Articles on this Page
- 08/17/17--12:45: _Arrests made in law...
- 08/17/17--13:01: _Sussex County drug-...
- 08/17/17--13:32: _Local talent in the...
- 08/17/17--13:38: _Area prepares for a...
- 08/17/17--13:57: _South Bethany counc...
- 08/17/17--13:59: _A total eclipse of ...
- 08/17/17--14:01: _Having a blast
- 08/24/17--09:03: _Hall’s Store closer...
- 08/24/17--10:40: _BREAKING: Fenwick c...
- 08/25/17--12:04: _SODE athletes enjoy...
- 08/25/17--12:23: _Coastal Towns Histo...
- 08/25/17--12:28: _Delaware Federation...
- 08/25/17--12:36: _Photography contest...
- 08/25/17--12:41: _Shakespeare’s ‘Haml...
- 08/25/17--12:53: _Cooks and books hav...
- 08/25/17--13:12: _Bringing the ‘wow’ ...
- 08/25/17--13:37: _Selbyville teen to ...
- 08/25/17--14:15: _Small businesses go...
- 08/25/17--14:19: _IRSD citizens group...
- 08/25/17--14:20: _‘It’s mystical’
- 08/17/17--12:45: Arrests made in lawn ornament thefts
- 08/17/17--13:01: Sussex County drug-trafficking investigation nets 40 arrests
- 08/17/17--13:32: Local talent in the bandstand spotlight for a night
- 08/17/17--13:38: Area prepares for annual Warrior Beach Week
- 08/17/17--13:57: South Bethany council rejects police claims
- 08/17/17--13:59: A total eclipse of the… sun
- 08/17/17--14:01: Having a blast
- 08/24/17--09:03: Hall’s Store closer to becoming reality with help of Contractors
- 08/24/17--10:40: BREAKING: Fenwick cancels public hearing on election rules
- 08/25/17--12:04: SODE athletes enjoy classic summer-camp experience
- 08/25/17--12:23: Coastal Towns Historic Homes Tour to debut Oct. 7
- 08/25/17--12:28: Delaware Federation says ‘it’s not your grandmother’s club’
- 08/25/17--12:36: Photography contest to illustrate what family means to you
- 08/25/17--12:41: Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ making its way to Freeman Stage
- 08/25/17--12:53: Cooks and books have a tasty time at Selbyville library
- 08/25/17--13:12: Bringing the ‘wow’ factor
- 08/25/17--13:37: Selbyville teen to compete in Miss Hispanic pageant
- 08/25/17--14:15: Small businesses go front-and-center
- 08/25/17--14:19: IRSD citizens group debates the issues, reviews new budget
- 08/25/17--14:20: ‘It’s mystical’
Following the receipt of numerous complaints regarding stolen lawn ornaments, the Ocean View Police Department and Delaware State Police Troop 4 were recently able to arrest Randy P. Holderbaum and Matthew L. Donoway, both of Frankford, in connection to the crimes.
“They were going around stealing the big concrete lawn ornaments,” said OVPD Sgt. Rhys Bradshaw of the charges. “They’re easy items to sell, easy items to pawn. A lot of them aren’t traceable because they don’t have serial numbers. From my experience, if someone is trying to sell you something out of the back of a truck, don’t buy it,” he advised.
Through interviews, detectives were able to get a description of Holderbaum’s vehicle, and located him at his home on Bethany Drive in Frankford. Upon arrival, officers said they observed that the vehicle’s trunk was partially open, and they said they could see lawn ornaments sitting in the trunk of the vehicle.
They then made contact with Holderbaum, who allegedly told officers that Donoway had been using his vehicle. He also informed the officers that Donoway had fled out the rear of the residence when law-enforcement arrived.
“Some of the ones they recovered, we still haven’t found the victims of yet. So, if anyone’s missing anything, let Ocean View, South Bethany or the state police know,” said Bradshaw. “We have some items between us and state police. They could describe the items, and we’ll be able to tell if we have the items or not.”
Through further investigation, police said, officers were able to track additional stolen lawn ornaments to residences in Dagsboro, to whose residents they had allegedly been sold. One individual who had allegedly bought the items reportedly told police that he had purchased them from a subject who identified himself as “Matt.”
Police said further interviews with Holderbaum determined that he and Donoway were allegedly involved in several thefts in the Ocean View, South Bethany and Frankford areas.
Holderbaum was charged with two counts of trespassing third degree, one count of theft under 1500, two counts of conspiracy 3rd degree and one count of conspiracy 2nd degree. He was released on $5,000 unsecured bond.
At the time of his arrest, Donoway had active warrants from the Ocean View police and South Bethany police on charges of theft, trespassing and conspiracy. He is being held at Worcester County Detention Center in Maryland.
Bradshaw said the public should be cautious when being approached by a stranger selling items out of their car.
“If you are approached by somebody, try to get a vehicle make, license number and description so we can investigate and try to look into the items,” he said. “I’ve been approached before about tools. I know, me, personally, I don’t just give up my tools and sell them out of the back of my truck.”
Anyone who believes one or more of their lawn ornaments was stolen should contact the Ocean View Police Department at (302) 539-1111.
A multi-jurisdictional investigation into an illegal drug trafficking organization, involving multiple subjects, conducted by the Delaware State Police and Delaware Department of Justice, has concluded with the arrest or indictment of 40 individuals on more than 190 criminal charges. Police said the organization was responsible for the distribution of various amounts of cocaine and heroin in the last nine months.
Operation “Golden Horseshoe” concluded on June 14, police noted. The Sussex County Drug Unit and the Delaware Department of Justice organized and conducted the operation with the assistance of the Sussex County Governor’s Task Force, Kent and New Castle county drug units, Kent and New Castle county Governor’s Task Force, the Delaware State Police Special Operations Response Team (SORT), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Delaware Department of Corrections, Seaford Police Department, Georgetown Police Department and Delaware Probation & Parole, along with the Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey National Guard.
During the operation, police said, investigators used numerous investigative techniques to identify members involved in violent crime and the distribution of large amounts of cocaine and heroin in Sussex County.
Detectives said they were able to establish that the illegal drug trafficking organization was allegedly headed by Lamont M. Johnson, Antonio P. Holder, James J. Jones and Yusef L. Matthews, all of whom have been charged with directing a significant cocaine and heroin network in western Sussex County — primarily the Coverdale area.
Additionally, Sonia E. Chavez (a.k.a. Maria Zakrociemski) was identified as allegedly organizing and distributing a significant quantity of heroin in the Oak Orchard and Long Neck areas.
The operation involved the execution of search warrants at 11 different residential locations throughout Sussex County, which resulted in the arrest or indictment of 40 individuals on numerous drug and weapons offenses. The searches included locations on Evans Drive, Mill Park Drive, Booker T. Washington Street and Elizabeth Cornish Landing in Bridgeville, on Mount Joy Road and Bay Farm Road near Millsboro, and the Relax Inn in Laurel.
The total seizure amount during the investigation included: $156,124 in suspected drug proceeds, 278.95 grams of suspected powder cocaine, 12.15 grams of suspected crack cocaine, 2,262 bags of suspected heroin (15.834 grams), 157.52 grams of marijuana and a Glock 9mm pistol. Various items of suspected stolen property were also recovered.
Charged in the operation were:
• Lamont M. Johnson, 38 of Bridgeville: Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWITD) a Controlled Substance in Tier 4 quantity; Possesses a controlled substance in a Tier 5 quantity; Conspiracy 2nd (six counts); Money Laundering; Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance (six counts); Possession with Intent to Deliver a Controlled Substance – Second Offense; Possession Drug Paraphernalia. He was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on $637,200 cash bond.
• Antonio P. Holder, 28, of Bridgeville: PWITD Controlled Substance (three counts); Conspiracy 2nd (four counts); Money Laundering; Possession Firearm by Person Prohibited; PWITD Controlled Substance Tier 4 quantity; Possession Controlled Substance Tier 5 quantity; PWITD Controlled Substance Tier 2 quantity. He was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on $659,000 cash bond.
• James Jones, 28, of Bridgeville: Possession of a Controlled Substance in Tier 5 quantity; PWITD Controlled Substance in Tier 4 quantity; Money Laundering (two counts); PWITD Controlled Substance (three counts); Conspiracy 2nd (three counts). He was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on $194,000 cash bond.
• Yusef L. Matthews, 40, of Seaford: PWITD a controlled substance in Tier 4 quantity, PWITD a controlled substance (three counts), Possess a controlled substance in a Tier 5 quantity, Conspiracy 2nd (three counts), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (two counts), Criminal Solicitation 2nd. He was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on $50,000.00 secured bond.
• Sonia Chavez, a.k.a. Maria Zakrociemski, 65, of Millsboro: PWITD a controlled substance (27 counts), Conspiracy 2nd (25 counts), Criminal Solicitation 2nd (six counts), PWITD a controlled substance in a Tier 2 quantity, Tampering with physical evidence, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (two counts). She was committed to Delores J. Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution (DJBWCI) on $242,400 cash bond.
• Patrisha Cannon, 32, of Laurel: Possession Controlled Substance Tier 5 quantity; PWITD Controlled Substance Tier 4 quantity; Conspiracy 2nd; Possession Drug Paraphernalia (two counts). She was held at DJBWCI in default of $122,400 cash bond.
• Donald Carey, 28, of Lincoln: Possession Controlled substance Tier 3 quantity; Possession Drug Paraphernalia (two counts); Conspiracy 2nd (three counts) PWITD Controlled Substance Tier 2 quantity (two counts); Criminal Solicitation 2nd. He was held at SCI in default of $85,000 bond.
• Nyier Starks, 24, of New Castle: PWITD a controlled substance, Conspiracy 2nd. He was held at Howard R. Young Correctional Institution in default of $12,000 cash bond.
• Duayne L. Thompson, 34, of Seaford: PWITD a controlled substance, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. He was held at SCI in default of $15,000 cash bond.
• Odrift M. Ulysses, 33, of Laurel: Second Offense PWITD a control substance (two counts), Possess a controlled substance in a Tier 1 quantity with two aggravating factors, Possession of Marijuana – Subsequent Offense, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (two counts), PWITD a controlled substance (two counts), Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd, Possess/Consume Marijuana Personal Use Quantity 21 or older – Civil Violation. He was held at SCI in default of $61,000 cash bond.
• Lavocia I. Callahan, 46, of Millsboro: PWITD a controlled substance, Conspiracy 2nd. She was held at SCI in default of $10,000 secured bond.
• Pamela J. Bergman, 56, of Millsboro: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription (two counts), Criminal Solicitation 2nd (two counts), Conspiracy 2nd (two counts). She was held at Delores J. Baylor Women’s Correctional Institution in default of $2,500 secured bond.
• Robert Levan, 34, of Harrington: PWITD a controlled substance (two counts), 3rd Offense — PWITD a control substance (two counts), Tampering with physical evidence, Conspiracy 2nd Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (three counts). He was released after posting $53,000 secured bond.
• Lexus M. Bailey, 21, of Blades: PWITD Controlled Substance; Conspiracy 2nd. He was released on unsecured bond.
• Leslie A. Johnson, 40, of Seaford: PWITD a controlled substance (five counts), Conspiracy 2nd (four counts), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (two counts); released on unsecured bond.
• Lakota S. Norwood, 24, of Harbeson: PWITD a controlled substance, Conspiracy 2nd; released on unsecured bond.
• Jose A. Serpa, 37, of Bridgeville: PWITD a controlled substance, Possession of a controlled substance in a Tier 3 quantity, Possess a controlled substance Tier 3 quantity and an aggravating factor, PWITD a controlled substance w/ an aggravating factor, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He was released on unsecured bond.
• Donshell T. Weston, 32, of Seaford: PWITD a controlled substance (two counts), 3rd Offense - PWITD a control substance (two counts), Tampering with physical evidence, Conspiracy 2nd Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (three counts). He was released on bond.
• Todd D. Culver, 49, of Greenwood: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription w/aggravating factor, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (two counts), Driving While Suspended, Failure to have insurance identification in possession. He was released on bond.
• Keith A. Dockins, 58, of Salisbury, Md.: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription w/aggravating factor, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia (two counts), Failure to Signal. He was released on bond.
• Shaina Andell, 29, of Millsboro: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription w/aggravating factor, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. She was released on unsecured bond.
• James V. Bryant, 61, of Ocean View: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription (five counts), Criminal Solicitation 2nd (five counts), Conspiracy 2nd (five counts). He was released on bond.
• Karin M. Flowers, 36, of Georgetown: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. She was released on unsecured bond.
• April A. Grant, 35, of Millsboro: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. She was released on unsecured bond.
• Keith A. Grew, 51, of Millsboro: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. He was released on unsecured bond.
• William J. Hendrickson, 61, of Millsboro: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. He was released on unsecured bond.
• Chad E. Hopper, 33, of Frankford: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. He was released on unsecured bond.
• Tiffany R. Klinger, 38, of Millsboro: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. She was released on unsecured bond.
• Colleen J. Patterson, 57, of Millsboro: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. She was released on unsecured bond.
• David G. Richards, 48, of Rehoboth Beach: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. He was released on unsecured bond.
• Joseph Unsworth, 43, of Millsboro: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. He was released on unsecured bond.
• Raymond H. Willis, 46, of Millsboro: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. He was released on unsecured bond.
• Brad A. Wilt, 35, of Millsboro: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd. He was released on unsecured bond.
• Robin A. Wriston, 52, of Rehoboth Beach: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd; released on unsecured bond.
Additionally, the DSP is asking for the public’s assistance in locating the following suspects:
• Demetrio R. Stewart, 37, of Milford: PWITD a controlled substance, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd.
• Vera E. Curtis, 38, of Dagsboro: PWITD a controlled substance (two counts), Conspiracy 2nd (two counts).
• Sarah A. Seamen, 55, of Millsboro: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd.
• Larry C. Reich, 47, of Palmyra, Pa.: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription, Criminal Solicitation 2nd, Conspiracy 2nd.
• Ernest M. Lofland, 50, of Frankford: PWITD a controlled substance, Conspiracy 2nd.
• Brian K. Barlow, 33, of Millsboro: Possession of a Controlled/Counterfeit Substance except Human Growth Hormone w/o prescription (two counts), Criminal Solicitation 2nd (two counts), Conspiracy 2nd (two counts).
“Heroin is a major contributor to criminal activity in Sussex County and throughout Delaware,” said David Hume, Sussex County prosecutor at the Department of Justice. “The State Police and DOJ deputies, investigators and staff have worked tirelessly to address it, and Attorney General Denn has made dealing with substance use issues a priority.
“Heroin, fentanyl and mixtures of these drugs are a danger to public safety for drug users, police, emergency personnel, and others who may come into contact with them. Mere contact with these substances can be fatal,” he added.
“Operation Golden Horseshoe dealt a significant blow to criminal organizations responsible for the presence of heroin and other dangerous drugs in Sussex County. In addition to our law enforcement partners at the Delaware State Police, I would like to recognize the contributions of Deputy Attorneys General Haley King and Michael Tipton for their continuing efforts in this case.”
“The success of this investigation demonstrates that it will take the collaborative efforts of all of our law enforcement partners and the cooperation and support of effected communities to target and dismantle drug organizations plaguing neighborhoods across our state” said Col. Nathaniel McQueen Jr., superintendent of the Delaware State Police.
“Thank you to our troopers, prosecutors and all of our federal state and local law enforcement partners for their outstanding work on this investigation. All of our agencies remain committed to working with our communities to reduce violent crime and drug trafficking throughout the state of Delaware.”
If anyone has any information in reference to the location of the listed wanted subjects, they are being asked to contact Sgt. M. Dawson at (302) 752-3815. Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333 or via the internet at www.delaware.crimestoppersweb.com.
Both Bethany Beach residents and visitors who signed up to perform in the annual talent show are predicted to exceed expectations this year.
Since 2001, the Town of Bethany Beach has been holding a talent show on the boardwalk bandstand. This year’s event will be on Friday, Aug. 15, from 7 to 9 p.m. Bethany Beach Events Director Julie Malewski said anyone can sign up in the first two weeks of August to perform, but only the first 25 acts are accepted due to time constraints. There are no age restrictions.
“So far this year, it’s ranging from 20 months old to 82,” she said of those who had signed up before the Aug. 15 deadline.
Malewski said a vast variety of talents are accepted, and there are usually singers, comedians and even jugglers. She also mentioned that people from all over the country come to participate in the show. Most of the more distant performers are visitors to the town and, this year, there will even be an act from Arizona.
A highly anticipated aspect of the show for Malewski has been seeing the recurring acts come every year. She said that, because of their numerous appearances, the returning performers have even accumulated a good amount of familiarity amongst audience members.
“Seeing them improve and hone their talents” is a reason why Malewski said she personally enjoys seeing familiar faces on the stage.
Alyssa Flaherty, 13, from Riva, Md., has been participating in the talent show for five years now. She said she is looking forward to her sixth time performing on the bandstand. Flaherty’s act of choice is singing, and she has sung in numerous events elsewhere, including her personal favorites — at a Washington Nationals baseball game and at a “Welcome Home, Redskins” event.
“I am going to be singing ‘Million Reasons’ by Lady Gaga,” Flaherty said of her selection for Friday’s show. In past years, she has sung songs including “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus and “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keys.
“I think it’s really fun, because I’ve grown up in Bethany during the summers,” Flaherty said of one reason why she keeps coming back for the show every year.
The Town of Bethany Beach only provides the sound equipment for the acts, so in the past, performers have brought their own props and supplemental materials for their own acts. The evening’s emcee will once again be Mario Rocco, who will be announcing all of the acts and has been working the talent show for the past five years.
“The talent is usually pretty incredible,” stated Malewski, encouraging residents and visitors to come and attend the show.
In a little more than two weeks, the Bethany Beach area will welcome 25 “Very Important Families” for a week of rest and healing.
The week is facilitated by Operation SEAs the Day, a non-profit whose mission is, “to organize and facilitate a beach week event for our wounded soldiers and their families as a means of showing our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. It is our hope that such a community-based gesture of support will be comforting and help ease their transition back into civilian life.”
The fifth annual Warrior Family Beach Week will be held Sept. 5-10, when families will travel to Bethany Beach, stay in homes provided by local property owners, and enjoy a week of beach time, plus activities for the whole family.
“It started out very simple — let’s share a home, let’s share the area. Through these five years we’ve seen the healing that occurs,” said Annette Reeping, media relations specialist for Operation SEAs the Day.
While the majority of events created for the warriors and their families are closed to the public, there are a few throughout the week where the community is encouraged to take an active role in. That includes the “A Hero’s Welcome Home” motorcade that will take the families to a concert at the Freeman Stage at Bayside, when people are invited to stand alongside the route and show their support.
“You can’t express in words, or at least I haven’t found any way to express the feeling of pride, patriotism, thankfulness… even talking about it, I get tears in my eyes. But you see the people along the street also crying of joy and of admiration. As the families come off the bus, it’s the same result of knowing why they did what they did to serve, and feeling appreciated and thanked for the first time.
“To me it’s the core and heart of being an American town, and individuals who fully appreciate what these soldiers and their families have done so that we can live as peacefully as we live.”
The route will also be lined with hand-drawn posters thanking the veterans and their families for their service to their country, and welcoming them to Bethany.
“Lord Baltimore Elementary School and George Washington Carver Schools created posters. We were at the South Coastal Library, where many people came by. We had a lot of fun last week at the Boys & Girls Club in Dagsboro.
“What’s particularly interesting about going to the Boys & Girls Club was we talked to the kids about what they’re for — about the wounded soldiers who fought for us and their families. So, they’re learning also. They got right into it.
“Some of them teamed up to do it. Some of them wanted to do it on their own. They’re just beautiful. For the first time, I saw children were doing emojis, which was great. One 6-year-old said, ‘I want to say “Superheroes” on it!’ They were very focused and did beautiful work for the families who are coming in.”
The parade has been coordinated by Rosely Robinson for the past four years.
Following the parade, the VIFs will go into the Cove at Bayside and enjoy dinner before attending the Bruce in the USA show.
“The Freeman Foundation proactively wanted to become involved and have done it in an outstanding manner. They have dinner at the Cove for the families, which is really great. The families are all there, the children are all there. They’ve orchestrated it so the younger children can go to another area for the concert while the parents and older kids watch,” said Reeping.
“Bruce in the USA is energizing, always entertaining. For those who attend, you’ll see the soldiers. It’s toward the end of their week, so they’re relaxed. You’ll see some of them up there dancing… They have taken the end part of the week and created an uplifting, motivating evening for them to enjoy and be a spouse — be a wife and a husband — in a very positive way.”
Reeping said it was due to the Freeman Foundation’s request that the parade for the VIFs was created.
“It was because of their request to participate that we needed to determine how to ‘transport’ the VIF’s to the dinner at the Cove and the concert. Becky Johns (one of the OSTD founders) grew up in a small town where they had parades. She was the one who suggested we should have a celebration parade in transporting the VIFs. That first parade was four years ago, with communities all along the route coming out to recognize these American hero families! And so it began!”
On Friday, Sept. 8, Reeping said, buses filled with VIFs will leave Sea Colony at 5 p.m. and are expected to arrive at Bayside around 5:15 p.m. The buses will be accompanied by local police and fire departments, the Delaware State Police and more. Those who participate along the roadside are being encouraged to wear red, white and blue while they wave an American flag as the motorcade goes by.
The concert is open to the public, and tickets may be purchased through Freeman’s website for $25 each.
The following day, the third annual Cripple Creel Classic Car Show will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., during which the community can enjoy walking around and ogling classic cars. The proceeds of the event are donated to Operation SEAs the Day, and the awards ceremony includes a Veteran’s Best Pick.
Those who wish to support the organization, may do so through volunteering or monetary donations.
OSTD official merchandise is also for sale at the Sea Colony Beach Shoppe in the Sea Colony Marketplace and at Water Lili on the boardwalk. The merchandise includes hoodies, sweatpants, and T-shirts. Proceeds from the sales will benefit OSTD.
During the week itself, the veterans are given the opportunity to play tennis, go horseback riding, paddleboarding and more. They are given gift vouchers to local restaurants and will have their family portraits taken on the beach.
Reeping said that, while their time in Bethany Beach may be only a few days in length, all those experiences will be carried by those families for years to come.
“They take it home with them… The long-term impact has surprised everyone,” she said. “They can take home their favorite poster that a child or family has created. They take home the relationships with each other. They’ve created a virtual network using Facebook and use it in times when they’re having problems. They keep in touch with their host families.”
Host families are local community members who volunteer to help their assigned VIF with whatever they may need — be it groceries, restaurant recommendations or signing up for an OSTD event.
Reeping said many VIFs form a strong bond with their host families and often keep in touch and even visit each other after Warrior Beach Week.
The week is truly a special one for all involved, and Reeping said Bethany Beach and the surrounding communities should be proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish in so few years, and the impact they’re having on these Very Important Families.
For more information about Operation SEAs the Day and how to get involved, visit www.operationseastheday.org.
To purchase Bruce in the USA tickets at the Freeman Stage at Bayside, visit www.freemanstage.org.
The South Bethany Town Council has found “no merit” to police officers’ claims of improper promotion, pay and benefits.
In a June 30 letter, the town’s six fulltime police officers alleged that they have not been paid or promoted as they should be.
Since the council’s Aug. 11 rejection letter could lead to possible litigation, Mayor Pat Voveris was mostly tight-lipped about the issue. But she did address the situation at a public meeting later that afternoon.
“Council appreciates and values all the employees. We have always treated employees fairly in both compensation and benefits,” Voveris said. “Council is currently responding to [police department] employees’ demands. We did not initiate this.”
In May, the council approved two years’ worth of back pay for police who did not receive proper holiday pay.
“All of our employees receive paid holidays in our annual companions. In back pay for police working holidays, I personally determined this number, and our finance director verified my calculation,” Voveris said.
“Yet legal demand came on June 30, one month later. … Council recognizes the efforts of all of our officers, but finds no merit in their claims,” Voveris concluded.
The police are paying for accountants LaRosa & Associates to issue, with some assistance from a law-enforcement support agency. Voveris would not say how much the Town has paid for review by Archer & Greiner P.C., since the attorney’s bill hadn’t arrived yet. She promised to update the public as the Town is able.
Residents fear for outsourcing
Someone has figuratively shouted “outsourcing” in a crowded theater, and now people are panicking. Some households have erected signs stating “KEEP OUR SOUTH BETHANY POLICE DEPT! NO OUTSOURCING.”
But Voveris said outsourcing has become a big deal before even being raised as a town council topic.
“Outsourcing was not something in the demand letter. It was not something in our response letter. We have never had an agenda item [or] discussion on outsourcing. I don’t really know where this comes from.”
She stopped short of complying with resident Dennis Roberts’ demand that the Town reject the notion altogether.
In an effort to better understand police costs and needs, the town council recently hired a consultant to study the police department operation, policies and procedures. While South Bethany has its own full-time police department, some local towns, including Millville, have found that hiring the Delaware State Police for additional patrols is a much less expensive way to have a part-time police presence.
“Our council strives and practices to maintain competitive salaries and benefits for all Town employees,” Voveris later wrote in a public email. “We must, however, balance these efforts with our need to maintain fiscal responsibility and a sustainable budget plan to continue forward.”
People also spoke in favor of the police and against outsourcing at the past two council meetings.
“I believe they are the heart and soul of this community,” said Roberts, adding that he couldn’t imagine that outsourcing would provide the level of attention town citizens now receive.
“I think we all need to support the police department by giving them the raises they deserve and the promotions that were promised over the years, and I hope council will address that soon,” said resident Pat Fox. “As you will see from the signs going up in this community, people care about the police department, and we’re behind them 100 percent.”
Voveris discussed recent employee raises, and she later wrote, “This council works to keep our people well-compensated in benefits and money. We are very cognizant that we have good employees, and we want to keep them and we want to maintain a standard here.”
“We’re going to keep our police department?” resident Mike Matera asked Aug. 11.
“We’re working toward an amicable resolution,” Voveris said. “I don’t know how this came up. I mean — keeping a department, outsourcing — that’s not the conversation right now. It’s never been discussed, and it’s not an agenda item. Right now, we’re trying to respond to the demands that have been made.”
She later wrote, “Council has not had any discussions regarding this topic. Council is responsible and considerate and engages in new action only after serious deliberation. We ask that our owners consider this and refrain from quick judgment.”
Property owner Sharon Polansky said it’s premature and inaccurate for what she called “fear-frothing” signs to suggest that there is heavy contention over the topic yet.
“The topic of outsourcing is reasonable to entertain. … Should it be considered, in a town where escalating costs and services of all kinds threaten to exceed our budget [?] … [p]erhaps yes, but this debate has yet to occur, and for partisan views on this topic to suggest there is controversy and contention in our town over this topic is plain wrong,” Polansky stated.
Despite fierce loyalty to the police department, she said, “Instilling fear and compromised safety is not the way to debate this topic.”
In other South Bethany Town Council news:
• The town council recognized photographer and property owner Leigh Dwyer for her service to town and support of the beach patrol.
• The first step in someday dredging the neighborhood canals is to study the seabed. The Canal Water Quality Committee is researching costs for a sediment core sampling to determine true depth to the sand base of the town’s canals.
• South Bethany’s 10-year Comprehensive Plan update was approved by the State. The legally-binding document is designed to help guide the Town in future land-use decisions.
• The topic of street lights is being tackled again — this time by the Planning Commission. In creating a town-wide master lighting plan, commissioners are brainstorming a vision statement and lamp designs, and potentially hiring some outside expertise for the plan’s highly technical aspects.
• Although aboveground power lines are considered unattractive by many, it’s too cost-prohibitive for the Town to ever move them underground, council members said in response to a public question. Moreover, if Delmarva Power didn’t move lines underground during the Route 26 road widening project, they said, it’s unlikely the company will make cosmetic changes to South Bethany’s roads. Plus, they said, it would be more difficult for them to service underground lines in a flood-prone town.
• Citizens asked the town council to consider requiring parking permits for the west side of Route 1, especially where vehicle owners may find free parking. Councilman Tim Saxton agreed that now is the time to proactively consider permits, rather than punitively requiring them when residents of new housing developments west of town come looking for beach parking in a few years.
The South Bethany Town Council’s next workshop meeting will be Thursday, Aug. 24, at 2 p.m.
This coming Monday, everyone will be given the opportunity to experience a unique and rare happening — a total solar eclipse.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the sun and the Earth, casting a shadow onto Earth.
According to the National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA), on Aug. 21, “The moon’s approximately 70-mile-wide shadow will cross the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina, turning day to night for an estimated 12 million people who live within the narrow path of totality.”
According to Astronomy magazine, the last time Delaware experienced totality was July 29, 1478. This year, those in Delaware will experience 80 percent totality, which is expected to begin around 1:20 p.m., with peak viewing time at 2:46 p.m.
Those who wish to view the scientific phenomenon may do so a few different ways.
The Selbyville Public Library will host an event from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., during which community members may drop in for crafts, solar eclipse viewing and educational movies. Snacks and beverages will be provided.
The Frankford Public Library will hold a solar eclipse viewing party from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., during which community members can learn about the celestial event. A limited number of “eclipse glasses” will be provided. The library suggests those who attend bring a lawn chair or blanket to the grassy lot next to the library.
The Town of South Bethany will host its solar eclipse party from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on the beach at S. 3rd Street at the handicapped access ramp. Attendees should bring their own certified solar eclipse glasses and viewing devices to watch the event. Special “solar treats” will be offered, but attendees should bring their own beverages and chairs. (The rain date for this event is noted as April 8, 2024.)
Visitors are also being invited to view the solar eclipse from the Indian River Inlet Bridge on Monday. Park staff will be at the South Inlet Day Area pavilion from 1 to 4 p.m. The program is free; however, parking is not — regular park entrance fees are in effect. Attendees may purchase their viewing glasses there for $2.
Those who wish to surf-fish during the event may do so at Delaware Seashore State Park, at 3R’s drive-on beach, hosted the Big Chill Beach Club.
Or, for those who are willing to drive a bit out of state, NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility’s Visitor Center is hosting an eclipse viewing party from noon to 4:30 p.m.
There, observers will be able to experience 81.5 percent of the eclipse. Free eclipse glasses for safe viewing will be provided, and they will stream the NASA-TV live broadcast from 1 to 4 p.m. The event also will feature solar-themed movies and activities as well as food and beverages for purchase.
For those who wish to stay home or can only sneak out of work for a few minutes to view the solar eclipse, there are a few safety items to keep in mind.
Do not view the solar eclipse without proper eye protection. All eclipse glasses or viewers should be compliant with the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard. Do not look at the partially eclipsed sun through a camera, binoculars or sunglasses. Looking directly at the partial eclipse without proper safety eyewear can cause serious, permanent damage to one’s eyes.
For those who lack a safe viewing method, a pinhole projector (an optical projector one can create at home) will allow them to view the partial eclipse without looking at the sun.
The next total solar eclipse to be experienced in the United States will be on April 8, 2024.
For more information on the solar eclipse, visit eclipse2017.nasa.gov. For more information on pinhole projectors, visit eclipse.aas.org/eye-safety/projection.
For children who have experienced a serious burn, the emotional recovery from that burn can take just as long, if not longer, to heal than the actual wound itself.
Through legislation passed in 2009, the Delaware Burn Camp was established to, according to its website, “provide a safe and natural environment for the promotion of physical and emotional healing to young victims of burn injury. The mission of the Delaware Burn Camp is to assist young burn victims in their adjustment to injury through the provision of a safe, supportive environment and providing companionship through physical and social activities in a camp setting.”
“We were asked by the legislature to evaluate the need for a camp. It was a group of us that was pulled together — some from the healthcare arena, some from the fire arena, the fire marshal’s office was involved. We did an assessment and found the nearest camp was three to four hours away,” said Joanne Hutchinson, president of Delaware Burn Camp.
“As a parent with a burned child, to send a child three to four hours away to camp is asking quite a bit, but it benefits the child to have that opportunity. We decided it would benefit the state to have a burn camp and put it forth. The legislators agreed and made it law.
“So, we are, under the law, responsible to be here. We use these facilities. We have them one week every summer, and the kids, we provide transportation to and from camp. The fire departments actually assist us by providing the vans.”
Last week, for the ninth year, kids from across the state of Delaware ages 8 to 17 spent a week at Camp Barnes, enjoying a classic summer camp experience. Their common thread? All had experienced a burn that required medical attention.
“We always meet with every new camper. We interview them to make sure that they’re comfortable going away from home overnight. They’re not just here for a few hours — they’re here for the whole week. So, we try to interview the child and the parents and make sure everything is good. A few of our children come through social services and that’s OK. We’ll work with whatever organizations we need to.”
Hutchinson, who is also a nurse, said everyone who volunteers at the camp is an unpaid volunteer.
“We have no budget from the State — all of our monies are donations that we receive. The Burn Foundation in Pennsylvania gave us a substantial donation this year that will pay for most of camp this year. We’re very fortunate,” she said, adding that a number of healthcare professionals and fire-service personnel volunteer year after year.
The camp is always looking for donations, people to volunteer their time at camp during the week and, of course, campers.
“We are always looking for campers. We can’t get the word out that we’re here. I work in a hospital — we have people who work in the various ERs, but when a child comes in, you can’t go in and say, ‘I know you were burned, we have this camp…’ because it’s a violation of their rights. We can put fliers out, but we can’t do much more than that.
“We’re on the web. They don’t have to approach us early. Camp is always in August. If they call in the spring and are interested in having their child attend…”
Throughout the week, the kids get to enjoy fishing, laser tag, horseback riding, archery and more.
“Delaware Paddleboard Sports actually came here and brought the paddleboards. The instructor was here and taught them. It was amazing. They just loved it. There were no jellyfish out, so they could go out in the water with no problem.
“They went to Jungle Jim’s — that was a total donation by Jungle Jim’s to let the kids in free of charge.”
Barn Hill Preserve visited the camp with a kangaroo and sloth, which the campers were able to meet and hold. Various fire departments attended one evening, as they do every year, to hold a water battle — where the kids play games with the firehoses. The kids even had a crab feast of crabs they caught off the dock at Camp Barnes.
On their last full day of camp, they had a cardboard boat race in the pool with boats created by the campers.
“We try to come up with some different activities every year to keep their interests, to make sure they learn and experience new things. They’ve had a very busy week,” said Hutchinson.
“The kids have spent a number of hours working on their boats. The objective is to have it float from one end of the pool to the other, without sinking, with somebody in it. The one who makes out well with that will get a prize.”
“This is the boat I’m going to be sitting in… it’s a tight squeeze. I’m confident I’ll tie,” said 9-year-old Trip Black of Bear. “First, we thought of making a raft, but then we thought, it needs floatations. We also thought, ‘This thing needs walls, because it’s not just a race — it’s who can get across the driest.”
This was Black’s first year at camp. He had previously traveled to a burn camp more than four hours from his home.
Camp also gives the kids a unique opportunity to bond over what they’ve endured. The first night campers arrive, they share their personal stories of how they were burned.
“For our kids, it’s extremely important to have that availability,” said Hutchinson. “They can talk about their injuries. They can talk about their hopes and dreams for the future… It’s a time they have the realization that everyone is the same.”
“It sucks to be burned, obviously, but it’s cool to meet somebody who’s been through what you’ve been through and connect. Coming here for so long, you build relationships with a lot of people,” said 15-year-old Caileb Williams of Bear, who has attended camp all nine years.
“When they hear somebody got burned in a similar way that they did, it makes them feel like, ‘Oh, wow — we have something in common.’ It makes them feel like they’re not alone, like they’re not the only person this way. Some people have fourth-degree burns. I’m not the only person that’s burned for life like this.”
Williams, who wants to study marine biology when he goes to college, said he was burned when he was taking out hot tea and his brother scared him, and he accidentally spilled the tea on himself.
“There are other people who got burned because somebody turned around with a pot and poured hot water or oil or coffee on them. ‘Wow — we have something in common. I’m not the only person who’s been through this. They know what it’s like.’
“Sometimes it’s hard — the process of trying to come back from being burned. Once you talk about it a lot, it kind of makes you proud of your scars, because you know what you lived through, and nobody can take that away from you.”
Camper Elizabeth Daniels, 15, of Milford said she was encouraged to attend camp by her mom after being picked on at school because she was burned.
“She thought it would be good for me to meet other people who had gotten burned.”
Daniels, who wants to go to college for graphic design and literature, said her favorite part about camp is the first day, when everyone is reunited for the first time since the previous summer.
“It’s fun because of the people. Nearly everyone who comes has been here since the beginning.”
The camp has also given the kids the opportunity to experience things they would potentially not get to experience otherwise.
“We get to do a whole bunch of things — things that I don’t think I would’ve gotten to do elsewhere,” said Daniels, noting she probably wouldn’t paddleboard, horseback ride or get to hold a sloth if it weren’t for camp.
“The first time I came here… it was a lot of new experiences. I rode a horse for the first time. I did archery for the first time here. I just thought it was neat and awesome. I thought the people here were awesome, too, so I just kept coming back,” added Williams.
The Burn Camp is a family for all involved, said Williams, noting that everyone looks out for everyone.
“The people who are my age, we’re really close. And the kids who are younger than me, they look up to me, and I treat them like they’re little siblings. A lot of the counselors, I look up to them and talk to them about things. I just think it’s an awesome experience.”
Williams called attention to 25-year-old counselor-in-training Christopher, who at the age of 5 sustained severe burns after his home caught on fire and burning debris trapped him in his bed.
“Even though it’s sometimes hard for him to do certain things or get his message across, I still try to treat him just like everyone else, because he deserves that,” he said. “He’s still a person on the inside, and some people — they don’t see that… We’ll be talking about a whole bunch of things. He’ll follow me around, we sing together all the time… He’s like family to me.”
“He is our special person,” added Hutchinson of Christopher. “They look out for him and make sure he’s safe and gets to participate.”
“You’ll be welcomed,” said Daniels of kids who might be apprehensive of attending camp. “Everyone is friends and gets along. You’ll have a blast, and you’ll get to do things you never thought you’d do.”
For more information on the Delaware Burn Camp, to donate to the organization, or to recommend a child who would be eligible to participate, visit www.delawareburncamp.com. The organization also can also be found on Facebook, at www.facebook.com/pages/Delaware-Burn-Camp/106485009374461.
The Ocean View Historical Society is hoping to begin construction on its replica of Hall’s Store — a re-creation based on the general store that “gave rise” to the town of Ocean View — very soon, thanks to the continued support of Contractors for a Cause. The resulting structure will be a visitor’s center and education center, housing local artifacts, a meeting room, kitchenette and restrooms.
On Aug. 17, Mark Hardt, a charter member of and director of scholarships and membership for Contractors for a Cause, as well as co-owner of Miranda & Hardt Contracting, presented the society with a check for $3,000 from the non-profit.
“It is our great pleasure to give you a check. We like to put our money where our mouth is,” said Hardt. “This is a win-win for the community as well. We’re two 501(c)(3)s, and this is for the community, and literally by the community, because all the people who are participating in this are local.”
Hardt said building plans for the structure were submitted to the Office of the State Fire Marshal earlier this month, as well as applications to the Town of Ocean View that will be heard before their Board of Adjustment and Planning & Zoning Commission at back-to-back Sept. 21 meetings.
Teaming up with the historical society was an easy choice, said Hardt, noting that the financial support is part of Contractors’ Good Neighbor program.
“Contractors getting involved takes what we all do — our expertise in building — and helps the community. Us joining their team makes this happen for real — not to mention that we have the resources to do the actual construction itself.”
The non-profit has a number of branches dedicated to community outreach and support: Helping Hands, which provides disadvantaged community members free services and professional advice in the field of home construction, maintenance and repair; a scholarship for two local graduating high school seniors; and the Good Neighbor program, under which the historical society project falls.
“The union between us and the historical society is perfect, because they’re here to service the community, too. They do it through history. We do it through our hands and our backs.”
OVHS representatives said the group is very grateful for the support and partnership they’ve found in Contractors.
“We would be nowhere without these gentleman — particularly Mark,” said OVHS’s Richard Nippes. “We know we’re in good hands. You and your contractors will probably take part in actually assembling this building.”
“It has motivated us. It has given us a reason to believe we’re on our way to building the structure of Hall’s Store with the amount of money we have in our coffers now,” added OVHS President Barbara Evans Slavin.
Of Hardt, she said, “His enthusiasm is contagious. He gets you involved in things and excited about things. I have complete trust in him. His intentions are to go as far as he can with the monies we can provide to them. He’s also of the opinion that, ‘build it and they will come’ — that people will be inspired by having seen the initial construction.”
Nippes said that, once the project goes through the Town’s approval process, the first stages of construction will begin.
“I hope and sincerely pray we will have this building built by the middle of 2018.”
Slavin said the society is currently working hard on fundraising efforts, to ensure they have the funds to compete the project. Fundraising ideas include dine-and-donate evenings at local restaurants, a shopping night at York Beach Mall, a winter holiday event at the historic complex and more.
“In April or May, we’d like to have a gala in the shell of the visitor’s center. That will be our first attempt at having some sort of a gala. Everyone will get dressed up, we’ll have an auction of some kind, a nice array of food and drinks. We want to have another tea party.”
The society is already working on its inaugural Coastal Towns Historic Homes Tour, which will focus on the historic homes of Ocean View, to be held on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets for the tour of seven historic homes cost $30 each.
Slavin said that, next year, the tour will focus on the historic houses of Fenwick Island.
“Those are the kinds of things we want to start as tradition.”
Education is a key piece of the society’s mission, as is preserving, interpreting and collecting the history of Ocean View and the surrounding Baltimore Hundred area.
“The appreciation of history is only understood when you experience it. I think the kids, especially, but even the adults who come through the complex, are all amazed that this complex exists… We want to draw people in and, hopefully, get them as excited about history as we are.
“If you don’t get them excited about history, what will happen? We don’t really know. Obviously, the young people are the ones who will take over when we’re not around anymore.”
Every year, the OVHS invites elementary school children to the historic complex, which includes the restored 1860 Tunnell-West family home, a two-seater outhouse and water pump, the town’s first free-standing post office, circa 1889, and a replica of Cecile Steele’s first chicken house, circa 1923.
“We still want to maintain our educational piece by hosting lectures and have the students from Lord Baltimore come,” said Slavin. “The students are such a joy, because they absorb everything. Their enthusiasm is boundless — especially when you catch them at the right time.”
As for the partnership between Contractors and the historical society, Hardt said he hopes the community will get involved in the project and show an interest in the history of the area in which they live.
“We’re hoping that the interest stays high, because we really need the support of the community to make sure we get this done for us and for our kids — for the future,” he said. “We’re going to be part of history!”
The Ocean View Historical Society complex is located at 39 Central Avenue in Ocean View. Free parking is available in the Ocean View municipal parking lots adjacent to John West Park.
Those who are interested in donating to the Ocean View Historical Society may mail donations to the Ocean View Historical Society, P.O. Box 576, Ocean View, DE 19970. For more information regarding the Ocean View Historical Society and upcoming events, visit www.facebook.com/oceanviewhistoricalsociety. Those interested in donating to the society or becoming a member can visit www.ovhistoricalsociety.org.
For more information about Contractors for a Cause, to donate or volunteer, visit www.contractorsforacause.org/de or call (302) 537-8048.
Those who wish to attend the Coastal Towns Historic Homes Tour may purchase tickets in advance at Ellen Rice Gallery in Ocean View or at Made By Hand in South Bethany, or by visiting www.oceanviewhistoricalsociety.org.
The Fenwick Island Town Council has canceled its Aug. 25 public hearing and the council’s final vote on voter qualifications. In fact, the primary sponsor, Councilwoman Julie Lee, said she has decided to hit “pause” altogether on the proposed charter amendment. She said she may move to rescind the first reading from July.
The goal of the charter amendment was to allow the spouses of trustees to vote in town council elections, a right they lost in 2008, but didn’t realize they had lost until a few years ago.
“After the first reading, my sense was there weren’t the votes for it to pass,” Lee said. “We’ve canceled the public hearing … given the discussion and the concerns that council members still had at the first reading.”
This delay doesn’t mean that Lee or the Ad Hoc Election Committee will abandon the pursuit to correct that situation, Lee said. The town council will decide the path forward.
The announcement was made on Aug. 23.
The amendment would allow two votes per trust (which would once again include a trustee’s spouse). Any property owned by non-residents would be limited to a maximum of four votes by deed holder or trustee.
Those rules do not affect residents, all of whom always have a right to vote, regardless of property ownership. LLCs, such as the gas station, would still get one vote. The “one person/one vote” mantra still holds true for all voters.
But, during legal review, the town solicitor was uncomfortable with the current draft because there are many types of trusts, for individuals and businesses. That made council members hesitate, and some also didn’t like giving more votes to non-residents.
Council members passed the first reading in July—some, reluctantly—and the amendment has not been changed or revisited since then.
“I certainly respect the concerns that other council members have,” said Lee, who also said she felt the amendment was flawed.
“I’m still committed to resolving the voter qualification issue,” Lee said. “We’re still trying to come up with something that allows spouses and trustees to vote, but is comfortable for everyone, concerning the number of people that can vote per property for non-residents.”
The town council will meet at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 25. The public hearing, originally scheduled for 2:45 p.m., has been canceled.
Approximately 120 Special Olympics Delaware (SODE) athletes from across the state were able to enjoy a classic summer-camp experience this month at Camp Barnes near Bethany Beach.
“This is the 17th camp,” said Jon Buzby, director of media relations for SODE, who also helped start the camp. “When we started it 17 years ago, we developed it to truly fit into our mission, which is sports training. So, the athletes, when they came here, we did sports — we did volleyball, we did soccer, we did bocce, we did basketball. Everything we did was something they trained and competed in during the year.
“As time went on, what we realized is we were limiting the population that could come to camp because it was so strenuous, as the sports we were offering were more of our high-level sports. “
Buzby said the change-over to the typical summer experience was gradual, but while it was happening, the camp also grew.
“We used to be one camp, two nights, three days. Now we’re two camps, two nights and three days. So instead of serving 50 people, we serve 120 people.”
Campers spent three days and two nights at the camp, enjoying classic camping activities including archery, swimming, kayaking, nature walks, and arts and crafts.
“I like just being with the other athletes and getting to see everybody, because I don’t get to see the upstate athletes very often,” said Suzanne Schaible, 48, of Ocean View.
“I like swimming and cornhole,” said 20-year-old Miranda Vickers of Lewes.
The two women are part of Sussex Riptide, which competes in SODE games. Schaible competes in bowling, biking, tennis and swimming, and Vickers in basketball, bowling and soccer.
The two returning campers said they enjoy the experience, which is why they continue to return every summer.
Vickers added that she enjoys the water and taking the pontoon boat ride.
“We’ve been out there; I love it.”
“Our athletes love camp. It is just neat to see them together. They make friends really easily. It’s a neat experience for them, and it’s a neat experience for us,” said Marie McIntosh, a Sussex Riptide coach and member of the SODE Hall of Fame.
Community support makes the camp happen
Donations and support from the local community help give the campers a great experience. One such experience is that pontoon boat cruise on the Little Assawoman Bay, donated by North Bay Marina owner Scott McCurdy for the last five years.
“That’s a huge contribution. Huge! Some of them use it as naptime. They’re so tired, and it’s so peaceful out there.”
“North Bay Marina, for the fifth summer in a row, they have donated a boat and gasoline. That has become in the last five years probably the single most successful and enriching experience for our athletes — to have that opportunity to go out on a pontoon boat,” added Buzby. “It’s something we talked about for years… The cost of renting one is exorbitant, and North Beach Marina has been wonderful in donating it to us.”
Buzby also said SODE has had a great relationship with the Delaware State Police who oversee Camp Barnes.
“This has been a wonderful partnership for 17 years.”
For a number of years, Tony Gough, who is also a Sussex Riptide coach, has organized a motorcycle ride from Rommel Harley-Davidson in Seaford to the summer camp. The ride is open to all — HOGS, Blue Knights, Red Knights, Legion Riders, Masonic Brotherhood, Hogs & Heroes — anyone who would like to participate. They request a $10 donation per rider, which is then donated to SODE.
The local business community has been extra-supportive of Sussex Riptide athletes in the Ocean View area. McIntosh praised Bike Connection and Millsboro Lanes for their support, among others.
“We have people that just help us. The community here… I can’t tell you… the community here is outstanding,” she said.
Athletes can practice at Bayside Tennis Club and Sea Colony with Sea Colony lifeguards on duty.
“It’s a busy time of year. They always, always send lifeguards to us. They’re super-, super-helpful,” McIntosh said of Sea Colony.
For the last few years, cycling athletes have been able to use the National Guard Training Site north of Bethany Beach, which she said has been a fabulous experience.
“The National Guard is great. It’s so safe. We used to go on the street, but that got so dangerous.”
Grotto Pizza in Bethany Beach also supports Sussex Riptide.
“They always reserve tables for us. After every last practice, we tend to go there for pizza. Shawn is the manager there, and he’s just a really good guy.”
McIntosh also praised the Ocean View Police Department, which hosts parties for the athletes and has provided them with police escorts for bike parades.
“OVPD is the top — really, really good guys.”
McIntosh has been volunteering at the camp at least 15 years and has encouraged her friends to do the same.
“The helpers out there, the people in crafts and archery, are tennis friends. Some of them have been here for four, five years. They just come, pitch in and help; it’s great!” she said, noting that there were volunteers from both Sea Colony and Bayside Tennis Club in attendance.
“A lot of the counselors, like Marie and several others here with us, are Hall-of-Famers,” noted Buzby. “We have three Hall-of-Famers here and a fourth going in. These are people who have been entrenched in our organization for years and do so much already. We would never ask them to come to camp, yet here they are. It says a lot about the people camp attracts and also the value of having this camp.”
Camp is offered to all registered SODE athletes, and while there is no age restriction, Buzby said they recommend campers be at least 15 before they attend.
“It’s not a hard-and-fast rule… but what we found was with the 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds, we spent so much time handling homesickness and all that other stuff that it took away from the other campers.”
And he said camp, like anything else in life, is not for everyone.
“What I would tell a parent is the same thing I would tell a parent of any child, even without a disability. Overnight camp, which is what this is, is a great experience for a child who is ready physically, socially and emotionally to have that experience. And, a lot goes into that. I have two boys at home. One would be perfect, and the other one would be homesick.
“I think we give them the best camp experience that their child with an intellectual disability can have in the area. But, that being said, camp is not for everyone. It’s important that someone coming for the first time and parents understand that.”
Buzby said if parents are unsure if the camp is a good fit for their SODE athlete, they should consider requesting to visit during the day.
“If a parent called me up and said, ‘…Not sure about next year,’ I’d say, ‘You should come check it out.’ I think it’s important for parents and the camper to know what they’re getting into.
But the great part of camp is that it’s truly a summer-camp experience that impacts those who attend.
“They get the exact same thing that any camper gets out of being at camp — they get to meet new friends; they get to experience new activities. Just today, I saw someone get into a kayak for the first time. I saw somebody sit on the dunk tank for the first time, and that’s all she’s talked about since that happened. I’ve seen somebody shoot a bow and arrow for the first time.
“It’s those types of experiences that the athletes get that, without this camp, obviously, they’re not going to get, because the people I’m talking about are not 10 or 15 years old. They’re 30 and 40 and 50 years old, experiencing that for the first time. They get an opportunity to be away from their parents. I guarantee you every camper who leaves here tomorrow has grown up a little bit from when they arrived yesterday in some way, even if they can’t define it.”
“It’s just nice, because one of the big things is you don’t have to be a top-notch athlete. You just have to love what you do. And you have to be able to make friends in a setting that is unfamiliar, with people in your cabin with whom you’re not familiar,” echoed McIntosh. “It teaches them a lot, just from the social interactions and the taking turns. The different experiences they have, I can’t tell you... They’re just joyful! And it’s fun to watch.”
Student volunteers learn life lessons, too
Another great part about the camp, organizers said, is that high school and college students volunteer during the two sessions. This year, 25 students attended.
“The counselors develop a greater understanding and appreciation of their peers with disabilities, and it serves as a tremendous lesson that all people are more alike than different. There’s no greater tribute to our athletes than the fact that many of our counselors come back year after year to spend the three days at camp with them,” said Kylie Frazer, director of school and youth initiatives.
“What they learn is our athletes are no different than they are. Some sleep very well, some toss and turn. Some snore, some don’t. Some are picky eaters, some will eat anything. Some don’t like to be away from home, others can’t wait to get dropped off. It’s funny to talk to and hear the stories … of how even the staff can relate — ‘Oh, when I used to go to camp, I would get homesick.’ It’s been fun to see the interactions,” added Buzby.
Wilmington University sophomore Dominique Spencer first got involved in SODE while she was in 10th grade at William Penn High School
“I went to a leadership conference with a Spanish teacher… We went back to high school and got involved in the Unified program and just never got out of it.”
Spencer was so inspired by her experience in the program that she is currently studying elementary education, aiming for a special certificate in special education.
“I love to watch people learn new things. So, when you come here and see all these people make all of these accomplishments that they never thought that they would make, and when you’re with them and they do things they never thought they would do, you’re a part of that. Today, one had never been in a dunk tank, and they were 35… Just all the small things that happen.”
Spencer has attended the camp for the past three years and said she continues to return because of “the positivity, the excitement and the same kids come back every year. It’s almost like the same group of family comes every year.”
Getting the chance to meet and know students with intellectual disabilities in high school was a wonderful experience for Spencer, she said.
“No one is different — that’s the biggest thing. Everyone is together,” she said. “I wish I would’ve had it in elementary school. It teaches acceptance at a very young age, because once you get to high school, everyone has their insults. But when you expose a child to such gifts at a young age, they realize the importance of everyone, with and without disabilities.”
Gary Cimaglia Jr., 17, a student at Poly Technical High School, became involved with SODE because his father is the director of sports for the organization.
“My dad works for Special Olympics. He encouraged me to come, and my sister did, too. I got here and I liked it, so I’ve kept coming back.”
Cimaglia said he loved being able to interact with the campers on a one-on-one level.
“I think it’s very important, because the interaction teaches us while we’re young that people are going to be different from us but you should still accept everyone for who they are. I think it’s an important learning experience for everyone.
Both students said they would encourage anyone and everyone to become involved in SODE in some way.
“I always tell my friends they should come along to camp,” said Cimaglia. “I just think this is lots of fun. There are great people, and it’s a great environment for everybody.”
“Donate your time and volunteer,” added Spencer simply.
For more information about Special Olympics Delaware, visit www.sode.org. Those interested in volunteering with local athletes can contact McIntosh at Mariemcintosh522@msn.com.
The Ocean View Historical Society will host its inaugural Coastal Towns Historic Homes Tour on Saturday, Oct. 7, featuring a number of historical homes in the area. One of the featured homes is located a 41 West Avenue in Ocean View. Selby Evans and his wife, Elizabeth Hall Evans, were the first residents of the picturesque colonial style home, which is currently owned by their great-granddaughter Barbara Slavin.
A letter from Selby to his son James mentions the lumber was purchased in Frankford for $300. While the house was originally just a parlor and dining room with two bedrooms above, indoor plumbing and a new kitchen were added in 1935. The first kitchen is now a guest house open for viewing in the landscaped back yard, which includes a gazebo and several cozy seating areas. Inside the home, original artwork abounds, including a Laura Hickman painting of the Evans-West House across the street, where James Evans lived after he married Mary West.
Limited tickets for the Coastal Towns Historic Homes Tour on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 10 a.m.to 4 p.m., are on sale at the Ellen Rice Gallery on Route 26 in Ocean View, at Made By Hand on Route 1 in South Bethany and online at www.ovhistoricalsociety.org. Tickets cost $20 for OVHS members and $30 for non-members. Proceeds benefit the evolving Coastal Towns Museum and Hall’s Store Visitor & Education Center.
Calling all gardeners and wannabe landscapers — the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs is looking for you.
Next Wednesday, Aug. 30, the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs will be hosting an informational meeting regarding joining or starting a garden club. The membership event will be held at the South Coastal Library in Bethany Beach from 6 to 7 p.m.
“There are so many new communities here, and I don’t even think they know that we exist down here,” said Lisa Arni, president of the federation. “I am finding through the Master Gardeners and other organizations that people are moving here and saying, ‘OK, I bought this new house and have the builder’s minimal package of plants, and I don’t know what to plant here because I’m new to Delaware.’
“They’d be really good candidates because they just moved here, they don’t know anybody, they would make new friends and learn about what to plant in their communities and in their gardens.”
Arni said the 23 garden clubs that currently exist are filling quickly — a sign she believes means people are looking to get involved in their community.
“We started two new clubs last year. One of them has gone on to win DNREC’s award for their plantings at the Life-Saving Station’s museum. We have another new club in Millsboro — Plantation Lakes Garden Club — and they are on fire as well.
“They are just incredible. The two clubs are just go-getters,” she said, noting one has 50 members, while the other has more than 25 members. “That’s pretty amazing. It makes me think it’s not unique to just those two communities.”
Clubs offer programs to their members from horticulture education and design, along with doing community outreach and service projects.
“Right now, the Delaware Federation is partnering with the new Delaware Botanic Garden at Pepper Creek, and we’re the sole providers of the tree plantings next to the meadow being planted in September. We just planted six trees from the Delaware Federation at the Botanic Garden,” she said, adding that it fits in with the national theme of “Plant America.”
“We offered the clubs the opportunity to save up $100 of their fundraising and offer that with a form to honor or in memory of a member. They purchased a tree planting at the Delaware Botanic Garden near the new meadow that’s being planted in September.
“I have 18 trees already paid for, and those were the first six that went in — that’s one of my President’s Projects — the ‘TREE-mendous tree planting’ at the new Botanic Garden.”
The membership drive is the other President’s Project in Arni’s “TREE-mendous Delaware Membership Growth.”
“Every organization needs new members, new ideas, new everything, to survive,” she said, adding that they plan to first target Sussex County before moving upstate. “Membership growth has never been tackled in 12 years… and it’s time. It’s really time.”
Arni noted that most of the clubs don’t meet in July and August, although some do. Along with area club meetings, the state federation holds meetings.
Those who are interested in beautifying their community, learning and meet new friends should consider attending the informational meeting, she said.
“It’s not your grandmother’s club anymore,” said Arni. “The new clubs are in-action. There is no sitting in that rocker for them. We are willing to help new clubs get started, and to mentor them.”
South Coastal Library is located at 43 Kent Avenue in Bethany Beach. Those who wish to attend are being asked to RSVP by calling (302) 841-3632 or emailing email@example.com.
Brandywine Living at Fenwick Island is holding a photography contest for photographs that portray family life, as part of its celebration of National Assisted Living Week.
Entries should portray a moment that illustrates “what family means to you,” as Brandywine Living’s theme for this year’s National Assisted Living Week is “Family is forever.”
Prizes will be awarded for first-, second- and third-place entries. Additionally, a “fan favorite” will be awarded at the Photo Fête Party on Tuesday, Sept. 12, from 4 to 7 p.m. The party is open to the public and will offer cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, music and photo displays. Additionally, some of photographer Andy Gordon’s work will be on display.
“This is our first time doing the photography contest,” said Brandywine Living Director of Community Relations Jeannie Elgin. “Every year, we have a different theme and hold different events for National Assisted Living Week.”
Entries in the photography contest must be submitted by Aug. 31, in the care of Jeannie Elgin.
All entries should include identification and a 3.5-by-5-inch index card with an explanation of how the photo embraces what family means to the photographer. The entries should also include the photographer’s contact information, including name, address, telephone number and email address. Display easels are appreciated, Elgin noted. All contestants who enter are giving Brandywine Living at Fenwick Island permission to use their photograph for promoting or sharing its programs.
In addition to the photography contest and party, Brandywine Living at Fenwick Island will hold an “Apple & Art” event — a craft show with food vendors — in its parking lot on Sunday, Sept. 10, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information, call Jeannie Elgin at (302) 436-0808 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Brown Box Theatre Project will perform Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” at the Freeman Stage on Thursday, Aug. 31, at 7 p.m.
Brown Box Theatre is a traveling company that sees theater as a democratic art form. The group believes that theater should be available to everyone — not just the elite. Brown Box works with Boston-based talent to share a range of theater productions with communities in Massachusetts, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.
Brown Box will perform “Hamlet” at 30 outdoor venues over seven weeks. Three weeks of the tour are spent in Massachusetts, and four weeks of the tour are spent on Delmarva. The troupe will also perform “Hamlet” at three schools.
This marks Brown Box’s seventh season. In addition to the Freeman Stage, Brown Box is bringing “Hamlet” to other outdoor venues in Massachusetts and Delmarva, including Tower Road in Delaware Seashore State Park, which has hosted Brown Box in the past.
The venue is located at 39415 Inlet Road, Rehoboth, and the performance will take place on Thursday, Sept. 14, at 7:30 p.m.
This is Brown Box’s first time performing at the Freeman Stage, but the two organizations have partnered in the past to provide a local arts and education workshop, said Freeman Foundation Communication & Public Relations Manager Alyson Cunningham.
The Freeman Stage is a program of the Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes the arts and is supported, in part, by a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts.
After “Hamlet,” the Arts & Jazz Festival on Sept. 16 will finish the summer season at the Freeman Stage, though the Labor Day production is treated as a season finale, said Cunningham. In the fall, the Freeman Foundation will focus on arts and education programming.
“This is a free event, so we hope to have a nice turnout,” said Cunningham of the “Hamlet” performance on Aug. 31. “Whenever we have a Shakespeare performance, it’s always a nice, relaxing evening.”
Audience members are being encouraged to bring their own chairs for the performance. The Freeman Stage is located at 31750 Lake View Drive in West Fenwick.
Libraries were never this delicious. But now people are turning on their tastebuds at the Selbyville Public Library.
Every month, the Eat & Greet Cookbook Club tries recipes from a new cookbook. Beforehand, anyone in the community can choose a recipe from a cookbook featured at the library. All the participants prepare a dish, and then they share a potluck dinner on the second Monday of each month. That night, people get to sample everyone’s cooking and take home the recipes.
It’s always a chance to try something new, and the group couldn’t name a recipe that they didn’t like.
In August, they tried “The Whole30 Cookbook,” a low-carb, high-flavor program by Melissa Hartwig. Recipes ranged from a classic slow-cooker chicken salad to an adventurous tomato-coconut curry chicken.
“I’m a basic person. This is my first time having [spaghetti] squash and cauliflower rice,” said librarian Ronshell “Shelly” Purnell, who roasted flavorful chicken thighs that night.
Sometimes it’s an intimate handful of cooks, while other nights are packed with a dozen or more cooks and dishes.
“It’s a nice way to meet people in your community,” said Cathy Martin. “It’s fun to get together and talk—”
“Food!” Dottie Kauffman interjected.
Over the months, they’ve sampled the flavors of Irish, Mexican and Cajun cuisine, and more. They reminisced about old recipes, including caramelized onion dip with Ritz chips; chocolate cake with marshmallow cream and chocolate ganache; and naan bread topped with fig preserves and layers of prosciutto.
Cooks can go big or a simple as they like. Unable to find ground chicken for chicken meatballs with spaghetti squash, Kauffman made her own using a food processor. She followed up with hand-mixed Italian herb seasoning.
Kauffman first learned about Eat & Greet when she saw people carrying platters of food through the library. She’s attended every Eat & Greet dinner since.
The Eat & Greet Cookbook Club will continue on Monday, Sept. 11, at 5:30 p.m. Until then, people can visit the library to claim recipes from the selected cookbook and prepare to join in the culinary adventure at their local library.
This tiny shop in Fenwick Island is living up to its name. Pizzazz by the Bay isn’t trying to be the ordinary gift shop. Visitors and locals are coming there to find eclectic gifts and home décor by local artists.
Never behind the counter for very long, Victoria Thanner greets every customer with a smile. She loves being right there, helping them find the perfect item, or picturing it in their home.
With so many people still building and renovating in coastal Delaware, “I want to do something different … showcase local artists and pieces,” Thanner said. “People are looking for that ‘wow’ piece.”
Some of the more striking sculptures begin with driftwood: a gentle curving sailboat, a rough sea turtle and tall lamps strung with Edison bulbs and ship’s rope.
Throw pillows are screened with lazy-afternoon photos of sailboats and the Fenwick Island Lighthouse. Lights twinkle from inside painted wine bottles. Pottery, mirrors and wall clocks are ready to find their way into the right living room, den or bedroom. Pizzazz also features beach signs, shabby-chic furniture, wreaths and more.
“It’s all about the ‘wow’ factor,” whatever makes people realize this isn’t something sold in bulk online, Thanner said. “I’m fortunate to have talented, talented artisans.”
Having opened in May of 2016, Pizzazz is only as good as its artists, Thanner said. So she invites unique pieces and interesting gifts.
This is one-of-a-kind repurposed furniture and custom-made palate art. People can also order custom-carved monogrammed wall hangings for a wedding or housewarming gift.
Thanner also aims to offer U.S.-made products, from furniture down to the scented sachets and hand lotion.
People can also swing by for retail gifts, such as large handbags, beach bags, mermaid gear, mugs, scarves, jewelry and more.
Running a business is where Thanner is most comfortable. She’s had more than 20 years of experience in northern Baltimore County and Harford County, Md. After vacationing for years in coastal Delaware, she happily crossed “beach shop” off her bucket list.
Plus, it runs in the family. Thanner’s father was in automobiles, her uncle in manufacturing, and her son just opened a men’s clothing boutique.
Pizzazz by the Bay is open year-round. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. For more information, call (302) 539-3229 or visit www.facebook.com/PizzazzByTheBayDE. The shop is located in Ocean Bay Plaza, 1300 Coastal Highway, Unit 3, Fenwick Island.
Ana Calles doesn’t mind driving two hours to Wilmington every week this summer. Hailing from Selbyville, she’s the only downstate contestant in the Miss Hispanic Delaware pageant.
“Honestly, it’s a big honor, and I feel very fortunate and blessed,” said Calles, 17. “I see how I’m the only one from lower Delaware. I don’t see that as an inconvenience to go all the way up there. I see it was an opportunity or a blessing. I think it’s special because it makes me stand out.”
She will represent Mexico in the Aug. 26 program, which celebrates Hispanic culture and is also designed to help young ladies develop poise and communication skills.
As a rising junior at Indian River High School, Calles said she has wanted to join the pageant for several years now. Calles has lived in Selbyville all her life, except for a few years in Mexico when she was younger.
She has the drive to compete, even hiring Uber rides to Wilmington, until teacher Lori Hudson put an end to that. Then, Hudson personally drove Calles to rehearsals and helped her with program sponsorships.
“She helps me with my schooling and everything. She’s really awesome, to be honest,” Calles said of Hudson. “She definitely goes out of her way, and she’s really there for me — almost in a way a mother would.”
The pageant began in 1972 and is celebrated with the Wilmington Hispanic Festival.
At weekly rehearsals, Calles and the other dozen girls practice their introduction speeches, communication skills, poise/gown walk and the group introduction dance. She also had to find local sponsorships for the program book, which she said can be nerve-wracking but is ultimately her mission to complete.
Although she admitted she is nervous for her first pageant, she said she’s proud to step outside her comfort zone and try something new. Throughout the process, she said, she’s become more comfortable with public speaking.
The girls have to think on their feet during the evening-gown portion of the pageant, answering an interview question, speaking with confidence and walking with poise.
Her evening gown will be red, which represents “my culture and my country. It will represent the blood of the Mexican heroes who died in the Mexican War of Independence,” Calles said.
After a few years of piano lessons, Calles is also ready to play John Legend’s “All of Me” for the talent competition. She’ll also have a scored interview beforehand.
“I’m pretty nervous — very excited at the same time. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” and she’s been working hard. “I feel like it’s a good opportunity for young girls to work on their communication skills and get involved in their community.”
Although Delaware is only 100 miles long, there are divides between “north and south.” Calles said she wants to bring people together.
“I want to be able to contact Hispanics and make relationships, and bring the community together … break that barrier between Sussex County and upstate,” she said. “I feel like I’m accomplishing that, in a way, because I’m building relationships … and we’re building friendships. … It’s nice to see the little girls practice and learn and grow.”
A maximum of 12 girls is invited to participate in the pageant each year, Calles said. Although a bigger field of contestants might be more thrilling, the smaller group gets to know each other better. The older teens also get to be role models for contestants in the pageant’s Little Miss (ages 7 to 10) and Junior Miss (11 to 14) competitions.
“She is setting an example for other Hispanic young ladies, to let them know there are opportunities available for them,” Hudson said proudly.
Calles has volunteered for several years at the Selbyville Public Library and recently also helped organized the National Hispanic Heritage Month events there, which includes children’s crafts, a bilingual storytime and an immigration forum with La Esperanza. The month-long celebration kicks off with a party Friday, Sept. 15, at 4 p.m.
And volunteerism is Calles’ platform for the pageant. It may seem broad, but it’s the only way to encompass everything she cares about.
“I feel like it is a very broad platform, but … there are many things I am passionate about. Being able to help people with many different causes [is empowering],” she said. “I read that that … it makes people feel happier. It just makes you feel like you have accomplished something.”
That’s a special feeling, despite a person’s own hardships, she said. And Calles has felt that struggle in the past year.
Her mother passed away in April, knowing about Calles’ dream to compete but not getting to see the August pageant.
“Yes, it is [hard], but my mom lives within me, and I know this is all part of God’s plan,” Calles said.
But her father will be in the audience Saturday night at the Baby Grand theater in Wilmington’s Grand Opera House.
Along with volunteering, Calles said she also enjoys art and will join the Yearbook Club this year at IRHS.
“A big thanks to all of my sponsors and everybody who sponsored me throughout this journey and, of course, Miss Lori Hudson, who does a lot for me,” Calles said. “And, of course, to the Lord, who I owe everything to. And my mom — this is for her.”
State Sen. Gerald Hocker and Gov. John Carney on Aug. 16 invited a small group of local businesspeople to join them for lunch and a roundtable discussion on the state’s economy and their concerns about their individual businesses and beyond.
“Businesspeople want to stimulate the economy,” Carney said after introducing himself to the small group of 10 local businesspeople at the Cottage Café near Bethany Beach, which also included state Rep. Ron Gray. “It’s your meeting, and your time to voice how we can stimulate our economy.”
“Things have changed since I was young,” living in a big industrial town, Carney acknowledged. While “a handful, like my dad, worked for the government, as a teacher,” he said, the bulk of available jobs then were in industry and manufacturing. “Those jobs aren’t as available today.”
Carney particularly noted the downsizing of Delaware stalwart DuPont’s presence in the state, from 6,000 jobs 18 months ago to 5,000 or fewer today.
To address that shift in the economy from big industry to small business, Carney said the State has restructured its economic development office.
“We are putting small business equally front-and-center,” he said, “as we try to build more of an entrepreneur economy.”
Interwoven with the downsizing of big industry in the state has been the State’s budget woes.
“We have a structural problem,” Carney said of the budget shortfall that caused significant cuts in the new fiscal year to areas including education. “It’s not unlike the business challenges you face,” he told the local business owners, noting particularly the rising costs of education and healthcare with which the State’s revenue has not kept up.
“We had a good year,” he said wryly, of the increase in the State’s own healthcare costs. “It went up at three times the rate of revenue.”
The best way to address those issues, Carney said, is to have revenue growth and job growth that keeps up with expenses.
“And we are making a longer-term commitment to figure out how we in Delaware can be more competitive in 2017/2018 and beyond.”
The local businesspeople Hocker invited to last week’s roundtable included Teddy Banks of Banks Wines & Spirits, builder Bruce Mears, Butch Evans of Old Inlet Bait & Tackle, Hale Bennett of Bennett Orchards, Cottage Café co-owner Tom Neville, Scott Kammerer of SoDel Concepts, Gerry Hocker of Hocker’s/G&E and David Wilgus of Wilgus Insurance.
Banks concerned over increase in alcohol tax
Banks noted that while his family now runs a liquor store in Millville, they’ve been in the area for four generations as a family of farmers.
“We got into the liquor business 15 years ago, and we’ve had growth every year,” he noted. “This is the first year we’ve felt a pinch. Our traffic count is down. Consumption of liquor, beer and wine in the whole state is down.”
Additionally, Banks said he was particularly concerned with an increase in the tax on alcohol that was adopted by the State in July, and especially the timetable for putting it in place at the point of sale.
“With people on fixed budgets, it is going to be very difficult,” he said. “We’ve got one to two months to increase prices across the board — that’s man-hours, time and paper — and I still don’t have the price increases from my suppliers yet. I hope you can rethink this.”
The law goes into effect on Sept. 1 and is predicted to bring in an additional $7 million in revenue for the State.
The rate for beer increases from $4.85 to $8.15 per barrel of beer; from 16 cents to 27 cents for each gallon of cider; from 97 cents to $1.63 per gallon of wine; from $2.50 to $3 for each gallon of spirits containing 25 percent or less ethyl alcohol by volume; and from $3.75 to $4.50 for each gallon of spirits containing more than 25 percent ethyl alcohol by volume. (The tax increases on beer, wine and cider were all decreased from the amounts in the initial draft of the bill.)
Those increased costs are typically passed along to consumers, who will pay about 6 cents more for a traditional six-pack of 12-ounce cans of beer, about 3 cents more for a 5-ounce serving of wine and about 15 cents more for a 750ml bottle of spirits containing more than 25 percent ethyl alcohol.
That is an increase of pennies on the dollar, but Banks said it makes a difference to customers, who he said could go to Maryland now and buy their alcoholic beverages cheaper than he can buy them from a wholesaler.
“I make 60 cents on a case of beer,” he said, “and it’s just going to crush us. People on a fixed income will just go nuts. And I’m the one that’s going to have to deal with them.”
Carney said the timing on the liquor tax troubled him. “We usually don’t start anything until January,” he said.
“The liquor tax wasn’t my preference,” he added, but he emphasized the deficit in the state budget and the spending and revenue problems involved. “I will talk to people and see how we can do better,” he told Banks.
Carney expressed some dissatisfaction with the budget process.
“I wanted to see us deal with the tough stuff — healthcare. It’s not going to be done in a year. Our expenses per person are one of the highest in country,” he noted. “Part of it is we could be healthier, but our costs could be lower.”
“You guys are the ones who have it hardest, which is why we’re having this [national] debate now, about how to provide for small businesses. It’s harder here, because we’re a small state.”
Carney said he was surprised to hear that business had been down this summer.
“I’ve been hearing that the numbers at the beach were pretty strong,” he said.
But Carney said he thinks the changes to the State’s economic development agencies will benefit the area.
“I think tourism is going to thrive under our new arrangement,” he said, noting that tourism had been under the auspices of the Delaware Economic Development Office (DEDO), where it had “gotten lost” amidst big business. Now, he said, the State is looking to create partnerships with private enterprise, and that can benefit the area.
The State’s tourism office “has done good work under the old arrangement, where they were second-fiddle. I think they’ll thrive,” under the new one, he said. “This area sells itself — that big ocean and our wonderful beaches.”
The challenge, he said, “is at the local level, in terms of how we take care of sewage, traffic and those things that get in way of development. … The pieces are all connected. If we’re not driving growth in the other parts of the state, they’re not going to come here and spend.”
Mears: Building permit tax ‘a job-killer’
Mears said he was extremely concerned about a 2.5 percent “building permit transfer tax” that is due if buyers don’t wait at least a year after purchasing property to build on it. That 2.5 percent is split between the State and County — 1 percent to the State and 1.5 percent to the County. And it isn’t owed if a building permit isn’t obtained until at least 366 days after a lot was purchased, Mears said.
“It’s a job-killer,” Mears said.
“Really? It’s a state tax?” Carney asked about the tax, with obvious surprise.
Some of his customers, Mears said, have delayed building when they found out they will have to pay 2.5 percent above the cost of the house to get a building permit.
“Why should a lot owner have to wait a year to build? It is a self-defeating tax,” Mears said, adding that his customers whose visits and residence are delayed by the tax, “They don’t buy gas. They don’t go to Teddy’s store.”
Mears said the tax, which he has argued for years should be repealed and replaced with a 1/8-percent tax on all building permits, also opens the door for national companies to come into the area and develop tract homes with supplies and labor from out of state.
Traffic a concern for seasonal business
Evans noted that his bait-and-tackle business, like many in the area, is primarily a seasonal one.
“We do 80 percent of our business in 80 days, and every day is critical,” he said.
Those individual days can be impacted by rainy weather and traffic, especially on days when the numbers of people coming into the area and leaving it are especially high, Evans pointed out.
“On a rainy day, traffic backs up, and people turn around and go home,” he said of his location near the Indian River Inlet Bridge. “What are we going to do with the people who are here today when it rains?”
“We don’t want to kill the golden goose,” Carney acknowledged. “It’s not very pleasurable sitting in traffic. We’ve been talking about solutions to it for a while. [House Majority Leader Pete] Schwarzkopf has ideas.”
But, Carney said, as it stands now, “There’s not a lot of room to put them, unless we build something people don’t want, which is a bridge over the bays. We don’t have a solution today.”
Sen. Hocker said he would recommend lengthening the light cycles between the bridge and Lewes, to allow more north-south traffic to move, rather than stopping it even when there is no cross-traffic. Carney said he thought perhaps a meeting with DelDOT officials was in order to address that issue.
“Ocean City has just as much traffic,” Mears put in, saying that across that town, traffic lights turn green almost simultaneously, then red almost simultaneously, allowing more north-south flow while still letting people onto the highway from cross-streets.
Bennett: Farmland needs preserved
for future generations
Bennett, the sixth generation of his family working on the Frankford-area farm, said his biggest concern was preserving farmland.
“We need the resources for future generations in order to sustain this $1.3 billion industry. … The area has undergone tremendous change. There is a lot of development, and DelDOT projects threaten farmland,” he said.
Bennett noted that while he appreciates the State’s efforts in farmland preservation, including Century Farm recognition for family farms kept in operation for more than a century, such programs remain very important to agriculture in the state.
“I want to make sure we keep these programs and keep them well-funded,” he said. “It’s important for people to remember where our food comes from. We could use support from the state government.”
“Agriculture is not just the state’s top industry but part of its way of life,” Carney said. “We appreciate your taking up the challenge.
“The problem is when we have fiscal challenges. We have designated money for that purpose, and we’ve done a good job compared to other states. We need to try to make it more profitable for farmers so they can stay in business.”
Carney also noted his planned farm tour last week, stating, “Tourism and agriculture can work together.”
“Like the others,” Bennett agreed, “we are dependent on people.”
Restaurants juggling minimum-wage and healthcare costs
Neville told Carney that, between the year-round Cottage Café and the seasonal Bethany Boathouse operations, his business cuts more than 150 paychecks per week at the season’s height, employing many younger people and retirees looking for income.
He, too, said business had been down this summer at the Cottage Café, about 4 to 5 percent, while the Boathouse’s business had been up a little.
“The seasons have extended,” he noted, while winter business was dependent on retirees being willing to go out to eat — which can be impacted by problems with traffic and roads.
“We run on a very small margin,” he explained, about 4 to 5 percent. “And we’re concerned about the minimum wage and healthcare.”
“In some ways,” he said, healthcare mandates hurt his team members, because their schedules have to be kept under 30 hours per week to avoid qualifying them for expensive health benefits. On the other side of the equation, he noted, it also hurts the employee who wants to work 35 hours a week, but not 40, because in order for that employee’s benefits to be covered by their productivity for the business, that employee has to work at least 40 hours.
The minimum wage, he said, was problematic, because so many of his younger workers are getting their first job experiences with him, but they don’t always have the same need for a full income that an older worker may have, because many of them are living at home with their parents.
“There can’t just be a minimum wage for everything,” Neville said. “The kids living at home don’t need it.”
“I believe if people are working, they shouldn’t be in poverty,” Carney said. “But I have teenagers… I think there should be some sub-minimum wage for that.”
“Healthcare is the biggest issue facing the country,” the governor added. “I spent six years in Congress, and the thing burying budgets is healthcare, Medicare/Medicaid. Medicaid is 55 percent for low-income, 35 percent for the disabled, 12 percent for long-term care for people who have exhausted all their assets,” he noted.
“Our cost per elderly person is among the highest in the country,” he said. “We have to flatten those costs.”
“You have to shift some of that cost to your employees,” Carney acknowledged, saying the average pay-in for employees is now 20 percent or more. “That’s going to have to happen if we are going to address this without increasing costs on the other side.”
Carney noted that Delaware had hoped early in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act to combine its insurance exchange with Maryland.
“When it went into effect, we thought it made more sense to combine it with other people,” he said. “For Maryland, it didn’t make sense, because they didn’t want our higher-cost people in their pool.”
Carney noted that people use the most healthcare at the end of their lives, which puts both the state and the immediate area in a particularly difficult position, since so many people are retiring to the area.
“The No. 1 thing I can do to make it successful is reduce healthcare costs,” he said.
Kammerer noted the tremendous growth of SoDel Concepts, from a single Bethany-area restaurant headed by the late Matt Haley that served 30 dinners its first night to a company with 10 restaurants, a catering division and more — serving 47,000 dinners last week.
“All those issues affect us,” he said, noting that SoDel had added 300 jobs in the last two years.
“The drivers of that job growth are going to be small businesses,” Carney observed.
“We’re at point now where everything affects us,” Kammerer said, “traffic, healthcare, the minimum wage. … I love growth, and the reason I’m in the business now is to provide opportunity. I want them to get a job, get promoted, buy a house, get bait and tackle. I want less obstacles for them.”
But, Kammerer told Carney, “There are some fringe elements in your party who have unrealistic ideas on the minimum wage.”
Speaking to the opportunities his business provides, he said, “We have three chefs now who learned how to cook in prison. Matt learned how to cook in prison. One of those chefs started as a dishwasher, and this year he had a dish on the cover of Delaware Today.”
Another of those three chefs, he said, was recently named a “rising star” in the culinary world, after having spent five years in prison at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna.
“He learned to cook at the food bank,” Kammerer noted, adding that the chef had also recently put in an offer to buy a house.
“All I ask is for government just to try not to have obstacles,” he told Carney.
Kammerer said healthcare was a double-edged sword for him, as he wants his employees to have it, but the rising costs can be an issue.
“I can handle that,” he said, “but it has to be manageable. I need to know what’s coming.”
He said the company had been able to plan ahead for new rules on overtime for workers paid between $20,000 and $40,000 per year, switching some positions from salaried to hourly early, so they would be paid overtime. That change was one they’d had enough warning about to get ahead of it, he said.
Kammerer, too, said the increased alcohol tax was proving a problem to his business.
“My liquor distributor said he didn’t know prices yet.”
Retail taxes, workers’ comp rates discussed
Gerry Hocker, the third generation of his family in the local grocery business, said one of his current concerns is the amount of paperwork he now has to do for the business under new regulations.
“I can’t pass that cost on to the consumer,” he said.
“Large businesses can’t grow until small businesses grow,” he added. “And at some point fees can’t keep getting passed on to small business.
“The gross receipts tax is temporary, but it has been temporary a long time.”
Addressing the issue of the gross receipts tax paid by businesses, versus a sales tax paid by the consumer, Carney said, “Nobody wants to pay more taxes, but as long as it’s fair and people felt we were doing something on spending side...” He noted the cuts to education funding that were made in this year’s state budget.
“We had to do something there,” he said, noting also that a 2 percent sales tax had been suggested.
“We have a sales tax of a sort — hidden, in that it is paid by the business,” Carney said of the gross receipts tax. “Businesses hate it because it’s not income-based. You have it whether you’re making a profit or not.”
Carney and Sen. Hocker noted that during the governor’s town hall meetings earlier in the year, many in attendance at the meetings in Seaford and Rehoboth had said they were in favor of a sales tax. Carney, however, said he doesn’t favor a sales tax, instead preferring to keep taxes “broad and low.”
With a steady tax at a low rate, he said, tax revenue grows a little as the economy grows. He said he considered it a bad idea to increase transfer taxes, as he had been looking for stability in revenue when drafting his budget. “When the economy goes south, transfer tax goes off the table,” he said.
“It’s all about choices, how we can get the best framework so we can be competitive with Maryland,” Carney said, noting that businesses upstate had been seeing incentives offered to move “a mile down the road,” over the state line to Pennsylvania, where income tax is low but real estate taxes are higher.
With some businesses having employees split between sites on both sides of that state line, he said, Delaware officials want to encourage businesses to move all their workers into Delaware.
“We can do little things and screw things up,” Carney warned of tweaks to taxes and such. “We have to be careful.”
Wilgus, part of the third generation of his family in the insurance business, asked about a task force aimed at trying to get more insurers into Delaware and its insurance exchange.
“The theory was the marketplace would bring in companies, and they would compete and that would reduce prices,” Carney said.
Wilgus said his customers were also being hit hard by workers’ compensation insurance rates, which are changed each year in December and approved in March, only to be instituted retroactively to December.
“The contractor rates really go up,” he said. “And it happens in the middle of the policy, retroactive to Dec. 1.”
Wilgus said he believed the new rates shouldn’t go into effect until an individual policy came up for renewal.
Carney noted that there’s a rating bureau involved in setting prices for workers’ compensation insurance, which involves legal and other associated costs. He said addressing the issue would need to involve the state insurance commissioner.
The Aug. 16 meeting near Bethany was one of several small-business roundtables Carney held in recent weeks, hosted by state legislators who each invited a small group of businesspeople from their districts to address their concerns and ideas with the governor.
The Delaware Division of Small Business, Development & Tourism helps new businesses get started, and both existing and new businesses can get help with growth plans, grants, loans, workforce training, tax credits and more. Officials noted that 96 percent of Delaware businesses are small businesses, employing 50 or fewer people. For more information, call (302) 739-4271.
The Indian River School District has found some new eyes to look at the budget, and they’ve got some ideas. The Citizens Budget Oversight Committee convened on Aug. 21 for their first look at the IRSD’s proposed $151 million preliminary budget for the 2018 fiscal year.
This summer, they received preliminary Department of Education training on education finances, and they had a meet-and-greet. But the Aug. 21 meeting was the first time they rolled up their sleeves — for 2.5 hours — and really examined the proposed IRSD finances.
Their mission is to meet quarterly to review and provide input on district finances, as part of Superintendent Mark Steele’s mission for better public transparency.
“You’ll be able to see how exactly money is spent,” especially as the year continues, he told the 10-member group. They will report to the school board regularly.
“That’s the whole reason you have a citizens’ committee,” said IRSD Business Director Jan Steele. “You have somebody else looking at the information and then sharing their thoughts.”
The volunteers also want to keep the public in the loop, answering questions from their neighbors.
“I want to take responsibility and accountability for trying to be transparent,” said Rose Watkins.
At least the public will know what to expect, especially if the IRSD needs to plan for another referendum in four or five years, which Jan Steele recommends.
Previously, it seemed that only one person truly understood the whole budget, but Jan Steele is teaching everyone in the IRSD administration to better understand finances.
The school board is likely to approve the preliminary budget at their Aug. 28 board meeting. The final budget will be approved when enrollment numbers are finalized later in autumn.
But the IRSD Finance Committee (which includes mostly administrators, but is open to the public) still has work to do. The State cut school budgets, and the IRSD has only eliminated $800,000 of the total $2 million they have to cut.
While most federal funding is based on low-income populations, state funding is based on enrollment. Currently, the IRSD has about 10,500 students, but Steele anticipates up to 10,800 students this year.
State funding is based on the Sept. 30 head count. All students, but especially those with special needs or IEPs, are especially being encouraged to enroll before Sept. 30 so that the IRSD gets enough funding to properly serve them.
Local money is based on property taxes. The rates are set in July, and bills were mailed in August and are due in September. The IRSD will get most of its revenue in October, with late and delinquent funds trickling in year-round.
The committee briefly debated why the district is moving $5 million in funds into its reserves when teachers were asked to delay buying classroom supplies. But the IRSD has drained its reserves in just a few years, due to enrollment increases, special programs, salary negotiations, unexpected construction overages and more.
Currently, the rainy-day reserve fund only has about $3 million.
“Payroll is $1.2 million every two weeks,” Jan Steele said. In an emergency, the reserve fund would only pay staff for about a month.
“I have slashed budgets. We went to our employee groups and renegotiated contracts with our teachers and secretaries. … We have to have that $5 million carryover,” Jan Steele said. Moreover, she said, the State “told us this year to plan for the same next year … another $2 million [cut].”
If the IRSD couldn’t meet its summertime financial obligations until the October deposit, they would risk a State takeover. Jan Steele said she’s been on “pins and needles” to get the district to that deadline, but it will still be tight. This should be IR’s fiscally tightest year, and they plan to rebuild the reserve to $15 million by 2020.
“We’re going to make darn sure we’re financially secure,” Mark Steele said, and if his business director advises more savings, he’s going to do it. This year, the goal has been to cut — but not eliminate — programs, although it’s been a painful process.
The committee brainstormed ways to better educate the public, including with social media. The superintendent has allowed principals to use Facebook Live for communicating with their schools, and he personally is planning several broadcasts this year.
Members of the public are already sharing concerns with committee members, such as teacher frustrations over school supplies. Jan Steele clarified that schools just got the OK to buy the bare necessities this month but will wait until October to stock up for the year.
Committee member Chris White questioned whether that was properly advertised to teachers who are at least in some cases frantically buying supplies out of their own pockets and through public donation wish lists. The group discussed ways to further streamline supply purchases.
Committee member Justen Albright suggested creating a development office to solicit and manage large donations. If Mountaire regularly donates to IRSD’s low-income student programs, and Schell Brothers gave Sussex Academy a swimming pool, there may be room for the IRSD to more actively seek public partnerships.
That’s especially true when considering industries, such as the poultry industry, that are contributing to the influx of workers (and thereby, children) in the districts, and who may also want good schools to attract executives to the Eastern Shore. Indeed, the Seaford School District wanted for nothing when DuPont was headquartered there, Steele mused.
The Citizens Budget Oversight Committee includes Albright, Gary Brittingham, Morley Daehn Jr., Kathleen Evans, Greg Goldman, Linda Lewis, Dave Marvel, Austin Short, Rose Watkins and White. They will be joined by Superintendent Mark Steele and Director of Business Jan Steele.
This year, the committee will meet quarterly, at 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Oct. 17, Jan. 16, April 17 and July 17. Meetings are open to the public and will be held at the Indian River Educational Complex, 31 Hoosier Street, Selbyville.
The fiscal year began on July 1. The draft budget is online at www.boarddocs.com/de/irsd/Board.nsf/Public. (Select “Aug. 28, 2017,” then select item 8.05 “FY 2018 Budget.” The document includes a glossary of terms.
On Monday, Aug. 21, as the time drew closer to 2:46 p.m. — the “peak” eclipse time for the region — a steady stream of eclipse-watchers pulled in to the parking lots at the Indian River Inlet and began climbing the pedestrian path on the east side of the Indian River Inlet Bridge.
Some carried the special safety glasses that had been hard to come by in the days leading up to the rare astronomical event. Others carried an assortment of boxes that once held cereal or other assorted items, festooned with foil and tape, designed to provide safe viewing of the eclipse through pinhole projection.
Since Delaware State Parks had announced the bridge would be set up as a viewing site and glasses would be available, people began lining up by 9 a.m. to procure the 200 or so glasses that were available for sale. Laura Scharle, interpretive programs manager for Delaware Seashore State Park, said the 200 glasses were sold out in less than 15 minutes.
“Could have even been five minutes,” Scharle said. “They went fast.”
For those who missed out on the protective glasses, state parks employees were on hand throughout the day to help people construct their own pinhole projectors.
“We got here a little too late” to snag glasses, said Cathy Hodgkins of Arlington, Va. So Hodgkins and her son, Scotty Hodgkins, 12, gamely kept watch on the moon’s advancing shadow with their homemade viewing boxes.
Both seemed to be enjoying the day, despite the fact that the eclipse peaked at only about 80 percent coverage in Delaware, rather than the total solar eclipse experienced in a swath across the country from Oregon to South Carolina.
“There was so much build up,” Hodgkins said.
The event brought back memories for her of an eclipse during her childhood, she said, recalling “We had to make all kinds of special contraptions.”
At the highest point in the bridge, Ocean View Leisure Center director Yolanda Gallego stood with about 16 members of the center. Faye Hartman of West Fenwick praised Gallego for putting the trip together for the members.
“All of us love her because she comes up with the best trips,” Hartman said. “I don’t know if I would have done this, otherwise,” she added.
Paulette Rappa of Long Neck stood, hair blowing in the stiff breeze atop the bridge, gazing at the disappearing sun through her American flag-design solar eclipse glasses.
“It’s just amazing!” she said. “Can you imagine, years and years ago, how terrifying it must have been?” to see an eclipse. “It’s just…” she said, searching for the right word before settling on “mystical. It’s mystical.”
Rappa praised the state park staff for planning the viewing event.
“It was a great idea,” she said.
Even the drivers crossing the bridge seemed aware of the approaching “peak,” as a few honked their horns at those gathered on the path just at the appointed moment. There was a kind of festive atmosphere among those gathered between ocean and bay to see the eclipse. Children flipped bottles and worked on their last-minute summer reading assignments, families took photographs of themselves and each other awaiting the big moment.
Some thought the peak of the eclipse had come a few minutes before the appointed time, when the sky darkened a bit and the temperature seemed to drop several degrees. It was a bit hard to gauge what caused those things, since there were also large clouds lumbering across the sky at the same time. The waning sun disappeared behind one just before the peak, but reappeared in time for the crowd to see the moon slide across the face of most of the sun.
“Oh, wow! Oh, look! Wow!” came a few shouts from the eclipse watchers, faces buried in boxes or eyes protected by glasses.
Scharle said she didn’t have an accurate crowd count as of about 3 p.m. Monday, but she guessed “at least 1,000 people” had parked in the lots at the park since early that morning. While she said she couldn’t be sure how many of those were on the bridge, as opposed to watching from the beach or from the deck of the Big Chill restaurant, she said the crowd was definitely much larger than a typical summer Monday.
“None of us are expert astronomers by any means,” she said, but nonetheless, staffers enjoyed helping visitors construct their own viewing boxes and offering what information they could. “It was just so, so cool to see all these people congregating for science… to see all those people excited about science,” she said. “It was great.”