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    Coastal Point • Submitted: Erin Crooks of Georgetown Middle School was recently named 2017 Delaware School Counselor of the Year.Coastal Point • Submitted: Erin Crooks of Georgetown Middle School was recently named 2017 Delaware School Counselor of the Year.Erin Crooks of Georgetown Middle School has been named the 2017 Delaware School Counselor of the Year.

    The award was given on April 10 by the Delaware School Counselor Association during its annual spring conference. Prior to winning the overall state award, Crooks was named Middle School Counselor of the Year by the DSCA in February.

    Crooks came to Georgetown Middle School as a school counselor in 2009 after spending the previous two years as a counselor at Georgetown Elementary School. She is a member of Georgetown Middle’s Instructional Leadership Team and is the school’s AVID site team coordinator. One of her priorities during the past nine years has been taking GMS students on visits to college campuses. During that time, she has accompanied more than 350 students on visits to the University of Delaware, Delaware State University, Morgan State University, Delaware Technical & Community College, Rutgers University and the University of Maryland.

    Crooks is co-chair of the Sussex County Inter-Agency Council for Children and Families and a middle school representative for the Delaware Goes to College Advisory Council. She also served as an adjunct professor at Wilmington University in 2015-2016.

    This is the second consecutive year, and third overall, that an Indian River School District counselor has won the state award. Other state winners were Cheryl Carey in 2016 and Lisa Hunt in 2005. It is also the fourth consecutive year that an IRSD counselor has won either the elementary or middle school Counselor of the Year award. Other district winners were Carey (2016 and 2007), Jan Bomhardt (2015), Cathy Showell (2014), Dawn Brasure (2009) and Hunt (2005).

    Crooks is now eligible for the national School Counselor of the Year award given by the American School Counselor Association.


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    Coastal Point • Maria Counts: ITN Southern Delaware is a community-based, community-supported, consumer-oriented, quality transportation service for seniors and adults with visual impairment.Coastal Point • Maria Counts: ITN Southern Delaware is a community-based, community-supported, consumer-oriented, quality transportation service for seniors and adults with visual impairment.For seniors in coastal Sussex County, hitching a ride from Point A to Point B can be a breeze with the transportation cooperative ITN Southern Delaware.

    “This was borne out of an idea [Nancy Feichtl] had. She was approaching her senior years and wondered how she would get around. So she started exploring options for some kind of transportation options for seniors, because the alternatives are limited,” said Janis Hanwell, executive director of ITN Southern Delaware. “Through her research, she came across ITN America, a national nonprofit organization that provides transportation to seniors and adults with visual impairments.”

    The Southern Delaware branch of ITN was begun in August 2015, with the first rides being provided on Dec. 1, 2015.

    “At that time, we had 12, 15 active drivers and about 50 members. Today, we have close to 60 volunteer drivers and closer to 200 rider-members, said Hanwell, noting that the co-op surpassed 1,000 rides in December 2016.

    “We’re getting calls every day. New members are coming in on a regular basis.”

    ITN Southern Delaware is fully operational from Milford to Fenwick Island, and over to Selbyville and up to Georgetown. Those seeking transportation to medical-related appointments as far away as Dover, or Salisbury, Berlin, and Ocean City, Md., can also use the service.

    “We’re always looking for more volunteers so we can expand those services. Our ultimate goal within our first five years is to be serving all of Sussex County.”

    So how exactly does a transportation co-op work?

    Members pay an annual fee — $40 for an individual or $70 for a household. Each rider pays a $2.50 pick-up fee and a per-mile fee of $1.25 from their account. Money is never exchanged between the driver and rider.

    “We’re a cooperative, so people join by paying that annual membership fee, and then they put $50 into a personal transportation account,” explained Hanwell. “No money ever exchanges hands between the driver and the rider. The money is there until they need it.”

    Members looking to supply their personal transportation account can also trade their car to ITN for the Blue Book value, and that money will go into their account.

    ITN Southern Delaware offers rides seven days a week, anytime, day or night. Members call by noon the day before to schedule a ride and are assigned a volunteer driver who lives in their area.

    All drivers must pass a criminal background check and use their personal vehicles, which must be insured. Riders may have portable collapsible wheelchairs, canes, walkers, etc.

    “If riders have a personal-care assistant or a family member they want to go along with them, they may ride with at no extra charge,” added Hanwell. “We are also pet-friendly. We take service animals, like seeing-eye dogs. We have some members who want to take their pets in a carrier to the vet but have no way to get there. They can use our services to do that.”

    The vast majority of the drivers in each ITN group across the country are women, said Hanwell, primarily in their 60s.

    Hanwell said that, many times, the same driver and rider get matched up.

    “What happens is these great friendships develop. We have members who are World War II veterans — one was a bomber pilot. We matched him up with one of our military drivers.”

    Hanwell said that, currently, ITN Southern Delaware is working on having businesses and organizations partner with them, to help subsidize rides.

    “We have various businesses in the area who are joining, and for their clients who use their services, the businesses will pay their pick-up fees. They subsidize their rides,” she said.

    Lewes businesses Beach Tans & Hair Salon and Lady in Main are working with ITN Southern Delaware by paying for the pick-up cost of those traveling to their storefronts.

    “For a round trip, that’s $5 off of their entire ride,” she said. “We have a ride service agreement with Westminster Church. They pay for the whole rides to church-related activities.

    Hanwell said they have a ride service agreement with State Sen. Gerald Hocker for a grocery concierge service at his new Ocean View store.

    Hanwell added that all members receive all eye-related trips for free, due to their Ride In Sight program, paid by Regeneron Pharmaceutical.

    “We’re working with doctors’ offices and physical therapy offices, and other small businesses to join,” she said, noting that the businesses would contribute at least $300 to an account from which rides would be subsidized. “It’s catching on now.”

    Hanwell said they are also trying to work with local developers who are building senior communities to, they hope, have the developer pay for the households’ memberships.

    “They’re looking for ways to provide them some amenities for moving into their independent-living development and maintaining their independence and mobility for as long as possible, which is our goal.

    “We’re also trying to establish a Rhodes Scholarship program, so that people living below the poverty level or who have special circumstances, they would receive a scholarship toward rides. They would receive $200 in their account to use toward whatever ride services they feel they need.”

    Transportation is an essential service in Sussex County, Hanwell said, and ITN Southern Delaware is just one alternative for seniors looking to get around in a safe manner.

    “Sussex County is the oldest-per-capita population in the country. That population is expected to triple in the next 15 years. Many people are retired here, and their adult children don’t come with them, so they don’t have family they can count on.

    “Then there are other families that have been here all their lives but their children have moved away to find jobs in other areas. We’re just one alternative.

    “Our slogan is, ‘Arm through arm, door through door.’ And that’s what we strive to provide.”

    For more information about ITN Southern Delaware, or to become a member or volunteer driver, call (302) 448-8486 or visit www.ITNSouthernDelaware.org.


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    Special to the Coastal Point • Submitted: Irish folk artist Gerry Timlin will be performing at Dickens Parlour Theatre April 28 and 29.Special to the Coastal Point • Submitted: Irish folk artist Gerry Timlin will be performing at Dickens Parlour Theatre April 28 and 29.He’s played the Irish countryside, New York City, the west coast of the USA, Canada and the Caribbean too. He’s even performed for former President Barack Obama and Prime Minister of Ireland Enda Kenny.

    But after a long and illustrious international career on tour, Irish folk artist Gerry Timlin is ready to rest his guitar case and take the stage in Slower Lower, now calling Delaware his new home.

    “I was coming in from Pittsburgh around two weeks before Christmas on an absolutely glorious morning,” Timlin recalled of a particularly affecting early a.m. road trip taken shortly after making the move to Frankford from Philadelphia.

    “When I got into Bethany for some reason I turned left at the totem pole, parked the car, put on my coat and went up the boardwalk. The sun was just starting to come up, the ocean was calm as it could be — I just found incredible peace and serenity there and then I thought to myself, ‘yeah, I’m home.’”

    While he may be a newer full-time resident of first state, Timlin is by no means a stranger to the Delaware beaches, spending past summers at venues including the original Irish Eyes on Wilmington Ave. in Rehoboth and Shenanigans on the boardwalk in Ocean City, Md. starting back as early as the mid-’80s.

    More recently he’s played gigs at Cripple Creek Country Club, and even made an impromptu appearance at the Freeman Stage at Bayside to sing guest vocals for long-time friend and flute-wielding front-woman Joanie Madden of the Grammy-nominated super-group “Cherish the Ladies.”

    With upcoming performances at the Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville scheduled later this month, Timlin will get a chance introduce some of his new neighbors to his own personal mix of classic and contemporary folk style and baritone vocals, all amped with selected poems, tales from the touring days, and his signature ice-breaking humor.

    “The performance itself is the most important thing to me, playing and singing, but I like to get people involved with what I do,” Timlin said. “It’s part of the act. I like to try and get people to laugh so they can sit back and say ‘alright then, let’s see what this guy can do,’ and enjoy the show.”

    Most of the poems and musings that Timlin picks out to share with his audience include works from the long list of bohemian-artist types that he’s developed friendships with over years, Timlin going on to note his particular appreciation for and amazement with a variety of non-medium specific virtuosos.

    That appreciation was realized long ago as a young boy back in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, on a day that Timlin remembers well.

    “It was one of the first live folk performances that I ever went to see. I was 13,” he recalled. “After the concert a teacher friend of mine asked me what I thought of the show. I told him, ‘That’s what I want to do.’”

    It wasn’t long until he was borrowing a guitar from his oldest brother, Shane, who ended up landing Timlin his first gig soon after, unbeknownst to him.

    “Within a year or so Shane entered me in a talent competition,” Timlin went on to recall. “I had just been there to watch but he told me to come backstage then said, ‘Listen, there’s your guitar, here’s a sweater, you’re on tonight.’ I didn’t know anything about it.”

    Surprise or no, Timlin ended up winning the whole thing, eventually going on to start touring with an Irish folk group at the age of 17 before making his way to the states and landing in New York City during the early 1970s.

    Though his music has always been his primary focus, throughout his career Timlin has still managed to get back to his former four-leafed stomping grounds on the regular, thanks in part to the small group tour business of the Republic that he started 27 years ago and that he still owns and operates to this day.

    He also makes the time for the occasion nine as a new member at Cripple Creek, trips down to North Carolina to see old friends, and the casual four to five sets during summer cruises of Caribbean where he and some of his former musician pals get the chance to put the band back together again.

    “We’re all always criss-crossing the country and not running into each other very often, so when we’re able to get together again it’s wonderful to be able to perform with them,” said Timlin.

    “I’m also grateful that I have so many great friends who have written such great things that I’m able to use in my own performances. It’s a thrill for me to be able to do that and to be able to share their work.”

    Even after settling down in Delaware, Timlin may never say goodbye to the rock star life and his touring days completely, but for now, he’s ready to slow down the record and enjoy performing on his latest of a long-line of stops, the place he now calls home.

    “We love the water and we love the beach. This a just very nice community,” Timlin said. “I really do like it.”

    For more on Gerry Timlin, or to sample some of his music, visit his website at www.gerrytimlin.com. For performance bookings or to inquire about a tour of Ireland, contact Gerry at pgtimlin@aol.com.

    Timlin’s performances at Dickens are scheduled for Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29, starting at 7:30 p.m. For tickets, visit www.dptmagic.com.


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    Coastal Point • Laura Walter: After losing two babies to a genetic disease, the Martel family continues to support research for spinal muscular atrophy. Pictured here are parents, Pat (front) and Ken (right), and their adult children, Brian and Anne.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: After losing two babies to a genetic disease, the Martel family continues to support research for spinal muscular atrophy. Pictured here are parents, Pat (front) and Ken (right), and their adult children, Brian and Anne.When baby Michael Martel was taken to the hospital in February 1962, his parents never imagined that he wouldn’t come home again.

    Then living in Baltimore, Ken and Pat Martel said doctors couldn’t properly diagnose their firstborn’s genetic disease until he died a few days later.

    While dealing with their grief, the Martels raised two healthy children, but then suffered another loss. Their fourth and final child, Scott, showed signs of the same disease, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), which destroys muscle control and causes overall weakness.

    Scott and Michael were both dead at about 8 months old.

    But the family is using their grief for good. Now spread across Ocean View, Millville and Maryland, the Martels are coming together at Coastal Delaware Running Festival on April 22. “Team Martel Boys” are walking the Dewey Beach 5k race. It’s a full family of parents, children, spouses and grandchildren. But they still feel the void of dual tragedies, over 40 years old.

    According to the Genetics Home Reference in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, SMA causes people to lose motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain stem. This causes weakness and wasting of the muscles, so babies usually cannot crawl, walk, sit up or hold up their heads. Breathing and swallowing can also be affected.

    The doctors offered an oversimplified excuse: “‘He was slow,’” Ken said. “Nobody really knew what it was or what he had.”

    In fact, pneumonia was Michael’s official cause of death. Babies have trouble breathing because of atrophied muscles, so they can’t cough out an infection or fight it off.

    But Pat was scared. Already pregnant with their second child, Pat wondered what risks baby Anne would face.

    “I really was surprised at how fast you were born because Michael took his time,” she now tells Anne Martel. “I knew the difference because, carrying her, she would punch and poke. She was lively,” but Michael had been more sedate.

    About three years later, Brian Martel arrived healthy, too. And Pat was constantly checking. She poked and prodded the babies, to see if they’d respond by drawing their little arms and legs away from the offending pinches.

    But in 1970, when Pat was preparing baby Scott for his baptism, she accidently pricked him with a pin. She was devastated when he didn’t immediately withdraw his leg.

    Looking back, Pat remembers that neither boy cried very loudly or moved very much. Most infants appear to be born healthy, but their muscles weaken over time, Anne said. Their cognitive skills aren’t affected, so the kids are all there, mentally.

    “[Scott] was a good baby. He had wise eyes,” Pat said. “You look at him and he just looked like he knew a lot of stuff.”

    Brian remembers that Scott would smile and never complain, but jokes that the baby didn’t appreciate Saturday cartoons as much Brian did.

    Brian was age 5 when his little brother went into the hospital. Anne was 8.

    As children, they mostly remember asking which relative or neighbor would be picking them up each day, since their parents were always at the hospital.

    Pat remembers seeing her youngest child with IV tubes connected to his ankles and head.

    Scott died a few months later, in November of 1970.

    “I had no idea he was never coming home,” Anne said. “I remember being in total shock, like not even believing it. I didn’t know that was an option,” since her parents were practicing with feeding tubes for home nursing.

    “I thought about asking you guys to pray to God or Jesus, to let him come home [with us],” Pat tells her adult children. “But I knew he was going to go, and I didn’t want to have to explain that.

    She didn’t want her kids to be disappointed when praying didn’t work.

    Back then, the Martel boys were diagnosed with Werdnig-Hoffman Disease, which has been re-categorized as Type I SMA.

    Both parents had the same gene defect, which produces a 25 percent chance of any offspring having SMA.

    Years later, when grandchildren started to arrive in the 1990s, the family was watching their every move. How strong were the limbs? How strong was the neck?

    Genetic testing is now available, so the grandkids will likely get tested if they ever consider having children, in case their partners also carry the same gene.

    Walking for a cure

    In the running festival, Team Martel Boys is using the 5k as a fundraiser for Cure SMA, a national nonprofit with a two-pronged approach: support SMA research while supporting parents and siblings who deal with it every day.

    But as young parents, the Martels did not have that kind of support system. The disease was barely understood, and recent science has corrected many misconceptions since the 1960s.

    “We got very little help,” Pat said.

    “Well, nobody knew anything,” Ken said.

    This weekend will be the first time Ken and Pat even meet other parents who lost children to SMA.

    That’s why Saturday’s race is such a big deal, Brian said. Cure SMA brings people together, and his family has already raised about $3,200 for the cause.

    Decades have passed, but will not erase the pain of losing two baby boys. Pat tears up at the memory.

    But their death laid a path for Anne’s life. She became a pediatric nurse for kids with complex medical needs, and she now works in medical research.

    Back in the 1970s, every Labor Day, the family hosted backyard carnivals or collected money door-to-door for the Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon, featuring Jerry Lewis.

    Now, Anne’s children volunteer at the national Cure SMA conferences, helping other children who are dealing with the disease.

    Make no mistake, this is still a brutal disease. Even with treatment, the life expectancy for Type I patients is often about 2 years. Without treatment, life expectancy is about eight months.

    “Even today I think there’s a lack of awareness — because it’s so rare — with pediatricians to pick up the signs early,” Anne said. “Especially now that there’s a therapy, it’s so important to recognize and get a baby into the right [specialists].”

    The disease can affect all ages, coming in four types, based on the age of onset, generally appearing in infancy, young childhood, young adulthood or middle age. Infants don’t sit up. Young children don’t stand independently. Adults lose the ability to walk.

    Currently, there are efforts to improve screening, and Anne has heard of teenagers who have survived from childhood, but only with a respirator and much support.

    The fundraising webpage for Team Martel Boys is http://events.curesma.org/site/PageServer?pagename=CoDelaware_Marathon_H....


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    Patti Grimes, of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, gave Sussex County Council an update on The Freeman Stage at Bayside on April 11.

    “If you can believe it, this is our 10th year,” said Grimes. “We want to thank Sussex County for being such a great partner and to let you know that what started as a vision in an arts desert in 2008 has turned into a thriving arts area.”

    The Freeman Stage at Bayside, a program of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, presenting diverse programming in the genres of dance, live music, theatre and children’s programming.

    Grimes said the foundation strives to be a source of exceptional cultural experiences for everyone of Sussex County. She noted that in 2016, the Stage had 15 national recording artists, 90 performances, and 41 arts in education events, “where children in all nine districts of Sussex County schools were able to participate in high quality arts experiences.”

    She also noted that the stage saw 62,381 patrons that season.

    “To put that into perspective, in year one, in 2008 we had 13,800. So I think you would agree we’ve grown quite a bit in the last nine years,” she said, adding the stage has more than 222 volunteers.

    “Collectively, our volunteers have contributed service in the amount of $725,000 when we use the independent sector’s rate.”

    Stage sponsorships have grown over the years as well, from 24 in its first year to 302.

    “That’s important because the community is supporting the arts in Sussex County.”

    Since its first year in operation, the Freeman Stage has hosted almost a third of a million people, 50 national recording artists and more than 80,000 children.

    “We have ticket buyers from 41 states, so it really helps the tourism industry,” said Grimes. “Something people may not associate the arts with is the economic impact… We’ve contributed back into our local community over $13 million since 2008.”

    Notable acts gracing the stage this summer include comedian Jay Leno (June 30), country musician Hunter Hayes (July 28), and musical acts Chicago (Aug. 1) and Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue (Aug. 3).

    “I would proffer that it is easier and less expensive for a family to go to the Freeman Stage than it is to go to the movies.”

    Grimes also thanked County Council for helping pay for the transportation costs for county children to be bussed to the stage for the Children in Arts education program.

    “Sixty-two percent of those children have free or reduced lunch. That’s pervasive throughout all nine districts in the county and your transportation grants help bring those buses to the stage.”

    Grimes said the Foundation will likely begin a capital campaign later this year, and noted how the organization is fiscally responsible.

    “For every dollar that is raised to the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, 80 cents of that dollar goes directly into programming, 16 cents is used to raise additional funds and only 4 cents goes to management and administration.”

    Following her presentation, councilman Rob Arlett thanked Grimes and her team.

    “We’re appreciative. You guys do such tremendous work for this county.”


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    It’s a race! Six candidates have registered for the town of South Bethany’s municipal election, scheduled for May 27, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

    Three challengers and three incumbents are on the slate.

    Joseph Mormando, Sharon Polansky and Timothy Saxton are running for Town Council seats currently held by Wayne Schrader, Carol Stevenson and Frank Weisgerber Jr.

    The two-year terms begin in June.

    Voters must be U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old by election day.

    They must either be a town resident (physically residing in town for at least nine of the twelve months preceding election day); a freeholder (property owner or trustee for at least 90 consecutive days before election day); or the spouse of a freeholder (whether or not their name is on the deed).

    No more than eight people may vote as a “freeholder” or “spouse” per property.

    Absentee voting will be permitted. More information is available by visiting Town Hall at 402 Evergreen Road or www.southbethany.org, writing townclerk@southbethany.org or calling (302) 539-3653.

    Currently, citizens can also apply for the various town committees, including Board of Adjustment, Budget & Finance Committee, Charter & Code Committee, Community Enhancement Committee, Planning Commission, Water Quality Committee and Communications & Public Relations Committee.


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    After a lengthy investigation in Georgetown, a 55-year-old man was arrested for an alleged prostitution operation that included human trafficking and sexual servitude of a 25-year-old woman.

    Jorge Arcinieja was arrested April 6 for an alleged prostitution operation being conducted at 36 Garden Circle in the County Seat Mobile Home Park, about two miles north of downtown Georgetown.

    Investigators had reportedly conducted surveillance on the mobile home, observing numerous “vehicles and men frequent the home for a short period of time before leaving,” according to Delaware State Police. This is often a telltale sign of sex workers and even human trafficking, according to officials.

    Detectives obtained a search warrant on the residence. According to police, Arcinieja attempted to flee out of the rear door, but was taken into custody without further incident. He was charged at Troop 4 with human trafficking – sexual servitude, trafficking an individual and conspiracy 2nd degree. He was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 2 and committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on a $250,000 cash bond, according to officials.

    The female victim was found in a bedroom with various items typically used in commercial sex trade, according to DSP.

    “Through the investigation, it was determined that the female victim was transported to the Garden Circle location from outside of Delaware and was confined to a bedroom where she was forced to perform illicit acts with men visiting the home,” DSP alleged. She is determined to be from the Domincan Republic.

    Investigation was carried out by the Human Trafficking Task Force, comprised of the Delaware State Police, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Delaware Department of Justice.

    Anyone who may have information regarding other individuals or details of this investigation are asked to contact Det. J. Rowley at (302) 752-3801. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333, online at www.delaware.crimestoppersweb.com, or by sending an anonymous text to 274637 (CRIMES) using the keyword “DSP.”

    Anyone who sees any suspicious activity is encouraged to call 9-1-1, so police can check it out.

    Delaware State Police Victim Services Unit found temporary lodging for the female victim.

    “To protect the integrity of the investigation, information regarding the circumstances surrounding how the female became involved in the operation is being withheld,” according to DSP.

    The DSP Victim Services Unit/Delaware Victim Center offers support and resources 24 hours a to any victim or witness of crime, or to those who lost a loved one to a sudden death and need assistance. People may call 1-800-VICTIM-1 (1-800-842-8461), visit the website at http://dsp.delaware.gov/victim_services.shtml or email the unit director at debra.reed@state.de.us.

    Public Information Officer Sgt. Richard D. Bratz would not provide statistics about human trafficking arrests in Delaware, but he suggested a Facebook search of past crimes. This revealed that three men were arrested in eastern Sussex County for alleged prostitution rings in August and September of 2016. Arrest charges included human trafficking – sexual servitude.

    Another Delaware report suggested that one violent crime occurs every 90 minutes, including homicide, human trafficking, kidnap and abduction, forcible sex offense, robbery or aggravated assault.

    Crimes like human trafficking or prostitution do not currently appear on DSP’s new crime mapping tool (online at dsp.delaware.gov and click “Crime”). People can search by geographic area, time range and crime. Bratz said such an addition could be considered in the future, but that would be the decision of multiple individuals.


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    South Bethany will welcome two new employees to Town Hall, announcing a new town manager and town clerk.

    Town Manager Maureen Hartman will arrive on May 8. She’ll oversee all daily operations and report directly to town council.

    She’s coming off an eight-year tenure as town manager for Lower Windsor Township, Pa., a rural agricultural community of more than 7,000 residents, with waterfront recreation along the Susquehanna River.

    Hartman also spent years as an environmental scientist, zoning officer and community development coordinator. She’ll fill the four-month void left after her predecessor, Melvin Cusick, departed in January.

    Town clerk Janet Powell will start on April 24, bringing years of office experience and customer service to assist South Bethany residents and guests. She’s filling the spot from which Dee Burbage recently retired, welcoming visitors, helping with administrative tasks and managing town council elections.

    Town officials said both candidates bring the work experience and personalities to serve South Bethany.


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    This summer, Operation SEAs the Day, a nonprofit organization created to support veteran families, will celebrate its fifth year of bringing wounded warriors and their families to Bethany Beach for a week-long beach vacation.

    “We’re very excited because this is five years, and we see this as a milestone,” said Annette Reeping, media relations specialist for Operation SEAs the Day. “We’re very proud about that.”

    The mission of OSTD is “to organize and facilitate a beach week event for our wounded soldiers and their families as a means of showing our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. It is our hope that such a community-based gesture of support will be comforting and help ease their transition back into civilian life.”

    Reeping said the program has been a success due to the support of the community.

    This year’s beach week will be held Sept. 5 through Sept. 10, and host 25 new “Very Important Families” (VIFs), five alumni families, and two other alumni families who sit on the Board of Directors.

    “It’s very exciting,” said Reeping. “We will hit over 1,000 people in the five years. It is amazing. It’s amazing a town comes together the way it has, right from the beginning.”

    Families are selected through the Coalition for American Heroes and National Wounded Warrior Projects, and enjoy a free week’s stay at a beach house, donated by local homeowners, free food and discounts from local businesses, and the chance to simply relax.

    “The long-term positive impact was not foreseen in terms of the initial vision of, ‘let’s share this wonderful family beach with our heroic veterans and their families.’”

    One example of such an impact was a letter from a veteran, who wrote OSTD thanking the organization.

    “[We] wanted to say THANK YOU for an extraordinary week…I am still on a positive emotional path… from the memories of our week with you… You allowed me to empower my thought process with positive memories that I will reach into my memory bank to outweigh the wrinkles (every day negative memories and stress from war) in my thought process so I can press forward to a positive outlook on life. I am extremely grateful to each and every team member, volunteer, business owner and child that was part of the process to absolutely ensure each and every Warrior Family enjoyed one week away from doctors, hospitals and rehabilitation.”

    Reeping said not only are the veterans positively impacted by the event, but so are the children and caregiver spouses.

    “It lets wives feel like wives, husbands feel like husbands, children feel like children… The program really has a positive impact on these heroic families.”

    During the week, the families are invited to participate in a number of activities, from therapeutic horseback riding, tennis, paddle boarding and more. They are encouraged to attend events, but are not required.

    “The beauty of the whole thing, the purity of it is, we make all these things available, and they can sign up or not sign up. The families can make their own decisions about what they want to do and they’re not bothered.”

    The program would not be a success without the support of the local community, said Reeping.

    “There are two stories — there’s the story of the veteran families, but there’s also the story of small town America. The coming together for this, the ‘let’s make this a wonderful week for these families and children.’ Many businesses say to us, ‘whatever you need from us, let us know.’… There’s great pride and joy of giving back to these families.”

    Those looking to get involved in OSTD can do so in a number of ways.

    Organizers from Quilts of Valor will be at Serendipity quilt shop in Dagsboro on April 22 and June 17 hosting Sew Days, preparing quilts for VIFs who have not yet received a quilt.

    Community members are welcome to stop by anytime between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. on those days to help.

    “Even though they’re called Sew Days, if you don’t sew you can still help in many different ways,” said Reeping. “Lenny [Truitt, the Delaware coordinator for Quilts of Valor] will put you to work, whether it’s cutting material or measuring things… Sometimes some of the soldiers from Dover come down to help also.”

    The Poster Pal program has changed slightly this year, as families will no longer be able to make posters at the Bethany Beach Farmers’ Market. Instead, OSTD hopes to be at the South Coastal Library one day a week through the month of July, so any visitor can make a welcome poster.

    “We have some people who volunteered to work with the schools and the art teachers to work with them to make posters,” added Reeping.

    Those who wish to donate their time as volunteers can sign up to do so on the organization’s website from mid-July to mid-August.

    OSTD merchandise will be carried by the Sea Colony Beach Shop as well as by Water Lili on the boardwalk. This year the stores will have new red, white, and blue t-shirts, as well as sweatshirts and sweatpants. To commemorate the five-year anniversary, a five-year coin will also be sold.

    Reeping, the wife of a Vietnam Veteran, said being a part of the program has impacted her own life in a tremendous way, as it has for all those involved.

    “I thought I would be flipping hamburgers when I called to volunteer,” she said. “It has given me a tremendous amount of satisfaction; more so than I ever expected.

    Reeping said she hopes the community will continue to wrap their arms around the VIFs and, for those who have yet to get involved, take the time to volunteer and support the program.

    “The whole program is amazing. The long-term relationships, the bonding of people that begins that week and continues… It’s a beautiful story. People should continue their pride in this program.”

    For more information about Operation SEAs the Day, to donate or find out more about how to get involved, visit www.operationseastheday.org.


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    Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: Ocean View Police Department's Capt. Heath Hall poses at the department's drug drop-off location, provided by CVS Pharmacy.Coastal Point photos • Shaun M. Lambert: Ocean View Police Department's Capt. Heath Hall poses at the department's drug drop-off location, provided by CVS Pharmacy.This Saturday, community members are being encouraged to clean out their medicine cabinets and properly dispose of medications through the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

    “We’ve been participating in drug takeback since 2007, so this will be our 10th year,” said Ocean View Police Department Capt. Heath Hall. “They started it once a year but then started doing it twice a year, just because it was a very well accepted service. They saw the demand.”

    This Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a dozen sites in Sussex County will be open to collect any unwanted medications that members of the public no longer wish to keep in their homes.

    Along with the Ocean View Police Department, other Sussex County collection sites available to the public on Saturday include the Dagsboro Police Department, the Selbyville Police Department, the Selbyville CVS Pharmacy, Delaware State Police Troop 4, the Lewes Police Department, Delaware State Police Troop 7, as well as the Rehoboth Beach, Milford, Milton and Laural police departments and the Delaware Department of Justice’s Sussex County office.

    According to the DEA, in April of last year, the Obama administration and more than 4,200 of its state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners collected 893,498 pounds of unwanted medicines — about 447 tons — at almost 5,400 sites spread through all 50 states, beating its previous record of 390 tons in the spring of 2014 by 57 tons, or more than 114,000 pounds.

    Last year, there were 23 collection sites in the state of Delaware, which collected 7,684 pounds of prescription drugs. Of those drugs, 265 pounds were collected at the Ocean View Police Department.

    Hall said the DEA will take any medication in pill or liquid form. The only caveat is that they cannot accept anything with metal, such as syringes, because they cannot be incinerated.

    “The only thing the DEA will not collect is syringes — anything metal that won’t burn. But we’ll take liquids, plastic bottles, glass bottles.”

    The program was at first started a decade ago to help keep the drugs from going into the water system, by people flushing old medications down their toilets. However, Hall said these days it also protects households from prescription medication abuse and possible theft.

    “Now, it puts a damper on anybody trying to abuse any non-prescribed prescription drugs. It can keep people from having drugs stolen right out of their medicine cabinets,” he said.

    According to the DEA, 8 out of 10 new heroin users began by abusing prescription painkillers and moved to heroin when they could no longer obtain or afford those painkillers.

    Hall said the department jumped on the opportunity to participate in the takeback when they first heard about it and even went a step further, by setting up a collection box of its own.

    “We called up to the post office one day: ‘Hey — do you have any old mailboxes you want to get rid of?’” recalled Hall. “Before we knew it, we had a few. We painted one up and started using that.”

    The police department used its retired mailbox, secured with locks, until a better option came long.

    “Then we were contacted by CVS Pharmacy and told about their Safe Communities Program. We just had to fill out a registration form and they provided us with the box you see out there today,” he said. “Usually about once a quarter I get an email from them asking the weight of drugs we’ve collected since the last time they asked.

    “It’s been a great partnership. It’s a great service they provide for free. It didn’t cost us or the taxpayers a dime.”

    Now the department accepts medications year-round, right in the lobby of the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building.

    “We will accept prescription medications all year long. Monday through Friday, 8 to 4, our doors are open — no questions asked. They can come dispose of their prescription medicines in the proper way, and we will hold them until the Take Back Day arrives and then turn them over to the DEA for proper disposal,” he said. “I thought that since we collect all year-round that the Take Back Day would die down. It really doesn’t.”

    Ocean View resident Bill Wichmann, who is an OVPD volunteer and mans the front desk, said people come in throughout the week to drop off medications.

    “Usually there’s a fair amount that do bring back. People just don’t know what to do. We’re used to, traditionally, taking old prescription drugs and flushing them down the toilet. This is an excellent program because it all gets incinerated. It’s a safe disposal method that works well,” he said, adding, “People can come in any day. They don’t have to wait until we have that special drug take back day. Bring it in any day — the box is always open.”

    Currently, the department has six and a half boxes — approximately 214 pounds — of turned-in medications collected, which will be added to the medications citizens bring on Saturday.

    “If I were to crack one of these open, there may be a few packages, but to save space, it’s mostly just pills. We dump the pills in and discard the containers in a separate trash bag,” said Hall. “We’ve been doing it for 10 years, and it still boggles my mind every time I crack that box open… Think of that going into our water table. And this is just us, and just what’s being turned in.”

    Hall said the box, which they empty periodically, houses all kinds of that which citizens have turned in.

    “We’ve had everything from shampoo to over-the-counter aspirin to powerful prescription Oxycontins. It amazes me every time I crack that box open and the prescription drugs fall out of it — literally,” he said, noting the department’s collection box has not received any illicit drugs. “A lot of times, family members will pass away and family will come down and clean out their house. They’ll clean out the medicine cabinet and bring it here.”

    The department is fortunate to have the space in which to collect medications year-round, said Hall.

    “We like doing it. We know it’s a good thing. We’re fortunate we do have the space. Some police departments have a closet for an evidence room and wouldn’t be able to keep eight boxes. It would fill up their whole room. We are fortunate that we have a facility where we can store this.

    “We’re able to do it, so we do it. Back in the day, we used to be in the double-wide trailers or back by the park,” he said of the police department’s former digs. “Our evidence was kept in a mailbox. It was locked, and the only person who could get in was the chief. If you had something bigger that wouldn’t fit in the box, you had to call him…”

    In its new location in the Melson building, there’s room for evidence but also for a program like the Drug Take Back Day.

    Hall said the department is continuing to educate the public on the program, as there is an influx of visitors and new residents and property owners in the area.

    He said he hopes community members will take advantage of the service to protect the water, themselves and their loved ones.

    “The importance of this initiative — it really doesn’t take time out of the police department’s day to maintain it,” Hall said. “For as valuable as it is in keeping that stuff out of being used for illicit reasons or out of our water system … it’s a great service that doesn’t take a lot of time to maintain it.”

    The Ocean View Police Department is located at 201 Central Avenue in Ocean View. For more information, call the department at (302) 539-1111 or visit https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback.

    Take Back Day: Saturday, April 29, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    Local participating locations

    Ocean View Police Department

    201 Central Ave., Ocean View

    Dagsboro Police Department

    33134 Main St., Dagsboro

    Selbyville Police Department

    68 W. Church St., Selbyville

    CVS Pharmacy

    36252 Lighthouse Rd., Selbyville

    Delaware State Police Troop 4

    23652 Shortly Rd., Georgetown

    Lewes Board of Public Works

    129 Schley Ave., Lewes

    Delaware State Police Troop 7

    18006 Coastal Hwy., Lewes

    Rehoboth Beach Police Department

    229 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach

    Delaware Dept. of Justice

    18947 John Jay Williams Hwy., Rehoboth Beach


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    This weekend, a gathering of local talent will grace the stage at Indian River High School for the 35th Annual Springtime Jamboree.

    The Jamboree was created by local businessman and now-state Sen. Gerald Hocker Sr. as a way to raise funds for local organizations. This year, the funds raised from the two-day jamboree will go to the River Soccer Club.

    The country, Western and gospel musical program will be held on Friday, April 28, and Saturday, April 29, at 7 p.m. at Indian River. Pre-show entertainment will begin at 6:30 p.m., featuring Ron Howard on piano.

    Tickets cost $15 per person and can be purchased in advance at any Hocker’s store location or at the door on the night of the event.

    Anyone who is unable to attend the show or who would like to relive it may purchase a video of the jamboree. Preorders for the videos are being taken at Hocker’s stores as well.

    According to its website, River Soccer Club is a grassroots club that focuses in “the long-term development of our community by empowering people through soccer.”

    The club is currently fundraising for a project that will convert 45 acres of farmland into a premier soccer facility, to include seven large fields and four smaller ones. The fields will be graded, seeded and irrigated. Additionally, there will be parking spaces for approximately 250 cars, a concession stand, restrooms and storage facilities. After the outdoor fields are completed, the final phase will include the construction of an indoor soccer arena.

    “In the past years we’ve done it for them, they’ve worked extremely hard,” said Gerald “Gerry” Hocker Jr. of River Soccer. “We just thought it was time to go back to River Soccer. My kids play at River Soccer, and I see how much that facility has grown just in the number of kids that participate. It’s fascinating on a Saturday morning just how many children and families are out there at the soccer field. It’s a growing program.”

    Hocker said most of what is raised for the program is through advertisements in the Jamboree’s program book.

    “This is probably going to be the biggest ad book we’ve ever had. They started selling ads very early to get way ahead of the game, and they have done extremely well. It was actually too big for the printer who normally does the book. They had to send it out to be bound.”

    It’s not uncommon for the Jamboree to support an organization more than once, be it a fire company or Lions Club.

    “It seems like the public, whenever we’ve named a beneficiary that was a fire company or a children’s-based program… people aren’t likely to say no. The area needs more things for kids to do. The more we can focus on advancing programs for children, it’s definitely better for the future of the children.”

    This year, attendees at the Jamboree will see some favorites perform, along with new talent.

    The list includes the Jamboree Boys (including members of the Hocker family), Gerry Hocker, Beth Ann (Hocker) Cahall, Floyd Megee Jr., Grace Otley, Stephanie Wilkinson, Linda Magarelli, Michelle Scorziello, Jaime Parker, Tyler Bare, Billy Curry, George Jenkins, Nikki Ireland, Cheryl Howard, Ethan Hickman and Miss Delaware Amanda Dubus. The Hap Tones will serve as the house band, and attendees can enjoy comedy sketches by Scott Evans and Johnny Stephens.

    “It’s all local talent. It’s amazing the amount of local talent in this area. Everyone in this show, they all have jobs doing a variety of different things. It’s not a career of anyone to sing. It’s exciting.

    “This year we have a great lineup of talent. We’ve got some new talent. I look forward to hearing some of the staples of the show who are in it every year, as well as the new performers.”

    He also noted that Lord’s Landscaping decorates the stage each year, at no cost.

    “They bring in some flowers, shrubs and trees, and help us make the stage look pretty. Every single year they do a phenomenal job helping us decorate the stage. We all start hauling in our music equipment. We put up a fence and hang some stars. Once you start getting a whole bunch of musical instruments up on stage, it’s hard to make it look presentable until Lord’s Landscaping gets done.”

    Hocker said the Jamboree was first started in order to raise funds for the Lower Sussex Little League to buy fencing for its fields.

    “I was 8 years old and, at the time, Lower Sussex Little League had three fields. You had to be 8 years old to play Minor League, and then they had a Little League program and a Senior League program. It was my first year being in Little League. I was on a team called the Panthers that dad actually sponsored that year. We were the G&E Panthers,” recalled the younger Hocker.

    “DelDOT would always put up snow fence during the wintertime, and then in the spring when they took it down, they would take it to the Pyle Center and make the fence around the ball fields. As Dad sat there and watched the games, he’d see a groundball get hit and go right through the fence. And he just thought at that time, ‘There has to be a way to raise money for this organization to put up fencing.’”

    The elder Hocker took action and got in touch with Floyd Magee Jr., who held a musical variety show in Georgetown called the Hoedown.

    “It was a very successful show at the time, so he reached out to Floyd and asked if he were to organize a show in our area, would Floyd help him organize it and make it a success. Floyd’s answer was, ‘Let’s get it done,’” recalled Gerry Hocker.

    “Those who know Floyd Magee’s sense of humor know he’s a very comical man and that that was definitely a ‘Yes.’ He helped Dad, for the first couple years, organize the show. He knew the contacts for some of the local talent. He was instrumental in helping the first couple of years. The show was a success the first year. So, Dad thought, ‘Let’s try it again.’ It seems like each year it was a success, it raised money, and that was the whole point of it.”

    Since its first year, the Jamboree has continued to grow and help local organizations raise money.

    “At the end of the show, Dad always asks, ‘If we were to have a show next year, would you support it?’ It’s always been an overwhelming response. Year two, year three, and now year 35... If someone had said back at year one we would’ve been doing it for at least 35 years, I don’t think anyone would’ve believed it. It’s hard to believe how time flies.”

    Hocker began performing in the Jamboree its second year, when he was 9, singing Jim Reeves’ “Yonder Comes a Sucker.”

    “My grandfather helped me pick out that song because he was a fan of Jim Reeves. And I’ve been in the show each year after that, from year two to now, year 35,” Hocker said. “I was still young enough to be nervous. I’ll never forget it.

    “Sometimes your parents make you do things that you have no idea why they make you do it. But other times parents make you do things it takes you many years to realize why and appreciate it. Looking back now, I’m so glad Dad made me do it at age 9, because I never would’ve volunteered to do it at that age.”

    Hocker learned how to play the steel guitar, which was his grandfather’s instrument, when he was 23. He also began learning guitar at 9, which he later began playing in the Jamboree.

    “At age 9, as a total surprise, for my birthday, I got my first guitar. And I still have that guitar,” said Hocker, who took lessons as a child from Mark Marvel. “Music helps clear my head from all the daily stresses of running a business. Music is my downtime; music is my hobby. Music is a passion to constantly want to do better and play better, while also having fun. It’s always been my hobby.”

    Hocker now plays with the Dirt Road Outlawz fulltime, two to three times a month. He also plays with Big Hats No Cattle the last Thursday of every month at Irish Eyes in Lewes.

    “We have a great time. That’s the type of gig where you never know what you’re going to be playing. It’s whatever request or song we decide to sing. We just get together and have fun.”

    During this weekend’s shows, Hocker will perform with the Jamboree Boys, perform solo and also join the backup band accompanying all the performers.

    “Having a good group of musicians behind you means a lot. I feel privileged to be able to join that group of musicians during the show as well.”

    Hocker’s sister, country music singer Beth Ann Cahall, was 5 when she first started in the show.

    “She’s got me beat on the age she started,” Hocker noted with a laugh.

    Cahall will be traveling back to Sussex County from Nashville, Tenn., to perform in the Jamboree. She will perform solo songs, as well as duet with her brother Gerry.

    “We will be doing one of our staples that we love to perform that people always seem to request. ‘Jackson’ is our go-to song, and it’s the song we both really enjoy singing. We’re also doing a George Jones and Tammy Wynette song called, ‘Golden Ring.’ And we’re going to do a more modern release,” which they’ll be saving as a surprise, said Hocker.

    Music is a family tradition for the Hockers that began many, many years ago.

    “It was my grandfather Wilbert — he played steel guitar, Uncle Jake played keyboard, Uncle Clayton, Aunt Mary and Aunt Bessie — it was the five of them. They were known as ‘The Hockers’ and they played all over the place.”

    Supporting the community is important to the Hocker family, he said, and hosting the Springtime Jamboree is one of the ways they give back.

    “We love the area where we live. We all grew up here. We all, with the exception of Beth Ann, still relatively stayed in this area. We love this area immensely. We love the opportunities we have to give back,” said Hocker. “That’s always been very important to us.

    “It’s the public who’s kept us in business. The local support we have in our stores keeps our businesses surviving and keeps all the employees we employ in the area in jobs. We do our best to create jobs. We’re constantly expanding our stores, we’re expanding into other businesses.

    “It’s the local support that enables us to do it. Whether it’s putting an addition onto a store, or remodeling a store, or purchasing a new location and opening up a new store. It’s ultimately the local support that enables us to do that.

    “The customers we see in our stores — it’s the same people we see at the ball field, at the soccer field. It’s families that come in here. It gives us a great sense of pride to be able to organize the Jamboree over the years.”

    Hocker said many people who support the Jamboree are the same people support the family’s stores.

    “Each year there’s a thought of, ‘Is this going to be the last?’ But it’s that drive of wanting to continue to do it and wanting to continue to give back that keeps us doing it, and the support of the Jamboree,” he said. “You get through winter, and that’s the question everybody start asking. ‘When’s your Jamboree?’ It’s at a point where people don’t want to miss it.”

    Hocker said it’s not just his family who make the Jamboree a success — it’s the work of all those involved who have made it what it is today.

    “I can’t stress enough, it’s equally everyone who participates in the show that makes it a success — from each and every singer to the comedians to the emcee to any of the hands helping us out backstage, to the musicians that play. Everyone comes together. It takes a whole army of people to make that show a success,” he said.

    Everyone is encouraged to attend, said Hocker, noting that once people attend, they often never miss another Jamboree.

    “Our hardest task is getting people to the show for the first time. There’s a lot of people, I think, who don’t realize the amount of local talent and how much fun it is. Many people say, for $15 you can’t go many places and have three hours of entertainment,” he said, adding, “Try it once.”

    To purchase tickets in advance, visit Hocker’s Super Center and Hocker’s Grocery & Deli, located at 34960 Atlantic Avenue in Clarksville, (302) 537-1788 or (302) 539-0505, or G&E Inc., located at 695 Bethany Loop in Bethany Beach, (302) 539-5255. Indian River High School is located at 29772 Armory Road in Dagsboro.


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    Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Ocean View Mayor Walter Curran is sworn is for a second term in office.Coastal Point • Maria Counts: Ocean View Mayor Walter Curran is sworn is for a second term in office.The Ocean View Town Council held a brief reorganizational meeting on Tuesday, April 25.

    At that time, Mayor Walter Curran and Councilman Tom Maly were sworn in to new terms, vowing “to place the public interest above any special or personal interest, and to respect the right of future generations to share the rich, historic and natural heritage of Delaware.”

    Following the swearings-in, Maly was appointed unanimously by council as mayor pro-tem.

    Additionally, the council approved the meeting schedule for the next year, which includes no August meeting and tentatively scheduled monthly workshops.

    With the recent resignation of Gary Meredith from the Planning & Zoning Commission, Curran recommended he be replaced by Kent Liddle, who once served on the commission but resigned to run for town council. Liddle was appointed unanimously.

    The council also reappointed Don Walsh, Baptist Damiano and Steve Cobb to the Board of Elections, each for three-year terms. Richard Birkmeyer and Marilynn Sheetz were reappointed as alternate commissioners to the Board of Elections for three-year terms.

    Sue Kerwin was reappointed to the Board of Adjustment for a three-year term and Pat Sharpe was reappointed to the Planning & Zoning Commission for a five-year term.

    The council will hold its next regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, May 9.


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    South Bethany is mapping a history trail for all to see.Coastal Point • Laura Walter:  South Bethany Historical Society President Bob McCarthy displays a historical photo of South bethany at the dedication of the Town’s new Trail of History.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: South Bethany Historical Society President Bob McCarthy displays a historical photo of South bethany at the dedication of the Town’s new Trail of History.

    Residents gathered at Richard Hall Memorial Park on April 21 to unveil South Bethany’s new Trail of History.

    “The fact that you’re here means South Bethany is your own very special part of the earth,” Councilwoman Sue Callaway told the crowd on Earth Day weekend.

    The project was a partnership between the Community Enhancement Committee and South Bethany Historical Society.

    Starting in the east, five signboards tell South Bethany’s story through the years, from the first purchase of coastal land in the 1950s and quest to incorporate as a town, into the 21st century.

    It got conversation buzzing. At each stop, people found photographs of familiar faces and homes. They remembered the canals before bulkheads, docks and regulations; stories of town politics; and swimming in the canals.

    “It’s great that you guys found a wonderful place for this,” said Historical Society President Bob McCarthy, who remembers old debates over sewer installation, playgrounds and roads.

    “People just don’t have an appreciation of how we got here today,” Callaway said.

    Richard Hall Memorial Park is a triangular chunk of land, named for the late developer who first envisioned a community set among the marsh and sand dunes. His wife, Elizabeth Hall, eventually donated the land for town hall and the park.

    “This really shows what a vibrant community we are,” Callaway said. “And we’re still doing things! And it takes a lot of volunteers and town staff” to continue connecting people with beach activities and winter potlucks. “I think all these things build a community.”

    Callaway thanked the many volunteers who wrote and researched, as well as the Public Works Department for helping with design and installation.

    “South Bethany has something now that’s tangible,” said Carolyn Marcello, saying she was delighted that South Bethany has a physical piece of history. “We have something to show people. Tourists can follow and learn the story of South Bethany.”

    Marcello is especially proud of town history. She spotted a picture of her sister, May Felerski, on the history boards. Felerski was the first town secretary, running town business from her own house.

    “To see my sister is so special,” Marcello said. “I can remember going to the town office in her home. I can remember seeing the lifeguards come in, the police come in… it was so exciting to see all the activity.”

    People can also take home a slice of history with “The Best Little Beach in Delaware,” a 160-page book by the South Bethany Historical Society, still available for sale in local stores.


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    Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: From left, Coastal-Georgetown AAUW president Kathleen Thompson, Delaware AAUW president Penny Deiner, Delaware Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall Long and incoming Coastal-Georgetown AAUW president Christine Gillean pose together at the chapter's recent celebration.Coastal Point • Kerin Magill: From left, Coastal-Georgetown AAUW president Kathleen Thompson, Delaware AAUW president Penny Deiner, Delaware Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall Long and incoming Coastal-Georgetown AAUW president Christine Gillean pose together at the chapter's recent celebration.The Coastal-Georgetown Chapter of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) celebrated its 60th anniversary this month with a luncheon and a visit from a longtime AAUW member with a local connection and a new state title.

    Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, a member of the Middletown AAUW chapter and a native of Dagsboro, spoke to members including many past chapter presidents, who gathered April 20 at the Kings Creek Country Club in Rehoboth Beach.

    Hall-Long spoke about the fellowship between AAUW members, no matter where they meet, and recounted how she had chanced upon a Coastal-Georgetown AAUW member while the two shared a bench in a shoe store and how that conversation had led to her attendance at the 60th anniversary celebration.

    The former state senator also spoke to the members about her priorities as Delaware’s second-in-command, many of which dovetail with the club’s mission of advancing equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.

    Hall-Long, whose career prior to politics was as a nurse and healthcare educator, said issues surrounding healthcare were “one of the reasons I ran for office,” as well as one of the most pressing issues facing women today.”

    “We want to be looking at how we can improve healthcare outcomes” statewide, she said.

    Mental health issues, in particular, are a pressing concern for the general welfare of the state, Hall-Long said, pointing out that 82 percent of the state’s prison population is affected by mental illness.

    She spoke to the members about the importance of their involvement in issues facing the state, adding, “I want you all to see me as a resource for women’s issues” and encouraging them to contact her office with their concerns and to find out how they can get involved in statewide issues.

    Hall-Long said that women play a crucial role in the success of society.

    “We are the glue,” she said of women in general and AAUW members specifically, that helps to hold so many aspects of Delaware life together. “We can do five or six things at once, right?” she said, as members nodded in agreement.

    The AAUW, Hall-Long said, “has a real opportunity to make a difference,” and she praised the organization for its rich history of advocacy and community involvement. “Be proud that your organization has worked really hard,” she said.

    Hall-Long shared personal stories with the group, recalling strong women in her life, including her own mother and grandmother, who encouraged her to pursue higher education. Her grandmother, in particular, encouraged her interest in nursing and made sure when Hall-Long was 13 years old that she had a ride to her candy-striper shifts.

    “She was probably the greatest woman I ever knew,” she said.

    She said women still have far to go to reach equality in the workforce, and that although women make up 46 percent of the work force today, 60 percent of those women are making less than minimum wage.

    She urged the AAUW members to stay involved in issues that interest them.

    “One person can make a difference,” she said. Hall-Long told the women that, as they work, “You will find advocates that you wouldn’t expect.”

    She also emphasized the importance of persistence.

    “Be resilient,” Hall-Long said. “Women too often retreat or we give in, because we think our voice doesn’t matter as much.”

    While many of the AAUW members are retired, Hall-Long said they still have the power to make a difference. She also advised the group to reach out beyond their own membership because there is strength in numbers.

    “Think about what organizations you can partner with,” she said.

    The Coastal-Georgetown chapter held its first meeting on April 25, 1957, with about two dozen charter members and now has 138 members on its rolls.

    Activities include: professional skills workshops for high school students; advocating for AAUW mission through the club’s Issue/Action Group; studying the importance of diversity through the Diversity Book Group; studying the mechanics of money and our economy through its Economics Book Club; raising monies for local scholarships through various fundraisers; studying foreign policy through Great Decisions seminars; donating books for young children in lieu of a member holiday gift exchange; participating as judges in the Sussex County Science Fair and presenting Coastal-Georgetown AAUW awards to winners; and sponsoring two ALA Notable Book Groups.

    For more information on club meeting and activities, check the chapter website at http://georgetown-de.aauw.net/.


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    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Carolyn Brunner was the hit of the party last weekend, as she and her son, Daniel McCann donated the Evans-West house to the Ocean View Historical Society.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Carolyn Brunner was the hit of the party last weekend, as she and her son, Daniel McCann donated the Evans-West house to the Ocean View Historical Society.The weekend’s gray weather did not keep people from flocking to celebrate the Ocean View Historical Society’s latest acquisition, the Evans-West house.

    The home, located on West Avenue, adjacent to John West Park, was donated to the historical society by Carolyn Brunner and her son Daniel McCann.

    Barbara Slavin, president of the OVHS, is Brunner’s cousin and the granddaughter of James and Mary Evans, who built the home in 1901 on land given to them by Mary Evans’ father, George H. West.

    “Jim was a surfman in Fenwick; she was a homemaker. They both were very active in the Presbyterian church, which still exists on Church Street. They had three children —Sadie, who was born in 1893, who was Carolyn’s mother; Mary, who was born in 1900; and Morris, who was my father, born in 1907,” said Slavin.

    She said the family moved to Ocean View after the house was built because they wanted Sadie to have an education. Both of the Evans daughters would go on to college.

    Slavin said that today much of the house looks like it did when it was built in 1901 — an example of gothic revival with unique pointed attic windows.

    The property featured a wood house, chicken house, corn crib and a barn, which was built in 1900. In 1919, the family bought its first car, a Buick, which was housed in the barn.

    “At that time, my grandfather had never driven a car, and when he pressed on the accelerator it lurched forward, destroying the well. To stop it, he yelled, ‘Whooooah,’ as he had many times before to Dolly the horse, but too late. From that point on, he had his 11-year-old son, my father, drive the car, as well as Aunt Sadie and Aunt Mary.”

    Slavin went on to thank Brunner and McCann again for their generous donation to the historical society, ensuring that such a beautiful and historic home would be preserved for generations to come.

    Many attended the lawn party, including Delaware historians Dick Carter and Russ McCabe, along with Sussex County Councilman George Cole, former Ocean View mayor Gordon Wood and Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long.

    “It is great to be home, to be back in Ocean View,” said Hall-Long. “To learn about our future, we have to know of our history.”

    Hall-Long said she and Gov. John Carney are thankful for organizations such as OVHS, who have an appreciation and mission to preserve history in the state.

    “We cannot thank you enough for the contributions of your work. It really does make a difference because we know, most likely, with development and progress a lot of historic homes are torn down and that history is taken away,” she said. “Thank you to those who have made this contribution and those who are going to preserve it.”

    OVHS Board Member and Fundraising Chairman Kimberly Grimes also spoke to the crowd, encouraging those in attendance to become more active in the historical society.

    “We have a lot of really great vision and plans for this property and to continue with our historic complex,” she said. “Become a member of the Ocean View Historical Society… Once you become a member, you receive so many benefits I just can’t list them all today.”

    She also mentioned the society’s brick campaign, wherein businesses and community members may purchase a brick to financially support the society’s planned Hall’s Store education center.

    “I’m going to give you all a chance to become immortal… We have a wonderful brick campaign. We are going to be putting bricks out for brick walkways… What a great way to honor yourself, honor your family, honor your friends, honor loved ones who may have already gone to the big historical museum in the sky.”

    Those who wish to participate in the buy-a-brick program may purchase a 4-by-8-inch brick for $50 or an 8-by-7-inch brick for $100. They can be engraved with a business or family’s name, or a message.

    “There’s no donation too small, and there’s no donation too big,” she said.

    The Evans-West home, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places, joins the society’s first registered property, the Tunnell-West house.

    OVHS Vice President Richard Nippes worked with Madeline Dunn, National Register coordinator for the Delaware Division of Historical & Cultural Affairs, on the application, which was unanimously approved by the Delaware State Review Board for Historic Preservation in April 2015.

    At the event, Nippes unveiled the plaque and praised Dunn for her work, noting, “Without her expertise, very few places would be recognized.”

    “It’s wonderful and it’s bittersweet for me, too,” said Brunner, who was the guest of honor at the celebration.

    Brunner has family living all over the country and said coming down to Ocean View from Wilmington to stay in the house became too much, and donating her home to the society would ensure its preservation.

    “I’m getting too old to come to the beach anymore. I don’t put bikinis on anymore,” she said with a laugh. “It’s great that they’re going to take care of it. I’m happy for them to have it, and I know my grandparents would be pleased.”

    For more information about the Ocean View Historical Society, or how to become a member, visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org or www.facebook.com/oceanviewhistoricalsociety. Those who are interested in purchasing a brick may email ovhsociety@gmail.com or contact Nippes at (302) 539-8374.


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    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Sandra Peck is the new finance director for the Town of Ocean View.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Sandra Peck is the new finance director for the Town of Ocean View.There’s a new face in Ocean View town hall, with Sandra Peck having joined the Town staff as finance director.

    Peck took the position as of Jan. 9, after the retirement of former finance director Lee Brubaker, and immediately took off running, working on the Town’s budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which was adopted earlier this month.

    Peck has an accounting degree from Penn State University and is a licensed CPA in Delaware and Pennsylvania. Additionally, she has her senior human resources certification through two organizations.
    Although she grew up in Pennsylvania, Peck and her husband, Chuck, separately, spent their childhoods visiting Delaware.

    “My great aunt and uncle lived in Millsboro, right along the river, so we used to come down as kids. My husband grew up since the mid-’60s going to Sandy Cove campground, and his parents had a permanent site there after they retired.”

    The Pecks have owned property in Sussex County for about 10 years and moved to their current home in Bayard about five years ago.

    Before becoming a fulltime local resident in 2015, Peck was able to work for her company in Pennsylvania from her home in Sussex every other week.

    “I’d work a week remote down here and then be in the office for a week. I was able to split my time, which was nice.”

    Peck then worked for the Town of Milford for almost a year, as their accounting manager, before joining the Town of Ocean View.

    She said she didn’t always know she wanted to go into finance, however, as she first went to college to study elementary and special education.

    “My first office job was for a Japanese company that was based in York [Pa.]. That got me into general office work, when I did payroll and some accounting for them.

    “I left that job to go hike the Appalachian Trail. While I was on the trail, I decided to go back to college and get my accounting degree. I did not finish the trail, though. I have about 300 miles left. I did 800 miles and literally decided what I wanted to do and walked off. I was in college in a week.”

    Along with her financial prowess, Peck also brings her knowledge of human resources to the Town.

    “When I was with Dauphin County Library System for 19 years in Pennsylvania, they told me I was hired for, I was told, finance and ‘a little bit of personnel’ is how they put it, which was totally wrong,” she said. “We had 150 employees, a lot of turnover, so I quickly got engrossed in human resources and joined the local chapter.”

    Peck plans to keep her HR certifications up-to-date while working for the Town.

    “I find it interesting. I personally think you can do right for an organization and the employees, so I’m pretty passionate about the HR side. What I like about both is the financial responsibility is protecting and safeguarding the assets of the Town, which means being fiscally responsible to the Town and the taxpayers. To me, the employees are the most important asset of any organization. So, I think they go hand-in-hand.

    “And, in a service organization, the cost of the employees is the largest percentage. Our budget this coming year, it’s going to be 70 percent of our budget. Turnover is expensive,” she added, noting that being fiscally responsible and doing right by employees are not mutually exclusive. “To me, there’s not a whole lot that’s truly confidential. So, if you’re just open and honest about it… We should all be working toward the same goal. I think it does take everybody in an organization for it to be a success.”

    Having been with the Town for almost four months, Peck says she loves working for Ocean View.

    “The people are great here. I really enjoy it. I think it’s a good group. What I like about the council is they don’t all have to be in agreement. Everybody doesn’t have to be, ‘yes,’ ‘yes,’ ‘yes,’ ‘yes.’ They can have their differences and talk about it respectfully. They can have their own opinion and still work well together… which is what it should be.”

    As for the financial health of the Town, Peck said it is on solid footing.

    “I think the biggest question hanging out there is these drainage projects, and I’m still getting up to speed as far as all those types of things. That’s just such a huge cost, and I have questions that I don’t know the answers to yet. That, to me, is really the biggest question mark out there, because it’s such huge dollars and only gets more expensive as time goes on.”

    With the Town having just passed its 2018 budget, Peck continued to echo Brubaker in saying that the Town needs to continue to wean itself off of transfer tax revenue.

    “At some point, I would imagine the State is going to decrease what the Town gets, percentage-wise. And the second piece of that, of course, is the build-out of Ocean View. When we’re maxed out, we would have a drastic reduction. I do think that is one of the danger areas, so I do think it is good that we’re weaning ourselves off.”

    She added, however, that she would like it to happen at an even faster rate.

    “An advantage of doing that while the transfer tax is higher is that it helps to build the reserve funds that are going to pay for these large projects, be it streets, drainage, sidewalks… It’s all building things for the Town’s future. So, if we can get money in there while the dollars are higher, that’s to our advantage in the future.”

    Now that budget season is over, Peck said she plans to do a more in-depth review of various facets of the Town’s finances.

    “Fortunately, it was left in good shape. It’s really nice to come in to know it’s running fine. Carol [Lebedz, staff accountant] and I have a lot of plans to walk through each area and review it, see if there are any changes to be made... I’ve identified some things that I want to look at internally and make some adjustments.”

    In her tenure with the Town, Peck said she hopes to always be known for looking out for Ocean View’s best interests.

    ““I hope I’ll be known for that. You can come to me, and I’ll be honest and open. You might not like what I say, you may not agree with it, but that’s a different piece of it.

    “I take my work very seriously… It needs to be done right, and it needs to be done well. My hope is that I’ll leave the Town, whenever I leave, as well or in better financial position … as when I walked in the door, and that it will be viewed that I walked the walk and talked the talk.”


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    When the Indian River School District went to referendum in March, administrators said one potential way to save money was to renegotiate staff contracts.

    More recently, within the Indian River Education Association, the teachers and the secretaries have given the go-ahead to renegotiate contracts, potentially spreading next year’s planned pay raise over the next few years instead.

    And the school board has now approved the proposed changes, with the two union groups expected to vote on those changes by the end of April.

    Why do it?

    “Because we care about the district,” said IREA President J.R. Emanuele.

    After the district approached the union groups with the request to consider reopening contract negotiations, the teachers and secretaries approved negotiations to begin, which took three full days before spring break. District and union representatives then took the new proposal to their respective groups.

    The IRSD school board discussed the employee contracts during their most recent executive session but formally approved them in public session afterward. There was no public discussion.

    The only dissenting vote came from Gerald “Jerry” Peden Jr., who did not offer comments on his vote during or after the meeting.

    The teachers and secretaries were expected to vote on the proposal within a week.

    Until the IREA members review the proposal, IRSD Director of Finance Jan Steele said she preferred not to discuss specific details.

    During negotiations, everything, including the contract length, is up for debate, Steele said.

    The teachers and secretaries both had one year left in a four-year contract. The new proposals are for three years and spread their intended raises over a broader time period.

    Meanwhile, the district’s custodians said ‘No, thanks’ to renegotiating, since their three-year contract just began in 2016.

    District paraprofessionals’ three-year contract was already scheduled to end this summer. Their negotiations will occur in May.

    Union representatives said they were startled at a suggestion to cut more than 50 paraprofessional positions in favor of teacher positions — an idea the school board hasn’t publically discussed or voted on.

    With dozens of educators standing behind her this week, employee Traci Makowski reminded the school board of the importance of paraprofessionals. By sheer number, she said, they are an extra set of eyes and hands helping teachers and students at all points in the day.

    “We are now asking for your help to keep para jobs,” Makowski said, echoing a speech she had given in front of the board two weeks prior.

    The employees’ salaries are paid with state and local funding. School districts receive state money based on student population. But administrators can supplement that with as much or as little local discretionary dollars as they want (or can negotiate).

    Previous contract details may have contributed to IRSD’s sudden financial concerns and rapidly depleting financial reserves, which led to the need for the recently-passed current-expense referendum.

    “The [previously] negotiated salary contracts — in my opinion, they weren’t [equal] percentages across the four years,” Steele said. “Last year was a larger percentage, and I think it used more of their carryover funds than was I think anticipated.”

    For example, instead of having an even 5 percent raise every year, the teachers were entitled to raises of 4, then 7, then 4, then 5 percent, “so the larger percentage in one year took more of their reserves,” Steele suggested. “That’s totally my view looking at it.”

    But much budget blame also fell on recent construction.

    “We had cost overruns on construction that took more local money — like we used all the state money and had to use local money,” Steele said, alluding to the pricy and unexpected road and environmental requirements that were tacked on to state permits.

    She emphasized again that “The money issues had nothing — have nothing — to do with the audit,” in which the Delaware Auditor of Accounts had in 2016 accused the district and its former CFO of some financial mismanagement and lacking financial policies.

    In presenting this month’s Financial Position Report, Steele reported on the IRSD’s liquid funds to get through summer until it receives tax revenues in autumn.

    “I’m projecting an available balance June 30 of approximately $5[.27] million. The other thing we project on there is the cost of one month local payroll, which is $2.5 million. Those are the figures the state looks at to determine the financial viability of districts.”


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    After four years, Bennett Murray has announced that he will leave the position of Indian River High School principal.

    Starting this autumn, he’ll be assigned as an assistant principal in the district, spending half his time at Georgetown Elementary School and half at the Howard T. Ennis School.

    “What I told my staff is: Right now, I need to back away from the night duty. At a high school, there’s numerous night duties,” he said of the games, concerts and more. “I love every one of them.” But, Murray said, “You have to put your family first. I have to take some time to do that as well.”

    At any school level, administrators put in a lot of time, but by stepping back to assistant principal, Murray hopes to spend more evenings at home, with his wife and IR freshman daughter. Murray’s older son is away at college.

    “I wouldn’t be able to do 9.5 years as an administrator, and [the last] four years as principal if it wasn’t for them,” he said.

    “I love this school … and I love working with kids. Whether I’m at elementary, middle or high school, I want to work with those kids,” Murray said. “I also need to make sure I take the time for my family as well. [This is an opportunity to] spend a little bit more time as a dad and a husband.”

    He’s finally taking the advice he gives to so many parents: “Your son or daughter is going to grow up before you know it, so please take the time to spend with them.”

    Even his tenure as principal can be marked in relation to his kids: In Murray’s first year, his son was a senior. In his final year, Murray’s daughter is a freshman.

    “I’m not going away. I’m looking forward to coming to Indian River High School as a parent instead of a principal or administrator,” Murray said “I’m just very fortunate that the district and the board were willing to work with me on that request. I’m looking forward to working with the new administration.”

    Murray’s new schools will get the benefit of his experience as an administrator, half of his part-time hours each, thanks to education funding formulas. State funding is based on student population, or unit count. Sometimes, schools are eligible for partial funding toward an administrator.

    “I think both schools are big enough that they probably earn a certain percentage,” Murray said. “I’ll be working under both of those principals.”

    They are two very different schools, and “I have a lot to learn, but I have two great principals I’ll be working with.”

    HTE’s Kristina ‘Kris’ Perfetti-Balentine helped teach him much about special education, and GE’s Neil Stong is a former IR assistant principal. (Neither was available for comment before Coastal Point deadline.)

    Both schools bring their own unique challenges. Georgetown has a high population of low-income students and English-language learners, while Ennis serves the special-needs population of Sussex County.

    Murray’s learning about the ins and outs of each school.

    “What I’m excited about is working with young students, with students with special needs. I’m really going to be running the gamut from pre-K to 20-year olds. I’m excited about that,” Murray said. “I love my kids here. I love my staff. But, right now, I’m excited about the change. … I’m very excited about the new challenge.”

    Although his professional career has centered on high school, “I’m hoping to take all the experiences I have here [at IR] to help them with their young people and their staff.”

    Murray already works with young children regularly, teaching Sunday-school and vacation Bible school for children ages 5 to 12.

    “I love seeing — whether it’s an 18-year-old or an 8-year-old — when their eyes get big, when they catch a concept,” Murray said.

    An IR grad himself, Murray studied business at University of Delaware. He became the IR business/accounting teacher in 2001, after working in both the Wilmington banking industry and the Banks family’s (his in-laws’) Frankford hardware business. IR’s business program grew with award-winning Business Professionals of America (BPA) teams, and Murray earned the IRHS Teacher of the Year award for 2007-2008.

    Murray became an administrator in January of 2008, when IR became eligible to have two assistant principals.

    Slated to fill the vacancy at IR is Mike Williams, currently principal of Georgetown Middle School. He’s already being missed at that school, and his own staff have expressed their disappointment in the Indian River School District Board of Education’s decision to transfer him away.

    “The backbone of the school is Mr. Williams,” GMS teacher Angela Wilson told the school board on April 24, with two dozen coworkers standing behind her. Through many changes and much turnover, she said, Williams has been their constant.

    “Many have said our morale has never been better. … Our scores have shown consistent growth,” despite a statistically challenging student population. “By moving him from GMS to the high school, you would be sacrificing one school for another.”


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    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Cpl./3 Shawn Hatfield of the Delaware State Police poses for a photo with the ladies at ACTS, after ACTS donated $20,000 to Camp Barnes.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Cpl./3 Shawn Hatfield of the Delaware State Police poses for a photo with the ladies at ACTS, after ACTS donated $20,000 to Camp Barnes.The Atlantic Community Thrift Shop (ACTS) has supported the community throughout its nearly 30 years of existence. Last week was no exception, when the non-profit organization gave $20,000 to Camp Barnes.

    “It’s going to benefit us greatly,” said Cpl./3 Shawn Hatfield of the Delaware State Police. “We’re constantly trying to renovate the camp, because it was built in 1947. All of our funds are either donations from the general public or fundraisers that we have.

    “We do get a grant-in-aid from the State of Delaware. We had to do some repairs to our pool this year and other various repairs throughout the camp that are just everyday things. This will go far in that.”

    In 1948, 40 campers attended Camp Barnes — today, more than 1,000 kids attend, free of charge. The camp was named for Col. Herbert A. Barnes, who was the superintendent of the Delaware State Police at the time of its inception and is considered to have played a “pivotal role” in establishing Camp Barnes.

    The Camp Barnes summer camp creates adventure-based outdoor learning experiences for campers who may not have the opportunity to enjoy the activities outside of camp. Some of the many activities campers participate in throughout the week include swimming in an Olympic-size pool, kayaking in Miller’s Creek, arts and crafts, nature walks and talent shows. Campers can also enjoy a scaled-down version of the Olympics and state police demonstrations by the K-9 unit.

    “It’s a normal summer-camp experience. We’ll have 90 kids there per week for six weeks. They’ll kayak, they’ll swim. They’ll play basketball, do archery. We have a low-element rope course that we’ll do at the end of the week as a team-building exercise. We do cooking now, as well as arts and crafts. It’s a full week, believe me.”

    Hatfield, who has been with the camp since 2010, said there are six separate camp weeks that run from June 26 to Aug. 4.

    “We have 14 camp counselors on staff, all graduating seniors. We have a full-time cook and an assistant cook. We have a nurse on duty 24/7 while the camp is going on, and we have a trooper on duty 24/7 while the camp is going on.

    “The camp is my passion. It’s a free camp for kids 10 to 13. I repeat — it’s free, which is unbelievable. We’re already full, which is a good problem to have. It reaches kids that they don’t go to Disney World, they don’t go to Myrtle Beach, they don’t go to Bethany Beach for the weekend. This is their vacation — this is their one week where they can get away from it all and have nothing but fun.”

    ACTS has been a long-time supporter of the camp, said ACTS President Karen Lesperance.

    “Camp Barnes is one of our passion projects. Last year, we bought Camp Barnes all-new mattresses. The year before, we gave them money to help with the floor. It helps children throughout the whole state. A lot of kids from Sussex County get to go there. We know how great it is. It’s a wonderful organization.”

    Formed in 1988, ACTS is a nonprofit organization that donates thousands of dollars each year to organizations including JROTC, Camp Hope, Delaware Hospice, Meals on Wheels, Little League and Odyssey of the Mind.

    Lesperance said the low cost of the clothing and housewares it offers at its thrift shop is just another way ACTS helps the community, by allowing them to afford necessary items.

    She said the non-profit doesn’t advertise a lot of what it gives to the community, because that’s not the purpose of the organization.

    “It’s totally volunteer; no one is paid. I think we are one of the few in all of the area now where no one is paid…

    “With that money, we have people who come to us who request money. We have a Giving Committee who interviews the organizations, and we go from there. If someone has a fire and gets burned out, we totally help them out… We do whatever we can.”

    One thing ACTS has done over the last few years is purchase LUCAS Chest Compression Systems for EMS units in Millville, Selbyville, Dagsboro, Frankford, Delmar and, just last week, Georgetown.

    “There are a lot of retired nurses on the board, so we all know how valuable that machine is for life. That machine saves lives, and it helps everybody.”

    The organization also awards $1,000 to $2,500 in scholarships to kids who do 50 hours or more of community service at the store; however, few complete the hours, said Lesperance.

    It’s through the selling of donated items that ACTS is able to give so much back to the community.

    “Our prices are 50 cents, $1, $2… Our furniture isn’t priced too high. We’ve done very, very well.

    “Add to that — if it wasn’t for the people who are giving us the donations… We couldn’t do what we do if the people didn’t donate the nice stuff that they do. We’re very fortunate.”

    Lesperance also gave credit to the many people who volunteer their time to work at ACTS.

    “Everyone who works there is there for the proper reason. People volunteer because they want to be there.”

    One ACTS volunteer, Ed Robinson, actually attended Camp Barnes when he was a 10-year-old boy living in Claymont.

    “We had a family of 10, and my other two brothers went with me,” he recalled. “In a large family, you didn’t have everything back then. It was nice to get away.”

    Robinson said he remembers getting to go fishing and swimming in the creek.

    “That was our entertainment,” he said. “When you’re a family of 10, you remember something like that.”

    Hatfield said the camp is a wonderful way to give a quintessential camp experience to children whose families otherwise would not have the means to do so.

    “I love that it gives kids who normally wouldn’t be able to afford to go to camp or afford to go on vacation in the summer a chance to have their own time, a chance to have fun. I call it a melting pot, because we have kids from inner-city Wilmington and we have kids from Gumboro, all in the same camp, and everyone gets along and works together well,” he said.

    Hatfield emphasized that it is not a “boot camp.” And while it offers a chance for kids from families who may not be able to afford to pay for summer camp the chance to enjoy that experience, it is open to all campers, regardless of income.

    He said it’s also a great way for kids to interact with troopers in a relaxed and fun environment.

    “We’re in shorts and a T-shirt — we’re not in uniform — so they see us in a different light. On the road, you’re more serious, and you have to be, where in the camp environment, we’re just like everyone else,” he said.

    “I was a trooper in the school for eight years, and I loved that. That was a great job, too, because they saw you in a different light, where when we go to your house, you’re the victim or the perpetrator — it’s usually not a good thing.”

    Donations to keep the camp up and running are important, added Hatfield, noting that Camp Barnes is not funded by the Delaware State Police, simply run by it.

    “Any donations would be greatly appreciated. It’s only going to benefit the kids. It’s just a great way to give back.”

    He added that, without the generous support of people and organizations such as ACTS, Camp Barnes would not be able to touch the lives of so many Delaware children.

    “We wouldn’t be able to fund the camp. The more donations and funding we get, the more kids we can have per week. Just two years ago, we only had 60 to 70 kids per week. This year, we’re up to 80 to 90 kids per week.

    Each spring, the camp gets more applications than it has spots for campers and has to close to applications well before the camps start. The support it receives from the community has helped enable the camp to provide those additional spots.

    “ACTS has been a generous friend for at least the last three or four years. At first, they helped by volunteering to help clean up the camp. Then donations over the last few years have been phenomenal. Then, this $20,000 — we cannot thank them enough. They’ve been a great friend to the camp.”

    Those who wish to learn more and donate to Camp Barnes may do so by visiting www.CampBarnes.net. Donations may also be mailed to, Delaware State Police C/O Camp Barnes, P.O. Box 430, Dover, DE. 19903-0430.


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  • 05/05/17--09:36: ‘Life by the slice’
  • Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert Rose and Brian Conte hold up a white spinach with ricotta, fresh garlic and olive oil pizza in their new pizzeria in Bethany Beach.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert Rose and Brian Conte hold up a white spinach with ricotta, fresh garlic and olive oil pizza in their new pizzeria in Bethany Beach.It was an offer that they couldn’t refuse.

    After purchasing a home in Millville By the Sea six years ago, the search had been on for the Naples, Italy-born couple turned lifetime restauranteurs in all things Italian cuisine, Rose and Brian Conte.

    After the success of Café Palermo — the Wilmington-based establishment that they had owned and operated together for 13 years — the Contes had been searching for the right location to introduce the cuisine of their home country to what they were hoping to make their new home, in Bethany Beach.

    But after trying to find that perfect location for more than five years, it finally found them instead, on a boardwalk day last spring.

    “We just happened to be walking around on a Sunday, and then we saw it. When we saw this spot, I said, ‘Brian — this is it.’ I knew right away,” said Rose Conte of the now official location of the Pomodoro Pizzeria, next to Dickey’s Frozen Custard just off the Bethany Beach boardwalk.

    “It was perfect. It was exactly what we had been looking for.”

    It wasn’t long after that that the Contes made their own not-to-be refused offer on the space, leaving Café Palermo in the hands of a family member while making the full-time move to the beach, and finally opening the doors to their latest of a lifelong-line of pizza-pie pursuits last month.

    With Pomodoro, the Contes are aiming to now put the focus on their famous-sized slices (each a sixth of a 20-inch pie) while offering easier options for beachgoers, such as salads, cannolis, calzones, stromboli, cooler drinks and a wide selection of full-sized pies as well.

    But while scaling back from fine dining may be a concept as fresh as the ingredients that the marinara-married couple has long-prided themselves on, the secret family recipe for everything from the hand-rolled dough to the signature sauce is one that’s been passed down for generations.

    “It’s how we do it at home. It’s how I grew up. It’s how my mother grew up. It’s how my grandmother grew up,” said Rose Conte. “My grandmother used to tell my mother to go into the garden and pick tomatoes to make the sauce.”

    From Italy, with love

    While it was Rose Conte’s “Nonna” that inspired both her early love for cooking and the Pomodoro name (pomodoro meaning “tomato” in Italian), it wasn’t until she arrived in the United States in 1968 at the age of 12 that her passion for pizza turned into her inevitable career.

    “July 14, 1968 — I’ll never forget that day. We landed in Brooklyn,” Conte recalled, going on to explain that she had arrived by plane and not by boat. “My famous uncle Sal sponsored my whole family to come here.”

    It was in Brooklyn-based pizzerias that her two brothers perfected the art of the pie-toss, eventually opening up their own shop in Wilmington in 1970 and calling on their younger sister to help out with the family business.

    “I was the only one that spoke English,” Conte recalled with a laugh. “So that’s when I began — a 14-year-old going to school and working with my brothers.

    “That’s where we learned how to make everything the way we still make it. It’s always been the same recipe since 1970, and we’ll never change it. I guess you could say I have some experience.”

    Eventually marrying her first husband, whom she had known back in her home town of Naples but who hadn’t arrived in the states until 1975, Conte took a break from the pizza shop that they owned together in New Jersey to raise her own family — two sons and a daughter.

    While she still helped out at the shop during those days, it wasn’t until years later, after her first husband passed away, that she moved to Philadelphia to open a new shop and met Brian, “another pizza-man” and native Italian. The two would marry and go into business together for now going on 17 years.

    “He was another pizza-man,” Rose Conte said with a laugh. “I guess I take them home.”

    Together, the partners in pie make for a perfect team. Rose makes the sauce, Brian makes the dough — both of them handling the art forms that they’ve mastered through the years.

    “We work together. It’s the family way — Mom and Pop,” said Rose Conte. “I know how to make the dough and he knows how to make the sauce, but I don’t even attempt to do the dough. You have to know exactly how to do it. I don’t know — maybe it’s us that’s picky.”

    “It’s not being picky — it’s an art form. The dough has to be the same every single day you make it,” added Brian Conte. “I can give the ingredients to anybody, but I don’t know how they’re going to work with it. The way we do it, we have our own secret.”

    From the oven,
    with toppings (and without gluten, upon request)

    While customers are sure to find Italian favorites — including Margherita pizza with fresh tomato, basil and buffalo mozzarella; White Spinach with ricotta, fresh garlic and olive oil; and Pizza Al Pomodoro, served with fresh marinara, garlic, basil, and olive oil; Pizza al Pesto; White Chicken Brocoli; and the Pomodoro Special, touting almost every ingredient on the menu — Pomodoro is also serving up some American-inspired pies with an authentic Italian twist.

    There’s the Hawaiian with pineapple and ham, the BBQ Chicken, White Buffalo Chicken and Meat Lovers, with bacon, ham, pepperoni and sausage, and plenty more.

    There’s also a variety of calzones and stromboli to go along with grab-and-go salad options, such as antipasto, Greek salad and Rose’s specialty chicken Caesar, which will make their way to the menu by the time summer is in full swing.

    All the pies are available with a gluten-free dough, and all the ingredients come from the fresh local produce and hand-cut meats and cheeses that the Contes have hung their hat on since the beginning.

    “We make everything from scratch,” explained Rose Conte. “Brian gets in at 8 a.m. just to make the dough. It has to be just right. We use whole-milk buffalo mozzarella cheese, Italian peel tomatoes, fresh toppings — we do them all ourselves — 100 percent you can taste the difference when you make your own.”

    “It’s the best pizza around. It’s more like New York-style pizza — thin crust,” added Reagan Bennett, who’s been stopping in at Pomodoro for lunch since their first day in business. “And Rose and Brian are just great people, too — super-nice.”

    From the old country,
    to their new home

    Since setting up shop, it hasn’t been only loyal pizza-patrons making the Contes already feel like they’re at home.

    Local businesspeople from all around town have been stopping in to welcome them to the neighborhood, try a slice and wish them luck.

    “I’ve never met people so nice in my life — I’m not kidding,” said Brian Conte. “The people are really nice down here. It’s unbelievable. It’s a dream to retire at the beach.”

    “Everybody has come in here with open arms and welcomed us. The people here are beautiful,” added Rose Conte. “It’s so nice down here. It’s so relaxing.

    “It reminds me of home, where I grew up. I walk to the bank and I feel like I’m back in Italy, walking down the street, because I’m next to the beach. In Italy we have beaches everywhere. I walk to the bank and think, ‘I am really working today?’ This is our home now. We’re at the beach and working at the same time.”

    While the Contes “retirement” will consist of keeping the shop open seven days-a-week for at least 10 months out of the year — with plans to visit family in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Seattle and even back home in Italy when the close up shop for January and February — one day, they’ll be ready to pass on their secret family recipes to a new generation of Pomodoro pizza-people just starting out in what has always been a family business.

    “I have six grandkids,” said Rose Conte with a laugh. “They’re the only ones we’re going to share the recipe with. One day, they’re going to learn.”

    Pomodoro Pizzeria is located at 101 Garfield Parkway, next to Dickey’s Frozen Custard, in Bethany Beach.

    The shop is currently open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, with summer hours extending in the upcoming weeks.

    For more on Pomodoro, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pomodoropizzeriabethanybeach. To order for pick-up, call the shop at (302) 537-1359.


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