Articles on this Page
- 08/11/16--12:30: _IR alum wins nation...
- 08/11/16--12:37: _IR educator: Teache...
- 08/11/16--13:03: _Local women heading...
- 08/11/16--13:08: _Fenwick Island elec...
- 08/11/16--13:10: _After months of rev...
- 08/11/16--13:13: _‘GMoney’ now stridi...
- 08/11/16--13:25: _Millville wants low...
- 08/11/16--13:27: _Route 26 a model fo...
- 08/11/16--13:32: _Hudson sworn in as ...
- 08/19/16--06:41: _Beauty contest: Com...
- 08/19/16--09:55: _Sierra Club donates...
- 08/19/16--10:45: _Democrats hold picn...
- 08/19/16--10:48: _Thins we love
- 08/19/16--11:56: _Agenda — August 19,...
- 08/19/16--12:03: _Woman gets 15 years...
- 08/19/16--12:29: _Millsboro man charg...
- 08/19/16--12:32: _Fenwick Island swea...
- 08/19/16--12:35: _Fenwick bids farewe...
- 08/19/16--12:54: _Tuckahoe Acres cele...
- 08/19/16--12:59: _Organizers plan for...
- 08/11/16--12:30: IR alum wins national prize in ‘smart’ water conservation
- 08/11/16--12:37: IR educator: Teachers undermined as parents demand special treatment
- 08/11/16--13:03: Local women heading to Greece to help Syrian refugees
- 08/11/16--13:08: Fenwick Island election sees new and familiar faces
- 08/11/16--13:10: After months of review, auditor releases report on Frankford
- 08/11/16--13:13: ‘GMoney’ now striding strongly into recovery
- 08/11/16--13:25: Millville wants lower speed limit near park
- 08/11/16--13:27: Route 26 a model for future construction projects
- 08/11/16--13:32: Hudson sworn in as new Millsboro town manager
- 08/19/16--06:41: Beauty contest: Community decorates South Bethany canals
- 08/19/16--09:55: Sierra Club donates memorial bench in Haon’s honor
- 08/19/16--10:45: Democrats hold picnic, honor Deaver
- 08/19/16--10:48: Thins we love
- 08/19/16--11:56: Agenda — August 19, 2016
- 08/19/16--12:03: Woman gets 15 years in prison for role in Millsboro robbery
- 08/19/16--12:29: Millsboro man charged with seventh DUI after OVPD stop
- 08/19/16--12:32: Fenwick Island swears in new town council members
- 08/19/16--12:35: Fenwick bids farewell to outgoing officials
- 08/19/16--12:54: Tuckahoe Acres celebrates half-century of family refuge
- 08/19/16--12:59: Organizers plan for Police Appreciation Day
Michael Dukes has done a lot of studies in Florida water conservation. But after all the research, the 1990 Indian River High School graduate has now been recognized for making real-world advances in agriculture, currently through “smart” home irrigation systems.
Dukes recently won the 2016 John Deere Gold Medal Award from the American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers (ASABE).
The award dates back to at least the 1930s, “recognizing distinguished achievement in the application of science and art to the soil,” sponsored by the John Deere Foundation.
It’s one of three ASABE’s gold medals given each year, the highlight of the Annual International Meeting Awards Luncheon at Orlando, Fla.
Dukes is an irrigation specialist and research professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla.
Hailing from Roxana, Dukes grew up around agriculture, with relatives who were farmers, a mother in poultry processing and a father in poultry house installation/repairs.
Surrounded by agriculture, but loving math and science, he bounced around a few engineering pathways at University of Delaware before settling into agricultural engineering, which he said was satisfyingly hands-on and down-to-earth.
“They were doing things I could relate to, being a kid [in the country]. We had labs where we drove tractors,” which was a familiar atmosphere, with his own roots.
“My department is agricultural and biological engineering,” Dukes said. “I try to think of it as … the non-human biological engineering, so plants, animals, foods, fuel, fiber…”
After finishing his doctorate at North Carolina State University, he got a teaching gig at UF around 2001, but his irrigation research and extension responsibilities have taken precedence.
“Basically, when I got here in Florida, in 2001, the state was coming out of a multi-year drought,” and the housing market was ramping up, which called for a new trend: green yards, regardless of weather conditions.
“When I grew up, people didn’t irrigate their grass. … Now it’s very common in new development. You almost — you have to go out of your way not to see it,” Dukes said.
But that’s a lot of drinking water being diverted from the tap. He was asked to find a more efficient method of irrigation.
As director of the Center for Landscape Conservation & Ecology, he led a multidisciplinary team to research water conservation and efficient irrigation, focusing on landscape irrigation.
They eventually created a smart irrigation controller that reduces water use.
They studied soil moisture sensors and irrigation systems — first in the lab, then in actual back yards. Partnering with irrigation companies, the researchers created smart devices that use soil moisture data sensors to “kind of let the plants” tell the irrigation system when to run.
“‘Do these devices even work?’ and the answer was yes. If they work, under what conditions can we optimize usage?” Dukes said.
It all culminated in a multi-year project still ongoing in Orange County, Fla. Through the college’s extension program, they began educating the broader public. They weren’t commercial products, originally. But they are now.
The rain sensor and smart controls reduced water usage by anywhere from 15 to 70 percent per year, per home, according to Dukes’ colleague and award nominator, Kati Migliaccio.
That’s tens of thousands of gallons per house.
“At the present [population] growth rate, they’re … going to run out of traditional supplies of water. One of the least expensive ways [to prevent water shortage] is conservation,” Dukes said of the state.
His team didn’t necessary invent anything but instead put pieces together.
“Our work has really been applying them in the right way and optimizing them,” Dukes said. “The idea has been around for decades, to use these type of applications. … But it’s not until the last 10 to 20 years that the technology’s been cheap enough it’s been miniaturized.”
That’s especially important in urban areas, with water in high demand.
This research is being used in real-world ways, for training and publications “that have been used to train hundreds of stakeholders and industry professional across the region,” according to ASABE.
More importantly, four counties in Florida have “implemented a permitting policy that provides incentives for use of smart irrigation control technologies with irrigation systems.”
As a leading expert, Dukes has been elected to many leadership positions in his field, noted Migliaccio, a professor of agricultural and biological engineering.
“He is the contact for expert opinion by researchers, municipalities, agencies and extension faculty on urban smart irrigation technologies for irrigation and application of these technologies in residential properties,” Migliaccio wrote in her nomination.
That much work isn’t without side projects. Dukes has earned two patents and written or co-written hundreds of journal articles, book chapters and conference proceeding papers.
Other career awards include the Irrigation Foundation Excellence in Education award, the University of Florida Research Foundation Professorship (2010 to 2012), the ASABE Young Extension Worker award and induction to the Water Institute of the University of Florida as a faculty fellow.
Founded in 1907 and headquartered in Michigan, “The American Society of Agricultural & Biological Engineers is an educational and scientific organization dedicated to the advancement of engineering applicable to agricultural, food and biological systems.”
Dukes said he was very surprised to win what he described as a “career award.”
“It’s a great honor to be recognized by my peers for such a prestigious award,” and a great teaching opportunity, too, he said, as he brought several students to the conference.
Dukes thanked his parents “for instilling in me a good strong work ethic”; his various mentors and professors, including a doctoral studies advisor who he said “re-instilled” his work ethic; and the students and staff who have come through his programs.
“This award’s not just me. No one does anything alone,” he said. “So if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the success that I’ve had.”
As for the future of agriculture engineering, Dukes said he is glad to hear about the popular agri-science program at Indian River High School. The word “agriculture” doesn’t generally conjure up glamorous images, but the field today is tremendously scientific, with studies of genetic engineering, genetic modification, “big data,” unmanned vehicles and precision agriculture.
“There’s plenty of good career option for students in agriculture,” Dukes said, “and I would encourage students to broaden their horizons and keep an open mind.”
Teachers are trusted to manage classrooms, from grades to discipline. But when parents are unhappy with a teacher’s decision, they’re sometimes taking advantage of the system, according one local teacher.
At Indian River High School, students aren’t getting equal treatment when parents demand the administration intervene, said physical education teacher Wendy Megee.
“I fear that there’s truly two sets of rules: The first set of rules for the influential, the connected, the friends and family of the influential and connected,” Megee said, “and the set for [other] people — we the people, in the community.”
Megee addressed her concerns to the Indian River School District’s Board of Education on July 25, during public comments.
“I can speak for myself, and I have a lot of support from other teachers and coaches,” Megee said afterward. “[Some parents] use their influence and their tactics for their child to receive special treatment” and have become empowered to continue, she said.
“When proper chain-of-command is broken, or when influential or threatening parents demand the way a team is run, a student’s playing time or position is played, or … a higher grade, and the administration says it’s OK — we do it with fear and pressure,” even fearing retaliation from the administration, Megee said of her colleagues.
Staff are discouraged in their jobs, she said, because “when an overly demanding parent throws out a threatening word … the governing procedures are waived, and undermining treatment for the teachers and coaches begins,” Megee said. “It’s not meant to, but that’s what happens.”
Students are smart enough to catch on, she added, so the behavior spreads to other families, and that, she said, is detrimental to the educational process.
“I have been afraid to object, and so have [others] … for fear of retaliation or, worse, losing my beloved teaching position,” Megee said. “We have remained silent, but I can no longer do that. So now I’m turning to you to voice my objection and to seek support and investigation for the lack of consistent, unbiased, unpressured, stable support from our administrators.”
Parent involvement is crucial to educational success, she acknowledged.
“We want our parents involved,” Megee said. Volunteer hours help the schools, and genuine interest helps the children.
Coming from a family of teachers, Megee said she supports the district, its teachers and leaders in central office.
But the special treatment needs to end, she insists. She requested more support for teachers and coaches because, right now, “Discipline isn’t always the same for every child or the parents.”
It is a problem on a broader scale, said former board member Donna Mitchell, concerned with a seeming nationwide trend of students undermining authority figures.
“School is not just a place to learn academics,” Mitchell told the school board. “It is also a place to learn life lessons, including respect, sportsmanship, good work ethics and manners. It is a place to learn that hard work will be rewarded with good grades, that playing time on sports teams is earned and not just given.”
Life isn’t always fair, but schools must teach youth to be responsible adults, Mitchell said.
“Life does not guarantee that we will get everything we want or think we deserve,” Mitchell told the board. “I caution … not to reward negative behavior because we want them to be happy. … Do not tie the hands of our teachers, coaches and bus drivers to maintain proper order and structure in their classrooms, on their buses, or on the playing fields. These are the people that you have hired to do that job.”
Afterward her remarks, IRHS Principal Bennett Murray said he had no comment, as he hadn’t heard the entire speeches, but he said the IR staff are welcome to approach him about school issues.
Avoiding special treatment young
Without a related policy in place, the board this week refused to approve some of East Millsboro Elementary School’s school choice list for students entering its kindergarten Spanish immersion program.
Although only 45 positions in the program existed, the school recommended a total of 49 students. The first 45 were accepted by lottery among the 55 applications. Four students did not go through the lottery process because they’re siblings of students who already live in the East Millsboro zone, said Principal Kelly Dorman. (They’re already entitled to attend East Millsboro, but not necessarily the Spanish immersion class — a relatively new program taught half in English and half in Spanish, so students pick up either language quickly.)
The State doesn’t say how many students should be accepted in the language immersion lottery, although the district tries to increase the kindergarten population because they need enough to complete the whole elementary program through fifth grade, said Audrey Carey. There was room for 45 at the school this coming school year.
“We were working with the State on some clarification — particularly in this program,” said Carey.
District staff chose to include them on the list.
According to the IRSD’s school choice policy, priority is first given to students who meet program requirements (which covered the first 45 students). Priority is next given to children “who seek to attend based upon the residence of the student’s parent within the designated feeder pattern, if any, for the school” (which the staff used for the last four applicants).
“I think you’re clearly in violation of our current policy by adding those four people,” said Board Member Heather Statler. “It sounds like … we have guidance from the Department of Education, but we have not changed our policy to reflect that.”
The board decision was unanimous, with Bradley Layfield absent.
The Policy Committee will meet Monday, Aug. 8, at 5 p.m. at the Indian River School District Educational Complex in Selbyville to review the issue.
In other IRSD news:
• Charles Bireley is back as board president, and Rodney Layfield is again vice president, after the July 1 organizational meeting.
• The IRSD’s next step in preparing Certificate of Necessity requests (which could eventually lead to public referendum and new schools) is to get professional architectural assessments. The board approved a proposal from $66,150, plus other fees, from Fearn Clendaniel Architects Inc. of Wilmington.
• Smarter Balanced state test scores were released this spring, so the board reviewed 2016 district scores compared to the state averages. IRSD students scored at or above state averages on every major standardized test, except end-of-course U.S. history proficiency.
Compared to last year, IRSD scores decreased slightly in grades 4 to 8 science; grade 3 English language arts; and end-of course U.S. history.
IRSD scores increased slightly in grade 10 science; grades 3 to 8 math; and grades 4 to 8 English language arts.
School-level data will be released after the State Board of Education meeting in August.
High school students no longer take the Smarter Balanced test for math and English, instead using other tests, such as the SAT and AP test for assessment.
• The district needs so much transportation for special activities that one company can’t do it all. The board approved a prioritized list of vendors, based on bids, who get first dibs on providing busing service.
• Due to extra enforcement of local property tax collection, IRSD got 103 percent of expected tax income this year (due to fees and carry-over). That’s an improvement over last year’s 99 percent.
The next regular IRSD Board of Education meeting is Monday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m. at Sussex Central High School.
Two Sussex County women plan to travel to Greece this November to provide support to mothers and children living in a camp for Syrian refugees.
Geri Fitzgerald, a lactation consultant and pediatric nurse practitioner from Bethany Beach, and Carrie Keane, a midwife from Milton, will work with Nurture Project International, a U.S.-based non-profit organization that, according to their website, “works to protect safe infant feeding among families impacted by crisis and disaster.”
Fitzgerald, who has worked extensively with the United Nations, said that the current refugee crisis has become a high-priority issue for the U.N. and that, in December, there will be a meeting of the member states to discuss a plan of action.
“[The refugees] have no place to go, and these are people that have been starving and they have a lot of needs, and it’s something that makes you feel that you should do something. It’s everyone’s problem.”
While the details of the trip are still in the works, Fitzgerald said they expect to be placed in a refugee camps specifically designed to provide support to mothers and young children.
Fitzgerald said that, when they arrive, she and Keane will meet up with another woman who is fluent in Arabic and will serve as their interpreter in the camp.
While they’re the only ones going that they know of, she said, “Volunteers are encouraged, and they really want midwives and nurse practitioners.”
Nurture Project International is entirely volunteer-driven, which Fitzgerald said ensures that the people who come to help are “fresh and energetic.”
According to Fitzgerald, one out of every 12 Syrian refugee women is pregnant — a statistic that she says motivated her and Keane to become further involved in IYCF-E, or infant and young child feeding in emergencies.
“You wonder how can they possibly go through a pregnancy, deliver a baby and then raise that baby in a refugee camp,” she said. “When you are a provider of care, you really want to lend your expertise.”
Fitzgerald explained that the trip’s mission, which aligns with the mission of Nurture Project International, is to provide professional lactation training to mothers and to encourage breastfeeding. She said that, while many people have been sending physical donations as a means of providing support to the refugees, sending all of that “stuff” — especially powdered baby formula — can actually make things worse.
“One of the problems they have is people are donating powder formula, and they have to mix it with water, and that’s how babies get sick,” Fitzgerald said.
“In our society, there are many women who are feeding babies with formula — but we have access to clean water.”
In the refugee camps, Fitzgerald said, the mothers — many of whom are accustomed to having the freedom to choose between formula and breastfeeding — are now left with “limited water and no resources or way of gaining an income.”
“They live in tents — some better than others — and they may or may not have adequate food,” she said.
Fitzgerald said she’s been told that the camp they will be going is better than others, because there is an emphasis on providing the mothers and babies with “a better nutrition.”
She added that one of the issues that many Syrian refugees across the globe are facing is the fact that “People from the Middle East eat differently. Some of the food they’re getting in the military camps is different from what they’re used to, and the children are not eating it.”
Fitzgerald said they are looking to the community to provide financial support for their mission, both to help cover their travel expenses and to directly support the mission of Nurture Project International.
They’re asking that those who wish to help make financial donations to the organization, in lieu of physical donations, because, as they planned their trip, she and Keane learned that “the worst thing to do is bring stuff. When you bring stuff, volunteers have to manage that stuff instead of tending to the people” in the camp.
To make a direct donation to the organization, go to www.nurtureprojectinternational.org or visit their Facebook page, under Nurture Project International. According to their website, Nurture Project International will use those donations to feed breastfeeding mothers and children, buy “nappies,” fill backpacks with necessary supplies for babies and provide lactation support to women living in the camps.
To make a donation toward financing the trip itself, Fitzgerald said people can contribute through PayPal, by using her email address, email@example.com.
Additionally, they plan to have a fundraiser at the Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats restaurant in Rehoboth Beach at the end of September.
“It will be a ‘Beer & Benevolence’ night,” Fitzgerald said. “Dogfish Head has given us a lot of support, and there will be a big raffle. It’s a fun way of raising money!”
Fitzgerald said more details about the trip and fundraiser will be forthcoming as plans firm up and the organization sends them more information.
The ballots have been counted, and the Fenwick Island Town Council has a new lineup after the Aug. 6 election.
The three winners were council newcomer Bernard “Bernie” H. Merritt Jr. (258 votes), incumbent Gardner Bunting (241) and former councilwoman Vicki Carmean (203).
They defeated candidate Kevin Carouge (154).
According to Town Hall, a total of 284 people voted in the 2016 election.
Carmean thanked her friends, neighbors and husband for their support. She said door-to-door campaigning was “a good way to get to know your neighbors.”
Initially, she said, she’s interested in serving on any kind of hiring committee that may form to hire a new town manager, as Merritt Burke IV left for a new opportunity just before the election.
The candidates had all previously spoken to the contention that has filled town meetings of late.
“I’m gonna keep my promises,” said Carmean, who returns to the council, she said, to encourage civility in the small community. She said she’ll also work to encourage or improve transparency, keep people informed and be “the watchdog” for the people.
Carmean said she also hopes to see Fenwick town charter language regarding elections changed — as something that has caused “quite a bit of confusion and consternation. … Our intention was never to disenfranchise people.”
“I would like to bridge the contentious divisions that are here in the community, and we want to keep Fenwick as a ‘Quiet Resort,’ but we need to move into the 21st century,” Carmean said.
Merritt said, “Things aren’t as broken as some people say they are. … I think things need to be improved a lot … but I think the message that ‘We need to do all kinds of things differently’ just didn’t fly.”
He also agreed that personal attacks won’t get Fenwick anywhere, especially when “Everybody’s kind of got the same goal.
“I think we want to work on the commercial space a little … not to eliminate anything, only see if there’s a way to freshen it up,” such as blocking commercial trash bins from public view.
He said he humbly thanked the residents for giving him support and a chance to serve.
“I think the majority of folks think the town council’s doing a good job in moving things forward,” he added. “There’s always room for improvement, but I don’t think we should turn the apple cart upside down.”
Bunting was not available for comment.
Council terms are two years. Outgoing council members Diane Tingle and Bill Weistling did not run for re-election.
Last week, the State of Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts released its report on the inspection of the Town of Frankford.
“In general, the Town of Frankford continues to lack processes to provide assurances about the accuracy and integrity of its budgetary and accounting records. During our investigation, Town officials indicated they are working on developing and implementing controls…” read the 17-page report.
“While our work did not identify blatant examples of fraud or abuse, it is possible that inappropriate activity occurred and was not detected, particularly when dealing with cash transactions.”
The review also noted that the Delaware Department of Justice had performed a review and investigation of the Town of Frankford in early 2015, following numerous complaints from town residents. The Attorney General’s Office concluded then that there was “insufficient evidence to sustain a criminal prosecution.”
The 2016 inspection report said that it was following the resignation of former town clerk Terry Truitt in 2015 that the town council contacted the AOA with concerns, including those about a conflict of interest (as Truitt is, and was during her employment with the Town, married to former councilman Jesse Truitt, who resigned from council in August 2015), that the office agreed to do the inspection.
The report stated that a 2008 Special Investigation report had recommended that the Town adopt a formal policies and procedures manual, and work to better segregate Town duties.
“Unfortunately, the Town did not take timely action on AOA’s recommendation. As of May 4, 2016, current Town Council has not yet developed formal policies and procedures over financial processes.”
For more than a year, some citizens had voiced concerns regarding the accuracy of the Town’s budget, with some suggesting the council was hiding a budget for a Town pension in a police training line item.
“AOA compared the Town’s Fiscal Year 2014 General Fund portion of the Town budget to the actual Fiscal Year 2014 General Fund revenues and expenditures, and we found a minimal overall variance of less than 5 percent of the total budgeted General Fund revenues and expenditures. Although the Town could have provided better transparency… no pension funds were actually spent.”
For Town expenditures, the Town was able to provide support for all transactions, save two — Pep-Up Fuel cards and a single $45.81 cash transfer to another Town bank account.
For the fuel cards, the Town paid a total of $20,253.88 for purchases charged to four separate cards over the three fiscal years audited. The report noted Town officials were unable to provide a policy or guidelines related to the use of those cards.
The audit focused on the failure to issue receipts, noting that the Town lacks any formal policies and procedures surrounding financial transactions, including the process for collecting payments from residents for taxes and utilities.
“The Town failed to issue receipts and did not maintain adequate supporting documentation for deposits during the period of our review. Therefore, AOA was unable to trace cash deposits per the Town’s records to the bank statements. Because cash can be easily misappropriated, and the Town lacked sufficient internal controls and records, we could not verify if all cash collected was appropriately deposited.”
Payroll transactions were also singled out as an area of concern, and while all were supported with a corresponding timesheet, “Most timesheets lacked the supervisor’s signature. Also, during Fiscal Year 2014, the former Council President/member [Jesse Truitt] signed his wife’s payroll checks.”
Truitt said that was not the norm, and he would be one of the two required signatures on all employee payroll checks.
The overtime pay of Truitt and former police chief William Dudley over the course of the three fiscal years was also examined and be found inconstant with Town policy. Truitt was paid overtime in excess of a 10-hour time cap, while Dudley was paid for overtime at a rate of 1.5 times his pay for hours worked in excess of 40 per week, “rather than earning hour-for-hour compensatory time.”
The report concluded that the discrepancies resulted in “overpaying” the two employees for a total of 457.25 hours, totaling $13,321.38. Truitt said that, if they were to take the overall figure, divide it by two, and then divide it by the 27-month time period, it would equate to less money than $250 per employee per month — less than what it would cost the Town to hire additional employees.
In conclusion, the report recommended the Town develop comprehensive written policies and procedures for operating expenditures.
“These procedures should be detailed to address controls such as authorization, segregation of duties, management review and reconciliation. Due to the Town’s limited employees, the Town is encouraged to involve Council to ensure a proper segregation of duties.”
The town council, which was given a preliminary copy of the report last month, wrote in its response that they believed a more thorough investigation was warranted, as many citizens had voiced concerns related to nepotism prior to the Truitts’ resignations.
“These concerns covered a period of many years and alleged serious financial irregularities. Therefore, the current council felt it was their fiduciary duty to engage your office for a complete and holistic review of the Town’s finances for the 13-year period in question.”
In response, the AOA wrote, “To address the Council’s two specific concerns, AOA did not find it prudent to launch a 13-year investigation with no solid evidence of fraud. Therefore, absent any solid evidence of fraudulent or inappropriate transactions during the scope of our engagement, AOA decided not to probe further. We also performed procedures that were not specifically identified in the report, but offered a level of comfort that proceeding further was not necessary.
“While we understand that the former Town Clerk and former Council Member (and one-time Council President) were married, creating a conflict of interest, we found no evidence that other council members were ‘shut out of the decision making process’ since the meeting minutes demonstrated that they attended the Council meetings and voted on the various topics. Regardless, Council members should not approve or sign checks for transactions they do not approve or understand, or without proper supporting documentation.”
Truitt herself said the two resignations had nothing to do with one another, and noted that there were other resignations from the Town during that time, including that of Dudley, former police officer Nate Hudson and former Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader.
“My biggest concern was this has been drug out for nine months. It has been detrimental for both myself and my family,” she said. “It’s a lovely community, but you have social media and everything else… I took a beating out there Wednesday night on Facebook — people who didn’t even live in the town.”
She added that she was glad to have had her name cleared, in a sense, as the report showed no evidence that monies were used inappropriately.
The report also emphasized that the Town must work to implement policies that were suggested nearly 10 years ago, to safeguard it from any financial wrongdoings.
“Overall, AOA appreciates the cooperation of the Town Council and Town employees during our inspection. In light of the fact that the Town Council did not implement policies and procedures as our 2008 investigation recommended, it is imperative that the Town ensure all policies and procedures are comprehensive to provide adequate segregation of duties and proper safeguarding of Town assets.”
Garrett Rogers’ summer has been anything but carefree, as the 10-year-old Millsboro boy recovers from a mid-May car accident.
In recent weeks, however, the boy many have gotten to know by his baseball jersey number — 22 — has finally gotten to do something he lives and breathes for: play baseball.
It might “just” be whiffle ball, with shortened bases and a belt for his physical therapist to grab onto if he starts to falter, and so far, he plays not on a field but in the gym at Alfred I. du Pont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, where he has been since the accident; but for Garrett, as well as his family and friends, it’s glorious.
Garrett’s aunt, Kim Cooper, said Garrett is looking forward to ending his in-patient stay at the hospital. Currently, the plan is for him to be discharged at the end of August. At that point, he will continue out-patient physical therapy at the hospital four or five days a week for a few more weeks. He and his mom, Wendy Rogers, will stay at the nearby Ronald McDonald House. Wendy has stayed at the hospital since Garrett was transferred there shortly after the accident, Cooper said.
Meanwhile, friends at home are preparing for another fundraiser to help the Rogers family with expenses relating to Garrett’s care and treatment. The Gumboro Fire Company will host a chicken barbecue fundraiser at the firehouse on Saturday, Aug. 13. Sales will start at 10 a.m. and will continue as long as there is food to sell, Cooper said.
Along with the barbecue, supporters can buy chances for a completely restored 1979 Corvette at the firehouse on Saturday. Tickets cost $10 each or $20 for three. Saturday will be one of the last chances to buy tickets, because the winning ticket will be pulled “in the next week or so,” Cooper said.
It has been nearly three months since the accident, in which Garrett was hit by an alleged drunk driver when he ran across the street to retrieve a baseball. His family looks back at those first uncertain days and is thankful for how far Garrett has come.
“When we thought his vocal chords might be paralyzed, that was the scariest part,” Cooper said. Garrett didn’t speak at all for several weeks following the accident. Slowly, his vocal abilities have returned, and now, she said, “He has his normal Garrett voice back.”
Cooper echoed what Wendy Rogers expressed recently on the “GMoneyStrong” Facebook page, set up for supporters to follow Garrett’s progress, about how it’s hard to explain to those who are not with him on a regular basis that, while he has made amazing progress, he still has much recovery and rehabilitation ahead of him. Brain trauma like Garrett suffered in the accident brings with it a sometimes frustrating journey back to “normal” and, with it, there is often a “new normal.”
In a recent post, Wendy Rogers said, “Nothing about this journey has been easy, but some days have been better than others. The last two days would fall in the other category. I think from just looking at the pictures, it seems that he should just walk out of the hospital tomorrow. I wish that were the case.”
Cooper said Garrett’s “long-term memory is pretty much all there,” but that his short-term memory “is taking a little longer” to return. She said that when he returns to school, he will have a one-on-one paraprofessional to help him navigate the school day.
In recent weeks, as Garrett’s recovery has progressed, Cooper said, he’s been more interested in “typical” kid stuff.
“His spirits are really good,” Cooper said. “He’s getting back to Garrett — he wants his buddies to spend the night” and do other normal 10-year-old things, she said.
One way Garrett has been able to stay connected to friends and family is through the Facetime video chat app.
“He loves Facetiming family and his buddies,” Cooper said. “I think he calls us almost daily,” she said, mainly to talk to her 9-year-old son, Kade. “They’re extremely close,” Cooper said. “I think he does a rotation with his other close buddies.”
As Garrett’s hospitalization winds down, Cooper said Wendy Rogers is struggling with one thing.
“She keeps saying, ‘How am I going to tell everyone ‘thank you’?”
Garrett himself is now aware of how much support he has gotten — not only from his own community, but from people across the country — ranging from professional athletes to beauty queens. The “Photos” section of the GMoneyStrong Facebook page (named for Garrett’s nickname, given to him by his baseball coach before the accident) is filled with tributes to #22, Garrett’s baseball uniform number.
One way the family is reaching out and saying “thank you” is through the distribution of “GMoneyStrong” camo bracelets at area businesses. The bracelets are free for anyone who wants one, as a way for the family to express their thanks. The camo design honors Garrett’s father, Kirk, an Army Ranger who died last November as a result of heart disease.
Among the businesses that have had the bracelets on hand are Pizza King in Georgetown and Millsboro, JD Shuckers and Mattress Peddlers in Long Neck, Megee Motors in Georgetown and Boulevard Ford, also in Georgetown, as well as Sportz Teez in Laurel. The bracelets will also be available at the barbecue in Gumboro on Saturday, and Cooper said Wendy Rogers is ordering more.
Sportz Teez also still has “Heart of a Ranger” T-shirts on sale as a fundraiser for the Rogers family, at $15 each.
Recalling the early days after Garrett’s accident, Cooper said, “He has made leaps and bounds from that first week when we watched him lying in the ICU.”
Even though everyone recognizes that he still has far to go, seeing him hitting those whiffle balls has been a huge boost — especially for Garrett himself. Just this week, Cooper said, he was able to try his hand at pitching. “That’s huge,” she said. “He’s a phenomenal pitcher.”
With everything the Rogers family has been through in the past nine months, Cooper said she has been amazed at the strength shown by her sister-in-law, Wendy.
“When God made her, he broke the pattern,” Cooper said. “She never loses her cool. She’s the epitome of grace.”
Millville contains a road that is 0.3 miles long, bends sharply in an L-shaped curve and has a new playground coming that will soon attract pedestrians, cyclists and more cars.
And, inexplicably, tiny Dukes Drive has an un-posted speed limit of 50 mph.
The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) had recently approached the Town with a proposal to reduce the speed limit to 30 mph. The Millville Town Council approved that on Aug. 9, but the council wants the speed limit to be even lower.
A speed limit change can occur in two ways on state-owned roads. In this case, DelDOT recommended the change but needs Town approval, because 30 mph isn’t official until signs are posted, and the Town pays for signage. But a town can also commission its own traffic studies and use that data to request that DelDOT change the speed limit.
DelDOT’s default speed limits are based on the type of road, said Town Solicitor Seth Thompson. Rural two-lane roadways are automatically 50 mph, and at present, only a few houses and farmland are located on the narrow road. But DelDOT’s default speed for “residential districts” is 25 mph, Thompson said. DelDOT’s traffic data, field tests and crash data moved the agency to request a reduction for Dukes Drive.
With a playground coming, some council members said they would even be happy with a 20 mph limit. (Only school zones have a 20 mph limit, and only when children are present.)
Dukes Drive is an L-shaped road that sticks south off of Route 26, curves sharply at a less-than-90-degree angle, then heads west to meet Windmill Avenue. Part of it borders a chunk of unincorporated land that is trapped in the middle of town limits. Millville’s portion is surrounded by four zones — mostly agricultural and residential, plus a bit of commercial by Route 26.
“The speed traveled at or above by 85 percent of motorists … has been found to be the best guide toward posting a reasonable and practical speed limit,” according to a Traffic Studies Section email. In this case, most drivers were traveling 30 mph.
Council Member Valerie Faden said she found it odd that DelDOT would set speed limits based on how fast people drive.
“The ultimate authority rests in DelDOT’s hands,” Thompson said.
But Millville will make its case, with council members wondering why DelDOT didn’t consider 25 mph, which they said is consistent with town zoning — especially if a park, where children are a key audience, is coming.
AECOM’s Kyle Gulbronson suggested DelDOT could simply concur with the Town’s recommendation for 25 mph, without additional traffic studies.
In the meantime, the council has approved the new 30 mph limit but will also ask DelDOT’s rationale for that speed and will lobby for an even lower speed limit.
Councilman Steve Small voted against the resolution, emphasizing his desire for a 20 mph limit. But the other four council members voted to lower the speed limit to 30 mph, at least for now.
“To me, it doesn’t end at 30,” Gordon said. “To me, we’re going from 50 to 30, with a possibility of 25.”
Because the road curves sharply without a stop sign, DelDOT also recommended installing several chevrons to delineate the curve, as well as speed advisory (not speed limit) signs encouraging drivers to slow 5 or 10 mph when nearing the curve in either direction.
In other Millville Town Council news:
• Nancy Maupai was appointed and sworn into the Board of Adjustment. She previously served on the BOA around 2006 to 2009, she told the council.
• A Shade Above was approved for its final site plan at 35722 Atlantic Avenue, which involves replacing the vacant residence with a new retail building for window design services.
The town council’s next workshop will be Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 7 p.m.
Questions or complaints? Please call!
That has been the Delaware Department of Transportation’s public message throughout their 2.5-year construction project on Route 26.
The SR 26 Mainline Project has tested a new level of public outreach. Years before actual road construction began in early 2014, DelDOT was hosting public workshops and information sessions. Throughout the 901-day project, people could get bi-monthly updates at the Construction Advisory Group’s public meetings.
That’s not exactly news. All of that has been done before.
The new aspect of DelDOT’s outreach was the hiring of a construction manager who specifically would serve as an on-site public outreach coordinator. Anyone was allowed to call Ken Cimino, and he aimed to respond within hours.
“Ken has been very instrumental in keeping things running smoothly as possible,” said Diane Koch of First Shore Federal in Millville, which is along the construction zone. He responded immediately, even if it wasn’t the answer people always wanted to hear. “He gave us the best answer that was available. He’s just worked great with the businesses.”
That’s a substantial improvement over unhappy residents having to call their state legislators, who then call DelDOT Community Relations in Dover, who then call construction staff.
That also put everyone on the same page, reducing rumors for the good of the project and everyone, including residents, legislators, businesses, contractors George & Lynch and AECOM inspection team.
“We wanted to thank everyone here,” Jim Westhoff, DelDOT community relations officer, who came from Dover to say that to everyone at the Aug. 8 CAG meeting. “Without you, this project would not have been as successful — not just for this project, but for the rest of the state. This has become a model for how we [do public relations] across the state.”
In fact, after Route 26, Cimino will head north to do on-site public outreach for the new U.S. Route 301 Mainline Construction Project, a massive project to create a four-lane highway bypass around the congested Route 301 in Middletown. Bi-monthly public meetings have already begun.
“We’re going to use this as a model for how we do future projects, because it’s been such a success,” Westhoff continued. “You’ve all helped us make this project better.”
“I think I’m the only guy that I know of that does this in this state and in Maryland,” Cimino said last winter.
“What I do is unique. … I guess [DelDOT] thought we did such a good job” that they wanted to continue the trend on Route 301.
Cimino himself has plenty of experience in public complaints and outreach, coming from Maryland State Highway Administration and having served as the Maryland Transportation Authority’s human face of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Cimino’s goals are to “be a patient listener. I think most people want a sounding board. … See people in-person when you can, [and] get back to them in a timely manner.”
If he can’t fix something, he still explains why not.
“I’m a construction manager. I just happen to do all the outreach,” he previously told the Coastal Point.
DelDOT learned its lesson with the Route 54 Mainline Project, which stopped traffic and angered business owners at the height of the summer season. It was only after public meetings began, state Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. (R-20) said, that the complaints to his office stopped.
Hocker has since praised the Route 26 outreach, noting that Cimino once said, “If you’ve got any construction questions, you give them my card.”
This go-around, DelDOT’s project contracts actually included public outreach. The builders attended public meetings, too. Informational signs were posted miles before the construction zones, warning traffic of construction ahead, with alternate routes available. “Businesses open” signs were also posted and moved around, as requested.
The project website at www.deldot.gov/information/projects/sr26 features a weekly email update and project blog.
The end is near
With 96 official weather days impacting the work, the Route 26 project currently has an official end date of Sept. 28.
“It’s been a long 32 months for everyone,” Cimino said. “I think you can now start to see some of the benefits of this infrastructure project. You can start to see the increased … mobility” for cars, pedestrians and cyclists.
The whole 4-plus-mile road was widened and temporarily striped by Memorial Day so the public could use the new configuration.
Now, the main road has been completely re-surfaced, and permanent lines will be painted. Builders are smoothing the edges, and tying the new pavement into side roads, driveways and the eastern end of Route 26.
There is still electrical work to do, including installing two new speed limit signs by Lord Baltimore Elementary School and the permanent traffic signal at Central Avenue and Cedar Drive.
“After that, just clean up the road, remove sediment controls, then pack up and get out of here,” Cimino said of what is yet to come.
People will still see workers along the project area after September, cleaning up and finalizing any “odds and ends,” said Sarah Criswell, DelDOT area engineer. “Though we’ll be done in September, we won’t necessarily be gone from the site.”
“My staff will walk through and do a semi-final inspection, and they’ll create what we call a ‘punch list,’” Cimino said, “anywhere from drum weights that need to be picked up to a cracked piece of sidewalk that needs to be replaced.”
An official roadway ribbon-cutting is planned for September.
How to turn (lane)
The center turn lane along the entirety of the project area is Atlantic Avenue’s most obvious upgrade. Regular traffic is expected to move more smoothly because vehicles turning left can move into a shared center lane.
However, it is not a passing lane and is also not intended as a merge lane for traffic entering the roadway.
The turn lane is intended to “allow traffic to turn left into driveways, commercial entrances and at minor cross-street intersections,” Cimino wrote in an email.
“Since the lane is to be shared, vehicles should enter this lane as close as possible to the [location] in which they intend to make the left turn,” according to Cimino.
A good rule of thumb is to enter the lane about 300 feet from the turn — the same distance as people would start to use their turn signal.
“When the center turn lane is to be shared by vehicles travelling in both directions, you will see a solid yellow line in combination with a broken yellow line,” he added.
Yellow means traffic is coming from the opposite direction. But a dashed line means cars can still enter the lane. Painted arrows will show drivers which direction of traffic (usually both) may enter the center lane.
The lane sometimes becomes a dedicated turn lane for one direction only, usually at major intersections.
But drivers should already be used to the configuration, because Route 26 already has a mile of center turn lanes in western Bethany Beach, from the Assawoman Canal to Route 1.
“The best public outreach we could do is to point people to that section of the roadway, which they have been using for the past 15 years,” Cimino stated. “DelDOT implemented those improvements in 2001 and has seen an improvement in the flow of traffic, without an increase in crashes, since that time.”
Like all things, he said, the public will likely become comfortable with the new traffic pattern over time.
“During these final months of construction, the traveling public should use caution as they accustom themselves to using the roadway in the new condition and to watch for our workers as they complete construction,” Cimino concluded.
State Rep. Ron Gray (R-38) has also asked that people drive cautiously in the middle lane.
“It’s really a route that, hopefully, can be used by emergency vehicles, if needed, so regular drivers need” to be watchful, Gray said. “Don’t just hang there for long periods, and be aware of other people in that lane. If an emergency vehicle’s trying to get through, just be cognizant of other traffic … or another drivers that stopped being very observant.”
For the first time in more than 23 years, the Town of Millsboro will have a new chief administrative officer, as the Millsboro town council unanimously voted Sheldon P. Hudson in as the municipality’s new town manager at the town council meeting held on Monday, Aug. 1.
Hudson fills the role left by the long-tenured and recently retired Faye L. Lingo, who was honored with a goodbye ceremony after making her retirement public on Tuesday, July 5, marking July 29 as her official last day after 38 years with the Town.
“She’s definitely missed — that’s for sure,” said Hudson of his predecessor. “She always had a smile on her face.”
Hudson had previously spent seven months serving as assistant town manager, which he said was invaluable in preparing him for his new role at the helm.
“I was really fortunate to have those seven months with Faye,” he said. “I was able to really learn more about the needs facing this town.”
A lifelong area resident and graduate of Indian River School District schools, Hudson went on to attend Indiana Wesleyan University, where he graduated with a degree in political science. From there, he went on to earn his master’s degree in government from Regent University.
Previously, Hudson has held a number of related positions, such as serving as the director of risk management and human resources generalist for Trinity Logistics of Seaford, senior fiscal and policy analyst in the State of Delaware Office of Management & Budget, an adjunct economics instructor at Delaware Tech in Georgetown and as a fiscal analyst in the Queen Anne’s County (Md.) Office of Budget, Finance & Information Technology.
His family has owned and operated a small business in Ocean View for the past 55 years.
It’s that experience, along with his local ties, that he hopes makes him an ideal fit for his new role.
“I think I’m close, but not too close, and I think that will serve me well,” he said of his growing up in the area and now residing in Millsboro with his wife, Kristan, and children, Zachary (Snell) and Eliana.
“I think that, even though [the council is] in transition and we have some people that are new to Millsboro, having those roots myself, hopefully, will help me to get things done.”
While the mayor and council, of course, set the policies, Hudson noted that he’s looking forward to helping execute those policies and helping the Town of Millsboro maintain its rich history while at the same time venturing into the 21st century and attracting new business.
He likened the town’s potential to that of a regional hub, similar to that of Salisbury, Md., or Dover, and also expressed an interest in helping revitalize Millsboro’s downtown area.
“I’m all about trying to bring people together,” he explained. “I just want to see the area grow and prosper and do well. I really think Millsboro is uniquely positioned to grow in that regard, and I look forward to being a part of it.”
Hudson officially took over as town manager on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
Inviting residents to decorate public space has given South Bethany a series of miniature parks. With five miles of canals, the town has plenty of canal ends that people have decorated and planted for the 6th Annual Adopt-A-Canal/Road End Beauty Contest.
The Adopt-A-Canal program lets residents take ownership and beautify their community.
“It just truly makes a difference. We’re seeing — as the years pass — the growth of the canal ends,” said organizer Councilwoman Sue Callaway. “And it still gets the community involved in doing something for the town, and it [gets] people together to work on many of them.”
In a municipality where the primary Town revenue is realty-related taxes, South Bethany’s success depends partly on residents who maintain a pleasant living space.
“It’s a successful program that’s made a difference,” Callaway said.
The resulting gardens improve the aesthetics of the town, and the community is coming together both to design and enjoy them.
This July, the public voted online for their favorite from among 32 entrants. The top three winners received gift certificates from sponsor Lord’s Landscaping, while two honorable mention winners received gift baskets.
The Town’s Community Enhancement Committee (CEC) presented the awards on Aug. 12. Callaway said it was sweet to see some first-time winners, who were particularly delighted to join in the festivities.
Winners included (first place) Phil and Cicily I?acangelo, for York Road between Victoria Drive and Bristol Drive; (second place) Kathy Jankowski and Rob Youngs, for Canal Drive between W. 3rd and W. 4th Streets; (third place) Bryant And Olivia Elrod, for Route 1 between Sussex Place and Tern Drive; (fourth place) Tammy and Pete Werner, for Kent Place; and (fifth place) Garnet and Tom Timbario, for Route 1 between Petherton Drive and the Anchorage forebay.
People decorate their gardens with whatever they think walkers, joggers or pets might enjoy: flowers, trees, benches, dog water bowls and more.
The Iacangelos had tended their canal end for decades before the contest even began.
“Their canal end is just very colorful, just has a real nice quality look to it and has a nice quality background. They tend to it a lot,” Callaway said. “A lot of care goes into it.”
After winning the 2014 contest, Iacangelo described the growing sense of town pride that’s blossomed with the new gardens.
“Not only are we beautifying canal ends, but I’ve noticed people in the neighborhood, they’re replanting flowers in their homes,” Iacangelo had said.
The efforts of their neighbors have meant many residents are being inspired to beautify their own corner of town. Meanwhile, the more established plants are growing into fuller trees and bushes.
This year, the CEC thanked citizens for their volunteerism; Town Hall staff Pam Smith and Dee Burbage, for online and ballot support; and CEC members Bobbe Stephan, Carol Stevenson and Pat Weisgerber for contest logistics.
On Aug. 5, representatives of the Sierra Club met with members of the Board of Directors of the Inland Bays Foundation to dedicate a memorial bench in honor of the late Harry Haon, a past IBF member.
The memorial bench, made of 100 percent recycled material and inscribed with a brass appreciation plate, was placed in front of the Fenwick Island Town Hall. The bench was donated by the Sierra Club based in Wilmington.
Haon was known as a champion of environmental causes in Delaware. In addition to supporting the activities of the Sierra Club, Haon was a member of the Fenwick Island Town Council, and participated as a board member at both the Center for Inland Bays (CIB) and the Inland Bays Foundation(IBF). The IBF is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to returning Delaware’s waters to their original fishable and swimmable state.
IBF President Nancy Cabrera-Santos thanked Stephanie Herron of the Sierra Club for honoring Haon.
“We appreciate the work being accomplished by the Sierra Club and hope to work more closely together in 2017. With more people like Harry Haon, we can achieve environmental success in Delaware.”
Joan Deaver, the lone Democrat on the Sussex County Council, was honored July 12 at the Annual Eastern Sussex Democrats Picnic, held at Hurdle Farm near Harbeson. Deaver recently announced she is stepping down after serving two terms as councilwoman for District 3.
Democratic Party members and candidates were able to enjoy Betty Hurdle’s backyard setting of perennial gardens amidst rows of cornfields.
Eastern Shore Democrats President Peter Schott introduced the dignitaries and invited Leslie Ledogar, the 2016 Democratic candidate for County Council’s District 3, to say a few words about Deaver.
“Joan is, without a doubt, one of the bravest women I know,” Ledogar said. “We are all very thankful for her strong and unwavering service to the people of Sussex County, especially District 3.”
After Schott presented her with the Crystal Award for outstanding service, Deaver called on the crowd to support Ledogar.
“She is the one we need,” Deaver said. “Please join me in supporting Leslie as our next councilwoman.”
The summer weather brings to mind all those little things (and some not-so-little ones) that Coastal Point staff members have discovered and come to love as locals growing up in the area and as visitors who have now made the area our home. And we’re going to share them with you each week, right here in the Coastal Point.
• Day trips to Assateague Island — Many local kids grew up taking family day trips and school field trips to visit the wild ponies at Assateague Island. But the insiders know that there’s much more to Assateague than riding through, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the famed horses. Spend a night or two in one of the unique oceanfront campsites, and you might get a special visit from a four-legged visitor (but keep your distance — they kick and bite!). Stop by Assateague’s visitor center to learn about the creatures and crawlers that inhabit the island, rent a kayak, go for a bike ride, check out a ranger program, hunt for seashells and take advantage of the quiet, uncrowded beaches that line the eastern edge of the island. For more information about hours and entrance fees, visit www.nps.gov/asis/index or call (410) 641-1441.
• Nanticoke Indian Powwow — Each September, the Nanticoke Indian Association brings the community together to celebrate the long, rich history and culture of the nearly 500 Nanticoke tribal members who reside in Sussex County. Our staff particularly enjoys the traditional drumming and dance circles that allow attendees to interact with Nanticoke culture and the larger sphere of Native American culture. The powwow includes traditional dance sessions, arts and crafts, music, authentic food (fry bread!), representatives from more than 40 other tribes, tours of the Nanticoke Indian Museum and a Sunday-morning worship service. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call (302) 945-3400 or visit www.nanticokeindians.org.
• October — Well, it’s not a place. It is a time. But it’s more of a state of mind, really. Anyone who’s lived in the area year-round or who has come to visit on a weekend in the fall knows the change that October brings. It’s quieter, less busy, uncrowded, but still warm enough to consider taking a dip. There’s still enough going on to keep all but the busiest social butterfly going (and they can head down to Ocean City). Events such as the Sea Witch festival in Rehoboth Beach offer a taste of fall fun, with the option to stay close to home and pretend you live on a desert island, if you so choose. The dogs get to go back to the beach. Parking is free. Life is good.
• Apple Scrapple Festival — For a quarter-century, Sussex Countians have flocked to Bridgeville every October to celebrate one of the area’s best kept secrets: Not the stunning coastlines, not the small-town charm, or the chicken-to-human ratio, but scrapple. It’s that kind-of-brown, kind-of-gray, kind-of-mushy and always mysterious breakfast meat that’s stumped visitors while making its way into the hearts and stomachs of locals. The Apple Scrapple Festival started as a way for residents to highlight local agriculture and uniquely Sussex County treasures. Since its beginning in 1992, the festival’s attendance has increased tenfold as they roll into their 25th year of celebrating the charm of fresh apples and scrapple. This year’s festivities are set for Oct. 14-15 in the heart of Bridgeville’s Main Street. For more information, visit www.applescrapple.com.
• The Bethany Beach Town Council will hold a public hearing on Friday, Aug. 19, at 11 a.m. at town hall, on an ordinance to add a new Chapter §425-26, titled “The Regulation of Residential Bulk Density in the R-1 and the R1-B Zoning Districts,” to the town code. The full text of the proposed chapter is available in the town office or online at http://www.townofbethanybeach.com/DocumentCenter/View/2186.
• The Bethany Beach Town Council and the Board of Assessment will meet at 1 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 19, at town hall, at which time the council will sit as a board of revision and appeal to hear appeals from assessments and to make corrections and revisions as it deems appropriate. The Annual Tax Assessment List is available for public inspection at town hall. The council will hold its next regular meeting at 2 p.m. that day.
• The Bethany Beach Planning Commission will meet on Saturday, Aug. 20, at 9 a.m. at town hall. A PowerPoint presentation will be given regarding the proposed rezoning of Blocks 109 and Blocks 113 from R-2 Residential Zoning to R-1 Residential Zoning. Block 109 is the 300 hundred block of Garfield Parkway and the north side of Hollywood Street. Block 113 is the south side of the 300 hundred block of Hollywood Street and the north side of the 300 hundred block of Parkwood Street. Affected property owners and interested members of the community are being highly encouraged to attend.
• There will be no town council election in Bethany Beach in 2016, as incumbents Bruce Frye, Jack Gordon, Rosemary Hardiman and Lew Killmer were the only candidates to file for the four seats up for voting in the planned September election. They will each serve a new two-year term starting this fall.
• The public can view on the Town website the presentation by Oasis Design Group to the Bethany Beach Town Council, soliciting input for preliminary concept development for the features and organization of “Central Park,” at the intersection of Routes 1 and 26. The URLs for the four presentation segments are http://www.townofbethanybeach.com/mediacenter.aspx?VID=30 (and 31, 32 and 33). In the coming weeks, the Town plans to send out a survey regarding specific design elements for the park.
• Bethany Beach’s pay-to-park season resumed May 15 and runs until Sept. 15.
• Prohibitions on dogs on the beach and boardwalk in Bethany Beach resumed on May 15.
• There will be no 2016 town council election, as only four candidates registered for the four available seats: incumbent Mayor Pat Voveris as mayor, incumbent Councilwoman Sue Callaway, and incoming council members Don Boteler and William “Tim” Shaw.
• The town council’s next workshop meeting is Thursday, Aug. 25, at 2 p.m.
• Yard waste is picked up biweekly, continuing on Wednesday, Aug. 31.
• The Cat Hill barricade hours have been changed to 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for traffic turning from Kent Avenue onto Black Gum Drive, from May 15 to Sept. 15.
• Yoga on the beach is held Wednesdays from 8 to 8:45 a.m. at S. 4th Street. Boot Camp on the beach is Mondays and Fridays from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Donations are accepted as payment. Bring water and a towel.
• Prohibitions on dogs on the beach resumed on May 15 and run until Oct. 15.
• The Town of South Bethany’s website is located at www.southbethany.org.
• In town council elections on Aug. 6, elected to two-year terms were incumbent Gardner Bunting, former councilwoman Vicki L. Carmean and newcomer Bernard H. “Bernie” Merritt Jr. Kevin Carouge came in fourth in the voting for three seats. Incumbents Diane Tingle and Bill Weistling did not file to run for re-election. Would-be candidates Charles W. Hastings and Marc McFaul were deemed not to be eligible. Bunting, Carmean and Merritt were all sworn in to the council last week.
• The town council’s next regular meeting is Friday, Aug. 26, at 3:30 p.m.
• The Fenwick Island Farmers’ Market has moved to Warren’s Station, at 1406 Coastal Highway, and will be open on Mondays and Fridays, until Sept. 5, from 8 a.m. to noon.
• The new Homegrown Harvest Festival will be Sunday, Oct. 9, from noon to 4 p.m. at Warren’s Station restaurant, featuring a beach run/walk, pumpkin patch on the beach, beer vendor, crafts, etc.
• The new Fenwick Island town website is located at www.fenwickisland.delaware.gov.
• The Town of Fenwick Island is now on Twitter, at https://twitter.com/IslandFenwick or @IslandFenwick.
• The Ocean View Town Council will not meet in August. The next regular council meeting has been set for Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m.
• The Ocean View Planning & Zoning Commission and Board of Adjustments will not meet in August.
• The next Concert in the Park will be held Saturday, Aug. 27, at 6 p.m. in John West Park. Local group Glass Onion Band will perform.
• The Town of Ocean View’s Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/townofoceanview.
• The Ocean View town website is located at www.oceanviewde.com.
• The Millsboro town website is located at www.millsboro.org.
• The town council’s next workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 23, at 7 p.m.
• The town council’s next regular meeting is Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 7 p.m.
• The Millville town website is located at www.millville.delaware.gov.
• Curbside recycling is picked up every other Tuesday, continuing Aug. 23.
• The Town of Frankford website is located at www.frankfordde.us.
• Curbside recycling is collected every other Wednesday, continuing Aug. 31.
• The Town website is at www.TownOfSelbyville.com.
• There will be no town council election this year. All three incumbents re-filed for their seats, with no challengers.
• The Town can now accept credit cards payments from citizens online. Instructions are on the Town website.
• The Town of Dagsboro website is at www.townofdagsboro.com.
Indian River School District
• The Board of Education will meet next on Monday, Aug. 22, at 7 p.m. at Sussex Central High School.
• Schools will host a series of open houses from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1. Details are available online or by contacting individual schools.
• The 2016-2017 school year begins on Tuesday, Sept. 6, for K-12 students. Preschool programs, including Project Village and TOTS, will begin on Monday, Sept. 12.
• There is no school for students Tuesday, Sept. 13, for Primary Election Day.
• The district website is at www.irsd.net.
• Agendas, minutes and audio, as well as live streaming of all County meetings, may be found online at www.sussexcountyde.gov.
State of Delaware
• Continuing work on the Route 26 Mainline Improvements Project, DelDOT has ended daytime lane closures for the summer, returning to only utilizing overnight lane closures, though lane shifts and brief lane closures for project logistics can still be expected during the day. Motorists are being encouraged to use detour routes to avoid delays when lane closures are in place.
Overall, the 4-mile-long project includes the reconstruction of Route 26 (Atlantic Avenue) from Clarksville to the Assawoman Canal and will widen the existing two-lane roadway to include two 11-foot travel lanes with 5-foot shoulder/bike lanes and a 12-foot wide continuous shared center left-turn lane. Construction is expected to be largely complete mid-summer and completed by the fall. George & Lynch is building the 4-plus-mile project from Assawoman Canal in Bethany Beach to St. George’s U.M. Church in Clarksville.
Regular Route 26 project meetings have concluded, with anticipated completion of the project in mid-September. The public can get email updates from DelDOT via the project page for the Route 26 project at www.deldot.gov. For additional Route 26 project information or concerns, residents and businesses can contact Ken Cimino at (302) 616-2621, or Kenneth.email@example.com or at 17 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 2, in Ocean View.
A 31-year-old Wilmington woman will spend 15 years in prison for her part in a home-invasion robbery that led to the shooting death of two Millsboro men. Rachel Rentoul pled guilty to Home Invasion, Robbery First Degree and Conspiracy Second Degree in Sussex County Superior Court on Aug. 10.
Rentoul was arrested in July 2015 as part of Operation In the House, a multi-jurisdictional undertaking designed to proactively impact violent crime in Sussex and Kent counties. In January 2014, Cletis Nelson and William Hopkins were shot and killed during a home-invasion robbery in residence on Harmon’s Hill Road, Millsboro. Rentoul was charged with assisting in the planning of the crime.
Deputy Attorneys General Christopher Hutchinson, Martin Cosgrove and Casey Ewart secured the plea and prison sentence, which will include Rentoul’s participation in the Key program and be followed by six months of Level IV work release and two years at Level III probation.
The Ocean View Police Department recently charged a Millsboro man with his seventh DUI offense.
According to police, Darrell B. Bell III was driving on Beaver Dam Road within town limits on Saturday, Aug. 13, in an area where officers were conducting traffic enforcement. OVPD officers stopped Bell’s vehicle after a computer check revealed the owner of the vehicle had an active warrant out of Sussex County Family Court for failing to pay child support.
During contact with Bell, police said, the officer allegedly detected an odor of alcohol emitting from his breath. According to police, a field sobriety test indicated that Bell was driving under the influence. Further investigation revealed that Bell’s driver’s license was revoked. The officers also learned that, between 1998 and 2011, Bell had been convicted of DUI six times.
Bell was charged with felony DUI, noncompliance with conditions of recognizance bond, driving after judgment prohibited and driving while revoked. He was committed to the Sussex Correctional Institute on $10,000 cash bond.
With one hand on the Bible, three Fenwick Islanders swore to this week serve as town council members in accordance with the Town Code, state and U.S. constitutions.
Vicky Carmean, Bernie Merritt Jr. and Gardner Bunting officially began their two-year terms at a Aug. 16 reorganization meeting.
During the election of town officers, Gene Langan and Merritt won the positions of president and secretary, respectively, on a 4-3 vote. (Carmean was supported for either position by Julie Lee and Roy Williams.)
Unanimous votes were secured for council Vice President Richard Mais and Treasurer Gardner Bunting.
As July came to a close, three people approached retirement from their duties at Fenwick Island Town Hall.
After 10 years of service apiece, outgoing Town Council Members Diane Tingle and Bill Weistling Jr. opted not to run for reelection this year. Meanwhile, Merritt Burke IV served his final days as town manager before becoming CEO of Sussex County Association of Realtors (SCAOR).
At their last regular council meeting on July 22, Mayor Gene Langan thanked the three for their service and presented official commendations.
Citizens and town staff also offered their heartfelt thanks throughout the meeting, with compliments and applause.
“I wanted to thank Town Council for a great tenure” and the town staff who supported his projects and initiatives, Burke said. “We really accomplished a lot.”
“The town is fortunate to have someone as innovative as you, as evidenced the many changes and improvements to the town,” said Building Official Pat Schuchman.
Burke recalled the first-day advice Weistling gave him for a successful tenure: get the budget under control, and go find some grant money for this town. Burke has led Fenwick Island to nearly $400,000 in grant funding since that day in March of 2012.
“Bill, thank you for that great advice. Diane, you’re definitely a person of very few words, and your passion for the community is unprecedented when any topic comes back. I think the town staff really respect the history you have with this town,” said Burke, complimenting her energy.
Tingle said she still recalled a challenge someone threw at her on her first election day, saying she’d better be ready to work hard.
Now, on her way out the door, the retiring council secretary noted that the fourth generation of Tingles — her grandchildren — now enjoy Fenwick Island.
“You’re so lucky to have such dedicated employees at this town,” Tingle told the audience. “Thank you.”
Weistling has been active to the end, as chair of the Charter & Ordinance Committee.
“It’s been a pleasure. I’ve lived here for 23 years full-time. I always participated,” slowly joining committees, Weistling said. He then joked, “I’m still here. I’m year-round, whether you like it or not.”
What started 50 years ago with one man’s wish to leave a legacy for his young family is now a refuge for scores of families, a place to call “home away from home” by the bay.
When the Tuckahoe Acres Camping Resort campground opened in 1966, just 26 days before Van Browne died at the age of 33 from a rare form of cancer, his wife, Duane, was not sure she would be able to continue with the business.
Their son, Mark Browne, was 9 years old at the time; he now oversees the 65-acre campground that, in the height of summer, functions like a small village, with its own store, church services held in a brand new pavilion, a white, sandy beach alongside the bay and a tight-knit community of campers who look after each other, the Browne family and the community at large.
But that first year, it took considerable fortitude for the Browne family to move forward with Van Browne’s vision.
Family members — especially Mark Browne’s grandfather Herbert Calhoun and friends Sydney and Agnes Hurley — pitched in, and somehow the campground made it to a second season.
Browne still remembers, after his father died, his grandfather sitting him down on the steps of his house, saying, “I’ll never be able to take your daddy’s place, but I’m going to try to run a close second.”
For many years, Calhoun was known for his near-obsession with cleaning the beach of the seaweed that constantly washed up.
“He’d be up at 4 o’clock in the morning, raking seaweed and bagging ice,” said Mark Browne’s son and his grandfather’s namesake, Van Browne, who is now a key part of the family business. Sometimes, the seaweed would be raked multiple times in a day.
When Mark Browne’s mother remarried, his stepfather, Howard Lynch, also took a role in the growing business. Lynch, he said, “played a huge role in expanding it to what we have today.”
The campground now has more than 536 campsites. All but five of those sites are now occupied by campers that stay on the site. Many of those campers are a “second home” for their owners, who drive in from Pennsylvania and other places in early summer and spend the next four months enjoying the relaxed lifestyle the campground offers.
Raeann Yuslum, 56, and Lois Cochran, 72, both of Middletown, Pa., are two of the many people who have been spending a good portion of their summers at Tuckahoe for decades. Yuslum recalled staying in tents at Tuckahoe as a child, beginning in 1970. By 1983, her parents had a permanent trailer at Tuckahoe.
Now retired herself, Yuslum said that, before that, “We were weekend warriors,” making the trek back and forth to Pennsylvania throughout the summer.
Cochran, Yuslum’s aunt, said that her son, daughter-in-law and grandson “like it so much, they bought a trailer here. It’s so family-oriented,” Cochran said. “There’s so much to do.”
In addition to swimming in the campground’s pool and boating on the bay, the campground offers a variety of activities, from twice-weekly bingo games to bus trips.
Mark Browne said he and his family make one major improvement to the park each year — and the campground’s 50th anniversary was the perfect year to build the new pavilion. He said it was a way for the family to honor his mother, Duane, who has been the driving force behind the weekly religious observances since the campground’s early days.
Just outside the pavilion is a brick walkway that bears the names of many of the people who were instrumental in the founding and growth of the campground, as well as campers whose families have purchased the pavers in honor of their own family members.
The paver project is more than just a walk of honor — it’s one of the many ways both the management at Tuckahoe and those who spend their summers there contribute in a tangible way to the well-being of the community at large.
Proceeds from the sale of the pavers are going to area Meals on Wheels services. So far, about $4,000 has been raised. Sales of a cookbook celebrating the 50th anniversary of the campground have raised $3,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation for breast cancer research. A special anniversary quilt sewn by Tuckahoe campers was raffled off and raised another $1,000 for the Susan G. Komen Foundation. An annual 5K at Tuckahoe raises money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
Mark Browne said the charitable projects are a great example of the spirit of the people who come to Tuckahoe year after year. Longtime camper Jim Wertz of New Cumberland, Pa., gave credit to Browne and his family for fostering such community spirit.
Wertz, who said he has been coming to Tuckahoe for 42 years, beginning with a pop-up trailer, called himself “privileged, not only to be in this campground, but also to be so close to the family.” Mark Browne, Wertz said, “is a classy person.” He praised the hard work Browne and his family put into the maintenance of the campground.
That assessment was shared by another longtime camper, Cliff Burkman of Reading, Pa.
“Any problem, large or small, that may come up, is attended to immediately, or within 24 hours,” Burkman said.
The campground’s rules are strictly enforced, Browne said, including one established to address the growing popularity of golf carts as the preferred mode of transportation inside the campground. Golf carts must be parked at dark, and a light near the front of the resort flashes to remind campers of that rule.
These days, four generations of the Browne family can be found working at the campground in some capacity, with the youngest member being the younger Van’s 13-year-old son, Adison. “He delivers firewood, cuts grass, cleans up around here,” Van Browne said. “My grandfather worked here ’til he was 90,” he said.
Mark Browne said he is “not one to toot my own horn” and, indeed, much of the speech he gave at the July 23 celebration of the campground’s 50th year was spent giving thanks to all those who have played a part in its success through the years. He said an emphasis on family and the concept of community are keys to the campground’s longevity — that’s what brings people back year after year, he said.
“I love to hear stories like 88-year-old June Knight sharing with me that her neighbors Gail and Harold Kahley bring her a meal every day she’s here at Tuckahoe,” he said.
During the 50th anniversary celebration, Browne also introduced the first family in the campground to have five generations spending time there. Doris Orwig first came to Tuckahoe in the 1970s, followed by her daughter and son-in-law Barbara and John Sterner, their daughters and granddaughters, who in turn brought their own families and now the youngest generation of campers, little Conlan and Laney Toomey.
There is now a waiting list for campsites at Tuckahoe, and Browne said the Sterners and their family are prime examples of the kind of campers they look for.
“They are representative of what we appreciate and are looking for when customers come and get on our waiting list,” he said in his July 23 remarks for the 50th anniversary celebration.
He said that day that he sees “greatness” every day in the people who make Tuckahoe their summer home.
“I see greatness in Ms. Mary Cofiell, who’s camped here since 1977, loves to be very private in her little wooded section of the campground, but never fails to send a holiday card or write a kind word or thought when she sends in her payment.
“I see greatness in my fellow Baltimore Orioles fan and friend John Gruber, who even though frail and eaten up with cancer, watered all the neighbors’ flowers, loves Tuckahoe as if it was his refuge and picked up trash on the beach as if it was his place, too.
“I see greatness in those who never hesitate to help with an activity or contribute to a worthy charity. And, certainly, I see greatness in my father, for even though he knew his time was short, he pushed on to leave something behind for his kids and a multitude of caring people,” Brown said.
Next month, event organizers are asking local residents to take some time between Sept. 15 and 17 to show their appreciation for the men and women whose duty it is to protect and serve.
“The goal is to have it done all across the Delmarva peninsula,” said organizer and “captain” of the Ocean View Police Department activities for the event, Kathy Jacobs, “with people stopping by their police department with cards, posters, balloons or a simple ‘thanks.’”
According to Jacobs, plans are under way to rally the community behind area police departments in an effort to support and thank local law enforcement. Locally, Jacobs is arranging a catered lunch for the department and has been working with individuals and organizations, such as area Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, to put together thank-you cards.
She added that, while she’s focusing her efforts on the Ocean View Police Department, “People should feel free to support their police department anytime that week, saying thank you.”
This will be the second annual Police Appreciation Day on Delmarva, and Jacobs said that “especially in this day and age,” it’s important to take the time to stop and thank the men and women who work to keep local communities safe.
“They get dressed every day and go to work just like you and I do, and they have every intention of coming home to their family,” she said.
She added that the main intention of the week is to make sure that local law enforcement officers feel appreciated for what they do.
In preparation, Jacobs said, she has talked with local restaurants so organizers can start setting up in front of eateries with big cards for the community to sign next week. She’ll also be collecting cards and contributions from those who want to participate but are unable to stop by in person.
According to the event’s Facebook page, “Back the Blue — Ocean View Police Department,” community members are being encouraged to stop by the station between noon and 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 16, and bring cards, posters, balloons or goody bags (that do not contain food) for the eight officers and K-9 officer Hardy to “celebrate their awesomeness.”
The Facebook page adds that the intention of the event is “to unify as a community and show support to our local police department. The men and women in blue are working under extremely tense conditions nationwide,” it says, and organizers are asking participants to “pull together and show them how much we appreciate what they do every day.”
In addition to bringing cards and words of thanks, Jacobs said the community is also being encouraged to donate gift cards from local restaurants for $5 or $10, but she asks that people not bring home-prepared or opened food to the event.
For those who are unable to make it to the event, Jacobs said that she encourages people to stop by the department anytime that week, insisting that the goal is to promote appreciation of local law enforcement all of the time, and not just on any one day.
She added, “Even if you’re in the store and see someone in uniform, say thank you! Why not?”
Jacobs said she is more than willing to arrange to pick up or drop off cards for people unable to do so themselves and asks that people contact her at (302) 339-7189 if they need such assistance.
According to the Facebook event page, cards can be addressed to the department as a whole, or individual cards can be addressed to Chief Ken McLaughlin, Officer Heath Hall, Officer Ann Marie Dalton, Officer Nick Harrington, Officer and K-9 Handler Justin Hopkins, K-9 Hardy, Officer Rhys Bradshaw, Officer Sidney Ballentine, Officer Brian Caselli, Officer Troy Bowden and Office Manager Adrienne.