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Articles on this Page
- 12/08/16--12:45: _Nativity Festival t...
- 12/08/16--12:53: _Agenda – December 9...
- 12/08/16--13:17: _Ocean View to celeb...
- 12/08/16--13:29: _O’Mara: Everyone ne...
- 12/08/16--13:36: _School concerts off...
- 12/08/16--13:42: _Missing grave decor...
- 12/08/16--13:44: _Organizers break gr...
- 12/08/16--13:53: _Operation delivers ...
- 12/08/16--14:03: _IRSD denies allegat...
- 12/15/16--12:15: _‘It’s the classical...
- 12/15/16--13:29: _County council memb...
- 12/15/16--13:31: _Barn Hill Preserve ...
- 12/15/16--13:33: _Nominations being a...
- 12/15/16--13:35: _Centuries-old event...
- 12/15/16--13:46: _Shining a light on ...
- 12/15/16--13:48: _Fundraiser aims to ...
- 12/15/16--13:53: _Construction audit ...
- 12/15/16--13:54: _Fenwick leaves vote...
- 12/15/16--13:56: _Frankford discusses...
- 12/22/16--12:22: _Mountaire continues...
- 12/08/16--12:45: Nativity Festival to showcase the heart of Christmas
- 12/08/16--12:53: Agenda – December 9, 2016
- 12/08/16--13:17: Ocean View to celebrate season at the park
- 12/08/16--13:29: O’Mara: Everyone needs clean water, but it takes a movement
- 12/08/16--13:36: School concerts offering holiday music to community
- 12/08/16--13:42: Missing grave decorations trouble families, volunteers
- 12/08/16--13:44: Organizers break ground on groundbreaking garden
- 12/08/16--13:53: Operation delivers holiday treats to soldiers overseas
- 12/08/16--14:03: IRSD denies allegations in discrimination lawsuit
- 12/15/16--12:15: ‘It’s the classical “Cinderella” with a twist’
- 12/15/16--13:29: County council members bid farewell to Deaver
- 12/15/16--13:31: Barn Hill Preserve looking at location in Ocean View
- 12/15/16--13:33: Nominations being accepted for Selbyville Town Council
- 12/15/16--13:35: Centuries-old event wins ‘Best Event’ tourism awardx
- 12/15/16--13:46: Shining a light on local crime: Selbyville approves new lights
- 12/15/16--13:48: Fundraiser aims to help family of local fifth-grader
- 12/15/16--13:53: Construction audit shows flaws in Sussex Tech procedures
- 12/15/16--13:54: Fenwick leaves voter codes unchanged
- 12/15/16--13:56: Frankford discusses water plant maintenance, fluoride
- 12/22/16--12:22: Mountaire continues to feed those in need during the holidays
Away in a manger,
no crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus
laid down his sweet head,
The stars in the bright sky
looked down where he lay,
The little Lord Jesus
asleep on the hay.
Next weekend, the Ocean View Presbyterian Church will open its doors for its annual Nativity Festival — inviting the public to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
The festival was started a few years ago by parishioner Elsie Young, after her sister had attended a similar festival in Pennsylvania.
“She said you ought to do this at your church,” recalled Young. “So, at our church’s Christmas dinner, I said, ‘I have these crèches… I’ll bring them and set them up.’ Well, everyone thought it was such a good idea. From that I said, ‘Well, let’s do it for the community.’”
The Nativity Festival will be held on Saturday, Dec. 10, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the church hall. Those who attend the free festival may enjoy punch and cookies, Christmas carols and 125 crèches on display with each one’s story.
“The first year was all from our church. Then other people asked if they could bring theirs,” said Young. “One lady bought hers… They lived on a houseboat when her children were little. She said, ‘It’s so tiny, but it’s all we could have on the boat.’
“Another man, he told the story that his dad owned a shoe store in the town where they lived. Beside the shoe store there was a 5-and-10. And, when he had 10 cents, he would buy a piece for his nativity, and they actually still have the tags. The camels were 25 cents. One lady brings her Madonna that her priest gave them when they were married.”
Young herself has collected crèches over the years but didn’t grow up with one under her family’s Christmas tree. When she and her husband, George, married, they were given a wooden nativity by her sister, and 58 years later, the crèche is still set up every holiday season.
“My sister lived in a little town… There is a Polish man who would pay the kids to go out after Christmas and collect the old Christmas trees and bring them to him. He would take those old Christmas trees and hand-carve them with a penknife and sell them.”
Another crèche in her home was made by her husband and another by her brother-in-law. She has a small silver one that could fit in the palm of her hand and one carved out of a nut from a palm tree.
Young said that, over the years, the number of crèches has increased, along with the number of people who attend.
“We do this as a gift to the community,” she said, simply. “This is our gift to you, to start the Christmas season.
“It’s universal… They may not all look the same, but the message is the same. I think, for Christians especially, this is the beginning of our year, with the birth that gave us our Christ, which is the basis of our religion. I think because the crèches are so different and unique — everyone has their own idea of what a crèche is — that their unique and interesting. They’re good discussion-starters.”
Young said the church enjoys hosting the festival, to help remind people of the true meaning of Christmas.
“Because we get so busy during the holiday season, it’s important for people to take the time to look at the different crèches… to talk about them. It’s a whole experience and people look forward to it.”
The church has a guestbook in which they invite attendees to share their names and thoughts:
“I’m so grateful you shared the display. What a way to start the Christmas season.”
“No one could attend and not smile.”
“What a wonderful way to celebrate the birth of our Savior.”
While Young hasn’t attended any other nativity festivals, she is happy Ocean View Presbyterian is able to share their Christmas spirit with the community.
“There are a lot of parts of the church that become part of this festival — the women make the cookies, somebody makes the punches, somebody greets… There are a lot of aspects. It takes everybody; it takes a village.
“You can’t do it justice by talking about it. There’s nothing else like it around. People look forward to it as part of the preparation for Christmas. That’s kind of a neat thing a neat thing.”
Ocean View Presbyterian Church is located at 67 Central Avenue in Ocean View. For more information, call (302) 539-3455.
• The Bethany Beach Town Council has canceled its December meeting.
• Bethany Beach Town Hall will be closed Dec. 23-26 for Christmas.
• The Bethany Beach Board of Adjustment will meet on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 10 a.m. at town hall to consider an application for a variance, filed by attorney Timothy G. Willard for property owners Paul and Mary Lee Anderson, for Block 15, Lot 23, at 223 Ocean View Parkway, in the R-1 Zoning District, seeking a variance from Chapter 425, Section 425-14 Lots fronting on two or more streets and Appendix 3, Table of Dimensional Requirements footnote (b), for a variance at the west side yard from the required 15 foot setback and a variance from the required front yard for a second floor addition.
The existing dwelling currently encroaches into the west side yard from approximately 5 feet at the front corner of the dwelling to 10.7 feet at the rear corner. The existing dwelling also encroaches 6.5 feet into the required front yard. The application may be inspected in the office of the Building Inspector, 214 Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach, Delaware, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except scheduled holidays.
• The Town of Bethany Beach’s recent survey regarding specific design elements for the proposed “Central Park” has been completed and tabulated. To see the results, visit http://www.townofbethanybeach.com/DocumentCenter/View/2398. To see the survey as presented, including illustrations, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Preview/?sm=BMy_2BRLkGbCwB4ov3Q9FwB4K2vPI.... (No further survey responses are being accepted.)
The public can view on the Town website the presentation by Oasis Design Group to the Bethany Beach Town Council, soliciting input for preliminary concept development for the features and organization of “Central Park,” at the intersection of Routes 1 and 26. The URLs for the four presentation segments are http://www.townofbethanybeach.com/mediacenter.aspx?VID=30 (and 31, 32 and 33).
• Bethany Beach’s pay-to-park season ended Sept. 15 and will return on May 15, 2017.
• Prohibitions on dogs on the beach and boardwalk in Bethany Beach ended on Sept. 30 and will resume on May 15, 2017.
• The regular meetings of the Bethany Beach Town Council and Planning Commission are now being broadcast, with video, over the Internet via the Town’s website at www.townofbethanybeach.com, under Live-Audio Broadcasts. Both meetings are at town hall.
• The town council’s next regular meeting is Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m. The agenda includes a police department expansion presentation and possible vote to approve a $3,500 soil boring test and $29,000 for engineering and design drawings; Canal Drive street light initiative; 2016 pavement management study; a sea-level rise, flooding and adaptation planning presentation; a possible vote on drone-use policies; and more.
• Recycling is collected biweekly, continuing on Friday, Dec. 9.
• The Traffic Ad-hoc Committee will meet Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 1 p.m.
• Yard waste is picked up biweekly, continuing on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
• South Bethany is again forming a plunge team for Exercise Like the Eskimos on Jan. 1. Register at www.qrcf.org on the “Events” page for the “South Bethany” team and contact email@example.com for details.
• Prohibitions on dogs on the beach ended Oct. 15 and will resume May 15, 2017.
• The Town of South Bethany’s website is located at www.southbethany.org.
• The town council has two days of executive sessions, on Dec. 8 and Dec. 9, regarding personnel matters, as well as a possible public vote on related issues.
• The Board of Adjustment will meet Friday, Dec. 9, at 2 p.m. for re-organization, appointment of positions and review of rules. A 2:30 p.m. public hearing will be held regarding Fenwick Limited Partnership’s request for variance of a side setback at 1606 Coastal Highway, for a 2-foot encroachment for the installation of an enclosed wheelchair lift. Plans may be viewed at Town Hall during business hours.
• The town council’s regular meeting on Friday, Dec. 9, at 3:30 p.m. Public hearings will begin at 3:15 p.m. to accept comments on two proposed ordinances. There is a proposed amendment to Town Code, Chap. 160 “Zoning,” to increase the number of allowable bathrooms in a single-family dwelling from four bathrooms to five full-bathrooms and one half-bathroom. There is a proposed amendment to Chap. 160-8(9)(b)[a] to require a fence between the rear of commercial properties and adjacent residential properties.
The meeting agenda also includes Charter Chap. 9 “Qualification of Voters” (first reading); Code Chapter 61-1C “Utility & Bldg. Const.” (first reading, re: building permits); Chapter 120 “Property Maintenance” (second reading, re: drainage plans); Chapter 160-2 “Zoning” (second reading, re: residential bathrooms); Chapter 160-8A(9)(b)(1)(a) “Zoning” (second reading, regarding fences at businesses); 2016 Town Audit; 2016 Fenwick Flicks Summer Review; approve Board of Adjustments rules and chairman; Go Melvo 2017 contract; and more.
• Town hall is a Toys for Tots drop-off location. People can drop off new, unwrapped toys in the box in the lobby to help a less-fortunate child smile at Christmas.
• Town Hall will be closed Dec. 23 to 26 for the Christmas holiday.
• The Charter & Ordinance Committee will meet Friday, Jan. 3, at 9:30 a.m.
• The Environmental Committee will meet Thursday, Jan 12, at 2:30 p.m.
• The Business Development Committee will meet Thursday, Jan. 19, at 2 p.m.
• The Town of Ocean View’s Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/townofoceanview.
• The Ocean View town website is located at www.oceanviewde.com.
• The town council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m.
• The town council’s next workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 7 p.m.
• The Millville town website is located at www.millville.delaware.gov.
• The Millsboro town website is located at www.millsboro.org.
• The Dagsboro Christmas Parade is set for Thursday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. with floats, music and Santa Claus. The parade route is from Indian River High School (Clayton Avenue) to the Dagsboro Fire Hall (Clayton Street). The rain date is Friday, Dec. 9. Details are available on Facebook or by contacting DagsboroChristmasParade@gmail.com.
• The town council’s next regular meeting will be Monday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m., at Bethel U.M. Church.
• There was no town council election on Dec. 3. The seats up for election will be filled by incumbents Norwood Truitt and William Chandler.
• The Town of Dagsboro website is at www.townofdagsboro.com.
• Curbside recycling is picked up every other Tuesday, continuing Dec. 13.
• The Town of Frankford website is located at www.frankfordde.us.
• The town council’s next regular meeting is Monday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m.
• Curbside recycling is collected every other Wednesday, continuing Dec. 21.
• Bulk trash is collected on the first Wednesday of each month. Households may put out one bulk item, such as a television, each month.
• The Town website is at www.TownOfSelbyville.com.
Indian River School District
• The Nov. 22 public referendum to address a current-expense issue with a proposed 49-cent increase per $100 of property tax assessment was defeated by a margin of 20 votes among more than 6,000 cast.
• The Indian River School District’s Special Education Task Force will host parent focus group meetings on Wednesdays, Feb. 8, 2017, at Georgetown Middle School; and March 22, 2017, at Millsboro Middle School. All of the meetings are at 6 p.m.
• Elementary school progress reports will be issued Dec. 9.
• Parent conferences will be held from 4 to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 (special schools), Dec. 13 (middle schools), Dec. 14 (high schools) and Dec. 15 (elementary schools).
• Committee meetings are scheduled for Monday, Dec. 12, at the Indian River School District Educational Complex in Selbyville: Policy at 4 p.m.; Curriculum at 5 p.m.; Buildings & Grounds at 6 p.m.; and Finance at 7:30 p.m.
• The IRSD Board of Education will meet Monday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. at Sussex Central High School.
• There is no school for students Dec. 26 to Jan. 2.
• The school district website is www.irsd.net.
• The district website is at www.irsd.net.
• Agendas, minutes and audio, as well as live streaming of all County meetings, may be found online at www.sussexcountyde.gov.
State of Delaware
• Continuing work on the Route 26 Mainline Improvements Project, DelDOT has resumed daytime lane closures. Motorists are being encouraged to use detour routes to avoid delays when lane closures are in place.
Overall, the 4-mile-long project includes the reconstruction of Route 26 (Atlantic Avenue) from Clarksville to the Assawoman Canal and widened the existing two-lane roadway to include two 11-foot travel lanes with 5-foot shoulder/bike lanes and a 12-foot wide continuous shared center left-turn lane. George & Lynch has been building the 4-plus-mile project from Assawoman Canal in Bethany Beach to St. George’s U.M. Church in Clarksville.
Regular Route 26 project meetings have concluded. The public can get email updates from DelDOT via the project page for the Route 26 project at www.deldot.gov. For additional Route 26 project information or concerns, residents and businesses can contact Ken Cimino at (302) 616-2621, or Kenneth.firstname.lastname@example.org or at 17 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 2, in Ocean View.
Aiming to spread holiday cheer, the Town of Ocean View will be holding its annual Holiday in the Park this weekend. The public is being invited to join in the festivities at John West Park on Saturday, Dec. 10, from 3 to 5 p.m.
“The event will feature face-painting. … We’re going to have refreshments, and there will be a station for children to write letters to Santa,” said Ocean View Town Manager Dianne Vogel.
With the help of the Millville Volunteer Fire Company, Santa Claus will arrive by firetruck to meet with children prior to the tree-lighting, which will cap the event at 5 p.m.
“It’s quite a fanfare when the police escort the fire truck with Santa,” Vogel said with a laugh.
Ocean View Mayor Walter Curran will officially light the tree in the park, which will be followed by the singing of Christmas carols, led by the St. Ann Catholic Church’s choir, accompanied by Councilwoman Carol Bodine on keyboard.
“We’ve had several hundred people attend last year. We were fortunate two years in a row to have temperatures in the 60s,” said Vogel, adding that the Town hopes to continue that trend of good weather this weekend.
In the past, the Ocean View Historical Society has had its historic complex open during the event for attendees to visit; however, this year the buildings will not be open to the public. Vogel noted that they will be decorated for the season, and visitors may still walk around and view the historic buildings.
Vogel said the Town is pleased to offer community-oriented events such as Holiday in the Park to its residents and visitors alike.
“It brings our community together and allows people to share time together with each other,” she said. “A lot of folks who come to these events don’t really know a thing about Ocean View. So it gives them a sense about our community, what we do and what we can offer for the people that live here in Ocean View.”
John West Park is located on West Avenue in Ocean View. For more information, visit www.oceanviewde.com or call (302) 539-9797.
Clean water isn’t a matter of environmentalists versus business versus farming. Everyone benefits, so clean water has to be considered “a value,” not a political issue, said Collin O’Mara, president/CEO of the National Wildlife Federation and former head of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control.
“There are a whole lot of things we could do if we were a lot more collaborative about it,” O’Mara said at the Nov. 30 Love Your Inland Bays Dinner, hosted by the Inland Bays Foundation.
Clean water must be considered an economic driver, not a nuisance, he said. For example, Realtors and builders rely on a healthy vision of the bays, which are currently “Look, but don’t touch,” as many of the waterways aren’t safe for swimming or fishing.
“You can’t have a thriving … community, unless you have access to clean water,” O’Mara said. “We know folks want to be close to those resources.”
It’s hard work, he noted. It’s more than lobbying for funding or a single bill. It takes a movement. But there is hope. Water projects are among the few bi-partisan bills moving on Capitol Hill, O’Mara said. Politically, people on the left and right care about water and resilience.
“It’s getting to the point where the Chamber [of Commerce] is as concerned about inland bays as the five-star-rated beaches,” he said.
Delaware’s small enough to fix the problem, and rational enough to have intelligent conversations about it, said O’Mara, who has visited every U.S. state and territory in the last two years.
The human population of the inland bays watershed has doubled, as people have become smitten with Sussex County’s beaches, bays, low taxes and general quality of life.
“How do we take that thinking and transfer it to love for the inland bays?” O’Mara said.
When Great Lakes funding was threatened, O’Mara said, businesspeople, politicians and environmentalists rose up together in such a wave of protest that they received apologies for the mere suggestion of funding cuts.
That kind of power makes things happen, O’Mara said. It starts as a bipartisan, grassroots effort.
Across the country, the non-partisan efforts are moving mountains, O’Mara said, but playing the blame game gets people nowhere fast.
Asked how agriculture can be included in the clean-water movement, O’Mara said, “Everyone here should attempt to talk to farmers,” and learn about their desires and their increasing challenges.
“Farmers are being squeezed on every side,” O’Mara said. “You have no idea what they’re going though. … Folks want to do the right thing for the most part, but they don’t want to cut their bottom line.”
He said farmers need support in the face of issues such as falling commodity prices if they’re going to support other causes.
The dinner’s keynote speaker was once the nation’s youngest cabinet secretary, as the head of Delaware’s DNREC.
O’Mara admitted that he had left some decisions in his successor’s hands because he was waiting for better technology to catch up to the projects. He also admitted he didn’t do enough groundwork, talking with businesses on various issues. He now encourages more legwork and small group conversations. He said he learned from state Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. (R-20th), “Don’t try to impose your will before you talk to folks.”
However, regulation is still needed sometimes to get things done. He reminded people of what water quality was before the Clean Water Act of 1977.
O’Mara said he still worries about property setbacks, the Rehoboth Beach wastewater outfall and other issues. There’s still much work to do, he said. “If we’re not more resilient, we could have a storm that impacts the inland bays for a generation.”
Recognizing friends of the environment
O’Mara was one of many special guests at the Love Your Inland Bays dinner in Lewes.
“My dream was that, in one special moment, we would have the whole environmental community together,” said IBF President Nancy Cabrera-Santos, proud to see that hope realized that night.
The nonprofit Inland Bays Foundation’s goals are advocacy, education and networking in making Sussex County’s waterways swimmable and fishable again.
Three Environmental Awards were presented to environmentalists who have made a contribution in Delaware. This year’s winners were current DNREC Secretary David Small, U.S. Rep. John Carney (D-Del.) (now Delaware’s governor-elect) and state Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-11th).
“This award is something that is shared with these guys — everyone in this room and the outstanding people that work in Dover for [DNREC],” said Small.
Having grown up in Worcester County, Md., he said he recommends everyone visit Public Landing, where he learned about crabbing, clamming, marsh grass and water quality.
Beginning a 28-year career at DNREC “was like being at home in many ways, and so these bays continue to have a special place in my heart,” Small said.
Brenna Goggin of the Delaware Nature Society accepted Townsend’s award on his behalf. She praised his enthusiasm and willingness to sponsor a water bill in an election year, despite its being doomed from the start. Eventually, he helped start a 35-member Clean Water Task Force instead, which should be releasing its final report very soon.
“I just think he’s a champion for those that need it most and is incredibly intelligent, has an open-door policy and is approachable, and is a real presence in Legislative Hall,” Goggin said.
O’Mara accepted on behalf of Carney, praising his bipartisan efforts over the years.
Children across the land have been preparing for the upcoming slate of holiday concerts almost as diligently as they’ve worked on their lists for Santa. Horns are tooting, drummers are drumming and singers are tuning their pipes in anticipation of the chance to shine in front of their families and friends and spread some holiday cheer while they’re at it.
Whether a student is in his first year of band or a senior honing skills for college auditions, holiday concerts are much-anticipated. Most schools are holding their concerts in the next 10 days. Admission to all school concerts is free, and the public is welcome. Community members are being encouraged to check out the budding talents at their area schools, in fact.
“They’re excited to have community members come,” said Chantelle Ashford, choir director at Indian River High School. “The kids love performing for big audiences.”
Indian River will offer two holiday shows: its Band Concert will be Thursday, Dec. 15, and its Choir Concert will be Friday, Dec. 16. The performances will offer showcases for a number of Indian River’s musical groups, including the Clarinet Choir, the Brass Choir, the Jazz Band, the a capella group River Rhythms and the Women’s Chorus, Ashford said.
Sussex Central High School will hold its Holiday Showcase on Wednesday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m., according to band director Ben Ables. A new feature at Central’s concert this year will be dance performances by senior students who have choreographed their own dances as part of their coursework this year.
Also at Sussex Central, the curtain will rise on the students’ production of “Cinderella” on Friday, Dec. 16, at 7 p.m. Performances will also be given on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Tickets for “Cinderella” cost $8 for general admission or $5 for students, senior citizens and military members.
Sussex Technical High School’s Concert Choir will once again hold its Winter Concert at Epworth United Methodist Church in Rehoboth Beach, on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. The concert will include music from composers including Haydn, Elgar and Britten, as well as some holiday favorites. Special guests from the Southern Delaware Chorale will be performing as well, according to choir director Sarah Rose. The concert is free to attend.
Sussex Academy in Georgetown will hold two holiday concerts: its Middle School Choir will perform on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. and the High School Choir will perform on Wednesday, Dec. 14, also at 7 p.m.
With all the upcoming concerts being prepared by hard-working students (and don’t forget those dedicated choir and band directors), there’s bound to be one to fit even the most harried shopper’s schedule:
Selbyville Middle School’s Winter Band Concert, 7 p.m.
Phillip Showell Elementary School Holiday Concert, 6:30 p.m.
Long Neck Elementary School Winter Concert, 6:30 p.m.
Sussex Central High School Holiday Showcase, 7 p.m.
Selbyville Middle School Winter Chorus Concert, 7 p.m.
Georgetown Elementary School Holiday Concert, 7 p.m.
Indian River High School Band Concert, 7 p.m.
Georgetown Middle School Band and Chorus Concert, 7 p.m.
Indian River High School Chorus Concert, 7 p.m.
Sussex Technical High School Concert Choir Winter Concert, 7 p.m. at Epworth United Methodist Church, Rehoboth Beach
East Millsboro Elementary School Holiday Choral Concert, 7 p.m.
Lord Baltimore Elementary School Fifth Grade Winter Concert, 6:30 p.m., at Indian River High School
North Georgetown Elementary School Winter Concert, 7 p.m.
Millsboro Middle School Holiday Concert, 7 p.m.
(All concerts will be held at the schools, except as noted.)
It was a beautiful ceremony at the Millsboro veterans’ cemetery. Sally Kubicki and her volunteers had just finished decorating the graves with Christmas greenery.
But an hour later, from inside the chapel, Kubicki was stunned to learn that someone was removing the wreaths. Families would return to the gravestones to discover the decorations were already gone.
Were the decorations taken home, or placed on another grave? To the volunteers and families, it almost doesn’t matter. The missing decorations were a memorial to someone else.
“I had a lady from Milford call me, and she said, ‘Sally, mine always disappears,’” Kubicki recalls. “I said, ‘I’m so sorry. I can’t tell you it’s going to be there.’ Now it’s getting bad. I don’t know what it is. I never would have thought people would do that.”
Kubicki said she’s be angry, too, if a thief stole decorations she’d purchased for a husband’s grave.
Teresa Townsend has grandparents buried in Millsboro. Brand new decorations were stolen from their graves, too, and it hurts the memory of loved ones.
So Kubicki and Townsend created a page of cemetery etiquette tips: “Remember, this is a place where families come to visit and mourn their loved ones. You should always be respectful of those around you. You have no idea what that person is going through.”
“Don’t remove something that’s been placed at a gravesite that’s been laid by family member or comrade,” Townsend said, noting items such as flowers, coins, stones, flags or other decorations. Additionally, visitors shouldn’t yell, play loud music or leave trash behind. Children should be taught respectful conduct, as well.
Ultimately, it’s basic respect, the pair said.
Cemetery caretakers aren’t on the premises 24/7. They do cleanup but rely on patrons to report major problems.
“It has happened in the past. People have complained that things are missing,” said Gerald Mitchell of Dagsboro’s Redmen Cemetery. “But cemeteries aren’t fenced in and locked. People go and come at their leisure. If something goes missing, we don’t know who [was involved].”
It might be a mischief-maker or someone looking to make a quick buck by reselling grave memorials.
“Theft is theft, when you steal something from somebody, when you steal something from a family. They put it out there for a purpose,” Mitchell said.
In Selbyville, Joe Madara is a cemetery caretaker and chief of records at Red Men’s Wissahickon Tribe No. 20.
“At my cemetery, no, I’ve not seen it,” said Madara. “We’ve been very fortunate at the Red Men’s cemetery in Selbyville that we’ve had very little vandalism that I’m aware, or of people stealing things.” Yes, issues do arise, he said, “But it’s not been bad.”
About six years, ago some gravestones were so badly vandalized that they had to be replaced, Madara said.
“I feel bad about that. It’s not my responsibility,” he said of the resulting cost and effort. “It is the family’s responsibility.”
When Madara sells a cemetery plot, his responsibility is maintenance, such as grass-cutting.
“When someone wants to be buried there, I sell [or] grant them the right for eternal rest or interment,” he said. “I grant them a plot and deed to them. This is where the remains of this family shall stay.”
Wind and weather can also sweep flowers from a grave. Families should “fasten them down good, so they don’t blow away,” said Mitchell.
When things blow away from graves, the caretakers don’t know which grave they came from, so they generally can’t be put back.
Mitchell is the treasurer of Dagsboro Redmen Memorial Cemetery Inc., which took over the cemetery duties about 15 years ago. Most area cemeteries are non-profit, he said. When people purchase a cemetery plot, cemetery boards must carefully manage that money and interest for roadway and grass maintenance.
At the same time, surviving family members must take some responsibility for graveside maintenance.
“We have a set of rules and regulations that people are supposed to abide by when they buy a plot,” Mitchell said.
For instance, family members might wrongly use trinkets and toys; fail to remove rotting flowers; fill the lot with stone; or install improper markers, such as wooden markers that will disintegrate.
Ultimately, Mitchell said, caretakers “try to get people oblige to by the rules, keep a nice-looking cemetery.”
It all started in 2011 with a small cocktail party and a meeting at the library. Now, the governor and Delaware’s First Lady are attending groundbreakings and the endowment is growing for the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek.
On the cool, sunny morning of Dec. 1, most of the leaves had fallen in Dagsboro, obscuring the ground where flowers will reappear next spring, and where miles of green briar have already been heaved out.
“The Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek will be a world-class, inspirational, educational and sustainable public botanic garden in southern Delaware, created for the benefit and enjoyment of all,” their mission promises.
The 37-acre site epitomizes Delmarva’s eastern shore, with waterfront, freshwater bay, rolling fields and woods. It will open in 2019, with the first round of plantings and structures. Eventually, it will include a visitor center, pavilion, outdoor classrooms, demonstration gardens, ecofriendly parking, wedding and special-event site and more. ADA-accessible trails will lead into the Woodlands, which end at a waterfront view. Famed Dutch designer Piet Oudolf will also create a native meadowland.
Volunteers, fundraising make it possible
Planting has already begun, with help from volunteers, including local garden clubs.
Peter Giaquinto paused from guiding Woodlands visitors on Dec. 1 to talk about his experience in volunteering.
“I got hooked. Who wouldn’t want to spend time out here all day?” he said. “It’s spectacular.”
Not having the greenest of thumbs, he said he was delighted to pick up some gardening tips along the way. He also praised the DBG organizers.
“Just trying to come up with the funding for a project of this scope is daunting,” Giaquinto said. “The board — they’re all great people. They donate their time. It’s a phenomenal effort.”
Board Vice President Ray Sander thanked the volunteers and board members, past and present:
“A project like this is a marathon, and you have to pass the baton to the next group of people” to keep the energy up, he said.
“This is marking the actual physical start of this project. We have worked so hard to get here, just to start,” said Board President Sue Ryan of the groundbreaking, adding that she felt “goosebumps” to see so many visitors onsite. “The fact that so many people are here from near and far shows the importance of the gardens.”
The Longwood Foundation will be donating a full $750,000 to the project, based on DBG having raised another $500,000.
“I think that grant really inspired everybody and put this cause on the map,” said First Lady Carla Markell, chair of DBG Advisory Board. “This [public/private partnership] is what Delaware is all about.”
The Longwood challenge worked as planned, giving significant funds to a group that proved its hard work and dedication, Gov. Jack Markell said. “The fact that you exceeded your goal months in advance, I think, is pretty extraordinary.”
Sander joked that he had originally hoped the government would fund the project. But the governor told them to start their own fundraising efforts.
“I am so impressed with what you have done,” said Jack Markell, adding that his wife had taken an immediate liking to the project. “You get elected officials to be supportive when you have an incredibly organized effort yourselves,” he complimented the group.
Starting the garden
“Our state of Delaware has a rich horticultural tradition that is second to none in the U.S.,” said designer Rodney Robinson. “However, most of it is in the north, and it’s time for it to come south.”
Gardening is a bridge between social and economic barriers, he said.
“This garden is unique, in my view, because it is a grassroots effort,” Robinson said, and not a private estate garden later opened to the public. That means DBG has had to develop its own vision, from the ground up.
DBG has a 99-year lease on the land from the Sussex County Land Trust, at a cost of $1 annually.
“We’re in the middle of the temperate zone. … Right here, we’re in the sweet spot of the sweet spots,” said land trust Chairperson Dennis Forney, adding that preserving open space is “absolutely critical to the future of this county.”
Garden founder Michael Zajic has already retired from the project, but he said he was glad to see the groundbreaking of such a special site that he helped choose.
“Besides the spectacular view of Pepper Creek … it has a big forest, plus a lot of open area… It has hills! Delaware is flat as a pancake,” Zajic noted with a laugh.
He said he had been thinking about a garden since moving to Sussex County in 1994. Soon thereafter, he asked the Sussex County Council to consider starting a botanic garden. They said that wasn’t their job.
Exactly five years ago, the former horticultural supervisor attended a small cocktail party to get people talking about the idea. He followed up with a guest column in a local newspaper, inviting people to a public meeting at the library.
“People showed up, I asked for volunteers for the board … and it went from there,” Zajic said.
The DBG has had its ups and downs, but excellent support from the volunteers and legislators who kept it going.
In starting a project of this magnitude, “People might be being idealistic, but the devil is in the details. Plans must be sustainable and realistic,” Zajic said. “Don’t give up the dream, but be prepared to have a business plan. … You’ve got to have a business plan to save the world.”
Carla Markell thanked him for taking the first steps and for his willingness to let others continue the journey.
“This project has a life of its own,” she said.
Other dignitaries at the Dec. 1 groundbreaking represented the Longwood Foundation, the Delaware State Legislature, Sussex County, Pennoni Associates, Lake/Flato Architecture, the EDiS Company, George & Lynch, Bancroft Construction and Delaware Department of Transportation.
Donations to the project may be made online at www.delawaregardens.org or by check mailed to Delaware Botanic Gardens; P.O. Box 1390; Ocean View, DE 19970. Southern Delaware Botanic Gardens Inc. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The garden site is located on Piney Neck Road, about 1.5 miles from Main Street in Dagsboro.
For more than 10 years, Judy Mangini has been doing her part to support those serving her country overseas. Each holiday season since 2005, she has been mailing cookies to service military members stationed overseas.
“I have a cookie exchange at my house every year. I started that in 2004, and I had all these cookies left over and I don’t need them,” she said with a laugh. “I thought, ‘Had I thought ahead, I could ship what we had overseas to our men and women who are away during the holidays, so they can have a taste of home while their away.’ So, in 2005, I did just that.
“It’s just a way to show them that we truly appreciate the sacrifice that they’re making, as well as their families, to protect our freedoms and our liberties, as well as those in other countries.”
This weekend, certain area businesses are serving as drop-off locations for homemade and store-bought cookies that will then be mailed out. Those who wish to participate are being asked to bake or buy a dozen cookies or more, by packing them in small, clean, square storage containers or place them flat in gallon-sized freezer bags. Be sure not to overstuff, said Mangini, to prevent cookie-crumbling.
As a woman who has been around service members all her life, Mangini said she felt sending cookies to active-duty troops was a small act with a big payoff.
“I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for our military, since most of the men in my life have served in one branch of service or another. From my great-grandfather down to my son — my husband, my brother, my dad — and I understand a lot of the sacrifices families make during this time, especially when there are small children involved, because they’re missing precious time away from family.
“I just wanted to let them know with a small gesture, a small token, that I haven’t forgotten them.”
Mangini said that, over the years the gesture has grown exponentially — from dozens sent from her and her friends to dozens of dozens of dozens sent from the community at large.
“The first year, in 2005, I collected 100 dozen cookies, just from the cookie exchange. I told everybody that was coming to make as many as you want, we’ll take them, taste them and exchange them, and whatever I have left over, I’ll ship overseas. So, for the first three years, I did it out of my house,” she said.
Following the suggestion of a local radio personality on how to get the rest of the community involved, Mangini contacted the Millsboro American Legion, who said she could use their facility as a drop-off location. It went from 100 dozen out of her house, to 300 dozen the first year it was open to the community, to last year with a collection of 2,900 dozen cookies.
Laura Byrun of Su Casa in Bethany Beach participated in the cookie drive last year and was so moved that she volunteered the business to be one of the community’s cookie drop-off locations.
“I saw a poster on it somewhere last year, and I like to bake and I’m always looking for an excuse to do some more baking,” she joked. “So I baked a few dozen cookies and dropped them off. This year, we just opened Su Casa — it’s our first year here — and we wanted to become a little more involved in the community, so I thought it would be a nice thing to sign up for.”
Su Casa will be collecting cookies all day Friday, Dec. 2, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and continue on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to noon.
“If someone doesn’t like to bake or doesn’t have the time, they can be store-bought cookies, which might help people who want to do something but just don’t have the time,” Byrun said, adding that participating is so rewarding. “When I was on [Operation Cookie Drop-Off’s] Facebook page, I was able to read some of the letters soldiers sent back and. … it’s really neat.”
Mangini herself will be collecting cookies at American Legion Post 28 in Millsboro on Saturday, Dec. 10, from noon to 4 p.m.
She said she shares all the feedback they receive from soldiers because “I’m not the one who baked 2,900 dozen cookies. I baked 12 dozen.”
The average donation is two to four dozen cookies; however, Mangini said the number varies greatly.
“I just got a donation of 330 dozen cookies from Shore Easy, a husband and wife, who baked Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They all add up to that 2,900 dozen.”
Mangini noted that she has a regular donor, an 80-year-old woman named Etta, who baked 70 dozen cookies by herself last year.
“This year, she’s had some health issues and she’s unable to participate. She was pretty upset about it, and I put it out there that she won’t be able to participate and asked if anyone would be able to step up and bake the cookies that she can’t … and one of the couples that heard about it just donated 330 dozen cookies.”
The cookie donations offer a variety beyond just chocolate chip, which Mangini said she expected to receive the most of.
“There is such an assortment, and some people get really creative — especially the kids. I love the cookies the kids make, because I’m a grandma and I just think it’s so cool that they are little artistic abilities… They put sprinkles on them, they use pretzels for reindeer antlers…
“I love it. And then some of the schools will get involved and have the kids write little notes to our soldiers, and we stick them in the boxes. You’ve got to understand what it does for these soldiers… It does have an impact on the men and women, especially if they’re moms and dads who are away from their kids. It just gives them a little bit of that holiday feeling. It is appreciated.”
Those who aren’t bakers or don’t have the time to devote to making treats can still support the program by donating shipping materials and monetary support.
“I always ask every year for shipping donations, shipping peanuts,” said Mangini. “Last year, shipping cost $852 to ship the cookies, and I still have a little left over from last year to use for this year.
“You never know — each year could be different as far as donations and shipping. In the community there are a lot of people who don’t bake, but they want to get involved, so they all donate some kind of packing material and the shipping donation.”
Mangini gets soldiers’ mailing addresses a number of ways, including contacting the Delaware National Guard.
“If they don’t have enough people that are stationed somewhere — like, for instance, this year, they are only had two addresses and two names to give me — they put me in touch with the National Guard of Maryland, where I got additional addresses.
“Then I also get addresses from people who say, ‘Hey, my son is serving in Afghanistan, could you include him?’ and I will do that. Usually they can tell me how many people are in the unit or in that camp. Even though the unit may have 25, they’re in a camp with 20,000, and those cookies get shared. They are put out in a mess hall tent or wherever, and they will share those packages with their fellow soldiers.”
The generosity of the community has been wonderful, said Mangini.
“Every year, I realize more and more how blessed I am to live in such a generous community,” she said. “Especially with the way things are — you know, when you watch the news and it’s nothing but negativity and hate… So when you see that the love and compassion they show for our men and women fighting overseas, it restores my faith in humanity.
Mangini said participating is a great way to take stock of what one has to be thankful for, and to send thanks, love and a taste of the holiday season to those who are serving.
“Everybody gets so caught up in their daily lives that they forget. We all go to sleep in our nice cozy beds, and they’re sleeping on dirt. We get to smell the bread baking in the oven, and they are smelling farms or dust from the ground. They are shooting missiles and landing God only knows where, and watching their friends get blown to bits, while we get to go to work and watch our TV programs without a thought.
“So, while everybody is baking for their own families this year, if they could just bake another dozen or two, just to let those people know who are over there, who are putting themselves in harm’s way and away from their family during the Christmas season now, to let them know we haven’t forgotten them… I think they deserve that, and I think that’s the least we can do.”
For more information about Operation Cookie Drop Off and a complete list of drop-off locations, visit www.facebook.com/www.operationcookiedropoff.org or operationcookiedropoff.com. Su Casa is located at 101 Garfield Parkway in Bethany Beach. American Legion Post 28 is located on Route 24 in Millsboro.
Accused of racial discrimination at George Washington Carver Academy, the Indian River School district submitted its official response on Dec. 5, denying all claims of intentional wrongdoing at the alternative school.
The IRSD was responding to a federal lawsuit filed on Sept. 30 by two IRSD families and the local Coalition for Education Reform, a nonprofit group whose mission is to “assist the school district with matters that affect the educational successes of all minority students and to help eliminate the achievement gap in underachieving students and to address other concerns.”
“This lawsuit seeks to put an end to a unlawful racial discrimination by Indian River SD at George Washington Carver Academy … a punitive dumping ground for African-American students,” the lawsuit states.
Although IRSD admitted to many of the facts put forward in the suit, they denied any larger intentional racial disparity.
Ultimately, IRSD’s response said, “The defendant acted in good faith and all decisions were made based upon legitimate consideration.”
The lawsuit alleged that IRSD discriminates against African-American children in three ways: removing them from mainstream schools in first place, keeping them at Carver instead of returning them to their original schools; and by their overall treatment at Carver.
Carver Academy is the IRSD’s alternative school focusing on K-12 students’ academic, behavioral and personal needs, hosting between 50 and 70 children at any given time.
“Placement at Carver Academy results from many disciplinary referrals, together with the unsuccessful implementation of interventions,” the IRSD stated in its response.
Yes, the district acknowledges, African-Americans sometimes make up more than 50 percent of Carver’s population, despite being less than 16 percent of the overall IRSD population. But the IRSD did not agree with the suit’s allegation that that figure is “disproportionate,” instead, merely suggesting that the numbers speak for themselves.
Yes, the IRSD agreed, some students remain at Carver for longer periods of time than originally prescribed, but the district disagreed with allegations that families are forced into approving such measures.
The IRSD also denied removing African-American children from mainstream schools “on flimsy pretexts, segregating them at Carver on arbitrary grounds and for arbitrary periods of time, and neglecting their educational needs, including learning disabilities support,” as the lawsuit alleges.
Both parties appear to view the same issues in disparate ways: Where the lawsuit alleges that IRSD issued arbitrary disciplinary referrals, making it impossible for students to leave, the district responded that some students continued to “engage in behavior resulting in disciplinary referrals.”
The district also suggested there’s more to the story than depicted in the suit in the case of a freshman sent to Carver’s short-term Character Academic & Motivational Program (“CAMP”), originally designed as an alternative to out-of-school suspension (OSS). Despite a positive middle school record, that was the student’s sixth high school disciplinary infraction, they said.
The IRSD denied that students aren’t being given the proper supports to help manage any “emotional disability” (formerly called an “emotional disturbance).
However, the IRSD acknowledged that Delaware Department of Education had raised a related issue during the 2015-2016 school year. The DOE said the IRSD “has been identified with disproportionate representation in the identification of African American/Black students with disabilities” including in the categories of “Emotional Disturbance,” “Mild Intellectual Disability” and “Learning Disability.”
The IRSD was also “identified as having a significant discrepancy between the rates of long-term suspensions and expulsions” for African-American children with disabilities, compared to those without disabilities.
Although the IRSD admitted that there are times when teachers have failed to consistently send all required coursework to CAMP, the district denied that an IR High School student failed a final exam because a teacher failed to send coursework to CAMP.
The IRSD also acknowledged that “students yell, scream, curse and walk out of classrooms … [but] at times, behaviors will persist as individualized support programs are implemented, pursuant to the student’s IEP.”
Claims that some teachers are racist were flatly denied. The IRSD acknowledged that some teachers are young Caucasian women but denied that teachers are “not trained or equipped to deal with the Carver students,” as the lawsuit alleged.
The IRSD is being represented by David Williams, James McMackin III and Allyson Britton DiRocco of the Morris James LLP law firm in Wilmington.
Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s classic fairytale story is coming to the stage at Sussex Central High School, as, for one weekend, the SCHS Take Two Drama Club will present “Cinderella.”
The show will be Friday and Saturday, Dec. 16 and 17, at 7 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m.
“The classic fairytale has been turned into a moving, funny and magical story with a great score and a beautiful message about making your own pathway in life,” according to David Warick, director and SCHS drama instructor.
General admission costs $8 at the door. Students, seniors and military pay $5. Middle school students with ID are admitted on a special two-for-one ticket for $5. No one will be turned away for inability to pay. The box office opens at 1 p.m. for the matinee and 5:30 p.m. for the evening performances.
Concessions will be available during intermission. All proceeds benefit the drama program.
Elegance, magic and fun
This definitely isn’t Disney’s “Cinderella.” Audiences will see characters with more depth.
“Usually, people are used to seeing two evil stepsisters, but in this version, we have one really evil one and one who wants Cinderella to be happy,” said sophomore Abbey Ruark. “I play that character,” whom she noted has her own love interest. “It puts a twist on the fact that one of the stepsisters ends up happy as well.”
Moreover, the prince isn’t just Cinderella’s love interest. He’s naïvely navigating the world of politics, where poverty and homelessness are rising. Audiences will meet a Cinderella motivated to create a better world for everyone.
“They’ll get a new understanding about why she is the way she is — not somebody who wants to marry this boy because he’s a prince. She wants to change her town and do things for the better,” said Ruark.
“There’s also a heavy political under theme to the show. It really presents a statement about politics and government and corruption. I think a lot of people will find that interesting … especially with today’s politics,” said senior Danny Keenan, who plays “Prince Topher.”
“I feel like the elegance of the show really fits the adults,” said “Cinderella” herself, junior Rebecca Bristow, “but it’s just such a fun, magical show. … There’s so much going on.”
“It’s very magical and imaginative, especially to children, because they have huge imaginations,” said sophomore Braeden Swain, who plays a scheming steward.
“And I think they’re going to find laughter in the stepsisters and the family, because Charlotte is just completely the same … horrible person,” Ruark added of the evil stepsister.
“It’s the classical ‘Cinderella’ with a twist,” said junior Blair Williams, who plays “Fairy Godmother.”
Of course, some things never change. “Cinderella” isn’t complete without the magical transformation of animals, gown and pumpkin carriage.
“It’s always good to revisit the classics, kind of learn where we got different storylines, and, you know, different aspects of musical theater, and just go back to the roots,” said Keenan.
“She was a poor girl forced to become a slave in her own home by her stepmother,” Williams said. “I don’t think they’ll run out of ways to make ‘Cinderella’ different … because it’s just so versatile.”
Unique sets, lighting, blocking and a few hand puppets will give Sussex Central’s production its own unique edge.
The production also restores some of the catchy music cut from the 1997 Rodgers & Hammerstein version starring Whitney Houston and Brandy.
The actors complimented the talents of their fellow cast and crew, which also includes Indian River High School and Sussex Academy students.
“That’s what’s great. We have talent from all schools, so it’s like the best possible pick of talent,” Bristow said.
With decades of a drama legacy, SCHS again invited several students from other schools to participate.
“We all pretty much decided, the Take Two Drama Club was like, ‘They don’t have a musical, they can come do our musical,’” especially since they’re other local schools, Williams said.
Children invited to Prince/Princess party
As a bonus treat, there will be a Prince/Princess Party on Dec. 17 at noon, at a separate cost of $5. (Proceeds benefit the Students in Action Service organization and Take Two Drama Club.)
Children ages 4 to 10 (and older) can enjoy dragon-slaying lessons. Bad Hair Day salon will treat kids to special “royal” hair and makeup services.
Children can come in costume, receive a special treat and walk in a costume parade. There will be a scavenger hunt to find Cinderella’s slipper, plus cake and other treats and prizes.
Cinderella and her Prince will also meet and take photos with guests.
“This party is a great way to kick off the holiday season with your children or grandchildren,” Warick stated.
After the party, the Saturday matinee begins at 2 p.m. For group admission rates, contact David Warick at (302) 934-3166 or email@example.com. The SCHS Centre for Visual & Performing Arts is located at 26026 Patriots Way, Georgetown. Details are online at www.facebook.com/TakeTwoSCHS.
This week’s Sussex County Council meeting was the last for longtime Councilwoman Joan Deaver, the outgoing District 3 representative, who was the first woman to be elected to the council.
Deaver was elected in 2008 as the council’s only Democrat, in the wake of three longtime Democratic council members departing, and served eight years on council, representing the Lewes/Rehoboth area. She chose not to run for reelection this year and will be succeeded by outgoing Planning Commissioner I.G. Burton (R-3rd).
“It has been an interesting eight years,” said Council President Michael Vincent. “We came on council together. It’s been fun. We haven’t always agreed on everything, but I think we’ve been respectful of each other, and that’s the way it should be done.
“I do thank you for your services to the County. You certainly, certainly represented the people of your district very well… Thank you for your service; it’s been fun.”
Councilman George Cole, who sits next to Deaver on the dais, where the two have been known to spar, recalled when he first met Deaver, as an activist.
“She followed her activism, and here she ended up on county council. Her issues were not Republican or Democrat issues. They were land use and the best way to approach it. Even though she isn’t a native, like some of us, she developed this sense of community, which many people do when they move here, because it’s a lovely place.”
The newest member of the current council, Rob Arlett said he has only been able to work with Deaver for two years but that her passion for the issues facing her constituents has been ever-present.
“As an elected official, I totally respect you. You broke the ceiling in Sussex County… You are the very first elected female on this council. I think that is going to go down in history in Sussex County. I think that’s a testament to your passion and to District 3 for standing for principles.”
Councilman Sam Wilson joked that Arlett had stolen his farewell speech and that he therefore had nothing additional to add.
“I wish you well, Joan.”
Deaver was presented with a plaque and decorative gavel, as well as a proclamation noting her service to the County.
“Joan Deaver, both as a community advocate and as an elected public servant, has been the unwavering champion for managed, responsible growth, protecting the environment and promoting the area’s rich quality of life — the essence of Sussex County — for future generations to enjoy,” read County Administrator Todd Lawson from the proclamation.
“It’s really a highlight of my life,” said Deaver. “This has been an amazing opportunity. I wish I deserved all the praise... I really loved watching the County improve every day — every day. It’s much more transparent than ever before. I’m very satisfied and pleased with our progress and the way we keep our money.”
Deaver’s official date of retirement is Jan. 3, 2017.
At the same meeting, the winners of the County’s Election Year Scholarship Contest were recognized. The scholarship contest, which is in its ninth year, gave Sussex County students ages 18 and younger the opportunity to learn about the American election process by predicting the winners of 20 national, state and local races in the Nov. 8 general election.
Students competed for one $200 scholarship prize and five $100 runner-up prizes. There were 430 participants in this year’s contest.
Brandon Bradshaw, 17, a senior at Sussex Technical High School, won the contest and the $200 scholarship prize. Bradshaw correctly picked 19 of 20 races, with a tie-breaking prediction of 41,200 votes from Sussex County for the presidential race winner.
Runners up included Brooke Ward, 17, a senior at Sussex Tech; Dahria Kalmbach, 16, a junior at Indian River High School; Samuel Rojas, 17, a senior at Indian River High School; Keith Chatterton, 18, a senior at Indian River High School; and Julia Swingle, 14, a ninth-grader at Sussex Academy.
“Predicting election outcomes can be a tricky endeavor, as we saw in the most recent election,” Lawson said. “These young people did what a lot of the so-called experts couldn’t do, so congratulations to them. Win or lose, it’s inspiring to see so many students taking an interest in our political process.”
In other County news:
• The County is continuing to collect canned goods and nonperishable food items to be donated to area food pantries.
• The County’s offices will be closed on Dec. 23 and 26 to celebrate the Christmas holiday.
• County Council will not meet on Dec. 20 or 27, due to the Christmas holiday. The council will next meet on Tuesday, Jan. 2, at 10 a.m.
The Ocean View Town Council at its regular meeting on Dec. 14 discussed the potential of an animal preserve operating within town limits, just off Route 26, following the receipt of a letter from Barn Hill Preserve.
Barn Hill Preserve, a business that offers educational animal programs while focusing on conservation education for diverse audiences, contacted the Town about potentially opening a new location within Ocean View, adjacent to the Salted Rim restaurant.
“Our business plan includes a hands-on conservation center, where guest learn about and have the opportunity to interact with native and exotic species. This will not be a large facility, as we only anticipate holding an estimate of 60 guests an hour and will only be open until sunset. The animals that we wish to house will be low-maintenance animals with minimal/quiet vocalizations. We hope to stay open off season to help bring more visitors to the area,” wrote Josh Mueller, co-owner of Barn Hill Preserve.
In Mueller’s letter, he inquired as to what kind of permissions the business would need in order to pursue its desire to open the facility within town limits.
Mayor Walter Curran voiced his concern about the property being within close proximity to restaurants, which “I don’t think is a particularly good mix.”
As for the location’s hours, Curran said closing at “sunset” could be quite late in the evening during the summer months.
Mueller said they want to have a wide range of hours to give people ample opportunity to visit the preserve; however, it wouldn’t open until close to 9 or 10 a.m., and would likely not stay open too late, as the animals would be more difficult to view.
Curran also called attention to the 60 guests per hour estimate, which he said he believed would be high traffic for a smaller-sized area.
“I grew up in the area… I’ve lived here my whole life. I went to LSU for college, which is when I started working with these guys. When I was working there, I realized we had nothing like this where I grew up, so I wanted to try to bring it home,” Mueller explained.
“I know 60 sounds like a lot. That’s a big number that we’d max out with. I highly doubt, especially the first year, we’d be hitting 60 guests an hour. I’d love it. It would be fantastic if we did. We noted that because we don’t want to have a lot of people there. We want it to be small…”
Councilwoman Carol Bodine said she was looking at the list of animals that the preserve has experience with and wishes to have on the property, which includes macropods (kangaroos), two-toed sloth, otters, camels, alpacas and sulcate tortoises, and asked if there was room on the property to keep all of them.
“Some of the animals we would be keeping on the property only during the summertime. We don’t want any large livestock here, so we’d only keep the smaller camels here,” he said, noting that when the animals, such as the baby camels, grew in size, they could be transported back to the main facility in Louisiana.
Curran asked Public Works Director Charles McMullen about any changes needed within the town code to accommodate such a facility.
“We’d have to create a use in the Permissible Use section 140-24 that would accommodate what is being proposed here,” said McMullen. “If the council decided they wanted to move forward, it would be placed into an ordinance for introduction to revise or amend that particular part of the code. Because it is a land-use issue, it would go before Planning & Zoning and then back to town council for two public hearings, at which time, if people wished to oppose or speak in favor of, they would have the opportunity to state that.”
McMullen recommended that if the council did choose to move forward with the change of code, that such a facility only be a permissible use by special exception, to allow for the Board of Adjustment to review the application.
Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader told Mueller that if he were representing Barn Hill for such an application, he would tell them to look for opposition focusing on the potential traffic, noise, odor and dust created by the business.
Mueller pointed out that the animals they would keep on the proposed site wouldn’t make a great deal of noise. He said that anything that could make more noise wouldn’t live there.
“If they were to go, they would live on my farm, and I would bring it there maybe during the day and then bring it home… Camels would probably be a loud thing, and that just sounds like a loud man groaning.”
Mueller said they would work with the Town to ensure concerns are addressed.
“We have a lot of regulations ourselves we have to follow. The USDA is really strict; the State of Delaware is very strict, especially in terms of animals [potentially] getting out. We have to have double enclosures on everything, so if they get out of one enclosure, they can’t get out because of the second one… If there is anyone who has objections or concerns, I’m happy to help and to make sure we’re addressing all those problems.”
He added that the property Barn Hill Preserve is interested in using is between 4 and 5 acres in size (on what is known as the Marino property).
Councilman Bill Olsen asked how the waste from the animals would be addressed.
“We want it to be clean. When people go in, they don’t want to see the animals walking around their soiled areas. We’ll clean it daily and will dispose of it in the proper way. We can work with waste management — that way we can avoid it going into the water table but also addresses the odor.”
Curran said he was not, at that point, personally willing to go against it or recommend it.
“I think, personally, you have a big uphill battle to make this happen. I think the State usually makes things more difficult than the Town,” he said.
Curran said that the council can think about Mueller’s request, and suggested the council, if they decide to come out with an official position, decide in the next month or two.
Right-of-way plan ready for review
Also on Dec. 14, Town Manager Dianne Vogel reported that the Town’s engineering firm, Kercher Engineering, had completed an ADA Right-of-Way Transition plan for the Town.
“Alan [Kercher] has some very strong feelings on the way we should go on this plan,” she said, adding that she and McMullen thought holding a workshop to introduce the plan would be best.
“We are currently budgeting $100,000 per year because we didn’t have a number, so for five years we budgeted $100,000 [each year]. But based on this program that Alan has worked up, if we continue with $100,000, it will take us 20 years to complete this project, and we’ll be looking at 2035 to do all the work required in the town.”
McMullen said it would give the council an idea as to where the money is going, how it needs to be spent and the number of projects the Town has, noting the Town has $300,000 worth of patching in the next five to six years but could save $150,000 by bundling it and moving the work up.
“We’re working through those items, and I think it would be a good thing to have Kercher there to help explain some of those things.”
The council agreed that a workshop would be appropriate; however, a date was not set for that meeting.
In other Town news:
• Vogel said the Town received a letter from Mediacom stating their intent to raise surcharge rates in January, from $2.10 per month by $2 per month, to $4.10 per month.
“Mediacom will also be making some speed enhancements to many of their most popular internet tiers, depending on what you’re presently getting to your home, as well as to businesses here in Ocean View.”
“I can honestly say, in the entire time I’ve lived here, much less been on this council, I’ve never heard one person say anything good about Mediacom, and I find that extremely sad,” said Curran.
Vogel said that, from her perspective, they don’t do a good job helping the general public understand that sometimes problems are not all about Mediacom’s service but the customers’ old equipment.
Curran agreed but said he understands people’s frustrations, noting that a business in the service industry shouldn’t have nothing but negative reviews.
• The Town has hired Sandra Peck as the Town’s new finance director. Current Finance Director Lee Brubaker will be retiring at the end of the year.
Peck currently works for the City of Milford as accounting manager, is a licensed CPA in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and is a graduate of Penn State University. She is scheduled to begin working for the Town on Jan. 9.
With the Selbyville Town Council election on the horizon, candidates may now throw their hats in the ring.
The polls are scheduled to open Saturday, March 4, 2017.
Three positions are up for election, currently held by Mayor Clifton C. Murray, G. Frank Smith III and Clarence W. “Bud” Tingle Jr.
Each position carries a two-year term.
Anyone wishing to file as a candidate for the election must file a written Notice of Candidacy in the Town Hall by 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. Forms are available at Town Hall.
Town council candidates must be at least 21; a U.S. citizen; and a bona fide resident of the municipality of Selbyville at least one year before election day.
Voter registration is also available at Town Hall. (Municipal registration is separate from state or federal voter registration.) Qualified voters must be at least 18; a U.S. citizen; and a bona fide resident of the municipality of Selbyville. The voter registration deadline is Friday, Feb. 10, 2017, at 4:30 p.m.
Who would have thought a political event from the 1700s would still be making such a big impact on tourism?
But every two years, Return Day brings thousands of people to Georgetown to watch political rivals literally “bury the hatchet.”
It’s perhaps the last event of its kind in the United States, and it won the 2016 “Best Event” award at the Southern Delaware Tourism luncheon on Dec. 12.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) is no stranger to the event. He said Delaware political candidates can look forward to the parade as soon as they win their primaries.
“You know you’ll be riding in a carriage with your opponent and your family and your opponent’s family,” Carper said. “I think it has a real tempering effect for the candidates.”
“[Return Day] has the unique ability to bring together rivals,” said award presenter Ben Gray.
This November, while checking in guests, Microtel general manager Gray was stunned that “People were coming from all over the country” for Return Day.
He presented the award while describing Return Day’s many events, including parade, ox roast in an open-pit barbecue, announcement of election results and more.
“Sometimes I think our nation could use a Return Day,” said Carper, prompting some applause.
The luncheon celebrated other greatness in tourism, which is a top economic driver in Sussex County, generating $1.7 billion in direct tourism sales annually and supporting 18,000 jobs.
Other awards presented included:
• Best Tourism Attraction: Gordons Pond Trail and the Junction & Breakwater Trail, both part of Cape Henlopen State Park.
• Best New Event: Boo-B-Q by the Sea, a barbecue competition and festival only two years old and hosted on Halloween weekend at the Indian River Inlet.
• Tourism Partner of the Year: Western Sussex Tourism Committee, which combined the powers of Seaford and Laurel Chambers of Commerce to attract travel writers who they hoped would fall in love with southwestern Delaware.
“Sussex County is in the heart of Delmarva. … Every day, word’s getting out on what’s going on here,” said Scott Thomas, executive director of Southern Delaware Tourism. “Thank you, everyone here, for making this such a special place.”
Other special guests shared new attractions that are making Sussex County an even more exciting place to visit or reside, from world-class wineries to “bird nerds” willing to spend money on birding weekends.
“We’re all ambassadors of a good time,” said Devon Perry, special guest and executive director for Visit South Jersey tourism.
Details of the awards are online at www.VisitSouthernDelaware.com.
Things will be brightening up for the Bunting’s Mill housing development. After residents described the nearby Polly Branch Road as an “open-air drug market,” they asked the Selbyville Town Council for help and ideas to improve safety.
One month later, Delmarva Power studied the neighborhood and recommended seven additional streetlights, three of which have now been approved.
On Dec. 5, the council approved three new pole lights on Sierra Court and Crowning Court. They can be installed at no cost to the Town, since they’re already near electric transformers. Selbyville would only pay the monthly electric bill.
“Looking down the road, if you would allow us … to do the lighting plan first, this wouldn’t be a problem,” said Doug Hudson, a local resident who happens to work at Delmarva Power.
If more developers would do lighting plans before building, it would be much easier to install pole lights, Hudson said. But once roads and driveways are paved, Delmarva Power has to bore into the ground.
“There’s no cheap way around it,” Hudson said. “It costs $18.84 a foot after [development] for boring.”
Councilman Rick Duncan Sr. asked why developers aren’t installing sufficient lighting beforehand if Delmarva Power installs lights for free, and the Town or developer only pays to lay electric lines.
Usually developers do request lighting plans, but later cut out what they’re unwilling to pay, Hudson said.
When the council members suggested that the Town require lighting plans for new construction, Hudson warned that some homeowner associations sometimes ask to remove poles they can’t afford to light. However, at least the electric hook-up would still be available if they later wanted that light.
Delmarva Power also proposed four more lights, which would cost $13,386. Council members agreed to address that in their next budget cycle.
Drugs and Polly Branch
Local police have taken steps to block off a heroin hotspot on east Polly Branch Road. It’s a tricky spot because the property is just outside town limits (and the Selbyville Police Department’s jurisdiction), and the nearest Delaware State Police barracks is in Georgetown.
Heroin and opioids have been a challenge for every area police agency in recent years.
“There is not a neighborhood — I don’t care if it’s Rehoboth Beach Yacht & Country Club or the smallest trailer park — that isn’t dealing with addiction or heroin,” said M/Cpl. Teryl Carlisle of DSP Troop 7 in Lewes. “Heroin doesn’t follow any racial demographic, age demographic.”
Heroin seems to be everywhere, he said, and much crime is heroin-related, such as burglaries.
He mentioned that the current trend in dealing with heroin is less prosecution and more treatment.
Generally, Polly Branch Road hasn’t changed in decades, but is actually calmer and less violent, Carlisle said.
But residents should always call the police if they see something suspicious or questionable. Crimes will be added to Delaware’s crime maps, so police know where to target future patrols.
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease,” Carlisle said.
While the hotspot on the road is outside of SPD jurisdiction, both ends of Polly Branch are in town limits, noted Selbyville Police Chief W. Scott Collins, so Selbyville police try to deter criminal activity by patrolling the street ends.
Meanwhile, they’re increasing business and road patrols to reduce shoplifting and DUIs this season.
Grants available for home repair
The Town of Selbyville will continue participating in a grant program that helps people keep their homes.
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) is available for low- to moderate-income residents who need home repairs. The most typical housing rehab projects cover doors, windows, electricity, plumbing and more.
The houses must be owner-occupied, not rental units, and the Town facilitates the application process through Sussex County.
“We’ve done a lot of work here in Selbyville in the past few years,” said Mike Jones of Sussex County’s Community Development Housing Office.
In 15 years, more 90 Selbyville homes have benefitted from more than $800,000 in projects, Jones said. The program is offered on a first-come, first-served basis. About $2.2 million of the federal HUD money is awarded to Kent and Sussex counties on a competitive basis, Jones said.
The grants are a free program for residents, not a loan. There’s never any money paid back (unless the residents move before associated the five- or 10-year lien expires).
The goal is to keep people in their own homes.
Mayor Clifton Murray agreed, “It’s been a very good program for Selbyville.”
The town council unanimously voted to continue participating. Grant applications for the current cycle are due Feb. 28.
Individuals can call (302) 855-7777 to learn more. The office is also online at www.sussexcountyde.gov/community-development-housing.
In other Selbyville news:
• Fire companies need more than pumper trucks nowadays, and the Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company is eligible for grant money to purchase a new Kubota utility vehicle. The multi-terrain vehicle could carry a medical stretcher and emergency water.
The town council this week approved the Town acting as a third party to transfer money to purchase the vehicle from local legislators’ Community Transportation Fund to the SVFC, per grant regulations.
• The Town’s water report mirrored last month’s report: The new water treatment facility is on track to be completed by April.
Meanwhile, Town officials said they are happy that the total trihalomethanes (TTHMs) count is still under the limit. But the Office of Drinking Water won’t consider Selbyville to be officially compliant until the one-year average is completely under the maximum.
• More flexibility may be coming to the Town’s Residential District. The council will host a public hearing at their Jan. 9 meeting to consider amending Zoning Ordinance 200-21 to expand the list of conditional uses permitted in the R-1 Residential District.
Currently, the code only allows conditional uses of customary home occupations or private swimming or tennis clubs. A new section would also allow “residential, neighborhood, commercial, business, office, or light industrial uses, when such use will benefit the neighborhood in which the use is placed and will not adversely affect the public health, safety or welfare of the citizens of the Town and when the purposes of this chapter are more fully met by issuing a conditional use permit.”
• The Town must begin preparing the 10-year update to its comprehensive plan. Previously Selbyville officials had agreed to hire the KCI planning company to help, provided KCI wins state grant money to fund the contract. Apparently, the grant was mislabeled, so KCI reworked the application, at no cost to the Town, to meet the new November deadline, said Town Administrator Stacey Long.
The council approved KCI’s recommendation to offer to contribute $500 toward the project cost, if the Town wins the grant. Council members decided it would “sweeten the pot” for a project they’ll have to do regardless, and this is the chance to win thousands of dollars in grant funds.
• A new quilting business will open on Church Street next to town hall. The council briefly discussed the parking options, saying customers could park behind the property or use municipal parking in town, including at town hall.
The Selbyville Town Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, Jan. 9, at 7 p.m.
When a routine eye exam Nov. 3 led to the discovery of a golf-ball-sized tumor, the life of a local fifth-grader and his family was immediately and drastically turned upside down.
A student at Lord Baltimore Elementary School in Ocean View, Joseph Townsend was in surgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore within 24 hours after the exam, which had shown a swollen optic nerve, as well as the tumor.
Joseph, 10, remained in the hospital for nearly a month following the surgery, with his family traveling back and forth. Now back in school for half-days, Townsend is receiving occupational therapy in school and has physical therapy twice a week in Berlin, Md.
“Right now, he is working on his balance when walking, which was affected by the brain surgery itself. He also has some blurriness and double vision at times, which is also a result of the swollen optic nerve and surgery,” Michelle Townsend, Joseph’s mother, reported in a recent update on the family’s GoFundMe page.
Joseph’s dad, Ronnie Townsend, is a sergeant with the Ocean City (Md.) Police Department, having worked for the department for 25 years. It was his service to the police department that led members of the community to come together in an effort to show appreciation and support for Townsend and his family.
“About a month ago, we had a Thanksgiving party, and a mutual friend was telling us the story,” said Jennifer Lauman, general manager of the Hooter’s restaurant in West Ocean City. “Obviously, it touched all of our hearts,” she said.
That friend was a fellow officer on the OCPD. Very quickly after that, Lauman reached out to Joseph’s mom on Facebook, and she said she has been in frequent contact ever since. In addition to setting up a GoFundMe page to help the family with expenses related to Joseph’s treatment, Lauman and her employer, Hooter’s, are planning a holiday party for Thursday, Dec. 22, to benefit the family.
Jason Ortt, another general manager at Hooter’s, said he has known Ronnie Townsend for 20 years through Townsend’s work.
“He’s a very nice guy,” Ortt said.
The party for the Townsends “just came together” over the next few weeks. As plans have solidified, the fundraiser has grown to the point where “I keep saying we’re going to need a bigger building,” Lauman said.
For a $20 donation, Hooter’s is offering a buffet dinner, complete with domestic draft beer for the adults, as well as games and crafts for children and an appearance by Santa. D.J. Wax is donating his services for the event, which will also feature guest bartenders from a number of area restaurants. A silent auction and 50/50 drawing will also be held during the evening.
Lauman and Ortt said they have been blown away by the support from the community for the event and for the Townsend family themselves.
“I just can’t imagine how hard it is,” Lauman said.
Michelle Townsend reported on the GoFundMe page that Joseph’s doctors and therapists feel his prognosis is good and that the side-effects from the surgery will lessen over time. Meanwhile, she said, “We know we have a long, fighting road ahead of us.”
For more information on the party for the Townsend family, call Jennifer Lauman or Jason Ortt at Hooter’s in West Ocean City at (410) 213-1841. The restaurant is located at 12513 Ocean Gateway, Ocean City. The family’s GoFundMe page is located at https://www.gofundme.com/fundraiser-for-joseph-townsend.
Delaware’s Auditor of Accounts this week alleged that the Sussex Technical School District (STSD) failed to follow financial law regarding construction projects.
According to the state’s annual school construction audit, released Dec. 14, the technical school’s board did not follow proper procedures for change orders or for project bidding. In the report, Sussex Tech officials countered that the school board had acted within its power, although it acknowledged that some tweaks could be made.
The audit is a standard part of major capital construction projects. The Delaware Office of Auditor of Accounts released 15 other school construction audits along with Sussex Tech’s. Independent firm Santora CPA Group examined major capital construction financials for all Delaware schools for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.
Some districts, including Indian River, Milford, Seaford and Woodbridge, showed “no instances of non-compliance or other matters that are required to be reported.”
Others, including Laurel, Delmar and Cape Henlopen, had some issues with things such as oversight or proper maintenance of construction files.
In a standard audit, the investigators look at risks involved in the organization, then do sampling based on where they think the risks are. They might research 20 or 200 transactions, digging deeper as needed.
During the 2016 fiscal year, Sussex Technical High School — which is the only school in the Sussex Tech district — was undergoing more than $13.2 million worth of renovations to HVAC, the instructional shop and district office.
It’s normal for project costs to change. But the State of Delaware demands that the local school board approve all change orders.
Originally, Tech was doing that. But in August of 2015, the board specifically voted to approve a handful of change orders, except for $68,352 to their construction management firm, Common Sense Solutions.
According to meeting minutes, STSD Board Member George Torbert III “asked if Common Sense Solutions was still the project manager and does he get a percentage of the purchase orders. Mr. Torbert also questioned whether this would be a conflict of interest and he would like an opinion by the attorney.” The record does not mention why that might be a conflict of interest.
In September of 2015, the board amended its policy to “authorize the Superintendent and the Supervisor of Transportation & Operations and/or Administration to approve purchase orders and change orders for construction projects so long as the purchase order or change order relates to a construction project which is within the Board-approved budget for the project.” (Over-budget amounts must still be board-approved). Torbert’s was the only dissenting vote.
For the rest of the 2016 fiscal year, “The District processed 24 construction change orders totaling $225,728. Of that population, 23 change orders totaling $182,968 were not approved by the local Board, as required…”
Sussex Tech responded within the audit report that the board has the power to delegate such authority, and that superintendents are also considered an “executive secretary of the board.”
“In our attorney’s opinion, this authority to delegate duties includes the duty to approve a change within specified parameters,” Tech responded.
Even so, the Common Sense change order was never board-approved.
Moreover, the auditor commented that the construction manual does “not allow for a complete delegation of change order approvals. The Board should be reviewing and approving change orders in Board minutes.”
If nothing else, the auditor said, the change orders should still be presented to the Board at regular meetings so that the Board is aware of the activity approved and can still serve in an oversight capacity for change-order activity.
The audit also suggested that Sussex Tech did not properly bid out projects. Typically, any purchases of at least $50,000 must undergo a more formal process. Smaller amounts are exempt from that requirement.
“It appears they did not properly follow the state bid laws. You will never know how much you might have saved [with competing bids],” State Auditor Tom Wagner told the Coastal Point.
In the 2013 fiscal year, Sussex Tech did use the bidding process to hire Common Sense Solutions as a construction manager for its Bus Entrance Project. “Subsequently, the District added construction management services to that contract for two separate projects,” an HVAC renovation and instructional shop renovation.
But the audit found no evidence that the contract extension was put to bid.
“During Fiscal Year 2016, the District processed 42 construction purchase orders,” the audit states. In sampling 11 purchase orders worth about $3.4 million, the auditors found “five purchase orders for $1,286,251 related to professional services that were not bid in accordance with the provisions of the Delaware Code” and other regulations.
Sussex Tech responded that “The District will attempt to enhance the contract and transaction review and approval process to continue to ensure that the requirements of Delaware Code” and other requirements.
Yet, they added, “The District contends that it is in compliance since the construction management services for the Bus Entrance, the HVAC Renovation, and the Instructional Shop Renovation (collectively ‘the Projects’) were covered by a single Certificate of Necessity,” Tech responded.
When selecting a construction manager, the district only had funding for the first leg of construction, but they were well aware of their ongoing need for future professional services for the other related project.
“Thus, the additional professional services for the Project(s) was within the scope of the previously awarded contract,” Tech officials stated.
Delaware Code has exceptions for professional services “Where professional services are determined by the agency to be necessary during the course of completion of a previously awarded contract and … it would be in the best interest of the State to procure such additional or supplemental services from a firm already under contract for which the supplemental and additional services are required.”
As a follow-up, in July of 2016, the Sussex Tech school board released the following statement (with dissent from Torbert), recognizing the “effectiveness” of its current construction management firm and extending “the current duration of contract under existing terms” until the work was completed within that Certificate of Necessity.
Sussex Tech did accurately report all its construction transactions, Santora acknowledged. But the independent auditor must report any deficiencies, fraud or other noncompliance.
The auditor’s office has scolded Sussex Tech in the past for another questionable bidding process. In the previous four years, Sussex Tech has met with both clean audits and with concerns about labeling of various expenses. (All school reports are online at www.auditor.delaware.gov/reports.shtml#SchoolConstruction)
Sussex Technical School District officials were unable to respond to a request for further comment within the few hours between the audit release and the Coastal Point’s press deadline.
Sussex Tech’s next school board meeting is Monday, Jan. 9, at 5 p.m.
After hours of discussion, the Fenwick Island Town Council this week elected to make no changes to voter qualifications. At a special meeting on Dec. 8, they finally agreed with Town Solicitor Mary Schrider-Fox that the current system is the simplest they can manage at this time.
There was discussion of allowing properties owned in trust to have multiple voters, since non-resident spouses once were allowed to vote. But that left questions about the eligibility of siblings, partners and others involved with trusts and regular deeds. As the council members considered more variables, they decided to table the issue.
That means each trust may put forward one voter in municipal elections.
In addition, the council decided that artificial entities (such as an LLC owning a restaurant or gas station) will not be allowed to put forward candidates for election, which had previously been suggested.
In other Fenwick Island Town Council news, from the regular Dec. 9 council meeting:
• The ambulance fee for Bethany Volunteer Fire Company will be unchanged this year, at $53 per household.
• In preparing the 2016 town audit, Tom Sombar of Sombar & Company determined that the Town accurately reported its financial transactions.
The council discussed several changes to make finances smoother or more transparent. Sombar suggested that the Town do budget amendments if income or expenditures are far from original expectations.
Meanwhile, the Town’s realty transfer tax revenue is already $13,000 ahead of last year’s numbers at this time.
Also, the Town will finally get about $2,100 that was stuck in PayPal limbo for several years.
• The Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber reported a great summer for family movies on the beach near Fenwick.
However, “The Chamber is no longer in a position to do 2017 Fenwick Flicks,” said Executive Director Kristie Maravalli. “My apologies. We hate pulling events, but we really needed to look at the big picture.”
The summertime movies don’t fit into the Chamber’s strategic mission of growing business in the shoulder- and off-season, said Maravalli.
But “Whoever takes over, we are more than happy to continue our relationship by helping,” with planning and vendors, she added.
Each event costs about $900 to put on and attracted 650 total attendees for three films. Town officials began brainstorming ways to continue the event, possibly seeking sponsors or using money from the $12,500 Go Melvo snoball vendor contract that was also approved that afternoon.
• The 2017 Turkey Trot welcomed 648 humans, 45 dogs and $7,700 in donations for the American Cancer Society. The 13th annual Fenwick Freeze will be rescheduled for 11:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day at Bayard Street.
• As nearby towns suffer an increase in petty crime, Police Chief Bill Boyden asked residents to report any unusual activity, especially as so many houses are unoccupied for winter.
“If you see a vehicle or a pedestrian walking though your neighborhood and you don’t recognize them, there’s nothing wrong with calling the police. … You’d be amazed at what we find,” Boyden said.
Property owners should also tell the police department when they’re leaving for extended periods of time, so the police can include patrols near the house, he said.
• Colleen Wilson will take over as chairperson of Environmental Committee. Canal water quality and silt build-up are a concern. It’s been at least 15 years since the last underwater survey of canals. The committee is researching cost estimates for an elevation study, which they’ll share with the Ad-hoc Financial Committee.
The council also approved $300 for the Environmental Committee’s Earth Day cleanup in April.
• Houses are now allowed more bathrooms. Instead of the previous four-bathroom maximum, houses are now permitted a maximum of five full bathrooms and a half-bathroom (with no bathtub or shower). The council unanimously approved the changes to Chapter 160 “Zoning” 160-2.
• Businesses will be responsible for a fence buffer behind their properties when adjacent to residential zones. A residential fence may remain, but if it’s ever dismantled, the commercial owner must ensure another fence is erected. The town council unanimously approved that change to code Chapter 160 “Zoning” 160-8A(9)(b)(1)(a).
• Property owners are held to a higher standard in the flood plain. Typically, renovations worth $1,000 or more require a town building permit. However, FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) requires more oversight, so all major projects, even valued at less than $1,000, will soon require a permit, too. However, there will be no charge for those permits, as the town council approved the first reading of the change to Code Chapter 61-1C “Utility & Bldg. Construction.”
• The council unanimously approved changes to Chapter 120 “Property Maintenance” 120-2, which requires the Town’s building official’s approval on any changes to the approved drainage plan during construction or after issuance of a certificate-of-compliance.
• Fenwick currently offers adequate handicapped parking at the beach ends, officials decided after much discussion at the C&O Committee and town council meeting. Bayard Street has several spots, which aren’t frequently full. But the Town is already limited in overall public parking.
Additionally, the Town is not required to provide handicapped parking to access the federally-owned beaches, according to the town solicitor. Since there aren’t very many complaints, the council made no move to expand the parking.
• The Barefoot Gardeners are planning a garden tour, similar to a cottage tour, on June 29, 2017. Boyden suggested he has the power to approve a special parking hangtag for that day, but reported the plan to the council, as he said he wanted to keep the council informed. Businesses and individuals can purchase ads in the event’s program book.
• The Technology Committee has been on hiatus, as Mayor Gene Langan said the future town manager’s first duty will be a Town Hall technology audit.
• Tim Collins was again named Board of Adjustments chairperson, with Vice Chair Richard Benn and Secretary Marlene Quinn.
The Fenwick Island Town Council’s next regular meeting is Friday, Jan 27, at 3:30 p.m.
The Town of Frankford held its monthly council meeting on Dec. 5, at which council members and those in attendance discussed the Town’s seemingly troublesome water plant.
During the water department report, Clarence Quillen of Tidewater Utilities said that preventative maintenance on the plant has not been done on the plant’s equipment for 16 years — since its installation.
“All we have been doing is repairing it as it breaks down,” explained Quillen. “We’re running it to breakdown.”
Preventative maintenance is essential, said Quillen, giving the analogy that the Town was “running a brand-new car without changing the oil.”
Quillen said that when the plant was first opened, there had been talk of a preventative maintenance schedule; however, “it fell to the wayside,” noting that while the water company drafted a maintenance plan, it was never approved by previous councils.
Resident Jerry Smith asked if any equipment failure was definitely caused by the lack of maintenance.
“The shaft had no oil in it. There was a gear box with no oil in it. There’s a reason you put oil in it. That is the complete reason why that failed.”
Smith also asked if there was maintenance a town employee could be trained to do, in order to be more cost-effective.
“Certain things, yes,” said Quillen.
Councilman Marty Presley added that the Town essentially has two water plants that were not designed to work together.
“We’ve been fighting it ever since.”
He added that the Town is working on getting an independent third party to come in and assess the plant, “to see if this plant is viable, and what it would take to get it up to modern-day standards.”
Presley said Councilman Greg Welch and Quillen had come up with an itinerary of plant maintenance for the current budget year; however, the Town has been unable to stick with the schedule because of the immediacy of other problems that have popped up.
Quillen added that he and Welch had had a meeting with the State and Delaware Rural Water Association to discuss adding fluoride to the Town’s water, as mandated by state law.
“I told them what my concerns were; hopefully, they listen. I thought it was a productive meeting,” he said. “I think I brought up some real good points, saying this is not the time to put it on, but they are really looking at putting fluoride in the plant.”
“It’s mainly an issue of funding,” added Welch. “Clarence is concerned about the safety of just doing that for the funding. He wants it to be done so it’s safe… There’s a work-around I believe we can come up with, where we can just get the funding. We need to look at this whole plant. We need the asset management…”
Presley said the Town is trying to get its attorney to write letter to get a temporary moratorium on putting the fluoride in until the asset management plan can identify the needs of the plant.
“I don’t want fluoride running through our water until it is 100 percent safe,” said Council President Joanne Bacon. “I’m not willing to have fluoride run through just to get funding.”
Returning to the subject of the plant’s maintenance, Quillen said he wanted to make sure the council and town residents knew that the issues with the plant are not due to negligence from his operators or anyone on the current or previous council.
“The most honest truth is even previous council had no knowledge of the water plant. Did the Town know? They didn’t know,” he said. “We are working on it. There are a lot of eyes on it right now.”
Yearly audit completed
Presley told those in attendance that Jefferson, Urian, Doane & Sterner P.A. had finished its audit of the Town’s 2016 fiscal year.
“We’ve only had it probably a couple of days. Joanne has responded to it. We don’t even have hard copies here,” he said, adding that those who wish to have a copy may visit town hall or the Town’s website.
Presley said the audit did not include anything “earthshattering.”
“All the things the auditor pointed out in there we’re diligently working on.”
Presley said the council would discuss the audit at length at their Jan. 9 council meeting.
Volunteers braved below-freezing temperatures Tuesday to help Mountaire pack more than 1,300 boxes of Christmas meals as part of the company’s annual Thanksgiving at Christmas outreach.
“We’ve got a good group of people from all over the peninsula, and they’re loving it,” said Roger Marino, Mountaire’s corporate community-relations director.
The boxes packed were given to local food pantries and shelters that work with Mountaire. Marino said the outreach is geared toward helping the pantries and shelters meet the needs of families in their own communities.
The boxes each contain a selection of 16-ounce canned goods, including corn and beans, stuffing, and pork-and-beans, as well as a Mountaire roaster chicken, donated by the company.
The boxes will help supply an estimated 5,000 members of the community with a healthy, robust Christmas meal.
Back in November, the company held similar packing events to distribute Thanksgiving meals to those in need.
“It was a great success — 8,500 boxes,” said Marino. “It’s a trilogy. Three times a year, during what we feel are the most important holidays of the year, for giving we do this, at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.”
On Dec. 20, volunteers gathered at the company’s Selbyville warehouse and helped box food assembly line-style while listening to Christmas music.
“They’re here from everywhere. Some of our volunteers packing here are also picking up boxes to take back with them.”
Lady Angela Bowers, along with seven others from the Immanuel House of Praise in Seaford, helped to pack boxes.
“We do all holidays — Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas,” she said. “We look to be a blessing to our community. We have an outreach ministry, and part of the ministry is to be a blessing to those in need throughout the year, but especially during the holiday season.”
Bowers said that, along with 11 a.m. services on Sundays, led by the Rev. Carlton E. Bowers Jr., the church also serves as a Code Purple shelter during cold weather and works to go beyond its walls and reach those in need.
“It’s fulfilling. We’re so thankful to God that he allowed us to take off time from work to come here and be a blessing. It’s just so rewarding.”
Bowers said that the need, whether people want to see it or not, is great.
“We don’t want anyone to go through a holiday without having a decent meal. People will be lined up to get boxes when they arrive back at church the same day. That just shows you the need.”
Sally Byrne was one of at least eight members of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #16 in Bethany Beach who helped pack boxes.
“It’s what you should do. It’s nice to be lucky enough to not need to receive one of those boxes.”
George Tasker, pastor at Abundant Life Apostolic Church in Pocomoke, Md., was one of five volunteers attending from the Samarital Shelter, two of them being residents of the shelter.
“We’ve been recipients for quite a few years, but we decided we wanted to help,” said Tasker, noting how great Mountaire has been to the shelter over the years. “For the homeless shelters, it’s very important. We’re blessed we have a lot of businesses that work with the shelter. Mountaire is a blessing to the community. We’re thankful we can help be a part of putting a smile on someone’s face and a little warmth in their heart.”
“We’ve been getting Mountaire boxes for the past several years for the holidays. We don’t usually have volunteers that can come help pack, so this year we decided to get volunteers together to help — not just receiving, but helping to give back,” added Shelly Daniels, director of the Samaritan Shelter.
Daniels said it’s a good feeling to help pack meals that will reach more than just her shelter.
“You’re helping not only your people but the other agencies who are distributing as well. Our shelter has been open for 30 years now. We couldn’t do what we do — we do a soup kitchen, a food pantry, and we serve the residents in the house — over 40,000 meals a year on a $3,000, sometimes $4,000 budget. We couldn’t do it without the businesses that do this kind of stuff.”
The need on the peninsula is great, said Daniels, noting that Mountaire has been wonderful.
“The need right now, especially with the cold weather, is great. We’ve been collecting warm clothes, sweaters, blankets,” she said. “Mountaire twice a month donates and delivers chicken to the shelter that we’re able to bag and give out to the community.
“If it wasn’t for Mountaire, we probably wouldn’t be able to give out chicken like we do. They’d probably just get canned goods. They are a huge help.”
The meals the shelter returned to Pocomoke with will help feel seniors and families who signed up through the food pantry and soup kitchen.
“Thank you to Mountaire from the Samaritan Shelter. We just appreciate the donation and opportunity to come and be a part of something so great. It’s not just helping one little town. It’s helping so many in our area — the peninsula. It’s awesome.”
Marino said seeing the countless volunteers give of their time to help pack meals for those less fortunate is a wonderful sight to behold.
“Every year, it gets more and more heartwarming. It’s wonderful seeing so many people volunteering on their own. We don’t call them; they just come. It’s great to see that spirit,” he said. “But it’s sad to see there are so many people in need. That’s the other side of the coin. I wish they would put us out of business here, so to speak.
“We’re just glad we’re able to help. Mountaire is just a great company with a great heart. Whatever the need is in the community, Mountaire is there to help fill it.”