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Articles on this Page
- 01/26/17--13:33: _Celebrating geography
- 02/02/17--13:23: _IR fire company wil...
- 02/02/17--13:26: _OVHS receives $100,...
- 02/02/17--13:31: _Sussex County now h...
- 02/02/17--13:33: _County approves con...
- 02/02/17--13:44: _Local students save...
- 02/02/17--13:49: _Steele tapped to fi...
- 02/02/17--13:55: _Fenwick considers c...
- 02/09/17--12:02: _Counting on kindnes...
- 02/09/17--13:43: _Carper: Pruitt conf...
- 02/09/17--13:51: _Frankford bullmasti...
- 02/09/17--14:00: _IRSD health teacher...
- 02/09/17--14:06: _Agenda – February 1...
- 02/09/17--14:15: _County again partic...
- 02/09/17--14:18: _Frankford discusses...
- 02/09/17--14:21: _IRSD could sue form...
- 02/09/17--14:24: _American Legion’s m...
- 02/09/17--14:29: _True Valentines
- 02/14/17--08:05: _BREAKING SPORTS NEW...
- 02/16/17--11:38: _Locals rally in sup...
- 01/26/17--13:33: Celebrating geography
- 02/02/17--13:23: IR fire company willing to discuss IRSD reimbursement
- 02/02/17--13:26: OVHS receives $100,000 from Crystal Trust Foundation
- 02/02/17--13:31: Sussex County now has comprehensive electronic zoning map
- 02/02/17--13:33: County approves conditional use for Sussex Consortium
- 02/02/17--13:44: Local students save family from house fire
- 02/02/17--13:49: Steele tapped to fill superintendent role
- 02/02/17--13:55: Fenwick considers canal project costs
- 02/09/17--12:02: Counting on kindness at Showell Elementary
- 02/09/17--13:43: Carper: Pruitt confirmation could negatively impact state
- 02/09/17--13:51: Frankford bullmastiff going for the ‘Gusto’ at Westminster
- 02/09/17--14:00: IRSD health teacher arrested on one count of coercion
- 02/09/17--14:06: Agenda – February 10, 2016
- 02/09/17--14:15: County again participating in CDBG program this year
- 02/09/17--14:18: Frankford discusses Mountaire and DNREC
- 02/09/17--14:21: IRSD could sue former CFO, but won’t right now
- 02/09/17--14:24: American Legion’s missing money found in ATM accounts
- 02/09/17--14:29: True Valentines
- 02/16/17--11:38: Locals rally in support of Warren after Sessions debate
What is the tallest mountain in Africa? Which country produces the most coffee beans? What is the capital of Iowa?
Students answer questions like these every year at the National Geographic Bee.
Locally, fifth-grader Ian Lewis will represent Lord Baltimore Elementary School at the next level of competition this year, as the winner out of 10 student finalists representing each of LB’s fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms.
The runners-up were fourth-grader Jack Cappo in second place and fifth-grader Jackson Chandler in third place.
Questions can include anything relating to geography, such as culture, landforms, location, continents, industry, natural resources and more.
Teacher and organizer Kathleen Yuhanick said LB students brought their A-game to the Jan. 18 competition.
“They were very good. I was quite impressed,” Yuhanick said. “No one was eliminated right off the bat. This was a good group. Even if they didn’t get the answer correct, they were very close in proximity. There weren’t any, like, out-there answers.”
Yuhanick has brought the bee to her various schools throughout her career in Maryland and the Indian River School District. She said a strong background in geography will serve students going into the future.
“We’re no longer just dealing with people in the United States. It’s a global economy. The internet has just opened up everything in the world,” Yuhanick said. “These children will now compete with people all over the world for jobs. With the internet, outsourcing, telecommunications…”
Finalists studied with practice tests and daily questions on National Geographic Society’s website.
Before winter break, Yuhanick gave an atlas to all the classroom winners, “Just so they can get an idea of what geography entails. It’s not just a map. But it does have maps of production, population, that type of thing.”
LB’s competition is staged in front of all fifth-, fourth- and third-grade students.
“The students in the audience were really involved. They were listening intently,” Yuhanick said. “We invite the third grade, so they see what they’ll be doing in the fourth and fifth grade,” and there’s lots of parental support for the competitors, she noted.
Next, Lewis and the other school champions will take a paper test. The top 100 qualifiers will enter the state competition in Wilmington, which is a single competition for students in grades 4 to 8. The Delaware winner will then represent the First State at national competition.
More details about the National Geographic Bee are online at www.nationalgeographic.org/bee.
The Indian River Volunteer Fire Company this week responded to the Indian River School District’s request for the reimbursement of $4,900 related to two items that were the subject of questions under a recent State audit of the district’s accounts.
The fire company, based in Oak Orchard, near Millsboro, didn’t indicate a willingness to write a check or to tear up a bill. But the school board said this week that they were encouraged by the IRVFD’s perceived willingness to work through the matter, which involves part of the price the district paid the fire company for an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) and the value of a district-owned projector reportedly in use by the fire company.
IRSD Board of Education President Charles Bireley received the IRVFC’s response on Jan. 30 and presented it to the school board during an executive session on Jan. 31.
The letter, sent by the IRVFC’s attorney, was very short and to-the-point, Bireley said.
“They’re willing to resolve to this matter to the satisfaction to the district, the fire company and the public at large. We all think this is a step in the right direction,” Bireley told the Coastal Point.
“Basically, what it says is the fire company intends to fully cooperate to resolve the matter at hand,” Bireley said. “They’re requesting some additional time, which we’re going to grant.”
It sounds like the IRVFC will take the time to investigate the matter, then discuss it with the IRSD, said Acting Superintendent Mark Steele. At least, “That’s kind of the way it was perceived by the board last night.”
“I think the board is looking at everything as a whole, working very closely with the auditor to make sure everything we’ve done is the way we need to do it,” said Steele. “In the next few weeks, we’re really looking to have something to show [the State Auditor] we’re where we need to be.”
The school board wrote to the IRVFC on Jan. 18, requesting $4,904.98 reimbursement for costs related to two items that were uncovered by Delaware’s Auditor of Accounts report from last autumn.
Most notably, that includes the IRVFC’s net profit of $4,565 for acting as a middleman for the sale of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) to the district.
“IRVFC purchased the ATV in June 2015 for $14,500 [and] paid $435 to a signage company to customize the ATV with the Sussex Central High School logo and school colors,” the board wrote. “The District then purchased the ATV from IRVFC for $19,500 in July 2015.”
The audit had pointed heavily to the “blind trust” that it said the school district had placed in former CFO Patrick Miller, which it said had contributed to money being questionably spent, inappropriately spent or incorrectly processed.
As the president of the fire company, Miller also appeared to have helped IRVFC by overpaying for the ATV.
“Given the readily apparent conflicts of interest between a decision-maker involved in this [ATV] transaction at IRVFC and the District, it is clear IRVFC unfairly profited from this transaction,” the board wrote.
“Additionally, the audit also suggests an overhead projector purchased by the District for $339.98 is being utilized at IRVFC,” for which the board has also requested reimbursement.
“We look forward to resolving these issues amicably. Your response and/or reimbursement is requested no later than Jan. 31, 2017, at which time this matter will be turned over to the District’s attorneys,” the board had concluded in its letter.
The board did not mention Miller’s apparent use of school funds to purchase IRVFC discount cards as gifts for IRSD employees.
Board Member Leolga Wright abstained from signing or voting on accepting the IRSD’s letter, since she serves on boards for both the IRSD and IRVFC.
The school board has given no indication of their next step for other possible reimbursement requests.
Also president of Boys & Girls Club of Oak Orchard/Riverdale, Miller oversaw finances for both organizations when the IRSD granted $32,500 to it for various education programs over the past five years.
The auditor pointed out that some of those federal funds were intended for use in special-education programs. The club provides afterschool and camp activities for children, but there is no indication they were using the money for specialized support.
The Ocean View Historical Society has gotten a boost for its mission to “preserve, interpret and collect the history of Ocean View and the surrounding Baltimore Hundred area” after receiving a $100,000 grant from the Crystal Trust Foundation.
“It establishes the legitimacy of our organization,” said OVHS’s Richard Nippes. “Here you have an outside agency that feels that what we are attempting to do is a very worthwhile project and is willing to commit $100,000 to it.”
Nippes said Crystal Trust had previously given the society three $25,000 grants to help restore the Tunnell-West House, showing their commitment to the organization’s mission.
“He called and said he’d gotten a real thin envelope from Crystal Trust,” recalled Carol Psaros, president of the society. “Then he told me we had gotten $100,000, which is approaching halfway to our goal.”
Nippes said the award gives validity to what the society, a 501(c)3 non-profit, is trying to do and shows that the foundation, created in 1947 by the late Irenee du Pont, believes that OVHS is a worthwhile organization to support.
“I think it speaks favorably to what we have done in the last six years, to what we have done with the Tunnell-West House, the replica of Cecile Steele’s chicken house, moving the old post office… We’ve created a mini-village, a turn-of-the-century community, on our small property,” said Psaros.
The historical society plans to use the funds to build its new education center — Hall’s Store — a re-creation based on the general store that “gave rise” to the town of Ocean View. The building will be a visitor’s center, housing local artifacts, a meeting room, kitchenette and restrooms.
“It will give us a classroom, where, after people go through the Tunnell-West House, they will have a place to go to do an activity,” said Psaros. “We’ll be able to use it for small group lectures. It will also give us a meeting space for our historical society, so we don’t have to go to other spots.”
“Hall’s Store, being what we believe to be the first general store — it actually spawned the community that has become Ocean View. I think this will give people a focus to be able to say, this is where this community originated,” added Nippes.
A key feature of the building will be a front porch where people can, as they did when the original Hall’s Store existed, congregate and socialize with neighbors.
“Our replication of Hall’s Store will have a big side porch with a patio off of it that we want to use for social functions and for educational purposes. That’s where we think we’re going to place the memorial bricks that we’ve been selling,” said Psaros.
The construction of the facility is estimated to cost $250,000, toward which the $100,000 donated by Crystal Trust will go. The society has been able to raise an additional $40,000 but is still actively seeking donations.
As part of that effort, the society has kicked off its brick campaign, wherein businesses and community members may purchase a brick that will financially support the project and be laid at the new facility.
“This is a way people can leave something, that they were a part of this program. We hope to have enough bricks so that we can build at least a 12-by-12 [foot] patio. Then there’s the walkway from the parking lot to Hall’s Store — we hope to have enough bricks to have them there,” said Nippes.
“I’d like to see a greater participation from the community. We’ve certainly have had a number of people that have been helpful. We also have a lot of people outside of Ocean View who have bought bricks and contributed.
“We encourage people not only to buy bricks but to become part of the organization. We always need new members, young blood, to carry on.”
Those who wish to participate in the buy-a-brick program may purchase a 4-by-8-inch brick for $50 or an 8-by-7-inch brick for $100. They can be engraved with a business or family’s name, or a message.
On April 22, the society will officially kick off its capital campaign to raise the additional funds to build Hall’s Store.
Coastal Towns Museum in the works
According to Psaros, the society anticipates taking ownership of the Evans-West property, located just adjacent to John West Park, in February. The society has already worked to restore the property’s barn (one of the oldest in Sussex County) and place the home on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We’re going to have a big ribbon-cutting/yard party that day. We’ll have lots of dignitaries there, and we’re going to invite the community to come,” she said. “While the house won’t be reconfigured at that time, we want to turn it into the Coastal Towns Museum. That’s going to take a year or so.”
The Evans-West property is being donated by Carolyn Brunner, who has been a staunch supporter of the society for years.
“She has given us, over the years, so many things. Many of the furnishings in the Tunnel-West house have come from Carolyn Brunner,” said Psaros. “We’ll be saying ‘thank you’ to the Brunner family, who is giving us the property.”
“It means a great deal to her to be able to honor her grandparents, who built the house — James Evans. They just feel they would love to see this house preserved and give people the opportunity to see history,” added Nippes.
The ultimate plan for the Evans-West house is to turn it into the Coastal Towns Museum — with the society teaming up with local municipalities, such as Fenwick Island, South Bethany, Bethany Beach and Millville, to create a museum for the area’s history.
Along with seeking public donations, the society has hired a grant writer to help seek additional funds.
“I just took a shot in the dark,” said Nippes of the Crystal Trust grant.
“And he hit the lucky jackpot,” added Psaros.
Hiring a grant writer takes the pressure off of the society’s officers and places the responsibility in the hands of a professional, they noted.
Psaros said that, over the last seven years, the organization has received “wonderful local support — from locals, in terms of talent and time, as well as in monetary donations.
“A lot of our board members don’t even live in Ocean View… So, there’s definitely a lot of good will. People aren’t just saying, ‘I’m not joining because I don’t live in Ocean View.”
Along with their fundraising efforts, the society also has a number of events coming up this year for the community to enjoy and learn about the area’s history.
In March, Nippes will be offering a public lecture on the Order of the Red Men, “which was for a brief time a very important men’s organization in Ocean View.”
At the end of May, Psaros — whose father was part of the Civilian Conservation Corps — will be giving a public lecture on program.
Also in the month of May, the society hopes to host a history mix in local craftsman Norman Justice’s yard.
“He makes antique chests… He has an old chest that actually came from New England, that has this newspaper inside that has this list of slaves and the slave transaction — what they were sold for. He has samples of other old chests in there. They are really unique,” said Psaros, noting that the event will be limited in attendance, with registration required.
In the fall, the society also plans to host a historic house tour of Ocean View, featuring five to six homes.
Preserving the past is key to ensuring a prosperous future, said the pair — noting that education is important.
“If you understand your past … it helps bring the community together,” said Nippes. “Your history tends to bring you back to the values, because of the times they went through. It gives you an appreciation for what the people of the past had to go through. If they weren’t successful, the community probably would’ve died. You have to look at those people and give them credit for what they have done.”
“You can always learn a lot from the past — particularly how people dealt with obstacles or uncertain times,” added Psaros. “History can teach us a lot about how to behave in those instances, no matter whether you’re talking about the Civil War, World War II, slavery or the Depression. Whatever era it happens to be, you can learn from it.”
Donations to the Ocean View Historical Society’s Capital Campaign may be made by sending checks, made payable to the Ocean View Historical Society, to P.O. Box 576, Ocean View, DE 19970, or by calling (302) 541-9237.
For more information about the Ocean View Historical Society, or how to become a member, visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org or www.facebook.com/oceanviewhistoricalsociety. Those who are interested in purchasing a brick may email email@example.com or contact Nippes at (302) 539-8374.
Completing a project from the 2016 fiscal year, Sussex County now has a comprehensive electronic zoning map.
County Administrator Todd Lawson told the county council at their regular meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 31, that after learning that the Planning & Zoning Office did not have digital backups of zoning maps nor paper backups, County staff took on the seemingly daunting task of digitizing the records.
“It harkens back to a conversation I had with former Planning Director Lawrence Lank about an issue,” recalled Lawson, noting that Lank had pulled out one the County’s many zoning maps of record to look at a parcel. In noticing the condition of the maps, which had handwritten notes on them, Lawson asked if there were backups. Lank said there were none.
With that as the impetus, Lawson said the four decades of land-use maps have since been photographed, scanned and created in digital form, so as to be part of a permanent record.
Using GIS technology, the new maps show the County’s more than 160,000 parcels, their zoning and other important land-use data, including aerial images, addressing, lot dimensions and various approvals.
The great thing about the project, said Lawson, is that the public can now search the County’s records online, using the County’s online map system.
“As you make decisions in land use, and planning and zoning makes decisions, everything will be kept up-to-date on this platform,” he added.
The county council will consider the map for adoption following public hearings this spring.
To view the map, visit https://maps.sussexcountyde.gov/OnlineMap/Map.html.
Council hears from AGH
Also at the Jan. 31 council meeting, Michael Franklin, president/CEO of Atlantic General Hospital, gave the council an annual update.
“You hear about this a lot in the media, and obviously from federal legislation — how to make care about the patients, how to make care about the people who live in your community,” stated Franklin. “A lot of that, for us, is making sure we’re advancing the health of the residents in the community and making sure we’re providing care — not just when people are sick, but becoming part of people’s lives through the healthcare experience.”
Franklin said that over the last 40 years, the Maryland healthcare system had been focused on in-patient care — how to regulate it and keep costs down.
“The new plan is more focused on how we deal with patients — looking at how patients enter the system, how we set up our system so we deal with patients and people in different stations in their lives or illness.”
The goal, he said, is to improve experience and quality of care and reduce patient costs for care.
Last year, AGH had the highest reduction of readmissions in the state of Maryland and was in the top five for fewest total readmissions overall.
Franklin said the hospital needs to look at driving costs out of the system, rather than moving them elsewhere. He said the Maryland system has been successful in driving down cost inflation.
He said the hospital has expanded its women’s health services in Selbyville and are adding physicians in the Ocean View area soon.
In the near future, the hospital plans to open a dedicated 18,000-square-foot cancer-care facility to be constructed on the Berlin, Md., campus.
Currently, AGH employs close to 900 people, with a medical staff of 227. Franklin said their payroll is more than $48 million — all of which stays local.
“I appreciate you coming down,” said Councilman I. G. Burton. “I think it’s something we really need to know about.”
The Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission this week voted in favor of approving a conditional use request for 25 acres of AR-1 land, located on the southwest side of Sweetbriar Road in Lewes, to build a new school for the Sussex Consortium.
The Sussex Consortium is a comprehensive program, pre-K through age 21, preparing students with special needs for successful transitions toward a meaningful adult life.
The Consortium started in 1975 as a pilot project between the Children’s Beach House Inc. and the Cape Henlopen School District, with the purpose of serving students in the area who had severe learning disabilities. It has since evolved to providing educational opportunities for students with special needs, including those who are autistic.
The application was submitted on behalf of the Cape Henlopen School District; however, the Consortium serves all of Sussex County.
Georgetown attorney Jim Fuqua, who presented the application on behalf of the school district, said the Consortium has grown from 95 students in 2003 to more than 280 students today.
The main facility is housed in the old Lewes school building on Savannah Road in Lewes; however, there are additional classrooms at the Cape district’s high school, two middle schools and two elementary schools.
“This new school would be designed, constructed and tailored to accommodate the needs of its students. The Consortium student-teacher ratio is approximately 4.3 students per teacher.”
Fuqua said the fully built-out building would be two stories and would contain about 98,000 square feet. The building would be built in stages, with the main building being constructed first, at 60,000 square feet.
The future school would contain classrooms, administrative offices, a gymnasium, cafeteria, kitchen, secure courtyard, swimming pool and locker rooms.
Fuqua said the school would be able to accommodate 410 students — beyond what the current student enrollment is. He added that the parcel in question is in the County’s designated growth area.
Commissioners approved the application with a 4-0 vote.
County considers revamping commercial districts
That same evening, the commissioners reviewed a presentation by AECOM land-use planner Kyle Gulbronson regarding the county’s commercial zoning districts.
Commission Attorney Vince Robertson said the County Council had made the request for the review in light of recent applications and the trends in concerns raised in rezoning applications.
“The idea is … to make it so that the zoning districts for commercial uses, commercial districts, aren’t so wide open, so that if somebody applies for a district, there’s a coordinated understanding of what can go in there. It leads to more predictability for all those involved.”
The County currently has four commercial zones — Urban Business (with 125 uses); Neighborhood Business (with 65 uses); General Commercial, which is closed (with 109 uses); and Commercial Residential (with 110 uses).
The possible solution, said Gulbronson, would be to close the zoning districts the County currently has and create seven new zones: Neighborhood Business, Medium Commercial, Heavy Commercial, Planned Commercial District, Service/Limited Manufacturing, Professional Office and Institutional.
“This is very preliminary. This could change,” he said. “It most likely will change as we go through this process.”
The Neighborhood Business district would primarily serve for retail shopping and personal service uses. The Medium Commercial district would accommodate community commercial uses that do not have outside storage or sales. The Heavy Commercial District would be intended for larger scale auto-oriented retail and service businesses along or near major traffic routes that serve local and regional residents, as well as the traveling public.
The Planned Commercial District would be for carefully planned, large-scale commercial, retail and mixed-use developments as a means of creating a superior shopping, working and living environment through unified developments. The Service/Limited Manufacturing District would be used to maintain and facilitate the growth and expansion of small-scale light industrial, wholesale distribution and personal service uses.
The Professional Office District would be intended for office building, office park and professional park development uses. The Institutional District would serve for schools, hospitals, EMS stations and related uses.
“This was just an interim step to start to get some ideas together and really looking at the uses we have,” said Gulbronson.
When a house fire broke out in Georgetown, two elementary-school students used the training they’d received in school to save lives.
Carmen Giacubeno had invited Luciana “Luci” Bella Martin Rodriquez over for a sleepover on Jan. 6. That night, a space heater caught fire. Hearing the smoke alarm, the girls woke up to find heavy fire in the house.
They bypassed that room to wake the adults, evacuated to a meeting spot in the front yard and called 911. The Georgetown Fire Company and several other departments brought the blaze under control within 40 minutes and continued working for another 80 minutes.
The adults later revealed that “the smoke detector was working, but it was so faint that, without Luci and Carmen waking up, they would have never heard it,” said Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company Chief Matt Sliwa.
“This was a significant dangerous fire and presented extreme life threats,” said Sliwa. Despite that, he said, the students “executed their lifesaving plan perfectly.”
Giacubeno is a fourth-grader at East Millsboro Elementary School, and Rodriquez is a third-grader at Southern Delaware School of the Arts. Both received Indian River School District “Above and Beyond” awards at the Jan. 31 Board of Education meeting.
Sliwa thanked the school district for being a “fantastic partner” for fire prevention each October, accompanied by Georgetown Deputy Chief Mark Rogers and Frankford VFC Vice President Hunter Holland.
“The information we provide to these kids — while vital and possibly life-saving — we hope it’s never needed to be used,” Sliwa said, adding that the students had done exactly what they were supposed to.
The girls received honorary firefighter badges from the fire companies and a standing ovation from the school board and others in attendance at the meeting.
With Indian River School District superintendent Susan Bunting having been confirmed this week as the new Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education, the district was facing a vacancy in a vital post during a tense time at one of the fastest-growing districts in the state.
But as the IRSD begins advertising for a permanent replacement, Mark Steele will step up as acting superintendent until June 30. He’s already been Bunting’s right-hand man, as IRSD’s assistant superintendent since July of 2013. Steele came to district office after 14 years as principal at his alma mater, Indian River High School, where he had previously climbed from math and physics teacher to assistant principal.
Even the logistics of the change could prove to be a challenge. In 2013, the IRSD became eligible to have two assistant superintendents, due to its large student population. But the district left one of those positions vacant, choosing to save local district funds while declining the State’s share of the salary for that position.
“Mark is interim, and he’ll finish out the year, and then we’ll go from there,” said Board Member W. Scott Collins.
“Do we divide up that assistant superintendent’s job to the other directors?” Collins asked. “With the referendum coming up and the need of money, you don’t want to add staff because that doesn’t look good, because everybody complains now about [Indian River Education Complex] staff. But … we already send money back because we don’t have a second assistant superintendent.”
So now, IRSD has a new interim leader and two administrative vacancies.
Collins said the school board didn’t discuss Bunting’s actual contract, which would presumably end when she steps up to the state level. She wouldn’t be retiring from the district or state, just moving to another state position.
The school board had much to discuss before rain and coastal flooding canceled the Jan. 23 board meeting. It was rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 30, but was then postponed due to snowfall.
“It’s a big difference, and I learned that this week,” said Steele, who was offered the position by the school board. “I currently do the daily operations,” such as food service, transportation, buildings and grounds. “Now it’s the administrative evaluations, monitoring school visits, making sure I attend the state events for the superintendent, making sure the district has all the information they need to move forward … and I’m secretary of the board.”
After bidding Bunting farewell, Steele said the district will move forward, despite the shakeup in staff.
“It’s a situation where, internally, I think we have a good concept of where we are and where we need to go,” Steele said. “Everyone had their own thoughts and ideas on what to do and how we should do it. … I’m hoping to hit the ground running, especially with the referendum” on March 2.
In that second vote on funding for current expenses, the IRSD is asking for the public’s support for the district by increasing property taxes by 49 cents per $100 of assessed property value (not market value). As a current-expense referendum, it is designed to address the fact that the district needs more money to continue regular operations, not build new buildings — a need the district could address in a future referendum.
Steele said his major goals start with transparency. He’d like the IRSD to create a long-term plan, officially examining future enrollment, expenses and more.
“I think it’s a good business idea, and I think it’s a good community idea. We have to look at where we are and see where we are in five or 10 years,” Steele said. “I think it gives the community a good idea of where we’re going and where we’re headed, and I think that’s a really good thing to do.”
He said he also wants to be a community superintendent, continuing Bunting’s efforts to establish community trust, which he said is something that must be earned.
“First of all, be totally open and honest and transparent with the community, looking at finances and things,” Steele said last week, planning to discuss issues with the board Jan. 30. “We’ve got to get the community more involved,” he said, possibly adding finance meetings or subcommittees, “so there’s not only school board oversight, but community oversight as well.”
Other efforts he plans include being visible at public events, hosting town hall meetings for more discussion and placing financial statements on the district website (many are already listed with monthly school board agendas).
The public meeting schedule for referendum information nights has not been completed, but he applauded the parents and staff who created an ambassadors group to better inform the public about the vote.
Will Steele officially apply for the superintendent position? He joked that he’d answer that closer to July. Until then, he and the school board have a trial period to see how they work together.
“I appreciate the opportunity, that they had enough trust to put me here,” he said.
“I want people to know that we will make the changes that need to be made, to make this school district the best district it can possibly be.
“I think you’ll see a lot of teamwork, with the rest of the administrative group here to keep things running to the end of the year,” Steele said. “We’ll work on those things we feel need to be tweaked.”
Steele praised Bunting’s work as an administrator: “Our district is probably the premier district in the entire state. … There’s a high regard for what she’s done for the Indian River School District, and I think sometimes we lose sight of that.”
Secretary of Education is a fitting position for Bunting, Steele said, and Sussex County is lucky to have one of its own offered a state position of leadership.
“When you go somewhere with her, people know who she is, and they come to her. That’s a level of respect you don’t often see. She is a very intelligent lady. She is also compassionate and … she is just a nice person, and she works very hard at her job.”
Fenwick Island Town officials don’t know if or when their canals were last dredged, but officials said this week that it’s time to consider such a project.
“There are some issues with depth and getting in and out of our canals,” said Alex Daly of the Town’s Environmental Committee.
The first step is seeing the condition of the town’s canals and access channels, then deciding a course of action, Daly told the town council on Jan. 27.
So, as part of an effort to determine how shallow the canal beds have become, the Environmental Committee recently researched the costs of a hydrographic depth survey, which could range from $15,500 to $21,500 (plus $2,200 for calculations on removing material to a desired depth).
Now, Fenwick Island’s ad-hoc Financial Committee will begin brainstorming how to fund such an expense. If the council ever pursues dredging in future years, the cost could be millions of dollars, former town manager Merritt Burke IV had warned in 2015.
Fenwick will also consult with the Delaware Department of Natural Recourses & Environmental Control, as well as the neighboring towns of South Bethany and Ocean City, Md., for advice on canal upkeep and funding.
“Thank you for getting this going. This is a big item, I think,” said Mayor Gene Langan.
Propane tank a hiccup in subdivision
When discussing the application for subdivision of a few combined lots, the town council was told not to worry about a propane tank that was approaching non-compliance. With the council’s approval, the existing 2.5-lot property at 1208 Schulz Road was officially split into two buildable parcels.
One parcel will have adequate room for the existing freestanding garage to be demolished and replaced with a new house. However, on the second parcel, the existing house has a propane tank that will extend into the 7-foot side-yard setback. The propane tank was not drawn on the survey maps, but it’ll be a few feet from the new boundary.
Councilman Roy Williams voted against allowing a subdivision that might put something into non-compliance, resulting in a 5-1 vote in favor of approval, with Councilwoman Vicki Carmean absent.
But that preexisting tank is grandfathered in, even if the council reconfigured the lot, said Building Official Pat Schuchman. When the house was built 15 years ago, Fenwick Island didn’t regulate whether heating pumps or propane bottles were placed in the 7-foot setback, she said, although those items are no longer allowed to encroach.
Moreover, the Town’s rule forbidding those items being placed in the setback is just a policy, not a law.
“It is not in the codebook. It is a policy here that we follow that says nothing is allowed to encroach into that side, whereas now we enforce it, [and back] then we didn’t,” Schuchman said. “When somebody comes in, we say nothing goes in the side setback … for new construction.”
Owned by Harry King III and Yvonne King, the combined 17,144 square-foot property was split roughly in half.
In other Fenwick Island town news:
• New town manager Teresa “Terry” Tieman attended her first council meeting. She brings 28 years of municipal experience, including the last five in Harrington, where she earned the 2015 City Manager of the Year award for Delaware.
“I have never felt more welcome in my life,” said Tieman (“TEE-man”), complimenting the “great town staff.”
Langan welcomed her and thanked Police Chief William “Bill” Boyden, who had served as acting town manager since the summer: “He did a great job for us, and we appreciate it.”
• Fenwick has joined the effort to re-form the Association of Coastal Towns (ACT). After perhaps a decade-long hiatus, Delaware’s oceanfront towns will lobby together on issues including beach replenishment, realty transfer tax, fire company volunteerism and sea-level rise. Langan will report back after a February meeting.
• The Fenwick Island Comprehensive Plan update is nearly complete. Consultants are reviewing the draft now, said Councilman Richard Mais, with a proposed schedule of: April 4 — draft returned; April 28 — town council’s first reading; May 20 — public hearing; May 26 — town council’s second reading and final approval.
Councilwoman Julie Lee asked why the Town wasn’t holding the public hearing before the council reviews. Mais said the town solicitor had suggested the timetable. He also said there’s been minimal public input on the update and that the issues raised were addressed.
• Don’t forget the fire alarm: When property owners sign rental licenses at Town Hall, they will now see a new line reminding them that Delaware Code places responsibility on property owners and long-term tenants to ensure a home has working smoke alarms.
“Our homes are so close,” and working smoke alarms could help avoid a disaster, said resident Lynn Andrews.
• Asked about an apparent sewer smell near the intersection of Coastal Highway and E. Indian Street, Public Works Supervisor Bryan Reed said that the Delaware Department of Transportation had investigated their pipe but found nothing unusual. Langan suggested contacting Sussex County’s sewer department. Mais suggested marsh odors are wafting up from the exposed bay bottom, as he’s witnessed in South Bethany.
• With 16 voting members, the Business Development Committee has had difficulty getting a quorum. They’ve considered reducing membership to get town business done. Members who cannot serve should contact Langan or Chairperson Tim Collins.
• On New Year’s Day, around 140 people dove into the Atlantic Ocean for the annual Fenwick Freeze, raising $2,800 for the summertime lifeguard competitions. Remaining Freeze T-shirts are being sold at the Southern Exposure clothing shop.
• Public Works would like people’s opinions on a new style of access-improving beach mats, which are on display now at the Dagsboro Street dune crossover. The new material is more slip-resistant and has white stripes for nighttime visibility.
• Recycled wood will be used to build two new lifeguard stands, plus a bicycle rack, at a maximum cost of $3,000.
• While planning an expansion, the Sands Motel has not submitted any applications yet, but probably will in spring, said Schuchman. Last winter, the council changed town code to allow such an expansion, then placed a two-year moratorium on other new hotel/motel uses.
• The 2017 waste-hauling schedule has been updated. Waste Industries will now collect yard waste monthly, starting in April.
The Fenwick Island Town Council’s next regular meeting is Friday, Feb. 24, at 3:30 p.m.
Kindness can be like a rock in water. One good deed can ripple outward to distant shores.
Phillip C. Showell Elementary School celebrated January as Kindness Month by encouraging children to be kind and witness kindness in their lives.
With handmade Kindness Bracelets, students can now count and remember random acts of kindness each day.
“As they witness, give or receive an act of kindness through the day, they’ll move a charm,” said Laurie Hall, teacher of art and special education at the school. Hopefully, later, at home, “they talk about what they’ve done to move them.”
The bracelets are threaded so that people can slide the 10 beads deliberately, without them slipping backward again.
Hall said she sees kindness as a way to improve children’s overall lives.
“I feel that’s the backbone of everything. In order to have a good day, it takes a village. If we can all be kind, it’s going to waterfall into their academic day — hopefully, into the home,” Hall said.
It’s a good habit to form, she said, and the more people practice, the better they’ll get.
Looking at her own bracelet, Hall said, “I have four moved already. The first one was something I did” — picking up somebody’s dropped bag. She leafed through her memory for other acts of kindness she had seen, by students, teachers and in her own classroom five minutes earlier.
The PCS winter Spirit Week also included kindness, and students can win “Kind Bucks” if they’re caught being good. The teaching staff also made a bulletin board-sized Kindness Bracelet, with a goal to move 25 beads each day.
Different age groups of students also had related art projects. Second-graders brainstormed words of kindness (“smile, help, share, play, compliments”) then wrote those reminders on paper hearts.
Fourth-graders demonstrated the way to use a “Buddy Bench.” Anyone who feels sad or lonely can sit on the bench at recess. That’s a signal for other children to be friendly and join in.
“A Buddy Bench says … ‘I need someone to be kind,’” Carey told the kids. “When we share kindness, the other person feels encouraged, the other person feels better.”
Hall’s mission for kindness was inspired by a Salisbury, Md., woman who started the Kindness Bracelet movement. Grace Foxwell Murdock started the concept after the Sand Hook Elementary shootings in 2013. She wanted to help renew people’s sense of hope by counting those little acts of kindness that add up over the course of a day.
Murdock has used Kindness Bracelet profits to purchase Buddy Benches for schools on the Eastern Shore.
Kindness Bracelet is online at www.kindnessbracelet.com.
Last week, U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) paid a visit to Seaford to tour the Invista textile plant and shine a light on his concerns related to the nomination of Scott Pruitt to serve as Secretary of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In December, President Donald Trump nominated Pruitt, Oklahoma’s attorney-general, to serve as EPA administrator — a nomination that Carper, who serves as ranking member on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee, opposes. The EPA was reated in 1970 through a proposal by then-President Richard Nixon, with the mission to protect human health and the environment.
Last month, Carper and his colleagues on the committee sent Trump a letter voicing their concerns regarding Pruitt’s nomination. Carper joked in Seaford that he has sent numerous letters to Trump, as part of his effort to save the United States Postal Service.
While standing next to Williams Pond in Seaford on Feb. 3, Carper said that, if Pruitt were confirmed, it could impact Delaware greatly.
“When Donald Trump was running for president, one of the things he promised was to get rid of the EPA and, if he couldn’t get rid of it, to diminish its role and abilities,” said Carper. “One of his people was talking about reducing their headcount by two-thirds.”
Carper said it has been difficult to tell when the president is being serious or telling the truth, but that he made a statement with his nomination.
“When [Pruitt] arrived [in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office] eight years ago, there was an Environmental Protection Unit in the AG’s Office. There’s not one there anymore. The funding has gone away.”
Carper noted that Pruitt has spent millions of dollars suing the EPA numerous times over states’ rights, seeking to block former President Barack Obama’s climate-change plan and its protections against airborne mercury, among other topics.
On Jan. 18, in an opening statement during a hearing on Pruitt’s nomination, Carper said that Delaware is located at the end of “America’s tailpipe,” and it is through the work of the EPA and the State that Delawareans are able to breathe cleaner air.
“Ninety percent of the air pollution in Delaware comes from outside the First State — from power plants hundreds of miles away, in places like Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and across the Midwest. As governor of Delaware, even if I had eliminated every source of air pollution within our state by stopping every combustion source and ordering every motor vehicle off of our roads, Delawareans still would have faced deadly doses of air pollution.
“Should children and others in Delaware really be forced to live with the consequences of decisions made by polluters hundreds — or even thousands — of miles from us? I don’t think so. Fortunately, the EPA has recently implemented something called the Good Neighbor rule to make sure that all states do their fair share to clean up the air. Every citizen in this country has a right to breathe clean air, regardless of whether they live in a downwind or upwind state. That is why we have the EPA.”
While in Seaford, Carper continued to voice his concerns, noting that the continued denial of climate change could impact Delaware, as it is the lowest-lying state in the country.
“In the state of Delaware, we have a special stake in this. We see — literally every day, along our coast — the messages of what happens when the temperature of our planet continues to rise and the water continues to rise and encroaches on our land,” he said, noting that, if not addressed, climate change could lead to NASCAR racing turning to sailboat regattas at Dover Downs. “It’s a real threat to our way of life, our ability to live.”
He added that a number of small towns have used the State’s revolving loan fund, which is seeded by the EPA, for wastewater and drinking water improvements. In 2012, the Town of Selbyville received $1.4 million of water funding to build two new wells, following studies that showed the levels of methyl tert-butyl ether in its existing wells were above the permitted limits.
The EPA’s Beaches Environmental Assessment & Coastal Health Act (BEACH) Act has funded the monitoring and testing of local waters. Carper said the list of the agency’s positive impacts on the state goes on, and that he would continue to work to support the programs and agencies that benefit Delawareans and Americans.
To read more of Carper’s statements related to the Pruitt nomination, visit www.carper.senate.gov.
Shoppers who visit the Harris Teeter supermarket in West Fenwick on a Sunday will often run into 18-month-old bullmastiff Gus and his owners, Lisa and J.P. McCormick.
“We would go get Starbucks coffee on Sunday mornings and would take Gus. We’ve been doing it for a year now. We go into the atrium, sit on the bench, drink our Starbucks, and people come in and out,” said Lisa McCormick. “Wouldn’t you know — it’s the same faces every week, and they look for Gus. The store employees come out and ask for him. If we miss a Sunday, the next one, people ask, ‘Where were you?’”
McCormick said Gus is a friendly dog and loves interacting with people.
“He loves children, and all the kids who come in go crazy over him. I think the cool part about it is … we make people smile. There are some people who walk in that aren’t smiling, but when they see Gus, their whole face lights up. I think he’s therapeutic for some people. They come back to pet him and even wait in line. We call him ‘the Harris Teeter mascot.’”
But even those who see him at Harris Teeter may not be aware that Gus is no ordinary pup. This coming Tuesday, Gus will be one of a select few bullmastiffs competing in the Westminster Dog Show in New York, N.Y.
“Westminster is like the Super Bowl,” said McCormick, noting it will be Gus’ eighth competition show but his first time competing at Madison Square Garden.
Although he is known as “Gus” at home, his official American Kennel Club name is Boundless Going for the Gusto. Having participated in eight shows, Gus is now a champion and is working toward his Grand Champion title. At the Westminster show, Gus will be competing against 24 Champion and Grand Champion bullmastiffs, and will be amongst 3,000 dogs competing in the show.
Gus won his first Best of Breed award in Wildwood, N.J., last month, and friends and family of the McCormicks encouraged them to take him to Westminster.
“Knowing how big he was and how well he’s doing, a couple of people said, ‘Go for it,’ and he did get in. He’s up there with the top nationally-ranked dogs in the country. We don’t have any expectations, but you never know — it’s all about the judge.
“This judge is out of California. She’ll come in and just judge bullmastiffs that morning. She’s looking for the best of breed, and he’s going to be competing with 24 bullmastiffs this year, which is a lot.”
The McCormicks got Gus when he was 8 weeks old, from a breeder in Ellicott City, Md.
“We had wanted a bullmastiff, but we couldn’t find any litters available, so my husband was out there trying to search but couldn’t find anything,” recalled McCormick. However, they were finally able to adopt Gus from a breeder.
“She asked if we were ‘show people.’ We were like, ‘No, we just want a good pet, and we’re willing to pay good money for a good pet.’ She’s like, ‘OK — you’ll be last, because I have all of these show people who want to eventually show them.’
“It was kind of funny, because Gus was considered the sleeper in the litter, which is the smaller one. Well, we got the biggest boy, which is hilarious.”
Although he was the sleeper of the litter, Gus now weighs in at 145 pounds and is not yet done growing.
“The breeder asked if we would consider showing him. We don’t have kids, and we don’t really have a hobby, so we thought, sure. We went to a couple shows last spring,” she said. “We just got lucky and got a great dog and fell into this accidentally. It just ended up being fun.”
Not only were the McCormicks not “show people” prior to adopting Gus, but they had never owned a bullmastiff before.
“I would always see pictures of these bullmastiffs and say, ‘Oh, my gosh — I want one one day.’ My husband was onboard. He likes the biggest dog he can get,” she said. “We were looking for a year and a half.”
After looking into showing Gus, McCormick began attended Salisbury Kennel Club events in January 2016 and taking conformation classes.
“It’s all about the dog — how does he look, his head, his cheeks, his bite, his top line. I trained him pretty much with these classes.”
McCormick said it’s a great learning experience, but she has no interest in being Gus’ handler at shows. Currently, Ron Klopfer from Bear, Del., works with Gus as his handler.
But Gus is just a normal dog, too — one that enjoys running around sod fields, going for walks with the McCormicks and, of course, visiting his fans at Harris Teeter.
“It’s therapeutic for us, too. It’s a whole new chapter in our lives. It’s something new. Thanks to Gus, we’re doing this, and it’s opened a lot of new doors for us, which is really cool.
“They call his breed ‘gentle giants,’ and they really are. He’s just the most gentle, sweet soul. He just loves people. He’s a lovebug. He’s got so much personality and loves people. There’s not a mean bone in his body. He sleeps with us. He’ll plop himself right up on the sofa with me every night. He has the best disposition.”
Her husband wanted to name their dog Gus even before they got him, and they said it’s appropriate. “It’s the best name, and it suits him.”
The McCormicks will head to New York on Monday and hang out in their pet-friendly hotel before Gus’ Westminster show time, at 9 a.m. the next morning.
They purchased tickets so that, in case Gus does not win, the two can watch the rest of the show while Gus rests.
“I can’t believe I’m sitting here talking about this right now. This was foreign to me two years ago. I never would have been able to talk like this.” He’s only 18 months, so we can go back to Westminster next year, if we have to,” she said with a laugh.
Gus won’t always be a show dog, said McCormick, noting she that hopes he can eventually serve as a therapy dog and visit people at nursing homes.
McCormick said she and her husband, along with their friends and family, are very excited about the show.
“He’s really into it,” McCormick said of her husband. “I hear him telling people we meet on the street or at Harris Teeter, ‘Yeah, he’s going to Westminster next week!’ It’s so cute. Sometimes at night he’ll be petting Gus and start chanting, ‘BOB’ — ‘Best of Breed.’ ‘We’re going to be BOB! BOB!’ I’m like — ‘Oh, you’re such a nerd.’
“A few years ago, my niece Alyssa Murray was Miss Delaware America. We often laugh about that and say, ‘OK, Alyssa — you had your moment; now it’s Gus’ turn.’ We’ve got a lot of good friends and family who are so supportive and excited for us.”
Those who are interested in watching Gus compete may do so through live online streaming on Fox Sports/National Geographic on Tuesday, Feb. 14, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Gus will be in Ring 9 at 9 a.m. The dogs that win their breed class will appear in breed group competition on live TV on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. on FS1 (the bullmastiff is part of the Working dog group), culminating in the awarding of Best in Show.
An Indian River High School health teacher was arrested Wednesday, Jan. 18, for allegedly trying to prevent a meeting between school administrators and another district employee. Delaware State Police arrested Paris D. Mitchell, 41, of Milton, on one count of coercion.
The charge “stemmed from an alleged incident in which Mitchell threatened to reveal information about inappropriate relationships between teachers and students if a meeting was to take place between the school administrators and another employee,” stated Delaware State Police public information officer M.Cpl. Gary Fournier.
In Delaware State Code, coercion is any situation in which a person forces or persuades someone to engage or abstain from certain conduct by “instilling in the victim a fear that, if the demand is not complied with, the defendant or another will … expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject some person to hatred, contempt or ridicule.”
Coercion is Class A misdemeanor.
A school official reported the incident to Troop 4 in Georgetown. Mitchell was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 2 in Rehoboth Beach and released on $1,000 unsecured bond, with a no-contact order with the Indian River School District.
“There are currently no active investigations regarding students/teachers,” Fournier wrote.
The IRSD released the following statement: “Paris Mitchell has been placed on unpaid leave by the Indian River School District, pending the outcome of the judicial process. Mr. Mitchell’s claim of an inappropriate relationship between a teacher and student was investigated by the district and found to be without merit.”
“We have two district investigators on staff now,” added district spokesperson David Maull. “Whenever allegations of anything like that come to us, we investigate it immediately. That’s sort of the general rule, the process. If it involves any kind of sexual misconduct, we refer that to the state police as well.”
Public employees have a right to privacy, so district officials cannot publically discuss an individual’s performance, including further behind-the-scenes details of this alleged incident.
“As a general rule, an employee is placed on unpaid leave if he or she has been charged with a criminal act,” IRSD officials added in a Feb. 1 statement. “In certain instances, it may be necessary to place an employee on leave if he or she is under investigation for suspected wrongdoing. This is generally a paid leave until the employee is either charged with a crime or cleared of any wrongdoing. If the investigation results in the employee being charged with a crime, his or her leave may be converted to unpaid status.”
• The Bethany Beach Cultural & Historic Affairs Committee will meet at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at town hall. The agenda for the meeting includes discussion regarding dates for future cultural evenings; an update on current projects, including newsletters, new historical markers and updates on the museum; a discussion regarding plans for a possible docents meeting; an update on the Dinker Cottage; discussion of the Heritage Trail Tours; and discussion of plans for Periers Day 2017.
• The Bethany Beach Budget & Finance Committee will meet on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 10 a.m. at town hall.
• The Bethany Beach Town Council will hold a public hearing at 1 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, at town hall, to receive comments on an ordinance to amend Section 425-105 of the Bethany Beach Town Code, to allow the Bethany Beach building inspector to grant an administrative variance.
• The Bethany Beach Town Council will hold a council workshop/special meeting on Monday, Feb. 13, at 10 a.m. at town hall. The agenda for the meeting includes: discussion regarding the trolley/trolley route; discussion regarding the renovation of Atlantic Avenue; discussion of a proposal to have a play in Central Park this summer/fall; review of the town manager’s budget items for the 2018 fiscal year; discussion regarding use of audio-visual equipment for town business; and review of the agenda for the Feb. 17 town council meeting.
• The Bethany Beach Town Council will hold its next regular meeting at 2 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, at town hall. The agenda for the meeting includes: a second reading of an ordinance to amend Chapter 217 (Alcoholic Beverages), to add a new section regarding hotels; a second reading of an ordinance to amend Chapter 395 (Building Construction) to extend construction hours on Saturdays between Oct. 1 and May 30, from 8 a.m. to noon (current) to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (proposed); and a second reading of an ordinance to amend Chapter 475 (Property Maintenance) to reduce problems associated with residential outdoor lighting by regulating both the intensity and location of outdoor lighting.
• The Bethany Beach Planning Commission is set to meet on Saturday, Feb. 18, at 9 a.m. at town hall.
• Amateur and professional photographers can submit samples to be considered for South Bethany’s upcoming “Art in the Hall” exhibit. Applications are due by March 15, with the exhibition scheduled for May 26 to June 24, hosted at town hall by the Community Enhancement Committee. For details, contact Councilwoman Sue Callaway or visit the Town website.
• South Bethany is accepting applications for the position of town manager. Details on are available on the Town website.
• The Communications & Public Relations Committee will meet Friday, Feb. 10, at 1 p.m. The agenda for the meeting includes the Polar Plunge 2017; final plans for the March 11 potluck dinner; summer movies; band concert; Realtor outreach activities; website and Facebook use; other summer advertising; and more.
• The town council’s next regular meeting is Friday, Feb. 10, at 7 p.m. The agenda includes a feral cats report; the 2017 Board of Election; town employee travel policy; town donation policy; the first and second readings of Ordinance 185-17, to amend the Code Chapter 134 “Vehicles, Operation of” to regulate the time and months that vehicles cannot enter Black Gum Drive in from Kent Avenue; the first and second readings of Ordinance 186-17, to amend the Code Chapter 34 “Beaches,” to prohibit smoking on the beach and in other areas in town; and more.
• Town Hall will be closed Monday, Feb. 20, for Presidents Day.
• The town council will hold a budget workshop on Thursday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m.
• The Town of South Bethany’s website is located at www.southbethany.org.
• The Environmental Committee will meet Thursday, Feb. 9, at 2:30 p.m.
• The Business Development Committee will meet Wednesday, Feb. 15, at 2 p.m.
• Town Hall will be closed Monday, Feb. 20, for Presidents Day.
• The town council’s next regular meeting is Friday, Feb. 24, at 3:30 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 Millville Town Council election scheduled for March 4 has been canceled. Two incumbents and one other residents were the only candidates to file for the three available council seats, each of which carries a term of two years. Council Members Robert Gordon and Susan Brewer will retain their seat, with resident Peter Michel filling the other vacancy.
• The town council’s next regular meeting is set for Wednesday, Feb. 15, 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 town council’s next regular meeting will be Monday, Feb. 27, at 6 p.m., at Bethel U.M. Church.
• The Town of Dagsboro website is at www.townofdagsboro.com.
• Nominations being accepted for Selbyville Town Council seats. The election will be Saturday, March 4. Three positions are up for election, each carrying a two-year term. Candidates must submit a Notice of Candidacy to Town Hall by Friday, Feb. 10, at 4:30 p.m. Candidates must be at least 21; a U.S. citizen; and have been a bona fide resident of the municipality at least one year before election day.
The voter registration deadline is also Feb. 10 at 4:30 p.m. (Municipal registration is separate from state or federal voter registration.) Qualified voters must be at least 18; a U.S. citizen; and be a bona fide resident of the municipality.
• Curbside recycling is collected every other Wednesday, continuing Feb. 15.
• The Town website is at www.TownOfSelbyville.com.
Indian River School District
• IRSD committee meetings are set for Monday, Feb. 13 at the Indian River Educational Complex in Selbyville: 4 p.m. Policy, 5 p.m. Curriculum, 6 p.m. Buildings & Grounds, 7:30 p.m. Finance.
• The district will host a public referendum on Thursday, March 2, to address a current-expense issue with a proposed 49-cent increase per $100 of assessed property value. The weather date is March 16. The Nov. 22 public referendum was defeated by a margin of 20 votes among more than 6,000 cast.
The district will host four public meetings about the referendum at which people can hear a presentation and ask questions of district officials. Meetings are set for 6 p.m. on Feb. 15 at Lord Baltimore Elementary School, Feb. 16 at Georgetown Middle School, Feb. 23 at Indian River High School and Feb. 27 at Sussex Central High School (prior to the Board of Education meeting).
• There is no school for students on Feb. 17, for a teacher workday, or Feb. 20, for Presidents Day.
• The IRSD Board of Education’s next regular meeting is Monday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. Sussex Central High School.
• The Indian River School District’s Special Education Task Force will host a parent focus group meeting on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, at Millsboro Middle School, at 6 p.m.
• There is no 2017 School Board election because no seats are up for reelection this year.
• 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
The Delaware Transit Corporation (DTC) will conduct public hearing workshops this month to obtain comments on proposed changes to DART Statewide Fixed Route Bus Services, to become effective Sunday, May 21, as well as Resort Transit Service, to become effective Saturday, May 6, (pre-season weekend service), with full service to begin Monday, May 22. The local hearing will take place Thursday, Feb. 23, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on the second floor of the Rehoboth Beach Fire Department, 219 Rehoboth Avenue, Rehoboth Beach. Additional hearings are set for Feb. 21 in Dover, Feb. 22 in Wilmington, Feb. 23 in Seaford and Feb. 28 in Newark.
The proposals call for statewide schedule and routing changes to improve on-time performance and route connectivity; discontinuation of unproductive trips and route segments, and reallocating those resources to improve services. Resort Transit proposals include operation of some routes out of the new Lewes Transit Center’s Park & Ride, with increased frequencies on most routes.
Beginning the week of Feb. 13, a summary of proposed changes and service proposals will be available for review online at www.DartFirstState.com, and at the Wilmington, Dover and Georgetown libraries, WILMAPCO and at the reception desks of DART Administrative Offices.
Sussex County will once again participate in the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program this year, with the county council voicing its approval following a public hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 7.
The program provides funding for a variety of activities, such as rehabilitation, demolition and housing-code enforcement, “to maintain or improve existing housing, and for the provision of infrastructure in support of housing development for low- and moderate-income persons.”
Brad Whaley, community development and housing director for Sussex County, told the council that his office applies for funding from the United States Department of Housing & Urban Development each year on behalf of the County and some of its municipalities. Whaley said that, each year, they typically they receive $1.2 million to $1.7 million.
Over the past five years, the total CDBG and HOME Investment Partnerships Program funds awarded equaled $7.1 million, with 849 households being assisted, housing 1,365 residents. Municipalities that received funding included Frankford, Selbyville, Georgetown and Milton.
In the 2015 fiscal year, Sussex County received $1,360,799 in CDBG and HOME program funding. In that fiscal year, the program assisted 127 low- to moderate-income households. Of those households, 78 percent had incomes below 50 percent of the area mean income (AMI) and 50 percent had incomes below 30 percent of the AMI.
More than 70 percent of those projects were completed by companies that qualify under Section 3 and/or WBE/MBE/VBE designations. Whaley said that, in order for households to qualify for housing rehabilitation, the property must be homeowner-occupied, must be insured or insurable, taxes must be current, and the homeowner must agree to have a lien placed on the property to secure funding.
Rehab projects have included repairing and building new handicapped-accessible ramps and bathrooms, repairing water-damaged rooms and repairing the exteriors of homes.
Whaley said that, for the 2017 fiscal year, municipalities requesting funding include Blades, Bridgeville, Georgetown and Selbyville. The County applications include Mount Joy and rural areas near Dagsboro and Millsboro.
Emergency Rehab in the 2017 fiscal year was primarily used for households without running water and heat.
Whaley said the county-wide waiting list for help is about 900 applicants, with an additional 300 in municipalities. Brandy Nauman, Sussex County’s Fair Housing compliance officer, said the wait is between five and seven years.
Whaley noted that it is a nationwide program and that Sussex County has been participating for more than 25 years.
“We’ve been very successful with emergency funding,” Councilman George Cole said. “I think it’s a very excellent program, if we can just target rehabs, instead of infrastructure. I think the benefits of rehab are outstanding.”
The council voted unanimously to apply for Community Development funds from the Delaware State Housing Authority, in accordance with appropriate regulations governing Community Development Block Grants for the State of Delaware Community Development Block Grant Program; and to authorize County Administrator Todd Lawson to certify that matching funds in excess of $165,000 will be made available upon the approval by the Delaware State Housing Authority.
“It’s great, you’re helping communities, you’re helping people,” said Council President Michael Vincent. “It’s a good thing.”
The Town of Frankford may no longer have to appeal the decision of the Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC) regarding a Mountaire well and the resulting loss of revenue for the Town.
In August, the Town filed a statement of appeal to the State’s Environmental Appeals Board, stating its decision was “improper” due to failure of notice, along with Delaware Code violations, including municipality approval of all well permits issued within town limits and permission from the municipality approving the activity of drilling the non-potable well within town limits.
At the town council’s monthly meeting on Monday, Feb. 6, Frankford Town Solicitor Chad Lingenfelder said the appeal may no longer happen, as the Town is working to come to settlement agreements with both Mountaire and DNREC.
“There are some legal issues regarding the viability of that permit being issued,” said Lingenfelder. “We’ve been in negotiations regarding that issue.”
Lingenfelder referenced a United States Department of Agriculture grant for a water feasibility study the Town hired AECOM to conduct.
“Part of the terms of settlement that we’re starting to iron out is that DNREC is going to match that grant, with what they call a Drinking Water Grant — $30,000 is going to come from DNREC.”
Lingenfelder said that DNREC wanted to see what it would take to bring Delaware Avenue into the Town’s water system, which is part of the feasibility study AECOM is currently working on. He noted that the Town is not locked into borrowing money from DNREC or USDA.
Part of the settlement, he said, would include the forgiveness of approximately $500,000 of outstanding loans the Town owes DNREC, once fluoride has been installed in its water plant and is operational for 90 days. Lingenfelder said that would allow the Town to get better loans in the future, because it would have no debt burden.
In the settlement, Lingenfelder said, there would be no deemed responsibility.
Resident Tony Presley asked if the residents of the town would be notified about the addition of fluoride to the water. Presley said there are studies that support not having fluorinated water.
Lingenfelder said the Town is one of the only municipalities that has government-backed loans that does not have fluoride in its water system, which is federally mandated. He added that everyone would be notified of the addition.
Councilman Marty Presley said the council’s goal is to get fluoride online in the plant without impacting anyone’s health.
“We’re trying to make sure, when we do it this time, it’s done right.”
Lingenfelder said there will be a determination by May 1 as to how fluoride may be added to the plant, and the whole feasibility study should be completed by July 1.
The Town is also in negotiations with Mountaire regarding the company providing the Town with compensation over a 10-year period to “alleviate the financial burden” of the company reducing its use of the Town’s water.
“They are two separate tracks, but in the end it would tie into the settlement agreement,” said Lingenfelder, noting that the council would have to vote on the agreements before they were signed.
“We did the numbers — without any sort of relief, Frankford would have one of the highest water rates not just in the state of Delaware but probably in the nation, with 883 people.”
Former Indian River School District chief financial officer Patrick Miller has been accused of nepotism, mismanagement of funds, authorizing payments to other nonprofit organizations he leads, improperly using the IRDS board president’s signature and potentially intimidating staff into sharing their financial software passwords to bypass financial safeguards.
But he has yet to be charged with any criminal acts.
Miller’s name has been plastered on news reports across the state as a result of the allegations, though he resigned about the same time that a Delaware Auditor of Accounts (AOA) audit of the district began.
Some members of the public are now clamoring for action to be taken against Miller, and they’re demanding it be taken sooner, rather than later, though investigations are ongoing. “What’s stopping the IRSD from revoking his pension?” they have asked. “Moreover, why hasn’t a lawsuit begun?”
The answer to those questions starts with the American credo that people are considered innocent until proven guilty.
Miller has not been formally charged with a crime in regards to IRSD finances. Although the auditor’s office is an official government agency, their report still amounts to an accusation.
The Delaware Attorney General’s Office is the only party that can pursue criminal charges (such as theft or forgery) in such a case, and after receiving a copy of the 2016 audit, the Delaware Department of Justice has been investigating the matter. Eventually, they’ll decide whether to even pursue charges.
Personally, Delaware Auditor Wagner has said, he has investigated more egregious acts in other cases that weren’t pursued in court. But his job as auditor stops when the report is done.
The Attorney General hasn’t given the IRSD any indication of the outcome of its investigation.
For both district officials and the public, “Realistically, we’re all going to find out at the same time,” said Mark Steele, the IRSD’s acting superintendent.
IRSD could pursue civil lawsuit
Aside from possible criminal charges, when it comes to civil lawsuits, “Individual school districts retain their own legal counsel, so they are not represented by the DOJ,” according to DOJ spokesperson Carl Kanefsky. “However, there is nothing that would keep them from bringing civil action against a person.”
But there are some issues that have kept the district from moving ahead with a lawsuit thus far.
To begin with, as a plaintiff, the IRSD and its legal team would bear the brunt of leading a potential lawsuit and persuading a judge of their case.
“The district hasn’t made a decision one way of the other … because it is waiting for all the processes to conclude,” said IRSD attorney David Williams of Morris James LLP. “The district wants to make an informed, intelligent decision about what course of action to take. It really isn’t in a position to do so that this point.”
Yes, the IRSD could theoretically pursue civil suit. But district officials say now is not the time.
The IRSD would benefit from waiting for the AG’s Office to complete its work, for several reasons. If the AG prosecutes and secures a “guilty” plea or verdict, then the sentencing would likely include jail time and/or restitution. In that case, justice would be considered served, and there would be no reason to pursue civil action. Additionally, attorney fees are expensive and the IRSD could save money by not bringing its own suit, if it can be avoided.
“I personally don’t think the timing is appropriate,” Williams said. “The district is waiting to see what the outcome of all that is, and then it’ll make a more informed, intelligent decision.”
Civil suits would be appropriate next steps in a situation in which the AG fails to prosecute, so the employer would have to prove theft in a civil case in order to get restitution.
“The district gets frustrated it takes the auditor as long as it does,” Williams said. “We would all like to see this thing move along more quickly, but the district has to be smart about what it does.”
Between the auditor’s office and AG investigations, the IRSD’s own likely investigation has taken a back seat.
“The state auditor came in and conducted a lengthy investigation. When the state audits, the district is not really even permitted to conduct a parallel investigation,” Williams said.
As a legal issue and with an active investigation by the Attorney General’s office under way, IRSD officials declined to comment further at this time.
“The district does not have the authority or jurisdiction to charge any current or former employee with a crime. The AG’s office is in possession of the state auditor’s report and is currently conducting its own investigation,” IRSD officials stated.
Pensions are also untouchable
Miller has yet to be officially charged with any wrongdoing in the case, so he remained on paid leave until his official retirement in June 2016, when his pension began.
“As a general rule, an employee is placed on unpaid leave if he or she has been charged with a criminal act,” according to an IRSD statement on Feb. 1. “If the investigation results in the employee being charged with a crime, his or her leave may be converted to unpaid status.”
In general, the IRSD doesn’t deal with pensions after an employee retires.
During a state employee’s career, both they and the employer make contributions to the state pension trust fund. Upon retirement, their pension benefits are calculated, based on their years of service and highest three years of pay.
“From our standpoint, it’s coming from the trust fund. It’s not necessarily coming from the State or the employer, and that’s why it’s [protected],” said David Craik, Delaware’s pension administrator.
“Under the current statute, there are no provisions that they would lose their pension,” Craik said of employees in such cases. “You have a vested right to your benefit.”
Over the years, court decisions have only added to those rights. In 1979, the Court of Chancery of Delaware decided that a person may still receive their benefits, even if their breech of public trust resulted in their job termination (State Board of Pension Trustees vs. Dineen). In that case, a director for New Castle County School District pled guilty to official misconduct, a misdemeanor, for not repaying $150 worth of maintenance by district employees on his personal properties during school hours.
“The only time that we would stop [payments] is if some action was taken that would benefit them,” such as a case in which a woman was found guilty for murdering her state-employee husband. She would not get survivor benefits, said Burt Scouglietti of the Office of Management & Budget.
The Delaware State Legislature could change the system, but only within the confines of the Delaware Constitution.
In 2012 and 2015, legislators proposed bills that would eliminate pensions for retirees with the most serious of criminal convictions (murder, sexual crimes, human trafficking and child abuse), or who committed crimes through their public office (including theft and forgery). Neither bill got out of committee.
“A state employee that retires — that’s their retirement. We don’t have any control over that,” said W. Scott Collins, IRSD board member. “Whether employees are charged or not — we don’t have any control over that. There’s things the board is really getting hammered on that we have no control over.”
That’s a frustrating part of being a board member, said Collins, who noted that he had originally joined the board in 2011, raring to go, until he realized how much a school district is bound by state and federal law.
The IRSD Board of Education has begun what little action they feel is possible, he said. The public can’t know what investigations are occurring in the background, but the IRSD did reach out to the Indian River Volunteer Fire Company in January to request a $4,900 reimbursement from the district’s purchase of an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) from the fire company while Miller served on its board, as well as for a district projector the fire company allegedly uses.
“We’ve been pushing for the Attorney General’s Office to do something, so we decided that we felt we needed to reach out, because we’re getting asked about recouping some money,” said Collins.
The people want transparency, but, by law, public employees have a right to privacy. Town councils and school boards cannot discuss an individual’s performance or pay rate in public meetings.
But those restrictions and lack of immediate legal action on the part of the district have only fueled the resistance of those opposing a second attempt at the district’s current-expense referendum, which failed by just 20 votes in November, though those funds are needed to address extensive growth in the school district’s population.
“How can this board have the audacity to ask the citizens to vote for a referendum giving the district more money while allowing this former CFO to retire, receiving $92,000 a year?” Hillary Mitchell asked the board in January.
“The board has further insulted the community by asking us to support a referendum as they allow Mr. Miller to retire with a full pension and paying him $52,000 to end his contract,” Valerie Reeves wrote in a letter to the editor of the Coastal Point.
“It’s great to be open to the public, but we can’t discuss employees,” board Vice President Rodney Layfield has said.
Any employee can also collect leftover vacation and sick days.
“If an employee were to ask for those to be cashed out for their retirement, we would follow the direction of our attorneys, because we are not able to withhold that from an individual employee.”
In fact, the IRSD could be sued for refusing pay such benefits, said Layfield, emphasizing that he was speaking broadly about employee retirements in general.
“By state law, our former CFO was entitled to his full pension and benefits at the time of his retirement. This was not a secretive process, as has been alleged by some members of our community,” IRSD officials stated. “To withhold those benefits would have been a violation of the Delaware Code and exposed the district to possible legal repercussions.”
Past charges couldn’t be shared
When Miller was hired by the IRSD in 1998, he had just departed from the same position with the Brandywine School District. As the only IRSD board member from then still serving today, Charles Bireley said the IRSD wasn’t aware of accusations of financial finagling by Miller in that previous job, even when he was sentenced to community service.
Indeed, officials such as Robert Wagner could face a libel lawsuit if they were to inform another school district of an ongoing investigation.
According to the Delaforum publication, in 2000, Miller entered a plea bargain just before a jury trial was to begin in November of 2000. It was a no-contest plea — one in which the suspect neither admits to, nor fights, the charge of tampering with public records. Under a relatively new law, he could serve probation before the court reached a final verdict.
The judge in that case instructed Miller to serve 100 hours of community service in Sussex County, report to a probation officer and not violate any laws, Delaforum reported. Under the plea agreement, after that, the court would basically acquit Miller, and another charge (theft of an amount less than $1,000) would be dropped.
Afterward, he could potentially seek to have expunged the criminal record that resulted from the charges.
Once thought to have been stolen, more than $600,000 has been found at American Legion Post 28 in Millsboro. It was in the ATM the whole time.
The related investigation has now ended, and the Delaware State Police detectives assigned to the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) found no evidence of embezzlement.
The initial investigation suggested that “the suspects, who were Post 28 officers at the time, wrote and signed numerous checks out to CASH, cashed the checks at local banks, and the funds were not returned to or used for American Legion Post 28 business,” DGE stated in April of 2016.
But, after an extensive financial review, DGE this week announced, “These checks were to obtain cash to replenish the money in the Post’s ATM machine. In addition, ATM records for the machine reflected that withdrawals made by the accused reconciled with cash withdrawals made by patrons.”
The Delaware Attorney General’s Office also reviewed the investigation and decided there was no basis to proceed with prosecution.
“While the initial investigation established probable cause through witness statements, video surveillance and bank records, new information uncovered after the arrests disputed the evidence originally obtained and did not support the charges filed against the suspects,” DGE officials stated.
The investigation began in January of 2016, with the belief that six past or present officers might have stolen $641,100 from the veterans’ association. Five men were arrested in April. But by May, the Delaware Department of Justice had dropped the charges, without prejudice, against Samuel Mauger, James Gallagher, Edward Mazewski, Charles Nimmericher and Michael Rooney. A sixth suspect, David Yetman, was deceased.
“Additional information was made after the initial arrest was made. The goal is to get it right,” DOJ Public Information Officer Carl Kanefsky said at the time.
Gaming Enforcement got involved because some money came from slot machines, which are an important source of income for Post 28 (Oak Orchard/Riverdale).
“Throughout the investigation, DGE had the support of the American Legion membership allowing for a transparent review,” DGE stated this month. “In light of the DGE review, the Post is working to establish better internal financial controls and safeguards.”
The DGE referred questions about Legion finances to Post 28.
Officers at Post 28 were not available for comment before the Coastal Point’s press deadline this week.
Founded in 1983, Post 28 has become one of the largest in the nation and the world, with membership of more than 2,300 and a 12-acre site on Route 24, which also houses a Ladies Auxiliary and Sons of the American Legion.
But Post 28 didn’t shut down while the investigation continued. Volunteers continued their work all year, with ongoing projects, such as Christmas collections for needy families, Halloween events for children, fundraisers, dinners and dances, even earning national recognition for their service.
After being married for three-quarters of a century, perhaps it’s understandable that you’d lose track of the exact number of years that have passed.
So, last month, when Dan and Beverly Shirley of Ocean View received cards congratulating them on 75 years of marriage, they were initially a bit taken aback.
“I thought it was only the 74th,” Dan Shirley said.
But it was indeed Jan. 16, 1942, when the two were married in St. Barnabas Church in Oxon Hill, Md. Dan was 22 and Beverly was 20.
“It was just a family gathering on a Friday evening,” Beverly Shirley recalled.
The two said that, since they both could only get the weekend off from their jobs, after their small wedding ceremony, they left for a weekend in Richmond, Va. At the time, Beverly worked as secretary for a Washington, D.C., electrical firm and Dan worked for Peoples drug stores as a signage and display manager. The couple noted that they did get to have a “real” honeymoon — a week in Virginia Beach, Va. — that summer.
Asked how they met and how their courtship started, the two didn’t have a lot to say, except that they had known each other through school but didn’t start dating until afterward, because “Beverly’s mother wouldn’t let her date until she was out of school,” Dan said.
To hear him tell it, he was quite the man-about-town from the time he got his first car at the age of 14.
“You didn’t need a license to drive a car in those days,” he said, adding that “I dated girls from then on.”
Once they did start dating, the couple dated for about a year before they married and, from that first date, he said, “We’ve been together ever since.”
Before they were “serious,” though, there was a time when, Dan admitted, he left his home because he was upset that Beverly was dating other young men. “I might have been a little jealous,” he said.
A photograph hanging in the hallway of their Cedar Bay apartment shows the young couple dressed up for a day in Washington, D.C. As Dan explained, it was common for photographers to be stationed throughout the capital in those days, offering to take photos of sightseers as a souvenir of their day in the city.
Although they had grown up near each other, Dan and Beverly had childhoods that, while different, offer a glimpse into those times. One of 10 children, Beverly said, “My parents bought a truck farm,” where crops were grown and then “trucked” into the city for sale. As on many farms, her family grew tobacco, and one of Shirley’s favorite activities was climbing on the barn rails on which the tobacco was hung to dry.
“It’s a wonder I didn’t die doing that,” she said.
She recalled at least two times she did come close to catastrophe — both when she was traveling around Washington, D.C.
One of those times was a day in 1950, when she was driving down Pennsylvania Avenue with Dan’s sister, when shots rang out near Blair House, where President Harry Truman was living while the White House was being renovated. Beverly recalled seeing the gunmen — two Puerto Rican independence activists — and hearing gunfire. A White House police officer suffered fatal injuries that day, but Truman was uninjured.
Another close call came when she was sitting in the back of a city bus and a speeding train nearly hit the bus.
Dan Shirley grew up the son of a trainer of harness-racing horses, and he said his dad traveled all over the eastern half of the country with his horses, racing them at county fairs and other such events.
“He was a good provider, but he wasn’t home too much,” he recalled.
As was common for young men in the 1940s, in 1943, Dan joined the Air Force. He was sent to Wisconsin, where he spent the next three years working in security for Air Force radar training activities. Beverly joined him there, where she gained employment as a court reporter in a Judge Advocate office. Beverly worked there until their son, Stephen, was born in 1945. Dan was discharged from the Air Force in 1946, and returned to the East Coast and his job at Peoples drug stores.
Three year later, their daughter, Teresa, was born, and the couple settled into life with their children. Asked about the core values they tried to instill, both Shirleys agreed that faith played a big part. “Raising them in the church” was a central part of life for the Shirleys, Beverly said.
Clean living is something the Shirleys also credit with their long, healthy marriage. Although neither drinks, both admitted to smoking when they were younger. Dan said he decided he’d had enough when “cigarettes were 90 cents a pack, so I quit.”
When they moved to Bethany Beach in 1983, the couple joined St. Martha’s Episcopal Church. Through the church, Beverly said, she became instrumental in the foundation of the Atlantic Community Thrift Shop (ACTS), as well as the local Meals on Wheels operation. Dan volunteered at Beebe Medical Center as a transporter for patients needing X-rays and joined the Lions Club.
For fun, the couple spent many weekends kicking up their heels with the Big Band Dance Society of Delaware. Dances were held in a variety of locations throughout the state, including the officer’s club at Fort Miles at Cape Henlopen State Park.
“That was our pastime,” Beverly said.
“We danced Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays,” Dan added.
Beverly recalled that, although there was a lot of “jitterbugging,” and the couple learned all sorts of dances — including the electric slide and the shag — her favorite dance remains the waltz.
Now 95 and 97, respectively, Beverly and Dan have been slowed quite a bit by macular degeneration — an eye disease that reduces vision and commonly affects older people. But, despite some trouble hearing these days, Dan maintains a definite sense of humor.
The Shirleys moved to Cedar Bay about 10 years ago, when maintenance of their Bethany Beach house became “too much like a job,” Dan said.
Daughter Teresa Walsh now lives in Millville and son Stephen in Annapolis, Md., and the couple has plenty of grandchildren (three) and great-grandchildren (six) to keep track of.
As they begin their 76th year of marriage, both Dan and Beverly seem to realize how lucky they are to have made it so far, and to be able to still enjoy each other and their families. They summed up their 75th anniversary this way: “We’ve lived a good life,” Beverly said. “It was tough, but we made it,” said Dan.
It’s been a historic season so far for the Indian River High School wrestling team.
And while the Indians will look to continue that historic run headed into state duals at Smyrna High School as the No. 2 seed later tonight, they sent their seniors out on a high note on Friday, Feb. 10, by capping the regular season with an 11-2 record and 53-16 win over Woodbridge.
“It was nice. Almost every senior got to wrestle. That was important for us,” said IR head coach Jeff Windish after the match. “A lot of them got wins on their last night in their home gym. It was a good sendoff for them, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
“It’s been an honor,” said senior Jared Arlett of wrestling with the rest of this year’s senior class throughout their careers and the season. “It’s crazy to see how far we’ve come this season. We’ve come a long way.”
While the night belonged to the seniors, the Indians jumped out to a 9-3 lead with a 5-3 decision from freshman Will Rayne at 106 and pin from freshman Ta’Jon Knight at 120.
It was up to the seniors to shine after that, with senior Jessie O’Neal getting a pin at 126, and Arlett earning a 12-2 major decision at 132.
At 160, 170 and 182, the Indians saw three straight pins from seniors Arturo “The Terminator” Salas, Zion Howard and Zeke Marcozzi, respectively.
“It was just a half and a wrist — I guess you could call it ‘the Terminator,’” Salas said of the move that sealed his victory at 160. “My opponent was tough, but Coach told us we had to get it done, so I just went out and wrestled my match.”
After earning his first career victory as a sophomore in a home meet against Woodbridge, Howard earned his last career victory in his home gym against the Blue Raiders with a pin in 4:44.
“He really put up a good fight. I really had to dig deep there,” Howard said of his battle at 170. “It really motivated me to help my other seniors get a win. They’ve been grinding every year since freshman year, so they deserved to go out with a win.”
At 182, Marcozzi claimed his 126th career victory, putting him just one shy of Mike Magaha’s school record of 127 career wins. With a potential two matches at state duals, Marcozzi could potentially match the record tonight.
The team saw their final senior get a win on a forfeit when John Keller went out at 195, and sophomore Zach Schultz and freshman Ramon Turner capped the match with back-to-back wins at 220 and heavyweight, respectively, with Keller getting the pin in 1:21 and Turner earning the 10-0 major decision.
Headed into tonight’s duals ranked No. 2 and with Milford — who the Indians lost to by just four points in a regular-season match on Jan. 25 — ranked No. 1, the Indians were set to make their already historic season even more noteworthy.
“They believe. This is a team that’s pushed hard all year long,” said Windish of his squad. “We all want another shot at Milford. We know we left some points on the board, so I think we’re prepared and we’re gonna show up and wrestle.”
“People believe in us. We’re believing in ourselves. The community is really supporting us,” added Arlett. “I don’t think we’ve hit our peak yet. We’re hoping to get there right when we need it at duals.”
The dual team wrestling championships will be held at Smyrna High School on Tuesday, Feb. 14, scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.
Results (Feb. 10):
106: W.Rayne (IR) d. Cannon 5-3
113: Manning (W) d. C.Lopez 7-5
120: T.Knight (IR) p. Haynes :37
126: J.O’Neal (IR) p. Boyer 2:58
132: J.Arlett (IR) md. Ramos 12-2
138: A.Jackson (W) md. G.Gano 15-1
145: Hardy (W) d. Re.Turner 6-5
152: T.Jackson (W) p. J.Ciriello 2:34
160: A.Salas (IR) p. James 5:33
170: Z.Howard (IR) p. Atwood 4:44
182: Z.Marcozzi (IR) p. Veasey 1:34
195: J.Keller (IR) fft
220: Z.Shultz (IR) p. Young 1:21
285: R.Turner (IR) md. Bove 10-0
About 200 people gathered on The Circle in Georgetown on Sunday, Feb. 12, to participate in a rally and march sponsored by the Progressive Democrats of Sussex County and the Sussex County Democratic Party, with the theme “We Shall Not Be Silenced.”
The rally was in response to the silencing of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) during the proceedings leading up to the vote on Jeff Sessions’ nomination for U.S. Attorney General. Warren had begun to read a letter written by Coretta Scott King, widow of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., when she was ordered to stop by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who claimed she was in violation of a Senate rule known as Rule 19, which prohibits senators from “impugning” the integrity of their colleagues on the floor of the Senate.
Joanne Cabry of the Progressive Democrats of Sussex County and Sussex County Democratic Party Chair Jane Hovington led a rally that included the reading of Scott King’s letter, in which she explained why she opposed the nomination of Sessions as a federal judge. Five women took turns reading sections of the 1986 letter, which was prohibited from being read on the Senate floor during those proceedings 30 years ago, as well.
Hovington told the crowd that the rally and march were meant to “put Mitch McConnell on notice that we will not be silenced. We will not be intimidated and we will not be frightened,” she said. “We will remember, and we will resist.”
The only sign of a counter-protest at the rally was one man in a pickup truck with a large Trump/Pence campaign sign in the bed, flying a large American flag off the tailgate, who drove around the circle several times, broadcasting patriotic music and shouting “go home!”
Although reader Liz Nalle had to shout part of her reading because the fire siren was blaring from the nearby Georgetown Fire Department station, Hovington later noted the potential interruption and said, “We will not be silenced.”
“I wish I could say times have changed,” since then-U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) prevented King’s letter from being read in 1986, Cabry told the crowd. “But we can’t. In 2017, [Sessions] is the chief law-enforcement officer in this land. He is our attorney-general,” she said.
“We will be back here in this circle,” voicing resistance as deemed necessary, Cabry said. She also urged those gathered to get involved in issues and political organizations on the local level.
Speaker Mohammad Akhter told the crowd, “It’s time to roll up our sleeves,” just before the crowd began to march from The Circle. Hoisting signs with slogans including “Don’t Tell Women to Sit Down and Shut Up,” “Resist/Persist,” “Hate Won’t Make Us Great,” the dozens of protestors marched from The Circle down Bedford Street, to the Sussex County Democratic Party headquarters on Pine Street.
As they walked, they chanted, “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here,” and “No ban, no wall.”
Some marchers said they were reluctant to be quoted in the newspaper because they were afraid of recriminations from family and neighbors. One woman, who said she lives in a “very Trump area,” said she was marching “because I want to fight fascism.”
A man and woman who said they are the only Democrats in a family of Tea Party Republicans and called themselves “the black ducks in the family” said they were afraid of recriminations from their family if they found out they had participated in the march. They said that, although they had also marched last month in the Women’s March on Washington, the Georgetown event was more of a risk for them because it was more likely that family would find out they had participated.
The woman said she was marching Sunday because she fears the medically fragile children she teaches will lose their rights to education because of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’ lack of support for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). “Nobody messes with my babies!” she said as she and her husband walked away.
Eric West, past chairman of Sussex County Democrats, said he was pleased with the turnout for the march.
“People seemed to be motivated,” West said. He said he believed the silencing of Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor “was kind of provoking” for many people. “There is sort of a compulsion to take some action,” he said. “A lot of people are frustrated and angry” and feeling a need to speak out, West said, adding that he felt that way himself.
West, a resident of Ocean View, said he thinks Democrats in Sussex County are seeing a need to be better organized and more proactive.
“What needs to come next is ‘What are we for?’” he said. “You’ve got to be for something, you’ve got to want to do something,” rather than just fighting against a particular administration or policy, he said.
Cynthia Gooch-Copley, one of the women who read King’s letter during the rally, agreed with West’s observations.
“People are feeling very frustrated, and they want to feel they belong,” she said, adding that she felt honored to be asked to take part in the reading.
Gooch-Copley, also of Ocean View, said that what struck her the most about the passage that she read was Scott King’s assertion that, in Gooch-Copley’s words, “People need to be able to take care of themselves in order to move forward.”
“I don’t want to be silenced,” said Gooch-Copley, who was part of the generation of students who experienced the end of segregated schools in Delaware. She said she was in the ninth grade in Lewes when schools became integrated.
Gooch-Copley said she remembers what it felt like “when I wasn’t allowed to go in and eat at Mr. Mitchell’s place on Second Street.” She said she fears that under the current administration, “We’re going back to that. I thought we were done with that and moving forward.”
Gooch-Copley said she feels that many current residents of the beach areas in Delaware don’t understand what it was like to live under segregation and don’t understand why minority groups fear the current administration.
“They don’t understand the ramifications of what this administration is doing,” she said, adding that she believes many are unlikely to try to understand “if it doesn’t directly affect them.”
Although, Gooch-Copley said, “I never expected, at 65, to be out there marching,” both in Washington, D.C., at the Women’s March on Washington last month and in Georgetown on Sunday, she said she feels compelled to do so.
“It’s my history,” she said, that pushes her to march, and “I feel a responsibility to my nieces and nephews and to their grandchildren. This is my past; this is my future,” she said.
Anne Allen, past president of the Shore Democrats organization, said her career in healthcare made her keenly aware of the challenges of those who are uninsured and underinsured. Allen, a resident of Bethany Beach, said that, as a woman, “I look at our advances, and I say, ‘That’s great,’” but feels that the current administration could undo much of the progress in women’s rights in the past several decades.
“I’m not going back,” she said. “I want to be heard. I’m not going to just quietly accept this.”
Allen said she understands the qualms of those who are afraid to speak their liberal views in the largely conservative and predominantly Republican Sussex County. She said she herself was not so always so vocal, but that, particularly with her concerns about the current administration, “I found my voice.”
Allen said she is encouraged by the surge of interest she has seen in liberal organizations across the county.
“There are so many new people coming to the meetings,” she said.
She added that she does not feel the issues being addressed at events like the rally in Georgetown are particularly limited to one party.
“They’re just basic human rights,” she said.
Gooch-Copley also said she hopes to see the current divisiveness disappear.
“We all need to come together at some point,” she said.