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    Coastal Point • Laura Walter: The sky’s the limit in Mallory Anderson’s art classroom at Selbyville Middle School, where she was named Teacher of the Year.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: The sky’s the limit in Mallory Anderson’s art classroom at Selbyville Middle School, where she was named Teacher of the Year.For art teacher Mallory Anderson, working at Selbyville Middle School was coming back home. And years after attending SMS herself, Anderson was named the school’s Teacher of the Year for 2018-2019.

    “She has an infectious positive personality that permeates our entire culture and community, and she’s just the perfect representative for all the teachers here,” said Principal Jason Macrides.

    Anderson is certified to teach any age, K-12, but she said she loves middle school.

    “You do have to give them a little bit of your own life to give them that personal connection,” Anderson said. “I always tell them: If you don’t have a personal connection with your artwork, you’re not going to try your hardest on that.”

    “Now that I’m at the middle school, I wouldn’t change it,” said Anderson, who sees her kids daily in nine-week courses. That allows for more major projects and a better focus, versus the elementary-schoolers, who only have art once weekly.

    And they do interesting projects: papier-mâché hot-air balloons, depicting destinations real or imaginary; printmaking; pinwheels with different styles of great art; ceramic luminaries; bird sculptures made of coat hangers; and much more.

    Under new education standards, art class has gotten a bit more academic, and kids sometimes question why art class requires reading or writing.

    “They have to understand what we liked about these Japanese prints before we create our own,” Anderson said.

    “I like to see their creativity. I like to see when their wheels start to turn,” she said, delighted by their eagerness to complete a project or help with hers. “Art is a great outlet for students. It’s a safe-haven.” She said she is proud when students say they love that course.

    The challenge is helping students “who don’t think they’re an artist, even though I tell them, ‘Every student is a learner, is an artist.’ You just have to find your own outlet, your own medium,” said Anderson, who tries to make a personal connection or help them build on their existing knowledge.

    “I’m grading you based on your own growth and effort in the classroom,” not just artistic talent.

    When she poses for a photo, Anderson asks to keep wearing her artist smock, covered in paint. After all, she wears it all day, around her students. It’s a portable piece of her job.

    After graduating from Indian River High School, Anderson originally wanted to study interior design — until her college suddenly ended that major. But she had always enjoyed kids, working as a babysitter and nanny. So she happily earned a bachelor’s degree in art education at Towson University instead.

    Macrides complimented her can-do attitude and ability to work with student strengths and weaknesses.

    “She will always go well above expectation on anything that’s asked of her, and she’s a fantastic teacher. She truly believes in addressing the needs of the individual learner,” even helping students communicate the intent of their art project, even if the physical product doesn’t quite turn out, “so the educational opportunity isn’t lost … which at the heart of what we’re trying to do in the classrooms here.”

    Anderson was surprised, but honored, to be named SMS Teacher of the Year.

    “It’s a timely and fitting award for Mallory,” said Macrides. “In this time where schools are constantly evaluated on English and science and social studies, it’s timely” that an art teacher would win, he said. “We place a huge emphasis on fostering student creativity here.”

    Anderson said she also feels support from her coworkers and students — for instance, helping her decorate display cases around the school.

    There are restraints. Art is more likely to fall by the wayside when students have makeup work in their core subjects. And funding is always an issue, especially this school year, as the Indian River School District tightened its belt to rebuild financial reserves. Students might only get one of a special material, and Anderson incorporates recycled materials into projects.

    Also, because of scheduling, none of the music students get a visual arts class.

    “I don’t see any student that is in band or chorus, which is hard to explain to parents,” Anderson said.

    But, ultimately, “I work in a great place!” Anderson said. “I love what I do, love the people I work with. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

    When not teaching, she is part of the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) team and Sunshine Committee. She has previously coached cheerleading.

    Now, the young mother glances at photos around her desk and laughs, saying, “My 2-year old keeps me very, very busy!”

    The Indian River School District was set to recognize all 16 building Teachers of the Year this week, at an award ceremony on April 26.

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  • 04/26/18--12:30: Battle of the bots
  • Coastal Point photos • Laura Walter: IRHS will send its first VEX Robotics team to worlds this month. Coastal Point photos • Laura Walter: IRHS will send its first VEX Robotics team to worlds this month. Robots are heading to Louisville, Ky., with their human masters close behind. Six teams will represent the Indian River School District in the 2018 VEX Robotics World Championship this month.

    The district has made major strides in robotics in the past few years, now representing Delaware at world finals for both the VEX Robotics competition on April 25-28 (Selbyville Middle School and Indian River High School’s Indians) and the VEX IQ Challenge on April 29 through May 1 (Long Neck Elementary School, Georgetown Elementary School and Georgetown Middle School).

    Selbyville Middle School continues a successful run by sending one of its four teams to worlds. The Rocketeers includes Kendall Coleman, Noah Coleman, Oriana Peterson and Brady Tice, coached by teacher Chelina Tirrell.

    Indian River High School students are participating in worlds for the first time ever, including Victoria Gee, Diego Hernandez, Madison Johnson, Logan Krick, Matthew Schmidt and Ann Weaver, coached by teacher John Milspaw.

    This year’s VEX challenge is called “In the Zone.” Four teams enter the 12-foot square ring, split into two alliances (“blue” and “red”). They score points by moving and stacking cones; placing mobile goals in goal zones; and by parking robots. The first 15 seconds is an autonomous round, where the best-programmed robots will shine. The next minute and 45 seconds is run by remote control.

    Alliances change each round, as teams compete all day long.

    World championships can be exciting, with activities beyond the regular competition. There are battle-bots, Lego building stations, a 3D printing station and a big unveiling of the next year’s challenge. The grand finals are shown in front of the entire crowd.

    Competition details, including live video of the event, will be posted online at

    The SMS Rocketeers won an Excellence Award for skills overall, including competition, teamwork, interview and journal. Students included Kendall Coleman, Noah Coleman, Oriana Peterson and Brady Tice.

    They said they were proud that their autonomous feature worked — something not all teams even attempt.
    Coastal Point photos • Laura Walter: The four SMS VEX Robotics teams brought their A-game to state competition. Not pictured are Nathaniel Cedeno and Danica Phillips and coach Jon Casto.Coastal Point photos • Laura Walter: The four SMS VEX Robotics teams brought their A-game to state competition. Not pictured are Nathaniel Cedeno and Danica Phillips and coach Jon Casto.
    SMS Coach Chelina Tirrell said she is most impressed by her students’ resilience and grit.

    “Each day at practice, they engage in the engineering-design process, assuming that their ideas will work upon completion. However, quite often, the exact opposite happens, and they have to troubleshoot their design,” she said.

    “But what is truly impressive for students their age is that their frustration fuels their determination. They simply will not accept defeat.”

    It’s a hectic atmosphere, as all the teams basically camp out in one big room. Everyone is camped out making repairs, or running to the next match.

    “Sometimes, in the middle of a match, wheels fall off, something will break — so your next match is two minutes later, and you don’t have time to fix it,” Tirrell said.

    “It’s just kind of exciting when it actually works,” Noah Coleman said. “It makes you feel proud about yourself, that you can actually do something like that.”

    “Even if you are the best, you still make mistakes,” Kendall Coleman said.

    The SMS team isn’t making too many design changes before worlds. With a good design, they don’t want to take anything apart.

    “We know this is working,” Brady Tice said.

    “I don’t tell them how to build their robot. I don’t tell them what to do to make their robots successful. … I coach and I advise,” Tirrell said.

    The kids fix any problems, because they built the bot. Some had prior experience with motors and gears. Others just loved the robotics unit in school enough to continue.

    “Having screws and metal parts, and putting together a whole working robot that you would control with a controller … was kind of amazing,” Tice said.

    Teamwork is a major component, as students share responsibilities for computer programming, robot design, assembly, driving and record-keeping for the journal and research project.

    A second SMS team got close to worlds, as Prehistoric VEX was first place in all the qualifying rounds — until the very final match — winning second place overall.

    “Some of these teams have done exceptionally well all season but walked away without any kind of award,” Tirrell said.

    The SMS Dino Bots were also honored with a Design Award.

    IR attends its first
    world tourney

    IRHS had two small teams that are combining for a six-person team. Both subgroups had built robots rather last-minute. So when one team got a bid to Louisville, both teams combined forces to redesign the overall bot to be the best of both worlds.

    “It’s a robot! It doesn’t get much cooler than that. It’s like Legos, but for adults,” said Hernandez, although he warned, “It’s not like a robot as your brain would see it, like the thing from ‘Lost in Space.’ It’s a little underwhelming, because it’s more like an R.C. car that functions and does other things.”

    The students are proud of the team’s potential.

    “It’s based off of hard work,” Gee said. “Both the teams have worked extremely hard to build their robot.”

    “Ann is an amazing artist, so she sketches and does the notebook. Matt is a good driver … Maddie is an amazing team captain, programs it — she has all of us working. Victoria is pretty good at doing the notebook. Logan is a very overbearing co-captain. … We’ve become one!” said Hernandez, whose strength is in building and assembly.

    The students thanked their coach and parents for supporting them this year.

    “The interesting part with this is: I am the advisor for it. However, it’s very student-led. … It’s more independent, and it’s their own motivation to come each time,” Milspaw said. “I’m pretty much here just helping organize, getting us to an event or getting the paperwork in.”

    “The actual design — that’s 100 percent them. They researched it online, they figured out what they need to make it,” Milspaw said.

    IR also won a Design Award at an earlier competition before being named Tournament Champions at the regional competition.

    How to help

    Sending even one team to international competition is pricey, and as many school clubs know, fundraising for next year begins as soon the current competition ends.

    “Anything beyond [this year] goes into club funds for next year, for next year’s competition or the new cortex … the brain of the whole thing,” Milspaw said.

    Yes — the brain.. VEX is introducing a new computer processer that loads into the robot and receives signals from the remote control. It’ll work better, but it’ll cost more.

    Individuals or groups wishing to donate or help sponsor the students can write a check out to the school and write “VEX Robotics Team” in the memo line. They should also include a phone number and driver license number on the check. For more information, telephone the coaches at any of the schools.

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  • 04/26/18--12:44: Behind the scenes
  • The future is growing in Dagsboro as the Delaware Botanic Gardens takes bloom.

    People are being invited to a rare opportunity to visit the garden and meet world-renowned garden designer Piet Oudolf at a “Sip & Saunter” through the DBG’s Meadow Garden on Friday, May 4, from 3 to 5 p.m.

    The Dutch designer will return to Dagsboro to oversee the second stage of meadow planting before touring the garden with guests on May 4.

    “I think he’s going to be sauntering through the garden,” said DBG Executive Director Sheryl Swed, “and I think people will have the opportunity to at least say hello to him and thank him and ask him questions.”

    The meadow is just one section of the 37-acre site, including woodlands, ADA-accessible trails, Pepper Creek waterfront and a future visitor center, pavilion, outdoor classrooms, demonstration gardens, special-event site and more. All of it is hidden on Piney Neck Road, about 1.5 miles from Main Street in Dagsboro.

    “Not many people have ever seen the birth of a botanic garden in the first stage of development,” said Ray Sander, DBG president. “This is truly a rare behind-the-scenes preview of what will become a wonderful experience for both locals and visitors.”

    “The gardens are being built from scratch by Delmarva professionals and volunteers,” organizers emphasized.

    Oudolf is famed for designing meadow gardens worldwide, including the High Line in Manhattan, Millennium Park in Chicago, The Battery in Manhattan, Trentham Gardens in the U.K. and many more.

    “The whole layout is [designed] so that people can meander and walk through the garden,” Oudolf said during the first planting of 17,000 plants last September. “Every turn is a different perspective. … You want people to feel like they discovered something.”

    Wide pathways curve through the 1.5-acre meadow, clearly delineating the controlled mass of plants. The overall arrangement is shaped rather like the symbols for “8” or “&.”

    Piet Oudolf’s work can be viewed online at

    Volunteers will be planting for the next few weeks, and Oudolf will return to review the plantings, make edits and continue sculpting the other features, such as large mounds that offer elevated views of the landscape.

    “We’re going to be planting 24,000 plants. It’s amazing, isn’t it? And then we’re going to plant 28,000 at the end of June,” said Swed. “The meadow will be totally planted by the end of June. We’re excited about that.”

    Spring has sprung in the garden, as plants stretch out of the soil.

    “I think three days ago, [we] were out there and almost nothing. We were out there today, and things are starting to pop! It’s really amazing. By the time Piet gets here, all the plants will be much bigger. They’re not huge, but they’re beautiful.”

    Toads, salamanders, frogs and crayfish have already made homes in the constructed wetland. Butterflies have been lunching in the meadow since Day 1.

    Tickets to the May 4 event cost $200 each and include beer by event sponsor Dogfish Head; freshly shucked oysters by Chesapeake & Maine; and hors d’oeuvres by Touch of Italy. Wine will also be available.

    Guests also get a copy of the 2018 spring issue of Garden Design magazine, featuring an article on the DBG and Oudolf.

    Guests should dress for the weather and consider sunscreen, bug spray and appropriate footwear.

    “People will be able to walk the meadow, they’ll be able to see down to the [outdoor] classroom, they’ll be able to see a feature called the Folly Garden with 20,000 bulbs … and the eastern part of the woodlands,” Swed said.

    “We’re going to have a lot of fun. I think everyone’s going to be excited, because we have a lot of people who worked on this project coming.”

    Tickets and details are available at Guests may also text or call Sheryl Swed at (202) 262-9856 or email for details.

    Delaware Botanic Gardens is located at 30220 Piney Neck Road, Dagsboro.

    Ultimately, the 70,000 meadow plants will cost more than $300,000.

    “So we’re trying to raise money to make sure we can do other things after the meadow is finished. We need help from people to support [that],” she said.

    Fundraising is on ongoing mission, and people can help the gardens open and thrive by sending donations, becoming members or volunteering. Donations can be sent via or to Delaware Botanic Gardens; P.O. Box 1390; Ocean View, DE 19970.

    There are many opportunities for one-time donations, continuing pledges, sponsorships and naming opportunities. In fact, the Dogfish Head outdoor classroom is under construction.

    They’ve been working for every grant possible, from the Longwood Foundation’s $750,000 to the recent Delaware Urban & Community Forestry Grant of $5,000.

    The Delaware Botanic Gardens is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Local author Amy Norcross published her first book last month, ‘Hope & Maggie,’ which focuses on the friendship of two women in their 40s.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Local author Amy Norcross published her first book last month, ‘Hope & Maggie,’ which focuses on the friendship of two women in their 40s.There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.

    — Jane Austen

    Friendship is thought to be a bedrock in one’s life — a notion that has seen throughout history and literature, and one that Ocean View resident Amy Norcross explores in her first novel, “Hope & Maggie.”

    “The characters in the book are in their early 40s, and they’ve been friends since college,” explained Norcross. “At one point, Maggie thinks her boyfriend is cheating on her. Maggie is the woman who doesn’t even want a relationship. Right from the beginning, she wants nothing to do with men.

    “So she finally gets into this relationship, and she thinks he’s cheating with a person in their 20s. She’s having a discussion with Hope, and she says, ‘When as a society did we decide growing older is a character flaw and youth is an accomplishment?’ I felt like that was my best line in the book. I feel like society does look at it in those terms.”

    “Hope & Maggie” follows the two longtime friends who together own a wine bar, dealing with separate but equally difficult romantic relationships. Hope, who has been with her husband, Harry, for 20 years, feels a divide in their relationship and turns to one-night-stands to cope with her heartbreak, while Maggie, a happily single woman “reluctantly surrenders to a relationship.”

    “I feel like, as women, we all have that kind of friend who doesn’t judge you no matter what you do, even if you know it’s the wrong thing to do or you’re not sure if you should do it — it’s just that kind of support I wanted to put out there,” said Norcross.

    With friendship being the main theme of her book, Norcross said it will likely inspire readers to call their friends.

    “I feel like, having read the book so many times myself, that it does make you want to call up your girlfriends and have a girls’ night out. It’s that unconditional love and loyalty of friends — I think that’s the part that’s really stressed in the book.”

    The idea for the book was born out of conversations Norcross had with a good friend.

    “A friend of mine was having trouble in her marriage a few years ago, and she talked to me about it. The character of Hope is sort of her story… not really, though. It was just the seed of it. She was at a crossroads of what to do because she had toyed with the idea of cheating on her husband, and we had some long discussions about it,” she said.

    “We just had so many talks about it and one day she said, ‘You should write a book about this.’ And I was like, ‘Ah...’ I never felt I had a real story in me to tell. And I just started and I couldn’t stop.”

    Norcross said her primary readers are likely women, noting that moments in the book can get a bit steamy, but she said she believes men will enjoy the novel as well.

    “I feel like it’s a real beach read. It’s the kind of book you can read and put it down and pick it up again. It flows from wherever you left off. It has a lot of fun twists and turns in it, much like life.”

    Originally from New Jersey, Norcross moved to Ocean View in February of 2017.

    “My husband and I wanted to move somewhere near the beach, and we had never been to Delaware. We had both been born and raised in New Jersey, had never stepped foot in Delaware. We came down, met with a Realtor, and we fell in love with this area.”

    Although she never classified herself as a “beach bum,” Norcross said coastal Delaware has stolen her heart.

    “I love being near the beach. I never thought I would, because I wasn’t a real beach person, but I love seeing the ocean whenever I want to. I feel like there’s such a sense of community here. Everyone is really helpful and kind. I feel like this is what it’s like when you live at the beach. There’s that sense of Zen or calm or something.”

    Although Norcross works as an optician, she received her bachelor’s degree in English from Rowan University.

    “I always felt I should’ve had a book in me.”

    The book took about two years for Norcross to complete, and since then, she’s already begun working on its sequel, which she said will also stand on its own.

    “The next one will probably be called, ‘It’s All About Hope’ — kind of a tribute to her. She’s flawed, and she owns it. She doesn’t care what other people think.”

    Norcross said that, in writing “Hope & Maggie,” she didn’t stick to a regimented schedule.

    “I didn’t write every day. I found that because of my schedule I couldn’t force myself to write every day, like you hear about writers who are like, ‘I’m going to get up at 5 in the morning and for one solid hour I’ll write.’ I just couldn’t do that,” she said.

    “Whenever I had an idea, I went to my computer and started typing. Sometimes, it was half an hour, sometimes it was four hours and I didn’t know where the time went. Oftentimes it was in the middle of the night.

    “Every time I was writing, it was so much fun. To be by yourself, having that much fun doing something like that, just making things up, is fantastic. I really did get into the process. And I would write down ideas here and there, wherever I was, if I couldn’t write. I’d just write down these little sparks of ideas.”

    “Hope & Maggie” is currently for sale at Bethany Beach Books and on Norcross hopes to do a book signing at Bethany Beach Books, and will be a vendor at Wings & Wheels on May 19 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Salisbury (Md.) Regional Airport.

    “I’m really thrilled,” Norcross said of the book being published in March. “To see it as an actual book with a cover, I’m over the moon.”

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    Coastal Point • Submitted: Playing at Dickens Theatre Parlour, in the foreground is Christopher Shearer, left, and Bryan Russo. Playing trumpet is Jim Miller and on harmonica is Big Mike Noyes.Coastal Point • Submitted: Playing at Dickens Theatre Parlour, in the foreground is Christopher Shearer, left, and Bryan Russo. Playing trumpet is Jim Miller and on harmonica is Big Mike Noyes.What does a recovering journalist do when he’s worked so hard and been briefly at the top of the radio mountain, and then dropped like Old Yeller behind the woodshed, thanks to the economy and NPR cutbacks?

    If he’s Bryan Russo, he puts all his pain, disillusion and storytelling brilliance into songwriting.

    This is really Part 2 of a Coastal Point article about Russo, written in May 2015 and headlined “Local musician, journalist taking on new challenges.” It’s been a three-year journey, “a really rough few years,” and as a line in one of his news songs goes, he “still don’t know if what’s up ahead is worse than what’s already chasing me.”

    But this feels different.

    “It’s a mind-blowing opportunity, at last,” said Russo.

    In a nutshell, Russo and his cousin, Christopher Shearer, are collaborating on a record that Russo said he knows contains his best and most meaningful work. The joint effort is inspired by Shearer’s mother, Susan Knudson, who died from cancer in 2013.

    “Although she was Christopher’s mom, we were very close,” said Russo. “She was super-smart, funny, kind and political. She worked in the food-science field for years but decided to leave her career and stay home with her kids when my uncle started traveling a lot. She was always community-minded, was on the school board and wrote some of the most scathing letters-to-the-editor or politicians that I’ve ever seen. Her humor and wit always bit as hard as her facts and opinions.”

    Susan Knudson’s last words to each of the cousins was to “promise that we’d come together and make music that mattered,” said Russo.

    After his mom died, Shearer moved from Arizona, where he grew up, to Ocean City, Md., to start over. He took a job at Fager’s Island, running sound for cover bands. For two men who grew up thousands of miles apart and with 10 years’ difference in age, they quickly realized that their musical partnership was stronger than they could imagine. They came up with the name Boys Called Susan.

    During that time, they wrote, recorded and produced a record together called “Bryan Russo’s Bargain Scotch, Burdon of Proof.” Its CD release was celebrated in two evenings of performances at the Dickens Parlour Theatre in Millville, where the attendees were each surprised by a gift of the CD from the venue’s owner, Rich Bloch. In tiny print on the corner of the album cover are the initials SMK, in honor of their beloved Susan Knudson.

    Just as Russo is an acclaimed singer/songwriter who has shared the stage with more than 30 national recording artists and is a multi-award winning journalist with two Edward R. Murrow Awards to his name, so too is Shearer equally talented. He is an Emmy-award winning composer, producer and musician who has worked in many facets of the music industry, from audio engineer to multi-instrumentalist.

    “I grew in a small town called Cabot in the rural area of Western Pennsylvania known as ‘Pennsyltucky,’ and ‘Pennsyltucky’ is what we are calling our debut album,” said Russo. “It’s where my grandparents’ farm was, and where Chris and I got together as kids in the summer.”

    Cabot is known for two things: a devastating tornado and the unsolved abduction of Cherrie Mahan on the road leading to their grandfather’s farm in 1985. Cherrie was 8 years old. Russo was 7.

    The election of President Trump and his strong support from the people of Pennsyltucky caused Russo pause. What has changed in the area he grew up? Or is it that Russo has changed? His journalistic instinct wanted to be in the middle of it, asking questions, reporting the truth. But those days are over, and so Russo poured his thoughts into songwriting.

    In May 2017, after Shearer had returned to Arizona for a good job offer with benefits, Russo wrote some verses that struck a chord within him.

    “In trying to figure out the next chapter of my life, I started thinking about the first chapters back home, and then comparing them to where I live now in this rural area, and looking at life in rural America in general,” said Russo.

    Their creative process across 2,500 miles was more improbable than impossible, thanks to modern technology. Russo would use a free app on his phone, called Voice Record Pro — one he used to use when reporting from the field. He’d record a song with a simple, guitar accompaniment and text it to Shearer.

    Shearer would listen to the song and use another free app on his phone. By the time Russo awoke the next day, he’d received it back from Shearer and heard a fully orchestrated version, with strings and harmony.

    “The Ballad of Little Cherrie” was the second song to receive this treatment.

    “Nothing changes things like small town’s tragedies,” wrote Russo “That twister did damage, but that twisted man did more, oh little Cherrie, when are you gonna come back home?”

    “Once we finished ‘Cherrie,’ it started picking up this crazy head of steam. Within six months, we completed over 25 songs.”

    “We knew our work felt really good, but was it just us keeping our creative partnership going despite the distance?” said Russo. “It escalated so quickly it almost felt like Bob Dylan telling us ‘There’s something’s happening here’!”

    The cousins started sending demos out to friends and family, including some of the most hardcore music snobs they know — those who would blow those songs out of the water if they weren’t up to snuff. They didn’t have to worry.

    “This is the one that could get you on the other side of the velvet rope,” said one.

    “The best stuff you’ve ever written,” said another.

    “When one of our critics said, ‘This is the record America needs right now,’ we knew we should give this our best shot,” said Russo.

    But it takes more than clever writing, harmonic vocals and innovative musicianship to get noticed in the music business. It’s who you know.

    A Nashville connection

    One of the people Russo had met for an NPR “Coastal Connection” story years ago was Phil Madeira. For the uninitiated, Madeira is a critically acclaimed songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, a member of EmmyLou Harris’ Red Dirt Boys band, and producer for The Civil Wars, The Lone Bellow and countless more music groups.

    “We emailed an MP3 to lots of people in the industry, but it was Madeira we really wanted. I love his production ‘Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us,’” said Russo. “It took two months of waiting before hearing back. Then came the email saying he really liked our work, wanted to produce the album and could have the Red Dirt Boys play backup!”

    If that wasn’t enough amazing news, the album will be recorded during the first week of May at the Butcher Shoppe Recording Studio in Nashville, Tenn. The studio is co-owned by country legend John Prine and famed producer David Ferguson, who worked with Johnny Cash on some of his final recordings.

    “No one dreams to be a company man” is another Russo song line. He had in mind when he wrote it the father of a childhood friend — a man who went to work every day, every year, bulldozing manure at the mushroom pit. That’s not what he wanted to do, but it was what he had to do to bring food to the table. “Company Man” is a blue-collar anthem about carrying on when all goes wrong for the working man.

    Russo lost his dream job and subsequently has left journalism altogether. He now makes his living in the solar and wind business, which he admits is not the easiest sell in this area.

    Shearer has had two good jobs with benefits, but both were cut due to the economy.

    They know firsthand the experience of hardship and loss and, like so many people from either side of the political aisle, they know they have to carry on and move forward. Their songs search for commonalities even in the most divided of times.

    As well as “who you know” in the record business, there is also a matter of paying to get the record done. Reluctantly, to fund the recording, Russo and Shearer followed Madeira’s advice with the same kind of Indiegogo crowd-funding effort that preceded “Mercyland” and its sequel, “Mercyland Chapter Two.”

    “It’s the way most art is getting made these days,” said Russo. “We’ve been humbled by people’s generosity from near and far.”

    (For a sense of playing a small but meaningful part at the beginning of something big, and getting some really cool swag in the process, go to

    “I’m excited and terrified at the same time,” said Russo. “I’m thankful that at age 40 opportunities are still coming my way, and fortunate to have the super support of my family. Who knows what happens after this? I’ve learned that life is what happens when you are making other plans, but I do know that if we go down swinging, we’ll go down with the best songs we’ve ever written.”

    The lead sentence on their website reads, “If it were up to us, Boys Called Susan wouldn’t be a thing, and Susan Knudson would still be here.”

    “My dear Aunt Sue told us there was something between us musically before we ever truly considered it. She’s still always right!”

    Somewhere in the hereafter, I can picture Susan Knudson rubbing her hands with glee, knowing her boys are making music that matters, and willing the world to listen. And you know to look for her initials in tiny print on the corner of the cover of “Pennsyltucky” by Boys Called Susan.

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    Coastal Point • Laura Walter: PFC Justin Hopkins fits an oxygen mask onto his K-9, Hardy.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: PFC Justin Hopkins fits an oxygen mask onto his K-9, Hardy.Thousands of pets are killed in house fires each year. But a local business is working to save pets’ lives across the Delmarva Peninsula.

    Invisible Fence Brand of Delmarva will eventually donate pet-friendly oxygen masks to every fire company in Sussex County. They’ve already completed that promise in Wicomico and Worcester counties in Maryland.

    The Millville Volunteer Fire Company recently became the latest recipient of two kits — each containing three sizes of oxygen masks.

    The plastic masks fit securely over a pet’s snout, like a muzzle, held in place with a rubber flap. Cats and dogs are most commonly treated but, “We’ve actually had birds be resuscitated with these as well,” said Justin Ward, manager/co-owner of Invisible Fence Brand of Delmarva.

    When a small oxygen tank is connected, the mask can help treat smoke inhalation or even help resuscitate animals that have stopped breathing.

    The effort is a nationwide one designed to help animals and reduce fire-related pet deaths. The Invisible Fence Brand is known for pet containment systems, such as the electric fence. But they want to donate oxygen masks to every fire station in the country through the Project Breathe Program.

    Fire stations can submit applications for the program online at

    “They were very ecstatic that we were doing this. … It surprised me that they run more calls with pets nowadays,” Ward said of local fire companies.

    Only a handful of Sussex fire companies have received their equipment so far, but that includes the Millsboro and Millville companies. The masks will be stored on the fire apparatus, ready for any emergency.

    A public demonstration was hosted outside of the Petco store in Millville on April 21.

    One of the brave demonstration cats was Job, who remained remarkably calm for a feline being fitted with a mask. Job currently lives in the adoption center at the Millville Petco, in the care of the Kristi’s Kats adoption group, which is based in Georgetown. (For more information about Kristi’s Kats, call (302) 381-3731.)

    The Ocean View Police Department also sent PFC Justin Hopkins and K-9 officer Hardy to demonstrate, while the event also included a Delaware State Police K-9 demo with Cpl./2 Todd Buchert and his 10-year-old bomb-sniffing dog Ivan.

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    Fort Miles Historical Area & Museum, located inside Cape Henlopen State Park near Lewes, will come alive on Saturday, April 28, with its “Delaware Goes to War” open house.

    The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and includes a wide variety of activities, from a reenactment of the surrender of German prisoners on the fort grounds to live music from the World War II era.

    A new activity added by the Fort Miles Historical Association this year is an opportunity for artists to recreate World War II scenes. For a fee of $25, artists will be able to sketch reenactors, equipment and vehicles representing the 261st Coast Artillery. Interested sketch artists can go to for more information and to register for the new art initiative.

    The sketching event is a fundraiser for the Fort Miles Historical Association, which has renovated the fort through a dedicated group of volunteers, maintains it and is constantly bringing new items and programs to the historic site.

    Shuttles will run from the Main Beach bathhouse to the Fort Miles parking lot from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. Visitors will pay admittance to the park, plus a $5 fee per person to enter the museum.

    Red wristbands will be given to visitors so that they may come and go as needed during the day, according to Sean Calloway, Interpretive Programs manager at Fort Miles. The wristbands are new this year. Calloway said they will make it easier for visitors to use the restrooms adjacent to the fort without being asked to pay again on re-entry into the fort.

    Calloway said preparations for the open house began six months ago.

    “There’s a lot going on. It’s going to be a good time,” he said.

    Each year, organizers try to add something new to the day’s activities. In addition to the opportunity to sketch from re-enacted World War II scenes, there will be plenty of opportunities for visitors to immerse themselves in the era and learn about the history of Fort Miles.

    At 11 a.m., Kenneth Wiggins from the Delaware Military History Foundation will give a presentation in the fort regarding the Delaware State Guard’s role during World War II. At 1 p.m., there will be a presentation on the American Battle Monuments Commission by Tim Nosal. Nosal will be joined by Billie Meek, member of the board of directors of the American War Orphans Network.

    Tickets are required for both presentations due to occupancy limits. The tickets will be available at the front desk of the Fort Miles Museum.

    Visitors can also participate in the Postcard Connect program throughout the day. The program, presented by Trey Small, provides postcards that are subsequently sent to veterans, Calloway said.

    “Words of encouragement go a long way” for those who have served, he said.

    A group of 20 military vehicles will be on site for visitors to see. There will even be swing dancers on hand, with opportunities for visitors to learn some steps from popular World War II-era dances. Music from the World War II era will be provided during the day by the World War Tunes, in the Orientation building.

    At noon and 2 p.m., demonstrations in the museum’s Plotting Room will show how the trajectory for firing on enemy vessels entering the Delaware Bay was plotted. Artillery demonstrations will be held at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. A Wall of Honor ceremony will also be held at 3 p.m. in the Wall of Honor room.

    A re-enactment of the surrender of the crew of a German submarine will be held at 1:30 p.m. Organizers said it is a popular event at the annual open houses.

    Tours of the fort will be given throughout the day; the final tour will begin at 3:30 p.m.

    Concessions, including the sale of hamburgers and hot dogs, will be available at the fort’s mess hall throughout the day, staffed by Boy Scout Troop 186 of Milford.

    The USO and the American Legion will both have displays at the fort on Saturday.

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    National Day of Prayer events will be held throughout the day on Thursday, May 3, at several area locations.

    The National Day of Prayer has been observed nationwide since it was created by a joint resolution of Congress in 1952 and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Since 1988, when President Ronald Reagan amended the law, it has been observed on the first Thursday in May.

    This year’s event theme is “Unity,” expressed in a Bible verse from the book of Ephesians, Chapter 4, Verse 3, which organizers of the nationwide event said they believe challenges the faithful to “mobilize unified public prayer in America,” as the verse reads, “making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

    Locally, events are being held at individual churches, with larger events planned in Dagsboro and South Bethany.

    The South Bethany National Day of Prayer program begins at noon at South Bethany Town Hall at 402 Evergreen Road. Organizer Carolyn Marcello said the program will include seven areas that will be the focus for prayers: military, family, churches, media, business, government and education.

    This will be the sixth year for the event to be held in the South Bethany location, Marcello said. Each year, she goes before the town council to request permission to hold it.

    “It’s a wonderful event; it’s very well-received,” Marcello said. “We see the power of prayer.”

    Presenters will include state Rep. Ronald Gray, representing government; LouAnn and John Riehly, representing family; Scott Evans, retired Coast Guardsman, representing the military; Penn Frey, representing businesses; former Indian River School District School Board member Reggie Helms, representing education; Coastal Point newspaper publisher Susan Lyons, representing the media; and Michael Ennis, from The River church, representing area churches.

    “I believe in the power of prayer,” Marcello said. “I’ve seen it.

    The Dagsboro National Day of Prayer observance will be held at 3:45 p.m. at the flag pole in front of the Dagsboro Volunteer Fire Company on Clayton Street. This will be the third year for the Dagsboro event, according to organizer Lynn Kortvelesy.

    She said there was a National Day of Prayer event in Dagsboro several years ago but it hadn’t been held in a few years. Some members of small groups of church members at Bethel United Methodist Church in Dagsboro “just decided to try to bring it back,” Kortvelesy said.

    The prayers are expected to focus on several areas, including federal, state and local leadership; armed forces; schools; churches; healthcare; families, children and youth; and cultural and racial tensions in America.

    The program will include songs by Danita Robinson and prayers given by local community leaders, including Dagsboro Mayor Brian Baull; PFC Nicholas Disciullo of the Dagsboro Police Department; Delaware Secretary of Education and former IRSD superintendent Susan Bunting.

    Local pastors participating include Donna Mitchell of Salem United Methodist Church; the Rev. Blair Hall of St. George’s United Methodist Church; the Rev. Robert Odom of Peninsula Community Church; the Rev. Bradley Schutt of Millville United Methodist Church; the Rev. John Schutt of Roxana and Sound United Methodist churches; the Rev. Mike Ennis of The River; Gardenia Nixon of United Faith Church of Deliverance in Millsboro; and the Rev. K.C. Lee of Bethel United Methodist Church.

    At the Ocean View Church of Christ, the public is being invited to a breakfast to start off the National Day of Prayer, according to organizer Jay Warrington. The breakfast starts at 8 a.m. and is free and open to the public, Warrington said. It will be held in the church’s Family Life Center.

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    This weekend, community members are being encouraged to clean out their medicine cabinets and properly dispose of their prescription drugs through the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s biannual National Prescription Drug Take Back Day.

    The event will be held on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at participating locations, including the Ocean View, Dagsboro and Selbyville police departments.

    “I believe it’s a very important service. It gives the community a safe outlet to dispose of their expired or unwanted prescription. It gets them out of the medicine cabinet, out of the household so they can’t be stolen or have unauthorized use,” said OVPD Capt. Heath Hall.

    “It keeps them out of the water table — keeps people from flushing them down the toilet and polluting our water. Believe it or not, that was the original nexus of all of this — to keep it out of the ground.”

    Hall said the DEA started the Take Back Day initiative in 2010, and the OVPD began participating in 2011.

    According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use & Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs that year. The study showed that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

    After the last Take Back Day event, in October 2017, the Ocean View Police Department turned in 278 pounds of prescription medication. Nationwide, 912,305 pounds, or 456 tons, of medications were collected — with 5,517 of those pounds collected in Delaware.

    Many people turn in zip-top bags full of various medications or full pill bottles. Hall said that, while it is not required for one to remove the name and other information from a pill bottle, as everything is appropriately disposed of, he would still recommend doing it. Ocean View collects so many medications in fact, that they remove pills from their storage containers to save room.

    “I don’t know — the weirdest thing I’ve ever gotten was maybe shampoo. Then we get all the way up to the hard stuff, like nitroglycerine, oxycodone, and everything in between.”

    The OVPD actually collects medications year-round in a secure box located in the entryway of the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building.

    “I have 189 pounds of scripts waiting to be picked up, and that’s not including what we’re going to get Saturday,” said Hall. “Back in 2010, prescription abuse wasn’t nearly as big as it is now. Now, for one, we’re in a high retirement area with a high elderly population that historically takes a lot of prescription medications. The criminals know that, and sometimes they prey on our elderly.”

    Once the medications are collected on Saturday, all will be turned over to the DEA, to be taken to an undisclosed location and incinerated.

    “We can take pretty much anything that can burn. We’re not allowed to take hypodermic needles because of the metal, but we can take the liquids. As long as it can burn, we’ll take it.”

    Hall said anyone in the community may take advantage of the safe disposal box, even if they do not live within the corporate limits of Ocean View.

    “It’s no-questions-asked — they show up and dump it in there.”

    Hall said the department accepts any medications — vitamins, over-the-counter medications and prescriptions (in pill or liquid form); but they cannot accept needles. The department will, however, tell those individuals how to properly dispose of them.

    People bring their medications into the station at least once a day, said Hall. Once the secure mailbox-like receiving container is full, two officers open it, box the medications and store them in the department’s evidence room.

    “We’ve got to be careful when we empty that thing. We glove up… you never know. You’ve got to be careful with it,” said Hall. “We’ve got to be careful.

    “Chief had a close call not long ago,” Hall added of OVPD Chief Ken McLaughlin. “We had a person who came in and turned in some stuff… He was a cancer patient and was turning in some medications that were expired. Little did we know that it had some fentanyl residue on it, and he accidentally touched it, not knowing — because the patient, he’s used to it. He’s taken it daily, so he’s got a tolerance.”

    Hall said if someone in the community who lives locally has medications to dispose of but does not have the means to travel to the station, they may call the department, and they will arrange to pick them up.

    “We encourage people to use the program. Whenever the building is open this box is available — Monday through Friday, 8 to 4. We encourage everybody to utilize it,” said Hall. “I just can’t emphasize enough how good it is. I would really hope people would come in and use it.”

    The Ocean View Police Department is located at 201 Central Avenue in Ocean View. For more information about the safe drug disposal program, call the department at (302) 539-1111.

    Drug Take-Back Day drop-off sites:

    Ocean View Police Department

    201 Central Ave., Ocean View

    Selbyville Police Department

    68 Church Street, Selbyville

    Dagsboro Police Department

    33134 Main Street, Dagsboro

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    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Volunteer firefighters responded to a structure fire at the Selbyville Mountaire poultry processing plant on Monday, April 23.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Volunteer firefighters responded to a structure fire at the Selbyville Mountaire poultry processing plant on Monday, April 23.Although a structure fire is never good for the environment, Selbyville dodged a bullet when the Mountaire poultry processing plant there caught fire on Monday, April 23.

    There were no reported injuries and no particular impact to the community or environment, said Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company Chief Matt Sliwa.

    The sun gleamed over a mild spring day when volunteer firefighters responded to a roof fire at the Hosier Street processing plant around 3:45 p.m.

    On the third-floor roof above the plant’s main entrance, “an electrical transformer failed at our Selbyville plant, causing a fire,” stated Sean McKeon, Mountaire director of communication and community relations.

    Heavy fire and black smoke poured across the town when one of the two roof transformers suffered “catastrophic failure,” Sliwa said.

    Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Workers stand outside while firefighters make sure the building is safe.Coastal Point • Shaun M. Lambert: Workers stand outside while firefighters make sure the building is safe.“Some of the roofing materials were like rubber tar stuff. When that starts to burn, that creates a very thick, black acrid smoke,” Sliwa said. “So there was a lot of black smoke from the roofing materials. And the transformer has something [similar to mineral oil]. At that high heat, that mineral oil starts to burn off. That created a lot of the black smoke when the crews first arrived on scene.”

    Another concern was a pressurized ammonia tank near the fire location. Along with suppressing the fire, volunteer firefighters continued spraying water over the tank to keep it cool.

    “We were able to get that fire contained and controlled quick enough… so what was a potential didn’t become a reality,” Sliwa said.

    The fire was mostly contained to the roof, reaching slightly to some exterior walls, Sliwa said.

    “My guys did an excellent job. I was very proud of the work they did and how the agencies came together,” he noted.

    Factory-wide, the electricity was shut off as fire crews worked, until about 5:45 p.m., when the fire was under control and the building was turned back over to Mountaire.

    The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office estimated the fire damage at $500,000.

    During the fire, hundreds of employees were evacuated and watched firefighting efforts from the ground around the building. Eventually, they were permitted back inside to retrieve their personal belongings before being sent home.

    The plant was closed on Tuesday, although the “third shift” sanitation crew was scheduled to work as usual. The plant would resume normal operations on Wednesday, April 25. McKeon did not comment on whether employees from the first two shifts would lose a day’s pay to the plant closure.

    When the fire broke out, next door at the Southern Delaware School of the Arts, students had already gone home for the day, at 2:40 p.m.

    The SVFC also received help from fire companies from Bethany Beach, Dagsboro, Frankford, Gumboro, Millsboro, Millville and Roxana, and Bishopville, Md. Additional support came from area police, regional hazardous-materials teams and the Delaware State Fire School.

    “These are volunteers that are coming in. We’re highly trained, but we’re still volunteers,” Sliwa said. “For instance, I left my office in Georgetown. … These people came from home. They came from work, and they still go on scene and did a professional job. So the volunteers in Delaware do an amazing job mitigating these instances that happen.”

    “All Mountaire employees were evacuated safely from the plant, and there were no injuries,” McKeon stated. “Mountaire would like to thank all first-responders and those who acted quickly to this plant incident. We are blessed to have so many men and women dedicated to serving our communities.”

    Less than a week earlier, the Millsboro plant had celebrated a milestone of work-hours without a workplace accident.

    In early 2017, a Selbyville employee suffered facial trauma and severe chemical burns when he inadvertently mixed two cleaning chemicals that resulted in a pressurized container exploding. At that time, Sliwa had said, “We end up at Mountaire on a fairy regular basis, but it’s for the regular ambulance call.” With hundreds of people per shift, he said, it’s not uncommon to have cuts, bruises or chest pains, just like the rest of the general public.

    This week, Sliwa said the SVFC has a good working relationship with Mountaire.

    Mountaire Farms is a privately-owned company employing more than 8,500 people in five states.

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    It all started when a bullet landed where it shouldn’t have.

    “We had an incident in Bishop’s Landing,” said Eric Evans, code and building official for the Town of Millville. “I don’t know how it happened, but the family woke up and found a hole in the house. Somebody’s house got shot.”

    Realizing that Millville has no limits on shooting, Evans proposed a restriction on discharging firearms, crossbows, slingshots and related weapons within town limits.

    Millville still has some wide tracts of land — many of which are expected to become dense housing developments in the next 10 years. So the town council is now considering a shooting ban to reduce the likelihood of stray bullets landing in a neighbor’s graduation party, or worse.

    “It’s to protect the citizens of Millville. … It doesn’t plan for anything with Second Amendment or anything like that,” said Mayor Bob Gordon.

    “Everybody has a right to carry,” Evans agreed. “Everybody has the right to have it in their home. Everybody has the right to buy as many as you want. Everybody has the right to go out and target practice in the target zone… This is just to protect the citizens from stray bullets flying around in town.”

    “We have not made any decisions. There is no vote on this tonight,” Gordon said at the April 24 meeting.

    In his research, Evans said, 10 of 14 local towns prohibit shooting inside town limits. Selbyville prohibits gunfire 100 yards from any residence, except that of the owner, or within 15 yards of public roads. He said some people hunt along the edges of town, where the border is choppy, and one empty field easily leads to another.

    The ordinance proposes fines of to $50 initially, then up to $100 for additional offenses, plus court costs.

    In recent years, people have asked if hunting and shooting is permitted inside town limits. Evans admitted he’s fudged the answer a bit, for public safety.

    “You’re really not supposed to, because there’s just too many homes around. Somebody’s house is going to get shot, or something’s going to happen. So I really don’t recommend it,” Evans said. “However, there is no ordinance, and I’ve bluffed a lot. But some people continue to hunt, and some folks stopped.”

    Property owner James Powell joined the meeting just as discussion was ending. Although he doesn’t reside inside town limits, he’s a local native who owns 23 acres, and his father owns 25 adjoining acres along Powell Farm Road and Route 17.

    “And I got a lot of interest in shooting. … I hunt on my property. I deer hunt, I duck hunt, I goose hunt, I dove hunt. … If you’re going to take my privileges away, I would like to know what’s being discussed,” Powell said. “If you’re going to do that to me, I’m going to see how I can get ex-annexed from the town.”

    His comments prompted the town council to suggest tweaking the proposed law. Perhaps shooting could be restricted within certain areas, or a certain distance from buildings.

    The town council will likely continue discussion of Ordinance 19-01 at their May 8 meeting. Millville Code Chapter 80 already prohibits everyday people from carrying firearms, ammunition and explosives into Town buildings.

    Employees get better benefits

    Town employees will get a more generous policy regarding sick leave and vacation. Councilman Peter Michel said the new policy brings Millville more in line with what other municipalities offer.

    “We’re, like, half what most of the towns have. What they’re asking is not a lot. It just gets them up to snuff with everyone else. … It’s just equal rights and equal hours,” Michel said.

    When the flu hit hard this winter, some employees relied on personal vacation days when their sick leave expired, Councilman Ronald Belinko said.

    Both men said the new policy should help recruit and retain good employees, while honoring the hard work they do and increased workload they will likely see as housing development continues in the future.

    The vote was 4-1, with Deputy Mayor Steve Maneri saying he wanted more time to review the policy before voting.

    The new policy includes up to 12 paid sick days, plus a range of 10 to 25 paid vacation days, based on tenure. The old vacation policy allowed five to 15 days of vacation.

    The change doesn’t increase the budget but will reduce the number of employee work-hours.

    Earlier this month, the council also approved merit-based pay increases for all staff. The payroll budget increased this year by about 4 percent, or $14,000 in all.

    In other Millville Town Council news:

    • Local artist John Donato is planning a mural for the Town. The town council is still brainstorming exactly what to include and where to paint it, such as the future playground or inside Town Hall.

    Earlier this month, Donato showed the initial concept for a mural going up an interior staircase at Town Hall. It would resemble a curio shelf inside a mill, laden with Millville symbols, such as pumpkins, schooners, the town seal, the signed articles of incorporation and much more.

    “You put enough in here, it prompts discussion. … It never gets boring. When people go through it, they’re always going to see something new,” Donato said.

    With bright colors, it would be slightly less whimsical than the vibrantly colored fish and dinosaurs he often paints at local elementary schools.

    • Regulations on special-event tents could be removed from the town zoning code Chapter 155-17(C)7 “Temporary Tents” and instead be included in the special-events permit itself. Discussion on Ordinance 19-02 will likely continue at the May 8 meeting.

    • This winter, many people were politely baffled by the abstract design of the new holiday lights on the Town’s utility poles.

    “The Christmas lights this year were not what the Town ordered,” Town Manager Debbie Botchie said. “So the company came out and looked at them and said, ‘That’s not what we ordered.’ So, they are replacing our lights with what council approved, and you will see a big difference.”

    • The town council approved an $11,300 contract, plus time and materials, for George, Miles & Buhr LLC’s (GMB’s) engineering services for the site work and permitting for the two park buildings. The expense doesn’t require public bidding because it’s for professional services.

    The Millville Town Council’s next regular meeting will be the Tuesday, May 8, at 7 p.m.

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    Overcrowded schools can make for an unpleasant learning experience. Kids are squished into classrooms; stand in long lunch lines with little time to eat and suffer what Indian River School District Superintendent Mark Steele describes as “a shuffle. You have so many kids in the hallways going from one class to another, they’re actually shuffling.”

    Steele was describing Sussex Central High School hallways when the bell rings. That’s just one example of why the Indian River School District has restarted discussion on possibly building new schools to address student population growth.

    Although ideas have been thrown around for several years, the Major Capital Planning Committee gathered on April 11 “with no preconceived notions” for a basic review of the issues and informal brainstorming of possible solutions, with the school board and other district leaders hoping for public input.

    The problem

    A former math and physics teacher, Steele started with his own calculations for potential growth. The district could climb from about 10,634 students today to 12,388 in 2024.

    For instance, the Millsboro and Georgetown middle schools are projected to gain 120 students in that time.

    “And that’s going to push numbers into the high school. Once we hit about 2023, 2024, you’re going to be looking at 480 to 500 freshmen coming into Sussex Central”

    That’s a scary number for two reasons. First, Steele’s model already accounts for the students who transfer to other high schools outside the district. Secondly, it doesn’t account for additional growth in Sussex County itself. He simply projected current students moving up through the system. A regional housing or job market boom would pile on top of his projection.

    Student enrollment is already exceeding capacity, especially in the northern part of the district.

    By next year, four schools are projected to be at 100 percent capacity: East Millsboro Elementary School, Selbyville Middle School, Millsboro Middle School and Sussex Central High School.

    The only schools at lower than 90 percent enrollment would be Phillip C. Showell and John M. Clayton elementary schools, and the Southern Delaware School of the Arts.

    The southern schools are all expected to grow at a slower rate.

    The group evaluated IR’s current land resources, which range from no space at some schools or a few classrooms’ worth of land at Selbyville Middle School to many acres at both high schools and the Ingram Pond facility.

    Lord Baltimore Elementary School has to host school concerts at IR High School because the Lord Baltimore parking lot is too small for guests, even after replacing part of the playground with additional parking spaces.

    The process

    “We’re trying to gather options. We’re trying to gather ideas,” Steele said. “Then the board’s going to have to hunker down and decide, ‘What’s the best move for us to make?’”

    The next step is to continue the discussion, make a decision and submit any proposals to Delaware Department of Education by Aug. 31.

    By autumn, the State would decide whether to grant a Certificate of Necessity for each project. Once the need is established, and if the State has enough money to pay its share of the project, the school district hosts a major capital improvement referendum, in which the public votes on whether to raise local taxes to meet the financial needs. The CN expires after one year.

    The public would vote at public referendum this winter or early in the spring of 2019. If everything passes, and Delaware state legislature promises funding, engineering and design could begin in the summer of 2019.

    The IRSD needs to act now, possibly building and very possibly buying portable trailers “because we simply cannot — in some of our situations that we currently have — we cannot keep that many kids in a building,” Steele said.

    When the IRSD last built new schools and renovated all the old ones in the early 2000s, administrators promised taxpayers that the construction would eliminate the need then for portable classrooms. But in 2018, things have changed again.


    Officials seemed surprised and disappointed at the low public turnout at the April 11 meeting. Of several dozen attendees, most were IRSD staff, administrators or board members. A few residents attended and asked questions.

    Attendees split into groups to brainstorm ideas, definitely thinking outside the box: The IRSD could build one high school, then retrofit existing schools to accommodate more of the younger (and smaller) children. The IRSD could lease office space for its district headquarters, which would give the adjoining Southern Delaware School of the Arts room to grow.

    “We’re going to have to look at school boundary areas, no matter what we do,” Steele said.

    Some people suggested impact fees for housing developments, new construction or new businesses that encourage such rapid growth in Sussex. When asked if IRSD had submitted any official comments for the current updating of the Sussex County Comprehensive Plan (, School Board President Charles Bireley only said that previous attempts to change the mechanism for school funding have failed on a statewide level.

    Alternatively, the IRSD could wait and see if the trends continue, or if other local high schools increase their own enrollment or whether the population boom slows down.

    Price to pay

    When pricing out new schools, the first rule is that the State pays the majority of the 60/40 cost split. Local taxes (through the referendum) will pay the lesser portion. Also, costs can vary greatly, based on school type and capacity. The State will approve $19 million for the smallest elementary school or $90 million for the largest high school.

    In 2016, if the IRSD had pursued the new elementary school, new middle school and SCHS renovation discussed then, the total cost would have been about $173 million, with a local share of $69 million, resulting in a 41-cent tax increase just for construction (which would decrease over time, like a mortgage).

    And in addition to a major capital improvement referendum, the IRSD will also need the public to pass another current-expense referendum to pay for staff and other continuing expenses of a new school building.

    Discussion will continue at a meeting of the Major Capital Planning Committee on Wednesday, May 9, at 6:30 p.m. at Indian River High School.

    The full presentation is online at

    Anyone with questions, suggestions or ideas should contact Superintendent Mark Steele at (302) 436-1000 or Comments can also be sent to

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    While the agenda may have been brief, the Town of Ocean View had a substantial turnout for its reorganizational meeting on Tuesday, April 24, as town citizens took the opportunity to continue to voice their opinions to the town council regarding the property tax increase in the approved budget for the 2019 fiscal year.

    Richard Mohr said he’s owned property in the town for more than 40 years, but spends seven months in Florida.

    “I’m not happy with how the council has done things, because it seems like when they vote for things they wait until we all go down to Florida… Let the people be around. Serve the people so we can be here…”

    Mohr’s wife, Karen, agreed.

    “I’m speaking on behalf of all the snowbirds. The issue about information being put into the Coastal Point does nothing to help us when we are all thousands of miles away,” she said. “In terms of the website, perhaps we have to be a little more in tune to that, but I think what needs to be put on there is that we have to have more information about how much taxes are going to be, et cetera.”

    “As a practical matter, if you look around in the town in Florida where you’re staying, you’ll find that they don’t go out of their way to tell the people up in New England what’s going on in Florida,” responded Mayor Walter Curran. “It’s the exact same rationale here. This is a local area. Everything that is advertised is advertised locally. That’s not going to change, ma’am … simply because you choose to be in another state at election time.”

    “I don’t agree with that,” said Mohr.

    “I think that’s pretty obvious,” replied Curran.

    Mohr also said the town election is not snowbird-friendly, as “voting is always done when we are not here.”

    “I believe it should be changed so that maybe voting takes place in June, when snowbirds and other people who are only here throughout the summer are in town.”

    Mohr said she and her husband have previously requested absentee ballots, but due to paperwork issues, they were unable to vote.

    “We feel like we’re being under-represented in that respect,” she said.

    “There are a lot of snowbirds in the area, not just in Ocean View,” said Curran. “The election is not going to change, I’ll tell you that… As far as applying for the absentee ballot, I did it four years ago because I was traveling, and the system worked for me.”

    Resident Ray Wockley challenged the council to be “proactive and not reactive” when it comes to stormwater drainage.

    “You’re going to have to involve the County, possibly the State of Delaware, homeowners’ associations and all of us,” said Wockley, who presented the council with a map of ditches within the Ocean View ZIP code. “There has to be a concerted effort to look at all of these ditches.”

    Wockley noted that the town is not contiguous, as there are areas within the borders of the town that are not part of the town.

    “The people that live right next to the administration building are not in the town. Lord Baltimore — not in town,” he added of the residential community. “All these people have to be involved because they’ve got ditches on their property and they all flow into our property… I’m challenging, if you can — get the people involved, because this is not going to get better.”

    “I think that’s a very good point and a very good challenge to this council and anybody in the county and also to the State,” replied Curran. “It’s a great idea to say, reach out. You’re right — when you look at the Town, it looks like Swiss cheese.

    “The problem is there were prior councils here, going back quite a few years, that simply refused to let those developments become part of this town. It was totally illogical that they did that, but they did it… Now, [those developments] like it the way it is. By law, this Town can’t even ask them to join. Anyone that wants to come in and join must approach the Town first.”

    Curran added that the council is working with legislators to possibly start a regional police force.

    “We’ve got greatest police force in this state. They’re very effective. The point of it is, though, more and more they’re responding to calls outside of the district. Is that fair to the citizens of Ocean View? No, it isn’t… Your point is very well taken. It’s a huge battle, though, and it involves at least the County.”

    Wockley also recommended the Town do a better “sales job” for its police force.

    “When you look at the website, it shows all these awards. Do you think that Millville By the Sea actually looks at that?” he asked, recommending the Town send more information related to its police department to local newspapers, so their accolades may be highlighted publicly.

    Town asked about its books

    Resident Luis Lopez asked Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader if the Town had an “outside group checking finances, where the money goes to” and who writes the checks.

    “Annually, there is an independent audit done of all the books and records of the Town,” said Schrader.

    “I didn’t ask you that. Who writes the checks in the Town to people?”

    “The finance director and the town manager, to the best of my knowledge,” responded Schrader.

    Town Manager Dianne Vogel noted that any check written by the Town requires a total of four signatures.

    “Is there an outside group that comes in and checks what you’re doing with finances, where the money’s going, except auditors?” asked Lopez.

    “There doesn’t have to be an outside group,” said Curran. “The auditor is the independent entity that goes through this. We have had a perfect audit for years. There is nothing wrong with the books. There is nothing wrong with the systems. That is the answer, sir. You may not like the answer, but it is the answer.”

    Lopez asked how the taxpaying citizens of the Town are to know where the money goes.

    “I’m sorry — if you don’t know where the money goes, then you have to step up and read the audit. You can get a copy of it. It’s on the website,” said Curran.

    Schrader added that each month Finance Director Sandra Peck presents a financial report of Town activities for the preceding month, and that report is available to anyone.

    “Audits are available from the Town. Any homeowner can review those audits. Yes, auditors can fix this… but the citizens have to have the ability to review, and it’s their obligation to review,” resident Mike Potter later added.

    “We saw democracy at work,” Councilman Frank Twardzik said following the meeting. “We saw the citizenry speak — some were not very happy, some were happy, some were content, some were not. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, as far as government goes…

    “If I had to vote again — and I’m sure if the rest of the council had to vote again — we’d all vote the same way, because it was the right thing to do to wean ourselves off the transfer tax. Ten years down the road, future councils will say, ‘We’re glad those guys did that, because we have a positive number to look at.’”

    Citizens ask for better communication

    Resident Cindy Hall said she had sent an email to the Town in December related to snow-removal and had yet to receive a reply.

    Hall said her complaint was safety-related, as she believed the plow driver was traveling at an unsafe speed and piling snow at the ends of people’s driveways, preventing them from leaving their homes.

    “With the amount of snowfall we had, I think you all did a good job,” Potter later told the council.

    Vogel said she did not know about that email, but explained that when an email is sent to the Town’s general account, she and the town clerk both receive a copy, and then determine who it is meant for and send it along.

    Resident Brenda McIntyre asked the council about a request made in writing from Rebecca and Patrick Adams, requesting the Town consider adding “miniature golf” as a permitted use in commercially-zoned areas. In their letter, the Adamses had said they would like to create an outdoor recreation area for families at 3 Atlantic Avenue, near the Assawoman Canal at the eastern edge of town.

    Schrader said the Town was contacted by the prospective contract purchaser, who asked if the council would consider changing the context of the town charter.

    “The council has not addressed the request of that,” he said.

    “I believe it will probably be brought back to us to be considered,” added Curran.

    McIntyre voiced her concern over the lot’s proximity to the canal and its overall size.

    “It’s an interesting piece of land,” said Schrader. “We have looked at that. There are unique traffic patterns as a result of the bridge. The property is not necessarily rectangular, by any stretch of the imagination. There’s just a lot going on there. The council has made no decision... but it will be addressed.”

    McIntyre also asked how the Town plans to improve public outreach to its residents and property owners.

    “That’s been addressed a number of times. As far as the official system of the Town, it is good, it works,” he said, adding that the council is welcome to hear from residents as to how they believe communication may be improved. “But also, keep in mind, this is not a daily newspaper or a twice-a-day news show. There will be limitations…”

    She asked that meetings be posted in the local newspapers, in addition to reports on what happened at meetings. Curran said the Town does post notices in the papers, per the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

    Schrader also recommended residents take advantage of the Town’s website, which has a calendar and posts the agendas of upcoming and past meetings.

    “I work for these guys, and that’s where I go to find out what the agenda looks like,” he said.

    Woodland Park resident Bill Goodwin asked the council if it would consider having the Town have only one trash collection service.

    “In Woodland Park, we have no fewer than five trash companies — therefore we have five trash trucks coming down our roads which are excessively providing wear and tear on our roads,” he said.

    Councilman Bill Olsen said he had tried a number of years ago to have only one waste management company service the town, but the idea was not supported.

    “I tried that about four or five years ago. The people don’t want it. They want their own trash pick-up. Each house wants their own separate truck. I’ve tried.”

    Olsen recommended Goodwin work with his neighbors to try to get the same company to collect in Woodland Park, to possibly lessen the burden.

    Reynolds sworn in, Bodine recognized for service

    At the reorganizational meeting, Curran presented former councilwoman Carol Bodine with a plaque recognizing her years of service to the Town.

    “My forever home is Ocean View. I will come to meetings and I will help wherever I can. I would like to thank Mayor Walt and all the other councilmen for their hard work, devotion. Thank you for what you’ve done for me,” said Bodine, after stepping down from the dais. “I want to thank Dianne Vogel, Dennis Schrader, Sandra Peck, [Police Chief] Kenny [McLaughlin] and Donna Schwartz, for all the help you’ve given me.”

    Incoming councilman Berton Reynolds was then sworn in by Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader, swearing “to carry out the responsibilities of the office of councilmember to the best of my ability… [and] to respect the right of future generations to share the rich, historic and natural heritage of Delaware.”

    “Welcome, Bert,” said Curran.

    Resident Richard Birkmeyer congratulated Reynolds on winning the election and thanked Bodine for her “dedicate service to the Town for the last three years.”

    “I just appreciated there were a lot of people here. That’s what I’ve said before — I want more people to come,” said Reynolds following the meeting. “It’s going to be a fun three years.”

    The council went on to unanimously reappoint Tom Maly as mayor pro-tem. They also voted to establish the meeting schedule for the coming year, with council meetings being held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m., with the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. being the time for a tentative monthly workshop.

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    As the Indian River School District school board election approaches, two relative newcomers hope to represent the 5th voting district. Three of the school board’s 10 seats are up for election this year. The school board election will be Tuesday, May 8.

    Derek Cathell and Carla Ziegler are competing to serve District 5, which includes Selbyville, Gumboro and parts of Frankford. Jeffrey W. Evans has withdrawn from the race.

    In District 5, the winning candidate will just serve one year, finishing the term of another board member who had moved away this winter. In District 3, candidates Dana Probert and Leolga Wright are vying to represent south Millsboro and north Dagsboro on both sides of Route 113.

    Board Vice President Rodney M. Layfield will automatically serve a five-year term, as there were no challengers for his District 2 (northern Millsboro and southern Georgetown) seat. All terms begin on July 1.

    District residents do not need to register to vote. Eligible voters must be 18; U.S. citizens; Delaware citizens; and live in the voting district for which they’re casting a ballot.

    Absentee voting will be permitted, but people must request and return an affidavit to the Department of Elections in order to receive an absentee ballot by mail. Or they can vote in person at the Department in Georgetown by noon on Monday, May 7.

    People can request an absentee affidavit by printing one online, emailing, calling (302) 856-5367) or visiting Department of Elections Sussex County Office at 119 N. Race Street, Georgetown.

    All election details are online at

    Editor’s note: In order to give candidates the last word before the election, the Coastal Point will publish candidate questionnaires on May 4. April 27 will be the last publication of letters-to-the-editor regarding the IRSD election.

    Carla M. Ziegler, the challenger

    Education has always been in Carla Ziegler’s heart.

    After many years teaching in Delaware, including in the IRSD, Ziegler now runs a registered multi-family homeschool for local students in Selbyville. That’s where she hears parental concerns.

    “I have a ton of experience in education. … I know what works and what doesn’t work,” she said.

    “I am in the community. I deal with these parents on a daily basis. … We need to get these people involved again. We have to give them hope about their children’s education,” said Ziegler, who hears public frustration with the school board.

    While she admits that finances aren’t her forte, she would definitely want to have a say on proposed spending. Moreover, she has strong opinions and said she wouldn’t be peer-pressured into voting against her beliefs.

    Currently, the IRSD is trying to manage the ever-growing student population and finite space. The school board will likely request to build new schools or additions, which would result in a public referendum to fund the project.

    Ziegler warned that “many parents right now are not happy with our district and will most likely refuse to dish our any more funds for, well, anything. Many parents are now pulling their children from the school system and placing them in homeschool or private schools,” she said.

    That may benefit her business, but it’s not her goal, said Ziegler, adding that she believes “free public education is a blessing and God-given gift to our country. I see the pain and frustration in many of the parents in our community,” which she said is why she wants to bring her perspective as an educator who works closely with parents and the community.

    Holding two degrees in education, Ziegler also tutors students at night through Traveling Tutorz. Throughout her career, she has participated in curriculum writing, benchmarks and assessments at the local, state and even national level, including the Smarter Balanced Consortium Committee. She was also a team and teacher leader in her schools.

    Her complaints about the current education system focus on the curriculum and lack of teacher autonomy in the classroom. Although she believes the board should have a “strong voice” in overseeing curriculum, she said she also feels that curriculum and standardized testing are changing too much.

    In a broader sense, to increase local autonomy, “My goal is to have a free public school, but not funded by the State.”

    Ziegler graduated from Indian River High School, as did her oldest son. Her second son left to do homeschool and college courses early. Her young daughter is homeschooled fulltime.

    For Ziegler, homeschooling made sense because it’s already her fulltime job, and now she gets to educate her daughter.

    The first board meeting she attended was this past winter, when a large number of parents attended to protest the proposed State Regulation 225, which was intended to expand anti-discrimination protections for students, but was criticized for its potential impact on the parental right to be informed.

    “You can’t discriminate against children … but you can’t do [things] behind the parents’ back,” Ziegler said.

    “I’m trying to do what’s right for the children,” said Ziegler, adding that she wants to serve the community. “I do care 100 percent, or I wouldn’t be doing this.”

    As for school safety, she said, “I feel that our schools a have done a pretty good job.”

    But ultimately, Ziegler said, loading up on police can’t prevent a school shooting. Only a metal detector could stop firearms at the door. Also, “I wouldn’t put my child at a school with a teacher with a gun at her hip, unless she had the proper training.”

    Ultimately, Ziegler said, she would like to help improve public perceptions of the board.

    “The board’s trying really hard. They’re not doing a bad job at all, as far as our kids go. … I guess my job would be to be a peace person with the parents,” Ziegler said. “They vent to me… I don’t really say much. I listen, unless it’s something that should be said. I can be that voice.”

    Derek Cathell, recent appointee

    CathellCathellThis spring, Derek Cathell has been warming up to the job of school board member. The Frankford candidate was appointed to the school board fill a temporary vacancy in January.

    It’s all been a learning experience from there.

    “I’ve really enjoyed my time in the last few months,” Cathell said. “It’s a lot of information, a lot of information I wasn’t aware of until I started attending board meetings and executive sessions, how the district runs and how the schools run. … I’m getting my feet under me.”

    He’s just begun learning about school choice, administrator interviews and the many accounts and rules associated with various sources of local, state and federal funds.

    As a detective for the Major Crimes Unit of Delaware State Police, Cathell did not bring with him a specific background in education. But he emphasized his leadership, a common-sense approach and a love for the district.

    “I’ve been an assistant supervisor in several capacities for the Delaware State Police,” he said. “Sometimes in public service, you go to these situations and it seems you have to take control. I’ve been a trooper and just started my 21st year.”

    He has served on DSP patrol, in the Governor’s Task Force, in criminal investigations and then joined the Major Crimes Unit three years ago, investigating sexual assault, robberies and deaths.

    “I care about the district. … I have a dog in the fight. I have a genuine interest in the wellbeing of the school district and its students and faculty,” Cathell said. “And I know being on the school board — it’s a tremendous commitment, but it’s one that I welcome and one that I’m ready to take on.”

    An IRSD graduate, Cathell’s wife is a school counselor and English Language Learner program coordinator. His children attend elementary school and preschool in the district. His sister-in-law is also an IR employee, and her children are students.

    “I just think I could make a difference,” he had previously said.

    “I think a lot of people in the community are aware that the growth in our schools is staggering. We’re going to have to figure a way out to [accommodate] … make sure all the students that move to our district are properly educated,” Cathell said. “There’s been a lot of things that have been discussed. …The school board’s going to have to put our heads together and formulate the best plan of attack for this.”

    After seeing such a small crowd at the district’s first public planning meeting, he said he hopes more people will attend future Major Capital Planning Committee meetings.

    “I was very eager to hear some of the ideas that they would bring to the table. Obviously, if you’re asking for money from the public,” then the board would want public input, he said. “We don’t have all the answers.”

    As for IRSD school safety, “I think we’re head and shoulders ahead of everyone else in getting ahead of that. I think we have a great plan in place,” said Cathell, adding that he supports the district’s armed constables, who are all retired law-enforcement officers. “Being a parent of two kids in the district, going to work every day, it’s a nice feeling” knowing his children are safe, he said.

    Cathell’s temporary board appointment only lasts a few months, until June 30. The public election will fill the rest of the original term, through 2019.

    “It’s certainly been an honor and privilege to serve on the board for the last few months, and I look forward to the opportunity to serve for the next [year], if elected,” Cathell said.

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    Every good organization needs its fair share of volunteers to make everything work like a well-oiled machine. Lower Sussex Little League is certainly no exception, and right now they are hoping for a few good souls to step up and help out.

    The local Little League organization is currently seeking volunteer umpires and concession-stand workers for their complex located on Pyle Center Road. No amount of time is too big or too small, as long as the volunteers are able to help out.

    “We need openers and closers for the concession stand, and certainly umpires for our games,” LSLL President T.J. Bunting said. “The concession person would come out and open the stand, and then give assistance to the parent volunteers with whatever they would need. The closers would ensure the stand is clean and all the equipment is off before locking up.”

    There is even some additional responsibility for the manager of the concession stand, such as ordering food, drink and other snack supplies, as well as working with the schedule for the volunteers throughout the season. That person would also be making deposits for the league, and making sure that the stand’s registers had appropriate monetary change on hand.

    “We are fully run on volunteers,” Bunting added. “Any help that people can provide would be greatly appreciated.”

    To volunteer to umpire, individuals can contact John Merritt at (302) 841-2806. All training, safety equipment and uniforms are provided.

    To offer to help with the concession stand, contact Bunting at (302) 258-5583. Previous experience in the food service industry is not required, and they will certainly train any individual who steps up to help out the league.

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    The Ocean View Crew pickleball team recently competed in the first match of the Delmarva Team Pickleball League 2018 season, losing only by one game to a strong team from Georgetown, and the Crew edged out the Ocean Pines team from Maryland.

    But the heck with those pickleball gladiators — let’s talk about people who just want to play pickleball and have fun.

    Pickleballers below Indian River, like Punxsutawney Phil, are poking their heads out of their houses, and sticking out a wet finger to test temperature and wind. Pickleball courts are being built on the Delmarva Peninsula in communities and small towns few people have even heard of, so I am anticipating a bigger year here than ever.

    The Coastal Community Pickleball League had their first meeting recently. Steve Costa of Fairway Village and Byron Plumly of Bishops Landing called a working meeting of interested communities. Attending were representatives of Fairway Village, Bishops Landing, Forest Landing, Bear Trap Dunes, Bay Forest, Millville-by-the-Sea, Sea Grass Plantations and Bethany West.

    They are organizing a fun pickleball format for novices and intermediates at their communities. The Town of Millville’s representative, Steve Maneri, had an emergency but will be involved as well. Bob Gaudreau, another member of the Ocean View Crew, hopes that Bay Colony will join after their May 12 pickleball community clinic. The format — still a work in progress — will likely be where communities gather in good fellowship and play pickleball together, as opposed to against one another.

    I might suggest that their tag line might be: “Coastal Community Pickleball League: ‘Pickleball for fun, in the early morning sun, from 8 a.m. until done, and invite “Hon.” Bring the grin, leave home the gin, her and him, ordinary people like Bob and Lynn.’”

    By the time this is published, Fairway Village will already have had a free pickleball clinic for homeowners run by Steve Costa and some of the Ocean View Crew from Fairway Village. Bay Colony is planning one soon, as is Bishop’s Landing and Millville-by-the-Sea. David Lipstein is planning another for Bay Forest this season.

    Clinics, clinics, clinics? I didn’t know laughter could send so many folks to the clinics!

    For clarification, the fun league will be for novices and intermediates who have some knowledge of the game. The free clinics they are sponsoring are intended to help people to begin to learn pickleball. Typically, these events are closed to non-community members, but if you would like to participate at one of these, send me an email. I know people!

    Always the good neighbor, Sea Colony will be hosting this summer their first pickleball tournament, on July 21 at the Sea Colony Tennis Center, for all levels of play. Beginning after Memorial Day, Sea Colony will also be offering pickleball clinics on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from noon to 1:30 p.m. The cost is $28 per session for drop-ins.

    These clinics would be an ideal follow-up to strengthen your understanding of the game. Call the tennis barn at (302) 539-4488 for details.

    News updates:

    • The Gold Medal Princess, Pearl Morris, returned to pickleball after a double knee replacement, and 20 of her friends surprised her with a welcome-back birthday party. Give her a hug!

    • The U.S. Open: My cell phone has been burning up with victory reports about pickleball players winning medals at the U.S. Open in Florida. Charlie Biddle of Sand Castle Realty in Bethany Beach was reporting scores to me and was only a couple points from his own medal this past weekend with his mixed-doubles partner Lynn Casey. Both are members of the Ocean View Crew.

    Kathy Casey, president of First State Pickleball, and her doubles partner, Karen Gustafson, won gold in their category, as did Jean Burgess and doubles partner Sherry King. Jane Jump and doubles partner Irma Hernandez took bronze in their doubles category, and Marsha McLaurin took silver in women’s singles.

    Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit

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  • 05/03/18--08:54: Sports Report
  • High school golf

    Polytech 175, Indian River 189

    The Indian River High School Indians dropped their second straight golf match Monday afternoon — this time against the Panthers. It was Polytech’s seventh straight win.

    Patrick Gogarty was low-man for the Indians with 43, but it wasn’t enough. Mikaela Brosnahan shot a 47, and Joe D’Orazio followed with a 48.

    Poly’s Connor Young was the match’s medalist, with a 40.

    The match was played on the back nine at Wild Quail Country Club, with a par score of 36.

    On Tuesday, the Indians faced Smyrna and got back on the winning track with an impressive 179-206 decision over the Eagles.

    Brosnahan was medalist for her low-match score of 43. Gogarty and D’Orazio each carded a 45, while Isabel Wolfenbarger (46), Ryan McCoy (47) and Zach Lingenfelter (48) all shot well to help the winning cause.

    The Indians (6-4) will now be off until Tuesday, May 8, when they will face Delmar in a home match at Cripple Creek Country Club.

    High school boys’ lacrosse

    Sussex Tech 17, Indian River 7

    The Sussex Tech Ravens this week jumped out to a 9-3 lead at the intermission before sealing the deal with five more goals in the third quarter, en route to a Henlopen Conference win over the Indians.

    Five different players scored for IR, led by Thomas Harris and Zach Schultz, who each scored twice. John Martin, Dylan White and Patrick Banks each chipped in with one goal apiece.

    Dane Zimmerman and Nathaniel Quillin led the Ravens with five goals each.

    Sussex Tech outshot the Indians 61-35 on the day, with IR’s Samuel Miltner credited with 13 saves.

    The loss followed a 13-6 win for the Indians against Sussex Tech on Friday, April 27.

    In that contest, William Josetti led the Indians with four goals, while Wyatt Kovatch and Ryan Burbridge added two goals apiece. White, Martin and Patrick Spencer rounded out the scoring for Indian River last Friday.

    The Indians will close out the season with five straight home games, starting with a contest against Delmar on Wednesday, May 2, (after Coastal Point press time). For scores and information, check out our Facebook and Twitter pages.

    Indian River girls’ soccer

    Indian River 7, Woodbridge 1

    Isabella Binko held the hot hand — well, um… foot (yeah — that’s it) — for the Indians during Saturday’s win over the Blue Raiders in Henlopen Conference action.

    Binko scored four goals and assisted on another to lead the way for the Indians on April 28. Anastasia Diakos had a pair of goals to go along with an assist. Lauren Meehan booted home the other goal for IR.

    Binko got things rolling for IR just five minutes into the contest, on an unassisted shot. She would follow that up less than two minutes later on a helper from Diakos. Isabella Keith served up a pass to Diakos at the 11:15 mark to make it 3-0 IR.

    Diakos got the scoring going in the second half, on a helper from Meehan. Three minutes later, it was Binko again, with Grace Engel getting credit for the assist.

    The fourth goal from Binko came at the 54:42 mark, on a pass from Tobi LoRusso, before Meehan closed out the scoring for IR at 70:45.

    IR outshot their hosts 25-3 in the contest and had two corner kick opportunities.

    Fabrea McCray needed to make just one save for the Indians.

    High school girls’ lacrosse

    Worcester Prep 15, Indian River 3

    The Indians fell behind early and were never able to recover in a loss to the Fighting Mallards this week.

    IR’s three markers were from Sarandon Slebodnick, Kaylee Hall and Kealey Allison.

    Worcester Prep, a perennial Maryland power, was led by Cameron Langeler’s three goals in the contest.

    The Indians were outshot 23-7 in the contest. Mya Parks made eight saves for IR.

    IR was set to travel to St. Thomas More on Wednesday, May 2, (after Coastal Point press time) for a non-conference matchup before returning home on Thursday, May 3, to face Delaware Military Academy. For scores and information, check out our Facebook and Twitter pages.

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    Special to the Coastal Point • Susan Walls: One of the Indians prepares to send a volley back over the net in IR’s win over Lake Forest on Monday, April 30.Special to the Coastal Point • Susan Walls: One of the Indians prepares to send a volley back over the net in IR’s win over Lake Forest on Monday, April 30.Each of Indian River High School’s tennis teams, both boys and girls, earned 4-1 wins Monday, April 30, over Lake Forest in a home match.

    It was the IR boys’ third straight win, but that leaves them with a 3-8 overall record with two-thirds of the season in the books.

    Coach Mariano Woo said he is hoping things will continue improving so they might have a shot at tournament play.

    “We had to play the heavyweights upfront,” Woo pointed out. “I don’t know why they stacked us with heavyweights upfront, but that is why our record is what it is.”

    Junior Luke McCabe was the first singles winner on Monday, with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Jackson Sylvester.

    “It was tough at the beginning, but I was able to pull it out of me and get the win,” McCabe said.

    At second doubles, junior Brian Quezada and freshman Josh Bird beat Lake’s Ryan Vogt and Ben Hickman, 6-4, 6-4.

    “We started out slow in the first couple of sets,” said Quezada. “We calmed down enough to where, after the first few points, we knew we could do better, and after the first two points, we were better. The wind was also a major factor today, because it blew the ball around — especially when they would return and on serves.”

    In other matches, IR junior Jhony Ortiz out-scored Connor Weaver, 6-3, 6-1, in second singles.

    Woo called junior Madison Killen one of his best doubles players. She and her partner, Brooke Weaver, won their match at first doubles.

    “It went well,” Killen said of their match. “I was doing better with my serves. Once I got into the groove of it, I started feeling more confident, and I was able to hit one after the other pretty good.”

    “They played more consistently, so they obviously won more games that way,” Woo assessed. “Consistency is one of the keys to playing tennis, obviously. That was nice. They also came through when it came to tie-breaks. They didn’t choke during a tie-break, even though one tie-breaker went to 10.”

    The Henlopen Conference championships for the girls start Thursday, May 10, and will be hosted by Cape Henlopen. The boys’ championship tournament will be hosted by Caesar Rodney, and will also begin on Thursday, May 10.

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    Coastal Point • File Photo: Former Indian River High School baseball coach Howard Smack leads the boys during an indoor practice in 2010.Coastal Point • File Photo: Former Indian River High School baseball coach Howard Smack leads the boys during an indoor practice in 2010.There are more than 200,000 cases of kidney disease each year in the United States, according to medical professionals. Many times, those affected can live their lives with treatments and a change in lifestyle. However, there are those that have situations more dire, and a kidney transplant is required for them to continue living their lives.

    Such was the case for former Indian River High School teacher and coach Howard Smack. “Mr. Smack” was a part of the IRHS staff for more than 39 years before his health forced him to retire short of his 40-year goal.

    But Smack recently found a match, after nearly eight years on the kidney transplant waiting list. He had successful transplant surgery just one month ago, on April 1, at Christiana Hospital.

    His road to transplant surgery started way back in 2008, when Smack started noticing some shortness of breath. Always one that was involved and active, Smack felt something was awry when he struggled to walk the stairs at the old high school. He had already been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, but this was something that he hadn’t experienced before.

    “I always exercised quite a bit,” Smack recalled. “I always was walking the stairs because we didn’t have an elevator in the school. I was officiating basketball games, I watched what I ate and was always involved in something.”

    A visit to his doctor led to the idea that more tests should be done to see what was going on. Those tests revealed that Smack was suffering from kidney failure, and he would need to go on dialysis. He went on partial dialysis beginning in 2010, but two years later “another little episode,” as he calls it, forced him to go on full dialysis.

    “I was going Mondays and Wednesdays and every other Friday every week for six years,” Smack said of his treatment schedule. “I was still out attending the basketball meetings and doing evaluations for officials. I didn’t want to have a pity party for myself. If I ever found myself having a pity party, I would say, ‘Knock it off, Smack — there are people that are worse off than you.’”

    When he started the full dialysis treatments back in 2012, he had signed up for the donor transplant list. Dialysis was an all-day affair, and he was reminded that the process to find a match could take four to five years.

    And, as it turned out for Smack, the waiting game actually took about six years to find his match.

    “I kept praying; my family and friends kept praying,” he recalled of the wait for a donor.

    With his surgery now complete, life can continue for Smack and his wife, Joan, and their blended family of six sons and a daughter. There is a whole new lifestyle that he lives every day, and he is certainly getting into a new daily routine.

    “I wake up every day at 8 a.m.,” he said. “I have to weigh myself, check my blood pressure, and check my blood sugar because I still have diabetes. I need to eat three to four meals a day, and I have pills that I need to take every day for the rest of my life. The most important is the rejection pill, to make sure that the kidney keeps working.

    “After the surgery, I was making trips up to the transplant office twice a week for checkups and to make sure the incision was healing properly,” he added. “During a visit two weeks ago, I had an issue with my GI [gastrointestinal tract], which put me back in the hospital for another week. But now I only have to go to the office once a week, and soon it’ll be once a month.”

    The daily routine is becoming easier, for sure.

    “There are some things you can’t miss, but it is getting easier to get into the routine,” he said. “My wife is my buddy. She’s been there for me every step of the way. My entire family and friends have been just wonderful. Everybody has been checking up on me, and they’ve been able to remind me of things that maybe I forgot.”

    And what about the person who was his match to receive their kidney?

    “I have no idea who they are,” he admitted. “I will venture into that soon. I do know that the person, unfortunately, died, and they harvested his or her organ for me. Because they were deceased, they had to work extra-hard to get it to go in with my body.

    “It’s in God’s hands now.”

    Talking Smack

    Howard Smack was a man of many hats at Indian River. During his 39-plus years with the school district, he served as a teacher for history, social studies, economics and sociology. He also served as the school’s vocational coordinator and ran its Co-Op program. He was a 9th-grade guidance counselor.

    And certainly no one associated with the school could forget all the countless days and nights on the field or on the courts as a basketball, baseball, softball, track and football coach.

    “I pretty much was involved in anything I could do to help the students,” he said. “I loved every moment of my time at Indian River. I woke up every day glad to go to work. I enjoyed what I was doing helping young people and knowing that you were playing a role in their life.

    “They may not have thought about it like that at the time, but I see some of them now, and they say, ‘Thank you for being a part of my life, and for doing what you did.’”

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    Coastal Point • Jason Feather: Skyler McClure and Jordyn Hogsten give each other a five during the matchup.Coastal Point • Jason Feather: Skyler McClure and Jordyn Hogsten give each other a five during the matchup.Well, when you’re hot, you’re hot!

    Such is the case for the Indian River High School girls’ soccer team right now, as on Tuesday night the squad posted their fifth straight win with a convincing 3-0 decision against rival Sussex Tech at the River Soccer Club complex on Gum Road.

    Isabella Binko scored in each half for the Indians, and Skyler McClure put the finishing touches on the rout with a goal of her own. Goalie Fabrea McCray made just three saves while facing only five shots, to pick up her third shutout victory of the season.

    “First half was a little frustrating. We got a goal, but we kept hitting their keeper in the chest,” IR’s veteran field boss Steve Kilby said after the May 1 game. “We’ve been working on building and finishing out of the back, but maybe we need to focus a little more on finishing and taking advantage of some of the opportunities that we create.”

    Binko got the Indians on the board at the 19:30 mark of the first half with a touch shot past Tech goalie Valencia Whealton. The goal was set up off an amazing clearing kick from McCray, who was credited with the assist.

    The Indians outshot their guests 17-4 in the first half alone.

    It was a back-and-forth second half as both teams were pressuring the ball and getting close to their goals with no luck. Binko changed all that at 76:38, scoring on a rebound from a shot from Anabela Diakos to put IR up 2-0.

    Then McClure put the game away at 78:00, as she was able to put the ball inside the post off a beautiful crossing pass from Isabella Keith.

    “We’ve worked on getting the ball wide and serving to finish at the back post,” Kilby said of the final goal, “so that paid dividends. It’s a huge win when you beat Tech. So we’re really happy about that.”

    And the fabulous freshman duo continues to lead the way for the Indians’ offense. Binko increased her team-high goal total on the season to 16, while Diakos has nine of her own. Collectively, they have scored 25 of the team’s 35 goals for the year.

    “She is really a player that plays at the next level,” Kilby said of Binko. “Her future is very bright, both at the high school level and collegiately. She finishes the ball very well.”

    The Indians would also out-shoot the Ravens in the second half, 18-5, for a game advantage of 35-9. IR also picked up 10 corner-kick opportunities in the game, to Tech’s 3.

    Free kick: The Indians were set to be in action on Thursday night, May 3, at River Soccer Club, against Milford. The game was played after Coastal Point press time, but you can find scores and highlights on our Facebook and Twitter pages. After the Milford game, the Indians will play four of their final five games on the road.

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