- RSS Channel Showcase 4946883
- RSS Channel Showcase 6381780
- RSS Channel Showcase 8001310
- RSS Channel Showcase 1475791
Articles on this Page
- 06/22/17--13:52: _OVPD to hold bike c...
- 06/22/17--13:57: _Emergency training ...
- 06/22/17--14:00: _Lord Baltimore Lion...
- 06/22/17--14:41: _County denies condi...
- 06/22/17--14:44: _Local vendor sale s...
- 06/22/17--14:46: _Bethany planning lo...
- 06/22/17--14:49: _IRSD sets new prope...
- 06/22/17--14:50: _Fenwick Island grou...
- 06/22/17--14:55: _‘O’ you should Posi...
- 06/22/17--14:56: _IRSD scrutinizing s...
- 06/22/17--14:59: _Tech admins on leav...
- 06/22/17--15:01: _Beebe announces $18...
- 06/29/17--09:54: _Extra Points — June...
- 06/29/17--12:11: _Beach & Bay Cottage...
- 06/29/17--12:35: _Toomey honored by D...
- 06/29/17--12:40: _MillVols donate bac...
- 06/29/17--12:49: _Dagsboro’s Cole Had...
- 06/29/17--13:00: _Fenwick to change b...
- 06/29/17--13:21: _‘25 Years of Good F...
- 06/29/17--13:31: _Local author tells ...
- 06/22/17--13:52: OVPD to hold bike checkpoint with help from Hogs for Heroes
- 06/22/17--13:57: Emergency training to be held at Lord Baltimore next week
- 06/22/17--14:00: Lord Baltimore Lions Club focused on community
- 06/22/17--14:41: County denies conditional-use application for ‘tiny home’ campus
- 06/22/17--14:44: Local vendor sale set for Sunday, June 25, in Bethany Beach
- 06/22/17--14:46: Bethany planning longer, smaller-scale fireworks show
- 06/22/17--14:49: IRSD sets new property tax rate with 52-cent increase
- 06/22/17--14:50: Fenwick Island group learns about human trafficking
- 06/22/17--14:55: ‘O’ you should Positive-ly donate to Blood Bank of Delaware
- 06/22/17--14:56: IRSD scrutinizing school-choice enrollment procedures
- 06/22/17--14:59: Tech admins on leave after allegedly bending major finance rules
- 06/22/17--15:01: Beebe announces $180M expansion, to include Millville area
- 06/29/17--09:54: Extra Points — June 30, 2017
- 06/29/17--12:35: Toomey honored by DoD for patriotic support
- 06/29/17--12:40: MillVols donate backpacks to foster children
- 06/29/17--12:49: Dagsboro’s Cole Haden takes his act on the road
- 06/29/17--13:00: Fenwick to change beach rules for umbrellas, tents, smoking
- 06/29/17--13:21: ‘25 Years of Good Food & Good Evenings’
- 06/29/17--13:31: Local author tells tale of ‘The Girl from Guantanamo’
For more than a decade, the Ocean View Police Department has held a bicycle safety checkpoint in the summer. At those checkpoints, cyclists are welcome to stop and have officers inspect their bicycles, as well as receiving free safety items, including a light kit.
This year, the checkpoint will be held on Thursday, June 29, from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. in the Taylor Bank parking lot.
Hogs for Heroes recently donated $300 to the department to help it purchase bicycle light kits for the checkpoint. Since the program’s start, the department has installed more than 750 lights.
OVPD Chief Ken McLaughlin “was telling me they want to provide helmets and lights for the bicyclists here in Ocean View, going back and forth from Bethany for safety,” said Warren “Snake” Davis of Hogs for Heroes’ Delaware Chapter 3. “I thought that was money well spent.”
Davis, a founding member of the non-profit organization, said the charitable organization’s mission is to support military, police, firefighters and emergency responders within their communities.
“It was founded in 2008 by a friend of mine who was a retired Secret Service agent. He wanted to do something for veterans, police, fire departments — the folks out on the street every day keeping the community safe and keeping our country safe,” said Davis. “We think it’s very important to support those who are out there supporting us.”
Davis said the organization holds benefit rides for causes such as law enforcement and cancer research. The organization has also provided security for events such as Bike Week in Ocean City, Md.
“We do whatever we can in the community but our mission is to support.”
Delaware Chapter 3 currently has approximately 20 members. Davis said interested parties should contact a member and attend a meeting or a social evening at the Greene Turtle, to get a feel for the club.
He said, while this was the first financial donation to the department, Hogs for Heroes has already supported OVPD through Police Appreciation Day.
Hearing the monies donated would be going to the bicycle safety checkpoint, Davis said he was pleased.
“I think that’s money well-spent to prevent potential accidents, especially during the busy summer. It just shows they’re doing more in the community than just dealing with crime.”
For more information about Hogs for Heroes, visit wwww.hogsforheroesfoundation.com or visit Delaware Chapter 3’s Facebook page, at www.facebook.com/HHDE3.
Taylor Bank is located at 50 Atlantic Avenue in Ocean View.
Anyone driving by Lord Baltimore Elementary School next week who notices a large gathering of emergency-services vehicles should not be alarmed.
The Ocean View Police Department will be hosting Rescue Task Force (RTF) Training for three days next week, on June 26-28.
“We have hosted an annual training exercise here in Ocean View every summer. We utilize Lord Baltimore School after school lets out,” said OVPD Chief Ken McLaughlin. “The District and Principal Webb are kind enough to let us use the school.
“What we’ve been doing is bringing local first-responders together to train in a team environment — police, fire, EMS — to enhance our response to critical incidents and mass casualty incidents.”
McLaughlin said the training would include such incidents as an active shooter, bombing, massive weather event and even a catastrophic traffic crash — where, instead of one or two people injured, there are 20 or 30.
“How do we go about handling those situations, working as a team to get everybody to safety?” said McLaughlin of the issues to be addressed.
For the most part, the training will be inside the school; however, there may be some activity in the parking lot.
While there will be a lot of emergency vehicles in the area of the school, especially on June 28, McLaughlin said not to worry, it is simply an annual training exercise.
For 71 years, the Lord Baltimore Lions Club has been working to addres the needs of the community it serves.
According to its website, “The Lord Baltimore Lions Club meets the needs in our communities and the world. Our volunteerism spans from assisting the visually impaired, assisting LOVRNET (low vision rehabilitation network) interviews, working with local youth through scholarships, etc., providing emergency assistance to individuals and families, building ramps for handicapped individuals, providing medical equipment to those in need, etc., as well as providing disaster relief as needed.”
“We have four major areas of focus, but we also respond to community needs. Mainly, this year, it’s been vision, youth, environment and fighting hunger,” said club President John Monahan.
For the club’s Legacy Project, as a part of Lions Clubs International’s Centennial Celebration to commemorate its 100th anniversary in 2017, the Lord Baltimore Lions donated benches to two area elementary schools.
“As part of the celebration, Lions Clubs from around the world are working to help more than 100 million people and complete legacy projects that make lasting contributions to their communities,” said Janet Bauer, secretary and president-elect.
“With our legacy project, we purchased four benches — two for Lord Baltimore and two for John M. Clayton elementary schools. In order to do it, because of the cost, we had to go to the Delaware Lions Foundation.”
Bauer said she came up with the idea after walking the grounds of Lord Baltimore with Principal Pam Webb.
“I was looking at the playground and noticed there were no benches,” she recalled. “I asked if they would like benches. She said, ‘Oh — we would love benches! It’s just not in our budget.’”
The benches donated to the two schools are guaranteed for 50 years and are made out of all recycled products. There’s virtually no maintenance needed for them. The back of the benches is also engraved.
Bauer said the mission of the Delaware Lions Foundation is to support the Lions Clubs of Delaware in their humanitarian service to the state’s citizens.
“So, if any club in Delaware wants to do a project but can’t afford it — because the only money we have is what we collect from the community — we can go to the Delaware Lions Foundation for a grant of half the amount of money we would need.”
Lions looking to expand
Lions Club International currently has 46,000 clubs with 1.4 million members in 200 countries.
Next year, the organization plans to add two more focus areas to its mission — diabetes and pediatric cancer.
The Lord Baltimore Lions Club serves Bethany Beach, Ocean View, Millville, Clarksville, Dagsboro and Frankford. The club currently has around 60 members, ranging in age from 50 to 95 years old.
The club meets twice a month — on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at 6:30 p.m., at St. Martha’s Church in Bethany Beach.
“Somebody might not be able to attend the two meetings or even one meeting each month and think they cannot join,” said Monahan. “We are not lax, but certainly forgiving and flexible in terms of attending meetings. We have some members who do a fundraiser a couple of times a year, and we don’t see them at a meeting.”
Monahan said the club wants to continue its flexibility to reach out and encourage more community members to join its ranks.
“We love the richness and diversity in the backgrounds as well. I feel like we’ve really encouraged people to make suggestions about new projects. This club has evolved. It’s 71 years old, and I think we’re evolving nicely in our areas.”
“I tell people you can put in as much into it as you can,” added Jack Bauer.
Meeting dinners cost $16 per member; however, community members interested in joining the club may dine at their first meeting for free.
“We try to tell them and show them what we do — anyone in the community who would like to serve their community,” said Janet Bauer.
Jack Bauer noted that the complimentary meals are paid out of member dues, and not monies raised out in the community.
“Anything we raise through the public goes back out, dollar for dollar.”
They added that, despite what some may think, women are welcome to join the club and encouraged to do so.
“Our club is male and female. It’s sometimes a mistaken notion that it’s a men’s club, because there’s a Lioness Club in town, too. But since the late ’80s, it has been open to women, too,” said Monahan.
“Women are an integral part of what we do,” added Jack Bauer.
“Jack was a Lion for about three years before I decided to join,” said Janet Bauer of her husband. “It seemed like he was out a lot and I was home by myself, so I thought, ‘Well, shucks — I’ll join too.’”
“There’s something for everybody in our club. We’ve had members this year specifically interested in the environment, and they’ve been very happy seeing how much our club is doing in terms of supporting environmental projects,” said Monahan, noting that club has participated in grass plantings, among other environmental endeavors.
Jack Bauer said one member was interested in fighting hunger, so a group volunteers at the Delaware Food Bank on a monthly basis. Members also volunteer at the Mariner’s Bethel Feed My Sheep Ministry and previously helped the homeless shelter in Bethany Beach, now House of Mercy in Selbyville.
“We also do food drives and send the food to the Pyle Center or to the homeless shelter,” he said.
“This club is very active in this service area and a little bit beyond our service area, and you have to be proud of that,” added Monahan.
Club has a vision for helping community
When people hear “Lions Club,” sight often comes to mind. Monahan, who joined the Lions Club in 1983, said he did so because he wanted to get involved with an organization that focused on sight after his aunt had a stroke and lost her vision.
The Lions focus on vision screenings, offering their services to area elementary school students. The clubs also support the Low Vision Research Foundation sponsored by the Lions and collect eyeglasses to be recycled and given to those who may need them.
“We do have boxes around in a number of stores to collect used glasses. We just sent 16,000 pairs of eye glasses to a recycling center in New Jersey,” said Janet Bauer. “It’s a whole process we go through with these glasses. We sort them by sunglasses, bifocals, readers. The prescriptions will go up to the prison, and there they have a machine that can tell them what the prescription is. From there, they’ll clean them, put them in a little baggie and go back to boxes. They’ve gone to Nicaragua, Costa Rica…”
“Five-thousand this year went to Nicaragua,” added Monahan, noting that, this year alone, the club has received 21 requests from community members in need of eyeglasses.
Monahan also noted that the club has started working with the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Md., to interview incoming patients.
“In preparation for seeing their doctor, we do an interview with them. There are people in the club that are certified to do that. This enables the doctor to spend more time with the patient, dealing with the issue, instead of finding out the history,” he said. “Vision is one of our main core calling cards. And, of course, youth — we really have to protect our youth.”
As an active club, the Lord Baltimore Lions also serve Lord Baltimore and John M. Clayton elementary schools by hosting mini-parties for students who have received straight-A’s on their report cards.
“Whatever students received A’s on their report cards would get a little treat. We would bring in cupcakes and little juice punches — things like that. It started out with about 35 students at John M. Clayton and it’s up to about 60 now,” shared Jack Bauer.
“Then Lord Baltimore happened to hear about it and asked us if we would do the same for them. So, we’ve started doing our A’s parties for Lord Baltimore.”
“The competition is pretty fierce in both schools,” added Monahan. “We’re so happy that so many kids are excited. They tell us, ‘I was here last time!’ I was up in Dover one time and there was a library book giveaway, volunteering, and two of the students came up and said, ‘I saw you at our A party at Lord Baltimore.’ That was great.
“Children are a major service area. Youth is a major area for Lions. We only have the two elementary schools in our service area, so we want to do for both, equally.”
The club also annually awards scholarships to Indian River High School students. This year, three students each received a one-time $1,500 scholarship.
“It is academics, but the higher scale is on leadership. We are looking for a student that is committed to academics but also committed to being a leader,” said Monahan.
The club also works to loan medical equipment to those in need, free of charge.
I was amazed at the amount of medical equipment that we loan out to people. That was something I was never even unaware of when I transferred to this club,” said Monahan.
Since July 1, 2016, 560 pieces of equipment loaned out and returned, said Jack Bauer, who joined the Lions after helping them build handicapped access ramps for a number of years.
“That’s hospital beds, wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes, commodes, shower benches...” listed Janet Bauer, noting that most of the items were donated to the club.
“We’ve done over 500 handicap projects over the last 28 years,” added Jack Bauer, who has been a member for 14 years.
Yard sale to raise funds for group’s work
All of the club’s service projects are funded through a number of fundraisers done throughout the year.
On Saturday, June 17, the club held its annual Lions Yard Sale, with an accompanying bake sale, at Lord Baltimore Elementary School.
The club’s largest fundraiser is its annual car raffle — with tickets currently being sold. Other fundraisers include a fruit sale from November to March, in which the club sells fruit from Florida.
“Those are our primary fundraisers. Then we do other smaller things throughout the club, like we just got done selling Yankee Candles. They make small amounts. It all adds up. And people donate to the club, also.”
Jack Bauer said he looks forward to continuing to serve the community and hopes others will consider joining and sharing their time.
“We feel fortunate in what we have — not that we’re rich, but we have a nice lifestyle. People think of the beach area as rich, but you get two miles away from any of these beach towns and there’s a lot of poverty. There’s a lot of need in this area.
“I think all of us get that satisfaction knowing we can help in some way. I think, if you ask any Lion, that’s primarily what it’s about.”
“I found down here, in our club here, we have much more involvement — not only in the four focus areas but also helping different groups,” added Monahan. “When you give something, you get a lot back.”
Those who are interested in joining the club or wish to attend a meeting to check out the club can contact Janet Bauer at (302) 537-5175. To learn more about the club, visit http://www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/lordbaltimorede/index.php. To learn more about Lions Club International, visit www.lionsclubs.org.
The Sussex County Council voted unanimously this week to deny a conditional-use application for a “tiny home” campground in the Long Neck area.
Architect and property owner Joy Marshall Ortiz told the council she wanted to create a small, sustainable small-home community on her 4.199-acre property, located on the north side of Cordrey Road, approximately 800 feet west of Streets Road.
Ortiz said the property, which is zoned AR-1, could house 10 to 15 units, with the average home in the community being 250 square feet in size.
“We wanted to create an environment that would not impact the land or the community,” she said.
The property, which is located behind a once-family-owned parcel, would be accessed through a 50-foot easement owned by the neighboring property owner. The neighbor was not in attendance at the June 20 meeting; however, Ortiz said she was willing to take over maintenance of the road.
Ortiz said there would be a common parking area, created using crush-and-run, as they would want to create little impact to the land. She added that the homes would use solar energy, composting toilets and rainwater collection units.
The homes would be built off-site and brought in on trailers once completed.
“The idea is that each would be designed a little differently but all compatible,” she said. “We want to create a place where people can come and be a part of the community.”
The Sussex County Planning & Zoning Commission had recommended against approving the conditional use, stating they felt it was not an appropriate use for a campground as written in the county code.
Ortiz said she and her husband were trying to work around the constraints of the code, as a zoning classification for such a community currently does not exist.
“I understand that that is maybe where you’re going, but when you look at the actual impact of what these tiny homes could be, it could be far less impactful on the homeowner than if I were to build a home that I want,” she said, noting she could create a pig farm, build a pole barn to store farm equipment or store as many personal vehicles as she wanted on the property.
The homes would not be for sale but would be rented for short-term, long-term and seasonal use.
Planning & Zoning Director Janelle Cornwall said, as the code is currently, the tiny residences would be classified as manufactured homes and would thus require a 450-square-foot minimum size.
Councilman I.G. Burton asked whether County staff were looking into adding any kind of zoning to its comprehensive land-use plan that would enable such a community to be built.
Cornwall said they are currently looking to add it as an alternative housing idea in the community housing section of the plan.
Councilman Rob Arlett said that, while he liked the concept, he had concerns about the easement.
The council voted 5-0 against approving the application.
“I totally think this is a good concept,” said Council President Michael Vincent. “I certainly hope that you will not forget about this and that you will try to figure a way… I think your concept and ideas are certainly something that would benefit our people.”
A group of local vendors will hold their first annual vendor event on Sunday, June 25, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Bethany Beach fire hall. The event will feature local vendors selling apparel, jewelry, makeup, skincare, health and wellness supplies, home decor and more.
Some brands with vendors in attendance include: LuLaRoe, Chloe + Isabel, Perfectly Posh, Mary Kay, Arbonne, Lip Sense, Party Lite, Thirty One and Scentsy. Other vendors will be selling lip scents and stains, custom pillows, vinyl decals, and custom tumblers and coolers. The event is free to the public, with most vendors accepting cash or credit cards.
“The event is a way to promote small-business owners and reach out to the locals, in hopes that we can all just support one another,” said Jennifer Bland, a vendor of LuLaRoe.
The all-weather event can be entered from Hollywood Street. For information, contact Jennifer Bland at (302) 745-3439.
Bethany Beach’s traditional Fourth of July fireworks celebration may be a little less grand this year but could also last a little longer — both changes being a function of the Town’s storm-narrowed beaches.
Town Manager Cliff Graviet on June 16 told the council that, after a review with the fireworks vendor and Office of the State Fire Marshal, they had contracted for an Independence Day fireworks display utilizing 3-inch shells, instead of the 4-inch shells that have been used in recent years.
“We’re having a real issue with the width of the beach,” Graviet told the council. “Normally, by mid-June … we have had … some of the southerly winds that help build the beach back. We have not had that happen yet.”
Graviet held out some hope that condition could change, even in the last few days leading up to the July 4 display, and he said if that were to happen, the officials would switch the event permit over to the 4-inch shells suitable for a wider beach “to give us a better show.”
“We will have a longer show with the 3-inch shells, but it won’t have the impact that the 4-inch shells would have,” he said, noting that the 4-inch shells produce the kind of show people are used to seeing along the coast.
The beach has also been impacted in the early part of the summer season by tides bringing beach grass onto the shore. The Town moved to clean up the grasses but its beach-cleaning machine immediately broke, Graviet said. They then found a private vendor to do the job, and the cleaning machine has since been repaired, he noted. “But the additional beach grass makes the beach smaller and less usable.”
The Town is scheduled to be included in a beach replenishment project starting this fall that is intended to bring the beach back to its engineered design. That could make for a bigger-scale fireworks display for 2018.
Graviet also informed the council of an “interesting meeting” recently with Verizon representatives and a subcontractor, which he said is part of an effort by Verizon to meet with coastal town officials (they’d met with Fenwick Island and Dewey Beach officials already, he said, and expected to meet with South Bethany officials soon) to ask for their support for legislation that would allow the company to install WiFi antennas on utility poles to increase the company’s existing communications capacity.
He said that if the legislation was to be approved, the 18-inch diameter “canisters,” each around 2 to 3 feet long, would be affixed to utility poles, which would primarily be Delmarva Power poles in the Bethany area, along Routes 1 and 26 and Atlantic Avenue.
The timeframe for that installation would likely not be until 2018 or 2019. The company offered a 20-plus-page lease agreement to the Town for an idea of what might be requested for poles located in Town rights-of-way, with some compensation possible.
“We will wait to see what happens in the next two to three years, which is a lifetime in internet technology,” he noted. “When it’s brought to use in a more formal form, we will bring it to the council,” he said, as well as to the attorney who reviewed the Town’s agreement with Mediacom.
Vice-Mayor Lew Killmer reported that the Delaware League of Local Governments has voiced support for the legislation.
“To not do it would be detrimental, especially in Sussex County,” he said, noting that most of the concerns expressed had been aesthetic ones for historical areas. “It would be similar to the one by McDonald’s on Route 1,” Killmer added. “Who knows what the technology will be by then,” he said of the timetable for possible installation.
Graviet noted that Verizon expressed no intent to move its utilities underground, and he said the Town informed them it had no intention of allowing the canisters to be placed on its decorative poles along Garfield Parkway, which he said already present concerns about wind load.
The town manager last Friday also provided an update on the Town’s Blackwater storage facility in the Clarksville area, noting that rainy conditions had delayed foundation work but that they were able to drain the area and pour concrete, with the steel frame now up, though it will take two more months before the building will be close to being ready for occupation, he said.
Town adopts ADA-based definition
of ‘service animal’
The town council on June 16 approved on second reading an amendment to its existing code on animals on the beach and boardwalk during the summer season.
The revision was intended to bring the code into conformity with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), in terms of how it defines service animals, which the amendment seeks to clarify are permitted on the beach and boardwalk when performing their work for a person with a disability.
Councilwoman Rosemary Hardiman emphasized that the amendment expands the definition in town code of what a service animal is under the ADA, and what it is not — the ADA does not recognize any species of animal except dogs as service animals, nor does it recognize “comfort dogs,” though the latter are permitted on airline flights.
Dr. Larry Fishel spoke to the council about the change, saying, “I have been asked to sign many of these forms for patients, and I have denied many of them for people who did not need them.”
Fishel said service dogs should be identified by a bandana, vest or flag, and any dog on the beach or boardwalk during the summer should bear such an identifier, along with its owner being able to provide documentation that it is, indeed, a service dog.
“Comfort dogs are basically a luxury for people who are stressed out when they’re not with the dog,” he added. “I have turned 95 percent of the people down,” he said of requests for service dogs among his patients.
A legitimate service dog, he emphasized, “will have a bandana or flag. … It would be like driving a car without your driver’s license on you. Otherwise, it’s very questionable whether they are a service dog.”
Also on June 16:
• Cultural & Historical Affairs Committee Chairwoman Carol Olmstead reported on the group’s preparation for the annual Periers Day celebrating the town’s “twinning” with Periers, France. A dozen visitors from the French town are expected during the July celebration, which will include a number of French-themed entertainments.
Olmstead said the group is also working on suggestions for the town history museum that will be housed in the recently relocated historic Dinker-Irvin Cottage. “It’s very exciting for us to see that the cottage fits well in its new home,” she said.
• Killmer reported the approval by the Non-Residential Design Review Committee of a new, but identical, sign for Fish Tales, in its new location on the south side of Garfield Parkway, in the former location of the Frog House.
• The Planning & Zoning Commission reported the completion and commission approval of the 10-year update to the Town’s comprehensive plan. The completed plan will next go to the council for its approval.
• The council approved setting the annual council election on Saturday, Sept. 9, from noon to 6 p.m. at town hall. The filing deadline for candidates is July 26 at 4:30 p.m. The council also appointed a slate of election officers and Board of Elections members. Finally, they set the date for the council organizational meeting as Sept. 18 at 10 a.m.
The Indian River School District this week approved the tax rate for this autumn.
For the 2018 fiscal year, the property tax rate will increase from $2.578 to $3.097 per $100 assessed value (which, in Sussex County, is much less than actual appraised real estate value).
Some rates change each year, while others only change with public approval. The following changes were made from the 2017 fiscal year to the 2018 fiscal year:
• Current expense (increases by 49 cents from $1.86 to $2.35)
• Debt service (decreases by 2.2 cents $0.216 to $0.194)
• Tuition (increases 5 cents from $0.47 to $0.52)
• Minor cap (increases .01 cent from $0.032 to $0.033).
The capitation rate is unchanged, at $12 per adult.
The public approved an increase in current expense taxes with a March 2017 referendum. Debt service decreased as IRSD pays off old construction loans. Tuition fluctuates every year for special student needs, such as autism or homebound instruction. Minor capital improvement money is based on State matching funds.
Although the board unanimously approved the figure on June 19, they may have to revisit it after June 30, depending on the new fiscal year’s finances.
Meanwhile, the IRSD received an additional $50,000 in tax money this year, due to penalties and interest for late payments, said Director of Business Jan Steele. That means the IRSD received more than 100 percent of its expected tax revenue for 2016-2017.
IRSD improve budget oversight
After receiving 36 applicants, the IRSD selected 10 volunteers to serve on the revamped Citizens Budget Oversight Committee. They’ll be specially trained to understand, review and contribute to regular discussions on IRSD budgets.
The goal is transparency, to ensure that public stakeholders can provide input on district finances.
“I think we have a well-rounded group of people,” Steele said. “I’m excited to have this up and running and get some input.”
Members include Justen Albright, Gary Brittingham, Morley Daehn Jr., Kathleen Evans, Greg Goldman, Linda Lewis, Dave Marvel, Austin Short, Rose Watkins and Chris White.
They will be joined by Superintendent Mark Steele and Director of Business Jan Steele (no relation).
They will serve two-year terms but may continue beyond that, with board approval. Meetings will be at least quarterly, with regular reports at public school board meetings.
“The committee may also meet in conjunction with the district’s established Finance Committee at the discretion of the superintendent and/or Board president,” the district stated.
In July, they will receive the same financial training that regular board members typically receive. Education finances are considered particularly complex, due to the many incoming pots of money and strings attached to each. Even IRSD board members have been asking more questions lately, since the Delaware Auditor of Accounts’ 2016 criticism of the district’s financial oversight and management.
The IRSD had a similar group years ago, which eventually evolved into the present-day Finance Committee, whose meetings are open to the public but typically attended only by IRSD administrators and staff. The new citizens committee was developed in accordance with Delaware Code and Delaware Department of Education regulations.
When Jenna Carnuccio traveled to help fight sex slavery in Thailand, she said, many of the clients were white men picking up local teenage prostitutes in white-owned bars. The men were sometimes delighted to meet another American so far from home.
After graduating this winter from Liberty University, Carnuccio has just returned from three months overseas. She spent her daytimes in mission work, such as construction or teaching English.
But, at night, she went to the red-light districts where girls were prostituted.
“Most of the girls are from the ages of 8 to 17 years old,” Carnuccio said. “I’m 22, so I would be considered pretty old.”
Originally from West Chester, Pa., Carnuccio said she wants to help prevent human trafficking internationally and locally. She told her story June 15 at St. Matthews By-the-Sea United Methodist Church in Fenwick Island.
Human trafficking is the practice of illegally transporting people, usually for forced labor or sexual slavery.
During her two months in Thailand, Carnuccio worked in high-risk areas where people commonly suffer from extreme poverty and illness.
With little hope of medicine or even food, it’s more culturally acceptable for parents to give their child away in exchange for food or money, perhaps never realizing what horrors the children may face in sex slavery. A broker might leave town with a whole bunch of children.
But Carnuccio found hope there with the nonprofit Remember Nhu. They house poor children who are at risk of entering sexual slavery by encouraging destitute parents to send children to the safehouse, where the child will be cared for until adulthood. She said they have a more normal childhood and understand that their parents cared enough to give them a good home.
At night, Carnuccio and other volunteers visited the teenage girls trapped in brothels or picking up strangers in bars.
The men trading the women
Most girls only survive one to three years trapped in a brothel, with dozens of partners each night, sometimes an IV in their arms to stay sedated and completely dependent on drugs that the pimps had encouraged them to take.
“It was absolutely horrifying,” Carnuccio said.
“A lot of the customers are white men, usually on business,” she said.
She focused her ministry on the men perpetrating the sex trade. Men own the bars where newer prostitutes work. Some have families at home who didn’t know about that side of their business, she said.
Carnuccio said she also spoke with customers approaching brothels, encouraging them to stop continuing down an empty life path. Rather than spend $1 to rape a girl, she told them, why not use the dollar to give her an hour’s break or share God’s message with her?
“These girls are young. You should be protecting them like your own daughters, like a father should be,” Carnuccio said.
It wasn’t easy, she said. But some men did show a change of heart.
“I’m seeing what I’m doing. I’m selling these girls, and it’s completely destructive,” she said a barkeeper later told her.
It might sound like a dangerous situation for a young American woman, but she was working with men and women in groups of six. The men could minister to the women while masquerading as potential clients. If the bar owners didn’t want proselytizing in their establishment, the group left quickly.
“I never felt fear, and I think that was good. … [We] were smart about it,” Carnuccio said.
She also worked a month in a Cambodian orphanage where traumatized children had already been rescued from the sex trade.
“A lot of them are mentally, physically and emotionally unstable,” so they clung desperately to any loving adult in the home, said Carnuccio.
A significant number of victims rescued from sex slavery will eventually return to it, either for easy money or desperation, she said, noting that brainwashing is a big part of it. Or another child will take their place. That’s why, she said, she prefers the preventative nature of Remember Nhu.
Remembering the original Nhu
When she was a child in Asia, Nhu’s family sold her virginity and her body to a man multiple times. But her newfound faith in Christianity had given her hope beyond the ordeal. When an American heard her story, he was inspired to find and rescue Nhu. She lives in the U.S. now, and he began opening Remember Nhu children’s homes in 2007.
The group has nearly 75 homes in 13 countries.
“I love it — they go into every region… find those kids a refuge for their entire childhood,” Carnuccio said. “It has ended human trafficking in regions across the world, not just a village.”
There’s a long way to go. She said 1.2 million children are sold annually, which translates to 3,300 children daily, or 90 children “in the 40 minutes we’ve been talking.”
But human trafficking is such an underground trade that it’s hard to keep exact numbers in Delaware, the U.S. or internationally.
It can be hard for some Americans to understand or even believe, she said, and that frustrates Carnuccio, who saw the brothels and once met a child whose mother had left her in a trashcan.
“I think it’s hard for people to wrap their minds around that,” Carnuccio said. “I think they have to understand, really, how poor these people are … and sick.
In her faith, Carnuccio said, she struggled to understand why such evil could continue in the world. But she has stepped up and joined the fray to care for her fellow human beings.
She’ll begin graduate school in the fall to study clinical mental-health counseling. Eventually, she hopes to open a safe home in the U.S. or do counseling overseas.
People can learn more at www.RememberNhu.org. She said people can pray for the children, sponsor a child, donate money or just read and educate others. Remember Nhu has helped and housed more than 1,700 children.
The talk was sponsored by the Mission Committee and United Methodist Women of St. Matthews By-the-Sea U.M. Church.
Imagine giving birth to a first child. It should be the happiest day of one’s life. Now, imagine an unforeseen complication that causes the mother to lose so much blood she needs a 400-unit transfusion.
While some may say, “This will never happen to me,” each year 5 million Americans need a blood transfusion.
“We need people to understand the importance of this,” said Michael Waite, director of marketing and community relations for the Blood Bank of Delmarva. “Modern science has not been able to replicate human blood. There is no substitute for it. If people do not donate it, people could die.
“There are so many different uses for blood. There are people who are, say, having surgeries that need blood that’s lost during their surgery. There may be car accidents, some kind of trauma incident, where somebody starts to bleed and they need that blood replenished to survive.
“This really is a life-saving donation,” Waite emphasized.
“We have cancer patients that need platelets because they have a clotting factor to them, and in some forms of chemotherapy it thins the blood so much it’s dangerous for that patient if they don’t have platelets in their system. We have people who donate platelets specifically for those cancer patients.”
“There’s plasma, used for burn victims and such. You can go down and down and down the line — there are so many uses for blood.”
Currently, the Blood Bank of Delmarva, which serves 18 facilities in the Delmarva region, is experiencing a shortage of O+ blood.
“Occasionally this occurs. We try as best we can to avoid them. But when you get a series of traumas like we’ve had recently, it does put a strain on our supply,” said Waite. “When there’s more than normal usage, that’s when we have to call out to the public to let them know that we are in pretty dire need of their help.”
A whole-blood donation takes approximately an hour from start to finish, with the actual donation portion lasting approximately 10 minutes.
“[Donors] have to go through a series of questions that are FDA-mandated. Then, if they pass those questions, they are tested for their hemoglobin, temperature and blood pressure. If their blood pressure is within a normal range and their hemoglobin level is high enough, they’re eligible to donate,” he explained.
“They get in the chair. The phlebotomist will prep the individual. They’ll ask the donor if they’re comfortable with the left or right arm, find a vein, and then, at that point, do the stick — 10 to 12 minutes later, we’ve got a full unit.”
Then the donor will be bandaged and sent to the canteen for 15 minutes to enjoy juice and cookies before leaving.
Once the blood donation is collected, it goes through 14 different tests, including those for HIV, Zika, and Hepatitis A, B and C, to make sure it’s safe to be given to a patient in need.
Individuals may also give platelets or double red-cell donations, which do take additional time at a donation site.
“We would love to convert a whole-blood donor,” said Waite, noting that platelets are critically needed for cancer and leukemia patients and only have a shelf life of five days. “It’s more time-consuming. Platelet donation can go about two to two and a half hours. If they have the time, we would love for them to come in and donate.”
Individuals may donate whole blood every 56 days, double red blood cells every 112 days and platelets every 14 days.
While the Blood Bank has five donor sites, their mobile blood bank travels across Delmarva, to schools, fire halls, churches and other community sites.
Anyone who is between the ages of 17 and 79 may donate; however, the vast majority of donors are older.
“I don’t know if the younger portion of our population understands the criticality of this until maybe they had somebody in their family who needed a transfusion or who almost died of an accident and received blood,” said Waite.
“We have babies that get transfusions. One of the biggest uses of blood when things go wrong is a woman in the middle of childbirth. They can lose dozens of pints of blood. We’ve seen some of the violence that’s happened here as of late, in places all over the country. Things can happen anywhere. We don’t know what’s going to happen 5 minutes from now.”
Currently, the Blood Bank is hosting its 15th Annual Summer Blood Challenge, and all those who donate between May 15 and Sept. 23 are eligible to win a number of prizes.
“They will have the opportunity to win some really cool prizes, including a week’s stay at a luxury resort in Dewey,” he said. “The great majority of people who donate blood are incentivized to help other people. They do it because it’s a good thing and it helps save lives.”
Waite said donating blood takes such little effort and time but makes a big impact in someone’s health and, ultimately, life.
“If you feel at all that you want to do something for your community, here’s an opportunity for you to do something that’s not going to cost you anything, except some time,” he said. “When you make a blood donation, it’s going to somebody.”
For more information about the Blood Bank of Delmarva or to schedule a life-saving donation, visit www.delmarvablood.org or call (302) 737-8405.
The Indian River School District has been juggling school choice for the past few months. Between space constraints and the now-resolved question of next year’s kindergarten program, school board members have spent more time each month combing through their rules on and goals for school choice.
The program includes children within the district who wish to attend a different school, as well as children county-wide who want to enter IRSD schools.
The board makes all decisions based on principals’ recommendations. That is supposed to be based on capacity. At the June 19 meeting, the board asked for more details about capacity, at the school level and individual grade levels.
For instance, although some children were recommended for acceptance at North Georgetown Elementary School, it appeared that those classes may be applying for oversized-class waivers.
Meanwhile, Sussex Central High School is about 122 students over capacity but is trying to entice more students to come in order to fill the flagship International Baccalaureate program.
Far under capacity, the Georgetown Kindergarten Center is also trying to entice more students, to keep unit counts up and avoid reductions in staff.
“We’re looking, somewhere in the future, at having to build new schools and add onto schools,” said Board Member Leolga Wright. “Adding onto schools because we’re bringing in someone from out of district — we’re going down the same road as a nearby district.”
While she didn’t mention Sussex Technical High School by name, that single-school district was recently ordered to reduce its student population, which had been growing to the point where Tech requested money for a new building.
“We have to be very careful, because we’re the ones paying extra tax dollars,” said Board Member Jim Fritz. “We would like to educate every child, but we don’t have room for every child. That’s what other districts and their buildings are for.”
One parent also came forward to ask that his school-choice children be allowed to continue attending. Although his oldest son made it into the IRSD, both academically and socially, the rising sixth-grader is on the rejection list from the district middle schools.
Application discussions were tabled for this month and will continue in future.
In other IRSD news:
• District retirees were honored this month, including former Superintendent Susan Bunting, whose 39 years in IRSD preceded her recent appointment to be Delaware Secretary of Education.
Local state legislators also presented tributes to the woman who led the IRSD for nearly a decade.
“[Gov. John Carney] is very pleased with what he sees going on here, and I just wanted to share that with you,” said state Rep. Ruth Briggs King. “There are many good things that are happening, and that’s because of you,” she said, motioning to the staff, “and the board.”
“It’s been a grand career here,” said Bunting, adding that she was grateful to help shape today’s IRSD, “which is a model of excellence.”
• After a stormwater drainage pond failed at Georgetown Elementary School, the district is responsible for repairs, although they contend the contractor should have better anticipated the problems with clay soil, and the Department of Natural Resources signed off on the project.
The lowest quote came from Anderson Projects, at $43,600. If the IRSD did not make State-mandated repairs, they could be on the hook for fines and penalties. The board agreed, 6-4, to continue the project, with dissent from W. Scott Collins, Fritz and Wright and fellow Board Member Heather Statler.
The IRSD Board of Education’s next regular meeting is Monday, July 24, at 7 p.m. at Indian River High School.
Construction projects in the single-school Sussex Technical School District have caught negative attention from the state auditor.
It began with complaints to the Office of Auditor of Accounts (AOA) that a Laurel man had purchased land and immediately resold it to the school district at an 82 percent markup. He later became the project’s construction manager and allegedly charged the district high rates.
Meanwhile, he and the district allegedly adjusted invoices to avoid financial processes required by the State.
After the AOA report was issued June 8, the STSD Board of Education voted June 12 to place an undisclosed number of senior administrators on paid leave, “pending the outcome of an investigation into matters raised in the Auditor of Accounts’ report. … No further details will be provided in order to protect the privacy of personnel.”
Day-to-day operations of the district will be led by Principal John Demby and Supervisor of Support Services John Sell.
The AOA reviewed more than $3.8 million paid to Common Sense Solutions LLC (CSS) for the period from July 1, 2011, through Nov. 4, 2016, in the “Sussex Technical School District Land Acquisition and Construction Management Services Inspection” released June 8.
The Sussex Technical School District served 1,344 high school students from throughout Sussex County at the school in Georgetown for the 2016-2017 school year, as well as offering adult education and GED programs.
In 2010, the Department of Education (DOE) had approved Sussex Tech’s four renovation projects, totaling $17,275,200 (60 percent State funds, 40 percent local funds) for a bus entrance, HVAC systems, industrial shop renovation and district office renovation.
Overpaying for land
According to the AOA, Michael Horsey of Laurel was allegedly “intimately involved in the project at this time and was aware of Sussex Tech’s need to purchase the parcel of land for the [new bus] entrance.”
According to the report, late in 2010, Horsey and his wife, Kathleen, had founded Governmental Services LLC, which in April of 2012 purchased the land necessary for the bus entrance from Kruger Farms Inc. for $110,000. Two weeks later, the Sussex Tech Board of Education purchased that same land from Governmental Services for $200,000, “which represented a $90,000, or 82 percent, increase in value over the two-week period.”
The report states that, during the property transfer in July of 2012, Kathleen Horsey was the sole member of Governmental Services LLC. But, on that same day, Tech’s Facilities & Operations requested that Michael Horsey of CSS be awarded the project-manager contract for the bus entrance project. The school board approved the contract for $205,699 in November of 2012.
According to the AOA, STSD had no property appraisal done; there is no evidence of price negotiation; the district failed to keep detailed records; and the construction management contract was put to bid with too few details for other competing companies to adequately bid.
Additionally, compared to other state projects, the AOA found that the construction management firms on average usually charge 1.33 to 4 percent of the project’s overall value. CSS charged 8 percent on all three contracts.
In December of 2016, the AOA reported, Tech allegedly didn’t follow proper procedures for making change orders (the full school board wasn’t approving the increases in project price) or for bidding out projects (Horsey and CSS were granted additional construction management contracts for the later projects through “piggybacking,” instead of the full bidding process).
After the bus entrance project, the CSS contract was amended to add the HVAC systems and industrial shops renovations for another $828,123 apiece, plus reimbursable items at 10 percent markup over cost.
Despite issues being raised, the school board also piggybacked a fourth project: district office renovations for $79,500, plus reimbursable items at cost plus 10 percent.
The AOA stated that they believe that CSS marked up $262,600 in items that do not meet the contract’s definition of a reimbursable cost. Another $133,000 in charges lack supporting documentation, so AOA couldn’t determine if costs were calculated properly, they said.
Since the school board stopped reviewing change orders as a whole entity in 2015, “Sussex Tech paid CSS $1,546,529 without the Board’s oversight,” according to the AOA.
Bending the rules
For all purchases of more than $5,000, the state’s Budget & Accounting Manual requires a purchase order, school board approval and Division of Accounting review. There are more bidding rules for higher cost thresholds, at $10,000 and $100,000.
But the AOA alleges that Sussex Tech appears to have unlawfully circumvented State Procurement Code by encouraging costs to be split into many small invoices.
“Sussex Tech not only accepted and approved the payment of these numerous invoices, but encouraged the practice. AOA discovered emails from the former director of Facilities & Operations to several vendors, instructing them to split their invoices into amounts less than $5,000,” the report states.
The AOA found repeated examples of such action. For instance, paving and drainage were billed around $49,000 and $48,000 — just shy of the 50,000 threshold for mandatory bidding. CSS appears to have sometimes reduced the 10 percent markup in order to avoid hitting the $5,000 mark, they said.
Demolition costs for the whole auto collision shop were split into 31 invoices, exceeding $123,000 in total, which undercut the competitive bidding requirements of the $100,000 threshold.
Conflicts of interest
The AOA also spotted an alleged conflict-of-interest, as Tech’s former director of Facilities & Operations retired in mid-2015 and was then hired as the CSS liaison on the Sussex Tech construction projects.
Former State employees — which includes public school district employees — may not “represent or otherwise assist any private enterprise on any matter involving the State, for a period of two years after termination of employment” if the person was directly involved with that matter during their time with the State.
That former director is the same person who allegedly encouraged the splitting of vendor invoices, initially attempted to select CSS for the bus entrance project before bid paperwork was completed and oversaw the piggybacking of the CSS contract.
In conclusion, “CSS turned their original HS Bus Entrance CM contract of $205,699 into nearly $4,000,000 in payments” by piggybacking two more projects, AOA stated. “As of May 1, 2017, the HS HVAC Systems, HS Industrial Shops Renovations, and District Office Renovations projects are still ongoing and incurring additional charges and fees from CSS.”
Employees noted that “each time someone began questioning the payments made to CSS, they were pushed out of the decision-making and payment approval processes.”
On June 8, the AOA noted that “CSS invoices are currently addressed to and approved by the Assistant Superintendent instead of the current Director of Facilities and Operations.”
CSS has been doing various Sussex Tech projects for years and was paid $3.87 million from mid-2011 to late 2016, according to AOA
“While CSS was initially hired to perform contract management services for the District that totaled $1,806,703 in CM fees, CSS was still paid another $2,066,728 for additional construction-related services. Many of these expenditures were incurred without proper review and approvals in accordance with the State-mandated thresholds and lacked adequate supporting documentation.”
Legislators concerned, teachers want to teach
Sussex County’s delegation of state legislators has urged the state’s Attorney General to investigate the issues involved in the AOA report on Sussex Tech and pursue criminal charges as needed.
“The report released today by the State Auditor of Accounts raises some troubling questions about Sussex Tech,” according to the legislators’ joint statement. “It calls into question how key operational and strategic decisions are being made at the school; how tax dollars are being spent; and if sufficient oversight is being exercised.
“We urge the State Attorney General’s Office to investigate these findings and aggressively pursue action should any criminal wrongdoing be found. We also want to thank the State Auditor of Accounts’ staff for their diligence and their thorough reporting in this matter.”
Meanwhile, Sussex Tech will be severing ties with CSS.
“As of June 30, 2017, the contract with Common Sense Solutions (CSS) will come to an end. There are no further plans to utilize CSS’s Construction Management services beyond that point,” according to a district statement.
They did not clarify who will continue to guide the project to completion.
Sussex Tech’s other immediate response was to cite decreases in personnel and attempts to improve: “Sussex Technical School District is currently attempting to improve both process and procedure as it pertains to the appropriate scrutiny of transactions and enforcement of fiscal policies. Decreases in personnel over the years has led to many individuals wearing various hats and/or splitting job duties, this has presented challenges as all were learning and continue to learn their role and responsibilities.
“Sussex Technical School District will continue to do the best job possible while serving our community. All input will be synthesized and assist with our efforts moving forward.”
Ultimately, a school’s purpose is to educate, and the teachers’ union, in commenting on the issue, upheld their focus as educators.
“In light of the recent audit, the Sussex Technical High School teachers’ association is, and will continue to be, unified as educators,” according to a statement from the Sussex Tech Education Association.
“The STEA supports full financial transparency and disclosure by the district in order to remain focused on our students and the education in which we provide. As teachers, we pride ourselves in preparing our students in career and academic readiness, and, through education, we strive to play our part in enhancing the Sussex County community.”
The full Sussex Technical report from the AOA is online at http://auditor.delaware.gov/reports.
Beebe Healthcare’s Board of Directors earlier this month approved a proposal for a comprehensive expansion of the system over the next several years. The $180 million expansion will touch three communities — Lewes, Rehoboth Beach and Millville.
On Route 17, the Beebe Healthcare — a not-for-profit community healthcare system — will construct a long-anticipated year-round freestanding emergency department, as well as a comprehensive satellite facility of Beebe’s Tunnell Cancer Center that will include the ability to deliver radiation and chemotherapy treatment.
“The free-standing emergency department will have 22 treatment bays and will be open year-round, 24-hours a day,” said Patricia W. Matsko, coordinator for Beebe Healthcare’s publications and media relations. “It will have all the services required of emergency departments licensed in Delaware. It will include a helipad for emergency transports to other area hospitals when that is needed.”
The site will be designed to complement the facilities that already exist on Route 26, which include full diagnostic imaging, physical rehabilitation services, laboratory and walk-in care.
The larger expansion project will include the Lewes hospital, creating all-private rooms for complex medical and surgical inpatients. The expansion there will also include a new labor-and-delivery wing.
In Rehoboth, Beebe plans to develop a specialty surgical center for inpatient and outpatient procedures. Surgical procedures there will be focused on less-complex cases for patients requiring a shorter inpatient stay. They will also establish a Minimally Invasive Surgical Center of Excellence at the site.
With the coastal areas being in a time of tremendous population growth, Beebe worked with consultants to plan for the expansions.
“Hammes Company guided the hospital in evaluating population growth and trends in hospital utilization and surgery,” Matsko said. “Hammes Company developed the various options for serving inpatients.
“Oncology Solutions was engaged to study the incidence and treatment of cancer in the region and inform the decision to build a full-service satellite facility in Millville. And Freeman White was engaged to evaluate the need for emergency care throughout the region, recommended expanding this service in Millville, and crafted an operating plan for the proposed freestanding emergency department.”
All three expansions are to be pursued simultaneously, said Matsko, with the first phase of construction to begin as early as the fall of 2018.
“Our community is an attractive place to live and keeps growing. Beebe remains committed to expanding with it and to meeting the healthcare needs of the people who live in and visit the area,” said Jeffrey M. Fried, FACHE, president and CEO of Beebe Healthcare.
“As we acquire the latest technology and equipment, hire more physicians and improve our systems, patient and physician demand for Beebe services has increased. We think our plan is an innovative response to growth of the population, to expectations of healthcare customers for excellent service provided in convenient locations, and the insurance companies’ requirements that we be as efficient and cost-effective as possible.
“We’re very excited to share our vision for healthcare services with everyone today.”
The $180 million expected cost of the expansion will be paid for, in part, from charitable contributions being sought in a major capital campaign led by the Beebe Medical Foundation.
“We have so many grateful patients in this community, many who have given back to Beebe in one form or another. With our advanced thanks, the community’s philanthropic support will be critical to bring this vision to life,” stated Judy Aliquo, president of the Beebe Medical Foundation.
More details of the expansion are expected to be released in the next several months. Currently, there are no site plans. Beebe will be holding community meetings following the summer season for the community to attend and learn more about the expansion.
“Beebe Healthcare has continued to grow and expand over the last 101 years. To continue to serve our community, this next step is essential,” said the Hon. William Swain Lee, Beebe Board of Directors chairman.
“In 1916, Beebe was a two-room hospital. What will we look like 100 years from now? It is hard to say. However, what we do know is that our community is growing and we need to grow along with it to continue to provide the most advanced medical care for those who live, work, worship and visit us here in Sussex County.”
River Soccer Club ‘Fun Day’ headed for Jolly Roger’s Splash Mountain
The River Soccer Club will host their annual “Family Fun Day” at Jolly Roger Amusement Parks on Sunday, July 30.
Everyone is welcome to join in the event taking place at the water park’s “Splash Mountain” from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Day passes for the event will be available for $25 and can be purchased at the River Soccer Complex located at 32221 Gum Road, Frankford, during summer camp sessions held June 26-30 from 9 a.m. to noon.
For more information, visit www.riversoccerclub.com or visit the River Soccer Club Facebook page.
Sharp Shooter lacrosse camp registration still open
While Sharp Shooter lacrosse camps got under way with the first shooting camp session this Tuesday, June 27, there’s still time to register for sessions of both shooting and position camps that will span through Thursday, July 27.
Camps for boys in grades 6 through 12 will be held from 9 to 11 a.m., with camps for boys in grades 1 through 5 taking place from 1 to 3 p.m., all on the lacrosse fields at Indian River High School, located 303 Armory Road in Dagsboro. Sharp Shooter is open to players from all school districts.
For more information, or to sign up, visit www.sharpshooterlax.com, or check out Sharp Shooter on Facebook for shooting tips, instructional videos and more.
Registration open for Believe in Tomorrow 5K
Registration is now open for the Believe in Tomorrow 5K, scheduled to take place in Bethany Beach on Saturday, Sept. 30. The family-friendly run will benefit the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation and Believe in Tomorrow Children’s House by the Sea.
For more information or to register, visit www.believeintomorrow.org/5k.
River Soccer Club summer camp registration open through Friday
There are still chances to sign up for River Soccer Club summer camps to be held at the River Soccer Club complex near Frankford.
Registration for the River Soccer Club “Day Camp” and “Kinder Camp” will remain open through Friday, June 30.
The Kinder Camp will focus on developing a soccer foundation and technical skills, including dribbling, passing, receiving, finishing and heading, through games and activities for players ages 5 to 7, while the Day Camp for players 8 to 14 will include competitive games and tournaments as well.
The River Soccer Complex is located at 32221 Gum Road, Frankford. For more information, or to sign up, visit www.riversoccerclub.com.
(Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a series of previews of the homes that will be on display during the 26th Annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour, to be held July 26 and 27 from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.)
After 25 years of shared vacations in their gated North Bethany community, the extended family of the owners of this house had grown to 20, and their 1992 oceanfront beach house was bursting at the seams. At that point, the owners passed the baton to the next generation to tackle the task of rebuilding their beloved beach retreat.
The new 7,100-square-foot home resembles a contemporary two-story farmhouse and is designed to comfortably sleep 28, with 10 bedrooms and 11 bathrooms.
A wide, light-filled vaulted entry, straddled by two guest wings, leads to the main gathering area, where, on any given weekend, all three generations can be found enjoying the kitchen, dining and living room that span the rear of the house. Folding glass doors offer the option to completely open that area to the screened porch, seamlessly expanding the living space and panoramic ocean views dramatically.
Upstairs, three oceanfront master-bedroom suites accommodate the owners’ three adult children, while they enjoy their own master suite near their grandkids’ two bunkbed suites.
To keep things simple, all 11 bathrooms sport the same penny tile floors, distinguished only by a different color tile in each room. The décor is clean and simple, with an emphasis on low maintenance, comfort and indestructibility, so that the family can focus on continuing the fun family traditions begun there so many years ago.
This is just one of the properties that will be open to those who purchase tickets for the 26th Annual Beach & Bay Cottage Tour.
Tickets, priced at $30, may be purchased at the South Coastal Library or through the Cottage Tour’s website at www.beachandbaycottagetour.com. The Cottage Tour is sponsored by the Friends of the South Coastal Library, and proceeds directly benefit the library’s operations.
Dagsboro Police Chief Floyd Toomey knows what it’s like to serve his country.
Toomey, a Sussex County native, first enlisted in the National Guard in 1973 but took a 19-year break in service before returning to the Guard. He was last deployed to Afghanistan for a year — from 2012 to 2013 — and has since retired as Guard sergeant-first-class in the Maryland National Guard.
Toomey was recently recognized by the Delaware Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve (ESGR) committee with the Patriot Award, in recognition of his outstanding support to his Air National Guard employee Officer James Joles.
“The Patriot Award was created by ESGR to publicly recognize individuals who provide outstanding patriotic support and cooperation to their employees, who, like the citizen warriors before them, have answered their nation’s call to serve,” said Gary Stockbridge, Delaware ESGR state chair. “Supportive employers are critical to maintaining the strength and readiness of the nation’s Guard and Reserve units.”
ESGR, a Department of Defense program, seeks to foster a culture in which all employers support and value the employment and military service of members of the National Guard and Reserve in the United States.
Joles nominated Toomey, noting his dedication and support of those in military service.
“My chief made every effort in the world to hire me after finding out that I was currently in the National Guard,” wrote Joles in his nomination letter. “He has never once questioned my commitment and has always been there to give positive advice, both in the law-enforcement world and the military world. Chief Toomey is a retired Senior NCO from the Maryland National Guard and is very familiar with and supportive of my military career and obligations.
“Chief Toomey has always put my military career above my law enforcement, and for a supervisor to do that and not question any of my obligations deserves more than just a piece of paper with an awards declaration on it. He deserves gratitude and respect. I will forever be in Chief Floyd Toomey’s debt, and so should our National Guard and citizens.”
Dagsboro Mayor Brian Baull applauded Toomey’s recognition, stating the Town believes it’s important to support their employees.
“The Chief is doing a great job in our department. Anybody who serves our country should be lauded for their efforts. If you pick up a gun and are defending our country, I don’t see why you shouldn’t be applauded for a job well done. If it ties in with your regular job duty, I think all the better.”
Paulette M. Mason, volunteer support technician for DE-ESGR, said employer support is critical for soldiers.
“It’s very important that when our Guard are called up to serve, that they’re not worried about their jobs back home. That’s the mission of the ESGR — to make sure that doesn’t happen,” she said. “We try to develop a relationship with their employers. For an employer to be supportive, it’s so important for the service member, because that will let the service member focus on their task at hand — especially if they’re on a deployment or in-theater. A supportive employer is absolutely key in a service member’s deployment.”
“Without the support of the employer, the National Guard could not function to its fullest capacity,” added Toomey. “In the times we are currently in, these National Guard units are frequently called to active service to serve in foreign lands, protecting the interests of the United States. It’s just very valuable for the employer to support those National Guard employees, and reservists, for that matter.”
Toomey said he did not know about the award until June 19, when it was presented to him at the police department.
“It was an honor and a surprise… I don’t know what else to say other than that. The Town had supported me during my service, and I continued that tradition with Officer Joles, in trying to make the schedule accommodate the Guard’s needs, as well as our own. I just never expected any type of recognition,” he said. “It was a pleasant surprise. Quite honestly, I thought I was doing my job and protecting his rights as a citizen soldier.”
For more information about ESGR outreach programs or volunteer opportunities, call 1-800-336-4590 or visit www.ESGR.mil.
When children are pulled into the foster-care system, it can happen in a matter of minutes. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the night, with police downstairs and a social worker telling the child to pack her belongings into a trash bag.
“You’ve got 10 minutes to pack your life away, and it’s not fair,” said Pat Moulder.
She and the Millville Volunteers wanted to make life easier for children as they enter the system. They recently collected more than 35 backpack care packages for local foster children, ages 10 to 15. A typical bag included toiletries, activity books, colored pencils, a novel, nail polish, socks and a water bottle. Each also included a warm fleece blanket to provide extra comfort during tough times.
The bags themselves are something nice that the kids can own and use, at school, the beach or just trekking around. Most importantly, it’s a step up from a trash or grocery bag.
They delivered the bags to the Edward W. Pyle State Service Center on June 26.
Summer has been busier than usual. In June, 130 Sussex County children and babies were living in foster homes, with 706 children in foster-care statewide, according to the Division of Family Services.
“We need families to be able to take these children,” Foster Care Supervisor Trudi Hudson said of the recent influx. The State tries to place children with their siblings and in same school district.
Some children need homes for a few weeks or months, until the parents are ready to be reunited or a child is ready for adoption. Either way, it’s a huge shake-up during an already challenging time in life.
This spring, the Millville Volunteers received cash donations to purchase bags. They also thanked the public for donating items at drop-boxes found at Millville Town Hall and other locations. May was National Foster Care Month. Anyone interested in donating can contact the Millville Volunteers through Millville Town Hall.
“I’d really like to keep the program going. … I’m on a campaign!” Moulder said. “We started small, and look what we got for ‘small!’”
“We have a lot of kids in foster care,” said Hudson. Luckily, “This kind of project has caught on with a lot of people.” Some groups are donating bags, while others are making fleece blankets.
When I wrote an article about him in the Coastal Point two years ago, Cole Haden was preparing to leave Dagsboro for the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He was his class valedictorian at Sussex Central High School, and an activist and leader for gay rights in Sussex County schools.
He had acted in several school plays and at Clear Space, regularly did stand up with the Delaware Comedy Theatre, and played keyboard and performed musical theater at the Freeman Stage.
He could taste the future and was so ready.
Fast-forward. What has happened in these past two years?
To nobody’s surprise, Haden has taken advantage of every opportunity and kept his head firmly on his shoulders.
The bottom line is that Haden is the frontman for the band Model/Actriz, which is spending its summer on a 12-seater bus with another band and all their equipment, on a 15-city, national tour. Those cities include Los Angeles, Chicago, Brooklyn, Houston and Milton, Del. Oh, and this is after performing in various European capitals during the spring!
“Moving to Boston really influenced the way I make music,” said Haden. “There is so much diversity at school and in the city. Meeting so many new people has opened my mind to all the differences in people, and, even more, our similarities. As humans, we all have the same desires, dreams, sufferings and loves…”
Haden’s first year and a half at Berklee was a whirlwind of schoolwork, different jobs, performing on the radio and in videos, and connecting with fellow classmates.
Most important was meeting Jack Wetmore, a guitarist, Ruben Radlauer, a drummer and Austin Corona, a bassist, and the band they called Model/Actriz. The band grew a following, which led to a deal with a small record label in Los Angeles and the release of an EP called “No.”
Haden, Wetmore and Radlauer were subsequently accepted to participate in Berklee’s semester abroad at the campus in Valencia, Spain.
“I had been feeling overwhelmed and fidgety with all I was doing in Boston, and Spain was to be my escape,” said Haden. “It was my first time out of the country, and it provided me with an immensely precious and stimulating experience.”
“I loved it all, but I really gravitated to London and Berlin. They are such international cities and had nightlife scenes like nothing I had experienced. It was mesmerizing.”
Two years ago, Haden sported under-eye blue glitter as a trademark look, and he was one of the first to wear his hair in a “man bun” or two. His electronic music was playful, and his costumes were bright.
“I still use glitter on occasion,” he said of his aesthetic today. “Back then, I was trying to create a uniform look — perhaps almost a mask. Now I’m comfortable switching it up. I shaved my head, have a tragus ear piercing and have grown a mustache.”
The new look matches a new sound. It’s called post-punk. Haden is the vocalist, but more urgently, he is the performer… on the stage, leaning backwards off the stage, in the pit, throughout the audience.
He is everywhere, like a lithe being waiting to pounce, moan, scream, sing and swing his microphone while totally in control of his audience, who watch his every move and feel his every sound. All this is while the musicians play an aggressive, non-harmonic, slow and crescendo, non-stop beat, sometimes called noise.
And that is what audiences around the country have been experiencing from Model/Actriz, along with the Los Angles based band Orchin.
“It’s atonal dance music,” said Jeremy McLennan of Orchin, referencing the young people who had taken over the back of the theater and who were dancing — or, rather, jumping — frenetically with each beat of the drum, lick of the strings.
It is a young crowd’s sound. It reflects pent-up angst, with manifestations of sex, death, power, rage and, ultimately, relief.
Brian Kraus was two years ahead of Haden at Sussex Central High School. They shared an interest in music and worked together on theater projects. Kraus has stayed in touch with Haden and made sure he was available to come to the Milton performance.
“I believe Model/Actriz will be the band that sparks a new revolution of punk rock,” he said. “Watching them perform reminded me how good it feels to let out aggression through music. Cole is nothing short of a hardcore fusion between Anthony Kiedis and David Bowie. I can only imagine how far he will go in five years.”
In contrast to Haden’s on-stage persona, he is still the same Cole to his parents and grandparents, who were also in the audience.
“He is on the path to his vision,” said his mother, Kristin Haden. “He has grown even more independent and sure of himself. But he’s really good at staying in touch. In fact, while he was in Spain, we Facetimed so much, it was hard to think he was that far away. And, often, I find out he has been on the phone with one of his sisters, just to chat. I love that he’s doing what he wants to and is doing so well.”
Haden has always been close to his younger twin sisters, and nothing would have kept him away from their graduation from Indian River High School a few weeks ago.
“Lexi is going to the University of Delaware to study nursing, like my mom,” said Haden. “And I’m so happy that Erin picked the University of Boston to study medicine — although she made sure I knew my being in Boston had nothing to do with her decision!”
Both Cole and his father, Rick Haden, talked about his appreciation of the ocean, quietude and family.
“I need to return to Delaware periodically,” said Haden. “It helps me set my direction.”
For now, however, there is a road trip to finish.
“We all get along really well,” said McLennan. “But, in one way, Cole is giving the rest of us a bad name. He is so neat. If you look in his suitcase, there is a place for everything, and everything is folded up perfectly. When we’ve stayed at different families’ homes across the country, they always unfavorably compare our clutter to Cole!”
“I’ll be ready to go back to Berklee and Boston’s energy,” said Haden of life after the tour. “I’m itching to make new music again.”
“I’m really happy,” he added.
It’s a debate that’s been working its way down the Delaware coast. And Fenwick Island is the latest town to consider limiting oversized umbrellas and tents on the beach.
The Fenwick Island Town Council approved on June 23 a first reading of new beach regulations and is expected to vote to enact the ordinance at their July 28 meeting.
“Rehoboth [Beach] and Bethany [Beach] have enacted ordinances restricting beach tents in some manner,” said Councilman Bill Weistling. “Fenwick should be proactive in proceeding with that as well.”
Right now, the beach rules forbid objects that impair lifeguards’ view. But the proposed changes would limit umbrellas to 8 feet in diameter and 8 feet in height. “Tents” would include canopies or similar shading devices and would be limited to either 8 feet in diameter or 10-by-10 feet. They must be open on three sides.
Additionally, tents would have to be spaced at least 10 feet from each other, to allow for public and emergency responders’ movement.
Umbrellas and tents would be also prohibited from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., and those remaining during those hours would be considered abandoned and then removed. As written, the ordinance does not appear to explicitly permit “baby tents,” or very small enclosed, tents for children. However, Weistling said baby tents would be permitted.
The Fenwick Island Beach Patrol would have a right to enforce the rules. They could also remove structures during unsafe weather conditions, such as high winds or storms.
Meanwhile, smoking is already prohibited in town parks and on its beaches. But the council plans to modernize the code to also forbid vapor inhalers, e-cigarettes, marijuana and similar herbs/devices. With Weistling as chair, the Charter & Ordinance Committee plans to finish nailing down the language soon.
In other Fenwick Island Town Council news:
• In Fenwick, parking permit stickers must be attached to the vehicle. Loose stickers that are transferred from car to car will not be accepted, and drivers of vehicles without the stickers attached will receive a parking violation.
“Just follow the rules, and everybody will be happy,” said Police Chief Bill Boyden.
• Some beautiful sunsets can be seen from the bayside, but that means the public are sometime blocking the road at dusk. Residents may call the police officer on duty to request enforcement of parking laws.
• There will be no 2017 election. There were no challengers for the incumbents’ four seats. Mayor Gene Langan, Vice Mayor Richard Mais and Council Members Roy Williams and Julie Lee will have new two-year terms, starting in August.
• Voter eligibility, including the eligibility of trusts, will be discussed at the Charter & Ordinance Committee meeting on Friday, July 7, at 9:30 a.m.
• Although some expenses have been higher than expected, Treasurer Gardner Bunting said he believes the Town could still end the year under budget.
• The 2017 fee schedule was approved, with changes to hearing fees. Applications still have a $750 fee, but town solicitor review costs $1,200. Review by the town solicitor with court stenographer costs $2,000. Those fees more closely align with the Town’s fees paid for each service.
• From now on, installation of mechanical equipment, such as heat pumps, pool pumps and above-ground propane tanks, requires applying to Town Hall for a building permit. Such equipment is prohibited within side-yard setbacks, although it’s permitted in the front and rear setbacks, if screened from view.
The council has also established rules for outdoor commercial pools, hot tubs and spas.
The changes were made to 160-2.B (Definitions and Word Use), 160-4.C (Area Regulations—Residential), 160-5.C (Area Regulations (Commercial) and 160-8.A (General Regulations; Exceptions).
• Fenwick Flicks 2017 will begin July 11, with a free showing of Disney’s “Moana” on the beach at Bayard Street.
• The annual Fenwick Island Society of Homeowners (FISH) meeting will be July 8 at 9 a.m.
• The Fenwick Island Farmers’ Market will be held Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon at Warren’s Station restaurant, 1406 Coastal Highway, until Sept. 8.
• The official Town beach bonfire will be held on July 8 from 7 to 11 p.m. There will be T-shirts, glow sticks, a D.J., games and a silent auction to benefit the Fenwick Island Beach Patrol. The rain date is July 9.
The Fenwick Island Town Council’s next regular meeting is Friday, July 28, at 3:30 p.m.
It’s a greeting as simple as it is signature.
On every warm summer night since 1993, Marian Parrott has welcomed every one of her guests in the same warm way: “Good evening, and welcome to Sedona.”
With the award-winning Bethany Beach restaurant currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, Parrott will lend the familiarity of the phrase to the title of her upcoming opus, “25 Years of Good Food & Good Evenings.”
But while the book will be a celebration of the restaurant’s past — even getting into the location’s World War II days as the Collins Tea Room — in honor of their 25th year, the team at Sedona is equally celebrating their future with summer specials, the formation of the “Sedona Social Club” (coming this fall), a revamped menu and a completely renovated restaurant aesthetic.
“We wanted to bring it more in tune with the 21st century and the idea that it is a beach place,” said Parrott — the restaurant’s last remaining original staff member, after starting off as a server in 1993 and eventually taking over ownership in 2008.
Not only is Sedona sporting a new color scheme both inside, throughout the restaurant, and along the building’s exterior, but there’s brand new high-top seating, a new “bump-out” bar and all-new decor to set the mood throughout.
Much of the handiwork was done by Parrott and her daughter, Caitlyn Parrott, who drew much of their inspiration from their long history of worldly travels, most recently including Croatia, Italy and Slovenia over the winter.
The handmade steel-drum fish were picked up from the locals during a trip to South Africa. The cork wall was inspired by a restaurant in Italy and made entirely from Sedona wine corks collected through the years (mostly from the ’90s, because “those are probably the coolest”). There’s plenty of local artwork adorning the walls, and plenty of menu items have been a little bit derived from a little bit of everywhere along the way.
“Every year, I take a trip with my daughters, and we do bring a lot of ideas back from our travels” said Parrott, noting Sedona’s new Mediterranean-inspired octopus dish this summer. “You can’t travel without getting inspiration for something, and I’ve been very fortunate in my life to be able to travel an awful lot.”
While her passport stamps also include China, Nepal and Quebec City (just to name a few), it was during a trip to the West Coast that Parrott had initially come up with the idea for “Tapas Tuesdays” that would eventually lead to Sedona’s signature “small-plate” menu offerings.
From Tapas Tuesdays to menu mainstays
The year was 2010. The market crash of 2008 had finally caught up with Bethany Beach when Marian Parrott had joined some friends from Sussex Shores on an off-season visit to San Francisco, eventually returning home to Sussex County to share her experience with her staff.
“When we got back, the guys thought I was insane,” Parrott recalled the idea with a laugh. “We had gone to a tapas restaurant in Union Square, and that’s where I kind of realized that smaller plates and more variety was the wave of the future.”
Despite the initial hesitation from the team, the “small plates” would go on to become a big hit, and Tapas Tuesday the most popular night of the week, outside of Saturday.
While the menu still offers plenty of the signature entrée options, as it has since the shift to “creative American cuisine” in 2008 — ranging from the pan-seared lump crabcakes to the pan-seared duck breast with broccolini and blueberry reduction and more — just like traveling somewhere new, the shift to small plates has allowed Sedona customers to share the experience of trying something for the first time.
Whether it’s the house-hit Sedona shrimp and grits, veal-stuffed tortellini with blue cheese demi, pan-seared scallops, seared rare tuna with Asian slaw and seaweed salad, the latest featured fresh catch or various charcuterie and cheese plates — it’s often that guests leave with a new appreciation for something they didn’t even know they liked.
“We encourage people to get six or seven for the table and try something new,” Parrott explained. “We are constantly evolving. We change something on our menus once a week, practically, so there’s always something new to try.”
In the way of libations, there’s plenty to try as well
To honor their 25th anniversary, Sedona will offer two select house wine options available nightly for just $25 per bottle throughout the summer, with the list rotating to include some not-so-usual suspects.
“This way we can introduce some of our own favorite wines and give people an opportunity to try something that they may not be super familiar with,” explained Caitlyn Parrott, who manages the bar and also owns the “coastal general store” SALT Provisions on Garfield Parkway.
The anniversary special is in addition to Sedona’s already full bar menu and drink list, further including an extensive wine menu, local craft beers and a specialty drink list headlined by the “Sunshine Susan” martini.
But while there’s plenty to try across the menu that may be unfamiliar, familiarity has always been the focus when it comes to using fresh ingredients from local sources.
“The whole idea is that the best food in the world, no matter where you go, is just what’s local and what’s fresh and how they’ve figured out how to cook it,” Parrott explained.
“We’ve always been about farm-to-table. Even at the very beginning, we bought our herbs from Bob Russell in Milton, I just picked up a bunch of stuff from East View Farms today — you buy peaches from Bennett’s, you buy strawberries from Magee’s and try as much as you can to support local.”
The Sedona Social Club
Just as they aim to support local business, Sedona’s charitable efforts have always aimed to support those in need, both locally and beyond, which Parrott will take one step further with the formation of the Sedona Social Club this fall.
Modeled after similar clubs in New York and Chicago, SSC will host a monthly off-site event for members to not only enjoy an evening of plenty of food and friends, but to raise money for charities in the process.
“It’ll be a tribute to why we love food and why we live here,” Parrott explained. “It’s social, but you’re helping a cause at the same time. I think it will be really fun for people to try something totally different like that.”
The lineup so far includes an outdoor event at James Farm in September, “Octoberfest” with local breweries, and some church and skate action at Epworth Skatepark in Rehoboth, to help feed families for Thanksgiving.
“All of our guys skateboard, so they’re going to literally skate the food in,” said Parrott of her skateboarding chef crew. Other venues could include a night of “love and magic” at the Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
The club will be free to join.
Always evolving, still the same
From its beginnings as Collins Tea Room, located right on what was then Route 1, to the Southwest cuisine originally inspired by the city that lends the restaurant its name, to its new menu focus and 25th anniversary remodel — Parrott said that even after a quarter-century of honoring the past and bracing for the future, the focus for her and her family at Sedona has always remained about welcoming their guests with good food and good evenings.
“I consider everybody I work with family, and I try to treat them that way. We work together as a team as much as possible,” she explained.
“We try to be a little trendy, but we don’t go overboard. Trends are trends. They come and go. What we have always believed in is the core values of good food, pleasant service, pleasant atmosphere — we just want to provide our guests a nice place to go dine, just like we always have.”
Sedona is located at 26 N. Pennsylvania Avenue in Bethany Beach and is open seven days a week at 5:30 p.m. For reservations or event hosting, call the restaurant at (302) 539-1200, or keep up on the latest from Sedona on Facebook and Instagram (@sedonabethany). For a full menu or to find out more about the Sedona Social Club, visit www.sedona-bethany.com.
Nearly 60 years ago, a young sailor named Don Roth found himself aboard a Navy ship along the coast of Cuba. It was 1958, and the island nation was on the brink of a revolution.
Roth, 81 — who now divides his time between Bethany Beach and south Florida — recalls his ship barreling toward Santiago “lights blazing… headlights illuminating the mountains” during one particularly intense period. He later realized the Raymond, a destroyer escort, was taking part in a raid.
He had actually been on a ship offshore from Guantanamo twice before, as an NROTC midshipman, but it was the later visit — and that incident — that would bring him, eventually, to write his first novel.
While he started writing the novel about that particular incident, he said he became convinced during the writing process that the story should stay focused on his main character — a young Cuban woman. The resulting novel, “The Girl from Guantanamo,” has now been published by Select Books.
The historical fiction novel tells the story of Pilar Ruiz, a young Cuban woman who joins the Castro Revolution. Her family flees Cuba to escape Batista’s cruelty, and in Miami she finds herself caught between forces in her new country, where her father is accused by the FBI of supporting the Cuban rebel cause, and the brutal situation in Cuba.
Roth said he still plans to pursue the other story in a future book.
“People said, ‘You’ve got a great book. You’ve got a great character. Save the other stuff for another book.’”
During his long career in law and as an entrepreneur, Roth said, he never imagined that he would someday become the author of a novel. His academic career included degrees from Columbia College, New York University Law School and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
Roth said that being a young child during World War II was formative.
“I can’t remember anything about Dec. 7, 1941, but I can remember everything about Dec. 8, 1941,” he said.
Books, Roth said, were another important influence on him during his youth. He recalls being a voracious reader, of everything from the 1920s-era Bomba Boy adventure series to William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”
The book, though relatively short, at 192 pages, packs in several layers of storytelling. It begins in the present day, with a south Florida “tabloid” reporter stumbling onto what he believes could be the story of his career — the discovery of the adventurous Pilar, still alive and apparently of sound mind — and willing to tell her tale.
The journalist’s discovery comes at a time when the United States is beginning to normalize relations with the Cuba for the first time in decades, and Pilar wants to help promote understanding between the two nations.
Likewise, Roth himself hopes his book contributes to discussions about relations between Cuba and the United States. He said he is “not happy” about President Donald Trump’s recent announcement regarding his intention of deconstructing the moves his predecessor made toward lifting longstanding economic sanctions against the neighboring nation.
Calling Trump’s move “short-sighted and foolish,” Roth said, “I hope this book gives me a voice” in future discussions on the topic.
Though most of “The Girl from Guantanamo” recounts Pilar’s often-harrowing but fictional tale, there are passages of actual history — separated by their italic type — interspersed throughout the book. Roth said that, during the research and writing process, he had the help of friends who traveled to Cuba. At the time, he was recovering from quadruple bypass surgery and was unable to travel.
Roth, however, is no stranger to travel or adventure. He said that he traveled to Tehran, Iran, frequently in the days before the revolution there and at one point “it started getting more and more scary” there — he noted particularly that the abuse of women increased dramatically. He recalled feeling so much danger in the air there that whenever he went out, “I would memorize the route from where I was going to the embassy.”
He said he was considering writing a book about that period when he saw the movie “Argo” and realized that the story he had to tell was quite similar.
While Roth freely owns up to the similarity in title, and even somewhat in style, between his books and the popular series by the late Stieg Larsson, he said he has met Larsson’s partner, Eva Gabrielsson, and she was quite encouraging of him in his endeavor to publish his own book. Roth refers to his heroine as “the 1958 version of Lisbeth Salander. She’s every bit as tough as Lisbeth Salander,” he said.
Also encouraging him along the way — especially during the three years it took Roth to write the book — was his wife of 61 years, Jacqueline. She teased him, he said, that her lasting picture of him during that period “is looking at my back, hunched over the computer.”
Not only did Jaqueline Roth provide moral support, Roth said, but she also proofread the book.
“Without her, this wouldn’t have been here,” he said, patting a copy of his novel.
His daughter, Stacey Brumbaugh, also supported the project by helping him find an agent and connecting him with writers and others who helped him fine-tune the book.
Roth also credited members of a writer’s club in Florida, as well as the Rehoboth Beach Writer’s Guild, with encouraging him along the way. Having had the pleasure of being at the Jacob Javitz Center for the 2017 Book Expo, he said he feels humbled by the positive early buzz about the book.
“I feel like I don’t deserve the endorsements,” he said of the comments from several well-known authors and a movie producer that grace the cover of the book.
But now, having had a taste of the satisfaction of seeing his book published, Roth said he is far from finished writing. Among others, he said, he wants to write a book that takes the reader from the Spanish Inquisition to present-day Cuba — incorporating more adventures of his favorite heroine, Pilar, and other characters in the book.
“I’ve got three or four books in mind, and every one of them links to a character that’s in here,” he said.
“It’s been that kind of a life,” he said, “and I’ve got a lot more books to write.”
“The Girl from Guantanamo” will be available at local book stores, including Bethany Beach Books in Bethany Beach and Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, as well as online at Roth’s website, at www.donrothauthor.com. Four copies have also been donated to the South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach.