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    Special to the Coastal Point • Christina Weaver: Bruce Mears holds a newspaper article about his grandfather, John B. Greenberger.Special to the Coastal Point • Christina Weaver: Bruce Mears holds a newspaper article about his grandfather, John B. Greenberger.“This is the 7 p.m. edition, WBOC-TV News, and once again I say, ‘I am John B. Greenberger. It’s a good evening.’”

    Lifelong local residents may recognize that sign-off as the one they heard every evening until 1975 when families congregated around their television to watch Delmarva and then national TV news. Greenberger was the local voice and face of Delmarva news from 1940 on the radio and subsequently from 1954 on both radio and television.

    “Walter Cronkite followed my grandfather on CBS every evening,” said Millville’s Bruce Mears. “In fact, they resembled each other and had the same perfectly enunciated tone of voice. Around here, he was known as ‘Delmarva’s Walter Cronkite’ and was quite the local celebrity.”

    John Massey, 93 and a regular visitor at the Roxana Cheer Center, was asked, out of the blue, about John B.:

    “Greenberger — I’ll never forget him,” Massey said. “I used to watch him every night and thought he was so distinguished. I was just a country boy, but he made our news sound just as important as the rest of the world. Back then, WBOC was the only local station.”

    Greenberger’s daughter is Martha White, a lady held in high esteem in the area because of her many years as a beloved English teacher and librarian at Indian River High School.

    White explained that Greenberger was actually her stepfather.

    “When I first saw him, I thought he was Clark Gable himself, he was so handsome! He could do no wrong, and I did my best to never disappoint him. I majored in English because of him and his love of words, and became a teacher because of his love of people.”

    “At the start of each school year,” said White, “I looked into the eyes of every student and just knew that they were my tomorrow. There is no greater thing than to be a teacher, and to have had the privilege of my students teaching me through their perspective.”

    White said she will never forget July 14, 1954. She was working in a restaurant in Ocean City, Md., to make money for college.

    “The owner came in and told me she had something to show me. Then she turned on the television, and there was my father reading the news. They kept it a secret from me, and I couldn’t believe my eyes!”

    According to White, Greenberger’s own childhood had ended abruptly when his father died and he became the “man of the family” for his two younger brothers. He graduated from East Stroudsburg (Pa.) State College, worked briefly at WGAL in Lancaster, and was on his way to seek bigger opportunities in Florida when he happened to stop in Salisbury, Md.

    “At that time, Salisbury only had two stoplights,” said White. “But he noticed a sign that said ‘Future Home of WBOC Radio.’ He looked at how modern the new building and its equipment was and at the surrounding countryside and knew immediately he felt at home.”

    Like most young men of the era, Greenberger served his country during World War II. While in the Army Air Force, Greenberger continued his broadcasting career, including, at the end of the war, with the Armed Forces Radio in Alaska. On the day the news broke that the war was over, Greenberger celebrated by buying a diamond ring. He wore that ring until the day he died.

    White said the day her son Bruce was born was an awakening for her father.

    “He was always very serious, old-school, but when he came to see me and the baby in the hospital, a nurse pointed out the similarity in their noses. It was as though a lightbulb went off and he felt able to live, through his grandson, the childhood he never experienced. Of course, I named Bruce for my father’s famous middle initial, B.,” she said.

    Bruce Mears grew up on a chicken farm on Railway Road in Millville — land the family still owns and where his award-winning home designer and builder business has been located since 1985. He remembers that at least every other weekend he would go to Salisbury to stay with his grandparents.

    “I loved being with my Pop Pop and have so many happy memories,” said Mears. “He took me to church and Sunday school, and I credit him with my faith. His basement became a workshop where I was allowed to use his tools and make whatever I wanted, which I’m sure led me to my career.

    “He loved birds and animals, and we used to walk in cornfields after the harvester came through and string up extra corn cobs for squirrels to eat. When the squirrels threatened to take over, we’d catch them in traps and take them to the woods to be released. One day, however, a squirrel broke out of the trap in the car and scratched Pop Pop badly. That was then end of us feeding squirrels!

    “He took me every year to the skipjack races on Deal Island, to Baltimore where we sat in the press box at the old Memorial Stadium for Oriole games, and once to Miami, where we flew over the city in the Goodyear blimp.

    “We always had the radio on in the car, and sometimes I’d hear him say that the next song was dedicated to his grandson. ‘These Boots are Made for Walking’ by Nancy Sinatra was one time I remember clearly. And, of course, we’d watch him read the news on television, like everyone else in Delmarva.”

    Mears has three treasured possessions: a scrap book of memories from Greenberger’s professional life; the diamond ring that he wears every day, just as his Pop Pop did; and his grandfather’s pride and joy, a Carolina sky-blue convertible 1965 Plymouth Belvedere II.

    Mears knew the car very well from helping maintain it from a young age.

    “My grandfather never drove it faster than 35 miles per hour, even on our road trip to Miami,” he said. “I knew when it was willed to me that I would keep it the way I got it. There are still some cigar ashes in the ash tray and in the trunk are some records, a long wooden case of film exposures, a baseball glove and paperwork. I still keep and update his log of miles and gas that he kept in the glove compartment.”

    Mears drives the car on special occasions, such as the Bethany Beach Fourth of July Parade, in which he has driven local politicians and even, on one memorable occasion, Coastal Point staff. Next time you see this one-of-a-kind automobile in a parade, you will know it used to belong to John B. Greenberger.

    Wayne Cannon is another long-time radio personality who still can be heard occasionally on WGMD. It is his goal to start a Delmarva Radio & Television Hall of Fame to honor area broadcasters and record local on-air history.

    Cannon said, “I grew up watching John B. Greenberger. I looked up to him and respected his no-nonsense, trustworthy demeanor. The first person I hope to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is John B. Greenberger.”

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    A local drumming group is hoping to expand its circle on Sunday, April 2, when Made By Hand International Co-op in South Bethany will host the group, inviting anyone who wants to come and see what drumming circles are all about.

    The group, Drum It Up! Raise the Vibration, is an offshoot of a Millsboro-based circle called Sunfeather Drumming & Shamanic Journey Circle, according to group spokesperson Lisa Simmons.

    Sunday’s event is the first of the group’s outreach into the community to spread the word about drumming circles. The Sunfeather group, which Simmons said has about 75 members and meets monthly, has been meeting for eight years.

    “Any given circle will have, on average, about 12 people,” she said.

    The group focuses on drumming as “more of a spiritual practice,” based on Native American drumming traditions, Simmons said, with the focus on drumming for “fun and for healing.” Circles typically last about three hours and are divided into social time, drumming and shamanic journey technique, which is a centuries-old practice through which participants strive “to access spiritual guidance and healing,” Simmons said.

    Drum It Up is the group’s outreach into the community at large, and Simmons said the focus of its events will be community togetherness. She said she feels holding the event at Made By Hand makes for a natural partnership, since the art of drumming spans many cultures. She added that the group hopes to reach out to advocacy groups in the future, to form community links through drumming.

    As for Sunday’s event, Simmons said the group aims to showcase the practice of drumming circles for a new audience and increase understanding and appreciation of its benefits.

    “We hope that it’s a place where people can come, have fun, be creative and get to know each other,” Simmons said.

    Dancing and movement will be encouraged, she said.

    “I envision that people will bring different gifts and talents. We welcome all ages, all colors, all shape and sizes” to the circle, Simmons said. “This is a great forum to bring all kinds of people together.”

    Sunday’s drumming celebration will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. at Made By Hand International Co-op, 34444 Coastal Highway, in the York Beach Mall. Participants may bring their own drums or rattles if they want to, or may borrow one at the event. The drumming circle will be held rain or shine.

    For more information, check out the Drum It Up! Raise the Vibration page on Facebook, or email

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    Three teams of Indian River School District students qualified for the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals with second-place finishes at the state competition on March 25 at Alfred G. Waters Middle School in Middletown.

    A team coached by Mary Bixler and Laura Miller took second place in the “Catch Us If You Can” category for Division II (middle school). Members of the winning team were Isaac Chandler, Abigail Guy, Mason Cathell, Jaxson Chandler, Mia Trageser and McKenna Miller.

    A team coached by Wendy Joseph and Haley Mears was a second-place finisher in the “To Be Continued: A Superhero Cliffhanger” category for Division II. Members of the winning team were Kayla Boyden, Paige Shiflet, Romario Cordoba-Cordova, Joshua Silva, Eliana Nunez and Harley Tidwell.

    A team coached by Jennifer Perry and Robin Hall took second place in the “To Be Continued: A Superhero Cliffhanger” category for Division III (high school). Members of that winning team were Lexi Hall, Kayla Harant, Madison Johnson, Kaila McCabe, Olivia Hudson and Ethan Rakes.

    Odyssey of the Mind was founded in 1979 by Sam Micklus of Glassboro State College. The competition encourages students to find solutions to open-ended problems by utilizing creative problem-solving methods. Each year, five new competitive problems are presented and teams spend months working toward solutions.

    There is a limit on the amount of money teams can spend on materials used in their creative solutions. During the competition, teams are also required to solve a spontaneous problem as part of their score. Millions of students from kindergarten through the collegiate level have participated in Odyssey of the Mind since its inception.

    “Catch Us If You Can” required students to design, build and run vehicles from a multi-level parking garage to a secret meeting place without being stopped. Vehicles traveled different routes to reach the same destination and during their journey did something that prevented them from being followed. The performance included the reason for the meeting, a person who wanted to prevent the meeting, a simulation of a scene taking place inside a vehicle and a soundtrack to accompany the vehicles’ travel.

    In “To Be Continued: A Superhero Cliffhanger,” creativity was being taken away from the world, and it was up to the team to rescue it. Teams created and presented a humorous performance about an unexpected superhero who encounters three different situations where they must save creativity in some way. The superhero changed in appearance when displaying their superpowers. The performance included a clumsy sidekick, a nemesis character, a choreographed battle and a cliffhanger ending.

    All three IRSD teams qualified for the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals, to be held May 24-27 at Michigan State University.

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    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert : The Lord’s Landscaping team has been serving the community for nearly 40 years, and continuesCoastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert : The Lord’s Landscaping team has been serving the community for nearly 40 years, and continuesIn 1972, after graduating from college and moving to Sussex County, Bill Lord was not planning to open a landscaping business.

    “When I first moved here, I was a teacher. I was just not destined to be a teacher. My wife Donna was. Her teaching job gave me the flexibility to try to do something I really wanted to do.”

    Lord left education and answered a want-ad in the paper, and worked for a landscaper in Lewes for two years. He then decided to go out on his own and, with the help of his wife’s grandfather, Amos McCabe, was able to use for his budding business some of the property in Millville that once housed Delaware Quality Feeds.

    “Amos let me use a little corner office there and a little patch of ground to store some stuff,” recalled Lord. “I’d watch out after him, do some jobs for him. He never had a son… He loved me right from the get-go. He took me hunting. I had never been hunting before, you know. I’m from Philadelphia.”

    Thus, in 1978, Lord’s Landscaping opened with a total of two employees — including Lord himself.

    “The timing couldn’t have been better,” said Lord, noting he had initially a few jobs “here and there… Then North Bethany kicked in.”

    Landscaping the majority of North Bethany, including Sea-Del, helped establish Lord as one of the area’s go-to landscapers. Lord’s has since grown in terms of business offerings. But they are still operating out of the old feed mill.

    Now, in its 39th year in the community, Lord’s daughter Amy Hughes and her husband, Pat, have joined the business, with a surprisingly similar story.

    Amy, a 2004 Indian River High School graduate, studied education at the University of Delaware. Following her 2008 graduation, she taught at her high school alma mater for five years, and then moved to the Southern Delaware School of the Arts for two years, before joining the family business. Pat Hughes — who, along with Amy, joined the business in January — left his teaching job at Sussex Central High School.

    Amy had worked part time at the business for a year and a half before making a fulltime transition to office manager, taking over the role from her mother.

    “Once I had babies, she started watching them and I started working here,” said Amy Hughes. “I just started working here fulltime as of Jan. 1, of this year. It is all very new to me!”

    But it’s not all new to Hughes, who worked at the family landscaping business while growing up.

    “It was a lot of watering. The big joke is they used to make me clean the pond, and I did not like that. One day I just said, ‘I’m not doing this anymore,’” she recalled with a laugh. “They don’t have that pond anymore.”

    Being a family-friendly business is important to Lord and Hughes, as their third generation of possibly future landscapers are some of the youngest visitors to the garden center.

    “Now it’s pretty cool. There’s been a Pack ’n Play in that corner, and I’ve been bringing my daughter in,” said Hughes.

    “We’ve had a lot of fun. It’s been great having my dad... He’ll peek his head out and crack jokes. It’s also great because now my mom is getting to know my kids, which has been a really cool part of it. Sometimes we’ll have been working late and we’ll go to the house to pick up the girls, and she’ll have dinner made.”

    Bill Lord’s eldest, Mike, was involved in the family business as well; however, he recently decided to open his own landscaping business.

    “He did what I did and went out on his own. Can’t fault him for that; it’s the American way,” said Lord.

    Now having joined the family business, Hughes has put her touch on things — most noticeably, perhaps, in the newly revamped garden center.

    “We have cleaned every closet; we have cleaned the attics. We have cleaned every single thing and have redone ever single part of the garden center. Every week, someone comes in and it looks completely different,” she laughed. “We’ve worked really, really hard the last two months.”

    Along with the garden center, Lord’s also has commercial greenhouses, and offers landscape design and installation, as well as landscape maintenance.

    “We have three different divisions to the business. One is the garden center, then my dad does the design work — he draws the plans — and then Cody Kuhnert runs our construction side of the business. So, whatever my dad plans out and draws, Cody has a crew that does that work. And, Pat does the maintenance, like the annual mulching, trimming, spring cleans, things like that,” said Hughes.

    Both Lord and Hughes praised their loyal employees, including Joe “Big Joe” Valasus, Lindsey Thompson, Geraldina Cruz, Andrea Lewis, Sam Michels and A.J. Kelley, calling them driven, motivated and inspired.

    “They have been really, really wonderful with me starting here and have been completely supportive of my crazy ideas. They’re so knowledgeable about how everything is run,” said Hughes. “They’re awesome.”

    “Working down on the beach, designing landscapes, is about as cool as it gets for a left-brained guy like me,” added Lord. “I really think we all love what we’re doing. We get a lot of fun comments from people coming in saying, ‘If you ever need anybody, I’d love to come work here.’ I think that’s the attitude our employees have.”

    Lord said he loves working out of a building built by his grandfather, and now sharing the business with his daughter, son-in-law and, sometimes, his grandchildren.

    “It’s the quintessential family business.”

    Lord’s Landscaping is located at 35577 Atlantic Avenue in Millville. For more information, call (302) 539-6119 or visit

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  • 03/31/17--08:02: Big Fish, smaller pond
  • Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: The Big Fish Grill front-of-house team is ready for action in Ocean View.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: The Big Fish Grill front-of-house team is ready for action in Ocean View.One fish, two fish, red fish, new Fish.

    Fans of the Big Fish Restaurant Group may already be keen on the group’s well-established area staples, including the classic American cuisine of the Summer House Saloon on Rehoboth Avenue and farm-to-table concept of Salt Air in Rehoboth Beach; the three Big Fish Grill locations in Rehoboth Beach, Wilmington and Glen Mills, Pa.; and the Crab House, Bella Coast Italian Kitchen, Big Fish Seafood Market; and the list going on.

    But despite 10 unique operations, and nine of them in the First State, a Big Fish endeavor from restauranteurs and brothers Eric and Norman Sugrue had yet to make its way down to the southernmost Delaware beaches until this past winter.

    That’s when the brothers Sugrue recognized an opportunity to venture south, when the location of the former Magnolia’s restaurant on Cedar Neck Road in Ocean View made itself available.

    After completely revamping the space, raising the raw bar, wrangling the dream-team staff and opening up the doors, it didn’t take long for the latest addition to the Big Fish family to go over more than well-received by locals and foodies alike, with the Grill now gearing up for its first summer season near Bethany Beach.

    “All the Cedar Neckers — we’re ecstatic. We’re so happy that Big Fish is here,” said retired Southern Delaware School of the Arts teacher and long-time Big Fish fan Maria Just, who recently had her retirement party catered by the group. “I’ve always frequented the Big Fish up in Rehoboth, and now to have this venue right here in this area — we needed this. We definitely needed something like this.”

    While Just and the rest of the “Cedar Neckers” crew were happy to have their own personal BFG almost right in their own personal back yards, the local gang was also pleasantly surprised to see as is the Sugrue brother’s M.O., the Ocean View location featuring its own unique details — ones not necessarily found up in Rehoboth or Wilmington or Glen Mills — ranging from the atmosphere to the menu offerings, all the while staying true to the Big Fish Grill roots first planted some 20 years ago, back in 1997.

    “One thing about Big Fish is that we do our best to make each location unique,” explained General Manager Kate Lively. “Every location is different. We have all the classics here, but then we have a lot of other things that you won’t find at the other locations.”
    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Big Fish Grill’s Chesapeake tortellini is served with sautéed gulf shrimp, baby spinach, and blush sauce, then topped with a signature crabcake.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Big Fish Grill’s Chesapeake tortellini is served with sautéed gulf shrimp, baby spinach, and blush sauce, then topped with a signature crabcake.
    The restaurant’s dual-level seating, featuring plush booths and brown crab paper-lined tables, its full bar wielding 10 rotating draft lines and plenty of sports-reeling flat screens, and the original iconic Magnolia’s fireplace to set the mood — it all comes with the territory of the new space.

    But when it comes to culinary vision, Director of Food Operations Joe “Jo-Lo” Lopez is aiming to make his mark on the menu with some idiosyncratic offerings.

    The menu

    As an 11-year veteran of the group, Lopez is taking full advantage of the company’s own personal fish market in Rehoboth to help mold the menu.

    With specials moving and shaking nightly, the always epicurious chef is putting the focus on keeping things fresh and local in terms of the rotating raw bar and fish board.

    “He’s the man. He’s our go to guy,” said Lively. “He works really hard, obviously. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s got it down.”

    Lively mentioned Big Fish’s chilled whiskey smoked salmon as one of the most raved-about appetizers so far, the dish getting cold-smoked and caramelized before being wrapped in asparagus and topped off with cucumber, capers and the house lemon cream sauce.

    Rivaling the Tennessee rye-complemented ray-fin to start things off would be Big Fish’s famous Oysters Crab-Effeller, topped with lump crab meat — along with other local favorites, including but most certainly not limited to the fresh shucked and flash-fried buffalo oysters, cast-iron calamari with “Bayou sauce” for added oomph, and fire-roasted maple sriracha wings served up with lime buttermilk crema.

    Over at the raw bar, the specials are subject to what’s fresh at the fish market, but some of the usual suspects on ice include a lineup of raw oysters and clams, chilled lobster and jumbo shrimp, stone crab claws and steamed jumbo shrimp, to go along with menu-staple steam pots featuring Prince Edward Island mussels and middleneck clams.

    There are also plenty of soups and salads to go along with — the loaded iceberg wedge topped with bacon and gorgonzola, and a roasted red pepper lobster bisque, just to name a few — but the menu really starts to get musical when it comes to the main event, where it’s not just seafood mavens who get to draw the long straw.

    “We make sure that there’s something for everyone,” Lively said, noting non-seafood related staples including a Berkshire Farms pork chop, old-fashioned chophouse burger, fried-chicken club and the “Farmer’s Plate” entrée prepared specifically with “green” eaters in mind. The family-friendly restaurant also features a full kids’ menu, and she said the chefs make sure to take customer food allergies seriously.

    “We just try to make sure that everyone is comfortable here,” Lively continued. “Everybody goes the extra mile to make sure that you’re happy.”

    The Big Fish Board is naturally in a state of perpetual fish-finding flux but consistently features a wide selection of fresh catches, ranging anywhere from the blacked mahi mahi with strawberry mango salsa over sweet potato mashers to the fresh Scottish salmon coming caramelized or grilled with shaved parmesan and Dijon cream with choice sides, yellowfin tuna with lobster sauce, and even the good old beer-battered Alaskan cod fish-and-chips, served up with salted fries and homemade slaw.

    The non-fish-board contingent features include the broiled jumbo-lump crabcakes, dockside stew, Chesapeake tortellini, San Francisco-style cioppino, Maine lobster and crab mac-and-cheese, and New England-style lobster roll, in addition to sandwiches, and fish and shrimp tacos.

    The bar

    At the bar, they’ve got all the domestic favorites, a wide wine selection and even a happening happy-hour from 4 to 6 p.m., featuring both drink and food specials.

    But when it comes to what’s on tap, bartender and craft brew master Matt Ellison has got his customers covered.

    “The joy that I get is when someone tries something new that I recommended to them and says, ‘Hey, this is actually really good,’” Ellison said with a laugh. “Nailed it.”

    With 10 beers to choose from on draft — the majority of them from local breweries a far cry from being able to afford 30-second Super Bowl spots — Ellison explained that, sometimes, a customer might not know their Elysian from their elbow in terms of where to begin. That’s when he steps in to play matchmaker.

    “I like to ask them what they normally drink, and that will give me a general idea of where to guide them,” Ellison explained of his process. “We have a lot of people that really enjoy domestics, but if they’re looking for something on draft, the Fordham Gypsy is incredibly approachable.”

    “Every beer has got a buddy,” he went on. “You like Blue Moon? Try Allagash. If you’re not familiar with IPAs or you don’t like hops, we’ve got a nice Belgian on tap. You want something unique? The Victory Kirsch Gose is really fantastic.”

    Lot 3 from Salisbury, Md., Victory Brewing Company from Downington, Pa., and Dogfish Head from Milton are just a few of the regional barley pops to make cameos along the tap handles, but Lively said they’ll be trying new beers according to the season, with one draft line always rotating.

    In addition to a selection of house libations such as fresh-squeezed orange and grapefruit crushes, jalapeño-infused spicy margaritas and “The Dirty Fish” dry martini with blue-cheese stuffed olives, Big Fish also offers a selection of oyster shooters, including the “Locals Only” with house Old Bay vodka and Bloody Mary mix, topped up with a freshly-shucked shellfish.

    For Lively, however, it’s the extra-mile approach from the staff that sets Big Fish apart.

    The staff

    Whether it’s imparting craft beer knowledge or something as simple as friendly service with a smile, Lively said it’s the staff that’s been the biggest factor in the restaurant’s success so far and their aim to continue that success in the future.

    “The major thing is the staff here is awesome. We’re really happy with everyone from the front of the house to back of the house,” she said. “Everyone gets along. They have fun with the customers. All of the personalities are meshing, and there’s a lot of different ones. Everybody’s always smiling and happy.”

    “We love the bartenders, and we love the food,” added Just. “We love Matt — we’ve known Matt since he worked at Que Pasa. You can’t have a bad experience with Big Fish — they’re great.”

    New to the staff and also new to the area is server Jenny Mahaffey, who also works as a personal trainer at World Gym in Ocean View and has enjoyed a new opportunity to get to know the community as the community gets to know Big Fish Grill.

    “I’m from right outside of D.C., where you never really see anybody you know. Here, everybody’s kind of connected in the greatest way,” said Mahaffey. “I know people from the gym. My kids go to Lord Baltimore, and people from L.B. come in here to see everybody. I think it’s so cool.”

    While the restaurant is currently open Thursday through Monday, Big Fish will go to seven days a week starting May 16, when their first summer season in Ocean View hits full swing.

    And while they may have some new things in the works for the future — as is always the case with the Sugrue brothers and Big Fish Restaurant Group family — for right now, they’re just excited to be a Big Fish, now finding themselves in a slightly smaller pond to call home.

    “This is just a great place to be,” said Lively. “It was perfect timing, really — right place, right time. It just worked out. We’re so excited to be here.”

    Big Fish Grill is located at 30415 Cedar Neck Road in Ocean View, at the former location of Magnolia’s. The restaurant is currently open at 4 p.m. from Thursday to Monday. For more information on Big Fish, visit their website at or call the restaurant at (302) 829-8163. To inquire about catering, contact Susan Sokowski at

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    Indian River High School recently announced its honor roll students for the second marking period of the 2016-2017 school year. Students receiving High Honors were:

    • Seniors Baylee Agnetti, Jared Arlett, Rachel Beers, Bridgette Blatzheim, Dustin Blevins, Hanna Boyer, McKenna Burke, Rachel Burke, Cheyanne Burroughs, Shelby Cannatelli, Zulman Carmona, Brianna Chatfield, Keith Chatterton, Daisey Chavez, Joseph Ciriello, Karrah Clark, Makenzie Collins, Chance Congleton, Johan Cordoba, Arely Cruz ,Abigail Cuenca, Octavio Cuenca, Jennifer Dietz, Danielle Dungan Moore, Iris Elechko, Amber Ellis, Andrea Elsby, John Evans III, Berkleigh Fadden, Nicholas Feldman, Margaret Ford, Gerald Foreman, Gianni Gottschalk, Josephine Grimes, Lindsey Grow, Alexis Haden, Erin Haden, Madison Hogsten, Brandon Horton, Zion Howard, Skyler Hudson, Chance Kamin, John Keller, Athena Liadakis, Cristina Lopez, Saray Lopez, Mariayna Lovelace, Matthew Lyons, George Martin, Griffin McCormick, Kiersten McCurley, Jason McKenna, Hayden McWilliams, Sydney Messick, Patrick Mochiam, Keontae Mumford, Samantha Mumford, Tamber Neumann, Diana Ngo, Samuel Nitz, Madelyn Parcells, Kevin Parrazal, Richard Parrett, Michael Payan, Ivania Perez, Alexis Purcell, Kenya Purnell, Jordan Ramirez, Tristan Richards, David Richter, Angelina Roca, Sara Saylor, Stormy Schaub, McClain Smith, Max Stong, Oceana Travalini, Paige Troublefield, Lexi Ucman, Jordi Velazques, Kerinne Walls, Kayla Wathen, Hannah Webb, Callahan Weber, Chloe Webster, Clayton West, Andrew C. White, Robert Wille, Joelle Wojylak and Amberlily Yanek.

    • Juniors Jessica Beaston, Peyton Beebe, Delaney Brannon, Leah Brasure, Mikaela Brosnahan, Jessica Bunting, Kennedy Butch, Tallie Callahan, Carly Collins, Erin Cooney, Kaleigh Cordrey, Jessica Cuenca, Joud Dabaj, Helen Davis, Jasmine Delfin, Sierra DiVincenzo, Ashley Fernandez, Olivia Garvey, Hannah Gentry, Lauren Hawkins, Cassidy Hoehn, Mckenzie Johnson, Dahria Kalmbach, Matthew Koontz, Abigail Lathbury, Brittany Lee, Connor Maestas, Nathaniel McCabe, Bailey McClure, Ryan McCoy, Trayona Nock, Savannah Padgett, Priya Patel, Anthony Prosachik, Alexander Pszczola IV, Gisselle Rodriguez, Jemisell Rosas, Landon Seeney, Sarandon Slebodnick, Gavin Smith, Mark Smith, Katrina Staib, Emily Tharby, Carly Warner, Mackenzie Webb, Samantha Whelen, Braydee Whitman, Ishmael Willey, Isabel Wolfenbarger, Jewel Yanek and Jocelyn Ynastrilla.

    • Sophomores Robert Argo, Michael Barnes, Gabriel Barnhart, Riley Blatzheim, Haleigh Brown, Kathleen Carter, Gavin Clattenburg, Kathryn Collins, Nathan Cooper, Thomas Daehn, Mariah Dant, Yohanfer de Leon, Hayley Dickerson, Nathan Dietz, Nicholas DiGirolamo, Brianna Dulsky, Jarod Elliott, Dylan Ely, Grace Engel, Lindsey Furbush, Roxana Gil, Yohana Gonzalez, Thomas Hernandez, William Hickman, Kevin Ho, Gabrielle Hudson, Garrett Jones, Julia Jordan, Isabella Keith, Morgan Keyser, Madison Killen, Kaitlyn Kreiser, Logan Krick, Alexis Landrie, Olivia Lease, Analy Marquez, Luke McCabe, Mitchell McGee, Isabelle Micielli, Samuel Miltner, Luke Morgan, Abigail O’Shields, Martin Olguin, Nicole Patille, Lindsay Phelan, Rita Ramirez, Sarah Roehl, Kayla Rutherford, Michael Sananikone, Brianna Sassi, Megan Schafer, Victoria Shaner, Chelsea Shipp, Grace Snyder, Patrick Spencer, Katelyn Timmons, Austin Truitt, Daniel Tull, Dylan Tuttle, Kashid Waples, Brooke Weaver, Hannah Whaley, Kayleigh Whitlock, Zachary Wisniewski and Kira Ziskay.

    • Freshmen Angel Acosta, Jessica Amezcua, Emilee Andrie, Angelina Arnold, April Ban, Kyle Beebe, Kayley Belzner, Leah Billinger, Connor Blitz, Autum Bolles, Morgan Bomhardt, Magaly Bonilla, Kyle Bowser, Natalie Burnshaw, Natalie Butner, Alexander Canseco, Alaynah Carter, Katherine Castillo, Dylan Cobb, Avery Congleton, Saylor Congleton, Rylie Cordrey, Talia Curcio, JaNya Curtis, Madyson Derry, Alexander DiLuzio, William Douds, Cody Edwards, Joshua Edwards, Savannah Endebrock, Alondra Estrada, Vanessa Fabela, Jonathan Falcone, Jeremy Falcone, Elena Finneran, Samantha Fischer, JaQuan Floyd, Ethan Forrey, Mackenzie Forston, Cristian Galindo, Devon Genna, Patrick Gogarty, Brayan Gonzales, Liliana Guido, Rosalinda Gutierrez, Chase Hall, Kaylee Hall, Megan Hayden, Carleigh Henslee, Briana Hickman, Kiley Hockenbrock, Lauren Holladay, YeYing Huang, YeJuan Huang, Alyssa Hudson, Conner Jensen, Madison Johnson, William Keller, Emma Kelly, Grace Kerr, Aaron King, Aidee Landa, Casey Lemus, Madison Lewis, Veronica Long, Christopher Loveland, Kree Lowe, Aerial Lupien, Citlaly Macedo, Michael Manno Jr.., Kaila McCabe, Claire McClure, Mason McClure, Kristoffer Medford, Scarlett Mejia, Juan Mejia, Jamelet Molina, Thomas Moore, Emily Moran, Connor Morris, Haley Morris, Chloe Mouzakitis, Riley Murray, Ana Numez, Maddison Olley, Thomas Oxbrough, Elaine Palmer, Eymi Perez, Adam Phomsouvanh, Walter Plucinski, Caroline Powell, Maria Ramirez, Soraya Reilly, Dayanara Roblero, Richard Rybicki, Estefania Samper, Gerson Sanchez, Francisco Sandoval II, Ja’Heir Santiago, Christopher Saylor, Amber Schaeffer, Matthew Schmidt, Hannah Snader, Logan Snapp, Cheyenne Snyder, Rachel Snyder, Ryan Stone, Robert Sylvia, Kirsten Taylor, Gabrielle Tierney, Elizabeth Towne, Hannah Townsend, Abigail West, Dylan White, Yonya Wise and Caitlyn Zellers.

    The following IRHS students received Honors for the most recent marking period:

    • Seniors Devin Bailey, Christian Benner, Jordan Berrish, Nathan Bishop, Michael Cedeno, Colby Chandler, David Clark Jr.., Lucas Collins, Jorge Cruz, Bradley Dawson, Denilson de Leon, MaKayla DeShields, Thomas DiBuo, Ryan Ellis, Kayla Emerson, Grant Gano, Gavin Gates, Maynor Gomez, Breannah Griffith, Desiree Hastings, Kayla Ho, Tysheika Hudson, Benjamin Jacobs, Christopher Jones, Jarrett Lowrance, T’Keyah Major, Gustavo Mares, Joseph McDowell, Madison McGee, Jordan Mears, Mikie Mochiam, Darren Moore, Arturo Mora, Samantha Mushrush, Kathleen O’Brien, Jessie O’Neal, Odaliz Ortiz, Lisette Ortiz, Kyle Rayne, Jasenky Rivera, Samuel Rojas, Olivia Ruberti, Auroria Sample, Gabriela Sandoval, Kenneth Schnabele, Garett Scott, Kelsey Shoemaker, Darrion Smith, Tymber Starr, Justin Steele, Joshua Timmons, Alejandra Velasquez and Katelyn Wells.

    • Juniors Kealey Allison, Vance Atkins, Madison Baker, Ella Baull, Ryan Blades, Julia Bomhardt, Adam Carpenter, Matthew Collins, Michael Corcoran, Lauryn Cox, Zofia Czyzewski, Micah d’Entremont, Joel Distler, Collin Donaway, Aimee Ellian, Amanda Evans, Patreese Fisher, Jacob Gilliar, Wilberth Gonzalez, Cameron Hall, Kevon Harmon, Brianna Henry, Brooke Hoban, Donasia Hopkins, Shannon Hubscher, Lillian Hudson, Briana Jackson, Calvin James, Brianna Johnson, William Josetti, Kara Klink, Kathryn Koontz, Wyatt Kovatch, Ashley Levis, Ava Marcozzi, Elaina Miranda, Jennyfer Murillo, Kelsey Murray, Marbeli Ortiz, Mya Parks, Kalob Rickards, Cher Robinson, Bethany Satterfield, Andrew D Scalard, John Schoonfield, Blake Shuart, Sabrina Sturla, Mia Truitt, Tylor Weaver, Natalie Wells, Andrew D. White and Benjamin Wilson.

    • Sophomores Jacob Anderson, Ethan Archbald, Diana Bird, Thomas Blackiston, Jordan Broughton, Jesse Burroughs, Patrick Callow, John Castle Jr., John Collins, Mary Cooper, Heidy Cordoba, Jarren Cropper, Simon D’Entremont, Allison Douds, Katie Droney, Hannah Evans, Javon Evans, Kyle Firle, Alexa Fitz, Ryan Foxwell, Grace Furman, Madison Galbreath, Randy Garza, Victoria Gee, Robert Gonzalez II, Mackenzie Gorey, Damon Grimes, Lauren Grow, Kaleb Harrington, Keirstyn Hassler, Kody Hickman, Amber Hills, Andrew Holladay, Jon Hubscher, Richard Hutchins, Lekyra Johnson, Jaiquez Jones, Jarrett Joseph, Maryann Khansoth, Destiny Klingensmith, Lennon La Ricci, Megan Magoon, John Martin, Skyler McClure, Maykin Nunez, Jhony Ortiz, Breanna Palasik, Porter Palmer, William Parker, Maya Potter, Bryan Rayne, Martina Rexrode, Kevin Rine, Renata Rosas, Neidy Sanchez, Carlos Sandoval, Zachary Schultz, Nia Smith, Jake Sneeringer, Reshawn Turner, Eric Upole, Marvin Uscanga, Steven Vale, Destiny Vandyke, Tony Velasquez, Dahila Vincent, Haley Warrington, Taylor Waters, Alexis Webb, Regan Welsh, Victoria West, Alussa Williams, Lily Wylie, Amber Zellers and Marette Zorn.

    • Freshmen Wyatt Argo, Amairani Bautista, Brooke Bruette, Marianni Chavez, Austyn Clark, Logan Clark, Selene Cruz, Aidan Davis, Maydely de Leon, Caimmin Elzey, Christopher Encinas, Jack Felch, Nicholas Finneran, Alyssa Glycenfer, Jason Gomez, Thomas Harris, Elise Henry, Charley Herrera, YeJie Huang, Siera Johnson, Karen Juan de Dios, Tyler Kramer, Cameren Lewis, Erin Lewis, Delcy Lopez, Zachary Lynch, Samuel Martz, Benjamin McCabe, Jacob McCann, Meadow McMaster, James McMullen, Alicia Mejia, Walter Mendieta, Alika Mitchell, DeHaven Nichols, Arely Niz, Jorge Olguin, Tomas Pascual, Dreonna Phillips, Juan Ramirez, Logan Reese, Alyssa Reyes, Mark Riggins, Robert Sadowski Jr., Nicole Smith, Luke Sopko, Alivia Stewart, Christopher Syphengpheth, Chloe Taylor, Drew Venables, Marlee White, Mackenzie Wingate and William Winkler III.

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    Almost two decades ago, Kathleen Kisela started working toward an important goal in her life — becoming a nurse.

    At the time, although her children were small, Kisela believed she could juggle the demands of family with those of nursing school at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown. She found, however, that it was just too much, at the time.

    “It was pretty stressful,” she said. “So I couldn’t finish what I started.”

    For years, the Milton resident felt as if she just would not be able to achieve that goal.

    Now 54 and the grandmother of 4-year-old Covin, Kisela is closing in on her dream. She has nearly completed training as a clinical medical assistant through Sussex Technical High School’s Adult Education Health Professions program.

    Once she has finished the year-long program, Kisela will be able to work in any doctor’s office, from the reception desk to the examining room. She said her both her family and the school have been “a terrific support system” for her as she has worked toward her goal, which involved classes several times a week.
    Kathleen KiselaKathleen Kisela
    Currently employed by a home healthcare agency, Kisela said she is really looking forward to finishing her CMA classes and “getting into the clinical side” in a doctor’s office.

    She also had some very important financial help, from a group of local benefactors formed to help people exactly like her.

    The Southern Delaware Education Foundation was founded in 2009 by a group of people who wanted to help those in their community who were seeking further education in order to enter better-paying career paths. Although it is sponsored by the Community of Christian Churches and by St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church in Bethany Beach, member Jackie Boyd said the foundation is not a religious one.

    Tyra ThompsonTyra Thompson“The ministers on the board were just very interested in seeing people succeed,” Boyd said.

    Kimley Hines, Health Professions coordinator for Sussex Tech’s Adult Education division, said “There is a tremendous need for help” with continuing education tuition. The SDEF picks up 75 percent of the tuition for the applicants its board chooses for the assistance program.

    Tyra Thompson is another recipient of an SDEF scholarship. The 28-year-old mom to 6-year-old Jayvon has worked at the Methodist Manor House in Seaford for several years — first as a housekeeper and for the last year as a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

    “The CNA was something I had wanted to do for a long time,” she said.

    Not having to worry so much about paying the tuition was a big help for her, especially on the many nights she wasn’t sure she was going to finish.

    “I was working full-time and going home and doing four chapters of homework,” she recalled. “There were many nights I felt like I just couldn’t do it,” she said. “There were nights when I cried.”

    Nevertheless, she persisted — through three months of classes four nights a week, in addition to her job and her responsibilities as a mom.

    She said that, although she still does some housekeeping work at the Manor House, she finds her CNA work in the facility’s dementia unit extremely gratifying.

    “They say, ‘Don’t get attached to the residents,’” she said. “But I do.”

    The success of people like Kisela and Thompson is the ultimate goal for both the Sussex Tech Adult Education program and the SDEF. Hines called the Sussex Tech program a “steppingstone” from a high-school diploma or GED into a profession with higher salaries and greater chance for advancement.

    The SDEF tuition program is meant for those who might “fall through the cracks” and have not qualified for other assistance programs. The group’s philosophy is simple, according to member Jeannie Fleming.

    “We just feel like someone helped us along the way; it’s our turn to help someone else.”

    The Southern Delaware Education Foundation will be hosting a Party with a Purpose at 6 p.m. on May 4 at the new Big Fish Grill restaurant in Ocean View to help raise funds for its tuition assistance program. The event will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, auction items and a 50/50 drawing. For more information or for tickets, call Jeannie Fleming at (302) 539-8070.

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    Due to the failure of a crossroad pipe, a portion of Central Avenue in Ocean View has been closed and is expected to remain closed for about three more weeks.

    Central Avenue is closed from Woodland Avenue to Cedar Drive. The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) suggests local traffic use Cedar Drive, Route 26 and Woodland Avenue to detour around the closure.

    Ocean View Public Works Director Charles McMullen said he has been in communication with Jason McCloskey at DelDOT, who said the repair work must be contracted out because DelDOT does not install concrete pipe.

    “The plus is that they were aware of issues with the pipe/road,” said McMullen. “[They have] already obtained necessary permits from outside agencies (DNREC) and have a contractor that is able to do the necessary contract work. The negative is that the approved contractor is just starting another large road project on SR24, tentatively scheduled to begin on March 27, and, weather permitting, is projected to take about two weeks.”

    McMullen said the Central Avenue project would follow the Route 24 project, and would, he hopes, start around April 10, taking less than a week to complete.

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    The draft of South Bethany’s proposed new law on feral cats begins where the complaints began: by prohibiting people from feeding wild mammals, abandoned cats or stray cats. Thus, people may continue feeding their own house pets or wild birds but may not leave food in such a way that wild or stray animals are likely to consume it.

    At the past two meetings on the topic, some people were very critical of the Town’s interest in trapping and removing animals. But the goal isn’t to be trapping animals full-time, Mayor Pat Voveris responded. It’s just an option for dealing with nuisance animals by transporting them to “an animal shelter, sanctuary or pound that does not practice euthanasia,” the ordinance states. That usually costs hundreds of dollars per animal.

    The ordinance still allows for trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs that local volunteers have long used in Delaware, including in South Bethany.

    Terri Nicholson volunteers her time regularly as a TNR trapper. She repeatedly encouraged residents or Town Hall to tell her about stray or feral cats. She will take them to be spayed, neutered, chipped and/or vaccinated. Depending on their sociability, Nicholson then returns the cats to the wild, gives them to farms for mouse-catching or adopts them out.

    Councilman Wayne Schrader asked Nicholson about her procedure for picking up and finding homes for stray/feral cats, so that South Bethany’s new policy wouldn’t stop her current service.

    In February, Millville Pet Stop owner Willia Peoples had taken things a step further, suggesting that the Town allow feeding stations across town, to spread cats a little more evenly, versus having them congregate all on one street. She explained a system of collars that would allow the cats, but not other animals, to access the food containers.

    But the Charter & Ordinance Committee will still need rewrites on the proposed law. Indeed, Chairperson John Fields called this one of the “toughest” ordinances he’s reviewed.

    The public-nuisance section of the code is problematic for resident Sandi Roberts, who asked, “How are you going to determine excessive barking of dogs?”

    Because the ordinance grants the town manager the option of capturing nuisance animals, she said she’s worried that one grumpy neighbor could cause the family dog to be impounded because of the ordinance’s ban on any animal that “barks, whines, howls, crows or cackles in an excessive, continuous or untimely fashion.”

    Voveris said the section is meant as a courtesy for neighbors, and the current draft relies on the town manger’s judgement. But the possibility exists for pets to be apprehended and shipped to a no-kill shelter or pound.

    The ordinance will also define the difference between cats that are feral (unaccustomed to human interaction), stray (having potential to be re-domesticated) or abandoned (any cat lacking identification).

    Details are online at the “Cats & Our Community” link on

    Many local and regional groups provide TNR programs, including Coastal Cats, Cats Around Town Society (CATS) and more. More information is available on the groups’ websites.

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    Special to the Coastal Point • Submitted: The Bethany Beach bandstand consistently packs in healthy crowds for its popular summer series.Special to the Coastal Point • Submitted: The Bethany Beach bandstand consistently packs in healthy crowds for its popular summer series.The Town of Bethany Beach will once again entertain the masses on its bandstand starting in June.

    “We start looking at bands the second the previous season ends,” said Julie Malewski, events director for the Town, which also does an annual survey of visitors to get suggestions for bands they’d like to see.

    “Usually, we hold off booking until we get the surveys back, but we’re always scouting new bands to refresh the lineup every year. Even though we start looking in the fall, we tend to wrap by January so we can start sending in our contracts by February.”

    There will be 50 entertainment groups gracing the bandstand this season, beginning on June 9.

    Malewski said 15 cover bands will perform on the bandstand, nine of which have previously played to Bethany crowds.

    Tribute bands “tend to top our survey list — people really like those. It’s just a matter of finding a variety that everyone would enjoy. They’re really rising in popularity right now. And, obviously, they’re a lot cheaper than getting the real thing, but a lot of them are spot on — it’s nice to offer that.”

    Returning for the 2017 summer season are The Reagan Years (’80s), Sean Reilly’s Sinatra, Sir Rod (Rod Stewart), Desert Highway (the Eagles), British Invasion (’60s and the Beatles), Ragdoll (Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons), Jesse Garron (Elvis), Chris Westfall (John Denver/James Taylor), and Still Surfin’ (the Beach Boys).

    New to the bandstand are The Core (Eric Clapton), Real Diamond (Neil Diamond), EWF Band (Earth Wind & Fire), Larger Than Life (’90s boy-bands) and I Am King: the Michael Jackson Experience, out of Las Vegas.

    Making their bandstand debut will be 10 new bands, including bicultural songwriter and San Antonio native Stephanie Urbina Jones, who will perform her Texicana country rock songs that have made it on the Billboard charts and in Rolling Stone magazine, and who has shared the spotlight with Willie Nelson and Lorrie Morgan.

    Blind Wind, an award-winning Maryland duo fronted by 14-year old blind harmonica player Cole Moran and his father, Frankie, will play the bluegrass that has brought them to Nashville stages. The ’80s flashback band The Jimmies will follow a brief set by Jimmy’s aspiring singer-songwriter daughter Caitlyn Marsilii.

    Classic rock songs will be covered with Matthew Street Band and WMGK House Band winner Kategory 5. The Uptown Band will play a mix of R&B, jazz and funk. PBC Vocal Band will perform a capella mashups of hits from the last four decades, using tight harmonies, beatboxing and vocal percussion. And the Hayley Fahey Band will bring a soulful mix of originals by D.C.-based songwriter Hayley Fahey and her band.

    Bands returning to Bethany include The Fabulous Dialtones, Delmarva Big Band, Over Time, Mario Rocco, Tim Laushey Orchestra, Delta Spur, Octavia Blues, Sarah Williams, Three Sheets Acoustic and singer-songwriter John Pollard, who will open for his daughter’s band, Triple Rail Turn (formerly Philbilly), as well as Love Seed Mama Jump, who will provide the entertainment before the Fourth of July fireworks at dusk.

    The Jamboree Boys, made up of local musicians including state. Sen. Gerald Hocker, will also return to play some country music favorites on Aug. 25.

    “A lot of our community bands have a huge community following. It’s really great to see. The nice thing about the Jamboree Boys is they really only play twice a year, and one of those times is on our stage. It gives them a chance to get up there and do something they don’t normally do,” said Malewski.

    “The nice thing about that group, also, is that their age varies. They play traditional country, but also some of the more contemporary. It’s a nice mix.”

    Bandstand performances take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with an occasional mid-week booking. Shows typically begin at 7:30 p.m. Seating is provided free of charge, but audience members are welcome to bring their own chairs.

    “It used to be only a couple days, but now it has expanded Friday through Sundays. So, any night of the weekend, you’re going to find great entertainment and people there watching it.”

    Aug. 18 will allow locals and visitors to showcase their talents in the annual town talent show.

    “We take the first 25 that apply,” explained Malewski. “A lot of the same people apply because it’s tradition — they just love coming for it. The talent is amazing, and now that we’re getting more people in town, and more visitors, the competition is getting more fierce. It amazes me the level of the talent.

    “We don’t have an age restriction, so all ages can perform all types of talents. It’s exciting to see the growth, and it gives everyone who aren’t otherwise booked on the bandstand their five minutes of fame, and their chance to shine.”

    The official bandstand season usually starts Memorial Day weekend, but it will kick off this year after some special events, including the Memorial Day-weekend Poseidon Festival — which will run May 27 through June 1 and feature island-inspired entertainment, including a Jimmy Buffett Tribute finale by Parrotbeach. The Seaside Craft Show will follow, on June 3, with music by jazz duo Notes on the Beach.

    “The reason for the bandstand is to add value to all the property owners here, and for the residents and visitors. We want to continue to make Bethany a place to visit. The entertainment goes that extra mile.”

    Along with the bandstand entertainment, the Town also shows movies on the beach and hosts weekly bonfires and kid-oriented theater events on Wednesdays.

    “Just about any night of the week, you can come to Bethany and get free entertainment for the whole family,’ said Malewski. “It’s exciting for me, because every year it gets bigger and better. Every year there’s a buzz and excitement about whose coming… It’s a thrill to be a part of it.”

    For more information about entertainment events in Bethany Beach, including the full bandstand schedule, visit and look under Activities.

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    Three Indian River High School seniors have taken the lead on designing a new playground at Georgetown Elementary School.

    When the elementary school’s occupational therapist, Sara Heinicke, wanted to add more accessible playground equipment, she enlisted IRHS students to create one piece. When the budget blossomed with several local donors, the project expanded to a full remodel.

    Samuel Rojas, Richard Parrett and Sara Saylor designed a senior project that will “leave a lasting impact on the community,” Heinicke said.

    The playground pieces are designed for more inclusive play: a “jam shack” with percussion instruments; slides with broad, easily-accessible staircases; therapeutic swings; a standing sandbox; and translation panels with English-to-Spanish and American Sign Language alphabet.

    Children with limited leg movement can build arm strength on the “Pull Along” ladder, by laying down and pulling themselves along a horizontal slide. Two backhoe diggers allow kids to dig in the sand, from either sitting or standing positions.

    That allows maximum interaction between students with limited mobility and those without.

    The Indian River School District Board of Education has approved the master site plan and commended the students and entire design team.

    “Those Indian River kids have done a good job,” said IRSD Supervisor of Buildings & Grounds Joe Booth. “The kids worked on the placement of the equipment and the layout. It’s really impressive.”

    The equipment, surfacing and other prep work are estimated to come under the $70,000 budget.

    Installation will occur in May.

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    A heat lamp appears to have caused a barn fire that killed four horses and possibly other animals on Wednesday, March 22. The blaze was reported just before 3 a.m., in the 24000 block of Cannon Road, Millsboro, just west of Long Neck.

    The Delaware Office of the State Fire Marshal this week determined that the early-morning blaze was “accidental in nature and caused by a heat lamp igniting nearby combustible material inside the barn.”

    The electric lamp was intended to provide warmth for the animals in the 20-by-75-foot livestock building.

    “Right now, we can’t specifically say exactly what happened to it, whether some stuff in the barn got too close to it, or it fell,” said Assistant State Fire Marshal Michael G. Chionchio.

    None of the horses in the barn were able to escape the fire, and in addition to the horses killed, some kittens, chickens and other barnyard animals were missing after the fire, but their status is officially unknown.

    The heavy fire damage was estimated at $50,000 in value for the building, not including the value of the animals.

    There were no other reported injuries.

    The Office of the State Fire Marshal investigates any fire of significance, such as “working fires” that cause significant damage, Chionchio said.

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    Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Lindsey Espinoza, center, was recently honored by local and state fire associations for using first-aid skills to save her little sister’s life during a choking incident.Coastal Point • Laura Walter : Lindsey Espinoza, center, was recently honored by local and state fire associations for using first-aid skills to save her little sister’s life during a choking incident.When 14-year-old Lindsey Espinoza signed up for the fire-cadet class at Millsboro Middle School, who would have guessed she’d be saving her little sister just a few months later?

    The Roxana Volunteer Fire Company started the fire-cadet class in autumn to introduce students to lifesaving skills and community service.

    “Towards the beginning of the school year, we taught basic first-aid, puncture wounds, choking and hands-only CPR,” said RVFC Fire Chief Chris Uibel. “Little did we know that within two months, Lindsey would save her sister from choking.”

    “She was at home, watching her 4-year-old sister. Her sister began to choke on a toy. Lindsey was able to quickly react, knowing everything that she had learned from our program. Through her lifesaving measure, she was able to help her sister from choking.”

    Lindsey performed the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge the plastic toy from her sister’s throat.

    “We’re so very proud of you — No. 1 for participating in the program, and No. 2, for actually applying what you’ve learned,” said Sussex County Councilman Rob Arlett. “It’s so very important, and one cannot put a price on that.”

    “Trying to save a loved-one’s life is very difficult and very stressful,” said Gerald Brinson of the Delaware State EMS Association. “She took what she learned and applied it appropriately, and effectively saved her 4-year-old sister.”

    Espinoza also received commendations from the Millsboro Volunteer Fire Company and Delaware State Fire Chief’s Association.

    “I remember thinking, ‘This is the right thing to do for our community and our students,’” said Principal Renee Jerns of the program. Now she has living proof.

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    The Ocean View Town council held a budget workshop earlier this week to review the fourth draft of its 2018-fiscal-year budget.

    In reviewing the five-year Capital Improvements Plan, Town Manager Dianne Vogel said repairs are funded from the Capital Replacement Trust Fund, with $142,000 for the fiscal year. Those repairs to the Town’s municipal building include exterior painting, hallway carpet on the second floor and the replacement of the roof.

    Vogel also said the purchase of additional speed monitors have been pushed to the 2019 fiscal year.

    “I think until the police department and everyone else can demonstrate that they’re getting some information back other than people hitting their brakes.”

    “How are we using that information?” asked Vogel. “I’d like to hear in your monthly reports how they’re benefitting the police department, as well as our maintenance department. We need to see some benefit from the money we keep putting out there.”

    Public Works Director Charles McMullen said there have been communities that have called, asking to purchase speed monitor signs on the Town’s behalf.

    “I think that the $3,500 — while people may think that’s significant — I think they help people slow down. They see that sign flashing. They all know that blinking light doesn’t take pictures, but they sure get scared. I think they’re a worthwhile thing. I think to exclude them from the budget would be a mistake,” McMullen said, adding that he’d like to see one put up near the Town’s playground and park.

    Due to a suspect pursuit on March 18 — which ended with one of the police department’s vehicles being totaled — a third new vehicle for the police department has been added to the budget.

    Vogel said the Town will only receive $22,000 from insurance for the loss of the vehicle. OVPD Capt. Heath Hall noted that Chief Ken McLaughlin was trying to get additional monies for equipment. The line-item cost for the new three vehicles is $162,000.

    The drainage project for Woodland Avenue Extended will be kept in the budget, as council members and town officials said they believe drainage problems there are a safety hazard.

    Mayor Walter Curran said he believes the Town should go after easements aggressively, and if that does not work, consider alternative routes.

    Resident Steve Cobb recommended council members approach property owners about acquiring the easements, as opposed to Town staff. Curran said it would be something to try, prior to seeking eminent domain.

    McMullen noted that could be tricky, as one property for which they need easements has 12 owners and about five are actually outside of town limits.

    Vogel also said that $13,000 for a security system for the Public Works building was removed from the Capital Budget.

    McMullen voiced his disappointment regarding the removal of those funds.

    “It was the ability to have scan cards, just like we have throughout the 201 offices. We now have key locks. So, every time they walk in from their trucks with something, because they have to lock the doors in and out of there, they have to put everything down they have in their hands and get their keys out and open the doors. The other problem is anytime you’re changing employees, you have to worry about changing locks, too.

    “I’m just simply registering my disappointment with it being removed,” he said.

    Vogel said if the council were to approve the fourth draft of the budget as it was presented March 28, the Town would be operating at a negative $2,013,668 in the 2022 fiscal year.

    “To me, as a manager, that is totally unacceptable,” she said.

    Town Finance Director Sandra Peck stated the projected negative operating budget five years out is a result of council requesting 10 percent increases in salary to be reflected in the 2018 budget draft, with an 8 percent salary increase reflected in the 2019 draft.

    She also said that, given the world we live in today, it’s not unreasonable for the five-year projection to be in the negative.

    “It’s clear this year that’s not reasonable,” she said. “I think you need to be giving direction for the final to have it look better, or we need to be having these discussions in workshop settings well before — because, obviously, it’s a big uphill climb.”

    Curran said the Town needs to look at how, moving forward, the Town can properly fund its budget so that it is properly balanced.

    At its last budget meeting, the council had requested to see a 10 percent increase in all salaries reflected in the fourth draft budget, noting that not all salaries would be raised, but that they wanted it included so monies would be available to implement the recommendations of the recent salary study.

    At the March 28 workshop, the council continued to voice their concern that certain staff members are not being paid a comparable salary to that of other towns.

    Councilman Frank Twardzik said there are people on both the civilian side and police side of Town’s 24 employees who he believes are underpaid.

    “We’re making a promise in Fiscal Year 19, and I intend to keep that promise.”

    Earlier this year, the Town reviewed a compensation survey completed by Hendricks & Associates, which also conducted a full salary study for the Town in 2012, which found the Town’s salaries to be below market comparison.

    In Hendricks’ most recent presentation to council, they recommended allotting 6 percent of all employee salaries to make appropriate adjustments to the salaries of those employees who fall below the mark.

    Six employees who work for the police department were in attendance, including Hall.

    One officer said he has worked for the Town for five years and makes more than $2,000 less than a starting officer in the Bethany Beach Police Department.

    Another officer told the council he used to be employed by Bethany Beach and had moved to the OVPD, while an Ocean View officer moved to Bethany Beach’s police department. The two officers began their careers at the same time, but the Bethany Beach officer now makes more than $10,000 more than his Ocean View counterpart. The officer added that the two departments offer the same healthcare coverage, through the State of Delaware.

    Hall said he appreciates the amount of work that the council has put into discussing the pay discrepancy.

    “I’ve been an officer for 22, 23 years — 16 of it with Ocean View… I just want to emphasize, by the presence by everyone here… that just goes to show the importance of it all. The decisions you make are going to directly impact their lives and families.

    “I wish the council would look at this as more of a salary adjustment. I understand the concept, but I think things need to be adjusted before we get into the merit part of it, just to keep us up to speed with surrounding departments.”

    Hall said the Town of Ocean View has the “best of the best” in terms of its employees.

    “Unfortunately, we have above-average employees being paid below-average wages. I just want to stress to you all to keep your nose to the grindstone. Nobody is asking for the stars and the moon. We just want to be fair. Nobody wants to go anywhere. We want to stay right here. This is a great town to work for.”

    “We shouldn’t have an officer that’s been here five years making less than an officer just starting in a comparable town,” added Councilman Tom Maly.

    Vogel said that if Bethany Beach is going to be the benchmark for salaries, she would like to acquire their general and administrative salaries as well.

    “In all due fairness, Bethany Beach is only in this study because [Police Chief] Ken [McLaughlin] was able to get the numbers for police officers only,” she said. “There’s a huge gap. They’re getting an advantage that 14 civilian employees didn’t get.”

    Mayor Walter Curran also told the council to remember that the Town of Bethany Beach also has a budget about three times the size of Ocean View’s.

    Peck noted that one OVPD officer is on track to be promoted in May, with another two officers who will have promotions in the 2019 fiscal year.

    “At this point, based on your proposal, we don’t even know what the officers that are scheduled to be promoted in Fiscal ’19, what they would be making,” said Vogel. “Since I’ve been here, they just get an automatic 6 percent increase when an officer is promoted, regardless of any other salary increases that are given. So, two officers will get an additional 6 percent over and above everything else that you have got here.

    “I’d like to hear a cap put on this,” she said. “Are you going to give department heads, carte blanche, the ability to increase everybody’s salaries to what they think they should be?”

    Peck, who has a background in both finance and human resources, said it’s important that in future years the Town figure out how to pay for the increases, whatever they may be.

    In the Hendricks survey, it was recommended that the Town use an open range system (a salary structure with a minimum and maximum value to the pay range for a job), rather than a step system (with standard progression rates established within a pay range, where employees may progress from step to step on the basis of performance or other negotiated reasons).

    Peck said Hendricks’ formula would work, if the Town gets the employees’ salaries up to the point where they should be currently.

    Curran agreed, adding that, from his perspective, the issue is that Hendricks’ original study was not implemented in 2012.

    Curran suggested the Town lower the overall 10 percent increase to be used as a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) or Consumer Price Index-based adjustment, but also that staff should determine how much the money is needed to do a one-time adjustment to the salaries of the employees whose pay they believe need adjusting.

    “We essentially want to get those people at the midpoint who should be at the midpoint,” he said, noting that the council would seek the opinion of the department heads on those potential raises.

    The council plans to hold a workshop on Tuesday, April 11, at 6 p.m., before its 7 p.m. council meeting that same night.

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    Indian River School District officials have said from the beginning of recent financial concerns that budget cuts are needed. The recently-passed current-expense referendum, which will bring in an additional $7.35 million annually in local property taxes, simply prevented the inevitable budget cuts from being more severe.

    In recent weeks, as part of the budget-trimming process, the board asked district staff for recommendations on ways to save local dollars. But a week later, at the March 27 Board of Education meeting, some families suggested IRSD go back to the drawing board.

    In reality, the IRSD is still at the drawing board. The first set of suggestions were just proposals for the board to consider.

    But IRSD families are already rejecting a proposal that would remove pay for most non-athletic extracurricular coaches and advisors. By eliminating $225,000 in Nonathletic Extra Pay for Extra Responsibilities (EPER), student clubs would have to rely heavily on advisors willing to work after school on a volunteer basis. Meanwhile, the IRSD could save $185,000 by reducing paid athletic staff to four coaches for football and two for sports that already have two, plus one for other teams.

    “There haven’t been any decisions made. … These were proposals. It wasn’t a final thing,” newly appointed IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele said. “In realistic terms, the board’s got to look at it.”

    Lisa Bird, parent of a band student in the district, brought to the March 27 meeting a petition of 124 names opposing cuts to EPER.

    “Cutting this benefit penalizes our non-athletic school employees who make our schools a well-rounded learning environment,” and the district would risk losing those good teachers to other districts, Bird said.

    IRSD could also lose students. Sophomore, student council leader and future music major Kathleen Carter warned that she would consider leaving if IR High School lost its many musical opportunities — jazz band, clarinet choir, a capella, baroque ensemble and more.

    “I, for one, fell in love with Indian River the moment I stepped on the marching-band field,” said Carter. “Almost every student from SDSA decided to attend [Sussex Technical High School]. Indian River was essentially my back-up plan if I did not get in to Tech.”

    Band is both an academic subject in the curriculum and a team sport, Carter said.

    “Marching band is a sport for those who can’t play sports,” said student Vanessa Reyes, reading a letter from her classmate.

    As mayor of Dagsboro, Brian Baull understands the challenges of juggling a budget, employees and taxpayer expectations for crucial services. As the six-year president of the IRHS Band Boosters, he said a music teacher’s extra time is just as valuable as that of a football coach.

    “This is not to put one against the other, but you have teachers on the football staff who will also get paid a stipend for their coaching. And you’re asking [IRHS band conductor] Mr. [Nathan] Mohler to be in the stands with the band, 120-plus playing members for the entire season — not to mention parades and county band and state band — and you’re basically telling him, ‘It’s part of your job.’

    “You’re sending a message … to any other teacher who would normally submit an EPER pay request … ‘We do appreciate you taking on extra responsibility, but just not enough to give you extra pay,’” Baull said.

    A Sussex Central High School student also advocated for the Future Farmers of America program. However, districts are already required to pay teachers extra for academic programs that include extracurriculars, including FFA, Business Professionals of America and Future Teachers of America.

    An IRHS student asked that public safety officers not be cut, since, they said, the high school feels safer with a constable and school resource officer.

    Schools frustrated by state cuts

    In education, most expenses are paid through a combination of local, state and federal money. Local property taxes can be spent at the districts’ discretion, while state and federal taxes must be used for specific purposes.

    IRSD Board Member James “Jim” Fritz said he appreciated people’s concerns, but he asked people to take those concerns higher up the food chain.

    “I would urge you to take the same energy and contact all your state legislators, who are the ones that are deciding to cut education in the state of Delaware. All the districts are going to have to … make the tough decisions. They’re the ones withholding the money or stopping the money we need to operate.”

    “The State has treated us bad,” said Steele, adding that he personally felt the State had made poor decisions and is placing the burden of cost cuts upon schools and other agencies.

    “The figures of the proposed government cuts is disheartening,” Steele said. “About $3.5 million.”

    Gov. John Carney’s proposed $15 million discretionary cut for schools was expected, resulting in a $1.2 million loss for the IRSD. But the State has also proposed cutting $2.2 million for education sustainment, which usually pays IRSD salaries through the tight summer months, before autumn taxes arrive.

    The IRSD may also lose 5 percent in transportation costs, equaling $300,000, and energy funds worth $38,000.

    Across the state, schools may not know where they stand until the Delaware General Assembly approves the budget, likely on June 30.

    Spreading the pain at IRSD

    The district’s administration isn’t exempt from the cuts. In fact, the IRSD has been operating for years with fewer administrative staff than it’s entitled to, based on student population. But they rejected some state funds in order to save money on the required local match.

    “If we’re gone make cuts, people are going to want to see it here,” Steele said of the district’s central office, “and I think that’s a very fair thing.”

    The fact that the budget discussion hasn’t included much about administrative cuts has resulted in some criticism, with the perception that administrative budget isn’t also on the chopping block. But such discussions must occur only in the IRSD board’s executive session, because each administrator’s contract isnegotiated individually (versus teacher salaries, which are negotiated broadly with the union). Employee names and salaries may not be discussed publicly, unless that person requests it.

    Steele said he has some budget ideas that may raise eyebrows, but he said it’s necessary to think outside the box.

    “We’re going to take our time and make smart decisions,” he said.

    Although the State offers school districts a property-tax match that doesn’t require referendum, Steele said he doesn’t like the idea of using that, especially after another referendum just finished.

    The school board will continue discussion of the budget at a special April 10 meeting, at 7 p.m. at Sussex Central High School, which is replacing the normally scheduled committee meetings. However, most of the meeting is expected to occur behind closed doors, since it will likely involve mostly individual positions and salaries.

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    Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Mark Steele is now the full-time superintendent of the Indian River School District.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Mark Steele is now the full-time superintendent of the Indian River School District.It was a unanimous vote this week as Mark Steele was officially hired as the superintendent of the Indian River School District.

    At their March 27 meeting, the IRSD Board of Education promoted former assistant superintendent Steele from interim superintendent, effective immediately, with a two-year contract beginning July 1.

    A lifelong Dagsboro resident and 36-year educator, Steel said, “It feels good to know that people support you and people trust you. It feels really good.”

    Now that the IRSD officially has a new leader, it removes a level of uncertainty, and the administration can stride forward with a better sense of direction.

    “This gives me a chance to look at the long-term things we need,” said Steele, who suggested creating a long-term district plan and a community financial review group.

    “I put a lot of faith in principals. … They have to run that building and know they can do things that are in the best interest of the students,” he said, so he’s accepting of different management styles.

    He also wants more public input.

    “I think the community needs to play a bigger part and bigger role — not just when there’s a referendum or big concern,” Steele said. “If they have a concern, I really wish they would pick up the phone and call me. A lot of time, picking up the phone or talking face-to-face is the right policy.”

    As for his leadership style, he said, “I like to listen. I don’t have any problem making a final decision, but I like to make my decisions based on good facts and historical things.”

    Steele became interim superintendent in January when Susan Bunting was appointed Delaware Secretary of Education, after more than a decade leading the IRSD.

    Some voters during the lead-up to the recent current-expense referendum said they found Steele’s presence comforting and appreciated new leadership after the Delaware State Auditor of Accounts accused the district and its former CFO of some financial mismanagement.

    “Dr. Bunting did an outstanding job. We just differ on the way we deliver,” Steele said. “We get the job done at the end of the day.”

    Steele is IRSD’s sixth superintendent since the district formed in 1969.

    Members of the public repeatedly praised Steele during his two months as interim superintendent, and that included former IRHS principal and former school board member Lewis Patterson, who this month flat-out recommended that the school board hire Steele immediately, saying, “The law does not require you to do a search” to fill the position.

    In fact, the IRSD didn’t do an applicant search, “which would have taken months,” said School Board President Charles Bireley. “We just didn’t have time. We’ve got a bigger problem with this budget.”

    Bireley said the board should have voted on filling the position last month but were tied up with other business.

    “He did such a yeoman’s job on this referendum. He spent ungodly hours going everywhere under the sun … trying to get this thing passed,” Bireley said of Steele.

    Steele gave public presentations seemingly nonstop during the month leading up to the March 2 current-expense referendum, which was the district’s last chance to improve its financial outlook for the 2017-2018 school year. With record public turnout, the referendum passed by about 57 percent.

    “Despite the passage of the referendum, challenges still lie ahead, due to proposed reductions in state funding for education,” Steele stated. “The administration and Board of Education are committed to addressing these budget cuts in a manner that has the least possible impact on classroom instruction.”

    Steele said he will propose a series of administrative cuts in April. The board will make the final decision.

    Steele has been familiar face around the IRSD his whole life. He became IRSD assistant superintendent in mid-2013. Before that, Steele’s entire school and professional career — apart from a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Salisbury University — were at Indian River High School. Steele taught math and physics for 10 years, and was assistant principal for about eight years and principal from 1999 to 2013.

    “It is an honor and privilege to be named superintendent of the Indian River School District. I thank the Board of Education for this opportunity,” Steele stated this week.

    “As I’ve stated previously, I am committed to being a community superintendent. I pledge to be open and accessible, and will strive for transparency in all district operations. Our staff will continue to work tirelessly to provide IRSD students with the best educational programs in the state of Delaware.”

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    Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Dave Rickards is working to preserve the environment via Birdsong Gardens, a 20-acre working farm.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Dave Rickards is working to preserve the environment via Birdsong Gardens, a 20-acre working farm.Tucked away near Frankford is a non-profit environmental research facility dedicated to restoring “the former grandeur of the Delaware Estuary.”

    Birdsong Gardens sits on a 20-acre working farm, which still grows grain, corn and soybeans in cooperation with a larger neighbor farmer. However, the main focus of its owner, Dave Rickards, is to preserve the environment for generations to come.

    “I’m just trying to do my part,” said Rickards. “Growing up on a farm, the environment was never that far away from my thoughts. I grew up in this area. My father was a farmer, and over the years I have watched the change in technology eliminate the buffers that used to be. When I was growing up, there was a lot of quail and you could go quail hunting... I don’t even hear quail anymore, because they’ve lost their habitat.”

    Rickards first became active in environmental issues in 1999, when he became involved with the Inland Bays advisory group.

    “At that point in time, the media was saying the farmer was totally at fault for all the pollution problems reaching our bays. There was a big pfiesteria problem at that point. I really didn’t believe it, growing up on a farm.

    “And realizing the farmer could be at fault for some of the problem, I started doing research and learned that we had a phosphorous problem in Sussex County in the ’40s, prior to poultry. That just gave me more incentive to keep on educating myself.”

    Birdsong is in its early stages, and currently seeking volunteers and monetary donations, which will help Rickards in seeking grant funding.

    “Now that I am a nonprofit, I’m looking for interested people to donate to the cause and help me improve the environment,” he said. “Most of the grants require at least a 15-percent matching fund. A lot of the federal grants require a 50-percent matching fund.”

    Part of the project is to grow 5 acres of milkweed to help create a natural habitat for the monarch butterfly. Birdsong has event received a habitat certification from the National Wildlife Federation.

    “We’ve lost milkweed in our area. Butterflies were everywhere,” he said. “Now, everything is confined in a chicken house. The grass is cut, so there’s nothing growing wild, so we’ve lost our milkweed. We need to redevelop areas with milkweed for the butterfly, because the butterfly is really close to being put on the endangered list.

    “Milkweed is the only thing that monarchs propagate on, so that’s a mandatory thing for the monarchs. I’m just trying to do my part with the little, 4-, 5-acre lot that I’ve got and putting it all into milkweed. I didn’t realize how endangered the monarch had started to become until I started reading a few articles these past couple of years and thought, ‘Maybe there’s something I can do about it.’”

    Rickards said that, with a pond as a water source on his property, as well as hundreds of cedar trees wrapped around the property, it has created the perfect area for a butterfly sanctuary.

    “It’s like the old saying, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ You may not have 10,000 the first year, but you’ll have more, each and every year, show up.”

    He hopes to offer tours of the sanctuary to schools in the future, and even sell little packets of milkweed seeds for individuals to start their own butterfly gardens.

    Rickards also hopes to improve the waters of local estuaries, through the use of duckweed, which can absorb nitrates and phosphates, and, in essence, clean the water.

    According to its website, Birdsong plans to determine which sites within the estuary will be the best areas in which to establish aquatic duckweed gardens. Eventually, Rickards hopes to purchase mussels from the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and begin to re-establish them in these areas, further cleaning the waters.

    The Rickards farm has evolved over the decades to house this new endeavor: “The farm was initially a 100-acre tract of land owned by Orrington and Lucille Rickards. It was a successful farm sustained by farm animals, as well as crops. As time passed, more land was needed to maintain the farm.

    “Instead, it downsized and became the setting for Birdsong Gardens, a small garden and herb farm run by Lucille Rickards. When Lucille Rickards retired, her son, Dave Rickards, closed the garden center and made the sole focus of Birdsong Gardens to identify environmental concerns and work diligently to address them.”

    Rickards said he hopes the community will step up and support his efforts to better the environment for today and the future.

    “The environment needs people to step up and make a difference,” said Rickards. “It’s not going to happen without the public getting involved.”

    For more information about Birdsong Gardens and how to support it, visit or call (302) 539-9034. To make a tax-deductible donation, send a check to Birdsong Gardens, 34612 Rickards Road; Frankford, DE 19945.

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    Coastal Point photo • Submitted : The winning teams and their teachers include, from left, Kaitlyn Johnson, teacher Tommie Morrison, Evan Carpenter, Kendall Coleman, Ann Weaver, Kevin Reid, Chris Sichina and teacher Jon Casto.Coastal Point photo • Submitted : The winning teams and their teachers include, from left, Kaitlyn Johnson, teacher Tommie Morrison, Evan Carpenter, Kendall Coleman, Ann Weaver, Kevin Reid, Chris Sichina and teacher Jon Casto.In an all-day event on Saturday, Feb. 11, the Selbyville Middle School Robotics Team competed at the Delaware state championship in the VEX Robotics Competition.

    Presented by the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, the VEX Robotics Competition is the largest and fastest-growing middle school and high school robotics program, involving more than 16,000 teams from 40 countries playing in more than 1,350 competitions worldwide.

    Each year, an engineering challenge is presented in the form of a game. Students, with guidance from their teachers and mentors, build innovative robots and compete year-round in a variety of matches.

    In this year’s event, three teams represented Selbyville Middle School. The team of Kendall Coleman, Kaitlyn Johnson and Evan Carpenter received the Excellence Award, qualifying them to go to VEX World Competition in Louisville, Ky., over spring break. The team of Ann Weaver, Kevin Reid and Oriana Peterson were First Place Tournament Champions, while the team of Chris Sichina, Slone Hoban and Fritz Winkler placed sixth.

    As the competitors worked though the 12- to 14-hour competitions, their parents cheered them on and provided snacks and drinks for the teams. In further support of the middle-school students, parents volunteered to help set up the competitions.

    STEM teacher Tommie Morrison said, “Selbyville Middle School is proud of these young robotics experts and their dedication to being the best in their class. Their efforts help to ensure future success for everyone.”

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    The community can get a first-hand account of what life is like inside prison on Tuesday, April 11, as the Southern Delaware Alliance for Racial Justice (SDARJ) will host a former-inmate panel at the Trinity Faith Christian Center in Lewes, beginning at 7 p.m.

    “One of our focuses is criminal justice reform,” said Jay Schiavo, a member of the SDARJ board of directors. “Over the months, we’ve had all people from the criminal justice system — from judges to prosecutors to police officers, including Attorney General Matt Denn and Chief Justice Leo Strine from the Delaware Supreme Court. So, this is a natural progression in the series.”

    SDARJ is a non-partisan secular organization designed to educate, inform and advocate for racial justice, equality and fair opportunity.

    At the panel, attendees will be able to hear from seven previously incarcerated men and women about what life was like in prison.

    “Now we want to hear from the criminals, to find out what it’s really like to be in prison, deal with things like solitary confinement and the different conditions that exist in prison, told from the mouths of the former prisoners.”

    The former inmates will not speak to their lives prior to or what led to their incarceration, but specifically to what life was like in prison and after.

    They’ll be sharing “what it was like being in prison — what they faced on a day-to-day basis. And then, after they got out, facing the issues like not being able to find housing, not being able to vote, not being able to find employment.

    “It’s an important thing, because people don’t want to hire people who were previously incarcerated. So, they’ll be discussing a lot of those challenges.”

    Schiavo said the SDARJ found the former inmates through various contacts.

    “There’s an organization called The Way Home, for folks who get out of prison. It helps them get acclimated back into society. And there were two ex-inmates that attended our previous meetings that we were able to contact and invite to be a part of the panel.”

    Educating the general public about what life is like for those who are or once were incarcerated is important for society, said Schiavo.

    “We support criminal justice reform, so one of the things we want to do is inform the public. This is a way of letting the public know, really, the experiences directly from the prisoners. A lot of people think, ‘Let them rot in there. They’re just bad people.’ They’re human beings. If we, as a society, want to treat our prisoners poorly, it doesn’t reflect well on us, when we could be helping rehabilitate them instead of just punishing them.

    “It’s in everybody’s best interest to have them come out into society and be productive.”

    Attendees are being encouraged to bring their questions for the seven panelists to answer that evening.

    “Hopefully, everyone will leave with more information and know what it’s like to be in prison, and a little more information about the criminal justice system as well.”

    The Trinity Faith Christian Center is located at 15516 New Road in Lewes. People can join SDARJ — membership is free — by signing up for email bulletins at or

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    The Town of Fenwick Island will save some money by switching to public program of worker compensation. The Town expects to save at least $10,000 by leaving its current $75,000 workers-comp plan for the DeLea Founders Insurance Trust (DFIT), a consortium of 24 municipalities that partner to purchase insurance.

    Where private institutions keep the profit after a particularly good year, the members of the consortium will receive refunds if claims are low. DFIT also offers safety training programs to improve municipal activities.

    Town Manager Teresa “Terry” Tieman said at the May 31 council meeting that she also appreciated the DFIT managers’ hands-on approach, especially when she worked for the City of Harrington and had to call on a weekend about a police-related crisis.

    Also announced at last Friday’s council meeting:

    • The Earth Day town clean-up will be Saturday, April 22, from 9 to 11 a.m. The Environmental Committee will provide refreshments, cleaning supplies and a token of appreciation for participants. Volunteers can meet at town hall.

    • Drug crimes and overdoses are affecting every local town. But most police officers don’t carry naloxone, the emergency medicine that reverses opioid overdoses.

    Fenwick Island Police Chief William “Bill” Boyden said this week that that’s because police officers usually arrive at the same time as ambulance or paramedics, which do carry naloxone. Plus, he said, overdose victims often have violent reactions when awakened, and medics can strap the victims to a gurney beforehand.

    • Boyden pointed out on March 31 that the Fenwick police department had assisted Delaware State Police twice as much in February of 2017 as it had during the same time period last year.

    “These troopers are being pushed to the limit,” Boyden said, with only a few DSP troopers covering a very large corner of Sussex County at any given time. The FIPD often provides backup or stabilizes situations outside their territory until the DSP arrives.

    • In the wake of Rehoboth Beach’s banning grills, canopies, oversized umbrellas and tents above 36 inches tall on its beaches, Councilwoman Vicki Carmean this week asked if Fenwick should anticipate that as an issue.

    Yes, said Councilwoman Julie Lee, who said she has seen people stake a claim on the beach around sunrise just to return hours later, which is an issue the Bethany Beach Town Council recently debated. C&O Chairperson Bill Weistling suggested getting input from the beach patrol before moving forward.

    • In addition to brainstorming future funding for sidewalks, beach replenishment, drainage/flooding issues (including sea-level rise), open space opportunities and fire service/first responders, the Town’s ad-hoc Financial Committee has decided it’s premature to pursue a $25,000 hydrographic study of the canal bed, which is a first step to dredging.

    • In regard to recent requests, the Charter & Ordinance Committee will begin drafting regulations for equipment such as commercial pools and cell phone antennas.

    • Thanks to local businesses, funding is halfway complete for the Fenwick Flicks summertime movies on the beach. The Town has taken over the event after the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce backed away from hosting it.

    Meanwhile, the Business Development Committee recently hosted a breakfast for area businesses to discuss plans, such as Fenwick Fridays and the Homegrown Harvest Festival in autumn.

    The Fenwick Island Town Council’s next regular meeting will be Friday, April 28, at 3:30 p.m.

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