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Articles on this Page
- 09/08/16--14:02: _Selbyville fears po...
- 09/08/16--14:10: _White Marlin Open p...
- 09/08/16--14:13: _County takes commen...
- 09/08/16--14:15: _Fenwick town counci...
- 09/08/16--14:17: _Community invited t...
- 09/15/16--09:04: _Cemetery’s youngest...
- 09/15/16--11:47: _Delaware Botanic Ga...
- 09/15/16--11:51: _Artillery Park at t...
- 09/15/16--11:55: _Inspiration on The ...
- 09/15/16--12:09: _Operation SEAs the ...
- 09/15/16--13:01: _Council member to h...
- 09/15/16--13:03: _IRHS celebrates AP ...
- 09/15/16--13:06: _Millville’s Botchie...
- 09/15/16--13:12: _It’s about competit...
- 09/15/16--13:26: _Frankford continues...
- 09/15/16--13:36: _Ocean View discusse...
- 09/15/16--13:46: _Community asked to ...
- 09/15/16--13:48: _November ballot tak...
- 09/22/16--10:25: _IRSD: Bracelets at ...
- 09/22/16--10:38: _DSP Explorers progr...
- 09/08/16--14:02: Selbyville fears pollution from Mountaire stormwater proposal
- 09/08/16--14:10: White Marlin Open prize controversy heading to the courts
- 09/08/16--14:13: County takes comments from residents on all-hazards plan
- 09/08/16--14:15: Fenwick town council considers changes to its election law
- 09/08/16--14:17: Community invited to give ‘Heroes’ Welcome’ to veterans
- 09/15/16--09:04: Cemetery’s youngest recognized with monument
- 09/15/16--11:47: Delaware Botanic Gardens lecture series announced
- 09/15/16--11:51: Artillery Park at the Fort Miles Museum now open
- 09/15/16--11:55: Inspiration on The Point
- 09/15/16--12:09: Operation SEAs the Day touches veterans’ families
- 09/15/16--13:01: Council member to host Fenwick Island ‘Town Talks’ series
- 09/15/16--13:03: IRHS celebrates AP test scores, award winners for 2015-2016
- 09/15/16--13:06: Millville’s Botchie named state’s Town Manager of the Year
- 09/15/16--13:12: It’s about competition: South Bethany increasing police pay
- 09/15/16--13:26: Frankford continues to discuss audit, Mountaire well permits
- 09/15/16--13:36: Ocean View discusses fire siren, spending
- 09/15/16--13:46: Community asked to ‘thank a police officer’ this Saturday
- 09/15/16--13:48: November ballot taking shape
- 09/22/16--10:25: IRSD: Bracelets at high school just a joke in ‘poor taste’
- 09/22/16--10:38: DSP Explorers program to hold open house Sept. 27 at Central
After attracting millions of dollars in government funding to clean up their water, the Town of Selbyville has qualms about letting Mountaire dig a new stormwater system between the Town’s two primary water supplies.
The poultry processing company was recently required to manage all stormwater on their own property. So they proposed an infiltration basin, which would capture runoff from a Hoosier Street parking lot.
That is supposed to be different from a pond, which would collect water and sit. An infiltration basin is specifically designed to infiltrate into the ground.
But that doesn’t sit well with the Selbyville Town Council, which is currently building a second water treatment plant to remove gasoline additive methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) from groundwater.
“I know there’s concerns about the material that’s in the water there infiltrating into your well water,” said Greg Esham, a Mountaire engineer, at the Aug. 1 town council meeting.
“You didn’t give me a solution. You just me what you were planning,” Tingle said. “I think you should run it through your sewer system back there and then dispose of it. It has to be cleaned up. We can’t have it going through our aquifers.”
But a major rain event would have Mountaire dramatically exceeding volume limits.
“I cannot answer your questions,” Esham said. “As I’ve stated, I can only tell you what this is supposed to do. It’s designed to keep any water from going in Sandy Branch.”
Despite overflow protection, a 10-year rain event could still make water overflow into the town waterway.
But, while a major rainstorm might overflow the system, it would also water down the pollution.
“We are told massive dilution is supposed to take care of that,” Tirrell said.
Mountaire would hire someone to clean to debris that mucks up the bottom of the basin.
“I think we are just gun-shy because we’ve had so many different contaminants in our wells in the last 10 years or so, and now we are building a multimillion-dollar plant,” said Councilman Rick Duncan Sr. “I don’t want people calling, saying they got manure smell in their water.”
There was some discussion of installing test wells to monitor water quality.
It’s not Mountaire’s intent to create pollution, Esham said.
“We just don’t want your filtration ponds to infiltrate our water system, is what it amounts to,” Tingle said. “If it hits our wells… I mean, what do we got, another Flint, Mich., on our hands?”
”Our concern is the unknown,” Mayor Clifton Murray said.
Neither Mountaire nor the Delaware Department of Natural Resources can with 100 percent certainty say where water will go, only stating how the system is supposed to work.
Councilman Frank Smith III asked who would take responsibility if there was an issue, as neither the Town nor Mountaire can afford a water-supply emergency.
”It’s not if, but when,” Tingle said.
“We didn’t volunteer for this” either, Mike Tirrell, a Mounatire VP told the council on Sept. 6.
He proposed a meeting of the engineers from Mountaire, the Town of Selbyville and DNREC to discuss the project in detail.
Afterward, Tirrell would not speculate on what happens if the Town doesn’t give permission for the basin. He estimated it’s been about a year since Mountaire got their marching orders from the federal government. He said that the EPA is watching, but DNREC has approved the project.
The Mountaire reps explained other cleaning processes, such as cleaning by blowing debris off with air, then sweeping it up, to avoid washing with water.
Also, the company street-sweeps the live-haul parking lot and Hoosier Street twice daily, said Mountaire’s Jay Griffith. That is regular cleaning, which would continue even with the pond.
Currently, the cooling shed at the plant has a catch basin, so stormwater can pick up solids and be pumped into a tote that is hauled to the Mountaire wastewater treatment center, which later pumps to Selbyville’s wastewater plant.
In other Selbyville news:
• The town council officially welcomed Stacey Long, who began Aug. 15 as the new town administrator.
• Selbyville’s financial audit earned a “clean” or highest opinion from Leslie Michalik of PKS & Co. She found no material weaknesses in their internal controls, and compliance with laws, “so you run a pretty tight ship here.”
She concluded that the Town had a good fiscal year with the one that ended Jan. 31, 2016, and was in good financial position, although she recommended the Town create a formal policy for an asset depreciation schedule.
• The council (with Jay Murray absent) unanimously approved KCI consultants to apply for an asset management program grant for water and sewer. That would help Selbyville create a maintenance schedule for their massive infrastructure and give them bonus points for consideration for government grants and loan opportunities.
• The council approved a $16,345 bid from Homeworks in Ocean City, Md., to install new flooring at town hall.
The next regular Selbyville Town Council meeting is Monday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m.
Controversy and questions continue to swirl around the awarding of prize money in Ocean City, Md.’s 43rd Annual White Marlin Open, after tournament directors put a hold on the expected payout of $2.8 million in prize money for the sole qualifying white marlin in this year’s tournament. On Aug. 26, they formally filed suit against the apparent winner, putting the decision as to who gets what portion of the prize money in the hands of a judge.
In its complaint for interpleader in the Circuit Court for Worcester County, Md., they said, “the tournament directors seek to have a formal court proceeding in which a judge will determine the issues as to which angler or anglers will receive the prize.”
Noting that the White Marlin Open does not share in, or receive any portion of, the award, no matter to whom it is awarded, tournament directors said “the sole purpose in filing the interpleader with the Court is to preserve the integrity of the tournament, its rules and awards, and due to the circumstances of the matter at issue, the directors and the tournament judges believed that the best way of resolving all controversies was to seek a judicial determination of the matter. This way, a judge can consider the matter in its entirety and make an official judgment as to the award of the prize.”
White Marlin Open Inc. named as defendants in the case not only the originally declared winner, Phil Heasley of the Kallianassa, from Naples, Fla. — who reeled in a 76.5-pound white marlin on Aug. 9 — but all of the winners in the tournament’s various other categories, including blue marlin, tuna, shark and more.
The interpleader names those other anglers as “stakeholders” in the prize money, portions of which would be awarded to them if Heasley is determined to have been disqualified.
Tournament directors in their filing pointed to a suspected falsification of the catch time for the white marlin, which was officially recorded as 9:05 a.m. when the fish was weighed on the scales back in Ocean City. They assert that the catch time appeared to have been initially written down as 8:15 a.m., which would put it before the permitted earliest catch time of 8:30 a.m. and thereby disqualify the fish from the tournament.
A considerable portion of the interpleader references the polygraph tests the anglers and crews in the tournament are required to take, if requested, and the deception the polygraph examiners determined was indicated by the results of those tests when they were administered to Heasley and the crew of the Kallianassa after the close of the tournament.
The court documents state that Heasley’s initial negative responses when asked about tournament violations were deemed inconclusive as to their truth, while the boat’s captain (who is not named as a defendant in the suit), was deemed to have been deceptive when answering no, that they had not violated the tournament regulations.
A second polygraph administered to Heasley, they said, determined that he had been using “countermeasures” to manipulate the test and was being deceptive in answering no to questions about whether he had violated tournament rules and whether others on the boat had violated the rules and about whether he was being deceptive when he said he had never violated tournament rules.
He was further deemed by the examiner to have been deceptive in answering that he had not passed the sea buoy before 4 a.m. on Aug. 9, that he had not had any assistance in reeling in the marlin and that he had been truthful in answering the questions, but he was not deemed to have been deceptive in answering whether there were any lines in the water before 8:30 a.m. or whether the fish had been caught before 8:30 a.m.
The same polygraph examiner questioned both mates who had been aboard the boat that day (neither of whom is named as a defendant), determining that both were being deceptive when saying that no tournament rules had been violated, that there were no lines in the water before 8:30 a.m. and that the fish had not been caught before 8:30 a.m., as well as that Heasley had had no help in reeling in the fish.
Between the two polygraphs, tournament directors said, “not one person on Defendant Heasley’s vessel passed a polygraph examination.”
It was the results of the polygraph tests that had led tournament directors to examine the catch report for the fish, which led to the discovery that the catch time appeared to them to have been altered, from 8:15 a.m. (a violation) to 9:05 (during permitted fishing time).
Tournament officials said they had, as a result, asked Heasley on Aug. 22 to execute a release that would have allowed them to distribute the $2.8 million in prize money he would have otherwise have won. Heasley, they said, refused. The tournament then filed suit.
Based on existing tournament rules, the directors said, if Heasley was determined to have violated the rules and the white marlin disqualified, the big winner of the tournament would be New Jersey angler Richard Kosztyu, who would receive $2.3 million of the prize as the top tuna winner in the tournament, with a 236.5-pound tuna caught aboard the Hubris. That tuna already netted him a $767,000 prize.
Other winners in the tournament’s other categories would receive additional prize money ranging from $2,125 (to each of eight anglers in the wahoo, dolphin and shark categories), $47,000 for third-place (tied) tuna anglers Pat Horning and Dave Arnold, and $140,000 for second-place tuna angler Mark Hutchison, to $254,000 for blue marlin winner Jim Conway aboard the Get Reel.
Tournament directors noted that the $2.8 million in prize money has been placed in escrow pending the court’s determination of how the money should be distributed and that it is acting an impartial stakeholder in filing the suit. They asked the Court to schedule a hearing on the matter, relieve them from further liability for the prize money, and to award them costs and reasonable attorney’s fees from the funds placed in escrow.
The White Marlin Open Inc. has made no further public statement on the case since it was filed Aug. 26.
As part of its five-year update to Sussex County’s All Hazard Multi-Jurisdictional Mitigation Plan, the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center recently invited county residents and property owners to attend a public meeting to review and comment on the final draft of the plan.
The federally required plan, first adopted in 2005 and updated in 2010, is to serve as a comprehensive long-term planning tool used to identify various strategies local emergency planners would use in the event of a disaster. The overall goal is to reduce or eliminate the loss of human life and damage to property as a result of hazards, both natural and man-made.
“The plan is not a contract or agreement,” said Anthony Anthony Mangeri, planning lead with the Olson Group Ltd. “It’s a strategy, a design based on hazards and vulnerabilities.”
The packed meeting included officials from municipalities throughout Sussex County who have participated in update discussions. Meetings for the update began in November 2015, and all county municipalities were asked to participate and take part in an interview process to help planners collect data.
As it is a five-year update, it concentrates on what happened between 2010 and 2015. Once the plan is approved by FEMA, jurisdictions will need to adopt it via resolution.
The 279-page update reviews planning, hazard identification, risk assessment, capabilities assessment and mitigation strategy.
Like most states, flooding is ranked first in terms of hazards, with the county being at low risk for earthquakes. Tsunamis even ranked low on the list of hazards, with only a minor 2-foot wave surge on the bay in 2013. Although Sussex County has never experienced an act of terrorism, that risk, too, was ranked, said Project Manager Adam Montella of the Olson Group, because the threat is fluid.
Mangeri noted that some of those in the working group, which included County and municipal officials, had wanted to include erosion as a hazard.
A small fly in the ointment during the two-plus-hour meeting was the presence of upset residents from Mallard Lakes, a community near Selbyville, who are currently in litigation with their homeowner’s association to cover the costs associated with Hurricane Sandy damage. Although the residents had a separate meeting earlier that day with officials, many still attended the public hearing and voiced their discontent.
“We aren’t being represented, and that’s why we’re here,” said one attendee.
Another attendee asked if anyone actually visits the sites that have reported damage.
Joe Thomas, director of the Sussex County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) said they put out a media blitz requesting those who have damage to report it to the EOC. Once data is collected from the reports, that information is relayed to the Delaware Emergency Management Agency, which reviews it, along with FEMA.
“The State sends out damage assessment teams — someone from FEMA, someone from the State, Public Health, Red Cross — and they look at the damage you’ve reported to verify the information. From there, a determination is made whether or not we qualify for assistance.”
Montella said that the federal government actually spends a great deal of time looking for those who may have been affected by a storm, in order to give them information about reporting damage.
“They can only act upon what was reported.”
One Mallard Lakes resident, who was living in the development when Sandy hit, said their frustration is that they were assured by the community’s management that the damage reporting was taken care of.
“Now it’s 48 months… We still have no certificates of occupancy, and we should not be in those homes. Here we are with investments that we can’t live in, we can’t sell — it’s a nightmare.”
Sussex County Administrator Todd Lawson was called in to join the meeting and said that while there is litigation related to Mallard Lakes still pending, he cannot speak to anything related to that.
Attorney Dean Campbell, who represents the Mallard Lakes homeowners, asked Lawson about accountability.
“We’ve had a number of concerns about accountability. I know the purpose of this plan is to try to mitigate hazards as much as possible for the future, correct things that, if they weren’t right five years ago, let’s fix them now. Everyone in this room, I think, will understand and appreciate the fact that, in the aftermath of Sandy, something went wrong with the Mallard Lakes folks…
“We all know plans can be written — you can write anything you want — but without accountability, things fall through like they have. How do we fix that?”
Lawson said that, ultimately, the County is accountable for mitigation and reaction after the storm.
“The plan is only as good as the paper it’s written on — we’ve all heard that. I think lessons learned specifically to Sandy are, hopefully, incorporated in the plan. And who’s accountable? We are.”
For more information, to view the current plan and future updates, as well as submit comments, visit http://www.sussexcountyde.gov/all-hazard-mitigation-plan.
After facing confusion in back-to-back elections, the Fenwick Island Town Council sat down recently to discuss their intentions for voter and candidate eligibility.
First, they got a lesson in voter law and artificial entities from Town Solicitor Mary Schrider-Fox. After two hours of discussion on Sept. 1, the council instructed the Charter & Ordinance Committee to research and consider the following changes to town law:
• Allow trusts to have multiple votes, such as allowing spouses to vote.
• Allow any LLC to put forward one candidate for election, such as an owner or stockholder.
• Allow a voter’s power of attorney (POA) to last for several years, rather than requiring it be renewed annually, which could save Town Hall and citizens much time with paperwork.
• Write a definition of “resident,” which the charter lacks.
When the State of Delaware rolled out new municipal election laws around 2006, Fenwick Island made their own laws more amenable to the State’s. After the 2008 charter changes, Fenwick didn’t even host a contested election until 2015, so people didn’t notice new rules or unintended consequences.
But last year, people realized — often by surprise — that they needed to file POA paperwork and that trustee spouses could no longer vote.
Fenwick stumbled into election season again in 2016, when two candidates were ruled ineligible because their property was held by artificial entities.
Having served on the 2007-2008 council that made that year’s changes, Vicki Carmean and Audrey Serio agreed that some consequences were unintentional.
The CO Committee and Ad Hoc Elections Committee both grappled with the topic before the council reached down to provide direction this month.
Now, Fenwick must tread carefully, but swiftly. Another charter change requires a public hearing, multiple town council readings, a local legislative sponsor and a majority vote by the Delaware State Legislature, which only meets in spring and early summer.
“We are a very small town. Most people could care less about the election. Most people do not vote,” Serio said. “We have difficulty getting candidates, so I think we need to make the atmosphere the easiest we can, the least complicated we can under law, and try to get our residents to be interested in running for office and to vote.”
But more than 60 percent of eligible voters did cast ballots at the last two elections, said Councilwoman Julie Lee. So people are definitely participating.
“I know this doesn’t feel true to you guys because of the experience you’ve had. But from a legal standpoint, what you’ve got isn’t really that complicated,” Schrider-Fox said. “I know that’s not the way it feels.”
There are different rules for various artificial entities (also called “legal entities”), both by state law and in Fenwick. They also have different reasons for organizing their money or liability in such a way.
“Under your current charter, a trustee can run for office. A member of an LLC or a stockholder in a corporation cannot,” Schrider-Fox said.
A trust is an artificial entity, but “the trustee is the legal owner of that property,” whether it’s real estate or furniture, she said. “However, they hold that property with strings attached to it, meaning ‘for the benefit for someone else.’ There are hundreds of types of trusts.”
LLCs are different. “If you are a member of an LLC, you don’t have a direct interest in the property,” she said. “You just have an interest in the company,” which owns the property.
Full-time town residents are not impacted by this debate. A resident is always entitled to vote, regardless of land ownership. The council also noted that Delaware law recently changed, so that municipalities may not impose a durational residency requirement of more than 30 days to be eligible.
Who can vote or run?
“Every beach municipality allows non-resident property owners to vote,” said Lee, who suggested changing the charter language to “natural persons whose property is held in trust.”
She also proposed Fenwick return to its old rule of allowing trustee spouses to vote. For instance, the South Bethany charter allows all property owners to vote, including “any natural person who holds title of record either in his/her own name or as trustee … [and] the spouse of a freeholder whether their name is on the deed or not.”
Other ideas included allowing business owners to vote (in addition to property owners who rent business locations); forbidding business corporations from being candidates; or changing nothing.
Councilman Richard Mais rejected the idea of allowing spouses to vote, de facto, just because they’re married to a trust owner, since that would weight Fenwick’s vote toward non-residents.
However, there are already deeds with eight property owners listed. They all get a vote already, Schrider-Fox said. Adding a spouse only adds one vote per trust.
Meanwhile, Serio said she believes any property owner paying taxes should get to vote, whether in a family trust or a business LLC.
Voters must be either a bona fide resident; a human, non-resident property owner; or an artificial entity, such as a trust, corporation or other LLC. The artificial entity is granted a vote, not the people involved in it. That’s why the Fenwick charter says, “Any legal entity, other than a natural person entitled to vote, must cast its vote by … notarized power of attorney.”
“An artificial entity can only interact with the world through a human,” such as a board of directors or chairperson, Schrider-Fox said.
Candidates must be “a natural person who is a citizen of the United States [and] … either a bona fide resident of the Town or a property owner in the Town.”
The Fenwick Charter requires that at least four council members must reside within 50 miles of town.
Meanwhile, a person can physically cast multiple votes in an election. A regular deed holder gets one vote, regardless of properties owned. But by POA, a resident could cast multiple votes for other artificial entities.
Hypothetically, a person could get 50 votes by putting his properties in 50 trusts or LLCs. Meanwhile, a single house could be owned by 20 trusts, representing 20 property owners, who all vote through power of attorney.
“There’s nothing that I’ve heard here today that makes the process simpler” from a legal perspective, Schrider-Fox said. “You’re going to have a grumbler every election season who didn’t know what they had.”
Voters already required to bring deeds for proof
Because this beach town has so many types of ownership, Fenwick is unlikely to ever have a perfectly simple registration process.
“You’re always going to have to pull the deeds and look at how the people own the property,” Schrider-Fox said, especially when people own multiple properties in different ways.
“Technically, the people coming in to vote, they’re supposed to bring their deed with them,” she said. “Nobody does. They yell at [the town clerk], so she gets on the computer, she calls me.”
The women figure out the official ownership on their own, despite Fenwick’s charter twice stating that property owners registering to vote must bring proof, such as a deed.
“So, technically, Town Hall could have been turning people away,” Schrider-Fox said. “They didn’t do that. They went above and beyond … and did the legwork for them.”
Fewer people “than you think” were actually disenfranchised by the realization that trusts only get one vote, Schrider-Fox said. That’s because many husbands and wives discovered that their house was actually owned by two trusts — one trust per owner.
Voter education needed to avoid surprises
Part of the problem is voter education, especially when people create artificial entity in winter, Serio said.
“They have no idea, if they did that during winter, when they come to vote that they couldn’t vote,” Serio said. “Those are the people that get upset.”
Or, the older residents create a trust to pass property onto their children without realizing their votes might be limited.
“The problem is we’re dealing with the everyday Joe. To them, we’re taking their voting right away,” Serio said. “To them the problem is, ‘I’ve voted here for 25 years, and now I can’t vote.’”
However, it’s not really a financial advisor’s job to educate clients about local voter laws.
“You guys, as a group, can only do so much to help people along,” Schrider-Fox said. “At some point, they have to open the book or go online and be a little bit proactive for themselves and find out what the rules are.”
Operation SEAs the Day’s Warrior Week 2016 is well under way, but there is still time for community members to get involved.
Operation SEAs the Day is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to organize and facilitate a beach week event for our wounded soldiers and their families as a means of showing our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. It is our hope that such a community-based gesture of support will be comforting and help ease their transition back into civilian life.”
This year’s Warrior Beach Week began Sept. 6 and will conclude Sept. 11, giving 25 wounded veterans and their families the opportunity to enjoy a beach vacation.
On Friday, Sept. 9, a large-scale “Heroes’ Welcome Home” motorcade will travel from the Sea Colony Marketplace to the Freeman Stage at Bayside, where the families will attend the Bruce in the USA concert at the Freeman Stage that evening, which begins at 7 p.m. (Community members are invited to watch the performance as well. Tickets to the show cost $25 per person, and patrons are being asked to bring their own chairs or blankets, as seating is not provided.)
The motorcade is scheduled to leave Sea Colony at 4:45 p.m. and arrive at the Freeman Stage between 5 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. The warriors and their families will travel on school buses, accompanied by law enforcement and volunteer fire companies during their drive to the stage. More than 100 Jeeps will line the median between South Bethany and Fenwick Island, along Route 1.
“These wounded veterans are recovering from injuries sustained while serving our country. Many of them went from the battlefield to a hospital and then home,” said Annette Reeping, who serves on the non-profit’s board. “Many have not received a thank-you or recognition for their sacrifice. It is our turn to show our appreciation.”
“It a true opportunity to experience pride in country and be part of a town pride and patriotism — a true American experience, thanking those brave veterans who have sacrificed everything for our peaceful way of life!” she added. “And it is a veteran family being recognized who will for the rest of their lives endure difficulty.”
Reeping said that while participation in the motorcade itself is limited to vehicles that have already been approved, organizers hope to gather as many community members and visitors to line the streets along the route to welcome the veterans and their families.
“The participation is by lining the streets waving an American flag and wearing red, white and blue,” she said. “Families, entire neighborhoods [are] already planning to line the 5-mile route. Restaurants on Route 54 are having half-price meals to fill their restaurants during the motorcade. They will give the patrons flags and then have everyone go out to the street as the motorcade goes by. It’s going to be a fantastic hometown hero welcome and thank-you!”
Turning into the Bayside entrance, the motorcade will travel under an extremely large American flag hung from two ladder trucks of local fire departments. The streets of the community will be lined with handmade posters welcoming the heroes and their families to the beach, with even more people decked out in red, white and blue, waving flags and cheering.
“[It’s] a show of American pride and patriotism.”
To learn more about Operation SEAs the Day, visit Operationseastheday.org. To purchase tickets to the Bruce in the USA concert, visit www.freemanstage.org/event/bruce-in-the-usa.
For years, some of the babies buried at Gate of Heaven cemetery were barely recognized there — with plastic markers that were meant to be only temporary left as the only recognition of their brief lives.
Those babies might have come from families unable to provide a marker, for whatever reason. More than a year ago, they caught the attention of one man who made it his job to make sure they were properly memorialized.
Joe Mulholland of Ocean City, Md., stood at the cemetery on Sunday, Sept. 11, and said it was his late wife, Jane, who pushed him toward the project. It was visiting Jane’s interment spot at Gate of Heaven that made Mulholland aware of the babies’ unmarked graves.
“She would have said, ‘Joe, get busy!” he said, smiling, surrounded by family and friends at a ceremony dedicating a monument for babies laid to rest at the cemetery. “She motivated me,” he said, adding that his wife loved all children but had a special affinity for babies. “It’s a great feeling” to see the project come to fruition, Mulholland said, adding, “I was only one part; there were a lot of parts to it.”
Bishop William Francis Malooly of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington presided over the ceremony, blessing both the standing monument and the small stone markers with holy oil and incense.
“Let us always remember that every life, whether brief or long, deserves to be treasured,” Malooly said during his blessing.
The ceremony came after a Mass of Remembrance at the cemetery, held each of the past 14 years on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The marker and the stones are the result of a fundraising effort spearheaded by Mulholland, with the help of his grandchildren, who helped him set up a GoFundMe fundraising page for the project on the Internet
The effort surpassed its goal and raised $8,000 — enough for the monument, as well as markers for the babies currently interred at Gate of Heaven and 25 more.
The Delaware Botanic Gardens has selected four expert speakers for its upcoming lecture series, beginning in September 2016 and continuing through April 2017. Admission to all lectures is free.
• Sept. 24 — Donald Pell, “Embracing the Regional Landscape,” 10 a.m. to noon, South Coastal Library, 43 Kent Avenue, Bethany Beach.
Pell is the founder and principal landscape designer for Donald Pell Gardens, located in southeastern Pennsylvania. With more than 20 years in the industry, he is known for creating immersive gardens that embrace place and evoke the inherent beauty of regional landscapes. He calls his gardens “impressionistic models of regional landscapes.”
Understanding the biology of specific plants and how they integrate into a landscape is considered the key to programming these gardens, and Pell will discuss how cool- and warm-season plants are selected to stabilize soils and create desirable compositions and will survey the role of ephemeral plants in building desirable seed banks while a garden is evolving. Also covered will be management of aggressive and thuggish plants and the successes and failures of landscaping projects.
• Oct. 29 — Holly Shimizu, “Lessons from a New Garden,” 10 a.m. to noon, new Lewes Library, 111 Adams Avenue, Lewes.
Having recently designed and developed a Delaware garden with her husband, Osamu Shimizu, a garden designer, Holly Shimizu will focus on lessons learned and how her approach to gardening has changed over time. Along with some good horticultural guidance, she will examine questions such as “What makes a great garden?” “How do we create garden spaces that are sanctuaries?” “How can we blend stewardship practices into our own horticultural endeavors?”
Shimizu was the executive director of the United States Botanic Garden, located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for more than 14 years and costarred in the television series “The Victory Garden.” She is also a member of the Advisory Council of the Delaware Botanic Gardens.
• Feb. 25, 2017 — Ruth Rogers Clausen, “Deer-Resistant Native Perennials,” 10 a.m. to noon, Enrichment Center, East Coast Nursery, 3066 Cordrey Road, Millsboro.
Ruth Rogers Clausen was trained in horticulture in the United Kingdom and has been in the “green” industry for more than 50 years, primarily based in the Midwest and the Northeast. Her books include “Perennials for American Gardens” (coauthored), “Dreamscaping,” “50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants,” and “Essential Perennials” (coauthored). She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Delaware Botanic Gardens.
Deer browsing has become one of the major problems deterring gardeners from growing ornamentals of all kinds. Choosing plants that deer find unpalatable is perhaps the best defense against them, without depending on expensive fences or regular spraying with deer deterrents. Clausen will highlight some native perennials that deer do not find appealing. Tips and tricks that make a garden less inviting to your local herd will also be discussed. Although there is no such thing as a deer-proof garden in deer country, lots of natives can be used to landscape your property. Learn how to make it deer tolerant rather than fight nature to protect your landscape.
• April 22, 2017 — Sam Droege, “Native Bees in Delaware: Co-creators of Delaware’s Native Plants,” 10 a.m. to noon, South Coastal Library, 43 Kent Avenue, Bethany Beach.
Everyone knows the honeybee, but how many are aware of the hundreds of native bee species that live in Delaware? Bees pollinate the native plants of the state, as well as important crops — for free! They range in size from half a grain of rice to hefty carpenter bees. Most do not sting, and they are more common than most of the butterfly species and considered by some to be more beautiful.
Droege will show extreme close-up shots of these bees taken with new photography techniques, as well as talk about how to make a property bee-friendly. Droege has coordinated the North American Breeding Bird Survey Program and developed the North American Amphibian Monitoring Program, the Bioblitz, the Cricket Crawl and the FrogwatchUSA programs.
Currently, he is developing an inventory and monitoring program for native bees and online identification guides for North American bees at www.discoverlife.org.
The Delaware Botanic Gardens is a 10-year, multiphase plan to bring a sense of place to Delmarva with a major public garden that reflects southern Delaware’s unique coastal plain. Its mission is to create inspirational, educational, and sustainable gardens in Delaware for the benefit and enjoyment of residents and visitors alike.
The project has already attracted luminaries such as the Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf, the award-winning architecture firm Lake/Flato and Delaware’s own Rodney Robinson, a landscape architect who has created and restored gardens throughout the state.
Among dunes overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, the Fort Miles Museum’s newest exhibit, the World War II Artillery Park, was officially opened this week, with DNREC and the Fort Miles Historical Association hosting Gov. Jack Markell, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), local dignitaries and military veterans, including honored guest Robert Sauppee, who was reunited with his personal history last Friday morning in Cape Henlopen State Park.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held beneath the centerpiece of the Artillery Park — a giant 16-inch artillery piece that was mounted on the battleship U.S.S. Missouri (the “Mighty Mo”) when the Japanese surrendered 71 years ago, on Sept. 2, 1945, ending World War II. Sauppee, who traveled to the commemorative ceremony from his home in Reading, Pa., was also aboard the “Mighty Mo” that day as a young U.S. serviceman.
“The Fort Miles Artillery Park preserves an important part of Delaware’s wartime history and honors the courage and heroism of the men and women who defended our country during World War II,” said Markell.
“The historic treasures and new amenities here will attract families and visitors to the beautiful shores of Cape Henlopen State Park and boost the local economy. The Fort Miles Museum’s unique features exemplify why Delaware State Parks was recognized nationally this year with the Gold Award as the best-managed park system in the nation.”
The Sept. 2 event took place at Fort Miles, which during World War II served as the East Coast’s largest combat-ready post and a key piece in the nation’s coastal defense. In 1964, 543 acres of the fort were returned to the State of Delaware, forming the heart of Cape Henlopen State Park. In April 2005, Fort Miles was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
“Delaware has a long history of protecting our nation, and Fort Miles is a big part of that history,” said Carper, a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy. “Mighty Mo’s gun was saved from becoming scrap metal after a like-minded group came together, including folks from the Fort Miles Historical Association, DNREC and my office, to bring it to Delaware. Attractions like this allow the First State’s rich military history to live on, honoring the more than 73,000 veterans living in Delaware today.”
“The Fort Miles Artillery Park, with Mighty Mo’s gun and other World War II artillery, is representative of the armaments that were stationed here for coastal defense,” said DNREC Secretary David Small.
“We are incredibly appreciative of the Fort Miles Historical Association members, whose spirit and dedication are reminiscent of this country’s ‘Greatest Generation’ who built and manned Fort Miles and protected the region during World War II. Now, veterans, families, students, visitors and history buffs can relive an important part of Delaware history surrounded by the buildings and artifacts that will help make the experience come alive.”
Among the largest pieces of U.S. Naval artillery ever made, Mighty Mo’s 16-inch gun weighs more than 116 tons and is 66 feet long. The 16-inch barrel could hurl 2,700-pound shells more than 23 miles in 50 seconds, with pinpoint accuracy, in support of U.S. ground troops. Two similar guns were housed at Fort Miles’ Battery Smith during World War II but later relocated elsewhere.
“The Fort Miles Historical Association is proud and honored to partner with Delaware State Parks on the completion of the World War II Artillery Park,” said FMHA President Gary Wray. “With Mighty Mo’s gun as the centerpiece, the Artillery Park is the largest exhibit of its kind in the country. The Fort Miles Museum, when completed, will be the best World War II museum inside a World War II facility in the U.S.”
“With more than a million visitors a year, Cape Henlopen State Park is beloved by Delawareans and tourists from throughout the country,” said DNREC Parks & Recreation Director Ray Bivens. “The Fort Miles Artillery Park is a wonderful attraction that tells the story of the U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps that played a vital role in protecting the region’s coastline during World War II. DNREC appreciates the tremendous efforts of the Fort Miles Historical Association and the thousands of volunteer hours that members have contributed to the Fort Miles Museum.”
The Mighty Mo’s gun was scheduled to be cut up and sold for scrap if a suitable home for it could not be found. Through a joint plan written by the Fort Miles Historical Association (FMHA) and DNREC, the gun was donated to DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation by the U.S. Naval Systems Command.
FMHA’s U.S.S. Missouri Gun Fundraising Committee raised $113,000 through private donations and several grants, from the GM Foundation, Sussex County Council and the Delaware Tourism office, to move the gun by barge and rail from the naval yard in Norfolk, Va., to the Artillery Park.
“The U.S.S. Missouri’s big gun symbolizes our local military history and is a fitting centerpiece for the Fort Miles Artillery Park,” said Nick Carter, chair of the U.S.S. Missouri Gun Fundraising Committee and a U.S. Navy veteran who served two tours in Vietnam.
“Because of my family’s World War II military service here in Lewes, I was asked to chair the fundraising committee that brought Mighty Mo’s gun to Delaware. My sincere appreciation to the organizations and individuals who donated funding and to my wife, Laurie, who coordinated the logistics of moving the gun to Fort Miles.”
Four-year journey from scrapyard to park
The opening of the Artillery Park marks the end of a four-year effort to place Mighty Mo’s gun and other armaments at the foot of Battery 519. FMHA raised a total of more than $430,000 for the project, including the funding to transport Mighty Mo’s gun to Delaware, grants received from the Longwood Foundation, Community Foundation and Crystal Trust, and contributions from state legislators and almost 100 individuals. State funding for the Artillery Park came from 2013-2015 Bond Bill appropriations provided by the state legislature.
Lockwood Brothers, subcontractor for the Artillery Park contractor Kent Construction Co., moved Mighty Mo’s gun barrel to Delaware and mounted it on an emplacement that includes a 90,000-pound concrete base, 70,000-pound slide, 38,500-pound yoke and other parts. The total weight of the permanent display is more than 300 tons. Bell Terra Landscaping & Lighting installed lighting around the display.
In addition to the artillery, the site features new restrooms and showers for visitors and for future overnight guests, a central pathway, a renovated mess hall and wayside signs that tell the story behind each gun. Another addition includes a new geothermal HVAC system, made possible by two Delaware Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grants — one to the city of Lewes and the other grant to Delaware State Parks.
“The opening of the Fort Miles Artillery Park provides further definition of the important role that Cape Henlopen played in the defense of the Mid-Atlantic coast during World War II,” said Lewes Mayor Ted Becker.
“In conjunction with the numerous other historical attractions in the area, this Artillery Park ensures that future generations are aware of how our region has been key to the defense of this country from colonial times to the present. The Fort Miles Historical Association is to be commended for their extraordinary efforts to bring this to reality.”
“The news of the Mighty Mo’s gun is a fantastic addition to the already wonderful historical attractions at Fort Miles in Cape Henlopen State Park,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.). “The impressive size of the gun gives visitors a unique perspective to how large these ships were, and adds another component that will attract visitors to this wonderful state park. I look forward to visiting the latest installment, the World War II Artillery Park, at the Fort Miles Museum.”
“Fort Miles is a special part of our state’s history, and a reminder of the important role Delaware played in defending our nation during World War II,” said U.S. Rep. John Carney (D-Del.). “The Fort Miles Historical Association has done an excellent job of preserving this important piece of our past, and the new Fort Miles Artillery Park is a wonderful tribute to those who bravely served our nation. It will also allow visitors to have a unique, firsthand look at some of the artifacts from the era, like Mighty Mo’s gun. I am grateful to all those who helped make this exciting new exhibit possible.”
FMHA continues to provide volunteer support to the Fort Miles Museum — by guiding tours, completing complex hands-on restoration projects, helping with special events and providing marketing support for Fort Miles. The association earlier this year completed the first room of the Museum’s Art Gallery, which features the works of local artists Howard Schroeder, Mary Marshall and Abraxas Hudson.
Guided tours of the gallery are set to start in the fall. A new exhibit, “Midway to Munich,” featuring the art of aviation artist Paul Rendel, opens Oct. 8. That event will showcase, and make available for sale, some of Rendel’s works and marks the unveiling of a new piece commemorating Mighty Mo’s gun placement at the Fort Miles Museum. Proceeds of the event will go to support the Fort Miles Museum.
With the artillery park now complete, FMHA will focus on completing interior exhibits, outdoor programming venues and parking for the museum. New exhibits will showcase ordinary life in World War II-era Delaware and the important roles that ordinary citizens played in the nation’s defense through the Civil Air Patrol, Delaware River & Bay Pilots Association and other local organizations and causes. A fall kickoff event is planned to launch a $2.1 million capital campaign.
For more information on Cape Henlopen State Park and Fort Miles Historical Area, visit DNREC’s website at www.destateparks.com.
“On my kayak, I’m mobile — it’s the best feeling,” said Sylvia Peters. “I can go where I want, look at the birds, see deer, watch the sky and move freely.”
Peters had an above-the-knee amputation of her right leg six years ago. She lives alone with her “friend” Noel, her dog. Together, almost every day, spring through fall, for about two hours, they go kayaking.
When Peters moved into her home in Selbyville 23 years ago, she was surrounded by woods and cornfields.
“People wondered why I moved into the boondocks,” said Peters. “I had Ocean City friends who refused to visit me in the evening; they thought it was too dark and scary.”
Now, Peters’ still-shady, secluded street is surrounded on all sides by the homes and golf course of Bayside, off Route 54.
One day, after a storm 15 or so years ago, Peters drove her truck to the end of the road where the marsh meets the Assawoman Bay… an area now known, in Bayside vernacular, as The Point. There she found a dilapidated white kayak tossed up on the beach.
“There was no way to know who owned it, so I picked it up, threw it in my truck and brought it home,” said Peters. “It was much easier to handle than my old canoe, so it became my favorite way to be outdoors with nature.”
According to Peters’ daughter, Jeannette Ryals, who lives in Syracuse, N.Y., she was always a self-sufficient, hard-working, find-a-way, there’s-always-a-solution kind of woman.
“And that’s the way she raised my brother, sister and me,” said Ryals. “She left us early in the morning and didn’t get home until late. But we knew what was expected of us, and it was that frame of mind that got us through college with no financial help and no debt at the end.”
Peters worked in the kitchens of restaurants at the Carousel and the Ocean Club when it was on 49th Street in Ocean City, Md. It was hard, on-your-feet-all-day work that built strong shoulders and weakened legs.
“I’d sling an 80-pound bag of potatoes over my shoulder and take it where it needed to be… and huge hot pots of lobster chowder, too. If you wanted something moved, you just moved it, was the way I figured,” said Peters.
During her breaks, Peters smoked. Actually, she smoked a lot.
Then the veins in her legs started to cause pain. She was diagnosed with peripheral vascular disease. She underwent two procedures to rectify the damage, and still she smoked. Then, 10 years ago, at 60, she had to retire. Her only companion was Ashley, her beloved German shepherd.
Eventually the veins in her right leg were shot, and it was inevitable that her leg would have to come off. It still took two courses of the anti-smoking medication Chantix for her to totally give up the addiction.
“Mom came up to Syracuse for the surgery and two weeks of rehab, and then she moved in with us for six months,” said Ryals. “We knew she wanted to go home as soon as possible, to be with Ashley, who doesn’t travel well and had to stay back.
“We were determined that she needed to show us she could manage in our large colonial house first. From Day 1, she went up the stairs to her bedroom on her rear end, refusing any help. She navigated all the barriers in our house, went to the gym with me and took yoga classes.”
When she returned to Selbyville, Peters was home alone again with Ashley. Ashley was wonderfully supportive but was growing old and Peters started to think she needed another dog — one that would be a companion for them both. That’s when Noel became part of the family.
Noel — a Lab-type mutt who was around 3 years old — had had a traumatic early life. She was found abandoned in a cage in a house after the owners had been evicted. She weighed only 29 pounds.
Ashley taught Noel how to be Peters’ friend and ally. That included staying right with Peters, even after she started kayaking again.
“I got a Jazzy — a second-hand electric scooter for traveling around outside. So I figured a way to attach my gear for kayaking to the back of it and pull my kayak behind me with a piece of rope. Noel runs along beside me. When I get to the dock, I park Jazzy and maneuver myself on my butt to get in my kayak, and Noel jumps in front.”
Peters makes it sound a lot easier than it actually is. “But it’s so worth it,” she said.
In fact, this year the powers-that-be at Bayside have made the process a lot easier for Peters — at least during the summer season, when helpful attendants are ready to assist Bayside owners and visitors with their kayaks and stand-up paddleboards.
“With all the traffic and construction on the way from my house to The Point, they realized my dragging my kayak behind Jazzy could be a bit of a safety hazard. So now they let me keep it there and help me when I need it,” she said.
“She’s incredibly strong, and nothing discourages her,” said Zach Holland, lead Bayside employee at The Point, with admiration.
Indeed, for many Bayside residents, employees and even construction workers, Sylvia Peters and Noel are a source of inspiration. If you ask people about the lady in the wheelchair and her dog and her kayak, they almost all know her and wave or honk their car horns as they pass by.
“I look at her and what it must take for her to go kayaking, and think to myself, ‘I mustn’t make excuses about going for a walk or playing golf,’” said Kathleen Matthews.
Barbara Modderno goes kayaking with Peters on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when her husband plays golf.
“I didn’t know anyone when we first moved to Bayside. Noel is such a friendly dog, she just opened the door for me to talk to Sylvia, and now we are friends,” she said. “Last week, she introduced us to the best fried chicken, at the Roxana firehouse!”
There is one more thing Peters wants to add to her schedule. She wants to talk to kids in school to discourage them from smoking and to help them deal with adversity by telling her story. Of course, Noel would go, too.
“I don’t know what we expected, but I know it was nothing like what we received,” said Vicki, whose family attended Operation SEAs the Day as a Very Important Family (VIF) last year. “It was so overwhelmingly generous… It just completely, completely blew us away.”
The mission of Operation SEAs the Day is “to organize and facilitate a beach-week event for our wounded soldiers and their families as a means of showing our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. [To provide] a community-based gesture of support will be comforting and help ease their transition back into civilian life.”
The fourth installment of Warrior Beach Week 2016 ran Sept. 6-11 and provided 25 wounded veterans and their families the opportunity to enjoy a beach vacation.
Vicki and her Army veteran husband, Adam, of Lancaster, Pa., returned to Bethany Beach this year with their family, serving as alumni for the event.
“I was hoping… I mean, who wouldn’t want to come to the beach?” said Adam. “We were able to relax and really able to do our thing last year. This is a way to give back to the program, because now we can pay it back and help the new families have a good time, like we did. I think that was very important.”
“A family we’re assisting, the veteran can’t be left alone. [His wife] hasn’t had time to herself in years. So she asked if we wouldn’t mind being with him so she could go to the spa day. Absolutely,” added Vicki. “You know, if somebody who hasn’t be able to be by themselves in years… we feel really grateful to be able to provide that for her so she can get the self-care she needs.”
Alumni family Alexandra and Marine Corps veteran Noe of Stafford, Va., returned to Bethany after first attending as VIFs last summer.
“What we received was nothing we had expected — it was much more,” said Alexandra. “We didn’t know there was an opportunity to come back. So when we got notification of it, we couldn’t say no. It’s a way to put in our 2 cents and help the organization. Coming back as alumni, it helps you connect with your own family. You feel that sense of purpose. You’re able to help other families who need that assistance.”
During Warrior Beach Week, veterans and their families are given a home to stay in, its use donated by the owner, as well as a welcome bag with coupons and a refrigerator full of food.
“Last year, the house was nice and big,” said 8-year-old Olivia, the daughter of Adam and Vicki. “It was really pretty. If you opened this one back door to the deck, you could see the beach.”
“Last year, our host family was the mayor of Bethany Beach, and our house was in Sea Colony,” said 18-year-old Nicholas of Denton, Md., whose dad served in the Army. “They went a bit overboard on the grocery shopping. I think we had about five of everything. This year, we have a little condo by the beach.”
“Last year, our house had an elevator in it! It was a super-big house; it was awesome,” added 12-year-old Noelia, Alexandra and Noe’s daughter.
Throughout the week, families are able to take advantage of a welcome reception, paddleboarding, tennis, golf and more, all at no charge. The families can take part in as many or as few of the activities as they choose.
“You can sign up for tennis or horseback riding, but if something happens… Like yesterday, I was overwhelmed a little. I just stayed home. I think that’s great, because there are other retreats where you do this and then this…” said Adam, “whereas, here, you can do this, but you don’t have to. Then you are really, truly able to relax with your family.”
“It’s fun having a veteran dad, because we get to go on all these trips and do stuff with our family,” said Emma, Vicki and Adam’s 10-year-old daughter. “I was pretty excited. We went horseback riding last year, and I was excited for it this year.”
During the family barbecue at Sea Colony, the families were able to meet a baby kangaroo with the help of Barn Hill Preserve.
“There was a big party last night that was fun,” said Nicholas. “We got to hold a baby kangaroo at the party… last year was a skunk.”
“It’s head would pop out of the little bag,” added Olivia of the kangaroo. Each family was able to get a free photo of their encounter with the kangaroo to take home as a keepsake.
As for their favorite OSTD moments, the kids each had their own.
“We went out to Grotto’s Pizza and had pizza, and then after that we had ice cream. Today, we did tennis. Yesterday, we did paddleboarding and horseback riding,” said Emma, noting horseback riding was her favorite activity.
Olivia said that paddleboarding was her favorite activity. She can stand up on (and has fallen off of) the paddleboard but still enjoys it.
“My favorite is the ‘Polar Express’ movie at the train, because — hey — free food and a movie,” said Nicholas with a laugh.
“I liked the excursions last year, because we went tubing,” said Noelia. “Yesterday, we went to the beach and to the pool. And then, today, we did tennis. It’s fun to spend time with your family.”
The weeklong respite gives wounded veterans and their families the opportunity to get away from VA appointments and doctor’s appointments and just relax.
“Yesterday, we were on the beach and he was playing with [our daughter] on the sand… It was just the moment, embracing their smile,” recalled Alexandra. “They were relaxed and didn’t have anything to worry about. We don’t have to get to any type of appointment or worry about a bill at home. We can be in the moment.”
“One of the things I like about this is there’s so much to do, but then again, you don’t have to do anything,” added Adam. “You’re able to take a week off and say, ‘What can we do to have a good time?’”
Even for those in the community who don’t donate directly to the organization, there are still ways to be involved during the week — perhaps the biggest being the Heroes’ Welcome Motorcade.
During the motorcade, the VIFs travel by bus, escorted by area law enforcement and first-responders, to the Freeman Stage at Bayside for dinner and a concert. Along the way, the families are greeted by community members donning red, white and blue attire, waving Old Glory, standing along streets lined with welcome signs thanking them for their service.
“You get on the bus and you think, ‘OK, we’re going to follow each other and get dinner and hear a concert.’ But it really brings you to tears to see people pulled over on the side of the highway, waving flags and holding signs, saying, ‘Thank you,’” said Vicki. “It gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.”
“It’s cool, because you go onto the bus and you ride down the street, and there are people watching…. Last year, there was a feast,” added her daughter, Emma.
Aside from the motorcade, some people in the community have taken the time individually to stop and thank the VIFs for their service during their stay in Bethany.
“Last year, when we came for the first time, he would have people come up to him and say, ‘Thank you.’ And he stayed quiet for the first few times and then he turned to me and said, ‘What do you say?’ I’m like, ‘Thank you for your support’? You never experience that,” said Alexandra. “It’s almost like you need a little orientation class before you come. This is what to expect. We’re just so humbled by it.”
“I didn’t join for any of this,” said Noe. “I joined because it was something I wanted to do… But people in this community here gave me a genuine thank-you. You just don’t know how to respond.”
“We were walking down the street the other day, and we wear these little tags. Some people were stopped at a stop sign — it was an older couple. They said, ‘Welcome to Bethany Beach, and thank you for your service,” said Adam.
“You know, they didn’t know us from Adam. You get that a lot around here, when the people from this area recognize you’re a VIF, Very Important Family. They step out of their comfort zone to say something. We were in a little store, and the ladies working there made us feel good. We were just buying a bathing suit, but they made sure everything was right. You just don’t get that anywhere else. It’s amazing.”
What makes Operation SEAs the Day so special, it seems, is that it embraces the whole family, in hopes of supporting them following an injury.
“This is just an awesome program,” said Vicki. “One of the slogans of Wounded Warrior Project is, ‘The greatest casualty is being forgotten,’ and it’s true. You serve in the military — no matter what branch you’re in — and everyone wants to support you then, you’re doing great. Then you come back home and have all of these injuries, whether they’re physical or invisible, and nobody cares anymore; nobody is there to support you when you need it the most.”
“There’s a billboard on the side of the road driving down to Quantico, and I think it’s Wounded Warrior Project, too, and it says, ‘The real war starts at home,’ and it’s true,” added Alexandra. “They’re trained to fight a battle while they’re away… They prepare you for war, but they don’t prepare you to come home. It’s a different battle at home.”
During the week, there are coffee-talk meetings for caregivers, with a separate meeting for veterans, to offer support to one another and share resources.
“Last year, by the end of the event, we left with a nice list of resources. There’s a Facebook page also that we were able to communicate through and keep it touch,” said Alexandra.
“I was really excited to come back,” added Noe. “This is our chance to help other vets that are in our shoes. We’re all in different stages of where we’re at, but we’ve all been through it. So we might be able to connect with another family that is about to go to that stage we just went through… We can give them resources.
“It’s just about trying to connect with them and say, ‘Look — you’ll be fine. We’re fine. Even though it feels like you’re not, you are.’
“It’s just about getting out there and not feeling like you have to do it alone, because you don’t. Just realize we were all there and we all needed help, too.”
Nicholas, whose father is dealing with the residual effects of his injuries, said it was “interesting” to have a veteran as a parent.
“When your parent, such as my dad, has injuries — he has back issues… his head doesn’t work exactly the same as others. There are moments where he’s OK somedays, and other days he’s not.”
“I think coming here also gives more education to our children,” added Vicki. “We see families with different disabilities than what we have in our family, and it really broadens their spectrum of physical disabilities and invisible injuries. I think it’s great that everyone here deals with some sort of injury or disability in some way, and nobody feels like the oddball out. All the kids have a parent who is wounded in some way, and they all connect through that.
“There’s good days and bad days, and everybody understands that. You don’t have to justify why you need to stay home or why you need the seat in the back with your back facing the wall because you need to see the door. Everyone understands why you need what you need. You don’t feel like you have to defend yourself.”
What families experience while vacationing in Bethany Beach is not the norm, according to the VIFs.
“When you get out of the military, they shake your hand and they say, ‘Thanks for your service,’ and that’s it,” said Vicki. “They don’t give you any sort of resources for anything — if you need counseling or financial assistance. There’re programs available, but they don’t tell you anything.”
“When we came home, the families were the big ones were waiting for you and have signs. But other than going into the gymnasium on post, where the families are waiting and the post commander welcomes you back, there’s really not much,” Adam said.
“It’s weird. It’s almost like a business trip; you go and you come back. No one really says anything to you about it. The families, of course, put up with the deployments and what goes on during the deployments.”
Vicki said that’s common for those serving active duty and living in a military community.
“Everybody is doing it, so there’s not like a big heroes’ welcome, because your neighbor’s away and your friend’s away.”
“It’s really nothing to people outside the military family,” Adam said, emphasizing he wasn’t trying to speak poorly of civilians. “You get those couple of old Vietnam veterans that come support you because they didn’t get that and want you to feel that. But other than that, it’s really like a business trip — you go, you take care of business, the family welcomes you back, and that’s about it.”
“As time goes by, people don’t even realize we’re still at war,” added Alexandra, “that there are men and women still out there fighting. I think everybody is so united when it first happens, but as time goes, by people start forgetting about it. I think that’s what hurts us families, who still have connections…”
What can civilians do to support those who are fighting for their everyday, basic freedoms? Educate themselves about what it’s like for those in the military before, during and after deployment, said Adam.
“Civilians could educate themselves on what actually happens to a family after military service, after the service member comes back from war. I think there’s not enough education/information out there. I just don’t think people really know what actually goes on.
“I think if people could educate themselves more, there would more of this. I’m not saying there isn’t any support, but I think the support would be better. I think there would be a much better support system.”
“Emulate what Bethany Beach is doing,” added Noe. “Honestly, I’ve never seen a community like this any other place. You can feel it’s genuine — out of the goodness of their heart. You can feel they actually care about you and are here to thank you for the sacrifices you made — not only you, but the families, because the families make sacrifices, too.”
The families thanked the organizers of Operation SEAs the Day, and the community that welcomed them with open arms.
“Just a big thanks to the founder of the organization and all the volunteers, the sponsors. We cannot express how grateful we are,” said Alexandra. “They left us speechless.”
“A thank-you is not enough,” added Noe.
To learn more about Operation SEAs the Day, visit Operationseastheday.org.
Fenwick Island Town Councilwoman Julie Lee is beginning a series of informal Town Talks, starting Friday, Sept. 23, at 5 p.m., after the next town council meeting.
“It’s all for the positive; it’s open to the public,” Lee announced at the August council meeting.
She said it’s a chance for people to discuss issues they feel are important in town. Each talk will have a theme, beginning with “The Beach.”
“I am accountable to the people who elected me,” Lee stated. “I want to listen to the community and find out what is important to them. I want to discuss what our council should be addressing.”
Although citizens are welcome to speak at council meetings during the public participation time, Lee said, she wanted to create “a more open conversation about the issues and provide for more dialogue.”
She said the events are intended as a positive process to share ideas.
“We will record our ideas, suggestions and questions, and there will be follow-up,” Lee stated.
Attendees at the first meeting will also discuss future topics of interest and scheduling. Dates and times of future meetings may vary to allow different people to participate.
This past spring, Indian River High School students collectively took 152 Advanced Placement exams. They blew those exams out of the water, earning “qualifying scores” on 76 percent of those exams, far exceeding the national average of 57 percent. They also won about two dozen scholar awards.
“I’m just so proud of them, to see them put forth that type of effort,” Principal Bennett Murray said of the students and staff. “Some of these teachers had 100 percent pass rates. We had nine AP courses this past year [that exceeded national pass rates], and to put that forth that type of effort — these teachers — all that hard work really paid off.”
High-schoolers who earn a “qualifying score” of 3, 4 or 5 may be eligible to receive college credit, based on the college’s requirements.
For 2015-2016, IR earned high rates of qualifying scores on the following exams, hosted by College Board: biology (20/24), calculus (11/15), English lit (12/12), environmental science (12/12), psychology (15/17), statistics (11/16), U.S. history (19/23), English composition (13/15) and computer science (2/3).
The only test where students didn’t have an overwhelming majority pass rate was due to a last-minute staffing change, Murray noted. Excluding that outlier class, IRHS has an 84 percent pass rate.
IR students exceeded the national average in every other category, earning a 100 percent pass rates in two courses.
Murray complimented his school “full of incredible instructors,” including the 2015-2016 AP instructors, Paula Dieste and Michelle Peeling (English language arts), Danette Mumford and Tony Wilson (math), Mark Sewell and Pat Foley (social studies), Megan Hines, Allison Walt and John Jaskewich (science) Jeff Bunting (coaching for computer science).
This fall, Spanish was added, under direction of Nate Kortvelesy.
The test and awards
The test itself is about patience, pacing and confidence under pressure, said Michelle Peeling, 12th-grade English teacher. Tests vary based on subject matter. In English, “You’re asked to read things that are unfamiliar, but you’re asked to apply skills you’ve learned all year in one test.”
Meanwhile, in history, “Students really have to know facts. They have to remember specific historical events, dates … and notable figures,” she said.
“It’s probably the hardest, most gratifying thing a student can do,” Peeling said.
It’s tough work but can boost confidence to have completed such rigorous work.
All students who survive AP are to be congratulated, the staff said. But there are special awards, including AP Scholar with Honor, granted to students who receive an average score of at least 3.25 on all their AP exams and scores of 3 or higher on four or more exams. This past year, the IRHS students who achieved that recognition were John Douds, Ana Elling, Emma Engel, Cameron Goff, Donald Hattier and Taylor Wayland.
AP Scholar is granted to students who receive scores of 3 or higher on three or more exams, which included Brooke Beam, James Brannon, William Cotter, Sofia DiGirolamo, Brandon Galliher, Erin Haden, Dylan Hudson, Kayla Huebner, Adam Izzo, George Martin, Madison McCabe, Lauren McCoy, Hayden McWilliams, Meghan Paulus and Dallas Tucker.
“I am very proud of these students and their teachers for reaching these heights,” Murray stated.
Most AP courses are senior-level, although some are offered to younger students, to lighten the load on seniors. They’re tough, often requiring summer homework, as with IR’s other honors classes.
“They take ownership in their own learning,” Peeling said. They learn how to learn, cooperate, think critically and think creatively, and that pride shows through on graduation night.
“I think students who elect AP — they’re obviously very engaged and motivated kids,” Peeling said. But they also have strong educational support from their families and classmates.
“Students are expected to be very independent learners. … I’m more of a facilitator in an AP course, versus a teacher. By the time these kids come to me, they know a lot” thanks to their previous teachers, Peeling said. “So my job is to facilitate the learning, give them some new experiences and figure that path out.”
Her own class had a 100 percent AP pass rate, but Peeling credited the other IR teachers who helped build that educational base for the students, introducing them to the rigor of AP and the joy of learning.
“These scores speak of quality teaching all around, and not just that year,” Peeling said. “I think our scores speak of the effort that these students and teachers have put forth their entire career. By the time these students entered school, these students had teachers who pushed them and challenged them,” as well as supportive families at home.
“I can literally start the first day,” Peeling said. “These kids can walk in, and they’re like, ‘OK — I’m ready to go.’” They want to research, talk and learn.
Students can opt-out of the test, but Peeling really expects them to take it (after all, it’s the whole point of having an AP test).
Besides AP, the school offers several types of college-level instruction. Starting in eighth grade, students can be invited to Academic Challenge (AC) math or English classes at Delaware Technical Community College, eventually earning University of Delaware credits.
Or they take one of IR’s newer dual-enrollment college courses, such as Delaware Technical Community College (DTCC) sociology, DTCC anatomy, or University of Delaware literature and composition. At the end of the regular high school class, students get a college transcript and final grade. (Other colleges decide whether to accept those credits or not). The district is subsidizing tuition for those courses, so students may pay a few hundred dollars — a fraction of retail college costs.
With all those credits, some grads are starting college as a second-semester freshman, or even sophomores.
“Our goal is not to get them through high school, but give them a jumpstart on college as well,” said Murray, whose own son can double-major in college because his schedule has enough room.
Even if kids don’t get college credit, they’re still going to college with a solid background that could help them breeze through chemistry or math.
“The experience and the level of rigor in that classroom is going to better prepare you for the next level,” Murray said.
For perhaps the first time, Debbie Botchie was speechless at a Millville Town Council meeting. But she had just been named Delaware’s Town Manager of the Year for 2016.
That’s a high honor among the 57 municipalities and three counties included in Delaware League of Local Governments.
“It is a great honor to be the best of the best for 2016,” said Mayor and nominator Robert “Bob” Gordon.
Botchie was simply stunned at the Sept. 13 announcement.
“Oh, thank you all so much. I’m speechless,” Botchie said.
“I love my job,” she said the next morning. “I love this challenge. … I always said when I started working here, ‘Just look at everything as baby steps.’”
Botchie famously said that she wouldn’t take the job unless she could work closely with the town solicitor and planner on every issue. It’s pricier for an attorney to read every document and attend every meeting, but she’d rather be safe than sorry.
Over the years, she’s helped start the town’s farmers’ market, holiday market, the Great Pumpkin Festival, new municipal/police partnership building, town park, fire company grant money and more.
“The Town of Millville’s slogan is ‘A beautiful way of life.’ … This slogan is continuously proven valid, largely due to Ms. Botchie’s tireless dedication and contributions to the town, as well as the community in which she was born and raised,” Gordon wrote in his nomination. “Her skills proved to be exactly what the Town of Millville needs and continues to need.”
So, after all these years, what’s her proudest moment?
“Everything we’ve done and accomplished sticks out to me. It’s not one thing at all,” she said. “In my opinion, it all goes into one pot for the betterment of the community and property owners.”
With an open-door policy, “I’ve found that if you just sit and talk with people that have issues, and listen to them and try to find an answer or an avenue that they can go, it all works out in the end. It really does,” Botchie said. “We don’t have all the answers, but we try to find them.”
“Ms. Botchie strides every day to make the Town of Millville a better place for the residents and business owners,” Gordon wrote.
Botchie said she’s in good company, learning from other town managers across the state who face challenges of their own.
After 22 years of banking experience and seven years as a paralegal, Botchie was subcontracting for software in Millville Town Hall when she was offered the town manager job. She was already in the office more than other part-time staff, so she was had become familiar with Town operations.
She educated herself about municipal law and dove in.
That was 10 years ago in April.
Known for her blunt but joking manner, Botchie thanked God for her individuality and her parents for instilling a work ethic and desire to do a job well.
“The staff here have the same work ethic as myself, and that’s why it works,” she said. “None of the staff lives in Millville, but they work for the betterment of Millville, because they would want their community to be the same way.”
She also thanked the supportive town council. They may agree to disagree, but they’re all working for the citizens, she said.
“For as long as the Town of Millville has Debbie Botchie as its town manager, I unequivocally know the Town will be the best of hands,” Gordon concluded.
“Right now, I think we’re going to be in good shape,” said Botchie, changing the subject to playground equipment for the new town park.
Her award was announced on the same night of Millville’s 2016-fiscal-year audit report, putting another successful year for Millville in black and white. The TGM Group gave the Town an “unmodified opinion,” the highest level a local government can receive.
Herb Geary of TGM called Millville “fiscally sound, a well-run organization.”
He complimented Botchie, Financial Administrator Lisa Wynn and the town council.
“It’s fun to do an audit when you have cooperation form the staff,” and that attitude starts at the top, Geary said.
The South Bethany Police Department needs to up its pay scale if it wants to remain competitive with surrounding jurisdictions, said Police Chief Troy Crowson. So the town council approved a $13,031 budget amendment to increase all salaries.
Starting salaries for the two lowest jobs on the totem pole will increase by more than $5,000. For instance, a new patrolman would get a raise from $36,248 to $41,324. PFCs’ pay will increase from $38,845 to $44,475.
But the other five ranks will only increase by several hundred dollars each, based on the formula used to create pay scales.
The Sept. 9 vote is retroactive for all of September.
South Bethany isn’t facing a crisis right now, but it is hovering around the bottom of salaries for the surrounding nine towns. September’s adjustment moves them just below the average. They want to prevent good officers from leaving for another town with better pay.
Crowson still has the flexibility to negotiate starting positions with new hires. Employee promotions are based on performance, training and other assessments.
With this change, workman’s compensation rates and pensions will also eventually increase, Town Manager Mel Cusick had said in August.
House height created equal
House height should be measured equally across town, said the committee tasked with investigating the issue. As a result, the town council this week passed the first reading of Ordinance 184-16, regarding height.
The ordinance would allow people to measure their house height from the center of the road or from base flood elevation (BFE), whichever they prefer, for their own benefit.
The goal is consistence, said Councilwoman Sue Callaway, “So no matter the zone you live in, everyone has the opportunity to build a 33-foot structure, which is a reasonable living space for three living levels,” if they so choose.
Currently, most houses can be 32 feet, measured from the center of the road. But in May, the council approved 33 feet of height for some ocean-side houses, measured from BFE. Houses in VE flood zone can be 33 feet above BFE (or 35 feet above BFE when 2 feet of freeboard are included), but no higher than 48 feet NAVD.
The change should allow home owners enough room to build the standard 8-foot ceilings on each floor, despite variations in road elevation.
In June, the Ad-hoc Base Flood Elevation Committee decided that all houses should get similar treatment, especially as the BFE has increased by 1 foot in most of South Bethany’s flood insurance rate maps.
The ordinance states that that all flood zones have 33 feet to build the structure, above the higher of BFE or the street. Two additional feet of freeboard are still encouraged.
Generally, the lower the road, the higher the house. Some houses would be higher than others, but everyone would have about 33 feet of living space.
Callaway said the Town has “come a long way” in understanding BFE and flood zones.
In other South Bethany news:
• Cat Hill is a bumpier place, as speed humps were recently augmented to more effective heights. Mayor Pat Voveris said state Rep. Ron Gray and state Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. are interested in helping to fund a three-way stop in the neighborhood. They were awaiting pricing information from the Delaware Department of Transportation at the Ad Hoc Traffic Committee meeting on Sept. 14 (after Coastal Point press time).
• Public comments have been eliminated from the end of council meetings, but the public may still speak at the beginning of meetings and before council votes on any agenda item. The town council unanimously approved the new rule of procedure.
• Anyone with mosquito complaints can contact Town Hall. The Town will ask the State to do a free pesticide spraying for mosquitos and/or larvae.
• Hurricane Hermine presented no dune damage, but an insignificant amount of sand was lost from the town’s beaches.
• Dust has been blown off the plans for Assawoman Canal Trail, as DNREC has funding to plan the next phase, heading toward South Bethany.
South Bethany’s next council workshop is Thursday, Sept. 22, at 2 p.m.
Although the State of Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts released a report on its inspection of the Town of Frankford’s financials, the town council and some citizens are dissatisfied with the findings.
Property owner Kathy Murray told the council at this month’s regular meeting that, in previous years, the Town was told of “numerous internal control weaknesses,” but nothing was done to address those weaknesses.
“What I find most interesting is the council who served… ignored the state auditor’s recommendations on these identified weaknesses,” she said. “In my opinion, this demonstrates a major lack of integrity.”
Murray also questioned cash transactions within town hall. Resident and former council president Elizabeth Carpenter asked if there was enough evidence found in the report to press charges. Councilman Greg Welch said the Attorney General’s Office found there was not enough evidence to press charges.
“Unfortunately, they didn’t find enough smoking guns. They passed that off as council not showing enough controls,” said Councilman Marty Presley. “If we want to take it further, we’re looking at a substantial financial investment” for an independent forensic audit.
Murray agreed to send her statement to the State on Town letterhead, as the chairperson of the Town’s Budget Committee.
At the September council meeting, the second reading of proposed Ordinance 34, related to amending and establishing the Town’s water rates, was tabled, along with the second reading of proposed Ordinance 35, related to the drilling of wells within the Town.
Council President Joanne Bacon said the ordinances would be tabled until the Town could get clarity on the existing law.
“Hopefully, we’ll have some sort of clarity in the next coming months.”
Presley said the Town should have “good news for everybody by next month” in regard to the Town’s statement of appeal to the State’s Environmental Appeals Board, following the decision of Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary David Small related to well permits issued to Mountaire Farms.
Presley said town officials would be meeting with Mountaire later in the week, and that the Town had support from state Rep. Rich Collins and state Sen. Gerald Hocker.
“They haven’t turned their backs on the Town of Frankford. They’re sympathetic, like everybody else.”
The council’s next monthly meeting will be held Oct. 3 at 7 p.m.
For years, Ocean View residents who live near the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s secondary fire alarm have asked for it to be put out of commission.
Although the hours of the siren’s operation have been reigned in to 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., those who serve on the Town’s Fire Siren Task Force Committee sent a list of questions to the department following a June meeting.
In a letter dated Aug. 15, addressed to Town Manager Dianne Vogel, Fire Chief Doug Scott said the company currently does not schedule shifts for its volunteers, 11 of whom reside in the area of the siren.
“We need all available volunteers to respond to each call when they hear them. This is dependent on them hearing the call.”
Scott noted that the department currently uses pagers, cell phone alerting and fire sirens as methods to alert volunteers of a call.
The alarm is located at 33 Central Avenue, a property owned by Jeff and Kim Bennett, who have given the department written permission to have the siren located and used on their property.
“We strongly maintain our position that the fire siren is a valuable and reliable part of our current alerting system. The safety of the citizens that rely on our response to their emergency is our primary concern.”
“The fact that the fire department does not currently schedule a shift, to me, is a detriment to the ability to have a faster response,” commented Mayor Walter Curran, who noted that having shifts would help reduce the need for the siren.
Curran said he doesn’t think the citizens want the siren removed altogether, as it should be kept and maintained in case of a disaster.
“I still believe, at this point in time, the fire siren has to go. I think it’s antiquated; however, acknowledging the fact that nothing is perfect in this world and we do have electronic issues, to use it as a backup only if those electronic systems don’t work, I think, would be viable.”
Council Members Carol Bodine and Tom Maly agreed with Curran’s assessment.
“Especially in the electronic world we live in,” said Maly.
“It’s a viable compromise. I would hate to see the fire siren to be completely dismantled and put away in a box,” added Councilman Frank Twardzik. “I also think it would be incumbent on the fire department to educate the citizenry that, when you hear the fire siren, it could be a malfunction of the electronic or it could be an actual emergency.”
Councilman Bill Olsen questioned why the department couldn’t use landlines as a backup. Curran said he supposes that would be an option; however, council should remember the department is trying to reach out to volunteers as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
Curran said the Town would reach out to Scott to share their opinion, and go from there.
The council also revisited the topic of sidewalks at their September meeting, following a letter from resident Dana Schaefer, requesting council continue working on bringing them to the town.
“I implore you to continue to pursue the grants and funding to add more sidewalks,” wrote Schaefer. “The health and safety benefits to our neighbors are too great to ignore.”
“We have always known that this is a feel-good project,” said Curran.
Only a handful of properties are keeping the project from moving forward, said Curran. Because of that, the council chose to not sign a letter of commitment to DelDOT, which would require the Town pay an advance of $28,000 prior to starting the design of Phase IV for the Streetscape Improvement Project.
Curran said that perhaps the Town should ask DelDOT to come up with a packet that would give a picture of the properties, so the owners could have a better idea of where the sidewalks would be placed, with the Town signing a letter of intent.
“I think if we got the people that are in the project line to agree to that, it would be worth it to the Town to take the risk,” he said. “We’re still waiting for that to come back. That very may well be a Catch 22 situation… At this point, I don’t see any other clear way to go forward when we have such adamant opposition to it.”
In other Town news:
• The council directed Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader to look into whether or not the Town would be able to pass an ordinance related to the use of drones. Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin said that, from what he’s been told, local municipalities have no standing to enforce such ordinances, because the FAA views the air as a transportation highway.
• The Town was able to procure three radar speed signs. After discussion between McLaughlin and Public Works Director Charles McMullen, it was decided two would be placed on Woodland Avenue between Betts and Hudson Avenues. Speed bumps were also placed to help reduce speeding.
McMullen said the police department will also have access to data collected from the radars so they can tailor their efforts of enforcement to times when speeding and traffic is at its peak.
Twardzik said he commended the department for their aggressive patrol and added that, as a resident, he appreciated their efforts.
There are some jobs that are more dangerous than others — in which men and women put their lives on the line, day in and day out, to protect citizens. This weekend, hundreds of people are getting together to recognize the efforts of those who serve in law enforcement.
On Saturday, Sept. 17, community members are gathering together to hold “Thank A Police Officer Day.” The national event was created in 2012 by the Whole Truth Project, a law firm that is dedicated to protecting innocent police officers wrongfully accused of police misconduct in wrongful conviction lawsuits and other civil-rights cases.
Locally, on Delmarva, the events are being overseen by Andrea Baumann.
“I wanted to bring it to our local level and show support for our officers. We had Thank a Police Officer Day on Delmarva, and a lot of people in the community participated.”
Those who are interested in participating may learn more on the public Facebook page “Thank a Police Officer Day on Delmarva” and get involved directly.
“[Last year] we started having families, local organizations and local businesses say, ‘I want to send them a meal’ or ‘I want to send them a bakery tray,’ and we started having people sign up to adopt entire departments,” said Baumann. “I think we did a little over 40 departments, and we also sent giant jumbo cards signed by our communities to Baltimore.”
This year, Baumann said, the community is hoping to branch out to reach all counties throughout Delmarva. Team captains have adopted various departments throughout the region to ensure every officer is shown support.
“This whole thing would not work without the involvement of so many people across our area,” she said, noting they hope to recognize at least 60 departments. “If you don’t have one teacher making cards in their kids’ art class, if you don’t have the Seaford Young Marines adopting a department, or a local business that puts out box for people to drop cards into — without all of those things, this doesn’t work.”
Baumann said each team captain is given the reins to organize their own way to recognize law enforcement.
“For the most part, everyone has organized their own plans for the department, and it ranges. It’s not about money, it’s not about how much you want to spend, because people are showing their respect and love for law enforcement in different ways,” she said.
“Some people have giant scrolls that members of the community are signing that the departments will then put up in their buildings. Some people are sending over meals. We have a restaurant in Ocean City (Md.) that will be hosting a breakfast for a local department.”
It doesn’t matter how support is show, said Baumann, just that it’s shown.
“We have a lot of different kinds of expressions of support, but the main goal is to kind of wake up and realize we have a very dedicated group of men and women who go out. They’re a very small percentage of the population, I think, that can go out and really do that job. There are many of us who wish we could be a cop, but really couldn’t.
“Especially with all that’s happened in the last year or two, there’s been so much backlash. We just over and over see the kindness of regular ordinary police officers and the dedication to the community.”
Baumann said she does not have any family who serve in law enforcement but gained her respect for the position from her father.
“My father came here from another country and went through the process to become a legal citizen. He has always had a very deep respect for our society in the United States, how it is run, and our veterans and law enforcement.
“At an early age, I remember him saying, ‘No matter what an officer asks you, you treat them with respect. They are the law and they deserve respect.’ Then, when I went over to his country, where he immigrated from, which is now a communist country, you realize that you have no rights in a place like that.”
For those who wish to do something for their local department but don’t know what to do, Baumann recommended writing a letter of thanks. As far as showing thanks in the form of food, she suggested contacting the department first, as some have refused homemade baked goods due to safety concerns.
“I think it’s a really good thing when a family goes into a police station and says, ‘Thank you,’” she said. “I encourage everyone to do it — walk up to a police officer when you see them, pay for their meal, or shake their hand and say you support them, say you appreciate what they do.”
Every bit of support makes a difference, said Baumann, so citizens should take a moment out of their Saturday to show their appreciation of the men and women in blue.
“The more we focus on that, the more we will become a society. It’s community-oriented, it’s community-driven. This is a group effort all across the area; everyone can get involved. We encourage everybody to step up and do something to show their respect and support for law enforcement.”
For more information regarding Thank a Police Officer Day on Delmarva, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1188110131260986.
Primary elections were held earlier this week to determine what candidates would represent their political parties in the November general election.
Democrat Lisa Rochester won the Democratic spot for Delaware’s lone representative in Congress, with 43.76 percent of the vote. She will be running against Republican Hans Reigle, Green Party candidate Mark Perri and Libertarian Scott Gesty.
Colin Bonini won the Republican primary for governor with 69.88 percent of the vote. He is running against Democrat John Carney, who gave up his Congressional seat to run, Green Party candidate Andrew Groff and Libertarian Sean Goward.
Bethany Hall-Long won the Democratic primary for the lieutenant governor nominee’s spot, with 29.09 percent of the vote (six candidates divvied up the votes in this primary race). She will be running against Republican La Mar Gunn.
Trinidad Navarro won against incumbent Karen Stewart for the Democratic nominee for state insurance commissioner, with 54.92 percent of the vote, while Jeffrey Cragg won as the Republican candidate, with 51.63 percent of the vote.
On the local level, Sussex County Councilman Sam Wilson won his primary against Lisa Briggs, with 55.55 percent of the vote. With no challengers from other parties, Wilson will continue to serve District 2.
Incumbent and Sussex County Council President Michael Vincent filed to run for District 1. He was unopposed in the primary.
Democrat Leslie Ledogar was the only person to file to serve County Council District 3, a seat that is currently held by fellow Democrat Joan Deaver.
For all election results, visit http://elections.delaware.gov/results/html/election.shtml.
Indian River School District officials said this week that the blue bracelets making their way around Indian River High School on Sept. 19 were nothing more than a bad joke.
Several students were distributing blue rubber bracelets printed with the words “Kill yourself” and a swastika, according to district officials.
“I think there were three kids who ordered these things — like 200 of them. I think they were trying to be funny,” said IRSD Assistant Superintendent Mark Steele.
The students reportedly dispersed bracelets to other classmates. Counselors and administrative staff members then spent several hours collecting the bracelets back. They also met with the students involved and their parents, Steele said.
“We wanted to make sure there was nothing deeper here than just a couple kids making a dumb mistake,” he said.
There was “absolutely no meaning to it at all,” Steele asserted, noting that the counselors spoke with the teenagers, just to be sure. Most students laughed it off as they turned the bracelets in, Steele said, and the day ended well.
“We don’t have anything parents should be concerned about,” he added. “They got ahead of it pretty quickly. I would refer to it as a poor-taste joke.”
It can be frustrating for schools trying to promote a safe atmosphere, since “schools try to do everything possible, and then you just get companies that’ll print anything,” Steele said.
However, counselors are there for any student having trouble or feeling depressed.
“If there’s anything there, anybody feels the need to talk to a counselor — by all means, talk to a counselor.” Parents with questions or concerns are being encouraged to call their student’s principal or an assistant principal.
Online resources are available by visiting www.irsd.net/home, selecting the “Parents and Students” tab, and clicking “Bullying and Suicide Prevention Resources.”
The Delaware State Police Explorers program consists of young men and women who have an interest in law enforcement.
The group participates in fingerprinting young children at community events; works the missing children’s area at the State Fair; and many more community events. They also offer opportunities for the National Law Enforcement Exploring Conference and the Federal Leadership Academies, as well as the Delaware State Police Cadet Program.
The Explorers program teaches a variety of police procedures, including fingerprinting, evidence collection and patrol procedures.
“We strive to lead them down the right path and stand as positive role models. We also plan to instill leadership, responsibility, integrity and commitment,” DSP representatives noted.
Every Explorer Post is overseen and run by Delaware State Police troopers.
Minimum qualifications include a 2.0 grade point average, and Explorers must be mature, clean-cut, as well as clean-shaven, with no criminal convictions. This is not a discipline program. The age range is 14 to 20 and at least in ninth grade. The program consists of high school and college students.
Open houses for the program are planned at DSP troops statewide this month, with the local open houses for Troop 4 (Georgetown) and Troop 7 (Lewes) at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 27, at Sussex Central High School in Georgetown.
All interested students should be prepared to submit a $50 program registration fee at the open house. Checks or cash are accepted. They will also need a copy of last year’s grades. For those younger than 18, a parent or guardian must be present to sign the registration.