Articles on this Page
- 02/16/17--12:14: _LB PTO holds Penny ...
- 02/16/17--12:33: _County appoints Ste...
- 02/16/17--13:01: _Bethany trolley bac...
- 02/16/17--13:03: _Bethany and Selbyvi...
- 02/16/17--13:11: _Bethany looking at ...
- 02/16/17--13:14: _Frankford gets $60K...
- 02/16/17--13:16: _Bethany looking at ...
- 02/16/17--13:21: _Local heroes honore...
- 01/26/17--13:17: _Bethany preparing f...
- 02/21/17--08:27: _BREAKING NEWS: Poli...
- 02/23/17--11:07: _ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: I...
- 02/23/17--13:28: _SB councilman: Feed...
- 02/23/17--13:32: _Millsboro council c...
- 02/23/17--13:34: _Curran to serve as ...
- 02/23/17--13:42: _Bethany extends Sat...
- 03/02/17--12:53: _St. Ann's seeks don...
- 03/02/17--13:14: _Submissions sought ...
- 03/02/17--13:22: _Poker & Fun Car Ral...
- 03/02/17--13:25: _Millville’s Michel ...
- 03/02/17--13:31: _South Bethany accep...
- 02/16/17--12:14: LB PTO holds Penny Wars to kick off sign fundraising
- 02/16/17--12:33: County appoints Stevenson to P&Z seat
- 02/16/17--13:01: Bethany trolley back to single route, no new vehicle
- 02/16/17--13:03: Bethany and Selbyville recycling centers removed
- 02/16/17--13:11: Bethany looking at 'overdue' improvements to Atlantic Avenue
- 02/16/17--13:14: Frankford gets $60K water grant in exchange for fluoridation
- 02/16/17--13:16: Bethany looking at ‘overdue’ improvements to Atlantic Avenue
- 02/16/17--13:21: Local heroes honored for valor
- 01/26/17--13:17: Bethany preparing for new museum, docent program
- 02/21/17--08:27: BREAKING NEWS: Police seek local man in shooting incident
- 02/23/17--11:07: ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: IRSD polls open for referendum again March 2
- 02/23/17--13:28: SB councilman: Feeding feral cats the focus, not euthanasia
- 02/23/17--13:32: Millsboro council cuts impact fees more than 80 percent
- 02/23/17--13:34: Curran to serve as Ocean View mayor for three more years
- 02/23/17--13:42: Bethany extends Saturday construction hours during off-season
- 03/02/17--12:53: St. Ann's seeks donations for USO Delaware
- 03/02/17--13:14: Submissions sought for South Bethany photography show
- 03/02/17--13:22: Poker & Fun Car Rallye to benefit Justin’s Beach House
- 03/02/17--13:25: Millville’s Michel steps from HOA to town council
- 03/02/17--13:31: South Bethany accepting candidates for 2017 council election
Lord Baltimore Elementary School students were able to do something a little unorthodox last week, as students were able to duct tape Assistant Principal Matthew Keller to a wall.
The students had participated in “Penny Wars” for two weeks to help raise funds for a new school sign.
“We had the grade levels compete against each other to bring in change — pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters. Some students even brought in bills,” said Jennifer Lovellette, president of the school’s PTO. “Each cent was worth one point... The grade level that brought in the most money won the Penny Wars.”
The students raised a little more than $2,800, which Lovellette said was likely driven by the prize the winning grade would receive.
“They were able to duct tape the assistant principal, Mr. Keller, to the wall, which was fantastic.”
The first grade won the Penny Wars, and Keller, being a good sport, spent his afternoon taped to a wall.
“It was such a great event,” said Lovellette. “He was taped to a wall in the cafeteria. We had mats stacked up, so he was able to stand on the mats and then the PTO officers started by putting a couple of larger pieces of tape around him, just to start it, just to make sure he was secure to the wall. We had fun, different duct tapes — Gummie Bears, Minions — cut into pieces.
“Then the first-grade students came in by class and they got in line. Each student, one by one, was able to go up and stick it on. Once they were all done, he stayed up there so each class in each grade could come through the cafeteria, walk through and take a look at him. It reminded me of an art exhibit.”
The school is still a ways away from their overall fundraising goal — around $20,000.
“We’re hoping, by the end of next school year, we’ll have met that goal in order to purchase it.”
Lovellette said the new sign would include a scrolling LED sign at the bottom of the static sign face.
“Nothing like Indian River High School’s — it would be a smaller one,” she said. “Right now, the sign that is there has been there for a very long time. We’re not able to put a lot of information on the sign that is there. On our new sign, we’ll be able to put more events that are happening at the school to keep parents informed, but also let the community know what events we have at school.”
Lovellette said the PTO plans to host a number of events throughout the year to continue its fundraising efforts.
The next event will be a Dine & Donate at Northeast Seafood Kitchen in Ocean View on Friday, March 10, from 5 to 9 p.m. That evening, there will be a number of auction items to be bid on, including items from Bethany Beach Books, Morning Buns, Tidepool Toys and the Computer Girl.
“We do those throughout the year. We also do Parents’ Night Out, where we take the students for the night so the parents can go out to dinner, go shopping or do something else fun.
“In the spring, we also do something called Laps for LB, where students raise money for how many laps they can do on a particular day. They come out in grade levels and walk together.”
Lovellette reiterated that Penny Wars was a great way to jumpstart their fundraising efforts and get the students involved in improving their school.
“It was a fun and exciting event. It really did bring the entire school together.”
Those who are interested in donating to the fundraising efforts may contact the LB PTO at email@example.com.
The Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission no longer has a vacancy, as Kim Hoey Stevenson will fill the seat formerly held by current Sussex County Councilman I.G. Burton III.
Stevenson, who currently serves as the communications director for the Delaware Senate Republican Caucus, as well as a freelance writer, was publically interviewed by the Sussex County Council on Feb. 14.
“I was on the Milford Planning Commission, where I was vice-chair for three years. So I have some background in planning,” Stevenson told the council. “We went through the comprehensive plan process at that time. And, my first job was covering county council, years ago.”
Stevenson said she wanted to join the commission because she is a Sussex County native who wants to continue to be active in the community and county in which she resides.
“You get to a point in your life where you want to be a part of the solution, not just one of the people complaining in the background.”
She has actively worked with various community programs, including Leadership Delaware Inc., Read Aloud Delaware and Eagle’s Nest Fellowship Church.
Stevenson also has a certification in urban planning from her time on the Milford Planning Commission.
“We did a lot of work in Milford to educate ourselves on planning opportunities. I worked with Connie Holland [state planning director, Delaware Office of State Planning Coordination] with what the State was looking for in planning and how health, safety and welfare could be combined to make plans, follow the rules and do well.”
Making note of the fact that she would be sitting on an advisory council, Stevenson said, “I hope I can be part of any decisions being made, that I can make suggestions, that I can be a part of the plan. But, in the end, I understand it is not my role to make the final decision.”
Stevenson said Planning & Zoning is a crucial step to thoughtful growth in making sure “everything ties together.”
“That you can look at not just one part of something but all parts and see how they work together: roads, sewer, infrastructure — I think we need to work on that so everyone has the same definition — but that all things are considered in development, from industrial to residential to agricultural.”
Councilman Rob Arlett asked Stevenson if she perceived any conflict of interest as someone who works with the state Senate.
“I don’t foresee anything upcoming, based on what I’ve done with the Senate so far. I mostly put together their newsletters and press releases. If there were, I would certainly make that known. And, in the end, I would have to recuse myself if there were a problem. I’m pretty transparent, so I would assume everybody would know where I was and what I was doing.”
In looking at the county today, Stevenson said, there are areas where it looks as if more thought could have been put into planning and she hopes that she will be a part of that positive change.
“I’m a local girl. I’m a fourth-generation Hoey in Sussex County. I’ve seen changes over my years here… I’ve seen that over the course of my life. When I was a kid, we would drive from my house in Milford to Rehoboth and it was nothing, nothing, nothing, movie theater, nothing, nothing, nothing, beach…
“I would like to see more thought put in so that type of situation should it arise anywhere else in the county.”
Stevenson was appointed unanimously and will join the commission for their meeting on Feb. 23. Her term will expire on June 30.
“Thank you and best wishes,” said Council President Michael Vincent.
In lieu of following up on a recommendation to buy a new town trolley, Bethany Beach staff are now recommending the Town move back to a single, longer trolley route. That could save the Town around $360,000 — the $400,000 cost of a new trolley, minus the trade-in value of one of the existing three trolleys.
Town Manager Cliff Graviet told the town council at their workshop on Feb. 13 that the new recommendation was based partly on the “insignificant” increase in ridership after the Town decided to split the trolley route in two back in 2015 (from 39,000 to 40,000), as well as the similarly insignificant reduction in transit times that resulted — only about 10 minutes less than the 30- to 45-minute typical round-trip ride time of the longer route.
Despite the low mileage and regular maintenance of the three existing trolleys, Graviet said, the larger diesel trolley, a 2005 model, had been out of service “a good bit” in 2016. Meanwhile, the smaller 2003 model, he said, is one the Town “has begun to treat as if it is a classic car.” (The third trolley is a gasoline-powered 2014 model, which was added to the fleet in recognition that three trolleys were needed in order to ensure two were operational at any one time.)
Asked why the reduction in ride time had been so small, Graviet said that most riders were still riding the Atlantic Avenue segment of the route, with many stops in that area.
Graviet had last month negated the idea of pursuing a jeep/tram combination as a new trolley, so as to decrease the system’s susceptibility to breakdowns, saying that, upon review, it had been determined to be impractical due to safety concerns.
The longer trolley route could be modified somewhat from its 2014 incarnation, Graviet noted, with some stops under consideration for elimination. He said there had been mixed reaction to some of the new stops.
With the pre-2015 route returning for in-town transportation, Councilwoman Rosemary Hardiman asked about the status of development of a smartphone app that could inform trolley riders when they might expect the trolley to reach their stop.
Graviet said the Town had been working with Google to get an app that would show where on the route the trolley was but hadn’t been sure how much attention a town of its size would get from the tech giant. Instead, he said, town staff had since made contact with a company that will develop a custom app that will work with Google’s mapping and traffic system but would be tailored to Bethany Beach.
The main difference between the two apps, Graviet said, is that the vendor version will not be able to pinpoint the user’s location on the map to show the trolley approaching the rider. It will show the trolley’s location, with a two-minute delay, but the user will have to have some idea of their location on the map in order to know how close the trolley is.
He said a review of the product was due next week, and the app could be ready for the 2017 summer season. The Town will add QR codes to its trolley-stop signs, he noted, so that users can quickly scan the code to get the app on their phones.
Mayor Jack Gordon also noted on Monday that the revenue from the trolley had dropped in 2016. Graviet said that it had been determined that 500 people had paid double the regular trolley fee in 2015, while some riders hadn’t paid at all in 2016, resulting in a $1,000 reduction in revenue last year.
Play in park deemed ‘not ready for prime time’
A proposal to bring a play — a musical — to the new Central Park in September met with a tepid reception from the council on Monday, as council members said they were willing to consider something like the proposal from the Bethany-Area Repertory Theatre (BART) but felt many issues would need to be addressed in order to even consider approving something of that nature.
Graviet said BART had approached the Town about the idea in November and had been asked to submit a proposal in writing. He said he had held off on any preliminary discussion with the group “because I didn’t want them to think they were on the path to approval.” For now, he said, he was asking the council if that was something they wanted to see.
He noted that BART had initially asked for a time for the production that included Sept. 9 but had already been told that that date was not available, due to existing plans for the annual council election and the Bethany Beach Boardwalk Arts Festival that day. He said they had told him it wasn’t a problem to move to a later date.
The proposal didn’t address some details, and if the council were to support it, Graviet said, he would pursue having a proposal that was “more in line with other events held in town.” That would include such issues as police coverage, rules related to noise, and the use of generators and portable toilets, among others.
Councilman Jerry Morris said he was concerned about how any noise would impact neighbors of the park and recommended any stage — inside a tent, under BART’s initial proposal — be placed in the center of the park, to provide more buffer. Additionally, he said he felt BART should pay for police coverage to guide attendees safely across Route 1.
Graviet said police coverage would be similar to the Fourth of July but the additional cost would have to be borne by BART.
Hardiman noted that 52 percent of those responding to the Town’s survey about the park and its uses had agreed that the park could be used for events similar to what was proposed.
“They should be treated as any other group, in terms of access and costs,” she said, suggesting controls on the use could be similar to those on the use of the bandstand, but different, because people who moved in to residences along the boardwalk moved in with the bandstand as a known element, while neighbors of the park didn’t necessarily expect the new park, or activities such as the play and things such as generators being in use.
“This is worthwhile pursuing, but we need to have rules in effect,” she said.
Graviet noted that, with all of the costs involved, BART could decide that the play was not profitable to do in Bethany, even at $25 per ticket.
Vice-Mayor Lew Killmer voiced support for setting rules for such use ahead of time, including who is eligible to use the park.
“This is a multi-day event, which is unusual for the town,” he noted, asking whether security would need to be provided if the tent was up for a couple days. “It’s a great concept, and it falls in line with what we are trying to do in the comprehensive plan, with art and education. I think it’s well worth trying.
“But we have to be cognizant that it’s in a residential area,” he added. “The details might be the difference between doing it and not doing it. Is it cost-effective for them?”
Peterson said, “After we put as much money as we’re going to put in the park, we should be looking at ways to use it. I think this could be a thing to try, as long as we get these guidelines together.”
Frye said the proposal would be “a neat experiment. It is a multi-day event. That’s totally different for us.”
In fact, Gordon said, the proposal said the tent would be up for seven days.
Resident Joan Gordon said she felt the council was “putting the cart before the horse. We haven’t developed the park yet. Having things there a great idea,” she added, but there were concerns that needed to be addressed. “It may not be feasible for this fall.”
Resident Vahan Moushegian Jr., who is chairman of the Town’s Board of Adjustment,” voiced a similar concern. “We don’t know what the utilization of the park will be by people. We need to see how it’s utilized, then build upon that.”
Graviet noted that the Town is paying $100,000 for the full ready-to-construct plan for the park, minus a pergola or pavilion, which cut up-front design cost from $150,000 as they decide how to proceed with any such structure later on in the process.
“My only concern would be, is if this is something the council chooses to do and it is well-received, we would put up a different kind of structure. It’s not in the $100,000, but we would want to consider that.”
He said hosting an event like BART’s could change the park design, such as ensuring it was placed in a larger area of the park if the play were well-received.
Resident Randy Miller, who lives near the park on Gibson Avenue, left no doubt about his opinion of the proposal.
“I am completely against this. BART isn’t even in Bethany Beach,” he noted of the group, which generally presents its productions at Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville, “and there are not that many children in town” who might benefit from the scholarship for students of the arts that BART funds with the proceeds from its productions, he asserted.
“I don’t want 1 cent of my tax money go to Dickens Theatre to put some kid through college,” Miller said, suggesting that the Town instead look at activities such as the farmers’ market. “A hundred and fifty years from now, knock yourself out,” he added. “I’m not opposed to some activities in the park, but this is ridiculous.”
Graviet asked the council if they wanted the proposal put on a council agenda for a vote, but Gordon said, “I don’t know if we know enough about it. We need to develop some rules. A lot of people wanted to use the bandstand. I would have a lot more questions,” the mayor said, including about insurance issues and the potential impact on the Town should the play prove a “flop.”
Graviet asked their opinion about the Town engaging in further dialogue with BART about the proposal, but the council consensus was that they wanted to develop a set of overall rules for use of the park, rather than developing rules specifically for this proposal, including what times of year such use might be permitted.
“In deference to them, it’s a great idea, but I’m not sure we’re ready for it,” Hardiman said.
“It’s not ready for prime time,” added Killmer. “They’re expecting too much for the Town to take on. Multi-day events is new to us. Much of what’s involved is new to us — all those porta-potties there for a week?
“The whole purpose of these kinds of events should be shoulder-season events,” he added of the timing. “The ultimate benefit is that businesses have a reason to stay open longer.”
Graviet said he would tell BART that the council was working to develop guidelines for use of the park.
Across Delaware, public recycling services are significantly improving in some areas, but people may have to drive farther to get there.
The Delaware Solid Waste Authority (DSWA) is currently in the process of removing about two dozen drop-off locations scattered throughout the state, including sites near Selbyville Town Hall (closing March 8) and Fresh Pond, north of Bethany Beach (which closed in early February).
“We’re closing all the sites that aren’t at DSWA facilities,” explained DSWA’s Michael Parkowski. “Basically, there’s going to be 13 [staffed] sites statewide, when it’s all said and done. Ironically, Sussex County has the most sites because, while it’s the lowest population, it has the largest area.”
The change means fewer locations, but the remaining centers will be better run, in an effort to keep things convenient to people who already self-haul their own waste and recycling but also to make Delaware’s waste management more streamlined and cost-effective.
Recycling has changed over the past few years in Delaware. For residents today, recycling is as easy as taking out the regular trash. But the public’s main option used to be the 180 recycling drop-off sites throughout Delaware.
In 2010, the Delaware State Legislature passed a universal recycling law, requiring trash haulers to also provide curbside pickup for all households they served.
Now residents can toss all recyclables in one can (single-stream recycling) for pick-up. Until this winter, Delaware still had 40 drop-offs on both DSWA land and other properties, such as state parks, municipal land and shopping centers. The unique benefit was in the area special collections, such as household batteries and motor oil, but there was no staff on-site to provide daily oversight.
Therefore, many sites, including Bethany’s Fresh Pond drop-off, had particular issues with people dumping non-recyclables, such as mattresses and televisions. But, even worse, people were dumping bags of garbage in the recycling containers. They contaminate the recyclables (newspaper can’t be salvaged once it’s been rubbed down with moldy banana peels) and ruin the whole batch.
“It has become a free dumping ground for people that want to get rid of trash,” Parkowski said of the facilities. “The saddest part is, at first, it was people dumping stuff outside of the cans. [But now] they’re just putting trash inside the cans. Once that happens, we end up throwing out a lot of material that could be recycled, because it’s contaminated.”
DSWA will monitor and tidy up the sites for a few weeks after closing, but Parkowski said dumping usually ends after the bins are removed.
“We can’t just keep basically putting trash into the system. It doesn’t help anybody, and it doesn’t help the trash,” Parkowski said.
The changes also resulted from the demand for some services, such as household hazardous waste collection, electronics recycling and paper shredding.
Some people will be frustrated to lose their local centers and the 24/7 access, he acknowledged.
“We’ll still have six sites in Sussex County,” Parkowski said. “I know people will be upset — especially people so used to Fresh Pond, but the reality is, the Fresh Pond site… we’re not getting good material from it because people are abusing it.”
But when people arrive at the DSWA sites, a staff member will always be present to educate and guide them through the sorting process. It’s essential that people learn and use the sites appropriately, he said.
The remaining sites have already seen an uptick in visitors, including the Omar Collection Station (33086 Burton Farm Road, Frankford), the site nearest to Bethany Beach and Selbyville.
“Yesterday, I got a call from the Omar site. … A lot more people were coming, and they said they used to use Fresh Pond,” Parkowski said.
It was a learning experience for some people.
“This lady came and started unloading trash,” telling an employee that she always dropped garbage at the recycling center! “In the end, he taught her what should and shouldn’t be put in cans. He separated it all out.”
Now, “We made it so nobody would have to drive more than 20 miles from a center,” Parkowski said.
The remaining DSWA-owned facilities will only accept recycling during operating hours, Monday to Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Collection stations include:
• Omar (33086 Burton Farm Road, Frankford)
• Long Neck (28963 Mount Joy Road, Millsboro)
• Ellendale (13870 South Old State Road, Ellendale)
• Bridgeville (16539 Polk Road, Bridgeville)
• Cheswold (54 Fork Branch Road, Dover)
Landfills are located at:
• Jones Crossroads Landfill (28560 Landfill Lane, Georgetown)
• Sandtown Landfill (1107 Willow Grove Rd., Route 10, Felton)
• Cherry Island Landfill (1706 East 12th Street, Wilmington)
Transfer stations can be found at:
• Route 5 (29997 John P. Healy Drive, Harbeson)
• Milford Transfer (1170 S. DuPont Boulevard, Milford)
• Pine Tree Corners (276 Pine Tree Road, Townsend)
Other locations include:
• Delaware Recycling Center (1101 Lambsons Lane, New Castle)
• (new location coming soon, in Newark)
Recycling at DSWA sites will include single-stream recycling, as well as electronics, cardboard, household batteries, used oil and oil filters, and Styrofoam (varies by location).
All DSWA sites will also host weekly special household hazardous waste collections, plus monthly paper-shredding events. (Some sites already host such events.)
The special recycling services are free, although DSWA has fees for garbage and other waste.
Single-stream recycling will continue to permit collection of newspapers/brown paper bags, magazines/catalogs, telephone/soft-cover books, cardboard, junk mail/envelopes (all types), paper, paperboard (cereal/tissue boxes), glass bottles/jars, aseptic containers/cartons, metal cans (tin/steel/aluminum) and plastics #1, #2, #4, #5 and #7.
People should not recycle Styrofoam or plastic shopping bags in their single-stream recycling. Styrofoam should be taken to an appropriate DSWA location. Plastic shopping bags should be returned to collection bins at stores that use them.
Currently, the Jones Crossroads Landfill accepts household hazardous waste and electronic goods every Monday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (paper shredding also accepted on the first Monday of each month). Accepted materials include aerosol cans, mercury thermometers, fluorescent light bulbs, cleaning fluid, herbicides, pool chemicals, auto fuels, paints/thinners, small compressed gas tanks, computers equipment, televisions, VCRs and more (explosives, ammunition and fireworks are often accepted at special events only).
Special collection events are also scheduled throughout the year (May 6 at Nylon Capital Shopping Center, Seaford; June 24 at Milford Transfer Station; Sept. 9 at Long Neck United Methodist Church, Millsboro; and Sept. 30 at Hocker’s Super Center, Clarksville). Events run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. for household hazardous waste, electronic goods and document shredding.
More information, including locations and event schedules, can be found online at www.dswa.com. People can also contact the DSWA Citizens’ Response Line at 1-800-404-7080.
The Bethany Beach Town Council at its Feb. 13 council workshop reviewed the most recent draft of the Town’s budget for the 2018 fiscal year. A public hearing on the budget is planned in March.
Finance Director Janet Connery said the draft calls for $9.4 million overall, with $7.7 million of that in operating costs, $600,000 for capital projects and $488,000 for debt repayment.
She said the projected revenue had been derived from adjustments to the prior year and the fact that revenue was “coming in healthily,” up $511,000 — much of that from the rental tax increase the council approved last year. She said property taxes were also coming in well, with transfer tax revenue “very healthy” and building permit fees showing a lot of construction going on.
“If you were wondering when the housing boom will die off — well, it’s not this past year.”
Connery said the only proposed change in taxes or fees for the 2018 fiscal year is an increase of $148,000 in trash-related fees, up 18 percent — from a $50 per property per year increase that was due. “If we don’t adjust it now, the sanitation reserves will drop near the recommended minimum in about two years,” she said, adding that the increase should last them for five to six years.
She noted that the Town’s service is 10 percent cheaper than competitors but offers more pickups and more services, and includes yard-waste pick-up, which costs extra for others. Additionally, the Town will be going to weekly curbside recycling pick-up, starting in the next few weeks.
“There’s no comparison to what we provide here,” Town Manager Cliff Graviet said of the competition.
The capital budget includes $200,000 for paving projects, $66,000 for a new aluminum roof for the lifeguard/comfort station (which has constantly lost shingles due to the beating it takes on the ocean, Graviet noted, and will be fully replaced for the first time), $100,000 for the initial park design, $140,000 for development of the Town’s new Blackwater site for equipment and document storage and office space.
Planned capital expenditures in the Water Department are for budgeted replacement of equipment, she noted.
Vice-Mayor Lew Killmer cautioned the council on assuming that Municipal Street Aid funds will be forthcoming from the State this year. Connery said the $200,000 paving figure included both Town funds and anticipated State aid.
The Delaware League of Local Governments “is working on that,” he said. “It’s still intact, but it’s based on the former governor’s budget, which has already been ripped up.”
Minor capital expenditures in the draft budget include replacing computer servers that will no longer be serviced in the next year or two, replacement of handheld ticket-writers and a police camera system.
Funding is also increasing for the Town’s Poseidon Festival, which will expand this year from a weekend to a full week, in the week before Memorial Day, and is being organized again with the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites hotel. The Town will feature an expanded entertainment lineup for the bandstand.
Connery also offered an update on the Town’s Storm Emergency Relief Fund (SERF). By the end of the 2018 fiscal year, March 2018, she said, it will hold more than $1 million. The council has yet to set a goal figure for the fund, which is being set aside for storm-related costs not including beach replenishment. A $5 million figure has been discussed in the past but no figure was ever formally adopted.
Killmer questioned whether there was some point at which the fund would get large enough that it would garner negative attention from state legislators, who might decide that a town with such a large reserve might not need funding from the State as much as some others.
“There’s an easy answer,” Graviet said of any such questions: “Boardwalk replacement.”
Connery said the boardwalk is essentially “uninsurable,” because the damage would be excluded as wind damage. Graviet said the most recent estimate for its replacement was more than $8 million, “And that’s an old estimate,” he emphasized.
He noted that Rehoboth Beach has $6 million in reserve.
“Both communities are being proactive that way.”
Council considers need for video record
Also on Feb. 13 the council considered setting a policy for the use of audio-visual equipment for Town business — essentially a policy on what meetings should be livestreamed online, recorded with video or recorded with audio only.
Gordon admitted that the issue had arisen because of request he’d made, to have the video of a recent Board of Adjustment meeting put online due to public interest.
BoA Chairman Vahan Moushegian Jr. said board members had been “upset” that the meeting was being recorded and put on the Town website without them being aware. He said the town council couldn’t currently legally compel the BoA to have the recording put on the site without an ordinance change, because it is an independent body. But the BoA can decide on its own whether it wishes to have the meetings livestreamed or recorded for later viewing.
“The board members do not object. Personally, I find it useful, especially for the minutes. They were upset they were not informed it was being done.”
Graviet noted that some town committees meet in the upstairs meeting room, which is equipped only for audio recording, which cannot be scanned for content, unlike the livestreamed video recorded in the council chambers. The council holds its regular meetings in the council chamber, but its workshops and special meetings generally are held in the conference room.
At present, Planning Commission meetings (also held in council chambers) are being both livestreamed and recorded with video for later viewing.
The council expressed a general consensus that the “statutory committees”— the Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment — should, ideally, be recorded with video and livestreamed, but that the BoA would have to decide for itself.
Councilwoman Rosemary Hardiman suggested that having other committee meetings, as well as the council workshops, recorded could be useful to citizens. But the council consensus was not to add video recording to the meetings held in the conference room — to stick with the audio-only recordings.
Moushegian recommended that if recording was expanded to other committees, the Town make sure to inform the committee members or their chairpersons first.
The Frankford Town Council at a special meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 14, approved a settlement with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control that centers on the Town adding fluoride to its water supply.
The council approved the settlement in hopes of moving forward following a lengthy battle with DNREC and with Mountaire Farms over the construction of an on-site well at the Mountaire feed processing facility inside town limits. The construction of that well effectively took Mountaire off of the Town’s water system, thus significantly reducing the Town’s revenues from the system.
Town Solicitor Chad Lingenfelter said Frankford is the only municipality in Delaware that does not yet have fluoride in its water. According to statistics provided at the meeting, as of 2012, 86 percent of all Delaware residents received fluoride through municipal systems. In Delaware, municipalities have been required to fluoridate water systems since 1998, but Frankford has never been held liable for its failure to do so.
That may change as a result of the settlement approved on Tuesday. Under the terms of the settlement, the Town will receive a $60,000 grant to complete evaluations of its water system within a time frame specified by DNREC. The evaluations will include:
• Examination of extending the Town’s water service to residents along Delaware Avenue through annexation;
• Examining the feasibility of adding fluoridation to Frankford’s existing water system and necessary treatment plant upgrades, with emphasis on upgrades necessary to complete the fluoridation process. That is to be completed by May 1.
• Examination of the overall water system, addressing permanent interconnection with neighboring towns, county operations and several treatment plant upgrades; and
• Completion of a final report of these evaluations no later than six months after the awarding of the grant.
Several residents expressed concern over the addition of fluoridation of Town water. Liz Carpenter said, “Most of the people in town that I have spoken with do not want fluoride.”
“This is an issue that severely needs tying up,” Lingenfelter said. He pointed out that when Mountaire constructed the well, the Town did not have a well ordinance.
The sole “no” vote on the settlement came from council Vice President Greg Welch, who said he did not feel going forward with the settlement was the best way to resolve the Town’s issue with Mountaire. A settlement with the poultry company was also on the agenda for the special meeting, but a vote on that issue was postponed until more information can be gathered.
Town Council Treasurer Marty Presley disagreed with Welch and said, “I don’t see a downside” to the settlement. He agreed with Carpenter, however, that “If we took a poll, probably 90 percent of people don’t want fluoridation.”
Carpenter blamed the Town’s water plant issues on much of what the Town has been through with Mountaire. “If our water system and our plant was operating properly, we wouldn’t have this,” she said.
Resident Jerry Smith questioned why similar plants in other towns have not constructed their own wells. “I have to wonder, are we missing something?” he asked.
In other action Tuesday night, the council approved a resolution that amends the Town’s outstanding 2000 and 2004 bonds, which were sold to and purchased by the Delaware Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.
The bonds were administered by the state Department of Health & Social Services to finance construction of a new water treatment facility, repair of the existing 125,000 gallon water storage tank, purchase a new 125,000 gallon tank and other improvements to the Town’s water system.
Atlantic Avenue is one of Bethany Beach’s most-used streets. In fact, the town’s easternmost north-south street tops all roadways in the state for pedestrian traffic density during the busy summer season.
It’s also overdue for paving, for updates for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, for upgrades to the water-service connections below it and for improvements to address flooding issues, as well as lacking a “hospitable” sidewalk along much of its length.
Town Manager Cliff Graviet at the town council’s Feb. 13 workshop told the council that the road today is “almost a perfect storm of maintenance and other issues” and has for years been at the top of the Town’s list for repaving, as well as the other updates that were addressed in a presentation by Kercher Engineering last spring.
That presentation focused on a concept for revamping the roadway, with two travel lanes, a 2-foot buffer between the roadway and property lines, parking on both sides, a 4-foot sidewalk on one side and a 9-foot multi-use pathway on the other, for the use of both cyclists and pedestrians.
“It isn’t ideal,” Graviet said of combining bicycle and foot traffic on one path, “but there’s no way to accommodate” a separate bicycle lane unless it is placed in the street, where cyclists would be at risk from the doors of parked cars being opened.
He proposed the council consider splitting an Atlantic Avenue roadway project into two segments — north and south sections — and that they start with the south section, due to a number of factors.
Graviet noted that many property owners on Atlantic Avenue — especially on the north side — have “appropriated a portion of the right-of-way for their own use,” making it more likely that the Town would see resistance from property owners on the north side to reclaiming Town property for the roadway project.
“People have extended their driveways 3 to 9 feet into the right-of-way,” he said, with some parking cars in the right-of-way. “They will have to make accommodations” for the project, he added, emphasizing that the property owners are “not legally entitled” to use the right-of-way area, “even if they have done it for 50 years.”
Additionally, he said, the higher amount of pedestrian and bicycle traffic on the south end of the street means that the cost/benefit ratio of the south-end project would be higher. It’s also the shorter of the two sections and sees less vehicular traffic.
Finally, it has fewer properties in need of upgrades of their connections to the older 2- to 4-inch water mains to the newer 8-inch main. (There are 80 properties along the entire roadway for which the water service connection needs to be upgraded.)
Graviet said that if the council chose to move ahead quickly with the south-section project, the work could potentially begin in the fall. The first step would be to schedule a public hearing, with notification going directly to residents on S. Atlantic so that they could be sure to attend the related presentation by the engineering firm.
The council voiced support for the project and the idea of starting with a southern section, as well as moving forward with at least the public hearing on the issue.
The roadway, Councilman Chuck Peterson said, is “obviously in great need of help. It will be good to move this forward.”
Vice-Mayor Lew Killmer said he felt there might be less “pushback” from property owners on the north side of the roadway once they see the improvements to the south. He also noted that the plans for the south end could be modified, if needed, when the project moves to the north end of the road.
“We should at least do the drainage and ADA sidewalk,” he said. “It’s overdue for us to do something.”
Councilwoman Rosemary Hardiman agreed, saying, “It’s long ovedue. There are ADA compliance issues,” and that she and her family usually walk down Pennsylvania Avenue instead of Atlantic, “because it is so dangerous. The ADA must be done, if nothing else. We need this done as soon as possible.”
Councilman Jerry Morris said, “I’m surprised we haven’t had a problem already — especially at night,” adding that he felt the Town should proceed with the improvements as quickly as possible.”
“It has to be repaved anyway,” Mayor Jack Gordon said of the road. “It would be nice to get this settled so everyone can see it’s a nice improvement for the town to have.”
Hardiman made note of the plan to include some plantings along the parking area and questioned whether the plants would survive car doors being opened against them. Graviet clarified that the plantings were to be minimal, largely in the areas between individual parking spaces, and would serve primarily as a buffer for pedestrians and cyclists from those same car doors.
Killmer asked whether the Town has the landscaping resources to maintain such plantings. Graviet said much of that work is seasonal employment, and the Town could add a few more weeks of seasonal help to address any additional burden. He also noted that the Town had begun exploring the idea of bringing in interns in horticulture training to do such work.
Gordon also warned the council that the estimated costs for the project had increased, in addition to costing more overall to split the project into two. The prior estimate for the entire project had been $1.9 million. The most recent estimate for the south end alone was $1.1 million, he said, recommending the Town proceed with a hearing as soon as it can, to avoid additional cost increases.
With the Town moving into the final preparations for adopting its 2018-fiscal-year budget, Graviet said the council would still have to decide how to pay for the project and should be well-versed in the issue before a hearing. One scenario, he said, would be that the Town would pull the money from its reserves and then pay back the reserves over a number of years. That scenario was recommended by Finance Director Janet Connery.
He said the Town could set the public hearing for April, which would put it on track to start the work in the fall. Killmer, however, said he felt May might be a better time for the hearing, since more property owners would be in town.
But Graviet said he was concerned that delaying until after May to develop a request-for-proposals for an approved project might prevent them from being able to have the work done in the fall.
“We’ve invested a good bit in the preliminary survey work, but to develop the package — I’m not sure they could accomplish that, and I don’t want to tell them to go ahead before the public hearing.”
Hardiman suggested a Saturday hearing to improve turn-out in April, while Councilman Bruce Frye suggested the Town make sure the hearing was streamed live online.
The council consensus was for an April hearing, with the Town working to ensure as many people know about it as possible.
Numerous emergency-services personnel were recognized for their contribution to the community last week at the Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards.
The Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce hosted the 13th annual awards ceremony on Feb. 10 to honor the outstanding police officers, paramedics, EMTs and firefighters who help keep local communities safe year-round, and to recognize their service and dedication to the community.
“‘Valor is a demonstration of boldness and bravery in the face of adversity or danger. It is also the stability not of legs and arms but of courage and soul,’” said Chris Garland, senior vice president of development with Carl M. Freeman Companies, who told those in attendance he had looked up the definition of the word “valor” prior to attending the ceremony. “I truly believe all the gentlemen and ladies in this room exhibit that, especially our first-responders.”
Garland noted that first-responders were “near and dear” to Josh Freeman’s heart, as he had served as a Green Beret in the U.S. Army.
“In our community, our first-responders sacrifice their own time and safety in order to protect the lives of others. When the time comes for us to call on those individuals, each one makes a conscious decision to step forward for our protection and safety.”
It was such a decision made by Sgt. Charles “Chuck” Scharp of the Bethany Beach Police Department that earned him the 2017 Overall Valor Award for his heroic efforts to save a young boy from drowning.
In October, Scharp was the only officer on duty when dispatch received a call from Bethany Beach Public Works employee Sean Ely, who had been flagged down by the mother of an 11-year-old boy who was drowning in the surf. The young boy was caught in a rip current, and Ely reported he could see him going under the water. Scharp immediately responded, preparing for the worst.
At that point, Ely, sensing the child would not be able to stay afloat independently for much longer, himself went into the water to assist.
When Scharp arrived, he observed Ely and the boy both having trouble staying above water. He removed his shoes, police equipment and vest, and ran into the water.
Scharp instructed the 11-year-old to take hold of his neck, as if going for a piggyback ride, and he swam inland to a point where he was able to touch the sand. At that point, he turned to check on Ely, who had been able to make it in to the shore as well. The child was reunited with his mother and examined by EMS personnel.
“Extremely heroic in his actions, and selfless — that’s who Chuck is. He’ll do anything for anybody at a minute’s notice,” said Bethany Beach Police Capt. Darin Cathell. “It’s not often that Sussex police officers find themselves in a predicament where they need to enter the ocean. Typically, we have guards on — in that situation, we didn’t, and it was rough.
“Chuck didn’t think about himself in that time. He thought about what needed to be done and he did it, and he did it well. It is a well, well-deserved award… We’re super-proud of him.”
Scharp is part of a 10-man agency, which doesn’t include seasonal staff. On any day, said Cathell, only one or two officers are working during each shift.
Bethany Beach Mayor Jack Gordon said Scharp’s actions were indicative of the kind of officers who serve the town.
“It’s a good reflection of what our officers do in trying to keep the public safe here in Bethany. It’s way above and beyond, and I’m glad it was recognized as the biggest Valor Award there,” said Gordon, adding, “We’re proud of all our officers.”
Scharp said that, at the time of the incident, he didn’t think of the danger in which he was putting himself.
“I was just trying to do my job. When someone is in trouble, that’s what we sign up for,” said the 12-year veteran who has spent his entire career in law enforcement in Bethany Beach.
Scharp also praised Ely for his quick thinking and action taken that cold fall day.
“What a great job he did — very brave. He’s not a swimmer, but it was an unbelievable act of heroism. He deserves a lot of credit for that — maybe all the credit, in my opinion. For someone who’s not a swimmer at all to have the courage to go…”
Bruette, Caselli, Dalton honored for extraordinary arrests
Sgt. Michael Bruette of the Selbyville Police Department was recognized last week for his efforts on Jan. 3, 2016, when a traffic stop turned into a scuffle.
“The vehicle was occupied by three subjects, all of whom were acting in a suspicious and nervous manner. While talking to the subjects, Sgt. Bruette observed the occupant in the rear of the vehicle attempting to remove something from his pockets. After opening the rear door and attempting to restrain the subject, the subject began to pull away and kick the officer,” Kami Banks-Kane — owner of Banks Wines & Spirits, former Chamber president and one of the event’s sponsors — read from Bruette’s nomination by SPD Chief W. Scott Collins.
The two men continued to wrestle, the scuffle moving from the back seat of the truck and onto ground and lasting about four minutes before backup units arrived and assisted. During the struggle, Bruette sustained multiple cuts and bruises, including a large knot above his eye and concussion.
Officers were able to recover 262.5 grams of liquid heroin, needles and other drug-related paraphernalia from the subject.
“Sgt. Bruette’s determination was exemplary and directly resulted in the arrest of three subjects that would have otherwise continued to poison the community,” read Banks-Kane.
Officer First Class Brian Caselli and Officer AnnMarie Dalton of the Ocean View Police Department were recognized for their efforts during a dangerous high-speed pursuit that crossed state lines in December 2016. While Dalton engaged in the pursuit on Atlantic Avenue at speeds topping 85 mph, Caselli left his breakfast at home to respond to the call. He drove to intercept the fleeing vehicle and was able to stop it using a tire-deflation device. The driver of the SUV was taken into custody and charged with DUI and other related crimes.
“Both Officer First Class Caselli and Officer Dalton’s performance during this dangerous pursuit is commendable and exemplifies the highest traditions of the Ocean View Police Department,” read Banks-Kane.
Loulou solves crimes, MVFC members honored for water rescue
Patrolman Megan Loulou of the South Bethany Police Department was recognized for her outstanding efforts in solving a burglary that then resulted in the closing of numerous cases in both Maryland and Delaware jurisdictions.
In May, Loulou had responded to a call of a possible burglary in South Bethany, in a home that had been ransacked. She was able to lift 12 prints from the scene and identify a suspect. Working with the Delaware State Police Property Crimes Unit, Loulou learned that there were multiple burglaries with similarities in the Sussex County area. Through further investigation, it was discovered that the suspect was also connected to stolen property in Maryland.
“Her diligence following up on all leads, going above and beyond the call of duty, resulted in solving not one, but approximately 20 other burglaries in Maryland and Delaware,” said Banks-Kane. ““Patrolman Loulou should be commended for her extraordinary efforts, self-motivation and exemplary attention to detail.”
Millville Volunteer Fire Company firefighters Patrick Kraushaar, Steve Maneri and Capt. Ty Webb were recognized for their involvement in a water rescue in November that involved a man and his dog.
The man and his canine friend had been stuck in the mud for four hours prior to crews being alerted to the situation.
“With the temperatures in the 30s and the wind chill in the 20s, accompanied with a constant and persistent westerly wind and a very low tide cycle, access to the victim and his dog would prove to be very challenging to the rescue effort,” said Darin McCann, executive editor of awards sponsor the Coastal Point, who himself served in combat in the U.S. Marine Corps and was decorated for his efforts in the first Gulf War.
The first unit to attempt the rescue on the cold fall day was Marine 84 with Webb, scuba diver Steve Maneri, and firefighter Kraushaar onboard. However, Marine 84 was unable to overcome the shallow waters, and the decision was made to have Maneri and Kraushaar “walk” the boat as close as possible to the trapped victim. Marine 84 was able to make it within 50 yards of the man, after which the rescue team made it within 30 yards of the victim.
The rescue eventually involved a rescue ski from the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company and a rescue helicopter from the U.S. Coast Guard. Firefighter/EMT Brice Hickman and firefighter/EMT Billy Ireland also walked their rescue ski to the same area to assist in the rescue.
Kraushaar used a backboard, tied to a piece of rope, to gain access to the victim by sliding himself across the mud to get as close as possible to the victim. At that point, the victim was chest-deep in the mud. The victim and his dog were placed on the backboard and pulled toward the muddy shore. They and their rescuers were then removed to solid ground by the Coast Guard Rescue Helicopter 509.
“Due to the valiant efforts of all the rescuers involved, the victim and his dog survived this event.”
Firefighters, EMTs honored for persistence, dedication
Firefighter Samuel Magee of the Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company was recognized for his leadership and dedication to the company after he persisted in efforts to earn his officer certification. Magee had joined others within the company to take the officer certification course even though he recognized that he is not a strong test-taker.
Magee did not pass the test at first; however, he was determined to pass. He continued to study, as well as give of his time at the fire company. In late 2016, Magee was able to pass and received his officer certification.
“Sam has reminded us all that setting goals, staying focused and working through difficult obstacles will lead you to accomplishing your personal goals and help achieve the organizational goals,” McCann read from the nomination.
Roxana Volunteer Fire Company firefighter Tyler Trate was recognized for his hours of dedication to the fire service. Since joining the company November 2013, Trate has completed more than 55 hours of fire/rescue training at the Delaware State Fire Service Center and countless hours of in-house training, all while obtaining academic excellence and working two jobs.
“He is always ready to lend a hand and to perform tasks, no matter how trivial.”
Frankford Volunteer Fire Company President Robbie Murray was recognized for his 29 years to the fire service. Murray, who became a volunteer at the age of 16, is not only a firefighter, but became a Sussex County paramedic in 1994. He currently serves as deputy director.
Murray has a master’s degree in organizational leadership and has been recognized for his service in the past, which includes being the recipient of the Phoenix Award — which is awarded to emergency personnel who take part in saving someone’s life after cardiac arrest.
Murray is also dedicated to the community in which the fire company is located. He works closely with Envision Frankford, a group that works to make the town of Frankford “great and thrive to become better.”
“President Robbie Murray truly epitomizes what it means to be a ‘volunteer’ in the fire service today,” said Bethany Beach Fire Department Assistant Chief Todd Hickman, past president of the Chamber and also vice president of sponsor NVHomes and Ryan Homes.
Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company EMT Robert Eckman was recognized for his exemplary service to the company.
“As one of the few departments across the county without round-the-clock coverage, Selbyville relies on volunteers to staff its ambulance service from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. five nights a week. On average, Bob is the EMT staffing the ambulance three nights a week,” said former Chamber board member Jim Smith, senior public affairs manager for Delmarva Power, which was a sponsor of the event.
Eckman has been Selbyville’s top responder for more than a decade, averaging 150 to 175 responses per year — which equates to 25 percent of the company’s total ambulance responses per year.
“Without Bob’s service, the department would have to spend considerably more money for paid staff. We truly appreciate this dedication to the residents of Selbyville and are proud to name him our EMT of the year.”
Glenn Johnson Sr. of the Roxana Volunteer Fire Company was recognized for his continued service, having worn many hats in the department over the years, including rescue lieutenant, fire captain, assistant chief, chief and president multiple times.
“He has been an EMS provider on the ambulance since 1982, making him currently the longest EMT still certified in Roxana,” said Smith. “His continued dedication in serving on the ambulance ensures that those in need get the best care in that critical time when they need it most.”
EMT Robert Richardson of the Millville Volunteer Fire Company was recognized for his years of service to the department.
“Robbie has always excelled in his ability to calmly handle stressful situations. He received two Phoenix awards last year and has several letters thanking him for his companionship towards family and patients. Robbie is also attending college to get his paramedic degree,” said Smith. “Robbie has been a true asset to the Millville EMS.”
BBVFC members, Sussex paramedics honored for service
EMT/firefighters Craig Farren, Billy Ireland and Andy Johnson of the Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company were recognized for their response to a medical call for a victim who was bleeding uncontrollably due to an accidental cut from a broken mirror. Johnson used trauma equipment and applied a tourniquet to control the arterial bleeding.
“The attending physical commended the EMS crew on a job well done for the placement of the tourniquet. The patient was released within a day and contacted the crews thanking those who were present and acting so quickly to save his life,” said Hickman.
Sussex County Emergency Medical Services paramedics Cody Grosch, Eric Huovinen and Leah O’Boyle were recognized for their response to a cardiac arrest call, which they responded to along with Bethany Beach Fire Company members Phil Brackin, Jenna Kliemisch, Tara Truitt, San Juan Felton, Tom Moore, Kevin Lieber, Courtney Tewksbury and Richie Walls, and Bethany Beach police officer Matt Skidmore.
The group worked together to treat the patient and safely remove them from the home via a third-floor window, due to a spiral staircase in the home.
“This incident exemplifies the seamless, exceptional teamwork and care that Sussex County emergency responders provide to the residents and visitors of Sussex County.”
Chamber Executive Director Kristie Maravelli recognized that, without the first-responders in attendance, as well as all emergency services personnel, the community would not be what it is today.
“As we close today, we heard remarkable stories of commitment, sacrifice and bravery. Saving lives while keep the community safe is the best thing you do. However, from a Chamber of Commerce perspective, I do want to recognize the economic impact you have on our business community.
“If our small slice of heaven here in Sussex County was considered dangerous and not well-protected, there would be detrimental backlash to all us who live and work here and call this place our home. What you do matters on so many levels, and you, our first-responders, are deeply appreciated by your community!”
Bethany Beach’s history will be getting some attention in the coming summer season, as the Town’s Cultural & Historical Affairs Committee (CHAC) prepares for the opening of the historical Dinker Cottage as a museum, which is anticipated to happen in the coming months.
At the Jan. 20 town council meeting, CHAC Chairwoman Carol Olmstead reported that the committee had most recently reviewed an updated brochure for the Heritage Trail — a self-guided walking tour of historical locations in the town — and was expecting the next edition to include the Dinker Cottage, once it is moved to its new location on the former Maryland Avenue Extended.
At the same meeting, Town Manager Cliff Graviet’s report to the council noted that progress had been slow on the relocation, with the Town having to deal with the county approval and permitting processes for the sewer line at the cottage’s new location, which had needed to be moved. Graviet reported that the sewer line is now done, with a final inspection having taken place on Jan. 18 and finding no issues with the installation.
Mayor Jack Gordon reported that plans were to grade the property as soon as soil conditions were dry enough and that, depending on weather and ground conditions, the Town expects to see the structure-moving contractor on-site within three to four weeks.
“I think we’re getting pretty close now,” Gordon said.
With that milestone on the near horizon, Olmstead said CHAC is now seeking volunteers to serve as docents in the museum. She noted that the Town had had a docent program some years ago that was offered only on weekends.
“We didn’t find that during summer people were choosing to come off the beach and go to the museum instead,” she acknowledged. “As we look forward to the Dinker Cottage being moved” in the next few months, “docents will be a central part of that plan,” she said, adding that the committee hopes to have the docent program ready to go when the Dinker Cottage opens as a museum.
With the Dinker Cottage set to be added to the Heritage Trail, Olmstead also reported that the bronze markers placed at historical locations identified in the brochure are set to be re-installed on new 3.5-foot-tall posts.
She said that when the markers were originally installed, eight to 10 years ago, they had been placed on posts much closer to the ground that had proven to make it difficult for visitors to read the markers themselves. The new, taller posts are expected to help make them more accessible for those seeking the historical information and walking along the trail.
Olmstead said the committee also recently voted to expand its criteria for structures that are considered historical within the town. She said they had discovered that the National Park Service identifies structures that are 50 years old or older that have not been significantly altered as eligible to be considered historical places.
“We decided when we first started marking these houses that they had to be built before 1930,” she explained. Now, the committee will consider homes built up until 1949 as historical, as long as they have not been significantly altered and continue to represent the early cottages of Bethany Beach.
Finally, Olmstead announced that the committee is seeking six or seven families to play host to visitors from France as the Town prepares to celebrate Periers Day on July 27. The annual event honors the “twinning” of the towns of Bethany Beach and Periers, France, and has in recent years included French- and World War II-themed entertainment.
Olmstead said they are expecting about a dozen visitors from France for three or four days starting around July 22 and are seeking about a half-dozen local families to host them. The host families should be able to speak French, she said, though most of the visitors will likely speak at least some English. She noted that Gordon and his wife, Joan, were the first family to volunteer as hosts this year. Anyone interested in serving as a host should contact Olmstead or Town Hall.
Projects, future expenses under review
The relocation of the Dinker Cottage isn’t the only project the Town has under way or on the horizon. Graviet’s report at the Jan. 20 meeting also noted that work is under way on the new mineral pond at the Town’s water plant.
He noted that some of the existing trees that have recently been put on the property to serve as a buffer for neighbors will have to be removed, but he said new plantings will be put in after the pond and work at the water plant are done.
“There will be some good landscaping going in that will make it very attractive for you,” Gordon told the water plant’s neighbors.
Graviet’s report also included an update on the Town’s Blackwater property near Clarksville, stating that the site plan for the new steel building is being prepared and submitted to DelDOT for its approval for the entry off the road, as well as to the Conservation District for drainage approval.
“Nothing is simple and quick,” Gordon said in giving the report, adding that the Town was “keeping its fingers crossed” that it can get started soon on the storage facility for its trolleys and more. A concrete pad is to be laid as soon as possible, with the steel to be delivered late in February.
With a number of other pending projects for the Town, Graviet also asked the council in his report to prepare to decide how and when to fund each of them.
He reported having received a rendering of improvements planned for Atlantic Avenue from contractor Kercher Engineering and said that it appeared that doing the southern portion first would create fewer problems and immediately serve the larger populations of people coming downtown from the south end of town.
Graviet asked if the council felt the Town should proceed with the plans. If so, he said, the staff would present funding options for discussion at a future meeting.
Among the projects currently planned is “Central Park,” with Graviet noting that about $100,000 in funding is expected to be needed to develop the plans so that they are ready for bid and/or in-house construction. He said he had asked design firm Oasis not to include the planned pergola or pavilion in the initial plans, in an effort to reduce initial costs, but that the Town could decide later on the design and location for those elements.
“We will try to do as much as we can with the Town maintenance staff,” Gordon reported on Graviet’s behalf, noting that the in-house effort would help make the project less expensive than it would otherwise be. Currently, the Public Works staff is performing its regular off-season cleaning of drainage swales throughout the town, including in the Bethany West area, he noted.
Graviet also warned the council in his report that the staff may ask them to purchase a new trolley in the near future, with staff already working on a service history for the three existing trolleys and their ridership numbers. If the council believes a new trolley is needed, that would be an expense of about $140,000 that would need to be addressed.
Graviet suggested that the council consider the issue and plan to discuss it and other projects, including the Atlantic Avenue project, at a February workshop.
Asked about a prior suggestion to consider a jeep and tram-trailer system in place of another new trolley, Gordon said that the combination had been determined to be impractical for safety reasons, and that consideration had fallen back on getting another trolley as the existing ones continue to require considerable maintenance and repair.
Councilman Joseph Healy referenced his arrival on the scene in Dewey Beach last fall, shortly after the Jolly Trolley, which was carrying wedding guests at the time, had its tram-trailer overturn on Route 1, injuring a dozen riders. Vice-Mayor Lew Killmer also noted that he believed a jeep/trailer combination would require two Town employees — one to drive and another to man the tram — which would increase operating costs.
Finally, Graviet reported that the Town’s parking department had been looking for ways to make it more operationally efficient and had targeted the labor-intensive residential parking permit process for one immediate change.
Graviet said the Town will now automatically mail out one residential parking permit in an initial mailing to property owners, eliminating a second mailing to about 900 property owners who only request one permit. Those wanting additional permits beyond that permit can contact Town Hall to request them. Previously, the Town sent out information on the parking permits in one mailing before sending permits in a second mailing.
Town getting involved in beach issues with ACT, ASBPA
Councilman Bruce Frye reported on Jan. 20 that a delegation from the Town plans to attend the Feb. 28 American Shore & Beach Preservation Association (ASBPA) gathering in Washington, D.C., in support of federal funding for beach preservation. During the annual meeting, local officials typically meet with the state’s Congressional delegation to request their efforts on behalf of federal funding for local projects.
Healy noted that he had recently attended the first meeting of the East Coast chapter of ASBPA, which covers areas from Delaware to Georgia, and would present a written report to the council for their next regular meeting.
“I found it interesting to know how much help we get from DNREC, as opposed to other states, where so much is done internally with the towns,” he said.
Killmer asked whether the regional group could help with the efforts to obtain funding, and Healy said he wasn’t sure how much clout the newly-formed group has at present.
Noting that the Town is in the process of getting the Association of Coastal Towns group running again, specifically to address such issues, Killmer said of ASBPA’s regional group, “The beauty of that organization is that it is multiple states talking and not just one. If we all get together … that’s a lot of coast, a lot of states with more representatives than we have. It’s another voice and another level of speaking to Congress about funding this.” He also urged coordination with any regional group representing states farther to the north.
First readings held on alcohol code, more
At the Jan. 20 council meeting, the council heard first readings of three proposed ordinances.
The first ordinance would add a section regarding hotels to the existing town code on the sale of alcoholic beverages. Killmer noted that the town previously did not have a hotel that served alcoholic beverages and that he had borrowed sections from state code to ensure the Town’s regulations mirror the state ones.
He pointed out that the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites and 99 Sea Level restaurant are separate entities, and that while the restaurant already serves alcohol, the hotel itself could apply for a license to sell alcoholic beverages — something that currently isn’t addressed in the town code.
The second proposed ordinance would extend permitted construction hours in the town on Saturdays between Oct. 1 and May 30, from 8 a.m. to noon, to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Killmer noted that the off-season typically includes more inclement weather, less daylight and a considerable number of official holidays that limit the construction time available to contractors.
“People are anxious to move in” as soon as they can, he said, “but may not be able to” due to those limiting factors. With a four-hour limit on Saturdays, he said, “Many contractors feel it’s not worth their while to work on Saturday.”
The extended hours on Saturday would only be during the off-season, providing contractors with the ability to work a full eight-hour day, if they so choose.
Finally, Councilwoman Rosemary Hardiman introduced for a first reading an ordinance addressing residential outdoor lighting, which she said had stemmed from complaints from some residents that light — especially from security and other outdoor fixtures — from neighbors’ properties was interfering with their enjoyment of their own properties and constituted a nuisance.
The ordinance, which would apply to all residential zones in the town, aims to regulate the light while also ensuring it remains adequate for visibility and safety, she said. As a result, light would be required to be shielded so that it remains within property lines and avoids spilling over onto neighboring properties.
At the property line, light would be limited to 0.2 foot-candles, to be measured by light meter and enforced by the Town’s code enforcement officer. Fines for violations would range between $25 and $100, she said, but, “We hope it would serve to give neighbors something to point to so that if they do have a problem, they can go to their neighbors, rather than having to go to code enforcement.”
Healy asked about whether the restrictions applied to holiday lighting. Hardiman said the Charter & Ordinance Review Committee had decided not to be specific there, as holiday lighting is generally minimal. But, she said, extreme lighting, such as spotlights, would be covered under the ordinance, while still allowing people to put up a typical holiday light display.
She also noted that the ordinance does not apply to businesses, as it doesn’t pertain to the Town’s commercial district, where existing guidelines from the non-residential guidelines already include a higher level of lighting that is permitted for commercial areas.
Each of the three proposed ordinances will have a second reading and possible vote on adoption at the February council meeting.
Also on Jan. 20:
• Resident Larry Fischel offered his compliments to the Town’s road crews for their efforts during “the little dusting” of snow on Jan. 14, calling them “as good as the people in Syracuse in getting roads cleared quickly, and they kept them cleared.”
• Frye reported that the Fourth of July Parade Committee had decided on the theme for the 2017 parade: “Celebrate Bethany Beach.” He said they had picked a design for the fund-raising T-shirt and had also decided to crack down on parade participants throwing items from floats and other vehicles.
“We recognized throwing items from floats is a danger,” he said. “Our policy is to prohibit it, but it hasn’t been well-enforced.”
In the future, he said, the ban will be actively enforced, using expanded communication with parade participants that will include marshals talking to people on individual floats.
• Graviet offered his thanks to the council, volunteers and Town staff for their help with numerous holiday events during the 2016-2017 holiday season.
The Delaware State Police on Tuesday, Feb. 21, requested the public’s assistance in locating Anthony D. Puglisi, 19, of Selbyville, who is wanted for two counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, four counts of Reckless Endangering, Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony, Conspiracy 2nd and Criminal Mischief. He is also wanted out of Sussex County Family Court for two capiases, police noted.
Puglisi is wanted in connection with an alleged incident that occurred on Tuesday, Jan. 17, around 9 p.m. when he allegedly fired several rounds at a residence located on Burbage Road near Frankford. None of the victims inside the house at the time were injured, police noted.
If anyone has any information about Anthony Puglisi’s whereabouts, they are being asked to contact Detective K. Archer at (302) 752-3791. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333, via the internet at www.delaware.crimestoppersweb.com, or by sending an anonymous tip by text to 274637 (CRIMES) using the keyword “DSP.”
Local polls will open on Thursday, March 2, for the Indian River School District’s current-expense referendum.
Comparing it to the November 2016 referendum, which failed by 20 votes, IRSD Acting Superintendent Mark Steele said, “We’re still asking you for the same 49 cents,” but the expenses have been restructured.
The school board is requesting 49 cents of tax per $100 of assessed property value, based on the following breakdown:
• 33 cents — Student enrollment growth ($4.95 million total, for teachers, desks and supplies)
• 8 cents — School safety ($1.2 million, for salaries and safety improvements)
• 8 cents — Transportation, technology, textbooks, student organizations ($1.2 million for new and continuing expenses, including transportation).
“It’s the most important decision that we’re asking you to make since the inception of the Indian River School District in 1967,” Steele emphasized.
Local funds are needed to rebuild the district’s reserves, pay for school safety initiatives and make up for state funding cuts that will likely begin in July.
In the last 18 months, district enrollment has grown by nearly 600 students, which is nearly the size of an entire elementary school. But the local property taxes haven’t kept pace.
“A growth rate of 3 to 4 percent per year is expected to continue into the future, and the district projects its enrollment to exceed 12,000 by 2022,” district officials said of the ongoing growth in the number of students it serves. The unofficial enrollment is currently above 10,700 students.
“We’re going to continue to grow probably for the next 8 to 10 years,” said Steele, whose specialty is math and statistics.
Residents can get first-hand information and ask questions at two more public meetings:
• Thursday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. at Indian River High School; and
• Monday, Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. at Sussex Central High School (prior to the IRSD Board of Education meeting).
Details, including a tax calculator, are online at www.irsd.net/referendum.
If the referendum passes, the IRSD would still have the lowest regular district tax rate in Sussex County.
Discounts are available for local taxes. The state and county offer tax assistance programs for senior citizens, and low-income and disabled individuals. For information or applications, contact the Sussex County Assessment Division; P.O. Box 589; Georgetown, DE 19947, or telephone (302) 855-7824. Details are online at www.sussexcountyde.gov/tax-assistance-programs.
Voters may choose any poll location to cast their vote, no matter where in the district they live. Polls will be open March 2 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at: East Millsboro Elementary, Georgetown Elementary, Indian River High School, Long Neck Elementary, Lord Baltimore Elementary and Selbyville Middle School.
Voters must reside within the geographic boundaries of the Indian River School District, be U.S. citizens age 18 or older, and provide identification at the polling place. Residents do not need to be property owners, and voter registration is not required.
People may prove their identity and address with a State of Delaware driver’s license, automobile registration card or ID card; a work ID with photo and address; a credit card or other document identifying the person by photograph and signature; a recent utility bill, rent receipt or business letter setting forth the person’s address; a telephone directory listing in the current issue of the phone book; or any other reasonable document that identifies the person’s address.
Absentee voting is available at Sussex County Department of Elections until noon on March 1. For more information, contact the Department of Elections at (302) 856-5367 or 119 North Race Street in Georgetown. Details are online at http://electionssc.delaware.gov/school_absentee.shtml.
Cuts now, and more coming later
Based on enrollment, the IRSD is already eligible to receive state funding for 30 more staff positions, including administration, but had left those spots empty due to lack of state funds. Last autumn, the IRSD canceled all local Ingram Pond science field trips, reduced school budgets and travel, and made other cuts.
Board members are hoping to do a line-by-line budget review soon. Currently, district staff are compiling data about how local money affects their departments. For example, some educational programs and staff positions were originally funded by Race to the Top money, which has ended.
Everything is up for further scrutiny: paid coaching positions, the International Baccalaureate program, many clubs, district-wide budgets, band and athletic budgets, school budgets and anywhere extra money can be squeezed.
“Everyone thinks it’s just a scare tactic, but the public will understand when there’s no middle-school sports, no lights on the field for Pop Warner,” said IRSD Board Member Jim Fritz.
In addition to an assistant superintendent position that was never filled, five more administrators have already had their contracts not renewed for next year. At least one administrator has left the IRSD for another district.
Fixing problems and moving forward
The November referendum was likely impacted by an audit report released five days before the vote, in which the Delaware State Auditor of Accounts accused the district of lacking in financial policies, as well as questionable spending and alleged improper spending by the district’s former chief financial officer.
IRSD leaders ahead of the March 2 vote have tried to show people what’s improved in the three months since the audit was released.
Some voters are strong supporters of the schools, and some will always vote against a tax increase. But district officials know that taxpayers on both sides of the issue want accountability.
“The No. 1 thing I hear is, ‘What is the board — not the superintendent, not the administration — doing to prevent this from ever happening again?’ and I think we really need to dive into that, because the people expect us to come up with a solution to prevent this from ever happing again, and I agree with that,” Board Member Doug Hudson said.
On one hand, the board has to trust the system, new IRSD Director of Business Jan Steele said, but she welcomed ideas for additional oversight.
She’s spent a lot of time educating the board and the public. The IRSD Referendum Hotline leads directly to her office. She’s walked the board through the multi-step procedure for district purchases, and several board members have said they already feel more knowledgeable about education finance than ever before.
The school board is expected to fast-track several new financial policies on Feb. 27, regarding codes of conduct, internal controls, fixed assets and travel authorization. They are considering the most cost-effective way to perform regular internal audits.
Mark Steele said he envisions a 10-person Community Budget Oversight Committee, in which residents are specifically trained to understand, review and contribute to discussions on IRSD budgets. He also wants to create a long-term district plan that includes funding, enrollment and future planning.
Steele considered retiring in June, after 36 years as a teacher and administrator, but points to his success as principal at Indian River High School: “I have a chance to stay here and do this on a district level. … I want to get this through with community support.”
If the quality of education goes down, the surrounding community suffers, he said. Real estate values depend partly on the reputation of local schools, and the local economy depends partly on the IRSD’s 1,500 staff — an estimated 10 percent of whom could lose their jobs if the district doesn’t get additional funding to meet today’s needs.
But there’s still work ahead.
Jan Steele plans to investigate some residents’ claims that not all households are paying the $12-per-adult capitation rate that is part of taxes assessed for the district.
They’re also considering revamping budget items this year to ensure the payroll fund can cover expenses until the next major tax deposit.
Some people had complaints about things that the IRSD cannot control. For instance, residents would have to request that state legislators consider a different tax structure for school funding.
Also, the student population has grown in all demographics, although immigrant children have gotten the most scrutiny. And the IRSD’s mandate is to educate all children who enter the school district.
“Kids have no hand in being brought here,” Mark Steele said. “It goes back to strength of community. … It’s cheaper for us to deal with those kids today [in school] than to deal with them in 30 years [as a society in general].
Bigger state cuts loom ahead
Even if the referendum passes, it’s not enough to fully fund the district’s needs, and the IRSD still has to cut spending by $5 million just to rebuild its reserves. But with upcoming state funding cuts, that could mean millions more.
And since November, a new wrench was thrown in the system.
Facing a $350 million deficit, the State of Delaware is looking to make drastic cuts in education spending (and all arenas). In December, IRSD officials thought that would mean a $900,000 loss in funding. Now, it could be millions.
“If it does not pass, this will devastate us,” Mark Steele said of the referendum.
With the potential cuts and no referendum funding, the district would be down $10 million to $20 million with no local support.
“The Office of Management & Budget asked the schools to put together a 1.25, 2.5, 5 and 10 percent projection of what the impact of a state funding cut would be,” Mark Steele said. “Every school district had to do this, by the way, not just us.”
For Indian River, that could equal anywhere from $1.2 million to $9.5 million in funding lost, he said.
No one knows what those cuts will be until the General Assembly votes to approve the final budget on June 30.
The State of Delaware could also potentially ask for money back this fiscal year, although nothing has been requested. (“Right now, we are sweating,” Mark Steele said.) But the district didn’t even have that information when planning the referendum.
“The reality is 49 cents is not enough,” said Fritz.
Point reporter Kerin Magill contributed to this story.
In South Bethany, Bill Murphy was horrified to discover a colony of feral cats had broken into his house in the winter of 2013-2014.
“The house was winterized,” Murphy said at a Feb. 10 council meeting. “When we returned in the spring, they had lived in the whole house. They had defecated, they had vomited…”
The family threw away quilts, sheets, changing tables, cribs, “everything that wasn’t wooden,” and sprayed to remove the urine smell. Despite $25,000 worth of damage remediation, he said they were still anxious every time their grandchildren crawled on the floors. Nowadays, cats still run around the yard and deck at night.
“South Bethany, in my judgment, is particularly at risk to cat invasion of that ilk because homes aren’t fully occupied during the winter, so there’s not that human activity to either detect that the cats got in, or scare the cats off,” said Town Councilman Wayne Schrader.
Stories like this have prompted the South Bethany Town Council to begin drafting ordinances regarding feral cats.
But it’s a passionate subject for a four-legged problem.
Although the town budget was the stated subject of a scheduled Feb. 23 council workshop, feral cats were expected to get some attention at the 1 p.m. meeting. Some people want feral cats away from their homes, while others are afraid the Town will resort to euthanasia.
Over the years, the council has gotten various complaints about feral cats in town. On Feb. 10, Schrader outlined the Town’s options.
He recommended the Town prohibit importation of feral cats into town; prohibit the placement of food for any animals on property not owned by that person; and regulate the placement of such food (such as not leaving it outdoors for longer than one hour, or without supervision).
Schrader recommended they avoid immediate executive action that might invite a lawsuit.
However, he mentioned euthanasia as an option, which perked the ears of many animal advocates in the audience.
On Thursday, the council was set to review the first draft of a feral cat ordinance.
Charter & Code Committee Chairman John Fields said, “The draft takes care of the feeding issue, and the draft also requires the cats to be licensed and have tags, like dogs do. The draft ordinance makes it possible for the Town to trap a cat and carry it off … if necessary.”
Schrader said that is intended more for nuisance cats.
“There have been inquiries about where we can take these cats if they become a problem,” said Fields, adding that, recently, a police vehicle nearly hit two cats that were eating in the roadway.
But feral-cat advocates said there’s no guarantee that trappers are really taking cats to sanctuaries. There are rumors that trappers merely kill the cats. Even if they do drive the cats to a nearby sanctuary, some people doubt the Town would pay the $300-plus fee.
“Like so much of stuff, if it’s anecdotal,” Schrader said. “If you ask for research, you’re gonna get anecdotes.”
He suggested — if trapping and removal is even considered — that the Town could easily confirm if an animal arrives at the designated sanctuary.
“There has been an effort to identify sanctuaries that would accept feral cats if we ever got the point of trapping and removing them,” Schrader said. “It’s my sense that there’s no effort to draft any kind of ordinance to call for the euthanizing of cats.
“What we’re working on in the immediate term is language to, among other, [control] things the feeding of feral cats by dropping food on roadways around town and just generally considering whether we ought to just ban in its entirety the feeding of feral cats,” although that is more controversial.
“We’re not looking for a quick remedy, and we’re not looking to [kill everything],” said Mayor Pat Voveris on Feb. 10, asking the public to give the council time to research the options.
But since then, in the process of researching trappers and sanctuaries, some council members startled local advocates of trap/neuter/release (TNR).
The issue even prompted resident Terri Nicholson to create a Change.org petition, supported by more than 3,000 people worldwide as of mid-week.
“We want Town Hall to know they cannot just go in — let them know we are the solution to keeping the cat population under control. We are not the problem. We are the solution,” Nicholson said. “TNR has kept our numbers down for over 11 years. … You don’t see kittens running around South Bethany.”
The council has the authority to preserve the health, safety and cleanliness of the town, and to prevent, abate or remove nuisances.
The cat population has been controlled for years by groups including Cats Around Town Society (CATS) and Coastal Cat Rescue, which trap, neuter and release feral cats, or find adoption homes for the more sociable cats.
“They are not harming anyone or anything and deserve to stay where they are,” the Change.org petition said. “Why would they spend the money that will be needed to hire someone to trap and then to kill these animals? Right now they are all taken care of at no expense to the Town.”
“I wish and hope people can take the focus off the issue of killing cats. … It would be easier if we could start with addressing the feeding issues,” Schrader said. “I think that will be the forefront of discussion on Thursday. I … understand there are people who are passionate about cats.”
“We never felt the same in that house again,” Murphy said. “Do you want to choose cats over the health of the residents here in South Bethany? It’s confusing to me why we enforce so many rules on dogs that we don’t enforce on cats.”
The feeding restriction has public support, from both Clair Mace of CATS and a local petition that garnered 40 signatures.
The crowd at the recent council meeting had mixed reactions, as cats control rodents but also attack beloved birds. Cats can also expose children to allergens, as well as pathogens from cat waste in the yard.
Nancy McCarthy warned that permanently removing the existing feral cats would likely result in non-neutered cats moving into the territory.
In other South Bethany news:
• Smoking, vaping and related activities could be banned on the beach. The first reading of Ordinance 186-17 — which could prohibit smoking tobacco, weeds, marijuana, vaporized liquid or similar substances, using any pipe, cigar, cigarette, hookah or electronic smoking device — was approved on Feb. 10. The prohibited area would run from the beach access points to about 100 yards into the Atlantic Ocean.
• The South Bethany Police Department recently won a statewide Crime Stoppers award. Ptlm. Megan Loulou won an individual award, as well as recognition at the 2017 Joshua M. Freeman Valor Awards, for helping solve about 20 area burglaries based on one local crime scene.
• With Delaware’s coastal towns re-forming the Association of Coastal Towns (ACT), the South Bethany Planning Commission has suggested that sea-level rise efforts be moved to that category, rather than be an individual town effort.
• The 2017 Board of Election includes Carolyn Marcello, Bonnie Rae and Sally Baker, with election workers Lora Caputo, Lisa Saxton and Diana Cowell, and alternate Pat Spangler.
• As a way to connect people to their neighbors and their internet, the Community Enhancement Committee will propose a public picnic and Wi-Fi area near town hall. It will be discussed as part of the upcoming budget draft discussions.
• Amateur and professional photographers can submit samples to be considered for South Bethany’s Art in the Hall exhibit. Applications are due March 15, with the exhibition scheduled for May 26 to June 24, hosted at town hall by the Community Enhancement Committee. For details or submissions, contact Sue.Callaway@gmail.com.
• Canal Drive streetlights were ordered and should be installed within the next month.
• The Assawoman Canal Trail is still coming to South Bethany. Carol Stevenson said the Delaware Department of Transportation has determined that a Route 26 underpass is possible for the walking path to connect several towns together.
• A community Potluck Dinner will be held at Town Hall on Saturday, March 11, at 6 p.m. Those planning to attend should RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Soft drinks will be provided, but the event is otherwise BYOB. Guests should bring a dish based on their last name (A to H, entrée; I to P, dessert; Q to Z, salad/side).
• A travel policy for South Bethany employees and the town council was unanimously approved, based heavily on federal guidelines, although some exceptions can be approved by the mayor or town manager.
• The town council is writing the summertime Black Gum barricade into the town code, with Ordinance 185-17. Although a resolution would allow the town council the flexibility of changing the barricade hours more quickly, Voveris said their town solicitor had recommended writing the times (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.) into the actual code. Any future changes will require three town council readings.
The council’s next regular meeting is Friday, March 10, at 7 p.m., preceded by a public budget meeting at 6 p.m.
While the town of Millsboro may be getting older, its residents keep getting younger.
That’s the kind of growth that the Millsboro Town Council would like to see continue, as made evident by the council’s unanimous decision to cut the Building Fund portion of the building permit rate by more than 80 percent — opening the door for new businesses, new developers and new potential.
“This is basically the council showing a renewed commitment to be a pro-business, business-friendly town,” said Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson.
“I think the council has a progressive vision and wants to see the town go to the next level,” he continued. “They want to honor the past, but at the same time they want to be welcoming to younger and middle-aged families and some of the people that are new to the area.”
The rate reduction will take the previous rate from around $2,600 down to just $500 per equivalent dwelling unit (EDU) — a roughly 25 percent decrease in the total building permit-related impact fee paid by commercial and residential developers.
The Town estimated that the cost avoidance for typical anchor-store investors could be up to $25,000, or more.
With major renovations made to the Town’s Millsboro Town Center five years ago, the only potential Town building projects on the foreseeable horizon include possible upgrades to the police station, providing a cushion in the fund and making the drastic rate reduction possible.
The Town is also well positioned in terms of infrastructure, even taking in consideration the likely growth that the reduction will bring.
With the only major hotel in town limits being the Atlantic Inn, Hudson said that new hotels, groceries stores and restaurants are potential businesses that the council would like to see come to Millsboro as it aims to be more accommodating to younger and middle-aged families, and to events such as the Little League Softball World Series in August.
“I think the Town just wants to have a little bit more of a competitive advantage. We just want to give residents and visitors some more options,” Hudson explained.
The economic impact could potentially also attract homegrown Millsboro residents to come back to the area to start careers.
“They can go away to college and come back and, hopefully, have more job options that are attractive to them,” Hudson said.
“Millsboro’s population is already on track to grow to double in less than 10 years, and the stock market and U.S. economy in general have seen significant improvement over the past few months,” he continued. “The town council took this bold step in order to ensure that Millsboro is in the best possible situation to take advantage of growth taking place both nationally and locally.”
The approved plan is scheduled to go into effect on March 1.
The next regularly scheduled Millsboro Town Council meeting will be held on Monday, March 6, at the Millsboro Town Center.
Walter Curran will serve the Town of Ocean View as its mayor for another three years, come April.
“The reason I’ve decided to step forward one more time is to finish the job. That’s my nature. I started this… It seems to be going in the right direction.”
The deadline to file to run for mayor of Ocean View was Feb. 21, and Curran was the only resident to file for the position.
Curran was first elected in 2014. He had previously served as chairman of the Town’s Planning & Zoning Commission and the president of the board of the Bear Trap Dunes Homeowners Association.
Originally from Boston, Mass., Curran graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in 1966 and worked in the maritime field for more than 40 years. Curran said he and his wife, Marie, along with their children, Christopher and Amy, have been coming to the Bethany Beach area for more than 30 years, having first rented in Sea Colony, and eventually having purchased a home there. Ten years ago, they moved to Ocean View.
Working alongside his four colleagues on the dais, Curran said a lot has been accomplished in the three years he’s served as mayor.
“When I first came on the job, there was a little bit of hoo-ha going on about the Town’s changing too fast — ‘You’re going to make us into a mall’ — that was never going to happen. This town has always focused on Route 26 as the business district. Everything else is residential. That was a lot of hot air for nothing, back then. Having said that, I listened to it and said, ‘We’re going to pay attention to this in the future.’
“I think this particular council is a perfect example of how you can disagree without being disagreeable. We have different points of view and we listen to each other, we pay attention to each other and, in the end, you make up your mind and you vote. I think we’ve got an excellent council. Right now, we’re focused, and will be for the next month and a half, on the budget.”
Currently, Town staff is working on preparing a draft budget for a budget workshop to be held next Tuesday.
“We may have to raise taxes — we don’t know yet. That will be determined. If we do, I can assure you, from my perspective, it will be a necessary increase and it will be one in accord with what the average citizen in Ocean View can afford,” said Curran.
The council recently approved a salary survey study that showed that raises for certain employees would be justified, so as to bring them up to competitive salaries.
“I think the council as a whole absolutely believes, the last couple of cycles, that raises for certain people weren’t given. They were expected, they were anticipated, and, quite frankly, they were merited, but for some reason weren’t given, for whatever reason,” said Curran, noting that the council had asked that the draft budget include a total payroll bump of 6 percent.
However, even if that was approved, not every employee would be guaranteed a raise.
“I’m sure some people will be upset that we’re talking about 6 percent,” said Curran. “We leave it up to the department heads. They have to do reviews of the individuals. The department heads are the ones that come in with the final recommendations of, ‘this person gets 2 percent,’ ‘that person gets 4 percent,’ ‘this person may get 8 percent.’
“The 6 percent, if you look at the overall towns and what’s going on around us now, 6 percent may seem high. We don’t see it as an excessive raise… We do think of it as a proper salary adjustment to catch up to those who should’ve gotten it the last couple cycles but didn’t.”
Keeping a balanced budget is important, said Curran, and a government should make calculated financial decisions while keeping its employees happy.
“Keeping Town employees who we all think are really good, and paying them properly, while at the same time recognizing you’re taking taxpayer monies to pay them… You have to have a fair balance there. Our primary job is to make sure the taxes that are collected, no matter what the level, are used wisely and not just thrown away.”
It is also important to plan for the future, said Curran, noting that the Town has been doing so with its Capital Improvements Program and Street Repair & Replacement Trust Fund.
“We’ve been partially trying to wean ourselves off of transfer tax, in terms of operating funds, because we know that will come to an end and you have to be prudent there and set that money aside for capital projects, which won’t go away. Roads wear away, sidewalks wear away, things do happen. I think over the last three years we’ve made good strides in our ability to plan for the future.”
Curran emphasizes communication
Curran said communicating clearly and effectively with residents is key.
“We’ve made progress in the longest running issue in town — drainage. That had been stymied for probably almost 10 years. By getting the local communities and HOAs involved, in terms of getting easements and talking to their neighbors, convincing them it’s for their own good, we’ve been able to make a lot of progress, especially in the past year. We’ll continue to go down that road.
“Most people today are somewhat leery of government, and I can understand that. But if you take the time to listen to them and then address what they’re actually saying, you’ll make converts.”
He added that, through the town charter, the monies set aside for those improvements cannot be used elsewhere.
“Some people would say, ‘You’re building up too much of a kitty in the trust fund for future projects,’ but you have to,” he said, noting that the State, other municipalities and even HOAs are following suit.
“Those are set up and, by a matter of law, can only be used for certain things, which is very prudent because it prevents anyone with a D.C. mentality from thinking you can rob Peter to pay Paul. We have laws. We will obey those laws, and we will look at it to make sure we have enough money going in there for future funding.”
At the end of last year, the council signed an agreement for discounted ambulance subscription service, charging each improved lot within the town $35 per year for the next three years, to help offset the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s increasing EMT costs. The agreement provides ambulance services to those improved lots at no additional cost, after insurance is billed.
“We’re happy that goes forward. It’s something that’s absolutely needed here,” said Curran. “We caught a little bit of criticism for that because of all the heat the Millville Volunteer Fire Company got… They had problems and weren’t paying attention. We saw, before we agreed to do any of this, that they were getting their own house in order and we saw no reason to punish, essentially us as a town, because of one person’s bad acts — especially when the organization is trying to clean up its own act and doing a good job of doing it. We’ll continue to support them.”
Curran said that, in the long run, the Town and the fire company believe the best solution would be for the County to run all the fire departments; however, it’s a long road ahead.
“I don’t for a minute believe that all of the volunteer fire departments in the county have the exact same point of view. For those of us down here in southeast Sussex County, that doesn’t really work, because we’re getting the largest influx of people. The demand for services is growing here.
“While you can make the point that we’re getting all the taxes and new homebuilding — yes, we are — but I think if you look at the influx of people here, there are a lot more retirees coming in here, and a lot more calls for retirees going out in ambulances than there are for young kids… So, overall, I still believe that the best thing that can happen is that the county have a countywide ambulance service.”
Curran said that, at best, such an agreement is 10 years away.
“In the meantime, we do what we do here. We give them the money we can that goes directly to ensure the most favorable impact on the town of Ocean View. There’s no doubt in my mind that the ambulance service does that.”
The Town also offers a variety of community events for those inside and outside town limits.
“Our social outreaches, like the police department’s Cops & Goblins… Those were great outreaches, and they came at a time when the world seemed to want to be angry at police departments.
“I certainly agree that’s the best way possible to get people to see how you are — that you’re just nice folks trying to protect us. That was a wonderful event both years.”
The Town in past years took over Ocean View Homecoming but recently decided it would instead forego that event for 2017 and focus on its Concerts in the Park, which happen throughout the summer months, offering families the opportunity to enjoy a free night of music in John West Park.
“We get great turnouts for those, and people really enjoy it.”
Curran currently serves on the executive committee of the Delaware League of Local Governments and is active in his role as mayor — often making appearances at events such as Return Day and the Bear Trap Fourth of July Parade.
“And, of course, my job is to run the meetings smoothly and to ensure everyone gets their say.”
Curran said the best thing “ever invented” is term limits.
“You always need fresh eyes, fresh blood to look at things as time goes on.”
Having enjoyed his time on the council the last three years, Curran said he is looking forward to helping Ocean View continue on its prosperous path for the next three.
“I’ve always enjoyed something where I can see progress being made. Throughout my entire business life, I’ve been in charge of things at various levels. I like to help lead the parade… just to make sure we’re all going in the right direction at the right speed. This gave me the opportunity. There’s a lot of satisfaction knowing, collectively, you’re working with a lot of good people, doing a good job.”
Contractors working in Bethany Beach now have a little more time to get work done during the off-season, with the town council’s unanimous approval this week of extending permitted work hours on Saturdays by four hours — but only from Oct. 1 through May 15.
Vice-Mayor Lew Killmer told the council at their Feb. 17 meeting that a number of contractors have found problems with the existing Saturday construction hours, which had been from 8 a.m. to noon.
“Most of their subcontractors, it’s not worth it for them to come out,” he said of workers having to set up no earlier than 8 a.m., perform their work and then be gone again before noon. He said the addition of four more work hours on Saturdays was intended to be more reasonable. “It gives them more opportunity to not lose a whole day.”
Killmer’s initial proposal was to extend the Saturday work hours from Oct. 1 through May 30, but Councilwoman Rosemary Hardiman said she thought May 15 was a better stop date for the extended hours, citing the number of people who come into the town for Memorial Day weekend and the traditional start of the paid parking season on May 15.
Hardiman said she’d inquired about the number of complaints that had been made about construction on Saturdays in recent years, and they had ranged from a single complaint to as many as four per year.
“There haven’t been many,” she said, suggesting that the limits of the four-hour window might be one reason why there had been so few complaints.
Killmer said he found May 15 to be a “reasonable compromise,” and the council voted unanimously to extend the Saturday construction hours to 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays between Oct. 1 and May 15.
The council this week also voted unanimously to add a section to its alcoholic beverages code regarding hotels. Killmer noted that the move was essentially to update the existing code by taking language directly from state code and applying it to a new section of town code regarding hotels.
While the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites contains a restaurant that serves alcoholic beverages, Killmer noted that the hotel itself is a separate entity and isn’t governed by the town code on alcoholic beverage sales in restaurants.
“We never had a hotel before that did this,” he said.
Lighting ordinance aims to prevent spillover
Also approved unanimously on second reading last Friday was an ordinance designed to reduce problems with residential outdoor lighting by regulating its intensity and location. Hardiman said the change had grown out of complaints about outdoor fixtures and security lights from neighboring properties shining onto people’s properties.
In order to reduce light trespass and glare on nearby properties, the new ordinance requires outdoor lighting to be shielded and focused within the property lines, so as to minimize spillover. A cap of .2 foot-candles at the property line was established in the ordinance, so that if complaints are made to the Town, code enforcement officers can verify with a light meter that the lighting exceeds the limit and fine the property owner, if needed.
Hardiman emphasized, though, that the hope was that the Town wouldn’t need to get involved in such situations, but that, instead, neighbors could use the ordinance as something to point to when working out any problems directly with their neighbors.
“We hope in giving them a standard that they can work it out between themselves, rather than having to go to the code enforcement officer,” she said.
Should anyone be unable to work things out directly with the neighbors, a violation would be subject to a fine of between $25 and $100 per incident.
Resident John Gaughn said he had questions about the resulting enforcement process, including how long a property owner would have to remedy a violation and what the appeals process would be.
Town Manager Cliff Graviet noted that it is the Town’s practice to warn ordinance violators a number of times before a citation is issued, and any appeal would go through the Town’s Alderman Court.
Hardiman emphasized that conversations with code enforcement officials in Ocean City, Md., and Fenwick Island had led the Charter & Ordinance Review Committee to establish a measurable limit in the proposed ordinance, and that Ocean City officials had said that while neighbors generally worked out the issues between themselves, when code enforcement officials had gone out to measure, they often offered suggestions for remedying the problem.
The ordinance covers only the Town’s residential zones, though resident Sherwin Winestock said his issues were with light from streetlights. In such cases, Killmer noted, residents can request that streetlights be shielded.
“Some people like to have them shaded or moved,” said Graviet. “We try to accommodate that as Delmarva Power allows.”
That’s one reason that the Town has requested new streetlight fixtures for the boardwalk, Mayor Jack Gordon noted. With a number of such complaints lodged each summer, the Town has been requesting an updated fixture for the lights for a while, Graviet reported last week, but has only recently been offered a down-lighted LED fixture that uses less energy.
He offered kudos to Public Works Director Brett Warner for having continued to pursue the issue with Delmarva Power, which only recently added such a fixture to its catalog of fixtures available for municipalities. The Town is hoping to have the new fixtures installed this spring.
However, Graviet noted, there is at least one thing that has to be done first — 3,000 feet of conduit under the boardwalk that runs power to the streetlights needs to be replaced. The conduit under the boardwalk has open and frayed wires at present, he said, and the Town will be working to replace the conduit so that the new lights can be put in.
Town looking to repair damage from winter storm
The conduit isn’t the only part of the boardwalk that is in need of repairs after this winter’s storms. Graviet reported on Feb. 17 that January’s nor’easter, while “very, very brief” had done a significant amount of damage, moving a lot of sand off the beach, which was already short on sand after prior storms.
The nor’easter destroyed the dune steps at Parkwood Street and the handicapped access ramp at Ocean View Parkway, both of which had been recently constructed after storms last year, Graviet noted.
He said parts of them had been found in Middlesex Beach after the storm, and that any sections that could be re-used in rebuilding the structures would be.
However, “We cannot do anything until we have another build-back of sand,” Graviet said, emphasizing that it will be “a long, long time before the summer season is on us,” which offers not only the time for sand to accumulate on the beach but additional opportunity for more storms to do more damage.
Graviet said Warner has been working to set 4-by-4s in the sand to support some of the steps that had been left hanging after the storm but hadn’t washed away in it.
“Our experience has been that, in all likelihood, they will wash away,” he acknowledged.
Graviet said the Town had heard nothing yet about a possible beach replenishment this year, saying that he felt such a possibility would be dependent on the president’s budget.
“It’s anyone’s guess at this particular time,” he said.
Killmer said he had been asked whether the area from Parkwood south, which currently has no dunes, could possibly have some kind of dune created by the Town.
“There isn’t enough sand on the beach to do that,” Graviet said. “DNREC continues to say they don’t want to take sand off the beach” and move it to the dune line because they would rather have the sand on the beach head, where it can absorb the energy from any storms before it gets to the dunes.
Meanwhile, the Town has been assessing the stability of the banks of the Loop Canal, after concerns that they were eroding.
The Town is currently in the process of stabilizing the island and southern shore with bio-logs, as they are considered most at risk. He said they plan to have a dialogue with residents on the north side of the canal about the possibility of having rip-rap installed there. He said those property owners had said in the past that they were willing to have the work done and bear the cost, and the Town is waiting to get an idea of what those costs might be.
Graviet also announced last Friday that the Town will be adding two additional beach webcams to its arsenal of views in the next month or so, facing north and south down the boardwalk.
And, having been asked for a handicapped access button on the front door of town hall, he said, that has already been installed.
With the Town moving from bi-weekly to weekly curbside recycling in the coming weeks, due to an increase in recycling volume, Graviet said he would use the opportunity of that official announcement to reinforce for users of the service what is and is not recyclable and what should and should not go into the blue recyclables cans.
Resident Sue Baxter had inquired about more extensive instructions, saying, “Recycling to me is very dear. … What I see in the recycling bins is amazing — trash, yard waste. … No one seems to agree on what is recyclable and what is not.”
She requested the Town provide a more complete list on its website or send out a list for renters, “so people realize the blue cans are for recycling and not for garbage.”
Building inspector could grant small variances
The council held a public hearing on Feb. 17, on an ordinance that would allow the Town’s building inspector to grant administrative variance for setback encroachments of 12 inches or less.
The administrative variances would be available only for existing encroachments or for people planning to retain an existing (encroaching) building footprint while renovating. Issues involving larger amounts, new construction or expansion of an existing footprint would still have to be heard by the Board of Adjustment.
Killmer noted that the move was intended to simplify such cases for property owners, as well as to spare them the $500 fee involved in having a hearing before the BoA. He said the administrative variances are permitted under state law, but the function has to be adopted by ordinance by a municipality before it can be used.
Vahan Moushegian Jr., chair of the BoA and a member of the board since 2011, said that during his time on the board, the BoA has heard 18 cases total — three of which involved dimensional variances of less than 12 inches for existing structures. Two of those, he said, required that a survey be signed off on by the building inspector, “And she could not do so” because of the encroachment.
“I fully support this, as do the board members,” he said, noting that it would save property owners $500, or possibly more — as, in one of those cases, the property owner had hired an attorney for the board hearing, “because they wanted to ensure the strongest possible case was being made.”
The ordinance will be up for a vote at the March council meeting.
Also at the Feb. 17 meeting:
• The Budget & Finance Committee reported that they expect the Town to end its fiscal year in March with revenue at least $800,000 over the budgeted amount, mainly due to building permits and transfer taxes. Expenses, they reported, are expected to come in a few percentage points under the budgeted amount. A public hearing on the budget for the 2018 fiscal year is set for March 17 at 10 a.m.
• The Cultural & Historical Affairs Committee is planning a spring cultural evening on April 25 or 26 that is to feature a local historical impersonator telling about life during the time of Teddy Roosevelt while portraying Roosevelt.
• An early April meeting is scheduled for those interested in serving as docents for the town museum, to give them a chance to get familiar with their duties and acquaint them with the current town museum, which remains in operation until the Dinker Cottage is open. Interested residents can contact Julie Malewski at town hall for more information.
• About a dozen visitors from the town’s sister city of Periers, France, will be arriving for the annual Periers Day celebration in late July, arriving on July 25 after several days in Washington, D.C. The committee is in the process of finalizing a performance by a New Orleans-style zydeco band for Periers Day.
CHAC is still looking for one or two additional host families for the visitors, most of whom are conversant in English and all of whom have at least some knowledge of English. Potential host families should also contact Malewski at town hall.
• CHAC has also completed a draft nomination to have the Dinker Cottage added to the National Register of Historic Places and submitted it to the state preservation office. The official name of the cottage on the register would be the Dinker/Irvin Cottage, to acknowledge that, in addition to being originally owned by the founding Dinker family, it has been owned by the Irvin family since 1927 and was donated to the Town by a member of that family.
• The Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade has secured two marching bands and six other bands performing from trucks for the 2017 edition. The committee is still looking for volunteer marshals who will be trained to prevent the throwing of candy (a restriction being more stringently enforced this year) and minimize gaps in the parade.
• The Planning Commission expects to hold a series of public hearings in the coming months to review the latest five-year update to the Town’s Comprehensive Plan. Once the hearings are held, the document will go to the council for approval, before heading to state officials for PLUS review and approval at the state level.
The Parish of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Bethany Beach is seeking donations throughout the month of March for USO Delaware.
The parish asks for donations twice a year from the community. For this drive, they are requesting individually-packaged Slim Jims, individually-packaged crackers, individually-packaged breakfast bars and individually-packaged chips. Also needed are paper towels, 13-gallon trash bags and gallon-size zip-top freezer bags.
The outreach was started by parishioner Gigi Vanderman but is now headed up by Rosemary Wlaschin.
“She’s a lovely woman,” said Wlaschin of Vanderman. “She’s the one who instituted this program, something like 13 years ago. She just took it upon herself to do it. Her husband was an Air Force veteran, and she has children who have also served.
“She wanted to retire, and I said, ‘Yeah, I have military children myself, and I think it’s a wonderful idea.’ I was new to the area, moving here after retirement, looking for ways to volunteer, and this seemed like a really good fit.”
The donation idea was born out of a St. Ann’s women’s group called Sodality.
“Sodality is kind of the anchor that is bringing all of this together. It has a special devotion to our Blessed Mother, in addition to a community-service arm,” explained Wlaschin. “The women at St. Ann’s are the strongest, most faithful women I have had privilege of coming across… I feel very blessed I’ve been directed to this.”
Wlaschin said many use the USO wish list as a guideline for what they wish to donate to those who are serving in the armed forces.
“Then they give specific items accordingly, or they may also think, ‘I know for a fact that they could really use X, Y or Z.’ That is also wonderful, because, inevitably, it will be very purposeful and useful.”
Following the March 31 cutoff date for the donations, Wlaschin will contact USO Delaware and schedule a time for pick-up.
“They back right up, we load her up, and they take everything back up to Dover to them.”
USO Delaware is a nonprofit with a mission to support service members and their family members throughout the whole state of Delaware.
“We offer different morale-boosting programming from deployments to welcome-homes to different activities that we do throughout the year. It’s just lifting their spirits,” said Yolanda Bottorf, operations and programs manager for USO Delaware.
All funding raised goes into supporting services and programs offered through USO Delaware.
“We have a couple centers on Dover Air Force Base where we provide different kinds of snacks, beverages and areas where we have some TVs and a theater room and a pool table — just a place where service members can go to get away and have a good time and relax.”
Additionally, USO Delaware provides an area for the service members who conduct the dignified transfers of the fallen, as well as one for the families of the fallen.
“All the items that are collected from St. Ann’s go to those areas, as well as any time we have events like deployments or welcome-homes, it’s kind of like our USO on the go.”
Bottorf said because shipping is so costly, they do not often ship items overseas but do offer up the items to families sending packages to loved ones.
“At times, we have care-package builds, so family members can come to our centers, build a care package from all of the items we’ve collected from the community, and then they send those boxes out to their loved-ones.”
Wlaschin said that, when Vanderman first spearheaded the donation efforts, she went door to door to area businesses on Route 26, but these days, they simply ask that donations be dropped off at the church.
“We’ve been very blessed and have received boatloads of items. We’ve filled that van, I will tell you. We fill it to the brim. They’re masters of packing.”
Showing support to those serving overseas is paramount, said both Bottorf and Wlaschin.
“It’s super-important, because we have these women and men serving our country, at times away from home. Sometimes it may be their first station or first deployment. This just brings them a piece of home in connecting them to their families, their home and their country,” said Bottorf. “By providing that snack or bottle of water or game, it helps them stay connected to who they are, to their family, to their country.”
“The day that we can exist in peace in this world, and our military are just training at home and going home to their families at night, in their own little neck of the woods, then, I guess, it won’t be needed.
“But, until then, regrettably, with a big, heavy heart, this is something needed for our men and women. If we can help some of them out by having a nice clean toothbrush at a USO station airport or just a few snacks — anything that would make them think about home and make them feel a teensy bit comfortable for maybe 15 minutes or a half an hour — that’s worth it,” added Wlaschin. “Our military needs to know all the time that they’re missed back home, that we’re thinking about them and praying about them. We’re not going to forget them.”
Items should be brought to Delaney Hall at St. Ann’s Catholic Church, located at 651 Garfield Parkway, Bethany Beach. To learn more about USO Delaware, visit delaware.uso.org.
South Bethany photographers can now submit art for the Town’s “Art in the Hall” exhibit, a coastal-themed show.
The photography show is open to any professional, amateur or “avid weekend” photographer. Entrants should be residents, property owners, relatives or somehow closely connected to the Town of South Bethany.
Applications are due March 15. The exhibition starts with an opening-night reception on May 26 at 7 p.m. and runs through June 24.
Photos should relate to the shore or the town itself.
“We are trying to focus on South Bethany or the coastal area. So it’s definitely a beachy theme,” said Sue Callaway, an organizer of the show and town council member. “We’re trying to showcase what’s going on here [locally].”
After all the entries are submitted, the South Bethany Community Enhancement Committee, which is organizing the event, will iron out the details of how many photos to display and at what size.
“Another goal always of mine is to get people in South Bethany involved. We have some talent in South Bethany, and it’s just going to be fun to see that,” Callaway said.
“I encourage people to submit their photography and, of course, support the opening night and take advantage of seeing the work during the month,” she added.
The photographers may sell their work, but such transactions should be conducted directly between the artists and the buyer.
Applicants should submit two samples of their work, in color or black-and-white, for the CEC to review. Email the samples or any questions to email@example.com.
When the Poker & Fun Car Rallye V cruises out of the parking lot at Hooked Up in Millville on Saturday, March 4, drivers and their co-pilots will be armed with directions and a list of questions — and the knowledge that their trek is for a really good cause.
Event organizer Bob Lueckel, a member of the Beachcombers Corvette Club of Southern Delaware, said the club has run the car rallies for five years and that it benefits a different charity each year. This year, the club has chosen Justin’s Beach House, which offers families dealing with cancer vacation housing in Bethany Beach for up to a week
The event is open to anyone with a “street-legal” vehicle, Lueckel said. The entrance fee is $30 per car. Lueckel said organizers ask that each driver have a co-pilot who is old enough to read the directions, as well as help to answer the 15 questions that are part of the event.
Before the rallye, a “driver’s meeting” will be held for organizers “to go over the rules and how it’s going to flow,” Lueckel said. “We encourage everyone to follow the speed limits and to follow the rules of the road,” he said, adding that the only time constraint on drivers is that they need to finish the 40-mile course in about two hours and 15 minutes.
Just before they hit the road, the drivers will each pick two playing cards. At each of two of the stopping points along the course, they will pick two more cards, and then one more card at the finish line, for a total of seven. From those, each driver will choose his or her best poker hand and will submit that to the organizers, along with the answers to the 15 questions.
Lueckel offered this piece of advice to those filling out the question sheets: “Spelling, grammar and punctuation count. My wife is a retired teacher,” he noted of his wife, Nancy, who will be collecting and evaluating the question sheets. His job will be “ranking” each poker hand.
Points will be given for answers to the questions, as well as the poker hands, and points will then be added together. Five prizes will be given out, featuring gift cards to area businesses, including Hooked Up, Bethany Diner, Ocean View Restaurant and Drifting Grounds coffee shop.
He added that drivers and co-pilots do not necessarily need to get out of the car to answer each question, and that the answers will be found “between each direction.” He said the directions are very specific and clear, and the intent is not to get the drivers lost.
“We’ve never lost a driver… Well, wait, there was that one time…” Lueckel said.
Registration for the Poker & Fun Car Rallye begins at 10 a.m. at Hooked Up Ale House & Raw Bar, in the Millville Town Center in Millville. Cars will be released onto the route beginning around 11:15 a.m.
The Millville Town Council will get a new face this spring, with the addition of Peter Michel.
He’ll take the seat currently held by Steve Small, also a resident of Bishop’s Landing, who was appointed in March of 2016 but opted not to run in 2017.
Michel (pronounced “MITCHE-ell”) will be sworn in for a two-year term at the March 14 meeting, alongside incumbents Susan Brewer and Mayor Robert “Bob” Gordon.
With three candidates for three seats, no election is necessary in March.
“I believe in treating everybody like you would want them to treat you. I don’t get too excited about anything,” said Michel, adding that he feels the best way to handle controversial issues is to “remember there’s two sides to everything, and never listen to someone and think their problem doesn’t matter.”
Michel currently holds the unique position of the first and only resident on the Bishop’s Landing homeowners’ board. After two years, the other two seats are still held by the developer and builder (these positions are usually turned over to the residents when a majority of homes are completed).
Although new council members always have lots to learn, Michel said he is excited about what’s coming down the road for Millville, such as the new park on Dukes Road.
In a letter initially announcing his candidacy, Michel said he’s “committed to protecting our safety, property and the long-term financial health of our Town.”
Upon joining the council, Michel will leave the Bishop’s Landing board.
“I think I can do more with the same amount of time for the town as I did for [the neighborhood],” Michel said, although he said he didn’t wish to juggle both.
Michel stepped into Millville community service simply by helping neighbors with odd jobs. They eventually suggested he serve on the HOA.
“I said, ‘Me?’ They said, ‘Yeah, you’ve got the temperament,’” Michel said.
He wanted to serve his neighborhood, and now he wants to serve his town.
In Virginia, he served on the Englewood Mews Townhouse Association for three years and chaired their Committee on Architectural Review. Serving on that well-established board was a far cry from becoming the first citizen on the new Bishop’s Landing HOA, which involved resolving conflicts during the building process.
“I try to listen 90 percent of the time and talk 10 percent of the time,” he said.
Michel’s service is a team effort, as his wife, Colleen, has provided support and input.
Indeed, it was her father who first encouraged them to visit the Delaware shore. The Michels moved to Millville fulltime about two years ago, finding it to be affordable and a happy medium between the fine atmosphere of Rehoboth Beach and excitement of Ocean City, Md.
“We wanted to be in a place they would want to come visit,” Colleen Michel said of their two grown children and four grandchildren.
He retired after 35 years with the Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department, including 16 years as arson investigator. That experience included firefighting, investigations, enforcement and providing expert witness in various courts.
Although he’s not a local firefighter anymore, Michel said he favors the newly mandatory Millville Volunteer Fire Company ambulance-service subscription, which, for a $35 fee, provides discount ambulance service to all Millville property owners and their guests.
Michel served as a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam from 1968 to 1971, earning two Purple Hearts. He is also a Delaware notary public who attends Mariner’s Bethel United Methodist Church and enjoys home improvement and going to the movies.
Like other council members, Michel said he will likely recuse himself from votes regarding his neighborhood, to avoid the perception of conflict-of-interest. Across the street, the unfinished (and barely begun) Dove Landing is also tied to the Bishop’s Landing homeowner association, so Michel may abstain from those votes as well.
“I’ll do my best and think of the town first,” Michel said. “The rest of it will work itself out.”
Three South Bethany Town Council seats will be up for election in this spring. Candidates may now submit applications to run for the office. The election will be Saturday, May 27. Candidates must register by Wednesday, April 12, at 4:30 p.m. Each seat carries a two-year term. The seats are currently held by Wayne Schrader, Carol Stevenson and Frank Weisgerber.
Candidates must be a natural person; at least 21 years old; never convicted of a felony or crime of moral turpitude; and meet the other requirements of an eligible voter.
Voters do not need to pre-register. They must be at least 18 and a U.S. citizen and have one of the following qualifications: resident (on election day and for at least nine months, consecutively or non-consecutively, out of the previous 12 months); a freeholder (named on the deed or as trustee for 90 consecutive days immediately preceding election day); or spouse of a freeholder (even if not named the deed). There are eight voters maximum per property when those voters are voting as a “freeholder” or “freeholder spouse.”
Absentee voting will be available, if enough candidates file so that an election is held.
Applications and details are available by calling (302) 539-3653, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting Town Hall, 402 Evergreen Road in South Bethany.