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Articles on this Page
- 05/12/17--12:56: _Frankford youth ask...
- 05/12/17--12:57: _Long Neck community...
- 05/12/17--12:58: _Millville approves ...
- 05/12/17--12:59: _Ocean View makes ap...
- 05/12/17--13:00: _Teachers, secretari...
- 05/12/17--06:16: _BREAKING NEWS: Cand...
- 05/18/17--11:24: _Beach & Bay Cottage...
- 05/18/17--11:57: _Public invited to F...
- 05/18/17--11:59: _OVHS offers lecture...
- 05/18/17--12:05: _County reveals prop...
- 05/18/17--12:12: _Parents ready to fi...
- 05/18/17--12:14: _More sand coming to...
- 05/18/17--12:20: _Fire devastates Bun...
- 05/25/17--12:50: _SMS reading teacher...
- 05/25/17--13:02: _IR’s Clark takes fi...
- 05/25/17--13:10: _LB Artisans Fair ad...
- 05/25/17--13:23: _'Gatsby' gets green...
- 05/25/17--13:30: _S. Bethany police p...
- 05/25/17--13:32: _Big Chill Beach Clu...
- 05/25/17--13:38: _County gets update ...
- 05/12/17--12:56: Frankford youth ask for help on skatepark
- 05/12/17--12:57: Long Neck community looks for more police
- 05/12/17--12:58: Millville approves 2018 budget with $230,000 cushion
- 05/12/17--12:59: Ocean View makes appointment to BOA
- 05/12/17--13:00: Teachers, secretaries change contracts to help IRSD
- 05/12/17--06:16: BREAKING NEWS: Candidate bows out from South Bethany council race
- 05/18/17--11:57: Public invited to Fenwick Island comp plan workshop
- 05/18/17--11:59: OVHS offers lecture on Civilian Conservation Corps
- 05/18/17--12:05: County reveals proposed $143.8M 2018 budget
- 05/18/17--12:12: Parents ready to fight for Spanish Immersion
- 05/18/17--12:14: More sand coming to storm-ravaged local beaches
- 05/18/17--12:20: Fire devastates Bunting & Bertrand
- 05/25/17--12:50: SMS reading teacher gives it her all
- 05/25/17--13:02: IR’s Clark takes first at BPA nationals in presentation management
- 05/25/17--13:10: LB Artisans Fair adds farmers’ market in its 10th year
- 05/25/17--13:23: 'Gatsby' gets green light for IR premiere this weekend
- 05/25/17--13:30: S. Bethany police project gets sky-high bids
- 05/25/17--13:32: Big Chill Beach Club breaks out umbrella room with a view
- 05/25/17--13:38: County gets update on fighting veteran homelessness
Five boys were skateboarding in the Frankford fire hall parking lot in the minutes before the Frankford Town Council’s meeting was to begin just down the street on May 1.
By the time the meeting began, the boys were seated in the back row of the council chambers, skateboards at their feet.
They were there, as it turns out, at the suggestion of Frankford Police Chief Mark Hudson, who had heard their frustrations about not having a dedicated space for skateboarding anywhere nearby.
“Kids are getting yelled at” for skateboarding in the municipal lots, said Derek Check, a 12-year-old Selbyville Middle School student who did most of the talking for the group. “I want to design a place where we can all have a place of our own to skateboard at,” Check told the council. He said he envisions a spot “where we can have fun, and meet new people and get exercise.”
Members of the council and the audience questioned the teens about their hopes for a spot where they could skateboard. They discussed facilities in Ocean City, Md., and in Rehoboth Beach. Councilman Greg Welch brought up concerns about liability for the Town if a skateboarder were to be injured while skating in a Town-sanctioned park.
Mayor Joanne Bacon and resident Liz Carpenter echoed the concerns about liability.
“For that to be something we would actually consider, we would have to do a lot of talking about liability,” Bacon said.
Carpenter encouraged the group to talk to people at other parks, find out how they are funded and supervised, and marshal as much community help as they can.
“Ask them, ‘How did you pay for it?’ ‘How did you get it to work?’ and then come back to us with all of that information, and we’ll see how we can help you make it come true,” Carpenter said.
Councilman Skip Ash said he would bring up the issue with the Frankford Volunteer Fire Company to see if they could help in any way.
“It’s a great idea,” Welch said, adding, however, that “it would take a whole lot to develop something like that. If you can get together and work on getting something together, if you can find a place that’s available, that’s closely suited to your needs… that would help.” Welch said there are paved areas in the town park that might be suitable, but that the Town would need an attendant to supervise activity in a skatepark.
It was mentioned that other parks don’t have attendants but do ask those who skate there to sign waivers releasing the property owners from any liability in case of injury.
Carpenter and Hudson praised the boys for their initiative.
“I give you guys a lot of credit for coming to a meeting and talking in front of a lot of adults you don’t know. It takes a lot of guts,” Carpenter said.
Hudson said he was very pleased that the boys followed up on his suggestion to talk to the council.
In other business, the council on May 1 approved a year’s lease of the old town hall building at 5 Main Street to the Southeast Community Assistance Project (SECAP), for $600 per month. SERCAP is a “quasi-governmental” agency. According to the SERCAP website, the agency helps low-income individuals with water, wastewater, housing and community development issues.
Welch and Ash were thanked for the work they had done to prepare the old town hall for new tenants. The building has also been painted and new carpet installed. Meanwhile, the Town has completed the moving of its offices to 9 Main Street, in the former J.P. Court building, which the Town owns.
The council on May 1 also approved the expenditure of $2,800 for appraisals of 5 Main Street and 11 Frankford Avenue (the former police department and warehouse).
The Town has set its first budget hearing for the 2018-fiscal-year budget for 7 p.m. on June 5.
The council on May 1 also heard concerns from resident Dean Esham, who claimed the Town has not been collecting its business license fees and rental taxes. He said that, unless the Town is more diligent in that area, he does not think it is fair to collect the fees and taxes from anyone else, including himself.
Councilman Marty Presley commented, “I’m ashamed to say it, but that’s news to me. If it’s a legal obligation, everybody should pay it. If not, we should end it.”
The discussion led to comments about the need for a town manager to oversee that and other issues.
Resident Kathy Murray said, “This is just another reason why this Town needs a town manager. You need to cut your ties with some of these consultants and put your money toward a town manager.”
Representing Envision Frankford, Murray also announced that the Town will show movies in the park on June 30 (“The Secret Life of Pets”), July 28 (“Trolls”) and Aug. 25 (“Lego Batman”).
Residents of Long Neck want to keep their community safe and are taking steps to do so. A group of citizens attended the May 9 Sussex County Council meeting to speak to the council about their safety needs.
John Matyjewicz, president of Long Neck Strong — a group of citizens and businesspeople in Long Neck — told the council that, while they live in an unincorporated area, they need help to keep their residents, visitors and businesses safe.
“Our citizens and businesses want to feel safe in their own community… Delaware State Police should provide community policing and protective patrols. As a community, we expect Sussex County and the State of Delaware to keep us safe and remind criminals that our community does not belong to them, but to the residents and businesses.”
Matyjewicz said the area has seen a great deal of growth in the last 10 years; however, the growth does not appear to have garnered any additional police presence.
“I know that County Council pays about $2.2 million a year to the state police to provide 44 police officers for Sussex County. We don’t see enough presence in the Long Neck, Oak Orchard, Angola area.”
The Long Neck Strong group will be hosting a community meeting with state Sens. Gerald Hocker and Brian Pettyjohn, along with State Rep. Ruth Briggs King, on Monday, May 15, at 7 p.m. at Long Neck Elementary School. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the problems plaguing the area and potential solutions. The community meeting is open to all who wish to attend.
Charlie Pollard, owner of Kick n’ Chickin, also spoke to the council, stating that he had had to make the difficult decision to close his store after having been burglarized 13 times in the past three years.
“You can understand why, as a business owner, why I’m frustrated. I have six employees that work at that store that are preparing for the summer.
“I have to ask you, based on these armed robberies out there: If I were to hand you a list of my employees, which one would you pick to face a gun at work? I was unwilling to make that choice, so I closed my business. It was an easy choice but a tough decision… It’s going to be a challenge to work through.”
Pollard said he’s not sure if he would reopen the store if the climate in the area were to change.
“The criminals in Long Neck live under the cover of darkness. They put on hoodies and black masks. They’re not afraid. They’re insulated because of a lot of reasons…” he said.
“In reality, it’s my opinion that this problem doesn’t belong to any one problem or group in Sussex County. We are all a part of the fabric of this community. County Council in some way own part of this — not all of it, but part of it. State Police own part of it. The community, the residents — they all own part of the problem.”
Pollard suggested a task force comprising a representative from County Council, the Delaware State Police, community members and drug enforcement officials, among others.
“There are a lot of different facets of this problem that need to be addressed, and that may just be the starting point.”
He said he hopes to be a part of the solution and appreciates the efforts of those working to fix the problem.
The May 15 meeting of Long Neck Strong will be held at 7 p.m. at Long Neck Elementary School, located at 26064 School Lane, Millsboro. To learn more about Long Neck Strong, visit www.longneckstrong.com.
Selbyville is trying to finish building a drinking-water plant. South Bethany needs to micro-surface its roads. The Indian River School District can’t afford to hire enough teachers.
In Millville, the biggest 2018-fiscal-year budget debates were over fire department funding and guests at the holiday party.
On the former issue, most council members overwhelmingly supported the current structure of donating 6 percent of property tax income (nearly $25,000) to the Millville Volunteer Fire Company.
However, in the wake of alleged embezzlement by the MVFC’s former treasurer, Councilwoman Valerie Faden requested stringent oversight of fire company finances moving forward, including the Town’s impact on the MVFC through two more funding mechanisms: providing a capital grant, via a $500 impact fee on new construction, and helping the MVFC collect $35 discount ambulance service fee on all households.
Public safety isn’t an unworthy cause, Faden said, but she wants to ensure fiscal responsibility. Per the ambulance service agreement, Millville Town Hall will review the MVFC financials when they are completed in November.
The other major debate was over a $1,000 holiday dinner. With Councilwoman Susan Brewer absent, the council was split on whether the Town would pay for spouses or guests to attend a Christmas party with Town employees and town council members. The council will revisit the issue when five members are present, or when the holidays are closer.
The tax rate in Millville’s budget is again unchanged, at 50 cents per $100 of assessed value as assessed by Sussex County, along with the 1.5 percent realty transfer tax and 2 percent gross rental receipt tax for residential and commercial properties.
Millville’s good news is that general revenue ($861,841) is about the same as last year, coming in about 27 percent above general and administration expenses ($631,811). The additional revenue ($230,030) will be earmarked as contingency funding for future needs.
The biggest sources of general income for the Town are property taxes, at $400,000; building permits, at $238,250 (less than budgeted in 2017, although actual revenue nearly doubled that amount); gross rental receipts tax, at $80,000; building permit plan reviews, at $47,000; and Realtor, rental and business licenses, at $38,000.
The biggest general expenses are $338,000 for payroll; $29,500 for health insurance; $28,000 for payroll taxes; $20,000 for the IRA match; $20,400 for buildings/grounds landscaping and maintenance, not including the new town park; $30,000 for AECOM professional services, plus their $18,000 for the comprehensive plan update; $25,000 for the town solicitor; $13,250 for accounting and auditing; and $13,500 for computer repair, software upgrades, the copier and similar expenses.
Town hall also needs a new sign. Although they’re seeking less expensive options, the initial $7,000 estimates led Town Manager Debbie Botchie to commiserate with business owners who have had to change their signage.
A well-aged pot of transfer taxes will pay for the Dukes Drive park, with $3 million earmarked for design, engineering, lighting equipment, trees and more.
Transfer taxes are restricted revenue, and $448,500 is expected this year. Expenses from restricted revenue total $101,335, which includes nearly doubling the police budget, to $85,000, for contracting with the Delaware State Police, as Millville does not have its own police force. Millville also anticipates receiving a $12,500 Sussex County grant for police services.
In other recent Millville news:
• Building guidelines have loosened up in the Residential (R) zoning district. Building Official Eric Evans said that Ordinance 17-06 will create more “realistic” requirements for a “municipal-style” home. Lots can be smaller and houses taller. Plus, boats and camp travel trailers can be stored.
The change doesn’t affect a huge number of properties, officials said, since most houses in Millville are actually zoned in the Residential Planned Community (RPPC) or Master Planned Community (MPC) zones. Only about 60 acres are zoned Residential, of which only 30 percent isn’t developed yet, said Kyle Gulbronson of AECOM.
The maximum building height was increased from 35 to 42 feet, and the minimum lot area decreased from 10,000 to 7,500 square feet. Because of that, buildings may be denser: principal building and accessory buildings maximum coverage per lot has increased from 30 to 45 percent.
Also, minimum lot frontage decreased from 75 to 60 feet; side setbacks decreased from 10 to 7 feet; and front setbacks decreased from 40 to 25 feet.
The full text of Ordinance 17-06 is available at town hall and online at http://millville.delaware.gov/info/town-ordinances.
• In Bishop’s Landing, the Phase 5 final site plan was revised from 53 townhomes to 45 townhomes, some wider than previously planned.
Changes included stormwater management, replacing plans for a volleyball court with a community garden and addition of a temporary construction entrance at Burbage Road.
The town council’s next workshop is Tuesday, May 23, at 7 p.m.
The Town of Ocean View had received a letter of resignation from Board of Adjustment Member James LeGates, who stated that he and his wife are planning to return to Pennsylvania.
“With happy memories of Ocean View, we look forward to return visits, along with other family members and friends,” he wrote.
“I want to thank him for his service on the commission,” said Mayor Walter Curran at the town’s May 9 council meeting.
The council had also received a letter from resident Greg Neuner, who stated his interest in applying for the vacancy. He was unanimously appointed to LeGate’s seat by the council.
Country Village resident Steve Micciche was in attendance at the May 9 meeting and spoke to the council about his upset in not being appointed to the Planning & Zoning Commission following the resignation of P&Z chairman Gary Meredith.
“Several weeks ago, I received a call from a good friend and neighbor, Gary Meredith… He talked to me at considerable length and asked if I would be interested in serving. So I sent letter in to the town manager.”
Micciche said that his letter was discussed, as was Meredith’s resignation, at the council’s April 11 meeting; however, at the April 25 reorganizational meeting, Curran recommended Meredith be replaced by Kent Liddle, who once served on the commission but had resigned to run for town council, and who had also sent in a letter of interest. At that meeting, Liddle was appointed unanimously.
“I guess my question is, was my name ever brought up to be voted on, or was he just put in there?” asked Micciche. “I never had a chance to address the council.”
Curran personally apologized to Micciche for not contacting him about the appointment and noted that it is the duty of the mayor to make an offer or recommendation as to who should be appointed.
“It is wholly on me,” he said, noting that he believed Liddle had a better background for the position.
Micciche said he was dissatisfied with how the situation was handled and now has no interest in serving the Town. Twardzik asked that, if he should change his mind, Micciche reach out to him.
Cottages resident Baptist Damiano said he also didn’t believe the appointment was fair to Micciche.
Public Works Director Charles McMullen said he recalled both Micciche and Liddle’s names were mentioned at the April 25 meeting, prior to Liddle’s nomination.
“Something else people should remember also is that the purpose of these boards is to make them representative of each of the voting districts… When Gary resigned for health reasons, the appropriate thing to do would be to look in District 3 and District 4.”
Also on May 9, town Finance Director Sandra Peck said property reassessments have been completed, with notices sent out on Friday. She said most residents have received them, and that a handful of people have already filed for appeals.
“Overall, the values and the total for the town went down under $2 million,” she said.
Peck also noted that at the end of the 2017 fiscal year, the Town was 115 percent, or $111,000, over budget.
Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin reported that, last month, the department turned over 295 pounds of unused, unwanted medications as part of the DEA’s semi-annual Drug Take-Back Day.
He also reported that the department will be using grant money to purchase two bicycles for the department.
“Officer AnnMarie Dalton is going to be heading up our bicycle patrol unit, which you may see her out and about, patrolling some of the neighborhoods. The goal is to get out and try to interact with the community a little more.”
Twardzik informed council that last week McLaughlin had spoke to the Sussex County Republican Women’s Club and had the audience “spellbound for about 25 minutes.”
“He is an extremely valuable asset,” Twardzik said of McLaughlin.
In other Town news:
• The Town proclaimed Monday, June 5, as Dunes Pink Classic Day, recognizing the Women’s Golf Association of Bear Trap Dunes for their work in raising funds for breast cancer treatment and research.
“In its first 10 years of operation, the Dunes Pink Classic has raised in excess of $300,000,” said Curran. “The efforts by those who plan and run the Dunes Pink Classic, as well as those who participate and donate to such a worthy cause, should be recognized and appreciated by the entire community.”
• The council adopted an ordinance to amend the Emergency Reserve Trust Fund, which currently has a funding level of $275,000 — less than one month of the operating budget for the fiscal year. The goal of the amendment is to grow the reserve to 20 percent of the annual operating budget by setting aside movies from transfer-tax revenue.
• Ocean View recognized Arbor Day on Friday, April 2, by planting a kousa dogwood in front of the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building. The tree was donated by Delmarva Power to the Delaware Forest Service. It is the 10th year the Town has been named a Tree City USA.
• Concerts in John West Park will begin next month. Upcoming concerts will be held on Friday, June 9, and Friday, June 30, featuring the Glass Onion Band and the Delmarva Big Band, respectively.
• The council unanimously approved to add Councilman Tom Maly as a check-signer to the Town’s Fulton Bank account.
Some Indian River School District staff won’t make as much money this year as they were originally entitled to. They’ve reduced their next three years of raises to help the district deal with budget shortfalls and impending state budget cuts.
The teachers and secretaries in Indian River Education Association (IREA) agreed this week to spread next year’s pay raise over the next few years.
The compromise was needed to meet the district’s financial goal of rebuilding a reserve fund and also compensate staff for losing the raises they were initially promised at contract negotiations several years ago.
“The teachers and the secretaries said overwhelmingly, ‘We’re going to help the district out,’” said IREA President J.R. Emanuele. “We’re going to spread it out, we’re going to take less money over the years” and help the district financially, “and, hopefully, be able to protect people’s jobs in the process.”
The new contract agreements will affect approximately 840 teachers and 74 secretaries.
“We are pleased that our teachers and secretaries have approved the renegotiated contract agreements. The cost savings from these measures will be of great assistance as we attempt to offset the State of Delaware’s proposed budget cuts in education,” stated Superintendent Mark Steele.
“We thank the Indian River Education Association for its cooperation during these difficult financial times. We sincerely appreciate the members’ willingness to reopen negotiations and to work with the administration to address the anticipated budget shortfalls in Fiscal Year 2018.”
Instead of expecting a 5 percent raise this year, staff will receive 1 percent, then 2 percent, then 3 percent, each year through the 2020 fiscal year.
“I think it was big of the teachers and secretaries to step up and do that.” Emanuele said. “It’s a big deal for people to look and say, ‘I can have this money in my pocket right now, or am I willing to sacrifice and know it’s going to take a lot more years to catch back up?’”
For example, a five-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree, plus 15 additional credits in continued education, would be paid $900 less in the next three years than they would have been under the previous contract terms. A 20-year teacher with a master’s degree and 30 credits would be paid about $1,400 less.
But the employees got some perks in return, many regarding time input, which should make their lives easier.
“In lieu of that money, not being made financially whole after those few years, the district offered some contract language,” Emanuele said.
The union secured language about where to place non-student workdays on the calendar; extra time for IEP caseloads; what type of lesson plans need to be used by teachers; when doctor’s notes are required; staff meetings; parent conference scheduling; casual dress days; and more.
It’s not perfect, and not everyone benefits form the changes. For example, secretaries don’t have parent-teacher conferences.
But anyone retiring in the next couple years will be made financially whole, Emanuele said.
After the governor’s proposed budget included education funding cuts, the IRSD began scrambling to balance the potential $3.5 million loss. The IRSD approached the union to consider reopening contract negotiations. Teachers and secretaries agreed before Easter. The board and union approved the changes this month.
Union members were able to vote at any of eight meetings and locations over the past few weeks. Secretaries ratified the changes 21-1. Teachers ratified the changes 211-94.
Between contract changes and the union’s help lobbying for the recently passed referendum, “We’re hoping all the effort we put in and sacrifices we made — we’re hoping the district can save people’s jobs,” Emanuele said.
“If they didn’t accept it, there could be huge cuts,” Emanuele said. “There still could be.”
Custodians opted not to renegotiate contracts.
IRSD staff are not required to join the union. But the IREA still represents and protects all staff, such as in contract negotiations or discipline issues. The 829 IREA members include 653 who are teachers and other professionals, 100 paraprofessionals, 42 custodians and 34 secretaries.
Existing paraprofessional contracts are already scheduled to end this summer, and there is fear that many will lose their jobs.
Because of the way special education, in particular, is changing, unit-wise, the board approved Superintendent Mark Steele’s concept to not over-hire staff before enrollment projections are complete (which results in more local money being spent).
He has also suggested programmatic changes, which requires more teachers. That means replacing paras with teachers, at a rate of two-to-one, which would reduce the overall manpower of schools.
“That was the discussion we had last night with the board. They were looking at numbers and names and things like that,” Steele said on May 9.
Until then, Director of Personnel Celeste Bunting will be visiting schools to better explain the situation to staff.
The board will continue discussions on May 22 at 7 p.m. at Sussex Central High School.
“Right now, the board is really looking at everything with a fine-tooth comb and a magnifying glass,” Steele said.
The May 8 meeting included some back-and-forth dialogue between school board members and educators in the audience. That is very rare, as board meetings include time for comments but not necessarily discussion.
Steele said he enjoyed the dialogue, because he’s advocated for transparency in his new administration. It allowed people to ask board members to explain the challenges of the governor or legislators cutting budgets.
But, at the same time, members of the public — including retired attorney Jim Reichert — have argued that the school board is violating Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws by discussing the budget and job positions in executive session.
But Board President Charles Bireley said their attorney has given the OK to continue as such.
For instance, the board discussed, but didn’t decide on, potential changes to the Spanish immersion program and school resource officers (local police officers working inside the schools).
But looking at individuals’ names helps the board visualize the impact of their decisions, Steele suggested.
“Because they were looking at names and jobs and positions and wanted to know,” Steele said. “They were looking at a list of paras … Sometimes people can’t grasp the concept until they see actual names and numbers.”
If their contracts won’t continue for the 2017-2018 school year, teachers must be notified by May 15, para-educators by July 1.
Some teachers have already been told not to expect a job next year, including some temporary hires. Additionally, early-learning program Project Village will be scaled back from five locations to just the Selbyville location, which can be funded with State money. The other locations were mostly funded with local money.
By Laura Walter
As South Bethany’s town council election approaches on May 27, part-time South Bethany resident and current Councilman Wayne Schrader has decided to exit the race.
Schrader is an attorney in Virginia, where he said this year’s trial calendar and caseload are so packed that he could not dedicate the time that South Bethany deserves.
“I’m not going to seek the office,” Schrader said. “I still am practicing law and I, among other things, looked at my schedule for the year. It became clear to me that there would be a significant risk that I would miss too many meetings. … It just wasn’t fair to the Town. It wasn’t fair to me, either. I could not do it.”
Schrader said he planned to announce his withdrawal from the election publicly at the May 12 council meeting. He said he’s enjoyed his time on the town council, with his two-year term ending in June of 2017. He was also the council’s representative on the Charter & Code Committee.
“It’s been great. It’s been challenging. It’s been really wonderful to meet all of my neighbors who, before, I didn’t have the chance to meet or interact with,” he said. “I enjoyed the debate on the council and the interaction with council members,” as well as the committees and police department. “I wish I could do it again.”
There’s still important work to be done in South Bethany, and Schrader said he will possibly seek office again in future. Until then, his weekend trips to the beach will focus more on pleasure than business.
Five candidates remain in the 2017 race for three council seats: three challengers, Joseph Mormando, Sharon Polansky and former councilman Timothy Saxton; and incumbents Carol Stevenson and Frank Weisgerber Jr. They will each speak at the May 12 town council meeting, meet the public and briefly introduce themselves and their goals.
The two-year terms for the three winners in the May 27 election will begin in June.
Absentee voting will be permitted. More information is available by visiting town hall at 402 Evergreen Road or online at www.southbethany.org, by writing email@example.com or by calling (302) 539-3653.
(Editor’s note: This is the third 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. to 4 p.m.)
The owners of this home had been searching for a vacation home on the New Jersey shore for several years, but they couldn’t seem to find just the right one. After a friend recommended they look in Bethany Beach, one of the owners found this newly completed home in 2016 and said she knew immediately it was perfect for their active family.
She brought other family members to look at several properties, never revealing which home she had chosen. As soon as her son walked into this home, he said, “Oh, Mom — this is it!” And it was.
The five-bedroom, 5.5-bath beach home is located on the historic Loop Canal, a block and a half from the ocean and two blocks from downtown Bethany. The location fulfills the family’s desire to have easy access to all the recreational activities the area has to offer, including kayaking right out their back door.
The design features a spacious main living area on the upper level, anchored by a central kitchen that is infused with natural light and provides plenty of space for their large extended family to gather both inside and out for meals and conversation. Warm pinewood floors and a stone-faced gas fireplace keep it cozy, while teal accents and plantation shutters complete the coastal cottage appeal.
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.
Every municipality in the state of Delaware is required to write a comprehensive plan, and Fenwick Island is now preparing its 10-year plan update.
The public is being invited to a comprehensive plan workshop on Saturday, May 20, from 9 to 11 a.m. They will be able to learn about the planning process, hear Fenwick’s priorities for the next decade, view display board and maps, and ask questions and learn more.
The Fenwick Island Planning Commission has done the legwork, analyzing the Town’s past, present and potential future. Once adopted, the comp plan should guide the town council forward as today’s citizens intended.
Fenwick’s first comp plan was created and certified by Gov. Ruth Ann Minner in 2007, with a mandated five-year update in 2012.
Writing an update doesn’t require the same heavy lifting as the premiere 2007 document. But since January of 2016, the Planning Commission has edited the proposed updated version, page by page, and gotten input from the Office of State Planning Coordination.
Some changes or updates include: U.S. Census data; impacts of sea-level rise; impacts from development on Route 54 and across Sussex County; and more.
Since 2007, the Town has accomplished many goals from that initial plan, including: improvements to the town park; providing for more affordable housing by expanding the number of apartments above commercial buildings; new Route 1 signage to enhance the sense of arrival and place; changes to building height and freeboard; limits for rental occupancy and floor-area ratio; stormwater improvements and studies; an upgraded town website; and more.
The town approved the comp plan’s first reading on April 28. Meanwhile, the State is reviewing the plan to ensure Fenwick is on track, with town officials hopeful that they will only be requesting minor changes by late May. The council will likely approve the second and final reading this summer. With any luck, the state will officially certify the comp plan in autumn.
In other Fenwick Island news:
• Mobile telephone service is sometimes so bad that police calls are being dropped. Town management will begin discussions with cell phone providers about the lack of coverage in town, with one caveat: no cell towers on commercial or residential buildings.
• Lifeguards will ask beachgoers to move chairs, umbrellas or canopies that block their view of the water and lifeguard stands. But if someone refuses, do town officials have the power to make them move?
Roy Williams asked that question during a discussion of new beach rules in Rehoboth Beach and Bethany Beach that seek to limit various beachgoer amenities, such as tents and canopies of a certain size.
It’s hard to compare Fenwick to those towns, said Tim Ferry, head of the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol. Fenwick’s beach is much larger, from dune to sea. There are also fewer day-to-day visitors, and people tend to know the rules better, he said.
Councilman Richard Mais suggested the council wait until a specific problem arises that needs addressing, but Councilwoman Vicki Carmean said she would prefer to anticipate problems and give Town staff the authority to address hindrances.
• It’s Fenwick on four wheels: Town Hall will again sell black license plates for the fronts of vehicles that say “Fenwick Island” in white lettering. They’ll be sold to the public for $12 apiece.
• One major storm could cost the town thousands, if not millions, of dollars. So the town council directed staff to research the practicality of increasing the Town’s old borrowing limits from $500,000 to a larger number.
“If we were to have a really bad storm, like the one that hit in 1962, a half a million dollars would not cover the cost of replacing the infrastructure,” Carmean said.
Currently, Fenwick has the “unique” and “enviable position” of having no debt, said Town Manager Terry Tieman.
• Where four dune crossovers were extended, the Town will purchase more Mobi-Mats to help people access the beach. After that, they’ll start replacing older mats at Atlantic, Dagsboro, Bayard, Farmington, Houston, King streets. The $24,000 cost will be included in the 2018 budget proposal.
• A recent smoke test successfully identified sewer problems in town.
“Where we had odors, we found problems, so now those problems can be corrected,” Tieman said. “We found cracks in sewer line walls, we found caps missing, we found toilets [where] the seals were not in place right. So the mystery is solved.”
• Although individual businesses have chipped in to support the Fenwick Flicks summer moving showings after the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce withdrew from the activity, the Town still needs about $1,500 to sponsor the movies this summer.
• Residents should beware of an IRS scam. People should contact the police and the IRS inspector general if they suspect someone is trying to scam them for “unpaid taxes.”
“We’ve received several reports of people getting phone calls [from someone] claiming to be an IRS agent,” said FIPD Sgt. Brian Parsons. “This is a scam. The IRS will never call you. They will send you a letter.”
• The Business Development Committee will resume meeting in September, after the busy summer season. Although the planned Homegrown Harvest Festival won’t be fleshed out into reality this year, “Fenwick Fridays” are coming in October, being akin to a “First Friday” event where stores will stay open late and perhaps have refreshments, sales or other enticements.
The Fenwick Island Town Council’s next regular meeting is May 26 at 3:30 p.m.
While many know Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, less well known is the Emergency Conservation Work (EWC) Act — more commonly known as the Civilian Conservation Corps.
Next Wednesday, May 24, at 7 p.m., the Ocean View Historical Society will host a public lecture on the CCC given by Carol Psaros, a local history advocate and author.
Psaros, published her second book in 2015, titled, “Chickens & Mosquitoes: The Art of Uncertain Times,” which followed the life of a young man who drops out of college and joins the Civilian Conservation Corps to help support his family.
Her talk, “Civilian Conservation Corps Camps and Iconic Spots in 1930’s Sussex County,” will discuss camp life and how the Corps’ “We Can Take It” spirit changed Sussex County and the nation forever.
Psaros began her research on the CCC after finding her own father’s scrapbooks from his time in one of the camps.
“My dad was a historian by heart. He taught high school history at Georgetown High School later in his life, after the CCC. He loved that job. He saved everything from the time he was a young man, even in high school, he started creating these scrapbooks. So, I have them and I started reading them.
“And I was just totally floored by the jobs that he had had and all the things he had done that I had no clue about — particularly during that period when he really wanted to be in college, but instead, because of the stock market crash, he had to drop out when he was a sophomore and find work to help support his family because he was the oldest child.
“I decided it was a time period I wanted to research and learn about. Using the documents in his scrapbook is how I wrote my book…”
During the Wednesday talk, Psaros will discuss the state of Delaware during the Depression, a topic which she said has not been covered much by the historical society.
“The Civilian Conservation Corps was a grand experiment that was part of the Works Progress Administration, which FDR created many, many, many programs across our country to try to put people back to work in the midst of the Great Depression.
“I wanted to do a presentation that would talk about the Civilian Conservation Corps Camps in Delaware. In 1935, there were eight of them. Four were mosquito-control camps, which no other state had under the CCC. My talk will be about those camps and also what they did to improve the moral of those men and to improve the financial status and the millions of men enrolled in the CCC in that decade.”
The lecture is free for OVHS current members and costs $5 for non-members. Light refreshments will be served, and free parking is available in the Ocean View Town Hall parking lots.
“We thought, with all of our building projected, we decided to charge a little bit for our lectures. Hopefully, it won’t discourage people,” said Psaros.
Following the crash of the stock market in 1929, in which billions of dollars were lost and 30 percent of the workforce was unemployed, the country endured an economic depression.
According to the CCC Legacy website, “Enrollees throughout the country were credited with renewing the nation’s decimated forests by planting an estimated three billion trees between 1933 and 1942. Today the legacy of the CCC is continued through the effort of thousands of young people who work on the same ground first restored by the men of the CCC.”
Psaros said she’ll be covering what the men in those camps did and how they impacted Delaware.
“I’m also going to talk about some Depression-day iconic spots in Delaware. Those places that you’d really want to be, and in Sussex County particularly, some of which were Oak Orchard, Rosedale Beach, Riverdale, Carey’s Camp, the Bellhaven Hotel, the Seaford Nylon Plant... spots in Sussex County that were kind of the ‘place to be’ for various reasons.
“It’ll be a look at Sussex County on the 1930s, which was a slower, sweeter time but certainly not a less stressful time. There was a lot of financial stress, there was the approaching war — it was a turbulent time, and there were some things that made it unique to look back on.”
She will be giving a history of the CCC and its Delaware camps, as she said most are unfamiliar with their work.
“It’s a part of history most people don’t focus on, because nobody likes to talk about terrible times, and they were for a lot of families. Certainly, for my father’s family from Delmar, it was a struggle. His family had seven children… I’m sure it was tough on most people.”
Psaros herself said she knew little of them and that her family rarely spoke of the Depression.
“When I was a child growing up, I heard my mom and my dad talk about the Depression as, ‘terrible times, terrible times.’ And then they would move on, because nobody likes to talk about terrible times. Sixty years later, after, unfortunately, both of them had passed on, I found a box that contained my father’s scrapbooks.
“There were millions of men enrolled, and it’s amazing those records are there. Thank goodness they did document. I have my dad’s written records of the first Delaware camp. He stayed with the CCC longer than most. I was able to get a sense of what being inside one of those camps was like.
“They did many, many different things. I’ll be talking about what the typical camp was like and what kind of camps we had in Delaware during my lecture.”
While her research stemmed from her father’s own time in the camps and his personal scrapbooks, the lecture will focus on the CCC and not him personally, she noted, as many men throughout the country were involved in the CCC.
“The men were [each] paid $30 a month for his labor. But he didn’t get it — $25 of it was sent to his family back home. Because of that, the CCC reached millions of more people, instead of the 3 or 4 million men who were enrolled, reached probably 12 to 15 million people, they think, just in the money that went back home.”
Psaros said she hopes community members will be able to attend the lecture and learn a little more about the history of Delaware.
“It should be a nice evening,” she said.
“Chickens & Mosquitoes: The Art of Uncertain Times,” will not be for sale during the lecture; however, those interested purchasing in a copy may speak with Psaros after the lecture or contact her via email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this week, the Sussex County Council reviewed its $143.8 million draft budget for the 2018 fiscal year.
In a presentation by County Administrator Todd Lawson and County Finance Director Gina Jennings at the May 16 council meeting, the council was first given a rundown as to the highlights of the previous fiscal year’s budget.
The 2017 budget included digitizing county zoning maps, adding $104 million to the assessment rolls, scanning more than 170,000 property record cards to be accessed online and assisting more than 200 households with housing repairs.
In the 2017 fiscal year, the County processed 21 changes of zone, 24 conditional uses, 20 subdivisions, 120 site plans and 209 Board of Adjustment applications. They maintained more than 69,000 sewer accounts and completed seven annexations to the unified sanitary sewer district, and taxable assessments increased by 3.5 percent.
In the fiscal year, there were more than 23,800 calls for EMS service, a 5 percent increase from the 2016 fiscal year. The EMS scene-arrival time improved by 12 percent.
Lawson noted that in the 2018 budget, the General Fund is up $13.8 million. Staff recommended an additional $10 million contribution to pension funds, an $836,000 increase in public safety, and earmarking $600,000 for economic development.
Library funding for the coming fiscal year is proposed to be $5.5 million, a $262,000 increase.
The proposed budget does not include a change in the property tax rate, sewer and water service charges, or building permit fees.
“Even though there are no tax increases, we did take a look at some of our fees,” said Jennings.
The County plans to implement a $20 recording fee, similar to that in New Castle County.
According to Jennings, it can take staff in the bureau office up to two hours to complete the task of recording marriage license returns in the web marriage system. Had the County implemented and charged a $20 recording fee for the 1,620 marriage licenses issued in the 2016 fiscal year, the county would’ve received an additional $29,840 in revenue.
Out-of-office marriage ceremony fees would be raised by $25 dollars, with the charge being $100 for residents and $175 for non-residents.
The County plans to add a plan review fee — wherein a percentage of the original fee will be charged per review. For instance, for a subdivision, the current fee structure has a flat fee of $2,000 plus $42 per unit for two reviews, with additional reviews costing $20 per unit. The proposed fee would be a flat fee of $2,500 plus $42 per unit for two reviews. The third review would then cost 60 percent of the original fee, the fourth 50 percent, and so forth.
The County also plans to change the current rate for bulk water users from $3 per gallon to $4 per gallon. The fee for wastewater holding tank discharge could be lowered from $500 to $100.
The County proposes to budget a collection of $20.1 million in realty transfer tax in operations.
“We need to spend some of that in capital… I want to caution that if the State were to cut any realty transfer tax that it would have an effect on our budget, since we are using most of it, whether it’s in operation or in capital,” explained Jennings.
For every dollar of realty tax and property tax spent by the County, 55 cents will be spent on public safety.
“Clearly the largest category within our budget,” said Lawson, noting the next largest amount is 15 cents of each dollar, which goes to the general running of the County government.
The council also introduced a few ordinances that would have an impact if the proposed budget were to be approved. One would limit the tax credit to only the buyer’s half of the 1.5 percent for first-time homebuyers.
“This is what New Castle County does, and we feel it follows the original intent of the credit that the State put in the Code,” said Jennings. “What we are asking is that the buyer still be exempt but the seller pay their .75 percent. So, the County will receive .75 percent on any of the first-time homebuyer credit.”
The County is also looking to change its realty transfer grant. Currently if a municipality does not collect at least $20,000, the County will grant that town or city $15,000. Staff proposed that the County change the ordinance to pay the difference between what is collected and $20,000.
“Let’s take a look at the Town of Frankford,” said Jennings. “In Fiscal-’13, they collected $8,826. We gave them $15,000 because they didn’t collect $20,000. What we’re recommending is, let’s give all the towns equal footing… Under this proposal, they would then collect $11,174.”
Public safety a focus
Through an agreement with the Delaware State Police, Sussex County has supplemented the police coverage in the county for nearly 20 years, as there was a call for more protection.
“The County stepped up and has contributed millions of dollars over the nearly 20 years to add troopers to Sussex County’s coverage,” said Lawson.
He said that the County was recently contacted by the State and asked to revisit their agreement with the state police.
“In summary, they would like to arrange a new agreement with the County whereby … we will now assume the full total and real cost of 22 troopers here in Sussex County.”
Lawson said the minimum staffing levels of 187 troopers would remain in place; the trooper-first-class salary cap would be eliminated and replaced with funding for a rank structure equivalent to the rank structure of the State Police, not to exceed the rank of lieutenant; funding for master corporal, sergeant and lieutenant would be capped at a Step 21 (20 years of service, pension eligible); patrol shift differential pay would now be included for 21 of the 22 troopers (excluding lieutenant) at a total cost of $42,000 per year; special pays of troopers with additional duties, such as special operations and canine, would account for an increased estimated cost of $3,900 per year.
Overtime for the 22 troopers would be funded at the divisional average cost of overtime for a patrol trooper ($7,422 per trooper) for a total cost of $169,000. The new agreement would continue to require funding for four fully-outfitted patrol vehicles.
“This proposal will cost the County additional money,” said Lawson. “As a result, we’ve asked senior leadership within the State Police to consider maintaining the current staffing levels of 192, and they are taking that request under consideration.”
“We’re looking at a $2.9 million contract,” said Jennings. “As we were preparing the budget, we already knew what our contract was going to look like in 2018. That was supposed to be $2.3 million… Now we’re seeing a $678,866 increase.
“We can still support this using savings that we have currently.”
Jennings showed that if council chose not to support the $678,866 increase, it would result, money-wise, in a decrease of five troopers.
Councilman Rob Arlett said he was concerned the State asked the County to increase its funding for State Police coverage by 30 percent without adding a single trooper.
“That is of great concern to me. In the end, yes, we have to work together. Yes, we will continue to work with them, but it’s their responsibility.”
Arlett asked if the State Police said whether or not they would decrease the coverage by five officers if the County does not fund the increase.
“No they have not,” said Lawson.
“I think we need to have more dialogue as it relates to that. This County has grown population-wise significantly… I’m not so sure we’re getting the increase in protection as it relates to that increase in population. It’s not the Delaware State Police — it’s the legislature and the governor… That is of great concern to me, and I’m not sure where it’s going to go.”
Public safety makes up 61 percent of grants to be given out by the County, with 38 percent of the County’s expenditures going to public safety.
“That’s about $35.9 million of the County’s total expenditures,” said Lawson.
Councilman George Cole asked if there was any money earmarked to address homelessness, the drug epidemic or perhaps other issues that face the County.
Jennings said there is $10,000 set aside for the County’s homelessness initiative, as well as a contingency account with $600,000 set aside for other initiatives.
Cole also asked if the proposed budget also has funding available to hire people to do additional enforcement, as the County has been known to be complaint-driven.
“I’d like to take a stab at this with current staffing levels that we have and see how effective we are,” said Lawson.
Cole added that he believes the County should look into hiring a full-time County attorney.
“I think the County is getting to a size… I see a system where we need a full-time County attorney in-house and still have retained attorneys. I’d love for us to see us starting to think about a full-time County attorney, because when our departments need legal help, it would be in-house.”
Council President Michael Vincent thanked Lawson, Jennings and the rest of the County staff for their time and effort on the proposed budget.
“This budget makes some serious investments for Sussex County’s future, and I think the public appreciates once again their government responding to their needs without breaking the bank.”
The council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget during its 10 a.m. meeting on Tuesday, June 13. The public is being invited to comment in person on that date, or submit comments through email to email@example.com. By law, the council must adopt a budget by June 30.
To view a copy of the proposed 2018-fiscal-year budget, as well as the accompanying budget presentation, visit www.sussexcountyde.gov/county-budget.
Also during the May 16 meeting, the council interviewed Ellen Magee, a nominee to serve on the County’s Board of Adjustment.
“I am a business owner, a life-long resident of Sussex County. I was born and raised here. I know the county pretty well. I’m proud of what we have and where we live. I think I will look at the different applications, ask questions. I have pretty good common sense. I think I would do a good job.”
Magee said her qualifications include serving as the president of the Delaware Burn Camp, as well as serving as a lifetime member of the Roxana Fire Department’s Ladies’ Auxiliary, where she has served as president and vice-president.
Magee also noted that having passed a principles-of-real-estate course in 2012, along with being a business owner, gives her a good background to make BOA-related decisions.
She said she knows of no known conflicts of interest, but if one to were arise, she would recuse herself from any application before the board.
Cole went on to press the topic, stating that the board has been criticized as handing out variances “like candy.”
“Do you think you will weigh the law more, so than an applicant coming in and saying they have a financial reason…?” he asked.
“I think that law is what we need to go by. I don’t think I’ll have an issue. I have too much of my mother.”
Magee was unanimously appointed to the board with a 5-0 vote. Her term is set to expire in June 2019.
Arlett thanked Magee’s predecessor, Jeff Hudson, for his nearly 20 years of service on the board.
During public comments, former state senator George Bunting spoke about concerns related to public safety.
“Years ago, I came before this body, proposing a county police force, as those I represented wanted more protection,” which led to the creation of the County subsidizing of state troopers.
Bunting recommended a meeting of county officials and Sussex law-enforcement officials to discuss ideas, moving forward, to prevent crime.
“I like Councilman Cole’s idea of promoting Neighborhood Watch programs and other proactive measures. All of us have the obligation to report things that could lead to preventing a crime or solving one.”
He noted the importance of community participation in the success of keeping the county safe.
Parents are lining up to defend the Spanish Immersion program against potential budget cuts in the Indian River School District. Expect signs. Expect small children making speeches in multiple languages. Expect a full 30 minutes of public comments at the school board meeting on May 22, at 7 p.m. at Indian River High School.
The school board has promised to review the entire budget, line by line. But some district parents were very upset to see elementary-school Spanish Immersion listed as a possible area for budget cuts, which have also roused concern about potential cuts to teachers’ extracurricular pay and paraprofessional jobs.
Spanish Immersion began in the 2012-2013 school year at John M. Clayton Elementary School and in 2013-2014 at East Millsboro Elementary School. Students began the program each year in kindergarten, and the oldest groups of those students are now finishing their fourth- and third-grade years, respectively.
The children learn for half the day exclusively in Spanish and half in English. The goal is to teach children a new language by completely immersing them in it.
But Spanish Immersion currently requires the district to hire new Spanish teachers every year, as students age through the system and require teachers who can teach higher-grade-level material in Spanish. That’s hard to balance with other educators who may not have a job next year. Selbyville Middle School is also supposed to begin teacher training to anticipate the upcoming class.
But the school board could cut the program or stop admitting new kindergarten students. IRSD Superintendent Mark Steele said he will fight for the program if the school board broaches the subject on May 22.
“Next Monday night, we’re going to know one way or the other,” Steele told a concerned group of parents on May 16. “I hope this turns out to be a non-issue Monday night.”
“Spanish immersion” is not specifically listed on the May 22 agenda, as it was on the May 8 meeting agenda. However, it could be rolled in to discussion under “Budget/Programs,” which the board has typically delayed until executive session, although state code requires most discussion of public money to occur in open session.
Spanish Immersion was discussed around 11:30 p.m. during the executive session of the May 8 board meeting. Board President Charles Bireley has repeatedly said that budget cuts are being discussed away from the public because people may lose their jobs, and names have been mentioned. State law prohibits public discussion of “personnel matters in which the names, competency and abilities of individual employees or students are discussed, unless the employee or student requests that such a meeting be open.”
Parents said they love this program, which is open to native English or native Spanish speakers. The program is lauded among educators, and students appear to be performing at or above grade level.
“Nobody wants to cut one program,” said Steele, whose own daughter is a JMC Spanish Immersion partner teacher.
The problem is finances. Statewide, districts are reeling from the Gov. John Carney’s proposal to cut Education Sustainment funds, which equals $2 million for IRSD. Having passed a current-expense referendum to increase local property tax revenues for the district, IRSD officials had only expected $1.5 million in cuts, not $3.5 million.
The Delaware General Assembly will make the final decision, and the IRSD administrators are begging the public to contact their local legislators to have the funding replaced in the 2018-fiscal-year budget, likely to be approved June 30.
But they could also approve the cuts and allow a match tax, which permits school boards to raise taxes without referendum. School district officials have chafed at the potential burden of raising taxes further to fill the state’s deficit.
The IRSD board has already voted to cut four of five Project Village early-learning sites, as well as leave empty administrator positions at the district’s central office. Steele himself is eligible for two assistant superintendents, but both positions now remain empty.
The board didn’t act before the May 15 deadline to notify teachers of cuts to their positions, so that means finding another road forward to a balanced budget.
“We would have eliminated almost 70 positions if we had gone that way,” Steele said — something he had proposed but not wanted. “The relief was unbelievable on my end” when the board didn’t pursue that action, he said.
Although they can’t let teachers go to balance the coming year’s budget, the board can still leave empty positions open.
After hearing that some board members have allegedly never visited an immersion classroom (How can you cut a program when you haven’t seen it in action? one parent argued), Steele said he will encourage the board to tour the classrooms before the Monday meeting.
“Anyone can talk to a board member, but keep in mind: this last year has been tough,” Steele said. “If you’re going to the board Monday night, bring out all the positive points of the program.”
Board members, he said, are exhausted, between budget decisions, two referendum votes (the first one unsuccessful) and last year’s ousting of the district’s chief financial officer over allegations of mishandled finances.
Since he became superintendent in January, Steele has worked almost nonstop on the referendum and addressing the governor’s proposed budget. If the IRSD can just get through this coming school year, they can start rebuilding reserves in 2018-2019 and be “rock solid” in about three years, Steele said.
The parents still have much to do to defend the program. They quickly organized this week by email and social media. But they were hampered by the district prohibitions on dispersing fliers in schools, and most of the Spanish-speaking families appeared to be absent from the meeting.
Parents did ask about the possibility of paying tuition or school-choicing out of IRSD to access language immersion programs. This year, about 22 Delaware schools housed immersion programs affiliated with former Gov. Jack Markell’s World Language Expansion Initiative. Milford and Seaford have Sussex County’s other Spanish programs, among more than a dozen statewide. (Five New Castle County schools have a Chinese-language immersion program instead.)
Program details are online at www.irsd.net/academics/spanish_immersion.
Officials in Delaware’s southernmost beach towns could breathe a sigh of relieve early this week, after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced on Monday, May 15, that it had allocated between $15 million and $22 million for replenishment of the beaches in Bethany, South Bethany and Fenwick with about a million cubic yards of stand, starting this fall and to be completed before the 2018 summer season.
Local and state officials and some residents and property owners in the Southern Delaware beach towns have been hoping for some relief for more than a year, after Hurricane Joaquin in the fall of 2015 and winter storm Jonas in January of 2016 delivered a one-two punch to the area’s Atlantic beaches, tearing apart dune crossings, and eroding both the beachfront and the dunes initially constructed by the Corps in 2005.
More than a year ago, Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Fenwick Island officials had been hoping that relief might come sooner, rather than later, when the previously scheduled replenishment for Rehoboth Beach and Dewey Beach came up in 2016.
On the heels of the two storms, the timing was fortunate for those two towns, but the regular three-year replenishment cycle for the reconstructed beaches had the three southernmost beach towns not on the schedule until 2017, and while they continued to seek — ultimately unsuccessfully — early relief from the Corps in 2016, municipal officials also watched more nor’easters continue to erode their beaches, increasing crowding for summer visitors and even limiting access to the shoreline as dune crossings were again washed away.
The three municipalities had even been a little concerned they might not even get their scheduled replenishment in 2017. The Corps is technically obligated to restore the beaches periodically to their engineered design, through 2055, but that’s entirely dependent on the Corps’ annual budget, which itself is dependent on the federal budget. Each year, officials wait on tenterhooks to see if their anticipated project will be funded.
And with local projects in the crosshairs of budget hawks in Washington, D.C. — including last week’s denial of 99 percent of requested federal disaster relief from the impacts of Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina — Delaware officials had some reason to be concerned about the 2017 replenishment.
But on Monday, U.S Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) joined Nathan Barcomb, acting deputy district engineer for Programs & Project Management for the Corps’ Philadelphia District, and Delaware DNREC Shoreline & Waterway Management Administrator Tony Pratt on the boardwalk in Bethany Beach to officially announce the funding for a 2017 replenishment project to a gathering of mayors, town council members and town managers of the three towns.
The project will once again involve dredging sand from approved offshore borrow areas, which will be pumped through a series of pipes onto the beaches and then graded into a dune and berm template designed to reduce potential damages to infrastructure, businesses and homes.
“What we’ve learned from past storms is that beach replenishment works if we are proactive in protecting our coastline. Our dunes and beaches have stood up to the nastiest storms and protected our homes, businesses, schools and infrastructure,” said Carper, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee.
Project will be fully federally funded
Noting that both the state and the nation are “fiscally challenged” and that there is “a lot more demand for projects than money to pay for them,” Carper said he and the rest of the state’s congressional delegation had approached Jo-Ellen Darcy — then-Assistant Army Secretary for Public Works and the head of the Corps’ civil-works program — saying, “I think we know how to do this.”
They sought to tap into funds remaining from the Flood Control & Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) funding for recovery from winter storm Jonas. FCCE funding is designed to help with recovery from damage above the predicted level for a given storm, Pratt noted, and the coastal damage and inland flooding that had been experienced in Southern Delaware was exactly that.
FCCE funding also differs from the regular funding the Corps might use to fund a replenishment project, in that it doesn’t inherently require a funding match from the state or local government. In the case of the 2017 replenishment project in Southern Delaware, that will mean that the project will be 100 percent federal funded, instead of the usual 65/35 federal/state split.
“Our message to you,” Carper said to Corps representatives, “is pretty straightforward: ‘Thank you.’ … Thanks to the Corps and the people of this country, we’re going to have a beautiful stretch of beach when this is done.”
Carper mentioned recent congressional testimony from Pratt, who is also the president of the American Shoreline & Beach Preservation Association.
“He’s a rock star all over the country,” Carper said of Pratt, noting him as a champion for beaches.
“Too often we stand up here the day after a storm and say, ‘Where do we go from here?’ … It’s a happy day,” Pratt said Monday, “and I can’t wait to see some sand on the beach.”
Pratt offered his continued thanks to the state’s General Assembly for funding the state share of the regular replenishments while saying he was grateful that this project would be fully funded by the federal government.
Pratt also took the opportunity to tease Sussex County Councilman George Cole (R-4th), whose district includes Bethany Beach, about “sharing in this wonderful project.” (Sussex County doesn’t directly pay for a share of replenishment costs, unlike Worcester County, Md., does for the beaches of neighboring Ocean City — which will also see its beach replenished this fall — where the Corps pays 53 percent of the cost and the rest is split between the State of Maryland, Worcester County and the Town of Ocean City.)
Pratt further thanked the local officials, noting that the work of many had been responsible for getting the project to the point where it was funded.
South Bethany Mayor Pat Voveris, who was joined at the announcement by Council Members Carol Stevenson and Tim Shaw and new Town Manager Maureen Hartman, said, “Bethany Beach, South Bethany and Fenwick Island beaches will benefit from this most welcomed activity after our summer season. Cost will be covered from Flood Control & Coastal Emergencies (FCCE) funds and not require any participation from the state or our towns.
“We are grateful and appreciative of the collective efforts that have resulted in this planned initiative and continued support of tourism, a most important revenue source to Delaware.”
“Some of our most valuable natural resources we have as a state are our beaches,” U.S. Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said in a statement issued Monday. “This is welcome news that we will replenish the coastline from Bethany Beach to Fenwick Island, and I would like to thank the work of the Army Corps of Engineers to see that the erosion would be a major problem not just for tourism but the natural habitat.”
“Delaware beaches serve as engines of economic growth and areas of relaxation not just for our state, but for people across the country,” said U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) said in the joint statement. “The welcome news of beach replenishment in Bethany, South Bethany and Fenwick this fall will ensure they maintain the necessary upkeep to prepare for future storms and preserve our miles of pristine coastline.”
Opponents cite concerns over expense, impact on environment
Carper on Monday also acknowledged that beach replenishment remains controversial, with opposition from those who question the repeated expense and the impact of the work on the environment, including those who believe it has created a potentially dangerous shore break along the replenished beaches, leading to more injuries to beachgoers and less desirable conditions for surfers.
“Some people may question why we continue to replenish our beaches,” Carper stated. “Our 21 miles of oceanfront are more than just sand and surf — they generate more than $6.9 billion in coastal tourism annually, employing almost 60,000 people. This is more than 10 percent of Delaware’s workforce. It’s important work that protects not only our community but our economy as well.”
Bethany resident Bethany Powell expressed her opposition to the replenishment this week, commenting on Facebook, “They need to figure out a different solution already. I’m so sick of trying to simply ride a wave and getting my face and head shoved into the sand. One time I felt like my neck was about to break. Why spend all that money and within one-two-three years you’ll be back at the same problem! They need to humble themselves and face the truth.”
Ocean View resident Bruce Mears commented, “Broken, backs, necks and bones return to Bethany for the summer of 2018. … Where are all of the environmentalists that opposed the Rehoboth ocean outfall and are throwing a fit about offshore drilling? Beach replenishment kills marine habitat at the sand borrow area and on the beach.”
Bethany business owner Alex Heidenberger noted, “We are just coming out of nor’easter season. Southern flow has and always will bring the beach size up. Beach replenishment is the biggest hack and waste of money. Also terrible for [the] ecosystem.”
Fellow Bethany business owner Dana Banks said, “Terrible. Let Mother Nature do her thing.”
However, some local residents and visitors this week stated their support for the work. Local resident Joshua Davis expressed his concerns about the impact of a dwindling beachfront, saying, “But have you seen those beaches this year? Bethany is going to lose a lot of revenue because of the small beach. How does O.C. maintain such a big beach every year? I think that’s the questions these lawmakers should be asking.”
Aaron Georgelas commented, “Beach replenishment is a good thing. Imagine how much federal taxes evaporate if these extremely wealthy towns get washed away.”
And Fenwick resident Alex Daly said, “Fenwick Island is fortunate that we are getting this going. I can remember in the 1990s when most of the dunes were washed away and the high tide came within 30 feet of the walkway. No beach at all in mid-summer!”
Despite the controversy, state and local officials this week welcomed the news that their beaches will be replenished this fall, offering the promise of wider sands for visitors in the 2018 summer season and enhanced protection for property and infrastructure along the Southern Delaware coast, all without having to find funding for the work in the state’s already strapped budget.
Heavy smoke bellowed across Frankford for hours on Monday, May 15, as firefighters brought a large structure fire under control at Bunting & Bertrand Poultry Equipment.
The blaze was reported around 3:30 p.m. at the large warehouse and storefront, located at 15 Hickory Street.
The Frankford Volunteer Fire Company took the lead, assisted by volunteer companies from Dagsboro, Selbyville, Roxana, Bethany Beach, Millsboro, Millville, Gumboro, Indian River, Georgetown and Bishopville, Md.
The fire began in the rear of the building, said co-owner Dale Collins Jr. Employees were burning some cardboard when some embers escaped and ignited nearby combustible materials.
Nearby witnesses soon heard the “pops” of small propane canisters exploding.
Approaching 30 mph, the northwest wind pushed fire through the building, then flushed the smoke through the Frankford Town Park and surrounding neighborhood. The smoke flume was visible for miles on an otherwise clear and sunny day.
No civilians were injured, although some first-responders were slightly overcome by the elements in the five-hour incident. The fire was reported under control at 6:35 p.m., but people were on-scene until 8:45 p.m.
“They worked hard on it. They did all they could do,” Collins said. But the heat and the wind were stubborn. “When the wind was blowing, it was just black. You couldn’t see anything.”
The Office of the Delaware State Fire Marshal determined that the incident was accidental in nature. Total fire damage to the structure was estimated at $500,000. That does not include the business’s lost merchandise: repair parts for feed lines and drinking lines, computer systems, large feed-bin construction kits, two recent shipments worth of motors and more.
“It’s a big loss,” said Collins, who said he felt “devastated.” He said he hopes to rebuild, although it will take some time. There was no damage to the warehouse next door, topped with an iconic rooster sculpture.
Early on Tuesday morning, acrid smoke and even a few open flames still hovered over Hickory Street. Store employees arrived early to begin the massive cleanup effort. They tried to find anything worth salvaging. Some paper files were successfully dug out of a filling cabinet, but the pages were very hot, Collins said.
Faced with a massive pile of cinderblocks and smoking debris, employees pointed out where offices, the front counter, even the telephone, were located, just the day before.
The ruins would likely smolder for several days, fire personnel said.
Bunting & Bertram has been in business for more than 40 years. The building itself dates back to the 1920s, Collins said. People remembered when it was a feed packing mill that took advantage of the adjacent railroad line for shipping.
Frankford’s water tower was nearly drained by the incident, between the fire companies pulling from fire hydrants, toting their own water and finally connecting directly to a non-potable line at the water plant. Frankford finally took advantage of an emergency interconnect with neighboring Dagsboro’s water system.
All the stress on the system did cause a water main break nearby on Clayton Avenue, between Hickory Street and Honolulu Road. That was later repaired, said Greg Welch, town council member and water department liaison. There were still concerns about another potential leak after dark, since the tank level was still dropping. However, by Tuesday morning, the tank was slowly refilling.
The Frankford Volunteer Fire Company will also be holding a volunteer recruitment day on Saturday, May 20, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The fire hall is located at 7 Main Street. For more information, visit http://frankfordfire.com, or call (302) 732-6662.
Meredith Wallace would rather do headstands in front of a classroom than give a newspaper interview.
Then again, she would do anything for her students.
That attitude helped make her Selbyville Middle School’s Teacher of the Year for 2017-2018. Wallace teaches seventh-grade English language arts.
“I try to have fun. … I think that I’m silly. You have to be able to laugh at yourself for them to be able to laugh at themselves,” Wallace said. “Because when you struggle, that’s when you learn, so you have to show it’s OK to make mistakes and learning is fun.”
And the students notice. Student James Livingston gave her a solid review: “Mrs. Wallace is a good teacher. She helped me learn what I didn’t learn before. She makes learning fun.”
For Wallace, teaching was a destiny she welcomed, especially with other educators in the family.
“From the time I was in first grade, I can remember wanting to be a teacher,” she said.
She taught for 13 years in her home state of Maryland, then a year in Millsboro. After teaching social studies, special education and elementary education, she’s loved her four years at SMS.
“They’re more independent. You can joke around with them,” Wallace said of her seventh-grade students. “I think it’s a lot of fun.” She said she loves interacting with students and helping them “figure out where they are and where they’re going.”
Teachers work hard to meet all student needs, she noted.
“Students have diverse backgrounds. They’re at all different levels. Some students struggle with reading and writing,” she said, while others excel. “So you need to make sure everyone has an opportunity based on where they are, so they can grow.”
In middle school, she said, teaching every student is a team effort, across the building.
“I feel like the whole school helps make a teacher who they are,” Wallace said, especially on the Arrows team. “We all work together. Our common goal is this one common group of kids. We do whatever we can to help them.”
In the Arrows hallway, Amanda Mitchell works next door to Wallace.
“I see the hours and hours that she’s put into making sure she’s really helping the students. … She puts in a ton of work, a ton of time, because she really does care about meeting what each of them needs, forming that relationship with them.”
She greets kids with a “Good morning!” despite admittedly not being a morning person.
“Some of them don’t hear ‘Good morning’ at home,” Mitchell said. “She definitely makes sure that the students know there’s somebody here who cares and tries.”
“It’s all about making connections and making them see that you’re a real person and having fun,” Wallace said. “If they enjoy coming in here, they’ll do a better job.”
Although she’s served on many committees over the years, right now, Wallace said she feels she best serves her 110 students by focusing on them, working with her team to analyze student data (studying test scores and watching how students interact, ask or answer questions).
When not in school, Wallace said she enjoys volunteering for the Worcester County Humane Society and adventures with her own children and family.
She also runs mini book clubs with some students who want to read and discuss more literature.
In reading class, students step outside their own lives. In March, SMS students particularly enjoyed the novel “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park, based on the true story of a Sudanese boy forced from his home in wartime. He emigrates to the U.S, and years pass before he finds his family again.
The seventh-graders were struck by “the challenges faced by the main character in the book [seem] impossible to overcome, and he keeps overcoming. He loses his family, a friend is eaten by a lion,” Wallace said. “There’s so many tragedies, but he keeps going.”
This pushes her kids to analyze the life they might have led if born somewhere else: “It really makes them think outside our very blessed lives. We’re very lucky that, even on some of our worst days, it doesn’t compare to some of the things that happen [in the novel].”
Wallace loves “when students have those ‘ah-ha’ moments, or when they come up and say, ‘Thanks, I never read a book before.’” Maybe they went home to further research something, or they want to share a fun fact. “[When] there’s some kind of extension of the class, it makes it all worthwhile,” she said.
David Clark knows a thing or two about management.
The soon-to-be graduate of Indian River High School has spent the past four years managing his time while juggling a laundry list of extracurricular commitments, ranging from the student council and his responsibilities as the senior class president, to his involvement with the Leo Club and National Honor Society, to running for the varsity cross-country team and helping lead the varsity boys’ tennis team to a Henlopen South division championship this past spring, just to name a few.
With his wide array of leadership roles and as a four-year member in the school’s Business Professionals of America (BPA) organization, Clark also knows a thing or two about presentations, often finding himself being called upon to give a speech during school-wide pep rallies or a senior scholarship awards ceremony.
So when he was called upon to deliver his most important speech to date earlier this month — this time with the focus on the very subject of presentation management, at the BPA National Leadership Conference on Orlando, Fla. — David Clark knew a thing or two about not being nervous, as he went on to take first place in the country and bring home the school’s first BPA national title since 2007.
“By nationals, I was very comfortable with the material that I had,” said Clark of the conference held May 10-14. “I think, over the past four years, my presentation skills have developed through Business Pathways. I’ve just become comfortable with public speaking.”
“He knew his material, so he could go off-the-cuff,” said BPA advisor Stephanie Wilkinson. “Any question presented to him after the fact, he was very comfortable in answering because he had done the work.”
While the presentation would turn out to be the pinnacle of Clark’s BPA career, the preparation began earlier this school year and continued throughout the road to nationals.
Behind the slogan “Shop local, shop different,” the idea was to put together a campaign to pitch to BPA judges, acting as a local chamber of commerce on the benefits of shopping local in terms of potential marketing strategies, cost analysis, businesses appeal and target markets.
For research, the aspiring entrepreneur reached out to some of the already-established entrepreneurs that’s he’s grown to admire while growing up in Sussex County, consulting with Scott Mumford from Warren’s Station and Paul Parsons from Parsons Produce for their expert opinions on the subject.
“Working at Warren’s Station and Parsons Produce, I knew that they were two businesses that were successful and that had given back to the community extensively,” said Clark. “Living in a small area like we do in Sussex County, I think that small businesses are what helps the community progress. We support those small businesses, and then they support us — it just goes full circle.”
By the state competition, Clark had his pitch down, staying committed to the project and punching his ticket to nationals after placing first in the state.
After taking suggestions from the judges at states into consideration and making the necessary adjustments for his final presentation, Clark turned his attention to helping out some of his younger classmates on their own BPA ventures.
IRHS had six other students qualify for the conference in Orlando, but with seniors Hayden McWilliams and Griffin McCormick unable to attend while they were still battling for a Henlopen South division title on the lacrosse field, Clark found himself the sole senior leader amongst underclassmen including Alexa Fitz, Brooke Weaver, Michael Payan and Helen Davis.
“David is so enthusiastic about everything that the other kids feed off of that. I love when he gives them feedback, because they really listen to him,” said Wilkinson. “He gives very good creative criticism and, with his enthusiasm, they get excited about it. He’s just that type of leader.”
Fitz would go on to place sixth in the nation competing in the same presentation management category as Clark, with Weaver taking 15th in entrepreneurship, Payan placing 18th in prepared speech and Davis taking 20th in interview skills, all competing against students from 28 different states.
Through trips to Florida this year and to Boston, Mass., for nationals last spring, Wilkinson said that working as a team has been a key factor in the club’s success.
“They all work together as a group. They all push each other. We saw that a lot this year,” she explained. “It’s a great bonding experience for our whole district, really, when we go to nationals. It’s a lot of fun. We become a family, almost, while we’re there, and I think the kids really enjoy it.”
Both Clark and Wilkinson said they were excited to see what the future holds for BPA, which has established itself as one of the top organizations at the school over the years.
“We have several younger ninth- and 10th-graders that were interested this year, and I think that they’ll continue with it next year,” said Wilkinson. “They see what it’s all about. They see that the hard work is paying off with what David has done, what Helen has done, what Griffin and Hayden have done, and how they’ve placed. It’s something that catches on and makes them want to go for the same thing.”
“I think it’s just the beginning of the success for Indian River BPA,” added Clark. “That’s the most important thing for me, is to be able to leave something behind, trying to help some of the kids just starting out understand what appeals to judges and just the little things that Mrs. Wilkinson has helped me with.”
As for Clark, the reigning national champ aspires to take his skills in management, presentation, public speaking and everything else that he’s learned during his time with BPA to the business world, ready put his “Shop local, shop different” mantra to real-world use and give back to his community.
He’ll set off for Rome, Italy, in August as part of the World Scholar program at the University of Delaware, and plans to spend a semester during his junior year in New Zealand. After that, he’s off to tackle Wall Street, with a dream of one day taking his own marketing firm to the Fortune 500 level and eventually launching a political career.
But before he starts delivering speeches to board members, Clark still has one more speech to make during his high school career, ready to pass the torch to the next generation on the day that his high school career comes to a close at the Indian River High School graduation ceremony in June.
“David has the drive. He’s going to do what it takes to succeed,” said Wilkinson. “He’s a perfectionist to a point where things have to be just right. He also has a creative ability that I’ve not seen in any other student. We’re definitely going to miss him next year.”
The Artisans Fair at Lord Baltimore Elementary School in Ocean View will celebrate its 10th anniversary when the fair gets under way this Memorial Day weekend, adding on a farmers’ market this year, in addition to its array of artisans new and returning.
“For our 10th anniversary, we were talking about what we could do,” said Artisans Fair spokesperson Ida Crist. “We wanted to expand a little bit, so we decided to have the market outside.”
Local vendors scheduled to set up shop at LB for the first-year farmers’ market on Saturday, May 27, include fresh lettuces, herbs, wheatgrass, microgreens, essential oils and colloidal silver products from Bill Jordan and Fresh Harvest Hydroponics in Millsboro; honey, bees-wax products, jams and jellies, soaps, hand creams, lip balm and lip gloss from Carol Hudson of Backyard Jams & Jellies in Frankford; garden items from the Inland Bays Garden Center in Frankford; and season-fresh produce from Paul Parsons and Parsons Farms Produce in Frankford and Ellen Magee of Magee Farms in Selbyville; as well as soups and sandwiches from Delaware Provisions South in Millville.
The event, sponsored by the South Coastal Delaware AARP chapter, will help raise funds to provide college scholarships to students at Indian River High School and to Delaware Technical & Community College students, which has totaled $31,000 over the years and is expect to raise an additional $5,000 in scholarships this year.
As for the artisans, the 2017 fair will again see a healthy mix of longtime booth favorites and newcomers ready to share their creations, with 50 exhibits.
As always, those creations will include an array of artistic media, encompassing everything from original fine art and photography, custom jewelry, pottery, metal sculpture and works of art in glass and wood, to fine textile handwork and functional and decorative items with coastal themes.
Some of this year’s LB newcomers will include:
• JoAnne Tentschert — glasswork, Ocean View
While she may be new to the fair at LB, Ocean View resident JoAnne Tentschert is plenty familiar on the art circuit, with more 42 years of experience and appearing at fairs such as the Bethany Seaside Craft Show and Sea Glass Festival in Lewes.
The New Jersey native started out as a hobbyist before quickly turning her work into a full-time profession and going on to launch A Touch of Glass with custom-made creations such as stained glass suncatchers, wind chimes, flower vases, window panels, and jewelry and tissue boxes.
“I would say, ‘eclectic and functional,’” she described her art. “I want people to be able to use it as well as enjoy it.”
Her inspiration, she said “just kind of comes out of everyday living. I’ll see something, and my mind immediately converts it into what can I make.”
Some items that Tentschert will put on display this Saturday include flower vases, wind chimes, and nautical windows featuring maritime scenes of turtles, seashells, lighthouses and more — all of them hand-crafted using the same pair of grozing pliers and the copper-foil and fused-glass method that she’s used for the past 42 years.
Tentschert can be reached for custom orders via email, at JM• T1275@hotmail.com.
• Carol Gentes — painted rocks and more, Selbyville
Featured outside amongst the farmers’’ market section will be Artistans Fair newcomer Carol Gentes, who moved to the area from Newark last November.
While her display at the fair will highlight her famous painted rocks of all shapes and sizes, decorated with whimsical yet realistic animal depictions, for either outside in the garden or inside in the home, Gentes also spends her days specializing in home murals and painted wall finishes as well.
Her career in the arts began as an interior decorator, getting her start with other media after a strong response on her handmade gifts.
“It started as Christmas presents and birthday presents,” said Gentes. “Everybody loved them, so I continued to paint them in my free time.”
Headed into her first show at LB, Gentes said she is excited to share her creations after hearing good things about the fair since moving to Selbyville.
“I have heard fantastic things. This is the show that everybody wants to be in every year,” she said. “I’m really just hoping to have a fun day meeting new people and hoping that the rocks find a new home.”
• Harry C. Dill — driftwood planters, Rehoboth Beach
The wood just speaks to Harry C. Dill.
While operating his Rehoboth Beach-based business, Tranquility Gardens, it’s often, Dill said, that he won’t be able to figure out one of his driftwood planters until it tells him what it is. But when it finally does, that’s when the art happens.
“I, a lot of the time, have to wait for the wood to talk to me,” said Dill. “I remember a piece that I had for a year and a half that eventually turned into a dolphin. It was just laying on my deck, and I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. Then, one day, it just happened to be there.”
Since getting his start in crafting items from planters and glass globes to functional driftwood lamps, Dill has sought out shows throughout the area to share his works, eventually finding the fair at LB for the first time this year, ready to share his gift.
“I enjoy what I do. To me, wood exudes warmth and a softness to it,” said Dill of his craft, each of his works sanded to perfection by hand and coated with polyurethane for preservation before being sanded again. “It turns into what it turns into. My biggest thing is that I put a pretty high polish on it so it shows its beauty.”
“I am extremely proud of Harry and the talent he has discovered in his ‘old age,’” said Dill’s wife, Roberta Dill. “The time and love that he puts into each of his creations is priceless, so folks who purchase his artwork are getting a real bargain, in my slightly prejudiced opinion.”
For more on Dill and Tranquility Gardens, visit his booth at the fair or contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A 50-50 cash raffle will also be featured at this year’s fair, with Hocker’s Grocery & Deli providing lunch and snack items, and refreshments from Rita’s Italian Ice.
The fair will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 27, at Lord Baltimore Elementary School, located on Route 26 in Ocean View. The farmers’ market portion will be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Admission to the fair and parking are free. For more information contact, email@example.com or visit aarp5226.org.
Whether they’re coming in from East Egg, West Egg or across any other egg-less province, the local community is getting the “green light” to head out to Indian River High School this Friday and Saturday night for the IR drama club’s production of “The Great Gatsby.”
The Simon Levy adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic story will “borne back ceaselessly into the past” to feature everything 1920s — from snazzy suits and flapper dresses to the jazz stylings of the Indian River High School band during intermissions and throughout the show.
Coming off the success of their production of “Romeo & Juliet” this past winter — in what was the first-year drama club’s first-ever show — hopes were even higher for “Gatsby,” with everything coming together just in time for curtain call.
“We have a lot to pull together in the last week — as is the nature of theater — but we’re all really excited,” said Sadie Andros, director and first-year English teacher at IR. “We’ve gone a little bigger for this show. We’ve got a great set that we’ve been designing and painting. We have a car, live music — it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The production will also benefit from an experienced cast of actors at Indian River High School, many of whom have graced the stage not only in “Romeo & Juliet” but at local venues including Clear Space Theatre in Rehoboth Beach, and as members of the Possum Point Players at Possum Hall in Georgetown.
Portraying the ever-enigmatic Daisy Buchanan will be long-time Clear Space and Possum Point veteran Kerinne Walls (“Bye Bye Birdie,” “Hairspray”), the soon-to-be graduate taking on another lead role after playing Juliet in the club’s maiden production last January.
Starring opposite Walls will be IR senior and fellow Clear Space/Possum Point Player Chris Jones (“Meet Me in St. Louis,” “Hairspray”), in the narrator role of Nick Caraway. They’ll be joined by Chance Kamin as antagonist-brute Tom Buchanan, Olivia Garvey as self-centered cynic Jordan Baker and Danny Prado keying in his “old sports” to take on the role of tragic hero Jay Gatsby.
“They’re very collaborative, they’re talented, and they’re all so dedicated,” said Andros of the cast. “The kids really like script — it was their choice for our second main-stage. It’s a story that still speaks to them and that they can get excited about.”
“Gatsby” will premiere at the Indian River High School auditorium in Dagsboro for two shows, starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 26, and on Saturday, May 27. The event is open to the public for both nights.
“We’d love to see anyone who wants to attend come and support us,” said Andros. “We have a great professional theatre here at IR, and I think ‘The Great Gatsby’ is just a timeless story that people will definitely enjoy. We finally got our costumes today, so we’re all just very excited.”
Indian River High School is located at 29772 Armory Road in Dagsboro. Tickets will go on sale at 6:30 p.m. both nights and cost $5, with all proceeds going to the school’s drama club. Showtime is set for 7 p.m. on both nights, and the doors will open at 6:45 p.m.
Construction costs are already vexing the proposed expansion of the South Bethany Police Department building, and the project has barely been approved.
The Town opened construction bids recently, only to find that the base bids were around $225,000, which is about $70,000 more than they had expected.
The town council was shocked to receive three base bids ranging from $224,900 to $247,000, plus an average of $53,000 for additional alternatives, such as a conference room that would actually hold an anticipated number of staff and guests, shower/locker room, file room and further 2-foot building extension.
The base project would get the police department what it needs, said Police Chief Troy Crowson, but it’s way over the anticipated budget.
The council had hoped for a $154,000 base cost, as estimated by an architect with help from an actual construction company (which later refused to bid, although they would have likely bid around the same level as everyone else, officials noted). With engineering, construction and contingency costs, the council had hoped for a total budget of $232,000, not a base price of that amount.
Once again, council members suggested reusing the space to fit the current needs. But there isn’t room, Crowson and the architect had said. They need more space, not for employees’ comfort, but for the many uses a police department has: evidence storage, detainee processing, weapons storage and more. South Bethany risks a lawsuit, officials said, knowing the existing building’s deficiencies regarding having detainees too close to each other, to officer desks, to evidence and the general public.
Among talk of cutting corners, “We’re doing the same thing as we did in 2008 … spend a dime to save a nickel,” Crowson said. “I don’t think you’ll be able to repurpose the space to serve all the functions. … If there was a space to repurpose, we would have approached council.”
The current police station was built to a lesser standard than originally designed because of higher-than-expected costs.
When he became chief in 2014, one of Crowson’s assignments was to research building options. The proposal included a break room, processing room, conference room and private office. More importantly, it would eliminate the current “multipurpose room” that ineffectively serves as an armory/kitchen/locker room.
This latest design just included the important basics, not the “Cadillac” version, Mayor Pat Voveris said.
The council rejected all three bids.
They agreed to meet with the same architect — who Voveris said was also stunned by the bids — to brainstorm a path forward. The council will have to decide whether to leave the station as it, fix it piecemeal, or buck up and decide how to pay for the project. Around $30,000 has already been invested in plans and engineering.
Policing is expensive by nature. It’s usually a major chunk of any town budget, especially if people want 24-hour coverage in their little towns.
Once again, the council asked about borrowing neighboring police buildings for detainee processing. Yes, police departments share resources sometimes, but Crowson said he doesn’t want to wear out their welcome.
Fenwick Island and Ocean View both reduced their liability issues by building new police stations in the past few years. Millville is finishing a building for the Delaware State Police to use, since the DSP patrols the town in lieu of it having its own police department.
Town hall entrance doubles as a Slip ’N Slide
Guests to town hall should watch their step. The new decking is too slippery for the stairs and ramp.
Since its installation in early spring, the new decking has racked up many complaints. According to Code Enforcement Constable Joe Hinks, the material is too slippery, the joists were installed incorrectly to handle the building weight, and the workmanship is shoddy.
Although the contractor suggested adding more joists to improve the strength, Hinks said they still won’t meet manufacturer specifications.
“We’re not sure the warranty will hold up,” said Town Manager Maureen Hartman. “Two of our employees slipped on the deck this morning.”
The decking is made from wood fiber and recycled materials, with a thin layer of PVC on top, so the council hesitated to attach adhesive texture strips or paint it with textured paint.
The situation was further complicated by the original project request. The project was not put out to bid, so there isn’t a detailed project specification. Although the council had budgeted the project, they did not approve the final $19,000 payment. Instead, the previous town manager made all the arrangements, hired the company and may have approved the materials.
When Hartman became town manager on May 8, she found some paperwork and asked Hinks to inspect the project. He found that the joists were anchored every 16 inches, instead of every 12 inches (contrary to manufacturer recommendations), and that the overall workmanship was lacking. Moreover, the material appears to be residential grade, not commercial grade.
Meanwhile, the public and staff have been slipping on the deck since at least March, in the rain and even in high-humidity conditions. The council also discussed a temporary fix to make it safer.
“In reality, the representative should not have accepted the job” and advised that the Town’s desires weren’t structurally feasible, Hinks said. “I would think it would behoove the vendor to follow manufacturer specifications.”
The council said they will not accept a solution with the additional joists. They want a new deck that is properly installed, in accordance with manufacturer standards.
After the meeting, town staff were busy arranging non-slip rubber mats outdoors.
Like a summer sun rising above the Atlantic Ocean, the large yellow umbrella atop the concession building at Delaware Seashore State Parks concession stand signals a fresh start.
The umbrella is the signature piece of the new Big Chill Beach Club; it sits atop the venue’s glass-enclosed eating area. That area is surrounded by a large deck, where diners can enjoy 360-degree views encompassing the ocean, the Indian River Inlet Bridge and the Indian River Bay.
Those who would rather keep their feet in the sand can do so by taking their food back to the beach or by sitting at tables in the sand at the new eatery.
A partnership between Delaware State Parks and La Vida Hospitality Group, the Big Chill Beach Club brings to the venture the group’s experience with its other projects, Crooked Hammock Brewery, Restaurant & Backyard Beer Garden; Fork+Flask at Nage; Taco Reho food truck; and the original Big Chill Cantina.
State officials, including Gov. John Carney, Department of Natural Resources Secretary Shawn Garvin and state Director of Tourism Linda Parkowski recently gathered with La Vida partners at the newest Big Chill location to celebrate the partnership and the upcoming opening of the Big Chill Beach Club.
“Big Chill Beach Club is an example of how visitors to the state can benefit from the entrepreneurial business leaders here in Delaware,” Parkowski said.
La Vida partner Josh Grapski added, “This unique venue, with its incredible views, will be a wonderful amenity for the park.”
Grapski told the Coastal Point that the project was born more than a year ago, after La Vida answered a call for bids for a project, in partnership with the State, to bring a unique eatery to the state park’s beachfront.
He said the company had been looking for a beachfront spot, but nothing seemed available until the state parks project came up.
“We kind of jumped into their process,” he said.
Grapski said he and his partners came to understand and appreciate the concerns voiced by residents about the facility’s environmental potential impact in the state park, and they came to understand why certain processes are needed for state-related projects.
“I understand, legally, that the parks need to be considerate of certain things,” he said. “I think of it as all positive.”
The resulting facility includes the 4,600-square-foot rooftop area, with its enclosed area under the umbrella and an adjacent deck, as well as a 4,400-square-foot tented area and numerous tables in the sand.
Construction of the beachfront project presented some weather-related challenges, Grapski said, as the company scurried to ready the location in the midst of several days of rain. Despite the rain and other challenges, he said he hopes to have a “soft opening” over Memorial Day weekend, with their official opening set for June 2.
The Big Chill will employ at least 40 to 50 people, Grapski said, and possibly more by the time July 4 rolls around.
Grapski said he expects weather, and its effect on the beach area — as well as the venue’s exposure to potentially extreme elements — to be an interesting factor for the staff at the new venture.
“It’s going to be a learning experience,” he said.
The signature umbrella structure, with its 36-foot span, was imported from Austria for the project and is rated to withstand winds of up to 100 mph, according to Grapski. Full restaurant and bar service will be available there.
By June, the partners intend to offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu will range from fresh seafood, including an oyster bar, to boardwalk-inspired burgers and fries, as well as tacos and burritos.
The event pavilion also offers views of the waterfront and bridge, with space for sit-down dinners for up to 160 people, or for parties, meetings or other events for up to 200 people. Catering available from La Vida Hospitality will provide menus for any event, from casual parties to formal weddings.
“This is welcome news for the growing number of couples who want to get married at the beach and have their reception just steps away,” said Grapski.
Beachgoers who wish to purchase takeout fare will find it available at the previously existing concession stand underneath the new deck structure. A fire pit will also be located in the sandy area near the building.
While the “vibe” at the new Big Chill location will be similar to that of the Big Chill Surf Cantina, Grapski said the inlet location will be more family-friendly, compared to 21-and-older appeal of the Rehoboth Beach Big Chill.
State park fees will be in effect for entrance to the Beach Club; park pass holders may park free of charge. The facility is handicapped accessible, by way of a lift apparatus that goes to the rooftop deck area, Grapski said.
Find out more about the Big Chill Beach Club online at www.bigchillbeachclub.com or call (302) 402-5300.
The Sussex County Council this week received an update on the Mayors Challenge to end Veteran Homelessness initiative, in which Sussex County, along with the towns of Blades, Bridgeville, Georgetown, Greenwood, Seaford, as well as the State of Delaware, participated.
“We worked corporately with the Delaware State Housing Authority, the Homeless Planning Council, town officials, faith-based and non-profit service providers to create a Sussex County working group,” said Sussex County Housing Coordinator Brandy Nauman. “It was remarkable to see the network of relationships and partnerships formed because of this initiative.”
Rachel Stucker, associate director of Housing Alliance Delaware, said the national initiative was taken on by Sussex County in the beginning of 2015 and, nearly two years later, the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness officially certified Delaware as having effectively ended veteran homelessness.
“When we talk about ending veteran homelessness, it doesn’t mean that no one is ever going to experience a housing crisis again — people may lose their jobs, they may have medical emergencies. Unfortunately, people may have unstable or unsafe home-life situations that they need to flee from. People are still going to have crises and experience homelessness.
“But what it means, that we’ve effectively ended veteran homelessness, is that if there is someone who has served in the armed forces who is in our communities anywhere in the state of Delaware, we have a system in place where we can identify them quickly. We have the resources in place to quickly connect them to and help them get the services and permanent housing resources that they need.”
Stucker said that, from January 2015 to January 2017, more than 450 veterans who experienced homelessness in Delaware were housed.
“As of January of this year, there were still approximately 100 veterans homeless in the state.”
She noted that 85 percent of the veterans who experienced homelessness during that period were male, adding that 22 percent of the homeless veteran population in the state during that time was housed in Sussex County.
Most homeless veterans were single adults, said Stucker, but she noted that there were families with children, as well as adult couples.
“Adult couples usually aren’t eligible for single adult shelters together. And, because they don’t have minor children, they aren’t eligible for family shelters. That population, if they don’t want to split up and go different places, can actually be very difficult to serve.”
As of May 2017, Stucker said, there were 14 veterans experiencing homelessness in Sussex County. Half were in a shelter and the other half were living outside.
“Of those, 12 are single adults and two are members of a family that has a child; nine are male and five are female. And, eight out of the 14 have a diagnosed disabling condition.”
Susan Kent, director of Love Inc. of Mid-Delmarva, a faith-based organization that helps with transitional housing, spoke of a single father of two — a veteran and former state trooper.
“It was situational homelessness, where he could not move into housing right away. It would be at least 30 days.
“Housing a single father presents a problem, because we have women and children, male, and we have female shelters. This was a unique situation,” she said, noting that, through connections through the working group, they were able to find temporary housing for the veteran and his two sons.
Stucker said a lot has been accomplished with the homeless veteran situation in the state, and she hopes to take the model and apply it to other situations.
According to the 2017 Point in Time Count, there are approximately 137 people who are homeless in Sussex County alone.
“That’s about 13.5 percent of the people who are experiencing homelessness in Delaware at any given time,” she said, adding that 11 percent of Delaware’s emergency shelter beds are in Sussex County; however, that number goes down to 8.5 percent when seasonal beds are not available.
On any given night, there are about 1,000 people experiencing homelessness in the state of Delaware, and approximately 3,000 will be in a shelter at some point throughout the year — be it an emergency shelter or a transitional shelter.
Stucker said there is still a lot of work to do but that she is happy with the work that has been done through the Mayors Challenge.
“We’re very excited about the progress that we’ve made throughout the state and in Sussex County in particular.”
Also during the May 23 council meeting, Nauman was recognized for receiving the 2017 Delaware National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) Ambassador Award for her outstanding work in the housing field.
“Brandy has been the driving force behind the County’s very successful implementation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Programs, which assisted many of the County’s low- to moderate-income households achieve the dream of home ownership,” said County Administrator Todd Lawson.
Veterans in need of transitional housing assistance may call 1-877-424-3838 (toll-free), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.