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Articles on this Page
- 05/05/17--09:58: _Native Plant Sale t...
- 05/05/17--10:18: _Beach & Bay Cottage...
- 05/05/17--10:18: _Wag, Wine and Whisk...
- 05/05/17--12:03: _Richardson wins IRS...
- 05/05/17--12:10: _PNC closing downtow...
- 05/05/17--12:15: _Community warned to...
- 05/05/17--12:18: _Beach towns say the...
- 05/05/17--12:21: _Community mourns th...
- 05/11/17--12:34: _Views of White Cree...
- 05/11/17--12:59: _Sussex Academy anno...
- 05/11/17--13:25: _Carper talk sea-lev...
- 05/11/17--13:54: _Made By Hand to hos...
- 05/11/17--13:59: _Barefoot Gardeners’...
- 05/11/17--14:04: _Assault complaint i...
- 05/12/17--12:47: _Millsboro man, Nibl...
- 05/12/17--12:51: _Service offering gu...
- 05/12/17--12:52: _Selbyville asks for...
- 05/12/17--12:53: _County discusses tr...
- 05/12/17--12:54: _Millville to get it...
- 05/12/17--12:55: _Bluegrass festival ...
- 05/05/17--10:18: Beach & Bay Cottage Tour Sneak Peek No. 1
- 05/05/17--10:18: Wag, Wine and Whiskers fundraiser to feature famous puppy pair
- 05/05/17--12:03: Richardson wins IRSD Teacher of the Year award
- 05/05/17--12:10: PNC closing downtown Selbyville branch
- 05/05/17--12:15: Community warned to be wary of phone scams
- 05/05/17--12:18: Beach towns say they feel targeted by proposed rental tax
- 05/05/17--12:21: Community mourns the loss of DSP trooper Ballard
- 05/11/17--12:34: Views of White Creek highlight this cedar plank home
- 05/11/17--12:59: Sussex Academy announces Honor Roll
- 05/11/17--13:25: Carper talk sea-level rise on Climate Change Tour
- 05/11/17--13:54: Made By Hand to host 15th annual Fair Trade Day
- 05/11/17--13:59: Barefoot Gardeners’ Plant Sale sprouting up this weekend
- 05/11/17--14:04: Assault complaint in Dewey Beach leads to drug arrests
- 05/12/17--12:47: Millsboro man, Niblett, wins $10,000 in Delaware lottery
- 05/12/17--12:51: Service offering guided tours of ‘off the beaten path’ attractions
- 05/12/17--12:52: Selbyville asks for ‘yes’ votes on water referendum
- 05/12/17--12:53: County discusses trash, illegal dump sites
- 05/12/17--12:54: Millville to get its own holiday lights, GMB to build park
- 05/12/17--12:55: Bluegrass festival to celebrate music, swamplands
Anyone who wants to learn how to attract birds and bees and butterflies to their garden and then take home some plants that can help will find all that and more at the Center for the Inland Bays’ Native Plant Sale at the James Farm Ecological Preserve from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 6.
This is the 13th native plant sale at the James Farm and, this year, the theme is “Planting for Pollinators.” In addition to thousands of plants for sale, the event features tours led by naturalists, food, crafts and more.
Native flowers, trees, shrubs and grasses will be available for sale from participating nurseries: Envirotech, Inland Bays Garden Center, Roots Nursery and Sussex Landscaping.
Tours and nature talks will begin even before the sale itself, which begins at 9 a.m. The Sussex Bird Club will lead a bird walk at 8 a.m. At 9:30 a.m., naturalist Tom Lord will lead an exploration of the plants and critters at the James Farm; Dennis Bartow will lead a similar walk at 11 a.m. The Master Gardeners of Sussex County will host a presentation on pollinators and why they matter at 10:15 a.m.
Children can get in on the action by building their own pollinator habitats in the Junior Gardeners tent throughout the event; face painting will take place there, too.
Also throughout the morning, local environmental groups, stakeholders and friends will offer information and exhibits on gardening, pollinators, bay-friendly practices and more.
At the Center for the Inland Bays’ tent, “Gardening for the Bays” T-shirts, new CIB bumper stickers and one-of-a-kind bird and bee houses will be for sale, with proceeds supporting the work of the center to preserve, protect and restore the Inland Bays.
Good Earth Market will have breakfast treats and coffee for sale for early-birds, and will offer snacks and lunch throughout the day, including organic hotdogs and the Gardening for the Bays traditional sandwich: organic Havarti cheese, sprouts, tomato and cucumber.
The center is seeking volunteers to help set up for the event on Friday, May 5, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Volunteers are also needed to greet visitors at the CIB booths during the event, and to help with children’s activities and other duties on the day of the sale. To volunteer, contact Pat Drizd at firstname.lastname@example.org or (302) 226-8105, ext. 113.
The James Farm preserve is located at 30048 Cedar Neck Road, near Ocean View. For more information on the Native Plant Sale, call the Center for the Inland Bays at (302) 226-8105 or visit the CIB website at www.inlandbays.org.
North Bethany oceanfront home offers expansive water views
(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of previews of the homes that will be on display during the 26th Annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour, to be held July 26-27 from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.)
After vacationing in North Bethany for more than 20 years, the need for more space for their growing multi-generational family led its eventual owners to this 6,000-square-foot oceanfront home.
Under the guidance of a local architect, the owners were able to transform the exterior face with wall-to-wall windows to bring the seaside in from all angles and bathe the soaring spaces in natural light from the towering three-story glass entry stairwell.
The first-floor quarters offer a central lounge fronted by a pair of identical oceanfront master suites and flanked by four additional guest bedrooms with connecting baths.
The customized decorative effects have created a California beach-house style that is designed to be simple, clean and contemporary. Oversized upholstered furnishings floating on a sea of white shag fill the main level upstairs with distinct seating areas that offer multiple opportunities for taking in the ocean views. Topping it all is an office set into the open rafters that boasts a spot for watching the sunrise on the ocean and the sunset on the bay.
This is just one of the properties that will be open to those who purchase tickets for the 26th Annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour.
Tickets, priced at $30, may be purchased at the South Coastal Library or through the Cottage Tour’s website at www.beachandbaycottagetour.com. The Cottage Tour is sponsored by the Friends of the South Coastal Library, and proceeds directly benefit the library’s operations.
Ivar and Oslo may not be as famous as April the giraffe, but they’re already making their presence known on social media, and they’ll be the stars at a local animal-centered fundraising event on Saturday, May 6, in Rehoboth Beach.
The two rescued bulldogs have taken local social media by storm in recent weeks, due to their rescue by the Grass Roots Rescue organization after they were born with skeletal issues that required major surgery. Their back legs are splayed due to a condition known as “swimmer’s syndrome,” but once the dogs were in the group’s hands, the condition of their front legs was actually more concerning.
Their front legs were at 90-degree angles, a congenital defect that their veterinarian termed “severe subluxation of their elbows,” Grass Roots Rescue co-founder Karli Swope said.
“We found out about them when several people on my friends list tagged me in the post where they were being sold by the breeders’ daughter for ‘$800 [or best offer].’ I messaged her and offered her $500 for the pair, and she agreed,” said Swope.
The group received the dogs on March 7, and four days later “their slew of vet appointments began,” Swope said.
After trying to find local veterinarians to do the surgery the two pups required, they ended up at Veterinary Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Group in Annapolis, Md., where they underwent surgery in early April. The two surgeries cost about $8,000, which the rescue covered and is trying to raise funds to replenish so that their ongoing medical costs and those of the group’s other rescues can be paid.
Now sporting colorful casts on all four of their collective front legs, Ivar and Oslo are making progress in the loving care of their foster families, Swope said.
“They are doing better,” she said. “We had a bit of s scare with Ivar, but he seems to be on the mend now. The pins come out of their elbows on the 9th. After that, they will still be in some kind of cast for another month or so.”
The Wag, Wine & Whiskers event on May 6 will be Ivar and Oslo’s public debut, but they’re not quite ready to be considered for adoption. However, there will also be other rescued pups there to meet who will be available for adoption.
The event will be held from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 6, at the Cultured Pearl Liquor Co., 305A Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach. Proceeds will benefit GRR’s animal-rescue efforts. The wine tasting will be presented by Laura Lamprecht of Specialty Wines. The rain date will be Sunday, May 7.
GRR is a Sussex and Kent County-based animal rescue operated entirely by volunteers. All donations go directly toward animal care. The group’s main objectives are to: rescue dogs and cats and get them adopted; spay or neuter and provide lifesaving veterinary care for rescued dogs and cats; and provide vet care for pets of people with limited income when funds allow. For more information or to make a donation, visit www.grrde.org.
“I love to read,” said Lisa Richardson, reading intervention specialist at Millsboro Middle School.
Richardson is the 2017-2018 Teacher of the Year for the Indian River School District. Her win was announced at a dinner on Wednesday, April 29.
Not only does Richardson treasure the worlds that can open through books, but she also has a keen understand of the impact the ability to read has on everyday life.
Richardson’ students come to her needing help meeting reading requirements. The main challenge of her job, she said, is “helping them catch up so they can be successful in their core classes.” If a students is struggling to read, she said, everything else in school becomes a struggle as well.
“You have to read in math,” she said.
She helps students with reading skills in three areas: Tier 2, in which students “need some help” meeting reading requirements; Tier 3, in which students “need intensive help”; and English Language Learners, which includes students whose first language was not English.
An educator for 23 years, Richardson said she has seen reading skills suffer as a result of children spending more time on video games, watching movies instead of reading books. Both have resulted in students with shorter attention spans and higher need for instant gratification, she said.
“It’s hard for them, with a book, because books take a long time,” she said.
To get her students interested in reading, Richardson starts with shorter “bites” of longer books.
“I like to do a lot of excerpts,” she said, “little snippets of things that get them thinking.”
When she introduced students to the Harry Potter series, Richardson said, students asked “Can we keep reading this?” — which, of course, was music to her ears.
Richardson came to teaching after a brief stint in the corporate world, which she now refers to as “trying to put a square peg in a round hole.” Standing in her classroom on a rare day without students, she said “I was born to do this.”
As a reading intervention teacher, when the number of students in her classes is smaller at the end of the year, that’s a good thing. It means fewer students need her help, Richardson explained.
The Tier 2 program “was kind of my brainchild,” she said, when she saw a number of students who could handle grade-level material but needed “scaffolding” to help them keep up.
At Millsboro Middle, Richardson teaches about 35 of the school’s 700 students. In order to meet each of their needs, she said, as a self-professed “rule-follower,” she has learned over the years “to be a lot more creative and flexible,” always looking for new ways to approach a challenge.
Now that she has more than two decades under her teaching belt, Richardson said she really enjoys seeing former students out in the community.
“I get so excited when I just see them being productive,” she said.
Richardson is herself a product of the Indian River School District, and she credited her own second-grade teacher, Tamara Toomey, with setting her on her eventual career path.
“She instilled in me the love of reading,” Richardson said. “I absolutely loved her.”
Later in her IRSD education, at Sussex Central High School, another teacher, Woody Long, helped her to see that there is a world outside of Sussex County, literally and figuratively.
“He’s the one who broadened my perspective, globally,” she said.
At the IRSD award dinner, surrounded by fellow educators and their families, Richardson said, “I am rendered speechless, and there’s a lot of people in this room that know me know that’s amazing.
“Thank you so much to my family for all their support, my mom for being such a great educational role model,” she continued. “There’s so many people in this room that I have went to school with and I have taught with that are amazing educators, and I just thank you all — every teacher, every administrator that I’ve ever worked with. You’ve gotten me here. Thank you so very much.”
“Teachers connect society. … We must cultivate and retain quality teachers in education,” Richardson said. “A highly-qualified teacher who can build relationships with students can move mountains.”
She encouraged teachers to “compartmentalize all the angst that’s going on in society, move forward and do what we do best.”
“Both inside and outside the classroom, Lisa is a role model for others. Every school and school district needs a Lisa Richardson!” wrote former principal and assistant superintendent Gary Brittingham in remarks prepared for the award presentation.
Selbyville is losing one of its two banks this spring. The PNC Bank at the corner of Church Street and Main Street will permanently close its doors at 3 p.m. on Friday, June 16.
The ATM will remain on-site at 1 West Church Street immediately after the office closes, although there is no timeframe for that availability. It’s a higher-functioning ATM that can process deposits.
Why is the bank closing? Basically, PNC representatives said, people use machines more for banking, and PNC doesn’t need a two-story office building on Church Street anymore.
“Over the last several years, we have been going over an evaluation of our overall branch network,” said PNC spokesperson Marcey Zwiebel. “We’ve also just been looking at data that says the way customers use branches is changing. They’re increasingly using the convenient and alternative channels” — online, mobile or ATM banking — “for many of the basic transactions that they used to use the branch for… We’ve been taking a look at how we can support our customers when and how and where they want.”
The corporation notifies customers 90 days before branch closures. This is PNC’s only Delaware branch closure planned from January to July 2017.
Customer accounts are being transferred to the PNC location at 118 Main Street in Millsboro.
“Customers are still welcome to use any branch that’s most convenient to them, where they live or work. … They don’t have to use that location,” Zwiebel said of the Millsboro branch.
The other nearest locations are the Bayside location at 31231 Americana Parkway, Selbyville (West Fenwick), and the Ocean Pines location at 11045 Racetrack Road, Berlin, Md.
The company has asked if the Selbyville Town Council would consider allowing PNC to install a mini drive-though ATM in the town hall parking lot. Council members have briefly considered the possibility, although they said they were wary of allowing a private bank to lease public land. They said they thought a grocery store parking lot would be more appropriate.
If they approved the request, PNC staff would first evaluate the property to decide if an ATM would even fit properly. (Fenwick Island got a similar drive-up ATM a few years ago, when PNC abandoned that branch.)
“When we close or consolidate, we make every effort to place the employees in other locations,” Zwiebel added.
The corporate office did not share how many employees currently work or may be moved from that location, or any potential severance benefits for them. PNC employs 52,000 people across 19 states and Washington, D.C.
This may be the first time in 114 years that the Church Street property wasn’t a bank.
Founded in 1903, Baltimore Trust Company was one of the first banks in southeast Sussex County. It was founded by Selbyville resident John G. Townsend Jr., later Delaware governor, U.S. senator and founder of Townsend’s Inc. poultry company.
Baltimore Trust was merged to form the Mercantile Peninsula Bank in the 1990s, which was later purchased by PNC around 2008.
PNC Bank is headquartered in Pittsburgh, Pa., and Delaware is part of the company’s Greater Maryland region.
“We have retail executives all over the country, so I can’t tell you specifically where that decision was made,” said Zwiebel of the move to close Selbyville’s location.
Selbyville Town Council members said they understood that the PNC property carries a no-compete clause for several years, so another bank could not immediately replace the empty building. Zwiebel said PNC can either own or lease the properties it uses. Sussex County’s mapping website lists Baltimore Trust Co. as the landowner, with a P.O. box address in Atlanta, Ga.
Selbyville Town Council members lamented the loss, especially, as they considered the bank a main draw that brings people downtown.
“We continue to work with the communities and support our communities where we do business, even if we no longer have a branch there,” which means providing financial education or philanthropic efforts locally, said Zwiebel.
It wasn’t Selbyville’s only bank, either. On Route 113, there is a WSFS Bank at the Strawberry Center, 38394 DuPont Boulevard, Selbyville.
For more information, customers can call PNC at 1 West Church Street at (302) 436-8236.
Local law-enforcement officials this week reminded residents to stay wary, as the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office has been informed of numerous fictitious calls being made in the county, supposedly on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office, and several other phone scams have been reported in the area recently.
According to the Sheriff’s office, “The scammer claims the intended victim missed jury duty and a warrant for his or her arrest has been issued by the courts. In order to avoid arrest, the scammer demands the intended victim pay a sum of money.”
Deputies will never solicit citizens by telephone or email to collect funds, fines or fees, they emphasized. Additionally, contact any by the sheriff’s office will be made in person whenever subpoenas or other court-related documents must be delivered to citizens.
While official government entities are often the façade used by scammers to get consumers to provide personal information, sometimes the hook for a phone scam has a more personal angle.
Hocker’s Super Center posted on their Facebook account on Tuesday, May 2, to warn people of a scam allegedly invoking Emily Hocker’s name.
“We have been contacted by several of our friends and loyal customers that there is currently a scam via phone,” they stated. “They are saying they are Emily Hocker. THIS IS A SCAM!!!! If you have received this call and have any information that would be useful for authorities, please let us know! 537-1788.”
Ocean View Police Sgt. Rhys Bradshaw said people should be wary of a variety of scams — including calls made by persons falsely representing the Internal Revenue Service.
“I’ve had them call me before. They say, ‘This is so-and-so from the IRS. We’re going to put a warrant out for your arrest.’ ‘You didn’t pay your taxes. You’re being audited unless you send this amount of money.’
“A lot of times, they say go get an iTunes gift card and send it to this address… Let me tell you right now — the federal government does not work in iTunes gift cards. If the IRS needs to talk to you, they’re not going to call you. They will either send someone to your house, which is not very likely unless it’s something big, or they will send you a certified letter that you have to sign for, saying, ‘We need you to call us.’ They will even have a case number reference.”
Bradshaw said it’s unfortunate, but many people fall for such scams.
“Other scammers will call and say, ‘I’m so-and-so from such-and-such bank. Then they’ll start asking personal questions like, ‘What’s your Social Security number?’
“Your bank already knows that information. If someone starts calling to inquire about personal information — Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, date of birth — don’t give that information out. They’re phishing, because they can use that personal information to open bank accounts in your name and things like that.”
Bradshaw said you should try to collect information from the caller, such as their name and phone number; however, he said they will likely hang up.
“Unfortunately, with a lot of these scams, we can’t prosecute, because a lot of them come from overseas — Nigeria, Pakistan, places like that. There’s not a whole lot we can do, because just asking those questions isn’t a crime. Now, if you send them something, a crime was committed and we can try our best; but, ultimately, there’s not a whole lot we can do, because it is overseas.”
Bradshaw added that people should also be cautious when dealing with Craigslist and other online sale/rental sites. Rental scams have been increasingly common in the area in recent years, given the popularity of the beach communities. Bradshaw said to always follow up with the poster before sending money, to ensure legitimacy.
“Never buy something unless you see it. If you’re doing any kind of transaction, call the station and set up a time with us. We will be present with the two parties and will watch the exchange to make sure nothing happens.
“If it’s a car — I’m not a mechanic, I’m not going to make sure you’re not getting a lemon. But we will standby with you while you conduct the transaction.”
That being said, Bradshaw said it is important for citizens who receive those phone calls to provide any information that can to their local law-enforcement agency.
Anyone who owns a vacation rental property in Delaware might be facing a new occupancy tax. The Delaware State Legislature is considering a new 8 percent tax on short-term vacation rental units.
The issue is a particular concern for some coastal towns because they’re already charging that much as a municipal tax, so property owners could be looking up to 16 percent in taxes, between their towns and the State.
House Bill 130 would add “short-term rental” units to the 8 percent tax on the rent assessed on every occupancy of a room or rooms. Hotels, motels and tourist homes already pay the tax.
“Short-term rentals are defined as being a room, dwelling, unit, or campground site being rented to overnight guests for a period of 120 days or less for any calendar year and the room or unit is not the owner’s permanent residence,” the bill synopsizes.
Tax revenues benefit the State General Fund (5 percent); beach replenishment and maintenance (1 percent); Delaware Tourism Office (1 percent); and the designated convention/visitors bureau in each county (1 percent).
“Many beach communities already impose a city or town tax on these rentals in varying amounts. Bethany’s is 7 percent, providing $1,136,000 of our revenue each year, which basically goes to support our beach activities and taking care of what goes on here during the summer months,” said Bethany Beach Mayor Jack Gordon.
Fenwick Island’s 7.5 percent tax raises about $275,000 for that town.
South Bethany’s 8 percent tax raises about $520,000 there.
Outside the beach communities, most people “had no idea that one-third of our revenue” is rental taxes, said South Bethany Councilwoman Sue Callaway.
“I’m not sure whether Seaford or Milford or other places have substantial rentals like we do in this category,” Gordon said. “Therefore the [increase], as presented, in my opinion, is a way to support the State, but it’s zeroed in localities that, right now, do a lot for tourism for the state and the state budget.”
Tourism employs tens of thousands of people and raises millions of dollars in revenue. Some council members said they felt the State is looking to balance its budget on the backs of towns that make the tourism industry thrive.
Bethany Beach Vice-Mayor Lew Killmer said he also found it “shortsighted” to suggest that Delawareans won’t be impacted. Although property owners could raise rental rates to compensate, that makes their properties less attractive to guests. Plus, northern Delawareans sometimes rent beach houses, so they’d be among those who would pay the additional tax.
Vacation houses can sometimes charge thousands of dollars for a week’s rental in summer — and people pay it.
“This is like a targeted tax, and why not do a broader-spectrum, like a gas tax or a sales tax?” Voveris said.
“You can’t compare a hotel in Wilmington to a homeowner in South Bethany that rents five or six weeks a year,” said Callaway, although she noted there’s a difference between smaller vacation units and some major beachfront operations.
That kind of scale can put them on the level with hotels and motels that are also in the business of letting rooms. Often, people renting out houses use the rental fees to supplement their income, or even to pay the mortgage on the property until they can retire fulltime.
South Bethany Councilman Don Boteler suggested that the proposal might not have much support among other state legislators or the Sussex County Association of Towns.
Local Realtors and business owners have pointed out that maintenance, Realtor commissions and other fees already eat a huge chunk of rental income. Plus, they argued, if cigarette and alcohol taxes help discourage vices, then a rental tax will discourage vacationers, which would hurt other businesses.
HB 130 is sponsored by New Castle County legislators House Minority Whip Deborah Hudson (R-12), Rep. John A. Kowalko (D-25) and Rep. Helene M. Keeley (D-3), who chairs the House Revenue & Finance Committee.
Additional sponsor Senate Minority Leader F. Gary Simpson’s (R-18) representatives a district that stretches from Slaughter Beach though Milford, Ellendale, Harrington and west.
Details about House Bill 130 are online at www.legis.delaware.gov/BillDetail?legislationId=25648.
The entire state of Delaware was shaken last week, after Delaware State Police Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard was shot and killed in the line of duty, during a stop on a suspicious vehicle in Bear. Ballard was 32 years old.
The eight-year veteran is survived by his wife, Louise Cummings, and a 5-year-old daughter.
On Monday, May 1, more than 400 people gathered at The Circle in Georgetown for a candlelight prayer vigil for Ballard. Ballard’s wife was in attendance, as was his godmother, Stephanie Williams.
“I’d like to take a moment and thank everyone who came here to the heart of Sussex County tonight to show their respect for and to stand in solidarity to the legacy of Cpl. Ballard,” said state Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, who presided over the vigil and who was the mayor of Georgetown in 2009, when Georgetown police officer Chad Spicer was shot and killed in the line of duty.
“To Cpl. Ballard’s family — we feel your pain as we’ve lived through it. And to law enforcement up and down Delaware — we recognize and are extremely grateful for the dangers you place yourself in day after day in towns, cities, rural and suburban areas up and down our state. The thin blue line is what separates the lawful from the lawless, the good from the evil, and is necessary in today’s society, unfortunately.
“Sometimes those guardians — the warriors that make up that line and serve in our community — are struck down long before their time,” Pettyjohn continued. “When there’s a death from within their ranks, it is our responsibility as a community to be there to support their families, their brothers and sisters in law enforcement, until they are able to pay homage to their fallen, to allow them a chance to heal.
“The show of support tonight here tonight is absolutely amazing. This is an outward public sign of the respect the people of our community have for law enforcement and a show of support of Cpl. Ballard’s family. This is also a clear message to all law enforcement that we — all of us here on The Circle tonight — have your back.”
The event was attended by many government officials, including state Reps. Ron Gray, Ruth Briggs-King and Steve Smyk (himself a retired trooper). Those who quietly stood in solidarity included DSP officers, and law enforcement and fire officials from all over Sussex County. In the audience, Ruth Ann and Aubrey Spicer — Spicer’s mother and daughter, respectively — also stood in silent solidarity.
“A law-enforcement officer takes pride every day in doing the following: putting on the uniform, honoring the badge, protecting our community and respecting everyone. Last Wednesday, April 25, 2017, Cpl. Ballard gave the ultimate sacrifice,” said Georgetown Mayor Bill West.
“He encountered someone who didn’t respect the uniform, respect the badge, respect the law or care about human life. Some would say that our country has changed, and that is probably true. But rest assured that police officers will always wear the uniform with pride and integrity, honor the badge, and always serve our communities.
“Cpl. Ballard is gone now, and the citizens of this state will never forget that he gave the ultimate sacrifice. God bless him, his family, and God bless our law enforcement.”
During the vigil, DSP Sgt. J.B. Mitchell read from scripture and Georgetown Police Department Cpl. Matthew Barlow sang.
Speaker of the Delaware House of Representatives Pete Schwartzkopf, a retired DSP captain, solemnly called attention to the fact that the community was gathered together in grief again.
“The people of Georgetown are very familiar with the grief and the feeling of helplessness that we all feel tonight. They went through it in 2009, when Georgetown Patrolman Chad Spicer was murdered,” he said.
“The feeling never really goes away, and you just learn how to deal with it and keep moving forward. Police officers are special people. Stephen Ballard was a special person… By all accounts, he was a tremendously generous individual, full of hope and promise. He knew his community and gave back in many ways, never looking for attention.
“His wife, Louise, said he was a mentor to many, but in particular to students at his alma mater, Delaware State University, often paying some of their expenses. He would generously pay for people to fix their cars to get to work.
“She said, at Christmastime he would put small toys and coloring books in his car give to any kids he would encounter on the complaints he handled that day. She said Steve often talked about being governor one day. Louise, who knows — if I’m able to be Speaker of the House, I think Stephen probably could’ve been governor and pretty dog-gone good at it.”
Schwartzkopf said it often takes a tragedy to remind people to thank those in law enforcement for risking their lives in their “gift of services.”
“When Cpl. Ballard died last Wednesday, a part of Delaware died as well,” he said, adding that he was glad to see so many people in attendance on Monday night to show their support. “They always have our back. Tonight, we are telling them we have their back.”
Ballard began his DSP service in Georgetown
DSP Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr., superintendent of the Delaware State Police, thanked the citizens in attendance for their support of law enforcement during these trying times, and he made note of Ballard’s connections to Georgetown and Sussex County at large.
“We extend our heartfelt appreciation to everyone for coming out for tonight’s prayer vigil in honor of Cpl. Stephen J. Ballard. We also thank you for your kind thoughts and expressions of sympathy.
“Cpl. Ballard began his career with Delaware State Police here in Georgetown, at Delaware State Police Troop 4. Over the four years that he worked in Sussex County, he fostered positive relationships with the community, with a focus on mentoring our youth,” McQueen noted.
“As we prepare to honor and celebrate the life of Stephen on Friday, I want to thank you for this prayer vigil this evening. Delaware State Police and law enforcement have always had a great relationship with the citizens of Georgetown and the larger Sussex County community.
“This ceremony is significant because it strengthens us in this difficult time and restores our faith in the goodness of all people,” he added. “It also brings us closer to our community. The love for community is why many troopers choose to enter this profession. It’s comforting to know that their service is valued by the community.
“Although we may have moments of struggle as individuals, we will continue to hold up one another, drawing from the strength of many — many of you here tonight. Even in difficult times like we have experienced over the past few days, we are privileged and honored to serve the citizens of Delaware. The Delaware State Police will endure, and we will continue that service.”
At the vigil, Ballard’s widow spoke in-person for the first time publicly, noting that she hadn’t been sure if she could speak.
“But then I realized that Stephen’s story needed to be told. He was a good man. He loved his family — but that wasn’t just me and Abigail — that was the community. You are his family. I chose to speak here because this is where we met, this is where Stephan started his career, Troop 4. This is where we were engaged, in Dewey Beach… This is where we spent a lot of time together.”
She went on to thank those in attendance for their overwhelming support.
“I found it fitting to come here and to address you for a few minutes to say, ‘Thank you.’ I am the one who moved him from Sussex County, so I’m sorry for that. He made his way from Troop 4 to Troop 3 to Troop 2, and he was very proud to have served in each county here in Delaware. He truly, truly loved this state.
“He wants nothing more than to put on his uniform … and honor this great state. So, thank you. Thank you for your support, for all of your love, for the cards, the notes, the calls and the well-wishes. We just can’t thank you enough. I know he’s smiling down now, because he always wanted people to know how much he cared and how much he loved you. This is just incredible. So, thank you.”
A public visitation for Ballard will take place this Friday, May 5, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington. A memorial service honoring Ballard’s life will begin at approximately 11 a.m. His burial, which will be attended by family and Delaware State Police personnel, will be held immediately following the memorial service, at Gracelawn Memorial Park in Minquadale.
A memorial fund has been established at the Delaware State Police Federal Credit Union in the name of Cpl. Ballard, and all proceeds will be given to his family. Checks can be made out to the DSTA—Stephen Ballard Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 168, Cheswold, DE 19936. The Delaware State Police noted that that is the only official memorial fund dedicated in Ballard’s name.
Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of previews of the homes that will be on display during the 26th Annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour, to be held July 26 and 27, from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.
After owning a vacation townhome in Bear Trap for 12 years, the owners built this traditional cedar plank house on White Creek in 2014 to be their permanent home upon retirement, as well as a vacation magnet for their three adult children. The house is 5,000 square feet, with six bedrooms, 5.5 baths and 10-foot ceilings, for plenty of space for the extended family to spread out over three floors.
Opportunities for outdoor family fun and relaxation abound, with a screened porch, covered deck, patio, fully-equipped outdoor kitchen, 20-by-38-foot pool and a dock for the family boat. Bringing the outside in was a top priority and led to the multi-level window configuration in the family room, designed by the owners to highlight the water views.
The home’s décor is a reflection of the family’s history, varied interests and extensive travel, and is highlighted by the husband’s carpentry skills displayed in multiple custom-crafted items throughout the home. His wife’s whimsical collection of pigs can be found tucked in unexpected spots on every floor.
This is one of the properties that will be open to those who purchase tickets for the 26th Annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour.
Tickets, priced at $30, may be purchased at the South Coastal Library or through the Cottage Tour’s website at www.beachandbaycottagetour.com. The Cottage Tour is sponsored by the Friends of the South Coastal Library, and proceeds directly benefit the library’s operations.
Third Marking Period
2016-2017 School Year
Distinguished (A Honor Roll)
B Honor Roll
Noa Aboutboul, Kinsey Bellerose, Stella Caldwell, Alodie Elliott, Olivia Farro, Timothy Hitchcock, Adelle Leebel, Lilian Manlove, Miranda McIlvaine, Eve Mundok, Alyssa Oscar, Abigail Pamplona, Victoria Parsons, Oliver Sachs, Macy Sapna, Chloe Tabaco, Jacqueline Thomas, Kenna Webb, Jackson Whitcomb, Zachary Yenovkian, Kathy Zhang
Distinguished (A Honor Roll)
Isabel Akey, Wesley McLaughlin, Gabriella Orsini
B Honor Roll
Elizabeth Bodio, Skyler Bunting, Peyton Campbell, Kemper Cole, Caleb Collins, Sarah Conti, Ryleigh Cunnane, Michael Daniello, Mikayla Dayton, Mari Dopler, Naisha Flechier, Olivia Folliard, David Hawtof, Shelby Hickman, Asia Hobbs, Nicholas Holmon, Paige Horn, Tyler Hudson, Puja Jani, Evan Jarrell, Emma Kerezsi, Nikki Loomis, Hannah Lydic, Brandon Maccubbin, Josie Martin, Emily Musgrove, Samantha Oliver, Donald Pasmore, Arpan Patel, Mollie Pettyjohn, Nicole Pietschmann, Logan Podrasky, Zoe Probert, Madison Short, Emily Simon, Wyatt Skinner, Hayden Steelman, Paige Tidwell, Gianna Voges
Distinguished (A Honor Roll)
Emma Kuska, Marguerite Mitchell, Emily Moody, Trent Sapna, Samantha Sordi
B Honor Roll
Tucker Anthony, Emma Baynum, Julia Buoni, Henry Childers, Amanda Coates, Parker Cole, Evan Davis, Sadie Davis, Emily Fisher, Nyrlande Flechier, Chase Hesson, Ariana Holland-Seda, Madison Holt, Allen Hopler, Brooke Hudson, Emily Hutt, Ria Kapuria, Else Leebel, Brighid Loftus, Tess Mariner, Gabrielle McCormick, Chloe Millman, Charles Mitchell, Savannah Nagy, Isabella Nicol, Victoria Noon, Brynn Parker, Kaleb Price, Landon Rockwell, Benjamin Sala, William Stanton, Zachariah Stutzman, Emily Trout, Gannon Webb, Quinn Wichert, Sophia Willliams, Liliana Yenovkian
Distinguished (A Honor Roll)
Sydney Adamcik, Kimberly Aiken, Caitlin Anderson, Allison Dayton, Mary Garcia Barrios, Marissa Hawtof, Abigail Hearn, Helena Helou, Reilly Hutchinson, Max Kogler, Jezzelle Repalbor
B Honor Roll
Sidrah Ahmer, Marisa Alvarez, Emily Barrish, Elise Beach, Matthew Bodio, Grier Calagione, Victoria Carey, Zoe Carroll, Delaney Collins, Bridget Cosgrove, Mackenzie Cummings, Sydeny Elliott, Sylvie Elliott, Oscar Gonzalez Avila, Lindsey Guida, Eleanor Harrison, Kaylin Hatfield, Julia Helou, Melina Kotanides, Isabella Kwan, Seena Langroudi, Abigail Lindsay, Molly Martiner, Alexander Mendez Reyes, Dylan Mooney, Jake Mundok, Ava Nutter, Elli Oechsler, Miranda Perez-Rivera, Anna Price, Christopher Redefer, Ivana Rivera Enriquez, Constantinos Roros, Amanda Shaffer, Kale Showers, Savannah Sistrunk, Nathan Sneller, Julia Swingle, Grant Thomas, Shelby Vansciver, Chloe Whittaker, Kira Wingate, Katherine Wolfe
Distinguished (A Honor Roll)
Isabel Abboud, Alexa Allen, Ryan Bishop, Paige Butler, Meredith Carey, Kyra Cutsail, Brock Diaz, Kathryn Donati, Clara Elliot, Carly Fajardo, Ronald Faust, Kylie Hutt, Claire Loftus, Christopher Marshall, Ross Moshier, Cailey Murphy, Rishika Patel, K’Lynn Paz, Angie Rivera-Pavon, Grace Scott, Kathryn VanPelt, Zachary Zalewski
B Honor Roll
Allison Anderson, Jake Anthony, Shannon Gorecki, Connor Hall, Thomas Hudson, Lyndsey Koyanagi, Brendon Millman, Dylan Murphy, Aliyah Patel, Madison Rice, Nevada Scott, Delaney Smith, Margaret Smith, Kaitlin Taylor, Joseph Vonville
Distinguished (A Honor Roll)
Chloe Anderson, Kierstin Blatzheim, Emily Freid, Mia Kwan, Padraig Loftus, Cooper Shawver, Parker Shawver
B Honor Roll
Reagan Allen, Nicholas Barrish, Delaney Cinnamon, Finn Davis, Kellie Heinlein, Hector Herrera, Bailey Hesson, Ryan Hughes, Dina Ramirez Lopez, James Riddle, Christopher Smith, Claire Sullivan, Jason Xiong, McKinsey Zepp
Distinguished (A Honor Roll)
Sara Bixler, Kayleigh Barnes, Mikaela Calloway, David Cohen Davis, Dallas Diguglielmo, Jennifer Eckrich, Sarah Hawtof, Kelly Lindsay, Julia Martiner, Mia Mosher, Micaela Reyes, Austin Ross
B Honor Roll
William Calloway, Summer Clagg, Linda DiNenna, Colden Fees, Mason Hayes, Jack Hete, Lindsey Perez Perez, Nathanael Riddle, Alexandra Roblero Gonzalez, Kiara Rolon-Manso, Kleiry Ruano Caal, Domenico Santo, Laura Schumacher, Lauren Sneller, Yasemin Tan
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) visited four flood-prone towns in Delaware on April 21, ending the visit in Dewey Beach. The Climate Change Tour highlighted areas that are already commonly prone to damage from storms and high-tide events, which are just the start of the inconvenience of climate change and rising sea levels.
During the tour, staff from the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays highlighted new projects under way to improve stormwater management and reduce flooding through more natural means, such as building “living shorelines” that mimic nature’s ability to buffer land from strong bay tides.
The Dewey Beach Lions Club showed off their marshland park, a protected chunk of land that absorbs water like a sponge but also educates people about the local ecosystem.
“It’s our neighbor here. … It’s in need of attention,” said Lions member Bill Zolper.
Their next-door neighbor, Marty Tarr, said she’s seen the effects of erosion and rising seas, looking down from her patio into the marsh for the past 10 years.
At the Delaware Environmental Observing System, director Kevin Brinson explained that tides are being monitored regularly, following the day-to-day changes and helping warn authorities when evacuations are needed during storms.
Meanwhile, the Delaware Department of Transportation’s Environmental Studies Office is preparing the results of a recent vulnerability assessment of Route 1. Coastal Sussex Countians have come to expect that the Indian River Inlet Bridge will close when a storm floods the coastal highway.
Small projects, like those happening on the road ends in Dewey Beach, contribute to protecting Route 1 —a major thoroughfare and an evacuation route.
“Our earth is getting warmer, and our seas are rising,” Carper said. “It’s important we address why our globe is warming, why our seas are rising.”
He emphasized that now is the time for people and agencies to work together to address the issue.
South Bethany business Made By Hand will be hosting its 15th annual World Fair Trade Day this weekend.
World Fair Trade Day will take place on Saturday, May 13, from noon to 5 p.m., and feature samplings and information from JuiceFresh, a Rehoboth Beach business that produces organic juice and a three-day juice cleanse.
“We always try to find something new and exciting,” said Kimberly Grimes, who co-owns the store with her husband, Marco Hernandez. “In years past, we always focused on a particular artisan. Then we thought, this year, why don’t we focus more on our customers that we love? That came up with the theme — ‘Fair Trade Day: Be Fair to Yourself.’ They’re trying to help people get more energy, have less food cravings.”
Grimes said attendees can also learn how to renew their spirit through detox, raw, vegan and paleo foods.
The international cooperative store has been owned and operated for 21 years by the husband-and-wife duo. Upon the recommendation of a friend, the two had visited a fair-trade store in Texas, and with that the South Bethany store was born.
In 2002, Grimes helped create World Fair Trade Day, and the store followed suit in the celebrations.
“The idea was to help people understand they have a lot of power with the purchases they make,” explained Grimes. “That’s what fair trade is all about — understanding the connection between the things that we buy … and how that impacts the people who are making those items. The whole mission of fair trade is to pay people fairly and give them opportunities — especially women.
“The idea was, internationally, we’ll set up a World Trade Day following the model of Earth Day. We thought we could do that in the economic sphere as well. We could get people to realize that when you purchase something, there are hands attached to everything you buy — ‘Who are those hands? Where is this stuff coming from?’ — to get people really engaged in that more.
“When you’re shopping in the mall, it’s not the people working the mall’s stuff. They don’t even know where the stuff is made or how it’s made. In fair trade, we do.”
Over the years, Grimes said, the day-long fair has grown, with more people becoming conscious about what they buy.
“I think it has grown, and I think more and more people are becoming educated about fair trade through World Fair Trade Day and also through their churches and civic groups. I think it’s a combination of things that is making fair trade grow. It is growing leaps and bounds, and that’s a good thing.”
For those who have never attended the event before, Grimes said there are many reasons to stop by the store and check it out.
“Free chocolate! And, it’s dark chocolate, so it’s good for you!” she noted with a laugh. “People, if they are interested in knowing and making the connections between the things they buy and where they come from, if they’re just curious — ‘Huh, I wonder how that works?’ — Fair Trade Day is a great day to come out and do that.”
The free event is also a way to check out the various wares Made By Hand carries — from clothing to jewelry to rugs to instruments and more — the store has something for everyone.
“We have so many wonderful customers who are so loyal. A lot of them come back year after year,” added Grimes. “As always, everyone is welcome. It’s free to the public, and we hope it’ll be a beautiful day and that we see a lot of folks.”
Made By Hand is located at 34444 Coastal Highway, in the York Beach Mall in South Bethany. For more information, call (302) 539-6335 or visit www.madebyhandinternationalcooperative.com.
Fenwick Island’s Barefoot Gardeners will hold their annual Plant Sale on Saturday, May 13, kicking off a summertime focus on area homes and gardens — including a very famous “house.”
The proceeds from the plant sale, according to club member Karen Dudley, help the club fund several community projects, including beautification of the town of Fenwick Island, the gardens at the Fenwick Island Lighthouse, participation in Operation Seas the Day, scholarships for area students, and programs at the Brandywine Assisted Living facility west of Fenwick Island.
In addition to many varieties of annuals, perennials, herbs and vegetables, the sale will also include pre-planted containers. Club members will also be on hand to answer questions and offer advice on plant combinations that work well in area gardens.
Also available at the plant sale will be tickets to the Barefoot Gardeners’ new Coastal Garden Tour. Scheduled for June 29, the group’s first-ever public tour will feature 10 gardens in the Fenwick Island area. Several of the homes are located inside the town of Fenwick Island, while others are located in Keenwick Sound, The Refuge and other communities along Route 54 west of Fenwick.
A special attraction on the tour will be the gardens at the Fenwick Island Lighthouse, Dudley said.
Tickets for the garden tour will be available at the plant sale. Later in the month, tickets will be available at Fenwick Island Town Hall. Tickets purchased in advance will be available for $25 per person; they will also be available on the day of the tour for $30 per person. Proceeds from the tour will benefit the Delaware Botanic Gardens at Pepper Creek.
The Barefoot Gardeners Plant Sale will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, rain or shine, at Coastal Highway and James Street (across from Pottery Place). Plants will also be available for sale on Sunday, May 14, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the same location.
For more information on the plant sale or the garden tour, call Karen Dudley at (443) 206-0567 or Lois Twilley at (410) 251-2120.
The Delaware State Police Sussex County Drug Unit this week arrested four people following an investigation into an assault complaint.
On Friday, May 5, police said, troopers were dispatched to an assault complaint at the Sea Esta Motel IV in Dewey Beach. Responding troopers made contact with two victims who both suffered facial injuries from an apparent assault, they reported.
Through the investigation, police said, it was learned that the victims were familiar with the suspects, named Ardarious Cato and Victorian West. The assault had occurred inside their motel room during a drug-related incident, according to the DSP.
An ambulance was contacted and responded to the scene. Both victims were transported to Beebe Healthcare with serious but non-life threatening injuries, were treated and later released from the hospital.
Troopers and the Rehoboth Beach Police Department worked together to locate the suspects in the assault. Information was received that the suspects were on Norwood Street in West Rehoboth. Upon arrival, officers obtained consent to enter the residence and, while inside the residence, the officers reported that they observed a quantity of crack cocaine and marijuana in plain view.
Police said all subjects inside the residence were then contacted, which included Ardarius Cato, Marteze Waples and Brandon White. They said Brandon White resisted arrest by attempting to flee but was arrested without further incident.
Both of Marteze Waples’ two children (both younger than 5) were present and later turned over to a family member, police noted. Suspected crack cocaine in an amount of more than 26 grams and suspected marijuana in an amount of more than 20 grams were seized during the initial contact, police said.
The Delaware State Police Sussex Drug Unit executed a search-and-seizure warrant for the residence and vehicles on the property on Norwood Street. A further search of the residence was conducted, which revealed additional contraband, including more than 63 grams of suspected crack cocaine, more than 44 grams of suspected marijuana, a .380 auto handgun and more than $19,600 in suspected drug proceeds.
Victorian West received information she was wanted and turned herself in at Troop 7, Lewes, during the investigation, police said.
Ardarius D. Cato, 29, and Victorian West, 30, both of Rehoboth Beach, were transported to Troop 7 and arrested on two counts each of Assault 2nd ; two counts of Unlawful Imprisonment 1st, Conspiracy 2nd degree, two counts of Terroristic Threatening and two counts of Endangering the Welfare.
Ardarius Cato was also arrested for Possession with the Intent to Deliver Crack Cocaine Tier 4, PWITD Cocaine Tier 4, two counts of Possession Tier 5 Cocaine, Possession of Marijuana Tier 5, and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Prohibited, Conspiracy 2nd , two counts of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and two counts of Endangering the Welfare.
Brandon D. H. White, 25, of Rehoboth Beach was transported to Troop 7 and arrested for Possession with the Intent to Deliver Crack Cocaine Tier 4, PWITD Cocaine Tier 4, two counts of Possession Tier 5 Cocaine, Possession of Marijuana Tier 5, Possession of a Firearm by Person Prohibited, Conspiracy 2nd, two counts of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, two counts of Endangering the Welfare and Resisting Arrest.
Marteze D. Waples, 29, of Rehoboth Beach was transported to Troop 7 and arrested for Possession with the Intent to Deliver Crack Cocaine Tier 4, PWITD Cocaine Tier 4, two counts of Possession Tier 5 Cocaine, Possession of Marijuana Tier 5, Possession of a Firearm by Person Prohibited, Conspiracy 2nd, Endangering the Welfare and two counts of Possession of Drug Paraphernalia.
The court and bond amounts were pending early this week.
Millsboro native George Niblett, 61, got a lesson in reinvestment this week when he went to Bodie’s Market in Millsboro on Saturday, May 6, to purchase a $10 Instant Game and his usual Play 3 and Play 4 day tickets from the Delaware Lottery.
To his surprise, he won $50 on the Instant Game ticket. He reinvested the money into a $25 Instant Game ticket and left the lottery retailer winning $10,000 in the Delaware Lottery’s Instant Game—$250,000 Cash.
“The guys at the store tell me I’m pretty lucky,” said Niblett, who is married with three sons and five grandchildren. “I got the ticket, and went back out to my truck and stared at it for 10 minutes in pure shock.” It was his largest win to date.
Niblett said he generally stops at Bodie’s Market before or after work to purchase his Play 3 and Play 4 tickets, and occasionally an Instant Game. He’s been playing his father’s favorite numbers and the last four digits of his home phone number in the Play 3 and Play 4 games for 10 years. Those numbers are extra-special to him, he said, especially since his father isn’t with him anymore.
“When I got home from the store, I immediately woke up my wife,” said Niblett. “Of course, she didn’t believe me at first, but once she realized it was real, she started making her dream wish-list.”
Niblett plans to use the money to pay off a few bills, then put the rest into savings. By chance, it was his granddaughter’s birthday on the day he won, so she got a little something extra-special with the prize money.
The winner claimed his $10,000 prize at Delaware Lottery headquarters on Monday, May 8.
Delmarva Board Sports is adding a new tour division of the company for land-lovers, called Delmarva Discovery Tours. After seven years of offering eco-tours on the water and achieving the Trip Advisor Circle of Excellence, the company is expanding to offer local land tours, which include transportation services in a 14-passenger van.
Visitors can choose from the Beer, Wine & Spirit Tour, an Antiques Trail Tour, a Family Farm Tour, a Maritime History Tour or a Wine & Garden Tour. A “Build Your Own Tour” option is also available for groups looking for specialty tours with designated driving services. Additional tours will be added in the future, representatives noted.
Tours average three to four hours and include up to three stops along the way. Visitors and locals on the tours can learn about each venue, enjoy tastings and samplings, and participate interactively.
Some of the attractions featured will include Nassau Valley Vineyards, Salted Vines Winery, Brimming Horn Meadery, Beach Time Distillery, Black Hog Farmstead, Dog Fish Brewery, 16 Mile Brewery, Revelation Brewery, Lavender Fields, Hopkins Farm Creamery, Lightship Overfalls, Cape Water Taxi, Reflections Antiques, Jayne’s Reliable, Old Screen Door, Salvaged Antiques, Heritage Antiques, Indian Point Farm, Shipwrecked and Millpond Gardens.
Local hotel pickup and drop-off is available for the convenience of visitors who may be unfamiliar with the area or who don’t want to deal with parking limitations. Visitors can also enjoy local libations and not have to worry about driving.
Anyone who knows of a unique or off-the-beaten-path attraction that should be featured, or someone who would make a personable, informative guide or curator, is being invited to contact Janis@DelmarvaBoardSports.com.
For more information, check out their website at http://www.delmarvadiscoverytours. To request to be added as a future, featured attraction along their Discovery Tours, contact Janis at (302) 260-9008.
Selbyville is in the homestretch for building a new water treatment system. But the Town needs the public’s help one more time to get the job done.
The Town must go to public referendum to secure $500,000 in what is essentially free money from the Delaware Drinking Water Revolving Fund. The vote will be held June 3 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Town Hall.
On paper, the funding is a loan with a 0-percent interest rate and 100 percent principal forgiveness upon completion of the project. Once the building is finished this spring, Selbyville won’t have to repay a time.
The referendum is a familiar process, as Selbyville residents previously approved similar loans in 2013 and 2011 to address the ongoing water issues. Nobody voted against the measures in those votes.
Town code requires public approval for Selbyville to accept loans and issue general-obligation bonds.
In the special election, residents will be asked to vote “for” or “against” the proposed borrowing.
“It is imperative everyone realizes this is free money,” said Town Manager Stacey Long. “There’s no reason to vote ‘no’ for it.”
After years of gasoline additive MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether) leaking into its groundwater, Selbyville dug new wells using the 2011 funds. But MTBE contaminants appeared again, so the Town secured the 2013 funds to build the filtration plant, currently being raised behind Town Hall.
The plant should be finished in May or June. Once the project is completed, Selbyville can turn three wells back on and have five good wells.
“I think you’re going to see a big difference in the quality of water in town,” said Councilman Rick Duncan Sr.
The additional funding is an extension of the $2,526,300 loan from 2013, which built most of the new plant. But more money is needed to finish the job.
“This thing is a necessity. We have to finish to have the other $2.5 million forgiven,” said Councilman Clarence “Bud” Tingle Jr.
The MTBE filtration consists of two simple air-stripping towers, around 30 feet tall, behind the existing water plant. Within the columns, water flows downward, while air is pumped upward. MTBE is a volatile organic compound that evaporates when it touches air.
The Drinking Water Revolving Fund program is administrated by Delaware Department of Health & Social Services.
Trash has been a topic of discussion for some time in Sussex County. Over the years, County Councilman Sam Wilson has voiced his upset with littering, and Councilman Rob Arlett recently focused on illegal dump sites.
At the May 9 council meeting, County Constable Ryan Stuart said one of the main responsibilities of his office is to handle property-maintenance complaints.
He noted that the big three complaints are lot maintenance (grass/weeds), the parking and storing of vehicles, and prohibited accumulations, such as trash. Lot maintenance complaints make up approximately 50 percent of the office’s total complaints per year, equating to three calls per day on average.
Stuart said the definitions of the violations are clear, denoting that property owners are responsible for keeping their grasses and weeds at less than 12 inches in height.
“We do receive a lot of calls about tree limbs and shrubs and things of that nature, which we do not enforce at this time,” he said.
He added that, last year, the office responded to 95 complaints in the county related to junk vehicles.
“We often get feedback that allowing two junk vehicles on a property does contribute to the eyesores in the community. In general, there are allowed to be no more than two unregistered, inoperable or dismantled vehicles.”
The office receives more than 600 complaints a year, and enforcement is complaint-driven, said Stuart.
Once a complaint is received, it is assigned to a staff member for inspection. If a violation is verified, a notice is prepared and delivered — either by hand or certified post. It can be a very time-consuming process, he said, noting that it could take 88 days from the date a complaint is made for it to get to court.
He added that, in 2016, 259 certified notices were mailed and 49 were posted.
“Grass is the most common complaint we get,” Stuart said.
Stuart said the current code allows the County to enforce removal of trash and grass; however, there is no provision to remove vehicles from a property.
“Our chronic violators know the system,” said Mike Costello, government affairs manager for Sussex County. “They know that from Day 1 until the day they go into court for trial that, if they correct it, on the day of trial, we’ll dismiss the charge.”
“Do we need more staff?” asked Councilman George Cole.
“We have enough staff to handle the process in the manner that we have right now,” said Costello. “Should we move to something that’s not complaint-driven, that we’re doing proactively, the current staff would not work.”
Costello went on to discuss roadside littering and dumping, which he said is “highly visible.”
“It impacts everyone in our county. It reflects poorly on who we are and diminishes our reputation in this county.”
Dumping and littering are criminal and traffic offenses, said Costello, adding that the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control maintains a complaint line at 1-800-662-8802.
Arlett asked Costello to find out how many tickets the Delaware State Police have issued in Sussex County related to dumping and littering.
Costello said the fines start at $100 and go up, depending on the approach of the charges.
Cole said he believes the County needs to move from being complaint-driven and be proactive.
“It’s an unfortunate issue,” he said.
Scrap tires were also discussed, as to whether or not they should be added to the list of regulated items within the county.
“I don’t know if I have a solution, but I can tell you, if you adopt the scrap-tire program or incorporate a tire into the regulation as a waste, you then own that,” said Costello. “If you own that, you’ll be responsible for cleaning that up. It’s a major step, for sure.”
In other County news:
• William Pfaff will serve as Sussex County’s next economic development director. Pfaff was chosen from a pool of 20 candidates.
“We’re glad to have you,” said Council President Michael Vincent.
“I’d like to thank the council, the county administrator and the entire selection committee for your support, consideration and my appointment to this position,” Pfaff said. “As I’m sure many of you know, economic development is to a community as fuel is to an engine… I think, as you drive around this county, you will recognize that economic development is alive and working.
“I look forward to working with the council. I look forward to working with the Sussex County government family, supporting and promoting economic development for the citizens of Sussex County.”
• The council proclaimed the month of May as “Community Action Month.”
“Community Action has put a human face on poverty for over 50 years by advocating for limited-income citizens without a voice so that they may enter the middle class and reach for the American dream, replacing their despair with opportunity… therefore, be it resolved, that the Sussex County Council hereby proclaims the month of May 2017 as ‘Community Action Month’ in Sussex County in recognition of the hard work and dedication of all community action agencies, and First State Community Action Agency in the State of Delaware,” said Lawson.
“I’m proud to stand here as a product of community action agencies,” said Kaneisha Trott, communications and public relations specialist for First State Community Action Agency. “The programs they provide to help individuals live without poverty, I can speak on personal experience and testify to the great work they have done and continue to do today.”
• The County will unveil its proposed 2018-fiscal-year budget on Tuesday, May 16, at 10 a.m. in Council Chambers.
Millville Town Manager Debbie Botchie sighed and said, quietly, “It’s been 12 long years.”
Botchie finally got her Christmas wish — of more than a decade — on Tuesday, May 9, when the Millville Town Council approved a contract for the purchase and installation of Christmas lights.
The new lights will be installed on 13 poles along the north side of Route 26, Botchie said. The council unanimously approved the contract with Christmas Décor at its regular meeting on May 9. The lights have been a pet project of Botchie’s the entire 12 years she has been with the Town.
Over the years, Botchie said, she has fielded the question “Why don’t we have Christmas lights like the other towns?” many times.
She has worked with the state Department of Transportation, she said, and the moratorium on new lights has now been lifted. The $19,000 contract with Christmas Décor covers the purchase of the lights and their installation at the beginning of the holiday season, and removal and storage at the season’s end, Botchie said.
The town council approved the expenditure of up to $25,000 on the lights this year, to cover any additional costs associated with their installation and the installation of lights on the new addition to the town hall, to match the rest of the lights on the building.
After this year, the yearly cost to install and remove the lights will be around $2,600.
The council on Tuesday also moved forward on construction of the new town park, with the approval of a contract with George, Miles & Buhr for architectural, engineering and construction-management aspects of the project.
The contract covers architectural and engineering services for the maintenance building and community center in the park, as well as management of the project as a whole. The council approved a $60,840 contract with George, Miles & Buhr for the services. Overall construction of the park will be done by AECOM.
The two firms worked together on the recent addition to the town hall. Despite considerable delays in the completion of that project, Botchie said, “I think it’s going to be a good marriage, if you will,” between the two companies for the park project.
Andrew Lyons Jr. and Morgan Helfrich of George, Miles & Buhr were on hand to go over the agreement with the council.
Vice-Mayor Steve Maneri also reported on Tuesday on the recent cleaning of a ditch on the park property, which was completed by volunteers and with the help of equipment provided by Clarke Droney. Maneri said two refuse bins were filled with brush and debris.
The Baldcypress Bluegrass Festival, set for Saturday, May 20, celebrates not only a classic American musical genre, but also arts and crafts, food and, of course, the Great Cypress Swamp itself.
The festival will once again be held on the Roman Fisher Farm, 24558 Cypress Road, near Frankford. The event is a fundraiser for Delaware Wild Lands, which owns and manages 10,500 acres of the Great Cypress Swamp, which is the largest forest on the Delmarva Peninsula.
This year’s lineup of bands promises to bring on some serious toe-tapping: The High & Wide, Flatland Drive, Free Range, Blue Crab Crossing and New & Spare Fools (featuring Mickey Justice and Todd Smith of Such Fools, Jon Simmons and Martin Wirtz of New & Used Bluegrass and Wes Parks of No Spare Time).
This year, for the first time, the festival will have a craft vendor area. Delaware Wild Lands spokesperson Wendy Scott said festival organizers have teamed up with the Dewey Artist Collaboration, a group of artists and craftspeople who have joined together to promote the artists’ community in the area, as well as the sale of their work.
“We love partnering with other organizations,” Scott said.
The festival will also welcome woodworkers of Olivewood Artforms in Middletown, who will also be selling housewares made from trees harvested in the Great Cypress Swamp. Scott said harvesting some of the wood from the swamp is one way that DWL raises funds that are put toward sustaining the forest.
Maintaining a healthy forest, Scott said, is crucial to help increase and maintain the diversity of animals living there, and the success of the management program is evident.
“There are some animals in the swamp now that haven’t been seen in decades,” she said.
Recently, 57 bald eagles were spotted in the air in part of the swamp, Scott said.
“It’s turning into this incredibly vibrant place,” she said.
During the festival, visitors will have an opportunity to explore the swamp, with free bus tours throughout the day. Fun and educational exhibits will highlight Delaware’s connection to the Chesapeake Bay. A new “Science at Your Door” mobile laboratory will offer a chance to get up close to microscopes, plants and bottle-rockets.
Additionally, the Chesapeake Bay Nutria Eradication Project will explain the battle to get rid of the invasive animal, which destroys wetlands.
Food trucks will offer a variety of foods, from pizza to ice cream. Tables will be set up in the barn, as well as outdoors, for dining. Dogfish Head and Nassau Valley Vineyards will provide beer and wine. The barn will also be the festival’s “jamming area,” so visitors are being encouraged to bring their own instruments and join in the fun.
The festival will be held rain or shine from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday, May 20. The bands and seating will be under a large tent. Parking is off-site in a paved lot; shuttles will bring visitors to the festival grounds.
Tickets are available online at https://baldcypress-bluegrass-festival.eventbrite.com/, at $25 for adults and $10 for youths ages 5 to 17. Tickets will also be available at the gate for $35.