for another season of helping families suffering from cancer enjoy a respite week at the beach.In a season of thanks, one charity is thanking the people who make it thrive. Justin’s Beach House hosted a volunteer appreciation party on Nov. 19.

    Since 2010, the Bethany Beach respite house has been a free and relaxing retreat for families dealing with cancer, named for Justin Jennings, a local young man who passed away from cancer in 2000.

    In five years, Justin’s Beach House has hosted 121 families, including more than two dozen this year.

    On this night they celebrated “all those people make the house work,” said Kathy Green, executive director, such as guest liaisons, charity organizers and more.

    Volunteer Betty Leary gets to be on the front lines to greet families arriving at the beach.

    “It’s been a wonderful experience to see the faces of the families coming in for the first time [when they] see how lovely the house is,” Leary said.

    Working with JBH has truly made an impact.

    “You really get more than you give,” Leary said.

    The team welcomes each family with wine for the grownups and new toys for the kids. Armed with a pamphlet with information on local restaurants, greeters give the family the low-down on coastal Delaware.

    Because guests must reside at least 100 miles away, many of them haven’t experienced the shore before, Leary said. That makes the house even more special.

    JBH operates on donations and in-kind work.

    “It’s amazing how giving people are in this area,” said Leary.

    “We paid the house off this year,” proudly reported Craig Nantais, chairperson and Justin’s father. But volunteers and fundraising are integral to keep the house running smoothly.

    “Everybody does a great job. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” Nantais said. “With this group here, it just works so well.”

    Cancer patients from ages 1 to 87 have escaped to Justin’s Beach House. Whether they’re children or adults, “It doesn’t matter to us. … We’re here for the people going through it,” Green said.

    JBH can take families year-round. Summer is obviously popular, but the team encourages guests to try the quiet off-season, as well. JBH reaches out to hospitals and caregivers to encourage patients to apply.

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    The South Bethany Police Department this week announced that Patrolman Nathan Hudson has been chosen as the recipient of the Crowe-McGrory Award.

    Hudson was awarded the Crowe-McGrory on Thursday, Nov. 19, at the Delaware Chapter Law Enforcement Day luncheon, hosted by the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS) Chapter 54 in Wilmington.

    The annual award was presented to four officers among those nominated who display outstanding dedication to duty, the public and their community. Hudson was the only Sussex County winner in this statewide program.

    Hudson was nominated by the South Bethany PD because of his dedication to the community and his colleagues, as well as his love for his job. He joined the department on Feb. 11, 2015, after three years at the Frankford Police Department.

    “In less than 10 months, Hudson has continued to exceed the expectations of our department and has proven to consistently be the top officer in traffic enforcement,” his nomination stated.

    The Crowe-McGrory Award, named after co-sponsor James P. McGrory, has been presented by ASIS International for the past 25 years. McGrory passed away in June of 2005 at the age of 81. He retired from the University of Delaware security department after serving for 19 years and was a captain and troop commander of Delaware State Police Troop 6 in New Castle for 20 years. During World War II, he served in the U.S Army 3rd Infantry Division and earned a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantry Badge.

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    Paris Mitchell and his own children have been vaccinated. But, given what he’s learned in the past few years, he said he would have second thoughts if given the opportunity to vaccinate now.

    The Indian River High School health teacher is on a mission to raise public awareness on vaccines and genetically modified food. He’s starting at the local government level, speaking during the public comments session of Indian River School District school board meetings.

    “I’m here to aggressively educate the public about what I think is a huge detriment to the public,” Mitchell said in September.

    Mitchell has raised this topic at four consecutive board meetings, each time picking up the discussion where he left off the previous month, continuing on Nov. 23.

    “I’m not anti-vaccine. I’m anti-dirty vaccines, and unnecessary ones. Like, the chicken pox vaccine is terribly unnecessary, and it leads to people getting shingles as adults,” Mitchell told Coastal Point in November. Formerly, he said, “We all got chicken pox, so the only people who got shingles back then who were old people who were never around kids. If you’re around kids with the chicken pox, you get that natural booster” that prevents the virus from causing the more severe, adult version of the disease, he asserted.

    He has discussed lawsuits filed in response to vaccines, including legislation that now prevents Americans from filing such suits.

    “Thank goodness, in the state of Delaware, we have an opt-out form, which I recommend that everyone take advantage of,” Mitchell told the board in October. “If I choose not to get a vaccine, who does it hurt, apart from myself?”

    Mitchell said he believes flu shots shouldn’t be so widespread, either. For example, in 1976, one person died of swine flu, but hundreds of people died or fell ill from the swine flu vaccination shot, he said.

    “If that offends any of you, I say, ‘Welcome to the human race,’” Mitchell told the board this month.

    But he’s starting to feel some backlash, which he referenced Monday night.

    “Instead of investigating me in a negative context,” Mitchell said, he would rather see the community join a discussion. “Just come talk to me. Sit in my class. Ask me why I believe what I believe. I’m a recent convert to this stuff.

    “I haven’t been officially told I’m being investigated,” Mitchell clarified to the Coastal Point after the meeting, although he said he feels it’s in the works. Several doctors have complained to the district, he said, after his radio and school board appearances.

    “They’re trying to tie it into what I teach in the classroom — which is very benign, what I talk about in the classroom. This [tonight] is the militant version,” Mitchell said.

    His classroom discussion is much more “vanilla,” he said.

    “I don’t teach it anyway, but it comes up,” because flu shot signs are hung in the hallways, and sometime students are required to get certain vaccinations before coming or returning to school. He may tailor his class based on the classroom discussion, he said, but “it’s never anything like an official lesson plan or anything like that.

    “I establish a pretty good level of trust with my kids, and they just come and ask me,” Mitchell said. “I’m still very careful because I’m not a doctor, so I’m not supposed to give medical advice, but I do recommend for the kids to research on their own, with their parents, anything they’re putting in their body.”

    He reminded the board that Delaware education standards seek for students to demonstrate their ability to research.

    District officials weren’t allowed to comment on personnel matters.

    “I’m just doing a public-awareness thing. It was just something that was placed on my heart, and I just gotta talk about it,” Mitchell said. “It’s my passion.”

    He’s done some homework, too.

    “There’s a lot of policy changes going on around the country that are quite significant,” he said, referring to California doing away with religious exemptions from required vaccinations. “I think you should have rights over your own body.

    “I know it may seem a little confrontational, but I’m not angry about anything,” he said. “I just want to let people to know things that I have become aware of, that I think is important.”

    In December, he said, he’ll talk about genetically modified organisms.

    His mother, Donna Mitchell, served two terms on the school board, formed a Health & Wellness Committee and chaired the Policy Committee. She attended on Monday to support an open discussion: “It is my hope that you will encourage and support the … free flow of information in our classrooms.”

    In other IRSD news:

    • For television and radio advertising, the board unanimously approved (with Donald Hattier absent) a plan costing nearly $19,000. The cost mirrors the budget of previous years.

    Instead of advertising for something specific, this year’s goal is to inform the public of the unprecedented rate of growth in the district and solicit ideas.

    “Our Board of Education has planned for growth during the past decade, but enrollment continues to exceed expectations,” the ads might say. “The district has convened a special Futures Committee to study space shortages and other concerns related to the enrollment increase, which is expected to continue in future years. For more information, visit”

    “Basically, it’s just information, because we don’t know what direction we’re going,” David Maull said. “So we want to inform the public early on.”

    • The Futures Committee is beginning to research the process for Certificates of Necessity for potentially building a new school and/or a new Howard T. Ennis School building.

    • Howard T. Ennis was approved to replace two vans, at a cost of $27,222 each. This was already budgeted, but needed board approval to spend the money.

    • No class-size waivers are being requested this year, as the younger grades have the appropriate number of students per classroom.

    • Schools are required to complete “tabletop exercises,” talking through safety plans during an emergency. The southern schools have nearly completed these, reported Assistant Superintendent Mark Steele. Some topics raised recently are the role of a school constable, emergency training for substitute teachers, bathroom checks (in case an emergency happens inside) and entranceways.

    Northern schools will be discussed at 6 p.m. before the Dec. 21 school board meeting.

    • Atlantic Millwork & Cabinetry got a special thank-you for helping to create a student kitchen at Millsboro Middle School. Students in the Intensive Learning Center (ILC) will learn life skills there.

    “We’re grateful to have a community partner that thinks enough of this program” to donate $6,500 worth of time and materials, said Superintendent Susan Bunting.

    • The board unanimously approved Georgetown Middle School to move forward with building a new, more secure building entrance.

    • The board unanimously approved maintenance for Sussex Central High School’s gymnasium floor, which will be rushed to be ready for winter sports returning after Thanksgiving.

    • The next regular school board meeting is Monday, Dec 21, at 7 p.m. at Sussex Central High School.

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    De-Lead is on a mission to remove lead paint from low-income homes in Kent and Sussex counties.

    “If you have a child under 6 years old, and your home was built before 1978, you may be eligible for help removing the lead-based paint hazards for free,” according to the First State Community Action Agency, which manages the De-Lead program.

    “When lead-based paint deteriorates, it poses serious health hazards to children,” pregnancies and unborn babies,” De-Lead states. “Lead can affect children’s brains and nervous systems, causing reduced IQ, learning disabilities and behavior problems.

    Even inhaling the “friction points” where lead dust becomes airborne can be dangerous.

    Blood testing is required for Delaware children ages 1 (and sometimes 2) for elevated levels of lead.

    “The children are kind of relying on us,” so the adults must do what’s right, said First State’s Charles Kistler.

    Eligibility for De-Lead is based on income requirements, and children younger than 6 or pregnant women living in the home. Houses must have been built before 1978.

    During the initial walk-through, De-Lead will test the house for lead. If the tests are positive, plans are made to rehab the house and remove lead paint, wherever it may be.

    Most applications will be accepted for single-family homes and rental units in the following ZIP codes: 19901, 19904, 19931, 19947, 19956, 19966, 19968 and 19973. A handful of applications will be accepted from Sussex County outside of the mandated zones.

    To learn more about De-Lead Delaware, contact First State Community Action Agency at (302) 856-7761 or

    De-Lead launched in Wilmington and recently spread to Kent and Sussex. After three successful years, First State can expand De-Lead even more.

    The mission of First State Community Action Agency is “to work toward the elimination of poverty and lessen the effects of poverty on low-income people.”

    Anyone may contact First State Community Action Agency at 1(800) 372-2240 and The Georgetown office is at (302) 856-2599 and Stanford L. Bratton Building, 308 N. Railroad Avenue.

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    Dagsboro will light up on Saturday, Nov. 28, as the Christmas season kicks off at Katie Helm Town Park.

    The Town of Dagsboro will host its annual Christmas Tree Lighting at 7 p.m. Residents and visitors can enjoy free cookies and hot chocolate.

    “Get in the holiday spirit, especially after all the running around on Black Friday,” said organizer and Vice Mayor Brian Baull. “Here’s something that doesn’t cost anything on a Saturday night.

    With flashing lights, the Dagsboro Police Department will escort Santa Claus to the festivities. He’ll meet with children and hand out candy canes.

    Music students of Marjie Eckerd and Nate Mohler will perform musical solos, as well as lead the crowd in sing-along Christmas carols.

    “Lots of folks just walk out of their homes, walk down to the park. … [It’s a] nice little family-friendly event that doesn’t cost anything,” Baull said.

    People are also invited to bring canned food donations, to be given local food banks and food pantries to help those in need.

    “It’s a nice lead-in event for the Christmas parade, which is Dec. 10,” Baull said. “Get in the holiday spirit. This is like the kickoff for the holiday.”

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    Frankford has hung the holly and decked the halls for the first annual Lighting of the Park on Saturday, Nov. 28. Festivities will begin at 6 p.m., with the tree-lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m.

    The holiday event aims to build holiday and town spirit. Local church choirs will lead the night’s music, and Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will host children at Santa’s House until 8 p.m.

    “We’re hoping that people will come out, walk around the track at the park and enjoy the lights,” said organizer Robbie Murray, president of the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company.

    After the tree-lighting, Santa’s House will be open for children to share their holiday wish list from 6 to 8 p.m. each Wednesday, Dec. 2, 9, 16 and 23. Local churches will take turns serving free cookies and hot chocolate every week. Community groups helped to decorate the park.

    “[We’re] looking for an opportunity to continue building on the community spirit we started with the Fall Festival,” Murray said of that Halloween event, “just adding on that and really adding that holiday cheer.”

    Frankford has decorated the park before, but typically people could only see the decorations from afar.

    “This year, we decided to try opening up to the public, expanding a little bit and including a Santa Claus house with Mr. and Mrs. Claus,” Murray said.

    While the playground will continue to be locked during the day, anyone can enter and walk the track on Wednesday nights.

    “It’s the first one. Come out, bring your family, it’s free for all,” Murray said.

    The event is hosted by the Town of Frankford and Frankford Volunteer Fire Company, Frankford Public Library and area churches (Antioch AME Church, the Father’s House, Frankford Presbyterian Church and Frankford United Methodist Church).

    Organizers said they are grateful to sponsors including the Indian River High School manufacturing and construction classes, Mountaire Farms, Roots Landscaping & Garden Center, Sussex Lumber and more.

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    People living without working home heating can get help this winter from the First State Community Action Agency. Low-income homes may be eligible for free heating unit repairs.

    The statewide Heating Repair & Replacement Program helps low-income homeowners repair or replace furnaces, boilers or any other primary heating components needed to warm the home. All work is done by a licensed contractor.

    In Dagsboro, First State installed a new heat pump for Shiley Felton this autumn.

    “I’ve been in this house for 15 years, and I’m surprised it went that long,” Felton said of her old unit, which died in March.

    On average, repairs cost more than $3,800. Felton had been quoted about $5,000. She doesn’t know how she would have afforded it.

    “It’s a good program. They tell you, ‘If you know anybody that needs a heater, let ’em know. Just come down fill out a form … see if you were eligible for it,’” she said. First State will take it from there.

    “My heater went out in March, but they put an AC in for the time being, while they got ready to do this. That kept me going for the summer,” said Felton, who also received a temporary space heater. “They didn’t let me go cold, or sweat in summer time.”

    This autumn, she traded the small heater for central heating and air. She’ll keep the air conditioner window unit.

    “They did a pretty good job, though,” Felton said. “If you know anybody that needs one, let ’em know.”

    Acting on Felton’s advice, one of her own friends is one of 111 people in the pipeline to get a new heater this fall.

    Felton’s house took some time (“You just have to be patient,” she said), but after the initial walkthroughs, installation was conveniently done in one day. The Megee Heating & Plumbing team replaced her outdoor and indoor units.

    “It’s worth it if you can’t afford it. They’re nice people, too,” she said.

    “It runs nice and smooth,” Felton said of the new, and larger, heating unit. “It’s working out real good. I’m sleeping like a queen now.”

    Staff at First State Community Action Agency have met residents who use cooking ovens for heat, which can spill potentially deadly carbon monoxide into the home.

    “You do what you can to keep warm,” said the First State’s Charles Kistler.

    Every heating job comes with a free Healthy Home Assessment. The team tests for mold, pest infestations, unsafe stairs or roofs and much more. Anything that falls short of safety standards is repaired for free.

    The program is nothing new, but it’s just reached the statewide level.

    The First State budget allows for about 250 replacements, 200 repairs and 80 Healthy Home restorations.

    People are grateful, from the first assessment to the final inspection.

    “It’s all about the hugs,” said Kistler. “It’s really tough to put into words. You have to witness the gratification.”

    To be eligible, the house must be homeowner-occupied (so rentals are not eligible). Income requirements are based on the federal poverty level. Applications must be done in person at a local Delaware State Service Center. That facility will make a recommendation to First State Community Action Agency. Bring proof of home ownership, income, ID, monthly bills and expenses.

    For local heating requests, people should contact Edward W. Pyle State Service Center in Roxana at (302) 732-9501. Sussex County’s other locations are in Bridgeville, Georgetown, Laurel, Milford and Seaford.

    First State can also move into action quickly during freezing events, with a Code Purple special exception. Typically, state money requires them to solicit bidders and do official site visits. But, First State has the power to waive the bid process during emergencies and just hire a contractor.

    First State’s mission is “to work toward the elimination of poverty and lessen the effects of poverty on low-income people.”

    Anyone may contact First State Community Action Agency at 1(800) 372-2240 and The Georgetown office is at (302) 856-2599, located in the Stanford L. Bratton Building, 308 N. Railroad Avenue.

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    Dagsboro won’t host a town council election in 2015, as the only three nominees were the incumbents filing for re-election.

    There were no challengers for seats held by Brian Baull (vice mayor), Pat Miller or Theresa Ulrich (secretary/treasurer).

    The election would have been held Dec. 5. Instead, the incumbents will be sworn in for new two-years term at the Dec. 14 regular town council meeting.

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