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    Coastal Point • Submitted: Audrey and Frank Serio are part of the the top real estate team in the nation in volume, at $842.7 million.Coastal Point • Submitted: Audrey and Frank Serio are part of the the top real estate team in the nation in volume, at $842.7 million.Many consider living at the beach to be a dream come true. And Frank and Audrey Serio have made a long-running career of making such dreams come true, assisting people with buying and selling houses down the coastline from Lewes and Rehoboth Beach to North Bethany, Bethany Beach, South Bethany, Fenwick Island and even Ocean City, Md.

    The Serios are part of the Keller Williams team recently announced as being No. 1 real estate team in the nation in volume, at $842.7 million, and No. 2 in the nation for transactions, by real estate industry publishing and consulting firm Real Trends. That distinction means that they are tops in the country in 2018 for total value of homes sold and second in the number of homes sold.

    For the last 34 years, Audrey and Frank Serio have worked together to make a strong name for themselves in the real estate business. For almost 20 years, they owned REMax by the Sea in Bethany Beach — just a town over from where Audrey grew up. Her father was one of the first real estate agents in Fenwick Island, back in the ’40s, and years later, Audrey Serio was the mayor of Fenwick Island.

    The Serios’ longtime friend Bob Lucido founded a team of real estate agents in Ellicott City, Md. Lucido then reached out to Audrey and Frank Serio to create the resort part of the team, in order to complement the team in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C., area. In Delaware, they were able to serve more than 40,000 clients from Northern Baltimore through Northern Virginia. And the Serio team continues to use what they learned from Lucido.

    “Bob is one of the finest men in real estate. He truly cares about the consumer and hence has been extremely successful. We are bringing that same great service to our clients here in the resort area,” she said.

    While Audrey grew up at the beach, Frank had moved to Ocean City in the early 1980s. There, he owned a package goods store and a nightclub — until he joined Moore, Warfield & Glick Realtors. There, he was able to sell a lot of homes and get his foot securely in the door before opening their own REMax by the Sea in Bethany and later joining Keller Williams when the partnership with Bob Lucido was created.

    Audrey and Frank Serio continue buy and sell houses from Northern Baltimore through Northern Virginia, as well as from Lewes to Ocean City. For more information on buying or selling a house, check out their website at www.theserios.com or call (302) 537-3171.


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    Although “Daddy’s girl” may be the more common trope, there is something special about a mother-daughter relationship, especially when that relationship develops into a professional partnership.

    Mother-daughter duo Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella will be returning to Bethany Beach Books on Thursday, July 12, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the latest of the bookstore’s author events.

    “Their newest essay collection is so heartwarming and perfect for summer that we could not put it down when we got an advanced copy of the book,” said Bethany Beach Books Events Coordinator Zandria Zielinski. “Lisa and Francesca have been coming to Bethany Beach Books for a few years now; however, after we read their newest collection, we knew we needed to get them back! Their essays are so relatable to so many people!”

    The author event will showcase their most-recent collection of humorous and earnest essays, “I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses,” which reflects on their lives and their friendship.

    “Nothing is off-limits. In fact, as we always say, ‘If it doesn’t make us cringe, it won’t make you laugh,’” Scottoline said.

    The Philadelphia natives collaborate on a weekly column titled “Chick Wit” for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Essays from that column and additional previously unpublished essays have been collected into a series of memoirs, including “I Need A Lifeguard Everywhere But the Pool,” “I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places,” “Does This Beach Make Me Look Fat?,” “Have a Nice Guilt Trip,” “Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim,” “My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space” and “Best Friends, Occasional Enemies.”

    “We write our essays completely separately — me in New York City, my mom on a farm in Pennsylvania,” Serritella said. “I joke that we work together, but across state lines — which is the safest way to work with your mother! So we don’t try to mimic each other’s tones. We are each our unfiltered self. And the ways the essays mirror each other or diverge is part of the story.”

    The latest memoir is the eighth book they have written together. Each previous collection has earned the writers Earphones Awards.

    “They are all inspired by our wish to talk about the real lives of women like us, and also help people look at the lighter side of their own lives,” Scottoline said. “And in these troubled times, I think that humor, truth and love are more important than ever before. And a glass of rosé never hurts.”

    Scottoline is a New York Times bestselling author and Edgar award-winning writer of 31 novels. She has received the Fun, Fearless, Fiction Award from Cosmopolitan magazine, a Distinguished Author Award from Scranton University and a “Paving the Way” award from the University of Pennsylvania, Women in Business. She was also named a PW Innovator by Publisher’s Weekly.

    However, Scottoline said her greatest accomplishment has been raising her daughter as a single mother. And the most fulfilling part of her career, she said, has been working with Serritella and expanding into humor writing.

    “I think she speaks for so many people in her generation, and the things that concern her — career choices, dating and her beloved dog — are the same kind of things that concern other young people, and I think she speaks so clearly for them, but with a modest and self-deprecating manner,” Scottoline said.

    As difficult as can be to be honest to an unacquainted audience, Serritella said she shares her experiences as a way to relate to others who may be overcoming similar struggles.

    “Writing about your life is a vulnerable, often nerve-wracking experience. I challenge myself to be revealing, and it still keeps me up at night to know people will be reading and judging me,” Serritella said. “So, when a reader I’ve never met approaches me and says ‘That’s totally me, too,’ and opens up to me in return, that instant bond is so exciting and validating and touching to me. It really means the world to me when people relate and react positively.”

    Serritella graduated from Harvard University with honors. Throughout her college career, she was awarded the Charles Edmond Horman Prize, the Baron Russell Briggs Prize and the Thomas Temple Hoopes Prize. She is currently working on her first novel.

    The authors will give a talk at the bookstore and sign copies of “I See Life Through Rosé-Colored Glasses.” The book is available for preorder and will be on sale July 10. Bethany Beach Books will be selling hardcover copies on the day of the event for $24.99.

    “If you are unable to make it to the event you are able to pre-purchase their book on our website (www.bethanybeachbooks.com) to be signed and personalized,” Zielinski said.


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    On a drive along Coastal Highway, concrete towers can be seen lining the Delaware beaches. The towers were built to protect the Atlantic Coast from German invasion during World War II.

    Inspired by the history of the area, Baltimore-native author J.R. Miller wrote “Towers on the Beach: World War II Spies & Heroes from Ocean View, Delaware to Bremen, Germany.”

    Miller will discuss his book and hold a Q&A session in the meeting room of the Selbyville Public Library during an author visit on Wednesday, July 18, from 10 to 11 a.m.

    The historical fiction novel is about a German spy, Kurt, who arrives in Bethany Beach in 1942. He travels to a farm on Woodland Avenue in Ocean View that is owned by German sympathizers and releases a German scientist from captivity at the POW camp in nearby Bear Trap.

    While staying at the farm, Kurt meets McKenna, who lives with her family on a farm on the same street. They fall in love, and Kurt is confronted with the arduous decision of whether to lie to the woman he loves or forsake his country.

    Those interested in attending the event must register in advance, online, over the phone or in person at the library. There are 25 seats available. The library requires a 24-hour cancelation notice to allow others on the waiting list to attend.

    “Towers on the Beach: World War II Spies & Heroes from Ocean View, Delaware to Bremen, Germany” was published by Archway Publishing from Simon & Schuster in February 2018, and costs $19.99 (softcover) or $5.99 (e-book). The book is available for purchase online or at Bethany Beach Books. The library will not be conducting sales.

    The novel is Miller’s first book, and the author visit will be his first event at a library. He previously visited the area for an author event at Bethany Beach Books on June 2.

    J.R. Miller graduated from the University of Baltimore with a bachelor’s degree in finance and received a master’s degree in governmental administration from the Fels School at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written textbooks and taught procurement classes throughout the United States and Canada. Miller was also an adjunct professor at Harford Community College in Maryland and at the University of Virginia.

    The author visit is free to attend. For more information, call the Selbyville Public Library at (302) 436-8195.


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    Coastal Point • Submitted: Volunteers move quickly to relocate a loggerhead sea turtle’s eggs so they would survive high tide, on Sunday, July 8.Coastal Point • Submitted: Volunteers move quickly to relocate a loggerhead sea turtle’s eggs so they would survive high tide, on Sunday, July 8.Michael Hess was walking along the Fenwick Island beach at James Street on Sunday, July 8, before sunrise, searching for hidden treasure with his metal detector. His normal routine was interrupted by an unusual sight ahead of him.

    Upon closer inspection, he came to realize what he had thought was a coconut washed ashore was a sea turtle laying her eggs — a loggerhead sea turtle, to be exact.

    Hess managed to flag down another man on the beach, who monitored the turtle with Hess’ wife as he went to notify police of his finding. On his way up the beach, he saw a woman and asked her to call the police.

    The turtle was already laying eggs at 5 a.m., when Hess arrived. By 7 or 7:30 a.m., 78 eggs were buried in the sand, and the mother headed toward the ocean.

    The police roped off the area surrounding the nest, as instructed by the Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute Inc., or MERR Institute.

    The MERR Institute is a non-profit rescue and research organization that provides 24/7 on-call service for “ill, injured, entangled or otherwise in need” marine mammals and sea turtles. The organization also conducts research on reported strandings.

    According to NOAA Fisheries, “a stranding is an event in the wild where a marine mammal or sea turtle is found dead on the beach or shore or floating in U.S. waters; when a marine mammal or sea turtle is alive on the beach or shore, but unable to return to the water due to sickness or injury or some other obstacle; when a marine mammal or sea turtle is in the water, but is unable to return to its natural habitat without assistance.”

    “My responders were on scene since 8:30 a.m. and were there throughout the day until we got authorization to move the nest,” said Suzanne Thurman, executive director of the MERR Institute.

    Sea turtle nesting is overseen by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Delaware has an agreement with the U.S Fish & Wildlife Service, under Section 6 of the Endangered Species Act. The MERR Institute responders had to receive permits from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC) to be able to move the eggs, because loggerhead sea turtles are endangered in the northeast Atlantic Ocean.

    Due to the time-sensitive nature of the matter, DNREC Environmental Program Administrator Robert Hossler gave Thurman his verbal approval to transport the eggs, about 3 p.m. The eggs would not have survived high tide that evening or the impending beach replenishment project. The relocation area will not be disclosed.

    “We then kept watch over the relocated nest throughout the night, and the following day, until a predator excluder could be put into place, which was done by DNREC. We did this to deter predators, such as foxes, raccoons, crows and gulls,” Thurman added.

    The predator excluder is essentially fencing to protect the eggs until they hatch, in approximately 68 to 75 days.

    Although sea turtles are common to the area — the MERR Institute has already responded to nine incidents involving sea turtles this season — it is not normal for them to be nesting on Delaware beaches. The only other sea turtle nesting reported in the area was in 2011, when a green sea turtle laid eggs at Cape Henlopen State Park.

    “This is the first time ever that a loggerhead came this far north to lay her eggs,” Hess said. “It is history-making.”

    There are several other reasons why the nesting was rare. Female sea turtles usually nest collectively, but the sighting was of a lone mother turtle. Additionally, the loggerhead only had three flippers.

    “She was missing the back right flipper that is used to dig the hole to lay eggs and cover it,” Hess said.

    He recalled that about 20 people gathered for the extraordinary sighting, but those present remained at least 15 feet away from the nest and restricted others from accessing the area.

    “It’s amazing how people came together,” Hess said, reflecting with pride on everyone’s efforts that day.


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    Coastal Point • Laura Walter: George Kent tags a horseshoe crab on the evening of Thursday, June 28. Other team members included Mark Cummings, Dave Ritondo, Bev Straneva and Steve Straneva.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: George Kent tags a horseshoe crab on the evening of Thursday, June 28. Other team members included Mark Cummings, Dave Ritondo, Bev Straneva and Steve Straneva.Under a full moon in June, about a dozen people strapped headlamps to their foreheads, grabbed clipboards and hiked to the waterfront at James Farm. They would be counting and tagging horseshoe crabs until nearly midnight, as the crabs came ashore for mating season.

    The Indian River Bay gently nudged at the long sandy beach, hidden outside Ocean View. Horseshoe crabs were already nudging together in groups and pairs, under the shallow waves.

    “We have to be there as the high tide starts to recede,” explained Dennis Bartow, biologist and lead survey coordinator. “That’s the official counting time that’s consistent with all the sites along the Delaware Bay.”

    One by one, the tagging team pulled an endless parade of horseshoe crabs from the water. They recorded the sex and approximate age on a clipboard, and then drilled a hole in the corner of their shells to attach a round white numbered tag. Then they tossed the crabs back into the bay, without ceremony. (The crabs can probably handle it. They’ve probably survived worse than humans in their several million years on earth.)

    “We don’t disturb any nesting ones, but anything that’s moving is fair game,” Bartow said, wading in the water around 11 p.m.

    Meanwhile, the counting team did a random sampling along 200 meters of beach, counting crabs every few meters.

    Although the males clung onto the females’ backs, they don’t actually mate in the mammalian sense. Instead, the female lays her eggs deep, digging into the sand with her sharp tail. The male (sometimes more than one) is pulled right behind her to fertilize the newly laid eggs.

    Over 40 days, the babies mature in the shell and come to the surface. The survivors slowly make their way into the bay, trying to avoid fish and the generations of shorebirds that have built their migrations around this all-you-can-eat crabby buffet.

    Man and crab

    The Delaware Center for the Inland Bays (CIB) has been counting crabs since 2008, this year with six sample sites around the bays.

    They aim to count 15 times from late April to June, always at the full moon or new moon, plus two days before and two days after.

    “We want to find out where our horseshoe crabs go. We know we have a population in the inland bays,” Bartow said. “We want to know: do they stay in the inland bays, or go?”

    They’re tracking crabs around the Delaware Bay, Ocean City, Md., and Wallops Island, Va., up to Connecticut and south to the Carolinas.

    On this night, volunteers counted 267 crabs, including 210 males and 57 females.

    On some nights, they see fewer than 10 crabs at James Farm. On their highest nights, they averaged in the 700s, topping out at 1,059. There are usually way more males than females. On the busiest nights, the males can outnumber females roughly 9:1, although 5:1 is more common.

    Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: A few horseshoe crabs gather at James Farm Ecological Preserve.Coastal Point • Tyler Valliant: A few horseshoe crabs gather at James Farm Ecological Preserve.Once the baby crabs have hatched and made their way back into the water, they’ll have about 18 molts in 10 years, and then the mature crabs will return to the shallows to begin reproducing.

    Horseshoe crab species come in three Asian varieties, plus the one American version found on the East Coast from Maine to Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

    While they’re called “crabs,” the American horseshoe crab, or Limulus polyphemus, is actually closely related to spiders and scorpions. But these gentle monsters are nothing to be squeamish about.

    “They cannot hurt you. They have a lot of claws” that aren’t hard enough to puncture skin, Bartow said, as a crab clung to his hand like a baby monkey.

    The tail isn’t poisonous, only sharp enough to startle bare feet, like anything else hidden in the sand. With no teeth, they enjoy eating small clams and worms.

    Just don’t get any fingers caught in the shell hinges as the creature bends its abdomen.

    Life and death

    In their 21-year lifespan, their death can be important, ecologically and scientifically. The eggs fuel shorebirds that migrate from the southern tip of South America and Africa to the Arctic. As a baitfish, horseshoe crabs are popular bait for whelk and eel.

    Finally, the famous cornflower-blue blood of horseshoe crabs has not been duplicated in the laboratory, and it’s the only known substance that can test for bacterial contamination in drugs, vaccines and medical devices, such as pacemakers and prosthetics.

    Bartow explained that limulus amebocyte lysate (LAL) is extracted from the blood, then rehydrated in laboratory tests. If it remains a liquid, things are good. But if the LAL reacts to form a gel, the substance is contaminated.

    “There’s no synthetic substitute for it,” Bartow marveled.

    “They’re been around for [over 400] million years. They’re survived five major extinctions. They outlived the dinosaurs. … Hopefully, they continue,” if humans don’t ruin their homes, Bartow said.

    How have they survived for so long?

    “They have a specialized area they live and feed on,” Bartow said.

    With a low profile and hard shell that has inspired generations of battle-bots and Roombas, the horseshoe crab lays low in deep, warm waters in winter.

    And yet, spawning grounds must be precise: a certain slope of sandy coastline that drains back with just enough moisture.

    The female will lay a million eggs in her lifetime (80,000 to 90,000 eggs each year), in clusters of several thousand light green or orange BB-sized balls. Of those, 55 will survive to age 2, when they’re about 4 inches. (In the Southern states, their timelines are a bit faster and shorter, where warm temperatures speed things up.) The lucky ones live about 21 years in this temperate zone.

    The male bumps along the dark seafloor, attempting to mount anything in the way, including rubber boots. Crabs have 10 eyes, or light sensors, including the main pair on top (which look like traditional eyes), plus more on top, underneath and on the tail itself.

    To the untrained eye, the males and females look nearly identical. But the front lip of the male’s shell is slightly bowed, to fit over the female’s abdomen, which is more curved. He climbs on the back of her shell and hangs on with two front pincers.

    Females are usually larger, since they can live longer and have an additional molt.

    Their age can be determined by size, color and condition of a shell. Like many other seafaring vessels, the crab shells collect barnacles, slipper shells, worm tubes and algae.

    The tag data is also sent to the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife. This summer, at least 800 crabs had already been tagged at James Farm, plus another hundred or so on this warm June night.

    Based on density, it turns out that the inland bays are almost as important for the crabs as the larger Delaware Bay, which is world-renowned for its horseshoe crab activity. (Prime Hook during birding season, anyone?)

    In 2016, the CIB counted a total of 14,527 crabs in the inland bays.

    But are horseshoe crabs declining at James Farm? This year saw 5,170 crabs, compared to 6,830 in 2017; 7,372 in 2016; and 7,651 in 2015. Anything could affect the daily counts, including wind, rain, salinity, water temperature and wave action. After enough counts, though, a solid average should be emerging.

    But as long as horseshoe crabs show up, the CIB volunteers will keep counting. They have fun, joking and laughing amid the work. Some have been counting since the beginning, while others just joined this spring after hearing a lecture.

    For more information or to volunteer for the CIB’s 2019 spring surveys, email environment@inlandbays.org or call (302) 226-8105, ext. 112. Details are online at www.inlandbays.org/projects-and-issues/all/horseshoe-crab-survey.


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    Bulldozers headed to South Bethany this week, with that town set as the next stop in this summer’s major beach replenishment project.

    After several weeks of pumping sand from offshore borrow sites, the Great Lake Dock & Dredge Company was set to continue south to replenish South Bethany’s shoreline on July 5, just slightly behind schedule, with an estimated completion date of July 29.

    U.S. Sen. Tom Carper visited the moving construction site on June 29, one of the final days of the Bethany Beach leg of the project, which this week saw the start of dune crossing and dune fencing restoration.

    As has been the case in Bethany, the beach in South Bethany will have continuous, but rolling, closures of up to 1,000 feet at a time as the beach and dunes are re-sculpted. The public may not enter the beach or swim in the construction zones.

    Delaware’s project is an average-sized project, said Bryan Dast, project manager for Great Lakes.

    Every project is challenging, but the nearby crowds are a unique piece of the puzzle, Dast said. Although he enjoys curious passers-by asking questions, he emphasized that he also needs them to keep off this active construction site.

    “Always stay clear of it. It is an active construction zone. Lots of heavy equipment,” said Dast.

    The project involves dredging 1.2 million cubic yards of sand from borrow sites several miles offshore. Unfortunately for this year’s renourishment, the underwater sand stores don’t seem to be replenishing themselves, staff said. In fact, Bethany’s site was exhausted early, so they were already pulling from Fenwick’s borrow site.

    The sand is loosely filtered before entering the pipes, then pumped through another filtration cage before draining on the beach and being graded into a dune and berm template that was engineered before the first major reconstruction was begun.

    So far, the 24/7 project has only needed to stop a few times, for a few hours. If bad weather struck, the sailing vessels would seek safe harbor, such as in the Delaware Bay.

    Costs for the $17.2 million project were split 65/35 between the federal and state governments.

    Ultimately, officials noted, everyone could save money if the projects weren’t so piecemeal. For instance, when nourishment occurred in late 2017 in Ocean City, Md., the Delaware project had already been announced. These neighboring coastlines are both managed by different offices of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Baltimore and Philadelphia districts). Congress’s best bet for cost savings would be to treat larger chunks of the Atlantic Coast as one continuous region.

    “Ad hoc is expensive,” said Carper, top Democrat on the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee.

    In addition, while the machinery is an interesting view and science project for some people, it also results in a disappointing lack of beach access for others. South Bethany was set to see that inconvenience move their way this week, with beach crossovers closed and pricey vacation homes now next door to heavy machinery.

    Why did Delaware get stuck with the short end of the straw, with replenishment in the midst of Independence Day?

    Dredging schedules are constantly being updated, Dast said. Plus, winter work is more likely to suffer weather delays. Dredging is also limited if it could impact animal migration routes.

    On the positive side, the “soft structure” of an engineered sandy beach makes towns resilient against storms, said Ed Voight, Army Corps spokesperson.

    But with mounting scientific reports saying the Delaware could be farther and farther underwater by the end of this century, at what point do people stop trying to rescue the sinking landmass?

    Carper said that, with better environmental controls, such as fuel-efficient vehicles and wind energy, Delaware wouldn’t have to consider more drastic measures.

    “At the end of the day, the cost to replace businesses would be more” than replenishment, Carper said of the dune protecting homes, expensive businesses and infrastructure.

    The Bethany/South Bethany and Fenwick Island Coastal Storm Risk Management projects will continue for several weeks in each town, set to conclude by summer’s end.


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    Selbyville Towne Village is the next major housing development revving up along Route 54. The project has changed several times since first proposed over a decade ago, before the “Great Recession.” Now, developers are taking baby steps to at last get shovels in the ground for some basic ditch digging.

    The 90-acre farmland site is located on the southwest side of Route 54 (Lighthouse Road) and Hudson Road.

    The new site plans have not been submitted for town council approval, but they are collecting agency approvals and permits. Developers envision 182 housing units, including 120 some single-family homes and 53 multi-family units, with a commercial shopping center (construction phase one would include 35 singles and eight multis).

    Because the project will take a long time, the developer requested to start moving soil on-site. Lots of dirt needs to be moved before construction begins on the old Dunn property. First, tax ditches must be in place, some being relocated or new ones dug. These are court-ordered changes to the Bunting Tax Ditch area. Owners hope to take advantage of summer’s dry weather for digging, and they’re just waiting for a judge to sign the order, any day now.

    “We’re just looking to move earth right now,” not build or install infrastructure, water or sewer, said Mark Davidson, an associate vice president for Pennoni Associates, an architectural and engineering company.

    They also hoped to coordinate entrance construction with Delaware Department of Transportation’s Route 54 paving project this month.

    The Selbyville Town Council unanimously approved moving of soil (with Jay Murray absent). For now, the project shouldn’t affect a nearby Selbyville sewage pump station.

    After the P&Z Commission frowned upon proposals to also build a FORGE Youth & Family Academy, the owner eliminated the youth center from his plans and moved forward. (FORGE has since found a new home in Pittsville, Md.)

    In other Selbyville news:

    • The town council unanimously approved the initial and final site plan, plus changes to the actual parcel, at the former Food Rite on Main Street. Leimbach Investments has demolished the car wash to build an 8,000-square-foot carpet business. The thrift shop and Food Rite buildings will remain.

    Behind the roadside property, zoned historic business district, the second Leimbach property is zoned residential. After Selbyville completes the Town’s 10-year Comprehensive Plan update, Leimbach will request to change the zoning and then merge the two lots as historic business.

    For now, the town council also OK’d zoning the property line between the two parcels to be shifted about 67 feet eastward, to allow for building with appropriate setbacks.

    • Bid specifications have arrived for replacement of the Sandy Branch culvert, which began noticeably collapsing under Railroad Avenue three years ago. The Town will prepare to accept bids for repairs.

    The next Selbyville Town Council meeting is Monday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m.


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    The regular monthly meeting of the Ocean View Town Council this week continued a trend of seeing a larger-than-usual attendance of the town’s citizens, as several issues continue to garner input from townsfolk.

    During the July 20 meeting, the council returned to discussion of a proposal from Avon Park resident Nicole Kelly, requesting the Town contribute approximately $6,000 to help pay for drainage work that would help eight parcels in the community.

    Kelly received a proposal from the Sussex Conservation District (SCD) after contacting them about long-standing drainage issues in her development. The SCD suggested creating a catch basin that would take the water to the Deep Hole Tax Ditch. Through their cost-sharing program, SCD would pay $5,000 of the cost, but Avon Park would need to supply the balance.

    Kelly said the Town’s financial support would be in line with their support in 2015, when they spent approximately $45,000 to address some of the neighborhood’s drainage issues.

    “Your timely support is necessary at this time,” she said.

    Ocean View Mayor Walter Curran praised Kelly for her hard work and dedication to trying to address Avon Park’s issues.

    “I again commend Nicole Kelly for the effort she has expended trying to help cure her neighborhood’s drainage issues. I think the plan that the Sussex Conservation District has come up with is a good solution for their individual backyard problems,” he said.

    “In Ms. Kelly’s communications to the Town, she has pointed out that a prior Avon Park drainage project was completed and paid for by the Town, and she is correct,” Curran acknowledged. “However, that work should not have been paid for by the Town.”

    Curran said he did not support the Town paying money for those eight parcels, as he believed it to be “unethical … to pay for individual homeowner problems with Town tax money.”

    “Whatever mistakes were made in the past serve as a lesson learned but should not be repeated… I recommend that the homeowners of Avon Park take advantage of the offer by the Sussex Conservation District and get the work done… From my position as mayor … I say we should not participate financially. It is not what the Town is supposed to do.”

    Curran said Town Manager Dianne Vogel had researched the matter and found documents from when Avon Park and Wedgefield were annexed into the Town in 2002, stating that the Town would not be responsible for drainage issues.

    “Quite frankly, the Town should not have spent the $45,000 back then,” said Curran.

    Councilman Tom Maly said he, too, is opposed to having the Town financially contribute to the project, noting that he represents a number of communities who spend their own money to manage their stormwater.

    “Speaking for my community, we spend $13,000 per year to manage our stormwater management system. It’s hard for me to go back to my community and other communities like Bear Trap and Savannah’s Landing who spend considerable amounts of money to manager their stormwater, to have them use their tax dollars to manage somebody else’s.”

    Councilman Berton Reynolds disagreed with other members of council, noting that the Town has drainage issues in both Avon Park and Wedgefield slated to be addressed in 2020, and saying that the contribution could help save the Town money.

    Burton was the only council member in favor of financially supporting the project.

    Kelly voiced her disappointment with the council’s decision, suggesting there was favoritism when the 2015 project occurred.

    “I’ve had had two other people come up to me and have that same allegation,” said Curran. “There was no favoritism. What there was was a decision based on information given to us that we relied on. Now we find out we never should have relied on it… That’s not fixing things retroactively — that’s learning from mistakes. We’re fixing things going forward.”

    During Citizens’ Privilege, Woodland Park resident Bill Goodwin requested an update on the Town acquiring easements for the Woodland Park/Woodland Avenue drainage project.

    “Recently, we had a gentleman pull out his wet-dry vac, stood out in his driveway and sucked the water out of his swale,” said Goodwin, illustrating the need for action.

    Curran said Woodland Park is “leading the parade” on Town drainage projects.

    The Town will hold an informational meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 14, at 6 p.m. for Woodland Park residents to learn about the drainage project.

    “It is our hope that a full explanation, with photos, will clarify any misunderstanding anyone may have about why we need easements to perform the work.”

    Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader had said in April that the Town needed to acquire 13 easements in order to begin work. Having obtained three since then, Schrader said there is another property owner he expects to sign off on the easement soon.

    “It’s complicated… We have two people we can’t find,” he added. “We have that problem to deal with. We have a couple that are just adamant that they aren’t going to cooperate… Ultimately, I’m going to begin filing condemnation actions against the people who have failed to cooperate.”

    Curran said that, aside from the Woodland project, all other proposed drainage projects within the town are being discussed and analyzed, to be prioritized “within a few months.”

    “After priorities are set, everything else being equal, whichever neighborhood cooperates best and gets easements signed the quickest, with the least amount of legal hassle, will go to the top of the list.”

    Phil Sommer, who has owned his home in Woodland Park since 2013, noted that there is a home within the community where the owner built a boardwalk to get out to their mailbox.

    Kate Hungerford of Woodland Park said she had called Vogel prior to June 11, asking when Woodland Park’s project would begin.

    “She told me there were no plans whatsoever for the drainage problem in Woodland Park, and now you’re saying there are plans. I had been lied to so many times and been given different excuses that I don’t believe what’s being said. My question is this: What is your estimated date of when this project will begin?”

    Curran said that, once the easements were acquired, the Town would still need to advertise the project, seek bids and sign contracts. He estimated that it could begin in October.

    Taxes also a point of contention

    In a statement, Curran said taxes go hand-in-hand with drainage projects, as the council voted to raise taxes for that specific purpose.

    “As we progress in our review of the outstanding list of drainage projects, the first thing we have to determine is ‘Who is responsible?’ There were decisions made in the past that were wrong. A number of the projects on the current drainage project list are questionable. This is extremely disturbing, because I and the remainder of this town council made a decision to raise taxes significantly based on the estimated costs of these projects. We all relied on the information provided to us.”

    Curran said that, at the time of the tax increase, he had said it would get the Town through two years, but depending on the remaining drainage projects, another increase in taxes could be necessary before then.

    “I am now convinced that we will not be facing additional tax increases in two years — at least not to pay for drainage projects,” he said.

    Curran added a few points, which he said he hoped residents would take away with them:

    • Delaware is flat, and when there is a great deal of rain, “There will be temporary flooding”;

    • Individual homeowner lots in subdivisions that were incorporated into the town that have grading issues are a homeowner issue, not a Town issue;

    • The Town does not need an easement to perform work in its own right-of-way;

    • Homeowners who place plantings, ornaments, etc., in the Town’s right-of-way are trespassing and are responsible for replacing or repairing anything damaged or destroyed by those items;

    • When the Town has an easement on a property, it will repair or replace anything damaged by the work being done; and

    • The fact that the Town has an easement to perform work does not mandate that the Town has to perform the work.

    Wedgefield resident Ruth Diggs said her family owns a vacation home in Ocean View and hope to one day live in town full-time. She questioned the recent switch to Sussex County tax assessments.

    Curran said the switch to county assessments was to save the Town approximately $250,000, and blamed himself for not doing his due diligence on the resulting impacts on individual tax bills.

    “From my perspective, that was a mistake for us to switch. It was an absolute mistake,” he said. “While we defended the 50 percent tax increase ... not only did people get hit with more than the 50 percent, some people got a reduction… We will find a cure for it.”

    “Are you going to pay me back when we fix it?” asked Diggs.

    “I’m not going to say yes or no, because I want to get all the facts in front of us before any decision is made to go in any direction.”

    Schrader said that one thing that gets overlooked is that the assessments the Town is using have been used by Sussex County since the 1970s.

    “Just keep in the back of your mind — everything you say about us is equally true about your County taxes,” he said. “You’ve been living with those same assessments… Even though we may work on fixing our tax assessments, it does not cure the County’s.”

    Resident Jim Carr said he has trouble believing his Town taxes are within $200 of what he pays in taxes to the State of Delaware.

    “A bunch of people are being overcharged in their taxes, and we need to do something about it immediately,” he said, asking when residents can expect a proposed solution to the problem.

    Curran said he estimated having a solution to announce at the council’s next meeting, which will be in September.

    In other Town news:

    • Steve Strong asked the council to help him reduce the speed limit on Muddy Neck Road from 45 mph to 35 mph.

    “Many in our local community are very much concerned about the dangerous conditions along this road,” he said. “It’s extremely dangerous. I regard it as an accident waiting to happen.”

    Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin praised Strong, saying he saw a problem and is trying to solve it.

    McLaughlin said he had spoken with new Ocean View Planning & Zoning Director Ken Cimino and Vogel about the issue, and the Town has reached out to the Delaware Department of Transportation regarding the concern.

    “They’re going to give us some leeway in establishing speed limits on that section,” he said, noting that DelDOT still has to approve their findings.

    DelDOT officials are scheduled to visit next week to lay down traffic counters to get a better sense of traffic on the road.

    McLaughlin said his department would be doing extra work on the road in the meantime.

    “I share the concerns,” he said, noting that an officer recently issued a ticket to a vehicle traveling 71 mph in the marked 45 mph zone. “It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

    • The Town received two letters — one from an individual looking to develop property and another actively developing another property — requesting zoning allowances be granted to them for properties whose zoning does not coincide with their request.

    Schrader noted that what both parties were seeking is a change to the text of the Land Use & Development Code, which would require public hearings and meetings.

    “It is not something we can change by simply putting it on the agenda,” he said, noting that the parties would have to contact the Planning & Zoning Department to follow the proper procedures.

    • Vogel formally introduced Cimino, who had just completed his second week of work for the Town.

    • The council voted 5-0 to establish an account for funds to be used for recreation and open space development, and to open a Raymond James investment account for investment of trust funds.

    • The Ocean View Town Council will not meet in the month of August. The next monthly meeting will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m.


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    Coastal Point • Courtesy of DelDOT, enhanced by David Elliott: A proposed detour to circumvent a bridge project in Millsboro next spring will alter traffic patterns for an estimated two weeks.Coastal Point • Courtesy of DelDOT, enhanced by David Elliott: A proposed detour to circumvent a bridge project in Millsboro next spring will alter traffic patterns for an estimated two weeks.Motorists traveling south on Route 113 next spring may get the, let’s say, opportunity to take a scenic tour of parts of Millsboro.

    The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) sent representatives to the July 2 regular meeting of the Millsboro Town Council to discuss plans to fix a series of concrete-encased steel beams on concrete abutments attached to a bridge over Iron Branch, in close proximity to the Hardee’s on the highway.

    DelDOT has looked at two plans to do the repairs: The first would involve lane closures and would take approximately eight months to finish. The second, which DelDOT and town officials have said they prefer, would involve closing down part of southbound Route 113, detouring motorists along Radish Road to Hickory Hill Road, then to Handy Road and back to Route 113. That second plan would take about two weeks to complete.

    “It will be a lot of pain,” explained Jason Hastings, state bridge engineer for DelDOT. “But it’s for a short time.”

    How we got here

    The core of the bridge was originally constructed in 1916, to carry the then-new T. Coleman du Pont Highway over Iron Branch in Millsboro, according to DelDOT. That bridge was later modified two more times, to accommodate wider shoulders and to dualize the highway.

    According to Hastings, each bridge in Delaware is inspected every two years, and it was discovered that the steel beams on this bridge “have significant corrosion and loss of section,” according to DelDOT’s website.

    “The concrete frame and concrete abutments have some delamination [a mode of failure for composite materials and steel] and spalls [splinters]. The existing structure is structurally deficient and was selected by the Pontis Bridge Management System for work.”

    “Each year, we create a prioritization list that is ranked based on a deficiency formula that accounts for bridge condition and roadway functionality,” explained Hastings. “We program the top 125-150 bridges for work, whether capital contracts (such as this project) or maintenance activities.”

    The existing bridge is ranked 72nd on the 2018 DelDOT Bridge Deficiency List, according to the department’s website.

    What’s next?

    DelDOT will host public workshops on the proposed rehabilitation project, to both present details of the project and solicit feedback from the public, according to DelDOT. A live workshop will be held at Millsboro Town Hall & Civic Center on Thursday, July 26, from 4 to 7 p.m. A virtual workshop will be available online.

    The full notice for the hearing is online at https://deldot.gov/About/publicevents/workshops/index.shtml?dc=workshop&....

    Interested persons are invited to express their views either online or in writing, according to DelDOT. Comments will be received during the workshop, or can be mailed to DelDOT Community Relations, P.O. Box 778, Dover, DE 19903, or can be emailed to dotpr@state.de.us.

    Hastings said he believes the public will agree that the two-week plan, though more dramatic and inconvenient than the eight-month plan involving lane closures, is more efficient and advantageous.

    “If there is significant backlash at the public workshop, we would re-evaluate,” said Hastings, “but I don’t anticipate that happening.”

    Hastings said the estimated total cost of the project — including construction, contingency and construction inspection — is $1.5 million. Hastings also said that all businesses and homeowners beyond the closure will have access maintained throughout the duration of the project.

    “In fact, the detour we chose allows U.S. 113 traffic to stay on 113 as long as possible, keeping easy access to the businesses.”

    If the project gets the final thumbs-up and moves forward, DelDOT expects the design work to be completed by the end of this summer, and the construction has to be finished no later than the spring of 2019.

    The actual construction phase of the project would involve the continued use of steel beams, but they would no longer be encased in concrete, according to Hastings.

    “The widened portion of the structure [under the median and northbound side] is a three-sided concrete frame, which is an economic and durable structure for this structure size,” said Hastings. “The replacement portion of the structure on the southbound side will be a three-sided concrete frame to match the remaining structure.”


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    More than a decade after being mothballed due to adverse economic conditions, the Dove Landing community received final site plan approval from the Millville Town Council on Tuesday, July 10.

    The final plans call for 316 homes. That is the same number of homes given preliminary approval in December 2017, but the breakdown of housing types has changed.

    The plan finalized this week calls for 127 single-family homes, 66 townhomes with a height of 40 feet, and 123 townhomes that are 28 feet in height. The 95-acre Dove Landing site is located off Burbage Road and Route 17.

    Originally, plans called for 140 single-family homes, 142 townhomes and 120 condominiums. The condo units were dropped last year; the taller townhome units were added to the plan presented July 11. Single-family homes were increased to 171 last December before being decreased to 128 for the final site plan.

    The Millville Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval of the changes in the site plan on March 9 and the changes in amenities on July 2.

    The town council approved the plans 3-0 this week, with Council Members Pete Michel and Ron Belinko recusing themselves because they live in Bishop’s Landing, which was also built by Beazer Homes and is adjacent to the Dove Landing tract.

    Steve Marsh of project engineer George, Miles & Buhr gave a presentation for Dove Landing at a public hearing before the council voted.

    Marsh told the council there are no changes from the previously approved plan in the plans for the development’s road network, sewer piping or stormwater drainage system.

    Some amenities have been added; for example, the new plans call for two pickleball courts, but fishing piers will be removed from two of the small ponds in the development. A community garden has been replaced with shuffleboard courts, a bench and a pergola.

    Marsh said the developer is looking into adding two more pickleball courts, for a total of four, and said if that is deemed appropriate, Beazer would come back to the Town to amend the plan.

    The clubhouse and pool plans have not changed, Marsh said.

    Marsh said the increased amenities will cost the developer more, but added that the hope is that the added items would speed up sales in the development.

    Town Solicitor Seth Thompson noted that there is no change in density from the most recent plan, which was down nearly 100 units from the original plan.

    Most of the approximately 35 residents present at the meeting appeared to be from the Bishop’s Landing development. Only a handful chose to speak or ask questions during the public hearing.

    Among the concerns were “screening” of four commercial trash containers to be placed in the community for residents’ use, to help keep non-residents of Dove Landing from using them; increased traffic in the area, particularly on Burbage Road; and lighting and noise from some of the amenities, particularly the planned basketball court.

    Marsh agreed to suggest the trash containers be placed in such a way that non-residents will not be able to see them from the road.

    “I think that’s a great point,” he said.

    He also agreed to address the concerns of Denton Manor resident Jacqueline Reed, whose property backs up to Dove Landing. Reed requested extra buffers between her property and the sewer pump station, which is to be placed behind her property, as well as behind the proposed Beach Villas townhomes.

    Of the concerns expressed about traffic, Marsh suggested that “people bring their concerns to DelDOT,” because those are out of the purview of the Town and the developer.

    In other business, the council heard an update on the town park from Council Member Steve Maneri.

    “Building permits are in hand,” Maneri said.

    George, Miles & Buhr is currently finalizing site plans for the project, and “the next step is going out to bid,” he said.


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    With the July 10 filing deadline now past, the list of candidates for county, state and federal office from Delaware for the 2018 election cycle is now set.

    Locally, the District 4 Sussex County Council seat is being sought by Democrat Paulette Ann Rappa of Millsboro, and two Republican candidates who have filed for the seat and will first face each other in a primary: Douglas B. Hudson of Dagsboro and George S. Parish of Millsboro.

    Longtime incumbent George Cole, also a Republican, did not file for re-election.

    For the District 5 County Council seat, Ellen M. Magee of Selbyville is the lone Democrat on the November ballot. Republicans Kevin J Christophel of Laurel and John L. Rieley of Millsboro will meet in the Sept. 6 primary.

    District 5 incumbent Robert B. Arlett of Selbyville, a Republican, had previously announced, and this week filed for, his candidacy for U.S. Senate.

    In statewide offices, vying for the District 38 state representative seat will be Democrat Meghan M. Kelly of Dagsboro and Republican incumbent Ronald E. Gray of Selbyville.

    In the 41st Representative District, incumbent Rich Collins, a Republican, will face Democrat Bradley S. Connor of Dagboro.

    For national office, incumbent U.S. Sen. Thomas R. Carper Jr., a Democrat, has filed for re-election. He will face Kerri Evelyn Harris of Dover in a Sept. 6 primary. Republicans Arlett, Eugene J. Truono of Wilmington and Roque “Rocky” de la Fuente will face off in the September primary. (There is no address given for de la Fuente, as he continues his multi-state filing pattern, which he has said is meant to demonstrate the laxness of candidacy requirements.)

    Also filing for the U.S. Senate seat are Demitri G. Theodoropolous of Newark from the Green Party and Nadine M. Frost of Wilmington for the Libertarian Party.

    U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester of Wilmington, a Democrat and the incumbent, will face the winner of a primary race between Lee Murphy of Wilmington and Scott Walker of Milford, both Republicans, in the general election on Nov. 6.

    For State Treasurer, Democrat Colleen C. Davis of Dagsboro will face incumbent Kenneth A. Simpler of Newark in November.

    For complete a complete list of federal, state and county candidates, see the Delaware Department of Elections website for Sussex County, at https://electionssc.delaware.gov/.


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    The Ocean View Board of Adjustment is expected to vote next week on an application requesting a special-use exception that would allow for a wildlife-learning center in a General Business-1 parcel in town.

    The board originally deferred its vote on the application at its regular monthly meeting in May.

    Barn Hill Preserve currently offers educational programs throughout the states of Delaware, Louisiana and beyond. The group is hoping to open an education center at 23 Atlantic Ave.

    Co-owner Josh Mueller, a Bethany Beach native, graduated from Louisiana State University, where he studied wildlife ecology.

    “It wasn’t as exotic as what I deal with now,” he said. “We learned about trees, birds, reptiles, mammals… Anything that could possibly do with the Earth, we learned about.”

    While in college, Mueller interned at Barn Hill’s first location, fell in love with the work and became a partner.

    “The more I was there, I realized, growing up, I never got an opportunity like this,” he said. “We don’t really have anything like what Barn Hill Preserve offers or any animal place could offer.”

    In a packet presented to the board, the types of animals proposed for the facility include a red kangaroo, common parakeet, tayra (weasel), Eurasian lynx, Asian small-clawed otters, sulcata tortoise, Patagonian cavies and the Linneaus’ two-toed sloth.

    For safety and security, according to Barn Hill, each animal enclosure will have an airlock-style entry system (without literally locking out air) that consists of two doors, walls on all sides and a roof. There will also be an additional barrier fence 3 feet from all animal enclosures, and all enclosures will be secured with a lock with keys only accessible to the animal keepers.

    There would also be a 6- to 8-foot fence surrounding the property.

    In case of inclement weather, each enclosure would have a lockdown house, to provide shelter to the animals.

    Some people in town are not convinced on the project, however.

    “Everyone I am talking to is absolutely outraged,” said Connie Marshall owner of All About Birds, whose commercial parcel is adjacent to the applicant’s proposed location.

    Marshall has gone so far to create a petition against the application (which is in various local businesses), and is handing out informational packets to anyone interested who walks into her store. She has even created “No zoo for Ocean View” signs.

    When she first heard of the application, Marshall said she wasn’t opposed, as she thought it would be similar to the Bethan Beach Nature Center, where animals are brought to the site. However, when she saw the site plan she was “sick to her stomach”

    “It’s a wide-open field. There’s no natural habitat for these animals,” she said. “As people are finding out, they are outraged.”

    Mueller says that having one-on-one interaction with animals is key to education and preservation.

    “You just get a strong connection to the animals that way,” he said. “We don’t consider ourselves a zoo. We don’t want that distance between humans and animals. Our goal is to encourage people to work with the animals and to help them. That’s where the conservation is really strong with us.”

    Mueller said they call it a wildlife learning center because they plan to teach people about wildlife.

    “Everything is going to be hands-on for the most part, guided by one of our trained professionals.”

    The public record is now closed, meaning no one in favor or opposition may speak to the board regarding the application.

    Town Solicitor Dennis Schrader noted the Board of Adjustment is a semi-judicial board, and follows strict guidelines related to the public record. While Marshall may provide the petition to the board for the application’s file, it will not be considered as the board votes.

    The Ocean View Board of Adjustment will meet on Thursday, July 19, at 6 p.m. at town hall.


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    A midday chemical spill closed Hosier Street on Thursday, June 12, at Mountaire’s Selbyville poultry processing plant.

    According to authorities, a forklift operator inadvertently pierced a hole in a 500-gallon container of peracetic acid around 11:40 a.m.

    The hazmat incident occurred at the main building at 55 Hosier Street, right where live-haul trucks back into the plant, which sometimes briefly stops traffic.

    Mountaire uses peracetic acid as a disinfectant. It’s related to peroxide, a compound of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.

    “Mountaire received it in diluted form, [which] basically turns into a very strong vinegar, and that’s what the smell was, of a strong vinegar on the scene,” said Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company Chief Matt Sliwa. “We’re lucky that they get a diluted version” because at full strength, peracetic acid is lethal between one teaspoon to one ounce per 150-pound person (according to the EPA).

    Mountaire hired an outside cleanup agency immediately. Crews set up “dams” to prevent liquid from flowing into street drains. Then they soaked the chemicals up in a dry, ashy substance, like “industrial kind of kitty litter,” Sliwa said. Finally, they swept up the material using street sweepers and/or vacuums, Sliwa said.

    Fortunately, there were “fairly minor injuries. No one actually had any skin exposure to it. It was breathing issues or inhalation,” Sliwa said.

    Of the six injured, two went to Atlantic General Hospital, two to Beebe Healthcare, and two refused to be transported, said Collins.

    “We turned it back over to Mountaire once we were confident they had a plan, so we left it in DNREC and Mountaire’s hands,” around roughly 1:45 p.m., Sliwa said. “There was no danger to the environment or the public. They got it contained very quickly and they were quick with the cleanup efforts on it.”

    Under the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), the Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances also sends emergency response crews to such spills, like in February of 2017. Although considered a minor chemical explosion between two cleaning chemicals, it caused serious burns to the victim on Mountaire’s cleaning crew.

    In Selbyville, Mountaire also had a roof fire in April when an electrical transformer failed.

    Mountaire representatives were not available for comment on Thursday evening.

    “Their safety response team did a great job to get it contained,” said Selbyville Police Chief W. Scott Collins.

    Several volunteer fire companies responded, plus Sussex County paramedics. Although Mountaire could have relied more heavily on the volunteer fire company for cleanup, Sliwa was impressed that the company asked the industrial cleanup agency to report immediately.

    The road was cleared by about 2:15 p.m., Collins said. “They ended up shutting the plant down and letting their morning shift go home.”

    To report environmental spills, trash dumping, violations of environmental laws and other issues to DNREC, call (302) 739-9401 or the 24-hour, toll-free complaint line at 1-800-662-8802.


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    Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) is warning Dagsboro residents who live in the residential area between Colonial Estates Avenue and Thorogoods Road of a positive case of rabies in a fox that came into contact with a human this week. The fox was killed and brought to the DPH Lab, where test results on Monday, July 9, 2018, confirmed it had rabies. The fox was underneath the front porch of the victim’s residence and came up on the porch when the victim came outside. While the fox bit the heel of the victim’s shoe, it did not make contact with the person’s skin.

    Anyone in this area who thinks they might have been bitten, scratched or come in contact with the rabid fox should immediately contact their health care provider or call the DPH Rabies Program at 302-744-4995. An epidemiologist is available 24/7. Anyone who thinks their pet may have been bitten by this fox should call their private veterinarian or the Delaware Department of Agriculture (DDA) at 302-698-4630.

    Since Jan. 1, 2018, the Division of Public Health (DPH) has performed rabies tests on 73 animals, seven of which were confirmed to be rabid, including three foxes (including this one), two raccoons, one cat and one dog. The results of two cases previously reported as positive (one sheep and one dog) are indeterminate. While DPH treats cases with indeterminate results the same as those with positive results, going forward the agency will report indeterminate cases out separately. In 2017, DPH performed rabies tests on 143 animals, 16 of which were confirmed to be rabid, including five raccoons, six cats, two dogs, two bats and one fox. DPH only announces those rabies cases for which it is possible the animal had unknown contacts with humans and there is a risk of exposure to the community.

    Rabies in humans and animals cannot be cured once symptoms appear. If the animal is of unknown origin, or unavailable to be quarantined or tested, DPH recommends that people receive post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) treatment, a series of four vaccinations, as a precautionary measure.

    Rabies is an infectious disease affecting the nervous system of humans and other mammals. Infection can occur through the bite or scratch of an infected animal or if saliva from such an animal gets into the eyes, nose, mouth or an opening in the skin.

    Fortunately, rabies is also almost completely preventable. DPH recommends that members of the public take the necessary steps to stay clear of exposure to rabies. Rabies prevention begins with the animal owner. Vaccination of pets and livestock is a crucial factor in rabies prevention.

    · All dogs, cats, and ferrets 6 months of age and older are required by Delaware law to be vaccinated against rabies by a licensed veterinarian. Consider vaccinating livestock and horses as well. It is recommended to consult with your private veterinarian if you have any questions regarding whether your animal(s) should be vaccinated against rabies.
    · Pet owners can reduce the possibility of pets being exposed to rabies by not letting them roam free.
    · Spaying or neutering your pet may reduce the tendency to roam or fight and, thus, reduce the chance they will be exposed to rabies.
    · Do not keep your pet’s food or water outdoors; bowls can attract wild and stray animals.
    · Keep your garbage securely covered.
    · Do not touch or otherwise handle unfamiliar animals, including cats and dogs, even if they appear friendly.

    For more information on the DPH rabies program, visit http://www.dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/dpc/rabies.html or call 1-866-972-9705 or 302-744-4995. For more information on rabies, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/rabies/.


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    Ocean View police reported Monday that two men in their 20s had been found deceased in a home on Central Avenue in Ocean View on Thursday, July 12, shortly before noon. Police said the apparent cause of death for both men was a drug overdose.

    The OVPD reported that coworkers of the men at a local restaurant had grown concerned when they didn’t arrive at work last week and had gone to the home in Ocean View to check on them. Upon arriving at the home, police said, their coworkers peered in a window and observed the two men lying on the floor, at which point they called police.

    OVPD officers said the bodies of both men were turned over to the Delaware Division of Forensic Science for autopsy. They said the men’s names and official causes of death would be released after those autopsies are complete.

    Officers from the Delaware State Police, and the South Bethany and Bethany Beach police departments assisted the OVPD in their investigation.

    The OVPD further reported on Monday that officers had also responded to a report of a man passed out on a bench in the Millville Town Center in June 26.

    Police said that, upon their arrival, the man was found to be unresponsive and turning blue, and a heroin overdose was suspected.

    The OVPD officer then searched the man, police said, and discovered suspected heroin and suspected drug paraphernalia.

    The officer administered two doses of the overdose-reversing drug Narcan, police reported, and an additional two doses were administered by a second Ocean View officer upon his arrival on the scene.

    Police said the man subsequently resumed breathing on his own and regained consciousness, and was then transported by the Millville Volunteer Fire Company EMS to Beebe Healthcare for additional treatment.

    More on these stories in our July 20 issue.


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    The Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs was recently recognized nationally by the National Garden Clubs — a not-for-profit educational organization comprising 50 state garden clubs and the National Capital Area, with 5,000-member garden clubs and 165,000 members.

    Coastal Point • Submitted: The National Garden Clubs organization recently recognized the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs with an Award of Excellence for the group’s ‘TREE-mendous Delaware’ tree planting at the Delaware Botanic Gardens.Coastal Point • Submitted: The National Garden Clubs organization recently recognized the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs with an Award of Excellence for the group’s ‘TREE-mendous Delaware’ tree planting at the Delaware Botanic Gardens.“We’ve had several awards, which is so unusual for Delaware, because we’re little. We’re up against 49 states which are a lot bigger,” said Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs President Lisa Arni.

    Arni’s President’s Project for the DFGC’s “TREE-mendous Delaware” tree planting at the Delaware Botanic Gardens was given the Award of Excellence by the National Garden Clubs.

    As part of the project, for every $100 raised or donated, a native flowering tree will be planted in the woodlands of the Delaware Botanic Gardens. Those who donate $100 will be given a certificate from the DFGC in honor of, or in memory of, a loved one, family member or whomever they choose.

    “The Delaware Botanic Gardens has no budget for where we’re planting the trees, so when they heard the proposal, they were thrilled,” said Arni. “The thing that made it work was the certificates, because they can be given out as a gift and also the donors are listed on our website with a link from the Delaware Botanic Gardens website.”

    Arni said the project follows the national group’s theme.

    “This president had the board approve ‘Plant America,’ which would be an eight-year project theme. They asked each state to come up with their own… We always felt trees were important. We had a project in Delaware not that long ago called ‘Dimes for Delaware,’ where each club collected money and we reforested Redden Forest. We ran out of trees to plant — in other words, they didn’t want any more trees.”

    So far, the DFGC has given out more than 100 certificates through TREE-mendous Delaware.

    “Which is tremendous!” said Arni. “The reason we won the award is that this project embraces all that National Garden Clubs is about, which is raising funds to plant trees that the public will view and will be pleasurable to them — not just for this generation but multi-generation. I don’t know why it caught on… I expected to have about 25 trees in the first year, and we have 100.

    “It’s remarkable what has happened here; and it’s gone outside of Delaware, too. We’ve had people who just heard about it who sent us money for trees from other states, and non-garden-club members have sent us money to purchase trees. So, it’s gotten a little life of its own. We’re pretty excited about it! It just took off, and people embraced it and really liked that the garden clubs are raising money to do it.”

    The DFGC also received a first-place award for its TREE-mendous Delaware Membership Growth.

    “We still have until next April for this project. It’s really taken off. Plus, we’ve added two new clubs — one in the Ocean View area and one in Bridgeville, and they’ve been growing,” she said, noting that in the first nine months of the project, DFGC grew 4 percent, with an overall goal of a 10 percent increase.

    “We’re still looking to increase membership and looking to start new clubs — especially at night. We’re finding we’re missing a whole group of people that can’t meet during the day, who work perhaps. We’ve started a couple of evening clubs, and they’ve really taken off.”

    The national convention at which the awards were presented was held in Philadelphia, Pa., on May 23. The DFGC also received a first-place award in Small-State Social Media Website (run by webmaster Margaret Woda) and an award of merit for its membership brochure, and individual clubs also received awards as well. Along with the certificates, the DFGC also received an engraved medallion.

    “We just took home so many awards,” said Arni. “I was never so shocked or proud of Delaware. Typically, being such a tiny state, we can’t even compete with those states that have tens of thousands of members versus our 749. It’s pretty spectacular.”

    Not only did the DFGC sweep the national awards, but in April the organization celebrated its 60th-anniversary Diamond Jubilee.

    “Everything was diamonds, from the jewelry to the decorations,” said Arni. “We put together a historical booklet going back all of the 60 years, highlighting each year. We went back 60 years for each club. We celebrated every 10 years, so we have the latest 10 years added to the booklet. The booklet keeps getting bigger and bigger with all the histories of all the garden clubs in Delaware.”

    Arni said she’s excited to see what the club does in the next year and beyond, noting that she hopes more garden lovers consider joining an area club.

    “Membership is key to keeping this organization going. If we don’t have new members, it doesn’t work.”

    For more information about Delaware garden clubs, or to become a member, visit www.DelawareGardenClubs.org or call Alva, membership chairwoman, at (302) 841-3632.


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    The Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control’s Mosquito Control Section, in conjunction with Delaware’s Division of Public Health and Department of Agriculture, this week announced the first detection this year of West Nile virus (WNV) in wild birds, indicating the recurrence of the mosquito-borne disease in Delaware.

    WNV was detected in the first wild bird collected and tested by Mosquito Control this year, a crow found June 29 in southwestern Sussex County, and reported as WNV-positive July 5 by the Public Health Laboratory. Another crow collected in Sussex County also was reported as WNV-positive four days later, officials said.

    The peak time of year for transmission of WNV, along with Delaware’s other mosquito-borne disease of concern, Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), is from about mid-August into mid-October, officials noted, and during most years, evidence of WNV is first found upstate later in the season.

    “Heavy rainfall amounts three times above normal from mid-May to mid-June caused a serious irruption of adult mosquitoes statewide, with conditions worse downstate than upstate,” said Mosquito Control Section Administrator William Meredith with DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife. “But with extensive aerial spraying, we have now knocked back mosquito numbers in Delaware. We are hoping this early virus detection does not foreshadow abnormal mosquito-borne disease activity later in the year.”

    The first finding of mosquito-transmitted virus in Delaware also serves, he said, as a good reminder for people to continue taking common-sense precautions against mosquito bites. That includes wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors in mosquito-prone areas, applying insect repellent containing 10 to 30 percent DEET in accordance with all label instructions, and avoiding mosquito-infested areas or times of peak mosquito activity around dusk, dawn or throughout the night.

    The possibility of mosquito-borne disease transmissions will not subside until cooler autumn temperatures set in, usually in mid-October and sometimes later, officials noted.

    To reduce mosquito-breeding habitat and chances of disease transmission, residents should drain or remove from outdoor areas all items that collect water, such as discarded buckets or containers, uncovered trashcans, stagnant birdbaths, unprotected rain barrels or cisterns, old tires, upright wheelbarrows, flowerpot liners, depressions in tarps covering boats, clogged rain gutters, corrugated downspout extenders and unused swimming pools.

    In addition to wild bird testing, the Mosquito Control Section also operates 20 monitoring stations with caged chickens in the field statewide from early July into October. The sentinel chickens are humanely kept and tended, officials noted. Sentinel chickens bitten by mosquitoes carrying WNV or EEE — both of which can affect humans and horses, but cannot be transmitted between horses or from horses to people — develop antibodies that enable them to survive. Their blood is tested every two weeks for the antibodies, which indicate exposure to the mosquito-borne viruses.

    Mosquito Control also conducts statewide monitoring to determine the types and population abundances of 19 mosquito species through a statewide network of 25 stationary adult light trap stations, and assesses larval mosquito populations by sampling aquatic habitats around the state.

    No approved WNV or EEE vaccines are available for humans, according to Delaware’s Division of Public Health. The majority of people infected with WNV will not show any symptoms; 20 percent develop a mild illness, which may include fever, body and muscle aches, headache, nausea, vomiting and rash. A small number of people infected develop serious illness, with young children, pregnant women, senior citizens and individuals with immuno-compromised systems being particularly vulnerable. Neurological symptoms, including paralysis and possibly death, may occur.

    Effective EEE and West Nile vaccines for horses are available through veterinarians, according to the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s State Veterinarian’s Office. Both WNV and EEE cause severe, and sometimes fatal, infections in horses.

    Signs of infection in horses include fever (although not always with WNV), anorexia, head pressing, depression or personality change, wobbling or staggering, weakness, blindness, convulsions, muscle spasms in the head and neck, or hind-limb weakness. If owners notice any of those signs in their horses, they should contact their veterinarian immediately, officials said.

    Horse owners can take several steps in the barn and around the farm to help protect horses from WNV and EEE. Horses should be kept inside during dawn and dusk, which are peak hours for mosquito activity. Topical insect repellents labeled for use on horses may be applied. The wind generated by fans installed in horse stalls can also help deter mosquitoes.

    Old tires and containers should be disposed of and standing water eliminated. Water troughs or buckets should be emptied, cleaned, and refilled every two to three days, if possible, to remove any mosquito eggs or larvae.


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    Recent years have demonstrated that today’s generations have at least one love in common: “Star Wars.”

    And now, for the first time ever, the Freeman Stage in West Fenwick will be hosting “Jedi Academy,” a solo comedy variety show designed to teach children, and adults, the ways of a Jedi.

    On Aug. 1 at 7 p.m., David Engel will be teaching kids 4 or older — who can come dressed like their favorite “Star Wars” character — some of the Jedi secrets that they have always wanted to learn. It is an interactive show for kids to learn how to truly feel and act like some of their favorite “Star Wars” characters.

    Engel has been a family entertainer for more than 25 years and has varied in topic, from Shakespeare to contemporary drama and spectacle theater.

    Freeman Stage Communications & Public Relations Manager Alyson Cunningham explained, “He also has over 30 commercials, film and television credits, including ‘Law & Order,’ and ‘Gossip Girl.’”

    For those hungry young Padawans about to work up an appetite, Cunningham said Freeman has two food trucks tentatively planned to be at the Jedi Academy performance: Grotto Pizza and Beach Ball Sno Balls.

    Earlier in the day, Freeman Stage will also be hosting Pirate School at 10 a.m. Both events are free, open to the public and performed by David Engel. They are also “Bring your own chair,” so attendees can bring blankets or lawn chairs and take in some family entertainment twice in one day, if they wish.


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    Author and artist Dean Kuhta will be signing copies of his book “Silvarum” at Bethany Beach Books on July 28, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

    “Silvarum is a fantasy world I have created and centers around five teenagers: Abigail, Penny, Roger, Mckenzie and Marie,” Kuhta said. “Using magic, technology and old-fashioned problem-solving skills, they must work together to prevent the destruction of their world by an ancient evil known as ‘the Nexxathians.’

    “Eight runestones (Frost, Fire, Light, Shadow, Nature, Technology, Life and Death) are each guarded by a horrible Nexxathian monster... In order to succeed in their quest, the band of teenage friends must reclaim all eight runestones.”

    The concept for “Silvarum” originated in 2006, when Kuhta designed an illustration series called “The Nine Stages.”

    “It was essentially a cloaked figure wandering through a series of fantastic scenes full of creepy trees and forests, mushroom castles, cemeteries and lands filled with dinosaurs,” he explained.

    His initial intent was for the illustrations to be a standalone project, but as his children were growing up, he imagined how they would act if they were placed in a fantasy world and possessed magical powers. Three years later, Kuhta finished writing Book I of “Silvarum.”

    In addition to writing the series, Kuhta created every illustration, map, artifact and cover for “Silvarum.”

    Prior to investing in his writing career about seven years ago, Kuhta was a professional artist. He has sold his artwork at galleries and shows for almost two decades.

    “Because most of my illustrations take on a storybook life of their own, the process of converting them into short stories, and eventually novels, was not as difficult as I once imagined,” he said.

    Kuhta collaborates with other writers on OutPost28 magazine, a compilation series of horror, fantasy and science-fiction short stories.

    “It also features original illustrations from artists all over the world and interviews with musicians of all types,” Kuhta said. “I have always been fascinated with the fantasy/sci-fi pulp magazines from the ’60s and ’70s. Outpost 28 is my way of carrying on this tradition of collaborative writing and art.”

    Issues of OutPost28 cost $9 and are available for purchase on his website at deankuhta.com.

    “Silvarum” is Kuhta’s first solo writing project. “Book I: Frost,” the first of the eight-book series, was published in August 2017. The second part is expected this September.

    The book is available for $15 at more than 20 bookstores nationwide, including independent bookstores such as Bethany Beach Books, and both “Silvarum” and Outpost 28 are also available (in print form only) on Amazon.com and at BarnesandNoble.com. For more information about the author event, contact the bookstore at (302) 539-2522.


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    The Marine Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute Inc. (MERR) will be conducting its Annual Dolphin Count on Saturday, July 21, from 9 to 11 a.m.

    The count helps determine the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin population in the region, in addition to informing the public of the presence of the marine mammals in this area, said MERR Executive Director Suzanne. Usually, 300 to 400 dolphins are counted during the two-hour period, she added.

    “We now have over 18 years of data, and the objective of the count is to help alert us to any changes in population numbers,” said Thurman. “If we were to notice a significant decline, for example, we would initiate plans for a more in-depth aerial survey.”

    According to MERR, threats to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins include entrapment in fishing nets, hunting, whaling, habitation destruction, pollution and human disturbance.

    MERR is requesting volunteers for the general census. Volunteers will be stationed at 37 observation points between Fenwick Island and Woodland Beach to collect data on the local dolphin population. Participants can work in half-hour shifts or for the entire two-hour period. In past years, the count has attracted more than 100 volunteers.

    For more information or to volunteer, contact the MERR Institute at (302) 228-5029 or email merrinstitute@gmail.com.


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