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    The Ocean View Town Council will soon have a new face on the dais, with the addition of Tom Maly.

    Following the passing of councilman Tom Sheeran in November, the Town sought candidates for a special election to fill the vacancy. Maly was the only resident to file for the seat. A swearing-in date has yet to be scheduled.

    MalyMaly“I was approached by several friends and citizens of Ocean View, and they asked me if I would consider running for the vacant office,” said Maly. “I spoke to my wife and decided I would try…

    “Tom Sheeran was not just a councilman or a neighbor — he was a friend, too. I just I hope I do half as well as he did.”

    Maly, who has never held a political office, before currently serves as treasurer for the Bethany Beach Fraternal Order of Police and treasurer for International Police Association Region 58, and is the former president and a current board member of the Ravens Roost in Ocean City, Md.

    In joining the council to finish out Sheeran’s term, which is set to expire in April 2017, Maly said he hopes to continue the stability that has come to the Ocean View Town Council.

    “I’ve lived here for 12 years, and I’ve seen some times where it wasn’t very stable in Ocean View government. It has been in the last few years, and I’d like to see it remain that way. The best way to keep it that way is to work as a group. We all have a common goal: make Ocean View a nice place to live. And, right now, it really, really is.”

    He noted that many of the Town staff have been working for the Town for a long time, which he said signifies the Town’s stability.

    “It indicates it’s not only a nice place to live, but it must be a nice place to work.”

    Maly said some the biggest issues that are facing the town are related to drainage and roadway problems, which he said he looks forward to addressing with the sitting council.

    Maly and his wife, Katherine, who have been married for 46 years, moved to Hunter’s Run 13 years ago, after visiting friends in Savannah’s Landing.

    “We purchased a house here 13 years ago. Once we got here as part-time residents, we just decided this was better than living in a metropolitan area. We sold our house outside of Baltimore and moved down here and love it,” he said. “It’s just a small-town community. It’s a nice atmosphere. People are friendly. The services provided by the Town, a town of this size, are excellent — everything from the police department, to public works.”

    Maly, who has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology from Loyola College and the University of Baltimore, retired from the Baltimore Police Department after 24 years. Maly then became director of public safety at the Community College of Baltimore County. He went into law enforcement after serving in the military police in the U.S. Army.

    “After I finished my active duty in the military, there weren’t a lot of job openings, back in 1969. The Baltimore Police Department and the state police of Maryland were hiring, so I put out applications for both, and the City called me first,” he said. “It was good to me. It was a nice career.”

    Now retired, Maly said it is time to pay back and do what he can for the community that he loves.

    “In my opinion, I’ve had a very good life, and now it’s time to do something for the community.”

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    Before retiring as Millville mayor, Gerald “Gerry” Hocker Jr. led the town council in shooting down the proposed right of non-resident property owners to vote and to run in town council elections, at least for now.

    Having recently moved outside town limits, Hocker announced his retirement at the Jan. 12 council meeting, two months before his term was to expire.

    But his last major motion was to lead the council in removing language from a proposed charter amendment that would allow non-resident freeholders (which he himself is becoming) to participate in elections and hold one of the five town council positions.

    The motion to remove the language was approved, 3-0, with support from Charter & Ordinance Review Committee Members Susan Brewer and Robert Gordon. (One seat on the committee is vacant, and member Steve Maneri was absent.)

    With two council vacancies (due to Hocker’s resignation and Harry Kent’s recent death), “It just wasn’t the right thing to do,” Hocker said.

    “With other people coming on board, they have other views — they may wish to entertain it in the future. But at this time, with two open seats, it just wasn’t the right time. But there were some very good charter changes that needed to be implemented immediately.”

    According to Delaware Code, once voting rights are given to landowners, they cannot be revoked.

    “You always have to be careful not to bind a future council,” Hocker said.

    On a personal note, the amendment (if approved by Delaware State Legislature) could have allowed Hocker to return as a freeholder candidate in future elections.

    “It’s just my gut feeling,” Hocker told the Coastal Point, after weighing the positives and negatives of the vote. “This potentially could be detrimental to the town. It could be 10 — it may be 20 years down the road … and I think the council as a whole kind of has that view. If we move forward, we move forward cautiously.”

    The rest of the charter changes were approved. The other code changes will update and clarify town council rules and regulations regarding existing donations to local emergency services and map records.

    Officially, Millville only passed a resolution asking Delaware State Legislature to approve the charter changes. Sponsored by State Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. and State Rep. Ron Gray in the legislature, the request must pass with two-thirds majority in Delaware General Assembly, as well as obtaining the governor’s signature.

    “I always kept Millville in my heart and strived to do the best job and make the best decisions for this town,” Gerry Hocker told the public during his farewell.

    Every year, someone calls Town Hall to ask, “What am I getting for my taxes?” Hocker said. “You get a staff that loves working for you, and you get a council that strives every day to make Millville [a good] place to live.”

    The next meeting will be the council workshop on Tuesday, Jan. 26, at 7 p.m., during which the council may review applications to fill Kent’s seat for the remaining year of his term.

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    It was an emotional Tuesday evening in Millville, as outgoing Mayor Gerald “Gerry” Hocker Jr. retired from the Millville Town Council on Jan. 12, after more than a dozen years.

    “It’s really hard to step away from something that you love. I’ve just enjoyed it. There’s never a good time — there’s always unfinished business — but we were able to achieve a lot,” he said. “There’s always going to be changes, but I think, moving forward, Millville is on track to be a great town. I just absolutely love living in Millville. I loved being a part of the Millville council.”

    Hocker, who served on the Millville town council for 14 years, will now be starting a new chapter in his life, as he and his family will be moving outside town limits, to a nearby unincorporated area of Sussex County.

    “We had been planning to build on family land for a very, very long time. Then the opportunity came to me to buy my grandparents’ place. So that has so much sentimental value to me because it was my grandparents’ home; my grandfather built it in 1963. I was there all the time as a young kid,” he said.

    “When we were first married, our plan at that point was to live there for five years and then build on some other family land. Fifteen years later, we did. We absolutely loved living there. We loved being a part of the Millville community.”

    Hocker said he even postponed moving to stay on the council until a few important items on the council’s docket were completed.

    “The last six months have been very critical steps for the future of Millville to come,” he said. “A big achievement was purchasing the property for a park. We’ve been wanting to do that for years. That opportunity came to us, and we were very excited. I wanted to be a part of that, to see that completed.

    “The next biggest achievement of my time as mayor was being a part of the committee for the planning stages to build Troop 4A for the Delaware State Police out of our restricted funds. The Delaware State Police were absolutely thrilled that we were doing that for them, and I was on the committee for the planning stages.

    “We, at the time, had to go through the bidding process, the contract phase, and at our last meeting, we awarded the contract to the company. The construction phase is going to be exciting, but I knew I wasn’t going to be a part of that.”

    In the last few weeks, the Town has also dealt with some personal hardship, with the sudden passing of councilman Harry Kent in December.

    “We’ve had some things to deal with… We had staff that was dealing with some health problems in their family, and that wasn’t the time to leave,” he said. “We’ve been dealing with the passing of Harry, which the whole council took hard. That wasn’t the time to leave either…

    “Not that there’s ever a good time to leave something that you love, but knowing my term was up anyway, and having completed some of the top, immediate priorities of the council, I knew this was the moment.”

    Hocker was elected to serve on the Millville Town Council on March 3, 2002, and sworn in on March 12, 2002, when he was 27 years old.

    “At the time, I had someone call me and ask me if I’d ever be interested in something like that. And, at that time, I wanted to get involved in the community where I lived. I grew up in the unincorporated area of Ocean View, where there was no town council or anything,” he said.

    “This was the first time in my life I had lived in a town where there was a local government. I think, growing up and always being a part of the Republican Party and hearing what goes on, with Dad [state Sen. Gerald Hocker] being active over the years, I just decided to try it.

    “The first thing I did was get a tax list of every resident in the town, and I personally called everyone on that list. The voter turnout was tremendous. Some of the council, after I got elected, kind of jokingly stated that I had called everybody in the town and that they had never anticipated that many people would vote based on the registration at that time.”

    That year, Hocker received 58 votes of the 75 cast, with citizens being given the opportunity to vote for two of the three candidates.

    “I’m so thankful I had residents in 2002 who put their faith and trust in me at a young age and were willing to give me the opportunity.

    “At that point, I had no experience in politics other than growing up in a house where my grandfather was a state representative in the early ’70s and my father was very active in the Republican Party, with a goal at some point to be a state representative, as my grandfather was. Dad was elected [as state representative] the same year I was. I was elected in March 2002, and he was elected in November 2002.”

    Growing responsibility, along with the town

    Over the years, Hocker filled various positions on the council, from councilperson to council secretary and deputy mayor and, since 2011, as mayor.

    “I’ve very thankful that Millville did not have term limits, because it would have broken my heart to have had to have gotten off at the end of a term because of a term limit. Luckily, the Charter didn’t have term limits. It’s been remarkable seeing the growth of the town and being a part of that.”

    The finances of the Town have improved significantly during Hocker’s tenure. In March of 2002, when he first joined council, the Town had a total of $87,135.22. As of Jan. 12, 2016, the Town’s coffers have $7,722,492.

    “At the time I got on council, we had our Charter, but we had very few laws within the town… We went from basically a cubicle of a town hall, with no running water and no restroom, to a beautiful town hall that was paid for within a year, with transfer tax money.”

    Hocker said he’s been told that Millville has the third-lowest tax rate in the state of Delaware.

    “To live in a community like this, this close to the beach, and have such a low tax rate compared to neighboring towns — that’s remarkable. Over the 14 years I was on council, we only had to readjust taxes one time, to get in line with the County tax base.”

    Working with various councils over the years has been another great pleasure of serving Millville, said Hocker.

    “One of the most remarkable things I can say is, in the 14 years that I’ve been a part of the Town of Millville, we never once had a council that didn’t get along. That is remarkable. Not very many Towns can say that,” he said. “So many Towns have just about fallen apart, or their objective of a meeting is to bash each other. You read it in the paper, and never once did Millville have those kinds of headlines.

    “I love the way Millville does it. All five are equal, and then amongst those five we appoint who we think is best for each particular position. But it was never about a title. The great thing about being on a local council is you don’t have to play the political card. You’re just serving the people. That’s your main objective.”

    Hocker said working with so many different people on council, with vast backgrounds, has positively impacted the town.

    “There was always a joy. We always thought things through. We always appreciated and respected each other’s views and opinions and recommendations. If we did disagree, we respectfully disagreed… It was very respectful. I think that’s one of the joys that kept me on there for so long.”

    With Hocker retiring from his seat on the council, there will no longer be a sitting member of council who was born and raised in the area.

    “Since 1906, when the town was incorporated, there’s always been a local presence on the board… and I’m the last of that. Unless they find somebody who was born and raised here to fill one of the two seats,” he said of the vacant seats on the council, which now number two.

    “There are people who are moving here who are great. But as far as being a local, born and raised here, with ties to the community here, I’m the last of that. And, over the years, it’s kept reducing down…

    “I know where we came from, and I always had a goal and dream of where we wanted Millville to be. I hope I can leave and the Millville residents think I did a good job. I feel like I did the best job I could do.”

    The Millville residents, he said, “are phenomenal,” adding that he has loved his time serving them and looking out for the future of the town.

    “There are just a select few who come to the meetings, but when there are important issues, there are residents that come because they’ve moved here and they love where they moved and have an interest in making sure the council acts on their behalf, as well. It’s great that there are a lot of residents I’ve gotten to know.

    “I’ve loved constituent service,” he added. “When it gets right down to it, you’re elected to do a job, you’re elected to help the people and do what’s best for your position and the area you serve. I’ve always looked out for Millville. My philosophy from Day 1 was always ‘treat others the way you would want to be treated and put yourself in other people’s shoes,’” he said.

    “With that, I like to think I’ve made the right decisions for the future of the town. I always thought about the long-term effect, no matter what the ordinance was or project was that we were voting on or considering. I would always look at the long-term picture. Is this something once we enact, is it something the town can handle and take care of, and be a part of forever?”

    Staff praised for contributions

    Praising the Town’s staff and volunteers, Hocker said the town is where it is today in large part because of the wonderful people who work there.

    “We went from having no employees when I was elected in March 2002. As we grew and build the town hall, we hired our first employee. Through the hiring phases, anytime we increased our staff or had an opening for a position, we always found the best applicant. Our mix of staff has been absolutely remarkable… The job of serving on the council is easy when you have the staff that we have.”

    He added that two specific hires stand out in his mind the most — one being Town Manager Debbie Botchie.

    “When you give people opportunities and you look back and think, ‘Wow, what a great step that was.’ One of them was Debbie Botchie. She started out as our clerk,” he said. “Where many towns would look for someone with experience, we gave someone the opportunity who had no town manager experience. But she knew the town and she had worked there and worked under the prior town manager. We all knew she could do it, and, boy, what a blessing it has been to have Debbie Botchie as a town manager.

    “Being a mayor with a town manager like Debbie is an unbelievable experience. She has been extremely helpful.”

    Another standout moment for Hocker was hiring Town Solicitor Seth Thompson, at the recommendation of attorney Terry Jaywork.

    “At the time, we had been through two other attorneys. Each attorney stepped away for their own reasons; they never parted on a bad note. We had hired Terry Jaywork because we wanted someone with municipal experience.”

    Hocker said that, after Jaywork attended a number of meetings, he was candid with the Town about wanting to take a step back from his workload, but saw the town was poised for growth.

    “He was at a point where he had hired a new attorney and came to us and asked if we would be willing to have Seth Thompson represent the Town. He spoke very highly of him. ‘I will assure you he will do a fantastic job for the town of Millville, and I’ll be working with him initially. I’ll still be a part of it, between the two of us.’

    “And we were willing to do it. We knew Terry Jaywork, and we knew his background and that he was great with municipal government. We did not know Seth. We put faith in Terry’s recommendation and hired Seth Thompson, and that’s been a pleasure. I hope Millville will continue to have him represent the town for years to come. He’s young and up to speed on all the current laws. He’s just been a true asset to the Town. He doesn’t live in the town, but he enjoys the town.”

    Hometown boy

    The town of Millville has always been a special place to the Hocker family, as Hocker’s father grew up in town, in the house next door to his own Millville home.

    “My father grew up in the house on the corner — we call it ‘the Briar Patch House.’ Then, somewhere along the line, that corner house left the family and was purchased by the Cole family. Someone must’ve been looking out for us, because the year I got married and bought my grandparents’ place, the corner property came for sale, and my parents were able to buy that, to put it back in the family,” he shared.

    “Our ties to the community — we absolutely love this community. Our family has been in retail business in this community since 1947 — 69 years. My grandfather started Millville Hardware in the building where Miller’s Creek is now. That was his hardware store. Millville is where the Hocker family got its start in the retail business.”

    Now, Hocker’s has grown to include the Supercenter, gas station and convenience store, as well as the smaller G&E grocery store and adjacent hardware store.

    “The loyal support we’ve had over the years… there’s just so much to be thankful for, for this whole entire community. Leaving this community was very, very hard for me. I think that’s why it’s taken us 15 years to do it.”

    Hocker continued to praise the Millville community and its surrounding areas for being so good to him and his family over the years.

    “I’ve absolutely loved it. My heart is with Millville… this whole area, really. The community has been very good to my family over the years. This area keeps us in business, with all the national chains wanting to come in here, and through it all, we continue to grow and we just can’t thank the community enough. And a lot of them turn around and support us. I see a lot of our Millville residents in our family’s businesses, and that’s a pleasure.”

    The past 14 years have been a “remarkable opportunity,” said Hocker, adding that he hopes that, one day in the future, he will be able to serve Millville again.

    “When you have to step away from something you truly, truly love, it is so hard. It was kind of a triple-whammy for me, moving out of the house, moving out of town and leaving council.

    “Certainly, if the opportunity ever comes at a later date in my life that I have the opportunity to be a part of an elected position, I would certainly hope it’s a position that could represent the town of Millville, as well. That would be a joy. I’ll always have a place in my heart for Millville.”

    As for the future of the town, Hocker said he encourages residents to continue taking an interest in the town and consider serving on the council.

    “My hope is whoever replaces Harry and whoever replaces me has an equal mindset of looking out for the future of the town and is willing to work and be a part of a group for the benefit of the town. If that’s the case, Millville will continue to prosper,” he said.

    He, too, will continue to take an interest in Millville, he promised. Although he will no longer be a permanent resident of the town, Hocker said he will remain a property owner.

    “I’ll be stopping by to visit the staff and council… I’ll just get to come to the meetings and give them a hard time,” he said with a laugh.

    At Tuesday’s meeting, which was concluded with Hocker announcing his retirement from council, he was honored with a tribute from the Delaware State House of Representatives, presented to him by his father (now-state Sen. Hocker), thanking him for his “remarkable leadership and his contributions that have made Millville a better community.”

    Hocker also received a tribute from the Delaware Senate, which noted, “Through his distinguished tenure as mayor, he has tirelessly shared of his time and talent and has gained the respect and high regard of all who have the good fortune to know him. Sen. Hocker finds it most befitting the Senate recognize this fine gentleman so dear to his heart and his many contributions to that special locale whose motto, ‘A beautiful way of life,’ says it all.”

    Hocker said that he would not have been able to spend a third of his life serving the Town of Millville if it wasn’t for the love and support of his entire family.

    “To my family — thank you all for the confidence and encouragement. I thank my parents for the confidence I first received when I filed to serve on council,” he said. “I thank my wife, Carey, for always supporting me. You gave me the words of encouragement when we were newly married and decided to run for town council.

    “No matter what meeting I was having or function I needed to attend, my family have always been supportive of whatever I was doing. A special thank-you to my children, Maryn and Mitchell, for understanding when I was not home, due to having to attend the many meetings. Most importantly, I thank God for leading my life down this remarkable path of serving this town.”

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    Indian River School District schools received two of the many bomb threats that targeted schools and hospitals early this week.

    At least 31 bomb threats were telephoned in to schools and hospitals across Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. That included Indian River High School, Millsboro Middle School and Beebe Healthcare.

    Most, if not all, of the bomb threats were automated phone calls to the main office of each location. Nothing suspicious appears to have been found (although Coastal Point has not independently confirmed this for all Maryland schools). Many facilities returned to regular business within a few hours, but a few schools ultimately sent students home for the entire day.

    But police have responded to every call, and administrators launched into emergency procedures, whether that was evacuation or other precautionary measures.

    The blitz began Monday, Jan. 11, continued on Tuesday and seemed likely to continue on Wednesday at Coastal Point press time, when Stephen Decatur High School in Berlin, Md., reported an evacuation.

    Most calls came in the morning, but a handful came after noon.

    According to the Delaware State Police, “A robotic-style or computer-generated voice phone call was received in each of the schools’ offices.”

    It was described as a male computer voice, according to the Greenwood Police Department.

    “It kept looping and repeating. At this time, I can’t disclose what it said,” a Borough of Oxford, Pa., officer said. “At this time, we’re working with the FBI, Maryland intelligence and Delaware intelligence.”

    “We don’t have any credible information that would have deemed it a credible threat,” said Officer Nathan Probus of the Prince William County (Va.) Police Department.

    The calls would be considered terroristic threatening, which is a felony. Each incident would be a separate count, according to the Dover Police Department.

    On Monday, Delaware schools receiving the threats included Indian River High School (Dagsboro), Caesar Rodney High School (Camden), Dover High School, H.B. DuPont Middle School (Hockessin), Seaford Middle School and Smyrna Elementary School.

    Virginia’s two calls came Monday to Glenkirk Elementary School (Gainesville) and Ferry Farm Elementary School (Fredericksburg).

    Pennsylvania was also subjected to calls on Monday, as the Borough of Oxford Police Department responded to an automated call at one undisclosed school. (Oxford police serve several schools that range from preschool to grade 8.)

    Meanwhile, Maryland State Police were monitoring local police efforts for bomb threats in Anne Arundel, Carroll, Frederick, Harford, Prince George’s, St. Mary’s, Talbot and Wicomico counties. (In an ill-timed HVAC malfunction, Ocean City (Md.) Elementary School was evacuated a second time in one day when smoke was detected in one classroom, which the fire department determined to be unrelated to the bomb threats.)

    On Tuesday, Maryland State Police reported similar bomb threats in Charles, Carroll, Frederick, Wicomico and Worcester counties.

    Also affected Tuesday were Millsboro Middle School, Central Middle School (Dover) and Beacon Middle School (Lewes). Woodbridge Early Childhood Education Center actually received two phone calls, about 15 seconds apart, answered by two different people, according to the Greenwood Police Department.

    The Milford Police Department was also investigating threats from Monday and Tuesday, but has not confirmed which schools received the calls.

    Hospitals were also included. On Monday, Bayhealth Kent General received a bomb threat around 6:27 p.m. On Tuesday, Beebe Healthcare shut down its parking garage after a 2:42 p.m. automated call to the Lewes campus.

    The Metropolitan Police Department did not identify whether bomb threats regularly received at Washington, D.C., schools might have been related to these incidents.

    Delaware State Police are investigating six calls but, for the most part, individual police agencies have the right and duty to investigate within their own town or county.

    However, the 20 individual agencies are working together, and the FBI has been consulted. The FBI did not immediately return calls for comment.

    If anyone has any information relating to these incidents, they are being asked to contact Delaware State Police Troop 4 Youth Aid Division at (302) 856-5850. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333, online at, or by sending an anonymous tip by text to 274637 (CRIMES) using the keyword “DSP.”

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    Bishop-Hastings Funeral Home rang in the new year early, with a rebranding ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, to commemorate its new name. Family and friends joined new owner W. Bryan Bishop Jr., along with Selbyville Mayor Clifton C. Murray, and State Rep. Ron Gray in celebrating the rebranding.

    Having worked at the home since 1994, Bishop said he wanted to maintain the long-standing history of Hastings Funeral Home by simply adding Bishop to the name. The ceremonial ribbon-cutting was followed by a reception in the parlor to showcase the facility.

    The funeral home was founded in 1896 by Paynter F. Watson. Bishop is a licensed funeral director in both Delaware and Maryland. He is a member of the National Funeral Directors Association, the Delaware State Funeral Directors Association and the Delmarva Funeral Service Association.

    Bishop-Hastings Funeral home is located in downtown Selbyville, at 19 South Main Street. For more information, visit the website at

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    The Alpha Alpha Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi — a women’s social, cultural and service organization that gives back to those in need within the community — is hosting a January Jam dance to have fun night while raising funds to help those in need.

    “The dance is our main fundraiser. We maybe have a couple small things throughout the year, but that’s where we get the bulk of our money, and we really give money wherever it’s needed,” said Denise Beam, one of the original chapter members.

    Alpha Alpha has been hosting a fundraising dance for at least 20 years, first starting out at the Roxana Fire Hall, then moving to the Millville Fire Hall, followed by the VFW.

    “Then Alex [Heidenberger] offered Mango’s, which is a great venue, for free. He doesn’t charge us anything.”

    The dance will be held at Mango’s on Friday, Jan. 29, from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. Tickets cost $25 per person and may be purchased at the door. Appetizers and desserts will be served, and attendees can enjoy a libation or two at the cash bar.

    “We’ve had the Funsters perform for the last few years. They’re great, and they have a pretty big following,” added Beam.

    Along with food and music, the dance will feature a silent auction, with the feature item being a week’s stay at a condo in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The “Chinese auction,” or “ticket tango,” features gift certificates to restaurants, “baskets of cheer,” a Vera Bradley duffle bag and a rocking chair from Miller’s Creek.

    The dance usually draws anywhere from 150 to 200 people and raises approximately $4,000 annually.

    “This is the idea we came up with as a once-a-year fundraising activity to help us give back in some way,” said Nancy Butters, the chapter’s president. “Sometimes we’ve done it as a big contribution to some place, or sometimes, lately, we’ve been donating smaller amounts as our members find things and bring it up to everybody else.”

    The funds raised from the dance go back into the community, through word of mouth and by supporting local schools.

    “On a regular basis, we donate money to three schools to help needy families at both Thanksgiving and Christmas — Phillip Showell, SMS and LB,” said Beam of the Selbyville elementary and middle schools and the Ocean View-based elementary school.

    “A lot of us are teachers or former teachers, so we see a lot of needs for kids. We have Christmas and Thanksgiving families through the schools,” added Butters. “Then we also like to give the counselors at some of the schools emergency gift cards. A lot of times, parents will come to them, and the counselor can give out the cards and say, ‘Get whatever you need to get over the hump.’”

    Last year, along with their donations to the schools, the chapter donated funds to the Prettyman family, and a local family that was affected by a house fire.

    “We held a dine-and-donate in the fall, which was the first time we’ve ever done something like that, to help fund our Thanksgiving and Christmas donations,” Butters said. “Now, we’re doing this one to help us prepare for the next year and anything else that may come up. Because you never know…”

    The chapter began in the mid-1980s, while many of the members were pregnant.

    “Our group has been together for about 30 years. Mostly, in the beginning, we were together as a social group and did a lot of kid friendly activities. As we became older and more involved, we saw some needs,” said Butters. “We are basically a social group, but we also want to see these needs, and we wanted to do something to help those.”

    Supporting the community where they live is the main objective of the chapter, and the women of Alpha Alpha are striving to do just that.

    “I think that’s just the kind of community we live in and the kind of members we have. We went into it to make new friends and be social, back when we were in our 30s, and this part of it has become really important — that we just give back,” said Beam. “We’re just trying to help our community and have some fun while we’re doing it.”

    “We’re 24 local women from all walks of life. Some are teachers, small-business owners. Some are retired, some not,” added Butters. “We’re just friends and have been friends for a long time, but this is what brings us together for a purpose and for fun.”

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    The 38th District Republican Club is putting politics aside on Monday, Jan. 25, and instead encouraging anyone and everyone to join them at the South Coastal Library for a police symposium at the South Coastal Library.

    Representatives from the Fenwick Island, South Bethany, Bethany Beach, Selbyville and Ocean View police departments, as well as the Delaware State Police from Troop 4, will all be in attendance, to answer any questions local residents may have about their boys in blue.

    “I wanted to make sure that we have a diversity of speakers, on subjects that are important to the citizens of Sussex County,” explained 38th District Republican Club President Drew Sunderlin of the concept. “What applies to Ocean View may not apply to Selbyville, so I wanted to make sure that everybody was represented — including State Police Troop 4 that covers all the incorporated areas, like where I live.”

    While Sunderlin has a list of questions already prepared, with topics ranging for safety, personal protection and homeowner tips to traffic stops and local duties of citizens, those citizens will have a chance to ask the panel their own questions, as well, following a similar format to the entrepreneur symposium held at the library in November.

    “I’m going to throw out a question to one of the speakers, panelists, let them answer it, and the audience then raise their hand and ask anything they want,” said Sunderlin. “I have no idea what the audience is going to ask, which is the whole idea. I want the audience involvement.

    “I wanted to bring all [the local departments] together, because we have a lot of concerned citizens here that would really like to get the answers firsthand, not whispered down the road.”

    Sunderlin, who has a son working as a Pennsylvania state trooper, was particularly drawn to getting the community and police departments together, face to face, after noticing all the negative attention that officers can receive.

    “We need to have more positive coverage of our first-responders. These are the people that, when push comes to shove and you need somebody, they’re who you call,” he explained. “We are a blessed community. It’s a small community where everybody pretty much knows everybody else and we all are here to help one another — quite a difference from [big cities]. It’s a different atmosphere down here, and we should be rallying around the people that keep us safe.”

    The symposium will be held at the South Coastal Library at 43 Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach and starts at 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25. Anyone interested in showing support for their local police force or who has questions is being encouraged to attend.

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    The Delaware State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit this week was investigating a fatal crash that occurred Tuesday morning east of Millsboro.

    Police said the incident occurred around 8:50 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, as a 49-year-old Millsboro man was driving a 2008 Chevrolet Silverado pickup westbound on Mt. Joy Road just west of Cordrey Road, while a 31-year-old Millsboro woman, identified as Shena L. Coverdale, was driving a 2001 Buick Century eastbound on Mt. Joy Road, approaching the Silverado.

    For unknown reasons, police said, the Silverado exited the north side of the roadway before re-entering Mt. Joy Road. After re-entering the roadway, they said, the Chevrolet rotated sideways as it crossed the double solid yellow line and into the eastbound lane of travel, striking the left side of the Buick.

    After the impact, the truck continued off the south side of the roadway, where it overturned multiple times before coming to as stop on its left side, according to police. The Buick was forced off the south side of the roadway, where it came to a stop, they said.

    The driver of the Silverado was properly restrained and transported by EMS to Beebe Healthcare, where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.

    The 31-year-old woman, whose name was being withheld mid-week, pending notification of next of kin, was properly restrained and transported to Beebe Healthcare, where she was pronounced dead, police said.

    The Collision Reconstruction Unit was continuing their investigation into the incident, and no charges had been filed as of Jan. 20. Mt. Joy Road between Cordrey Road and Cannon Road for approximately three hours while the crash was investigated and cleared.

    If anyone may have witnessed the collision, they are being asked to contact Cpl. N. DeMalto at (302) 703-3267. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333, via the internet at or by sending an anonymous tip by text to 274637 (CRIMES) using the keyword “DSP.”

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    Almost daily bomb threats are weighing heavily on parents, as schools across the Delmarva Peninsula are peppered with (thus far unfounded) bomb threats.

    The Indian River School District is encouraging families to remain calm, despite receiving threats at four schools between Jan. 11 and Jan. 20.

    That announcement, however, came an hour before Delaware State Police announced another bomb threat had been received Wednesday morning at East Millsboro Elementary School (where, again, nothing suspicious was ultimately found).

    Every school has comprehensive safety plans that kick into action during an emergency, each of the plans developed in conjunction with local law-enforcement.

    “Staff members are trained on these plans and know their duties when a threat is received by a school,” stated IRSD Superintendent Susan Bunting.

    “We’re 99 percent sure — usually 100 percent — that we’re making the right decision” in any situation, said Assistant Superintendent Mark Steele.

    Schools consult with local police when deciding how to respond to each threat, whether that is to evacuate or shelter in place. The administration won’t hesitate to act if they think “for one second” that the children are in trouble, they said.

    So what should parents know as they make the decision to send their children to school each day?

    “Their kids are 100 percent safe when they come to school,” Steele said.

    None of the threats has been deemed credible, but the schools won’t let their guard down, Steele said. All IRSD schools have implemented additional daily security measures. He asked parents to work with the IRSD to reduce disruptions to school, thereby reducing the power of this telephoning terrorist.

    “Parents can rest assured that the actions of a few cowardly individuals will not deter us from our business of providing students with a first-class education,” Bunting stated. “I would like to thank parents for their patience, cooperation and understanding during this challenging time.”

    Some parents asked why Millsboro Middle School wasn’t completely evacuated for the Jan. 12 incident, Steele said. But at that point, MMS was the sixth school that Delaware State Police had investigated, so they had seen the pattern. There were no suspicious visitors that day, or break-ins the previous night. So classroom disruptions were kept to a minimum.

    “I can’t give the parents everything we’re doing,” Steele noted.

    But Bunting would say this: “During these recent incidents, teachers and staff did a phenomenal job keeping students calm and orderly during the evacuation and search process. … Their professionalism has allowed us to handle these incidents with the least possible disruption.”

    “I’d also like to remind parents that every school has an armed security monitor on duty at all times,” Bunting stated. “Some of our secondary schools also have a school resource officer on campus. These individuals provide an additional layer of protection for students on a daily basis.”

    One incident differed from the commonalities of the other bomb-related threats.

    “In the case at Long Neck Elementary School [on Jan. 19], the caller stated he was armed and on the roof of the school, and threatened to do harm to the students and faculty,” stated IRSD officials.

    Within the course of 3.5 hours, the students were initially placed on lockdown, a fleet of school buses arrived and transported students to a predetermined off-site location, parents picked up about 500 students, and the remaining roughly 200 children were returned to school.

    “Not bad,” Steele said of the process.

    In the meantime, police officers, K9 units and a police helicopter found nothing suspicious on school grounds.

    Other local incidents included threats at Indian River High School on Jan. 11, as well as to Beebe Healthcare and Millsboro Middle School on Jan. 12.

    Generally, the threats have been received at multiple locations about the same time. State and/or local police have performed a search and, thus far, operations have returned to normal within several hours.

    Regionally, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia were targeted at a minimum of 30 schools and hospitals on the first two days. Since then, other news agencies have also reported bomb threats across the Atlantic coast and inland states.

    Generally, the threats have come as a robotic-style or computer-generated voice phone call to the main offices of the institutions. Most incidents of terroristic threatening are considered a felony in Delaware.

    As the Coastal Point reported on Jan. 15, the FBI is working with local law-enforcement. This week, according to Wicomico County (Md.) Sheriff Michael A. Lewis, the FBI assumed primary investigative responsibility for the incidents, with a task force operating out of its Baltimore field office, while local law-enforcement remains closely involved.

    If anyone has any information relating to these incidents, they are being asked to contact the Delaware State Police Troop 4 Youth Aid Division at (302) 856-5850. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333, online at, or by sending an anonymous tip by text to 274637 (CRIMES) using the keyword “DSP.”

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    Last week, community members gathered at a town hall meeting to have an open discussion of how to best address the growing heroin epidemic.

    “We’ve got some problems in this county, we’ve got some problems in this town, in this community, that need to be addressed,” said Georgetown Mayor Bill West. “It starts with education and prevention at the early ages. If we don’t have the kids looking in the right direction, by the time they get to be adults, they’re going to be headed in the wrong direction.”

    West said prevention and education for youth is needed to get children to stay on a drug-free trajectory.

    Dupree Johnson of the Sussex County Action Prevention Coalition (SCAPC), which organized the meeting, also said action needs to be taken for prevention by reaching out to youth.

    “Addiction has so much less to do with drugs than it does with behavior. When we send people to treatment, we send them there for the symptom. Prevention is what I’m about.

    “It is because the prevention effort is not being taken seriously. We’re using it as a secondhand tool. Before you even use a drug, prevention is key. After you use a drug, you go into treatment and come back out. You have to go back to prevention to prevent you from using again. If you’re not a part of the problem, then you need to be a part of the solution.”

    Johnson, a recovering addict himself, said his work with SCAPC is very near and dear to his heart.

    “My heart starts to beat when I think about this. This almost took my life. This is not something I do because someone pays me. I don’t do this because I want to be in the newspaper or because I want someone to elect me. I do it because it saved my life.

    “And prevention is what you and I can participate in, because you and I don’t take drugs.”

    Johnson said that, when he was growing up, there were areas designated as “drug-free communities,” which now seems to be a thing of the past.

    “To my understanding, Sussex County has never had it,” he said of the designation, “Because I think you think the umpire has said you’re safe. But the umpire isn’t telling you that. I think that’s been bred into you. That’s why you have people who don’t want treatment centers by their homes.”

    SCAPC was started in 2012 — “a small work that does big things,” where everyone can come to the table and have “one voice with one heartbeat.” This year, the organization’s slogan is “Prevention being seen in 2016.”

    “Our job this year is to make sure prevention is being seen. We want to stand at the highest mountain, and we’re going to yell ‘prevention,’ and we’re going to do that through our coalition.”

    The coalition currently holds meetings in Seaford, Laurel and Georgetown, and is working on starting up programs in two other towns.

    Johnson said SCAPC has been working diligently for years, trying to get into schools to teach youths about drug prevention.

    “I can’t even get a phone call to the superintendents most of the schools in this county. I can’t even get through to them. We’re begging them, ‘Can we come in?’

    “I know you have football teams and sports activities. I know you have FFA. I know you have student government. But do you have a coalition where kids are actually moving and breathing inside a solution called prevention?”

    Johnson praised the Woodbridge School District for taking on SCAPC’s recommended curriculum from the National Institute of Health. He said Del Tech even gave each student who participated in the program a college credit, even before they’ve graduated from high school.

    “And they still didn’t want to bring us into the other schools. There are some superintendents I’ve been calling since 2012… Knock on your principal’s door and tell them about SCAPC. Tell them there’s a movement going on in the county.”

    Johnson said the epidemic needs to be kept at the forefront of people’s discussions and actions.

    “The Powerball took real precedent this week. And I heard through the grapevine there were two young ladies behind Nanticoke Hospital in Seaford with a needle in their arm and a baby in the back seat. But Powerball was all over the stations.

    “You know what? The epidemic is becoming old news in Sussex County. New news is taking its place. Guess what the public thinks? It’s getting better.”

    School nurse appeals for presence in schools

    There are kids who want to speak out on being drug-free, said Johnson, noting that SCAPC also has a youth-oriented coalition and conference.

    One youth involved wrote and recorded a song about being drug-free, with the lyrics “They ask me what I wanna be. I say drug-free. When I’m drug free, I’m free to be me.”

    “These kids are working on putting together a whole prevention album. They want this. They can either join our gang or somebody else’s gang… Not all kids are built for sports. Not all kids are built for the debate team. This may be the avenue, because kids who don’t fit in, they’ll find someplace to fit in. So we’re just giving them another avenue to fit into.”

    Stacey Robinson, a school nurse at Sussex Central High School who was not representing her school by attending the meeting, said she was upset that no one else from her school was in attendance.

    “It is a problem in our schools. I’ll tell you what I see as the greater problem in our schools, is not so much the kids are using it, but their families are being affected because their parents, their brothers are using it, their sisters are using it.

    “The thing that I find abhorrent about our county is, where do you go for help if it’s not you? Where do you go if it’s your family member? Where are the services? Let’s face it, there are statistics out there miles long that will tell you if you get an addict sober, the only way they will stay that way is if they are in an environment where people are willing to help them. That’s what’s extremely lacking here in our county.”

    Robinson said she has personally sought out services for kids in her school but is always met with a waiting list.

    “‘We’ll see you, but it’s going to be eight to 12 weeks before we can get you in.’ ‘Oh, you don’t have insurance? Never mind, there’s nothing for you.’

    “That’s a huge problem, because these kids see how much it’s screwing up their lives. They see how much it is screwing up their parents’ lives. I have students whose parents are in prison right now, and they sit in my office and they say how disgusted they are with the epidemic that’s going on in this county. If you get them, they have voices and they will speak to the kids who are younger than them. They will speak out to the kids around them. They are an excellent resource, and they’re not being utilized.”

    Psychiatric hospital expected to help

    West said the SUN Behavioral Heath psychiatric hospital, which is to be built in Georgetown will be “a great resource.”

    “Today alone, I had two phone calls from two doctors who are looking to move to Georgetown,” he said. “This tells me it’s opening eyes. People are getting interested, and we can do the right thing to make a better place.”

    West said the 90-bed facility is needed in Sussex County, despite what other rehabilitation centers, who have appealed approval for the project, have argued.

    “I have over 25 halfway houses in Georgetown. Do you think I can sell houses to young families that want to move in here with kids, with 25 halfway houses? No, I can’t. Do I need that? Yes, because it can evaluate these people and send them along and get them help.”

    One attendee said she had to send her son to a rehabilitation facility in Pennsylvania, to a place where he could be admitted within two days and wouldn’t be around negative influences.

    Michael Barbieri — director of the Division of Substance Abuse & Mental Health for the Delaware Department of Health & Social Services, who was also in attendance at the meeting — said the State hopes to add 30 beds to Sussex County in the spring.

    Barbieri said the State wants to bring more resources to Sussex County but faces a lot of pushback.

    “Believe me, we’re trying to get services down in Sussex County, but we get so much pushback saying, ‘Not in my back yard. We’re not putting it there. We want it in Sussex County, but not near where I live, not near where I stay.’

    “The reality is we have had more people push back against everything we’re trying to do, because they want the service but not in their back yard. That’s problematic… I would love to see this group advocate to get those beds here, where you want them.”

    Barbieri also said it has been difficult to get providers to come to Sussex County.

    “When we put bids out for outpatient facilities, nobody bid in Sussex County. That’s not my fault; nobody bid in Sussex County. So now we have to go out and try to recruit people to please start working with our clients… We’re now actively trying to recruit providers to come to Sussex County.

    “It’s a problem. It’s a serious problem. It’s a transportation problem, it’s a facility problem, it’s a manpower problem. There are a lot of things going on.”

    Drug Enforcement Agency Agent Cody Handy Sr. said the DEA is bringing additional manpower into the state of Delaware, and plans to provide free training to area law-enforcement and to implement a number of initiatives to help stifle the growing epidemic.

    One woman in attendance asked if law-enforcement is actively working on arresting the local dealers.

    “It’s so easy for my son to go down the street… Why aren’t these people getting busted?”

    Georgetown Police Chief R.L. Hughes said that, while departments are actively working on local dealer cases, building those cases takes time. He encouraged anyone in the community who sees anything or knows of any illegal drug activity to contact their local law-enforcement agency.

    State Rep. Ruth Briggs King was also in attendance at the meeting and presented Johnson and Jeff Benson Jr. of SCAPC with a tribute from the State House of Representatives and Senate, commending them for their tireless efforts. West also presented the two with a proclamation from the Georgetown Town Council.

    “I happen to believe, coming from a medical community, that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure any day of the week,” said Briggs King.

    The SCAPC chapter of Seaford meets the first Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m. at the Stein Highway Church of God’s Lighted Pathway Family Life Center, located at 425 E. Stein Highway in Seaford. The Laurel Chapter meets the third Saturday of every month at 10 a.m. at the Laurel Public Library. The Georgetown Chapter meets the third Tuesday of every month at 6:30 p.m., with the location to be announced. The public is being encouraged to attend.

    To learn more about SCAPC, visit Those who wish to contact Johnson may email him at

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    The Bethany Beach Town Council this week voted unanimously to accept the donation of the turn-of-the-20th-century cottage built by one of its founders, with plans to move the historic structure to Town-owned land on the undeveloped Maryland Avenue Extended.

    The move did not come without controversy, as a group of neighbors of the parcel where the house is to be converted into a town museum continued to offer their objections to its conversion from an open green space their families have used as a sort of communal back yard for decades.

    Due to the anticipated high turnout for the council discussion and vote, the council limited speakers on the subject to three minutes per person.

    While most speakers agreed that the cottage would be a beneficial acquisition for the Town, the eventual location of the structure remained a point of disagreement.

    Opinions ranged from the strong opposition of the neighbors to the Maryland Avenue site, to those urging compromise (and perhaps a third choice for a location) and, finally, those supporting the Maryland Avenue location and even expressing dismay that the Town had maintained the property as what they viewed as a semi-private park used almost exclusively by the neighbors.

    To begin the discussion, Town Manager Cliff Graviet reviewed the history of the 1903 cottage, which has been in the family of owner Christina Edgar for 85 years but is to be moved to clear the way for redevelopment of the Garfield Parkway Extended lot it has sat on since the 1920s.

    Its historic connections to the town include not only that long-lived presence but its origins as the only one of four essentially identical homes, built by four of the six men who helped found the town beyond its birth as a religious retreat around 1900, that is still standing. It also served as the town’s post office for about two years, back in the 1920s.

    “If you want to talk about a window into Bethany Beach history, this cottage is certainly that,” Graviet said, noting its “unique and priceless record” with Edgar’s family, the photos of it and the family’s recollections of it through the decades.

    With the cottage having been for sale for several months, Graviet said, Cultural & Historical Affairs Committee Chairwoman Carol Olmstead and the committee had begun a dialogue with Edgar and her husband, Clem, about its value and a way for the Town to acquire it, as well as, eventually, what mechanism might be used to make that happen.

    Graviet said the Edgars had made a list of items they wanted to see done if they donated the house, including the Town absorbing all of the costs of moving the structure and restoring the lot and providing a letter of donation for tax purposes.

    Another item on that list, which was mentioned at the November 2015 council workshop at which the donation was first formally discussed by the council, was the partitioning of the lot upon which the house sits, which the Edgars want to redevelop as two lots with lot lines similar to those they would have originally had in the 1920s.

    That list item was another element of controversy surrounding the donation, as it was interpreted by some as a pre-requisite for the Edgars donating the house.

    “This has been a learning experience for all involved,” Graviet acknowledged on Jan. 15. “I want to be clear regarding what the Town can and cannot do, and what it can’t or won’t do. The Edgars have a keen desire to see their cottage preserved. They are giving it to the Town whether the land is partitioned or not.”

    Conditioning the donation on the partitioning of the land would be “highly illegal” contract zoning, argued attorney Robert Witsil, who represents some of the Maryland Avenue Extended-area property owners who oppose the location and spoke on their behalf in extended comments last Friday.

    Edgar had addressed that issue as the first speaker during the public comment period.

    “There never has been an agreement with the Town,” she asserted, saying the items on the note “flushed out of a file” by the opponents under the Freedom of Information Act had been a “wishlist” of sorts, of items they had wanted addressed in an agreement with the Town but that, to date, there had never been any agreement, formal or otherwise, between the Edgars and the Town.

    “The partitioning of the double lot will be decided by the Planning Commission, not the Town Council, and will be judged on its own merits, not a request of ours,” she said, a day ahead of when the commissioners were set to hear the request for partitioning. She also denied that a real estate agent involved in the process had ever asked for a commission, stating instead that any possible commission would be refused.

    Cost for move, update could top $100,000

    Graviet said the Edgars had asked the council to facilitate the funding of all costs associated with the moving of the cottage, the removal of the remaining structure on the lot and a letter of donation based on the appraisal of the property.

    “There is no time stricture on its removal,” he emphasized. “They are asking that it be removed as soon as practicable.”

    Graviet pointed to the precedent of the donation of the Addy 3 cottage in recent years, as well as the letter of donation provided to the owner of a portion of the Loop Canal and Salt Pond when they were donated to the Town, both based on appraisals provided by licensed appraisers hired by the owners.

    “The Town has not been so bold as to question the value provided by licensed appraisers,” he added, before recommending to the council that the Town agree to the Edgars’ three requests. He said the removal would be done with the aid of Town staff, at a time of year when other work cannot be done, and he reported that a home inspection by a licensed professional had yielded a positive report on the cottage, as well as no concerns from an exterminator.

    As far as other costs, Graviet pointed out that his initial estimate of the project had only included actually moving the home and possibly updating it with an HVAC system.

    “Since that time,” he said, he had gotten quotes from vendors on updating different areas of the house, “so if it is moved and completed, it would be very updated.” Those cost estimates included $5,000 to establish electrical service and rewire the home, $10,000 for the HVAC, $4,000 to re-brace floor joists and re-tie attic joists, $3,000 to build an ADA-compliant ramp to the rear of the cottage, $4,000 in engineering costs to move an existing sewer line and another $17,000 to actually move the sewer line.

    Graviet emphasized that costs could change, particularly as related to the ADA accommodations, which might be reduced or eliminated if CHAC successfully applies for historic status for the home. ADA compliance might require the Town to widen doorways, retrofit a bathroom and make the downstairs accessible.

    In all, the initial estimates total about $56,000 in initial financial obligation for the Town, which Graviet noted already had that funding available in the contingency line of its current budget. He added that CHAC had already volunteered to pay the estimated $46,000 in moving costs from its own funds, which have, in part, been garnered from its annual summer craft show.

    The total cost estimate for the move and updates is $102,000, Graviet said. Its future operational costs would depend on how the structure is used, he noted.

    “CHAC sees the home as a museum or as an extension of the museum at town hall, presented as a historic home telling the story of Bethany Beach through the decades,” he explained. With volunteer docents, such a museum could cost $8,000 to $10,000 per year to operate, whereas paid staff might cost an additional $15,000 per year, based on similar costs at the Town’s Nature Center, which resides in the relocated former Addy 3, which was also donated but required much more extensive renovation.

    Maryland Avenue location recommended

    Moving on to the more controversial of the two issues up for a vote last Friday, Graviet formally recommended to the council that the cottage, if accepted as a donation, be moved to the undeveloped parcel on Maryland Avenue Extended.

    “It’s very close to town hall and downtown Bethany,” he said, “very accessible to walk and bike downtown, visible to tourists and motorists who drive through the intersection” of Routes 1 and 26. He added that the location would situate the house as if it was part of a Bethany Beach neighborhood and “present it as it has been for decades, just a few feet to the west.”

    In fact, he said CHAC had asked if the house could be moved farther north and closer to the street than initially proposed, to better match the typical layout of the town’s residential streets. That would involve reducing the proposed parking in front of the structure, he noted.

    While some had suggested the Dinker Cottage be moved to the existing Nature Center property, to create a cluster of historic homes, Graviet noted that the restrictions on the grant given the Town for the Nature Center would prohibit that.

    The other proposed location — the park being developed on the former Christian Church/Neff properties at Routes 1 and 26 — was not recommended by Graviet, as he noted he had been directed by the council in the past that the park was to “remain open and natural and devoid of structure,” and that any “enhancements impact it only in a natural, minimal way.”

    If he had interpreted those instructions incorrectly, he said, “I’m sure the council will inform me.” But he said that, as a result, the only site he could recommend for the cottage was the Maryland Avenue property.

    Recognizing the opposition from the neighbors of that parcel, Graviet said he had sent them a letter, telling them the Town would do all it could to zminimize the impact of the move, with no public access to the property after hours, and with access gated and closed when the building was not open, as is already the case at the Nature Center.

    He said the move “might result in one pine tree being taken down,” but that the Town would be planting flower beds and other landscaping around the parcel that it would maintain, as well as planting and maintaining any natural buffers requested by the neighbors. He said the structure, with its historic importance, could and would be maintained in such a way as to be an enhancement to the neighborhood.

    Town Solicitor Max Walton noted that a defunct company had previously owned the parcel before it was deeded to the Town in 1987 and that it was zoned as MORE (Municipal, Open Space, Recreational & Educational) and that a museum would be an allowed educational use.

    Walton said he believed the Town would not need to “vacate” or “abandon” the once-planned continuation of Maryland Avenue to proceed with the project, as “abandonment” would mean it would be surrendering title and jurisdiction over the property and the planned use wouldn’t meet the definition of vacation under state code.

    He did recommend the council use a process established in Section 18 of the town charter, related to its dominion over its alleys and streets, to approve the relocation, citing a desire to ensure the process was clear. He emphasized that the new use for the “paper street” wouldn’t involve a denial of access to the neighboring properties, nor would it be a “taking,” which would involve denying all or economically all viable use of their land or a reasonable expectation of use.

    Supporters, opponents aim to sway council

    Neighbor Phillip Feliciano was the first opponent to address the council on July 15. Having referenced the “sale” of the cottage to the Town, he was quickly questioned by Mayor Jack Gordon about the term.

    “I know we’re not supposed to debate, but [the Edgars’ requests] are a consideration, which is part of a contract,” he replied.

    Feliciano continued by saying that the Town’s planning map referenced the Maryland Avenue Extended lot as being “open space” and that the future land-use plan identified it as a park. He further argued that, despite Graviet’s estimates of costs, “You don’t have that until all the engineering is done,” he said, asking for his remaining FOIA requests from the Town to be fulfilled.

    Molly Feliciano said she and the other opponents were very concerned about the proposed move.

    “It’s the natural beauty that brings the tourists that support this town,” she said. “We’re not a concrete beach town. That’s why they come — not necessarily for all the educational activities. The green space is essential to that also. It draws residents and visitors to that area from all around Bethany. Hundreds of people per week use that space — more than I believe will visit a museum.”

    Neighbor Joe Tropea referenced a petition that he said contained more than 100 names of people who had said they were opposed to the location, saying that it might seem like the only people who were opposed to it were the neighbors, but that the addresses listed on the petition included even streets he hadn’t known existed in the town.

    That number was one he said he thought was “pretty good, considering that this is the slow season here. We had to contact people in Florida, South Carolina, who we have asked — some of them have signed, some have not.”

    Narda Namro told the council that her back yard backs up to the lot.

    “We have enjoyed this grassy strip for a long time. We want to keep it green. We want to see everyone enjoy it,” she said, adding that she loved the Edgars and the Dinker Cottage, and that she thought moving it and making it a museum was a good idea.

    “It’s just very hard to understand how to accept something when you feel like it’s wedged in your back yard,” she said, noting that her office is in her home and that she expected her dogs will bark at people coming to the museum, as well as it adding noise pollution for her children.

    Tony Namro said that, with his background in construction, he thought anyone who thought the project would happen for the kind of costs estimated was “dreaming.” “The sewer line alone is going to cost that,” he said, adding that he was also skeptical of the projection of only one pine tree needing to be removed. “That whole area will be gone. … It’s going to butt up against my house, my neighbor’s house.”

    He said an appraiser had already told him that “the devaluation of our homes is significant.” “If you stuff that back there, it will look like an apartment complex.” On the former Church/Neff park property, he said, the 1,200-square-foot cottage “will take up 1 percent, and people will see it.”

    Their daughter Rachel described the parcel as a place “where we love to play with family, friends and our dogs. ... It becomes almost like our back yard.”

    “I’m worried if you put a parking lot there, we will always have to watch out for cars. There will be lots of noise with cars coming in and out, so our dogs will bark a lot. If I could wish for one thing today, I would wish we could all make this work for everyone so we don’t lose our favorite place to play.”

    Resident and CHAC member Theo Loppatto said that, speaking as a concerned citizen, “I feel strongly that the Town should not let this rare opportunity to accept and preserve a piece of the town’s history slip by.”

    She referenced the Dinker Cottage’s presence in the town’s comprehensive plan, where it is cited as one of only 12 properties of the 141 in the town that had not been substantially renovated, demolished or added to. “So, shame on us if we don’t take advantage of this opportunity and use this piece of history to teach the broader history of our town.”

    Loppatto said she felt the Maryland Avenue location was a good one for a town museum, offering accessibility, visibility and safety.

    “With the property signage, proper exposure, it will get visited. The museum will be seen and utilized and easily accessible on foot and bike. This is a location that provides safety of access because of the two traffic lights. ... It would add, not detract, in that location,” she said.

    Part-time resident Jane North said, “That small sliver of green space on Maryland Avenue is a godsend to my family, my four children. Not everyone comes down to Bethany to go down to those overcrowded beaches,” she added, noting that, for her autistic son, “going down to the beach is like a nightmare to him, with all of the noise and people. For him to have that small sliver of green space, that quiet space to walk in and reflect in, and to know he’s safe back in there…

    “Are you saying all the children who play in that field should have to cross that busy intersection to have access to that green space?” she asked regarding the unofficially named “Central Park.”

    She went on to criticize what she said was “the way in which these hearings were thrown together so quickly at a time of year when so many people are not here,” and that, after driving six hours to get to the meeting, she had only been permitted three minutes to speak. She suggested the cottage should be moved to the park property.

    Alternative ideas suggested

    Resident John Schmidtlein said that he agreed about the negative impacts on the neighbors, but he suggested a third solution — that the Town accept the donation of the cottage and then purchase the land upon which it sits, and eventually open the house as a museum on the same property it has been on for most of a century.

    He was joined by resident Bill Zeigler in suggesting the Town put even more money into such a museum. “It is tremendously historic, as is the area it’s located in, and it needs to be located in an area like that. I think the costs very low. If you doubled them, it would be a bargain.”

    But Zeigler disputed the impact on Maryland Avenue Extended.

    “I think the traffic is being horribly overestimated in terms of threats and children’s safety. It’s a very quiet street and will remain quiet,” he said, noting what he had observed as minimal traffic at the Nature Center. “We have a once-in-a-century opportunity to preserve this home. … The costs are reasonable, and the location is acceptable.”

    Resident Margaret Young, who was a member of the former Bethany Beach Historical Society, as well as CHAC, made an impassioned appeal to accept the donation of the cottage.

    “We are being offered a wonderful gift. There could be no more appropriate use than as a museum, as the house itself is an artifact,” she said. “The cost of moving it — $46,000 — is already being funded by CHAC. And if the Town does not accept it, it would most certainly be demolished, and that would be a tragedy.”

    George Watson was the first of several speakers to object to the idea that the Town has been maintaining the lot for the limited number of people who have used it as a park.

    “I live just past where it would be put, and I was unaware that this was other than privately-owned property,” he said. “I was shocked to discover that the residents of the community there objected on two occasions to having park benches put on this public land, which I could well use as I struggle to walk that short distance.” (A previous proposal would have added passive exercise equipment to the property, but it was also strongly opposed by neighbors and did not move forward.)

    “I’m really displeased to have taxpayer money support something that is, in effect, a nice park for the adjoining owners and their friends. I was not aware my grandkids could come and play ball there. I don’t feel they’d be particularly welcome, so I resent that part,” he said.

    Former NPR radio host Liane Hansen, who moved to the town full-time five years ago but has long been renting in the area for the summer, said she, too, had been unaware that the property belonged to anyone but the neighboring homeowners. She also declared herself a longtime fan of the Dinker Cottage.

    “I fell in love with the house before I fell in love with the place,” she said of Bethany Beach. “That house was the Dinker Cottage.”

    Having gotten her tour guide certification last summer, she said, “On my own I decided I wanted to do an audio tour of historic houses in Bethany Beach, such as Journey’s End. When I found out the Dinker House was being offered as gift to the Town, I was amazed.

    “And when I heard it might be turned into a museum where you could have a lot more than you have here,” she said of the museum area in the town hall lobby, “where people could go when it rained, when it sunny… Visitors are fascinated by the history of the town. I’m totally in favor of accepting donation of the Dinker Cottage, and I think Maryland Avenue Extended would be the perfect place to put it.”

    Resident Henry Rodeski lamented the loss of so many of the town’s cottages over the years. “We’re losing our identity. What a great opportunity to preserve one of these cottages. Most of them are going to be gone, but this one I don’t want to see go. And I think Maryland Avenue is a wonderful location.”

    Patrick McGuire said he not only favored the Town putting the cottage on that parcel but felt they should take the opportunity to create additional parking for town employees and employees of local businesses across the remainder of the lot.

    Resident Joy Knox said she was one of those who refused to sign the petition against the location. “There was no objection to a museum from the residents I spoke to. Some residents are going to object to anything put on the property. If kids want to play, they have acres across the street.”

    Resident Claudia Dieste acknowledged that she has a vested interest in the property, which she called “The Greens.” “It’s not about sharing it. I would be delighted to share it with you. The Greens have been there way before I was a child. It is the homes and the communities and the families that have grown up around it. … It’s something that I don’t want to have to be punished for, that we get to enjoy it.”

    “We have an amazing park,” she added of Central Park. “The vision that I see for that park is anchored by this cottage.”

    Resident Claudia McClenny said, “I can empathize with people on Maryland Avenue having to maybe give up your green space, but the Town did previously plan to put a playground there, and you all turned that down.

    “I pray that you all will decide to do this,” she told the council. “I think it will be a welcoming sight for our town.”

    Opponents’ attorney offers Town legal advice

    Witsil, who represents neighboring property owner and location owner Robert Cohen, was extended five minutes to speak, but began his comments to the council by “strenuously” objecting to the three-minute time limit and stating that he felt the Town was violating due process with the proceedings.

    “Despite what was said about a preliminary agreement, [the Edgars’ note] is smoking-gun evidence of contract zoning, which is highly illegal,” he asserted to the council.

    “The preliminary agreement presented to you by the Edgars that states approval of the partitioning by the Planning Commission as a condition to their donation is highly illegal. I don’t know how you erase that now, except to re-begin consideration entirely,” he said.

    Witsil further argued that the estimated costs exceeding $45,000 would require the Town to enter into a competitive bidding process for the project, with state minimum wage rates in place, which he said would “increase the amount of the contract significantly.”

    He also said he disagreed with Walton on the issue of the need for the Town to officially abandon or vacate the paper street.

    “It is platted and is identified as open space. I think you have to go to Superior Court,” he said, which might be a several-month-long process. He also said he believes the Town needs to amend its comprehensive plan, which references that current parks and open space areas were expected to be maintained intact.

    “That’s not what’s happening here,” he argued, stating that he felt new ordinances would need to be drafted and public hearings held to update the comprehensive plan.

    Council cites historic value, setting

    With the conclusion of public comments, the council began their own comments specifically on the topic of accepting the donation of the house, with Vice-Mayor Lew Killmer stating that, “For any community to be considered successful … it needs to not only focus on the future but on protecting and preserving the past. The … town’s historic charm makes that town a very family-friendly vacation destination.

    “In many ways, Bethany Beach’s past is very instrumental to its nature,” he said, agreeing that accepting the cottage was important for the reasons Graviet had pointed out. “The house’s history and architectural charm will allow historical artifacts that have never been seen before to be seen by the public. It will be a venue for events. … I have a feeling that not to accept the donation would result in the loss of a very important part of the town’s history.” Councilman Chuck Peterson said he agreed.

    Councilwoman Rosemary Hardiman noted that she’d taken a tour of the house and found it to be not only an historic treasure. “One of the things, for me, is it is in such good condition. I was asked if we were going to accept all of these all the time. No. This house is very special and has a very special place in our history. The inspector said it is in amazingly good shape for a house its age.

    “The cost of ensuring that it is safe and open to public, I feel, is very reasonable,” she said before reiterating Young’s comment. “We would be housing the town’s history in a place that is itself an artifact.”

    Councilman Joseph Healy said he thought accepting the donation and placing the cottage on Maryland Avenue Extended “helps us retain our rich history.” He added that the new Ocean Suites hotel “shows where we headed in the future. This helps us retain that rich history of what we have. There has to be a synergy between the two, and I think this brings that together.”

    Councilman Bruce Frye said most of those he had spoken to thought it would be good to preserve the house and use it to showcase the town’s history, and that he supported accepting it.

    Councilman Jerry Morris said, “I think it would be a tragedy … for us to give it up, since it is a part of our history and all of your history. We are losing more and more, and slowly but surely, we will turn into Ocean City if we don’t watch out.”

    Gordon noted that “the Edgars can do whatever they want with that property,” including selling it. “I can’t imagine anyone else wants that house,” he said. “Our accepting that house as a gracious donation is something that the Town should do.”

    The council then voted unanimously, 7-0, to accept the donation.

    Walton again cautioned the council to follow the process in Section 18 of the charter in approving moving the house to Maryland Avenue Extended, stating that it should be understood that a council vote to move it there was subject to the approval of an agreement per that process.

    Killmer noted, “We’re basically down to two possible locations — Maryland Avenue or the park. “The plans for the town park have already involved a number of public hearings and townwide surveys … in the planning stages. People wanted a simple design, no structures, which would prohibit placing this anywhere on that property.”

    He also said access to the house would be difficult if it was placed on the park property, while the Maryland Avenue Extended property was large enough to be subdivided into four single-family building lots, “So, it’s obviously big enough to accommodate the cottage and can easily accommodate 12 parking spots for visitors.”

    In addition, he said, there are no sidewalks on the north side of Route 26, which means people already walk on the south side of the road, and that it would thus be an ideal place for people to visit the cottage by foot or bike, as well as being close to the house’s existing location.

    Peterson said the location was the hardest part of the decision and that he had received “a great deal of input.” While moving the house to Central Park was an option, he said, “At least six times, the idea of any construction on Central Park has been defeated. At some point in time, we’ve got to accept the public’s decision when they said no buildings in the park.”

    He said the input he had received had fallen into three categories: (1) people who wanted no change and to maintain things as they stand on the property; (2) just about as many people “irate that their tax dollars were going to pay for ownership of this green space and maintaining the property in its current state, and who wanted to find better uses for it or for the Town to sell it to developers”; or — the largest in number — those who favored accepting the house and moving it to Maryland Avenue Extended. He said he agreed with that last group.

    Hardiman noted that some had argued to her that, if people had known the Dinker Cottage might be donated to the Town in the future, the park location might have been supported during discussion of the plan for the park. But, she said, the 2013 survey had been clear about most people opposing structures on the park property, and a Bethany Beach Landowners Association survey had been more specific in posing the idea of an enclosed structure with HVAC and had received a negative response to that idea.

    “I’m very empathetic with the people on Maryland Avenue. All of us have had green space next to us over the years that has been developed. It will fit in there. It will be in a setting that it’s accustomed to. … The comprehensive plan envisioned that that area would be developed,” she added, in recommending the house be moved to Maryland Avenue. Healy said he, too, agreed.

    Frye said, “I wish there was a third option, but there is not. This is for the greater good of the entire town. I hope those affected will take some comfort that there is a large park across the street that will soon become even nicer.”

    Morris again noted how many houses had been demolished in the town over the years. “There’s enough room there to put four houses, and we’re only talking about one of them. This way, we’re saving the history of the town.”

    Gordon said, “I think the park has gone far enough down the line with our planning and all, that we would have to go out with another survey, and I have a feeling the neighbors where the house would be put on the park would be in the same position. With the only two options we have, I feel Maryland Avenue is the only appropriate location for the Dinker Cottage.”

    The council then voted unanimously, 7-0, to approve the move to Maryland Avenue Extended. Graviet had previously set in motion the earliest preparations for making the site ready for the cottage so that the work could be done this winter and spring.

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  • 01/21/16--13:29: A trip to remember
  • Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: Even doctors know that Gayle Rush won’t remove her necklace. After all, Mother Teresa of Calcutta personally gave her that medallion of Mother Mary.Coastal Point • R. Chris Clark: Even doctors know that Gayle Rush won’t remove her necklace. After all, Mother Teresa of Calcutta personally gave her that medallion of Mother Mary.

    Gayle Rush won’t remove her necklace for anything.

    It’s a fairly innocuous silver medallion, with the image of Mother Mary and some Latin text. You’d never guess it was a personal gift from someone who is considered one of the holiest people of the 20th century: Mother Teresa.

    Now living in South Bethany, Rush is a lifelong educator who turns 74 in March. She’s not Catholic, but it was a personal mission that led her to spend two weeks with Mother Teresa, founder of the religious order the Missionaries of Charity. Rush spent two weeks in Calcutta, India, where the famed nun lived a simple life and inspired humanitarian work worldwide.

    “I love to work with children,” Rush said. “I always leave the door open for any adventure, especially when I might be of help to children.”

    She had always wanted to see one of Mother Teresa’s U.S. visits, but something always came up.

    But, in 1997, an old friend in the U.S. Department of State asked if Rush would like to join a State flight to Mumbai. With help, she got a visa, inoculations and a break from her private-school teaching job.

    After the initial flight to Mumbai, Rush was on her own. She took a tiny plane to Calcutta, then a taxi to the Shishu Bhavan (a children’s home).

    Exhausted, she approached the big wooden gate, greeted by a sister of the order.

    “Yes, we were anticipating you,” Rush was told. The traveler had only one request: besides her expected work with the children, could she have an audience with Mother Teresa?

    Sure, but “Mother Teresa is standing behind you,” the sister said.

    And there stood Mother Theresa, the international icon of love and compassion. Overwhelmed by emotion, Rush broke into tears.

    “She put her arms around me and said, ‘Oh, my dear — you’re tired,’” Rush recalled. Mother Teresa told her to go to bed, then join everyone at breakfast.

    The next morning, Rush sat with the sisters for breakfast at 5 a.m., as she would for the next two weeks. Meals were simple: a wooden table topped with bananas, rice, tea and lentils in a galvanized bucket.

    Simple meals reinforced the simplicity of life, which Rush said she feels is especially important in this modern world. As a Quaker, Rush said she understands the importance of living a grounded, simple life.

    As a child life specialist who had worked in children’s oncology units, during her time in India she was assigned to the babies, particularly a 1-year-old named Sophia. Her most precious moments were spent just sitting, holding the baby, who clutched a gold cross around Rush’s neck.

    During those hot, barefoot, days, Rush was directed to “just be with her,” so she and Sophie stayed near the open, glass-less windows, to catch the occasional breeze or city sounds. That was a favorite phrase of Mother Teresa’s, Rush said: “Just be” with the children. So Rush did that, changed diapers, washed linens, sang aloud and whatever else “felt right at the moment.”

    Children of all ages filled the orphanage, but Rush was in the babies’ unit (about 40 to 75 at any time, just on her floor).

    In the city, the orphanage was very accessible. She saw children arrive, sometimes delivered by heartbroken parents who couldn’t support them anymore.

    They had an afternoon vespers service, then started again at 5 a.m.

    Rush was only allowed to take five photographs home, including a shot of her with Mother Teresa. “This woman is smaller than I am … but look at the size of the hands,” said Rush, pointing to a picture of herself and Mother Teresa. The nun appears to have rather large, wrinkled and sturdy hands. “They could hold the world.”

    Rush described Mother Teresa as a happy woman with a great sense of humor, despite being surrounded by poverty. They spoke English together, but Rush heard many languages spoken in Mother Teresa’s audience chamber.

    Her Calcutta visit came to an end on Mother’s Day, when Rush finally got the official audience she had requested on Day 1. After they laughed together at the camera’s initial refusal to snap a picture, they bid each other farewell.

    That’s when Mother Teresa bestowed upon her the medallion that Rush still refuses to remove today.

    “A lot of babies and children wear that medal in the orphanage,” Rush said.

    The silver oval is about an inch tall. A line of text arches around the raised image of the Holy Mother Mary. The tiny letters (Latin words, said Rush) are only legible at an intimate distance.

    After leaving, Rush was heartbroken to learn that her beloved ward, Sophie, had passed away just a day later. But Rush said she is confident that the girl felt loved in her last days, gently held in Rush’s arms.

    Mother Teresa herself died of cardiac arrest at age 87 that September, making Rush’s impromptu journey all the more serendipitous.

    “You can accomplish the extraordinary by doing the ordinary with love,” Rush said she learned that spring.

    Finding a common thread

    Wherever she goes in the world, Rush usually ends up working with children.

    “I find there’s common thread in the world when you work with children. If you open yourself up, it makes it a lot easier” to connect and to help them, she said.

    That’s why, she said, people should teach from the heart.

    “The most important thing is caring and loving. … They have very open hearts as they begin life,” Rush said.

    At the TOTS preschool program in Frankford, Rush once bonded with a little girl over their mutual hatred of wearing hearing aids.

    A longtime mother and teacher, Rush adopted five children, had one “homegrown” child, more than 40 foster children and countless exchange students when living in Virginia. Among her adopted childen was an autistic son who, at age 1, when she adopted it, doctors didn’t expected to walk or talk. Today, he does both, living independently and recently staring a new job. She used finger puppets to reach him.

    “When you’re teaching and really involved with that child, you don’t see difference” from day to day, she said, but now she’s getting letters from children she helped decades ago.

    Once, a foster child in Rush’s care was forced to return to a psychiatric hospital. Based on their sour parting, Rush was certain she had failed the girl, until years later, when the girl reached out to announce her pregnancy. “Everything I learned about being a mother, I learned from you,” Rush was told.

    “You never know what’s going to touch their lives,” Rush said years later, sitting in Ocean View, her coffee forgotten as she told stories of the children she’s loved.

    Open to new things and laughing at mistakes

    Rush moved to Delaware more than 15 years ago, but retirement hasn’t set in. She’s worked at schools (a private school in Georgetown and a public school in Frankford), trained teachers and helped to found the North Virginia Friends School.

    She still travels when the opportunity arrives but won’t admit to having a destination wish list.

    “When I’ve finished this life, I don’t want to leave any stones unturned,” said the lifelong learner. “I really want to stay open to all the possibilities. I think if you try to plan it out too much, you miss opportunities.”

    Rush was raised in a tiny Illinois town, on a simple post-war farm, living off the land and attending a one-room schoolhouse.

    While she was studying psychology, child development and religion at University of Illinois in the 1960s, Mother Teresa was being recognized worldwide, leading to the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

    As a young woman working in a corn factory alongside migrant workers, Rush learned early on about their tough living conditions. It helped open her eyes to the need in the world.

    Decades later, she would use laughter to connect with immigrants in Frankford. Leading parent education nights, she loosened up the parents of preschool children by laughing at the language barrier and her eager (but rickety) grasp of Spanish.

    She’s not afraid of laughing at mistakes, which she said is important for work with children, especially those with low confidence. And she really enjoys working with individuals.

    “It’s the individuals who bring about the change,” Rush said. “I think we all get too caught up in looking at the powers. It’s the individuals who do that.”

    That’s why she ditches the seaside resorts when visiting other countries (Mexico, France, Great Britain and more).

    “I stay with families and learn the culture,” by sewing, cooking or visiting schools with her hosts.

    Besides 40 years as a teacher, Rush has been a school co-founder, curriculum writer, teacher trainer, mentor, bereavement aide and counter girl. She’s seen educational systems ranging from public to private, Quaker to Montessori.

    Now, she enjoys tutoring, raising butterflies and leading nature presentations.

    “I think the common denominator that I found [is] there really is a common thread for touching a child’s life, and it’s just really caring deeply for the child and seeing them as an individual.”

    Optimism for the future of education flows through her veins.

    “We still have very good teachers out there. I wish some of the younger ones had mentors” and more messages of support.

    “For the new teachers, especially — don’t give up. Just be strong. Be loving and caring.” Teachers may go home thinking they’ve failed their students, “and then, 17 years later, someone will say, ‘I wouldn’t be here without you, Miss Gayle.’”

    That silver medallion is still a fond reminder of her time abroad with a woman whom many called a living saint.

    But Rush also notes the wrinkles that grace the area around her eyes and her cheeks. These are built-in memories of every smile, every frown.

    “This is the map of my life. This is my story. I earned every one,” Rush said.

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    On Sunday, Feb. 7, at 1 p.m. one of Delaware’s largest fundraising events — the Special Olympics Delaware Lewes Polar Bear Plunge, presented by Wawa — will take to the chilly waters of the Atlantic.

    The Plunge, celebrating its 25th year, began in 1992, when 78 plungers raised $7,000. Last year, 3,325 “Bears” raised more than $780,000. Since its inception, the plunge has raised more than $8.3 million.

    “Our Polar Bears continue to support this fabulous event year after year,” said Ann Grunert, executive director of Special Olympics Delaware. “And they also continue to recruit their friends to join them. This event truly is family-friendly and the perfect way to give back to the community and support such a worthy cause.”

    Wawa is the presenting sponsor for the 10th consecutive year and, in addition to their financial support, their Community Care Coffee vehicle offers free hot coffee and hot chocolate at the Plunge.

    “It is our privilege to provide warmth to the brave, chilly plungers … who are showing their support for such an important cause. We are proud to be a sponsor of Special Olympics,” said John Sharpless, director of store operations for Delaware Wawa stores.

    At the event, thousands of Bears will take the chilly dip into the Atlantic Ocean, raising money for Special Olympics Delaware’s year-round program of sports training, athletic competition and related programs for more than 3,700 children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

    Rehoboth Beach hosts a weekend-long Plunge Festival (Feb. 5-7) that includes several Saturday activities: the Fire & Ice event at the Rehoboth Beach Fire Department (noon to 3 p.m.); 5K Run to the Plunge (1 p.m.); restaurant chili contest (2:30-5 p.m.); and ice-sculpting contest (10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.).

    Restaurants and retailers throughout the Rehoboth Beach area have teamed up with Special Olympics Delaware to provide registered “Bears” with special discounts and activities throughout the weekend.

    More information on the Plunge and all weekend events can be found at

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    DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation’s Planning, Preservation & Development Section this week announced the temporary closure of the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier for replacement of aging decking boards starting on Monday, Jan. 25.

    Last year, the Division completed repairs to 125 pilings that had deteriorated and needed refitting and reinforcement. The new project is the second phase of the most extensive repairs ever made to the pier and will include decking and superstructure repairs costing $535,370.

    The all-wooden pier was built during World War II by the U.S. Army, as a mining wharf. Since 2007, several rehabilitative efforts have been undertaken to the pilings beneath the section of the pier that remains open for public use.

    The T-head portion of the pier was demolished in 2012 after its deteriorated condition was thought to pose a threat to safety and navigation. Division of Parks & Recreation officials said they have been closely monitoring the condition of the pier since that time and noticed an accelerated rate of deterioration in the structure.

    The project to repair the pier is being funded through a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Sport Fishing Restoration grant, along with park user fees and annual pass funds, and support from state legislators — state Reps. Peter Schwartzkopf, Timothy Dukes and Stephen Smyk, and state Sen. Ernesto Lopez, division Director Ray Bivens said.

    The fishing pier decking repair is expected to take up to120 days to complete, depending on weather conditions. For more information about the status of the project, contact Cindy Todd with Delaware State Parks at (302) 739-9209.

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    Delaware residents, as well as anglers visiting the First State, can now use the Division of Fish & Wildlife’s new responsive website, Delaware Fish Facts for the Recreational Angler, at to access information from most personal devices on more than 180 species of fish and shellfish that reside in, frequent or occasionally visit Delaware’s fresh, estuarine, coastal or offshore waters.

    “Almost any fish a recreational angler might catch in Delaware is included, from the shallow waters of a small backyard pond to the deep waters of the Atlantic Ocean, from bluegills to blue marlin,” said Fisheries Biologist Bruce Cole, who spearheaded the new website. “Designing Delaware Fish Facts for the Recreational Angler as a responsive website resulted in webpages that not only look good, but are also easy to use on all devices, from desktops and laptops to tablets and smartphones.”

    The new site features fish or fishing information on:

    • High-quality illustrations and descriptions to help identify species;

    • Seasons, size limits and daily limits;

    • Ranges and abundance in Delaware waters;

    • Habitat and food preferences;

    • Common fishing lures and baits;

    • Did You Know? fun facts;

    • Typical sizes caught of the many species depicted;

    • Minimum requirements for citations in the Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament; and

    • Delaware State Records for species included in the Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament.

    “While still on the water, and with the aid of a smartphone, anglers can use the new responsive website to instantly help identify what kind of fish they caught and find out if it is in season, how big it needs to be, how many they can keep and much more.

    “Even non-anglers can enjoy the information, from the high quality art work to the “Did You Know” fun fact sections,” said DNREC Division of Fish & Wildlife Director and avid angler David Saveikis.

    For more information about fishing in Delaware, visit

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    When Danny Herlihy made his way down to Rincon to be honored by the Puerto Rico Surfing Hall of Fame and participate in the Legends Surf Classic last week, he made the trip with family and friends. He got up to speak in front of an array of other surf legends, and he surfed breaks including Steps, Gas Chambers and Tres Palamas.

    Coastal Point • Submitted: Danny Herlihy and his son Colin visit ‘Steps’ in Rincon, Puerto Rico — a surf spot that the elder Herlihy named some 50 years ago.Coastal Point • Submitted: Danny Herlihy and his son Colin visit ‘Steps’ in Rincon, Puerto Rico — a surf spot that the elder Herlihy named some 50 years ago.But nearly 50 years ago, when Herlihy first arrived in Puerto Rico with a girlfriend from Cocoa Beach, the Rincon that wave-seeking Americans have since come to know wasn’t quite the same as it is today. There were no resorts to stay at, no places to rent a car and none to rent a surf board, either. In fact, about the only thing that Herlihy found on that maiden voyage was a side of the island waiting to be explored and desolate surf spots just waiting for names.

    “It was like I’d been dropped into paradise,” Herlihy recalled of that first trip. “The first time, I went for three days and didn’t see a single surfer.”

    Herlihy had gone down to meet up with his friend Duke Michaels — who was working in San Juan at the time, building surfboards, during the days that Hunter S. Thompson also lived there and later depicted in “The Rum Diary.” Michaels sent Herlihy off to try his luck in Rincon, with some basic directions.

    “He had gotten good surf out in Rincon and gave me basic directions how to get there,” Herlihy explained. “What takes two hours to make that drive took six to eight in the old days, but having surfed Rincon, Calif., I had to check out Rincon, Puerto Rico.”

    But after that drive, it wasn’t long before Herlihy landed himself a job building boards in San Juan as well, making the move to explore the newfound uncharted waters further in the winter of 1966.

    “I knew it would only be a matter of time before I returned. Soon after, I was working at UKU surfboards, making the drive out to Rincon and camping out to surf,” he recalled. “Duke had a V.W. bus that we camped in. We’d look at a spot, dive it on a flat day, surf it on the next swell, then name it.”

    The two named many of the spots that are famous Rincon landmarks today. They named “Tres Palamas” for its three giant palm trees in front of the break, “Steps” for the set of concrete steps that still remains washed up onshore to this day, “Dogmans” for the local who lived on the beach with a pack of stray dogs and “B.C.” for a character out of the funny pages, as well as Crashboat, Gas Chambers and many more.

    It was Herlihy’s experience surfing big-wave spots in California and Hawaii that gave him the confidence to charge uncharted spots, such as Tres during sizable winter swells, which he has continued to do for the past 50 years — going on eventually introduce his son, Colin Herlihy, to the waves he and “gringo” buddies had pioneered.

    “My first wave at Tres Palmas in November 1966, and taking Colin out to Tres Palmas in 1994, when he was 14, and watching him ride his first wave [at Tres Palamas],” Herlihy said, describing some of his favorite Puerto Rico memories through the years. “I started taking Colin to Puerto Rico when he was 6 years old. He practically grew up down there with my friends’ kids.”

    While most kids were brought up on cookies and milk, Colin Herlihy was brought up on surfing and travel, going on to gain international recognition from his own generation. But when he heard the news of his father’s honor, it had been 10 years since he had been to Rincon and 15 years since his father had last been there.

    “Pops hasn’t been back to Puerto Rico in 15 years, and I hadn’t been back in 10 years, so it was very exciting for both of us to be able to revisit our old stomping grounds,” said Colin Herlihy. “It meant the world to me to be there for my dad, to show him how proud I am of him and how lucky I am to have such a great dad and best friend.”

    “I received a phone call from [Director of Puerto Rico Surf Legends] Monty Smith, that he had read the Surfers Journal article about Duke and I, and wanted to talk more,” Danny Herlihy described of the moment when he found out he’d be headed back to Rincon. “My initial reaction was that I was surprised — stoked to be able to go back to Puerto Rico and see some of my friends that I’ve known down there for over 50 years.”

    The return was not only honorary for the Herlihys, but a milestone in a way, as Colin marked his 30th year traveling to Rincon, and Danny his 50th. And while, during those 50 years, Herlihy has certainly made his mark on Puerto Rican surf culture — and, of course, local surf culture and beyond (as well as a filmmaker and member of the Ocean City, Md., Surf Legends Hall of Fame) — Colin Herlihy hopes that the recognition helps younger generations realize his father’s contributions as much as Colin does.

    “My dad has never run toward the spotlight for recognition, so a lot of the younger surfers in Puerto Rico are not aware of his history in surfing and naming the spots in northwest Puerto Rico,” he said. “Since his induction, a lot of my peers have mentioned how stoked they are to see my dad get the recognition. He’s just so humble — you’d never know how much of a pioneer he is for Delmarva, the East Coast and Puerto Rico surfing.”

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    Coastal Point • Submitted: The visual display of a camera shows the filming of the movie ‘Dater’s Handbook,’ written by Ocean View resident Jennifer Barrow. The movie will air on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 9 p.m.Coastal Point • Submitted: The visual display of a camera shows the filming of the movie ‘Dater’s Handbook,’ written by Ocean View resident Jennifer Barrow. The movie will air on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 9 p.m.When Jennifer Barrow was a senior at Rutger’s University in her home state of New Jersey, her theater-major housemates offered her a chance to write a script for an end-of the-year skit. Though she didn’t know it at the time, that was the beginning of a lifelong career in script-writing.

    Barrow’s newest project, a Hallmark Channel movie called “Dater’s Handbook,” airs Saturday, Jan. 30, at 9 p.m. She said she is very excited about the timing, because “Dater’s Handbook,” which she co-wrote with frequent collaborator Rich Tabach, occupies quite a sweet bit of television real estate.

    It has been chosen to kick off the Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Valentine’s Day,” which will feature Valentine’s-appropriate movie premieres each Saturday and Sunday evening between Jan. 30 and Feb. 14.

    “Dater’s Handbook” is described on the Hallmark Channel website as “a fun romantic comedy that follows Cassandra Brand, who has come to realize that she has a recurring habit of picking the wrong type of guy, so she turns to a relationship expert, Dr. Susie, and her latest self-help book, ‘The Dater’s Handbook,’ to help with her ailing love life.”

    Encouraged by her mother and sister, the heroine, Cass, follows the advice in Dr. Susie’s book to evaluate potential suitors and then must choose between “reliable George” and “fun-loving Robert.”

    Barrow said she and Tabach wrote the screenplay two years ago and were thrilled to have it picked up by the Hallmark Channel. The movie was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, and while Barrow said she and Tabach were not able to attend the filming, they were kept abreast of progress as the movie was filmed.

    She said that, while screenwriters generally don’t have much control over what happens to their script once they sell it “unless you’re one of the really famous ones,” she was pleased with the resulting movie.

    “There are things I would have done differently, sure,” Barrow said. “But it’s actually very good!”

    With her end-of-college revelation that writing scripts was something she was good at, after she graduated from Rutgers, Barrow “packed up and went to L.A., having no idea what I was getting myself into.”

    She spent the next few years “following the usual path” toward screenwriting — production assistant, then writer’s assistant, then script coordinator. Eventually, she broke into writing scripts for shows including “King of the Hill,” for which she wrote two episodes.” “Dater’s Handbook” is the first full-length movie she has written that has been picked up for production.

    Eight years ago, Barrow realized that she no longer had to live in Los Angeles in order to work, so she moved back East, to Wilmington, N.C., and began working from her home.

    That move also allowed her to return to Ocean View, where she had spent summer vacations for more than 20 years. But now, she said, instead of short vacations, she’s able to be enjoy the beach town “from June to August.” Barrow said she particularly enjoys watching her 7-year-old son playing with his “summer friends” in Delaware each year.

    This year, when she returns to Delaware for the summer, she’ll have yet another Hallmark movie coming to the small screen. So, stay tuned — her next project airs in June.

    For a preview of “Dater’s Handbook,” though, go to, where there are also some behind-the-scenes videos featuring the movie’s three stars, Megan Markle, Kristoffer Polaha and Jonathan Scarfe. Check out “Dater’s Handbook,” on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, Jan. 30, at 9 p.m.

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    The Delaware State Police Sussex County Drug Unit this week arrested two people after Probation & Parole officers located precursors for the manufacturing of methamphetamine (meth) at a residence on Hickman Lane near Millsboro.

    Police reported that, on Thursday, Jan. 21, about 4 p.m., members of the Georgetown Probation & Parole office went to the 29000 block of Hickman Lane in order to conduct an administrative probation check on John E. Jones, 53, who was already on Level 3 probation stemming from a 2015 drug conviction.

    As probation officers were conducting a search of the residence, police said, they located various rounds of ammunition, as well as suspected equipment and component mixtures of the manufacturing stages of meth, along with key ingredients in making the drug. Jones, along with his girlfriend, Erica A. Wildes, 38, of the Hickman Lane address, were immediately taken into custody and the residence was evacuated.

    Detectives assigned to the Delaware State Police Sussex County Drug Unit, with the assistance of DNREC, responded to the home to assume the investigation and a consent search was obtained in response to the ongoing investigation into the manufacturing of meth at the house.

    Both Jones and Wildes were transported to Troop 4 in Georgetown, where Jones was charged with Operating a Clandestine Laboratory, two counts of Possession of Ammunition by a Person Prohibited, Possession with Intent to Deliver a Counterfeit Controlled Substance (Meth), Conspiracy 2nd , three counts of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of Methamphetamine.

    Wildes was charged with Operating a Clandestine Laboratory, Possession with Intent to Deliver a Counterfeit Controlled Substance (Meth), Conspiracy 2nd , three counts of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Possession of Methamphetamine.

    After being arraigned, they were turned over to the Delaware Department of Corrections in lieu of $59,000 secured bond for Jones and $39,000 secured bond for Wildes.

    No evacuations were ordered, police said, as it was determined that there was no immediate hazard to nearby residents.

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    Coastal Point • Laura Walter: TOTS children sing a thank-you song at the ribbon-cutting on Jan. 19.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: TOTS children sing a thank-you song at the ribbon-cutting on Jan. 19.These 4-year-olds don’t care that they’re learning motor skills or socialization. They’re just excited to play on their new playground equipment at the Transitioning Our Toddlers to School (TOTS) program.

    In Frankford, the Indian River School District’s TOTS program serves 60 special-education preschoolers. Now, those youngsters have an age-appropriate playground, built in a small courtyard at the G.W. Carver Educational Center.

    Previously, staff had to chase kids around the massive playground left onsite by the former Frankford Elementary School, said teacher Noël Lenhart.

    Now, they’ll be safely contained within four sunny walls, with a multitude of playground equipment, including four slides, a castle, swings, a sand table, water table and more.

    Homer Coates was amazed to see the courtyard transition from utilitarian to playful. Representing the Carl M. Freeman Foundation (and a $5,000 donation), Coates said he couldn’t believe that the giant stormwater drain on the site was so effectively hidden by a large pergola.

    Rather than spend money on grading and seeding the drain, IRSD staff envisioned a concrete pad where children can play or learn, covered with picnic tables and protected by a roof, that disguised the drain.

    “They love all the things they can drive around, push around,” said TOTS Program Director Loretta Ewell, pointing to wheelbarrows and plastic wheeled vehicles.

    Kids began running, jumping, pushing and sliding in this new spot on Dec. 1. Although the bitter cold prevented the children from personally showing off the new playground at the Jan. 19 dedication, they sang their gratitude: “Thank you so much. We love it.”

    Many people made the Boundless Energy Playground happen, including custodians who built it; teachers and staff who helped; donors who funded it; Ad-Art, which provided a sign; and the Special Education Department and IRSD Board of Education, which approved additional funds.

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    In some neighborhoods in southeastern Sussex County, grazing deer are becoming a routine sight. The deer themselves seem quite comfortable in such as setting, often simply continuing to graze as people pass by on foot or in cars.

    It’s easy to forget, when animals seem so tame, that they are, in fact, wild animals. And they certainly seem hungry when they emerge from the woods, chomping on flowers, bushes and trees as if they weren’t sure they were going to ever eat again.

    Whether for that reason, or others, providing food for the deer may seem helpful. According to Joe Rogerson, Delaware’s program manager for Species Conservation & Research, feeding deer is legal, but it is not a good idea for several reasons.

    “It’s not a practice we would advocate for,” Rogerson said.

    First, when humans feed deer, they are usually providing corn or another single-source food. Deer, Rogerson said, are “browsers,” which means they require a variety of different foods in their diet in order to be healthy. While it might seem helpful to provide the deer with food during the cold winter months, it is actually not, Rogerson said.

    In winter, deer tend to move around less and rest more — unless there is an unaccustomed food source. In that case, they will seek it out, thereby expending more calories in the search for food than they otherwise would. Feeding also brings deer out of the sheltering woods into open areas where it is more difficult for them to keep warm.

    Also, Rogerson said, when humans provide food for deer, it not only disturbs their natural migration patterns, but also brings them physically closer together, which can spread diseases, including chronic wasting disease, tuberculosis and mange. That artificial closeness can also have another effect — increasing deer populations in a time when they are already seen as a hazard to the human population.

    Just this past November — traditionally, the month when the highest numbers of deer-vs.-automobile crashes are reported — Delaware State Police reported 189 such accidents in Sussex County alone. That number accounted for 26 percent of all car crashes in that month. When humans feed the deer, they become even more likely to cross roads in areas where drivers might not expect them, and collisions increase.

    While there has not been a survey of deer population in Delaware since 2009, Rogerson said he would not be surprised if numbers are increasing, particularly in areas such as Ocean View and Millville, where agricultural land and wooded land is often located directly adjacent to higher-density residential areas.

    “I don’t know of another town that is situated like Ocean View,” he said. He added that he would not be surprised if the canals in southeastern Sussex act as migration guides for the deer population in the area, although he said he has no documentation of that.

    Some states and towns in the United States have started addressing the issue of feeding deer by prohibiting it and imposing fines on those who do it. Rogerson said there are no such regulations anywhere in Delaware. The only restriction on the feeding of deer is a state regulation against “baiting” the animals on public lands.

    Rogerson recommends that neighbors in areas where feeding is being done simply talk to each other. Many may not realize that a practice that seems benign, and possibly even helpful to the animals during the harsh winter months, is actually harmful to them.

    He also advocates that residents perhaps be a little less “accommodating” to the deer in their neighborhoods in general. Over time, as deer have become more common in back yards and empty lots, people tend to make these areas even more inviting to deer by not discouraging them, he said.

    “Hollering” at the deer, instead of quietly passing by or tiptoeing around the yard isn’t unkind to them, Rogerson said. In fact, by making a property less inviting to the deer, property owners would actually be helping them return to their natural habitat, which is beneficial to deer and humans alike, he noted.

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